It may have been the 10th time that Jam Cruise set sail, but for me, it was my first (& hopefully not last) experience on the boat. It seems that even as a first time cruiser that this festi-on-a-ship is something to eagerly wait all year for. Alas, as the day approached cruisers of all walks of life and from all over the country flocked to the Fort Lauderdale port to shed their heavy layers and let loose to the easy ocean grooves.
The heat was on from day one. With cruisers clad in yacht club gear and sparkles in their eyes, even the long and drawn out process to board the ship was a party. Portable music players were booming, friendships were blooming, and most importantly: unity in the form of “the wave” set the standard of the silliness that our week ahead would showcase.
Once aboard, it was time for tropical drinks and a raging Dirty Dozen set. The Sail Away party out on the pool deck spread a calm throughout the boat that could only be mimicked by each upcoming set. In pure dance party fashion, glow toys and hula hoops lit up the night’s sky with a magical ambiance. Day one killed it, and we knew whatever rest we could muster up would be worth it.
There’s nothing like waking up to a mojito in your hand, a hot Jacuzzi to slip into and a killer Keller & the Keels set. Life on board is everything you would expect it to be, except 10x better. If you miss one set by a band, that’s okay because chances are they’re playing another one tomorrow, or even better – a collaboration with some of your other favorite artists in the legendary late-night jam room.
By day three, our ship was our home. It would have been a bummer to debark if the port at Labadee, Haiti wasn’t breathtakingly gorgeous. Grassy hills, smoking barbecues, charity, and a little Zach Deputy/Toubab Krewe action never hurt anybody. It was a conscious beach party! Positive Legacy by Cloud 9 set up relief efforts and was able to donate shoes and plant trees to the ever-healing Haiti. Being a part of this charity not only raises awareness, but it also makes cruisers that much more proud of being a part of something that’s truly giving back. Back on board, the Omega Moos reminded us why we were all there in the first place. With surprise guest John Oates in the mix, you can bet that cruisers rocked their sunglasses at night and well into the morning.
A shorter day in Falmouth, Jamaica didn’t make it any less fun – but let’s be honest, the best part of the day was back on board. With a live auction from LEBO in the books, getting dirty with EOTO, and even a smooth set by The New Mastersounds, nothing could prepare the ship for the debauchery that would ensue at the last ever and late night The New Deal show. Raging early into the morning, tND brought an unmatched energy to the ship that we were all waiting for. Oh, and the jam room? With the nights host, Adam Deitch, it was truly unstoppable. There are no words, it’s simply an experience.
The last day on board seemed to creep up on everyone. While the cruisers were still in awe of the early morning festivities, it was worth it to roll out of bed and grab a cold beer in time for the funk that is Orgone. With autograph signings, merch swag, and a masquerade parade on deck, the last night was set to make memories. Soulive rocked the boat in time for the most horns I’ve ever seen on stage a la Galactic – thanks to Trombone Shorty and the Dirty Dozen’s collaboration.
With just a few short hours left on the ship, cruisers mingled, rested, and took advantage of the photo booth. Somberness swept through the boat – it was time to say goodbye (for now) and look forward to next year. The beauty of Jam Cruise comes from the people – the love, the soul, the friendships that can spark with a simple smile. It’s something that you won’t understand until you experience it, and once you do, it’s only natural that you become a repeat offender. Until next year!