Right, so I think we’ve established that music and entertainment are a pretty big part of any cruise, but what about when the music becomes the actual focus of the cruise? Cruise ship music festivals have continued to grow in popularity ever since the first Jam Cruise set sail in 2004 from Fort Lauderdale, when a blend of bands and DJs contributed to the world’s first chartered jamband music festival. Today, there’s a huge range of cruise ship festivals to choose from, no matter what type of music floats your boat.
If you fancy getting your groove on, then the Groove Cruise is just the thing and showcases over 40 dance acts and pays a visit to two islands and is the world’s largest floating music festival. Dance acts such as Darude, Roger Sanchez, Sander Van Doorn, Thomas Gold and Detroit Muscle contribute to a pulsating beat which continues non-stop for 72 hours.
Another successful festival, one which also helps to raise money for a worthy cause, is the Fantastic Voyage Cruise, hosted by Carnival Cruises. The brainchild of American radio personality Tom Joiner, it’s also known as the Party with a Purpose, that purpose being to raise funds for Historically Black Colleges. This year’s cruise boasts a beach party with none other than A-list actor Jamie Foxx, and a pool concert where legendary rapper (and, as it happens, Coronation Street fan) Snoop Dogg joins four-string funk legend Bootsy Collins for a concert on the pool deck. None other than 40-year veterans Earth Wind and Fire will also be performing, so expect to be transported into a floating Fantasy Boogie Wonderland!
If a bit of classical refinement instead of throwing shapes is your thing, then Fred Olsen’s Kirker Music Festival Cruises offer choral singers, opera singers and string quartets for your listening pleasure. On these cruises, the capitals and canals of Europe form an inspiring and classic backdrop to the music on offer. I have to admit, I’m not too familiar with the sound of the chamber, but I’m told the Doric String Quartet and The Gould Piano Trio are among the best at what they do.
With acts such as Dragonforce, In Flames, Onslaught, Immolation and Metal Church, you’ve probably guessed that the festival name 70,000 Tons of Metal wasn’t chosen just to keep you informed about the gross tonnage of your ship. The seats in the on-board theatre are removed for this marathon mosh on the ocean wave – but that’s just the second stage, because the festival features the biggest open-air stage ever to sail the seas – a real crowd-surfer’s delight.
Realising many people’s passion for all things Gaelic, Cruise travel agency Cruise 118 brought us The Irish Show Cruise in 2010. On-board Fred Olsen’s Boudicca, on a round trip from Dublin and Liverpool via the Spanish and Portuguese coasts and Gibraltar, a host of Ireland’s biggest names in music, dance and comedy, such as the Celtic Rhythm Irish Dancers, Conal Gallen and the Donegal Tenors, performed on a nine-night cruise to the delight of hundreds of cruisers up for the craic.
OK, so a cruise ship on the sea might not be the first place which springs to mind when thinking of a venue to host a festival with the name of Mountain Song, but this celebration of America’s folk and bluegrass heritage is a big draw. Acts such as The Travelin’ McCoury’s, David Grisman Sextet, Steep Canyon Rangers and Shannon Whitworth play in a number of intimate venues, and there’s a poker tournament and beer tastings to add to that all-American atmosphere.
Holy Ship! (I’m sure I don’t need to explain the pun) takes place on MSC’s cruise ship Poesia. It’s a mash-up marathon of decks on the decks, where DJs perform around the clock to create a perfect dance club atmosphere. Kill the Noize, Oliver, Digitalism, Breakbot and Justin Martin will all be mixing the night away for the pleasure of thousands of beat-hungry cruisers.
By Simon Brotherton