Editor's Note

The new Kids pose at the Ft Lauderdale Port

Music Cruises Coming Up

By paul motter

Many music cruises are scheduled for early 2010, starting in January. These music-theme cruises have become more successful than you ever imagined. That is unless you have already tried one, and if so you already fully understand the appeal. There is a definite synchronicity to combining two great things; cruising and live music.

For the uninitiated, there are different kinds of music cruises. A few feature entertainment by one specific artist, such as the New Kids on the Block. The New Kids sold out both their first and their second cruise within a matter of days. Kid Rock also has a cruise scheduled, and it is also sold out already even though the onboard details of the cruise haven't been announced yet.

A different style of fan-cruise are the tribute cruises such as the Beatles Tribute Cruise sailing March 28, 2010. This cruise features several Beatles photographers and biographers as guests. So if you ever swooned over a picture of Paul there will plenty of opportunities for more of that. The entertainment is by the Beatles tribute band BritBeat.

The third kind of music cruise is a festival theme featuring a number of different artists; rock, folk, blues, jazz or 50s doo-wop singers. These cruises have an amazing variety of talent onboard, often twenty or more artists with their individual back-up bands. If you love hanging out with musicians and talking about music, you can't do better than these cruises.

One of the better upcoming festival-style music cruises is the first VH1 cruise just announced. It has already earned the title "Best Cruise Ever." Sailing from Tampa on April 15, 2010, this four-night cruise features 3 Doors Down, Lifehouse and Shinedown. Additional artists just added include Black Stone Cherry, Parachute, Angel Taylor and 7-Day Binge. This will be more like a 4-day binge, but that's OK, it will feel like a 7-day binge by the time you disembark.

The ship is the Carnival Inspiration - one of the eight older Carnival Fantasy-class vessels built in the early 1990s. These are not my favorite ships and I honestly wish the promoters would go for bigger ships. The first New Kids on the Block cruise was on one of these older ships and it sold out in one weekend. The second one, scheduled for May 14, 2010, also sold out within a few days. This is a three-day cruise where the minimum ticket is $799 per person if you are willing to share a cabin with three other people (you can share a cabin with just one other person for $849). Port fees and taxes add $239 per person per ticket as well.

That's a lot of money, but this is much more than a concert. Guests are treated to a cocktail party, two interview sessions with all of the band members, two concert performances by the Kids, a photo session, a deck party, a beach party featuring the Kids playing once again, a souvenir gift bag and everything else the ship itself has to offer.

If you have more mature musical tastes you can sail on one of the many jazz cruises. Consider it a similar offering to the NKOTB cruise above, except with as many as 25 different artists at the same time, and still less mayhem. There are traditional jazz cruises, smooth jazz cruises, blues cruises and all kinds of sophisticated music offerings on ships.

Most of the jazz and blues cruises are 7-day cruises, and in the case of SmoothJazzCruisesLLC productions they even book two entirely different jazz cruises back to back so you can have 14 days of music if you want. They use Holland America, and they not only change the artists, the change the itinerary as well. In fact, over 70% of the people who attend these cruises are repeaters, and these cruises usually sell out a year in advance with many of those people booking the next year's cruise while onboard the current one.

As an artist you don't have to pass away to to qualify for a tribute cruise, although it doesn't hurt. There have already been dozens of Elvis cruises and there will be more, and there is already a Michael Jackson tribute cruise very close to sailing; November 13, 2009.

But people who are alive even get tribute cruises - and they don't even have to go. There is a Jimmy Buffet cruise sailing Dec 12, 2009. Jimmy himself won't be there, but there is a large contingent of Buffett fans that call themselves "Parrotheads" and just adore the whole beach bum lifestyle. The cruise features some of the more popular Jimmy Buffett tribute bands and there are many beach bum activities (as incongruous as that sounds) planned during the voyage.

In fact, Parrotheads seem to be a rather desirable demographic. The one cruise above is sailing in New England, but they have another Parrothead cruise sailing to Tahiti on the Paul Gauguin, formerly part of the Regent Cruises family. Now the Paul Gauguin is an independently owned vessel specializing in South Pacific voyages.

Other tribute cruises coming soon: Johnny Cash, the Rat Pack, the Beatles and Neil Diamond. In case you are wondering, Neil is also still alive, but he won't be on this cruise. Why do a Neil Diamond tribute cruise without Neil himself? Devotees, called "Diamondheads," love to meet other people who know as much or more about Neil as they do. There will be a Neil Diamond sing-alike karaoke contest, Neil trivia games and concerts by not just one, but three different Neil Diamond tribute bands. This one sails May 9, 2010.

Details on the Various Music Cruises:
For more current music festival-style cruises: check out sixthman.net for The Rock Boat Cruise sailing January 7 featuring Sister Hazel and many more artists. The Simple Man Cruise, sailing January 21, features 38-Special, Blackberry Smoke and a number of other Southern Rock specialists. The Kid Rock Cruise is already sold out, and so far he is the only artist they have announced, although more will be announced soon.

Another festival-style cruise coming up is "Cayamo," this time on the NCL ship Norwegian Dawn, and this is one cruise I would personally recommend very highly. The artist lineup is brilliant, and best of all, the intimacy of a cruise ship makes it possible to really get to know these people, onstage and off. This cruise sails February 21, 2010, from Miami to Belize and Mexico. The artists include Lyle Lovett, EmmyLou Harris, John Hiatt, Steve Earle, Brandi Carlile, Robert Earl Keen and literally twenty more bands or singer/songwriters. This is a non-stop musical event that is sure to please and best of all this 5-night cruise starts at just $649 per person, plus $169 taxes and fees. That is a lot more music, ship and cruising for your buck than the NKOTB cruise.

The Cayamo cruise is also from Sixthman.net.

Tributecruises.com is offering its own Elvis cruise. This is also the place for the Neil Diamond tribute cruise, the Jimmy Buffet tribute cruises (one to New England and the other to Tahiti) and the Michael Jackson Tribute cruise.

The Beatles tribute cruise details can be found at beatlestributecruise.com.

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