Strawberry Shortcake asked me to rate Jam Cruise on a scale of 1-10. Jam Cruise is off the charts. Jam Cruise is a unique experience that combines the best elements of music festivals, secret shows, costume parties, late night hotel parties and interactions with the most amazing people on the planet. No - Im not still high. Im not getting paid to write this endorsement. I had such a positive experience that I will never miss another Jam Cruise.
So...where to start? Lets start with my experience getting on the boat.
I took a shuttle from the "official" hotel of Jam Cruise in Ft. Lauderdale to the port. It was a short ride and the 12 passenger van was full of fellow Jam Cruisers. Everyone was excited. I was already in party mode- I had the can amp out and played some Talking Heads from the front seat. When we got to the dock, the driver took all the bags out of the back of the van and my bags were not there.
Where the hell did my bags go? A moment of panic. I briefly thought about how the hell I was going to go a week with none of my costumes and all the supplies I had in my bags. But I had checked my bags with the valet at the hotel and my carry on bag I had held in my lap on the van ride still had the valet tag on it. I called the hotel and it was as I had suspected- my bags were still in front of the hotel. In the excitement and confusion of getting on the shuttle they simply did not get thrown on. I took the shuttle back to the hotel and took a second shuttle back to the port.
On the second shuttle back to the port I talked with another crew of Jam Cruisers. Like me, these Jam Cruisers had gone to Phish Miami and were ready to party. They had bought a 12 pack of Red Stripe for the 10 minute van ride and quickly handed one to me, telling me to "Slam It!" Exactly what I needed to calm my nerves after the sudden fiasco of losing my bags. Jam Cruise people are good people, and when they see someone in the family needs assistance, they are there for you.
The process of boarding the boat was relatively uneventful. Repeat offenders remarked at how effortless it was compared to previous years. Even the staff checking us in had to ask why everyone had such a huge smile on their face. The excitement was electric.
Once on the MSC Poesia my bags were delivered relatively quickly, with everything I had brought for the voyage in them and untouched. I began the process of un-packing and decorating the door. As you know im a LOST junkie so it was only appropriate to continue the theme...
My Roomate Laurie and I found our fellow Denverites Ethan and Cheryl a few doors down and decided to get our bearings, drinks in hand. After a quick tour of the boat, I knew what an epic week I was about to have and that I would never miss another one. Yeah, it took about an hour of being on the boat and just the vibe of the place for me to know I was in heaven. Simply walking around the boat was fun, everywhere I went I ran into people doing exactly what I was doing - having a great time. Positive energy everywhere.
For the people reading this that have never been on the boat, lets go over the venues and what I saw on my brief tour.
POOL DECK - the main event area. Outdoor festival style stage and light rig right in the middle of the top deck of the ship. Video screen behind the stage. They covered one of the pools with see through glass with lights under it for us to dance on top of. There was a huge bar behind the stage and a huge bar below the view of this picture. The sound was fantastic with some powerful bass. When STS9, Pretty Lights, and Trevor from Crazy Engine dropped bombs you could feel your chest shake.
THEATRE - Wow. Just look at this picture by Laurie. Purple velvet seats and walls with cool twinkle lighting everywhere. Super classy and way big. The second largest room. My favorite venue.
ATRIUM - The middle of the boat, reception area. Beautiful marble and brass everywhere. A piano sat in the middle and this is where artists would have special acoustic shows - some announced and many unannounced.
ZEBRA LOUNGE - Right next to the Theater, same deck. The feel of a live music club with a stage and bar. Lots of seating and chill areas. Great dance floor. All the carpet, seats, chairs, etc were in zebra fabric.
DISCO - The late night spot. TV's in the floor and and all around the venue. Lots of lasers, smoke machine and lights. Futuristic silver chairs and lounge areas. If aliens built a club, this was it. It was at the very back of the boat with a smoking deck overlooking the wake of the mighty ship. Perfect late night spot to spend the AM hours and watch the sunrise each morning.
JAM ROOM - While the jam room was the most normal compared to the other rooms, this is where a lot of the real magic of jam cruise went down. So many talented artists would converge here for amazing jams. Large artists, small artists, unknown artists, fans, etc all got a chance to get together and share their abilities with us. Another room with lots of chill areas, red carpet and seats...one deck up from the zebra lounge but at the opposite end of the boat. The walk from the Theater or Zebra lounge to the Jam Room took you on a cool adventure through the Casino and also past an overlook of the Atrium.
All of this is to drive home the idea that Jam Cruise is basically 6 of the coolest venues I have ever been in all in one place. The longest walk between any of these was 5 minutes (assuming you weren't too spun out and got lost). No line to get in. No buzzkill security at the door. I soon discovered one of the great things about Jam Cruise - it is limited by the number of rooms and beds, not by capacity of the venues. Never once on my adventure was I wanting to see something go down on the boat and not have dance floor space.
Now that you know a little bit about what the feel is like...stay tuned for my day 1 recap as soon as I clean up around the house and take another nap...