January 6-11, 2016
Miami, Florida → Costa Maya, Mexico → Cozumel, Mexico → Miami, Florida: Jam Cruise is, of course, on a cruise ship, so we get to do some traveling! The boat was advertised as going to Belize and Cozumel, but due to some technical difficulties (and who really knows what that means) we didn’t go to Belize (bummer!) and instead visited Costa Maya. At Costa Maya there were some beautiful rocky beaches, pools, dolphins to swim with, and some great souvenir shopping. Cozumel wasn’t terribly different, just bigger, and with some fantastic ruins to visit to get your history fix!
MSC Divina: The cruise ship makes Jam Cruise one of the best parties of the year. The shows are more intimate, and you can enjoy the view from a hot tub while dancing to the music. Everyone, including all of the incredible artists, is on the boat with you so you never know who you are going to run into next to enjoy a drink or maybe even play some blackjack. The cruise ship has two pools (one inside the solarium and one outside off the back), hot tubs, a full casino, a spa, multiple theaters, a massive cafeteria with 24 hour food, as well as a few different sit down restaurants. The boat offers all of the normal luxuries of a cruise ship – plus unbelievable music! What more could you want?!
Jam Cruise is certainty not cheap, but it is something worth saving for! The cheapest you can get is $849 per person, and prices go all the way up to $3599. Cabin prices differ depending on how many people you have in your room, the size of the room, and whether you are inside or have a balcony. Check out all of the prices for JC14 below:
There is no camping, although some crazy kids from the event before, Holy Ship!, tried (and failed) staying on the boat and camping out. Everyone has rooms, which actually is amazing! Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love camping, but being able to come back to a real bed and even a shower and working restroom has its perks too! I’m normally not too interested in hotel festivals, I believe you lose the sense of community when you come home to separate places every night. With Jam Cruise you are all in the same boat, literally, so you have the community feel, plus showers!
You need to get to the port in Miami – once you’re there, you’re cruisin’. If you live in Florida, you’re golden! If you’re like me and fly in from Colorado or elsewhere, you can fly into Miami (MIA) or Fort Lauderdale (FLL) and the transportation is relatively easy from there. We took a free shuttle from Miami to the port. The way back after the cruise wasn’t free, but getting a taxi was pretty easy.
Bags went through X-Ray machines, and there was a drug dog sniffing around as we first boarded the boat as well as anytime we boarded from exploring Mexico. Customs coming back in was surprisingly a breeze!
Jam Cruisers are PRO FestiPeople! Good vibes were overflowing the ship decks, along with epic costumes, sticker slaps, and more! Some Jam Cruisers have been there since the beginning (lifers) and could never imagine not going back every year, while other newbies (like me) were welcomed in with open arms and hugs!
The weather could not have been better! I was nervous while leaving Florida as they were calling for storms and it was cloudy in Miami. However, once we got a bit more south, the skies were clear, temperatures were high, and the sun once again graced my pale Colorado skin! A couple nights were a bit windy perhaps, with a small drizzle at times, but overall the weather was perfect!
HANDLING OF THE WEATHER:
Jam Cruise didn’t have much to handle, but even if they did, the boat is perfect for handling storms! In previous years when there are bad storms, the pool deck “main stage” moves inside to the theater. Although everyone is basically stuck inside throughout the cruise, from what I heard it just made it even more intimate!
ALL of the music on Jam Cruise was unbelievable! Countless epic jams, artist sit ins, and more. During the first full day on the boat I just remember sitting back, relaxing on the deck with a BBC (JC drink of choice) in hand, and listening to Nicki Bluhm while staring out into the ocean – it was like a dream! Some of my daytime highlights included Twiddle and Cris Jacobs, both from the last day at sea. The Atrium was the most beautiful location for some intimate shows, including Keller Williams, Zach Deputy, Holly Bowling, Joel Cummings, and Ivan Neville.
Every band on Jam Cruise is truly a headliner. Most artists play more than once, normally with a daytime show as well as a night show or possibly even late night. Dumpstaphunk opened up the pool deck main stage with a bang, and Joe Russo’s Almost Dead brought it home those sweet Grateful Dead songs. The second night we had Snarky Puppy, who has seriously exploded over the past couple years, some incredible Lettuce funkalicious tunes, and even Galactic. Red Night aka love night brought the funk in the Pantheon with Dumpstaphunk, Soulive, and Lettuce, while the pool deck lite up with the legend Dr. John followed by Brownout’s Brown Sabbath and an epic set The Werks. On Saturday night Keller Williams finally joined the boat, with his set sandwiched between The New Mastersounds and Lotus, while Snarky Puppy and Anders Osbourne tore up the Pantheon. On the final night Electron performed an incredible Pink Floyd tribute while Galactic closed out the theater.
LATE NIGHT SHOWS:
The jam room carried on until the sunrise every morning, and anyone and everyone hoping on that stage throughout the weekend. If electronic music was more your thing, there were DJs in the Galaxy Disco every night as well!
The main stage of the cruise was on the pool deck. The pool was covered up to allow for more dancing room (and to prevent people from falling into the pool, I’m sure). There were some awesome lights all around the deck, and you could watch the show from the two hot tubs on the top deck!
Brews at Sea Stage
This smaller stage, also on the pool deck, was great for in-between shows and had some of my favorite performances!
The theater had the best sound, and some awesome seats if your feet or legs needed a little break. It was also an awesome spot to take a break from the heat of the day!
Black & White Lounge
Home to the Jam Room every night, the Black & White Lounge had a small stage constantly filled with lots of artists and a whole lot of sound!
Golden Jazz Bar
Low key, intimate, and beautiful – just how I like it 🙂
The Atrium was my favorite spot for an intimate show. The diamond staircase was beautiful, and you could view the set up to 3 stories higher than the artist.
DJ central! The best place to grab a drink at the end of the festival or dance you little heart out until you finally go to sleep!
Everything was about the community – the boat was one huge music loving community! There was a Repeat Offender Party to celebrate those that had been coming year after year, themed costume nights (that people take very seriously!), wing eating challenges, and more!
You’re on a cruise ship, surrounded by the vast and never ending ocean – what more do you need?!
The food was honestly very disappointing for me. I have been on a lot of cruises before, and the food is normally fantastic. There was an endless buffet, so you definitely did not go hungry, but its like they threw together the cheapest easiest foods to serve you every day. I heard of lots of people getting sick from the food, which totally ruins the entire experience. There were hardly any healthy options, and certainly nothing organic or fresh. You could eat at a sit down restaurant, where the food seemed to be slightly better, but only slightly, and you hardly ever had time to do that without risking missing a show. FestiPeople are used to going to festivals filled with lots of options, including organic, vegan, and fresh options – plus you can bring all of your own food to your campsite. On Jam Cruise its not like you have an option to bring your own food, you are forced to eat what they give you or starve. They need to make huge improvement here.
All of the Jam Cruise merchandise was pretty awesome! I missed all of the unique artists and vendors you get at most festivals, but you could buy a bunch of stuff you don’t need at ports!
One or two yoga sessions were held every day on the boat to get your body revitalized for another day of dancing. It was interesting to try and get your balance on a boat 🙂
There were lots of different workshops throughout the long weekend! Options included a concert photography workshop, talking hands drumming, afro fire dance, free jazz, and even an electronic music workshop.
HELP THE ENVIRONMENT:
Positive Legacy is Cloud 9’s non-profit. There were different events throughout the cruise to raise money, including BINGO, Ivan Neville’s Annual Texas Hold’em Tournament, a Charity Auction, and more. Here is the information straight from their website: