Best cruise festivals in the world
Take a music festival and stick it on a luxury cruise liner and you've got one hell of a party – here are some of the world's best ocean-based fests
- By Tom Powell -
The Rock Boat
Tampa, Florida – Nassau, The Bahamas
No, this is not a boat made of entirely of rock (that'd sink, silly) – this is the boat that rocked, or will rock when it next departs Key West, Florida, towards Nassau in The Bahamas next February. There are gigs lined up from Matt Nathanson, Red Wanting Blue, Magic Giant and Simplified, plus plenty of opportunities to run around hitting those inflatable boom sticks from American Football games while listening to all of them. It's only rock n' roll, but we like it.
Prices to be confirmed. 1-6 February 2019. therockboat.com
Barcelona – Ibiza – Sète
Often called the Tomorrowland of the seas, Shipsomnia is an epic Mediterranean cruise that takes you from Barcelona to Ibiza to Sète in southern France, all while skanking to the most outrageous drum 'n bass and EDM across six separate on-ship stages. But it's about way more than just the music – you'll also have a chance to win a free ticket to the following year's event with the costume contest at the themed opening ball. Let the rowdiness commence.
From £479, based on four sharing. Summer 2018. shipsomnia.com
Chris Jericho's Rock n Wrestling Rager at Sea
Miami, Florida – Nassau, The Bahamas
For the name and gimmick alone, this Miami-to-Bahamas cruise is an absolute must. Hosted by former WWE wrestler Chris Jericho (yes, you're reading this right), and commentators Jim Ross and Jerry "The King" Lawler, you can expect four nights of hard rock and harder wrestling, including demonstrations from seasoned pros. It's gonna be a right royal rumble.
From £385, based on four sharing. 27-31 October 2018. chrisjerichocruise.com
Genoa – Mallorca – Ibiza – Barcelona
Five bars, three pools, four nights of wild, all-inclusive cruising to the sound of some of the finest electronic artists on the planet. That's what you can expect when you take a trip with MDRNTY, whose luxury floating festival ferries you from Genoa to Mallorca, Ibiza and Barcelona, partying across five floors as you go. And when you get bored, there's a spa centre to help your hangover, as well as a 4D cinema to (probably) make it get a whole lot worse.
From £761, based on four sharing. 10-13 June 2018. mdrnty-cruise.com
San Diego, California – Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; Miami, Florida – The Bahamas
With two annual departures from either side of the US, everything about Groove Cruise is absolutely outrageous. First, there's the scenery you're cruising through, which will either be Florida and The Bahamas or the Mexican region of Baja California, depending on which you choose. Second, there's the fancy dress, which has seen themes like Naughty Nautical, Cartoons Gone Wild and Neon Candyland in the last few years alone. And finally, there's the sheer, unreal size of the party – there's pretty much nothing of the same scale on the planet.
Prices to be confirmed. San Diego to Cabo San Lucas 10-14 October 2018; Miami to The Bahamas Early 2019. groovecruise.com
Southampton – Bruges
The Human League? Check. OMD? Check. Jason Donovan? You better believe it. This three-night round-trip is a dead-cert, nailed-on '80s extravaganza that'll take you from Southampton to Bruges and back, with non-stop retro vibes taking centre stage. As well as the star-studded shows and themed parties, there'll be the chance to rub shoulders with old-school legends like Pat Sharp and Chesney Hawkes. Imagine that.
From £699, based on two sharing. 12-15 October 2018. floatingfestivals.co.uk
Port Canaveral, Florida – Great Stirrup Cay, The Bahamas
Over the years, we've been on a fair few cruises, and if there's one thing above all else that cures our occasional bouts of seasickness, it's lairy EDM – which is pretty much why Holy Ship cruise festival is as epic as they come. Setting sail from Port Canaveral in Florida and landing at Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas, this year's line-up saw no-holds-barred DJ sets from the likes of A-Trak, MK and Baauer. Do the Harlem starboard shake.
Prices to be confirmed. Early 2019. holyship.com
Barcelona – Sète – Ibiza – Mallorca
Noah's Ark is one of the most interesting tales in all of history, and this four-night festi-cruise continues with that in mind. Kind of. No, you won't be travelling two-by-two with all the animals on the planet on one boat, but you will be sailing toward a better, tropical future from the moment you step on board. Starting in Barcelona and visiting Sète, Ibiza and Palma de Mallorca on your way, you'll blend chilled electronica with sightseeing and on-deck relaxation.
From £486. 30 August–3 September 2018; 3-7 September 2018. theark.cruises
Rhythm & Blues Cruise
When a legendary R&B songwriter like the late, great Jimmy McCranklin says a cruise festival is the best gig he's ever played, you'd better believe him. Then again, the twice-annual Rhythm & Blues Cruise, which visits Caribbean islands like St Maarten and St Thomas, is probably the sort of gig that most legends dream of.
Prices to be confirmed. February 2019. bluescruise.com
Key West, Florida – Cozumel, Mexico
Modern life is whack, which is reason enough to take a cruise with Ship-Hop. This year's '90s extravaganza gave punters the chance to meet Vanilla Ice, rub shoulders with Coolio and head to the dining room with, er, Salt n Pepa – all while soaking in the sun between Key West in Florida and Cozumel on the Mexican coast.
Prices to be confirmed. Early 2019. shiphop.com