Major Lazer kicked things off right and really got the boat moving

Major Lazer kicked things off right and really got the boat moving

If you want to see more spectacular shots like the one above, check out Rukes.com for all three days of madness

Over the past couple weeks I’ve repeatedly been asked “How was Holy Ship?” or “How was the cruise?” – and because I haven’t stopped thinking about it since I returned – I figured I’d reflect upon the three days I spent aboard the MSC Poesia from January 4-7. Let me just say right up front that in my 25 years of existence, I had never had an experience quite like this…. and I can’t wait to do it again. I have now been on 50% of all Holy Ship!! voyages.

My experience with Holy Ship!! dates back to last year. No, I was not a passenger aboard the maiden voyage (these people are now referred to OGs as I quickly learned), but rather I was kicking myself for not going. I had known all about the impending trip, never pulled the trigger, and instead ended up in Puerto Rico for my winter vacation – only to come back and hear endless stories from Holy Ship!! as well as watch the official video countless times. That video, by the way, was definitely a reason so many people wound up going this year (I can attest to that after speaking with people I met on the boat). Anyways, the demand was through the roof for 2013 and my friends and I once again didn’t end up booking anything. A few months ago, however, my friend and Boston-area DJ DRitch asked if I wanted to replace the third member of his cabin. Without hesitation I said yes and the countdown was on.

Click through for the full run-down with highlights, pictures, and music!

The schedule for Holy Ship!! looked like this:

  • Thursday night: pre-party in Fort Lauderdale featuring A-Trak, Jack Beats, Alvin Risk, and more, 18+ (Holy Ship!! is 21+).  This is not part of your ticket for the cruise so it is an extra cost and I quickly learned the party was geared more towards those who weren’t going on Holy Ship (although there were plenty of people who did both). DRitch talked me into attending the pre-party, although I didn’t understand why I would want to attend if I was going to see all of the artists on the cruise anyways. Either way it turned out to be pretty fun and it was a cool venue with a whole different set of lesser-known DJs performing in a side room.
  • Friday day, anywhere from noon to 5pm: get your ass on the ship! We rolled out of bed in time to check out of our hotel by 11am. We saw a group of guys going on the trip near our hotel and it turned out DRitch knew a couple from last year. They made us realize that our hotel was walking distance to the port so we made our way together after first stopping at Walgreens for some essential goods. Upon arrival to the port we dropped our luggage off and began the waiting game.
    • Side note 1: There was a lot of waiting on this trip. You had to wait in three different lines just to get on the ship. Then once you got to your room and on board you had to wait for your luggage to arrive. Then you had to wait for the whole ship to fill. Then you had to wait for the fun to begin. At the bars, you had to wait much longer than you should have to for a drink. And getting off the boat – guess what? Yup, you get to wait.
    • Side note 2: We were instructed not to bring any food, liquids, drugs, etc on the ship. Well silly me, I thought I could sneak in a bottle of vodka in my luggage from the night before. So I was paranoid the whole time and when my luggage didn’t arrive after 7pm while my roommates’ did, I found out what I had been fearing: it had been discovered. Don’t worry I got the bottle back… after I got off the boat…
  • Friday Evening: Once everyone was on board, went through the safety training, had some drinks, met some people, and got antsy enough, the party finally started. At 7pm Major Lazer took to what I refer to as the main stage (actually called the Pool Deck) to begin the Sail Away set. I call the Pool Deck the main stage because it essentially was – it could fit the most people and it was where all the parties started. Finally the boat began moving around 8pm as acts like A-Trak and Boys Noize took the stage after Major Lazer. And we even received a “surprise” set by Skrillex after not being listed on the lineup (but many suspected he was on the ship anyways).
  • Friday Night into Saturday Morning: As festivals and parties typically go, the later it got the weirder things got. I made friends with our Australian floor mates as well as other people I recognized from my time wandering around the ship earlier. After Skrillex’s surprisingly funky set (that’s right, it’s no longer 100% intense Dubstep when you see him perform these days), I ventured to the theater to see the end of Tommy Trash’s set into the beginning of Knife Party’s set. The theater was pretty cool and it’s set up similarly to the Worcester Palladium or the State Theatre in Portland, Maine: stadium seating with an open dance floor right in front of the stage. Soon enough, however, I had to make my way to the Dirtybird Disco to see Claude Vonstroke, Justin Martin, and Eats Everything. The Disco was located on the very top level at the back of the boat and made for a really sleek yet intimate venue with the ability to go out on the deck and get some air. It was also one of the loudest venues and earplugs were pretty necessary.
    • Side Note 1: I found earplugs to be necessary at a lot of the venues around the ship. I didn’t think I’d need to bring any but I was wrong.
    • Side Note 2: I got to witness Claude Vonstroke wait 10 minutes for an empty bathroom stall
    • Side Note 3: The first two nights had theme nights: Tight and Bright and Ghost Pirate Ship. Dressing up was encouraged but not required
  • Saturday: Welcome to Nassau, Bahamas. I didn’t get off the boat, at the advice of DRitch and Claude Vonstroke (who had said Nassau was pretty seedy), but there was no shortage of things to do while it was docked. You could do yoga with Gina Turner, play Twister with Oliver, participate in Dillon Francis’ mini golf tournament, or even go witness an A-Trak DJ lesson (I couldn’t miss that one). The day overall was pretty relaxed…until we decided to get back into the party around 7pm with Destructo –> Jack Beats –> Dillon Francis –> Zedd on the Pool Side Deck. And it was pretty cool to note that outside my room Diplo walked by brushing his teeth and gave me an elbow dap. Other highlights from the night were Boys Noize’s theater set, complete with a very drunk Brodinski and Gesaffelstein all over the mic; Girl Unit’s set in the Disco; and watching A-Trak bop around on the dance floor to Eats Everything’s set (with a pirate hat on…).
  • Sunday: beach party on a private island. This was probably one of the biggest highlights for me. I’ll admit I was still hurting when we got to the beach around 2pm (we had the opportunity to get there as early as 8am if we wanted to), but soon enough the sounds of Justice brought me back to dance mode. These guys were playing straight up Disco (not Disco-House) and it was groovy stuff. They played all kinds of tracks including some Will Smith songs, and they had the help of Boys Noize, Brodinski, and Gesaffelstein on stage with them. I must say I probably saw that whole crew the most of any DJs all weekend. I met some new friends on the beach and I was disappointed to find out we had missed Diplo and Destructo’s sets – apparently Destructo played a lot of Hip-Hop.
  • Last Hurrah – Sunday Night/Monday Morning: reach deep down and get all the momentum you can because it’s Night Three of a party cruise. The best way to ease back into it? Pool side sets by Digitalism, Justin Martin, and Claude Vonstroke. I danced around in such a happy mood to the latter two, as they just throw down that booty bass. To my pleasant surprise Skream & Benga absolutely murdered it. I wasn’t in the mood for heavy Dubstep, but I was treated to some great stuff including an acid Drum n’ Bass song (please help me find this) as well as a Dubstep remix of Led Zeppelin (help me find that too). I ended up boppin’ around the rest of the night with a good crew I had met earlier that day, including a hot tub session while Tommy Trash blasted in the background. There were rooms dedicated to Moombahton, Hip-Hop, Trap, Tech-House, and everything in between. I finally wrapped up around 5:30 as Gesaffelstein and Brodinski went back-to-back at the Disco, but not before bumping into people like Benga, the guys from Justice, the beautiful J. Phlip, Diplo, and plenty more. And at 8am it was time to vacate the rooms!

Final Thoughts:
The trip was awesome. All the DJs killed it and I got to see guys on stage together that I may never see on stage together again. I ran into some of the world’s best music artists and DJs and had some pretty hilarious experiences overall. I also met some really cool people and I know exactly what I’m getting into next year. DJ sets that were highlights for me included Justice, Skream & Benga, Girl Unit, and Skrillex, although I genuinely mean it when I say I didn’t dislike any of the sets I saw. My complaints come with the waiting that we endured, the added expense of the drinks, and the fact that bartenders measured out the shots that were put into mixed drinks (seriously, this was my biggest complaint all weekend). But for what I experienced, my complaints really are minimal. Enjoy some pictures and musical takeaways and please reach out to discuss further or if you met me on the ship: jon@mmibty.com

Brodinski – Let the Beat Control Your Body (probably my favorite song all weekend. Justice dropped this on the beach and crowd went nuts)
Elvis Crespo – Suavemente (Kennedy Jones Trap Remix) (no shortage of Trap on the boat)
Benny Benassi – Satisfaction (RL Grime Remix) (did I mention there was a lot of Trap?)

Brodinski, Justice, Gesaffelstein, Boys Noize, Destructo on the beach

Brodinski, Justice, Gesaffelstein, Boys Noize, Destructo on the beach

Jack Beats at the Pre-Party in Fort Lauderdale

Jack Beats at the Pre-Party in Fort Lauderdale

 

Beach Party

Beach Party

Claude Vonstroke Making that Booty Clap

Claude Vonstroke Making that Booty Clap