It has been just over two weeks since Holy Ship 9.0 pulled into Port Canaveral in Orlando and I’m finally beginning to feel like life is back to some sort of normalcy. The post festival blues or “ShipAids” as many shippers like to call it was strong with this one. I’ve had a couple weeks now to collect my thoughts about Holy Ship and one thing I can say for sure is it's far from your average music festival.
Now I should really preface this by saying that I am not a big fan of cruises in general. The idea of being trapped on what is essentially a floating casino for four days isn’t the top of my list of good times. That being said, Holy Ship elevates itself far beyond the standard cruise experience. Comparing it only to other cruises would be doing the ship a disservice. Holy Ship leaves nearly all other land based festivals in its wake. It offers everything you’d expect from your standard festival and a whole boat load of amenities that you won’t find anywhere else.
Where your standard camping festival will offer a shower truck, Holy Ship gives you a shower in your room. If you enjoy the variety of food trucks you might find at a festival you now have a cafeteria full of just about anything you can imagine, all included in the price of your ticket. That doesn’t include the nine sit down restaurants around the ship also included in your ticket price. Where you would normally find dirt and mud you will only find hot tubs and pools on this ride. Games and side events are all a bonus at this point. Really Holy Ship takes the whole festival experience to the next level.
As for festival amenities, Holy Ship has them all. Free food, beautiful locations, comfortable accommodations and big names, but there is one advantage that really makes holy ship stand out and that’s its overall size. Maybe I’m just getting old and jaded these days but with only 4000 people aboard it’s hard not to fall in love with the smaller crowds at the stages. Don’t get me wrong, I love the energy a big crowd brings to a great DJ but it’s pretty amazing to see a killer DJ you love with a crowd small enough to walk up and practically shake their hand. It’s the same feeling as finding a new DJ you love and seeing them before they blow up. Nowhere else can you see names like these in a place that feels like an exclusive nightclub for just you and your friends.
When it comes to lineups Holy Ship does things a little different. The more times I go the more I have come to appreciate the way things are set up. They bring in plenty of big names, not on the same level as something like EDC but more than enough to keep you happy and I’m ok this with and I’ll tell you why. Now I love seeing a super stacked festival lineup as much as the next person. I drool over the 50+ artists that I want to see at EDC every year but there is always one problem. There simply isn’t enough time in the day to catch every one I’m interested in. Holy Ship, while having a smaller lineup than other major festivals has the benefit of having all the artists stuck on the ship with you. This means that everyone plays at least two sets and in some cases three or four. By the time the week is over you can easily catch all the artists you were hoping to see, not to mention there's a decent chance of running into them walking around the ship enjoying the music with you.
Fatboy Slim kicked things off this year aboard the pool deck. Being a near legend in the EDM scene from his humble beginnings making house music over 20 years ago, I was happy to find that he has gracefully kept up on the modern EDM scene and could easily throw down a killer set with the rest of the younger artists aboard the ship.
Speaking of younger artists, I want to take a second to talk about Rezz. Without a doubt my the most kick ass new DJ I discovered in 2016. I couldn’t have been happier to see her aboard holy ship. At only 21 she isn’t just hanging with the rest of the big name DJ’s out there. She’s practically eviscerating them with her sound. Like an industrial metal band getting beat into submission by a DJ and her mixing board, her sound will make you want to stomp the ground and grab the nearest table and flip it over. Her sets were had more head banging than a Mötley Crüe concert. Her sets are grimy, nasty and unmistakably unique. An absolute highlight to say the least.
Griz threw down their funk infused brand of dance across several days and played some killer groovy sets that were a nice departure from most of the other artist aboard. The crowd lit up when they made a surprise appearance at nearly 8am with Destructo during the Sunrise Sermon. I can’t think of a much better way to watch the sunrise over ocean than with some saxophone infused ghetto house and a bunch of people who should have all gone to bed hours ago.
Probably the best addition to the musical entertainment this year was the burlesque show hosted and starring Dita Von Teese and her fellow traveling performers. The show filled up to the point of overflowing into the hallways both nights with hungry shippers looking to catch some of the action. And it was easy to see why. Dita was a blast to watch. Her performers were funny. They sang, they danced and of course, they stripped down to their skivvies. Something that wasn’t exactly rare to see aboard the ship but still a fun to watch nonetheless. The show culminated Dita taking a dip in a life sized martini glass, showering herself in champagne.
Last year our ship had to skip the private island party due to weather but thankfully this year we were able to disembark at Nassau to get a little time off the boat. For me this is a must since I find myself getting rather stir crazy stuck inside the same walls for too many days. Nassau is beautiful. Clear waters, long beaches and tons of cafes and restaurants to stop at. It’s the perfect way to break up the week with a few hours relaxing off the ship.
As I said at the start I have never been a big fan of cruises but with the addition of this year’s larger ship and extra day at sea Holy Ship managed once again to further up the ante. Bring on the music, bring on the water and ocean air. If they bring the music they will keep dragging me back year after year. It’s only been two weeks and I’m ready to go back again.