The Greatest Party At Sea: The Smooth Jazz Cruise
How would you like to be in Smooth Jazz Heaven? It sails around the Caribbean and features an A-list of smooth jazz performers in concert and in special moments. It's "The Smooth Jazz Cruise," which is also called "The Greatest Party At Sea." From the time you board Holland America's Westerdam until you disembark, it's just one amazing experience after another. In January, Bev and I went on what would become not only our first cruise, but the only cruise we would ever think of taking again.
Just a half hour after we left from Fort Lauderdale, you get to know how the experience will be. The first concert took place with two smooth jazz performers headlining every night. Each performer does their own concert-sized set with some of the finest backup musicians around. You better watch out because throughout the concerts, other named performers will join the headliner for those magical moments that only "The Smooth Jazz Cruise" can give. Think trumpeter Rick Braun being joined by sax men Euge Groove and Boney James and trombonist Brian Culbertson. That's how good it gets.
As the week moves along, you not only get to hear the performers, but you get to know what makes them tick. Between ports of call, you have the chance to hear songwriters talk about their thought process when they write music and what has influenced them. There were also seminars featuring sax, keyboard, and guitar player telling about why they do certain things to make themselves better. There are also events that show the lighter side of the performers, like sax man Gerald Albright's wife talking about healthy eating while husband Gerald makes chocolate chip cookies.
And don't forget the parties. They don't call it "The Greatest Party at Sea" for nothing. During the seven-night cruise, you have a number of parties by the pool where you can show off your tan, swim or just enjoy the sounds of DW3, sometimes joined by some of the major performers. There are T-shirt parties, a barbecue party, even a pajama party at night. There are also nightly DJ parties in the Crow's Nest where you can dance into the wee hours of the morning.
All this is prepared by Michael Lazaroff, executive director of Entertainment Cruise Productions. After looking over 30 different cruises, he knows what his audience wants, a consistant, first-class cruise experience. Unlike other promoters, Lazaroff takes a personal interest in the comments of the people who go year after year on not only "The Smooth Jazz Cruise," but also "The Jazz Cruise," which has been satisfying the straight-ahead jazz fan for over a decade.
Even though their cruises cost more than a normal Caribbean cruise, Lazaroff says the value in what you get outweighs what people pay. Each evening, you get internationally known talent performing on stage. This kind of dedication has expanded Entertainment Cruise Productions by adding a "Malt Shop Memories" cruise and this year introducing a new "Soul Train Cruise." When word gets around about what kind of cruises the company has done, those additional cruises could become as established at the jazz cruises have. For our money, "The Smooth Jazz Cruise" is something you'll never forget and will want to board year after year.