Why You Should Go on a Winter Cruise

Why You Should Go on a Winter Cruise

BY Fifty Grande Editors | January 17, 2024

It’s winter. The ground is hard and the air feels like a wall of ice. Any kind of travel, even just down the street, feels especially arduous, and outdoor concerts just aren’t as fun when you have to watch them under three layers of clothing. But do you know what’s still rocking? The ocean. We know, some people still think of cruises as a cliche of older generations, a paltry, unmoored substitute for a true beach vacation, but things in the cruise industry have changed. Over the past two decades or so, a new niche has blossomed, music festivals at sea, and they’re helping bring younger generations aboard. These music festival cruises are mad hat parties, multi-day, above-water submersions in some of music’s most unselfconsciously dedicated fan groups. Better yet, more and more genres are getting their own cruises, even the stereotypically sunlight-averse emo crowd. So why not get a different kind of cabin fever during winter? Fifty Grande Reporters have the rundown on the music festivals that set sail in the winter season. Don’t worry if a 2024 cruise is sold out. Tickets for 2025 go on sale very, very soon.

Groove Cruise

January 25-28

Go-karting at sea? Check. Playing laser-tag 16 decks above the ocean? Also, check. How about 96 hours of non-stop music from more than 70 DJs while you travel from Miami to an exclusive private island in the Bahamas only accessible to cruise guests? All of this, and more, is possible on the 2024 Groove Cruise, that is if you have the money to shell out on what, for some EDM heads, could be the experience of a lifetime. For the rave’s 20th anniversary, organizers pulled out all the stops: Tiesto, Diplo and John Summit will headline, and joining them are an entourage of well-experienced electronic dance sailors who have even dropped anchor in Tomorrowland, including Gabriel & Dresden, LP Giobbi and Joel Corry. – Hanna Vioque

Photo courtesy of ASK4 Entertainment.


February 4-10

The inside of the ship looks a bit like something out of the final 10 minutes of an Indiana Jones film. In the center of the room, its long, decorous red robes lit from below with blue and white lights, a skeleton sits atop a grand throne, jaw wide open as if cackling mid-joke. Behind it stands the praetorian guard, who are notably also skeletons — though instead of guns, they carry red electric guitars to match red berettas. This is the infamous cruise king Skully, or the “supreme being” of ShipRocked, a hard rock luxury ship cruise. His pledge is simple: “Rock Hard and Vacation Harder.” And the vacation part will indeed go hard; the ship takes vacationers from Miami to Bimini in the Bahamas, Ocho Rios in Jamaica, and Grand Cayman. The debutantes of this frightening ball at sea: Highly Suspect, Killswitch Engage, Code Orange, Cassyette, Dayseeker, Catch Your Breath, Dead Poet Society, Beartooth, Crobot, Badflower, Black Stone Cherry and more. – Hanna Vioque

Jam Cruise

February 25-March 1

“Jam Cruise 20,” as Jam Cruise will be known this year, is setting off in Miami in February, closing out two full decades of tropical funk cruises. This year, Jam Cruise will make two stops along its six-day route in Montego Bay, Jamaica and Grand Cayman, but above all, it’s a music festival, with artists playing eight stages scattered throughout the ship. Artists like Perpetual Groove, Lettuce and The HillBenders will play a mix of rock, funk, jazz and bluegrass. Most artists on Jam Cruise play two shows over the course of the week and otherwise wander about the ship with attendees, mostly for the interactive musical environment, partly because they can’t exactly leave. – Emily Frantz 

Outlaw Country Cruise

February 4-10

With its line-up of trailblazers and musical renegades, Outlaw Country Cruise dares you to embrace your inner rebel. If that means also enjoying full amenities on a six-day cruise, well, lucky you. This time around, heavy-hitters like Lucinda Williams and Steve Earle will return, in addition to dozens of other performances across the ship’s five stages, including tribute shows, guitar pulls and special tapings for Sirius XM. In-between all the boot stomping sets and heavy drinking, should you feel yourself flagging, seek out Jim Lauderale, who will be holding Tai Chi and Qigong exercises during the daytime. For the more creatively inclined, register for Steve Earle’s song-writing workshop, Camp Copperhead. – Sébastien Luc Butler

Emo’s Not Dead

February 26 – March 1

Emo’s not dead; look to When We Were Young’s lineup or Haley Williams’ continued existence for confirmation. Just to make sure though, the Emo’s Not Dead Cruise returns in 2024, putting a good chunk of what remains of “emo” out to sea. Genre giants Yellowcard headline the week, with a full lineup of men — now in their thirties and forties — in tight black pants with them, including Sleeping with Sirens and Mayday Parade. Leaving from Miami, this cruise heads to Great Stirrup Cay at the end of February with a few thousand millennials NOT dressed for the weather. They spent way too much money on flannels in 2008 and they’re going in the suitcase, dammit. The festival does provide a disclaimer: “skinny jeans and studded belts not required.” – Emily Frantz 

Monsters of Rock

March 2-7
“The dirty dozen.” That’s the self-coined nickname for the twelfth year of the Monsters of Rock Cruise, a five-night-long sail that brings all the best parts of a hard rock and heavy metal music festival out to sea. We’re talking multiple stages, crowded bars, late-night stumbling from cabin to cabin. Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas might not immediately bring to mind screeching guitars and face tattoos. But this cocktail of Disney-esque kitsch and angry metal seems to somehow work. The ship leaves from Miami, spends two full days at sea and two full days docked, stopping in Ocho Rios, Jamaica and Nassau, Bahamas. Musicians including rock guitarist Joe Satriani, long-haired former lead Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley, ’80s throwbacks Winger and Quiet Riot — basically any popular group of aging shaggy-haired screamers — will all perform multiple sets, even while the boat is docked. – Sara Luzuriaga