Live in South Florida long enough, and the idea of the cruise loses its luster with the appearance of ever sunburned, hair-braided tourist clutching a cardboard box of souvenir rum. It's okay, says Jason Beukema, founder of the Miami Beach-based Whet Travel agency. "I've been on 35 cruises, and it's always the same. It's all families and old people, so the programming is always geared towards them."
So five years ago, Beukema founded an ocean excursion with a sexier flair: the Groove Cruise, which departs from Miami on January 29 and returns on February 1. In recent years, music-themed cruises have grown increasingly popular (the Jam Cruise, for one, just set sail from Fort Lauderdale). The Groove Cruise, though, sets itself apart even from these. It's the original, and still largest-scale, cruise focusing solely on dance music. Think a floating Miami-style club at sea -- but without the door messes, obnoxious foreign bouncers, bad service, and general BS.
"When you go to a club on South Beach, you worry how you're going to get in, then your friends get split up, or want to go somewhere else," Beukema says. "With this everything's set up; there's no hassle, no crap. You don't have to worry about how you're going to get there, where you're going to eat, where your friends are."
But for real club music aficionados, what makes this a worthy entry on the party calendar between NYE and WMC are the big-name DJs coming aboard. The Opium Group is Whet Travel's partner in the project, and as such the spinners here are favorites on the regular Opium Group club circuit: Sydney Blu, Louis Dee, Serge Devant, and Mind Control, among others. And there are the headliners: the master of hard-house marathons, Boris, and superstar Italian purveyor of electro-house satisfaction, Benny Benassi. When they're not actively playing, Beukema promises that, as on other music cruises, the artists will be hanging out and partying with the fans.
"The cool thing is this is the only event in dance music where there's artist-fan interaction," he says. "The artists really like it, and they understand that without their fans, they're nothing. And you're never going to get close to Boris when he plays at Space or wherever."
The Groove Cruise. With Boris, Benny Benassi, Serge Devant, and others. January 29 through February 1. Cabin prices vary. whettravel.com.