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Cayamo Cruise Sets Sights on 2012

A week-long cruise in the Caribbean and a seven-day music festival featuring top-notch performers may seem hard to combine. But, like our current cover story on the Bruise Cruise proves, setting music afloat on the high seas isn't so strange any more.

Before the Bruise Cruise, though, for the past four years the folks at musical cruise promoters Sixthman have already been putting the two together with their annual Cayamo cruises. The luxury vacations feature the best singer-songwriters around, and organizers have just announced the fifth edition of the cruise. It's scheduled to set sail from Miami from February 5 through 12, 2012. Like the four excursions before, it offers both spectacular destinations and a line-up that's clearly the envy of any festival confined to dry land. 

According to the company's announcement, next year's headliners will include Lyle Lovett, John Hiatt, John Prine, Richard Thompson, Keb Mo, Buddy Miller, Loudon Wainwright, Iris Dement, Greg Brown, Shawn Mullins, James McMurtry, Chuck Cannon, Works Progress Administration (WPA), Aslyn, Enter the Haggis, and the Ryan Montbleau Band, with other acts to be announced in the coming months. 

Most of these names are already familiar to the Cayamo crowd, particularly Miller, Mullins, Lovett, Hiatt and WPA, all of whom have been regulars on previous cruises. Prine, Thompson and Wainwright made seaworthy bows last month when they were added to Cayamo number four. Others, like Brown, Keb Mo and Dement will make their shipboard debuts. 

While the musical theme traditionally tends to lean towards Americana, the organizers have shown an increasing willingness to expand the musical parameters within a general sphere that also encompasses folk, pop, Celtic and the singer/songwriter persuasion. 

The destinations also offer an expanded itinerary from previous years, with a further venture into the eastern Caribbean and stops in St. Maarten, St. Barts and the lesser-known Cayo Levantado in the Domican Republic, all of which promise to afford some of the region's most spectacular scenery. For the second year in a row, the ship of choice will be the Norwegian Pearl. 

Unlike other cruises, however, the ports of call often seem inconsequential. When it comes to Cayamo, it's clearly the journey that matters most, especially the soundtrack provided along the way. At least that seems to be the attitude of the 2000-plus passengers who are treated to more than 130 concerts over the course of a week. The performances, spread out over several large and small venues throughout the ship, are often singularly unique, given the seemingly unending parade of guest appearances and unlikely collaborations that transpire. 

What's more, the Cayamo crowd, now fused as a family of fellow enthusiasts, turn the proceedings into a communal event. There's as much faithful devotion afforded to the outing as there is to Bonnaroo, Stage Coach, Burning Man or any other land-locked gathering.

Tickets for the 2012 Cayamo cruise start at $1235 per person (a $28 increase over the previous cruise), with additional charges of $235 for tax and fees, as well as $12 per person per day for gratuities. If a deposit is made by June 1 and paid in full within 72 hours, the passenger will be entitled to a five percent discount. To book, go to or call 877-379-9175.

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Lee Zimmerman

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