Not Your Grandma's Cruise: Music Festivals Set Sail This Season

Ah, to cruise. Whether breezing down the Turnpike or slipping out of port for a days- or weeks-long oceanic excursion, the act comes as naturally to South Floridians as retiring early or forgetting that turn signals exist. It's also a recreational activity synonymous with old rich dudes in flip-flops, sloppy bachelorette parties, and "family fun" — until now.

For those whose sea legs also come with a pair of dancing shoes.

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The cruise has been co-opted by another growing institution: the music festival. From rock 'n' roll to country and EDM, it seems there is now a mini-music-festival-themed cruise excursion for every taste. Whether it's a shortage of vacation days or disposable income that's to blame for the compounding of two previously unrelated pastimes, the sheer number and variety of options is impressive for those whose sea legs also come with a pair of dancing shoes.

But with so many cruises sailing out of South Florida, which are worth our precious time and hard-earned money? One of the first and most popular festivals-at-sea — the 311 Caribbean Cruise — won't be returning this year. In its wake, and in the spirit of making life that much simpler, here are seven of the best and most interesting festi-cruises coming up this season.

Flogging Molly's Salty Dog Cruise. March 18 to 21, 2016; Norwegian Sky; Miami to Bahamas. Prices range from $869 to $1,999. Visit

Flogging Molly, the venerable Irish-American Celtic punk band that's basically owned St. Paddy's celebrations for the past 20 years, takes its "Salty Dog" shenanigans to the Bahamas in March 2016. What better way to commemorate the patron saint of Ireland than getting drunk with not only Flogging Molly but also some very special guests, like Frank Turner, Rancid, and Authority Zero? In addition to a rad lineup of bands playing both day and night and accommodations onboard the Norwegian Sky, Salty Dog boarding passes also include most alcoholic beverages (up to $11), whisky tastings, and most meals.

Florida Georgia Line: This Is How We Cruise. November 7 to 11, 2015; Norwegian Pearl; Miami to Cozumel. Prices range from $520 to $3,360. Visit

The second-annual Florida Georgia Line: This Is How We Cruise festival may be its own unique creation, but it sure feels like an extension of recently successful country events like Fort Lauderdale's oft-sold out Tortuga Festival. Despite the notion that EDM and hip-hop dominate the South Florida musical landscape, country — and especially FGL's brand of radio-friendly pop-country — remains a musical heavyweight here.

The four-day affair makes a stop in Mexico's perennial spring break watering hole, Cozumel, and offers just about everything you'd expect, with one strange exception: Jason Derulo. Although how exactly the talented R&B singer got onboard is a bit of a mystery, Derulo makes a nice, if out-of-place, addition to the lineup.

Gronk's Party Ship. February 19 to 22, 2015; Norwegian Pearl; Miami to Great Stirrup Cay. Prices range from $450 to $3,500. Visit

America's favorite frat boy/NFL meathead now has his own cruise, because why the hell not? Hosted by the entire Gronkowski family (no, for real), Gronk's Party Ship features the bro-tastic musical trio of Flo Rida, Redfoo (of LMFAO), and Waka Flocka Flame. Also included in the ticket price are a photo op with Gronk, a Q&A session with the Gronk family, and of course, Gronk memorabilia.

By the end of the trip, there's a good chance the communication aptitudes of all 2,500 passengers will have devolved into a guttural, monosyllabic, "gronk"-speak. Still, for a mindlessly charming good time, you could do worse.

Holy Ship! January 3 to 6 and February 10 to 13, 2016; MSC Divina; Coco Cay/Grand Bahama Island. Prices range from $599 to $1,549. Visit

Holy Ship! is one of two EDM-based cruises on this list, but like an ocean-worthy Coachella, it has the distinction of sporting two separate weekends, each with different lineups. It's also already sold out (sorry!). Both the January and Valentine's Day weekend cruises are booked up, and the only way to gain passage is by getting on a waiting list and hoping someone drops out or dies.

For those lucky enough to have already secured passage, the party begins as soon as the boat leaves the dock. Eventually, the Hard-produced Holy Ship! lands at a pair of picturesque locations in the Bahamas, replete with grounded festival stages for an all-day rave on the sand.

Mad Decent Boat Party. November 11 to 15, 2015; Norwegian Pearl; Miami to Cozumel. Prices range from $680 to $5,310. Visit

Mad Decent Boat Party, the second of our Candy Kid cruises, has also sold out. The electronic and dance-happy lineup, curated by Mad Decent label founder Diplo, features an irresistible mashup of high-profile DJs like Borgore, Dillon Francis, and Flosstradamus, in addition to Diplo's well-known pet projects Jack Ü (with pal Skrillex) and Major Lazer.

What sets MDBP apart from its Holy Ship! cousin, besides a rather flashier lineup, is that it not only features nonstop raging onboard but also nonstop raging at the Playa Mia Grand Beach & Water Park (entrance is included in the cruise package). And nobody — nobody — who loves fun can say no to a water park.

Parahoy! March 5 to 9, 2016; Norwegian Pearl; Miami to Cozumel. Prices range from $475 to $2,750. Visit

The second incarnation of Paramore's Parahoy! festival cruise is currently scarce on lineup details — as in, none at all aside from the headliner. But judging from the friends they brought along in 2014, the potential for a rad bill is there. The first Parahoy! offered up an indie/alt smorgasbord that included Tegan and Sara, Mewithoutyou, New Found Glory, comedian Doug Benson, and a host of other pop-punk outfits who sang, danced, and caroused with fans.

Besides nearly unlimited access to bands and performers, a ticket to Parahoy! guarantees all your meals (because eating is a big part of that cruise life) and karaoke (also known as "Paraoke") with the Paramore.

The '80s Cruise. February 28 to March 6, 2016; Holland America MS Eurodam; Fort Lauderdale to Turks and Caicos/Puerto Rico/U.S. Virgin Islands/Bahamas. Prices range from $1,850 to $2,875. Visit

With such unbridled devotion and attention directed toward '80s music in modern indie pop-rock, is it any wonder the '80s Cruise exists? The weeklong cruise is set to whisk away music fans to several ports in the Caribbean: Turks and Caicos, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Bahamas.

This voyage at sea is set to the soundtrack of a Flock of Seagulls, Huey Lewis and the News, Modern English, and "DJ Extraordinaire" Biz Markie. Seriously, the opportunity to drunkenly wail along to "Just a Friend" makes this trip totally worthwhile.

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Angel Melendez is an unabashed geek and a massive music nerd who happens to write words (and occasionally take photos) for Miami New Times. A graduate of Florida Atlantic University and an accomplished failure at two other universities, Angel is a lush and an insufferable know-it-all, and has way better taste in music than you. His wealth of useless knowledge concerning bands, film, and Batman is matched only by his embarrassingly large collection of Hawaiian shirts and onesies.
Contact: Angel Melendez