Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Smooth Seas, Smooth Sailing, Smooth Jazz Cruise

It's no secret that this Cruise Diva loves cruises. What you may not know about me is my passion for music. I don't leave home without my iPod and I'm happiest when experiencing some down time with an upbeat tempo while relaxing at sea.

Like other music lovers, my husband Mel and I appreciate music festivals where the artists really connect with their audiences. Unfortunately, for most of us that means traveling to distant cities where the hottest musicians are most likely to appear. It was relatively easy for us to attend the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival when we lived nearby, but we've found an even better way to enjoy concerts without the hassle of parking and crowds—one of the full-ship charters presented by Jazz Cruises LLC.

I must admit that I wasn’t a Smooth Jazz aficionado when we set sail on our first Smooth Jazz Cruise in 2008 and barely knew what to expect. While the style is difficult to describe, it’s a little bit funky with some soul and R-and-B tossed in, and all performed to a great beat. It’s contemporary and the sounds are infectious. And, yes, you can dance to it. Janet—a fellow passenger, who was 83 years young—captivated us during the nightly concerts with her dancing in the aisles. Staying seated is nearly impossible.

Some things really do get better with age and when The Smooth Jazz Cruise 2013 departs Fort Lauderdale on Holland America Line's Westerdam, it will officially be The Greatest Party at Sea. New name. New lineup of stars. New ports of call. And there are two sailing dates: Jan 13-20 and Jan 20-27, 2013.

George Benson will be the special guest of The Greatest Party at Sea, which will be the first time he has ever performed on a cruise.

Jazz Cruises' mission remains the same: showcase the best smooth jazz stars in the galaxy. Brian Culbertson will return for his second sailing. In addition to George, other new faces making their debut with us will be the legendary Bob James, the lovely and talented Angie Stone, and dynamic violinist Ken Ford. Superstar hosts David Sanborn and Marcus Miller will be back, along with special event hosts Jonathan Butler and Candy Dulfer. Completing the lineup are fan favorites Alonzo Bodden, Rick Braun, Richard Elliot, Jeff Golub, and Brian Simpson.

The Greatest Party at Sea will sail to Cozumel, Belize, and Key West, spending two nights and a full day in Cozumel, which creates special opportunities for you. George Benson will be there for the entire stay in Cozumel.

As we discovered when we sailed in 2008, fellow guests line up to book the next year's cruise before the current one has barely started and Westerdam departs full. Cabin are now available to book online at or by calling the office at one of the toll-free numbers, 888.852.9987 (for U.S. and Canada) or 800.852.99872 (international).

Smooth Jazz Cruise ’12 guests have first priority for cabin selection through Nov 30, 2011, after which is Open Booking. Anyone else wishing to reserve a cabin may do so and their cabin will be assigned at the beginning of Open Booking. There are three different rates: a Standard Rate, which is for new guests; a Returning Guest Rate, for those who sailed on previous cruises; and the 4 or More Rate, for those guests who have sailed on four or more of our prior sailings.

Prior guests who book before Nov 30, 2011, have until Feb 15, 2012, to pay their deposit. All other guests shall pay the deposit when their reservation is confirmed. A $50/person processing fee is due with each reservation. This fee is fully refundable if the reservation is not confirmed. Pricing options are available on the website.

Re-live The Smooth Jazz Cruise 2008 with Cruise Diva for a taste of what to expect.

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