Jazz Cruise 2017

Feb 5th, 2017, 12:31 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 1,963
Jazz Cruise 2017

Jazz Cruise 2017 (Jan. 28 to Feb. 4, Celebrity Summit)

This report centers on the main reason for this cruise: The entire ship was chartered by www.ecpcruises.com and dedicated to Jazz. This cruise was preceded by a “Smooth Jazz” cruise and succeeded by a “Blue Note at Sea Contemporary Jazz” cruise.

For details on the ship’s features, creature comforts and services you may wish to look elsewhere, since we didn’t avail ourselves of the shops or optional restaurants etc and can’t comment.

We were there for the music, and with four or even five consecutive 90-minute sets a day, sometimes from 11:00 until 01:00 the next day, we got plenty of that. The highest quality of musicianship among the world-famous performers was matched by the level of knowledge and expertise among the passengers that kept impressing the performing musicians—they could throw out a reference to an iconic recording and be met by approving applause, spontaneously, again and again. Both the musicians and the audience knew their stuff! Most people we talked to were repeaters, some on their 14th Jazz cruise!

The performers were scheduled to appear at least three times, many played even more often and in various combinations, so with a bit of planning we could hear all our favorites even though three or more performances were happening at once in the various rooms.

The kind of Jazz we heard was not “smooth”, not “contemporary” or “crossover” or “fusion”, not “traditional” as in New Orleans “Trad Jazz” (with a few rare exceptions) or “Glenn Miller Big Band”—it was “real” Jazz, mostly modern, sometimes avantgarde.

If that doesn’t tell you what you need to know, maybe the artist names on the website will: http://2017.thejazzcruise.com. Just one highlight for the Jazz connoisseurs: Jimmy Cobb at age 88 played just like he did on Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue” in 1959 (he’s the last surviving member of that recording date)!

Embarkment in Fort Lauderdale went smoothly, even with so many pax of mostly advanced age and limited agility. Suitcases could be handed off to be delivered to the cabins, lighter items could be carried through a TSA-style security check. It all took a while but the lines kept moving.

Our cabin (pardon me, “stateroom”) was the cheapest, on Deck 2 (lowest), and we liked it very much. Ditto with the food—we only ate in the Ocean View self-serve restaurant that was always open (except for a few hours at night) and where we found the variety and quality to be excellent; but then we’re not “foodies”, and dressing up and being fussed over with table service doesn’t amuse us.

The worker bees on that ship are chosen and trained to be polite and accommodating, and it was a pleasure to hear a “Good Morning” at every turn.

The sound engineers were incredible—we heard none of that “disco” booming bass that wrecks so many Jazz festivals by masking the pitches of the Jazz bass and taking away the subtleties of the kick drum. Every note was heard distinctly—a lost art among sound engineers, so we were grateful for that!

We took the “Tale of Two Cities” tour in Belize, disembarking before 10:00 for a 75-minute bus ride each way through Belize City to Altun Ha where we explored Mayan ruins. We learned a lot on this relaxing ride on a nice, partly sunny day, and were back on board ship by about 14:30.

Final disembarking was well organized and went smoothly.

This cruise is all about the music, Jazz at the highest level, and we got what we went for! The 2018 Jazz Cruise has just been posted: https://www.thejazzcruise.com
michelhuebeli is offline  
Feb 5th, 2017, 04:20 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 326
Glad you enjoyed your cruise. I will go on a music theme one day.
tch912 is offline  
Feb 6th, 2017, 01:44 PM
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 1
I agree strongly with virtually everything in Michel's comprehensive review!

I've been sailing on The Jazz Cruise since 2004. This was another wonderful musical celebration. I have just a few additional notes to Michel's:

The switch from Holland America to the Celebrity Summit was, in most respects, a (small) step up from my perspective. More and better venues were a key plus. Better dining room food was also a plus. The Celebrity staff was a bit warmer and more responsive. However, the Ocean Cafe food was, in my view, poor. In particular, the same stew-like main course, crock-pot-looking hot dishes were repeated -- most spicey-hot than my system tolerates. Holland America was better in this limited respect.

Also, the wonderful new venues had 2 notable problems which, hopefully, the ECP folks can address. There was sound leakage between venues, especially into the Revelations space on Deck 10. Bass and drum from below leaked through into the performance. And there was some occasional temperature discomfort -- Revelations got very hot, occasionally another was quite chilly. But most environments were comfy.

Beginning in the last year or so, EPC under leadership of Mike Lazaroff has really turned up production values. Wonderful lighting and graphics abound to augment the superb sound reinforcement. This cruise is a jewel I hope the Lazaroffs will continue their commitment to real jazz, not shifting even this cruise to the smooth, contemporary or other genres mentioned in Michel's excellent review.
lionheartlev is offline  
Feb 8th, 2017, 08:43 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 1,963
I'm glad that lionheartlev agrees in principle. This floating Jazz festival was on the level of, say, the Monterey JF, but way more comfortable.

If you're wondering whether to consider next year's cruise (assuming you're a diehard Jazz lover - if not, don't bother):

About the points where we disagree - for anyone wondering about the Ocean Café, don't worry, there's plenty for anybody. We happen to have liked the slightly spicy curry and caribbean dishes a lot (we're used to much more heat), and the quite intense stir-fry made to order (hot sauce and garlic = flamethrower breath...). And we liked the not-so-American dishes like polenta. But the roasts and other traditional dishes are plentyful, as are the salad ingredients, so it's really a matter of taste, nobody gets shortchanged.

Did I mention the desserts? Poor waistlines...
michelhuebeli is offline  

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