I never thought I’d be writing about going on Holy Ship for my third year, but here I am.

For those who don’t know, Holy Ship is a majestic voyage of great music and great people ran by the one and only Gary Richards aka Destructo aka founder of HARD aka music executive aka innovative genius. This year, things were shaken up for the 8th and 9th sailings. Rather than leaving from Miami on the MSC Divina, the unique voyage went out of Port Canaveral in Orlando on the Norwegian Epic. Appropriate name, no?

Although the Miami vibes were missed, I actually really enjoyed leaving out of Orlando. It was interesting to compare the two ships and cruise lines, both having their pros and cons. I thought the process for getting on and off the Epic was much smoother and quicker and the layout was a lot less confusing, making getting from one end of the ship to the other a breeze. There were seven stages this year, up from five, but they were smaller and at times there were even lines to get in. Thankfully they moved fairly quickly, but I did find myself now and then missing the stages on the Divina.

With every sailing, there’s no shortage of delicious food. A free 24-hour buffet (yes I’m serious) as well as a few free restaurants, such a tasting menu and noodle bar, and few restaurants you have to pay for too, such as a steakhouse, sushi bar, and a hibachi restaurant. There was even an ice bar on board this year. All of which I failed to make the most of… classic.

The staff on board were pretty awesome. Our room attendant made sure we had everything we needed and was always around just in case. He even made a cute elephant out of the towels one day and always complimented me on my outfits haha. Shout out Mario!

Another big change this year was having the sailings back to back, rather than having one in January and one in February. It was definitely an interesting change and I think it worked really well. Kudos to those who did the ships back to back, glad you all made it haha. An extra night was also added to each sailing for a total of four nights, which was really nice to have. Everything felt more relaxed and spaced out. You could take your time to see more things and explore more places. In previous years, it felt like a frenzy and then it was over before you knew it. The music also stopped at 2am the last night which gave people time to wind down and rest up before disembarking.

Each sailing had two stops, the private island Great Stirrup Cay and Nassau. Unfortunately, for 8.0 Nassau was cancelled due to stormy weather. Which I was OK with, because I finally got to experience the private island for the first time! The first year I went it was cancelled due to weather and last year we only stopped in Nassau. Words can’t describe how amazing the island party was, it’s hard to believe it was reality. I was sure to get there nice and early to soak up as much island time as I could and danced the day away to the sweet sounds of the very talented Ardalan, Justin Martin, Destructo, and Duke Dumont.

9.0 was only able to make it to Nassau because of the continued bad weather. They did however get to experience Gary’s infamous Sunrise Sermon at the Spice H20 stage atop the ship. Unfortunately, ours was pushed back a day and was held at the inside stage, the Manhattan, due to a crazy lightning storm we went through… Which was actually really cool. Although it was still awesome, because let’s be real, everything on ship is awesome, it just didn’t have the same vibe as being out in the open on the deck of the ship under the brilliant sky.

Both lineups were absolutely killer, there wasn’t a set to disappoint. Holy Ship does a great job of varietizing the lineups, with something for everyone at almost any time. I loved every set I went to this year, but a few of my favourites had to be Sita Abellan, Rufus Du Sol, Curses’ Drop the Lime set, and Bob Moses live. My only wish is that Fatboy Slim is required to be on every future sailing haha. His pop up set in the Atrium of the Divina in 2015 still remains my all-time favourite moment of Holy Ship.

It’s really never a dull moment on ship. There’s restaurants to eat at, sets happening day and night, spas to visit, friends to get weird with, bars to quench your thirst at (BBC’s all day, everyday), islands to visit, champagne bottles to pop, merchandise stores to line up at… They also have plenty of artist activities throughout the day. On 8.0, they had yoga and meditation with Gina Turner and Tim Rothschild, Bingo with Anna Lunoe and Nina Las Vegas, Karaoke with Kill the Noise and Snails, “Tattoos” with Ghastly, Learn to DJ with A-Trak and Destructo, and much more.

And then there’s Shipfam. What to say about Shipfam. To quote Kaylin Miller from her article on Everfest on How to Be a Part of Shipfam: “They have been known to open their homes, their circles, [their hearts,] and their lives to one another, regardless of location or time of year. Holy Ship! is an experience like no other, and something that the ShipFam experiences together.” I don’t think there’s a more accurate description. I’ve met hundreds of the most amazing people through ship from all over and have discovered a whole new group of wonderfully weird people, all with a common love of music, dancing, and being with friends. No matter what city you visit, you will find Shipfam, and they will welcome you with open arms.

Holy Ship never fails to amaze me. Every sailing is so unique and awesome in its own way, there’s no comparison. It has truly been one of the wildest experiences of my life and I am so grateful for all the friends that have become a part of my life because of it.

Oh and when you go for four years, you “graduate” and get a special Holy Ship robe and graduation party… So obviously can’t go for three years and not go for my fourth. See you next year (ship)fam. 😉

PS. Going to Disney World afterwards was the best idea…

Special thank you to the amazingly talented James Coletta for the two photos of me in my happy place. 😛

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