The Soul Music Experiences Happening At Sea

Ain’t no cruise like a soul music cruise, ‘cause a soul music cruise just rocks.

What’s better than soul music? Soul music on the sea. The sea and song connection is as mystical as it is magical. It transports you to another place and time. Celebrating the creativity and culture of the people who embody soul music is only amplified during a musical cruise experience. 

In celebration of Black Music Month, we’ve put together a roundup for those looking to rock the boat to the rhythms of history’s top music artists.

Soul Train Cruise

Soul Train, created by Don Cornelius, was known as “the hippest trip in America” thanks to its dynamic cast of dancers, much-anticipated segments like the Soul Train Line and Scramble Board, and the spotlight on the brightest talent in the soul, R&B and hip-hop genres. Cornelius’ son Tony Cornelius is continuing his father’s musical legacy with the Soul Train Cruise, now in its 11th year in partnership with Holland America. This seven-day cruise, which embarks from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, makes stops in popular Caribbean destinations like San Juan and St. Thomas. Guests enjoy an immersive experience, revisiting some of the best soul and R&B music from decades past including live performances by music legends like Jeffrey Osborne, Earth, Wind & Fire, Charlie Wilson, Regina Belle, and more contemporary artists like Dru Hill. The January 26 to February 2, 2025 cruise (making stops in Belize and Mexico) is already sold out, but a second cruise (November 9-16) has been added to the 2025 schedule to meet demand. 

Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite Cruise

When Maxwell came onto the music scene in 1996 with his debut album, Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite, he snatched our souls with his sultry presence and captivating songs like “Sumthin’ Sumthin’” and “Ascension (Don’t Ever Wonder).” Much of the self-taught musician’s music is centered on love, so it’s no surprise he chose to debut his annual Urban Hang Suite Cruise over Valentine’s Day weekend earlier this year. Artists like Ledisi, Robert Glasper, Musiq Soulchild, Anthony Hamilton and more headlined this four-night cruise on the Norwegian Pearl, which departed from Fort Lauderdale with stops on the exclusive private island of Great Stirrup Cay and Nassau, Bahamas. Maxwell’s mission with this music cruise is to bring together people in love to enjoy great music and to have a good time. In addition to soulful performances, including two live performances by Maxwell himself, guests also enjoyed scheduled parties and comedy nights.

Rock the Bells Cruise

Hip-hop music may have turned 50 years old last summer, but the genre birthed in the Bronx is here to stay. The Rock the Bells Cruise offers hip-hop lovers a four-day musical experience featuring an eclectic mix of pioneering artists, including Busta Rhymes, Rakim, Jadakiss, Method Man and Redman, Sa-Roc, Mia X, Digable Planets and more. And that’s just the first wave of artists announced for the second year of this cruise, which is scheduled to set sail this year November 13-17 from the Port of Miami, with stops in Great Stirrup Cay and Nassau Bahamas aboard the Norwegian Gem. In addition to live performances from hip-hop’s best artists, this cruise experience features sets from some of the hottest DJs—Kool DJ Red Alert, Mannie Fresh, Kid Capri, Jazzy Jeff and more. One of hip-hop’s first female emcees, Roxanne Shante, is slated to serve as co-host of this year’s sail. 

Welcome to Jamrock Reggae Cruise

From the moment you step foot onto Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas cruise ship in Miami for the Welcome to Jamrock Reggae Cruise, you are immersed in a musical and cultural experience that captures the essence of reggae music. Naturally, the experience is largely inspired by one of the genre’s founding fathers, Bob Marley. Be prepared to experience electric performances by Bob Marley’s son Damian “Junior Gong” Marley, who created this five-night reggae music experience that is in its ninth year, and just know that you may not get much sleep during your journey. There’s much to enjoy: From the sunrise yoga and Nyahbinghi drumming to the mid-day dancehall classes to live performances featuring the hottest reggae and dancehall artists happening all day. In addition to music from top reggae artists (last year’s cruise featured Sean Paul, Beanie Man, Spragga Benz, Wayne Wonder, Capleton, Nadine Sutherland and more) this year’s cruise attendees experienced the Marley legacy in full force, thanks to performances by Damian and his siblings, Stephen and Ky-Mani Marley. This cruise occurs every year in early December (this year’s dates are December 9-14), and it’s recommended to plan and book early.

The Tom Joyner Foundation Fantastic Voyage

We know Tom Joyner as a successful radio personality and philanthropist, but the former member of the Commodores (Joyner left the group before they signed to Motown) is a lover of Black music to his core. With his annual Fantastic Voyage cruise, the founder gets to marry his love of music with his passion for supporting HBCUs by bringing together music legends like Chaka Khan, Bobby Brown, Tank, Ashanti and Earth, Wind & Fire for a seven-night cruise experience aboard the Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas. More than 105 HBCUs and upwards of 32,000 students benefit from the funds raised. The 2024 trip departed on April 27 from Miami and sailed to the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Dates for the 2025 cruise have not yet been set.

Spinderella on the ones and twos at the Circle Line Summer Dance Series.
Circle Line Summer Dance Series

If grooving the night away to your favorite artists floats your boat but you also relish the idea of returning to land at the end of the day, Circle Line has just the experience for you. The New York City-based boat company just kicked off its Summer Dance Series this month, which offers guests a chance to make musical memories on the dance floor while they enjoy a scenic sail with  beautiful views of the city’s iconic skyline. Each 2.5-hour music-themed cruise, which departs from Pier 83, includes specialty cocktails, a choreographed dance lesson and  costume contests for each themed sail. This summer’s featured artists for the series include Janet & Michael Jackson (7/11), Women in Hip Hop (8/7) and Usher (9/5).


There are no reviews/comments yet. Be the first one to write one.

Write A Comment

You May Also Like...