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Origins of Blue Note At Sea

Since 2001, Entertainment Cruise Productions has been the world leader in live jazz entertainment at sea, having produced nearly 70 full ship charter jazz cruises all over the world, including The Jazz Cruise, The Smooth Jazz Cruise, North Sea Jazz Cruise, Playboy Jazz Cruise, The Signature Jazz Cruise and Dave Koz at Sea Cruise.

The Jazz Cruise has been sailing continuously since 2001 and The Smooth Jazz Cruise since 2004. Both continue today to be very successful and popular cruise programs. We have always desired to create a cruise program that addressed the tastes of those who enjoy jazz that is neither “smooth” nor “straight ahead”. There is a huge world of jazz that occupies that sector, and we have wanted to capture the hippest, most exciting and current performers in that world for a cruise.

Over the years, we have had the opportunity to meet and work with two titans of the jazz world; Don Was, President of Blue Note Records, and Steven Bensusan, President of Blue Note Jazz Clubs. Though their companies are unrelated, they do share a common name and mission and will work with each other on special projects.

When we started this cruise, originally named The Contemporary Jazz Cruise, we began discussions with them and, after the expiration of another project, we moved forward together and rebooted that cruise as Blue Note at Sea!

Working together, we have been able to create an amazing cruise program featuring the top names in jazz, together with amazing events, great programs, luxurious dining and amenities and more. Clearly, we have been able to produce “The Jazz Event of the SEASon!”


The selection of the performers on Blue Note at Sea is an arduous task. We wanted “hip”, but not inaccessible; “cool”, but not too introverted; and stylish without being overly indulgent. We are very proud and excited to present the lineup that we have for Blue Note At Sea, which includes Wynton Marsalis and The Jazz at Lincoln Center Band, Marcus Miller, David Sanborn, Robert Glasper, Cécile McClorin Salvant, Kurt Elling, Terence Blanchard, Christian Scott, Jason Moran, Kandace Springs with more to be announced. This outstanding lineup reflects our mission to present the “hippest and coolest” music in the world.


Main Shows each Evening Music on Blue Note at Sea is presented “show style”, meaning that each night there will be two main shows in the largest venue on the ship. Half of our guests will attend the first show and then will proceed to the Main Dining seating for dinner, and the other half of our guests will go to 1st Dining for dinner and then attend the 2nd Show. Of course, guests may dine at any of the specialty restaurants on the ship as they wish and at any times that they wish. Nonetheless, they will be assigned a time for the shows, one being at 6 pm (1st Show) and one being at 9 pm (2nd Show). The nightly Main Shows are not necessarily the same show. If not, then the show that is performed at the 1st Show one night is performed at the 2nd Show another night, insuring that every guest has the ability to see all of the Main Shows.

Cruising After Dark One of Entertainment Cruise Production’s most recognized programs and skills is our ability to create unique and fun programming during the late-night portion of the evening. Around 10:30 pm or so each night, all guests have had dinner and have seen the main show. On all Entertainment Cruise Production cruises, that signals the commencement of Cruising After Dark, where we present various forms of entertainment in multiple venues.

  • Rendezvous Lounge – This intimate lounge will feature small group performances, solo piano players and exciting new acts that we will be presenting as part of the cruise program.
  • Revelations Lounge – Sitting on the top deck of the ship, this lounge can feature top comedy, larger groups, dancing, and is the home of our late-night jam sessions.
  • Celebrity Theater – The main theater on the ship is often used for shows that will attract a broad audience or need the full stage for their presentation. The Celebrity Theater is lovely, comfortable and provides us with the ultimate in great sound.
  • Blue Note Jazz Club at The Cosmopolitan Dining Room – The Cosmopolitan Dining Room is so lovely as a main dining room that we knew we had to convert this space into an amazing late-night jazz club. With a stage that we build and a cabaret style seating plan, we converted the room into a Blue Note Jazz Club at sea where you can sit back, have a drink or dessert and enjoy the music.

Night Music with David Sanborn One of our programs as part of Cruising After Dark is Night Music with David Sanborn. Last year, we were very excited to be able to recreate the iconic Night Music show on Blue Note at Sea. “Michelob Presents Night Music”, initially named Sunday Night, was a late-night television show which aired for two seasons between 1988 and 1990 as a showcase for jazz and eclectic musical artists. It was hosted by Jools Holland and our very own David Sanborn, and featured Marcus Miller as musical director. Guests included acts such as Sonny Rollins, Shinehead, Sister Carol, Sonic Youth, Richard Thompson, Jo-El Sonnier, Joe Sample, Slim Gaillard, Elliott Sharp, Pere Ubu, Pharoah Sanders, and many others. In addition, vintage clips of jazz legends like Thelonious Monk, Dave Brubeck, and Billie Holiday were also featured. The show also featured a house band of Omar Hakim (drums), Marcus Miller (bass), Philippe Saisse (keys), David Sanborn (sax), Hiram Bullock (guitar), and Jools Holland (piano). The show often allowed its guests ample time to explain the origins of their sound, meaning of songs, etc. It also provided a national audience for lesser known acts (like Arto Lindsay’s band The Ambitious Lovers). Hal Willner was the music coordinator, responsible for the interesting musical mix-and-matching that took place on the show. Lorne Michaels was the producer of the show and, as such, Night Music became a predecessor of Saturday Night Live. On the cruise, David will lead the Blue Note At Sea House Band, comprised of Billy Kilson (drums), Geoffrey Keezer (piano), Ben Williams (bass) and Wycliffe Gordon (trombone) for four nights of amazing music featuring them as well as pop-in performances by the stars of the cruise on the ship at that time. There will be a lot of set tunes, but there will be a lot of jamming as well. David will also take some time to speak with our special guests, share insights and provide our guests with a behind the scenes view into the world of jazz from the days of Night Music through today.

The Comedy of Alonzo Bodden Alonzo Bodden, winner of Season Three of Last Comic Standing and the Comedian-in-Chief of Entertainment Cruise Productions, will perform his hilarious show for an additional two nights of Cruising After Dark in the Main Lounge. Besides Alonzo’s humorous and pointed comments and observations about today’s events and the various humorous ways of the public, Alonzo is always able to comment (a polite word for roast) upon the ups and downs of the cruise itself. Famous for taking the performers to task, some of the very best people watching can be found during an Alonzo Bodden comedy show.


In addition to the abundance of music presentations during the week, Blue Note at Sea takes the opportunity of having so many amazing and interesting jazz musicians onboard to feature interview and Q & A sessions throughout the week. Musicians frequently interact with guests in informal settings during the cruise as well. In fact, virtually all of the musicians freely spend time with the guests in the dining rooms, pool side and at events like our Cigars Under The Stars.