Jazz cruise season is upon us.
Entertainment Cruise Productions

Our Take: Getting Ready for
Three Weeks of Jazz

You have caught me in the office, fresh off Star Trek: The Cruise and getting ready to fly back to Florida to board Celebrity Infinity for a five day pre-cruise sailing to prepare for three jazz cruise programs in a row. Just enough time to repack and remove the Star Trek music theme from my head. Star Trek was a lot of fun, but not very musical!
Many ask, "what do you do on the pre-cruise" to prepare for the charters? Actually, it is a little bit of this and a little bit of that and whole lot of fretting. The process is divided among four categories: Ship Status, Guest Relations Information, Performance Preparation, and Guest Accommodations.
Ship Status means exactly what you might think it would mean. We literally walk the ship from bow to stern to make sure that it looks right and that all facilities and amenities are in good shape. There have been years where we have demanded carpet repair and replacement, light fixture updating and more. Also, every ship, even ones that we have used before, is run uniquely, so we need to learn the procedures and policies currently in place for the crew.
Guest Relations Information is a process where we acquaint the ship personnel with our guests in a general sense as well as the specific needs of particular passengers. We work through the RED/BLUE Cruise Identification Card procedure with them and try to review how those cards are printed so that we can ensure accuracy. We meet with the Housekeeping Staff, Front Desk Staff and other departments to provide them with information about our plans and how we have modified their customary policies to fit our needs. Remember, the crew of the ship is accustomed to a wide range of guest needs when they do a regular retail sailing. Our groups have requirements that are very specific and more detailed.
Performance Preparation is the process by which we go venue by venue and event by event to ensure that all performances are properly staffed and that the venues are prepped appropriately. This includes sound, seating and service issues as well. Then we go through the flow of the events to make sure that we have properly accounted for the time needed between events and how guests are able to move from event to event. Though not all the equipment is on board during the pre-cruise, we do account for what we do have and check again as to what equipment will be loaded as each cruise begins.
Guest Accommodations occupies most of our time. We meet with Housekeeping, Dining Staff, Beverage Staff and others to walk through how our programs work so that they can be prepared for the accommodation, service, dining and beverage needs and requests of our guests. As an example, on RED/BLUE night, there is an influx of guests early and another influx around 8:15 p.m. The first group dines before their show and the second group is ready to eat immediately after their show. This is very different from a retail cruise. Our breakfast times, late-night needs and drink preferences differ as well. Ships are not accustomed to drink service that is meant to be compatible with the performances and not so obtrusive or noisy so as to upset the stage or bandstand.
In addition, we set up our Production Office, our ECP office and other stations throughout the ship. In many respects, it is the lull before the storm, but is an essential space of time that makes all the difference in the world. We cannot wait to see you on board!

For those not booked for our 2019 jazz cruise programs, there are always cancellations for various reasons in the weeks leading up to Embarkation Day. Please call the office at 844.768.5157 for up-to-the-minute information on stateroom availability for The Jazz Cruise (January 19 – 26), Blue Note at Sea (January 26 – February 2), The Smooth Jazz Cruise '19.1 (February 2 – 9), and The Smooth Jazz Cruise '19.2 (February 23 – March 2).

Below, you can also check out our 2020 jazz cruise programs, which are either on sale now or will soon be on sale.

Our Take is written by Michael Lazaroff, Executive Director of Entertainment Cruise Productions. Feel free to express your views or pose questions to him at michael@ecpcruises.com.

Jazz Congress Convenes in NYC 

We like to think of January as our exclusive turf when it comes to presenting jazz in a big way, but we share the month with some friends and allies who gather the jazz community in New York City every year.  

Two of our favorite partners for our jazz cruises — JazzTimes and Jazz at Lincoln Center — organize Jazz Congress, which was held this past week at Jazz at Lincoln Center. For two days, every JALC venue was packed for panels, workshops and special events as part of this conference dedicated to expanding the audience for jazz.

More than 1,000 artists and industry professionals convened and kibitzed. There were panels about current trends and social issues, workshops that provided practical guidance for emerging artists, as well as three anecdotal sessions exploring the legacy of the music and its artists — specifically Art Blakey, Miles Davis and Randy Weston. And it was all followed by an incredible musical celebration of the late Roy Hargrove. Among the artists participating in Jazz Congress included many familiar faces to our guests: Christian McBride, Wynton Marsalis, Terence Blanchard, Kevin Eubanks, Robin Eubanks, René Marie, Arturo O'Farrill, Terri Lyne Carrington, Branford Marsalis, Emmet Cohen, Helen Sung, Jon Faddis, Maria Schneider, Nicholas Payton, Harold Mabern, Matt Wilson, Grace Kelly, Nate Smith and many more. Now that's our kind of hang!
Congratulations to our director of jazz relations, Lee Mergner, and his associates at Jazz at Lincoln Center — Gabrielle Armand and Aaron Bisman — for putting on this important event. Entertainment Cruise Productions is happy to share jazz in January with them.

Visit www.jazzcongress.org to learn more about the event. Click here to watch a video of the Keynote session featuring the reunion of 28 Art Blakey alumni.
2020 Jazz Cruise Programs 

Here is quick rundown of the status of reservations for our 2020 Jazz Cruise Programs:

The Smooth Jazz Cruise '20.1  (OPEN BOOKING NOW — OVER 92% SOLD)

  • Sailing Dates: January 18 – 25, 2020.
  • Reservation Status: Open Booking. Anyone may reserve any available stateroom here.


  • Sailing Dates: January 25 – February 1, 2020.
  • Reservation Status: Guests on Blue Note at Sea '19 may rebook their current stateroom on an exclusive basis from now through February 2, 2019.
  • Open Booking for all begins on February 4, 2019.
  • More information and the full line-up are available here.

The Jazz Cruise '20  (OPEN BOOKING STARTS JANUARY 28!)

  • Sailing Dates: February 1 – 8, 2020.
  • Reservation Status: Guests on The Jazz Cruise '19 may rebook their current stateroom on an exclusive basis from now through January 26, 2019.
  • Open Booking for all begins on January 28, 2019.
  • More information and the full line-up are available here. 

The Smooth Jazz Cruise '20.2  (OPEN BOOKING NOW — OVER 75% SOLD)

  • Sailing Dates: March 14 – 21, 2020.
  • Reservation Status: Open Booking. Anyone may reserve any available stateroom here.