OUR TAKE: 327, 334, 341, 348

Oceanview mornings | The Weekender 02.25.23


OUR TAKE: 327, 334, 341, 348

No, those numbers are not lousy SAT scores or, even worse, credit scores. They are the number of days between now and the next sailings of The Jazz Cruise ’24, The Smooth Jazz Cruise ’24.1, The Smooth Jazz Cruise ’24.2, and Botti at Sea ’24, respectively. 1029 was the number of days between cruises during the Pandemic, so you would not think that 300+ days would seem too long, but, after having so much fun on the ’23 Cruises, it seems like an eternity.

Evidently, our team at Jazz Cruises is not the only one who feel this way. With The Smooth Jazz Cruises at more than 90% sold and the others right behind them, the fans of the cruises are expressing their excitement to be cruising again. Quite frankly, I knew that it would be fun to sail and present our great music again, but something else was afoot during those weeks at sea. On a personal note, I rediscovered how much I love the people who perform our music and the people who are fans of our music. Not being fully immersed in that lovely bubble for 1029 days took a larger toll on me than I realized.

No one has ever written a song in honor of February in St. Louis. Looking out my office window each day, I never realized just how many shades of grey the sky can become. Granted, the sun does make an appearance now and then, but, in movie and music parlance, we would call it a “cameo” or a “walk-on”. It appears just long enough to remind you what sunlight is supposed to look like. On the ship, I set up shop every morning on the back deck of the Ocean View Café, taking in the majesty of the ocean as the sun rises gently in the East. Morning coffee never tasted so good.

But the real pleasure of the morning is sharing that time with our guests. The quiet solitude of the back deck invites even the shyest guest to stop by and share their thoughts about the cruise, last night’s performances, or who will be starring on next year’s cruise. For the time we are on that deck, and for the balance of the week for the most part, those are the questions of the day, the headlines and news bulletins.

Clearly, such an idyllic setting can mask the harsh realities of life and the world. Knowing that our time together on the ship is outside the hectic, tragic, and arduous aspects of life not only does not tarnish the experience, but it also makes our time at sea all the more precious. Knowing that it will not last forever is almost as important as knowing that it exists at all. Waiting 1029 days between experiences is awful, but even the 300 or so days before we return to our oasis seem difficult to fathom, even more, difficult to endure.

The ’23 Sailings reinforced a notion about our cruises that I realized many years ago. Yes, we are on a ship, but it is not the travel opportunities that a ship provides that make our cruises special. Instead, the ship is the crucible in which music, musicians, guests, friends, and other things and people come together to create both an atmosphere and an opportunity that brings out the very best in all of us. Think about it. Aren’t you at your very best when you are on the ship with friends, fans, and the greatest musicians in the world? That feeling is inspirational and thrilling. It is the same high one achieves from winning, being recognized for some feat, or knowing that you just did your very best in some encounter.

Looking out the window at the grey skies summons up the worst of our thoughts, the demons and depressions that cause sadness. Starting today, I am changing that view and will make sitting on the back deck of the Ocean View Café talking to fellow guests my default thought process. As much as I can, I plan on feeling that I am “on the ship” every day, if only for one or two stolen moments.

Where are those wonderful crew members who fill our coffee cups?

By Michael Lazaroff, Executive Director of The Jazz CruiseThe Smooth Jazz Cruise, and Botti at Sea. Feel free to express your views or pose questions to him at [email protected].
– Paula B from Minnesota
“Love the mug. It’s just the right size so I can say that the mug holds my 1 cup of coffee for the day.”
– Johnnie M. from Arizona
Each guest on the cruises received a “The Weekender” mug, which we hope you will use with your Saturday morning coffee while you read the latest edition.

Please share a picture of yourself & your mug with us so that we can include it for the 100,000+ folks who receive The Weekender each Saturday.

Tag us @thejazzcruise @bluenoteatsea @thesmoothjazzcruise #jazzcruises and #theweekender.  Email your photo to [email protected].

Three artists from our Smooth Jazz Cruise family, Jonathan Butler, Marcus Miller and Candy Dulfer, are headlining the inaugural Desert Jazz Festival in the infamous Coachella Valley. The dates for this very limited, exclusive, and inclusive event are September 28 – October 1, 2023, in Rancho Mirage, California. Music lovers can expect 4 days and 3 nights of top-quality performances, food, golf, and more. It’s going to be an unforgettable experience that no one should miss out on! Please don’t delay and register today!
Guests on Blue Note at Sea this year were treated to impressive performances by the Jazz House All-Stars, a group of young alumni of the Jazz House Kids program run by Melissa Walker and her husband Christian McBride. This unique community organization based in Montclair, N.J. features educational programs that not only train young people to play jazz but also prepare them for opportunities in higher education. Every year the Jazz House holds a special event at designer Ralph Pucci’s Manhattan showroom featuring a top-notch artist whom Christian interviews and plays with for an episode of his SiriusXM show “Lowdown: Conversations with Christian”. Among the recent special guests have been Norah Jones, Diana Krall, and Wynton Marsalis. On Tuesday, Feb. 28, Ralph Pucci’s Jazz Set will feature Gregory Porter, who will be performing on Botti at Sea in 2024. For those who can’t attend this fundraising event in person, there are streaming tickets available.
UCLA will present a special performance of Dave Brubeck’s seldom-heard masterpiece The Gates of Justice, a large-scale cantata for tenor, baritone, jazz trio, chorus, brass, and percussion. The piece was written by Brubeck in 1969 in response to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination and was Brubeck’s plea for reconciliation between the American Jewish & Black communities. A concert at UCLA’s Royce Hall (Sunday, Feb. 26) will be reprised at Holman United Methodist Church (a historically Black church in LA) on Feb. 28, with a daylong conference at UCLA in between (Feb. 27). Over these three days, professional and amateur musicians, students, scholars and critics will convene to explore social justice, Black-Jewish relations, and the role of music in furthering social change. Brubeck’s sons, Darius, Chris, and Dan Brubeck, will travel to UCLA from England and the East Coast to perform as the jazz trio in The Gates of Justice together for the first time.
Wycliffe Gordon, one of the few artists who has sailed on all our jazz cruise programs, is performing two concerts tonight (Sat. Feb. 26) at the Charleston Music Hall with the Charleston Jazz Orchestra celebrating the music of “New ‘Awlins.”

photo by John Abbott at The Jazz Cruise ’23

Not sailing for 1029 days, created a significant pent-up demand for the programs of Jazz Cruises, but it also caused hesitancy to many guests who became wary of the potential perils of being at sea. Though the experience of the ’23 Sailings did not erase everyone’s concerns, clearly most of our loyal fans have returned and now a large group of new cruisers are joining them.

Nearly 40% of all cruise guests on the ’23 Sailings were either 1st or 2nd-time participants. This influx of new folks, along with the friends they are enlisting, when combined with our legions of past guests accounts for the record reservation levels for all of the ’24 Sailings.

Great staterooms do remain available, but, for how long, is anyone’s guess. Join the amazing people who sail on a Jazz Cruises program. It is the time in your life to have the time of your life!

Book The Jazz Cruise '24
Over 70% Sold
Book Botti at Sea '24
Over 60% Sold
Book The Smooth Jazz Cruise '24.1 or '24.2

Both Sailings Over 90% Sold

Fewer than 30 Staterooms with Balconies remain on each sailing of The Smooth Jazz Cruise


Error thrown

Undefined constant "php"