Today is the 3rd day of The Jazz Cruise ’24. Amazingly, during our first two days, we have enjoyed more than 20 “In Concert” events. Virtually every one of the nearly 100 musicians have performed at least once.

As always, Ken Peplowski’s Welcome Show started the cruise with a bang! Among the performers were Kurt Elling, Catherine Russell, Anat Cohen, Bria Skonberg, Wycliffe Gordon, Eric Marienthal, Ingrid Jensen, and The Jazz Cruise rhythm section of John Pizzarelli, Shelly Berg, John Clayton, and Jeff Hamilton.

Cruise Hosts Christian McBride and Emmet Cohen introduced the event and welcomed our guests. Everyone involved was excited, thrilled to be back on the ship and looking forward to an amazing week of the greatest music in the world. Just being among this top-flight group of musicians is exhilarating. So much talent in one place.

The first night of music included shows by Cyrille Aimee, Kenny Barron, John Pizzarelli’s tribute to George Shearing, Chucho Valdes & Paquito D’Rivera, Jazzmeia Horn, Christian McBride, and others. That is a festival quantity and quality of music on one night.

As has been the custom on The Jazz Cruise since its first sailing in 2001, the highlight of the first morning at sea (Day 2) was The Jazz Cruise Gospel Hour. For as long as any of us wish to remember, Wycliffe Gordon and Niki Haris have been the leaders of that show. Once again, they provided the perfect blend of inspiration and great music. Though the Gospel Hour includes religious references and lyrics, the music transcends any formal religion or sect. The theme is always that of joy and kindness. A theme that fits the world of jazz perfectly.

The religious music theme continued in the afternoon with our first all music Jewish Sabbath Service officiated by Rabbi David Bloom and featuring Anat Cohen and members of her band. Clearly, this event was the most moving sabbath service in the 24-year history of Jazz Cruises.

Yesterday featured the first performance of the Jazz House All-Stars, the signature performing group of Jazz House Kids, Melissa Walker’s and Christian McBride’s hugely successful and significant program for young musicians. The crowd loved their energy and were in awe of their talent. The next generation of jazz musicians is ready to star.

Lots of great vocals were on display as well. Bria Skonberg, Catherine Russell and Eliane Elias each have shows, all leading up to the seminal vocal event of the cruise, Shelly Berg’s Sing, Sing, Sing, a main theater show featuring talk and song with almost every vocalist on the cruise. The tunes are amazing, but often take second chair to the banter.

Comic Alonzo Bodden had our guests rolling in the aisles and Wycliffe Gordon did his annual Cigars Under The Stars. I walked by that event to watch a bunch of guests who were smoking, sipping scotch, and having a ball. The evening ended with a late-night show featuring Randy Brecker. In my mind, that is the perfect way to end a perfect day.

After nearly 50 events, the 2nd day of The Jazz Cruise ’24 was over. Today, in just a few minutes, I will be greeting guests at a morning coffee get together where we will be reading this very edition of The Weekender and answering all their questions.

For those thinking about joining us on The Jazz Cruise ’25, that sailing will be our 25th Anniversary of this groundbreaking cruise. All thanks to the power of jazz, the talents of the musicians, and the loyalty and support of the greatest guests in the world.

By Michael Lazaroff, Executive Director of The Jazz Cruise, The Smooth Jazz Cruise, Chris Botti at Sea, and Journey of Jazz. Feel free to express your views or pose questions to him at [email protected].

Photo Credit: John Abbott


Saxophonist Ada Rovatti is no stranger to guests of The Jazz Cruise, having sailed with that program for many years as an All-Star. Ada has just released her seventh album as a leader, The Hidden World Of Piloo, which features guest vocalists Kurt Elling, Niki Haris, Fay Claassen and Alma Naidu, as well as her husband Randy Brecker. The album showcases her original songwriting and arranging with six instrumentals, two songs with strings and four compositions that showcase the vocalists. “This album is clearly not a project where band members solo twenty choruses of the blues,” says Ada, who plays the tenor, alto, soprano and baritone saxophones and flute. “I want to be recognized as a singer/songwriter, saxophonist and arranger. This album shows a different side of me.” The recording is dedicated to her father, whose childhood nickname for Ada was “Piloo” and who died in 2021.


Allan & Jennifer G. – Canada
Pamela M. – Ohio

Guests on the ’24 jazz cruises received 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 @bottiatsea @thesmoothjazzcruise #jazzcruises and #theweekender. Email your photo to [email protected].

Jazz Cruises’ ’25 Programs

The Jazz Cruise ’25
Celebrating its 25th Anniversary

The Jazz Cruise ’25 is 82% reserved and is currently in “Open Booking,” where anyone may reserve any available stateroom. You may view current stateroom availability and start your reservation on the website now.

The Smooth Jazz Cruise ‘25.1 & ‘25.2
Starting its 3rd Decade

With both sailings being fully reserved, guests wishing to sail on a ’25 sailing of The Smooth Jazz Cruise should JOIN WAITLIST now. Cancellations will be filled exclusively from the WAITLIST.

Botti at Sea II
(’25 Sailing)

Botti at Sea II began “Open Booking” on March 5, 2024 and is over 50% reserved. Anyone may reserve any available stateroom either by calling the office during regular business hours or doing so online.

Journey of Jazz ’25
Jazz Life at Sea & On Land 
West Coast Style 

Jazz Cruises’ newest program, Journey of Jazz ’25, hosted by Marcus Miller & Gregory Porter is currently in the stateroom Selection Process for Pre-Sale Reservation holders. “Open Booking” will begin on April 30, 2024.

For more information about the cruise, the lineup of musicians (as of today), full itinerary, pricing and reservation process, go to www.journeyofjazz.com.

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