Upon coming home from 33 days at sea, the goals are to catch up and unpack. While at sea, with all the great music, fun events, and wonderful guests to talk to, there is little time to keep up with the personal and business correspondence that occurs during that length of time. Digging out from that mess includes several apologies for tardiness. There must be a better way to handle matters while at sea. I welcome your thoughts.

One of the glorious “catching up” functions is to read the notes from guests about the cruises. The “thank you” notes mean so much to us at Jazz Cruises. Yes, this is a business for us, but it has become so much more. We realize how significant the cruises are for so many people. Sharing the music with great people in a safe and friendly environment is an important and rare oasis in today’s world. For one-week (or more for many guests) guests can enjoy their passion for music and entertainment before returning to the ups and downs of the world today.

As for unpacking, there are two distinct undertakings under this heading. First, there is unpacking one’s luggage. That was easy. I simply created two piles, one for the washer/dryer and one for the cleaners. For those who attended any of our pre-cruise webinars, you may remember that I vowed to bring clothes that did not need pressing. For the most part, I lived up to that promise, so the amount of clothing going to the cleaners was minimal. As for the clothes headed to our washer/dryer, that pile was huge. Amazingly, Paula (my wife) plowed through those clothes in rapid fashion. By last Sunday, everything was washed, and it was time for me to put away my cruise clothes.

The more important “unpacking” will take longer to complete. That is the “unpacking” of the cruises. Acknowledging what went well. Learning more about what did not. Here is where you, our amazing guests, lend a hand. More than ever, guests are sharing their views about the cruises. We love that, as, after all, the cruises are for you, not for us. If you do not like something or wish to have more or less of something, we need to know. As I shared with anyone who would listen, I have ESPN, but I do not have ESP.

The notes thus far range from 100% gratitude and applause to line-by-line critiques of every event. Both are welcomed and treated with respect and appreciation. My favorite thus far is the note that indicated that the cruise in question was perfect, except that the smoking area should be divided into three sections, one for cigarette smokers, one for cigar smokers and one for those who prefer a pipe. When that is the only criticism of a cruise, we declare victory!

On a serious note, guests have ideas about performers, performances, food, accommodations and more. These notes are being collected and I promise you that I will respond to each and every one of them. With all that is going on right now, I ask your patience as to the timing of my responses. My goal is to begin to tackle them later this afternoon and continue until finished. The retrieval process is not perfect, so if you have not received my note by February 28, please resend it to [email protected]. This will be our guest response safety net.

Many guests asked us on the ship what we would be doing now that our four ‘24 Sailings on Celebrity Cruises are completed. The answer is quite simple. We are preparing to produce the Michael McDonald and Patti LaBelle Cruise which will sail from Miami from April 10 – 13, 2024. Besides Michael and Patti, the cruise features Marcus Miller, Eric Marienthal, Lisa Fischer, Alonzo Bodden and other musicians as well as comic legend George Wallace. Only a few Inside Staterooms remain for that sailing, which will be a “one-time only cruise getaway.”

Otherwise, we head back into our customary cruise cycle where we process the reservations for the next set of programs (’25) and market cruises that have availability. Both sailings of The Smooth Jazz Cruise ’25 are “Waitlist Only” and The Jazz Cruise ’25 is over 77% reserved, up significantly from other years. Botti at Sea II (’25) is in the middle of its rebooking process and will be over 50% reserved shortly.

What is different this year is the introduction of a new cruise, our first West Coast cruise in many years, Journey of Jazz ’25 hosted by Marcus Miller & Gregory Porter. Sailing from September 12 – 19, 2025 on our Celebrity Summit, the program will embark from Vancouver, BC with calls in Victoria, BC and San Francisco before disembarking in Los Angeles. The call in San Francisco will be an overnight stay which will allow for excursions to Napa, Sonoma, SFJAZZ and other noteworthy spots. The official announcement of the cruise will take place on March 15, 2024.

Thanks to the 8,000 guests who sailed with us in the past few weeks, the 2,000 guests who will sail with us on the McDonald and LaBelle Cruise and all the folks already preparing to sail in ’25, Jazz Cruises is happily very busy right now. We will be shutting down around July 4th for our annual summer break, but, until then, we are working hard to make your cruise experiences better and better. After all, it is our mission, our passion, to create the very best music cruises in the world. We owe that to each of you!

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


Thank you to Katchie Cartwright for this in-depth review about her experiences on The Jazz Cruise ’24.

“Founded by Anita E. Berry in 2001, The Jazz Cruise has been offering patrons a yearly action-packed weeklong jazz experience at sea with some 100 world-class musicians in 200 hours of programming for over two decades (with a hiatus during the COVID pandemic).The ambience of the cruise encompasses house concert, nightclub theatre, urban bar, rooftop lounge, coffee house, dressing room and lunchroom, a fantastic mix….”


The cruise sails in less than two months and there are only 70 Inside staterooms remaining.

We are extending the Jazz Cruises Pop Up sale for all Inside Staterooms until February 28, 2024. Your Cruise Fare will be only $875/person(*)! Call the office and tell them that you want the Pop Up price! If you complete your reservation online, POPUP will be your promo code.

(*) The POPUP offer is for new reservations only and may not be combined with any other offer or discounts. Pricing is per person based on double occupancy and does not include pass through charges.



3:00PM ET

You may learn a lot about our cruise programs from our websites, emails and other correspondence, but sometimes it is best to hear it from the folks in charge. Next week you may participate in the Michael McDonald & Patti LaBelle Cruise ’24 Webinar. Executive Director, Michael Lazaroff will conduct the webinar.

Not only will you receive the latest “411” on the cruise, but you will be able to ask questions and have them answered in real time.


The Sarasota Jazz Festival kicks off next month and will feature many artists familiar to Jazz Cruises guests, including Dee Dee Bridgewater, Wycliffe Gordon, Jeff Hamilton, Chucho Valdes, Grace Kelly and Houston Person. Terell Stafford serves as the music director for the festival which takes place March 17-23 and is produced by Ed Linehan and the Jazz Club of Sarasota. In addition to the main stage concerts held at the Sarasota Municipal Auditorium, Jazz in the Park takes place at the Civic Green at The Bay Park and The Girls in the Band film will be shown at the Burns Court Cinema.


The Jazz Cruise ’25
Celebrating its 25th Anniversary

The plans for the 25th Anniversary sailing of The Jazz Cruise ’25 are spectacular. The cruise is over 87% reserved and is currently in Open Booking, which means that now anyone may reserve any available stateroom. Staterooms with Verandas remain in inventory along with Ocean View and Inside Staterooms.

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. WAITLIST guests qualify for special terms when reserving a stateroom on The Jazz Cruise ’25 or Botti at Sea II.

Botti at Sea II
Every Night is a Night on the Town

Botti at Sea II is in the Open Booking stage and is over 60% reserved. Anyone may reserve any available stateroom either by calling the office during regular business hours or doing so online. It was this time last year that there was a “run” on staterooms, so act now! 

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, has completed the Pre-Sale process and began Open Booking on April 30, 2024. Like a race care, this program as gone from 0 – 60(%) sold in the blink of an eye. 


Melody Montgomery – Florida
Michael Corcoran – California

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].

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