For the past few years, not counting the Pandemic period, Jazz Cruises has presented some form of Jazz Festival in our hometown of St. Louis. Most recently, it was called The Smooth Jazz Cruise on Land in St. Louis. With the addition of new programs, Botti at Sea and Journey of Jazz, we thought that the ’24 edition should be more inclusive, not only in name but in substance as well.

Today, we are announcing Jazz Cruises’ St. Louis Jazz Festival ’24, a two-day event (Friday, August 23 – Saturday, August 24, 2024) at The Factory in Chesterfield. On Friday night we are featuring one of the co-hosts of Journey of Jazz ’25, the incomparable Gregory Porter. Saturday night will be an homage to The Smooth Jazz Cruise, as Brian Culbertson rolls into town with his latest show. Two of the superstars of our amazing cruises in one weekend.

On both nights, our very own comic-in-residence, Alonzo Bodden, will be performing as well. Now, Alonzo has hosted and served as the emcee of past festivals, but, this time, he will be doing his full show. Be prepared to laugh until it hurts.

Starting each night will be a band led by the Music Director of all Jazz Cruises’ programs, Eric Marienthal. Eric is assembling a top-notch band and each night he will feature a vocalist indigenous to one of our cruise programs. Friday’s guest vocalist, straight from The Jazz Cruise, is Niki Haris. On Saturday night, representing The Smooth Jazz Cruise will be Mindi Abair. Niki Haris and Mindi Abair are two of the most popular cruise performers. Who knows, perhaps we will be able to have them perform a duet!

Tickets go on sale on April 1, 2024. Stay tuned for more information and for a special opportunity for all guests who have ever sailed on a Jazz Cruises’ program. Given the communal spirit of the event and the lineup, be on the lookout for significant savings for those electing to attend both shows.

To that point, one of our missions this year is to try to break down the walls between the various “types” of jazz. Most of our favorite musicians operate in more than one area of jazz, so there is no reason why we, as consumers and fans of jazz, should not follow suit. Take our current lineup for Jazz Cruises’ St. Louis Jazz Festivals.

No one would confuse Gregory Porter and Brian Culbertson, in any manner. Yet, I believe that folks who like Gregory would enjoy Brian, and vice versa. Why, because both are dedicated to their craft, always present a personal and professional show, and, to the main point, both are amazing musicians and performers. Funny how being great at something breaks down all barriers.

We mentioned the Journey of Jazz ’25 cruise program above. The website for that sailing went live yesterday. Take a moment to check it out. It has been many years since Jazz Cruises did a cruise in the Fall and just as long since we sailed from the West Coast. When Celebrity Cruises presented us with a 7 Day sailing on our very own Celebrity Summit that began in Vancouver and sailed to Los Angeles with stops in Victoria (BC) and San Francisco, we jumped on it. Both Marcus Miller and Gregory Porter quickly signed on as hosts and then we moved on from there.

Celebrity Cruises allowed us to modify the original itinerary to allow for a full day in Victoria and for almost two full days in San Francisco. Both locales provide the opportunity to include excursions and events that are identified with the Jazz Life. Not since Jazz Cruises docked in New Orleans, several years ago, have we elected to dive into the land excursion and event aspect of cruising. The core and heart of the cruise will remain, of course, with our onboard music presentations. Those will continue to be spectacular, but guests will have the opportunity to go sightseeing in those two beautiful towns, dine locally, take in the indigenous activities such as whale watching, and more.

Of course, there will be music on land as well. We are working with the Victoria Jazz Society to create a program there, and SFJAZZ is assisting us in producing two star-studded matinee shows while we are in San Francisco. If you have not had the opportunity to visit the SFJAZZ Center and enjoyed a show there, you should do so. It is one of the very best jazz experiences in the world.

The time in San Francisco allows us to present winery tours in Sonoma and Napa Valley. We have “chartered” the Famous Napa Valley Wine Train for a day for those interested in that type of activity. Former San Francisco Chronicle Food Critic, Michael Bauer, has signed on to help us curate the best restaurants, wineries, and bistros. Those who sailed with us years ago on our Signature Jazz Cruise Series (Seabourn) may remember Michael as our guide to some first-class dining locales.

Our hope is that our guests will mix and match their experiences, a wine tour on one day and an SFJAZZ Concert on the other. Sounds like fun! As more of the details of the land-based events evolve we will apprise those sailing on the cruise with their options.

More music, more sailing, more cruises. It is our pleasure and honor to provide our amazing guests and friends with the very best jazz experiences possible.

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]


Pianist Taylor Eigsti, who sailed on both The Jazz Cruise and Botti at Sea earlier this year, has just released Plot Armor, a new recording from the GroundUp label (associated with the Snarky Puppy organization). The album features a host of special guests, including Lisa Fischer, Gretchen Parlato, Becca Stevens, Julian Lage, Kendrick Scott, Harish Raghavan and several others. With an eclectic set of original compositions plus one cover, the album bridges the genres of jazz and classical music. “I wanted to build the whole record around two concepts: One was using the bands that I’m playing with frequently—Oscar (Seaton, Jr.) and DJ (Ginyard) and Charles (Altura) and Maya (Kronfeld),” Taylor says. “And I also wanted more than one representative of every instrument on this record. It’s been a huge source of joy to play with Harish, Kendrick, and Julian over the years, and I’m so happy they were able to join us on this project.”


Christian McBride, one of the hosts of The Jazz Cruise, has teamed up with fellow bassist Edgar Meyer for But Who’s Gonna Play the Melody? — a unique duo recording of diverse original compositions, American Songbook standards, and familiar classics by jazz and bluegrass masters. Interestingly, McBride and Meyer were initially introduced many years ago by their mutual mentor, the legendary bassist Ray Brown. “Edgar and I come from two different places,” Christian explains. “I come from the jazz and R&B worlds with a little bit of classical, and he comes from the bluegrass and classical worlds with a little bit of jazz. With this album we’re meeting each other in uncharted territory.”


After producing four editions of The Smooth Jazz on Land in St. Louis and several other land shows, Jazz Cruises will expand its offerings to encompass the range of music presented on our sailing. 

The Jazz Cruises’ St. Louis Jazz Festival will be held August 23 – 24, 2024 at The Factory in Chesterfield, MO, a suburb of St. Louis. Among the musicians already scheduled to appear are Brian Culbertson, Gregory Porter, Mindi Abair, Niki Haris and Eric Marienthal. Alonzo Bodden, Jazz Cruises’ Comic of Choice, will perform each night.  Alonzo has hosted past events, but this will be the first time he will perform his full stand-up show for our guests in St. Louis.

“Jazz Cruises is excited to present this two-day program featuring the wider range of the music that we present at sea,” explains Michael Lazaroff, Executive Director of Jazz Cruises. “Our cruises have expanded in the past few years in terms of the music presented and we wanted this festival to reflect that scope of music.”


The Jazz Cruise ’25
Celebrating its 25th Anniversary

The Jazz Cruise ’25 is 87% 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
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 

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. 


Steve & Diana – Toronto
Cheryl – 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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