Groove Cruise LA set sail to Ensenada this year, taking its captains on a much anticipated weekend escape. Whet Travel has been doing Groove Cruise for 13 years and also has a Miami version of the cruise, spreading the love evenly between both coasts. People travel to Los Angeles just for the cruise and while there were many seasoned Groove Cruise captains. There were also a fair amount of newbies waiting to embark on a journey to be remembered.
Getting out of bed on Groove Cruise is actually something to look forward to as the morning starts with the cheerful “Gooood morning Groove Cruisers” of Groove Cruise founder Jason Beukema. Jason’s voice greets everyone over the PA system, going over some options for the day’s activities. In the hallway, people are meeting new friends and getting each other hyped for another day of fun and sunshine. A weekend of blue skies, beautiful people and the best music is a perfect weekend escape.
The organizers of Groove Cruise certainly put a lot of effort into securing the best lineup and planning other onboard activities but what truly makes it special is the GCFAM environment. One of the most commonly heard questions on board was ‘Is this your first Groove Cruise?’ and strangers would quickly bond over this. There are a fair share of Groove Cruise virgins that the veterans welcomed, sharing excitement for the first-timers. In it’s 13th year, Groove Cruise welcomes back those who have been on the journey several times, which includes Jason’s parents who just can’t stop coming back.
Being on a cruise means you are more present and people really get to know each other. Running into the same people several times and building new connections is just different than a festival on land. Having grown from 125 people in 2004 to 2,200 Groove Cruisers for the most recent journey, it is still a more intimate environment than many other festivals.
Departing from Long Beach on the Carnival Inspiration, the party started with live music at the ferry terminal as everyone got checked in and continued with DJs spinning on deck and music blaring from rooms. Watching the sunset as the ship sailed out from Long Beach with Shiba San playing by the pool was just one of the beautiful memories from the weekend. Making a Groove Cruise happen takes more than a year of meticulous planning but they do everything to make it a memorable experience.
A cruise festival is unique but there are other aspects that make Groove Cruise stand out. One is the themes and this time they included pimps and hoes, uniforms, EDM vs. Hip Hop, and Groove Cruise derby. Even those who didn’t follow the themes went all out – Bananas in Pajamas and Colonel Sanders were among some of the costumes spotted. Some chose to go with the captain theme since that is what Groove Cruise calls their attendees.
Another thing that Groove Cruise takes pride in is the activities. While music is the main attraction for any festival, being stuck on a cruise means there are very limited things to do. As much as we all love to dance and party, the cruise is three days and we need some other form of entertainment. Activities try to include some artist interaction, such as tequila tasting with Grum and Jody Wisternoff or a shuffling class with 3lau and Elena Cruz.
Featuring headliners like Andrew Bayer, Dash Berlin, Shiba San, and 3lau, this might just be the best Groove Cruise lineup yet. With surprise B2B sets arranged and artists playing multiple sets, Groove Cruise captains have something else to look forward to. Since they play several times during the festival, artists can get creative and play something out of their element. LondonBridge got to do this with a set on the Space Yacht stage the first night and another appearance on the hip-hop stage on Saturday.
It was nonstop grooving with stages hosted by Anjunabeats, Cats & Boots, Desert Hearts, Incorrect Afterhours, and Space Yacht. Shiba San’s label Basement Leak hosted a stage for the first time at Groove Cruise. Even with sets going nonstop, there were plenty of opportunities to catch a break without missing out on fun. Loungers were set up on deck for a chill time sunbathing and enjoying music while others raged. The Incorrect Afterhours stage had acts going into sunrise and was aptly located by the hot tubs in case it got chilly on the dark waters.
Saturday was a full day on board the cruise with sets going all day. It was also the day for activities with Twister, Deep House Yoga, a fashion show, and comedy as some of the other things Groove Cruisers could do if there wasn’t an artist they wanted to see. One of the best things about the cruise was being able to wander around discovering new music and head back to the room for a quick break. There’s no shame in taking a nap to recharge since you need the energy for 60 hours of partying. After a full day of dancing, people were getting tired but Dancetronauts brought the energy back up with free champagne before turning the main stage over to Acemetrik.
The destination for this cruise was Ensenada and there were choices between destination activities or the party at Casa de Los Siete Patios. Early risers also could take part in the volunteer activity organized by Whet Foundation, a field trip for children from the local orphanage. When the ship docked, there were shuttles waiting to take you to your chosen activity.
Destination activities give fans a unique chance to interact with artists, such as the horseback riding tour with Bonnie x Clyde. Those who chose the party were treated to a beautiful view from the private estate and some of the best sets of the weekend. Autograf delivered a groovy, peaceful set that was perfect for the sunny vacation mood and 3lau flew in from San Diego to play the bangers, drop a newly finished track, and share the stage with Arty as he played Arty’s remix of ‘Is It Love’.
Once we boarded the cruise headed back for Long Beach, it started to set in that this wild weekend was coming to a close. The hype wasn’t dying down by any means as we were welcomed back on board with an Andrew Bayer B2B Jason Ross set, singing along to ‘Superhuman’. Although not all of us made it to the sunrise classics 6-hour Thomas Jack set, safe to say we all had done our fair share of raging and Jason’s hope for us to create memories to last a lifetime was definitely achieved.
The time at Groove Cruise was unforgettable and being around people who are so cheerful and ready to share smiles is what truly sets it apart from any other festival. It was definitely a test to keep the party spirit alive to the end but for the memories, dealing with exhaustion finally setting in as we disembarked the ship was worth it. With the friendly environment and amazing lineup, it’s easy to see why people keep coming back.