Holy Ship! I Survived!
Posted on January 23 2018
Author: Toni Endsley
How do you know if someone’s been on Holy Ship!? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.
It’s true. If you’ve been, you understand wanting to share this one-of-a-kind experience with…well, anyone who will listen really. If you haven’t been, I’m sorry. I’m sorry you have to listen to us babble on about Ship this and Ship that and ShipFam. But most of all, I’m sorry you haven’t experienced it yourself. It truly is a rare gem in the music festival scene.
First off: what is Holy Ship!? The simplest way to describe it? “Holy Ship! is an annual electronic dance music festival held aboard a 4,000+ capacity cruise ship, with two back to back sailings leaving out of Port Canaveral, FL [and] stops in the Bahamas.” [Wikipedia] Yeah, insane. Here’s what the boat looks like, in case you were wondering.
Let me just tell you though; Holy Ship! starts LONG before you ever board the Epic (fitting name, right?). You’re dropping a pretty penny to be on this crazy ride, so most people do A LOT of planning. From custom gear, to pre-parties, to theme nights, to unofficial parties, OG parties, strip club crawls, and renegade sets, there’s a lot to keep up with. Starting months in advance, my Facebook newsfeed started blowing up with different parties and events and meet ups (there’s a ShipFam group for everything you could possibly imagine). I got added to a SnapChat group (ayyyyye Holy Send It Fam!) which goes berserk all day erryday. Group text messages started going off months ago trying to coordinate costumes and outfits and custom merch, and I STILL COULDN’T GET MY SH*T TOGETHER TO PARTICIPATE IN THE THEME NIGHTS. I mean honestly, the constant level of excitement is kind of overwhelming, in the best way possible.
Here’s a packing list I created and shared with my virgins, in case you find some use for it.
For some insane reason, I thought going b2b was a good idea. Lawwwwwl. It’s not for the faint of heart, that’s for damn sure. Being my second (and third) time on Ship I thought I’d be a little more prepared. Nope. Here’s my experience. Or what I remember of it anyways.
Only 4 months since I got off the boat, emails and tokens are received for booking the next sailing. Me, being super hyped off the last Ship, decides to do b2b sailings. So, we book 10.0 and 11.0. Now the payments begin. Expect somewhere around $1200 each sailing for your spot in a cabin (yes, that's per person), give or take a few hundred, depending on how bougie you want to get. The higher the deck, the higher the price. The more people you cram in a room, the lower the price. We chose a 2-person mini-suite on deck 13, because it was only 2 floors down from the main pool stage and SpiceH20 stage (The 24-hour buffet is on deck 15 too, just sayin). And I had a bath tub and balcony. Score.
Let me just say, booking your spot is kind of a shit-show. There’s tokens, and booking times, and you need to have your roommates lined up with credit card in hand, and everyone needs a passport. This is not a last minute planning kind of festival. So word to the wise, choose your roomie carefully. There are tons of articles on the booking process though, so that’s as much as I’m going to say on that.
Dad, aka Gary Richards, aka Destructo, announces his departure from HARD events and Holy Ship! and we all collectively lose our shit. Chaos and panic ensues. What will Holy Ship! be without our fearless leader?? Rumors and stories circulate. #NoGaryNoShip is trending. Many of the artists I am super excited to see announce they are pulling out of the festival. I decide to hold out until the lineup drops before I pull the ripcord.
Read up on it HERE.
Later in August, 2017.
The lineup is released and it is straight fire. Dirtybird is back in the game. I decide to stay on course and keep planning my week of debauchery on a boat.
Theme nights are announced, and the crowd. goes. wild! (Ahhhhh, hisssss) I start researching my costumes and am already celebrating winning some sort of trophy or patch for how dope my theme night outfits are going to be.
I realize that I’m almost out of time for planning. It’s the holidays, one of my bff’s is getting married, and then it’s time to GO! I still don’t have costumes or anything put together. Whoops. So I decide to make some custom AK ShipFam gear. The OGs were the ones who hyped me up before my first ship, so I figured I should do my part to hype up the virgins coming this time. Plus. Custom merch is ALWAYS a good idea. (Shameless plug: if you need custom merch for your crew, hit me up. I may be able to help. Click Here.)
Holy Ship! It’s TIME! A couple hours before my flight I throw some stuff in a suitcase, double and triple check for my passport and head to the airport. In typical fashion, I made it JUST in time (they were definitely paging me over the intercom). And I brought my McDonald’s on the plane. AND D forgot his passport so they had to hold the plane while he ran back. Yeah. We were those people.
And now the rest is just one giant jumble of memories/feels. I will try to relate some of the crazy happenings, but they most definitely won’t be in chronological order, nor will many of them make sense. But, hey, like I said earlier, this is my experience.
We wore our custom AK ShipFam gear while we traveled, because you start running into people in airports across the country. ShipFam is seriously like one giant dysfunctional family. We are usually lit, and usually loud, and REALLY love running into each other in places other than on the boat. Sorry about your thing. No, but really. It starts some fun conversations.
Once we finally made it to Orlando, the next step was figuring out how to get to Cocoa Beach. So far, every time, I get impatient and decide to just rent a car rather than deal with the shuttles. So we rented a car and hustled, while our phones blew up every 30 seconds looking for status updates. Expect to party your face off 24/7 from the time you land until the time you fly home. Sleep is not a thing.
(PSA: I recommend avoiding the Avis in Port Canaveral, FL. I have not had a pleasant experience with them either time I’ve been there.)
The unofficial ShipFam hotel has been the International Palms Resort in Cocoa Beach for the past 2 years. It’s nothing near fancy but the hotel (motel?) is MASSIVE and they put up with us and our shenanigans.
Here's their TripAdvisor page. The reviews are pretty scary.
The pre-parties are insane. Don’t go too hard at the pre-parties. You’ve been warned. Also, shout out FamAF for taking over this year amidst all the chaos.
It was impossible to get all of us in a pic at one time, but here's some of us at the 10.0 pre-parties.
OK, so now that we survived the pre-parties and have slept maybe 6 hours in the last 3 days, IT’S TIME FOR THE MAIN EVENT! Time to get our asses on the boat! Or more realistically, time to get lit in line. Bring drinks. Bring some to share. And bring a speaker. Boom. Party in line. Because you will wait in line. Forever. And be prepared for drug dogs and a HEAVY law enforcement presence at port. Again. You’ve been warned.
Click HERE for a list of all the busts (with mugshots).
Here's some of us in line to get on 10.0. I have a giant speaker around my neck and we all have drinks in tow. This is how it's done folks.
And here's some friends boarding 11.0 since I didn't take any video...
Actually getting ON the boat is a little foggy, but I have seen some video footage of myself popping bottles, feeding birds pizza, and trying to use a GIANT lighter. Issa party. Here's Jake and I attempting to get lit. (@no_falsebelief, add him, you won't regret it).
You’ve got about 2 hours to nap, eat, or do whatever human shit you need to do before the safety drill. Then the real adventure begins. Don’t expect to sleep again. Ever. Your friends now know where your cabin is and they will call, bang on the door, and if they’re good friends, not let you miss out on anything. Godspeed.
The next seven days are a blur of wandering from stage to stage, trying to keep track of friends, and making new ones. The weather was shit for the first sailing, so the set times and places were constantly changing, which was both a blessing and a curse, because I stumbled into some dope sets by DJs I’d never even heard of before. Shoutout UNIIQU3 for killing it on the pool deck (and for being the first black female DJ on Holy Ship!). I’m definitely going to check out more of her stuff.
Now I’m just going to give you some bullet points of things that seemed important.
- Tchami vs Malaa- one of two sets I would have cried if I missed. They did not disappoint. I had a shit-eating grin on my face the ENTIRE set.
- Green Velvet b2b Claude VonStroke Sunrise Set- the second of two sets I would have cried if I missed. Not only do I have tremendous respect for both of these guys as artists, they just look like they’re having so much FUN doing this thing. Also, I think it was a really good choice to have the artists they chose (Lane8 on 10.0 & GV b2b CVS on 11.0) do the first Ship Sunrise Sets post-Gary. It seemed fitting. And finally, someone once told me to take time to enjoy sunrises and sunsets, because they are pivotal moments in our day. That has stuck with me.
- Many, many, many other sets- There were SO MANY good sets. I’ll start to put together a playlist as they’re released. It’ll be linked HERE.
- 11.0 Private Beach Party- I FINALLY MADE IT TO THE BEACH! I was beginning to think the private island party was a myth. You’ll see plenty of video recap from that all over YouTube, so I won’t go into detail, other than it was SO NICE to get off the boat for awhile. Also, it was perfect weather. And the sets were dope.
- Artists- One of the coolest things about Ship is getting to live and party with the artists. They are stuck on the same boat as you. Eating at the same buffet. Dancing to the same sets. Most of them look like they’re having as much, if not more, fun than you are. Which doesn’t even seem possible most of the time.
And some of them hate their lives. Lol.
Check out what Deadmau5 had to say about it HERE.
- Mama B & Papa B- Many of you won’t know who these people are, but just know they’re amazing souls. They have been on Holy Ship! since the beginning and used to host the pre-parties and manage the ShipFam facebook groups and so much more. When everything went down with the ownership change, they stepped down and it looked like they would not be coming on the boat this year. Well, they surprised us all. I ran into them in the hallway on the boat and was honestly overjoyed by the sight of them. Two people whom I hardly knew. It just reminded me that that’s the kind of human I want to be. How you make others feel in your presence says a lot about who you are as a person. (I’m not sure who originally said that, but it’s a good quote.)
- The Fam- I can honestly say I’ve met some of the most amazing human beings at music festivals. We come together a couple times a year, and the squad just keeps growing. It’s such an amazing collection of people. Maybe if I actually keep up on this blogging thing you’ll get to meet the crazy cast of characters. And on a much bigger level, there is something about being in the middle of a packed dance floor with thousands of other people who all share your passion, moving to the same beat, and experiencing the same thing from so many different perspectives. In the middle of an ocean.
- The Food- Potatoes were life. Seriously. Their hash browns (or potato patties as I heard one girl screaming about), curly fries, and regular fries doused in malt vinegar and salt could not be beat. The cafeteria is open 24/7. It’s a life saver. And you’ll see some crazy shit in there.
Yes, I know it's fake. Still funny af.
Anyways. I could babble on forever (I warned you in the opening paragraph), but I won’t. If you made it this far, bravo on your attention span and patience for terrible grammar! Here are some recap videos to reward you.
And in case you're STILL hanging around, I will assume you're bored, so you should definitely go check out some of the fam's endeavors and causes.
And if you STILL haven't had enough, comment below and let us know your favorite memory from Ship!