When people ask me, “How was Holy Ship?” there are no combination of words to accurately and effectively describe the wild cruise festival that embarks out of Miami twice a year. HARD always puts on a hell of a party, but there’s something extraordinary about Holy Ship, whether it be the consistently unbelievable lineup, or the fact that you’re raving on a boat in the middle of the Atlantic, or if it’s the 4,000 friends (or “shipfam”) you have to experience it with you. Even as a third year shipper, I’m still amazed when I’m up on the main stage pool deck and look around and see nothing but water for hundreds of miles. It’s almost as if you get on the boat and you’re immediately teleported into another dimension of time and space.
The following is a personal account and narrative of my experience on the boat paired with disposable pictures to illustrate the nonsense that is Holy Ship.
After waiting for what seemed like an eternity to check in, get our key cards, and actually board the MSC Divina luxury cruise liner, it wasn’t long until the festivities, music, and absolute hysteria commenced. RL Grime b2b Baauer kicked things off on the main stage around 7:00 p.m., curating the craziness as the boat left the port while we all watched Miami’s skyline slowly fade in the background.
Claiming a front row spot on the pool deck for Boys Noize was my main objective of the night. He nailed it as per usual, allowing the imminent madness to start setting in. His savory blend of mind-penetrating techno brilliance and unrelenting energy was like a welcomed slap in the face.
Pro-tip: Blue Hawaiians are the best drink you can get on the ship even though they look slightly radioactive.
Everywhere you look, there’s always something incomprehensibly weird happening. People really let loose and let their freak flags fly, and it most certainly adds to the entire spectacle as a whole. While meeting and talking to people on the boat, you’ll learn that the guy dressed in an inflatable squirrel costume is an Ivy-league educated doctor, or that the girl wearing nothing but pasties and a smile is an actress on Broadway. People from all walks of life, from all over the world, gather on this boat just to have a grand ol’ time.
No surprise that I kept riding the techno wave all night, spending most of my night in the Galaxy Disco for Danny Daze, JETS (Jimmy Edgar + Machinedrum), Claptone, Busy P, and Soul Clap. Besides checking set times, time is really not even a matter of concern on the ship, and you start to realize this early on. Maybe because you’re dancing until 6:00 a.m. every night, or maybe because the boat ventures into the Bermuda Triangle, you lose your internal sense of time, go wherever the music takes you, and just embrace the fact that you probably won’t be sleeping for the next three days.
Later on the first night, I—of course—had to stop by the Dirtybird showcase in the Black & White lounge; it’s no secret that the Dirtybird squad knows how to f**kin’ party and put on a fantastic show. Will Clarke, Ardalan, Justin Jay (pictured above), J.Phlip, Shiba San, and Justin Martin all graced the stage along with the ship’s special guest and label king Claude VonStroke. After losing count of how many bottles of Grey Goose were delivered to the stage between 3:30 and 6:00 a.m., the entire gang went all in for a Dirtybird All Stars b2b to close out the night.
After getting about a half-hour of sleep (yes, really), day two commenced around 11:00 a.m. as the Divina made port in Nassau, Bahamas for the beach party. Sets courtesy of Alex Metric, Felix Da Housecat, Claude, plus a DJ Snake & Tchami b2b provided the soundtrack for the ridiculousness that ensued on the beach.
At this point, nothing should shock, surprise, or even remotely phase you on Holy Ship when it comes to the outfits, people, random happenings, and nonsensical shipfam phenomena. **See above the two girls thrashing about in a giant inflatable hamster ball in the ocean** Shortly after this picture was taken, a guy wearing an exceptionally revealing man-thong (think Borat) waddled up, eagerly thrusting himself against the comical contraption. Hands-down, top 10 most amusing things I’ve ever witnessed in my life.
The Bahamian festivities continued ashore with a fanciful parade of island natives, exciting the increasingly raucous party-goers with their indigenous sounds and decorative accoutrement. ~vibes maximized~
Night two was another festive affair, the theme aptly being “Under the Sea.” Mermaids, Poseidons, octopi, jellyfishes, Ariels & Ursulas, and every other whimsical subaquatic ensemble imaginable pranced about the ship as the music started up again. It’s actually incredible how much time, thought, and effort is put into costumes in addition to the other creative commodities of Holy Ship. Some people have custom-made swag to hand out to fellow shipfam on the boat: hilariously creepy finger-hands, smiley face balloons, stickers, etc..
After polishing off what was probably my 13th slice of pizza at the cafeteria buffet, my squad assembled for our first stop of the night in the theatre for Oliver’s glorious hour of sensual electro and vintage-tinged disco jams. Next stop was back in the Galaxy Disco for some of Thee Cool Cats’ hyped up g-house. The duo’s energy was amazingly infectious and filled the room with smiling faces – definitely one of my favorite sets of the ship.
Back in the theatre was the ‘Pardon My French’ party soundtracked by Busy P, Shiba San, Malaa, Tchami, DJ Snake, and Mercer throughout the night.
If you’ve ever seen any Holy Ship pictures, you’ve probably already seen the Divina’s staircase made out of Swarovski crystals, adding to the extravagance of the boat and making it quite a fanciful picturesque photo-op.
Anna Lunoe’s HYPERHOUSE in all its wonder was hosted in the Black & White lounge, the speakers taken over by Nina Las Vegas, Hunter Siegal, Mija, Anna Lunoe, and Branchez until 3:00 a.m.
Nina and Generik made sure the Aussie power was in full effect.
Yet another super-special thing about Holy Ship is that there are countless surprise b2b sets. The artists are always inviting their fellow music makers to join them on the decks for some unexpected action. Anna Lunoe b2b What So Not b2b Mija b2b Nina Las Vegas was definitely a highlight of HYPERHOUSE.
I found REZZ! She joined us in the Black & White lounge as HYPERHOUSE turned into the Boys Noize Raw party around 3:00 a.m. when Jimmy Edgar filled the room with his otherworldly techno sounds and signature musical magic for the next hour.
Boys Noize immediately followed, playing my favorite set of the ship—no surprise there. He had the entire room packed and head-banging to his unapologetically heavy techno heaters until 6:00 a.m. Not sure whether it was Boys Noize or if it was the boat hitting some choppy waves that caused everyone in the room to vigorously move back and forth in (failed) attempts to hold their balance. It was hot and sweaty and absolutely glorious.
Night two turned into day three as the shippers ascended to the pool deck for Destructo’s infamous Sunrise Sermon set from 6:00 to 9:00 a.m. #TeamNoSleep.
Two inflatable T-rexes appeared on stage while the HARD father laid down a rather legendary set, soon joined by Boys Noize and Justin Martin for an epic b3b. The sun was rising, the vibes were plentiful, and the crowd was amazingly still going strong—really quite a religious experience *prayer hands emoji*.
Lil Internet and Justin Jay were definitely enjoying themselves. Pretty much all of the artists were crowded on the stage, gathered to witness Holy Ship history in the making yet again with this three-hour musical sermon session. Anna Lunoe whimsically dancing around the stage rocking a bathrobe and pineapple-shaped sunglasses while champagne bottles were popped from literally every direction was definitely a highlight of the morning.
Major props to Glenjamn for documenting the entirety of the ship. If you weren’t on the boat, his recap videos will give you serious FOMO. If you were there, it will guaranteed hit you right in the feels.
On to day three!
After reviving with some post-sermon fuel of pancakes and piña coladas, shippers began preparing their minds, bodies, and souls for the last day of festivities. While the Thomas Jack Presents… show with Justin Jay, SNBRN, and Claptone was going down on the pool deck, the yearly and gloriously ratchet Hip-Hop Pool Party invaded the Zen pool with sounds provided by Drakeparty.net, Reflex, Snakehips, and more. After wandering around the boat for a while, my squad went to the main stage to see REZZ hypnotize the packed upper decks of the ship.
Galaxy Disco was the next move as the lineup was pretty much unreal for the rest of the night.
After Thee Cool Cats and an Alex Metric & Oliver b2b, we caught Porter Robinson’s feels-fueled DJ set on the main stage then headed back up to the Disco for the final hours of Holy Ship. Jimmy Edgar went b2b with Danny Daze, ensuing absolutely mind-shattering techno mania immediately followed by Justin Martin’s party-fueled house debauchery to end the journey on an extremely high note.
Like I said, my words and pictures can’t even begin to do Holy Ship justice. It’s really an indescribably sublime experience that I know all of us shipfam are thankful for.
Until next year! DAB.