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Columns > Annabel Lukins - Both Sides of the Rail

Published: 2009/01/25
by Annabel Lukins

Confessions of A Jam Cruise Maven

In case you havent been paying attention or didnt get the memo, Jam Cruise is the best thing going. My aunt, a travel agent in Connecticut, asked me the other day how our cruise went and if our sales were down due to the economy, as she was having grave difficulty selling travel packages. Um, sorry to burst your bubble Pris, but our 2800 passenger event sold out over the summer.
Jam Cruise 7, on board the MSC Orchestra, set sail at capacity on January 4, 2009 for 5 days headed for paradise. We returned to Ft Lauderdale different people.
Every year, I come home and people ask, So, how was it?? It was the best yet. The thing is that I say that every year. And its true. We have built this next level specialness (yes thats a real quote) that you HAVE to experience for yourself.
Craig Klein, trombone player for Bonerama, sent me an email on Facebook, I’m not sure, but I think it changed my life. Theres no question, Craig!
Day and night, sun and fun with your favorite jambands all on a luxury cruise line. The musicianship is over the top, the friendships that are made last a lifetime, the occurrence itself is the most unique out there. Working 20 hours a day for 5 days in a row doesnt even seem like work because I have mastered how to have fun as well. People came up to me, hey Julie (my alias on board is Julie McCoy from The Love Boat), I saw you rocking the f**k out at the New Deal last night. AWESOME. Hellllooooo, how could I NOT?
I have worked as the marketing director of Cloud 9 Adventures selling Jam Cruise to the masses for 6 years. At some point, the market has been saturated. You all KNOW what Jam Cruise is and are curious about it. The best marketing tools we have are our passengers. Just ask ANYONE who has come on before, they will convince you to join them.
Now, I know we are in a recession; its a tough time for everyone. But there needs to one luxury you allow yourself. Jam Cruise seems to be that pleasurable expense for people. I am honored, thrilled, excited and so much more. Not just because that means I get to keep my job, but also because I KNOW HOW GREAT THIS EVENT IS. People come up to me all week long on board and thank me for all my hard work while they have the time of their lives. Obviously, I graciously respond, but honestly, I usually say to them, I know, isnt Jam Cruise the COOLEST?
My brother-in law, Brian, came on for the first time. He and my husband Peter had a conversation about the fluidity of Jam Cruiseif you want to see a show, see a show. If you want to take a nap, take a nap. If you want to swim in the pool, swim in the pool. If you want to skip dinner and drink, you can do that too. If you want to go up to someone youve never met before and start a conversation, its encouraged. Life is so structured, Jam Cruise is truly about what you want to, when you want to do it. Its a true vacation from the confines of our daily lives. Most of us are grown-ups now: have 9-5 jobs, kids, responsibilities, bills to pay, places to be, demands to meet. But on Jam Cruise, you can let go and be whoever you want to be. The biggest freaks I find on board are accountants, lawyers, and others with time consuming, high-pressured jobs. On Jam Cruise, you are FREE.
Now lets touch on the cross-pollination that the musicians experience. Over the years, a lot of the bands have played together, wanted to play together or just wished they could hang out all day and catch up with each other. Theyll get to a festival and miss each other by two hours, or they play the day after, or when they DO catch each other, one band has to leave to drive 10 hours to the next gig. On Jam Cruise, those restrictions dont exist. Bands decide to go on tour together, future albums are made, new heights are reached, and inspirational moments are common. Numerous times, I saw artists from different bands eating lunch or having a drink together. I had to go up to them and say, You two dont get to do this often, do you? I spend so much time with all of them as bands that I want to sit there and listen to the individuals get to know each other better. Instead, I make that comment, smile big, and let them be, knowing that I had a big part in bringing them together.
So my column wouldnt be complete with a photo gallery and captions so here you go:
Editor’s note: Here are some of Annabel’s Jam Cruise images, which she has passed along this month to give a sense of her perspective on the events…

Ivan Neville is my boy, I do fantastic impression of him and we love to hang out together, Yo Annabel, you know I play poker, why you bookin my show during the tourney.

Michael Weintrob creates these random and fun photo portraits and here, I was witness to take my own stellar photo as the desirable and talented smooth boys of Yacht Rock display their fantastic outfits and cool moves.

We were so happy to finally have MMW on board. John had a blast.

I am such a sucker for sunsets and this was a beauty taken from the side of the ship.

Yup, Les is my favorite on board. We have this delightful friendship and I hung with him as much as possible.

George matters, he really does. And he cares about our event more than most any other musician on board. He EMBODIES Jam Cruise.

Now, I probably shouldnt be posting this publically, but its too great not to. Here, Joe Russo and Darren Shearer are reacting when I told him what was really in those hot tubs after 5 days of hippies and not being serviced.

Now, yes, Les is was favorite on board to spend time with, but Michael holds a place in my heart that no one can touch, musically and spiritually. I love him beyond words.

Behold the Pool Deck during Frantis set there were THOUSANDS out there, it was beautiful.

One of the musical highlights was the Midnight Disturbers. Led by Kevin ODay and Stanton Moore, the A List horn players paraded around the ship during the New Orleans themed night. It was absolutely fantastic.

As I was writing this column tonight, my dear friend Brock Butler sent me a text message: do they offer any two week Jam Cruises? Id rather be cruising right now. After I told him that I was writing my Jambands column and was going to tell a story about him, he wrote, Thank you for giving thousands the greatest times of their lives. I love you BrockYOU make a difference on Jam Cruise.

Heres to Jam Cruise 7 the best yet. And heres to Jam Cruise 8 the best yet-to be. We are already hundreds deep in pre-books for our 2010 adventure. Please take my word, take your friends words, take the musicians words, come on Jam Cruise at least once. www.jamcruise.com will give you all the details. Until next time…

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