Just this past weekend, Dave Matthews and Friends hosted their first ever cruise festival, much in the same vein as Jam Cruise. It was supposed to be very innovative, especially considering how they divided the festival into two, different cruise ships (instead of just one) to wisk concert-goers off to some hidden island (which was actually just Atlantis on Nassau)…

From the early looks of it, it didn’t really go off as well as planned.


Relix had this report amidst the snippets of info on the festival colloborations…

Since a number of fans missed the acoustic portion of the supergroup’s performance due to the heavy showers, Dave Matthews and Friends boarded both ships to finish its electric sets. Still unable to use its equipment, the group first borrowed Toots and the Maytalls’ gear, before heading to the second ship to utilize RatDog’s full setup.

I’m glad to see that the bands stepped up and worked together to keep the music going, and while it appears that the bands were not at fault for some of the other problems recounted below, I’m certainly glad I didn’t really entertain the thought of taking this trip until they worked out their kinks. It looks like they’ll have plenty on the to-do list for next year’s incarnation of the festival, if they even decide to do another one…

The following words are a preliminary excerpt from an article written by Jeff Rogers…

Disastrous isn’t the best adjective, but it’s the first one that comes to mind. The ‘private, secluded’ island is Atlantis in Nassau; you can get there for a $4 cab ride from anywhere in the city. Fans would be better off booking a Nassau flight, staying at Atlantis, and chartering a private boat to camp out in the inlet for the show. We had to pay extra for refreshments at the venue ($5 water, $7 hot dogs, $10 hamburgers) when no one had warned us those amenities were extra until the day of the show. There was no running water at the venue and they ran out of toilet paper before the first note was struck; the unflushed toilets and inability to wash my hands reminded me all too much of Woodstock ’99.

I’ll admit, the talent stepped up and put in the extra time to make sure we enjoyed as much music as possible. The ship’s service staff kept their wits about them as everything fell to shit. The worst part involved the pseudo-hippies who cried about every little thing they couldn’t get for free. For all their veganism and environmentalism and left-wing dogma, they carried on like the drunken frat boys they taunted the entire trip and elevated elitism to an all-time high. All they cared about was how much free booze they could swindle as they stole t-shirts, pissed in the elevators, harassed the help, and puked on cue so often the ship crew kept maintenance workers on every deck with carpet extractors to soak up all the coughed up alcohol. Our on-board entertainment options were live performances, gambling, and booze; Royal Caribbean struck the rest from the itinerary. I never saw any attempt to limit the drinking for the sake of the rest of the attendees. I spent the weekend standing guard over my fiancée, threatening lecherous granola munchers with all sorts of mega violence if they didn’t back off. When I measured the conduct of a lot of the cruise patrons against the Christ-like patience and good spirit of the international service staff, I was truly embarrassed to be an American. No wonder the rest of the world hates us.

We’re DMB fans, which means most of us are compassionate pot-heads who understand we live in an imperfect world. Most of us took our treatment a little too well. It’s like I told one of the customer service representatives, “You bait and switch like this with the Chesney getaway, and you’re gonna have a riot on your hands.” The rep shrugged me off with a ‘shit happens’ attitude.

As Hunter Thompson would say, “How dare they sandbag a doctor of journalism!” Fans deserve better, and if you have any access to Kenny whatsoever, he’d be advised to triple check the details before he loses some of his most passionate fans. Musictoday should be ashamed, VH1 should be ashamed, and Dave would be wise to start collecting heads as quickly as possible before he loses his fan base. As the saying goes, buyer beware.

Jeff continues below after doing some more fact-checking with the organizations involved. Check and mate–the cruise lines were damn-near responsible for the fact that the festival didn’t have a solid contingency plan. In their defense, who plans for equipment failure on a two-ship floating music festival…

I spoke with Patrick Jordan, Dave’s manager, earlier today. He cleared the air about a lot of what I posted, and he’s going to help with the fact finding about Atlantis’ and RCC’s failure to work with the promoters. Dave and company volunteered to do an extra show on both boats that night; the Miami boat (Majestic) knew about the performance due to shipboard announcements, while the captain on my boat (Sovereign) denied the request for announcements due to his concerns about the whole boat being in Folly’s Lounge. Atlantis and the Bahamanian authorities made them switch to the smaller, less fun beach, and no one knew Atlantis was going to fleece us until load-in; my guess is that Atlantis threatened to shut down the show if they didn’t comply.

Patrick has been a saint. He’s contacting the fans who sent comprehensible complaints to arrange for VIP tickets for this summer’s Dave tour, and he made himself available to me for fact verification and back-story for the full piece I’m developing. He’s a passionate pro who’s been working non-stop to smooth over any disgruntled fans that were disappointed by the weekend. It still doesn’t change the fact that Kenny Chesney fans could be in for the same sort of hell we paid a premium price to endure. I’d mobilize the fans you know to contact Atlantis and Royal Caribbean to see if they’re going to treat music fans better than they treated us. I spent $1400 at the art auction, I wore business casual for all of the seated dining, I tipped the staff well, and they treated me like a dirt merchant.

Hence, my flurry of e-mails. I’m not necessarily a fan of Kenny’s music, but I believe that everyone should know when they’re approaching a treacherous situation. Thanks for your help with all this; you’ll definitely get credit in my acknowledgements.


So, interestingly enough, Kenny Chesney’s Caribbean Cruise Getaway just might suffer the same fate unless they learn their lesson from Dave’s cruise…

Buyer beware is right.

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