Taking you inside the surreal week leading up to what should have been The Smooth Jazz Cruise ‘20.2.
Our Take: The Jazz World Is Amazing, Resilient and Fair Minded
Last weekend we missed sending out The Weekender for the first time since its inception. Most of you know why, but for those who do not, I spent March 9-14 on Celebrity Infinity preparing for what should have been The Smooth Jazz Cruise ‘20.2. Of course, the cruise was famously cancelled at 4 p.m. EDT on Friday, March 13! What happened, how it happened and when it happened was surreal. I want to share that process with you, while the memories are fresh, though I doubt that any of us will ever forget what transpired.
The Smooth Jazz Cruise ‘20.2 was to have sailed from March 14-21, 2020, from Miami. We always board the ship in advance of a cruise so that we can meet with the staff of the ship, set up the venues and load in our materials. When we boarded the ship on Monday, March 9, the alarm about the coronavirus was beginning to mount, though responses did not seem as immediate as they turned out to be. From the very start, I questioned both the “whether” and the “should” of our sailing going forward. Twice on the ship I met with cruise line officials inquiring as to whether or not our cruise would sail and asking them to please cancel the cruise altogether.
The response was clear and adamant. We were told that we would be sailing. Based upon the information, reluctantly, my mission was to ensure that the cruise would be “fun, exciting and safe.” We secured additional performers to cover those who simply could not get to Miami due to travel bans or other limitations. We worked on the ship to review all the heath precautions being undertaken. We shared those updates with our guests every day.
My #1 fear was that we would sail, guests would become ill or there would be an incident that would cause us to remain in quarantine. My #2 fear was that our artists, musicians, staff and guests would come to Miami only to learn that the cruise would not be sailing. We avoided #1, but ran right into #2. We learned of the cancellation almost precisely 24 hours before we were to set sail. We were among the first cruises to be cancelled.
I want to be very clear on the next point. I was very pleased to hear that our cruise was cancelled. In terms of the safety of our guests, the flexibility available to us to provide them remedies and our ability to provide the correct cruise experience, cancelling the cruise was the absolute right thing to do. I only wish that they would have done so sooner. Having said that, given how swiftly all this took place in real time, I understand why it happened the way that it did.
I want to be very clear on the next point. I was very pleased to hear that our cruise was cancelled.
I have been asked why I did not unilaterally cancel the cruise. The thought crossed my mind on several occasions, but if I had done so, and there was no travel ban issued, no artists, musicians and staff would have been paid, and our ability to assist guests who did not purchase travel insurance, an alarming number quite frankly, and our future ability to produce great cruise experiences would have ended.
As it stands now, The Smooth Jazz Cruise ‘20.2 will sail from February 13-20, 2021! Our lineup is fully intact and this rescheduling will give us the opportunity to present the quality cruise experience that has made Entertainment Cruise Productions the Worldwide Leader in Live Entertainment at Sea.
There are some valuable lessons to be learned from this experience. I will share those with you over time. Granted that this situation may be unique, but several inequities popped up, some of which I find perplexing.
The Smooth Jazz Cruise ‘20.2 will sail
from February 13 – 20, 2021!
This situation reinforced the fact that the jazz world is amazing, resilient and fair minded. Almost to a person, our guests were understanding and grateful that we went to extreme measures to keep them informed. I have no idea how and when the dust will settle here, but we will work through it with diligence, fairness and kindness. After all, we are part of the world of jazz.
Our Take is written by Michael Lazaroff, Executive Director – Jazz of Entertainment Cruise Productions. Feel free to express your views or pose questions to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You Can Still “Speak” to Us!
In accordance with governmental guidelines, both federal and state, the staff of The Smooth Jazz Cruise, Blue Note at Sea and The Jazz Cruise will be working remotely next week. Our current plan is to reopen the phones on Monday, March 30.
During this time, please send all inquiries and questions for these cruises by email to email@example.com and we will respond as quickly as possible.
This may be a great time to organize your music at home. And a perfect time to enjoy it.
Tune in to Season 2 of the Jazz Cruise Conversations Podcast
Did you know that you can listen to dozens of the conversations that have taken place on our jazz cruises? Our Jazz Cruise Conversations podcast series features interviews with many of the great artists who have sailed with us in the last two years.
We just kicked off our second season with conversations from our 2020 cruises, as well as a special episode featuring Blue Note at Sea ’21 headliner Chris Botti and Blue Note at Sea Co-Host Don Was. Every Tuesday morning we’ll post a new episode. Some of the artists you’ll hear from in the next few months are Dianne Reeves, David Sanborn, Kamasi Washington, Gregory Porter, Candy Dulfer, Joey DeFrancesco, Catherine Russell, Ramsey Lewis, Melody Gardot, Arturo Sandoval and many more. Our extraordinary interviewers include Marcus Miller, Christian McBride, John Clayton, Mark Ruffin, Eulis Cathey, Dick Golden, Alonzo Bodden and others.
The episodes are edited, produced and hosted by our own Lee Mergner and feature theme music by Marcus Miller. You can find the episodes wherever you get your podcasts, including iTunes and Spotify, as well as on each of our own websites. Subscribe to get the latest episode and you can also go back and listen to some amazing past episodes as well.
Newport Jazz Festival Announces
First Wave of Lineup
The Newport Jazz Festival is the original jazz festival, founded by George Wein back in 1954. For the last 20 years or so, this legendary event is held the first weekend of August on the grounds of Fort Adams in scenic Newport, R.I.
Now under the artistic direction of Christian McBride, who sails on both Blue Note at Sea and The Jazz Cruise in 2021, the festival has announced the first wave of the lineup for the August 7-9 event. Headliners include stars such as Diana Krall, Wynton Marsalis, Norah Jones and Charles Lloyd, as well as a host of diverse jazz artists, both emerging and established, who can be seen on any of the four stages at the Fort.
Jazz at Lincoln Center has announced its 2020-21 concert season, which begins on September 25 and will feature 33 unique programs in Rose Theater and The Appel Room, in addition to more than 350 nights of music in Dizzy’s Club, all at Frederick P. Rose Hall, located at Broadway at 60th Street in New York City.
The season includes world-premiere commissions, exclusive collaborations, centennial celebrations (Brubeck and Parker), as well as performances by special guest artists such as the SFJAZZ Collective with Lizz Wright, Dianne Reeves, Joshua Redman, Sean Jones, Matt Wilson, Helen Sung, Eliane Elias and many more.