I can’t help being an entertainment critic even when I’m on vacation. Last month, I took a much-needed respite from life and work by embarking on a weeklong cruise to Key West and the Bahamas on Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the Seas. Watching the onboard entertainment, I couldn’t fully abandon my reviewer’s cap: The ship’s comedian, Tony Daro, was hilarious, but the song-and-dance show was, unfortunately, a bit like Amateur Hour at the local cabaret -it was thoroughly unremarkable, and it barely held my attention.
If I had my druthers (and some more money, vacation time, etc.), I would have preferred to attend a rock concert cruise, where the live music would rarely disappoint. Here are two festivals over the next couple of months that are sure to rock the boat:
1) Ships and Dip, Feb. 6 to 11, Miami to Costa Maya and Cozumel, starting at $799
The controversially named but uncontroversial-sounding Barenaked Ladies organize this annual sojourn, chockablock with pleasant music that hugs the borders of indie, folk and Americana. This year’s lineup isn’t as strong as last year’s, which featured the likes of Sarah McLachlan, the Mountain Goats, Sloan and The Weakerthans. This time, Barenaked Ladies will be joined by Ben Kweller, Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers, Guster, Jukebox the Ghost and a dozen others.
2) Bruise Cruise, Feb. 25 to 28, Miami to Nassau, $500 to $550 plus gratuity
Boasting the better lineup of the two winter cruises, the Bruise Cruise is heaven on the water for indie rock lovers. The artists comprise a Rolodex of modern college-radio hip, from bouncy bedroom rockers The Oh Sees to the ridiculously prolific, feedback-loving psych rocker Ty Segal, skuzzy gutter rockers Black Lips and ubiquitous noise-poppers Vivian Girls. West Palm Beach’s Surfer Blood and Miami’s Jacuzzi Boys will represent home. If you can’t make it on the ship, all of the bands will play a special kick-off party, for just 15 bucks, on Feb. 24 at Grand Central, 697 N. Miami Ave.
Jam Cruise, Jan. 4 to 9, Fort Lauderdale to Honduras and Mexico
This hippie staple is perfect for fans of 30-minute-long songs and grizzled, unshowered musicians. It features the best in the jam-band scene; returning for its ninth year, this week’s cruise is headlined by Bob Weir & Ratdog (ex-Grateful Dead), along with Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Ivan Neville’s Dumpsatphunk and many more. This cruise is sold out, so good luck obtaining a ticket at this point.