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Straight-Ahead Jazz Heaven!

Anita Berry - Founder of The Jazz Cruise

Since 2001, The Jazz Cruise has presented the very best in “straight-ahead” jazz. The secret to its success is simple: great musicians, great production, great guest experience and the greatest guests in the world of jazz.

These benchmarks of excellence were cultivated by Anita E. Berry, founder of The Jazz Cruise, during her participation in cruise line sponsored jazz cruise programs during the 1980’s and 1990’s. When learning that the cruise lines were abandoning these programs, Anita took up the challenge of producing the very first full ship charter dedicated to “straight-ahead” jazz. More than 23 years later, The Jazz Cruise remains the only full ship charter of that theme and is the standard by which all music charters are measured.

Programming The Jazz Cruise starts with nearly 100 world-class musicians, scheduling them in exciting configurations for over 200 hours of music, and presenting the music festival-style over seven jam-packed days. The Jazz Cruise ’25 will feature more headliner performers than ever before and many of them will be participating in the legendary jam and all-star sessions.  This amazing combination of factors creates our very own Straight-Ahead Jazz Heaven.

Daytime Entertainment

When in port, lectures and other events are planned for the early part of the day and the music typically starts around 4 pm. When “at sea,” there are events and music all day. Daytime music shows may be presented in any of the music venues (The Theatre, Rendezvous Lounge or Sky Lounge). Special shows may also be seen and heard in The Cosmopolitan Restaurant, the main dining room of the ship, which converts brilliantly into a cabaret-style music venue. Some of the most revered shows on the cruise (The Jazz Cruise T-Shirt Party, Wycliffe Gordon’s Gospel Show and Keyboard Capers) are performed during the daytime hours.


On two nights of the Cruise (the 1st Night and Formal Night), special shows (“The Jazz Cruise Welcome Show” and “The Jazz Cruise Hall of Fame Show”) are presented in The Theatre. Each such show will be performed twice, with half of the guests attending the 1st Show and the other half attending the 2nd Show. Which show you attend is determined when you complete your Reservation and is reflected in the color of your Cruise Identification Card (BLUE or RED). On all other nights, The Theatre hosts large group presentations and special shows that require greater seating capacity. For these shows, the “Festival Style” open entry and seating procedures are in effect with the same regulations as those in any other venue.

It’s Never Too Late for JAZZ

The Jazz Cruise is renowned for providing guests with special late-night entertainment called “It’s Never Too Late for Jazz.” Starting around 10:30 PM, Throughout the entire ship, there will be more music, parties, autograph sessions, comedy, dancing and much more. Besides concerts in The Theatre and Sky Lounge, The Cosmopolitan Restaurant becomes a lovely late-night, cabaret-style venue which we call “Birdland at The Cosmopolitan.” The first show there every night features one of the vocalists on the Cruise. The Rendezvous Lounge hosts a special solo piano event each night.

Beyond The Music

“Learn” Events

Another specialty of The Jazz Cruise is our series of “Learn” events, which include one-on-one musician interviews, panel discussions, instrument seminars and tutorials, and presentations of special topics for our music lovers. 

“Enjoy” Events

Sometimes, The Jazz Cruise presents events just to have fun. No serious element or meaningful goal. Just fun for the sake of fun. We try not to share too much of this information now as it undermines the surprise element, but here are three types of events we produce just for the sheer enjoyment of doing so. There’s something special for everyone.

The Comedy of Alonzo Bodden

Alonzo Bodden, winner of Last Comic Standing and Jazz Cruises’ Comedian-in-Chief, will perform his hilarious show for an additional two nights of late-night entertainment and laughs. Famous for delivering funny and pointed comments about current events and taking performers to task, some of the best people-watching is found during an Alonzo Bodden show.


Daily bridge, presented by certified bridge coordinators, is offered daily. Trivia contests, Name That Tune events and various dancing events are plentiful during the week. The Houston Person Dance Party is one of the great events of the Cruise. Be sure to bring your pickleball paddles, as the Summit is equipped with an interactive sports court.

Cocktail, Wine, Food Events

No jazz program would be complete without cocktails, wine and food. The Jazz Cruise takes that to another level by pairing these events with performers who serve as hosts. It may be a Happy Hour Hang or a fine dining experience, but you can be there with your favorite performer.

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