FriendShip. Courtesy of Rukes.
Setting sail this January is FriendShip, an experience that fuses a music festival and a cruise for four days of dancing on a ship and on a private island.
This upcoming sailing will mark the second year of the event, and it will take place on the Royal Caribbean’s luxurious Navigator of the Seas and stop at Coco Cay, Bahamas for two days. According to Gary Richards—president of LiveStyle North America, former founder and CEO of HARD Events, and known by his DJ alias Destructo—CoCo Cay recently saw a $250 million renovation while the Navigator of the Seas was given a $115 million facelift. The private island boasts the tallest water slide in North America, multiple beaches, floating bars, zip-lines, pools and bungalows, while the Navigator of the Seas will feature waterslides and an ice skating rink. Richards adds that the Navigator of the Seas is more “conducive” to the event than last year’s ship, Royal Caribbean’s Celebrity Equinox, because of its “party vibe” and multiple venue options onboard.
“It’s really taking things to the next level,” Richards says. “I’ve been doing these cruises now since 2012, and I definitely think of all the ones I’ve done this is going to far surpass it just because of how long we get to spend at the island and what’s in store there.”
The event will take place on the Royal Carribean’s luxurious Navigator of the Seas and will stop at … [+]
Gary Richards performing as Destructo on the first night of last year’s sailing. Courtesy of Rukes.
This year’s event, which will take place January 6-10 and will sail from Miami, boasts an impressive lineup with over 70 artists, such as GRiZ, TroyBoi, Boys Noize, Ty Dolla $ign, AC Slater, Space Jesus, reggae by Green Lantern (Eminem’s DJ), Boogie T.RIO and, of course, Destructo. “I think that we really put together something interesting that you don’t see every day,” says Richards, who is also the founder of AMFAMFAMF, a new LiveStyle brand he created that is behind FriendShip and stands for ‘All My Friends.’ “I think people are definitely going to be excited to find new artists that they may not know.”
The experience will host two stages on the private island, six stages on the ship and also have four Dial-A-DJ rigs, which allows for cruisers to dial a special number to have a DJ delivered to their room for a private set. Traditionally, Richards performs a Sunrise Sermon on the third night of the sailing, and this year will mark the first time the set can take place on CoCo Cay since the ship will be able to dock on the island instead of using the tender system for access.
This is a notable upgrade because while FriendShip was lucky to have calm waters that allowed for two days of access to the island last year, previous sailings by Holy Ship!—a music festival cruise founded by Richards that he ran until 2017 before he departed from HARD Events to join LiveStyle—were not as successful, and some sailings went with just one or no trips to the island. The ability to dock guarantees access to the island, and FriendShip will be the only ship with access to CoCo Cay even though the island typically accommodates two ships. Richards adds this will allow for attendees to experience the private island for about 35 hours versus the eight hours festival-goers had last year, and cruisers can easily get on and off the ship with just their room key.
RÜFÜS DU SOL and Nora en Pure performed on CoCo Cay last year. Courtesy of Rukes.
Dita Von Tease performing a burlesque show on last year’s sailing. Courtesy of AliveCoverage.
FriendShip will also feature multiple branded parties, such as Ice Disco on the ship’s ice rink, NV’D Records and Light Bass by Night Bass label. In addition to music, cruisers can also experience a burlesque show by Dita Von Tease, magic with Robert Gould and comedy with Sean Patton, Ali Macofsky and Nery Saenz. Richards notes that since the Navigator of the Seas offers more areas for music, the theatre can be utilized for theatrical purposes this year versus only housing music performances. Attendees are also welcome to participate in FriendShip’s theme costume nights: Area 51, Animal Spirit and Tropical Christmas. Richards adds he even requested the Christmas tree stay on board to complete the final theme.
When it comes to curating the lineup, Richards says he aims to bring on a diverse group of artists who offer talent that people may not have seen before. He adds he prefers to bring on artists who want to stay on the ship for all four days and be part of the party. “We want it to be where you’re walking down the hallway and the you see GRiZ with a saxophone and he’s playing ‘Hotline Bling,’” he notes. “That just creates a whole other thing.”
Learn more about FriendShip and book a cabin to be part of the music cruise experience here.