By Kharisma McIlwaine
On February 25, dance music enthusiasts embarked on the 4th annual Ultimate Disco Cruise. The StarVista LIVE ultimate dance party at sea, which took place through March 2, was best described as one of a kind.
The Celebrity X Cruise ship departed from Miami and traveled to Key West and Cozumel, Mexico. The Ultimate Disco Cruise offered five nights of the best dance music from the disco era. The incredible lineup of musicians included a special appearance by KC and The Sunshine Band, Kool & The Gang, Taylor Dayne, Sister Sledge, Tavares, Norma Jean Wright and Luci Martin (formerly of Chic) featuring China Doll, Evelyn “Champagne” King, Heatwave, The Trammps featuring Earl Young, Al McKay Allstars, C+C Music Factory, Double Exposure, Ritchie Family, “Mighty Real: A Fabulous Sylvester Musical,” The Urban Guerilla Orchestra (UGO), Maxine Nightingale, Boogie Wonder Band, Bee Gees Gold, Queen Nation, a tribute to Whitney Houston performed by Ashlie Amber, Scotti Mann, Cara Lee, with music host Bob Pantano (host of the Saturday Night Dance Party), music host Joe Johnson, DJ Robbie Leslie, DJ Firejoc, and DJ Jazzy.
Before the ship left port, several protocols were taken to ensure that all of the passengers would remain safe throughout the duration of the cruise. Each passenger was required to take a monitored COVID-19 test via a video conferencing service within three days of departure. After receiving a negative test, attendees were told the steps to enter the ship through email and the Celebrity X app.
The staff on Celebrity X was highly professional. They greeted guests upon entry with smiles and a willingness to help. Once passengers made it through the security checkpoints, everyone was given a room key in a lanyard, which also served as an additional form of ID to get on and off the boat. One of the most impressive aspects of the cruise was the organization. Each night, the staff brought the itinerary for the next day with a lineup of activities and performances. All passengers are put into color-coordinated groups. Each group has time slots assigned so that everyone has an opportunity to see all of the performers. Additionally, each night allowed guests to participate in a theme, including disco night, Caribbean night, and the finale — an all-white party.
The Ultimate Disco Cruise boasts one of the most musically diverse and dynamic lineups of musicians in one place. From the incredible range of Anthony Wayne in “Mighty Real: A Fabulous Sylvester Musical” backed by The Weather Girls (Storm Marrero and Nattalyee Randall) to the mind-blowing performances of the Al McKay Allstars who pay homage to the elements Earth, Wind & Fire, to the electrifying stage performance of Evelyn “Champagne” King, to the funk of The Ladies of Chic, to the crooning sounds of Heatwave, to the iconic hits of Kool & The Gang, to the velvety, iconic Philadelphia sound of The Legendary Bluenotes, to the epitome of rock and roll with Queen Nation, (Gregory Finsley on vocals and keyboards, Mike McManus, Pete Burke, and Parker Combs), to the energetic sounds of Canada’s Boogie Wonder Band… the disco cruise was a non-stop party!
Members of Philly’s own UGO backed a large portion of the artists. The members of UGO that performed on the ship include band leader Henry McMillian Jr., Louis Taylor Jr., Donald Collins, Lawrence Newton, Paula Holloway, Naeemah Harper, Phillip Miller, Stanley Davis Jr., Darren Daughtry, Charles Gist, Bryan Williams, Daryl Burgee, Kenneth Jackson, Lance Gamble, and Michael Stewart. The ship’s passengers also enjoyed additional performances by The Whispers and a surprise performance by George McCrae and his hit song “Rock Your Baby.”
The cruise provides attendees with an incredible array of talent paired with round-the-clock fun and excitement. From late-night dancing in Studio 55 on the ship, to beach days in Key West, to guided tours of The Mayan Ruins in Tulum, there were always options for guests to find adventures on the ship or excursions to explore when the ship was docked.
The Ultimate Disco Cruise is taking a break in 2024 to make revisions and revamp the cruise to make it even better. In the interim, to find out more information on the next Disco Cruise, visit: ultimatediscocruise.com, follow them on Facebook @Ultimate Disco Cruise, and sign up for the mailing list.