The Big Ship That Could: All Aboard the S.S. Coachella


James Murphy DJ Set on the Pool Deck Photo by Nicky Digital

Upon boarding the S.S. Coachella, aka the Celebrity Silhouette — a 1,033 foot long Solstice-Class cruise ship, I knew one thing was for sure – this was going to be an experience unlike any other.

Many people on board had never been on a cruise before and like me — they had no idea what to expect.  It was hard to escape the surreal-ness of the entire experience.  It had all the elements of a festival with the opulence of a luxury cruise liner.  It was apparent the brains behind Coachella (Golden Voice) had found a way to put the fans in the same boat as the artists, literally.

Father John Misty Photo by Nicky Digital

The first 36 hours on the boat were insane and made me feel like anything could happen.  Everywhere I turned headliners like Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker, members of Hot Chip or Father John Misty, Joshua Tillman could be seen hanging out with family on the lawn or checking out one of their friends shows at the Silhouette Theatre.  Nick Offer, lead singer of !!! (Chk Chk Chk) spent the evening jumping like crazy with a rain soaked crowd on the pool deck to an after hours set from DJ Z-Trip. Along with so many others, Yeasayer’s percussionist, Cale Parks, could be found hanging out at the ships late night hotspot Quasar.  Everyone in attendance dancing until the wee hours of the morning to DJ sets from Grimes and Simian Mobile Disco.

Friends, bands, and festivalgoers alike took over the sleepy white sand beaches of Ocho Rios, Jamaica on 12.21.12, and completely drank the bar out of the country’s namesake lager — Red Stripe.  The locals working the bar / restaurant, which served up some tasty local favorites like jerk chicken and stamp & go told me in a puzzled tone: “We have never seen a cruise crowd like this before.”

Hot Chip Photo by Nicky Digital

The next day and half found on us traveling at upwards of 25 knots an hour back to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  It was an eventful time as being trapped on a boat makes people a little crazy and gave way to some interesting all day/all night parties.  When we finally made it to port about 50 people (including yours truly) were up on the pool deck still dancing to a set from the Ladies Night DJs until we were told to disembark the boat at 7:30 in the morning.

Simian Mobile Disco Photo by Nicky Digital

This may have been my first cruise experience but when it comes to the S.S.Coachella it certainly won’t be the last.  Its maiden voyage will go down in music history as an epic event.

I’m already thinking: where are we going next year?

Nicky Digital was there to capture every sea rocking moment on board. See his entire S.S. Coachella photo gallery here.

Jarvis Cocker of PULP Photo by Nicky Digital

Jarvis Cocker of PULP Photo by Nicky Digital

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Armed with only a camera and a fanny pack, you never know what festival Coco will end up at next. Our resident festival expert floats from deepwoods hippie jam fests to downtown rock bashes to dive bar showcase festivals.