LN Rocks The Boat

Live Nation has added a new twist to increasingly popular ocean-going music cruises.

Two such excursions will launch from Florida ports in February, and while there will be plenty of music onboard the ships, tourists will also be treated to private concerts at “secluded” port calls.

For a fare ranging from $1,200 to $2,400, fans of the Dave Matthews Band will be entertained by a host of artists, including Bob Weir, along with the usual cruise ship amenities. But the high point of the trip will be an island stop for a private concert from DMB. A similar, country-themed cruise will feature Kenny Chesney later in the month.

Promoters have been organizing music-themed cruises during the winter months for several years. The “Jam Cruise” recently set sail on its fourth incarnation, and blues and country cruises have gained in popularity as well. But Live Nation’s effort marks the first time the main event will take place onshore.

Consider it a creative way for concert promoters to get more bang for the dwindling concert ticket buck. While a select tier of artists can command a $100 concert ticket, fans with disposable income are increasingly willing to part with a couple thousand for a few days in the Caribbean with their favorite genre artists.

It’s also a reflection of the increasing popularity of cruises, especially among younger travelers. No longer the domain of shuffleboard-playing snow birds, cruise lines have seen the average customer age drop in recent years.

The Palm Beach Post cites statistics from the Cruise Lines International Association showing the cruise industry has seen an average 8.5 percent annual increase in passengers since 1980, with an all-time high of 11.2 million passengers last year.

Live Nation President Charlie Walker told the paper that ticket sales for both DMB and Chesney’s Royal Caribbean cruises are “exceeding our expectations.”

While the music cruise concept isn’t new, the fact that it’s now the concert promoters rather than the cruise lines organizing them is. Promoters fully charter the ships at the expense of hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to the Post.

But instead of ponying up a few hundred dollars for a typical four-day cruise, a music fan might be willing to pay three times that or more for the chance to not only see their favorite stars perform, but possibly even rub elbows with them in the buffet line.

Matthews and Chesney won’t be on the boats during their cruises, but other artists will, according to the Post. And there are plenty of face time opportunities for fans during more intimate trips like the Jam Cruise and the Rock Boat. For many, that might be worth the price of admission on its own.

“It’s such a unique experience to be on a cruise ship with your favorite artists,” Lauren Craig, who handles guest relations for the Rock Boat, told the Post. “It’s something a concert can’t capture.”