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12 Holy Ship Artists Share Their Favorite Memories From The Music Festival Cruise

FORBES - January 28, 2019

Music festival cruise Holy Ship is known for more than booking top artists—it’s well-known for its positive environment and close-knit crew, also known as ‘Ship Fam.’ The sense of community is shared by both attendees and artists alike, creating a unique atmosphere not seen at most other music festivals. Holy Ship took place earlier this month with two sailings back-to-back. Twelve artists who were on board the sailings this year, both new and returning producers, took the time to share with Forbes their favorite memories on the critically-acclaimed event.


“Holy Ship 13.0 was my second time experiencing the festival. I’ve been touring quite a bit lately and have felt overwhelmed with the stress of the road and the online world. Although I was performing several times on Ship, it’s the type of space where you can completely let go of the pressure of the world and become fully immersed in the experience. My favorite part of ship is that the barriers between ‘performers’ and ‘attendees’ are more or less knocked down—it’s an amalgamation of both sides in a single space, which is a rare experience as an artist in a performance environment. Meeting countless new friends and playing music alongside my peers without any ancillary life pressures was a much needed reprieve from ‘normal life,’ which for me often feels convoluted.”

Manila Killa

“The concept of unity amongst people is something music has always strived for, and I’ve always felt that music festivals play a key role in making that happen. One thing that I love about Holy Ship is the effort they take to unify fans and artists and break down barriers. It was the third day on Ship and I was enjoying the sunset set that Tchami and Zhu were putting on, when a few fans came up to me asking to take a few photos. Then a few more came up, and suddenly it felt like a circle of friends exchanging wild stories about some of the shows that I’ve played in the past where they’ve been in attendance. It was one of those ‘freeze frame’ moments that I’ve kept in my mind ever since—in that moment I was surrounded by people who appreciate the work I’ve put in, while watching people whom I’ve appreciated for years, perform. That’s definitely when I felt that 2019 started off on a good note, and I want to carry out that sense of unity by continuing to be inspired by moments like this and apply it to the music I create this year.”


“Holy Ship is a place where friends from all over the country (and world) come together and celebrate music and new friendships. Many Shippers have been coming back for years because of the community aspect and the friends they’ve made over the years. It has become a safe place to escape from day-to-day life and just live in the moment, with the inevitable solitude that comes from being isolated in the middle of the ocean. This being my fourth ship, I was able to attend the ‘graduation’ ceremony where I hung out with other attendees who had also completed four plus ships. During this ceremony, I got to witness first hand the genuine friendships that were made and truly understand the meaning of ‘Ship Fam.'”

AC Slater

“After attending seven sailings, I can definitely say that Holy Ship is the ultimate level playing field of parties. Everyone is mixed together: DJs, managers, ravers, photographers, agents, production, etc. etc. I feel like everyone has to shed any kind of ego and just go with the flow. It’s kind of like summer camp for DJs. One of my favorite things is seeing kids from cities all over the world who I’ve interacted with before. Reconnecting with all those people on one ship makes the world feel really small.”

Big Freedia

“It was my first time at Holy Ship! and it was amazing! There were so many memorable moments (some R-rated so I can’t tell), but there was a show when we were at the beach and there were at least 20 azz’s on stage cutting it up. The deck party was super lit, too. The lighting, the people, the music—everything was right at the right time. It’s a performers dream when everything comes together like that. That’s when I had a moment of like, I’m in another world. It was a total escape.”


“When I first sailed on Holy Ship in 2012, I was admittedly a selfish, entitled little brat. Through the years, the Shipfam community has helped me learn how to be a more caring and open-minded person. This year, I was able to bring some of the Shipfam who changed my life and we amplified the message of positivity, respect, community and silliness throughout the ship as The Instigators. The talent shows were easily my favorite, seeing virgin and OG Shipfam shake their nerves and show off their incredible talents. From pianists to Rubik’s Cube solving to opera singers, dancers and comedians, the talent shows helped us show that everyone on that boat is talented in their own way.”

Mikey Lion

“What really sets Holy Ship apart from other festival experiences is that you are locked into the cruise ship for four days with a ton of amazing fans and artists you know and love. Most of the time artists bounce in and out of a festival and if you are lucky you get an hour to hang out before it’s off to the next performance. Holy Ship really feels like an extended family reunion set to amazing music in a pretty iconic setting on the boat as you sail around the Caribbean.

Something else that also Struck a nerve is the total sense of community throughout the boat. The Shipfam vibes are so strong and it was a real privilege seeing Desert Hearts being a part of that. The amount of DH necklaces, familiar faces from our gigs around the country and those signature smiles on the dance floor were amazing to see. We really felt like we were a part of the family for a weekend—it was another solidifying piece that helps us better understand why we do what we do. It really comes down to being surrounded and reinforced by music fans, which stands at the core of the Holy Ship experience.

Safe to say I totally understand Holy Ship and fell in love with what they’re doing at sea. We cannot wait to be back.”

Claude VonStroke

“Failing with your friends is still fun and sometimes more memorable than the wins. My favorite moment was bombing on stage during a pirate impersonation activity we had planned. We thought maybe 30 or 40 people would bring costumes and enter the show. No one did. My friend Fernando and I stood there in pirate outfits with no jokes and no material failing miserably on stage for over an hour. But somehow that was my favorite part of the whole ship.”


“The best thing about Holy Ship is a sense of freedom I get in terms of what I’m able to play. We did 3 set’s this year and no one wants to hear the same set more than once so it’s an opportunity to play the full spectrum of what we’re into. We get to have fun with it and also surprise people a little. The sense of community has always been so strong on the ship, you can’t walk far without hearing chants of ‘Ship Fam’. This year I got to DJ with my very own ‘Ship Fam.’ Friends of mine that introduced me to the boat in 2015 called Fundido DJ’s were able to come and play back-to-back with us for my third and final set this year.”


“Holy Ship is a cacophony of laughter and blurry memories that usually end with new friends and sunrises. I’ve said for a long time now that it’s one of my favorite festivals and definitely in my top three. Every single time I’ve been on this boat I’ve gained new perspectives on life and myself. A lot of people see it as one big party but there is something special that happens when you are in the middle of the Atlantic ocean with all of these people who are there for the simple reason of having fun.”

GG Magree

“My favorite thing about Holy Ship is the sense of community. Being an artist on the ship, I love that I not only get to meet some of our favorite artist but I also will probably end up getting to play a B2B with them as everyone is super free and more open on the ship not matter what genre you play. It’s something about being stranded on a ship going to a exotic location everyone really bonds together even with the fans. It’s super cool because you see all the artists hanging out, dancing, drinking with fans as everyone is on the same happy vibe, the ‘Ship Fam Vibe.’ Holy Ship is probably the only festival that has really nailed the community vibe and I think that’s a really strong element that everyone takes away from the festival. Every year my favorite experiences are meeting and becoming super tight with all the artists, it’s so crazy because we all play a lot of the same festivals but never really get a chance to hang out or even meet. Also the fans I’ve done Holy Ship the last two years and this year, so many fans came up to me who  saw me last year to this year and we shared stories of our favorite things that happened last year or other artists we both really vibe with. Holy Ship is really just a big bonding baby as life should be. Meet people and share the love for music and life.”