#ShipFam is something that I’ve heard about at other festivals and honestly did not understand the true meaning and magnitude behind until I experience Holy Ship 13 for myself this past month! Holy Ship truly is unlike anything I’ve experienced in my entire life. The party is non-stop, the people are extremely welcoming, and it’s all happening on a giant ship! The best thing I can compare it to is sort of like staying in Vegas on the water. After dreaming of the ship life for 8 years, my husband and I finally made it a reality and lived it up. Without further adieu, let’s sail into my Holy Ship 13 review!
Things to Note Before Holy Ship Begins
So Holy Ship is both a commitment physically and financially! After going to 8 EDCs in Vegas, I think I partied the hardest on this festival. This was the first year that Holy Ship was ran by Insomniac Events after being acquired by Gary Richards from HARD. I knew the experience might be a little bit different because many of the “OGs,” aka those who have been on 4 ships or more (they also receive robes when they graduate), would be sailing on Gary’s Friendship. I still really wanted to go, and purchased tickets months in advance around June. There are typically two options back to back in January. 12.0 runs for four nights from January 5-9 and we opted for 3 nights with 13.0 from January 9-12. I believe there are payment plan options and the cost for the cruise includes lodging, entertainment and food for about $2,000. Travel expenses and drinks must be purchased separately. Lineups are usually pretty solid and feature genres such as House, Techno, and Bass. Specific set times and artists are released a few months before the excursion. A few tips are listed below:
- Join the Facebook groups! Just type in “Holy Ship” and see what comes up. I think they change every year based on the number. I found this super helpful in regards to planning and just knowing what to expect.
- Order champagne bottles ($20 each), water bottles, and internet packages (if you want) before Holy Ship. There will be an email sent about a month prior to order all of this.
- Plan to spend at least $300 on drink ticket packages per person (this will give you an average of 4 drinks a day)
- Make sure you print out all Holy Ship confirmation paper work. This includes champagne orders, internet packages, your cabin, etc.
- We didn’t opt for this, but you do have the option to pay $100 per person to access finer dining options. I don’t remember if this includes tip or the entrees, but we stuck with the basic dining. It worked out fine for us since it was around the clock! The buffet has a ton of choices.
- If this is your first cruise, pack sea sickness medication. We didn’t need it, but better safe than sorry!
- There is only one outlet, so try to bring a cord with multiple plugs if you can!
- Even if you purchase internet, it’s pretty spotty! It’s probably not a necessity, so enjoy the freedom if you can. I ended up just going with the social media package to document my journey and the service wasn’t really reliable the whole time!
- You’ll see a ton of artists just walking around on ship. If you have something you’d like autographed, most of them are more than happy to do so!
- You can bring a canteen for water to fill up at restaurants if you don’t want to purchase bottled water.
- Our search to board on the ship was extremely thorough (Florida does not mess around) so no alcohol or drugs are allowed at all! I’m not sure how creative some of you can get, but they put our stuff through metal detectors, x-ray machines and had the dogs sniff everything.
- Make sure you bring a variety of clothing options. A few comfy outfits, bathing suit, sunglasses, pants, theme outfits, and one jacket. The weather is rather unpredictable at times!
- Book your returning flight for at least 2! Getting off the ship was a nightmare, but more on that later…
Boarding the Ship
Being the Disney freaks we are, we spent a few days at Walt Disney World and ended up renting a car. Our ship, the Norwegian Epic, set sail out of Port Canaveral in Orlando, Florida. Fortunately, there are a lot of car rental return options near the port and most will offer a shuttle to your ship. Boarding for us began at 11 but apparently there were a ton of stowaways this year who wouldn’t get off the ship. We didn’t arrive until closer to 2 since we had an hour drive, but it actually worked out because they weren’t even boarding until around that time anyway. The line was really long since they arrested a lot of people on 12.0 and security was extremely heightened. K-9 dogs were everywhere and customs took a while too due to the government shutdown. On the plus side, everyone was really positive and fun! We made a lot of friends from all over the world in line and couldn’t wait to get on our first cruise!
Checking in was relatively simple. It was sort of like a hotel. After security and customs, you go to an open representative and show your confirmation code, ID, and fill out some paper work. You are presented a key (don’t lose this) and go to your room. Although small, I thought the rooms were really nice! Our bed was comfy, there was plenty of hidden storage space, a little couch, closet, bar, and balcony! After quickly unpacking, we were asked to join on the main floor for a required safety drill. Once this was complete, we purchased our drink tickets and ate some food at the buffet. We quickly changed and headed down to the main deck outside to catch Fisher for his sunset set!
Life on Ship
The best part about Holy Ship is being able to come and go as you please! It was so nice having the freedom to have a bite to eat in the middle of a set, or go rest in our room at any time! Rooms are basically sound proof and quiet (so amazing). The sets usually start around 4:30 and go until sunrise typically! I think there were 5 stages (2 outside and 3 indoors). Fun activities during the day are available (Ship Fam Talent Show, Ice Cream Social, pool parties, artist meet and greets, ect.). We unfortunately weren’t able to dock on the island for day 2 due to rocky waters, so we spent 3 whole days on ship! Food was pretty decent for the most part and people really got into the theme nights! Ours were 80’s and meme night.
Back to Reality
The worst part of this trip was leaving. We were told to be out of our cabins at 7:30 AM only to wait in a 3 hour line (that didn’t move) and to be fed into another hour line for customs. I wish Norwegian had organized this process better and moved us out in batches. I’m not sure if this was typical or not, but I’m so happy our flight didn’t depart until 4 because we didn’t even make it past airport security until 2:30!
All in all, Holy Ship was an amazing experience and I’m so lucky to have had the opportunity to attend! I highly recommend if you are ready to party your life away and meet some of the best people ever! Here are some quick pros and cons:
- The best vibes #ShipFam is life!!
- Raving at it’s most comfortable and convenient
- Freedom to eat/rest around the clock
- Expensive (compared to a local two or three day event)
- Checking in and out was a pain
- Partying around the clock (depends on how you look at this)
What did you all think of Holy Ship this year? Let me know in a comment below!