Tinie Tempah to Headline Europe's First Dance Music Festival on a Cruise Ship

May 18, 2017
Anchored Unique Cruises

(4:30 p.m. BST) -- How does a 26-year-old who has never set foot on "a boat", as Jacqueline Voss Wood calls it, manage to persuade one of the world's biggest cruise lines to let her charter one of their 2,000-plus-passenger ships for a seven-day music festival at sea?

Answer: A combination of steely determination, luck -- and an absolute belief in her ability to pull this off.

There have been a number of rock fests, and in the US dance festivals on ships are a regular occurrence, but "Anchored" will be the first ever European dance festival on a ship.

It kicks off on June 11 onboard Royal Caribbean's Jewel of the Seas, on a seven-day cruise which starts in Rome and calls at various hip islands along the way, including Mykonos and Santorini.

Tinie Tempah has just been confirmed as the main act, with a host of other name DJs and artists playing throughout the cruise.

Cruise Critic caught up with Voss Wood just a few weeks before the launch date to find out how Anchored came about.

"I was doing some marketing at Lee's Travel which owns the Forever Cruise brand and I said to the proprietor [Simon]: "I think this would really appeal to millennials. Not so much a cruise, but if you marketed it right."

She goes on: "Millennials are basically lazy. They love to travel, but they don't want to plan or do anything, they want things brought to them.

"If you designed a cruise which would appeal to them -- in other words bring the party to the boat -- then I think this could really work."

Lee bought the concept and Anchored was born. The next step was to find a cruise line willing to lend them a ship.

"We approached Royal Caribbean first and asked them: 'Can we pitch to you? They just said no, straightaway. No reason, just no.

"So then we went to MSC and had a look at one of their ships and they seemed keen and made us an offer.

"Somehow Royal heard of this and came back to us and then I got caught in the bizarre situation of going back and forth between the lines."

She plumped for Royal because she felt it would be a better brand fit, and last year raised the cash -- somewhere around £2m -- to charter Jewel of the Seas.

In many ways, the hiring of the ship was the easy part. Dealing with a large multinational corporation is a lot easier than dealing with demanding "artistes", as Voss Wood explains:

"Some of these DJs charge £1,000 a minute -- a minute," she adds, for emphasis. "And the stuff they want -- flowers, Champagne, this number of bottles at this temperature."

It doesn't stop there: the whole of the top deck is being stripped out and fitted with stage and lights, podiums, Miami & Ibiza-style white beds, not to mention, hostesses and dancers.

Voss Wood does not even like to call it a festival, preferring a "lifestyle cruise", complete with DJs and an Ibiza vibe.

Fast forward to today and the cruise is 72 percent sold, with three weeks to go, thanks to a marketing campaign purely on Facebook and Instagram, as well as recruiting the right influencers.

"Will you break even?" I ask.

"If people buy stuff onboard -- drinks and lounge hire -- then we will make money. If they don't..."

Whatever happens this year, she's already confirmed a charter with Royal for next year for Anchored 2.

--By Adam Coulter, Managing Editor, U.K.