When I first heard about Macaroni and Cruise, the concept, a small part of me was jealous I hadn't thought of it first. There are an increasing number of musicians that have taken to the high seas to play gigs for their most devoted fans over the past few years, while family cruising remains popular as well. Put them together, and it's like macaroni and cheese.
In any case, it was man-of-many-kindie-hats Bill Childs who did come up with the idea first, curse and bless him. He's working with Jonathan Coulton and Paul Sabourin and Greg "Storm" DiCostanzo (aka musical comedy duo Paul and Storm), whose fifth edition of the JoCo Cruise Crazy sets at the end of January, to develop a kid-friendly musical (and geeky) cruise for the whole family.
The inaugural Macaroni and Cruise sets sail on Norwegian Cruise Lines' Norwegian Sky liner from Miami on August 3, 2015, returning to port August 7 while stopping at Grand Bahama Island, Nassau, and Great Stirrup Cay along the way. And while you're onboard, your family can enjoy music from Tim and the Space Cadets, Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band, Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, plus kindie-allegiant acts like Jonathan Coulton and the Doubleclicks, not to mention Lego activities featuring master builder Nathan Sawaya.
There is still an early booking discount available -- it's for the first 50 cabins and worth $200 per person, which'll go a long way towards offsetting any additional travel costs your family might incur in getting to Miami. Click here if that appeals to you (it probably should).
I sent off some questions to Bill, and he, Paul, and Storm gave some further details behind the Macaroni and Cruise origin story and planning process, so enough of my yapping…
Zooglobble: How did the idea for Macaroni and Cruise (the cruise, not the name) originate?
Bill Childs: I (Bill) had read about the JoCo Cruise over the years and thought something like that might work for family music. I knew Jonathan through Many Hands and KindieFest, and he was kind enough to walk me through the basics. Independently, we came to the realization that maybe it would make sense to work together on it, since he and his partners have so much expertise on the cruise side of things, and on making an event like this into a community, not just a vacation. We’ve built up the rest of it together.
What were you looking for in choosing acts for the cruise?
Bill, Paul Sabourin, Greg "Storm" DiConstanzo: Smart folks who appeal to kids and their grownups. A mix of acts that directly orient themselves towards kids and families, and "regular" acts that they'll love. Basically, when we think about who to bring, we're figuring families who come on this cruise aren't looking for ordinary entertainment -GiantMegaEntertainmentCorp Consolidated can provide that. We're here for something different.
What is the biggest misconception people have when they think about going on a cruise versus the reality of going on a cruise?
Bill, Paul, Storm: There are so many types of cruises, and people sometimes take the worst things they hear and attribute it to all of them—especially if they’ve never been on one before. Our team has extensive experience with cruise lines and ships across the spectrum, and we can say with a lot of confidence that sailing with us on the Norwegian Sky will be terrific - there are many more young and active people than what people sometimes expect when you say “cruise”! But beyond the mechanics of being on a ship for vacation, people may also be surprised at how much community can be built during those days. JoCo Cruise has fostered a lot of year-round friendships, and part of our evil plan with Macaroni and Cruise is to help forge similar, positive life-altering friendships.
Besides performances, what other activities are you planning for attendees?
Bill, Paul, Storm: We're still in the process of planning the "only on Macaroni and Cruise" activities beyond the music—but we can promise fun hands-on experiences that go beyond what you'd expect from either a music festival or a cruise. For example, we're going to have world-renowned lego brick artist Nathan Sawaya onboard to do some fun sessions with the kids. We're also planning to have tabletop gaming, dance parties, and more unique stuff that everyone will love. (And it's also worth mentioning that we'll have at least one parents-only performance with Jonathan and others, where the swears will come out.)
What's been the biggest surprise for you, Bill, as you've learned about the cruise industry from the booking side?
Bill: I've never been on a ship bigger than the pretend paddlewheel boat that hosted my high school reunion this summer, so it's pretty much all new to me. I had a general idea that the ships were pretty elaborate, but I really didn't know the extent. The other thing that's been great to learn more about is the terrific community that can form on a cruise when the right ingredients are there - that's clear from the JoCo Cruise, and I'm really looking forward to seeing that happen with this. (As an aside, I promise there will be far less Bon Jovi on this ship than on my high school reunion’s.)
What are you most looking forward to on the cruise?
Bill: A lot of what I've done in the family music world has been around building communities, and I cannot wait to see how the families on board form a community and, hopefully, lifelong friendships. I'm also excited to check out those islands! Paul & Storm sent some pictures from them and they look pretend, they're so gorgeous. (The islands, not Paul & Storm.)
Paul: Expanding on what Bill said: while we have many fun activities and events planned, one of the most fun aspects of working on the JoCo Cruise has been watching how the attendees have actively shaped the overall tenor and "feel" of the event. I look forward to seeing how the Macaroni and Cruise attendees similarly evolve and shape the event to make it uniquely their own.
Storm: Agreed with all that—it’ll be amazing to be there when everyone is meeting one another on the ship. Though to Bill’s last point, I like to think that Paul and I are at least a little bit gorgeous.