Smooth jazz fans consider cruise to Alaska

A cruise to Alaska is on my wife’s and my bucket list. Because we live in Seattle and are both fans of the smooth jazz genre, an ad for the September sailing of the Dave Koz & Friends at Sea jazz cruise from nearby Vancouver, B.C. to Alaska caught our attention.

The Koz cruise departs from Vancouver on September 5 aboard Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Sea. The ship heads first to the northernmost point of Skagway, then sails Tracy Arm Fjord and stops in Juneau and Ketchikan before returning to Vancouver.

Cool icebergs and cool jazz are both on the agenda.

It’s a seven-day, six-night cruise which includes a concert each night as well as other activities including a cocktail party with the performers, dancing to a DJ, and likely some impromptu performances and jam sessions.

The cost of the Koz cruise includes all the acts which, as of this early March post, already number nearly a dozen names very familiar to smooth jazz fans. Because my intent is not to make this an ad, you can get more details about the cruise here or by clicking on the logo to the right if you’re interested.

All that entertainment, however, will come at a cost.

To provide a comparison, I looked into a cruise on Holland America’s ms Volendam. That sailing follows precisely the same route and departs a mere two days earlier.

A DeLuxe Ocean View room with balcony on the Koz cruise is $6,750 per couple, while a similar room on Holland America is $4,300 per couple, a difference of $2,450. An inside cabin, the most modest of available accommodations on either ship, is $3,700 per couple on the Koz cruise and $1,600 on the Volendam, a difference of $2,100.

That breaks down to between $350 and $400 per couple per day to enjoy the entertainment aboard the Koz cruise. Even at today’s prices, that’s a pretty fair premium over your average concert. However, it may also include the chance to actually meet and talk with the various musicians beyond the aforementioned cocktail party, as entertainers on board ship rarely sequester themselves in their cabins when not on stage.

Comedian David Brenner was performing on a Holland America cruise I took between San Diego and Vancouver and was frequently spotted schmoozing with the other passengers. I suspect that would also be the case on the Koz cruise, and what red-blooded male jazz fan could resist the opportunity to chat up Mindi Abair or Oleta Adams?

However, a factor worth considering is that the cruise is near the end of the Alaska cruise season.

Cruises at the beginning and end of the season generally have the least-predictable weather. It could be sparkling clear, or it could be cold, rainy and foggy, hampering the views and/or the ability to enjoy outdoor time on the deck or in ports of call. For many, those aspects of an Alaska cruise are part of its appeal.

The less predictable weather is among the reasons cruise fares are typically lower at the end (or beginning) of the season.

If you’re considering the smooth jazz cruise, weigh whether it would be worth the higher fare in a worst-case scenario where you could see Klugh but not Ketchikan, or enjoy a jam session but miss Juneau. It might not come to that, but if it did, would it be worth it?

If your answer is “Yes!”, then I bid you a hearty “Bon voyage!”

And say hi to Mindi Abair for me...

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