Groove Cruise Cabo set sail out of San Diego on Friday, October 28th, and what followed was five straight days of non-stop house and techno magic.

Whet Travel’s Groove Cruise, “the world’s largest floating dance music festival,” first got its start in 2004, and it is the only music charter that sails yearly from both coasts. Owner and founder Jason Beukema founded Whet Travel with the definition of “whet” in mind. He said he wanted to stimulate the appetite and desire through music and adventure. Whet Travel not only operates the Groove Cruise but under the Whet umbrella they also host Shiprocked, “the ultimate rock music cruise vacation;” MotorBoat with Motorhead + Friends; Inception Cruise, “the world’s first spring break charter;” and Salsa Cruise.

I didn’t know what to expect when boarding my first cruise since I was a child and was blown away by the experience both at sea and on land in our overnight stop in Cabo.

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All photos by Veran Miky

What Met My Expectations:

The Music

With such a wide range of electronic artists on the lineup (Fedde le Grand, Gareth Emery, Dubfire, Klindgande, EDX, Arty, Kryder, Uner, Lost Kings, Pierce Fulton, PrinceFox, Shaun Frank, SNBRN, Solidisco, Stanton Warriors, Michael Calfan, Cocodrills, Tom Staar, and Chocolate Puma, to name a few), I knew it was going to be a solid weekend of good music. What I particularly liked about the format is that I never felt like I had to rush to any certain set or place at any time. Most of the DJs played more than once, so if there was a conflict with the schedule, all I had to do was see one of the conflicting DJs at a different time.

Whether it was watching the sunrise and listening to the best four hours of music of my life provided by Lee Foss, enjoying an all-vinyl set by Chocolate Puma, or watching Gold Fish take the saxophone from out behind the DJ deck and dance with the crowd along the edge of the pool, there was never a dull moment. I thought it would be hard to sleep because the music was non-stop, but it actually made it easier to really take care of myself and follow my body’s signals when I needed to rest because no matter when I slept or when I woke up, I was guaranteed to find an amazing set waiting for me.

The Ship

I have only been on one cruise prior to Groove Cruise, and the main thing I remembered was how huge it seemed. While the Norwegian Sun wasn’t a very large ship in terms of cruises (something that was verified to me when I spoke with some of the staff about the ship), it felt huge and yet intimate enough to really begin to feel like home by the end of the cruise. This really enforced the “Groove Cruise Family” vibes that I have heard so much about.

I took the time to speak with various crew members and ask them what they thought about the Groove Cruise in particular. Everyone I spoke to told me this was the best cruise to work because not only was the music better (who knew masseuses preferred techno?) but also the crowd. One of the bartenders told me this was his third contract with Norwegian and that each contract last eight months. He said out of all those cruises Groove Cruise was his favorite.

I was told this was a much smaller crowd and also a little older. It makes sense that with the average age of the Groove Cruise attendee being about 35 and not having any children on board, it would be a different experience for both attendees and crew. Age seemed to make a big difference to people attending the Groove Cruise. When asking around why they chose the Groove Cruise over other festivals and other cruises, two things were often repeated: age and cost. Being aboard the boat was like always being in the VIP section of a festival.

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The Vibe

Ahead of Groove Cruise I did as much research as I could. I read previous reviews, travel blogs, and blogs dedicated just to the Groove Cruise, and one thing that was a consensus amongst all of them was that being on a cruise ship meant that no matter what happened with your fellow cruisers, you were certain to see them the next day. If you are like me and have random moments of social anxiety or awkwardness, this can either be a blessing or a curse.

There was no cell reception and being in the middle of international waters meant I didn’t have my usual option of phoning a friend for advice in moments of unsureness. It almost forced me to meet new people when I was unsure of a costume or a set where I hadn’t heard of the artist performing. This sort of intimate setting meant that everyone really embraced each other. I didn’t have any friends with me on the cruise, but I never once felt alone or like I couldn’t have fun because I didn’t know anybody.

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What Surprised Me:

Me!

No, I don’t mean myself (although there were a few moments I certainly surprised myself). I was incredibly impressed by the overnight stay we had at the ME! resort in Cabo.

This was absolutely the most impressive, beautiful resort I have ever seen. It was oceanside, had multiple pools surrounded with cabanas, featured multiple bars and restaurants, and was the ultimate adult playground. One of the coolest parts about docking overnight in Cabo was that it meant you had the option to continue the party with your new GC Fam or have a nonmusical adventure.

My only tip would be to make sure to listen to the details provided over the intercom on the ship before departing. I felt like I had been listening to the same mix for so long that by the time the details came out, I missed the information about the shuttles to the resort after departing the boat. I took a wrong turn and ended up wandering a little lost in Mexico. As much as that sounds like the perfect Taken situation, it was actually a beautiful experience, and I was never more than a $10 cab ride away from where I needed to be.

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The Whet Foundation

Whether it was entering for a chance to win a trip for four to the Groove Cruise, enjoy poolside pina coladas with Klingade, work out with Fredde Le Grand, or have arts and crafts with Shaun Frank, Cadence & Cause offered some incredible opportunities ahead of the cruise with all profits benefitting the Whet Foundation.

But Groove Cruisers weren’t just able to have fun experiences with their favorite DJs in the name of helping others. Through the Whet Foundation, we were given the chance to directly help children in Cabo through the Whet Foundation Destination Donation program.

Each and every Groove Cruise, the Whet Foundation organizes a trip to visit underprivileged kids in underprivileged areas, whether it’s at a school or an orphanage. Groove Cruisers who choose to participate bring donated items ashore and have the chance to really get perspective on what it’s all about (aside from late-night races on a boat).

This seems like such a bipolar concept: a five-day nonstop rave with a three-hour volunteer mission stuck in the center. However, what became clear to me ashore in Cabo and then again on the boat is that the purpose of music and the reason behind festivals and concerts is helping others. Musicians help those who listen to their music by giving them an alternate reality where it’s safe for them to explore what they are feeling and heal a part of them that needs repairing in a way that no other medium can.

I came away from Groove Cruise exhausted, well fed, and a little seasick once I got back on land (unless my apartment was put on rollers that no one told me about), but I also came back revived with a purpose and a whole new perspective on life.