THE organisers of this year’s IT’S THE SHIP festival, Asia’s largest music event at sea, are bracing for a batch of well-known stars this year. And they are heading for the foodie capital of Penang this time around.
The amazing festival, which this year takes place on , will announce its line up at the end of next month. Jason Kong from the Livescape Group, the organisers behind the event, gave Cruise&Travel some insights into what’s expected this year.
Any hints of this year’s lineup?
We’re going to be announcing our full line up by end May 2016. All I can say is, it’s going to be our biggest lineup to date and there may be some Hollywood celebrities on board this year as well.
Why has IT’S THE SHIP become so popular?
I believe the one thing that works in our favour is that in this region, it is a completely new and different experience. And we were the first to pioneer such cruises in Asia. We’ve recently done a survey with previous attendees and almost 90% of respondents said they came on IT’S because of the experience. Word of Mouth about the festival is at its peak. In fact, 80% of our attendees come from countries outside of our home markets (Malaysia & Singapore). Last year we had a sold-out crowd of 3,800 people from over 50 countries so it’s a really diverse and international crowd.
Do you guys only use Royal Caribbean ships and why are these ships so good to hold the festival on?
When we were looking at ships that sets sail in this region, Royal Caribbean naturally stood out. It is almost double the size of other cruises, and the ship’s facilities are second to none. The Royal Caribbean brand also possesses a significant “premiumness” and is famed for its 5-star services and being a very safe cruise liner which was very important to us. We’re using the Mariner, because it’s the best.
What’s the itinerary for this year’s cruise?
We’ve refreshed things a little. For the past two years, IT’S THE SHIP sailed to the island of Langkawi in Malaysia. But this year, we are sailing to Asia’s food paradise, the Pearl of The Orient – Penang. We set sail from the Marina Bay Cruise Centre in Singapore on Nov 4, arrive in Penang on the 5th, and set sail for arrival back in Singapore on the 7th. What happens in Penang is going to be a surprise for our Shipmates. But we’ve definitely have got some exciting plans up our sleeves.
How fast do the cabins sell out?
Last year we sold out by end October. But this year, we are expecting the festival to sell out slightly earlier given the number of bookings we have received even before we have announced our lineup. We are currently at 40% capacity with 6 months to go.
What makes IT’S THE SHIP so different from any other music festival? You’re essentially living in a festival environment for 4 days alongside other like-minded festival goers and not in tents – but in proper 5-star luxurious cabins. The lack of mobile connectivity also forces (in a positive way) actual physical interaction among the attendees. A lot of new bonds and friendships have been forged and we have got returning fans who have even become friends with some of the artistes. Because of the relaxed vacation vibe and the fact that we are all on a ship, the artistes tend to also let themselves loose a little and mingle with the fans. So there isn’t really crowd segregation as you get with on ground festivals.
What’s your favourite thing about the festival? And who’s been your favourite act?
It’s going to sound cliche and biased on my end but I love every single thing about IT’S THE SHIP – from the cabins to the food (which is free!), to the vibes and energy from the crowd, the performances – the entire experience. And not to mention, the beautiful ladies as well 😉 My favourite act would have to be Peking Duk – their set was just next level thumping and they were really a bunch cool dudes who were up for almost anything – I think they mingled so much with all the fans, they could well have been the face of IT’S THE SHIP. They really helped push the energy levels of the festival up a notch.