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Waking up bright and early Sunday morning was rough to say the least as we kicked off the final day of our HOLY SHIP adventure. To think after an entire year of planning and hyping ourselves up over a lineup that many would say was too perfect to be true was a coming to end was rather difficult. A bit of sadness had come over us, but those feelings were soon erased as we stepped out onto our balcony to see the famed private island that awaited us. After taking shots of tequila (provided by an awesome passenger from Seattle who found out about HOLY SHIP after reading our recap from last year) and eating a healthy breakfast, we made our way to the ship that would take us to our secluded destination.

Everyone aboard the craft talked feverishly about the possible layout for the beach party this year; then we heard the only bit of bad news of the entire weekend: a media photographers informed us that the infamous Pirate Ship would not be making a repeat appearance this time around. As you’d expect, some started voicing complaints that this was a major mess up on HOLY SHIP’s part. But a voice of reason chimed in to say, “If a stationery piece of wood is going to effect the beauty of this whole experience, then you’re hear for the wrong reasons.” With that said, we arrived on land and made our way to the beach, which contained a plethora of lounge chairs, an empty bar at the time, a stage that would provide music for the day, and, of course, a spectacular view of the ocean. We caught the majority of Desctructo‘s set while hanging out in the water, enjoying some peace before the rest of passengers woke up from their slumber.

Brodinki @ Holy Ship Private Island with Diplo

Brodinski was given the task of delivering bikini dropping beats to those still making their way to the island at high noon. Instead of playing the techno/house tracks that have made him a legend, Brodisnki surprised us all with an impromptu hip-hop set as the sun came from behind the clouds to shine down on the crowd. Fat Joe‘s “Lean Back,” Lloyd Banks‘ “Beamer Benz or Bentley,” and Diddy‘s “All About the Benjamins” were just a few of the bangers the frenchman dropped for an hour straight as we enjoyed drinks and bleezys on the beach. Even Diplo, who was sitting on his computer next to the stage, could be seen getting down from time to time. (If any of you are interested, click here to listen to his whole set!)

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By the time Diplo graced the stage, the beach was packed as hell with people amped up and ready for the Mad Decent boss to throw down whatever genre he felt like dabbling in. His choice of weapon was running the crap out of trap music: assaulting our earbuds with many of the tracks we’ve been hearing for the last few months while we floated “cross style” in the water. The HOLY SHIP helicopter made its much anticipated appearance at this time; coming up close and personal to the stage on occasions as everyone tried extra hard to make the official video this year. (For an extra bit of epicness, click here.)

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It’d be foolish to undervalue the main reason why many of us spent the money for a place aboard the MSC Poesia: a DJ set on a beach in the Bahamas by one of the biggest names in electronic music. When Justice finally appeared behind the decks looking ready to do the damn thing, everybody in attendance focused on nothing but this once in a lifetime spectacle. What took place before our eyes will be nearly impossible to describe in words as Xavier and Gaspard delivered the most quintessential set we’ve ever witnessed. It’s hard to remember what songs were played during that hour and a half, but the duo’s “D.A.N.C.E” and “We Are Your Friends,” Surkin‘s “Ultra Light,” Gesaffelstein’s unreleased remix of “Verschwende Deine Jugend,” were all played at once point. Justice even dropped Will Smith‘s “Get Jiggy With It” and “Welcome to Miami” for F*CKS SAKE! One of the best sights of the entire trip was seeing Destructo sitting on the side of stage looking out at a sea (literally) of people enjoying themselves to the fullest all because of his doing. Talk about self-accomplishment!

When all was said and done, we begrudgingly made our way with the rest of the crowd back to the ship. Though we still had a full night of shows to be joyous about, everyone was feeling a bit worn out from that amazing moment in history. A bit of luck fell upon us again as we managed to catch the first shuttle back to the ship which seated many of the artists. At one point we  were in an elevator with Destructo & A-Trak and shared a friendly conversation with the two, but most importantly thanked the hell out of Gary for providing us with this wonderful experience. Before the night started off, passengers had the opportunity to get autographs from almost every artist onboard in the S32 Disco.  Waiting in the long line was most definitely worth it.

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The third evening held the biggest variety of headliners. If you’re thinking ‘it’s got to be hard to top the last couple night,’ don’t worry, we were too. But, once again, HOLY SHIP fulfilled all our wildest dreams. To start the night off, Digitalism provided us with an epic DJ set, which sounded a lot like a Justice set: huge white noise sounding builds and epic electro drops. Justin Martin and Claude Vonstroke followed up and gave everyone on a deck a well-deserved lesson on the dirtybird. These two artist are some of the most talented in the game at the moment, and that night proved that their momentum is unstoppable!

As the night continued, we had the pleasure of being front and center for Skream & Benga. Now, we already knew Skream and Benga’s set was going to be awesome, but we were not aware that it would be a favorite of the trip. They were accompanied by MCEE Sgt. Pokes and showed the entire boat what a diverse group from UK garage roots can do with disco anthems. Skream got on the mic around mid-set and told the crowd that they were going to take a few minutes to highlight their roots. For a solid 20 minutes, the two played older underground anthems from the UK. After their reminiscing, they continued their set by playing out some of the heaviest tunes in the game. “Vascilate,” “Inhumane,” and Noisia‘s “Smack My Bitch Up” remix and even a little trap (see above) characterized by the latter half of Skream & Benga’s set.  It’s a tough call, but they might have had one of the best shows aboard the ship. Plus, they were incredibly friendly to anyone they met.

Following Skream & Benga was the Australian Tommy Trash. If you’ve seen last year’s official HOLY SHIP video from Steve Aoki, then you know which tune I’m talking about. Tommy Trash’s remix “Ladi Dadi” plagued us all year as we anticipated the boat. Now, to finally hear it live and on the boat from the man himself was something of a spiritual moment you could say. Tommy Trash made us wait until his very last track to play it out, but it wasn’t such a bad hour of waiting. He provided endless house and electro tunes while violently head-banging on stage. All I’ve got to say is: Tommy Trash is the future of house and electro.

After hed had tired us all out, we headed to the bar and buffet to regroup and plan out the rest of our night. Every option was destined for fun. We had the HOLY SHIP surprise party, Moombahton Massive, Destructo & Friends, and of course the Night Slugs party. As you can see, we still had quite the night a head of us.

We started it off at the Night Slugs party. It was early still and people were starting to fill the lounge in. L-VIS 1990 was still on the decks giving the crowd a unique blend of techno with a emphasis on the bass. Whatever was playing through those speakers, we were loving it. From the Night Slugs party we decided to stop over at the Moombahton Massive hosted in the Zebra Bar. Things were getting off to a wild start. Sabo was warming up while the crowd was anixously awaiting Dillon Francis, Nadastrom, and the main man, Diplo.  We didn’t spend a long time in the Zebra bar because we knew we’d be back to catch Dillon Francis, so we decided to check out the HOLY SHIP surprise party in the Theater.

Before long, we started seeing surprise party flyers hung up all around the theater. A surprise hip-hop party from Brodinski, Baauer and A-Trak… this was a dream come true. We couldn’t think of any better way to end our final night with. We arrive as Brodinski was just getting started, but the theater was filling up quick. On stage, he was joined by Gesaffelstein, A-Trak, Baauer, the Major Lazer crew, and many more.  Everyone was surprised because honestly this was one of the most fun parties we attended during the whole trip. Maybe we were a tad bit burnt out on dance music, but a healthy dose of hip-hop did everyone in the theater well.

From the theater, we decided to grab some drinks and check out what Dillon Francis was up to back at the Moombahton Massive. The front of the stage was so packed that you couldn’t even see Sir Dillon. Moombahton was on the menu and he force fed us every tune imaginable: “I.D.G.A.F.O.S.,” “Masta Blasta,”and his “Bootleg Fireworks.” Dillon even played out the fan favorite, “Hits Me Like A Rock” remix, to massive approval. He also let his fans know that he loved and respected all of the people who were there from the start. Later on we caught bits and pieces of Nadastrom and Diplo, but you can be sure, there was a whole lot of booty bouncing and great vibes all around.

Back at the theater, we found Baauer on deck doing his usual business…controlling the crowd with trap and bass like he does every day. He blasted out tunes like  TNGHT‘s “Higher Ground” and his forever famous “Harlem Shake” and “Yaow.” Along with the trap, Baauer played out all of his favorite hip-hop anthems. Rick Ross, Waka Flocka and A$AP Rocky were all victims. Around this time, we went back and forth between the hip-hop party and the Moombahton Massive. As the night wound down, it was clear that everyone aboard was beyond sad to be leaving the ship in the morning.

We took one final stroll outside on the pool deck before heading back into our cabins for a short night’s sleep. As we were passing weary passengers, you could tell that most of the boat was on it’s last limb from the seemingly never-ending three-day party. Despite their weariness, passengers shared stories from the weekend in paradise, laughs were exchanged, and memories made.

HOLY SHIP is the only event of its kind. If you’re a passionate dance music lover, this gathering is a festival that trumps all others. Sure, you can disagree with us, but until you’ve boarded the ship and lived through the epicness of that weekend, you truly don’t know the magnitude of fun. Ask any other person aboard. The epic buffet, the amazing lineup, meeting the artists, the private island, the never ending after parties, the costumes, the frozen alcoholic drinks, the amazing people onboard: it all contributed to what will be a weekend we will never forget.

But let’s not forget, we all went for one reason: our love of music.

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