Festival Report Card

Report Card: EDSea 2023

This year, Insomniac presented their very first rave on a cruise ship: EDSea. This four-night floating festival exceeded our expectations and was truly one for the books.

Themed EDC performers were found roaming the ship (and the Bahamas) at all times, and the vibes were off the chart. The production was outstanding both on the ship and when we docked in the Bahamas for a private concert. Read below to hear more about EDM Maniac’s experience. 

Vibes: A

The vibes at EDSea brought out the best parts of EDC culture, with people of all ages encouraging everyone to dance with each other.

Each theme night allowed for the highest level of creativity. From a sea of lifeguards for Baewatch day, to a boat full of swashbucklers on Pirate Night, the costumes were in full force.

Ground control, Sixthman, and medic teams were all in attendance and very proactive to anyone who needed any extra assistance. The hardworking staff of the Norwegian also took in festival goers with open arms.

There was even “Mr. Washy Washy”, a staff member who would sing and remind people to wash their hands at the Garden Cafe buffet each day.

Festival goers also had the opportunity to hang out with their favorite artists and participate in activities, such as a go-kart tournament and a tequila tasting which provided a unique, intimate vibe, as the artists were all stoked to mingle and interact with fans. 

Production: A-

For an inaugural sailing, the production at EDSea was out of this world. The Kinetic Ocean stage had a full LED panel and giant EDC owl guardians with tritons on either side.

While the music was bumping, there was an array of lasers that would shine bright as far as the eye could see. Some of the sets also had small fireworks and of course, CO2 cannons.

The entire ship was utilized, and many of the restaurants were turned into stages. Notably, hearing the DJ at Emo Nite telling the crowd to open up the steak house (in place of moshpit) was a funny testament to the utilization of resources on the ship.

There were a few delays with setting up the stages, which caused a few schedule changes, such as Cosmic Coral not being completely built until Tuesday.  However, for a first-time setup, these delays were expected.

The production at Nassau, Bahamas was unreal and the Nassau theater was turned into a private EDSea party just for EDSea cruisers. There were private food trucks, free water, and local Bahamian drinks available.

The set up of the island party was top-tier quality, with themed characters dancing around the crowd and two aerial artists who were magnificent to watch.

We were bummed that the Great Stirrup Cay party got canceled, as we heard there was full production built there as well, but the water was too dangerous to dock to make it to the island party safely.

Overall, we were very impressed with the production we did see.  

Music: A-

The music was fantastic on this ship, with artists bringing their A-game. From dubstep to hardstyle to drum & bass and house sets, there was music for everyone on the ship.

Being on a ship for four days allowed artists to perform multiple sets and even multiple styles of music. We all know the battle of set conflicts, so having artists play multiple times throughout the journey was great.  

Wooli played a house set under his Stumpi alias which got the crowd moving even on the last day of sailing. The Mainstage,  Kinetic Ocean had some heavy hitters each night with sets from EDM legends such as Benny Benassi, Louis the Child, DJ Snake, Slander, and more.

If you were feeling house music, we saw some incredible sets by Will Clarke, Cloonee, and CID. If you were thinking of techno, Sara Landry absolutely killed her set, and Slander played as their techno alias “Before Dawn” for a “5:30am-???” set that kept us there until well past the sunrise.

There were a few sets that were placed on stages that were too small for their draw, which caused a bit of overcrowding and issues getting into the stage areas (such as BTSM on the Nest stage). By the next day, these acts were scheduled on bigger stages, which helped alleviate the crowding.

The music quality was loud and clear and there was no sound bleed from stage to stage. The only “sound bleed” was if you were in a cabin above or below one of the decks with a stage, you could hear the thumping bass from the sets.

But, this made you feel you weren’t missing out on a set if you had to go back and change or hang in your cabin.

Venue: B+

The Norwegian Joy cruise ship was beautiful and made us question how something of this size could even float. First entering the ship, EDC decorations, characters, and decor were everywhere making us feel at home away from home.

There were complimentary restaurants, buffets, and paid steakhouses for guests and artists to enjoy. The staterooms also each came equipped with room service while music was being played.

We did experience longer wait times for elevators during peak festival hours and opted to use the stairs at some points, but being able to walk from your room straight to a set in five minutes or less was glorious.

The stages themselves were spread out all throughout the ship and had different takeovers each day, such as Bassrush and Basscon.

The Nassau amphitheater venue was unreal. A five-minute walk off the cruise ship into the amphitheater was amazing and the venue itself was right on the waters of Nassau, Bahamas. There’s nothing better than a venue right on the water next to a floating rave cruise ship.

We were disappointed that the Great Stirrup Cay island party was canceled, as there were reports of a full stage/production being built that we didn’t get to see. We were also sad since the beverage package included drinks at Great Stirrup Cay, but did not onshore in Nassau.

However, the day at sea in place of Great Stirrup Cay was full of only positive energy. We know attendees were disappointed, but we really saw PLUR take over and keep the vibes going. Overall for its first inaugural sailing, the hiccups were minor in comparison to the positives. 

Overall: A-

Insomniac’s debut of their cruise ship festival was incredible. EDSea was a four-night Caribbean cruise that offered music from some of our favorite DJs along with specialty dining, bars, lounges, spa and slide pools, and interactive activities.

The vibes were off the chart. Everyone who was on the cruise was there for their love of raving and dance music. There was truly no one there who seemed like they were having a bad time or seemed like they were just there to take a photo or post on social media. 

With this being Insomniac’s first time hosting a festival on a cruise ship, there were bound to be some issues. But, we were impressed by how quickly and efficiently the Insomniac team responded to any difficulties.

It was a bummer attendees did not get a chance to go to Great Stirrup Cay, but Insomniac made sure to have a full day at sea packed with artists and activities to keep everyone busy. 


Featured images from Demian Becerra and Adi Adinayev for Insomniac

Additional contributions from Maddie Whelan

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