We had an absolute blast
Having never been on a cruise before, we had literally no idea of what to expect from The Ark, which is a festival on an actual cruise ship.
With 4,000 passengers, 1,400 staff and seven stages – indoor and outdoor – across 15 decks, the sheer size of the Royal Caribbean is jaw-dropping. Billed as ‘one of the biggest party cruises in the world’, the ship itself is absolutely massive: 1,112 feet long, 185 feet wide, if you’re measuring.
It doesn’t take long to understand why festival cruises are quickly becoming the coolest trend of 2017, with TOWIE’s Amber Turner having boarded a similar one earlier this year.
Created with the idea of ‘appealing to an international crowd looking for a mini-vacation with the luxury and comfort of a cruise liner, combined with the finest electronic music’, it’s the perfect festival-holiday combination.
The cruise isn’t cheap, but it’s definitely worth it: It’s $549 per person for a pass and all-inclusive cabin. The alcohol, though, is what really swallows your cash once onboard: $13 for a vodka and Red Bull, $9 for a 330 ml bottle of Heineken beer is pretty steep. No-one seems to mind; there are still plenty of buckets of booze - and even a casino - on the ship.
A clever decision by the organisers means everything has to be paid off at the end of the weekend on a room card linked to your bank account; it’s a lot easier to just tap a contactless card when buying a drink (not so easy to keep track of how much you’ve actually spent – most people definitely had a massive financial sting at the end).
If one thing’s for sure, though, you’ll never want to camp in a muddy festival field again after experiencing something as luxurious as The Ark… The weather, obv, is one of its main selling points. Instead of having to put up a tent in the pouring rain while trying not to fall over in a mud bath (we've all been there) think picture-perfect sunsets and pool party-friendly sunshine.
For those who are actually awake and alive enough to leave their comfy cabin bed in the mornings, there’s a chance to explore a different island each day. On the Friday morning, we head into Marseille for a few hours.
For dinner back onboard, we head to the ultra-fancy Galilelo – with chandeliers hanging above and a three-course-meal - it’s the classiest place we’ve ever eaten whilst at a festival: the definition of luxury. Then there’s the restaurant’s own DJ, spinning Michael Jackson classics from the top of the giant staircases. Could life get any better?
And as a troupe of nautical performers make their way into the room, blowing whistles and encouraging everyone to clap along, we’re quickly thrown back into the madness. As the DJ picks up his decks and heads elsewhere, the party-loving crew lead everyone into a sing-along rendition of the ‘YMCA’: complete with the appropriate dance routine.
On Saturday, we’re gifted an entire day to take in a cooler than usual Ibiza, walking through the back streets and relaxing on the beach. Then, before heading back to England, Sunday is spent at a bar in Barcelona eating far too much tapas – and drinking far too much beer. Why not? We are on holiday after all.
We're predicting big things for these cruises...
For more information, visit The Ark Cruises website