Written by: Andy Ogg – Editor for Travel Professional NEWS
Traveling offers the opportunity to experience life outside of your normal existence. Whether it’s submersing yourself in a new culture, climate or attitude, Travel is an amazing tool to better ones understanding of the world.
We reached out to Jason Beukema and his team for an interview regarding his business and were returned with the gracious opportunity to attend an actual event, which took place October 6th – 9th, 2017. With under a weeks notice of the amazing opportunity, Angela and I made our plans to attend our first Groove Cruise.
Jason is the owner of Whet Travel, based in Miami Beach, Florida, is the one behind Groove Cruise and the other offerings by Whet Travel. Whet, which means “a thing that stimulates appetite or desire,” does just that. With music, themed and corporate cruises, Whet Travel has become a major player in the travel industry and has been honored with multiple awards, including Norwegian’s Cruise Lines Top Travel Partners of the Year in 2015. His business started off in Group Travel and has grown to heights that are absolutely inspiring.
We are lucky to have such great support and thanks to my mother, Joanie Ogg, Angela and I were able to have Peyton looked after as we headed north to Long Beach. The drive up the California coast, usually riddled with traffic was unusually clear and we made it to the port in no time. After parking and gathering our belongings, I was expecting a long line to board but what we encountered was far different. We walked down to the terminal to find a live DJ playing music, guests of the Groove Cruise in costumes and in full party mode, well before they were even on the ship. The excitement and energy filled the terminal and as the time passed, it only grew. Angela and I, being virgin Groove Cruisers, were wearing our normal clothing and were actually feeling a bit out of place at first.
Once we cleared security, we made our way to board the Carnival Inspiration and as soon as we stepped aboard, we were greeted by women dressed as mermaids, music shaking the walls and an assortment of people in animal costumes including an elephant, dinosaur and a zebra. Taken aback a bit, we couldn’t help but smile and share the excitement for our first trip on the Groove Cruise.
The Groove Cruise occurs two times a year, one sailing leaves from South Florida and the second departs from Los Angeles, California. The Groove Cruise is 100% chartered which means the whole ship of the Carnival Inspiration is taken over by participants of the Groove Cruise. Just the thought of chartering an entire ship blows my mind but with 100% capacity, Jason and his team have built a highly sought after experience for his market.
At 33, I felt a little older than the majority of the crowd but never once felt out of place, unwelcome or judged and that is the essence of this experience that I will never forget. From 21 year old girls wearing very little clothing to 40 year old men wearing silk shirts, the crowd that boards the Groove Cruise is a crowd focused on the music and the environment that surrounds it. While passengers of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities flew in from all over the world to attend the Groove Cruise, there was one uniting factor that was crystal clear and that was to have FUN!
We got settled and headed up to the main pool for a beverage and to check out the adventure we had embarked upon. Arriving to the pool deck, one might expect to see people lying on deck chairs sipping on a fruity drink, not on the Groove Cruise! A 50 foot tall stage had been erected right in front of the pool area and the music coming from this stage, well it shook your chest, the floor and everything within 100 feet of it. As the music increased in volume, so did the partying participants of the Groove Cruise. Already in costumes, drinks in hand, the attendees began to leave their normalcy at home and embark on what one person I spoke dubbed “The ULTIMATE break from reality.”
As the music continued far into the night, Angie and sadly do not have the steam we once did. Us “old people” were in bed by 10:00 PM and we were happy about it. Early to rise at 6:30 AM, I made my way to the deck for a morning cup of coffee and to enjoy the views of the open sea. Arriving to the coffee station, I began to look around and realize while I was just starting my day, nearly everyone around me was still continuing their night.
The sun began to make it’s way up from the East and I wandered to the back of the ship to catch my first “Sunrise Session.” Over 200 people filled the After Hours stage at the back of the boat and were having the time of their lives. Music cascaded down and out into the Pacific and as I watched, I was slightly envious of their ability to let go of routine and just live for the moment.
Through the day at sea, we found ourselves in the midst of one of the largest parties we had ever attended. Bottle service, pool parties, costumes (or lack of), and just about everything you can imagine filled the Carnival Inspiration through the day. As the day fell to night, we began to realize that many of the attendees weren’t just partying, they weren’t sleeping either. As we ate our dinner, we could see the crash of fatigue begin to hit some of the passengers, including us even though we slept. We found our way to the Rock and Roll Lounge in the evening to enjoy “Hip Hop Night” which was a mix of DJ’s playing some Hip Hop from the years past and present. It was a great time to enjoy, people watch and partake in a portion of what the Groove Cruise has to offer it’s guests.
The following day we arrive in Ensenada where attendees of the Groove Cruise had the ability to attend a lavish house party on a cliff top estate in Ensenada. Transfers, drinks and food were included and while we didn’t attend the party, we heard nothing but great things from the people who did.
One of the great things that Jason and the Groove Cruise do is to engage with children of the ports they dock in. In Ensenada, Groove Cruisers had the opportunity to work with Niños de Baja, an organization to help children that are in need of support. Groove Cruisers had the opportunity to meet and interact with the kids, as well as provide donations of clothing, toys and supplies to better their lives. While many of the guests onboard are engulfed with the experience, many showed support and love for the local children that were much appreciative of it.
We opted to walk around a familiar town that I had spent much time in a previous chapter of my life and be tourists. We enjoyed some cold Margarita’s at Papas and Beers before paying too much for toys and gifts for our daughter and then heading back to the ship. Once back on board, a ghost town is what was left of the Carnival Inspiration. We sat by the pool and relaxed, enjoying some much needed “Mom and Dad” time before the partying commenced later in the day.
After 2 days full of music, light shows, partying and utter insanity at times, I made the assumption that most of the guests would crash out and get ready to disembark the ship the following morning.
I was dead wrong.
The Groove Cruisers came aboard with a vengeance and the party was in full effect until hitting the dock in Long Beach. We didn’t have the steam to rally through the night like most of the passengers but greatly enjoyed the energy they brought back on board as it was, and is as I type this, absolutely contagious.
Disembarking was a scene out of “The Living Dead.” While we were ready to be on our way home to our little girl, many of the passengers hadn’t rested much, or at all, thus painfully carrying their luggage as their bodies told them they were exhausted. Angie and I couldn’t help but remember a younger time in our lives where we would be in that place, however, we were both happy that we weren’t that day. The Groove Cruise staff did a fantastic job of disembarking the ship and well, they did an absolutely awesome job of everything.
Jason and his agency, Whet Travel, is an inspiration. He has built a full scale business from an idea he had and while many of us have ideas, Jason went out and did it. We had the opportunity to sit down with Jason and we had a great conversation, not only about Groove Cruise but the multiple other facets of his business. From his Salsa Cruise to his Zen and Meditation Cruises and so much more. Jason Beukema, at a young age, has accomplished more than most will in their lifetimes.
We all know the importance of creating and focusing on a niche or speciality market and our experience onboard the Groove Cruise could not have possibly proved that further to me. Jason filled the entire ship with like minded, passionate and amazing people from all walks of life. Doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, business gurus and so much more were on board to partake in this extraordinary offering of fun, music and festivities.
We personally want to thank Jason Beukema, his assistant Yaisel Carmenate and entire team at the Groove Cruise for their help, time and the amazing experience they provided. The Carnival Inspiration was a beautiful ship and while it was decorated a bit differently than your normal 3 day sailing, the ship was comfortable, roomy and full of fantastic activities to enjoy. We had a fantastic time aboard the Groove Cruise and we hope that you add Whet Travel to your vendor list as Whet Travel offers 10% commission to Travel Professionals on all of their offerings.