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[Herald Interview] Floating festival in middle of ocean

Cruise EDM party ‘It’s the Ship’ set for first voyage from Busan

(Livescape Group)
(Livescape Group)

Though walking on water may not be possible, dancing on water is -- if you board the cruise music festival “It’s the Ship” this summer in Busan.

The festival is a four-day-long journey of Electronic Dance Music party, held on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean. This summer, for the first time, it will sail the waters off the shores of South Korea, Aug. 28-31, making a round trip to Fukuoka, Japan.

Launched in Singapore 2014 by an event management company, Livescape Group, the festival has been hosted in Singapore and China, attracting more than 35,000 fans from 88 countries.

“‘It’s the Ship’ is different from other landed EDM festivals as the ‘shipmates’ can interact with their favorite artists,” Livescape Group Chief Executive Iqbal Ameer, based in Malaysia, told The Korea Herald in an interview recently held in central Seoul.

“The artists do not go straight to their homes after the show, but stay on the ship and experience the whole festival with the audience,” Ammer said.

“We offer healthy entertainment during the day, from rock climbing, morning yoga to basketball,” he said, referring to the 221-meter-long cruise liner Costa NeoRomantica, fully equipped with a basketball court, casino, theater, spa, duty free and a dance floor.

“Then, when the sun goes down, it is time to party,” he said.

In the beginning, the festival had its difficulties as it was hard to invite artists to the festival requiring four to five days of commitment. But now, artists are more than willing to board on the journey, he said.

“Also, there is no backstage. The artists have to mingle with the audience, eating at the restaurants, playing basketball, or taking a swim. It is definitely a surreal experience for everyone,” he explained. 

(Livescape Group)
(Livescape Group)
(Livescape Group)
(Livescape Group)

Head of Cruise Lab Chang Woo-seok, the festival organizer in charge of the Busan leg of the festival stressed the Korean edition of “It’s the Ship” will be an international event, mentioning fly-and-cruise passengers who air travel to cruise departure points.

“Having experience in the cruise business before, I have boarded numerous cruise journeys from Miami, Barcelona and Hong Kong. What I have observed is that the passengers are very international,” he said.

“For the Busan edition of ‘It’s the Ship,’ we expect the guests to be 50 percent Korean residents and the rest overseas visitors,” Chang said.

Though Busan may be farther away from Incheon, the main gateway to Korea for air travels, the southern port city of Busan is a much-preferred docking point for large-size cruise ships as it has a great harbor environment, Chang explained.

For the Korean market, safety issues are of a great concern as there are some who are uncomfortable with the idea of a cruise journey, recalling the 2014 Sewol Ferry incident that took the lives of more than 300 passengers.

Chang stressed, the cruise liner of “It’s the Ship,” Costa NeoRomantica, is a safe transportation option, approved by the International Maritime Organization.

“International liners are regulated by SOLAS (International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea) under the international maritime treaty. In terms of casualty aspects, they are very safe,” he said, further mentioning that there is still some time left till August, regarding the coronavirus outbreak.

The prices for “It’s the Ship” start from $800 per person for a quad sharing option, inclusive of accommodation, meals and nonalcoholic drinks. For more information, check the website at itstheship.kr/en.

By Im Eun-byel (silverstar@heraldcorp.com)
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