On December 10, 2012 Kaya FM 95.9 embarked on its maiden voyage aboard the opulent MSC Opera! Setting sail on the warm Indian Ocean, the much-anticipated Kaya FM Soul & Jazz Cruise, which had been in the planning for months, managed to entice more than 1900 guests and turned out to be a truly unforgettable incredible experience.
Though the cruise was scheduled for the later part of the year, initial planning occurred months earlier as the Kaya FM crew worked frantically to lock in star guests and performers to be part of the five star extravaganza. In an exciting moment for radio listeners, international DJ and Grammy award-winning producer Louie Fernando Vega called into the radio station from New York and agreed, in his Bronx come Puerto Rican accent, to be part of “this boat ride". Following hot on his heels was the legendary Cape Town born, LA based, South African soul and jazz icon Jonathan Butler who agreed with equal interest and anticipation to strum his custom-made guitar aboard the absurdly grand vessel. The wheels were in motion!
On December 10, 2012 Kaya FM 95.9 embarked on its maiden voyage aboard the opulent MSC Opera - a truly unforgettable incredible experience!
The next phase was to identify strategic partners who would be able to add that extra something to make the cruise the quintessential experience it turned out to be. Absa was the first corporate innovator to partner with KayaFM and generously supported in corporate sponsorship of the Jonathan Butler performances
. Over and above that, the bank gave five lucky listeners and their partners an opportunity to be part of a truly rewarding end of year experience. Citing their uniquely unifying position of “Today Together Tomorrow” the patriotic and proud supporter of all things South African ensured that listeners could bank on a truly soulful and magical journey.
Adding to the “soul magic”, media partner M-net came on-board, and with their signature on the dotted line, the course was set for a weeklong, marine inspired carnival! All that was missing were the guests! While interest during the winter months was slightly low, spring brought with it a fresh take on life and the prospect of a summer cruise along the coast to end of the year became an attractive proposition. Soon Afropolitans who were tuned into FM 95.9 began to reserve in numbers and enquire with more enthusiasm about this Soul & Jazz Cruise. The radio station reciprocated with enticing advertising, which captured with imagination the emotive sounds of losing one’s inhibitions to the Latin infused tempos provided by Mr Vega’s band “The elements of Life”.
With the words of station's breakfast show host Bob Mabena fresh in our minds "African folk had vowed never to get on a boat again unless they knew when it was due back" the organizers ensured that the four day cruise had an airtight itinerary with two docked stops in the capital of Mozambique, Maputo as well as Inhambane further south. Popular presenters from the radio station Bob Mabena, T-Bose, Nicky B, and Mo–G amongst others prepared to descend on Durban harbour and captain the much-anticipated expedition.
Day one arrived and it was time to set sail! All one thousand nine hundred and forty odd visitors were ushered on board and took to deck for the introductory safety drill, which was ably conducted by the Italian crew. With the formalities out of the way, and luggage neatly tagged outside the cabins, the ship finally set rhythm to the biggest party of the year. Colourful cocktails, rhythmic waves, choppy coastlines, late breakfasts, curio shopping, champagne toasts, cigar smokes, sun bathing and pool dives were the order of the day, while reminiscent sing-alongs and thumping soulful house jams permeated and echoed across the open seas for four glorious days and nights.
Before everyone knew it, the surreal and carefree maritime life had come to an anchored end. Mr. Jonathan Butler summed it up perfectly when he stated that “ I need to do this bigger, next year”.
And we will! See you in December 2013. It’s going to be bigger and certainly grander than ever!