Reflecting Back on the Jesus Freak Cruise

As a concert lover, the opportunity to go on the Jesus Freak Cruise was almost like a concert Mecca for me because all of these artists on for one event and possibly for the last time as a group, DC Talk. So once I was able to attend, I was counting down the days.

The cruise experience was amazing because of all that was available to cruisers, but in essence I was there for the music experience. From moment one walking into the port, the experience of a lifetime began. I was able to meet DC Talk in person, and then once I got on the ship, I was able to see all these artists walking around the ship like John Crist, Phil Joel from the Newsboys, Mandisa’s band members. We were all there for this experience of a lifetime.

The nightly concerts were my favorite. I was able to see a different nightly “main show,” while there were other events throughout the day. There was so much going on it was so hard to catch everything. The first night’s main show was TobyMac and Ryan Stevenson. Toby joked that he told the guys that he offered to do his show first so he could relax before doing the DC Talk show.

TobyMac always is the consummate performer. I had a great seat and was able to really enjoy a full show that was over an hour. He sang all of the hits that you would expect, and it was such an amazing show because it was the official kick off. You could feel the ramping up towards what we were all there for (DC Talk), and this was only day one of stepping on the boat.

Day two was equally amazing because the nightly concert for me was Kevin Max and Newsboys United. Earlier in the day there was an event labeled “Phil Joel Book Signing,” so I thought that he would just be signing his new book Redwoods and Wales, but it was so much more. He was talking about his musical journey, joining the Newsboys, his solo career, forming Zealand Worship, and then writing his new book. He sang songs from his solo albums, and then stayed after to sign the book and take photos. It was so informative and refreshing.

That night Kevin Max performed his solo music opening for Newsboys United, which was a foreshadowing of the Newsboys United fall tour which Kevin Max is joining them for. I have seen the Newsboys United tour before, so I knew the audience was in for a treat, and they did not disappoint. They always bring such a high energy show, and blending the classic Newsboys songs with the newer Michael Tait fronted music is perfection. They sang several tracks off their new Newsboys United release, which is a refreshing path the Newsboys took musically. The crowd was excited through every song.

Day three was the concert I had been waiting for. This was the night! DC Talk was performing. They had no opener so that performance was all for them, and it was exactly what a long time fan could want. They performed every song that you could want to hear like, “Luv is a Verb,” “In the Light,” “Wish We’d All Been Ready,” “What if I Stumble,” and then the song everyone had been waiting for, the song of songs, “Jesus Freak.” Throughout the night, the crowd sang every song with such desperation, sang like they may never get to hear these songs again, like they never thought they would see this band live again, which may very well be the case. I have been to many shows, and maybe only one has matched the intensity of the crowd, dialed into every word the artist was saying. It was incredible to watch the guys have a such a great time and seem to flow through the set with ease, and the pure joy on the faces of the audience.

Day four marked the final full day onboard the ship. I was sad to see the experience coming to the end, but I had one final set of shows to enjoy as well as a day at Coco Cay. After enjoying the beaches, I was ready to see John Crist and Mandisa perform. John Crist’s comedy never disappoints, and I will see him any time he is near. Mandisa’s shows are always so uplifting, and her stories associated with her music is phenomenal. You can’t listen and watch her and her band perform and not leave feeling lifted up and rejuvenated.

I would not trade this experience for the world. I loved every minute of this cruise. I loved the experience of the cruise and concert aspect so much that I signed up for the Summer Hits Cruise, featuring artists like TobyMac, RED, Kevin Max, and KB, to name a few. I’m looking forward to many more of these cruises and to tell the story afterwards.

All photos credit to Sharayah Franklin. See more of her work on Instagram and Facebook.

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