Recently I had the Blackest dream ever – I was at a big party with tons of fun people and near the end of the night, I was watching Black Panther on a big screen somewhere near the water. Eric Roberson and his wife sat down next to me. When Black Panther was over, there were even more lit parties going on and I went to those as well.
Oh wait. That was no dream. It really happened on the Fantastic Voyage 2018. That and so much more, as you may have gathered from social media and our multiple photo galleries. But the Fantastic Voyage is one of those things – like the Divine 9 fraternities and sororities, like attending an HBCU, that can never quite be fully explained from the outside looking in. It can only be experienced.
When I tell you that there will be people talking about this cruise for the rest of their lives in the kinds of tones that people talk about ‘Were you there’ experiences like Wattstax, The Thrilla In Manila, Prince aftershows, the Oscar parties the year the Black people won, and other magical experiences in the world of Black America, I’m not exaggerating.
I said it before and I’ll say it again: the Fantastic Voyage is a combination of a cookout, barbecue, house party, pool party and boat ride with a music festival mixed in. I have, in my life and career, been to the Summer Olympics, the U.S. Open, the NBA playoffs, Made in America, over 100 concerts, the American Black Film Festival, The Black Expo, the Soul Train Music Awards, The Essence Festival, the BET Awards and more and the Fantastic Voyage is an experience I’d put at the very top.
Maybe you think I’m overhyping it. So here are 10 reasons why it’s an experience that you should not miss.
UNAPOLOGETICALLY BLACK: One of the most remarkable things about the Fantastic Voyage is this: it’s as though a portal opens up for a week where you get to see the best of Black America. And I don’t mean that its exclusive – as the quartet of women who traveled from Japan can tell you (who were embraced by all and had the time of their lives, including lunch with Tom Joyner) anyone can attend.
But its representative of the very best of Black culture. There are people from various cities and regions in T-shirts that proclaim their loyalty to Naptown, Nola, The Chi, Dallas, H-Town, ATL, NYC, Cali, G.I. (Gary, Indiana) and every other place in between. There are the Divine 9 fraternities and sororities and the HBCU alums and parents.
But more than that, during the week everyone is in a great mood and being their best selves. (Of course, it is a vacation.) You’ll make fast friends and will be greeted like family every where you go on the ship. It’s as though you got an invite to the very best parties from everywhere where Black folks live and they’re welcoming you with open arms. I rarely heard a harsh word or any tension from anyone – not even from folks behind the scenes who had to make multiple productions happen daily.
BLACK LOVE: One of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen anywhere is the amount of beautiful Black couples on the ship. Of course, there might also be behind the cabin doors drama, but I tend to believe that if you signed up to be confined together in a ship cabin for a week and committed to wearing matching sequins suits with Afro wigs and platform shoes for 70’s Night, or you came to Mardi Gras Night as Rick James and Teena Marie, then you might really be in love. This year, a couple who met on a previous Fantastic Voyage, got engaged on this one!
I saw so many instances of couples loving on each other from the R&B concerts to the Anita Baker shows, to people attending the “Marriage and Money” panel together and it was really, really, really lovely to see. There are also entire families who attend with grown children, 10, 20 and 30 deep who enjoy each other and the cruise together.