Acclaimed as one of Australian country music’s most highly anticipated events, the music festival on the high seas Cruisin’ Country returns in 2018, celebrating a massive eight consecutive years. Departing from Sydney in October, Cruisin’ Country 8 brings together more than 40 of Australia’s most respected country musicians for a seven-night cruise aboard the luxury liner Radiance Of The Seas to idyllic holiday ports Noumea and the Isle of Pines in New Caledonia. Embracing the theme of Looking Forward, Looking Back, Cruisin’ Country 8 presents a journey through song of Australian country music’s past, present and future.

The 2018 line-up includes John Williamson, Troy Cassar-Daley, Graeme Connors, Gina Jeffreys, Sara Storer, Tania Kernaghan, Anne Kirkpatrick, James Blundell and Amber Lawrence to name a few. Other familiar faces include The Wheel, Buddy Goode, Bill Chambers and Simply Bushed, plus many more. The cruise not only features a plethora of live music experiences, but also immersive onboard passenger activities such as dancing lessons, workshops, bush poetry and open mic sessions, and a host of other fun opportunities for cruise-goers to get involved with. There are eight new dining options, from casual eats to premium dining, a host of live music venues with performances occurring day and night, along with other relaxing holiday opportunities such as the VIP guest lounge, poolside cinema screen and a Royal Babies & Tots Nursey.

Part of the revered Choose Your Cruise brand, renowned for bringing a host of music festivals at sea to the Australian public, the inclusive vacation-music experiences have seen more than 38,000 passengers embark on the holiday of a lifetime since its inception in 2009. Choose Your Cruise’s Caitlin Manov says Cruisin’ Country sees many return guests year after year, and believes it is all due to the fun and family culture onboard.

“The minute you get onboard – even if you are travelling alone – you are part of 2000-plus country fans who are onboard for the very same reason as you, a shared passion for music,” she says. “In many cases, if you were to go to a concert or music festival at home, it isn’t that often that you would strike up a conversation with the person next to you, as you are usually there to see the artists and then move on to your next destination. The great thing about Cruisin’ Country is that everyone feels so relaxed being on holiday, it creates an atmosphere that you want to be part of every year.”

The family atmosphere transcends the music fans, and is a big part of the artists onboard as well. “There is something very special about the country music industry in Australia,” says Caitlin. “It comes down to the fact that artists and punters alike are genuine, good people. There are no egos or rock stars in country music, there are just people with a story to tell and new friends you are yet to meet that are there to listen. This welcoming attitude is what made Cruisin’ Country a possibility for us. We dreamed of creating an inclusive atmosphere where artists and guests could be entertained and enjoy some time away from the real world. Luckily, this dream was able to become a reality by the incredible artists we have onboard, who are more than happy to stop for a chat after a show, or stop for a photo by the pool. The intimacy that comes with being on a ship with your favourite artist is something you will not find at any concert or music festival elsewhere and we are very proud of that. We love our Cruisin’ Country family.”

The Looking Forward, Looking Back theme for 2018 embodies that all inclusive ethos. Titled after Slim Dusty’s historic 100th album, it is about celebrating all country music artists, from those who have been on the cruise over the years since its inception, to the new emerging artists heading onboard for the first time in 2018. “Australian country music has come such a long way and is continuing to evolve,” says Caitlin. “We want to celebrate both sides of a genre of music that is so important to Australians. It is important for us to celebrate the artists who paved the way for contemporaries in today’s industry, as there is such a rich history that is so highly respected by fellow artists and fans alike.”

For headliner John Williamson, Cruisin’ Country 8 marks his fourth time on the cruise. Troy Cassar-Daley and Gina Jeffreys are also returning faces, all who have fond memories of their last time on the cruise. For Caitlin and the team behind Choose Your Cruise, putting together a complementary line-up that will appeal to all country music fans is paramount. Each year they bring together an eclectic group of cruise veterans, and artists who make their maiden voyage on Cruisin’ Country.

“We strive to make Cruisin’ Country an inclusive environment for every passenger on board,” says Caitlin. “As there are so many facets to Australian Country music we luckily have a lot to choose from when it comes to creating a line-up for a week-long festival at sea. Finding that mix of traditional and contemporary artists comes from having a variety of artists under the country banner right from bush balladeers and poets to artists encompassing country within the pop and rock genres. Being on our eighth year of hosting Cruisin’ Country, we are fortunate enough to have a great variety of artists eager to join us on board as they have either previously performed with us or have friends who have recommended this unique experience which gives us the best opportunity to create line ups like we have on 2018’s Looking Forward, Looking Back cruise.”

Tickets for the 2018 Cruisin’ Country music festival at sea [9th-16th October 2018] are on sale now, departing from Sydney. Prices start from $2599 per person twin share (interior stateroom).

This will be my fourth time on Cruisin’ Country and every trip is different and unique. It’s a great escape for me and my wife and we get to not only experience new things but also get to catch up with mates and fans as we sail the seas. We’re really looking forward to boarding the ship once again in 2018. – John Williamson

I’m very excited to be part of Cruisin’ Country again and can’t wait to see everyone on board. I love doing this cruise, you can’t keep me away! They are always great fun catching up with friends, new and old. This one will be very special to me as it will celebrate the rich history of Australian Country Music. – Troy Cassar-Daley

I am so excited about being back on Cruisin’ Country and absolutely can’t wait to see all my old friends on board! This is going to be very nostalgic for me, going back to the music that my whole journey began on. Cannot wait to hear the Wheel!!! I fell in love with that long-haired guitarist in the 90’s!! Ahhhhh!! – Gina Jeffreys.

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