By Tammy T. Reed – Has anyone ever described for you what a Bon Voyage party on the Tom Joyner Fantastic Voyage is like? No? Well that’s probably because you don’t describe a Fantastic Voyage party, you experience it. That’s exactly what thousands of first-time and veteran cruise-goers from every corner of the map did as the 2016 Tom Joyner Fantastic Voyage prepared to sail the Atlantic Ocean for an 8-day ultimate party cruise. High voltage energy from start to finish, the kick-off party with a purpose was the official send-off for the Caribbean excursion.
As with any official kick-off, it’s important to set the tone and start things at a perfect pitch. Well, who better to get the soiree on the sea started than the incomparable megastar and music legend Diana Ross. Draped in flowing, resplendent orange, Ross took center stage on the pool deck of the Carnival Breeze, performing a string of hits from her days as a member of the standard bearer in girl groups – the Supremes. The quintessential artist did not disappoint the crowd of cheering fans. Ross took young, old, and in between on a voyage of different kind – the Motown voyage. In an almost synchronized motion in rhythm, the crowd swayed and moved in near perfect tempo as Ross performed Hitsville USA greats like ‘Baby Love’, ‘Stop! In the Name of Love’, ‘Where Did Our Love Go’ and ‘You Can’t Hurry Love.’ Not to forsake the recent for the past, Ross also favored the crowd with a handful of her contemporary hits like “I’m Coming Out’, ‘Mirror, Mirror’, and ‘The Boss.’
Presented by Ford Motor Company and hosted by the fly jock himself, the Tom Joyner Fantastic Voyage is branded as a “party with a purpose.” Indeed, the voyage is a fundraiser supporting the Tom Joyner Foundation whose mission is to provide students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) with academic opportunities and scholarships to help them succeed in school and after graduation. The customized cruise experience will visit oasis destinations like St. Thomas, St. Maarten, and Grand Turk giving passengers the opportunity to go ashore and experience the beauty and awe of the Caribbean.
No matter what you’re looking for, the Fantastic Voyage promises to deliver. “The entertainment and the islands are great,” said Melinda Brown of Houston. “It’s also great to meet different people that you begin to get to know like family because they are on the cruise every year like you.” This isn’t Brown’s first rodeo. She’s a veteran – the 2016 cruise is her fourth voyage with Tom Joyner and thousands of his closest friends.
First-timers Gregory and Lataryn Gay of Miami say they are looking forward to “lots of fun, lots of partying, beautiful views, and an opportunity to meet and socialize with people.” And for Sandy Johnson, Lorna Braxton, Theresa Matthews and Denise Parker, all members of Detroit’s Sacred Heart Church, the cruise is their version of a ladies weeklong getaway.
An eight-day concert and party on the seas, the 2016 Fantastic Voyage features a line-up of entertainment that reads like a Who’s Who of R&B, Funk, Hip Hop, and Gospel legends – Patti Labelle, New Edition, Charlie Wilson, Faith Evans, Con Funk Shun, the Bark-Kays, Rob Base, Big Daddy Kane, Pastor Shirley Caesar, Dr. Bobby Jones, Tamela Mann, Brian Courtney Cox, and the list goes on with a few surprises peppered here and there. For an unforgettable week, cruise-goers are taking the advice of the funk band Lakeside, “Come along and ride on a fantastic voyage.”