In the 1970s, Norwegian Cruise Line (“NCL”) sponsored an annual jazz cruise on the old SS Norway. This program was a limited "group,” meaning that the jazz program accounted for half of the ship and it shared the cruise with other passengers. Though this form of jazz cruise had its limitations, it was very successful and provided the foundation for the growth of Entertainment Cruise Productions.
During those early years of NCL’s Jazz Cruise, Anita E. Berry quickly became the largest group leader in terms of the number of guests she produced for the cruise. Eventually her group was so large that NCL asked her to become involved in the production of the cruise, the selection of the artists, the ports-of-call and other aspects of the cruise’s development. In 2000, NCL decided to terminate their theme cruises, including the jazz program. This setback did not stop Anita, who, though just turning 70 years old, decided that she had the resources (guest list, cruise expertise, relationships with musicians and finances) to go it on her own. More than that, she had always wanted the “holy grail” of theme cruises, a full-ship charter.
Anita met with Holland America Line, chartered the 1,245 passenger m/s Maasdam and created The Jazz Cruise, the first and still only full-ship charter in the world dedicated to “straight ahead” jazz. Further, the first sailing of The Jazz Cruise was in November 2001 and that sailing was the beginning of Entertainment Cruise Productions and the prototype for its future cruise programs.
OUR PRINCIPLES & GOALS
ECP provides the finest music and entertainment cruise experience in the world. Pleasing our guests is our most important goal and objective. To ensure that we achieve this goal, we are on top of every aspect of our cruise programs. A great cruise experience is the accumulation of many, many small steps and tasks. When combined properly, the result is a seamless and fabulous program. We take our company motto very seriously — “Your vacation is our business” — and we undertake that mission with pride, skill, professionalism, energy and love.
ECP is unique in the charter cruise industry for it is the only independent company that we know that is fully integrated in all aspects of the charter cruise program and operation. Here are just some of the duties that ECP undertakes:
- Selects the cruise line for the specific cruise program
- Establishes the itinerary for the cruises
- Establishes the program and schedule of events for each cruise
- Creates its own special events for each cruise
- Directly hires musicians, crew and staff for the cruises
- Takes, processes and confirms all guest reservations
- Works with the guests to ensure that their cruise information is accurate
- Personally staffs the cruises and directs the ships operations for the week of the cruise
In short, ECP does it all! We envision ourselves as a cruise line and we operate accordingly. We do not just lease a ship; we take it over, make the cruise ours and deliver a finished product to our guests that is second to none. Though the focus of the cruises may change, in terms of the type of entertainment, the dedication to excellence and to guest satisfaction, which Anita insisted upon during the beginning of the company, lives on today in every aspect of our cruises.
The result is the most successful charter cruise company in the world and the happiest guests on the high seas. By adhering to these principles at all times, ECP has become the most dominant force in live entertainment at sea, growing a group of cruises that began in the world of jazz, but now includes many music and entertainment genres.
Today, Entertainment Cruise Productions (ECP) is the world's leader in full-ship charter music and entertainment cruises. Since its first sailing, through its various cruise programs, ECP has produced over 70 full-ship charters featuring music themes as diverse as Rock 'n Roll, Elvis, Soul Train, Celtic, Country Music and several varieties of Jazz. The diversity of music presentations is reflected in our current programs: The Smooth Jazz Cruise, The Jazz Cruise, Blue Note at Sea, The 80s Cruise and Star Trek: The Cruise. Other programs are on the drawing board as well.
ECP is divided into three divisions, the Jazz Cruise Programs, the Theme Cruise Programs and Business Development. Though the programming, reservations, production and marketing functions serve both divisions, the leadership is divided to provide more focus and accountability.
Jazz Cruise Programs – Michael Lazaroff (Anita’s son) serves as the Executive Director of Entertainment Cruise Productions’ Jazz Cruise Programs and has been the driving force behind the company’s growth and current success since 2001. Michael was primarily responsible for the development of the current cruise programs. His duties now include the continued production of The Jazz Cruise, The Smooth Jazz Cruise and Blue Note at Sea, as well as other jazz programs, such as The Weekender, ECP’s weekly jazz newsletter, land-based events and ECP’s Jazz E – Store.
Theme Cruise Programs – Beginning in December 2018, Chris Hearing became the Executive Director of Entertainment Cruise Productions’ Theme Cruise Programs. Chris has extensive experience in the world of theme cruises having led the successful launch of a theme cruise business. As President of a leading global entertainment marketing business, Chris quickly built the company to become the third-largest cruise ship charter company. Chris has primary responsibility for Star Trek: The Cruise and The 80s Cruise.
Business Development – Greg Laubach serves as Executive Director Business Development, a position he assumed in December 2018. Greg has responsibility for all partnership and strategic alliances, including marketing, cruise line, and sponsorship relationships. Greg’s hospitality experience comes from his time with Marriott ExecuStay, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Marriott International, where he served as general counsel and held numerous operational roles, including sales, guest satisfaction, client acquisition and retention, and back-office services. Greg and Chris are also brothers-in-law.
ECP is fortunate to have a core group of talented and dedicated individuals heading its key departments. Dave Jetton (Administrative Director), Brian Rachko (Program Operations Director) and Joey Fairchild (Production Manager-Theme Cruises) combine for more than 30 years of experience at ECP. The rest of the team includes additional longstanding professionals and highly capable newcomers. To continue as a member of the team, each person must do their job with the highest degree of excellence and be committed to creating the perfect guest experience.
What makes an Entertainment Cruise Productions cruise special? Our recipe for success is quite simple. For every cruise that Entertainment Cruise Productions produces, we pledge the following:
- Full-ship charters – no other experience can compare
- The best musicians/entertainers that the specific genre can offer
- Venues, sound and music production that are conducive to the best possible experience
- First-class cruise experience in terms of food, service and accommodations
- Attention to detail so that every guest will relax and enjoy the cruise
- Interesting and varied ports-of-call
- Enough routine to make you comfortable and enough surprises to make you excited
Entertainment Cruise Productions’ future is brighter than ever. With the additional leadership of Chris Hearing and Greg Laubach, ECP can move forward with new and exciting programs, the promotion of more genres and forays into cruise concepts never presented. Michael Lazaroff will continue to insist that the principles that have made ECP what it is today will continue no matter what the genre, size of ship, or program.
Entertainment Cruise Productions promises to provide each guest with a cruise vacation unlike any other, where fans of similar interests gather to enjoy the finest musicians and entertainment in their genre in a setting that is exciting, luxurious and fun. To fulfill this promise, the careful and creative execution of our programs and the mindful and meticulous attention to our guests must come first.