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EVENT REVIEW

Summer Salsa Harbor Cruise Series

Spicing up the Night

By Sonja A. Sharpe

Staff Writer

For those looking to enjoy Boston Harbor during the warm summer months and spice up their Saturday night with some Latin rhythms, summer Salsa cruises fit the bill perfectly. The Summer Salsa Harbor Cruise Series, presented by SalsaBoston.com and Comedy Theater Productions, offers Salsa cruises every Saturday evening during the summer months, from 10 p.m.-12:30 a.m. The cruise leaves from Long Wharf and features two levels of Latin dancing. The upper level is devoted to Salsa, and the lower level offers Merengue, Bachata, and House selections. There is also a cash bar on the lower level. For those just learning how to Salsa, lessons are available dockside at 8:45pm next to the Boston Harbor Cruises sales office on Long Wharf, and they cost just $2 per person. The cost of a cruise ticket is $15 per person with advance purchase (or $50 for four tickets with advance purchase) or $20 at the ship.

These cruises are probably the best summer fun bargain available this season. For $17, you get an hour of Salsa lessons, almost 3 hours of Latin music and dancing, plus a gorgeous cruise around Boston Harbor. The dockside lessons were superbly and patiently taught, and they are perfect for beginners or those who simply want to review the basics step by step. The instructors slowly demonstrate the basic moves individually, and then gradually increase the speed at which the moves are performed. Once everyone is comfortable doing the basics on their own, the instructors then slowly demonstrate how to incorporate the moves while dancing as a couple. Finally, toward the end of the hour, they play selections of Salsa music with varying tempos, so that everyone can practice the moves they learned and ask questions if necessary before boarding the ship.

The music on board ranges from moderate to fast, and the two DJ’s spin a great mix. The sound quality is also excellent and not too loud. As for the dancing, special flooring is used on the upper deck, since it is difficult to dance on the original no-stick floor. However, the flooring does not cover the entire upper deck, so the dance floor tends to get crowded. The lower dance floor is entirely carpeted, and although it is not quite as easy to dance on, it is certainly manageable and still a lot of fun. The lower deck also contains the cash bar, and even though it is not a fully stocked bar, there are a variety of drinks to choose from and the prices are reasonable.

The overall atmosphere on the ship is very festive and romantic. The upper deck in particular, with its view of the ocean and the Boston skyline, is the perfect setting for a date. Couples do seem to dominate the scene on the ship as a result, but many of the regular dancers will gladly dance with anyone, so it is not necessary to bring your own dance partner by any means. Many people, in fact, go on the cruises to dance with a lot of different people. Skill level is also not much of an issue, as the dancers seemed to be primarily beginners and intermediates. Additionally, not everyone joins the cruise to dance, as a few couples were content just to take in the sights of the harbor while sipping a drink and listening to the Latin rhythms.

Presently, there is no buffet being offered on the ship, despite what the Web site might say. This is primarily due to a lack of interest, although the organizers are still planning to offer some light refreshments on the boat at a future date. It can get quite chilly and breezy on the water, so a light jacket or sweater is recommended between dance sets. Otherwise, the dress code is very open, from casual to fiesta style. Finally, for those who have cars, it is wise not to bring them, since the garages in the vicinity of the boats charge $20-$26 for the evening. For more details, the ship departure schedule, and to purchase advance order tickets online, visit <http://salsaboston.com/cruise/>.