As Friendship Sets Sail on Biggest Event Yet, Gary Richards Reflects on ShipFam & More [Interview]

As Friendship Sets Sail on Biggest Event Yet, Gary Richards Reflects on ShipFam & More [Interview]

We are less than 30 days away from the 2024 sailing of Friendship, the annual party cruise from Gary Richards, aka Destructo. And unless you have been living under a rock, the Friendship 2024 lineup is stacked from top to bottom. With names like Skrillex, Bob Moses, Chris Lake, Chris Lorenzo, J. Phlip, Todd Edwards, Nina Las Vegas, Rusko, Mr. Carmack, Mary Droppinz, NALA, QRTR, and many more, this festival is destined to be one of Richards best cruise adventure yet.

Friendship Pool Party | Norwegian Joy

The ship will set sail from Miami on Jan. 6, 2024, cruising to Belize’s Harvest Caye. Harvest Caye will then host a 24-hour beachside Island party. The Harvest Caye trek will also include the first-ever island iteration of Richards’ Sunrise Sermon event, an event that sees Richards play music during the early sunrise. 

To get all of our readers excited for this once-in-a-lifetime event, we sat down with Gary and chatted about the early days, the upcoming cruise, and so much more. Dive in below and for those of you ready to check out Friendship, you can grab the last remaining cabins here. 

River Beats Owes Its Start to Gary Richards

In 2015 I attended Holy Ship for the first time. If you are unfamiliar with Holy Ship, it pre-dated Gary’s Friendship cruise. Holy Ship to me was just an amazing time with a large group of friends, but what ended up happening was much more.

I left that cruise saying I would work in dance music. I had a vision of building a similar event to Holy Ship on the Mississippi River in New Orleans. Myself and my new partner, whom I also met on Holy Ship, decided to call this party “River Beats.” Long story short, the party never happened, but River Beats continued as an event group, publication, and so much more today. It was such a joy to sit down and explore the newest and most innovative creation yet, Friendship. 

ShipFam Continues, No Matter The Boat or The Brand

If you have ever been on Holy Ship or Friendship, you know you are officially ShipFam. And for those who don’t know, Shipfam is more than just a group of people, it is a lifestyle and a fantastic community. 

“People have stuck with us for 10+ years. Whether you went on Holy Ship or Friendship, you are a part of the crew and you love the music.” – Gary Richards

While the boat and the name of the party have changed, the message and overall theme have remained the same. “Everyone who attended those first Holy Ships took a chance on me and my team. We never really imagined “ShipFam” would come out of this. It happened organically, and it just created this amazing community of people.” 

ShipFam Pose For a Photo

Friendship officially set sail for the first time in 2018, but Richards has been sailing and putting on these events since 2012 under the Holy Ship Monikor. After the 2017 sailing season, Richards split from his original concept and launched Friendship; loyal to his brand and his mission, ShipFam followed him in masses, including myself. Richards spoke on the loyal fans’ support, and why it continues to blow him away.


“The ones that are connected to me and the vision our team has, are the ones who still sail with us today. When we introduced the new ship and everyone was respectful. Feels like we had a small divorce, and everyone went with the cool dad.” 

Even through the changes the name and the idea behind ShipFam have continued. Richards mentioned this year is the 4th year of Friendship so those who have been there since day one will take part in their very own graduation ceremony with their very own graduating gift.  Something he is keeping close to guard, but was super excited to talk to us about. 

The Freedom of Friendship: The Harvest Caye 24-hour beachside Island party

One interesting twist this year is the 24-hour Island party located on Harvest Caye in Belize. While Holy Ship and Friendship have always included an island party this is the first time the party will be a 24-hour event.

Harvest Caye, Belize

The inspiration behind the party came from twofold. The first is that Friendship planning and execution has so much more freedom than in years past, and the second is Richards finding inspiration from the original festival cruise he attended in 1997, The Trans-Atlantic Move. Richards spoke on the freedom of this ship and how unique this party and island destination will be, saying “Each year I learn more and figure out better ways of doing things. The beauty of Friendship is been there is no middleman here to water down the event. I can go a little deeper each year on fun and interesting events.”

Harvest Caye was the perfect spot for a 24-hour Island party. It has easy docking access for guests, lights that can support all-night events, and guests can easily travel to and from the party back to the boat.

This Harvest Caye trek will also include the first-ever island iteration of Richards’ Sunrise Sermon event, which he started in downtown Los Angeles in his early rave-promoting days and has continued via Holy Ship and Friendship. 

The 2022 Sunrise Sermon with Destructo

And for those who need some advice on how to prepare for 24 hours on the Island, Friendship & Richards has suggestions. “The Island party starts at 2 pm, I think doing the day is wise, head back to the room shower up, and keep it rolling through the sermon the next morning.” 

Gary’s Must-See Acts on The Friendship Lineup

The 2024 Friendship features a plethora of big names you know, and then some under-the-radar names you need to learn. In a recent interview with Billboard, the Friendship caption said he wanted to represent as many parts of the globe as possible to keep the event spicy. Artists are represented from Africa, Russia, Brazil, New Zealand, Australia, England, Germany, Italy, Canada, and the US. 

He continued by giving us some must-see acts on this year’s boat, “I am feeling this afro-house vibe, and Sun-El Musician, Enoo Napa, and a few others are at the top of that list. I am pretty hype for Patrick Mason and VTSS, and of course the legend Todd Edwards.” Along with those picks, there are some unique names on this lineup that are not to be missed. 

As the countdown to Friendship 2024 ticks away, it’s evident that Gary and the Friendship team have concocted another masterpiece. The lineup is stacked, the plans are wild, and the ShipFam spirit is stronger than ever. Friendship isn’t just a party; it’s a celebration of music and community, and the incredible vision that started it all. 

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