The lastest trend in exclusive Rock n Roll adventure is the Cruise. There is a variety of Cruises out there for fans to choose from, but no other comes close to the Ultimate Rock Music Cruise Vacation known as ShipRocked. This past November, Shiprocked set sail on their 4th Cruise, with four days and nights filled with heavy hitters Korn, Godsmack, Sevendust, P.O.D., Five Finger Death Punch, In This Moment, Pop Evil, The Letter Black, 10 Years, Fuel, Filter, Geoff Tate, The Halo Method, Gilby Clark, Lit, Helmet, and house bands Andy Wood’s Lonely Yacht Club Band (performing cover songs) and the Pianotarium (a.k.a. Scott D. Davis performing heavy metal hits on a grand piano). The event was hosted by MTV’s Matt Pinfeild, the lovely Kayla Riley & Shannon Gunz of Sirius Radio, and Melissa Krahnke & Ralph Sutton of The Tour Bus Radio.
Prices started at $799 per person, and with that you get a room and unlimited food at multiple resturants, on the luxurious, modern Italian styled MSC Poesia. Alcohol and soda pop was not included, but easily accessable at the numberous bars aboard the ship. You can attend as many shows as you can squeeze in, among the four music stages. Along with the special photo meet and greets, vegas style casino, comedy shows, mini putt putt with band members, beer pong tournaments, pool parties, themed costume parties, kareoke, and lets not forget the two island stops at beautiful Key West and Nassau, Bahamas.
The sold out cruise had guest from 49 States in the United States and 20 different countries. To celebrate the diversity of the Shiprocked Nation, folks were encouraged to wear something on Embarkation Day (boarding day) representing your home city, state or country. It was cool to see where fellow Shiprockers were from and give shout outs to folks from your home town.
There was no time to sleep and not much time to eat, as there were constantly things to see and do. The MSC Poesia disembarked from Port Everglades, in Ft. Lauderdale on the evening of Tuesday, November 27th. People began boarding the ship at Noon, and finding their rooms and learning their way around. At 5pm there was a mandatory safety drill, where life jackets were worn and instructions were given in case of any emergencies. This was the first sightings of Rock Stars among the masses, where we bumped into members of Korn, Sevendust and P.O.D. with life vests on.
The ship set sail promptly at 6pm, with Godsmack hitting the upper deck outdoor Monster Energy Stage at 7pm. Godsmack performed an incredible set with all their hits songs. Singer Sully Erna remarked that this was his first cruise ever, and it seemed really cool so far. The weather was warm and super windy and couldn’t of been more perfect. There were 7 bands playing the first night, and with set times overlapping, it was possible to see them all, if you didn’t stay for the whole performance. Luckily all the bands performed twice on the ship, which gave everyone a chance to catch a missed show in the next few days.
The Upper Deck was the most favorite and largest of all the Stages. The sound was the best there too, and watching shows under the tropical sun or under the twinkle of stars was the perfect atmosphere. You could even watch the show from a couple of jacuzzi tubs! All the bands played one show on this grand stage, and then performed a second time on another day, at one of the other venue stages.
The Carlo Felice stage was on Decks 6 & 7, and this was the second largest venue on the ship. It was a grand, fancy, plush, and very purple, intimate theater with a seating capacity of a little over 1,000. This was another favorite stage to see a show, except there were seats. Not many people were sitting during the performances, but of course there were a few scattered here and there, probably suffering from exhaustion, sea sickness, or just too much alcohol. Korn and Sevendust’s performance were quite spectacular here! Fans lined up early to be in the venue to get a good seat. A strict policy of no crowd surfing was set in place, but moshing was allowed in the pool.
The Zebra Lounge was a rockin’ swanky bar area, with fancy zebra carpeting and furniture. It had a super cool vibe that fit the rock n roll theme of the cruise perfectly. The stage was super low here and the sound was not always the best. It was definitely a very intimate stage to see a performance, but hard to see the show unless you were up close and personal. This was the perfect venue if you wanted to sit back on a comfy couch and drink pina coladas while listening to some killer live music. Otherwise, it was dark, tiny, packed and sweaty if you wanted to stand up front.
The Pigalle Lounge was another similar relaxed venue with a low stage and lots of plush couches. A cool intimate setting for a show, but difficult to see unless you wanted to be smashed up front.
There was an amazing assortment of music memorabilia from the performers up for bid on the upper deck everyday. Cancer Sucks, a non profit organization, dedicated to funding innovative medical research and finding a cure for Cancer, held a silent auction. They raised thousands of dollars on board, and a few lucky, padded pocketed fans brought home autographed guitars, drum heads, and a bunch of other cool rock stuff, all for a great cause.
Wednesday the ship arrived at Key West at 8am. It was a short but sweet stay and there was not much time to explore the island. Key West is known as a party town, and we made sure to stop at the famous Hog’s Breath Saloon for some Key Lime Pie shots and to visit Captain Tony’s, where the famous writer Hemmingway visited and wrote novels. The ship disembarked at 130 pm, and the music began at 2pm with bands performing all day long on the upper deck Monster Energy Stage. The first Monster Energy meet and greet was held in the Disco at 4pm. Fans waited in line for hours to get their photo taken with members of Five Finger Death Punch, Filter, 10 Years, In This Moment, and The Letter Black. Korn performed a 10:30 pm show at the Carlo Felice Theater, this had to be the most amazing show by them I have ever witnessed! Singer Johnathan Davis was happy, smiling, rockin’ out 110%! Echos of the Bagpipes brought on goosebumps! Words can’t describe the awesomeness of seeing Korn perform in a tiny intimate theater like this! Fuel, Filter and Geoff Tate of Queensryche performed in the lounges the rest of the night. At midnight we experienced the awesomeness of Andy Wood’s Lonely Yacht Club Band. These guys performed an entertaining set, dressed in sailor costumes, and played all kinds of nautical themed rock n roll songs we all know and love.
Thursday we woke up in paradise. It was hard to get up early, but looking out from the balcony we all agreed we could, “Sleep when we’re dead.” The waters were the bluest of blue, and we could see the impressive Atlantis Hotel off in the distance. We took a taxi over to Paradise Island and spent a few hours on the beach. We had lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe, and were back on the ship by 5pm. The ship was to set sail at 5:30, but we were informed that a storm was brewing out at sea, and the captain of the ship had agreed to keep us in port for the night, so we could enjoy the shows without the boat’a’ rockin’ and in an attempt to avoid the rain. It was super windy under the full moon and there was magic in the air. Five Finger Death Punch performed on the Monster Energy deck stage at 6pm, and these guys are totally bad ass and put on a great live set. Singer Ivan Moody performed barefoot on stage and got emotional on the song “Remember Everything”, commenting that the song was very difficult to get through. It seemed to jerk tears out of not only me, but many other fans. It wasn’t just the lyrics to the song, but it was the whole experience of feeling blessed and feeling so lucky to be alive and to be here on my birthday.
Next up was a 9:15pm Pop Evil show, and we love these Michigan guys! They are super friendly and fun, and earlier in the day played putt putt with fans on the mini golf deck. Godsmack was playing their second performance at 10:30 in the Carlo Felice Theater. Another great show, but singer Sully Erna complained of getting sea sick and said he would never play another cruise ever again. Guess he should of brought some motion sickness pills or a sea sick patch! Folks that were prepared with these tools had no problems and could rock til they dropped! This was the only time I ever heard any rockstar complain, but coming from Sully, I was not surprised. By 11pm, the storm hit and it was raining sideways. The midnight show of Filter was cancelled and thankfully was reschedule the following day. By 1am, the storm had passed, just in time for the Yachtrocked themed party. People were dressed in Pirate costumes and Nautical themed outfits. The sea was the limit and the fashions were top notch.
Friday was a full day of music, and meet & greets, as the ship was at sea the whole day. The music started at 10am on the Monster Energy upper deck stage and didn’t stop until midnight. At 11am there was another huge photo meet and greet session in the Disco with Godsmack, P.O.D., Lit, Helmet, Geoff Tate, and Gilby Clarke. Then again at 2pm was another meet and greet with Korn, Sevendust, Pop Evil, Fuel, and The Halo Method. There were some long lines at theses events, but it seemed that every where you went, there were band members hanging out. We spotted guys in the crowd at other shows, in the resturants and bars, and even on the islands. Everyone was easily approachable and friendly, so if you missed the meet and greets, chances were you could possibly run into them while in line in the cafeteria or elsewhere.
We witnessed an amazing performance of Geoff Tate on the upper deck at 3:30 and were treated to some of his saxophone skills. Tate’s voice is so senual and he sings and plays so effortlessly. Fans were a bit disappointed he only played two Queensryche songs. We really wanted to hear “Jet City Woman” for an encore, but it didn’t happen. Sevendust and P.O.D. performed phenomenal sets in the Carlo Felice Theater. These shows were two of my most favorite. High energy and a bit emotional, these two bands expressed their thankfulness over and over. Sevendust singer Lajon Witherspoon got teary eyed on stage while thanking God and the fans for supporting them over the years, and giving them the best job ever. It was the third time they were invited to play ShipRocked!
Friday Night at midnight was the ShipRockalypse party, based on the Ancient Mayan prophecy that says the world will end on December 21, 2012. This was the party to end all parties, and folks dressed to impress for meeting their doom. We saw lots of leather and Mad Max like attire. Folks stayed up til the sun rose, and never went to bed. It was the last chance to party on board Shiprocked and there were dozens of band boys getting drunk and taking pictures with fans.
Saturday the ship docked back in Port Everglades by 6am. The process of getting off the ship began at 7am, and everyone looked exhausted, tired, and hung over. The party was officially over, but the memories will last a lifetime! I had a fantastic trip and want to thank all the bands for being so friendly and awesome. I also want to thank Kristine Ashton-Magnuson for the media privileges and the fantastic service aboard the ship. I also want to give big thanks to my counterpart, friend and editor Betsy Rudy and also my amazing cousin Sandy for helping me carry all that heavy camera equipment. ShipRocked really is the ultimate rock n roll cruise adventure, and I look forward to attending next year.
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