Rock & Roll Cruises: You Have to See One to Believe It

20, 2006

Editor Paul Motter explains how Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Gimme Three Days" Concert Cruise with Guests 38-Special isn't just a cruise with a special show, it's an event that will blow your socks off.

Seinfeld fans - remember George asking "why not combine two of your favorite things, even if they don't seem to go together?" For him it was corned beef and love making, do they go together? Um, I don't know, do you?

Anyway, that was the same reaction I had when I saw my first ad for a hard rock concert on a cruise ship. Stately cruising; formal dinners, art auctions and "Salute to Gershwin" stage shows being invaded by long-haired shredders pulling swigs of Jack Daniels straight from the bottle? How does that work?

The only way to find out was to try it (no, not the sandwich thing). I was invited on the Rockntheseas concert by Phoenix concert promoter and cruise agent Richard Bush. It was a three-day cruise with the Gin Blossoms, the Tubes and 25 other bands tearing up the lounges on Majesty of the Seas for a three-day weekend. What I saw was better than sex, with corned beef, and I'm going again this coming February.

George may be crazy, but so are these cruise ship rock concerts, in that "you have GOT to try this" kind of way. And that's why there are all kinds of rock concerts on the high seas happening these days, with full ship charters. And they are selling out. The first ones didn't sell out, but now they all do, because of word of mouth. Try it once and you are going to go back, and tell as many friends about it as you can. These cruises are a blast. I have been on one. I can testify.

So, what's coming up? Get ready to call right away, these concerts are almost sold out.

January 5 - 8, 2007, on Carnival Fascination, you can see the great Lynyrd Skynyrd, along with 38-Special and at least ten other bands. Produced by Sixthman in Atlanta, GA. Now, this company can throw a party.

First of all, in order to make sure they can rock the boat without bothering Grandma and the Kiddies, Sixthman charters the entire ship. They set the entertainment schedule for the entire cruise, and there aren't any mimes, jugglers or "Salute to Broadway" stage shows. Sixthman turns the entire ship into a full three-day rock 'n roll frenzy, starting at noon each day and running well into the wee hours of the next morning, every single night.

The headliners, Lynyrd Skynyrd and 38-Special, are scheduled to play two different shows in the main show lounge on both Saturday and Sunday nights. During the day, there is a Pool Deck stage where live bands play one-hour sets from noon until 6:00 p.m. Break for dinner, and get ready for the big show. An opening act, 38-special and Lynyrd Skynyrd, tear up the main show lounge from about 10:00 each night to past midnight, and then the party moves back to the Pool Deck for more bands and partying until who knows when...

Throughout the cruise, you can meet & mingle with the bands and other rock lovers. There will be Q & A sessions with the bands, and an open mic room set up for people who want to show their own musical talent (a great place to network or find a date). Sunday afternoon will feature an open acoustic jam session where players from all the bands will crank out improvisational tunes on the fly.

Andy Levine, a Sixthman partner, tells me this is the sixth time they have done a full-ship rock charter and all but two have completely sold out. They all sell out now. They are also producing a concert for Barenaked Ladies and one called The Rock Boat, which is like Woodstock at sea.

I asked Andy. "What's the "coolest" thing was that ever happened on one of these shows?"

"On one cruise," he told me "we set up a stage in the 5-story atrium on Carnival Elation, and each band came and played one well-known song. There were people throughout the atrium, hanging over the railings on every floor looking down. It turned into a massive impromptu sing along, everybody singing along with the bands for hours."

That's how I remember the rock cruise I went on, too. But more on that later.

The name of the upcoming Sixthman cruise is the "Gimme 3 Days Cruise," and it features, in addition to the great Lynyrd Skynyrd and 38-Special; Sister Hazel, Drivin N Cryin, Corey Smith, American Minor, Blackberry Smoke, Blue Dogs, Zac Brown Band, Chris Janson, Travis Mitchell Band, Keni Thomas, Tishamingo, Patrick Davis and other bands from the Southern Rock and Country worlds. The ship is Carnival Fascination, sailing roundtrip Miami to Nassau.

They will also feature a last-minute "rocker's choice" band on the Gimme 3 Days cruise. Sixthman just completed an online battle of the bands with the winner just about to be announced. Bands nationwide uploaded bios, photos and downloadable MP3 versions of their songs to music site Readers voted for their favorite ones and the field was narrowed to the top five. The winner is being picked by a panel of record company and radio station reps. So, not only does Sixthman produce great concerts, but they are also good people to know, and this cruise is a good place to be, if you are looking to promote your own music and hobnob with the in-crowd.

To book your cabin, go to: or call 877-SIXTHMAN or email Tickets right now are still as low as $399 per person, including food & concerts. Right now, there are only 150 cabins left out of 1024, but the price is right starting as low as $399 per person.

See the video here: Gimme 3 Days Video

So, now let me tell you how I know this will be the party of all parties: Last February, thanks to Phoenix-based rock music promoter and travel agent Richard Bush I went on a cruise and saw one of my all-time favorite rocks bands, The Tubes, rip it up at ear-splitting level in the main show lounge.

Rich calls his onboard concert RockntheSeas, and he sold out 1/3 of the Royal Caribbean Majesty of the Seas ( RT Los Angeles) with a marquee of 30 bands, all of them popular in the Phoenix area. The Headliner was the Gin Blossoms, and I will say now, it was more than a blast, it was better than I can even describe.

When I first heard about RockntheSeas I didn't know anyone had ever promoted a real rock concert on a cruise ship. Now I know better. There are some really great rock concerts coming on cruise ships, and country, jazz, blues and bluegrass, too.

So, how is this experience more than just a rock concert on a cruise ship? It is the combination of elements, like corned beef and sex. It is an excuse to pop a Corona at noon -- everyone's doing it. It is seeing some of the strangest "formal dress" in the dining room you can imagine. In fact, on most Sixthman's chartered events they replace formal night with "Prom Night," but for the Gimme Three Days cruise they are changing that up a little, formal night is now "Leather & Lace Night," -- though "formal" dress isn't required.

If you are an "aging rocker" like me, who has turned into a "cruise addict," like me, these rock cruises are like that wish you made the first time you went to Disneyland, "Please, open it up ONLY for me and my friends." You're gonna feel like dancing on the bars, standing on the chairs and sliding down the bannisters. Everyone else will be.

It's the kind of party I hadn't seen in years because I am now 50+ years old. But I didn't feel old, a lot of people were my age, and everyone treated me like one of the gang though I was sailing solo. The only thing better than hearing my favorite bands shredding out my favorite songs at ear-splitting level at 1:00 a.m. in the main cruise ship show lounge, was the open mic and acoustic sets. All the musicians got together and played familiar songs so everyone could sing along, improvising, and having fun the old school way, by "getting into it and going crazy."

You meet all kinds of people; musicians, roadies, talent scouts, groupies, record producers, music lovers. Even if you are there just for the people watching there's a payoff. There will be sponsors giving away samples of things young people like. There will be MTV-type shows doing video shoots, and tons of photographers looking to catch that rock star putting on his captain's hat. It's a hoot, take your camera.

Bottom line - based on what Andy from Sixthman has told me, and what I experienced on the Rockntheseas Cruise last February, I can't recommend these music cruises enough. And so you know, this is the 12th rock cruise Sixthman has promoted, and they have all become sellouts since 2003. A good thing gets a lot of word of mouth. Get your tickets before it is too late.

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