The Monsters of Rock Cruise sailed from Ft. Lauderdale to Key West and The Bahamas on February 25-28, 2012.We will be taking on the task of reviewing the inaugural Monsters of Rock Cruise in a series of articles covering the event. This article will focus on the actual cruise itself and subsequent articles will focus on coverage of the bands and their shows.
Like any great event, before the party, there was the pre-party. The pre-party kicked off on the 24th and featured Kix and Van Halen tribute band The Atomic Punks. The event was held at Exit 66 and was a cool venue for a kickoff party. This was a very nice event to get everyone in the mood and the organizers picked the right band in Kix to kick off a four day party.
Atomic Punks at MOR Pre-Party. Photo by MARR
I am not sure if the organizers of the event or the cruise line were responsible for the embarkation process, but it was horrible. The process was extremely slow and once on-board the ship, there were literally no directions, staff from MOR or the cruise line greeting us, nor were there any indications of what was to go on. It was pretty much every man for himself. It would have been nice to have MOR staff on board right at the entrance handing out some directions.
Kix plays as we leave the port. Photo by MARR
I was pleased with the choices of the bands selected for the cruise and thought MOR did a nice job putting a little diversity into the mix within the 80s genre. I was satisfied with the number of bands on the ship. Sure there were lots of other bands I would like to see on the ship, but you can’t take them all. The lineup and selection of bands was well planned. The scheduling of those bands on the cruise is a different story.
This is where I have to be a bit critical of the organizers. There were six separate venues on this ship that could accommodate performances, yet seemingly only one or two were ever being used at a time. I think the right strategy here would have been to have each band play one show a day including an acoustic set and not to worry about overlap. If the bands played every day, fans could decide who to see when and on which day and each fan would get to see each band. We saw this strategy work very well on the VH1 Cruise. Yes there were times when two bands we wanted to see were playing at the same time, but we knew there was another show coming up of the one we missed.
The other problem was that shows were VERY late in some cases with no updates as to how long you would be standing in line. For example we stood in line for a show that was well over an hour late. The whole time while we waited in line doing nothing, there was another show going on. There is absolutely no reason that there cannot be a sign posted if a show is delayed. Other shows were canceled without simple loudspeaker announcements being made. We understand the weather problems that delayed some bands, but tell the cruisers what is going on. When we originally posted this article we were reminded by the organizers that they had left a notification sheet in our rooms. However, we were almost never in our room and thus did not see the adjustments until returning home late in the evening after it was too late. Leaving a note in the cabin does no good. We chartered the whole ship, so I am certain loudspeaker announcements would not be a problem. Our opinion was that there was too much time on this cruise where nothing was going on and they really need to fix this. There should be constant music. Spread it out and start the acts earlier in the day.
We weren’t expecting any sort of red carpet treatment or anything and the organizers made it clear up front that this was a “fans cruise”. That being said, while the staff in the production room was very friendly, they did not have much information for us. The first scheduled press conference never took place and I didn’t waste my time going to the second one. There was no one who knew how we could reserve the media room for interviews as was communicated to us prior to the cruise.
MARR chatiing with Jeff Keith of Tesla and Son. Photo by MARR
Food and Bar Service
This was a disaster. There was complete confusion in trying to figure out our drink package the first day and none of the bar staff seemed to know anything. I must give a solid kudos to the organizers for trying to make it right, and to my shock, our drinks were essentially free the first day as a result of the organizers trying to make right on a bad situation. The bars were incredibly understaffed and slow. I offer a few suggestions to fix this. The bars should pre-mix large amounts of the “drink of the day” and have them in pitchers ready to go instead of making them individually. Second, a number of “push carts” stocked with beer and water would expedite bar service immensely. This would take the beer customers away from the bar and would make things go much faster. Cruisers at an event like this want to “grab and go”. Monsters of Rock should consider hiring additional bartenders for the cruise. We saw the exact same problem on Shiprocked Cruise, which sails aboard the same ship.
Dessert on board. Photo by MARR
The food was not at all up to the standards of what we have found on other cruises. There were very limited offerings and essentially only the formal dining room and the buffet were available for dining unless you wanted to pay additional fees for the Sushi bar. This complaint has been registered on this same ship by many “Shiprocked” cruisers as well. This really needs some work.
While the bar staff was slow, the problem was mostly the system, not the people. I found all of the staff including the bar staff to be friendly. The ship staff I interacted with were helpful and friendly throughout. There were a large number of them who did not speak English, but I am not as immensely bothered by that as some seem to be, as long as they give it the old college try. After all, it is not an American ship. Our porter was helpful as were any staff I interacted with from the MSC cruise line.
Shows were extremely fan friendly and a big salute to MOR for this. At every single show, there were no barriers and you could walk right up front. Every show was very “camera friendly” and the bands and the staff were fantastic about allowing all manner of photography, autographs etc. In addition, I have to commend the cruisers themselves for being well behaved, enthusiastic and respectful of one another. With very few exceptions, the fans on the ship took great care of each other and shared the experience with each other in a manner that we can all be proud of. We met so many wonderful people on this cruise and in fact, meeting the people was for me, the best part of this event. We all shared a common love of this genre of music and it showed. I sincerely feel a bond with you folks. A special shout out to all the folks I met from “across the pond”. There were lots of British cruisers and they rock the Hair Metal bands with the best of us. People from many other countries were on board as well. It was a very cool “Metal Melting Pot”.
MARR and friends at Hogs Breath Saloon in Key West. Photo by MARR
The cruise organizers need to do a better job getting information to us earlier. We had a very difficult time getting the schedule in advance of the cruise. We like to plan in advance and we really did not get any information about who was playing at what time until the day before the cruise itself. In fact, they could have avoided the whole bar problem by sending a welcome packet in advance of the cruise which included the drink coupons, badges, media credentials etc. I know it was MOR’s first cruise and if we seem to be picking on a lot of things, we don’t want to paint the impression that we didn’t enjoy the trip, because it was absolutely an amazing experience and we will be doing the cruise again. I only offer these suggestions and hope they listen to the many cries for information in advance we saw constantly being posted which were essentially answered with responses indicating that the information was coming. It is impossible to plan excursions on the days at port when you have no idea what the schedule is for that day.
I thought the merchandise was fine and I was very satisfied with the selections. I especially liked having the option to order the merchandise on-line before the event. This was great. I was able to wear my MOR “work shirt” on the plane there and met a few fellow cruisers by doing so. There were great merchandise selections from all of the bands and everything went very smoothly. My advice to cruisers is to buy early if you see something you like. If it sells out, remember you are at sea and they can’t simply re-stock on the fly. If you want it, but it when you see it.
Meet and Greets
I heard varying opinions about how this went from cruisers, but I am pleased with the way that they chose to hold these (I know not all of you agree). The way this worked was that there were essentially two sessions where there were multiple bands in a room. Fans lined up and were not allowed to take their own photos, but MOR staff shot the photos quickly and kept the crowd moving along. Yes, you had to wait in line for a while, but on the plus side you only had to do it twice to get a picture with almost all of the artists. We were able to retrieve the pictures on-line for free as promised, I have to give MOR thumbs up for doing it this way.
I know it seems like I am complaining a lot, but I must say that these are more suggestions than they are complaints and we think they are important to make the next cruise even better. That being said, I have to rate this cruise as a very successful event which just needs some work in the areas I indicated.
The reason I feel confident calling it a success is that I can tell you that every single member of our group we traveled with plans to go again if possible, and many have already signed up. I think that with a little tweaking (especially in the scheduling and maximizing the number of shows), the organizers can make what was a very good cruise, and incredible, once in a lifetime experience. We look forward to sailing again for year two of the MOR Cruise and look forward to re-uniting with the many friends we made aboard this event. Despite our few suggestions we say kudos to MOR for getting behind this event, which for many is a once in a lifetime experience, and for us..a “twice in a lifetime” experience that we hope becomes an annual tradition.
MOR fans cheering from the deck stage. Photo by MARR
This review was of the cruise line and the event itself. In subsequent posts I will share my thoughts on the various bands we saw and the music separately from the event review.