A CMO’s guide to music themed cruises
These days just as there are “Con” events for just about everything you can imagine, no matter what your tastes are in music, movies or sports there is a themed event cruise for you. Zombie filled Waking Dead cruises to EDM, country, 80’s rock, heavy metal, NASCAR and well, you get the idea, the list goes on forever. As a veteran of three music cruises and counting down the days till my fourth (Monsters of Rock cruise in February 2020) here are a few tips to get what I think is the most out of the experience before, during and after the event.
Once the cruise gets announced (or you are just finding out about it):
Create/(or update if you’re an event alum) a profile/account on the site that does the actual booking – you will be able to find this on the pricing page of any given themed cruise and it makes the booking process that much easier to have all of your information in there ahead of time.
Facebook – surely there will be an official cruise Facebook page containing all of the pertinent information as well as discussion groups of the like-minded people interested in the same cruise as you.
Ask questions of the reservations team and/or the Facebook page if you are unsure of anything related to the event before securing your cabin.
Book early if you can – themed cruises are (usually) annual events and can sell out quick. Prior alumni of the event will get first dibs on rooms then once the general public sales start the lower priced rooms go quick as well as the more preferable cabin locations (mid-ship, mid-level).
Prepare for sticker shock – themed cruises can carry a pretty sizable cost, but there are payment plans that help alleviate having to pay out a large chunk all at once. The room suites will usually come with additional VIP benefits which for the additional cost will make a difference in your cruise experience when it comes to early access to the various seats in the different venues and being first in line for the meet and greet band photos. The three I have been on have been worth every penny in my opinion. Three of the funnest weeks of my life. \m/
Ensure that you have the proper travel documents – the cruise site will be very specific about what is accepted. Do not wait till the last minute to get your passport (renewed).
Booking your cabin:
Ensure that you have complete names, birthdays and updated contact information on all of your cabin mates – the booking process will ask for specific information and at some point you will need to enter travel documentation/passport numbers to have on file for the cruise. You can book your cabin without this part initially, but it will have to be entered before a specific time prior to sailing.
My preference when selecting a cabin location is to be as close to mid-ship and mid-level as possible – this not only puts your room central to just about everything in case of needing to stop by the cabin throughout the day/evening. It also helps alleviate any feeling of the boat rocking (from the waves, not the bands) if you are susceptible to any sort of seasickness.
General rule of thumb on cruise ships is the food is in the back of the boat (restaurants and the open buffets) and the main theater will be in the front of the ship.
Usually drink packages are offered ahead of the sail date. These can be considerable savings if you plan to consume mass quantities of alcohol (soda packages are available also).
Once you have your cabin booked:
Figure out and plan travel to the departure location. Depending on your proximity to the cruise terminal it is best to arrive the day before and incur the cost of a hotel night so there are no weather related or unanticipated day of event flight or traffic delays.
Facebook – interact with your fellow cruisers. You will find that people will be traveling from all over the country and the world to come to this event.
Keep an eye out for any pre-party events (which are usually included in the cost of the cruise). Usually these are the day(s) just before the cruise so that plays into the note above as another reason for arriving a day or two early.
If you are making payments make sure NOT to miss any scheduled payments. Would be a total bummer to have your reservation cancelled due to not being on top of when payments are due.
Count down the days till the sail away date.
Prepping/packing for the cruise:
Don’t be shy about being a fanboy/girl of a particular band aboard – dig out that old concert shirt of your favorite bands aboard and wear them proudly – the entire experience is based on and around fan interaction with the band members and from my experience they do take notice!
Find that vinyl record or poster that you want to get autographed – as long as you do not break the cardinal rule of not interrupting an artist while they are eating, it is really easy to get memorabilia signed.
Bring your camera – make sure to have plenty of battery power and storage space on the memory card. The entire cruise, both aboard the ship and wherever the ports of call are, is a photo opportunity.
Decorate your cabin door – back to being a fanboy/girl, I have seen some really cool displays on cabin doors with either photos of a specific band on display or group photos of those aboard to whiteboards for passers by comments to whatever you can think of to celebrate the reason why you are there. I have vowed to join in on the fun in 2020 and am still in the thinking stages for my cabin door design.
The event schedule – in the days just before the cruise departs, the show schedule should be released but be prepared that you may not get this until you get aboard. As with any sort of event where there are so many bands playing in a condensed period, there is going to be some set time overlap – bands usually play twice so hopefully you will be able to see at least one of the shows.
Learn the layout of the ship from the online deck plans – learning the fastest way between the different venues can be a life saver if your favorite band’s set times overlap – it is a total bonus if the various venue locations are known ahead of time.
Do not forget your travel documents/passport. You will not be allowed on the ship without these in hand on the day of.
Prepare to be immersed from the moment you step foot aboard the ship! The sights, the sounds and the people will all be decked out to the theme of the cruise.
You are all there for the same reason so embrace the comradery and make new friends – everyone onboard has at least one common interest.
Explore the ship – find out where the different venues are. Hopefully ahead of time you had a chance to study the layout of the ship, now is the time to test those routes between the different venues.
Be prepared for band schedule changes and take note accordingly once they are announced – I have always carried an extra cruise event schedule and a pen with me to make any adjustments to the daily schedule.
Silly as it sounds – do not forget to eat. The shows will be non-stop throughout the day and night, try to plan accordingly so you can keep your energy level up to enjoy the most shows you are able to.
After the cruise:
Post your photos up and tell your friends how awesome of a time it was and how they NEED to go with you next year.
Keep in touch with anyone you traded contact info with onboard – most likely they too will be going again next year.
Count down the days till next year’s cruise.