Sunscreen? Check! Bikini? Check! BACKSTAGE PASS aboard Monsters Of Rock Cruise East 2016? CHECK!
For five sunlit days and four star-filled starlit nights, the rock and metal communities came together this past February for the always anticipated annual voyage of musical debauchery o’er the great ‘n’ briny North Atlantic: Monsters Of Rock Cruise: Shredders From The Deep!
Having sailed on MORC several times before, I can tell you from my very first sleepless, seasick experience several years ago that it’s a badass, nearly week-long excursion of sand, sun, and incredible performances that you will never forget, even if you’re doped up on Dramamine! Besides, there’s a 24-hour buffet and a dozen mind-blowing restaurants to hit up after you’ve caught that irresistible tan!
And that’s the beauty of this proper rock cruise! While a backstage pass allows access to certain areas frequented by the artists only (and, let’s face it, that’s where the stories happen), those adored famous faces are walking around the ship signing autographs, snapping photos, and answering questions from fans in between sets.
Past lineups on MORC have included bands like KIX, The Winery Dogs, Slaughter, LOUDNESS, Lynch Mob, Quireboys, Enuff Z’Nuff, Femme Fatale, Winger, L.A. Guns, and RATT, among others; but this year’s bill killed it with EXTREME, Tesla, Michael Monroe, Metal Church, Steve Vai, Faster Pussycat, and Helloween in the mix… to name only a few! To top it off, there was a welcomed overstock of excitement with everyone’s favorite heavy metal frontman Sebastian Bach aboard!
Not only was it Baz’s first time contributing his genuine rock and roll energy to the musically provocative aquatic atmosphere, but it was also the Canadian rocker’s first cruise! I never had a chance to ask him how he was holding up, as he was busy warding off a few crazy fans.
The Norwegian Pearl set sail from Miami on Monday, February 22; and all who arrived at port for the boisterous morning of check-in and pre-cruise selfies came dressed in their freshest, sexiest, leather threads, and ready to party well before noon! Throwing forth welcoming hugs and friendly hellos to their fellow cruise mates, the royal lineup of artists floated freely amongst an ecstatic lot of fans, inspiring metal horns to rise high for 4 o’clock sail away. And who better to experience a MORC send-off with than That Metal Show hosts Eddie Trunk and Don Jamieson!
And, yep, you bet that’s where I was: behind the stage on the pool deck getting ready to gear up for what would be a few rambunctious minutes on stage in the heat. With a cigarette in one hand, a fresh Margarita in the other, and my pretty pirate get-up perfectly in place, I stood alongside my friend, fellow showgirl and merch rep for Faster Pussycat, Aiden Ashley, waiting to go on stage as official “Cruise Candy” for Trunk and Jamieson.
I’ll tell you what, it’s not easy staying focused backstage before show time when you’re surrounded by a multitude of some of the greatest names in rock, as well as embracing friends you consider family and haven’t seen in months.
Soon enough we were all happily crowded together, heading northeast and steadfast over a swelling sea of mermen (certainly), sharks, and slimy serpents to Great Stirrup Cay and Nassau, Bahamas.
With EXTREME kicking off the cruise on the Pool Deck, opening the Monsters Of Rock party flood gates of wavering sound, there was surely no turning back – and don’t worry, cruisers, the thought never crossed my mind! Gary Cherone blasted forward with his rebel yell, leaving chills on the skin, and I knew then and there this cruise was going to be one of the greatest parties I’d ever have the honor of being a part of. And I had pal “Reverend” Luc Carl, voice of SiriusXM’s Hair Nation, to remind me of the vast collection of good people I had to enjoy this ride with.
“If you were to sit down with a pen and paper and write down you’re wildest dream come true, you could never come close to the reality that is the Monsters Of Rock Cruise,” he said. “It’s adult rock ‘n’ roll fantasy land at its finest.”
That first night was a blur with a plethora of events to attend!
I spent my time that night, and well into the morning, with Aiden (my gal pal) and Trunk bopping about the hallways with bottles of beer and taking photos with fans. A fashionable rock and roll entourage we were. We were back on stage next at 11:45PM with Y&T in the Stardust Theater where Trunk and San Francisco DJ superstar Nikki Blakk announced the band.
Next day we docked at Great Stirrup Cay before the sun even came up. While the schedule on the beach may not have been as impressive as the 9 major events happening on board the Pearl (including Steve Vai, who started the day at 10AM in the Stardust), it was still an experience to be had! I caught Heavy Mellow “bright and early” at 11AM, and Great White’s acoustic set at 12:30PM, with a comfy, private space backstage, complete with a radiant view of the ocean, with my already-tired pink toes digging into the sand. And it was Brandon Gibb’s (Devil City Angels) birthday! I was elated to have the chance to catch the endearing moment as the crowd sang “Happy Birthday” to him.
Before heading back to the ship on a ridiculous little boat (that takes ten long, choppy, soaking minutes to get there), I ran into some of my favorite people: Faster Pussycat’s Chad Stewart, who was mixing Strawberry Daiquiris in a Tiki hut near the shore; Whitesnake’s Joel Hoekstra, who was finishing up a meet and greet with The Kix; and my gypsy brother, Mr. Jesse Camp!
You totally remember darling Jesse – that tall, lanky, great weirdo of quick humor who graced your television screen in the ‘90s when he co-hosted Total Request Live with Carson Daly! Well, the famous VJ made a surprise appearance on the cruise with his sweet sister, Marisha! They kept busy barefooted, searching for seashells, and catching footage of a thousand wild things happening every which way. We spent a good hour gossiping about all the juicy highlights of the night before while I secretly hoped my teeny weeny bikini was in place and not forming a terrible tan line!
Earlier that day I watched Michael Monroe do a split on stage every time Kip Winger winked at a pretty girl; and while that’s endearing, to say the least, (and worth a few chuckles), I later came to find his highness Monroe was staying in the stateroom next to mine—an accidental discovery made by my cabin mate who knocked on his door to pass along one of his own records. My friend was unexpectedly greeted by a surge of darkness, and a pissed off rock star still asleep at 3 in the afternoon. I heard Monroe howl, “What the hell do you want, man?! I’m trying to get some sleep!”
Hey, you can’t win ‘em all.
While munching on my scrambled eggs in the early morning on the last day of the cruise, I overheard a rumor about the upcoming Guns ‘N’ Roses reunion, and from two credible sources busy nursing their hangovers with Bloody Marys. “Adler says he’s practicing every day and just waiting for a call from Slash. He should be a part of that reunion, but they have a right to not consider him.”
Alas, it was the last day of my Monsters Of Rock getaway, and claustrophobia was starting to set in. Most cruisers moped around like dirty zombies as they counted down the hours for the upcoming last show with Saigon Kick that night: one final stretch of rock over the high seas.
In the end we landed where we began, in the Port of Miami, bright and early on a Friday morning. Despite the heavy sea legs, I miss the tight quarters of my NCL stateroom, the 24-hour buffet, and the unlimited, non-stop access to kickass shows where my heart thumps strongly for the euphoric Neverland of rock and roll at its finest: Monsters Of Rock Cruise.
Now, how many MOR days till we set sail again?
Check out my footage below of some glorious highlights with Sebastian Bach, Steve Vai, TESLA, Eddie Trunk, and more!
Photos: Iron Mike Savdia. Rockstar Photography
Story: Kate Catalina