Music On The Open Water
by Rob Cottignies
In February of 2018, I finally embarked on 70,000 Tons Of Metal, a short cruise which featured 61 bands from varying genres of heavy metal. That might sound like a complete disaster but it was quite the opposite. It was even better than predicted, and I'd already thought it would be great! I'd love to write all about it but that's not the point of this article. (If you'd like to discuss it, just let me know!)
My only other cruising experience was a 15-day journey from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Los Angeles through the Panama Canal. Quite obviously, the clientele on the two cruises differed greatly.
Aboard 70,000 Tons ship, I spoke with several crew members about their experiences with a heavy metal cruise versus a "regular" one. I expected them to be annoyed and maybe even a little frightened of so many people dressed in black zombie-ing all over the place. However, they loved it. Maybe heavy metal wasn't their thing but they appreciated the vacationers because they differed from people on other cruises, who can often be obnoxious and demanding. The workers acted more casually and some even joined in the heavy metal conga lines. (Yep, that's a thing.)
Some people consider going on a cruise to be traveling. I disagree. It's a vacation, for sure. A week away from everything, relaxing by a pool, seeing some cool stuff- great! But it's not travel. You're on a large boat for most of the trip, eating on it every day and sleeping on it every night. (Feel free to refer to my article on defining travel.)
You can experience some great things on cruises but I find them to be largely for folks who want to be pampered and spend two hours somewhere simply to check it off their bucket lists. To me, a cruise ship is kind of like Indianapolis- large enough to explore for a bit but you'll get bored quickly.
To the Panama Canal cruise's credit, I did get to experience some wonderful things, such as seeing the canal in operation, Costa Rica's Poás Volcano, and feeling small while seeing nothing but water in every direction.
But back to heavy metal- that cruise was awesome. Everybody was there simply to have a great time. There were pirate costumes, inflatable ducks, and a guy dressed as a chicken in the main hot tub. Some band members wandered around the ship too- interacting with fans, catching other bands' shows, and even eating as if they were regular normal everyday humans. My favorite thing to say since I came back is "Cannibal Corpse and I watched the Super Bowl in the same room." Never thought I'd ever get to say anything like that. (Corpsegrinder is a Broncos fan, by the way.)
So cruise if you want but don't expect to have an incredible experience. And don't expect me to think you've been to Aruba because you snorkeled there for an hour. (Like I did.) If you're going to cruise, why not see a bunch of bands that you like while aboard? Heavy metal isn't the only genre of music that's getting into the cruise business.
If you've ever cruised, how was your overall experience?
Do you consider cruising to be the same as traveling?
Would you ever cruise with 3,000 metalheads plus a bunch of bands and promoters?