Cruise Lines Entice Fans With Music From Kid Rock To Christian


For your listening pleasure, the soundtrack aboard Carnival Destiny next May will be industrial-metal rock.

It's courtesy of the Genitorturers , stars of the five-night Devils & Dolls Cruise from Miami on May 8.

"Interaction with fans will be on a daily basis. One just might end up in the pool with the Genitorturers," says cruise promoter Zaida Brown of All Genre Travel in Hilliard, Ohio.

But that's not all.

In the next few months, Kid Rock and his rowdy legions will set sail on Carnival Inspiration. Gospel will boom to the heavens on Norwegian Sky. Bluegrass will twang on Oasis of the Seas. New Kids on the Block will croon on Carnival Imagination. Smooth jazz will soothe on Holland America Noordam.

What kind of music goes with cruising?

All kinds.

"The fact that album sales aren't what they used to be means that bands and promoters are looking for different ways for the bands and fans to connect," says Cherie Weinstein, vice president of group business development for Carnival Cruise Lines.

She sees bigger and bigger acts willing to set sail with fans.

Kristen Gregory of Ann Arbor, Mich., has been on a trio of cruises since 2007 featuring the group Barenaked Ladies.

"Even with BNL headlining all three cruises, there were tons of different bands on board and concerts running all day and all night," says Gregory, 30. "The great perk of music cruises is discovering new bands that I like."

The only downside?

"I was exhausted when I got back."

Irish. Jam band. Blues. Bluegrass. Goth. Rock. Pop. Classical. Urban gospel. Jazz. Christian. Gay country-western.

Even fish in the sea have to feel the beat with all the music pulsing above.

Most music cruises last four to five days and sail the Caribbean.

The biggest take up a whole ship. For instance, the sold-out Kid Rock cruise April 29 is organized by Sixthman, an Atlanta company that specializes in chartering ships and turning them into floating music festivals. Besides the crew, everyone aboard is in a band or is a fan.

Next year's Smooth Jazz Cruise and K-Love and Friends Christian Cruise will be whole-ship cruises too.

"What chartering the ship does is give the promoter more freedom," Weinstein says. "They're not promoting a Carnival cruise per se, and you're not having the issue where half or 75 percent of the passengers are saying, 'Boy, I don't like this kind of music.'"

(How much does it cost to rent a cruise ship for five days? Cruise industry analyst Steward Chiron says it could be nearly $1 million — paid up front, nonrefundable.)

For big acts, it is simply easier to take over the whole ship, says Andy Levine, CEO and owner of Sixthman.

"The difference between doing a half-ship and whole-ship charter is a difference between doing a party with your parents in town or parents out of town," he says.

However, other music cruise promoters book only a few hundred or so cabins on a larger ship.

On the Genitorturers cruise, regular passengers will be aboard the Destiny — although they're not invited to the private concerts and parties. Ditto with an Irish music cruise coming up in January on the Holland America Noordam.

Smaller is better, says Debbie Casey, owner of Irish Music Cruises in South Dartmouth, Mass.

"The smaller the group, the more one-on-one time fans can have with the musicians," she says.

Her cruise will take up only 200 spaces on the 1,900-passenger Noordam from Jan. 24 to Feb. 3. Fans will see private performances by 10 acts, plus have time to interact and even jam with musicians — and have regular ship activities available as well.

For musicians, there are pros and cons to both arrangements.

"The people on the big cruises are the super-fans. The more you get face time with them, the more they'll tell their friends about you," says Brian Duffy, a bass player from Duluth, Ga. He has played on four Christian cruises for top performers like Aaron Shust and Brandon Heath. "The bad thing is, you have no escape except to hide in your room," he says. "A lot of the fans are really cool, but a lot come up at dinner or ask for autographs or pictures."

Musicians can relax more on cruises that have non fans aboard, he says, because they "give musicians more anonymity, so it feels more like a vacation."

Because cruising tends to attract people in their 40s and 50s, music cruises can bring in a demographic that normally stays away from the sea — the 30-somethings and even 20-somethings. That thrills promoters, the cruise lines and fans themselves.

Meeting other Barenaked Ladies fans close to her age created an instant bond, Gregory says. She stays in touch with many of them.

"Making friends," she says, "has made my cruises seem more like going to summer camp than going on vacation as an anonymous tourist."



All of these music cruises are in 2010 in the Caribbean except as noted. Most last three to seven days. Most cost $700 to $1,500 per person. Check Web sites or call for remaining availability, exact itinerary, artists and costs.


Jam Cruise: Jan. 3-8 on MSC Poesia (, 561-368-8922).


Radio One Love Gospel Cruise: April 12-17 on Norwegian Sky (, 877-735-5625).

Xist Urban Gospel Cruise: Sept. 17-20 on RCL Majesty of the Seas (, 888-518-7571).

"Singing at Sea" Southern Gospel Cruise: Feb. 15-20 on Carnival Fascination (, 800-334-2630).


12th Annual Bluegrass Cruise: Feb. 20-27 on RCL Oasis of the Seas (, 888-711-7447).


Irish Music Cruise: Jan. 24-Feb. 3, Holland America Noordam (, 888-564-7474).


7th Annual K-Love and Friends and Family Christian Cruise: Feb. 1-5 on RCL Monarch of the Seas (, 800-889-5265).

Music Boat (host Third Day): Nov. 8-12 on RCL Majesty of the Seas (, 800-889-5265).


Malt Shop Memories: May 13-17 on Carnival Inspiration (, 877-223-7030).


Kid Rock's Chillin' the Most Cruise (sold out but taking names for waiting list): April 29-May 3 on Carnival Inspiration (, 877-223-7030).

VH1 Best Cruise Ever: April 15-19 on Carnival Inspiration, (, 877-749-8462).

New Kids on the Block Cruise (sold out but taking names for waiting list): May 14-17 on Carnival Imagination (, 888-491-7673).

Rick Springfield and Friends Cruise: Nov. 12-16, 2009, on Carnival Destiny (, 888-491-7673).

Lynyrd Skynyrd's Simple Man Cruise 2010: Jan. 21-25 on Carnival Inspiration (, 877-749-8462).

ShipRocked Cruise (hard rock): Nov. 15-20, 2009 , on MSC Poesia (, 877-855-5502).


Jazz Cruise: Nov. 8-16, 2009 , on Holland America Westerdam (, 888-852-9987).

Smooth Jazz Cruise 2010 (sold out but taking reservations for Jan. 16-23, 2011, and Jan. 23-30, 2011, on Holland American Noordam (, 888-852-9987).

Super Cruise III (Jazz and Soul): Oct. 23-30 out of Baltimore, ship to be announced (, 877-887-2835).

Burgundy & Provence Jazz Cruise: July 6-15 in Europe on Avalon Scenery (, 877-797-8791).


Cayamo Cruise: Feb. 21-26 on Norwegian Dawn (, 877-749-8462).


Grand Ole Opry Country Classics Cruise: Jan. 24-30 on Carnival Freedom (, 866-653-6779).

Gay Cowboy Country Western Cruise: April 10-15 on Carnival Destiny (, 877-515-5100).


Blues Cruise: Oct. 17-24 on Holland America Zaandam to the Mexican Riviera (, 888-258-3746).


Genitorturers Devils & Dolls Cruise: May 8-12 on Carnival Destiny (, 813-325-7435).


Chubby Party Cruise III: Jan 9-16 on Carnival Triumph (, 800-683-9882).


The Elvis Cruise: Nov. 12-16, 2009 , on Carnival Inspiration (, 877-749-8462).

Jimmy Buffett Tribute Cruise: Dec. 12-19, 2009 , on Carnival Dream (, 888-361-5708).

Parrothead Tahiti Cruise: March 6-12 on the Regent Seven Seas Paul Gauguin in Tahiti (, 888-361-5708).


Magnificent Europe Music Cruise: Oct. 17-31 in Europe on Avalon Poetry (, 877-797-8791).