This time a month ago I was still recovering from the nausea brought on by a
Cohiba cigar and the amount of money my fiancé paid to have her hair braided. We
had just spent a day in Nassau and we were back on the Carnival Destiny, still
giddy to be on our third Rock Boat with so much more music to be heard and fun
to be had.
It’s been a month since we set sail from Miami, poised to
spend a week full of concerts, cold drinks and late night buffets. What
nauseates me now is the thought of having to wait eleven more months to
experience The Rock Boat all over again. To steal a quote from my friend Jill,
“From the outside looking in you cannot understand it. From the inside looking
out you cannot explain it.” That being said, I will take a stab at trying to
explain what The Rock Boat means to me and why it’s one of the greatest
vacations you’ll barely remember.
First of all, it’s not just a cruise.
Yes, it takes place on a cruise ship. Yes, you set sail and there are ports of
call. This, however, is almost secondary to what is, in essence, a 5 day music
festival. I think most Rock Boaters would agree that even if the ship never left
port, it would still one of the best experiences ever. There is the rush of
seeing your favorite band or performer live for the umpteenth time. There is the
thrill of discovering an artist you’ve never heard before and fall in love with
their music. There are the heart opening moments of hearing the stories behind
the lyrics and getting a glimpse at the real lives of people whose voices come
out of your speakers at home. And that’s just the music part.
For me, the
greatest part of The Rock Boat is getting to share and celebrate that experience
with literally hundreds of friends and acquaintances. The first day on The Boat
is like a family reunion, seeing faces you haven’t seen in a while, most of them
since the previous year’s Boat. Each passing day is filled with encounters that
can last an hour or last a lifetime. Strangers become neighbors and moments
become bonds. There is a sense of belonging and a feeling of camaraderie that
unifies all passengers into one small, floating nation of music worshiping
There is also, of course, the booze. Now, I don’t want to paint
the picture of all Rock Boaters as being a gang of individuals on hiatus from
AA, but I think that description definitely puts the image within the
neighborhood of reality. On TRB VIII, which sailed in January 2008, Rock Boaters
broke – or shall I correctly say shattered? – Carnival’s single-day record for
alcohol sales. Perhaps the best way to describe it is insane. Personally, it
takes me about 2 months to have my liver recuperate from The Boat. This happens
to coincide almost perfectly with St. Patty’s Day, but that’s neither here nor
I honestly believe the only way to truly understand and appreciate
The Rock Boat is to experience it firsthand, and I can tell you without an
equivocation it is a first rate experience. From the Sixthman staff (Sixthman
puts on TRB every year), to the Carnival crew, to the many smiling and joyous
faces you will see everywhere you turn, The Rock Boat truly is an incredible
experience. So as I sit here staring at my calendar in not-so-patient
anticipation for next year’s Boat, I hope you consider making your face one of
the many joyous ones I will see onboard.
Check out The Rock Boat.