The Evolution of Shiprocked:
Shiprocked creator, owner, and captain extraordinaire Alan Koenig launched the first cruise in 2009. Featuring bands like Tesla, Ratt, Skidrow, and Queensryche, the maiden voyage of our beloved Shiprocked set sail. This forever changed the rock music festival game. Sailing on the MSC Poesia, the cruise took guests to Ocho Rios and Grand Cayman.
The 2010 sailing, traveling from Fort Lauderdale to Nassau and Coco Cay Bay and back, saw a pretty cool lineup. Guests were able to enjoy performances from Cinderella, 10 years, Vince Neil, Sevendust and many more. Worth noting, Sevendust has cruised with Shiprocked more times than any other artist and has been dubbed the “House Band.”
Now, on to 2011 where my experience comes in to play. I had never heard of Shiprocked until I saw a friend post something about it on Facebook. I saw Buckcherry, Hinder, and Sevendust plus a cruise to Costa Maya and Cozumel and I was sold. I knew of no Facebook groups to plan ahead or what to expect and I wouldn’t have had my first experience any other way. A girlfriend and I boarded the MSC Poesia with a whole bunch of costumes ready to rock.
Hinder was the sail away band and were featured on the small cruise deck stage. It was hard to see unless you were up front, but that was ok. I had a warm sea breeze and some amazing music. I found out pretty quickly that we were sharing the ship with “regular” cruisers. It was about half Shiprocked and half typical cruise guests. Boy, were they in for a shock! I remember an elderly gentleman asking me if I knew what was going on while Hellyeah rocked the deck. Poor guy; lucky me. There were several shows reserved specifically for Shiprockers, so we did have some perks over the regular guests.
I will forever hold a special place in my heart for my first sailing. It was so cool because I really had no idea what to expect. I found myself meeting several amazing and like-minded people as well as mingling with artists I assumed I would never meet. I will never forget the look on my cabin mate’s face when Josh Todd came up right behind her in the pizza line. Before the end of the trip, I was hooked. I knew this would become a recurring thing in my life, but I still had no idea just how much it would evolve into what it is now and what it has become for me and so many others.
Moving on to 2012. For the first time ever, the entire ship was reserved for Shiprocked. This made it possible to set up the Monster Energy Stage on the deck. It made viewing the bands much easier for everyone, especially considering upwards of 2500 people were trying to catch the bands now. Some say 2012 was the best year when referring to a lineup. It was co-headlined by Korn and Godsmack, and featured bands like Five Finger Death Punch, Pop Evil, 10 Years and so many more. Having the entire ship chartered opened a lot of doors to bring on more performers. We cruised to Key West and then to Nassau. The threat of inclement weather kept us docked in Nassau, but the shows on the deck continued as long as possible. We could only wonder what the ships next to us were thinking about our boat. If I had to guess, I’d say they were jealous.
I met so many forever friends on the 2012 sailing, some I’ve even traveled the world with. This was the year where it started feeling like a family. As cheesy or cliché as that may sound, it’s 100% the way it is. Anyone who has been a part of Shiprocked will likely tell you the same thing.
Next up: 2014. Yes, it would seem I skipped 2013. However, this was the time when Shiprocked moved from being held in November to taking place in January or February. So while there is no SR13, it was only a few months that made that the case. We got to hang with the likes of Five Finger Death Punch, Papa Roach, Nonpoint, In This Moment, and Wilson. Now going into this, most people had never heard of Wilson. The Detroit rockers pretty much flipped the boat upside down and stole the show. Not a single person left that boat not knowing who Wilson was.
Photo Credit: Rachel King
2014 also saw a couple of other major changes. Most notably, we got a new ship! We made the Norwegian Pearl our home and we loved it. Another change was hitting up Great Stirrup Cay for both port days, which allowed us to enjoy performances on the beach. Nonpoint was probably the highlight on those beach shows inciting the Caribbean’s largest mosh pit in the water. It was certainly a sight to see!
Ok, let’s talk about 2015. Possibly the most criticized sailing Shiprocked has seen. It turned out being one of my favorites though! People were skeptical having Limp Bizkit as a headliner. They were absolutely incredible! Fred Durst even came to host our after parties and addressed the entire ship over the intercom with a hilarious message from himself as the captain. The rest of the lineup was great featuring Black Label Society, Lacuna Coil, Andrew W.K., and Sevendust (obviously). We were again on the Pearl and returned to Great Stirrup Cay. I will say that I really enjoyed the private island. You could enjoy music, relax in the sun, float in the water, grab food from the cruise provided buffet, or even go for a jet ski ride. If you were lucky, you got to see the Wilson guys doing a slo-mo run on the beach in their best bikinis. The island was reserved for only our ship so it still felt like we were safe and happy in our little Shiprocked bubble.
Most recently, of course, was the 2016 sailing. We hopped back on the Pearl like we owned it. At this point most guests knew the ship like it was their home. We had an incredible sailaway show put on by the one and only Halestorm. It was the perfect way to set out on our journey. This year was no different as far as the bands go; another stellar lineup. Headlining for their second time, we saw Five Finger Death Punch back on the ship. This year had a great mix of the bands we’ve grown to call family and ones that became family. Seether, Red Sun Rising, and We Are Harlot jumped into their first sailing and seemed to have a great time. The band I want to stop for a second to talk about, though, is Avatar. Ever the performers, they didn’t hold back on the Shiprocked crowd. They had all the guests and even the crew shouting, “WE ARE AVATAR!!”
Photo Credit: Rachel King
Each year I go, I meet more and more people. In fact, I’m staying in a cabin for the 2017 sailing with all people I’ve met through the cruise and no one from home. It really has become more than just a vacation. It’s now a lifestyle. I go just as much for the people as for the music. What started as just a few hundred people has multiplied into a family of thousands. There are regular meet-ups at festivals throughout the year and even trips to just visit the ones who’ve become loved ones. I’m not sure if Alan had this in mind when Shiprocked began, but a lot of us have him to thank for making this such an incredible experience.
With the 2017 sailing in sight, the excitement is starting to build for my favorite time of the year. I’m very much looking forward to this dysfunctional family reunion at sea. Breaking Benjamin and Alter Bridge will be joining for the first time and we are welcoming back Pop Evil, Wilson, Sevendust and so many more. Hopefully you’ve secured your spot! See you there!