Have you ever been on a 5 day cruise to warmer climates in the dead of winter with over 2,000 of the happiest people who all just happen to love one of your favorite things just as much as you do? I have. I’ve been fortunate enough to tag along with my boyfriend’s band and our band family for two consecutive years on The Rock Boat.
If you’re a live music/festival lover and have never heard of The Rock Boat (don’t worry, I hadn’t either until a few years ago) you MIGHT want to check this out. TRB is a music festival at sea. The most recent sail away was it’s 18th annual and gave me the opportunity to explore New Orleans for the first time for the couple of days before stepping onto the Norwegian Pearl en route to Progreso and Cozumel, Mexico. Check out The Rock Boat website in the link above. Every year, the sail away city and destinations are different.
If you’ve never been. This place really is as fun as you’ve heard it is. Our first night there was a Sunday night and walking down Bourbon street you never would have guessed this wasn’t a Friday or Saturday night crowd. Part of this may have been attributed to the fact we were there during the famed Nola Carnival season. Carnival season begins January 6th and ends on Fat Tuesday. It’s taken very seriously, think Christmas season. It’s loud and weird in all the best ways possible.
Oh, and the food is YUM. This is not a place you go if you’re trying to diet. Unless you don’t mind sitting there with a salad surrounded by delicious smelling fried food. I personally would absolutely mind so I didn’t even try to resist. Also, King Cakes. King Cakes aren’t just huge cinnamon roll type cakes topped with sugar frosting in Nola Mardi Gras colors (they are that too), but there’s actually an interesting history behind them. The oddest part about is that a tiny plastic baby is baked into each cake. The belief is that whoever receives the slice with the baby in it is to host the next party and provide the next cake. So….my advice is to be aware of this because it really is pretty small so you’ll definitely want to check before taking a bite. I would imagine choking on a tiny plastic baby would make for a bad time on vacation.
Along with the food, there’s parades happening constantly this time of year. You can even get your friends together and throw your very own parade for a fee. We didn’t do this even though it sounds like something we would do. Maybe some day. Don’t skip out on the waterfront either. It was a little chilly, as in 50s with a pretty cold breeze but still beautiful! I’m from Buffalo so 50-60 degree weather in January is a dream.
For many, hanging out in New Orleans during Carnival season in a beautiful AirBNB house (thanks to some of our super amazing friends!) for a couple of days would signal the end of vacation. We hadn’t even gotten on the ship yet!
THE ROCK BOAT
If you’ve ever thought to yourself “I don’t really think I’m a cruise person. I’d go stir crazy” then you and I are the same. I never had any desire to do a cruise because I’m such an explorer and restless spirit that I always thought I’d be bored. I had never been on a cruise until these two Rock Boats. I still am unsure if I could ever do a “normal” cruise. But this one rocks. No pun intended and I can PROMISE you’ll never be bored. There’s no time!
The Rock Boat features over 30 bands in multiple venues throughout the ship for 5 days and nights straight. This is not typically a vacation you go on to relax; its mostly about the FUN. However you can really do this trip however you want. We prefer the “we can sleep when we’re dead” option. On top of the opportunity to check out some of your favorite bands and be introduced to some seriously talented artists you’ve never even heard of before, there’s even more to do! Some of the other things that come to mind when I think of this trip are theme nights (totally optional!), silent disco, a spelling bee, 24 hour food buffets (which includes 24 hr soft serve ice cream and pizza!!), beautiful weather and beaches on port days, laughing A LOT, 6AM bedtimes and FRIENDSHIP! Existing and new! The biggest challenge I find is having time for basic human necessities. I actually had to schedule time to sleep (a couple of hours a night) and shower. It’s such a great problem to have when the reason you run out of time is because you’re too busy having fun!
I decided to make this post a little more generalized than my usual blog-o-Los and just focus more on what The Rock Boat actually is. You can do this vacation HOWEVER you want. There’s tons of music happening all at once (scheduling conflict struggles are REAL). Also, I didn’t think me detailing every day of my personal experience would be too exciting to read about nor would it do it any justice. (Woke up at 10:30am, had breakfast with friends, went to see this band on this stage, then literally RAN to catch this band here, then sat on the beach in Cozumel with margaritas in both hands, got back on the boat, saw these bands on the pool deck, danced my face off at silent disco, 3am pizza, 6am casino hangs, sleep for two hours, wake up, repeat….see?)
Any Rock Boater will tell you there are no words to describe this vacation or what it means to them. You really do just have to experience it for yourself. Stepping onto the boat for the second consecutive year, I was sure I couldn’t POSSIBLY have even more fun than last year. SO WRONG. Going into this year, and being able to see so many familiar faces from the previous one was even better! This is a family and they will welcome you with open arms if you choose to make it in the future! I even met some first timers (lovingly coined Rock Boat virgins) who came on by themselves and found friends before they even stepped foot on the boat thanks to a great social media community. If you’re a festi person, then you know the vibes. If you’re not, come see for yourself! They have announced next years dates and locations on their site linked above and more and more details will start to unfold in the coming months!
I couldn’t go this whole post without mentioning the amazing work done by Sixthman to put this and many other festivals at sea together year after year. This is the most friendly and accommodating staff I think I’ve ever had the pleasure of encountering. It’s a labor of love. They do it because they want to not because they have to and are a huge reason this whole thing has become such a caring community. If you go in with the right attitude I can GUARANTEE you will make friends from all over the world on this boat.
Until next time Rock Boat Family!