Thursday, November 29, the passengers of ShipRocked woke up to a pleasant view of the beautiful Bahamas capital city of Nassau. Those who had partied extremely heavily the cruises previous two days were starting to show signs of exhaustion and painful hangovers, but not many places are more beautiful to just relax and take a load off than the Bahamas. And visiting Paradise Island's famous Atlantis Resort and Casino can also take one's mind off any problems or worries.
Docking in Nassau at around 8 a.m., ShipRockers had many options such as heading into the city, taking a boat to Paradise Island to swim or snorkel, maybe even gamble in the huge casino in the Atlantis resort.
ShipRockers could also take part in several excursions, even a catamaran-and-snorkeling adventure with some of the rock stars from the ship. A few lucky passengers who booked early enough even got to go on a catamaran cruise with members of Queensryche, Halo Method/Papa Roach, Fuel, Helmet and Sevendust.
Rock stars were spotted all over the island: In the casino, on one of the many beaches, snorkeling, drinking and just enjoying the beautiful Caribbean scenery. Most fans were respectful of the artists' time but none of them seemed to mind fans' taking pictures, whether hanging at the beach or playing a hand at the blackjack tables. What could be better than sipping a Mai Tai on the beach with a few of your rock idols?
Queensryche's Geoff Tate has returned to ShipRocked, and sat down with Rocks Off to talk about what makes the trip so special. "I love the concept of a bunch of people getting on a boat and traveling the ocean, and playing music," he said. "I just love that idea.
"ShipRocked is a lot more friendly that a lot of festivals you go to, where you have strict schedules," added Tate. "This is a lot more relaxed. You get to hang out with people for a lot longer period than a festival. You don't often get to sit on a boat with a bunch of musicians that you love their music, so it's pretty unique."
Good choice of words.
After a full day in the sun, all passengers had to be back on board by 6 p.m. We were supposed to set sail shortly afterward, but a big storm was apparently blowing in and the ship stayed docked for a while longer. Other cruise ships docked next to ours were in for quite a surprise as the sun began to set.
Some passengers lined up for dinner, but others immediately went and claimed a spot in front of the Deck Stage for the evening's first performers: A little band called Five Finger Death Punch (5FDP). For the second time on the trip, 5FDP came out with a vengeance to rip a hole right thru the Monster Energy Deck Stage. The set began with "Under and Over It" and "Burn It Down," then shifted to new album American Capitalist.
Now imagine the ship next to ours. The night was just beginning with the cool ocean breeze blowing across the pool deck and the music cranked up to its max. Those other passengers were over there relaxing by the pool or sitting on their balcony, looking at the MSC Poescia and a heavy-metal band performing on the deck.
People were hanging over the rails across the water trying to get a listen to Death Punch giving everyone on ShipRocked the show of their lives, and creating the largest pit of the trip up to this point. Pretty awesome moment.
Once the first concert was over, passengers had a little time to relax or grab some dinner before the rest of the night's shows. At around 9 p.m. Pop Evil entertained the crowd with their second set of the cruise on the Deck Stage while at nearly the same time, Helmet began their first down in the Zebra Lounge.
Helmet was a famous underground metal band in the '90's, and is still putting out albums today. This was many people's first time to get to see them live, though, and they made it well worth the wait, beginning with the song "Role Model" from 1992's Meantime.
It took no time for the few hundred people who could fit in the lounge to get into it and sing along with vocalist Page Hamilton. Not only did they play a good set spanning the past 20 years, but Hamilton brought a friend and former drummer onstage to do a song. Fans of Rob Zombie, Testament, Exodus, and currently the Cult would certainly recognize John Tempesta's hard-hitting skills.
A little later, Lit put on another splendid drunken set, and Gilby Clarke and Andy Wood also performed throughout the night in the different lounges. The main concert of the evening, though, was Godsmack the Carlos Felice Theater. The first night of the cruise they performed a very cool acoustic set. This time around we were getting the uber-loud side of Godsmack everyone was there to see. Backdrop up, lights down, Godsmack hit the stage with "Re-Align" from their Faceless album.
Clad in a trucker hat and bare feet, vocalist Sully Erna seemed like a giant onstage as he performed a hell of a show, with many audience members singing every song with him, sometimes louder. Drummer Shannon Larkin amazed everyone with a solo, and Erna joined in on percussion in a smaller version of the drum wars they usually have on the big stage.
It was loud. Ears were ringing and hearts were pounding as Godsmack finished up their final show of the cruise.
The last concert of the night was supposed to be Filter out on the main deck stage, but due to the quick storm that had blown through earlier, they were forced to postpone until the following day. The night continued with deck parties, late snacks at the 24-hour buffet, and whatever else people could find to do to continue the party.
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With nearly a dozen more concerts and two more meet-and-greets scheduled, Friday would be a day to sleep in some, enjoy the splendor of the ocean, or jam out to more music.