As I prepare for my 3rd concert cruise in a few weeks, I thought I would offer a few tips from my experiences with the Carnival line, as in brutally honest, real person advice. You are going to embark on an experience of a lifetime. When you booked your cruise you knew that somewhere deep down, you wanted to take this vacation to “get away” but also connect with that inner teenager.
Choosing The Cruise.
I am fairly certain there are a lot of people that have no idea that bands from all kinds of genres actually cruise with fans every year. Even being my 3rd time going on the New Kids On The Block cruise this year, many people didn’t know. And when they asked “So you get to be on a boat with the band members for 4 days, like seeing them all the time?”, I said YES!
From, pop bands like Backstreet Boys to hair bands from the 80’s, many of them will charter a cruise each year. Some of the bands come together to make a theme cruise like a 90’s cruise where chart topper acts will cruise. There will always be some sort of concert on these cruises but for most, there are parties in addition. These parties take place on the Lido deck. All of the parties on my cruises have happened after midnight. There is usually some sort of meet and greet with a photo op.
Whatever band or act you want to cruise with, they will always advertise what is included with your cruise so you will know ahead of time what you will see and experience. And if you have questions about it there is always a Facebook group willing to help. Some are better than others, so steer clear from the drama ones, like boy band group cruise pages.
Concert Cruises Are More Expensive Than Regular Cruises.
Ahh, the dreaded costs. These cruises are chartered, meaning the act basically rents the entire boat from the fleet. This means they are allowed to decorate with signage and use areas as they choose, and only sell tickets to the fans. No families (kids 16 and up with a parent are allowed but in my case they are huge fans like their mom!).
For my particular cruises, you can pay even more to have closer seats to the stage for the concert. Cabins on these cruises can range from $699-$3000, plus a $300 booking fee. Food and tea, lemonade and water are included as well as gratuities. The price does not include room service or alcohol. Basically, for what you pay for this experience, you could sail for 7 days anywhere else. But when you are a die hard fan and the experience is beyond amazing, it is worth it.
Unless you buy a suite, the rooms are pretty small but adequate, and you won’t be in them much if you are on a cruise like mine. Between the planned activities and the gobs of friends I have made on these cruises, I never hang out in my cabin.
Things Start To Get A Little Cray Cray Sometimes….
Depending on the band you chose to “vacation” with, things can get a little crazy. On my NKOTB cruises, there are women who’ve never met them, and they get a little over excited. These are grown women who sometimes forget and lose it. When the band comes out on the deck it is normal to erupt in screaming and cheering. When you happen to run into them randomly on the boat, not so much.
There are a bunch of fans who spend the day by elevators blocking paths because they think they might get a selfie. There are actually other passengers on the deck that need to get to their cabins so camping by the hall where the band is kind of makes you look crazy. My advice? DON’T DO THAT. Another group will literally camp by the stage all day long so that they have a spot at the stage at night for the party. WHY spend that much money to stay in one spot all day? ENJOY YOUR VACATION.
If you choose a more calm cruise like a 70’s mish-mash type, you probably won’t run into this problem because the fans will probably be super chill. Just remember to keep your wits about you, don’t try to get attention by acting crazy. Be yourself because you are amazing and that is why people will want to hang with you.
There is a LOT of people packed into one area, so if you have bad social anxiety, this will be a little rough. Here is just a tiny sliver of one spot during the first sail away party-
You Will Not Sleep.
I mean you CAN sleep, but if your cruise is anything like the NKOTB cruise, you should practice living on a few hours sleep. Nobody will force you to stay awake 24 hours a day, but there is a LOT packed into those days. The parties last until sometimes 3 in the morning. If there is an after-party, expect to watch the sun rising before bed. You can sleep in the morning hours, except on the day of your meet and greet. You want to be ready to go and early in line unless you want to spend all day in line waiting. I like to go early and then go to Brunch.
For my cruise, the last night is an all night party, we literally party until we dock. I happen to get 6 hours of sleep before that day hit both cruises I have been on. I also have never been invited to the after-party so I managed a few hours of sleep each night. Between the walking, dancing, and all of the fun you will be exhausted. But the adrenaline rush that comes from meeting a band member randomly in a casino will help keep you going.
It’s not the greatest. There is buffet food and there is dining room food. Dining room takes a long time but they do serve a better meal than what is on the buffet. Brunches on sea days are the BEST. There are many options including sushi and gourmet burgers. Also Vegetarian options. You have to buy the soda package or pay for alcohol unless you can get by with just water or tea with your meal. I don’t drink soda so there is no loss there. Desserts on the cruises are fantastic.
A lot of cruise newbies seem to come into these cruises with a set list of expectations. You get an itinerary when you check into the terminal and you can expect to experience everything they list for official activities. Don’t expect that you will see the band members walking all the halls and shaking hands. Hello, they have tight security (see above about cray cray fans losing their cool).
Also, don’t expect to see the band just pulling up a chair at your dinner. And before you say “I paid XXXX to experience this, they need to give me attention because that is what I paid for”… NO. You paid for an experience that is packed full of stuff and you deserve nothing more. You will get a meet and greet and photo. ANYTHING else is icing on the cake. There is a very high chance you may randomly encounter at least one band member. Just don’t act like a fool and scream, it gives them anxiety.
Musicians are just people. They poop and pee just like you. Most of the concert cruises have bands that have been around for a long time. It is okay to be excited, but we are all too old to act like teenagers and put them on pedestals. Show love, not craziness.
Remember that this is a vacation for everyone, even if the band has to work almost the entire time (yes, they get paid a LOT to participate). Remember that you are one of only 2500 fans that was lucky enough to take this journey. You worked extremely hard and probably made a lot of sacrifices to be on the boat. You deserve to enjoy yourself. Make new friends. Try to treat your cruise as a big fat vacation with your friends, who happen to all love the same band, and having that band with you is just the extra awesome on top of it all. Many fans will never get to experience what you are about to, so ENJOY every moment.
HAVE FUN and DON’T FORGET THE SUNSCREEN!
Safe Sailing to all!