by Erik Tweedy
Staff Writer –
Monsters of Rock Cruise Recap: Cinderella, Tesla, Night Ranger and UFO Headline Festival Party at Sea – February 25 – 28, 2012
The first annual Monsters of Rock cruise kicked off with a huge pre-party on land in Ft. Lauderdale Florida, February 24th with veteran hard rockers Kix and the Van Halen tribute band Atomic Punks performing at the big party house known as Exit 66. The sold out audience was in full party mode in anticipation of setting sail the next night on the MSC Poesia for a 3 night music festival celebrating the decade of the ‘80s and the hard rock musicl scene. First up were the Atomic Punks who ripped through plenty of Van Halen classics from the early David Lee Roth era and had the crowd whipped into a frenzy. Kix continued the barrage as they opened their set with “No Ring Around Rosie” and stormed right on through several well known Kix classics like “Girl Money, “Cold Shower”, “Get It While Its Hot”, “Cold Blood”, “Blow My Fuse”, “Don’t Close Your Eyes” and “Midnight Dynamite”. Kix was the perfect band to get this festival started and kudos to the cruise organizers for putting on such a great event for the fans to enjoy before boarding the ship. There were plenty of drinks flowing, fists in the air and celebrity sightings who too appeared to be big fans of Kix.
Saturday morning came all too early for those that took in the pre-party at Exit 66, but, such is the life of a headbanger. The arrival area at Port Everglades was full of energy and about every black band t-shirt imaginable. Excellent people watching made the time in line go by fast and before too long all of us rockers were being led like cattle up the ramp and on board the ship to get settled into our cabins. Once onboard the MSC Poesia, it feels a lot like a Las Vegas casino that just happens to be floating. There’s multiple bars, multiple music venues, pools, sun decks and yes, even a full casino. With approximately 2,500 passengers on board, the ship was stocked with supplies and readied for a 3 night party on the Atlantic ocean.
As the horn bellowed at 7:00PM and the Poesia pulled away from the dock, the party had already begun in different locations around the ship as concerts by Tesla, Black and Blue and Faster Pussycat were under way. Up on the pool deck, Tesla took the stage for the “Sail Away” concert and performed in front of a sea of black shirts as the ship set sail towards Key West and an all night party under the stars. With 24 bands and more than 40 scheduled performances, it was hard to imagine how the organizers were going to be able to pull this off, but they did it in fine fashion.
In celebration of the annual iconic Monsters of Rock music festival that began in 1980 and originally held at the Castle Donington race track in England, cruise organizers set up the festival in much the same fashion as the original. With a festival roster loaded with some of the top bands from the MTV era, including Cinderella, Tesla, Night Ranger, Stryper and Kix, the Monsters of Rock crowd had plenty to choose from. With many of the bands playing multiple shows during the cruise, it was left to the cruisers to create their own schedule of bands they wanted to see. With band schedules overlapping at multiple locations and 2 major ports of call in Key West and Nassau Bahamas, most hotel rooms the night before resembled war rooms as cruisers worked through the logistics to create the ultimate schedule.
As day 1 rocked into the night, cruisers were treated to shows by Cinderella, Bang Tango, XYZ, Faster Pussycat, Keel, Firehouse, Y&T and acoustic shows by Eric Martin, John Corabi and Flametal. After the shows had ended for the night, the partying continued in the various bars, the pool deck and the disco. There was so much to do on board the Monsters of Rock cruise it left little time for sleep.
As dawn broke on the Atlantic for day 2 of the cruise, the ship pulled into port in Key West and gave cruisers a chance to check out the Southern most point in the United States. With an atmosphere much like the French Quarter in New Orleans, Key West is all about the party and they welcomed cruisers with open arms, cold beer and fruity mixed drinks at many of the local hot spots like the Flying Monkey, Captain Tony’s and Sloppy Joe’s..
Once back aboard the ship, it was another night of rocking out and partying with a schedule that included new shows by Night Ranger, Kix, Helix, Rhino Bucket, Ted Poley (Danger Danger), Bill Leverty (Firehouse), DC4, Motley Inc., Built By Stereo and additional shows by Cinderella, Y&T, Firehouse, Eric Martin and John Corabi. The final show of the night was a monster jam in the Zebra Lounge featuring George Lynch and an all-star cast that included, Brad Gillis, Frank Hannon, John Corabi, Oz Foxx, Scott Coogan, Robbie Crane and many others. It was an amazing way to end the 2nd night of the cruise as the ship sailed towards the Bahamas.
The friendly island community of Nassau Bahamas pulled many cruisers off the ship and into the local shops for a quick day of shopping and a stop over at Sharkeez and Senor Frogs. The more adventurous cruisers chose to hit the beaches of Paradise Island for a day of sun, surf and sand. For those cruisers that made it back to the ship early, they were treated to a blistering show by Christian rockers Stryper who put on one of the top performances of the cruise. Another full slate of shows for day 3 ensured the festive group aboard the Poesia would be rocking well into the night.
Fans of Night Ranger and Tesla were treated to terrific acoustic shows and British rockers UFO set the pool stage on fire with their blazing set of classic rock tunes. As the sun began to set on the final night of the cruise, AC/DC inspired rockers, Rhino Bucket put on another blistering set in the Zebra Lounge as Bang Tango and Faster Pussycat shook things up in the Pigalle Lounge. You could hardly find a spot onboard the Poesia where there wasn’t music playing. XYZ, Keel, Built By Stereo, Odin and Black and Blue all put on great shows throughout the day and the finishing touch was put on by Lynch Mob who killed it on the main stage in the theater to close out the night and the inaugural Monsters of Rock Cruise.
As the ship reached its final destination back in Ft. Lauderdale Florida, the buzz had already began for Monsters of Rock cruise 2013 as cruise organizers have already announced 7 bands with many more to come. This first year festival had its share of issues with overlapping schedules, late performances and a few technical issues, but the great time had by all those in attendance, including the bands, far out-shined any of the negatives. Early bird sign-up has already started for MOR 2013, so if you are thinking about going, you can hold your cabin for only $99. Bands announced so far are Tesla, Y&T, KIX, Helix, Great White, XYZ and Enuff Z’ Nuff. The cruise is expanding to 4 nights and the destination ports have not been finalized yet, but one thing is for sure, it will be bigger and better in 2013, which is going to be hard to do as the Monsters of Rock cruise of 2012 kicked ass!