Thursday, February 20, 2014

Meister's Monsters of Rock Cruise 2014 #8-There's More to MORC Than Just the Rock


As I sit down to write this week's installment of Meister's MORC 2014 blogs, I've just pressed play on my MORC 2014 playlist, pretty much the only thing I've been listening to for several weeks now in anticipation of this year's upcoming cruise from March 29-April 2. 

Lots of buzz and excitement going on in the Meister's cruise world this week folks.  The days are whiling away as the cruiser created countdown shots are posted each day on the Monsters of Rock Cruise Facebook page indicating just how many days are left until we set sail.  The day that this blog goes live will mark 39 left, a little shorter of a countdown for the Meister and many others as we will be arriving in Miami a few days early to take in everything offered at the pre-cruise activities, MOR sponsored or otherwise.

Last week I covered a little on the bands who are joining me in making 2014 their third annual excursion, this year abandoning our previous vessel, the MSC Poesia and sailing aboard the new Fantasia class MSC Divina (MSC Divina Tour Video).  This new ship is the lap of luxury and holds approximately 1000 more passengers than previously fit on the Poesia.  Even with that extra 1000 capacity the 2014 Monsters of Rock Cruise: Escape to Monster Island has totally sold out and the only way on board now (aside from those small enough in stature to zip themselves inside someone's luggage) is by scouring the Monsters of Rock Cruise: Find a Cabinmate Facebook page in search of someone needing to sell their spot, often due to work commitments or even illness and hope you get lucky!  But even if you do, the deadline for cabin registry switches and adjustments is fast approaching and closes on February 28, 2014!
The bulk of the chatter and excitement this week came as each cruiser received a personal email in their respective inbox's outlining the 2014 drink packages available for pre-purchase for a limited time.  This is a real sign that cruise time is fast approaching and of course has everyone in a stir with newbies flooding the Facebook pages with questions and the veterans answering.......although this old veteran was informed of something that I had been previously unaware of in past cruises as well, you can teach an "old dog" new tricks it seems!  That's what these Facebook pages and groups are all about is the community that makes up MORC helping each other out and of course meeting new friends in the process.  The drink packages are not a mandatory thing by any means, but for those involved in mass consumption of adult beverages it's certainly a great idea.  Even for those less inclined to over imbibe themselves it's recommended to purchase a package and perhaps split with one or more people based on your personal needs.  The drink packages offer a savings over the regular price of drinks and make it easier and quicker at the bars having only to
surrender a ticket for your drink as opposed to handing over your cruise card, having them run it through and then return with a slip for you to sign.  There are two packages offered, each a little different in what it includes, but one has 72 tickets and the lesser one 56.  That might seem like a fair amount for a four day tour, but based on my "running out on the last day situation" last year I'll need more than 72 (hear my liver give that audible groan as it recalls what it went through last year?)!  Who would have thought that you'd drink that much, but when you only sleep a few hours a night and the bars are open round the clock I guess it's easy to rack up the consumption rates, especially if you buy a couple of drinks for band members or friends.

The cruise is great for bringing rockers together in making new friends and here's a great example of that.  Fellow Decibel Geek staff writer Kate Campbell is cruising for the first time in 2014.  She's heard all about it from mutual friends and read my cruise series from last year, but has no idea what she's really in  In the consideration of drink package purchase she queried me on the
inclusion of tequila shots (her beverage of choice), being primarily an imbiber of beer I suggested that she post her question on the MORC Facebook page, an awesome forum for cruisers new and old, and cruisers with the required knowledge would answer her promptly.  From that simple question and the responses that she generated as fellow cruisers chimed in on their love of tequila, within about an hour of asking Kate had created "The MORC Patron Club" on Facebook, an open group for tequila loving cruisers with plans of shot meetings at certain times and places once or twice each day during the cruise!.....How did I get lumped into this group??  Didn't anyone hear me say I'm a beer drinker?  Oh well, I guess I had better take one or two for the team here, sorry liver.

Patron Club is just one of many groups started by cruisers for the voyage and it's great to see Kate getting involved....Another group that's still searching for members is the The "EH" Team created by yours truly for any and all Canadians aboard ship.  We have collected about
 50 "Canadian Cruisers" so far including shipboard performers, The KiLLeR DWaRfS and their tour manager, but we're looking for more!  The hope is to find all (or as many as possible) of the cruisers from Canada and collect for a huge "EH" Team photo, but even if we can't make the photo happen at least it's a great way to meet some of your fellow cruisers from The Great White North.  Many of us in the group have shirts (pictured above) that we had made for the event and will help in identifying fellow Canadians as many of us have only talked via the Facebook group.  We're not the only ones with the idea as somehow I found myself a member of a similar UK group and I've recently seen a group from Sweden posting photos of their team shirts on the Facebook pages.

The team at MOR have been coming up with some theme nights and activities for cruisers to partake in if they wish, also causing quite a stir in the Facebook world as cruisers chime in on their thoughts, good and bad of the planned events.  I for one have not yet experienced many of these theme nights or events in the previous two years, some sound fun and some sound, to me, rather stupid, but I'm there for the rock and to see as many bands as possible.  This year I'm going more for the party with friends although the cruise once again boasts another awesome lineup of rockers.  I'm sure that I will find myself taking in at least some of the events that in past years have included thing's like: Captain Jack's Shotgun Wedding, 80's Prom, Tattoo competition, "So you think you can shred guitar competition", Luc Carl's Drunk Diet Workout among others.  The tattoo competition does sounds interesting being as I'm working on my full sleeve tattoo which depicts a guitar case stickered with the logos of about 30 of my favorite bands, some of which are cruise performers this year and in years past.  I've not heard if it's taking place this year or not and my entrance will depend on two major factors: 1) What band is playing at the same time on a different stage and 2) whether or not the tattoo gets fully completed in time for sailing, which looks doubtful at this point.

While, as i said earlier, I'm not one to participate in much of these events and activities, being there mainly to rock I do think that they are a great idea and offer a ton of variety and change of pace to those cruisers interested in them....who knows maybe I'll find myself at all of them this year.....depends on just what Kate's Patron Group does to

Some events announced for this voyage include:  The Naughty Nighty party and this one certainly has interest, but also an element of danger as if I show up in my boxers everyone is sure to be able to tell exactly what I think of their nighties!  In any case it does bear some degree of investigations, perhaps I'll search out a more suitable attire, some nice boring flannel pajamas that can quickly be discarded should do the trick!  And are the ladies in the photo cruising with us? That could sure change my mind!

Another one that's drawing a ton of comments good and bad is the Miami Vice Theme Night, spawned by our departure switching from the port of Fort Lauderdale to the port of Miami for this new vessel.  We are to dress up like our favorite characters from the iconic 80's show, that's a lot of Crockett & Tubbs look a likes, male and there even anyone else in that show?....Oh wait weren't there lots of hookers?....maybe I should just pop in and see what it's all about, we'll see if there's a band playing and make a game time decision as on the whole this is not for me at all.

Sports team night is also planned for this voyage and again is not my cup of tea shall we say.  Being from Toronto and a fan of Toronto's rival hockey team, The Montreal Canadiens, I have many, many jerseys that I could wear, but to me the object of this cruise is the bands, music and friends.  I can wear my hockey jersey any time, any day that I wish, but I can't always see these bands, many of whom do not make Toronto a regular stop on their touring schedules.  Besides the jersey takes up way more space in my luggage than a rock t-shirt does, so again we'll see how it goes.....maybe a ball cap will worm it's way into the packing. the lovely lady going to be present?

Also planned is Karaoke....since I'm basically tone deaf, I'll sit this one out....but then again with the flowing of booze I may be enticed....bring your ear plugs!

The  "So You Think You Can Shred" guitar competition last year drew a number of viewers and contestants and is on tap again for 
this adventure.  Not being one who possesses the talents and 
abilities associated with the playing of a musical instrument to produce anything other than God-awful noise, I probably won't be attending this either, but sincerely wish all the best and good luck to the contestants.
In support of the Monsters of Rock official charity, The Ronnie James Dio Stand Up And Shout Cancer Fund, MOR has teamed up with the non profit organization to raffle off a brand new Harley Street Glide Special!  That's a real motorcycle folks, not a model or anything......long ride back to Canada if I'm the winner \m/.  The "Monster Harley" has the cruise logo graphics on it and will be presented to the winner by the band of their choice.  Tickets are on sale aboard the ship, but not until we get out into International waters and are extremely reasonably priced considering the estimated worth of the booty!

Each year cruisers take to decorating their cabin doors with "door posters".  There's, I believe anyway, an official contest every year, but I've not noticed the specific winners announced in the past.  I think that this is something that my cabin will partake in on the 2014 cruise.  The planning could however be problematic as there's three of us sharing the cabin, me from Toronto, one from Connecticut and the third from Brasil, so there definitely won't be any getting together meetings to create and construct our door covering, although I could really use an excursion to Brasil right now and escape all this damn snow!  This is an example that I often see posted around from 2012's voyage, so maybe they were the winners that year.  Let's see what I can come up with!

A chat with Graham Bonnet
Definitely this year I will try to get to more of the meet & greets as they are a lot of fun.  Last year I went to one session drawn by the lure of Saxon, one of my all time favorite bands (see the logo in the tattoo up there above?) and had photos taken with Saxon, Helix and Femme Fatale.  You're basically herded through like cattle, get less than a minute on the couch for a quick photo with the band and of course can't have anything signed or much time to chat with your heroes and they're usually rather tired (except the ladies of Femme Fatale who were a bundle of energy even when I got there late in the day), but there's still something fun about the whole thing.  I much prefer the impromptu meet & greets that happen at the bar, buffet, washroom line or just about anywhere else on the massive ship as the band members are interacting and mingling with the cruisers.

Just announced today are two more planned activities with the KISS Jam and Cooking With a Rockstar.  The KISS jam is great in allowing musically inclined cruisers other than those in the shredding contest to be able to play together.  Instruments are provided, but it is also possible to bring your own should you wish to travel with them.  Brush up on your KISS knowledge, there could be surprise guests and being a die hard KISS fan myself, I'll be checking out this event (as a spectator only of

Also on tap is Cooking With a Rockstar which invokes images of fun but also mess as I can definitely see a food fight in the future!  Athena Lee (Femme Fatale), Simon Daniels (Autograph), Taime Downe & Chad Stewart (Faster Pussycat) and Ted Poley & Maz (Ted Poley Band) are all listed as taking part and hosted by Lisa Tirone.  Being a chef/cook by trade I am definitely interested in this event as well, but we'll see what the rest of the performance schedule holds.

So as you can see from this long list, there's so much more to the Monsters of Rock Cruise than just a bunch of concerts on a ship, which is more than enough on its own!  Along with all these events is the friends that you will make from all over the world and the sense of community that this event and genre of music create.  I'm proud to be a part and am sooooo stoked for this year's trip!  Join me next week as I take a look at some of the bands returning for their second voyage.

The Meister ("LIKE" The Meister on Facebook)

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