Sail, Sail, Rock’n’Roll – Why Floating Festivals Are Booming

Bored of music festivals? Tired of being on land? Hot for the idea of having a crazy golf course and a portion of crab claw within spitting distance? It’s time to go on a rock cruise!

Earlier this week, Weezer announced the “Weezer Cruise”, where the band – along with the likes of Dinosaur Jr and Sebadoh – perform across four stages on a (possibly) plaid coloured ship.



Before you ask, “What’s grunge for ‘Where’s are the lifeboats, please?’”, it turns out that more and more bands are abandoning the comfort of warm beer and land-based rock thrills for the chance to do the Winslet/DiCaprio bear hug on a soggy deck to a banging soundtrack.

There are package, themed ones like the Classic Rock cruise, headlined by ZZ Top (Florida to the Bahamas for £1238), the Best VH1 Cruise Ever featuring the dreary likes of Train (Tampa to Mexico for £434) and Rombello with late 90s stoner faves Michael Franti and G.Love & Special Sauce (Florida to Mexico for £309).

Or you could go for one-band headliners like the New Kids On The Block Cruise (Miami to Nassau from £434) or hop on the Kiss “Kruise” (Miami to Nassau again for a bargain £296). There are no shortage of options. But why, for the love of Captain Jack Sparrow, are so many bands embracing this new phenomenon?


“Ships are the perfect venue to build an immersive music fan experience where everyone eats together, hangs out by the pool together and rocks out to shows together,” explains Andy Levine from Sixthman (responsible for the Weezer and Kiss cruises).

“Being on the ship adds to the adventure and magnifies the like-mindedness factor because everyone is there for the same reason,” continues Levine. “On land, unless you buy out the entire resort, it’s not as pure an environment. The ship also forces people to disconnect from the world of phone, internet, and facebook, allowing them to be fully present.”

Which, depending on how you look at it, is either musical nirvana or like being marooned on some musical Guantanamo Bay, trapped in a confined space with a bunch of bozos whose fan forum names are things like “Deadgirlsdontsayno81”.

Also, we’ve seen Dead Calm and enough Behind The Musics to wonder what happens when you get that many hardcore fans so close to their idol. Don’t things get a bit “stabby”?

Andy Levine doesn’t think so. “The ship is a floating city,” he says, “and the band’s time is balanced between hanging with fans, hanging with other bands that are playing with them, and private time. Most of the guests who attend these events already have the autograph and the photo and have a genuine respect for the band; that reduces the likelihood of incidents.”

Well, we’re sort of convinced. With average prices round £500 per person for a double cabin, it works out as a little bit more than your usual international festival. But not that much more. And think of all the fun to be had. Just don’t tell Jane McDonald.