What's Next for Concerts at Sea

Kid Rock performs for guests on a Sixthman concert cruise onboard the Norwegian Pearl.

Kid Rock performs for guests on a Sixthman concert cruise onboard the Norwegian Pearl.

Music is big business, as evidenced by the strategic relationship between Norwegian Cruise Line and Sixthman, an Atlanta-based company that creates music festivals at sea. Founded in 2001 by Andy Levine, Sixthman has since conducted 67 full ship musical charters for 130,000 guests who spent 600,000 days on vacation at sea.

The concept of combining music with a vacation at sea has been so economically successful that in 2012, Norwegian invested in Sixthman, now a Norwegian subsidiary. Sixthman has many music-themed, full-charter cruises on Norwegian Pearl from Miami. The ship will also host one large Grammy festival “group cruise” this fall.

Well-known musical performers head to sea to meet-and-greet fans, sign autographs, participate in Q&A sessions, perform outdoor concerts and more. Sixthman’s performers range from KISS to Simple Man, from 311 to Kid Rock.

Competitor Carnival Cruise Lines has introduced its own extensive “Carnival LIVE” concert series, with 49 concerts in 2014, some completed, many yet to come. It spreads the concerts out among multiple ships in its fleet.  

RELATED: Carnival Launches Its LIVE Concert Series (VIDEO)

In addition, Carnival’s programs aren’t full-ship charters but regular cruises with special ticketed events featuring the musical artists. The cruise must first be booked and deposited and then the concert tickets can be added for an extra fee.

Some cruises with Carnival LIVE concerts depart from Miami, others from Long Beach, CA, Tampa, FL, New Orleans, LA, or Charleston, SC. Carnival LIVE’s artists range from Chicago to Martina McBride, Daughtry to REO Speedwagon, Olivia Newton-John, Jennifer Hudson and Foreigner.

Concerts on Norwegian

What’s new for Norwegian and Sixthman? Debuting this fall, Grammy Festival at Sea presents “Women Who Rock” featuring Heart, the Indigo Girls, Emmylou Harris, Shawn Colvin, Estelle, Skylar Grey, Joan Osborne and Mindi Abair. This is a group cruise, not a charter; the four-day voyage sails on November 4. Norwegian told Travel Agent it’s expecting about 500 guests to book into this group.

Country-pop fans booking the “This is How We Cruise” voyage on November 8 will have a chance to hear Florida Georgia Line, ACM’s “2013 New Artist of the Year” and “Vocal Duo of the Year.” Other artists who will also perform on this cruise are Nelly, Thomas Rhett, Cole Swindell, The Cadillac Three, Colt Ford, Tyler Farr, Black Stone Cherry, Canaan Smith, Maggie Rose, Russell Dickerson, Clare Dunn, and Jacob Powell.

A “Rock Legends” concert cruise on Royal Caribbean International’s Liberty of the Seas.

A “Rock Legends” concert cruise on Royal Caribbean International’s Liberty of the Seas.

In spring 2015, Sixthman’s longest running music festival, “The Rock Boat XV, The World’s Greatest Floating Music Festival at Sea,” gets under way January 24-28. It’s hosted by Sister Hazel and features Barenaked Ladies, Michael Franti & Spearhead and Will Hoge, along with many other artists for four days of entertainment. Cruisers will sail from Miami to Cozumel, Mexico, on this long weekend getaway. 

Another concert sailing on February 13, 2015, entitled “Train’s ‘Sail Across the Sun’” will include musical performances by Train, Andy Grammer, A Great Big World and The Wailers Band, among others. 

Other options? The “KISS Kruise IV” will sail October 31-November 4, featuring Cheap Trick (pre-party only onboard the ship on October 30), as well as Leogun, Purson, Big Rock Show, Priss and Needeep. “Mad Decent Boat” will set sail November 12 with Diplo, Major Lazer, Flosstradamus, Dillon Francis, Zeds Dead, DJ Snake and Big Gigantic.

On November 16, clients who are Lynyrd Skynyrd fans set sail on the “Simple Man Cruise VIII” with that band, plus Blackberry Smoke, Foghat, Starship featuring Mickey Thomas, Lukas Nelson and P.O.T.R., Drake White and the Big Fire and other artists. In spring, seven more sailings are concert focused. For the full line-up, and to experience the feel of a Sixthman Music Festival at sea with video and other resources, visit www.sixthman.net.

Concerts on Carnival

Carnival LIVE is available on eight Carnival ships this year; next year’s line-up is not yet announced. During a ship’s time at Nassau in the Bahamas, Cozumel, Mexico, or Catalina Island, CA, guests have the chance to see a band or iconic artist perform in a theater venue, and possibly meet the band or artist for a photo.

How does it work? After guests book the cruise, they head to the Carnival LIVE site to purchase concert tickets online; tickets are $20-$40 and a limited number of VIP tickets are available for purchase at $100-$150 each. VIP tickets include artist meet-and-greet, photo opportunity, seating in the first three rows for the concert and a commemorative laminated concert pass.

“The concert tickets are purchased like a shore excursion,” says Jennifer de la Cruz, Carnival’s vice president of public relations. “You can purchase your ticket—regular or VIP package—through the shore excursion portal on www.carnival.com prior to the cruise or you can purchase once onboard. So we find a lot of people book the cruise not even realizing it is a Carnival LIVE cruise and then they get to the ship and buy tickets.” 

But del la Cruz also says the line finds many people who booked the cruise specifically because it is a Carnival LIVE sailing and a number of them have never cruised before—bringing a new audience to the high seas. 

In October, Styx will perform on Carnival Breeze and Carnival Ecstasy, sailing six-day western Caribbean and four-day western Caribbean itineraries, respectively. Trace Adkins performs on a Bahamas cruise of Carnival Fascination in October, plus Carnival Sensation cruises in October and November. LeAnn Rimes is the headliner on the five-day western Caribbean cruise of Carnival Fantasy on October 26.

Sailing from southern California, two Carnival ships will welcome Jewel in concert on November 9 and November 10, while Kansas, Daughtry and REO Speedwagon also perform on multiple Bahamas or western Caribbean cruises through the end of the year.  Among the most popular entertainers on the line-up is Lady Antebellum; the group’s November 16 concert is sold out, but at press time, there was still availability for November 17.

More Music on the Waves

Other cruise lines also welcome star musical performers from time to time, either as charters or large group programs. Royal Caribbean International is hosting rocker Alice Cooper as the headliner of a “Rock Legends” concert cruise on Liberty of the Seas on February 19-23, 2015. While this private charter voyage is sold out, it’s an example of how agencies might partner with an association, local DJ or celebrity client to create their own cruise.

Angela DeDomenico, a CLIA master cruise counselor, certified event planner and Cruise Planners agency owner in Boca Raton, FL, created “Music in mOcean,”, which focuses on theme-based cruises. Its week-long Beatles Brunch Show (a Beatles tribute program) on Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas sets sail February 1, 2015. It is hosted by Joe Johnson and features the music of Beatlemania Live.

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