Punk rock is not dead …it's just retired and taking cruises


Best South African cruise blog

When I found out what ship I was coming to, and realised it’s one of the ones that does charter cruises, I googled it to see if any would happen during my contract. Sure enough, one was scheduled for this past weekend: A punk rock charter: Flogging Molly’s Salty Dog Cruise.


Years ago, I worked for a different cruise line as a groups coordinator. Apart from organising weddings and private functions, I took care of groups. They would come cruise for different reasons. There were Rotary groups that came to cruise to discuss how they could raise money for the poor (while spending a lot of it), the cyclists who wanted to ride their bikes in port everyday, and the high school marching bands that came to perform (standing still). There were also at least two groups of Elvis impersonators and their 60+ aged all female fans as well as another group of people who just wanted to dress up like pirates all week. Mostly they were small groups, with minimal activities except for Aquafest (a GLBT cruise with theme parties every night), and Goth Cruise 2009 (the very dark highlight of my groups coordinator career). 

In my two contracts in that job, I never had to deal with any charter cruises which is when these groups are so big they book out the entire ship. I did, however, narrowly avoid two: A nude cruise and a swingers cruise. This was probably a good thing as had my career started earlier, it might have ended almost immediately. My second cruise with my current company was my first experience of a full-ship charter: A Latin dance cruise. Apart from a lot of not so basic Latin dance classes (that I would really appreciate now that I know how to dance a bit), there was also a performance from some Latin Grammy Award nominee who I had never heard of, and have not heard of since. 

When I found out I would be joining this ship in time for this charter and that The Offspring (and a whole lot of other punk rock bands I had never heard of) would be playing, I was excited! I was the only one. I was also a little surprised that people still listen to this type of music in 2018, but mostly excited. No one in my team had ever heard of The Offspring. I’m going to assume it’s because they’re mostly from Asian or Caribbean countries, and it has nothing to do with the fact that they’re all in their twenties and I’m not. 

From the moment the guests arrived on board, it was clear that this cruise was not going to be like the others. Members of the entertainment department were on standby to welcome them as we do (with Ellie Goulding music, awkward!) and then after that it was the job of the organisers to take care of the entertainment. So we disappeared into the walls in shame and made ourselves scarce.

The demographics of the guests onboard was definitely different from what we’re used to. Judging from the people at my muster station during the safety briefing on the first day (a mandatory little cruise tradition), the average age of guests seemed to be between the ages of 31 and 43. There were a few in their twenties, three whole kids (that I saw), and, considering some of the bands formed in the 80s (like The Vandals), quite a number of codgers came along as well. Some of them looked like our normal clientele - just wearing a little bit more black and skulls, and with longer beards than usual.

Highlights included: 

Punk Rock Karaoke

As the company planning the cruise was in charge of their own entertainment, we were told that we would be doing very little. First, we were told we were going to be on standby for coffee runs for the bands. I was quite excited about that. That didn’t happen. On the first day, apart from the safety briefing, the only thing else on my schedule was karaoke. I was scheduled to host normal karaoke. ‘Punk Rock karaoke’ however, was scheduled in a different location at a different time. At first, I wasn’t entirely sure whether or not “punk rock karaoke” was, in fact, actual karaoke or the name of a band. (There must be a band by that name somewhere.) It was, in fact, actual karaoke. (I think I owe someone a Twix for losing that bet.) Then, at the last minute, the organisers realised that they wanted to use the karaoke/sushi bar (I love how this ship has these two Japanese-themed things in a Hawaiian-themed lounge) as a dressing room / equipment storage area that they could still order sushi from for the “stars”, so they cancelled normal karaoke.


A floating tattoo parlour

Other people were scheduled to help out at the tattoo parlour. Yes, an actual tattoo parlour, with real needles. No one has time (or room) for henna on this ship! I was hoping that I could assist with that and hopefully convince an artist to let me have a go on a guest drunk enough to consent. There is always free unlimited alcohol on this ship, so how hard could that be? The seas were a bit rough so I’m wondering just how much less-than-perfect body art was created this weekend. Probably not the best conditions to get inked. 

Skateboarding 

Funniest South African cruise travel blog

Yup, they built a half-pipe on the basketball court. I didn’t watch too much of that but I do wonder how many people just stood on their boards and let they ship do the work? 

And obviously, the music

I went to see some of the bands. It was basically the same four chords (sometimes only three) and the same beat for three days, which sounds like I’m being critical, but I mean that in a good way. It was like a nostalgic thing. I really enjoyed that kind of music (almost twenty years ago). The Irish punk bands were a bit different in that they incorporated fiddles. I think that’s the difference between “Irish punk” and “punk”, as almost everyone in the “Irish Punk” bands, from what I could gather, were not Irish, with the exception of one guy in the headlining Californian “Irish” punk band Flogging Molly. And don’t even get me started on Celkilt, the kilt-wearing “Irish” punk band from France that featured not just the fiddle, but the bagpipes too. Obviously. (In their defence, their punk version of My heart will go on was awesome!) The highlight for me (apart from all the time off), was getting to see The Offspring live in concert. I can't believe they’re still together. I also can’t believe they didn’t play Pretty Fly for a White Guy, especially when even they acknowledged that there wasn’t a single recognisable song in their first set. But, I am really glad they came to visit and I’m glad I got to see them. The 17-year-old version of me would be impressed. 

Flogging Molly's Salty Dog Cruise

Punk Rock theme cruise
The Offspring

Yup, that was last night! The punks disembarked this morning. The punk music that we eventually started playing in the background music throughout the ship has been replaced with Cuban salsa now and a whole lot of old white people are boarding as I post this, so we can take them to Havana tomorrow. Just another day in the office, I guess.

Other music-themed cruises happening this year (on other ships) include:

Monsters of Rock (A heavy metal cruise) 
Steinway cruise (classical music)
The Backstreet Boys cruise (self-explanatory) 
Super Sokkie Cruise (Off the coast of South Africa. No one else knows or cares what ‘sokkie’ is, and that’s okay)

There’s also:

A Star Wars cruise (Disney)
A Marvel cruise (Also Disney)
A Beauty and the Beast cruise (Not Disney- what?)
A Star Trek cruise (With stars onboard)
The Walking Dead cruise (With stars onboard)
A Dr Who cruise (With stars onboard)
A Harry Potter cruise (On the Thames river - no stars onboard but it visits shooting locations)

And even:

An O Magazine cruise (like an Oprah cruise without Oprah)
The New York Times Transatlantic Crossing (A crossword puzzle cruise)
A Book of Mormon cruise (as in the religious book, not the musical)
A “Glory on the Glory” cruise (with guided meditations, astrology classes and tarot card reading) 
A Packers cruise (with the Greenbay packers - Stars from the football team)
And let's not forget: Chris Jericho's Rock N Wrestling Rager

So if punk rock isn’t really your thing you have other options.


In other news:

I had something resembling a weekend!
As I mentioned, I didn’t really have to work much this weekend. After the safety briefing on the first day, I watched the ship sail out of the port of Miami because I’ve always wanted to do that and never had the chance before. Normally, I’m dancing at a sail-away party at that time. After that, I avoided guest areas because I could, and after having to deal with those punks during the safety briefing, I wanted to be away from them. 

Port of Miami
Sail-away

Rodrigo and I returned to Key West
This ship normally goes between Miami and the Bahamas on the weekends, and Miami, the Bahamas and Cuba during the week. I haven’t been to Key West since I was a groups coordinator in 2010 and probably won't be going there again any time soon. That place hasn’t really changed, except the “Southernmost Point of Continental USA” has a much longer queue for photos. I didn’t join it. That’s why there are so many people in the background in this picture:

Travelling lawn flamingo

Rodrigo made Cuba his 53rd country
Since we joined this ship, Rodrigo and I have visited Havana twice. And people have asked me for Rodrigo twice. It is an incredible place, but yeah, a little “off”. I’m not really sure how to describe it.
I also checked off “Dance salsa in Cuba” from my bucket list. I’m going to have to update it now. Apparently, there is also a unicorn-themed island in Asia somewhere. I will be adding that as well now, obviously. (I love that I get tagged in every unicorn meme on the internet!)
I will definitely write a blog on Havana, just as soon as I figure out exactly how I feel about it. 

Travel mascot in cuba



5 cruises down, 47 more to go
Number of consecutive hours of sleep I got the day before yesterday: 9. That’s a record!


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Sharon Waugh

Sharon is a writer, cruise ship entertainment host and freelance unicorn wrangler. She is currently taking a break from her seafaring adventures to explore some more landlocked locations from her homebase in Johannesburg, South Africa. She likes to photograph a plastic lawn flamingo 'Rodrigo' on her travels because it seemed like a good idea ten years ago and 53 countries later, it’s probably too late to turn back now.

 Sharon greatly dislikes reading 'travel blogs' by people who are just rephrasing press releases or composing lists like '15 ways to travel the world for cheap', specifically formulated for SEO, with absolutely no evidence that the writers have ever left their bedrooms. (This is not one of those blogs.) Sharon also dislikes bigotry and referring to herself in first person, apparently.

To find out more about Sharon and Rodrigo’s travel aspirations read this.

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