Inspired by a Facebook post from a fellow cruiser that I stumbled upon in one of the MORC pages, I decided to write this blog. The Monsters of Rock Cruise is very special to me. Here’s my story and what Monsters of Rock Cruise has done for me.
When I went on my first Monsters of Rock Cruise, it was about the music. 100%. Discovering the cruise through the Keel website by chance, I was wide-eyed. Bands like Keel, UFO, Y&T, Rhino Bucket and Helix literally shaped my life as it is today. And I’d not seen any of them in live concert before. Well, except Helix, of course, and even that had been but a couple of times. Hell, it was UFO‘s Mechanix album with the opening track “The Writer” that really hooked me into Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. Close behind was Y&T‘s Black Tiger.
I’d been out of touch with “my music” and “my bands” for probably 10 years. All thanks to some extremely unsupportive and rather abusive friends at the time. By chance, I saw a concert announcement for Saxon in Toronto on their Call to Arms tour and decided to go. Solo I might add. The experience enlightened not only the concert addiction in me but the music bug as well. My first concert in over 10 years. Enter the wonder of the internet…who knew it was capable of more than porn?
In 2012 I discovered that Keel put out an album two years earlier. And began tooling around on their website looking to purchase. I saw the ad banner for Monsters of Rock Cruise. I just knew that I had to be on board! Making the find late in the game there was not a lot of decision time. For probably a week I called up the official MORC site every morning before work and every night before bed. I knew every word on those web pages! Finally, I threw caution to the wind, I bit and bought.
Certainly, I was intolerable to my coworkers in the days leading up to the adventure. Unliveable to my family. My excitement couldn’t be contained. I studied the ship plans, memorized my cabin number and placement in the vessel. I studied the bands. Catching up on old familiars and uncovering new to me gems, I bought a lot of CDs that week!
With the excitement came nerves and fear. You know that electrically excited anticipation of something you want so bad? Never been on vacation solo, nor out of the country alone before. Certainly, I’d never been on a cruise ship. I knew not a soul and that terrified me. Before the ship began to float away from the berth, I met a husband and wife. These two fine folks are among my very best friends today. All thanks to Monsters of Rock Cruise. The whole cruise was everything I dreamed and more. The experience of a lifetime for me. Returning was not a question.
For a more detailed account of my time aboard the MSC Poesia and the inaugural MORC here’s my 2012 MORC Recap.
Subsequent years brought the meeting of more and more folks who would become close friends. It’s thanks to the Monsters of Rock Cruise that I have the circle of friends that I do right here in Toronto. You see, I met folks aboard the ship over the years that also hailed from my home area. It was unthinkable. We attended the very same venues and concerts in the Toronto area, yet we’d never met until MORC! This was the story with more than one of my friends. Hell, there are Toronto friends that I see more on the ship than I do at home! Thanks to MORC, the old and abusive friends are distant memories and I surge forward with a new and strong circle of friends, the common interest of our music bonding us during every step of the way.
One year I started The EH Team and began scouring Facebook pages for Canadians attending the cruise. Having shirts made for our group of Canucks, we made quite a statement aboard ship. The KiLLeR DWaRfS even had EH Team gear! The next year The EH Team more than doubled in size. All of a sudden I had so many Canadian friends from across my home country. In fact, The EH Team has returned this year after a hiatus (I was too busy to get it organized). There are over 20 of us aboard this year showing our Canadian pride as The EH Team Rides Again. If you’re Canadian and want in on the group for the 2019 voyage, let me know!
As the years and voyages went on, my family grew. My rock and roll family that is. It’s worldwide literally. Including folks from places such as the US, UK, Finland, Belgium, Switzerland, Sweden, Australia, Brazil and Germany to name but a few. Now I travel, often to far off destinations, for concert events. And I’m never alone. I don’t even have to send messages that I’m coming, there’s always someone at the festival. And we greet each other with warm hugs and cold beers. I’ve met my cruise family at Rocklahoma, Sweden Rock, Firefest, Hair Metal Heaven, Hellfest……and more!
Coming off the absolute worst year of my life in 2017, I need this cruise. With this being the 8th cruise, I’ve shared my cabin with many different folks throughout the excursions. But the last cruise in 2017 we collected the perfect cabinmates. It didn’t even happen on purpose and trust me I love all those I’ve roomed with, but this four-person combo seems to be the best fit ever. And we’re multi-national (2 Canadians, 1 American and 1 Australian). All folks that I probably would never have known if not for MORC! The laughs we share are indescribable. The kind of laughs until you cry and you’re not even sure why. Random hallway laughter seems to be a key point and something I sorely need right now.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s still about the music somewhere. That’s what brought us all together in the first place. I’ve experienced some of the most thrilling moments of my life thanks to Monsters of Rock Cruise. From lunch with Helix‘s Brian Vollmer, riding in a limo with Keel, Y&T liking my tattoo, meeting Doro, partying with the KiLLeR DWaRfS, hanging out with Tora Tora‘s Anthony Corder, and drinking with Saxon, Keel, and Y&T members. And many more treasured memories. I have shed tears at more than one performance during these cruises. Tears of happiness and joy, mind you.
My focus has shifted a little. The drive to go is less and less about the bands though for me. I’ve seen all but two or three in concert before. Multiple times in many cases. I love all of the bands and the feeling of live music cannot be touched, especially when experienced with your closest family. I will watch as many bands perform as I possibly can. But while it was the absolute burning need to see some of those bands live that first time, now it’s shifted into an absolute burning desire to see my worldwide rock and roll family.
One thing I never cared about is the ports, nor the food on the buffet, nor the drinks. I’ll get off ship no matter where we are. Or stay on if I feel like it at the time. I didn’t take the cruise to visit this port or that port. If I want to do that, I’ll go another time. I’ll eat when I’m hungry, probably too much. I’ve never had an issue with the food aboard any ship or cruise line MORC has set sail on. Although, admittedly some have been volumes better than others. And drinking…well, let’s face it I’m gonna do that (and probably to excess) no matter what you charge me.
After the worst year of my life, I need my family more than ever. I need to be at home, in a place where I’m accepted and belong. They say Disneyland is the happiest place on earth! I say fuck that…MORC is the happiest place on earth! I love you Monsters of Rock Cruise!
To the newbies and first-timers…you WILL have the time of your life! And do say hi if you see me aboard, I’m always happy to expand my family.