ShipRocked Cruise 2019 hits the high seas, on Saturday [January 26, 2019] on the Carnival Valor for its 10th anniversary. This year’s theme is straight out of the wild west as the cruise head out from the Port of Galveston, TX and visits the beautiful Mexican Riviera with stops in Cozumel and the Yucatan.
Headliners on the boat include some of radio rock’s heavy hitters and returning ShipRockers Papa Roach, Sevendust, Nothing More, Nonpoint, and Wilson. It’s also the first time for Welsh rockers Bullet For My Valentine, rock, reggae act Skindred, hardcore band Suicidal Tendencies and many more.
The Travel Addict will be onboard to enjoy non-stop rock for five days and also visit some of the world’s most beautiful sites in Mexico. Alan Koenig is the festival founder and we were able to catch up with him to preview this year’s cruise and talk about the ten-year history of the hard rock festival at sea.
Koenig talks about his background in the music industry, what inspired the cruise, some of his favorite moments on ShipRocked over the years and much more. Check out The Travel Addict’s exclusive interview with ShipRocked music cruise founder Alan Koenig below:
What inspired you to create ShipRocked?
I was an artist manager for over 13 years. One of the artists I worked with was Vince Neil of Motley Crue. For over a decade I ran his charity golf tournament in California and for six years a charity poker tourney in Las Vegas. In 2006 we decided we’d do a cruise (appropriately titled Vince Neil’s Motley Cruise), which sailed in 2007 and 2008.
Also, in 2003 I’d won a trip to England for a private Peter Gabriel concert at his recording studio. I’m a massive fan. There were 100 people from all over the world, a meet and greet before the show, etc. But honestly, the best part of the trip was just sitting and visiting with the other fans after the concert, talking about our lives, our love of Peter’s music and music in general. Working in the music industry you can sometimes become a bit jaded, but that trip really renewed my passion and joy for music and made me feel like a part of that (non-industry) community again.
Flash forward to Vince’s cruises and I saw that same dynamic happening amongst his community of fans. So, having realized over time that I loved producing events, and desiring to find a way to bring communities of music fans together, I took a leap of faith and started my company ASK4 Entertainment in late 2008 and launched the ShipRocked cruise.
There are more and more music cruises each year, what sets ShipRocked apart from the others?
I think it’s all because of the incredible ShipRocked [SR] community – really more a family – of guests we have joining us on board every year. Rock bands and their fans have always felt a bit like “outsiders” (for a lack of a better term) in the larger popular/contemporary music world, and I think that really helps to bring them closer together. These are “core audience” fans and they invest a lot of their time and money supporting the music they love – buying and not just streaming the music, attending shows, buying the merch – which makes them one of, if not the most intensely loyal fan base of any music genre.
What is the process to select the lineup each year?
Booking bands is a process to be sure, especially as the live music industry changes from year to year. That said we are blessed to have an amazing talent buyer (Roger LeBlanc of Madison Entertainment) working hand in hand with us, and I truly believe we’ve assembled some of the most amazing lineups ever, by land or sea!
SR’s lineup has never been beholden to generation or sub-genre, as I believe is evidenced in the variety of artists we’ve had on board over the last nine years. We always endeavor to thread together a mix of great live hard rock, harder alternative, metal, and punk music, and offer fans a little bit of everything.
We always start with our guest surveys following each cruise. We work hard to bring on the bands that SR guests want to see the most, in addition to others who we think they’ll love. Headliners typically come first, though we’ve had a few years where mid-level acts and undercards locked in earlier.
Most first time SR bands are excited about joining us, but some are understandably apprehensive given the very different and unique nature of the event. So we spend a fair amount of time doing our best to educate them (and their managers/agents) on how our little vacation works. As a former artist manager (and with other former managers on my team) we are very careful to make sure that all of our artists have a comfort level about doing the cruise, and know that we’ll take great care of them. They’re our guests too!
Do you have a favorite ShipRocked performance moment over the 10 years?
My most memorable is probably Broken Teeth in 2009. It was the first show of ShipRocked and the culmination of all the work I’d done to launch the cruise. Also, they kicked ass.
Other personal standouts include Queensryche doing Mindcrime in full on 2011, Hellyeah’s first appearance in ’11, the whole top line in ’12 (how the hell did we pull that off), Richard Patrick of Filter’s seemingly endless body surf on ’12, all of Living Colour shows during 14 and 15, Wilson’s atrium show and Sevendust’s acoustic set on ’14, Zakk Wylde doing the National Anthem to launch ’15… There are too many!
ShipRocked turns 10 this year, how do you see it evolving in the future?
Oh, we have some plans! Can’t reveal much, but we’re excited to keep growing, see where the music takes us, and enjoy the ride!
What is your favorite port of call?
The next one! Honestly, I love anywhere that has some sun, sand and clear blue water. But I won’t turn down the chance to go to Grand Cayman ever, it’s one of my favorite places we’ve been.
Are there any dream travel destinations on or off the ship?
As much as I wish we could go further south in the eastern Caribbean to places like Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, etc. it’s just not possible on a 4-5 day cruise. But there are still plenty of ports we haven’t been, and we’re doing what we can to get there soon! Off the ship I would really love to spend some time in Australia – always wanted to go, but haven’t yet.
With each year artists collaborate on the cruise including all-star jam sessions with The Stowaways, any dream collaborations that would like to see one day onboard?
We started the Stowaways as a way to further encourage and nurture that collaborative spirit between the artists, and I think it’s worked out very well. There is just something truly special that happens when a band brings someone to join them on stage. I could sit here and tell you who I wish would collaborate with who, but some of those that have occurred throughout the years were ones I couldn’t have dreamed up. I love the surprise!
Which band would you like to vacation with the most off the ship?
There are too many to make a single choice. I’ve truly enjoyed getting to know so many of the musicians in the bands we’ve had over the year, and would kick back on a beach or travel the world with any of them!
Are there any surprises in store on this year’s addition of ShipRocked?
Well, if I told you it wouldn’t be a surprise!