Sixthman's School of Flip Cup

If I can, let’s take a minute to borrow the words of lyricist, Toby Keith, “Red solo cup, I fill you up, let’s have a party.”  Party. That's the first thing that comes to mind when I see a red solo cup, followed swiftly by the emotions of determination and sometimes sadness. Let me explain.

Flip Cup at Sixthman = a party. Most of us spend months planning what event to play it on while anticipating the excitement we know will surround it. The competitive spirit of the game just really hooks us. However, it’s more than that. It’s a right of passage, part of our hiring process, like our own initiation ritual. There really is only one rule -YOU MUST FLIP TO WIN.

Our company as a whole abides by this cardinal rule. We play this game so much I don’t even have an accurate count of how many beers have been downed or how many cups have been flipped. Since it’s obvious we fancy ourselves experts, let us give you some tips:

1.     The order of your flip cup lineup is the key to your championship. You need a fast flipper to lead you off and a ringer who can pull out a win every time in the face of pressure.

2.     1/3 of your solo cup should be hanging off the table, just enough for you to put the tip of your finger(s) underneath.

3.     The correct number of fingers to use while flipping is up for debate; it’s a tie between 1 and 2, just don’t use your whole hand.

4.     Stay calm.  Stay focused.  Block out the crowd. Don’t even think about looking at the opposing team, just stay focused on the teammate next to you.  Remember to breathe.

5.     Build your teammates up; don’t get angry, you’ve got to be each other’s cheerleaders. Positive reinforcement is what wins!  Plus, no one likes a jerk.

I mentioned sadness in the beginning because as great as we are both individually and together at flip cup, our Sixthman staff team can’t seem to win a game on board against the artist teams. It’s truly a shame, because let’s get serious, it’s part of our job. Regardless, I can promise you if you follow these 5 simple rules, you’ll be a one-flip wonder in no time!  

“I love you red solo cup, I lift you up, proceed to party!”

The Secret Recipe

Have you ever made a New Year's Resolution, and then actually stuck with it for 6 years? Surprisingly, we have. Kind of. 

This blog post was originally published by Sixthman Founder & Chairman, Andy Levine, in May, 2011. The concept of 'Special' is something we identified and embraced when Sixthman first started growing and doing multiple events per year. We actually STILL stick to this list when planning each and every cruise, and hopefully you can think of examples of where you've seen this concept at work during your time at sea with us.

Enjoy reading (or re-reading) the 'secret recipe,' and may your next Sixthman vacation be slathered in Special Sauce. 


Special Sauce

A few years ago when we were presented with the opportunity to take on more cruises, I noticed some hesitation from a few members of the Sixthman team.

I sensed uncertainty, and as a leader I believe the best thing you can do is sniff it out and figure out a way to make it certain one way or the other.

When I asked one particular person what she was afraid of, she said, “I just want it to stay special.” As I dug in with other people, that seemed to be the biggest concern.

So we got a small group of us together to talk about what “Special” means.

The conversation was about vacations and parties we had attended in our lives, and cool elements we observed that made the event memorable. In less than an hour we identified seven checkpoints that must be present for us to be able to deliver Special on a larger scale.  As long as we could do well in these areas, we could grow as much as we wanted.

So here they are…


We want you to feel genuinely invited. Until we can get the artist to knock on your door and say “I’m throwing a party on a boat, would you like to go?” we intend to find creative, tangible ways to connect with you and invite you authentically. E-mail alone is not acceptable.


There are lots of questions to be answered when it comes to planning a vacation, especially one as unique as ours. Our goal is to provide you with all the information you need at your fingertips. What to wear? When to arrive? What documentation to bring? What’s included? Do I have to be able to swim? How to behave if you end up in an elevator with your favorite artist? Along the way we want the “Cruise to Start Now” by engaging you online and offline to introduce you to artists, other guests and our staff.


Life goes on after you book your vacation and sometimes there are months between the time you reserve your cabin and when we actually pull away from the dock. About 45 days prior to sailing, we want to remind you that life is about to get better and it’s time to focus on what lies ahead. Ideally an item arrives in your mailbox or inbox (or both), but it says it’s time to put your shades on because the future is about to get bright!


As soon as you walk on the ship, we make sure that Sixthman is there to greet you with a smile and a high five so you know we have been expecting you, and are so glad you could make it.

Look After

Our goal on board is to be everywhere you turn. If you need a guide, we’ll be there. If you’re lost, confused or frustrated, our team is committed to getting you back on track. Maybe you need help making a memorable proposal to your future wife or wonder why artists prefer to not have flash photography while they are performing or need us to make something right because we didn’t deliver what we promised. We’re always looking for ways to take care of you.


Everyone has his or her own perfect moment on board and we‘re here to set the stage so it can happen. It might be under the stars at night watching a show, or enjoying an afternoon concert by the pool while enjoying a cold beverage with your feet dangling in the water. Whatever it is, we want you to have that moment where you say to yourself “I am where I need to be, with who I need to be with, doing what I need to be doing”.


At the end of the cruise, we are flattered that you trusted us with your vacation and are grateful that you chose to spend your time and money with us. As you walk off the ship, we believe it’s important for you to know that! Maybe it’s a “Bye Five” or a voicemail from an artist that evening or something in the mail the next week that simply says “We appreciate you being with us.”

So here is what we are shooting for…hold us to it!


Moments That Make Life Rock

One of the phrases you'll commonly hear around Sixthman is “moments that make life rock,” and I’ve been lucky to witness a lot of these moments first-hand. I’m proud to admit it’s not just a cheesy slogan… these are real moments in real people’s lives, and it’s fun to set the stage to make them happen. There are thousands of moments like this, and depending on who you ask here at Sixthman, you’ll get different answers when it comes to the favorites. If you asked me on a different day, I’d probably even have different answers!

To date, I’ve spent 216 days aboard 48 events. Out of all of my time at sea, here are my personal favorite top 5 “Moments That Make Life Rock”:

5. The Surprise Wedding – Simple Man Cruise, 2012

It’s fairly safe to say that scoring an invitation to your favorite artist’s wedding is highly unlikely in the real world.

Guests didn’t know it, but Gary and Dale Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd were going to renew their wedding vows on the Simple Man Cruise. And not a simple vow renewal… there was a dress, flowers, a wedding party, a cake, a red carpet, a reception… pretty much a full-blown wedding. Dale even filmed an episode of “Say Yes To The Dress” while in search of the perfect gown for the occasion.  (Watch the full episode.)

She made her grand entrance right after Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Q&A on the Pool Deck, an activity attended by everyone on board, so we knew guests wouldn’t miss out. Needless to say, everyone was shocked and excited to be included in such a personal moment with the band they’d been following for nearly 50 years.


That's the official wedding video Lynyrd Skynyrd released that covers the day’s festivities. Unfortunately the music has been removed, but it still gives you a visual of what happened. Congrats, Simple Man Cruisers! You’re now officially part of your favorite rock star’s home movies. Quite the role reversal, huh?

4. Paraoke with Paramore – PARAHOY! 2014

A 14-year-old singing one of the biggest hits of the day with THE BAND THAT SINGS IT sitting on stage with her? And then knocking it out of the park? That sums up Paraoke, Paramore’s spin on traditional karaoke. Guests called a special phone number and sang their hearts out to audition. The chosen finalists performed a Paramore song live on board, competing for the Paraoke title.

Here’s the winner:

If that wasn’t enough here’s the runner up: 

I still can’t believe the incredible talent we found hidden within our PARAHOY community. This was a first-year event, and it was inspiring to watch the entire crowd support their fellow guests. Our staff had a hard time working this activity… we were in such awe of the contestants.

3. 311 goes incognito - 311 Carribbean Cruise, 2012

The theme night was simply called “Costume Party,” and 311 band members were the ultimate participants. They roamed the ship while wearing full-body black ninja outfits and carrying blinky swords (complete with sound effects). They even entered their own costume contest! No one could see their faces, and they interacted with guests all night without anyone knowing they were partying with their heroes. They revealed their secret afterwards. Kudos, 311 dudes.

2. An impromptu hootenanny with Rivers Cuomo – The Weezer Cruise, 2012

On the last night of The Weezer Cruise 2012, a group of fans wanted to jam together and sing Weezer songs, and they wanted a designated place so they could spread the word among other interested fans. As the Warrior of that cruise, I knew about it, but wasn’t sure if it was actually going to happen, so I worked out a plan with our Production Manager to let them use a small lounge just in case. Turned out, we ended up needing the room I promised them for a last-minute Sixthman meeting but I had no way to tell the Hootenanny group since it was so late in the evening already. We went about our Sixthman-y stuff in the room, and all of a sudden a bunch of Weezer fans and Rivers Cuomo walked in carrying instruments, ready to sing.

I realized what was happening, sprinted to the other end of the ship in search of an available room and was REALLY hoping I could find something open. I stationed a Sixthman person at the door to the original room to send people my way, even though I had no idea where I was going yet. The ship’s Library was empty, so I opened the doors and started rearranging all of the furniture so the chairs, desks, and tables were arranged around the entire perimeter of the room. (Fun fact: Cruise ship furniture is EXTRA heavy, since it’s made to withstand swaying.) Right when I was done re-arranging, the parade of Weezer fans found me and entered the room, already singing. Rivers was still with them, and everyone sat in the Library singing Weezer songs for HOURS. We bought buckets of beer for everyone, and the empty buckets quickly turned into drums. There were actually people crying because they were so ridiculously happy. It was such a bizarre, organic and amazing moment. And the lead singer of everyone’s favorite band was in the room, absorbing every last bit of it.

Were we any good? No way. (To be fair, we started strong. But once it dwindled down to a few of us left at 4:00am, the drinks were all gone, we could barely keep our eyes open, and you could probably classify us as terrible.) We just didn't want it to end. I’ve never felt so connected with a group of people I’ve only known for 4 days. And an all-Weezer song Hootenanny in a Library? Can you BE more appropriate? (Read that in your best Chandler Bing voice.)

I never made it back to that Sixthman meeting by the way… #sorrynotsorry

1. Wideawake in the Atrium -  The Rock Boat, 2006

You really had to be there, because nothing I type will ever live up to it.  But here’s a picture, which is hanging up in the Sixthman office to this day.

Attempted Explanation: It started raining outside, so the afternoon shows needed to move indoors. Brand new TRB band, Wideawake, had to move their outdoor set to the Atrium on the fly. There wasn’t even a real stage there, and we had never used the atrium as a venue. But the show went on, and when they sang “Not So Far Away,” you could barely hear the band over the crowd singing every word. Wideawake was playing their first Rock Boat ever, in a venue that had seemingly been created out of thin air. It was pretty incredible, and the expressions on everyone’s faces (band and guests) were those of pure joy and complete amazement. I wish there was a way to capture the energy we all felt that day, because it was absolutely electric. This video can help you visualize the setting, but it still doesn’t do it justice. (It was filmed on the same Rock Boat, but covers a repeat performance of the same song during the finale on the last night, rather the original rainy day performance.)

So, what’s next? That’s up to you! Cheers to many more of these moments in Sixthman’s future – and in yours. I can’t wait to experience them right alongside you.



Hello World.

Hi. We’re Sixthman.

You may know us as the company behind all those cool festivals at sea. But in reality, we’re much more than that. We’re a group of about 40 people from completely different walks of life with the passion and drive to turn crazy ideas into reality. We’re a small company, so all of us tend to have a hand in almost every single event we produce, giving us the ability to collectively learn and share our experiences with you.

Our staff is what makes each event “uniquely Sixthman,” and we invite you to read about us. We’ll write from land and sea about our guests, our artists, ourselves, our ups, our downs, our dogs, our quirks and our ideas. Prepare to learn, laugh, and most importantly, LIVE LOUD. 

The Sixthman Team, Spring 2016. Photo provided by Will Byington.

The Sixthman Team, Spring 2016. Photo provided by Will Byington.