My First Sixthman Advance

With a solid two months of Sixthman life under my belt I was beginning to feel like I was finally getting the hang of life in my new gig. I had my morning commute down to a tight 12 minute ride, was chiming in on all the fun Slack channel conversations, and more importantly I was establishing supportive and loving relationships with the office dogs. But one aspect of Sixthman life was still looming – The Advance. Ever since my first day at Sixthman I knew The Advance was as important to Sixthman as Kanye is to Kanye. I’d had it on my calendar within the first minute of signing my contract, this was clearly THE event of a Sixthman summer.

For those of you who are like, “Okay, congrats on the new dog friendships, but what is an advance- I’m just trying to find more info on drink packages!?” Let me explain. The Advance is a three day, two night team building and bonding trip for Sixthman employees at Lake Lanier to reset before heading into cruising season. While some of you might think that sounds like a “work retreat” you’re totally and completely wrong because at Sixthman we don’t retreat, we ADVANCE!

The Advance proved to be every good thing I hoped it would be and more! I laughed, I cried, I learned and by the end of it quite a few people called me the F-word… FRIEND! So without further ado are my favorite moments from The Advance:

1.     Beach Party:

The day started with the Sixthman Olympics, where we tested new games to bring onboard Sixthman cruises. Not to risk any sailing spoilers, but baby masks, whipped cream, and a simulation egg laying contraption were all in the mix. From there we were treated to a delicious Mexican dinner and I watched a Sixthman beach volleyball game so intense Misty May herself would have had to tap out! But my favorite part of the night was when all my new coworker pals and I pulled chairs around a big beach bonfire, filled up our drinks and just hung out!

2.     Captain’s Dinner:

With everyone decked out in their crisp captain’s shirts we were all treated to a decadent dinner on a picturesque dock. We had four long tables set in the shape of a huge square so everyone was in each other’s view and before we were allowed to eat we had to play the biggest game of flip cup I’d ever seen-  it was awesome!

Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 2.32.46 PM.png

3.     Sixthman Solves Sessions:

Contrary to what the past two moments express we actually did a lot of thought-provoking and productive team building exercises at The Advance and my favorite was being part of a Communication and Care Breakout Session. In this breakout session we were split into groups and prompted with communication based dilemmas to find solutions for. Being able to express real and honest opinions, and have actual input to the interdepartmental communications of the company made me feel heard and cared for by our Leadership team. Exercises like this helped me hone into how much of a collective effort Sixthman life truly is.

4.     Letters from my family:

During The Advance we stayed in adorable cabins on Lake Lanier that were stocked with snacks, drinks and my favorite part- a packet of letters from my family. Each person was given a packet of letters from their family, friends and other important people in their lives – it was such a touching and kind gesture that said so much about the values at Sixthman. It made me feel so happy to be a part of a group of people who value sentimental gestures and understand how to make their people feel special and remembered.   

5.     The Roadhouse:

Have you ever gotten such a nice compliment you started crying? Have you played the floor is lava in the past two months nay past two years?  Well I have, thanks to the Roadhouse. The Roadhouse was the party palace, The Advance’s hot spot, the most popular dorm… it just had that it factor … and by it factor I mean lots of snacks and even more booze. Nighttime dance parties, philosophical porch table debates and even watching grown men take “shots” of easy mac cheese powder defined the Roadhouse and reaffirmed why I was so excited to be a part of this crazy fun group!

The SXM Staff and their families on 'Family Day'

The SXM Staff and their families on 'Family Day'

 

 

 

 

BEARSTUFF

Here at Sixthman, there's a term that has been in use for a while:

What does it mean?
Well, my name is Bear and it’s a way to describe the things that I do!

sunsetbear

Where to start? I joined Sixthman in 2009, first as a Production Assistant, then as a full time Ninja and Host Ambassador. My wise and visionary leader, Joy, noticed that the various things I did had value and were important to the company. She challenged me to find a way to make a difference by doing BEARSTUFF. (All caps. One word.)

My mission became clear: Do everything in my power to make sure our guests have the best time possible. I took this on as a personal crusade. In an effort to define what BEARSTUFF is, here are examples of a few things I do: 

On land, I'm on the phones/chats/emails 10am-6pm, Monday-Friday, with one purpose: Make our guests feel special, informed, excited and ready for the best vacation possible! That could mean anything from helping a family work out a payment plan due to some unforeseen hardship, to empathizing with a guest whose favorite band is missing from the lineup. I've even explained geography and math to everyone from PHDs to Bank Tellers, and I've spent 57 minutes describing every possible detail of the buffet line. That's BEARSTUFF.

Here's a list of various scenarios which come across my desk on the ship:
(Just kidding about that desk... you'll never - ever - see me sitting at a desk when sailing.)

  • Coordinate a 50th birthday celebration for a 16 time grandmother on Sail Across The Sun
  • Find a place for a F#@K Cancer meet up on Kid Rock Cruise
  • Send a bottle of champagne and roses to a newly wed couple on Outlaw Country Cruise
  • Send a note and treats to new parents on PARAHOY
  • Help EVERYONE win big on the craps table on Cayamo or any of our cruises for that matter . . . BEARSTUFF.

But there's more! BEARSTUFF is never over. I might tell a kid on The KISS Kruise where he should stand so that he might be able to bump into Paul. I once gave a Keeping The Blues Alive at Sea guest advice on which tequila store is the best on the strip in Cozumel and then went with them to do quality control. Football fans who need to keep informed of their scores while we are away, know where to find me. After a particularly jam packed day spent hosting Q and A's, flip cup tournaments, and manning a shift at the info desk, I sat with a Rock Boater who just lost their mother and watched an amazing sunset. Yup, BEARSTUFF.

BEARSTUFF works for my Sixthman family too. I want to play my part to help our whole team do what they do best: MAKE YOUR VACATION AMAZING. That means taking time to listen and personally study ALL of the good, bad, and ugly, translate all the facts and figures to graphs, charts, and actions designed to help make us the BEST and then EVEN BETTER. 

To wrap it up, its the little touches with big results. Just help out however you can because, why not? When we all go above and beyond just because . . . we ALL do BEARSTUFF. 

 

Sixthman Julie’s Guide To New Orleans

Eight out of our upcoming twelve cruises will be heading out to sea from the Port of New Orleans, and I couldn’t be more excited to spend time in my beloved old stomping grounds. Not only am I a proud Tulane grad and former resident, I can also credit the historic city with setting the stage for meeting my husband during a post – Hurricane Katrina service project.

Sure, you can - and should - research the best bars and restaurants when you're planning your trip. There are a ton of "Best Of" lists and websites out there, and I encourage you to use those and go with anything that tickles your fancy -- you truly can’t go wrong! But below is straight from a Sixthman source (so you know I know how to have fun!) that visits frequently enough to still consider herself a local. This is not a Top 10 list. This list includes my nostalgic favorites, some new-to-NOLA highlights, and everything in between. I’m here to share MY New Orleans with you - where to go, what to eat, and where you’ll catch me for a couple days either before or after our cruises.

If you’re coming to town a day or two before, or staying a few days after, your cruise – read on for tips, tricks, things to see, and places to eat. A LOT of places to eat. And before you dive in to this blog, tune to WWOZ 90.7 to get you in the mood (because that’s what I did)!

NOLA-ISMS

SAY IT RIGHT: First things first, it’s not really “N’awlins" anymore. As long as you don’t call it New Or-LEEEEENS you won’t stick out like a sore thumb, but most of us call it NOLA these days.

CASE OF THE MONDAYS: Check the hours before you make a trip! It’s normal for places to be closed on Mondays to allow the service industry employees at least one day off during the week, and because “people got to make groceries” -- aka go to the grocery store.

GO CUP: They don’t call it “The Big Easy” for nothing, including how easy it is to grab a beer and go!  Want to grab a cocktail but also keep it moving?  Ask for a “go cup” or pour it into a plastic cup yourself on your way out because typically there’s a stack by the door!

STREETCAR VS. TROLLEY: In San Francisco it’s called a trolley. In New Orleans it’s called a streetcar.

NEUTRAL GROUND: Meeting up with a friend or catching an Uber? New Orleans is built along a long, winding river so instead of directing people North or South, you’ll use River Side, Lake Side, or Neutral Ground – the median in the middle of a divided road.

I’M ALL ABOUT THE EATS

I once won a Trivial Pursuit game by answering this question: “Which city consumes more mayonnaise per capita than anywhere else in the world?” You guessed it - New Orleans! (Or at least it was at the time, so don’t send me hate mail if that’s not true anymore.)  From poboys to remoulade, NOLA has all the delicious eats, and many of them contain mayo.  

There are a zillion options for where to eat the most delicious meal of your life. Some of the best restaurateurs and chefs call New Orleans home. (If you’re fan of Bravo’s Top Chef you’ll find at least ten restaurants with a former contestant in the kitchen!)

The cuisine has become incredibly ethnically diverse in the past several years, and some of my favorite restaurants include Vietnamese, BBQ, or some sort of Asian fusion, but I’m mostly sticking to the traditional faves here. Just keep in mind that a “Taste of New Orleans” isn’t solely poboys and jambalaya… although it CAN BE! YUM!

BRUNCH:

My favorite meal of the day! It’s totally acceptable to eat all of your favorite savory things topped with a sunny or poached egg, and it magically is called brunch.  Endless buffets to try a little bit of everything?  Bottomless cocktails?  You can count me in for all of these things. 

Photo credit: wikimedia commons

Photo credit: wikimedia commons

Go fancy and all in for a brunch (some with live jazz) at any of these places that are well worth every penny:

If you’re feeling a little more casual, check out:

Any of the above places make for a great brunch OR breakfast but to me, brunch = cocktails! So below are top choice diners and breakfast spots that serve great morning treats (and lunch and/or late night snacks), minus the alcohol: 

DINNER:

My friends and I have a game called “ONE MEAL IN NEW ORLEANS”. If we are only in town long enough to enjoy one meal at one restaurant, where would we go? It’s the most difficult decision you will ever have to make, and these are our dinner MVPs:

  • Jacques-Imo’s: (Uptown) They won't take reservations for fewer than four people, so get there early, and order the Shrimp and Alligator Sausage Cheesecake to start!
  • Dick & Jenny’s: (Uptown) Creole cuisine with a Southern twist.
  • LOLA’s: (Mid-City) Authentic Spanish food with a twist.
  • Mopho: (Mid-City) Vietnamese and New Orleans cuisine together.
  • Charlie’s Steakhouse: (Uptown) There's no shortage of great steakhouses in New Orleans, but if you want something extra New Orleansy, Charlie’s is your spot! Along with being the originator of steak here, it’s also the seventh-oldest restaurant in the city.  Ask for Glen or Matt at the bar, and tell them I say hello!
  • Cochon: (Arts/Warehouse District) Cajun, Southern cooking and butcher.  Also great for lunch!
  • Clancy’s: (Uptown) Elegant Creole classics and martinis in a bustling, homey space.
  • Brigtsen’s: (Uptown) Award-winning contemporary Creole cuisine in a cozy, Victorian cottage setting.
  • Cafe Reconcile: (Central City) Only open on weekdays for lunch and Fridays for dinner, but it’s worth noting because this is a restaurant with a mission! Not only is it old-school New Orleans soul food at its best, it provides a successful job-training program for at-risk children.

POBOYS:

They’re satisfying for breakfast, brunch, lunch, second lunch, …you get the idea. Don’t let the line out the doors scare you away because they move pretty quickly.

  • Mother’s: (Central Business District – CBD) Order the Ferdi Special!
  • Domilise’s: (Uptown) The hubs loves the hot sausage, I love the fried oyster. Why choose?!  Get both and share!
  • Crabby Jack’s: (Jefferson Hwy) Remember how Jacques-Imo’s is on the tippy-top of the dinner list?  This is their more casual poboy spot.  The slow roasted duck poboy will change your life!

DEFYING CATEGORIES:

They’re not just restaurants, they’re not just bars, these places defy categories and hold a special place in my heart.

  • Bakery Bar: (Uptown/Garden District) It falls under the “delicious brunch” category but it’s SO much more. A cozy spot with incredible doberge cakes, desserts like salty balls (WHAT?), inventive cocktails, and yes, incredible brunch.
  • Twelve Mile Limit: (Mid-City) Want the experience of a fancy cocktail bar with the atmosphere of a dive bar? This is your spot. Great BBQ and the best juke box in city!  
  • Port Of Call: (French Quarter) This place has arguably the best burger in the city—also, do you want mushrooms on your baked potato? YES, you do. There’s usually a wait, but a giant Huma-huma or Monsoon will keep you company until your table is ready!
  • Lilly’s Cafe: (Lower Garden District) This is casual pho spot on Magazine St., and I love all their brothy goodness to help cure a hangover.  Best in the city!
  • Ninja:  (Uptown) Don’t ask me why this is a must stop for me, but it is.  I’ve even created my own roll here.  Ask for their Crunchy Roll INSIDE of a Rainbow Roll for my favorite sushi. 
  • F&M Patio Bar: (Uptown) (Also Grits Bar next door) Late night dance party! Hop up on that pool table and shake your thing.  Get the cheese fries. Your tummy and your tomorrow will thank you!

THE MUSIC

It’s the reason we’re all a part of the Sixthman family, right?! So it’s only natural to get out and discover all of the incredible music NOLA has to offer…Jazz, Blues, Irish, Cajun, you name it, and you can find it here. The best part is you can simply wander around the part of town you’re in, and when you hear something you like just pop in for a bit!

Frenchmen Street is THE street for the best variety of live music with tons of bars and venues to check out. You can’t go wrong anywhere on Frenchmen, but these are a few of my favorites:

Are you looking to get down and dirty in a dive bar? Get to know some of the locals at these venues:

Pro-tip: Expect to pay a cover charge at the above places. All of those artists are trying to make a living, after all!

Planning in advance? Check your calendar for which artists are playing at these larger venues:

A DAY IN THE LEISURELY LIFE

Spending a few days in New Orleans? Time to take it easy and explore! If you’re a go-with-the-flow guy or gal looking for a leisurely day, this section is for you and features my preferred paths to bop around.

GO DOWNTOWN TO UPTOWN ALONG ST. CHARLES ON THE STREETCAR:  This is my favorite stretch of road (and if you enjoy scenic exercise – favorite running path, too). Travel underneath the beautiful canopies of enormous oak trees decorated with Mardi Gras beads hanging around from years of Krewes tossing beads to Carnival revelers.

Notable Stops:

  • Igor’s: Combination laundromat and bar with the best Bloody Mary in town. What makes them so tasty? Someone told me the secret ingredient is BBQ sauce! It’s now a staple at my house for brunch.
  • The Columns Hotel: Beautiful spot to relax on the patio and listen to the streetcar roll by. I used to live next door, and I still miss the soothing sounds of the streetcar--not to mention the scent! It has been much debated, but I’m here to tell you that the smell of the streetcar when it passes by is that of ARTICHOKE.
  • New Orleans Original Daiquiris: (Uptown) When you’re Uptown on the Riverbend, hop off and grab a daiquiri and walk along the line. (Remember, you’re allowed to walk around with a cocktail here!)

WALK ALONG MAGAZINE STREET: For shopping, dining, or a casual stroll there’s no place that compares to this six-mile stretch. Stay hydrated and keep your energy up with drinks and snacky-snacks along the way.

Notable stops:

  • Bulldog: (Uptown) Fifty different beers on draft and cheese fries. All of my NOLA friends have a collection of Bulldog pint glasses from their “Keep your pint glass nights” on Wednesdays!
  • Casamento’s: (Garden District) Cash only for oysters and other seafood bites.
  • Coquette: (Garden District) if you’re feeling like a fancier cocktail or eats.

 

HAVE A CRAWFISH BOIL:  What's New Orleans without crawfish and local beer?!  Grab a heap of these delicious freshwater crustaceans at Big Fisherman and take it over to Audubon Park or The Fly (on the Mississippi levee) with a 6-pack of Abita Beer. My go-to's are the Amber Ale and Purple Haze.  We treat crawfish boils like tailgates! They're a great way to hang out with friends enjoying a day of good eats, drinks, and games.

 

THE INFAMOUS FRENCH QUARTER: You may already know about the powdered heaven beignets at Café du Monde and the nonstop party on Bourbon Street, and listen, those are important to see! Pro-tip: If you’re walking around the Quarter and someone bets you $20 that they can tell you where you got your shoes… spoiler alert - you got them on your feet!

Notable stops:

  • French Market: Take a walk through this outdoor space that combines farmer’s market, flea market, and more!
  • Pat O’ Brien’s Bar: Not just a place to grab one infamous Hurricane (…one and only one. You may regret a second.) It’s also a great place to hang outdoors on the patio or sing along with their dueling pianos! Make sure to grab a professionally shot black & white photo for approximately $7 to remind you of all the memories you are sure to forget. I have an entire album of these gems to look back on:  you can see my hair length go up and down, my waistline go in and out, and you can see every guy I ever dated… And now, the hubs and I always make a point to take a Pat O’s photo when we visit to keep adding to this album of memories and milestones! Happy to share this tradition with you to make your own if you decide to visit more than once!
  • Felix’s: Here’s a pearl of wisdom, Felix’s is a must for oyster lovers. Walk in, stand at the bar, and just keep ordering one at a time until you’re done!  If there’s a line, Acme across the street is also a great option!
  • The Gold Mine: Late-night dance parties and Flaming Dr. Peppers!

GET CULTURED

In a city so rich with culture and history, there is literally something for everyone in this city! Beyond the food and music I dived into above, here are a few more stops I recommend: 

I really could go on and on about the city I love the most, but that covers my top-ranked NOLA favorites! I hope you get to try a few of them and they become some of your favorites too. I’m beyond excited to set sail out of New Orleans, and as I've written this I'm reminded just how many things I love to eat and drink and do there!  BRB, I’m going to go run a million miles so I can eat all the things. Can’t wait to get back!

The Art of Sixthman

When we're not busy planning all those LIVE LOUD moments for your vacation, a handful of us at Sixthman spend our time gettin' artsy! Check out the galleries below, created by the one and only Sixthman staff! 

kyle

Name: 
Kyle.  @vileATL is my art account on Instagram 

Job title(s):  
Operations Specialist and Tour Manager

What is your art background?
Some classes in college.  Culinary school (does that count?)  

Describe your artistic style:  
Lowbrow pop-graffiti-esque skullish stew.  Spray paint and acrylics.  

Where do you find inspiration?  
Street art, music, tattoo culture, horror films, other artists.

Are you working on any projects currently?  
I was just selected for Colony Square’s “1st Annual Festivity and Trees” project.  20 local Atlanta artists were commissioned to paint 8ft wooden trees that will be displayed at midtown’s Colony Square for the month of December.  

How have you used your art skills at Sixthman? 
I built the “AHOY” backsplash in the kitchen.  

Free Art Friday:  
Free Art Friday has played a huge role in my getting back into my art.  It’s a social media driven idea where artists create something, hide it in the city, then snap a picture with the hashtag “#FAFATL”.   Followers of the hashtag then run out to find the piece in a kind of scavenger hunt.  Atlanta has one of the largest communities with over 55,000 posts.  They’ve been hugely supportive of me and my art.


amy

Name:
A K Mann

Job Title: 
Sr. Graphic Designer

What is your art background:
I have a BFA in Illustration from VCU, and an AA in Graphic Design from The Art Institute of Washington.

Describe your artistic style:
I like to try a wide variety of mediums, depending on the project or my mood. I always come back to oils as the ultimate fine art medium. There’s just something about oil paintings that takes my breath away. My style changes depending on the medium used or project I’m working on.

Where do you find inspiration:
This is a tough one, cuz it’s hard to find if you don’t have it. Sometimes it’s the things you don’t expect to inspire you that do. The little things, or just simple emotions. I am often inspired by light (yeah yeah, I know that makes me sound like a nutty art kid). My two “landscape” paintings were inspired by how street lights paint a picture out my window every night. There’s a whole world out there but you only capture pieces of it depending on how the light is shining. It can make things bright and warm or ominous and scary. I’m also very inspired by social issues and pop culture. 

Are you working on any projects currently?
I have some ideas floating around for my next project, but recent events are pulling me in another direction. I’m still in the planning stages, so it’s too soon to really talk about what exactly I’m doing.

How have you used your art skills at Sixthman?
Everyday in some fashion. A few times a year a get to incorporate my real artistic skills into a project. Those are the projects I love working on, and the ones I can really be proud of.


jen

Name:
Jen

Job Title(s): 
Creative Leader, Senior Warrior, and Partner Relations

What is your art background:
Grew up doing tons of art at home and taking art classes every summer, and always opted into the art classes in school when available. I started going to college for art (wanted to do hand-drawn animation), but the school got rid of my program mid-way through. I switched majors but still finished a minor in fine art, specializing in painting.

Describe your artistic style:
So much color. And tedious detail. I really don’t have one specific style, and I use lots of different mediums and like to try new things. (Just in the photos below, you'll see acrylic, watercolor, tissue paper and more. I've recently started playing around with solar carving... using sunlight to carve wood with a magnifying glass.) Tons of color is normally a must have, and as far as details go, I always joke that I own so many paint brushes, but I only use about 3 of them - the smallest ones. 

Where do you find inspiration:
I travel a lot (mostly to nature/backcountry type places), so the locations I visit definitely inspire me. Folk art is awesome. And then I also LOVE Atlanta street art – it’s one of my favorite things about living here. Every time I drive around town, there’s new art to see. (And sometimes I even find cool stuff, due to the Free Art Friday movement Kyle mentioned.) So yeah, I’m kinda all over the place.

Are you working on any projects currently?
I have so many half-done projects, so technically yes. But nothing I’m actively going home and working on each day. I did finish up my biggest project of the year (most likely), which was a painted guitar I donated to a charity auction for Rock By The Sea . Pics of that below.

How have you used your art skills at Sixthman?
Most recently I created a few linocut designs for merchandise at our Sixthman Sessions show in Chicago this summer. Our guests could hand-press their own posters at the event, which was a really fun spin on traditional event posters. I’ve done several other things, like sketch out the initial design for our office mural using our existing cruise art, and I usually design the album art for our Sixthman Sessions albums.


jess

Name: 
Jess

Job title:  
Warrior

What is your art background? 
I’ve been making and creating for pretty much my entire life. I began going to art camps during my summers as a kid and as soon as I entered school, I took every art class I could. I have a Bachelors degree in visual art with a concentration in ceramics from St. Andrews University in North Carolina. After graduating I got a job as a sign artist for Trader Joes (yep, I got paid to color all day) and took a position as a resident ceramic artist at Roswell Art Center West. Since then I’ve worked as a graphic designer, a freelance chalkboard artist, and even had a stint making glass beads!

Describe your artistic style:  
I love to work with bold color, patterns, and textures. No matter what medium I work in, those three things run throughout. Even though my focus was in ceramics during college, I’ve branched out a lot in recent years. I like to joke that I’m a “Jess of All Trades” without that whole “master of none” thing. Some of the mediums that I enjoy working with are traditional acrylic on canvas, acrylic on carved foam-core, watercolor, and jewelry. I’ve also been teaching myself to sew!

Where do you find inspiration?  
Nature is probably my primary source of inspiration but I’m also inspired by a lot of street art and muralists around the world. My favorite artists are a husband-wife team named SupaKitch and Koralie (@realsupakitch and @realkoralie on Instagram – seriously, check them out!).

Are you working on any projects currently?  
Sewing has its hooks in me right now – there’s always some new technique to learn! I started small and made cloth napkins and a duvet cover and have now worked my way up to making some of my own clothes and bags. Currently I’m making a duffel bag for a friend and a diaper bag for my nephew!

How have you used your art skills at Sixthman? 
I began putting my sign-making and chalkboard skills to use by creating custom a chalkboard for each of our Sixthman Sessions performances. I also recently completed a 11x5 ft mural of Sixthman’s values in one of our conference rooms. Oh, and anytime someone wants something nicely written, I’m happy to oblige. ;)

"What the hell did I get myself into?"

It’s still dark outside my hotel room high in the Miami Marriot. My bags are packed and 10 floors below me my new(ish) co-workers are gathering in the lobby. It’s embark day, an old hat for them, and 2 miles to the east Norwegian Pearl is ready to load up 2500 passionate music fans — and this very nervous new Marketing Manager — for the sixth sailing of the KISS Kruise. I’m due downstairs in a matter of minutes, and my normally self-assured demeanor is shot. I’m pacing a stripe in the carpet, trying to shove my stomach back down out of my throat and asking myself like a broken record: What the hell did I get myself into?

Understand that I’m the new guy here at Sixthman. So on this morning I’m describing, I’m stoked, just as I have been every day in the 3 months since moving to the exciting world of music festivals at sea leading up to my first boat ride — but I can't shake the nerves. I’m not nervous with apprehension, but rather with curiosity and excitement (or, at least, I got really good at telling myself that). I’ve watched, studied and learned the KISS community — and all of our wonderful communities — from afar, but I need the front lines exposure I was about to get to really make it all click. What would finally get me there? What would make it click? When would I really get it? Now that it’s over, I realize I was foolish to expect one definitive moment. Instead, I got too many to count, as I hope you’ll get the first time you sail on one of our festivals (or, for you veterans, I hope you get each time you come back). Here are just a few of the many times I finally got it:

Coming out of the tunnel and seeing the Pearl for the first time

What a sight. This is definitely what the Apollo astronauts felt like when they approached the shuttle, right? Definitely.

Greeting passengers at the terminal

I come from a music venue and concert promotion background, and my favorite part of that world was always the few moments before doors opened for a show. Translate that to embark day, and I could see the fans lining up for the terminal to open. Same feeling, wildly new setting. Then, of course feeding off your energy as you prepared to board the ship. My hand hurt from high fives.

Walking onto the gangway for the first time

No, THIS is how the astronauts felt. Awesome.

A sail away shot and we’re off!

My first cruise shift was helping pass out trays of Caborita shots to a pool deck full of fans before KISS themselves came out for a toast and a family photo as we sailed from Miami. I had been on board all of 15 minutes, and suddenly I’ve got trays of booze in my hand, standing on the pool deck stage trying not to tip them all over the front row. Remember that “how the hell did I get here” question?

Working my first pool deck show

The moment where the lights go down and a band hits the stage is special in any setting. But this re-defines setting. Put 2500 of the most passionate fans in front of their heroes on the pool deck of a cruise ship? Those pictures I’d seen a million times didn’t do it justice.

That first sunset...and the second...and third...

Someone mentioned it, pretty passively — “make sure you don’t miss your first sunset…” That person is officially in my top 3 favorite people ever (as soon as I can remember who it was).

Being back on land (sea legs are a real thing, by the way), I’ve been asked time and again to describe my experience. I’ll leave it to say that these “firsts” only scrape the surface, and it’ll probably take far longer than the week I’ve had to process my first Sixthman cruise to really answer that question. One thing I know for sure: now that I know what I got myself into, I know I can’t wait for more.

Click here to see photos from The KISS Kruise VI 

All The Feels

There's no doubt Sixthman cruises can be fun, crazy, and exciting. But sometimes a cruise can mean much more than you'd expect. The following message was sent to us after our sailing season this past spring, and we realized that THIS is why we do what we do. It's is exactly how we want you to feel. All of you, from Kid Rock's Chillin' the Most Cruisers, to the Walker Stalker Cruisers and everyone in between.

I've removed the cruise and band names from the original message, because that's not important right now: 
 

"Thank you for hosting ______. Today marks a year since I booked my cabin and I wrote something:

Last year I booked what would be some of the best days of my life. Some of the most positive days of my life. When I booked this trip, my feeling at that time was more along the lines of, "I get to see my favorite band play and meet them again!" But after, I realized that was such a small part of it, a bonus even. Of course I loved seeing ______ and all the other bands, but what really caught me was the people. The whole vibe was just..... I've never felt like that in my entire existence.

I felt truly happy. All these years wondering where do I belong, where do I fit in. It's there. Literally, THERE. Everyone was so nice and I felt free and positive. I didn't feel judged, not for my hair, not for the way I look, not for anything because honestly no one cared and everyone was so accepting.

They're just the greatest bunch. I enjoyed meeting my friends, old & new, even if I was too shy and awkward for my own good (I tried guys). I need people like that in my life every day. With the Internet and social media, these people technically are there every day, just as long distance relationships.

On ______, I felt like I could do anything & achieve anything. I felt so inspired and motivated to be the best me I can be (and I probably was). That's how real life is supposed to be, that's the attitude that I should have for my whole life. I know I have to make the best of what I have.

I don't know how a post about booking a cruise became a speech about how I view my life. Every time someone asks me, "How was your trip?" all of this is what I want to say, but how could I go on a long winding story about that without being looked at like a weirdo? So I just say, "It was good."

There will always be people who say, "It's just a cruise, calm down." I know it is, but it's so much more, too. It's one of those things where you have to be there to experience yourself. I learned life lessons that I didn't know I needed. I'd do it all again in a heartbeat. I don't regret going. It's one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life.

I don't know why I'm sharing this. It felt right for me to do it but mostly, I wanted to say thank you. Thank you so much for showing me what life could and should be."


Sound familiar? I hope at least some of it did. And if you know the feeling, I hope you were able to fill in the blanks with your own cruise name and favorite band or actors names, regardless of which Sixthman community you belong to. To be honest, this was kinda-sorta how I felt when I stepped off my first Rock Boat back in the day. 

Sometimes these vacations come along with more than just music, even though the music is probably why you signed up to sail originally. The communities that are drawn to each of our events are so extremely special, and we hope you find inspiration and motivation not only from the bands you follow, but from each other. 

For the record, this particular comment was written by a Parahoy Cruiser from Malaysia named Adora (far left in the picture below). Thanks so much for traveling halfway across the planet to cruise with us, and for sending us your thoughts and allowing us to share your experience with others! 

To leave you with a random (but relevant) fact - there's actually a word for this whole "no one gets how cool this trip was" thing. It's "exulansis," which means, "The tendency to give up trying to talk about an experience because people are unable to relate to it, whether through envy or pity or simple foreignness." (Ok, so it's not in the REAL dictionary, but it's in the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. And on Google, which gives it just a tiny bit of credibility, right?) 

*bye-five*
~jen