As suspected, vacation week finally came and went WAY TOO FAST, as it always does! Although I actually opted not to cover ShipRocked as media this year, I’m still a photographer at heart and there was no way the camera was missing out on all of this… So here’s a small recap of my ShipRocked 2018 photos and adventures.
I was eager to start this vacation, so I opted to board on one of the earliest groups. The fun immediately began on a shuttle ride over to Port Canaveral with some fellow ShipRockers. You know it’s gonna be a good day when strangers greet you with a large bag of airplane bottle alcohol asking, “Do you want breakfast?!” By the time we got to port, we were all singing Backstreet Boys together… and I don’t really know if you can get a more appropriate ShipRocked introduction than that!
On last year’s cruise, I learned that the first band doesn’t always go quite to schedule. With that said, I was in no rush and wandered around the ship before heading to Seether‘s kick off set.
I love seeing the crowd for the first band, since everyone’s always hyped up to start vacation.
Thankfully, the Carnival Liberty was pretty much the exact same layout as last year’s ship, so there wasn’t much to learn in terms of layout. Cruise ships are always fascinating with their upscale interior decorations though, and I loved the color changing chandeliers in the lobby.
Prior to the schedule being released, I was really hoping Nothing More would be the kick off band since they’re such high energy. Not quite how the schedule worked out, but I was amped up for their set in the Theater on the first night regardless.
Right after Nothing More, I bolted across to the opposite side of the ship to catch Like A Storm in the Victoria Lounge. I discovered Like A Storm back in 2012 when they were the opening band on tour with Creed. I was fascinated by the Didgeridoo and went to buy their CD after the show, where I got to meet them all for the first time. In 2015, I ended up doing a short three show run following the guys around North and South Carolina shooting for their social media company. Naturally, I was stoked to catch up with them (albeit briefly) onboard.
I can’t remember exactly what the original plan was after Like A Storm’s set, but whatever it was went to the wayside when we passed through the casino. I was walking with fellow photographer Trevor Williams, who made a face that makes me laugh just to think about. He turned to me with wide eyes and went fangirl mode going, “Corey Taylor is sitting over there!”
We both had a ton of prints with us that we were on a mission to get signed so we could donate them to the Cancer Sucks! charity auction onboard, so we took the opportunity. Sadly, the only time we saw Corey again was when he was onstage or rushing through the buffet, so we were thankful we at least got a brief moment the first night.
At some point earlier in the day, we had run into another of my good friends on board – Randy Weitzel of In This Moment. Though I never officially went on tour with them, I photographed several of their shows on the Black Widow Tour back in 2015 and got to know them fairly well then. Randy introduced us to his wife, Bridget, who I’ve been Facebook friends with for ages but had never actually met before. I want to give her a huge shoutout for being such a kind and wonderful human being, as well escorting us in to shoot In This Moment’s sets. We enjoyed sharing many laughs with both of them, as well as Travis and Kent, who I swear we ran into at least once an hour.
Before arriving in The Bahamas, we had researched in advance and made plans to walk to the old lighthouse that you can see from port in Nassau. We were going to take a cab over to Atlantis, then walk up the beach to this place. (After breakfast with Aranda, of course!)
The first part of the plan went smoothly. We got to Atlantis and walked through the casino and out onto the picturesque hotel grounds. We wandered our way down some paths until we got to the beach, but when we tried to walk north, there was nowhere to go. We turned around and went to a sidewalk, but a security checkpoint told us we needed a room key to go any further. After explaining what we were trying to do, she directed us to go around and out the front of the hotel. As we tried to make our way back to the front, we just kept hitting security checkpoints that told us we couldn’t go a certain way.
Even though we were getting frustrated with not being able to get out the way we came in, we did get to walk by numerous little shark lagoons and stingray pools. By this point, we had mostly given up on getting to the lighthouse since it was already after noon and we couldn’t even find our way off Atlantis property. I suspected that we had somehow gotten into an area we weren’t supposed to be without paying, so I kept turning corners to avoid security check points. One corner lead down some steps into what looked like a little cave…
And then all hope was lost for ever getting to that lighthouse. I was not about to leave the aquarium tunnel.
We also ran into Adelitas Way briefly in the tunnel… wish I had thought to ask if they’d do a quick promo photo! Can you image how cool those photos would’ve been?! (Please, any band in the future, can we make this happen?)
(I hadn’t taken any photos of my new rainbow hair and thought this would be a pretty unique hair photo…)
We ran into more of our photographer friends, Johnnie and Jennifer, and ended up enjoying the rest of the day just taking photos and wandering around Atlantis with them before ferrying back over to the ship.
The day was capped off with Palisades, Beartooth, The Stowaways, Stone Sour and Starset.
Waking up at Half Moon Cay was gorgeous. Although we’d originally planned on hanging out by the beach stage, we ended up walking all the way to the end of the beach.
We were met with a: “Warning: Preceding beyond this point is dangerous and prohibited” sign. It felt like such a shame to have gotten this far and not actually reach the tip of the island! Right as we were about to turn back, a fellow adventurer wandered out of the rocks and directed us up a path through the brush.
The ten minute hike up a hill was worth it for the privacy and views on the other side – and we could still hear Otherwise from all the way across the beach.
We passed the majority of the day by there, doing a little bit of snorkeling. I also made friends with some fish that were stuck in the little rock pools.
Back on board, we were fairly exhausted from the long walk and the sun (not to mention the less than optimal amount of sleep that is normal on ShipRocked), but we still rocked out with Nothing More’s deck set. We also made sure to catch the Artist Q&A session… Avatar made it hilarious last year, Zakk Wylde kept the humor going strong this year. The rest of the evening was spent with In This Moment, Like A Storm, Adelitas Way, Seether and Beartooth.
On Wednesday “morning” (noon), I woke up stoked for DED. I discovered DED at Rock on the Range last year and had been anticipating their album drop ever since. One of the greatest things about ShipRocked is being in an intimate setting with lots of people way cooler than you. I had the pleasure of meeting DED’s tour photographer, Khris Poage, who kindly ended up letting me shoot their set.
The rest of the day was mostly nonstop: Adelitas Way, Otherwise, POD, Starset, Stone Sour, Palisades. Right as I was ready to call it a night, we ran into literally everyone avoiding the end of the cruise in the casino.
We caught up with Roy of Stone Sour, Kent (again) from In This Moment, Adelitas Way, Shaun of Seether, Starset, and got a personal introduction to Palisades from another photographer friend, JAR. The night ended up going until around 3AM when we decided we should probably turn in the towel since we hadn’t even packed the suitcase yet.
Prior to getting on the ship, we said we weren’t going to prebook 2019 because we were going to try and take a trip over to Europe for some of the summer festivals instead… but we ended up having such an incredible time this year that we pre-booked for the 10 year celebration. This easily took the cake as one of (if not) THE best vacation(s) I’ve ever been on.
Huge thank you to everyone onboard, from bands, to friends, even to the people we didn’t get to meet for making this year so unforgettable.
And one more final thank you to everyone for all the kind words with regards to the prints for Cancer Sucks! I’m not sure who all ended up winning what, but we heard that the final number our prints raised was a whooping $4025!!! Couldn’t have done it without you. <3
Already starting the countdown and can’t wait to see everyone back onboard next year!!