70.000 TONS OF METAL Cruise report

70.000 TONS OF METAL - “The trip of your lifetime”

A festival story by Marc Hansen, Björn von Oettingen and CRIPPER

Have you ever believed a Caribbean cruise is only for old people? Have you ever believed that a Caribbean cruise is an almost boring trip? Have you always believed that Metal and cruise ships are not compatible? You are completely wrong! After four days on the “Majesty Of The Seas” we think: Luxury is nice from time to time and absolutely compatible to Metal. But read why.

“70.000 Tons Of Metal” is the name of the event, which taught us a better. The event was held onboard the “* Majesty Of The Seas” at the end of January, which started in Miami and the five-day trip went through the Caribbean Sea to Cozumel off the shore of Mexico and back to civilization in Miami. On board: 2038 metalheads, 42 bands and 900 crew members. Their only goal: Celebrating “The world's biggest floating Heavy Metal Festival”. Fans from 48 countries like Japan, Faroe Islands, South Africa or Peru were among the visitors. Even from Saudi Arabia or the Philippines metalheads came to Miami, although most fans were from the U.S., Germany, Canada and Australia

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Cripper
Photo: Katja Borns and Marc Hansen

To be honest, “70,000 Tons Of Metal” is not a cheap event at all. Flights from Europe to the States and a middle class cabin in sum may cost up to $ 1,500 but it is worth each cent. Besides the fact that every band played two shows during the cruise, there was always the possibility to meet your idols and not to miss a single band playing. There was no backstage area like on other Festivals. All bands were placed in the same cabins and decks as the fans, so that even a vis a vis in front of your cabin door was possible. But there were also many opportunities for fun offside the Metal. To name a few: karaoke bar, a casino with slot machines, poker tables or blackjack, basketball court, rock climbing wall, fitness studio, a small shopping mall and much more. Especially the karaoke bar was a late night meeting place for fans and bands to celebrate until sunrise. The bar was frequently visited by fans and bands because where else do you have the opportunity to sing karaoke with Exodus, Mikale Stanne (Dark Tranquility) or Alex Skolnick (Testament) to name a few and have fun? - Of course only on the “70.000 Tons Of Metal” cruise.

But now lets start at the beginning. According to the slogan on the cruise flyer: “Imagine: January. Cold? Snow? Fuck that!” we woke up in Hanover, Germany around 3 in the morning, left the warm bed and met CRIPPER on the way to the airport carrying all guitars, bass guitars, drum equipment, merchandise etc. Because we are very good friends since years, we accompanied them the whole trip and included their experiences as a an performing act on the cruise to this story. From Hanover we flew over to Miami with a stopover in Paris. Almost 24 hours awake, we arrived at our hostel in Miami Beach. Here we have had a few days to do all the things you’ll do in Miami: take an air boat through the Everglades watching alligators, renting motorcycles and ride down Florida Keys, go for a swim in the Atlantic Ocean, go shopping or enjoy burgers at “Friday’s”.

At the hostel we also met a German TV team that accompained CRIPPER for one week, doing a report about the cruise and the band as the main actor in this documentary. So every step we’ve done from now on was filmed.

Day 1: Monday, 24.01.

The Cruise starts on Monday, January 21st. According to the motto „hurry up to wait“ we took a taxi together with Cripper to the port of Miami and waited hours in the sun before boarding the ship. Bit by bit other bands arrived: Fear Factory, Gamma Ray and Exodus were among the first to show up, before all of us lined up behind the onboard securites and boarded the ship. Just like leaving the country everybody has to go through the metal detectors. It’s a funny feeling with a long-time-no-see meet and greet on one side and a scanvenger-hunt-for-metal-striptease on the other.

Every visitor got his so-called sea pass. This is your personal ID, keycard for the cabin and the ships own credit card in one. Entering the ship for the first time is a new experience. It looks like the “Love Boat” from inside. A huge lobby with two glass elevators surrounded by open stairs. Carpets on the floor (also in all the venues!), brass-colored polished banisters and officials in a suit. The only thing which reminds you that this is a Metal cruise is the Hard Rock music in the atrium. It’s really a clash of two different worlds. Stereotype thoughts run through our heads as we try to image how this place will look like after 2000 metalheads have had the party of their lives… Just as some metalheads looked a bit exalted when they first saw the luxury liner from the inside, some waiters on deck eyed the invasive Metal horde slightly skeptical. But after a few hours any fears were completely evaporated and the cruise could begin.

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Destruction
Photo: Katja Borns and Marc Hansen

We started off with a fantastic lunch at the buffet. Everything was for free. Pizza, noodles, sushi, chicken breast, beef, salad bar, sweets bar… We tested the buffet extensively because the cabins were not completely finished yet. But it doesn’t matter. There is so much to explore during the first hours on a huge ship like the “Majesty Of The Seas” that nobody cares about. For example Cripper: they had to host a wedding ceremony, held in the Viking Crown Lounge from were you could look down on the ship's pooldeck, there we could see the stage being set up. The band got invited by two fans a few weeks before the cruise. Alex and Kelly tie the knot (=marry) onboard, the cruise is their honeymoon. Congrats again! All was held very small, only some relatives took part and all of them left the ship afterwards. Although it all happened very fast, you discovered some small tears in some of the Cripper members eyes. But a rockstar never cries, right? Afterwards there were free drinks for all so we hit the bar. After having received the message that Budweiser is out and the waiter is trying to offer a Bud light, he was answered with a big laugh of the Cripper members. “Bud light? Come on you got to have something similar or harder… speaking of harder, just hit me with something harder, you know ANYTHING STRONG!” The waiter took that literally and a new cocktail was born: he came back with a glass full of secrets and little grapefruit side taste.

At 2pm cabins were ready and entering them for the first time was also an exciting exploration. Just 11 square meters large it was very soon called “The cell” by many. But despite it’s narrowness it provided enough room for personal development. Exterior cabins have a balcony or window for a nice view over the Caribbean Sea. Interior cabins were connected through TV screens with the outer world. It's funny that the first view of the morning was on TV to find out how long you have indulged in your hangover.

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Gamma Ray
Photo: Katja Borns and Marc Hansen

Absolute fun was the security training, a compulsory exercise in which we should learn what to do in case of an emergency. The instructions were given via speakers. That such an Instruction does not work with 2000 metalheads was not surprising for us. Each horn blow was answered with a big “Hell Yeah” chorus by fans and bands. After standing around for a while we were not wiser than before. But who cares. We simply trusted on the “Majesty”….

Departure of the ship was delayed for an hour because the crane that should heave the eleven trucks production on board stocked for more than three hours in a traffic jam caused by a funeral for two policemen who were shot on Friday before the cruise. But nevertheless the crew was able to build up the stage production in only seven hours!

With an hour delay EXODUS could give the official kick off to the party. The Bay Area veterans played on the main stage, the Chorus Line Theater. The theater is normally totally equipped with priority leather seating, but they removed a few rows of seats to make a mosh pit possible. You had “at chair” service during the shows here and the gallery was a good place to have a relaxed view. EXODUS played an aggressive and powerful set. The set list offered a colorful mix of old classics and new songs. No surprises at all, but a very energetic start for the “70.000 Tons Of Metal”. Of course, this high level of aggression NEVERMORE could not offer at the Pool Stage but they also played a convincing show. The Pool Stage is the coolest stage concept ever seen. From the pool or the bordering whirlpools you are able to watch the bands as well as partying on the surrounding upper deck. Having a drink, while lying in the pool and watch your favorite bands is really an awesome experience. The sound was very good, which is a little surprise due to the fact that you are on the middle of the ocean and permanently fight with gusty winds, especially in the evening.

The German Teutonic steel institution GAMMA RAY played in the Theater again. 'Land of the Free' was quickly renamed 'Ship of the Free'. One indication how much the band enjoyed these special shows. Much has been rewritten spontaneously, or guest musicians were asked to enter the stage during these Days of “70.000 Tons Of Metal”.

In parallel, DESTRUCTION gave their first show at the Spectrum Lounge. A stage that is absolutely perfect for Thrash Metal. Low ceiling, low stage and a smoky sweaty atmosphere let memories to the eighties rise immediately. Unfortunately, the performances of the bands in the lounge are always kept parallel to the two main stages, so that some bands felt behind in our coverage. Sorry to TYR, BLACKGUARD, ARSIS, RAVEN, VOIVOD, THE ABSENCE, CIRCLE II CIRCLE and MALEVOLENT CREATION. You were also part of the coolest party ever. That's for sure, but unfortunately it did not fit to see your shows.

Heading back to the pool where the beer was flowing now into streams and SONATA ARCTICA had to play in front of the crowd. The Finnish power metal band was not entirely convincing that evening. Too much songs from the last two albums were played. Only when songs like ‘Kingdom of My Heart’ from their debut were played, applause roared. Nevertheless the fans celebrated their party with beer and good sense of humor.

Later, BLIND GUARDIAN played an outstanding show. Their hits like ‘Valhalla’, ‘The Bard's Song’ or ‘Welcome to dying’, accompanied by new material like ‘A Voice in the Dark’ immediately transform every venue into a madhouse. Also they did on the cruise. BLIND GUARDIAN played an awesome show. Nothing more to say about that than just one word: Great!

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Blind Guardian
Photo: Katja Borns and Marc Hansen

But even journalists have to take a dinner sometimes. Buffet was placed on deck 11 which makes grabbing a snack and go back to the Pool Stage fairly easy food and drink were over the top for a metal event. There was a 24 hour buffet which left none of your wishes unfulfilled. Or you had the possibility to enter a Burger Restaurant in the fifties-style with (not nude) dancing waiters and buy an all you can eat flat rate for approximately five Dollars So we unfortunately missed FEAR FACTORY's first show. But we were back in time for UNLEASHED in the Theater. Unluckily UNLEASHED had to play without singer and bassist Johnny Hedlund, who had to stay in Sweden for private matters. Sadly Tomas Olsson was not able to compensate him completely on the mic so that the show remained below expectations. But every band had two chances.

Meanwhile, it was 3 am in the morning when FINNTROLL entered the Pool Stage to celebrate with the fans to their folky tunes. Not many followed the call, so that the show turned out to become a more family party character. But the small crowd saw FINNTROLL doing a good job. They provided a representative crosscut of their albums. However, the strains were present in many fans, so that they called it a day and returned to their “The cell” at an early stage of the show.

As we swayed back to our cabin, one thing became already obvious on day 1: alcohol and other body failures were rarely seen. The Metal fans celebrated wildly but also showed a good behavior. Fortunately that did not change over the entire cruise.

Day 2: Tuesday, 25.01.

Rrring! Wake up call at 7 am for CRIPPER. Totally “non-metal”. Anyway – they got their slobbery heads out of the cabin, grabbed some corn flakes drenched in beer and focused on what’s up next: Because they are the first band today to play at the Pool Stage, they have much time for soundcheck and to build up their set…if the stage manager would be there in time. But not only the band has had much beer and less sleep last night. So all work started ‘some minutes’ later but without problems.

The sun burned down the Pool Stage when our Germans Thrash hopefuls CRIPPER entered the stage at 10 am. Although the party lasted long last night a considerable crowd was ready for the energetic performance they delivered. And they got what they deserved. Without any doubt CRIPPER offered an impressive show starting with ‘Junkie Shuffle’ and ‘Shortcut’ followed by the first sing along ‘Fire walk with me’. But not only female vocalist Britta as visual focus for many did her best. Any band member was part of a really cool stage acting including all their hits like ‘Life is deadly’, ‘I […]’, ‘FAQU’ and finally ‘Hysteria’.

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Cripper
Photo: Katja Borns and Marc Hansen

US Speed Metal Masters AGENT STEEL also played at the Pool Stage and they did as well as CRIPPER did before. Almost every album has been considered by the Alien Freaks. The show went really well, although many European fans didn’t know much of the songs from the hard to find last CD ‘Alienigma’. But when the first tunes of the bands all time classic ‘Agents of Steel’ sounded over the deck everyone sang along with the band and the show ended more than worthy.

Following the gig we all met again at the pool. Put some half-drunken metal maniacs into the salty water, added a couple of free cocktails to it and what happened? These bastards invented new water games immediately! Newest discipline: “Water Of Death”. Here we go with the rules. Two athletes, standing face to face from one side of the pool to the other, temper’s rising. Then they jump simultaneously into the refreshing pool to hit each other in the middle – with a hearty hug. Pretty gay, but so what? This afternoon turns into an unforgettable blast!

Walking to the backside of the ship we saw CRIPPER sitting on bar stools on the basketball court doing a TV interview. There were many journalists on board from all over the world trying to do interviews with every band they saw. Where else can you talk to so much musicians in such a relaxed athmosphere and surrounding than on this cruise ship? Later on we met CRIPPER with another camera team at the bow of the ship where they layed forward without falling over because of strong breeze.

Back to the Chorus Line Theater. Must I say anything about SABATON? - I think no introduction is necessary. They are currently the band every Power Metal combo has to measure with. And today they proofed why. The performance and skills are without any doubt incredible high and with Joakim Brodén they have the perfect vocalist for their music. Without any problems he always found the right words to establish a relation between the cruise and Sabaton’s music. As usual they started with ‘Ghost Division’, ‘40:1’, ‘Cliffs of Gallipoli’ or ‘Aces in Exile’ from the new album were also highlight in a powerful set. With the cool double ‘Primo Victoria’ and ‘Metal Machine’ ended this awesome first show of Sweden’s finest.

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Forbidden
Photo: Katja Borns and Marc Hansen

After the show we walked through the ship, grabbed a bucket of Corona Beer and passed the Boleros Lounge, host to the Meet & Greet in the afternoon before the karaoke party starts in the evening. Every band was scheduled once for a Meet & Greet. Of course, it is questionable why in general you need a Meet & Greet on the cruise, because in reality the cruise IS a big Meet & Greet in some way. But it makes sense, because it is still the easiest way for fans and bands to get into contact. Especially if you do not know how the guys with panda-like corpse paint look without makeup - for example Marduk. When we walked in the Boleros Lounge, Death Angel, and Cripper were sitting there side by side. Lots of fan photos were taken. CDs, shirts, nation flags, guitars were signed and new friendships were formed. It was nice to see that bands and fans alike had fun, which impressively underlines the relaxed atmosphere of the event once more. Greetings to the hard rockin’ Frisco brothers and thanks again to the ones from Columbia for their tiny presents. – Guys, these souvenirs are still with us!

Meanwhile ENSIFERUM had to play on the Pool Stage. And they had to proof, that they have the ability to drag their fans out of the pool directly in front of the stage. And of course, the Finnish guys were successful. The music speaks simply for itself. ‘Token of Time’ or the ‘Battle Song’ are hymns which were widely celebrated by the crowd.

FORBIDDEN is the next band that entered the stage. Anyway, the Thrash bands from the Bay Area celebrated among themselves. No wonder that the crowd was also filled by many musicians. And they saw an experienced and solid first gig of their countrymen. The mix of new songs and classics worked fine. With the neckbreaker ‘Chalice of Blood’ ended a really cool gig.

After these cool shows it was time to take a little time out from the stages and gather some impressions from the first full day on board. First thing which comes in mind is the permanent shaking of the whole ship. It’s a absolutely weird feeling, like being drunk all the time. Drunk is a good keyword. As yesterday beer flew like water and the atmosphere was over the top. Corona or Budweiser beer was served as a six pack in buckets full of Ice. And the most impressive thing was the permanent service during the shows. This was certainly a novelty for most Metalheads: alcoholic beverages were served directly into the crowd; you had not even left your seat or sun lounge at the stage to get beer or cocktails. The service was used extensively. Rumors say that on the first day of the cruise more beer was consumed than on the last three cruises of the same ship together. Well done Metalheads! These buckets turned out to be the megaseller onboard. But although a lot of beers and cocktails were served, there was always respect. Respect between fans or bands and not to forget respect for the waiters, cooks, and all other crew members. The whole success of this cruise almost depends on a harmonious relationship between all participants. You had always the feeling of being part of a big family. The sun lounges where well frequented and the pool and bordering whirlpools where completely overcrowded on this second day. It was a great experience to see all these relaxed fans. And for the bands it was fun, too. They were also able to relax, because nobody became too pushy. We also took a bath in the pool and had a coffee break before returning to the Chorus Line Theater.

We arrived just in time for ICED EARTH. It seems that after the US Metal flagship reunited with Matt Barlow they are back in the focus of many fans. No surprise at all, because nobody else is able to sing the songs from the ‘Dark Sag’ album better than Matt himself. And exactly this was the thing ICED EART did. Although the sound was really awkward and too loud there was action in front of the stage. ‘A Question of Heaven’ was the outstanding highlight and a little surprise in their first Set that was once more finished by ‘Iced Earth’.

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Amon Amarth
Photo: Katja Borns and Marc Hansen

We headed straight forward to another impressive gig. Warrel Dane and Jeff Loomis are back on stage for a second time. No, it’s not another Nevermore gig. It is time for the official reunionshow of SANCTUARY! Seattle Thrasher disappeared in the early Nineties when Grunge became the big thing. But nowadays they reformed and returned with a solid gig.

After it, it was time for Vikings on a cruise ship! - AMON AMARTH entered the stage of the Theater. And they took the ship by storm. ‘Guardians of Asgard’ was the perfect opener for a powerful 75 minutes set from Swedish Vikings. As powerful as the opener the show went on. Hits like ‘Arsartor’, ‘Death in Fire’, ‘Cry of the Black Birds’ or ‘Twilight of the Thunder God’ let the fans drive crazy. The audience was well prepared for this invasion and not only went on singing the refrain of ‘Pursuit of Vikings’ for long time when the band already quit the scene.

After such an explosive show AMON AMARTH’s countrymen DARK TRANQUILITY had a hard stand. But it turned out that their performance was also outstanding and level to AMON AMARTH. Especially the performance from charismatic fronter Mikael Stanne was without any doubt best singers performance on the whole cruise. He was in permanent action appeared on both sides of the stage smiled and fired the fans. He really enjoyed the cruise. DARK TRANQUILITY delivered A-Very-Best-Of-Show which left no wishes by the fans unfulfilled. Really a great show by these Swedish Melodic Death Metal pioneers.

SAXON is certainly one of these bands which can be called a living legend. And their first albums are legendary, too. So SAXON decided to play the whole ‘Wheels of Steel’ album in its entirety. This means, that a lot of classics by the band were played quite early in the Set. But the fans did not worry about. Because, if you know SAXON, you might know that the band still can improve from song to song. And they did. After finishing the ‘Wheels of Steel’ album they simply served some more of their well tasting Metal hymns. It is unbelievable which power and energy SAXON can unleash with songs like ‘Demon Sweeny Todd’ or ‘Crusader’. Especially the last one was frenetic solemnized by the fans.

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Testament
Photo: Katja Borns and Marc Hansen

But the marathon of highlights is not finished yet. TESTAMENT announced to play the whole ‘Legacy’ album which is by far one of the most recommended Thrash albums of all time. And so they did during their first gig at the Pool Stage. The whole album is full of highlights: ‘Over the Wall’, ‘Apocalyptic City’, and so on. Nearly each song is a classic. So it turned out to be clear, that a big moshpit was formed in front of the stage. With this gig ‘The Legacy’ really received due recognition. After this first part of the show, TESTAMENT played a few more songs. Quite obvious, that their focus now switched to their latest releases. ‘The Formation of the Damnation’, ‘The Henchman’ or ‘More than meets the Eye’ are without any doubt delicious Thrash songs. We went to bed halfway the second part of the show, because we had to wake up early in the morning for the Mexican island of Cozumel.

Day 3: Wednesday, 26.01.

At 7 o’clock in the morning the “Majesty Of The Seas” reached Mexico’s shore. The little island of Cozumel was the destination of our travel. There are organized excursions to Mayan ruins or a Tequila distillery possible, as well as snorkeling, horse riding, jet skiing, or simply beach fun. Each passenger hast to check out with his Sea Pass. We have to be back at 6:30 pm. Those who will forget the time will remain on the island.

One can’t tell, they didn’t warned us about that: When we had lunch on Tuesday we got a paper of information saying what point of interests we would be able to see on our day at land on Wednesday. Each POI was rationed by the level of physical fitness required to visit the chosen place. One group decided to go to the Mayan ruins and the other to join Cripper visiting a tequila factory in the middle of Cozumel, Mexico. The Royal Caribbean Travelers-Guide said that tour to be an easy going one, but warned us seriously that „there might be some steps“ on our trip. Threatened by the possibility we might have to lift our knees more than 45 degrees, we decided to get us a taxi from the port of Cozumel.

The first group around Marc rent a taxi from Avis. A car rental, which is also known in Europe and it’s seemed to be the most serious offer in San Miguel de Cozumel, the only city on this island. Our guided tour started with an informative ride through San Miguel de Cozumel, before we were driven to the Mayan ruins of San Gervasio. An interesting place to meet, but the expected pyramids were not seen, only ruins. “The Pyramids of Tolumn are on another Island. Not reachable by taxi”, our driver explained. Damned! - we saddled the wrong horse. But OK, our driver told us a lot about the country and the citizens of Cozumel. Interesting, but not exactly our interest. Also the beach was not our first goal when entering the small island. But the landscape is beautiful. The Caribbean Sea on the left hand and the jungle to you right. Several stops later we reached a beautiful restaurant worth to be visited. Really nice but not what we wanted exactly… We went on and the next stop was “a special landmark” our driver explained. Wow, cool! A rock in the sea! –. but not what we wanted exactly. Nevertheless we were able to sip some Pina Coladas from fresh coconuts Back in town after a 3 hour taxi ride around the island we did not see any Mayan pyramid, only ruins. But nevertheless the ride was interesting and showed us some nice landscapes and gave us an informative overview about the life in Mexico. Ok, next topic: Shopping. But that turned out to be a bitter disappointment. Typical tourist junk and other trash was offered in the shops. Silver, Tequila, leather or folk instruments were the exception. Suddenly Mötley Crüe tunes reached our ears. Just a look around the corner we saw where it came from. A bar at the pier full of Metalheads! – Cool. And they changed the noise, normally heard when wannabes try to entertain you, to some good Hard Rock. But we had only a short look Metal heads from the “Majesty” and a lot of bands like Death Angel or Exodus celebrates with the fans a big Tequila party. But it was too loud, that we decided to look for a quieter bar. We found the “No name Bar”. A funny, and typical Mexican bar. Some Pina Coladas later we returned to the ship where a huge queue waited at the entrance. The baggage must be checked. The longer the wait, the more the fun. Some guys started off to party what was eyed suspiciously by the participants of the other cruise next to our ship – Philistines! we only had fun.

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Saxon
Photo: Katja Borns and Marc Hansen

I think the other group around Bjoern and CRIPPER has chosen the better tour. We booked a driver and his bus for a whole day to get us to some POIs whenever in reach. After arriving at the Tequila-Farm, our Tequila-Tourguide Paco, who introduced himself as Pancho (but had a nameplate with him saying his name is Francesco) first bought us some Margaritas and explained the differences between the various kinds of Tequila, which he offered us for drinking every time, and its effects on ones ability to „couchie-couchie“ (a nice word for having sex) afterwards. All in all some very nice pieces of information and there were no steps we had to be afraid of.

Our driver, who had introduced himself as „Charlie Brown“ (Mexicans seem to have a favor for nicknames not to comprehend in the first way) now drove us to what he was told by his managers to be „points of interests“. After visiting two of them we told him we wanted to see a nice beach in preference to see more souvenir-shops. And that’s what he got us to! Frightened we recognized that one could hit the beach only by taking some steps. But in prospective of hanging around there and listening to the waves we kept that shit going. A nice variety in sound compared to Heavy Metal and interesting insider information about Mexico by Charlie Brown were the wages of our indescribable recklessness. Because the Cripper-guys had to play their second show this evening we had to say farewell to Mexico way to soon.

Back on board a calm atmosphere prevails on the ship. And so it was on CRIPPER to reopen the venue gates again and bring the party back. They were scheduled in the Spectrum Lounge at 7pm. Again they played a cool and energetic show with a different set list. It is astonishing how many people came to the gig again. And they won’t be disappointed by the bands performance. According to their first show at the pool deck, they were able to screw up the level of intensity of their show. Maybe a location like the Spectrum Lounge fits more to CRIPPER’s music. According to the CRIPPER-shirt wearing metalheads popping up everywhere we can say that they sold extremely well onboard. Counting out with the girl from the merchandise proves that, which is good, according to custom laws it is not really legal for them to bring back their stuff to Germany.

After this show the second appearance of GAMMA RAY was scheduled. This time they played on the pool deck. The show was once again a perfect combination of old hits and new material. But the real highlight came at the end when GAMMA RAY started to perform old Helloween classics. Mainly songs from the early period of the pumpkins have been gambled. And it turned out that these songs have lost none of its impact and were wildly celebrated by the crowd.

After we had missed the first show of FEAR FACTORY, this time we were at the stage on time to fully enjoy the second show. After the intro was over, FEAR FACTORY started extremely loud and powerful with “Self Bias Resistor”. The energy level of L.A.’s Industrial Thrasher is incredibly high for the whole show. A huge mosh pit was formed in front of the stage and showed what value FEAR FACTORY still have for the fans. Every song was cheered wildly. In between Tequila was handed to Burton C. Bell & Co. They drank it without batting an eyelid, just to improve their energetic performance yet again. ‘Edge Crusher’, ‘Smasher Devourer’ or ‘Power Shifter’ were presented during set, but the grandiose ‘Replica’ was show’s final climax

Yesterday SAXON presented the complete ‘Wheels of Steel’ album, and tonight it was time for another classic album to present in its entirety. ‘Strong Arm of the Law’ was also played in the correct track listing, so that they started out with a hammer blow. ‘Heavy Metal Thunder’ and ‘To Hell and Back again’ were unleashed, and the crowd was really exhausted by second one. Like yesterday evening, SAXON presented them in fine form and the fans paid tribute to the absolutely professional appearance with a lot of cheers and applause. After the album was completed with ‘Dallas 1pm’ SAXON went straight on into the second part of the show with ‘The Eagle has landed’. Here SAXON offered again all their abilities to Rock, and after ninety minutes they finished with ‘Princess of the Night’ and left only lucky fans behind which were allowed to enjoy a really awesome show of the English Metal flagship.

Immediately afterwards ICED EARTH entered the Pool Stage for their second gig. And they did it like Saxon and delivered a widely celebrated show. The focus of tonight’s set was mainly on the ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’ album. In addition to Hits like ‘Melancholy (Holy Martyr)’ or ‘Watching Over Me’, the complete ‘Wicked’ trilogy turned out to be the ultimate highlight of the show. ‘Iced Earth’ chants echoed across the deck as the first Riff of 'Iced Earth' was played by Jon Schaffer. In this shape, ICED EARTH is definitely back!

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Iced Earth
Photo: Katja Borns and Marc Hansen

The last band of the evening was MARDUK. Although there are only a few die hard fans up at 2:30 am, the mood of the band did not diminish. MARDUK gambled their tight crude Black Metal. Cool, if you are sent to bed with a catchy tune of ‘Christ raping Black Metal’ or ‘Panzer Division Marduk’, along with Tequila Sunrise in your hand.

Day 4: Thursday, 27.01.

It is the last day on board. The sea became rougher, which made the task for bands and fans even more difficult. This permanent shaking of the ship is really nothing for people with a massive hangover like us.

SWASHBUCKLE’s second show is something like an early bird event. With the pirate outfit and the palm as stage decoration, they fit on the cruise ship like no other band. Musically, certainly not necessarily a highlight, but the show evokes feelings ….

The next band which plugged in the guitars on the pool stage are SANCTUARY. After their first gig in the lounge they played the remaining songs of both albums. Really not much is happening on the upper deck, but as a band playing at breakfast time is surely a hard deal anyway. Unfortunately, the stage performance is as rare as the fact that Warrel Dane struggles in performing the high screams of yesteryears. Nevertheless, the band garnered polite applause for their wake up call.

A band which certainly profits from the late breakfast is ULI JON ROTH. The former Scorpions guitarist can look on a surprisingly sizable crowd as he climbs on the Pool Stage at noon. While ULI JON ROTH plays himself in ecstasy you can see an obviously deeply moved Chuck Billy at the edge of the stage. He even then gets his performance as the guitar master himself asked him to part stage with him. Equipped with lyric sheet he sung ‘Sails Of Charon’. For his performance, and ULI JON ROTH, too, you heard the crowd cheering for the first time this day.

The winnner of the day turns out to be Bass-T of Cripper. He is one of the lucky metal celebrities to be on a photo shooting with the Captain of the “Majesty Of The Seas”. Bloody hell! Together with Russ Bergquist (Dusk Machine), Simone Simons (Epica) and Chuck Billy (Testament) to name a few, they pose and do a real good job. They also get a short explanation how the brain of the ship works, while the crew eagerly tries to convince one rockstar to get back out of the captains chair.

Unfortunately we haven’t watched the belly-splash contest, but later in the evening Cripper singer Britta got the chance to be on a picture with the winner, who made her look quite… tiny

Instead of enjoying more beer and the sun on the upper deck, we moved to the Theater, where OBITUARY should rock the stage. OK, they had a good sound and a superior setlist, but they did not rock at all! - Impressive skills of the musician and an impressive vocalist John Tardy do not level the deficiency of a static and boring show completely.

The same also applies in principle to the all star project TWILIGHT OF THE GODS. Their Bathory Tribute Shows are reliably a good idea, and the musical approach is certainly very close to the original. But the static show in connection with the epic Bathory material from ‘Hammerheart’ or ‘Blood Fire Death’ which was mainly played this afternoon is rather counter productive for a challenging party. The crowd gave fairly applause, but mainly to honor Quorthons legacy and not because of the show.

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Death Angel
Photo: Katja Borns and Marc Hansen

But DEATH ANGEL showed how to unleash a real party. Their live shows are always impressive and energetic; especially this afternoon at the Pool Stage. The mob raged from second one and was cheered again and again by an extremely agile Mark Osegueda. Today DEATH ANGEL have primarily the ‘Act III’ album in tow, so we finally had songs like ‘The Organization’ or the ballad ‘Veil of Deception’ in the set list which were not played live for years. Thus, not other a gig must be: Neck breaking from the very first second! This was certainly one of the best performances DEATH ANGEL played in the last years and on the whole cruise. They finished off this afternoon in perfect style of their performance with the smash hit ’Thrashers’!!!!

After a short break we continued with the second SABATON gig. The Swedes were again able to fully satisfy the crowd. They rocked the stage once more with a cool show.. The fans went wilder and wilder, and celebrated a big party in front of the stage. SABATON pointed out that they won’t be disembarked the next day and enjoyed the whole trip with the fans. Shouter Joakim was in an extremely good mood on the last day. During the last song he jumped into the crowd for some surfing action. But unfortunately, the fans misunderstood the message and carried him towards the pool on their shoulders and threw him directly INTO the pool. Much to the joy of all adjacent he took a bath and the action with humor. Parallel to Sabaton TROUBLE had to play in the Spectrum Lounge. The few fans who were not on the pool deck, were in really good shape. The Chicago Doomster got off to a very good performance. The basics were on one hand the congenial guitar duo Franklin / Wartell and charismatic vocalist Kory Clarke. In addition to the old classics they performed also a new song called ‘Sucker’. This one made clear immediately that the guys will wield a heavy doom axe in future

Meanwhile TESTAMENT had to play in the Theater. After ‘The Legacy’ in the first round they performed -similar to Saxon- another classic in its entirety. ‘The New Order’ was also played from A to Z.. And it has also been celebrated as enthusiastically as ‘The Legacy’ before. Chuck Billy announced 'Into the Pit’ and immediately the pit in front of the stage grew larger and larger every second. The crowd was in absolute euphoria. Another cool show by TESTAMENT, which had “an awesome time on the cruise” as Cuck Billy said, ended with ‘D.N.R.’.

A quick side step to watch the Finnish forest people of KORPIKLAANI. Their Folk Metal with accordion and electric violin is the perfect background music for drunken evenings. And even here the music works very well. The crowd dances, jumps and party to songs like ‘Happy Little Boozer’ or ‘Vodka’. Cool!

The gig of SODOM, however, was anything but cool. The self-proclaimed Angel Ripper probably had to suffer not only from the swell of the ship. Uncle Tom’s vocals were anything but good. In a song like ‘Blasphemer’ this kind of voice may fit, but at ‘Remember the Fallen’? - It’s just cruel. But maybe his voice paid already tribute to alcohol and air-conditioning? Whatever the reason was, the whole gig was a kind of little tragedy. Because musically it was really OK. But the crowd did simply not take care of it. They simply celebrated! - Especially the German version of ‘Ausgebombt’ was a highlight and sung by many.

After a last dinner at the buffet we entered the Pool Area to watch MOONSPELL’s second performance. All I have to say about that is: Marvellous! They were really in a good mood and performed all the old stuff from album 1-3 which is by far the most impressive material the Portuguese ever wrote The crowd was grateful and paid tribute to MOONSPELL with wanton mood.

During the second gig of BLIND GUARDIAN in the theater it was really crowded on, and in front of the stage. First, a visibly drunk Jon Schaffer (Iced Earth) entered the stage and orated on the wild party during the cruise and his love to BLIND GUARDIAN. And shortly after, Kai Hansen came on stage to sing ‘Valhalla’ in duet with Hansi – COOL. In Front of the stage a huge crowd celebrated every second of this, again, marvellous performance. The setlist saw no big changes, but the last song came really as a surprise: ‘Barbara Ann’ was performed with the support of Kai Hansen and Jon Schaffer. A really entertaining gig by German Power Metallers

Since today is the last day on the cruise, we receive our schedule for leaving the ship. The baggage has to be ready and in front of our cabins by 12 pm at the latest. Which gives us as Germans a funny feeling again: you give your credit card to the waitresses and let 'em walk away with it, you leave your baggage somewhere unattended… seems to be quite common in the US. As all passengers have to leave the ship at nine o’clock in the morning, AMON AMARTH was the last band we looked at us wistfully. The Swedes once again mobilized the last reserves, and laid out a brilliant final. The set list was slightly changed this time, but the hits remained the same. Johan Hegg and his Viking Horde stood as one in the gusty winds and performed like men will do: A lot of mosh action, powerful stage acting and a powerful sound. AMON AMARTH showed all their skills again and dismissed us in our “Cells” with the last song ‘Pursuit of Vikings'. But not before they also played off the fun card. During the gig members of Obituary in life jackets entered the stage, and performed their interpretation of a Viking skirmish. This is Metal, This is fun, This is “70.000 Tons of Metal”!!!

We had to disembark clock nine in the morning, because the “Majesty Of The Seas” will set course in the evening again. This time with ‘normal’ passengers again. Will the “Majesty” have as much fun as with the 2038 mostly long-haired heavy metal fans? – We don’t think so. But, the organizers promised, even 2012, there will be a new cruise with a new destination!. About years first edition can only be said that the cruise is for sure an expensive journey, but it’s really worth each penny. The experience is simply indescribable.

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Obituary
Photo: Katja Borns and Marc Hansen

The day after: Friday, 28.01.

The rats are finally leaving the sinking ship! It’s Friday, 8 am. Everyone was scheduled to go to deck 4 for debarkation. Due to heavy partying the night before, we competed with each other about the deepest eye circles.

We took a taxi back to our hostel where we stayed the last night together with CRIPPER before finally going back home. At around 2 pm we took the last opportunity to hang out at the beach and drinking some beers covered in nice brown paper bags.

After dinner we met a real challenge. We bought a 3 l bottle of Jack Daniel’s in the ship’s duty free shopping area. Uff! After a week of party we must admit that our longing for alcohol excesses has seen better times. Nevertheless there were a few people left to take care of this issue and proudly presented the empty bottle on the next morning. Hats off!

On our flight back we were lucky to have tailwind, which saved us more than an hour. The flight was at night, everyone was pretty much on his or her own, spending thoughts on important questions we will never have to ask ourselves again: What is Chuck Billy eating for breakfast? How would it sound if Rob Dukes sang YMCA at a Karaoke bar? Does Burton Bell know how to play Black Jack?

Instead we wondered where our voices have gone, if we have smelled like this before, how many people peed in the pool, what is sunburn really good for and the most important question above all: How big are the balls of a guy that rents a fuckin’ cruise ship for a Metal festival? Andy, we will see you next year again. For sure!!!

STATEMENTS:

Bands:

70000tons of Metal is really completely fun and relaxing. This is a Trip you do once in a Lifetime. And it is a good possibility to flee from the Winter. It is like Vacation although we have to play, haha. [Johan Hegg, Amon Amarth]

I think the Cruise is great! – it is a great idea, and Bands and Fans have a lot of Fun. This Trip is a complete new approach. Although it is expensive for everybody we all have a really good time. We really enjoy this whole Trip, and love it to be here with all the Fans and Bands. [Jon Schaffer, Iced Earth]

It’s amazing. The Boat people who run the ship, the Metalheads, and all these Bands. Look around man, it is obvious that the Cruise is a total success in the first year. And we a ready for more. [Chuck Billy, Testament]

It’s actually pretty amazing. First we thought this might not work, but the Organizers proofed everybody to be wrong. It was a great Trip. The Trip is like holiday. The people are really nice. There is absolute no violence on the Ship, nothing. Great! [Uli Jon Roth]

It’s strange… but really fun. It’s a weird trip. [Warrel Dane, Nevermore/Sanctuary]

It’s a very cool happening. The organizers put Fans and Bands together. Like a big family. And the logistic and organization is great. It’s pretty smooth and pretty awesome. The contact with the Fans is really cool. [Gene Hoglan, Fear Factory] _ Cruise is Great. The relation between Bands and Fans is simply great. I never had more fun during two Gigs than on the Cruise. Great!_ [Kai Hansen, Gamma Ray]

Fans:

It’s great to be here. Everything is perfect here. The organization, the weather and the Dinner is great. Best thing is, that you can buy beer everywhere, and the party with the Bands. [Jordi, 29 from Spain]

Awesome! – I still think I’m in a dream. I met Exodus and had a beer with them. It is really the trip of my lifetime. Only disadvantage is the price for a cabin. [Dan, 31 from USA]

First I was not sure if the trip is worth the money. But now I must say, that it is worth each fu***’n penny. The Party, the weather and the ship itself are absolutely over the Top. Not to forget the Waiters which serve beer everywhere. Thanks to the Organizers for everything [Tomi, 36 from Finland]

I have to say that I’m completely exhausted by the Cruise. It is such an impressive Trip that I’ll need weeks to realize the whole dimension of what I’ve done. I met Moonspell and Dark Tranquility and have to say that my dreams became true. [Michael, 24 from Australia]

It’s really the Trip of my lifetime. Everywhere you can talk to Band members, and they are not shy to have a beer with you and give autographs. That is unbelievable. Also the catering on board is great. Only the cabin prices are too high, although the cabins are quite comfortable. [Nick, 43 from England]

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Crowd
Photo: Katja Borns and Marc Hansen