After a quite relaxing flight and a surprisingly unannoying entry into the US, we arrive at our hotel which is located directly at Miami Beach. So that is the territory of Crockett & Tubbs. After getting some food at the beach restaurant we indulge in the happy hour at our hotel bar, having diverse free drinks. Later on, we continue at diverse other bars, savoring a few buckets of barley sherbet. At some point I’m fagged out and go for sleep while André is considering getting a new tattoo and Victor is carrying on his pub tour with some coincidental acquaintances, a few fellow Russians.
Here we go. We try to get to the harbor by taxi which is quite difficult as half of Miami is closed because of obsequies for 2 policemen (Crockett & Tubbs ??) who were killed in a shootout 2 days before. After a number of detours our taxi driver finds a way, dropping us off at our shuttle. The Majesty of the Seas is a gigantic floating tower, having everything on board one could wish for. Pure luxury – in comparison, the ‘Traumschiff’ (from a popular German TV series) is a bleak nutshell. In fact, all the black, long-haired masses which were populating every spot aboard didn’t really fit the ambience. Just imagine Wacken on sea. We move into comfortable cabins with sea view, being door to door with diverse buddies from all the other bands. A real alumni reunion.
There are 3 stages, with the main stage being located in a theater (decks 5-7), one deck across a smaller stage in a lounge, and the pool stage upstairs on deck 12. Every band, 40 in numbers, was expected to play at about the same time. Our departure is being delayed for some time because a crane which is to heave the stage elements for the pool stage on board was late due to the jam in the city. Although the departure will be just 1 hour later, it costs the organizer an extra 100,000 dollars as he has to get a new leaving out permission.
But then we say ship ahoy. The scenery of Miami passing by at dusk is really impressing. We first tipple at the pool, watching the first bands who directly start playing after departure.
Today is our first show on the main stage. Although Victor has to go without his new self designed Victor Smolski Signature Amp by Engl which he presented at the NAMM show in LA some weeks ago (there were problems during delivery), everything is running without technical problems. We check the sound with soundman Gerd and stage tech Dominik in front of a number of fans who are hungering for us. At the show the theater is packed and we play a great gig, mixing new and well-tried material. The atmosphere is awesome, especially many US fans are incredibly happy seeing us finally. Overall there are fans from all over the world, also many from Germany.
After the show we first dine in one of the many restaurants on board, treating us with some fine food around the clock. There is almost everything a heart desires. Afterwards we have party until the doc comes (as the German saying goes). Especially Victor is totally in party mode. Victor, being single at the moment (attention ladies :-), didn’t leave out anything. Oh dear, and we have the cabin next to him.
Shore leave. In the morning we’re landing at Cozumel, a Caribbean island which belongs to Yucatan, Mexico. André prefers to honour the local shopping and bar miles while Victor and myself visit the old Mayan city of Tulum which is more than 1,000 years old. Really superb. 25 degrees Centigrade and bright sunshine directly at the Caribbean Sea. We aren’t letting that skip so we go swimming extensively in the afternoon. The water has optimal temperature, it’s azure blue and the palmy beach is snow-white, what more can we ask from life? Of course there’s one thing: Metal! And Metal is what we’re delivering at prime time at the evening with maximum joy, playing in front of a packed house. The atmosphere is topping the gig from the previous day although we’re pretty swaying over the stage. But not due to alcohol but rather from swell, which is stronger on our return voyage. The swell doesn’t matter though, as the increasing playing level is in a way compensating for it. We carry on celebrating the party with the other bands and fans properly. Actually one of the best things on the trip is that the contact between bands and the fans is so direct. We’re available for everything – autographs, photos, small talk etc, no problem. Anyway, everybody keeps cool and no one is annoying, can’t get any better. Victor is thoroughly taking care of his female fans on his way.
Except for having party and giving an autograph and promo session we haven’t anything to do today. The German television channel ZDF is filming us for a docu about this spectacle, we give various interviews, lots of international press /TV people travelling with us. Unfortunately, I miss the scheduled meet & greet as I was invited to the Captain’s Dinner.
The whole crew is forgathered at the bridge of the boat, finest food is being served while the press members do photo sessions with the bands and crew. During the small talk with the Finnish captain of the ship, the information passed that this first time (test) event makes Royal Caribbean, the cruise line company, feel extremely positive. Not only do they have heavenly sales, but there wasn’t any trouble or any damage also. They might have assumed the Metal fans will dismantle the whole ship and half of the people will go over board drunken, but nothing of that kind happened. As we’re told by the enthusiastic crew, the nagging pensioners are more stressful. So you can see: If there were more metal heads, the world would be a better place, hihi…
Too bad, it’ the end today. Everybody involved agrees that this journey could have been even longer. Anyway, there will be a repetition of this spectacle, maybe the festival will develop into a solid institution. Anyway, we hope that we will be reinvited. Everybody on board had this ‘we’re doing Metal history’ feeling, and I can only advise you: Be there next time, it was really amazing.
Thanks to all participants for this unforgettable experience!