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Music Cruises 2010: Dark and Scary Edition

Some types of people you can imagine on a cruise ship, and others you can't. Pierced, pale, and black-clad goth 20-somethings? Yep, they're on board, too.

Some types of people you can imagine on a cruise ship, and others you can't. Middle-American suburban family? Check. Grandma and Grandpa from Spokane? Check. Businessman and woman from Connecticut? Check (on a luxe line). Pierced, pale, and black-clad goth 20-somethings? Uh...

Yet it's a fact: Successful and long-running group cruises are held every year catering to people you'd neeeeeever expect to find on a cruise ship, including several tribes tied together by common musical styles -- goth ("gothic" for you norms) and heavy metal being the most amazingly un-cruise-like. Yet there they are, out on deck, in the sun. Go figure.

Whatever the niche, there really does seem to be a cruise for every subgenre. Follow me below for a gander at a few of the more extreme niche music cruises being staged over the next year or so.

Goth Cruises

First the definition: Goth, according to Wikipedia (which I wouldn't trust for physics lessons, but for this? Sure), is a contemporary subculture whose "imagery and cultural proclivities indicate influences from nineteenth century Gothic literature along with horror films and to a lesser extent the BDSM culture.... The goth subculture has associated tastes in music, aesthetics, and fashion ... most often with black attire, makeup and hair." You've seen them: Pale, spooky-looking, artsy kids lurking around on the fringe, their makeup perfect as they wait for their big break -- be it into the fashion world, music, or, y'know, the undead.

So you can so see these kids soaking up the sun in a deck chair, right? That image seems to be the way the whole thing got started, actually. According to a FAQ at, "The idea behind GothCruise was formed at a drunken room party.... The question came up 'Where is the most unlikely place you would find a goth?' Everyone agreed, the answer was 'a Caribbean cruise.' In the year that followed, the first GothCruise was organized and a legend was born."

Today there's not one but two Goth cruises. The homespun GothCruise ( is sailing its seventh incarnation this year under the theme "The Sinners & the Saints. It takes off December 5 from San Juan aboard Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas, carrying its sinners to a group of saints: St. Croix, St. Johns, St. Lucia, and St. Kitts. Admirably DIY, the cruise features themed dance parties, meet 'n' greets, "skaryoke" (read: scary karaoke), game nights, etc., with participants acting as DJs and occasionally as performers (acoustic only).

The competition, the much more substantial Annual Gothic Cruise and Masquerade Ball (, is the original of the genre, first held in 1989. It sails September 25 from Miami aboard Carnival's Carnival Liberty, visiting Cozumel, Grand Cayman, and Ocho Rios (Jamaica), and offers an orientation, concerts by five goth bands (Covenant, The Cruxshadows, Funker Vogt, Panzer AG, and Prognosis), an autograph session, a group photo, a screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, nightly dances, moonlight swim parties (and moonbathing? like in The Addams Family?), a fashion show, "gotharoke," goth trivia sessions, welcome aboard and farewell deck parties, and their signature masquerade ball, about which their website is moved to note, "Remember: Carnival does not allow nudity of any type during the ball -- clothing must equal bikini coverage at least." So whattaya think? Do you these goth kids consider their cruises a guilty pleasure? Do you think they always wanted to go on a cruise but were leery about being surrounded by a lot of norms? Do you think they always wanted to go to the Caribbean and kiss a dolphin?

I think they did:

Devils & Dolls: A Hard Rockin' Cruise

Presented by All Genre Travel, the same company behind the Annual Gothic Cruise and Masquerade Ball, Devils and Dolls ( is a sort of industrial-music cruise, so let's first go to the dictionary.

Industrial music, says, is "the most abrasive and aggressive fusion of rock and electronic music . . . [employing] pounding, relentless, jackhammer beats, which helped transform it into a darker alternative to the hedonism of mainstream dance music." So basically we're talking goth plus adrenaline.

Be that as it may, the cruise takes off September 6 from Tampa aboard Carnival Inspiration, visiting Grand Cayman and Cozumel and offering full concerts by two genre bands (The Genitorturers and Noise Auction); an autograph session; a masquerade ball that encourages "Victorian gowns, pirate shirts, and masks"; welcome aboard and bon voyage deck parties; four nightly dance parties; industrial/EBM ("electronic body music" -- don't ask) karaoke; and various contests.

70,000 Tons Of Metal

And finally, we come to the big kahuna of the bunch, the heaviest, biggest, the most audacious, and perhaps the one with the best sense of humor. Says the voiceover on the cruise's website,, "Imagine, January -- cold, bad, f-----g weather. But you, your friends, and 40 metal bands will go to the Caribbean to take over a cruise ship! Four days, 40 bands, one cruise ship, only 2,000 tickets! Book your cabin NOW!"

Oh yeah, that'll be a loud one -- a full-ship charter of Royal Caribbean's Majesty of the Seas, sailing January 24, 2011, from Miami, visiting Cozumel and spending two days at sea. Heavy metal bands scheduled to perform include Raven, Sodom, and Saxon, the latter of which will perform two of their albums from start to finish. Some 37 other bands will perform on several indoor and outdoor stages, and the cruise will also include open-mic nights, music workshops, autograph sessions, and other fan-friendly events.

Pricing, as you'd expect, starts at $666 per person.

Talk with fellow Frommer's cruisers on our Cruise Forum.