Monsters of Rock Cruise Vs. 70K TOM - Part II
I should have said this in part I but as far as MSC cruise lines go, I would have to think long and hard about doing another cruise with them, the boat was nice enough but the shitty bar and wait staff along with the poor food really spoiled them for me. Also, I stand corrected, a MORC vet of their first cruise told me that the original boat, the Poesia was the same size as the Divina, I checked it out and it is true, so MORC has been on a big(ish) boat from the get go. She also noted that on the first cruise nearly EVERY band went on late. (thanks for the input Janet)
Ok now on the the important stuff.
MORC had 5, actually 8(9?) if you include the “Poseidon's Grotto” (Great Stirrup Cay) port and the official MORC pre-party venues and I will hit each of them individually. Note, since this is live music there were certainly the expected number of sound gremlins and equipment failures. Not excessive at all and the sound crew handled most pretty efficiently. (no artist tantrums were required)
Day 1 - pool deck delayed by a couple hours, all the MORC regulars were panicking, and I was like “Hey, this is totally normal!” Apparently past MORC cruises have had pretty spot on show times so the pool deck delay had many in a tizzy. But hey, we 70K-ers KNOW what real delays are all about don't we...? Anyway, they got their junk erect (pun intended) eventually and everyone stopped whining. As I previously said the pooldeck was comparable in layout to the Majesty although wider and deeper, consequently the stage was similarly wider and deeper. No, it was not THE BIGGEST STAGE ON THE SEA OR IN THE GALAXY OR WHATEVER, but it was a perfectly sized for the space and was 100% covered (came in handy because there was some rain). Lighting was pretty generic but there were no stupid seizure-inducing strobes either... Visibility was good from most angles with the exception of straight on from the back, here is the reason. MORC sold VIP packages that got you a superior cabin, some swag, first entry into the theater and a reserved raised platform 2/3 of the way back on the pool deck. The platform was part of the deck structure and raised about 3 feet. So anyone directly behind the platform had a blocked view. There was another platform against the back wall that was open for everyone but even there the view was obstructed by the VIP dopes. The stupid thing is there were rarely more than a handful of people on the VIP platform. Anyway, you could always re-position and find a spot with good visibility. That VIP platform bullshit though, you could easily fit 50 people on it but it was nearly empty a lot f the time. Back to booze for a second, there was only 1 bar on the pool deck (in the vicinity of the stage) so it was stupidly packed during sets. There were no pools or hot tubs in the vicinity of the stage or crowd. So no hot tub guitar solos, circle pits or band members crowd surfed into the pool, but there also weren't any stupid dicks hoisting beer buckets full of DNA filled hot tub water all over the crowd. Needless to say, I didn't miss the hot tubs and pool. The sound system on the pool stage was fantastic, good mix and volume from all angles I experienced. One place the MORC PA excelled was bass response. Man, compared to 70K, their PA had massive bass, those opening synth notes of Europe's the Final Countdown were quite literally vibrating the deck. It was fuck-all impressive. Not being a sound engineer or stage tech I am not sure what else to comment on, overall the pooldeck was a 7/10 experience for me.
Similar size and capacity to the one on the Liberty and quite beautiful. Excellent visibility all around. and they DO REMOVE FLOOR SEATS. They pulled the middle section of seats which was more than enough standing room for those that wanted to be in the pit, and it never felt overly packed.
Lighting in the theater was impressive although they had some blinding spotlights that were sweeping the audience, still nostupid strobes though...
Sound was stellar, especially in the middle 2/3 seating wow, it was really perfect. We were on the rail for Y&T and the sound there was bad to horrible, eventually I bailed to mid level seating and it was perfect there. As with the pool stage the bass in the theater was astounding, not just brutally loud, but clear and defined. And again back to booze, none was allowed in the Pantheon theater. So while you didn't have to worry about sitting on a spilled beer, you couldn't enjoy one while watching a gig either. Overall I give the theater a solid 9/10, definitely my favorite venue on this cruise.
Black and White Lounge
Similar the the Spectrum with a super low ceiling but a bit more floor space. Only caught 2 shows there, one from the back ana as with the Spectrum it was impossible to see the band from any angle due to the wall of people around the stage. For the second show I was right up front and could have tied Randy Jackson's (Zebra) shoelaces together. Mix was good and not overly loud, once again I' say MORC had the superior sound. Oh and no smoking in there or any indoor venue. Overall the Black and White gets a 6/10 from me. Not my favorite type of venue.
Golden Jazz Lounge
A very small and intimate lounge with one bar in the back and a tiny stage, watched Heavy Mellow do one of their 5 awesome sets in there and was also coerced into watching the ridiculousness that is Bang Tango (thankfully all those memories were alcohol deleted). It was the perfect setting for an acoustic set but a crowded mess for anything other than that. I don't think 70K has an equivalent to this venue, not that I remember anyway. The closest would be the one with the piano (name escapes me) but the Golden Jazz was more of its own segregated space. I guess I'd give this one a 6/10 too, it was a bit awkward to as the walking path through the ship cut right through the middle of the lounge so when people walked through they were strolling right in front of the stage, difficult when it was crowded.
They had some acoustic sets and auctions and other silly non-music stuff there, didn't watch anything other than a bit of the Dio memorabilia auctions and Heavy Mellow's sound check. It is an atrium, not a venue so limited seating and probably not the greatest acoustics. I am nuetral on that one.
Meet and Greet venues.
Unfortunately, meet and greets are not my thing at all so actually I have no idea whatsoever where the meet and greets were held or how they went off. They could have been sacrificing virgins down there for all I know. Sorry, reviewer fail on this one. : )
Don't even remember the name of the lounge, it was tiny, non-smoking and actually ok for karaoke. Went there once, had a bit of fun but the guys running the karaoke there were complete douches. Some psuedo-celebrities or something. 70K karaoke on the Majesty ruled and always will, we must find a way to bring that vibe back on whatever ship we are on next.
Poseidon's Grotto (aka Great Stirrup Cay)
Our first of 2 ports of call, a fairly small private island owned by Norwegian Cruise lines. They had a small bar stage and a large (semi truck trailer) portable stage. Ok, THIS was a great day, the whole private island thing works so well for a music cruise. The bar stage was a tiny thing, Heavy Mellow (again) and 2-3 other small timers played there. The bigger portable stage had Atomic Punks (great fun) and Black and Blue (left before them). They hauled all the PA and instruments over by tender , plus all the booze and food. I had fun overload that day, sound at both stages was good for a quickly thrown together set. I'll touch on this place a bit more when I review the Ports.
The one Preparty we hit was at the Magic City Casino and greyhound track. Saw Lillian Axe (bleah) and Queensryche. This was a great great great venue. Stage was set up in front of the grandstands on the infield of the race track. We stood down front on the sand track but many sat in the grandstands. It was nice and uncrowded. We met up with a few 70K-ers there who weren't going to MORC so that was a great night. Totally different vibe than Donn's 70K preparties, more like a proper concert. Not necessarily better, just different. Personally I enjoyed the MORC venue more than the clubs where we've had 70K's pre parties. They actually had a second preparty at the track the next night, but we went to see The Who and Joan Jett at the American Airlines Arena instead. Apparently there was a third preparty (Rockerz gone wild) happening concurrently, I know nothing about that one. Mind you these are OFFICIAL MORC pre events, which goes back to their organization. They are not depending on their customers to put on the pre parties. Everyone say a collective thanks to Donn for picking up UMC's slack...
OK, that's it for venues. Next up you'll hear about our fellow MORC cruisers...