I recently returned from KISS Kruise VI, my third and final time on the high seas with the “Hottest Band in the World”: KISS. Each KISS Kruise I’ve been on has been special. KISS Kruise III was my first time partaking in such a wild adventure, I got to see and discover bands I knew little about (i.e., Night Ranger and Vintage Trouble) and I made a slew of new friends. On KISS Kruise IV I was dressed to the nines with my favorite band as we took part in the the greatest photo I’ll ever get with KISS because we were all “Dressed to Kill.” And this year’s KISS Kruise was special for a variety of reasons. Let me tell you all about it.
Thursday, November 3
On Thursday I flew to Miami, because I wanted to be in the city 24 hours before the KISS Kruise started. I know people who flew in the morning of, but I didn’t want to risk my plane not arriving on time and missing out on the entire vacation. That would be horrible. Being there a day early also meant I could attend two fan-run KISS Kruise pre-parties, which is a great way to get pumped for a one-of-a-kind vacation.
While at the pre-parties, I got to see the Big Rock Show and KISS Alike perform – both were awesome. I also got to meet and hang out with famous KISS album cover artist Ken Kelly and meet The Dives, the fantastic new band whose frontman is Evan Stanley, son of KISS’ Paul Stanley. Both pre-parties had fantastic guests, and I had the opportunity to reconnect with old friends and meet new ones. It was a fun night and the perfect way to kick off the KISS Kruise festivities.
Friday, November 4
The next day I woke up, hoped into a shuttle bus and went to the Port of Miami. Upon my arrival, I handed off my luggage and hustled inside, where I had to go through security, fill out a health questionnaire and pick up my cabin key card.
My friend Chuck, who I was rooming with again, spotted me and we boarded the ship together. After getting situated, we grabbed some food. I then met up with Joe Polo, host of Podcast Rock City, to take part in an interview for his show. I hung out with Joe numerous times throughout the trip. He’s a great guy and fun to be around.
KISS took to the stage around 9:30 p.m. for their Unmasked Electric Show, which I was eagerly awaiting. Having seen the band live for the first time in 2003, I never had a chance to see them perform an electric show out of makeup. The concert was great. However, there was only one unexpected deep cut: “A World Without Heroes.” Everything else was pretty much standard fare; and most of the set was comprised of tracks they normally reserve for their KISS Kruise acoustic sets, which were the predecessor to these Unmasked Electric Shows. While it was a great performance, the band really should have paid more attention to the deep cuts fans voted for prior to the KISS Kruise and rehearsed tracks like “Naked City,” “It’s My Life,” and “All Hell’s Breakin’ Loose” if they really wanted to wow the KISS Navy.
I capped off the first night on the boat by attending “Paul Stanley’s Weapons of Choice,” which provided fans with the opportunity to see, hold and pose for photos with Paul Stanley’s beautiful guitars. Since Paul is my favorite member of the band, this was pretty cool.
Saturday, November 5
At 10 a.m. on Saturday I was first in line for the KISS memorabilia photo shoot, where I got to pose for photos while holding the band’s guitars and gold records. It was a great experience and I got a variety of awesome photos, including the one below.In the afternoon I attended “The KISS Navy’s Got Talent” featuring Eric Singer as a judge, as well as “Name That Solo” with Tommy Thayer. Both events were enjoyable, especially Tommy’s because it showcased what an amazing guitarist he is, and both Eric and Tommy were kind enough to autograph my KISS Kruise Lieutenant badge.
Later on, I was four rows from the stage for The Dead Daises, who were amazing. They put on a high-energy show that can’t be beat, and they even dusted off a couple KISS deep cuts: “Rocket Ride” and “All American Man.”
After The Dead Daises, I went back to my room to get ready for my photo with KISS. This time around I decided to get an unmasked photo with the band, mainly because the KISS Kruise is the only place you can get one, and because I already have five photos with the band while they’re in makeup. Another reason why I didn’t want a makeup photo this time around was because Eric Singer wasn’t wearing Eric Carr’s makeup, which flew in the face of the whole theme of this KISS Kruise: Creatures of the Night. My photo turned out great. The band seems relaxed and happy, and when I approached them they, yet again, told me I look like Tommy’s brother, which resulted in all of us laughing before the photo was taken.
I ended the night by seeing Sophie Simmons, Gene’s daughter, and comedian Craig Gass. Sophie’s voice was far better than I expected. However, I could tell she was nervous on stage as she didn’t speak loudly when talking to people in between songs and barely walked around while performing. Despite her voice being great, the music she performed didn’t align with the theme of the trip. Rather than performing rock songs, she opted for Amy Winehouse and Meghan Trainor. Thankfully, the crowd provided her with ample applause.
After sitting through a handful of Sophie’s songs, I headed over to the Spinnaker Lounge to grab a good seat for Craig Gass, who I saw on KISS Kruise III. As expected, he was hysterical and the room was packed with hundreds of people as far as the eye could see.
Sunday, November 6
On Sunday I checked out Paul Stanley’s art gallery, which was interesting. However, I couldn’t bring myself to spend thousands of dollars for a print of an original piece of art, even if it included a meet and greet with the “Starchild” himself.
I also tried out KISS Rock City, a new mobile game that is coming to the Google Play and iOS App Store in 2017. It’s a fun freemium game that features various rhythm mini-games where you can tap the screen to the beat of myriad KISS songs. There’s a leveling-up element to the game too, and you can also customize your character’s attire using in-game money. I look forward to trying out the full game when it’s released.
I watched KISS’ first indoor makeup show from the Atrium on the ship, and it was excellent. They played several deep cuts that caught everyone off guard, including “Keep Me Comin’,” “Wouldn’t You Like To Know Me,” and “Rock And Roll Hell.” But the song that got grown men to jump up and down hugging each other was “Radioactive,” from Gene Simmons’ solo album. No one expected that song to be played, and the band killed it. Their performance was met with a roaring ovation, even in the Atrium.
Monday, November 7
Monday was a big day because it was my chance to see KISS’ second indoor make-up show in-person. The setlist was the same except for one song. They switched out “Strutter” with “Deuce.” I’ve never seen so much confetti at a concert in my life. By the end of “Rock And Roll All Nite,” the floor was covered in it. At one point, I couldn’t even see the band because of the amount of confetti flying through the air. It was amazing!
Tommy Thayer’s birthday was the night of the concert I attended, so the crowd sang “Happy Birthday” to him before the band went into “Shout It Out Loud.” This was a cool moment, and I’m glad I could be part of it. Later that night, I attended The Dives’ concert and they were awesome. Paul’s son, Evan, has incredible stage presence and his guitar work is top-notch. The rest of the band is equally stellar.
They seem to genuinely be having a good time, and their musicianship is second-to-none. They’re based out of NYC, and if you get a chance to see them you should. They’re going to record an EP soon, and I can’t wait to hear how it turns out.
Tuesday, November 6
The last day on the ship was a busy one. Both Paul and Gene had their activities, which were enjoyable, and the KISS Q&A took place later that day. I was fortunate enough to be one of the questions selected. My question for KISS was: “Considering how awesome you guys sound acoustically, what are your thoughts on doing an all-acoustic studio album of all-original material?” As you can see from the video below, Paul’s answer made zero sense. He said that any new album they do would have to have Eric on drums. Has he not hear MTV Unplugged or any of the numerous acoustic concerts the band has performed over the past decade? Eric has drummed on all of them and killed it. Maybe Paul couldn’t understand my question because of the crazy amount of wind. Either way, it was cool to have the opportunity to address the whole band on the last day of my last KISS Kruise.
Another cool event that happened that afternoon was Nick Simmons, Gene’s son, was a special surprise guest. He performed a variety of mellow songs while sitting on a stool, and, I have to say, his voice is awesome. He really did a terrific job, and Nick was much more suited for the KISS Kruise than Sophie. He closed out his set by performing a Led Zeppelin song with Paul’s son, Evan, on guitar. It was a special moment I’m sure no one on board the ship will ever forget.
That night the hilarious Craig Gass performed his second stand-up act, which, as expected, was phenomenal. I followed that up with a performance by The Dead Daises, who put the cherry on top of an already amazing vacation.
KISS Kruise VI was excellent. I witnessed numerous concerts by a variety of amazing musicians. I got to meet members of my favorite band and get an awesome photo with them. And, most important of all, I spent five days with friends old and new, talking about our passion for music. If you’re a KISS fan and you’ve never been on the KISS Kruise, you owe it to yourself to do it at least once. I originally said it was a once-in-a-lifetime event for me, and that turned into three-times-in-a-lifetime. Why? Because it’s a spectacular experience unlike anything else, and only one band does it better than the rest: KISS.