So you think you're ready to get ShipRocked...

ShipRocked: The Life and Times of a Newb
by: Crickett Martin

           As I anxiously anticipate the announcement of the artist line-up for Shiprocked '19, I find myself once again looking forward to cramming myself onto that fancy floating can with thousands of people for 5 days at sea and ashore to see some favorite as well as new-to-me bands I am pondering the question “Is assless chaps too much?”  To say there is an easy way to describe what your first experience on Shiprocked is going to be like, is to be lying.  To be honest - there is no way to explain what to expect. This truly is one of the unique opportunities to make your journey whatever you want it to be. It is like the first day of college. No one knows who you are, and you don't know them. For you it is a blank slate. You can be who you are or you may become who you've always wanted to become. You can do as much, or as little, as you like. You can throw yourself into the surroundings and experiences or you can treat it like a relaxing vacation.  

            I will admit that I had no idea what to expect. I had friends who had been on prior sailings but their experiences were completely different from mine. On their first ShipRocked cruise they had chosen to see only three or four bands and then laid low beyond those shows. Mine, well, mine was a bit different. I am old enough to know that nothing is guaranteed - and young enough to not care. I also know that common courtesy, politeness, and a willingness to talk to random people will open doors to things you never knew may be possible.

         This adventure is easiest when we start at the beginning. First: The Facebook. This is the great black hole that we each find ourselves sucked into more than we know or would ever admit. This is, however, also a great way to get a jump start on the adventure. Within the Shiprocked Family there are a few groups of people that “adopt” Newbs. They are most easily compared to a Big Brother or Big Sister program. These Survivors (as they are known) bring the Newbs along and make introductions to other Survivors, help to get the lay of the boat, and try to give some insight into what to expect from the unique and life-changing experience known as ShipRocked. Hell, they may well be the very people that meet you on the on-ramp and give out enough mini drinks to drown a hippo. (If you meet this particular brand of ShipRocker - my only suggestion is to be a bit boojier than myself and NOT grab the gin. I think I will start turning these into rules, or Crickisms. like words of enlightenment and help.)  I was lucky enough to be adopted by Kelly.  This refined and metal woman allowed me to join her Facebook group, “Pretty Wicked Ladies”. To simplify: as manly as the name Crickett is, there are a few that may get confused. So, I made sure it was okay as I was potentially “over equipped” for the group. There was never a question.  I came to learn that acceptance during this entire experience was more of a way of life.)  Once you are adopted, well, the game is on. But to clarify, you don't necessarily have to be adopted. You can still just as easily have the best experience doing it the way you want. Dependent on the group, individuals, etc, you begin to be in contact and talking. You start finding things in common, coordinating events and such in advance of even boarding our floating metal Mecca.

         Which brings us to the moment de vrie: SHIPROCKED!  I will say that from the moment of working your way up the ramp to the boat, this is where it begins! (Note: This is where the random shots were being given out like Halloween fun size candy.) So for the sake of this editorial, I recommend that you let all reservations and anxieties loose in the wind. Immerse yourself. Talk to people. Don't be afraid to. I never met a single rude person. Everyone I met was excited, happy, and I would dare use the term “free”. This is an opportunity to get away from everyday life if even for a little while.  No phone calls. No emails. No work. You can literally just be gone. (Note: First, I am actually a quiet person who is very introspective and slightly reclusive. Second, I am horrible with names. I mean like really bad. I met a ton of awesome people. Some I do still know there names, so don't get me wrong, but there are so many people that I met, and I couldn’t tell you their name if you promised to give me a Flying V autographed by Eddie Van Halen. It just would not happen. I do though remember where they are from.  I know a lovely person from New Mexico, Brooklyn ((she isn't from there, but Manhattan doesn't roll off the tongue)), Canada, Manchester, Iowa, etc) It starts immediately.  No formal welcome – it just is there – waiting for each of us.

         Once you are aboard, find your room, and make it through VERY mandatory muster - go explore! Learn where you are in correlation to the stairs and the elevators. Trust me on this, it will help. I personally made a few extra laps but my legs and bum were looking fly as hell by the time I got back to land. Learn where things are on the ship. Find the food court. Find the venues. This helps a lot when you are bouncing between back-to-back shows. Find the outside decks. Oh, and most importantly: find the bars...the sweet, sweet bars. To say that the experience starts off with a bang is a true understatement. You leave port along with your 3,000 new best friends all smiling, singing, and rocking on the main deck… and it goes straight on from there.  We literally float out of port into the open sea to the sounds of what unites us as Family.

         Know in advance that there is NO WAY to experience everything.  Look at the schedule as soon as it becomes available and make a plan – but stay flexible.  You’re sure to find new bands you’ve never heard of that you can’t get enough of. 

         I can go into details of all the random things that occurred during my first year, but there are so many that it would take a lot of time and a whole lot more whiskey. So, speaking as a first year Survivor,  my honest recommendations for the Newbs is to just have fun. Talk to people you don't know. Keep your head on a swivel!  My Glob, I almost forgot. They are everywhere! You will run into band members everywhere! Now there is common etiquette that goes with this, but they are always obliging so long as you don't catch them mid-bite of a taco. #sayingforafriend  

    But truly, let the experience be just that. This is such a unique thing. One thing I took away was that everyone was nice to each other. Not because they had to be - but that’s just how it is.  This is something that I think has been lost this day in age. You don't help someone because you have to, but because you can and you want to. You are surrounded by happy people who want to share that. I have been on a lot of vacations in my time but I can sincerely say that this was the best vacation, and time, that I have ever had. I have met so many beautiful and wonderful people who just a year ago were complete strangers. Never be afraid to ask. Never be afraid to pull back if it is too much and never be afraid to be yourself - draw people in.  I can’t wait to meet you and welcome you to the FAMILY! ~Ohana~