By Ken Sharp
Sixthman themed music cruises are fully immersive experiences catered for the uber fan, breaking the glass window that once separated fan and artist and opening it up into a communal free-for-all. This year’s KISS Kruise VI theme was “Creatures of the Deep,” which is a celebratory nod to the band’s classic 1982 album, "Creatures of the Night." It’s an album heralded in KISS circles as a welcome return to form after their career misstep with the concept album, "(Music From) The Elder." Gene Simmons attempts to explain why the "Creatures" album connected so strongly with their fan base.
“It might have been a pivotal moment when that generation latched on to us. Of course, we started out as a band ten years before that but if you’re 40, it might have been the album at 10-years-old that you connected with. 'Creatures' was also an album that when it came out originally it was not popular. It was a slump for us in America but at the same time we were playing stadiums in South America.”
The following is a Q&A with Sixthman's CEO Anthony Diaz, Marketing & Communications Specialist Carlee Thomas and KISS Kruise Warrior (Event Leader) Lauraine Frank more about their music-themed cruises, especially the KISS Kruise.
Is there an ethos that Sixthman has as a music cruise company that separates you from all the others?
Anthony Diaz: We’ve worked hard to create and live our values. We strive to make the guest the star, to serve our team, guests and artists beyond expectations – to capture all the excitement and adventure of a music festival at sea experience in a rally for all of us to LIVE LOUD.
How has the music cruise industry grown from its infancy to 2016?
Anthony Diaz: Sixthman pioneered the concept in 2001. Fifteen years later the reception by fans and bands has been incredible and helped create a thriving industry that continues to innovate across the entire guest experience.
What role has Sixthman taken in its exponential growth?
Anthony Diaz: Sixthman has made building and strengthening communities before, during and after the festival as its core priority. In doing so, we’ve been able to explore new genres of music, enter into serving new communities in television, sports and comedy. If we live up to our values of delivering a mind-blowing guest experience – we hope to continue to earn the high growth rates we’ve experienced in our first 15 years.
Discuss how the one-held perception by baby boomers about cruises of the past, old timers playing checkerboard and taking long naps, has paved the way for a new immersive experience.
Anthony Diaz: I just play them:
Why are the KISS Kruises selling out faster than ever?
Anthony Diaz: KISS has some of the most passionate fans from around the entire globe and the band does and incredible job of creating new fan-band experiences every year to exceed KISS Kruiser expectations. We feel honored to help being a part of setting the stage for the band and their fans to rock out together at sea – it’s an absolute blast.
How many passengers are expected on KISS Kruise VI?
Carlee Thomas: This year’s KISS Kruise sold out with 2,400 guests.
Give us a run down on how many countries are represented.
Carlee Thomas: We’ve got KISS Kruisers from 35 countries coming to sail with us this year. In addition to the US and Canada, the most highly represented places are Argentina, Brazil, Australia, the United Kingdom and Germany with almost 100 guests from each of those countries.
In terms of the events and concepts for each Kruise, how closely does Sixthman work with KISS?
Lauraine Frank: Sixthman and KISS work together every single step of the way, from concept to implementation. From planning the theme nights and activities to the show schedule, we are in constant communication as all decisions are made for our guests throughout the year.
The KISS Kruise numbers many repeat customers, what is the feedback you receive from passengers that is the incentive to draw them back year after year?
Lauraine Frank: It's the band that brought them to their first Kruise, then the relationships they’ve formed, along with seeing KISS, that brings guests back each year. Each year has a new, different theme, so it’s always fresh for our returning guests. A vacation that pairs this passionate community with the chance to discover new bands, travel to exotic locations, and have an intimate experience with KISS can’t be found anywhere else!
Discuss the sense of community started among passengers and how that connection also plays a role in their experience that is independent of the attraction of KISS itself?
Lauraine Frank: We love seeing photos and hearing stories of meet-ups at shows or other events in people’s hometowns. Guests and artists are one big family, so it becomes less about solely seeing KISS and more about reconnecting with your KISS-loving peers. Another thing that sets the experience apart is how Sixthman and KISS use guest feedback. We strongly consider opinions and vision from KISS kruisers, and it’s cool for everyone involved to see the impact they make on how the kruise shapes up each year.