Dear Future Rock Boater,
We asked a group of TRB Veterans to put together a list of their best tips for first-time sailors, so you’ll be in-the-know on all the pro-tips before embarking on The World’s Greatest Floating Music Festival. Ten out of ten TRB veterans agree – they wish they had this information before their first sailing.
1. Find your passport. NOW!
Sorry, we didn’t mean to yell at you. But this is the one thing we can’t say enough. When guests show up on boarding day without proper identification and are denied boarding, it makes us SUPER sad. You are leaving the country, and this is a U.S. Customs thing, not a Sixthman or Rock Boat one. Please review the acceptable forms of identification and locate them now – not the night before you leave home. Also, if you prefer all the info you need to know in the most entertaining format possible, read our blog post all about why you should get a passport.
2. There are no strangers, just friends you haven’t met yet.
The Rock Boat community has been around for 18 years, so sometimes you’ll notice groups of long-time friends and you might be a bit intimidated to jump into the conversation. Don’t be. Everyone tends to be extremely welcoming, and quick to bring new “family members” into the fold. See an elevator full of people? Instead of waiting for the next one, jump on in. Elevator Parties are a real thing, and they’re one of the best ways to meet people. Better yet, head to The Rock Boat Family page before we sail, and start making friends now!
3. Get to know Boat The Rock, the official TRB mascot.
Boat, a pizza-loving pet rock, became The Rock Boat's official mascot a few years ago when the TRB community created a Theme Night called Rocksgiving - a day to celebrate all things Rock Boat! Since then Boat the Rock has been found bopping around the ship for photo ops! Be on the lookout - you never know where he may appear. Take a photo and pass him on!
Everything you purchase on the ship will be paid for with your Norwegian keycard, which will be linked to a credit or debit card of yours, or backed with cash. (You’ll set that up later.) Speaking of credit cards, it’s always best to notify your credit card company of the dates you’ll be on board before traveling, so your international charges don’t register with them as fraud.
Here are the most common “extras” to plan for:
#1 Official Event Merch Store
Rock Boat-specific merchandise and gear from all the bands! Try to visit on the first few days to ensure the best size variety for clothing and get your hands on the world's most wanted pint glass. It opens after the Sail Away show on Day 1 (technically, there's not a set "open time" - but as soon as we hit international waters, you can have at it!). If you go then, all of the band merchandise may not be displayed yet, as bands drop it off throughout the day as they board. For this reason, you may want to make a second stop later in the trip!
#2 Bar Tab
Whether it's a cocktail, your favorite beer, or Norwegian's soda package, most likely you'll accrue a bar tab. You and your cabinmates may decide a beverage package is the way to go. Review all the details here.
#3 Specialty Dining
There will always be free food available, but if you want to dine in one of Norwegian’s Specialty Restaurants, it’s always a fun break from the music!
Wondering what to do while we’re in port? Norwegian has several excursions to choose from in both Key West and Nassau! You can sign up for them once reservation numbers are e-mailed, (4-6 weeks from sailing), or even on board at the Shore Excursions Desk.
Norwegian Pearl's casino is a great place to hang out with your fellow cruisers, especially late night. Feelin' lucky? Try your hand at the blackjack table, roulette, or go head to head with Sixthman Bear at the craps table!
#6 Spa Services
Rockin' out all day, every day for five days can wear out even the most seasoned of Rock Boaters! Norwegian Pearl's Spa is top notch and worth a visit if you'd like to relax and rejuvenate in between shows and activities.
#7 Cash for Tips:
- For porters when you arrive at the Port of Tampa. (Approx. $1 per bag is customary.)
- Ports of Call - many places take major credit cards, but its always a great idea to have some cash on you when you’re in an unfamiliar area.
5. High Five!
No, we’re not trying to slap you in the face… but this is a very high five-ready crowd. Be prepared for lots of high fives, even from people you don’t know (yet)!
6. Theme Nights are optional.
Learn about this year's theme nights here! You won’t stand out if you don’t participate, and you won’t stand out if you do. If you don’t feel like participating, sit back and soak in all the glorious people watching. If you do want to participate in a small way, that’s common too – sporting a t-shirt, hat, button – anything, really – are great ways to give a nod to the theme without diving in headfirst. The Rock Boat is about the music – the themes are just a bit of added fun to enhance the environment. Because who doesn’t want more fun?
7. Learn to read the room. Respect the artists and your fellow guests.
It is called The “Rock” Boat, but every now and then you’ll stumble upon a quieter, sit-down acoustic performance (especially in the Spinnaker Lounge or at the Great Outdoors stage). Respect the atmosphere created by the artist to avoid disrupting your fellow cruisers’ experience. If it’s quiet, keep it that way. If it’s rockin’, keep it that way. (9 times out of 10, it’ll be rockin’). You are welcome to take photos or even short videos (no tablets though), but we ask that you be considerate to those behind you – no one wants to watch all those awesome TRB moments through the screens of the people in front of them.
8. Weather Happens.
It takes almost a full year to plan TRB, and about 10 minutes for the weather to “unplan” it for us. If rain or wind cause schedule changes, we’ll let you know via ship or stage announcements, the sixthman.net/today website (free to access on board while using the ship’s wifi network), posted signs in each elevator bank, and by using the screens throughout the ship to post new schedules. Sixthman staff will be roaming the ship too, so be on the lookout for someone in a navy blue Sixthman uniform if you have a question. The good news is… unforeseen weather changes historically produce impromptu TRB moments we wouldn’t have experienced otherwise! Just ask an alumni about Wideawake in 2006, or Stephen Kellogg in 2014.
9. Stay Healthy.
Don’t forget to EAT.
The schedule can be intense, and you might suffer from FOMO (the “fear of missing out.”) Take a break every now and then to grab some food. The main buffet is super convenient, and it’ll keep your energy up! Soft serve and pizza are some of the most popular (and portable) snacks on board.
Stay hydrated! You’ll likely not get as much sleep as you’re used to, and you'll be on your feet more than normal. Water is your friend. If you brought a water bottle along, you can fill it up by using clean cups next to the water machines in the buffet. Please don’t fill your bottle directly from the machine. We've also added hydration stations throughout the ship for easy access to water while you're enjoying the music!
Washy Washy, All The Time.
The Norwegian staff makes a great effort to minimize the spread of germs aboard Pearl. (They’ll probably even sing to you about it.) You’ll be in an enclosed area with lots of people for 5 days, so do your part, especially before hitting the buffet. Use the provided hand sanitizer before handling the serving utensils and make the boat a cleaner place for all! There are also sanitizer stations throughout the ship you can use in between hallway high-fives.
10. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
So much to do and so little time! Not to mention those schedule conflicts. Take a deep breath, relax and go with the flow. The Rock Boat schedule is packed, and no one person can physically do everything. Each band usually plays 3 sets, so you’ll have multiple chances to catch your favorites – and maybe even more importantly – plenty of time left over to discover something new. See what you want to see, and don’t let FOMO get the best of you. You WILL miss things, and that’s ok.