It’s prom night, and you’re wrapped in taffeta, hearing the squeaking soles of dancing shoes all across the room. The band is live, and they’re playing your favorite song. You haven’t heard that one in years. You and your date dance the night away together. People all around are wearing bobby socks and poodle skirts. But this isn’t your old high school gymnasium; this is the Rockin’ the Caribbean® cruise.
The Rockin’ the Caribbean® cruise and Rocky’s Rockin’ Cruises are the brainchild of Gerry “Rocky” Seader, the founder of rock ‘n’ roll band Rocky and the Rollers. Rocky has been enmeshed in the rock ‘n’ roll world since the age of 18, when he started playing the drums in the band Danny & the Juniors (“Rock ‘N’ Roll is Here to Stay”).
In 1981, Danny & the Juniors landed a gig playing a series of supposed rock ‘n’ roll cruises. “In my opinion,” Rocky says, chuckling slightly, “They were not.” Out of seven cruise days, the band was only slated to play two shows. The cruise guests were dissatisfied; they thought there would be more music. But Rocky had an idea. “I talked to the cruise director who said it was up to the promoter, but I came up with the idea for us to play a sock hop dance.” The impromptu dance was a huge hit.
A few years later, Rocky formed his own band: Rocky and the Rollers. With bandmates Al Layton, Bruce Nardi, Jimmy Miller, Al Morse, Bruce Wallace, Rick Abbott and Steve Falkner, Rocky hoped to keep the spirit of 50’s, 60’s and 70’s rock ‘n’ roll music alive and thriving. Rocky was also able to bring his dream cruise to life.
On Rocky’s Rockin’ Cruises, guests are able to get to know the performers because they spend the whole week with them on the ship, no matter how famous they are. “I’m picky about the acts I bring on the ship,” Rocky says, “Some other acts will just want to perform and get out of there, but that’s not what we’re about.”
The schedule is packed with performances by artists from the 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970’s. On the upcoming Rockin’ the Caribbean® cruise, you can meet artists such as Jon “Bowzer” Bauman (“Born to Hand Jive”), Gary Lewis and The Playboys (“This Diamond Ring”), The Flamingoes (“Only Have Eyes For You”), Freddy Cannon (“Palisades Park”), The Dixie Cups (“Going to the Chapel”), Jay Siegel & The Tokens (“The Lion Sleeps Tonight”) and many, many more. Of course, Rocky and the Rollers perform throughout the cruise themselves, bolstering the crowd and encouraging everybody to get up and dance.
“The best part is just watching people have fun,” Rocky says, “Taking people back forty, fifty, maybe sixty years … It’s the beginning of rock ‘n’ roll, good-time rock ‘n’ roll. It’s not offensive, and it’s fun to dance to.”
There are dance parties almost every night on Rocky’s Rockin’ Cruises. The Let’s Get Ready to Rock Dance Party welcomes guests to the ship and encourages them to get to know each other while dancing to amazing live music. DJ Al Brady’s High School Reunion dance recalls hits from cruisers’ school days. At the Sock Hop Dance, cruisers are encouraged to come in costume as they might have dressed in the 50’s and 60’s. You’ll see bobby socks, saddle shoes, lettermen’s jackets and cat-eye glasses. Cruisers dress more formally for Prom Night, in suits and party dresses. They even crown a prom king and queen! The final dance is the Good Night SweetHeart Dance, in which cruisers can look back fondly on all the fun they’ve had throughout the week and get a few more surprises from the acts on stage.
Other than the dances, you can attend live performances at one of the cruise’s private concerts, like the 60’s Pop Icon Show, the Hitmakers Show, Doo Wop ‘N’ Rock and Bowzer’s Rock ‘N’ Roll Party. Bowzer’s Rock ‘N’ Roll Party is hosted by Jon “Bowzer” Bauman, former lead singer of Sha Na Na. Rocky and the Rollers have served as the touring band for Bowzer’s Rock ‘N’ Roll Party for many years.
Bowzer himself is a huge fan of the cruise, calling it “the most fun youse will ever have on a cruise ship!”
Although all of the artists will be milling around the cruise for the whole week, you can also attend their meet and greet, where you can get some autographs. If you still have questions that need to be answered, head on over to one of the Q & A sessions, where all of the performers answer questions from the crowd.
Included with your ticket price are the services of a AAA Tour Manager, which will come in handy when you want to explore one of the cruise’s ports of call. There are three cruises coming up: Eastern Caribbean, Western Caribbean and Alaska.
On the Western Caribbean cruise, Rockin’ the Caribbean® Vol. 17, you can lounge at Royal Caribbean’s private beach resort in Labadee, Haiti, float on bamboo gondolas in Falmouth, Jamaica and get up close and personal with Mayan history in Cozumel, Mexico. You can visit the same Labadee beach resort on the Eastern Caribbean cruise, Rockin’ the Caribbean® Vol. 18, as well as a few other exciting ports of call. On both Caribbean cruises, you can take advantage of the ship’s many activities, such as rock climbing, zip lining, and surfing. Melt away your stress with a massage or catch some rays while lounging by the pool.
On the Alaskan cruise, Rockin’ the Glaciers® Vol. 2, you can experience the beauty of the Alaska Inside Passage, framed by glaciers, fjords and soaring mountains. Explore the city of Juneau, soar over rivers of ice in Skagway and experience the old world charm of Victoria, British Columbia. On the ship you can take advantage of a luxurious spa with treatments such as heated stone massages. You can also ice skate, rock climb and even go mini golfing on deck.
Whether you’re cruising the glaciers or the Caribbean, there are always exciting activities waiting at every stop along the way.
“It’s a great cruise experience,” Rocky says, “It’s good for veteran cruisers and good for people who haven’t cruised before. It’s a lot of fun.”
The cruise creates an atmosphere of celebration, enveloping the performers and cruisers alike in the wild and carefree music of the era. It’s clear that on Rocky’s Rockin’ Cruises, rock ‘n’ roll is here to stay.