What do I say about an event that features 60 bands, the venue is luxury equipped, and thousands of people are happy? Welcome to the 70,000 Tons Of Metal Cruise! This was my 3rd cruise, and all 3 of them sit in my mind as some of the greatest experiences of my life! I have always loved going to festivals. I might go so far as to call myself a festival expert. In advance I always get my schedule together, look at the conflicts on the stages, sort out my commute to where I’m sleeping – whether it’s a walk to a campground or a train to a nearby town. There’s a lot to think of and the body can get broken down. Over the many years of my attending festivals I can tell you – whatever your focus- you need to take care of yourself and prioritize. Many of us have ended up missing bands we wanted to see because we were too far from that particular stage, we were too drunk or distracted, or we just stopped paying attention to the schedule. ALL of that is OK, it’s part of the festival going experience, AND I really want to see as many bands as possible. This year I saw over 40 of the 60 bands. The thing that sets this festival apart is the setting of course, the playing at sea thing is a great selling point, and it’s the luxury that I mentioned above that really makes it my top choice. Luxury doesn’t mean that I can purchase diamonds on board – I could – I didn’t, but it was possible! There was a casino and I’m happy to report that I was up $5 when I left, but the luxury reference is really about how we get to take care of ourselves, even though we are subjecting our bodies to super loud punishment that going to a festival features. In one day I saw 9 bands play their entire sets. I had a chance to take a nap – a 20 minute one, but it was in my actual BED in my cabin. I had the opportunity to grab food – and I mean GRAB food, not sit down and eat it, a couple of times that particular day, and I grabbed real food, not a pretzel and beer. I did over indulge in the desserts featured at the Windjammer Cafe more than once, but their general offerings at almost any time of day and night provided real protein, real nourishment, and kept this sailor going and going! At many terrestrial festivals a lot of time is wasted standing in line for beer and food. Not so on 70,000 Tons. Lines are minimal for everything because a cruise ship is designed for consumption. They have already figured out which way you’ll be walking, AND they have placed a bar, or a soft serve ice cream machine RIGHT THERE. We’ve all gone to festivals where some of the food is so far away from the performance areas that we just settle on something random to eat even though there may have been better food a little further away. On the ship, luxury buffet style is available almost all the time. I also took advantage of the spa area on board and specifically remember telling someone that “I think I have time between Ensiferum and Obituary to hang in the steam room and get a quick shower.” I did, and I have never spoken those words at any other festival, EVER. The festival is a feat in itself. Of course the ship has it’s own venues on board, but the main Pool Deck stage always has to be built. The journey was generally pretty windy as a rule, and I only found out this bit at the end, but because the winds were so high and were causing issues with building the stage, the ship actually sailed in the opposite direction, so that the wind forces would not be as difficult to deal with. I was floored to hear this solution that was larger than life. This cruise has determined, committed people manning the helm on many levels. I got to meet with and speak with a number of bands that you’ll hear on my companion radio shows on GimmeRadio.com and every staffer was great and invested in the idea that everyone on board has a great experience. And the funny thing about this is that the cruise ALWAYS sells out, quite a long time before sailing, and the staff still acts as if it’s important for those aboard to be happy, regardless of the fact that we were going to be there anyway. Definitely search them out here, the next cruise is January 7-11 2020. Round X!