The success of KISS Kruise VI

By Ken Sharp / GOLDMINE

Back in 1975, a passionate KISS fan from Terre Haute, Indiana named Bill Starkey took matters into his own hands in attempt to get his favorite band played on the radio. In short stead, the KISS Army was born. That blood, sweat and tears ethos mining fierce dedication and commitment to championing the cause of their musical superheroes continues unabated more than 40 years on. And as KISS Kruise VI: Creatures of The Deep sets to leave the port of Miami, Florida with stops in Cozumel, Mexico and the Grand Cayman Islands for a five-day excursion of frolic, fun, hijinks and rock ‘n’ roll debauchery on the high seas, that same KISS Army are now getting their sea legs adopting an altogether different guise, the KISS Navy. Over 2,400 passengers from 35 countries are back to share an unforgettable journey with the hottest band in the world.

Standing in the port, I’m witness to friendships being rekindled and allegiances reignited as thousands of fans from Germany to Japan, Australia to Brazil, England to France, Russia to Sweden, most decked out in KISS T-shirts, many wearing full KISS makeup, scamper onto the ship with the excitement of the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion off to see the Wizard on the yellow brick road; and in this case, that yellow brick road leads them face to face with their heroes, Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer — KISS.

This is the band’s sixth cruise and they’re selling out quicker than ever. Greg Hounshell, 46, a realtor based in Wytheville, Virginia has been waiting all year to make it back on the ship and he enthuses: “It’s time for the KISS Navy Reunion. I look forward to this all year. There is simply nothing like it. As a fifth time cruiser, it’s my chance to spend four days with the friends I’ve made from past years and make new friends for the future. The band works seamlessly to give the cruisers dozens of activities to choose from. The band lineups are always good and this year there are some new faces and groups to enjoy. I’ve been blessed to be on these KISS Kruises and wouldn’t miss it for the world. The friends I see on the boat are some of the best people I know. I’ve even started meeting up with them on activities throughout the year. There are no fans like KISS fans and there is no cruise like the KISS Kruise.”

Joining KISS on this rock ‘n’ roll party at sea is a solid assemblage of musical talent numbering Whitford/St.Holmes, a group featuring Brad Whitford of Aerosmith and Ted Nugent’s lead singer, Derek St. Holmes; ‘80s hard metal hellions Skid Row; the prog-metal funksters King’s X; glam rock/power poppers, Enuff Z’Nuff; The Dead Daisies, fronted by ex-Mötley Crüe singer, John Corabi. Plus Nick and Sophie Simmons, Gene’s son and daughter, and The Dives, a power-pop outfit, which features Paul’s son, Evan, on guitar and lead vocals, also set up to perform.

Sixthman, a leading company in music cruises, is truly the benchmark by which all cruises should be measured. As usual, the company has created a cruise teeming with activities that upend the decades old perception of the cruises of the past, which were relegated for the over 60 “blue hair” crowd, spending their golden years wallowing away the hours playing checkerboard, bingo and bridge, drinking watered down blue Mai-Tais, feasting on a limited choice of food options — mystery meat or fish anyone? — and taking long naps.

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