It's an offshoot of the Wacken Festival - with private showers. This is a cruise specially designed to create an unforgettable experience for headbangers, whether they get the tattoo or not.
When the cruise tickets went on sale about a year ago, all cabins were sold out within an hour. You can be a metalhead and can go on a luxury cruise, too. The trip costs 999 euros ($1,118) per person in a double cabin, including meals. Champagne and expensive wines, however, need to be paid extra. But the main drink here is beer, anyway. And that's included, 24 hours a day.
This special cruise was initiated by tour operator TUI and the organizers of the Wacken Festival. The cruise ship, which usually tours around the Mediterranean or the Caribbean, now sails through metal strongholds such as Copenhagen in Denmark and Gothenburg in Sweden.
The journey is the reward
Actually, sightseeing is not the priority of this trip. There are three stages on the "Mein Schiff 1" (My Ship 1), where top bands perform as loudly as they can. Among them are the Echo Award winning German band Santiano, the Finnish power metal band Statovarius and the Swedish death metal band Arch Enemy.
This is the fifth cruise for Timo Kotipelto, the frontman of the Finnish band Stratovarius. He doesn't mind that fans and bands are all in one boat - quite the contrary: "If we were to do this with Finnish fans, they wouldn't leave us alone, but German fans are totally relaxed. This is fun!"
A reminder for eternity
This is the first time Markus Orgis from Dresden went on a cruise. The 25-year-old professional driver is a big fan of the Wacken Festival. Once a year, around 75,000 heavy metal fans flock to a small village in Schleswig-Holstein to enjoy the festival.
Markus Orgis attended the mega event five times already. When he heard about the heavy metal cruise, he knew right away he wanted to join: "It combines concerts, sightseeing in various cities, and most importantly the luxury of having your own shower - that was ultimately compelling!"
Not only did Markus Orgis snatch a ticket for the cruise, he also got an appointment with the tattoo artist of the ship, Catharina Pomorin from Hamburg. He decided to get the Wacken logo - the skull of a bull - tattooed. "It's an honor to have this skull as a tattoo. I will remember this wonderful cruise for the rest of my life." He did not have to pay for the tattoo: He won it in a contest. It is his first tattoo: "It did not hurt too much, it felt as though small syringes were piercing into my skin," he says.
Headbanging meets relaxation
Cornelia and Ulrich Trettner, a couple from Spenge in northern Germany, spent the previous night singing along with bands like Lord of the Lost and Arch Enemy. Now their voices are hoarse. Today, they want to relax.
The spa area of the ship offers massages to worn-out metal fans: You can choose between a "Neckbreaker Special," a back massage which aims to clear the head for additional headbanging, or a "Full Metal Massage," a full body massage.
"We love heavy metal music, but here in the spa area, it is sometimes very pleasant to listen to relaxing music. It's quite a contrast to the stage program, but here we can re-energize for the following concerts", explains Ulrich Trettner.
Die-hard fans need energy
About 800 employees work for the welfare of the passengers. Most of them come from Germany. Austrian Chef Josef Nürnberger has been working on cruises for ten years already. He sees the Metal Cruise as a pleasant change: "Passengers are not as demanding, and tend to be very polite. It doesn't take much to make them happy - just give them a currywurst and a beer."
However, compared to ordinary tours, Nürnberger needs to adapt his repertoire: Metal fans need a lot of energy, so he serves more meat. A favorite among guests is the "metal burger" - a hearty burger with fried eggs, a lot of onions and French fries. "Normally, a few hundred ordinary burgers are enough for a comparable tour, but in this case, we have ordered more than 5,000 of them," explains Nürnberger.
And headbangers drink a lot more alcohol. By the second day of the cruise, more drinks had been consumed than during the entire previous cruise. In addition to beer, they drink more water too - to fight the hangover the next day. After all, tomorrow is another Full Metal Cruise day.