5 Insane Things You Might See On Flogging Molly’s Salty Dog Cruise
Sometimes, music festival cruises feel a little random; for Celtic punks Flogging Molly, the format makes perfect sense. The band’s high-flying, brine-drunk songs seem right at home on the high seas, where never-ending bars and deckside shenanigans make for blur of raised glasses, good times, and foolhhardy ideas. So it’s unsurprising that their Salty Dog Cruise is now entering its fifth year, and has become the annual highlight of the lives of their fans.
“There’s this group of people who call themselves ‘shipmates’ — they meet up in the city and come to our shows, and they all converge and migrate to the boat,” says guitarist and vocalist Dennis Casey.” It’s this level of love and passion. I have to admit, I was very skeptical in the beginning — I’d never been on a cruise, and I didn’t really understand how to make it work. But I gotta tell you, the second I got on the boat, I met two people from Belgium, and thought, ‘Oh my God, this could be great.’”
Besides the sheer level of dedication shown by annual attendees, this year’s Salty Dog Cruise boasts plenty to make it a bucket list experience. There’s also a line-up that includes Pennywise, Stiff Little Fingers, Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls, The Bronx, and more; stops at Key West and CocoKay, Bahamas; and a professional-grade skate ramp on the roof deck for doing kickflips beneath the stars. And of course, being on a boat in the middle of the ocean, there’s nothing to do but party — all the time.
“At another festival, when it’s time to go, it’s time to go,” says accordion player Matt Hensley. “There is no stopping here — I’ve been walking around at nine in the morning, and there are still people getting after it, walking around with bottles of whiskey or dancing with DJs.”
Having heard the rumors, and curious to learn what the voyage has in store, we asked Dennis and Matt to tell us about the most insane things your average sailor will see on the Salty Dog Cruise. Here’s what they told us…
Over a hundred Jameson shots, consumed in a single moment
Dennis: The first year, the shipmates did this toast in the front bar of the boat. There were hundreds of people at this thing, and there were hundreds of shots on the bar. It was staggering when you walked by — just the fumes from the alcohol. And they passed them all out! And every year, they pick a reason to toast — to be there is one, sure, but let’s say everyone pitched in to give someone a little extra money, like let’s say [someone was] struggling with some health issues. They do a huge cheers. I’ve never seen so many shots of Jameson consumed in one instant!
Jacuzzi-side rock star performances
Dennis: The first year, Frank Turner was on he cruise. I was walking around, and I thought I heard people singing. I couldn’t tell what was going on. I went to the jacuzzi at the top of the boat, and I followed [the noise], there’s a bunch of people singing along — and there’s Frank Turner, sitting there with his guitar next to the jacuzzi, doing a whole acoustic set for whoever was there. And I was like, ‘There’s not many places in the world you can experience this.’
Punk rock dance parties during tropical storms
Matt: There was a moment last year, where we did a northern soul dance part. We were DJ-ing at midnight, and a storm was hitting, and everyone — including the Buzzcocks — were dancing on the deck of the ship. It was pouring, and people were just dancing in the rain while the ship got beat up by the waves. Dennis’s poor, beautiful wife was getting seasick…
Dennis: Yeah, she was getting seasick…and I was no help. I just ran out on the balcony, and was howling at the moon. You could see the storm from a distance — the lightning and everything. It was so beautiful.
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Night skating while your favorite punk legends play under the stars
Matt: One of the many stories that always sticks with me is that I was skateboarding on the deck with a bunch of professionals. We’re skating this ramp, and 30 feet away from me, English Beat were playing. And then you look up, and and you look at the stars, and you’re looking over the Caribbean. If you would’ve told me back in 1985 that I’d be on a ramp listening to English Beat over the Caribbean, I would’ve called you crazy.
Straight-up baby makin'
Dennis: We’ve had marriages on board, and kids being conceived. People have come up to us and said, ‘We’re going to have a baby, and we figured it out — we conceived on the cruise!’ They just went on our cruise, and…this beautfiul thing happened! People have also gotten married on it — our old banjo player got his marriage license, and he married a few people. Last year, our friend Rob had his…did he have his wedding there? Or his bachelor party? Or both?
For more information about Flogging Molly’s Salty Dog cruise, visit the event’s website.
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