My favourite rock group has always been KISS. I have always loved their theatricality and escapism. I don’t look for social commentary in the music I listen to; that’s what I read news sources and editorials for. KISS’s songs are catchy, anthemic, powerful, and a celebration of life.

Many years ago, I went to a summer camp before my Labour Day Bar Mitzvah. I remember that I brought a handful of tapes to listen to on my spare time: my Bar Mitzvah learning tape and a bunch of KISS tapes.

My passion and admiration for KISS continued through the decades. And throughout, I also felt that I could relate to founding members, Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons. Their Jewish background reflects itself in much of what they do, including their work ethic. Their stance against drugs and alcohol is admirable and sincere.

After all these years of being a huge fan, I was ecstatic to take part in this year’s KISS KRUISE III, a four-night jaunt out of Miami to Key West and The Bahamas. It was an amazing experience. Being around 2000 kindred spirits from 33 different countries was very special; the atmosphere was festive, familial, and full of camaraderie. I would stay up late singing with new friends and strangers at the KISS karaoke, having a blast! And, on one night, a few of us simply hung out on one of the decks singing our favourite songs until 4:00am.

I can’t tell you how much fun Halloween night was. SO many people of ALL ages all dressed up in such creative KISS-themed costumes and truly celebrating KISSdom!

KISS went all out to make this a unique experience. The sail-away show was a casual affair as the band members played unplugged on the pool deck. The selection was excellent and featured several KISS songs that have rarely been played live. It was a treat for die-hard fans. And the casual and light-hearted banter between band members set the tone for us KISS Kruisers.

Their indoor set with full costumes got everyone on the cruise buzzing with excitement. They played even more rare gems, including a few songs they had never before performed live – such as The Oath and Almost Human. I sat behind the lovely Shannon Tweed and a few rows behind Evan Stanley. Shannon was gracious and delightful, happy to talk a little and to pose for a photo. Evan, who I spoke to after the show, proved to be a great guy! One of my favourite moments during the concert occurred when Paul seemingly waved to the audience. When Evan waved back, however, it was clear that this was a father-son moment.

One of my personal highlights was when I got to ask Paul a question during the Q&A on the pool deck. To be able to do that with one of my lifelong heroes was truly a gift. Also, these guys – Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Tommy Thayer, and Eric Singer – are class acts. They make great music. They know how to provide world-class entertainment. They’re bright. They speak well. And they never take their fans for granted.

Besides the concerts, the Q&A, the events hosted by the band members, and much more, each KISS Kruiser received various gifts throughout the cruise starting off with an awesome autographed poster on Day One.

Sixthman, the team that takes care of all the logistics, was superb. They provided an excellent service in so many ways. They also know how to listen to the audience and tweak their operation in order to continually improve the event.

KISS also wants to provide continuous entertainment to their guests so they had an amazing line-up of bands and comedian Craig Gass. The standout for me was Night Ranger. Wow. They have superlative musicianship. They have spectacular songs (that rock much harder live than the recordings). Plus, I had the honour to meet the incredible and affable Mr. Jack Blades! What a treat. Then my cousin and I met guitar god Brad Gillis who was just the most down-to-earth and friendly guy you could imagine.

And what KISS cannot plan for is what really made this cruise so special: new friendships forged by a common bond called KISS.

The above photo with me, my cousin, Steve, and KISS, captures an incredible moment. And in that moment, if you can’t tell from the smile on my face, this 40-something year old turned into a 13-year-old again!

Can’t wait for KISS Kruise IV!