The excitement for Parahoy 2016 had been building for almost a year. I was one of about 2499 other individuals who were lucky enough to snag a spot on the Norwegian Pearl during the pre-sale in May 2015 to spend 4 days at sea with one of my favorite bands, Paramore. This would be my first cruise and my first time to Mexico, and probably about my eighth or ninth time seeing Paramore since All We Know is Falling was released.
Day 1: Sail Away from Miami Port (Saturday, March 5, 2016)
I arrived in Miami from Tampa, Florida, at about 12:00 PM, the meeting time that had been set between myself and the four other ladies I was rooming with. They were late—I didn’t mind. I was enjoying seeing all the people check in their bags and get in line for the check-in process. After what felt like forever, we made it on board and in our room around 2:30 PM. Our first gift of the cruise was awaiting us—sailor hats! I wore mine with pride and of course took several selfies to send to my friends while I still had connection to the outside world. It was here I saw my first glimpse of the band —I was standing out on my room’s balcony and I saw Hayley Williams and Taylor York, along with Williams’s new husband Chad Gilbert (lead guitarist of New Found Glory, who was also a performing artist on the cruise) getting off their bus and beginning their check-in process. My roommates and I yelled to her, but sadly, she did not hear us. Bummer. The first of two Paramore shows was happening at 5:30 PM on the pool deck, and I could not wait! But first, everyone on the ship had to attend a mandatory safety meeting in the Stardust theater.
Having never been on a cruise before, I expected pretty much a briefing of what they do on airplanes before take off—but the cruise ship version. Boy, was I surprised! All they did was show me how to put on a life jacket and inflate it. It took five minutes. Then, everyone rushed to the pool deck to claim their spot as close to the stage as possible. When my roommates and I got there, it was pretty obvious a lot of people did not go to the safety meeting in order to fill the pit. We got a spot on the upper balcony of the pool deck to the left side of the stage. I was pumped! Hayley came out, along with Taylor and fill-in-drummer Aaron Gillespie (you know him as the original drummer of Underoath and lead singer of The Almost, but he has been the touring drummer of Paramore since August 2013) and some other gentleman I did not know, but later learned were Justin York (rhythm guitarist) and Joey Howard (bassist). The performance was amazing, no surprise, because their performances are always amazing. They performed songs such as “Brighter”, “Last Hope” (one of my favorites!!), and “Part II.”
After the show, I had a personal mission for this cruise—I wanted to get my first tattoo, on my first cruise, by one of the greatest tattoo artists I have seen—Dan Mugrauer from Red Lotus Tattoo and Body Piercing Shop located in Pennsylvania. He was the featured tattoo artist on the cruise and he would only be able to tattoo a limited number of people in the four days. He had posted Paramore flash on his instagram, and I fell in love with a broken mirror with the lyrics “fall in love with yourself” around the mirror. So, I headed straight to the casino where his shop was set up to try and book my appointment and get my estimate. I was disappointed to find out he was not taking appointments for the entire cruise at the moment, but I was told he was booking appointments every day. So, I was able to see the flash up close and personal (I had seen it on his instagram which did not do it justice after seeing it in person) and get my estimate, and so I created my game plan: I would immediately come back on Monday after my day in Mexico to get on the list. And if not Monday, definitely Tuesday morning I would wake up before sunrise to get in line so I could get my tattoo.
The rest of the night was filled with performances by other bands on the cruise: Lights, Mewithoutyou, Chvrches, X Ambassadors, and New Found Glory. However, I was so exhausted from the day of traveling and the show that I decided to go back to my cabin and prepare for the next morning—which was the day every single person on the cruise got their picture taken with Hayley and Taylor.
Day 2: Photoshoot with Hayley and Taylor (Sunday, March 6, 2016)
Without a doubt, the most important day of my life was this morning. I woke up early, hit the gym with 2 of my roommates (by the way, I decided that everything is better on a cruise ship—I was so motivated working out when I had a view of the ocean!), then we ordered breakfast and began getting ready for our photo with Hayley and Taylor. They had tried to schedule it to be easy for everyone, by setting a time for certain groups. I think my time was 11:45am, during the first session of the day. When my group walked out of our room we were met with a line going down three decks for the pictures—WOW. This was definitely the second worst part of the cruise. Obviously it’s hard to coordinate 2500 people to get pictures taken in one day, so I commend Sixthman and the band, as well as all the ship goers for being patient, and I give major kudos to Hayley and Taylor for not changing the plan of taking photos with all those who booked during the pre-sale (the ship sold out during pre-sale, hence the entire ship getting their picture).
I don’t know how long I waited in line, but I know it was a long line and there were servers passing out water to everyone. People were taking seats on the chairs and stools which they had used to create the maze to get to the photoshoot area. They also had pretty amusing signage posted throughout the line to keep everyone entertained. I have to say, as we got closer to the front of the line, I got more nervous. I was about to meet my idol, who had been my idol since I was 13 years old. What should I say? Would I have time to say anything? I quickly found out that no, I wouldn’t. They were pushing people through as fast as possible. So the moment I had been waiting for since I was 13, lasted about 60 seconds and I didn’t even have time to comprehend what happened.
However, when the lady pushed me toward Hayley, she was in the middle of rocking the air guitar and singing to Alanis Morissette which was playing overhead. She said, “Oh, sorry” to which I replied, “No don’t be sorry!!” I wrapped one arm around her, the rest of my group filed in and FLASH, time to leave. Let me tell you though, our picture is the best!
My group went to lunch and afterward, I hung out on the sun bathing deck and watched X-Ambassadors. I was pleasantly surprised by X-Ambassadors and how much I enjoyed their songs other than “Renegade” and “Unsteady.” By the way, am I the only one who hates the static sound they put in “Unsteady” and has anyone else noticed the lead singer, Sam Harris, looks and sounds very similar to Chris Daughtry?
After spending much of the day relaxing and enjoying the sun, that night was Paraoke. Paraoke was karaoke with Paramore! Cruise goers had submitted clips before the cruise and finalists were selected to perform in front of Hayley and Taylor. Let me tell you, there were talented folks from all over the globe on board! Hayley and Taylor were able to narrow it down to a top 3. At that point, those three individuals performed for everyone again and the audience got to decide.
Keli Thompson, contestant #3, was the winner after performing “Ain’t it Fun.” She is from Scotland and holy crap does that girl have some lungs on her! Hayley told her she would have to steal some rifts from her in the future—imagine how cool it would be to hear that from her! Check out Keli’s band Painting Rockets (with her accent we thought she said penis rockets btw, and we asked her at dinner later what the actual name of her band was) and show her some love! Click here to see her performance, but be warned, you can’t really hear her over the singing and screaming of her friends who recorded the video (one of my major pet peeves is when people record videos and sing the entire time so you can’t hear anything but them singing).
Later that night was the masquerade ball, the comedians first set, as well as the first performance by Vacationer.
Day 3: Cozumel, Mexico Sail Away show (Monday, March 7, 2016)
Finally, we arrived in Mexico! Bright and early I headed out to look at the Tulum Mayan ruins with one of my cabin mates while the other three gals got drunk at Senor Frogs at the port. We were in Mexico for only seven hours. When I got back to the cruise, I stuck to my plan, and booked it to the casino to make an appointment for my tattoo while everyone else went to find their place for the final Paramore show.
Prepare to be disappointed folks, I know I was… I got to the casino and was told by a Sixthman representative that Dan was booked for the rest of the cruise. UMM, excuse me?! I was told he was only booking appointments day of? And the shop isn’t even open yet for the night? Apparently along the way they changed how they were doing sign ups and he had started posting a sign up sheet. Some rude person (I hate you, whoever you are) tore down the sign up sheet while everyone was off the boat and in Mexico and so he was booked for Monday night, and allll the folks who had signed up on that sheet that disappeared were being done Tuesday. I. Was. Livid. This was the worst part of the cruise. I had been so excited and so ready for this awesome experience, it would make for a great story as well. And now I’m being told—nope, sorry, not happening.
I was mostly upset because the changes to the process of signing up had not been communicated. How was I supposed to know? I was told he was doing sign ups the day of when he arrived. If I had known he was doing a sign up sheet, I would have signed up! Sixthman or Paramore or whoever is in charge of the tattooing—next Parahoy cruise? Get more than one tattoo artist!
So my disappointed and slightly angry self returned to my room to find my super, duper drunk cabin mates and decided to go to dinner before the show. Got drunk on some wine and was feeling better about the tattoo thing. For the last Paramore show, I was by the bar on the upper deck. Man, it was windy! We had a storm brewing and while it didn’t rain, it was very windy. Paramore opened with a rendition of “Hallelujah”—but started it off with the cover of Leonard Cohen’s immortal standard.
The set seemed to be more of a group therapy session, as she spoke a lot on how horrible the past year had been and how she never wants to relive it again, but that, “At the same time, I would do it again if it meant understanding what having a real friend in this life feels like. Taylor, thank you so much for being awesome.” This is probably related to the departure of bassist Jeremy Davis, who is now in a lawsuit with Paramore over royalties. Hayley also promised during the set that they were heading back to the studio soon to record their fifth album, and letting the crowd know how good Parahoy 2016 has been for the band. It was an emotional set, filled with great song choices! They played for the first time ever, the first song Taylor and Hayley ever wrote together, “O Star,” which if I’m being honest, I had never even heard before.
On the final day of Parahoy, I enjoyed some very wacky activities! First up was the Pick Throwing Finals with Ian of New Found Glory. This was a competition to see if anyone on board could beat Ian at throwing guitar picks in large buckets placed set distances for a set number of points. This was one of the most entertaining events, shockingly. It boiled down to Ian and a young gentleman trying to throw their picks to a bucket on the balcony of the theater. Ian was still reigning champion in the end.
After the pick throwing contest, I went to the sun bathing deck to meet up with my cabin mates and we listened to Vacationer’s set while waiting for the belly flop contest with Hayley, Taylor, and the two comedians judging to begin. It was quite entertaining, but I was a little confused at how many contestants didn’t seem to be able to swim? Many of them had to be “rescued” in some fashion or another. One contestant did a belly flop in a Tellytubbies costume (the theme of the day was I love the 90s). I’m not sure what was up with Taylor… he gave every contestant the same score and he kept saying “I really don’t know why I’m here.” I don’t know if he was trying to be funny, but it just came off as rude.
The Belly Flop Contest ran a little over and into the start time for New Found Glory’s set, so they wrapped up pretty quickly. New Found Glory went on to perform, called some audience members up on stage to perform with them, and Hayley even came on stage to perform with them for one song. I’m not a big fan of New Found Glory, but they do put on a show for their fans and I appreciate that immensely.
Hayley and Taylor had a Q&A in the evening, and pre-selected individuals got to stand in line and ask their questions. Some of the questions were incredibly silly, some of them were serious, it seems like they tried to do a good mix. Unfortunately, it was still very windy and the sound didn’t carry well. I got bored and so ended up leaving the Q&A early to go eat dinner before heading back to my room to start packing.
That night I reflected on the past 4 days and it was one of my best experiences. I felt so close to Paramore and I was so happy I spent the money to go. I really hope they have another Parahoy in 2018 and that I can go on that cruise, as well. I met people from all over the world and you just cannot beat belting out a song with thousands of other people who are in love with the same band as you are.