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Mix Live Blog: A Sigh of Relief After Mixing on the High Seas

FOH engineer/Mix blogger Steve La Cerra just returned from mixing Blue öyster Cult on Rock Legends Cruise IX, and it was an eye-opening experience.

Staging for the Rock Legends Cruise IX. Photo: Steve La Cerra.

I just tested negative for Covid and couldn’t be more relieved, even though this is not something new—luckily, I’ve tested negative many times and not had any positive results to date. But this time, it’s a particularly big sigh of relief because a few days ago, I returned home from the Rock Legends Cruise IX.

RLC IX was originally scheduled to sail in February, 2021, but was canceled due to the pandemic, then rescheduled for 2022. I have to admit that a part of me was hoping it’d be postponed again, because the thought of being on a cruise ship with an outbreak of Covid freaked me out.

Ever the optimist (not), I couldn’t help but recall the fate of the Diamond Princess in March 2020, which idled off the coast of Japan for weeks with thousands of passengers and crew aboard while waiting for authorities to figure out who was in charge and what to do with infected passengers. Thankfully, I did not experience such an adventure.

The Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas.
The Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas.

The venue for RLC IX was the Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas. What I found really interesting were certain aspects of RC’s Covid protocol. All passengers age 12 and over were required to have full vaccination and present an original vaccination record card prior to boarding (no photos accepted). They stressed the fact that anyone not fully vaccinated would be denied boarding regardless of whether they were a patron, an artist, ship crew or tech crew. The cruise line also required a negative Covid-19 test result for a PCR or antigen test supervised by a health professional, taken no more than two days before boarding. At-home tests were unacceptable.

When I was speaking to the Production Manager of RLC IX a few weeks before the cruise departed, he pointed out, “When was the last time you went into a Walmart where you had absolute certainty that everyone in that venue was vaxxed?” Interesting point.

All passengers had to show a physical vax card to get on the ship.
All passengers had to show a physical vax card to get on the ship.

On the other hand, as one of my band members observed, once a passenger had received a negative test result a night or two before the cruise departed, what’s to stop them from going out to a bar or club, being exposed to the virus, and then bringing it onboard? Another interesting point—and one that was well-taken.

Despite all of the precautions, three band members of Deep Purple became sick on the ship and tested positive for the virus, resulting in cancellation of two out of their three scheduled performances. Yikes.

Not every act made it onboard.
Not every act made it onboard.

There were other acts that never made it on the ship. The Outlaws were a last-minute pull due to the lead singer/guitar player testing positive the day before departure. The Immediate Family pulled out, though it’s not clear if it was due to a Covid issue, and at least one act pulled out because it had members that weren’t vaccinated. Crazy stuff.

The pandemic didn’t seem to deter attendance: The cruise was sold out, and the ship’s venues were generally packed. All things considered, I’m happy to be back on dry land.