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Laugh Out Loud: 41 Hilarious Cruise Ship Memes

Did you know that 80% of people who go on cruises become addicted? That’s right, once you experience the luxury, relaxation, and endless buffet lines, it’s hard to resist the allure of a life at sea.

And what better way to celebrate this addiction than with some hilarious cruise ship memes? As someone who has spent countless hours aboard various ships, I can attest to the fact that humor is a necessary coping mechanism.

Whether it’s rough seas, crowded pools, or over-enthusiastic cruise directors, there’s always something to laugh about. So, join me as we dive into 41 of the funniest cruise memes out there. And who knows, maybe you’ll find a new favorite to share with your fellow cruise addicts.

  • The article contains 41 funny cruise ship memes to make readers smile.
  • It is written by Mike Schimdt, Founder of Cruise Tips, and may contain affiliate links.
  • The memes cover various topics such as cruise addiction, cruise ship food and weight gain, drinking on a cruise, cruise crew, packing for a cruise, rough seas and weather, cruise passengers and people watching, and disembarkation.
  • The article suggests joining Facebook groups for cruise memes and using online meme generators to create one’s own cruise memes.

Types of Cruise Addiction Memes

I can’t help but chuckle at the euphemistic memes about my addiction to cruising, poking fun at my insatiable desire to set sail and explore new horizons. It’s as if these memes know me better than I know myself.

They capture the essence of my cruise withdrawal perfectly, making me yearn for the days when I can once again plan my next cruise itinerary.

These cruise addiction memes are a reminder that I am not alone in my love for cruising. It’s a community of like-minded individuals who understand the joy of stepping on board a ship and leaving all your worries behind.

And while I may never be cured of my addiction, these memes remind me to embrace it and enjoy the ride.

Memes about Food and Weight Gain

The memes about cruise ship food and the inevitable weight gain are both relatable and humorous. Cruise dining humor is a popular topic among cruisers, as we all know that the food on board is one of the main attractions.

From the endless buffets to the specialty restaurants, there is no shortage of delicious options. However, with so much food available, it’s easy to overindulge and experience the effects of overindulging on a cruise – namely, weight gain.

But instead of feeling ashamed, cruise memes embrace the reality of the situation and poke fun at it. Some memes show before and after pictures of someone’s waistline, while others depict people struggling to button their pants after a week of cruising.

It’s all in good fun, and we can all relate to the struggle of trying to resist the temptation of that second dessert. So go ahead and indulge – just be prepared for the consequences. And don’t forget to snap a picture for your next cruise meme!

Memes about Drinking on a Cruise

Indulging in a few too many cocktails on a cruise is a common occurrence, and these memes perfectly capture the joys and struggles of drinking on board. From the excitement of a cruise ship party to the dreaded morning after hangovers, these memes are sure to make you laugh.

To fully appreciate the humor in these memes, take a look at this table below. It features some of the best cruise ship party memes and memes about hangovers on a cruise. Cheers to a good laugh and a great cruise!

Different Types of Cruise Crew Memes

Being part of the cruise crew, I can relate to the different types of memes that highlight the unique experiences and challenges of working on board a ship.

One type of meme that always gets a laugh from me is the passenger memes. These are the memes that depict the different types of passengers that we encounter on a daily basis. There’s the ‘chair hog’ who claims a prime spot by the pool and keeps it occupied all day, the ‘complainer’ who always finds something to complain about, and the ‘foodie’ who never seems to stop eating.

Another type of meme that I find hilarious are the funny disembarkation memes. These memes capture the chaos that ensues as passengers scramble to get off the ship at the end of their cruise. From the long lines to the lost luggage, these memes highlight the challenges that both passengers and crew face during disembarkation.

As a crew member, I can attest to the fact that disembarkation day is always a wild ride, and these memes perfectly capture the madness.

What are some common signs of cruise addiction that are depicted in the memes?

Cruise addiction warning signs? Feeling anxious when not on a ship, constantly checking for cruise deals, and obsessing over past trips. Coping mechanisms include joining cruise meme groups and planning future trips. Memes reflect and distort reality, but provide humor for our cruise addiction.

Are there any memes that address the health-conscious options available on cruise ships to avoid weight gain?

Avoiding weight gain on a cruise is a challenge, but there are healthy options available. I opt for the salad bar instead of the all-you-can-eat buffet and take advantage of the activities and socializing on board for some cruise ship entertainment.

Do the memes about drinking on a cruise depict excessive drinking or responsible drinking?

When it comes to drinking on a cruise, memes can be a reflection of reality. Some depict excessive drinking while others show responsible drinking. It’s important to consider the impact of cruise memes on public perception of the drinking culture. But let’s be honest, humor is always appreciated.

What specific roles or departments of the cruise crew are often depicted in the memes?

The most common cruise crew roles depicted in memes are the captain, cruise director, and bartenders. Stereotypes and exaggerations in cruise ship memes are prevalent, but as a former crew member, I find them amusing.

Are there any memes that address the diversity of the cruise crew in terms of nationality and background?

It’s a shame that cruise crew representation and cultural diversity aren’t more commonly addressed in cruise ship memes. Maybe it’s time for some new material that reflects the reality of the industry.

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50 Funny Cruise Memes to Brighten up Your Day

Adam Stewart

  • February 13, 2024
  • Cruise Chuckles

Cruise Ship Meme Cover Image

Embarking on a cruise is an adventure filled with endless possibilities, from the majestic view of the ocean to the thrill of exploring new destinations. However, it’s the quirky and unexpected moments on board that often turn into the most memorable stories.

In our collection of 50 funny cruise memes, we dive into the lighter side of cruising, capturing those relatable experiences and humorous observations that anyone who’s set sail can appreciate.

What Is a ‘Meme’?

A ‘meme’ is a funny picture or video, usually captioned with text, that people share on the internet. It often has a humorous message and is spread from person to person online.

Memes can be jokes, social commentary, or just something silly to make people laugh. They’re a popular way for people to communicate and share their thoughts or feelings in a light-hearted way.

Cruise Obsession Memes

Cruise obsession memes often poke fun at how much people love going on cruises. Many people can relate to the anticipation of counting down the days until their next cruise adventure.

Cruise Ship Meme - The Best Therapy is Taking a Cruise

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Rick Stover (@rickstover1)
View this post on Instagram A post shared by Cruise Memes (@cruise.memes)
View this post on Instagram A post shared by James (@cruisememes24)

Cruise Meme - Excited About Seeing the Ship

Cruise Withdrawal Memes

All good things come to an end, and that includes cruises! Feeling the post-cruise blues is common, and cruise withdrawal memes capture this emotion with a smile. They remind us of the joy of cruising and the inevitable longing to return, poking fun at how everything else seems dull in comparison.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people were unable to cruise, which intensified their feelings longing and withdrawal. They found themselves reminiscing about past voyages and eagerly awaiting the day they could sail again.

Cruise Meme - Just Another Day Not Waking up on a Cruise

Cruise Food Memes

From the endless buffets to gourmet dining at every turn, cruise food memes humorously capture the sheer abundance and variety of food offered on cruise ships. The memes also highlight how hard it is not to overeat while cruising, something that many people can relate to.

Cruise Meme - Cruise Diet Plan Try Everything

Cruise Drinks Memes

When it comes to cruise vacations, the allure of unlimited drink packages is often the highlight, sparking countless memes about the adventurous spirit (and potential consequences) of free-flowing cocktails at sea.

Cruise Weather Memes

Cruise weather memes humorously reflect the unpredictable nature of sea travel, especially when it comes to navigating through rough seas. These memes often capture the dramatic, sometimes exaggerated experiences of passengers and crew alike as they face the challenges posed by rough waters.

Cruise Ship Meme - Cruise Ship Brochue VS Actual Cruise Weather

Cruise Struggles Memes

From battling for the last deck chair to navigating the many corridors of the ship on the first day, cruise struggle memes capture the lighter side of these common challenges. They offer a humorous reflection on the quirks and annoyances that come with the cruise experience.

Criuse Meme - Trying to Find Room on First Day

Cruise Preparation Memes

When it comes to preparing for a cruise, the experience can be filled with a mix of excitement and anxiety. Cruise preparation memes capture the funny and relatable moments of getting ready or planning for a cruise.

Cruise Passenger Memes

Nothing says ‘cruise life’ quite like the early morning dash to claim a deck chair with a towel and a book you’ll pretend to read. Cruise passenger memes perfectly capture the behaviors of those on board in a way that we can all relate to, whether we’ve been on a cruise or not.

Cruise Meme - Finding a Deck Chair

Cruise Photographer Memes

As anyone who’s set sail on a cruise knows, photographers are the unsung heroes of the high seas, always ready to freeze our best (and sometimes awkward) moments in time. Although the eagerness of cruise photographers to snap that perfect shot can sometimes mean they’re everywhere you turn, and not all photos are winners, sparking funny memes about them.

Cruise Disembarkation Memes

When a cruise ends, the toughest part isn’t packing; it’s having to say goodbye to the sea and the ship you’ve called home. Disembarkation memes capture these sad goodbyes and the struggle of getting up early to leave, in a funny way.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Steve Jones (@stevejonesvacations)

Other Funny Cruise Memes

Here are some other funny cruise memes that will make you smile:

Final Words

We hope that these memes have not only brought a smile to your face but also a wave of nostalgia for the unique experiences that cruising offers. You can check out more funny cruise memes on the ‘Cruise Memes’ Instagram and Facebook pages.

Related articles:

  • Hilarious Cruise Puns to Brighten Your Day

Adam Stewart

Adam Stewart

Adam Stewart is the founder of Cruise Galore. He is a passionate traveler who loves cruising. Adam's goal is to enhance your cruising adventures with practical tips and insightful advice, making each of your journeys unforgettable.

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25 Funny-Relatable Cruise Memes and Cruise Jokes Revolving Cruise Travel

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Embark on a laughter-filled voyage with our collection of cruise memes and jokes.

Whether you’re in for outright hilarity, honest truths, or a dose of delightful corniness, our selection captures the diverse humor of the cruise experience. From buffet fun to navigating cruise ship dilemmas, join us in celebrating the lighter side of cruise travel with these funny and relatable cruise memes and jokes.

drunk on a cruise ship meme

Feel free to share our cruise memes and jokes with your friends. Don’t forget to tag us! Tell us your favorite cruise meme, cruise joke, or cruise pun in the comments.

Table of Contents

1. Formal Flip Flop Night

graphic image of meme with a picture of 3 pairs of feet wearing flip flops with the text: Me deciding which shoes to pack for a cruise: 'But what if there's a formal flip-flop night?'

Me deciding which shoes to pack for a cruise: “But what if there’s a formal flip-flop night?”

2. Why did the banana go on a cruise?

graphic of a joke of a cruise deck with a cartoon banana and text that says: Why did the banana go on a cruise? Because it wanted to slip into vacation mode.

Why did the banana go on a cruise? Because it wanted to slip into vacation mode.

3. Cruise Math is Hard

graphic of a meme of a man hitting hit forehead against a chalkboard with the text above it: Choosing a drink package: Because adulting is hard, and so is math.

Choosing a drink package: Because adulting is hard, and so is math.

4. Trying all the Cruise Desserts

graphic of two images one of a women eating a healthy salad and the other of a hand holding a dessert with more desserts in the backgrund with text: I'm going to eat healthy on this cruise. Also me... let me try all the desserts.

I’m going to eat healthy on this cruise. Also me… let me try all the desserts.

5. The Wardrobe Doesn’t Go as Planned

Graphic Meme of two photos of a women dressed up in a nice dress and heels and another of feet wearing flip flops with the text: My cruise wardrobe plan vs. What I actually end up wearing.

My cruise wardrobe plan vs. What I actually end up wearing.

Read more: Women’s Cruise Wear Guide

6. Why did the cruise ship break up with the ocean?

Graphic of a joke, a cruise ship docked close to the beach with text: Why did the cruise ship break up with the ocean? It needed space.

Why did the cruise ship break up with the ocean? It needed space.

7. Fairy Godmother On Formal Night

graphic meme of a women dressed in a long black dress, heels and tiara with a cruise deck in the background with the text: When Your Fairy Godmother Shows up for Formal Night

When your fairy godmother shows up for formal night.

8. Cruise o’Clock Meme

graphic meme of a picture of a hand winding a drawn clock with the words Time for Vacation and text: The only countdown that matters: Cruise o’clock!

The only countdown that matters: Cruise o’clock!

9. Cruise Sea Days and Lounge Chairs

graphic image of a meme of a picture of a crowded pool deck with the text: Finding a lounge chair on a cruise sea day: Mission Impossible!

Finding a lounge chair on a cruise sea day: Mission Impossible!

10. What did the ocean say to the cruise ship?

graphic image of a joke, cruise ship at sea with rough waves with text: What did the ocean say to the cruise ship? Nothing, it just waved.

What did the ocean say to the cruise ship? Nothing, it just waved.

11. More Time Eating Than Exploring

graphic meme of an image of a confused girl holding up an empty plate in a buffet with the text: When you've spent more time eating than exploring the ports.

When you’ve spent more time eating than exploring the ports.

12. Cruise Elevators

graphic meme of a black and white image of a crowded elevator with text that says: The real test of patience on a cruise: elevators.

The real test of patience on a cruise: elevators.

Cruise Tip: Always take the stairs.

13. 3 Rules of Cruising

graphic me of animated cruise pool deck with the 3 rules of cruising

Rule 1: Don’t ask someone their real age; we’re all forever 29 on the Lido Deck. Rule 2: No calorie counting. Calories don’t count at sea, right? Rule 3: If someone drops their ice cream cone, we all pretend it never happened. Sea mishaps are classified under ‘Ship Happens.’

14. Packing for a Cruise Like a Tetris Champion

graphic meme of hands packing clothes with text: Me when it’s time to pack for a cruise: Pretending I'm a Tetris champion with my suitcase. aIt must all fit!

Me when it’s time to pack for a cruise: Pretending I’m a Tetris champion with my suitcase. It must all fit!

Read more: Cruise Items to Pack for a Cruise

15. Take Advantage Of The Drink Package

graphic meme of a happy dog celebrating with champagne with a speech buttle that says "another one, please" and text: Taking advantage of that drink package.

Taking advantage of that drink package. “Another one, please!”

16. Watching the Cruise Countdown

graphic meme of three images, a girl looking impatiently at her phone, a person dancin and another of a man ready for vacation with the text: When the cruise countdown is still in the triple digits... then hits the double digits and finally the single digits!

When the cruise countdown is still in the triple digits… then hits the double digits and finally the single digits!

17. Money Can Buy Happiness

graphic meme with image of cruise ship at seawith the words: "money can buy happiness, it's called a cruise.

Money can buy happiness. It’s called a cruise.

18. Studying Cruise Deck Maps

graphic meme, image of treasure map with text: studying the cruise deck maps like it's a treasure map, buffet i'm coming for you cruise meme

Studying the cruise deck maps like it’s a treasure map. Buffet, I’m coming for you!

19. Cocktail to Order Next

graphic meme of image of fruity cocktails sitting on a raining of a cruise ship with the text: On a Cruise: The only decision I want to make is which cocktail to order next.

On a Cruise: The only decision I want to make is which cocktail to order next.

20. Reading Turns Into Dancing By The Pool

woman sitting by the pool reading and another picture of a woman dancing in a pool with text: Me on a cruise: I'm going to read a book by the pool Also, me, when the DJ plays my favorite song: Get’s up to dance, “Oh, that’s my song!”

Me on a cruise: I’m going to read a book by the pool Also, me, when the DJ plays my favorite song: Get’s up to dance, “Oh, that’s my song!”

21. What’s a cruise ship’s favorite kind of music?

graphic for cruise joke, image of above drone shot of the pool deck of a cruise with the text: What's a cruise ship's favorite kind of music? Rock and roll!

What’s a cruise ship’s favorite kind of music? Rock and roll!

22. Waking Up Early For A Day At Port

graphic meme, man snoozing alarm in one photo and woman waking up bright and early in another phone with text: Waking for a day at work: Hitting snooze like it's my job. Waking up for a day at port.

Waking for a day at work: Hitting snooze like it’s my job. Waking up for a day at port.

23. Expert at the Cruise Spa

baby in a robe, turban towel, sunglasses relaxing with the words: Cruise Spa Level: Expert. Because relaxation is a sport, and I'm going for the gold.

Cruise Spa Level: Expert. Because relaxation is a sport, and I’m going for the gold.

24. What to Get Me For My Birthday

graphic meme with a palm tree framing a cruise ship at sea with the words: In case you’re wondering what to get me for my birthday... I’m a size 7-night Caribbean Cruise

In case you’re wondering what to get me for my birthday… I’m a size 7-night Caribbean Cruise.

25. Daydreaming About 5 to 9

2 photos, one representing work and a beach vacation with words guess which one I'm daydreaming about? 9 to 5 or 5 to 9

Guess which one I’m daydreaming about? 9 to 5 (work) or 5 to 9 (on vacation)


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drunk on a cruise ship meme

Meet Kathy Ava, a food, travel, and cruise writer based in Los Angeles/Pasadena, and the owner and main writer of Tasty Itinerary. With over 20 years of experience planning trips and logistics at her full-time job and for herself, she's become a pro at crafting unforgettable tasty itineraries. She's always on the hunt for delicious, fun travel destinations and cruise itineraries. She firmly believes that life is short and we must make the most of it, so always say yes to dessert.

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drunk on a cruise ship meme

15 Cruise Memes That Will Make You Laugh Out Loud

L ooking for a good laugh? Do you miss going on cruises? If so, then you need to check out these cruise memes! These memes are sure to make you laugh out loud with their relatable humor that only those who have been on a cruise can appreciate. Here are some of our favorite cruise memes that will always make us laugh out loud.

1. Last Day of Cruise Meme

When you pack everything in your check-in luggage and forget to set aside the clothes you’ll need to disembark the cruise ship…

2. Cruise Buffet Meme

This is me every day after having lunch at the cruise buffet.

3. Cruise Beverage Package Meme

This is my cruise beverage package strategy.

4. Burning Calories at the Cruise Meme

You won’t find me at the gym. This is me burning off calories at the cruise.

5. Waiting for the Luggage on Embarkation Day Meme

The joy of reuniting with your luggage after cruise embarkation!

7. Separation Anxiety on the Last Night of your Cruise Meme

Me having separation anxiety with my check in luggage on the last night of the cruise. (You can find more cruise memes on our Cruise Facebook page .

8. Cruise Elevator Meme

Hunger Games: Cruise Ship Edition!

9. Cruise Formal Night Meme

Cruise Formal night: To Tuxedo or to Hawaiian Shirt?

10. Eating Healthy at the Cruise Meme

My cruise diet consists of bread, steak, shrimp cocktail, French onion soup, pizza, burgers, wine and lots of desserts!

11. Snacking at the Cruise Meme

I’ll just be at the buffet until dinner time.

12. Cruise Port Day Meme

When you’re finally back on the cruise ship after a long day at the port.

13. Oversleeping at the Cruise Meme

When you wake up at 10:01am and realize you missed the cruise breakfast buffet by one minute!

14. When Someone Says They Don’t Like to Cruise Meme

To the people who don’t like cruising- you’re missing out big time.

15. Cruise Ship Lounge Chair Meme

Good luck getting a lounge chair at the cruise ship pool on sea days.

If you want more cruise memes, subscribe to our newsletter and like our Cruise Facebook page .

Check out these free cruise printables

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The post 15 Cruise Memes That Will Make You Laugh Out Loud appeared first on Suburbs 101 .

Looking for a good laugh? Do you miss going on cruises? If so, then you need to check out these cruise memes! These memes are sure to make you laugh out loud with their relatable humor that only those who have been on a cruise can appreciate. Here are some of our favorite cruise memes […]

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What is the most annoying ship you've ever heard of? | Two characters: Make eye contact; The fandom: | image tagged in cruise ship | made w/ Imgflip meme maker

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It's a free online image maker that lets you add custom resizable text, images, and much more to templates. People often use the generator to customize established memes , such as those found in Imgflip's collection of Meme Templates . However, you can also upload your own templates or start from scratch with empty templates.

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With Arms Wide Open

How did creed, the most hated band of the 1990s, become so beloved—and even cool i sailed the seas with thousands of fellow lunatics to find out..

It’s high noon on a blazing April day, which is the ideal time to be sitting in an Irish pub aboard a cruise ship the size of a small asteroid. The bar is called O’Sheehan’s—yes, pronounced “oceans”—and it’s located deep within the belly of the boat, just above the teppanyaki joint, the sake bar, and the lustrous duty-free shops. This consciousness-altering diorama of infinite seas and cloying Guinness-themed paraphernalia is where I meet Colleen Sullivan, a 46-year-old woman with a beehive of curly red hair and arms encased by plastic wristbands. She wants to tell me how Creed changed her life.

A few moments earlier, Sullivan dropped one of those wristbands on my table—an invitation to talk. It’s lime-green and emblazoned with pink lettering that reads “Rock the Boat With Creed.” I slip it past my hand and sidle up to her booth. Sullivan uses one nuclear-yellow-painted fingernail to hook back the wristbands on her right arm. Underneath is the pinched autograph of Scott Stapp, the band’s mercurial lead singer, enshrined in tattoo ink. This, it seems, is not her first rodeo.

We are both here for “Summer of ’99,” a weekendlong cruise and concert festival for which Creed—as in the Christian-lite rock band that sold more than 28 million albums in the U.S. alone and yet may be the most widely disdained group in modern times—is reuniting for the first time in 12 years. Roughly 2,400 other Creed fans are along for the round-trip ride from Miami to the Bahamas, and the rest of the bill is occupied by the dregs of turn-of-the-millennium alt-rock stardom. Buckcherry is here. So are Vertical Horizon, Fuel, and 3 Doors Down, the latter of whom hasn’t released an album since 2016.

To celebrate, Sixthman, the booking agency responsible for this and many other cruises, has thoroughly Creed-ified every element of the ship. The band’s logo is printed on the napkins and scripted across the blackjack felt. The TV screens at the bar are tuned to a near-constant loop of Creed’s performance at Woodstock ’99. The onboard library has been converted to a merch store selling Creed hoodies and shot glasses. The stock music piped into the corridors has been swapped out for Hinder’s “Lips of an Angel,” Lit’s “My Own Worst Enemy,” and 3 Doors Down’s “Kryptonite.” When I turn on the closed-circuit television in my cabin, a channel called New Movies plays Scream 3 and Can’t Hardly Wait . And four elevator doors in the boat’s central plaza are plastered with the words “Can You Take Me Higher or Lower?” Sixthman pulled similar stunts with 311’s “ Caribbean Cruise ,” Train’s “ Sail Across the Sun ” cruise, and Kid Rock’s notoriously debauched “ Chillin’ the Most ” cruise—the Kid Rock cruise also took place on the vessel I’m on, the Norwegian Pearl . The idea is to teleport a captive audience back into the dirtbags they once embodied and to a simpler time, when Scott Stapp controlled the universe.

Sullivan tells me that her relationship with Creed overlaps with her sobriety story. She first became a fan of the band in the late 1990s, when “Higher” and “With Arms Wide Open” were soaring up the Billboard charts. Then, Sullivan started using, and her appreciation for the divine proportions of those songs faded in service of more corporeal needs. Years later, after Creed broke up and Sullivan got clean, she returned to the music and discovered a dogma of her own: Maybe she had been put on earth to love Stapp—and Creed—harder, and with more urgency, than anyone else in the world.

“He helped me grow with those old Creed songs,” she tells me. “When I saw Scott for the first time live, he had just gotten clean too. I’d go to the shows and there would be tears streaming down my face.” Her left arm contains another Stapp tattoo, with the words “His Love Was Thunder in the Sky” scrawled up to her elbow, surrounded by a constellation of quarter notes. It’s a lyric taken from a 2013 Stapp solo song called “Jesus Was a Rockstar.” The singer Sharpie’d it onto her body himself.

“Summer of ’99” is Creed’s second attempt to reunite, after it disbanded in both 2004 and 2012 amid clashing egos and substance issues. The band couldn’t have picked a better time to get back together. If you haven’t noticed, we’re in the midst of an extremely unlikely Creed renaissance, redeeming the most reviled—and, perhaps more damningly, most uncool —band in the world. For much of the past 20 years, hating Creed has been a natural extension of being a music fan: In 2013 Rolling Stone readers voted the group “the worst band of the 1990s,” beating out a murderers’ row of Hootie and the Blowfish, Nickelback, and Hanson. Entertainment Weekly, reviewing Human Clay , the band’s bestselling album and one of the highest-selling albums of all time, bemoaned the record’s “lunkheaded kegger rock” and “quasi-spiritual lyrics that have all the resonance of a self-help manual.” Meanwhile, Robert Christgau, the self-appointed dean of American rock critics, wrote Creed off as “God-fearing grunge babies,” comparing the group unfavorably with Limp Bizkit.

The disrespect was reflected more sharply by Stapp’s own contemporaries. In the early 2000s, Dexter Holland, the frontman of the Offspring, played shows wearing a T-shirt that read “Even Jesus Hates Creed.” After leaked images of a sex tape filmed in 1999 featuring Stapp and Kid Rock and a room full of groupies made it onto the internet, Kid Rock retorted by saying that his fans didn’t care about the pornography but were appalled that he was hanging out with someone like Stapp. The comedian David Cross, who embodies the archetype of the exact sort of coastal hipsters who became the band’s loudest hecklers, dedicated swaths of his stand-up material to bird-dogging the singer. (One choice punchline: “That guy hangs out outside a junior high school girls locker room and writes down poetry he overhears.”) Then, in 2002, after a disastrous show in Chicago at which a belligerently drunk Stapp forgot the words to his songs and stumbled off the stage for 10 minutes, four attendees unsuccessfully sued the band for $2 million. Holland’s shirt didn’t go far enough—at the group’s lowest, even Creed fans hated Creed.

All this acrimony plunged Stapp into several episodes of psychic distress. His dependence on alcohol and painkillers was well documented during the band’s initial brush with success, but after Creed’s short-lived reconciliation, Stapp spiraled into a truly cavernous nadir. In 2014 the singer started posting unsettling videos to Facebook, asserting that he had been victimized by a cascading financial scam and was living in a Holiday Inn. That same year, TMZ released 911 calls made by Stapp’s wife Jaclyn claiming that he had printed out reams of CIA documents and was threatening to kill Barack Obama. But these days, Stapp—who announced a bipolar diagnosis in 2015—appears to be on much firmer ground, and the band has reportedly patched up some of those long-gestating interpersonal wounds.

But with time comes wisdom, and in 2024 neither the critical slander nor the troubling reports about Stapp’s mental state are anywhere to be found. It is a truth universally acknowledged that Creed is good, a shift that, as Stapp told Esquire , “just started happening” around 2021. The new paradigm likely solidified the next year, when Creed’s mythically patriotic post-9/11 halftime show, played on Thanksgiving in 2001, began to accrue latter-day meme status. The set was ridiculous and immaculately lip-synced by Stapp and company. Yoked, shirtless angels spin through the air, and cheerleaders pump out pompom routines synchronized with “My Sacrifice,” all while the live broadcast is interspersed with grim footage from ground zero. It’s garishly, unapologetically American, issued just before the unsavory decline of the Bush administration clicked into place. Today both of those relics—Creed and the unified national optimism—are worth getting wistful about. “This is where we peaked as a nation,” wrote football commentator Mike Golic Jr., linking to the video.

Creed nostalgia has only proliferated further since the resurrection of that halftime show. The band’s guitarist, Mark Tremonti, told the hard-rock site Blabbermouth that he’d recently noticed athletes bumping Creed as their “ go-to battle music ,” and in November, an entire stadium of Texas Rangers fans belted out “Higher” to commemorate their team’s World Series victory . Earlier this year, a viral remix of “ One Last Breath ” even began pulsing through some of the hottest parties in New York. The band has clearly crossed some sort of inscrutable cultural Rubicon and thrown reality into flux—up is down, black is white, and, due to a sublime confluence of biting irony and prostrating sincerity, Creed fucking rocks .

All this means that the inaugural edition of the “Summer of ’99” cruise is buoyed by very high stakes. It has been 12 long years since Creed last played a show, and the cruise is intended to be the dry run for a mammoth comeback tour that is scheduled for 60 dates, through summer and autumn, in basketball arenas and hockey stadiums across North America. The only remaining question is whether the band can keep it together. I’m there in a commemorative Creed Super Bowl halftime T-shirt to find out.

Several flights of stairs above O’Sheehan’s, the day before I meet Sullivan, I find Sean Patrick, a giddily beer-buzzed 34-year-old from Nashville who is standing in awe of a Coachella-sized stage that looks downright sinister on the pool deck. Creed is playing two shows this weekend, and the first is set for the very minute the boat leaves port and escapes Miami for the horizon. This means that everyone who purchased a ticket to “Summer of ’99”—which ranges from $895 for a windowless hovel to $6,381 for a stateroom with a balcony—has ascended to the top of the ship, preparing for Creed’s rebirth in a wash of Coors Light tallboys.

As of two days ago, Patrick was unaware he would be attending this cruise. Everything changed when a friend, who was on the waitlist, received a call from Norwegian Cruise Line informing him that a cabin with his name on it had miraculously become available. Patrick was suddenly presented with the opportunity to spend a tremendous amount of cash, on very short notice, to witness this reunion amid the die-hards.

Unlike Sullivan, Patrick doesn’t possess one of those highly intimate histories with the band, flecked with tales of trauma and perseverance. Still, he fell in love with Creed—even if it was only by accident.

“I think it started as a joke. The songs were good, but there was definitely a feeling of, like, Yeah, Creed! ” he tells me. “But then, next thing you know, you find yourself in your car, alone, deciding to put on Creed.”

The majority of the passengers on the Pearl have never been burdened with Patrick’s hesitance. Their relationship with Creed is genuine and free—cleansed of even the faintest whiff of irony—and, unlike Patrick, they tend to be in their late 40s and early 50s. The woman standing ankle-deep in the wading pool with a Stewie Griffin tattoo on her shin unambiguously loves Creed, and the same is probably true of whoever was lounging on a deck chair with a book, written by Fox News pundit Jesse Watters, titled Get It Together: Troubling Tales From the Liberal Fringe . Two brothers from Kentucky who work in steel mills, but not the same steel mill, tell me that loving Creed is practically a family tradition: Their eldest brother, not present on the boat, initially showed them the band’s records. Tina Smith, a 48-year-old home-care aide from Texas, crowned with a black tennis visor adorned with golden letters spelling out the name of her favorite band, loves Creed so much that she embarked on this trip all by herself. “This is my first cruise and my first vacation,” she says, proudly. (Smith is already planning her next vacation. It will coincide with another Creed show.)

Passengers I encounter that are a generation younger are clearly acquainted more with Creed the meme than Creed the band. These are the people who vibe with statements like “Born too late to own property, born just in time to be a crusader in the ‘Creed Isn’t Bad’ fight”—especially when they’re arranged as deep-fried blocks of text superimposed over the face of Keanu Reeves as Neo. If the establishment brokers of culture once settled on the position that Creed sucks, then it has been met with a youth-led insurgency that seems dead-set on shifting the consensus—if for no other reason than to savor the nectar of pure, uncut taboo.

Many members of this insurgency are aboard the Pearl , and they’re caked in emblems of internet miscellany that scream out to anyone in the know. Consider the young man, traveling with his father, who is draped in a T-shirt bearing the Creed logo below a beatific image of Nicolas Cage circa Con Air , or the many fans who wander around the innards of the Pearl in matching Scott Stapp–branded Dallas Cowboys jerseys, a reference to that halftime show. In fact, the best representatives of sardonic Creed-fandom colonists might be the youngest collection of friends that I’ve met on board. They are all in their 20s, most of them work in Boston’s medicine and science sectors, and each is dressed in a custom-ordered tropical button-down dotted with the angelic face of Scott Stapp in places where you’d expect to find coconuts and banana bunches. A week before “Summer of ’99” was announced, the four of them made a pact, via group text, that if Creed were ever to reunite, they would make it out to see the band play, no matter the cost. Their fate was sealed.

“I hated Creed. I thought they were terrible,” says Mike Hobey, who, at 28, is the oldest of the posse and therefore the one who possesses the clearest recollection of Creed’s long, strange journey toward absolution. “But then I started listening to them ironically. And I was like, Oh, shit, I like them now .”

His point is indicative of a strange tension in this new age of Creed: If “the worst band of the 1990s” is suddenly good, does that mean all music is good now? Is nothing tacky? Have the digitized music discovery apparatuses—the melting-pot TikTok algorithm, the self-replicating profusion of Spotify playlists—blurred the boundaries of good and bad taste? Am I, like Hobey, incapable of being a hater anymore?

This is what I found myself thinking about when Creed took the stage, right as the Miami skies began to mellow into a late-afternoon smolder, and put on what was, without a doubt, one of the best rock shows I’ve ever seen. The scalloped penthouses of Miami’s gleaming hotel district passed overhead as the Pearl ’s rudder kicked into gear, and Scott Stapp—looking jacked and gorgeous, chain on neck and chain on belt, flexing toward God in a tight black shirt—launched into “Are You Ready?,” the first song of the afternoon, his baritone sounding, somehow, exactly like it did in 1999. “Who would’ve thought, after our last show in 2012, our next show would be 12 years later, on a boat?” Stapp said. He is risen, indeed.

I later hear from Creed’s PR agent that Tremonti, the guitarist, was more anxious than he was excited to get this first show in the books. I also gather, from Stapp’s representative, that photographers are mandated to shoot the lead singer during only the first two songs of the set, before he begins to “glisten” (her word) with sweat. But if nerves were fraying, Creed conquered them with ease. The members of the band were enveloped by an audience that had paid a lot of money to see them, and in that atmosphere, they could do no wrong. They blitzed through a variety of album cuts before arriving at the brawny triptych of “Higher,” “One Last Breath,” and “With Arms Wide Open,” pausing briefly to wish Tremonti, who was turning 50, a happy birthday. (Stapp wiped away tears afterward, a genuinely touching moment, considering that during their first breakup, Tremonti had compared his years collaborating with Stapp—who was then in the throes of addiction— with surviving Vietnam .) Given Creed’s historic proximity to the Kid Rock brand of red-state overindulgence, I half expected the concert to detonate with violent pits and acrobatic beer stunts, but nothing remotely close to mayhem occurred. This crowd was downright polite—chaste, even—as if it had been stunned by the grandeur of Creed.

“He tried to dance pogo ,” says a disappointed German woman, basking in the pool after the show, gesturing toward her husband. Both of them explain to me that pogoing is the German word for “moshing” and that, even more astonishingly, Creed is huge in their native hamlet, just outside Düsseldorf.

“It’s a reunion after 12 years!” says her husband. “Everyone should be dancing pogo .”

Nothing about Creed’s music has changed in the past decade, which is to say that many of the quirks that people like Hobey once used to mock the band for were on brilliant display during its first show back. But the truth is that little of the smug hatred for the group has ever had much to do with the music itself. Creed’s first record, 1997’s My Own Prison , was nearly identical to the down-tuned angst of Soundgarden or Alice in Chains, drawn well inside the lines of alt-rock radio. (It earned a tasteful 4/5 rating from the longtime consumer guide AllMusic.)

The problems arose only after the band started writing the celestial hooks of Human Clay , solidifying its superstar association with other groups chasing the same crunchy highs with machine-learning efficiency: Nickelback, Staind, Shinedown, and so on. Post-grunge was the term music journalists eventually bestowed on this generation, and in retrospect, that was the kiss of death. Creed was suddenly positioned as the inheritor of the legacy of Kurt Cobain, the godfather of grunge, who bristled at all associations with the mainstream music industry and hired the notoriously bellicose Steve Albini to make Nirvana’s third album as sour and uncommercial as possible. Stapp, meanwhile, has long called Bono—he of the flowing locks, billionaire best friends , and residencies in extravagant Las Vegas monoliths —his “ rock god .” Creed’s sole aspiration was to become the biggest rock band in the world, and for a few years there, the group actually pulled it off. Cobain’s grave got a little colder.

Post-grunge steamrolled the rock business, reducing its sonic palette to an all-consuming minor-chord dirge. Nickelback’s “How You Remind Me” went quadruple platinum in 2001, eventually sparking a furious period of retaliation from the underground. (You could make the argument that the rise of the Strokes or the White Stripes or the indie-rock boom writ large is directly tied to the vise grip Creed once held on the genre.) Before long, music aesthetes adopted a new term, rather than post-grunge , to refer to the Creed phenotype: butt rock . In fact, by the late-2000s, the hatred of Creed had been so canonized that when Slate published a rebuttal —in which critic Jonah Weiner asserted that the band was “seriously underrated”—the essay was considered so “ridiculous” and contrarian as to single-handedly inspire the viral and enduring #slatepitches hashtag, instantly prompting parodies such as “ Star Wars I, II, & III, better than Star Wars IV, V, & VI .”

But, frankly, when I revisit Weiner’s piece, many of his arguments sound remarkably cogent to modern orthodoxies. “Creed seemed to irritate people precisely because its music was so unabashedly calibrated towards pleasure: Every surging riff, skyscraping chorus, and cathartic chord progression telegraphed the band’s intention to rock us, wow us, move us,” he writes. Yes, these easy gratifications might have been unpardonable sins in the summer of 1999, capping off a decade obsessively preoccupied with anxiety about all things commercial and phony. But now even LCD Soundsystem—once the standard-bearer of a certain kind of countercultural fashionability—is booking residencies sponsored by American Express. We have all become hedonists and proud sellouts, and with Creed back in vogue, it seems as if the band’s monumental intemperance has become a feature rather than a bug.

That does not mean Stapp no longer takes himself, or his art, seriously. The singer’s earnestness—some might say humorlessness—has always been a cornerstone of Creed’s brand, and there are millions of fans who will continue to meet him at his word. They brandish personal biographies that intersect with Creed’s records; they finds lines about places with “golden streets” “where blind men see” more inspiring than corny, and many of them are etched with the tattoos to prove it. But in the band’s contemporary afterlife, when all its old context evaporates, Stapp has also attracted a community eager to treat Creed like the party band it never aspired to be—the group of licentious pleasure seekers Weiner wrote about. They’re all here, sprinkled throughout the boat, ready to drink a couple of Coronas and shred their lungs to “My Sacrifice.”

After wrapping up the first night of the cruise, Creed, along with the rest of the bands on the bill, was scheduled to administer a few glad-handing sessions on the weekend itinerary. On Saturday, Tremonti chaperoned a low-key painting session while the Pearl floated into the Bahamas at a dock already crammed with other day-trippers. (Our boat was parked next to a Disney cruise, and when we disembarked, in direct earshot of all the young families, the PA blasted Puddle of Mudd’s “She Fucking Hates Me.”) Tremonti keeps busy: The previous evening, he had judged a karaoke tournament—on the main stage—alongside 3 Doors Down lead singer Brad Arnold. Toward the end of the competition, Tremonti grabbed the microphone for a rousing cover of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” which I’d like to think served as a tribute to Creed’s own tenaciousness.

Stapp, on the other hand, is slated for exactly one appointment mingling with the masses: He’ll be shooting hoops with some of the more athletically oriented Creed adherents on a helipad that doubles as a basketball court near the rear of the boat. Stapp is, by far, the most famous person on board, evidenced by the security detail that stands guard on the concrete. So I take my seat on the bleachers and watch him casually drain 10 free throws in a row in mesh shorts under the piercing Atlantic sun with the distinct tang of contractually obligated restraint. Afterward, Stapp slips back into the mysterious alcoves of the ship, while an awed buzz of fans—hoping for a selfie, an autograph, or a split second of euphoric surrender—tail him until they are sealed off for good. It is the one and only time I see him cameoing anywhere but the stage, drawing a stark contrast to the other musicians on board, who flit between the casinos, restaurants, and watering holes in the guts of the Pearl .

This makes some sort of cosmic sense. Stapp, to both his detriment and credit, has never embraced the flippancy that so many other people wanted to impose on Creed. “Sometimes I wish we weren’t so damn serious,” he said in a memorable Spin cover story from 2000, at the height of his mystique. “My agenda from the beginning was to write music that had meaning and was from the heart. You can’t force the hand of the muse.” If you’ll excuse the ostentation of the sentiment, you can maybe understand how someone like Stapp might not be able to feel like himself when he’s orchestrating photo-ops around a free-throw line with that same young man dressed in his Nic Cage–themed parody Creed shirt. He seems to find nothing trivial about Creed’s music. The threat of irrelevance shall never tame him. You cannot force the hand of the muse.

Unfortunately, Stapp’s remoteness is also why Kelly Risch, a 58-year-old from Wisconsin with streaks of ringed, white-blond hair and glam-metal eye shadow, is currently fighting back tears in the Atrium, the ship’s lobby and central bar. Risch is sipping mimosas with her sister Shannon Crass, and, like so many of the others I have spoken to on this cruise, they each have matching Creed tattoos memorializing a personal catastrophe. Twenty years ago, Risch suffered a massive blood clot in her leg and almost died. Crass printed out the lyrics to the latter-day Creed ballad “Don’t Stop Dancing”—a song about finding dignity in the chaos of life—and pinned them in Crass’ intensive care unit during her recovery. Today the chorus is painted on their wrists, right above Scott Stapp’s initials.

The sisters were two of the first 500 customers to buy tickets to “Summer of ’99,” which guaranteed them a photo with the band at its cabin. This is why Risch is crying. The photo shoot came with strict rules, all of which she respected: no Sharpies, no hugs, and no cellphones. She’d hoped for a moment, though—after spending $5,000 and traveling all the way from the upper Midwest, after clinging to life with the help of Creed, and after waiting 12 long years to have the band back—to thank the singer for his comfort. But Stapp, even indoors, was wearing dark, face-obscuring sunglasses. She didn’t even get to make eye contact.

“He’s so great with the crowd. He’s so engaging onstage,” says Crass. “I think that’s why this is disappointing.”

The two sisters are determined to make the most of the rest of their vacation. The Pearl will be pulling into Miami tomorrow at 7 a.m., and there are plenty more mimosas left to drink. I tell them I’m going to speak with Stapp, and the rest of Creed, in an hour. Do they have anything they’d like me to ask?

“Tell him not to wear sunglasses during the photos,” they say.

Creed is finishing up the meet-and-greet obligations in a chilly rococo ballroom, paneled—somewhat inexplicably—with portraits of Russian royalty. The band members have been at this all morning, after a late night finishing off the second performance of their two comeback sets. A molasses churn of Creed fans, all sea-weathered and scalded with maroon sunburns, weaves through a bulwark of chairs and tables toward the pinned black curtains at the rear.

Creed has this down to an art. The band is capable of generating a photo every 30 seconds, and afterward, the fans exit back down the aisle, with beaming smiles, their brush with stardom consummated. Stapp chugs a bottle of Fiji water and holds out his hand for a fist bump after the last of those passengers disappear. A crucifix dangles above his navel, and an American flag is stitched to his T-shirt. He’s still wearing those sunglasses.

I am given just 15 minutes to ask questions, in a makeshift interview setup against the portside windows, under the watchful surveillance of the entire Creed apparatus—both PR reps, a few scurrying Sixthman operators, the photographer, and so on. I ask what their day-to-day life is like aboard the “Summer of ’99,” in this highly concentrated environment of super fans, with no obvious escape routes. Stapp says that he has spent most of the time on the cruise “resting and exercising,” while Brian Marshall, the band’s bassist, told me he executes his privilege of being one of the band’s secondary members by frequenting the sauna and steam room. Throughout the weekend, Marshall is hardly recognized.

Scott Phillips, Creed’s drummer, confirms my suspicions about the cruise’s demographics. The ticket data reveals that a good number of the passengers aboard are under 35 years old. I’m curious to know how the band members are adjusting to this new paradigm shift, and if they wish to settle common ground between the post-ironic millennials and the much more zealous Gen Xers, who bear Creed insignias on their calves and forearms.

“People are drawn to our music for different reasons,” Stapp says. “That’s probably why you have the guys you were talking about, who want to chill and drink light beer and scream ‘Creed rocks!’ and the others, who have a much deeper, emotional impact.”

“And maybe, at some point, with the light-beer guys, it does connect with them,” Phillips adds. Stapp agrees.

But, really, the reason I’m here is because I want to ask Stapp a question I’ve been curious about for the entirety of Creed’s career. The band’s bizarre odyssey, from its warm reception among youth groups across America to the bloodthirsty backlash that met its success to this current psychedelic revival, has all orbited around a single lasting question: Why is Scott Stapp so serious? Could he ever mellow out? Does he want to? Surely now is the time. If Stapp allocated some levity for himself, then so many of the bad things people have said about him would be easier to process. Who knows? Maybe he’d have an easier time getting his arms around the current state of Creed, a group that is now, without a doubt, simultaneously the coolest and lamest band in the world. Why must he make being in Creed so difficult?

“It’s just who I am,” he says. “It’s what inspires me. It’s where I come from. And it’s tough, because you have to live it. That’s the conundrum of it all. That’s the double-edged sword. If I started writing [lighter material], there would be a dramatic shift in my existence.”

There’s a break in the conversation, then Stapp asks me to identify the name of the new Taylor Swift album. The songwriter’s 11 th record has dropped like a nuclear bomb while we’ve all been out to sea, but data restrictions mean that nobody on board can access Spotify or any other streaming service. The Norwegian Pearl serves as a butt-rock pocket dimension: The biggest story in pop music simply can’t penetrate our airtight seal of Hinder, Staind, and so much Creed. “It’s called The Tortured Poets Department ,” I reply. Outside of my fiancée, he is the only person on the entire cruise I will speak to about Taylor Swift.

“That’s what I feel,” he says, without a shred of artifice. “I connect with that title.”

Later that evening, I climb to the top of the Pearl for a final round of karaoke, where fans keep the spirit of 1999 alive for a few more hours. The bar is more hectic than it’s been all trip—everyone is willing to risk a hangover now that Monday is all that looms on the horizon. The host asks a guest if they intended to sing “Torn” by Creed or “Torn” by Natalie Imbruglia. “I assume Creed, but Natalie would be a fun surprise.”

The playlist is more diverse than I expected. We are treated to both Jay-Z’s “Big Pimpin’ ” and Shania Twain’s “Any Man of Mine.” Brandon Smith, one of the very few people of color aboard the cruise, crushes Maroon 5’s “She Will Be Loved.” A lanky kid from St. Louis unleashes a Slipknot death-growl into the microphone. A queer couple quietly slow-dances on the otherwise empty dance floor. And a 16-year-old, teeth tightened by braces, orders his last Sprite of the night. “Rockers are the most awesome people!” shouts one transcendently inebriated guest over the clamor of his Rolling Stones cover. “Creed is awesome!” On this one thing, at least, we can all agree.

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