Rear-View Tattoo, Colorful Cocktail -- It’s Bruise Cruise

Carnival Imagination
Carnival Corp.'s Imagination about to set sail from the port of Miami on Feb. 10, 2012 with 500 Bruise Cruisers of 2,000 passengers aboard. The Bruise Cruise was injury-free, which was a ``daunting task when you are taking 500 Rock' n' Rollers into international waters,'' organizer Michelle Cable said. Photographer: Mary Childs/Bloomberg

Afloat on the Atlantic, 24-year-old Amy asked bachelor No. 2 if he had “any hidden tattoos.” He answered by gamely mooning the delighted audience gathered in the Shangri-la lounge aboard the Imagination, a Carnival Corp. ship.

It was Sunday afternoon on the second annual three-day ocean-going music festival known as the Bruise Cruise. The Dating Game, which served as hangover recovery and hair-of-the-dog for many, rewarded victors with a date and a year’s supply of Sir Richard’s Condoms. The mooner won.

I was one of 500 Bruisers who joined what, for the 1,500 other passengers, was a conventional cruise from Miami to Nassau. The Bruisers were mostly cloistered in the separate Spirit Dining Room and in Xanadu, our own music hall.

The acts included the Togas, Kyp Malone, King Khan and the Shrines, Thee Oh Sees, the Dirtbombs, Vockah Redu, and Quintron and Miss Pussycat. We entertained ourselves further with multicolored cocktails, but you had to request the tiny umbrella.

For many, drinking and boating was a challenge. When drunk on a boat, it’s very hard to differentiate what is drunk and what is boat. New sea legs combined with innumerable Mai Tais and choppy waters make for very wobbly dancing. No injuries were reported, though I sustained cuts from corseting my feet too tightly in wooden flatforms.

Our Crowd

Our crowd comprised garage punk and indie music fans, easy to identify by the bright tattoos (largely bird-themed for women), bushy beards, torn jeans, loud ‘80s T-shirts. I saw no identifiable Brooks Brothers. The gift bag at check-in included Wayfarer-esque Bruise-branded Glamour Kills sunglasses and rolling papers courtesy of music-streaming website Grooveshark.

The biggest subsets were from Brooklyn and Nashville, home base for Bruise Cruise founders Michelle Cable, 29, of Panache Booking and Jonas Stein, 24, of the band Turbo Fruits. They spread the word via viral videos, radio ads and stands at other music festivals. They sold out at $695 to $760 a head.

“We wanted to create both a festival and a vacation experience that also brought people together in a unique way,” Cable said. “I think we accomplished that community, family vibe.”

A family on a tight schedule: We left Miami at 4 p.m. Friday, had an overnight at sea, had most of a day and an overnight in Nassau, and sailed at 7 a.m. Sunday for a Miami arrival 26 hours later.

‘Special Auditorium’

Sequestered on board, we Bruisers didn’t seem to disturb the rest of the human cargo. We did provide motley people-watching for calmer vacationers, and a group of 12-year-olds joined Quintron’s DJ deck dance party on the last night.

“You guys pretty much hung out in that special auditorium back there,” said Paul Cannell, 54, who was on vacation from Charlottesville, Virginia, with his 13-year-old daughter. “Because of that, the whole ship was empty. The dining rooms were emptier than they would have been otherwise, I think. That made it good for us.”

I didn’t notice a lot of worry about the capsizing of Miami-based Carnival’s Costa Concordia off the Tuscan coast four weeks earlier or the more recent reports of cruise-loving Norovirus.

Some Bruisers did mourn the death of Whitney Houston, which I first heard from a friend avoiding the 12:15 a.m. Conga Line at the Senor Frog’s bar, our hangout in Nassau.

In general, “the vibes were more positive” than on last year’s cruise, Cable said, with less “drinking to a point of feeling like you’ve gone overboard.”

‘Funeral Home’

I witnessed no vomiting, public passing out, egregious falling, or fighting. These Bruisers seemed savvy about their tolerances. Sunbathing on the beach in Nassau, a guy hawking drugs found demand in our crowd to be underwhelming.

“You acting like you never done this before, you acting all Christian when I know you do this,” he yelled after we declined his offer of weed for $20, or $15 for a rolled joint -- try to figure out that business model. When the sky clouded over, he blamed us: “The rain came because you came to the Bahamas, you don’t want to do nothing. You just lay down like you’re at the funeral home.”

On the contrary: I felt a happy, comfortable vibe. Like we were all already friends, preapproved, with our ornate tattoos (OK, not me) and bangs and fruity drinks. Like we were living in an Instagram filter, and for three days, my only worry was making it back to the boat by 5:45 a.m.

The Bruise Cruise requires passengers to make their own way to the embarkation point at Port of Miami. A cost of $760 for an exterior cabin covers three shipboard nights and a day in Nassau with all meals; Interior cabins are $695. Drinks are extra. Information:

(Mary Childs is a reporter for Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are her own.)

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