Day 3

When you say "P.S., I Love You" on the Kiss Kruise, you're referring to the group's singer, Paul Stanley. And he was one fierce bitch on Saturday night. "Strutter," a song on the band's original demo, awakened a story about the New York of yesteryear — a time of leather and lace. But Stanley had the hip swivels to rival any woman of that era for a few seconds during the second full-makeup performance of the cruise.

"We decided we're doing this again next year," he announced early on. "This is like camp on a boat!"

Ahoy, Kiss Navy!
Ian Witlen
Ahoy, Kiss Navy!
Ian Witlen

The night's set was four songs longer than the previous evening's — and this time, the encore featured a bitchin' rendition of "Detroit Rock City." Stanley hit some scorching high notes, and Simmons' flapping lizard tongue moves both would probably get them arrested if performed stateside.

Day 4

The final full day of the Kruise was a bit like a floating Kiss Expo. A tattoo social hour, a Q&A with manager Doc McGhee, a vows renewal ceremony, diving competitions on the lido deck, a quarters tournament hosted by Skid Row, and an exclusive Kiss Army Happy Hour were among the interactive activities.

Steve Mitchell, a personal trainer from Phoenix dressed in one of the finest Paul Stanley costumes of the weekend, was a staple at many of the events. In January, he started Psyko Circus, a Kiss tribute band, and raised $3,500 to finance his family's trip by spending seven weekends posing for pictures in Las Vegas in his outfit.

"Right there on the strip, this guy just pulls down his pants and just stands there butt naked and wanted a picture," he recalled. "I said, 'I do have to draw the line somewhere.' " He's seeking an endorsement from the band so his band can use trademarked items in its performance. And being on this cruise has brought him one step closer: "We were standing right by the elevator, and Gene walked by and goes, 'That's the tallest Paul Stanley I've ever seen.' "

With surgeonlike precision, Mitchell helped belly-flop-competition champ Andy Moyen with his face paint for "ghetto Ace Frehley" in one of the Destiny's cabins. And if anyone should have a great-looking Kiss costume, it's the owner of one of the most respected rooms devoted to the band in his home in Massachusetts. It features custom carpeting, a pinball machine, and a certificate proving he's in line for the first Kiss coffin.

The trip was an emotional one for Moyen, who attended with his wife. He freely admitted that the experience brought him to tears on several occasions. And in comparison to the many other music cruises, there's something that happened over the course of this weekend that sets these passengers apart from nostalgic pop fans.

"It's a different thing, because now you have costumes and people want to take a couple of hours to get ready," he said. "It's different, you know. People on this cruise know more about Kiss than Kiss does."

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