Comic conventions can be incredible experiences. Buying a ticket gets you into a convention center to get a look at some of your favorite actors, directors, writers, artists, and more. Spend a little bit of extra cash and you might be able to score a selfie or an autograph with your icon. It’s a one of a kind event which people save up for and look forward to for months.
Then, there’s the Walker Stalker Cruise, started by the same guys who trot around the country with the Walker Stalker Convention and Heroes And Villains Fan Fests. It’s a comic convention on a boat which actually makes it so much more than any comic convention you have ever attended for a number of reasons, with the fact that you’re on a luxurious cruise to the Bahamas somehow landing at the bottom of that list.
Over the weekend of February 3 to February 6, more than 2,000 fans of The Walking Dead hopped aboard a Norwegian Pearl cruise liner for a getaway with stars of the popular AMC series such as Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Norman Reedus, Ross Marquand, Michael Cudlitz, Alanna Masterson, Chandler Riggs, Katelyn Nacon, and more. At a regular comic convention on the main land, you would consider yourself extremely lucky to run into one of these faces in or around the convention center. On the Walker Stalker Cruise, you’re trapped with them in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean for a non-stop slumber party where you all cross paths on dance floors, ride the same elevators, and laugh together at panels. It’s a trade-off from the exclusive footage you might feast your eyes on at a San Diego Comic Con but it’s unlikely you’ll hear any of these sailors complain about that.
Loaded with fun activities throughout the weekend, it is impossible to get bored on the Walker Stalker Cruise. If you board the ship with no intentions of spending money on additional photo ops or autographs, you will still be provided a healthy dose of Michael Traynor (Nicholas on The Walking Dead) as he cracks himself up at Dirty Bingo on Saturday night or rolls through the ship for a Pub Crawl with fans. In fact, just about everybody on board flocked to the pool deck on Friday night for their first looks at Morgan, Reedus, and executive producer Greg Nicotero as they played host to a Q&A with Walker Stalker’s own James Frazier manning that ship. Dozens of women in the crowd cried out for Reedus to marry them and others raised their glass to share a toast with their favorite actors. It’s “the most intimate comic con experience possible,” according to several guests who caught up with ComicBook.com on board.
The standout of the weekend, though, is the Headphone Disco which the Walker Stalker Cruise offered on each of its three nights (narrowly edging out the Masterson and Frazier judged Belly Flop Contest). Hundreds of guests flocked to the Pearl’s Spinnaker Lounge for the interesting concept. There is no music playing in the venue but only through headphones which come equipped with two channels: competing DJs on each. There is no way to be sure that you’re listening to the same song as the person next to you (or if they’re going to take their headphones off to hear your attempts at T-Pain). What really set this Disco off was when Carl Grimes actor Riggs took to the DJ booth for a couple of hours on Sunday night with several of his co-stars dancing in the front row. Ecstatic fans grabbed so many selfies and Snapchats that their phones had to be coming close to their memory capacities.
The difference between the Walker Stalker Cruise (and their conventions, in general) by comparison to others, is the intimate feeling it provides. Yes, comic conventions are a business, but fans accept these terms for the opportunity to share a moment and make a memory with their favorite stars. The Cruise accommodates those dreams and crafts them into once-in-a-lifetime realities. There is a sense of passion and heart offered by the team behind all of this magic which keeps fans coming back to their conventions and flying city to city with them for more. Feeling welcome and being a part of a family, if only for a weekend and later in the Twitter-sphere, exploits that desire to attend. Ironically, this epic Cruise event was held on Super Bowl weekend, but it is in many ways the Super Bowl for fans of The Walking Dead.
This time around, it wasn’t only the Walker Stalker team which made guests feel so welcome. The Sixthman crew — a team which decks out cruise liners for themed events throughout the year — was eagerly waiting at almost every corner of the ship with a big smile and an even bigger amount knowledge. Upon arrival at the Great Stirrup Cay island, a Sixthman crew member stood at the gates to high-five each passenger as they marched onto the island, shouting, “Welcome to paradise!” with glee. This moment accurately reflects the attitude of each accommodating Sixthman representative. If the Walker Stalker Cruise is any indication of how this Sixthman team operates, their future events (such as the Pitbull cruise coming up next month) are something to consider.
There is no official confirmation of whether or not the Walker Stalker Cruise will set sail in 2018 just yet. When that day comes, however, you’ll want to be first in line to grab a cabin on board. You will, however, be competing with the couple thousand of fans who made the cut in 2017 and will almost certainly be looking to hit the sea, one more time.
MORE WALKER STALKER CRUISE: Watch Chandler Riggs DJ The Silent Disco / Michael Cudlitz Reveals How He Learned Negan Would Kill Abraham / Katelyn Nacon Reveals Glenn's Impact On Enid / How Tom Payne Plans To Make Negan Look Stupid / The Epic Pet Daryl Dixon Might Have / Snow On The Walking Dead? / Daryl And Jesus Romance?
The Walking Dead returns for the rest of its seventh season on February 12 at 9 p.m. ET on AMC. Fear the Walking Dead's third season does not yet have a premiere date but with The Walking Dead finale set for April 2, expectations for Fear's return are set for April 9. For complete coverage and insider info all season long, follow @BrandonDavisBD on Twitter.