The charter cruise venture began in 2001, hosted by Sister Hazel and Sixthman, and joined by their guests Dexter Freebish, where they chartered part of a regular cruise on Carnival's smaller ship, Jubilee. There were approximately 400 music loving fans that came along that year to join the trip from Tampa, FL to Cozumel, MX. The fans were treated to a special private concert performance and meet & greet session with the bands.
Today, the concept has grown incredibly to an immediate, complete sell-out of larger cruise ships such as the Carnival's Legend, which holds 2,124 passengers. Destinations have included locations such as Mexico, Nassau, and Turks & Caicos. Hosted by Sister Hazel, there are approximately 30 additional bands appearing on The Rock Boat every year which have included talented musicians such as Josh Kelley, Gavin Degraw, Edwin McCain, Cowboy Mouth, Pat McGee Band, Tonic, Michael Tolcher, David Ryan Harris, Better Than Ezra, Marc Broussard, Wideawake and many, many more. The bands perform around the clock and provide the fans an opportunity to meet, greet and mingle side-by-side with the band members in this incredible fan-friendly scenario.
The cruise has been described by Ken Block (Lead Singer/Guitar for Sister Hazel) as "Spring Break for people with jobs".