I can absolutely understand why some people say, “I won’t go on any cruise but the JoCo one.” I don’t agree with them, but I understand it now.
This whole shindig is pretty much an ocean con. Except the big reasons I don’t care for cons – outside of getting to hang with friends – are generally not issues.
First, there’s interesting stuff to do. I don’t go to panels at cons. Not generally. Mostly I’m just not interested. Here, the official “panels” center around the various guests, and I’ve gone to a few. But more than that, I’ve found several of the Shadow Cruise activities to be a ton of fun. These are events put on by the attendees, with prior approval of the JoCo staff.
- One of the unexpected crowd favorites is Lockpicking 101. I think there were three sessions scheduled, but after the first they had to limit it to thirty people for space and materials reasons.
- We’ve had one stargazing session on deck 11, lead by an honest-to-god astrophysicist, and the crew killed the lights for the duration. SO MANY stars. Seriously it’s a 2001 moment. We’re also at a low enough latitude that if you’re up around 2AM or so, you could see the top of the Southern Cross.
- There are also tons of topic-specific meetups that have been great simply to find new people with similar interests.
Second, the entire ship is booked by JoCo Cruise passengers. Which means no funny looks from Boomers who don’t know Star Wars from Star Trek. Seriously – it’s nice to not wonder if I’m being judged by the lady in the elevator with her “let me speak to your manager” haircut.
Finally, everyone I’ve run into has been at least pleasant, if not outright nice. My gut says that when people pay cruise prices to be here, they’re less likely to be the kind of fuck-ups who do shit like wander a con with their phone blasting music. That feels at least elitist to me, but I don’t have a better explanation yet.
Additionally, the cruise line seems happy to accommodate the JoCo setup with little touches here and there. The Lido Market (buffet) area is dotted with Portal (2) posters, including several oval mirrors backlit in orange and blue. Deck 1 has a lego model of the Oosterdam and buckets of random pieces, with attendees encouraged to add their own touch to the sculpture.
If we weren’t the kind of people who like to travel as much as we do, I can easily see this becoming a yearly thing for us. As it is, we have too many other places we’d like to go, and a limited amount of money and vacation. The pros and cons of working for a university. We’ll probably do it again in a few years, once we’ve got more hours saved up.