JoCo Cruise 2016 Photo Set Plus Quick Nerd Boat Recap

Hey, do you like looking at pictures of other people’s vacations? Well, then you’ll want to check out my JoCo Cruise 2016 Flickr photo set, which is just that very thing! In addition to pictures of islands and such, it has snaps of the performers, concerts, two types of monkey made from inanimate objects, and, of course, a phalanx of waiters waving their arms about. As they do. Plus: Me in a hot pink tie! You don’t want to miss that.

I will note that all the pictures this year were taken with my cell phone camera, which is fine but which of course has close-up muddiness because of having a tiny sensor. Next year — because yes, I’m planning to be on the boat again next year — I think I will bring a proper camera, for proper photos, taken properly. We’ll see how that goes.

Yes, yes, you say, that’s all fine, but tell us about the cruise itself? Well, since you asked, it was pretty good! As many of you know, I am co-head of the cruise’s literary track (with Pat Rothfuss), and we were delighted this year to have N.K. Jemisin, Allie Brosh (who we shared with the main stage), Kelly Sue DeConnick and Matt Fraction as participants. They were all, in a word, fabulous (plus! Michael Ian Black, who came to the boat for his comedy skills, nevertheless did a reading of his most recent work, Navel Gazing, and did a writing track panel, so I’ll claim him after the fact). With the exception of one thing, all the writing track panels and presentations went off without a hitch, which made the cruise an especially happy one for me.

(The one thing that hitched? The ship running crew drills during N.K. Jemisin’s reading, with means sirens blaring, messages coming up on the intercom, and crew members running around and slamming doors. This was frustrating for her and the audience, and embarrassing for me, and something we obviously will keep in min for future cruises. That Nora nevertheless gave a kickass reading that garnered her a standing ovation is a testament to her writing and presenting skills. Seriously, people, read her stuff, and if you can, see her read her stuff. It’s amazing.)

I was also happy this year that my family got to come with me on the trip. Last year because of scheduling issues I went on the cruise alone, which was fine but which made me realize how much better a tropical paradise is when you have people you love with you. Having Krissy and Athena (and Hunter, Athena’s beau) with me this year made it a much happier experience. Family! It’s a good thing.

Other personal highlights of the cruise (not all of them, otherwise we’d be here for hours):

* Almost missing the boat in St. Maarten because the excursion we went on ran late, which caused twenty of us to run the better part of a mile after the official “on board” time to make it before the ship cast off. We made it in part because Hunter, being young and fast, sprinted the whole way to tell them the rest of us were on our way. Because he did, Hunter was the hero of the day, we were not stranded in a foreign country, and the whole story, which is best told live and with gesticulation, goes down as an amusing experience rather than an “oh, shit” moment. Which is why it’s a highlight, and not its opposite.

* Having an “in conversation” panel with Nora where we talked about worldbuilding, writing, the culture of science fiction and fantasy today, and a number of other subjects. Nora is super-smart and opinionated and also I’m a fan of both her and her writing, so I was as much of an audience member for that as I was a participant. Okay, I’m going to stop fanboying Nora now.

* Staying up late to talk aliens with John Hodgman, John Roderick and Michael Ian Black, and, yes, it was just as awesomely nerdy as you might have expected it to be (I think Ted Leo might have been involved as well? It was late, man, and I was soooo high (note: I was not actually high)).

* Staying up late another night to do cryptic crosswords with Ted Leo and Aimee Mann and a rotating cast of contributors. I was, I should note, mostly a spectator, because it turns out I am really shit at these sorts of crosswords. But I did get one right, which earned me a smile of approval from Aimee Mann, which thrilled both the teenager version of me who loved the song “Coming Up Close” and the adult version of me who actually knows her as a person.

* Speaking of Mann and Leo, watching them rehearse with Jim Boggia, Jonathan Coulton and John Roderick was like getting a living room concert from some of my favorite musicians. I kept very very very quiet so they wouldn’t kick me out.

* Watching Matt Fraction, Kelly Sue DeConnick, and John Hodgman geek out over Hamilton, the musical (and also the soundtrack). I mentioned to Hodgman I was saving my ears until I could see it on stage and he looked at me like someone who said he only breathes oxygen when he absolutely has too, i.e., he clearly thought I was daft. Well, maybe I am (holds breath).

* The goodbye concert, which is always great, but which this year featured an especially fine tribute to David Bowie. It was all amazing, but watching Jean Grae blow out “Moonage Daydream” is very likely going down in my personal list of Top Musical Experiences, Ever.

* Really, just getting to hang out with all the performers and their families and friends is amazing. But equally great: Hanging around and having conversations with the “Seamonkeys” (as the JoCo Cruise folks call themselves). Everyone is smart and kind and fun to talk and be with. As performers, one of the things which makes the JoCo Cruise such a great experience is the fact that the Seamonkeys are always willing to go with you, wherever it is you’re going. But also, as a nerd, the great experience is that wherever you’re going, you’re not alone. There’s always someone willing to nerd out with you. I love it, which is why I keep coming back.

Speaking of which: JoCo Cruise 2017 is open for booking. You really should go, if you can. It’s great. It’s always great. And next year we have a whole boat to ourselves! Which means it’s probably going to be especially great. Come along. You won’t regret it.

40 Comments on “JoCo Cruise 2016 Photo Set Plus Quick Nerd Boat Recap”

  1. Next year, for me. *reads longingly*

    I think Hamilton probably benefits from advance listens more than the average show, on account of sheer words per minute. But you do you. (You always do!)

  2. Sounds like you had a blast! Speaking as somebody who ignored advice to listen to Hamilton for a few months, I’d advise listening as soon as you possibly can. I really don’t have enough words for it, but here are a few: topical, addictive, & heart-wrenchingly beautiful. Do yourself a favor!

    Because of the soundtrack, I’ve even started reading Ron Chernow’s Hamilton biography that Lin-Manuel Miranda based it on. Great stuff!

  3. One of those pics – “On the Way to St. Maarten” – with Krissy on the right hand side in a black/blue top and the ocean taking up 3/4 of the rest of the space – that would look wonderful as a permanent feature above the title.

    Are those outlines of roses?

  4. > “It was late, man, and I was soooo high (note: I was not actually high)).”

    Are you sure you weren’t high on a combination of fatigue poisons, endorphins, and other things your body made for you? “I didn’t take any drugs” doesn’t necessarily mean “I was not high.” ;)

  5. Thanks for co-running such an amazing Writing Track. Bravo! Bravo! Bravo! Echo! Echo! Echo! I didn’t happen to see Allie Brosh after her Main Stage experience; I hope she had a good cruise in spite of the Amazing Collapsing Easels. If you communicate with her, please tell her that absolutely everyone I talked with was very much with her and impressed with what she was saying, and I had some fascinating and moving conversations as a result. N. K. Jemisin was amazing, Rothfuss made me cry, and you weren’t half bad yourself. (Also, you and Krissy dance really well together.)

    See you next year!

  6. I’m with Hodgman. Waiting to listen to Hamilton is both depriving yourself of joy Right Now AND means you’ll have the sights and sounds competing with the words for brain space. Pick the low-hanging fruit in advance and free your mind for the nuance live.

  7. Thank you again, Hunter, my new fleet-of-foot hero. Because I am decidedly NOT fleet of foot, especially after a day of jumping in and out of boats.

  8. Welcome back! Anyone know how well they deal with food allergies? Very tempted to try to go next year, but the food allergy thing is a big concern.

  9. Looked over the side of the boat about 15 minutes after boarding time and saw a blonde young man tearing up the pier, and said to Beth, “Looks like someone’s running late….” Hadn’t realized it was you! He was moving at a pretty good clip, even after what must have been a fairly long run; he on the track team? Or maybe it was just the enviable endurance of youth. In any event, glad you all made it!

  10. So glad we didn’t see a post “Surprise! Changed plans and ended up on the Gronk Cruise because they promised I could have all the Coke Zero”

  11. I loved, loved the writing track, even though I barely glimpsed Pat Rothfuss this time. Nora was particularly wonderful. You make a great “interviewer”.

  12. Catherine N: It’s a different line next year (Holland America), but – in general – cruise lines are good about dietary restrictions. They may ask that you pick a particular table and always eat there, so the waiters don’t get confused and bring you the wrong thing. This year it was Royal Carribean, and the menu had items marked for lactose- and gluten-free options available. If your needs are less common, or you have extreme sensitivity, it would be worth it to contact HAL directly and ask. They’ll know what they’re capable of dealing with, and they want their guests to have a good time – no poisoning anyone, if possible! :)

  13. Welcome ashore. I am so stoked! We will be joining the cruise next year with its inaugural West Coast voyage and couldn’t be more excited. Well, I am. My wife just pats my hand and says, “It’s not for a year yet. Relax.” As if I didn’t know! But, I have learned to always listen to my wife. So :::Whew:::

  14. Catherine N: I’ve been on Holland America and I have a life-threatening shellfish allergy. I told the waiter the first day and they went out of their way every service to make sure that my food never even heard the word “shrimp” in the kitchen. Just do the usual (double-check because waiters are human, bring your epi-pen because you are human,too) and you’ll be fine.

  15. Oh, my – those are amazing photos. I especially liked the one of the four of you on Formal Night, and all the amazing sunset views with the equally amazing Krissy in the image. It looks like you had a fabulous time together!

    It wouldn’t be my cup of tea (I am enough of an introvert that those crowd shots had me twitching just looking at them) but I’m really pleased that you had so much fun. Hope you were able to catch up sleep and clean laundry today at least – email can wait, but those two are pretty essential.

  16. I’ll add to the general chorus. Is hip hop normally your genre of choice? If not you will probably only catch one phrase in three and be frustrated. Then you will be further distracted by thoughts like, “wait, is that TRUE?!” And you’ll have to go look it up.

    Personally I love song lyrics, but I needed to listen to the soundtrack with the words in front of me several times in order to follow everything. I’m a “wait and see it live” person myself, but in this case I’m very glad I didn’t.

  17. Hey, I lurve cryptics. I bet you will too after you get the hang of them. They’re candy for word junkies.

  18. I’ll point out that you were actually not in danger of missing the boat, because we were behind you, and we had been on an officially-sanctioned excursion. (Which means the ship would have waited long enough to make an effort to find us. And, in fact, we saw one of the crew heading out to find another few people who were behind us.)

    You had no way of knowing that, of course, so Hunter’s heroism and prowess is still valid. :)

  19. I have pedestrian taste, my favorite is still ‘Voices Carry”. But I’d listen to her sing the phone book, I love her voice.

  20. I’m just glad we have eyewitness accounts that Allie Brosh is up and about and doing things.

  21. While I am quite envious and am likely to remain a Land Pony for several years more, I do believe you are daft if you’re going to wait to see Hamilton before listening to the soundtrack because a) they haven’t even released general tickets for the Chicago production starting in September, b) also, NYC tickets aren’t available until 2017, I think, and c) you are TOTALLY missing out. I feel terrible that I didn’t get onto the Hamilton fun train during NerdCon: Stories but I’m glad to be on it now. You will be, too.

  22. @Sean Eric Fagan: Those last few people would be the tail end of our group. I know, because I was in that tail end. (There was, let us say, a wide range of athleticism in our merry band.) Hunter redeemed!

  23. Glad you had a good time! Looks like fun. Great to hang out with so many awesome people. (Though I was mildly disappointed there were no pics from St. Maarten; my spouse and her best friend were there a couple years ago.)

    And OH MY GOD, finally another person who bought Welcome Home! And liked it, even! *high five*

  24. How does a cruise like this work? Do the other people on the cruise have access to the sessions?

  25. Cassie, you pay extra for the cruise to cover the costs of the Joco events, and you get a badge. People on the cruise without badges are not allowed into the Joco events. But this is all by-the-way, because next year there will be ONLY Joco people on the boat, so no need to badge.

  26. Catherine N: About food allergies. JoCo cruises have historically had open seating (anybody can sit anywhere, with some restrictions, such as the performers having their own space), but people with food allergies/sensitivities/restrictions and/or severe social anxiety and/or small children who need to know where mommy or daddy are are encouraged to sign up for the (more traditional for cruise lines) fixed seating, where you always sit at the same table with the same waiter and the same fellow diners. That way the waiter can learn your food issues, and mistakes are much less likely to be made. It does mean that you’ll always be eating dinner with the same people, but there are loads of other opportunities to connect with other people.

    Room service is free (there is a late-night service fee that kicks in after, umm, 10? Midnight?) and I believe the menu doesn’t change there, so once you verify that you can eat something, that’ll always be available. The Lido deck (top or near-top deck where the pool is) buffet is open continuously from fairly early in the morning to 10 or so at night, and that menu does change daily. You may have to ask the server about particular dishes, and he or she may have to get a chef to verify it, but my observation the last time I was on Holland America was that they were perfectly cheerful about doing so.

    Cassie: Next year there will only be JoCo people (“seamonkeys”) on the ship (we chartered a whole ship! How awesome is that?) so it won’t be an issue, but I can tell you how it worked this year and in previous years. All of the seamonkeys went to seamonkey registration in a conference room on the ship, and got a badge (and a swag bag). That badge was required to get us into any JoCo main show programming, as well as the 24 hour game room/activity hub room that was instituted from year 2 on. Helper Monkeys (volunteers) were stationed at the entrances of the venues badge-checking. Non-seamonkeys were turned away.

    “Shadow Cruise” events (events organized by regular seamonkeys that were not part of main programming) and “Office Hours” (meet-the-performers events which might be another mini performance or a question-and-answer session or just general chat) in public spaces of the ship like the bars and the hot tub were not restricted to seamonkeys, though in practice there’d generally be so many seamonkeys there that any non-seamonkeys would be a tiny minority. Oh, and this year there was one non-seamonkey who often joined us in our private game room space: the ship’s doctor. He said that he really wants to go on next year’s JoCo cruise, if his schedule permits, even though he works for a different cruise line. His specialty is aerospace medicine, and he’s clearly One Of Us.

  27. Paul F. didn’t do a Dead Authors event that I heard of, but he did do a Spontaneanation, starring Jean Grae (the hip-hop singer, not the Avenger), to be broadcast in “a couple of months”.

  28. The writers track was absolutely terrific. Let me add that John was a wonderful moderator, asking good questions, keeping things moving and making sure speakers got their say (as was Pat in his moderating duties). And the speakers were fascinating. So friendly and generous with their time and with each other.

  29. @Cally: Last year, a group of Royal Carribbean crew members helmed the Artemis for a session, and I heard it was hilarious. I’ve never watched the whole thing before, but today maybe I will.

  30. John, I’d be interested in a post on how you handled the logistics of bringing a child’s beau on an international cruise.

  31. Secabeen:

    It’s not postworthy. We made sure he had documents in order and we had notarized permission from his parents to be his legal guardians for the duration of the trip. And that’s about it.

  32. Just saw this (huge blush). The “in conversation” was indeed delightful, weird as it was to have the conversation we probably would’ve had anyway — just in front of an audience. But I didn’t get to say all I wanted about writing of yours that I liked! ::sigh:: I *guess* that wasn’t the point.

    Anyway, had lots of fun despite (because of) the beautifully surreal moments, so thanks to you and Rothfuss for inviting me to the writing track this year. :)

  33. I hadn’t been aware of Nora’s work before she was invited to the cruise. I started Hundred Thousand Kingdoms at the pre-cruise hotel and nearly didn’t come out of my room that day, I was so engrossed. “But, but they’re trying to assassinate the protagonist! Ok, it’s only chapter two of a trilogy so really, we all know she’s going to survive, BUT I MUST BE CERTAIN!”

    Bravo to you both for a great cruise; the writing track had some of my favorite moments this year.

  34. This was my first cruise, and hopefully, not my last. I really enjoyed the panels, entertainment, and most of all, the sheer glee of rubbing shoulders with fellow nerds. There was a lot to process, and I know I missed some stuff, but… damn. That was fun. Now, if the room would just quit swaying- it’s been nearly a week, now.

  35. Please consider giving up cruising. It’s horrible for the environment in at least 5 ways (construction, emissions, damage to the sea, damage to ports, damage to local wildlife and sealife). It’s also a corrupting force for the local economies touched on a by cruise ships. It breeds horrible corruption and misappropriation of funds. And finally, all that food they feed you ends up being dumped into the ocean, in many cases, unprocessed.

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