I guess I should start with what the JoCo Cruise is. It started as kind of a joke in 2010 by Jonathon Coulton and his “circle of famous entertainment powerhouse friends”. I like to tell people it’s like a geek concert convention on a boat. This year it was seven days around the Caribbean listening to Jonathon (duh), Paul and Storm, and so many other musicians, comedians, and authors. I must say talking with someone like Pat Rothfuss on a beach while sipping juice out of pineapples is well worth the price of admission.
One of the best parts of this cruise was finding so many new artists that I’d never known before, and finally putting some faces to names of songs I had heard. Seven solid days of concerts and author panels has done nothing but sparked my fires for working on my novel and getting back into music. I’ve been a bit sick since coming back but I’ve already tooted a few notes on my ocarina and hope to bring it along with me next year. Sea Monkeys 2017, you’ve been warned!
So what was the week like? Well, waking up early to start. Andrea and I are used to going to bed around the times we’d have to get up. That was a huge adjustment and one we’re still getting used to. But few things motivate you more than waking up to salt spray in your room and working out on the ocean. We ran every single day and it was glorious, though half way through we did have to start using treadmills because old mean people don’t know how to act around a jogging track. So after burning all those calories it’d be time for FOOD! It was a cruise, we ate food. Lots of food. But, I am really happy to report we barely gained any weight and I actually dropped half an inch from my waist. Take that cruise food!
Events usually started fairly early and ran late. There was so much to do! I’ve already mentioned the concerts, of which there would be one or two a night. But then you throw in some comedy shows and you have a good handle on the official events. There were at least two panels a day with various artists or authors, and so many “Shadow Cruise” events. These were unofficial events that the Sea Monkeys would create, sort of like meet ups. As much as I loved doing all of these things I would love to see less next year. We didn’t have nearly enough time to just sit and play games, or actually relax. This was a vacation that was so jam packed it almost felt like work.
On top of the regular JoCo ship board events we had the regular cruise excursions. This trip, Andrea and I tried to be more active than just sitting on a beach and drinking cocktails. We took a nature walk around Coco Cay (where they have trees that make you bleed and other trees that stop the bleeding! So trippy)! On St. Thomas we took a 5k running tour of the island. I have to say our biggest adventure was on St. Maarten. We were invited to charter a private boat with some friends. We got to visit the island where they shoot the Corona commercials and it was absolutely stunning. Then we had lunch on Anguila and spent an hour or so drinking island beer and splashing in the water. Oh, we also spent about an hour total with Immigration and were chased by the Dutch Coast Guard on our way back, where we almost missed our boat because we were half an hour past the departure time. It was good times had by all!
By now you’re either thinking “Man, that sounds amazing and I want to go, too!” or “Jesus man, I stopped reading at ‘cruise’”. But now I’m going to reveal the real reason this cruise was so amazing, and that reason is friends. Friends are the reason we had such an amazing trip. Friends are the reason we didn’t spend all day every day working (just some time most days), and friends are the reason we already booked our cruise for 2017. Going on this year’s cruise we only knew two couples going and fully expected to spend most of the trip by ourselves exploring. But we were quickly introduced to awesome new friends and spent more time running around doing awesome things with awesome people than we could have hoped for. The entire group of geeks was so welcoming and at no time did we feel alone around them. Any time we had questions or needed something, someone with a yellow Helper Monkey lanyard was there. Save that, we could count on our friends to find something fun to do. I honestly haven’t felt this sense of belonging since joining the 501st back in 2003. Next year’s cruise could have no entertainment, no celebrities, nothing geeky at all but if it had these people I’ve come to know or grow closer to it’d still be absolutely amazing.