Now that I am coming out of my post-cruise fog I can put together some words to describe the awesomeness that occurred at sea. When people ask me what JoCo Cruise Crazy is, I find myself trying to pick the perfect words. The real answer is it is summer camp for adults. It is a group of friends old and new reunited to celebrate common interests, have fun, and play games. Oh, and there are some entertainers and performances. But really, it’s about the people.
I don’t want to sell myself and talent short (hopefully my employers are not reading…) but we are sort of ancillary. The real joy is the community. A game room open 24 hours a day as old friends and new play a plethora of games. The game library was seriously impressive. Wizards of the Coast donated Magic half decks and two copies of Wrath of Ashardalon and Conquest of Nerath board games. (Thanks WotC!) The rest of the library was supplied by Sea Monkeys. (Sea Monkeys is the community-voted name for the JCCC attendees).
There are so many wonderful things that happened on this cruise it’s hard to narrow it down. Let me cover my highlights.
Day 1 (leaving Port)
Hodgman Towel Monkeys. On the cruise, the room steward leaves you towels every night assembled in the form of an animal. Last year John Hodgman pointed out that the towel monkey is particularly creepy — something Paul and Storm highlighted in the fun promotional video we filmed on our site visit.
This year it was decided to pull a prank on Hodgman by filling his room with towel monkeys on the first day of the cruise. Seriously, this is something we had listed in our official memo with Holland America.
Day 2 (Half Moon Cay)
Half Moon Cay is an island owned by Holland America Line (HAL). Last year we had a fabulous time and this year was even better. Since it is HAL’s island, all the food is free and the bars take your key card, just like on board. We were the only ship in port which added to the perfect tropical seclusion.
This year we reserved a section of the beach for our group. Vi Hart led folks in a fun activity of building shapes out of nerds in the ocean. I loved this event because I saw so many smiling faces and so much laughter. As people came out of the water and walked by me, they thanked me for cruise (though it’s not really my cruise). I heard exclamations of “This is the most fun I’ve ever had!” and “This is the BEST vacation ever!” And it’s only day two.
Day 3 (at Sea)
Our first at sea day found the gaming room packed! It was great to see folks taking advantage of the space. We had explained to the HAL folks that this room would be packed and it made sense for us to have a 24-hour room. They did not believe us. It takes a special kind of group to be indoors gaming when there is a sunny Caribbean outside.
Since this was the first day without a port of call, it meant extra events, including a morning Q&A with the performers. At-sea days quickly turned into my crazy days. Solving problems in every corner of the ship and planning for the evening show kept me on my toes. I don’t like to be bored and I love what I do. Despite being extremely busy, I loved (most) every minute of it.
Day 4 (Aruba)
From a Liz sanity perspective, this was the easiest day for me. We had no major shows, only the DJ Flans dance party that night. We pulled into Aruba around 1 p.m. which gave me enough time to get prep work done and then hit the beach. I took a taxi with Scarface (JoCo’s assistant) and Scarfriend (Scarface’s friend) to the resort-area beaches. When we arrived we found many other Sea Monkeys and took over a patch of beach for hanging out, drinking beer, and swimming.
The best part of the Aruba was the “Party Bus” ride back to the ship. This shuttle between the beach and the port is the best way to ride. Filled with Sea Monkeys, the bus took off and cranked up the tunes. Dance music blasted from the speakers as we all danced along, waving arms, grooving to the beat and getting down…as best we could from a seated position. This is definitely one of my favorite memories of the cruise.
Day 5 (Curaçao)
This was the day I was adopted as an honorary Wheaton. I was determined to hit the beach early in the day, but I didn’t want to go it alone. The Wheaton family came to my rescue and invited me along. The goal was to find a good place for snorkeling, and we did. We just didn’t have any snorkel gear. As Anne Wheaton and I explored the beach area for snorkel gear (which was all rented out) we discovered seals, lizards, and other crazy wild life.
I am fortunate to have such wonderful friends all over the world. Of course, this means I don’t get the chance to see them all that often. The cruise is fun for me because I get to see my far-away friends. I get to hang out on a beautiful beach and catch up on what’s going on in their lives. Or just laugh about stupid things. The cruise would not be as fun or fantastic if it wasn’t for my friends.
Day 6 (at Sea)
One of the signature JCCC events is the Paul F. Tompkins Memorial Moustache Formal. This year was the second annual event, with the added wrinkle of Feztravaganza. Appropriately scheduled for a formal dinner night, everyone was wearing their finest attire. Walking out onto the back deck (Sea View Aft) you were greeted with a beautiful sight — hundreds of Sea Monkeys in fancy dress, custom fezzes, and fake (or real) moustaches. The most bizarre cocktail party ever. Even the bartenders and servers were wearing the fake moustaches.
As a side note, I have to say that the staff on the Westerdam was fabulous. It appears that the majority of cruise-goers they encounter have lost their sense of humor, fun, and respect for others. These are the complainers. The staff repeatedly said how much they loved our group. We are a fun, lively bunch who treats the staff and crew with respect and appreciation. Like last year, we were told by a few of the crew that they would be requesting to work on our cruise next year.
A party with moustaches and fezzes. This is the type of event that can only occur with a group of nerds. And when you having it on a cruise ship, it can only be JoCo Cruise Crazy.
Day 7 (at Sea)
The last day at sea is bittersweet. Looking back on the whole week I was excited to get to land (and 3G) and let the world know how much fun I had. Yet, it has to end. There is something magical about that last night. The final concert with Jonathan Coulton was spectacular.
We had a “So Long and Thanks for All the Drinks!” farewell cocktail party. Many thanks were given and I was pulled aside by many for a personal thank you for running such a wonderful event. Group pictures were taken, hugs given, information exchanged. Then we went to pack. Walking the halls that night I encountered Sea Monkeys here and there. I saw a group playing the last few games in the gaming room, a few stargazers out on the back deck, and my personal favorite — an elevator ukulele sing-a-long. As I stepped into the elevator it was explained that this group wanted to play music and sing but needed a quite space where they wouldn’t wake anyone up. At 2 a.m. an empty elevator seemed to be as good a place as any. So I sang along, traveled a few decks and got off at my stop. It was great to see such a happy group easily making their own fun.
From a production stand point, this year was wonderfully successful. Last year was fun and super crazy. I worked hard to keep things on track and ensure everyone was having a good time. I had a few last-minute folks help out, and I felt like I kept most everything under control. But I’ve been told that our crazed state was clear and the Sea Monkeys had a great time, but could tell it was our first cruise.
This year we much more ambitious, adding more events both on the boat and at ports of call. We had a 24-hour gaming room. Did I mention there were twice as many Sea Monkeys? I was much busier this year, but with the help of Scarface and the elite team of volunteers (called Helper Monkeys) we pulled off a nearly flawless cruise. This time I worked my butt off and the feedback I got was that it was smoothly run, well-organized event, and there was no sign of our stress. Success!