JoCoCruiseCrazy Log: Our Cruise Pretending Cuba Doesn’t Exist (PART 1)

You know it’s done from the weight of the wallet now in your back pocket.  The jingle of keys you didn’t have to carry the past 6 days.  You stand slightly swaying, to the bemusement of those around you, but the ground is steady and firm and you are not drunk. All the friends old and new are with you, bleary eyed from the final night’s celebration.  At once sad and happy, shuffling lines are formed and last hugs are shared. Maybe happy isn’t quite the right word, because the sadness is pretty strong.  Perhaps “satisfied and thankful” strikes a more accurate note.  All I know after JoCoCruiseCrazy is this, the ramp down off the ship seems so much shorter than the ramp up to the ship a week ago.

When I first learned of JoCoCruiseCrazy I thought it was pretty much the weirdest idea in the sea of weird ideas that is the Internet.  Take a number of w00tstock caliber performers and their fans, and cruise around the blindingly bright and beautiful Caribbean on a luxury cruise ship. Never mind that many of the fans (and performers) had never been on a cruise before, never mind that many of the fans (and performers) either explode or broil in direct sunlight, never mind that Internet access would be sketchy and expensive at best, and never mind that everyone had to not only pay for the cruise but also get all the way out to Florida and back.

And just about 400 people did indeed say: Never mind all that.

I’m trying to focus my thoughts here because anyone reading this, even if you’re not a geek or nerd or would classify yourself as such, would have the time of your life.  It was that amazing.  Spouses of nerds (the nerd adjacents) found themselves falling in love with the performances, the ship, the ports of call, everything. Right around the middle of the cruise I tweeted: “JoCoCruiseCrazy is like if PAX and w00tstock had a baby and put it in a small raft and set it adrift to save it from the Pharaohs”

For the sake of those either on the fence or wonder if they would go to another one if it was offered, I will try and recap the awesomeness.

Arrival in Ft. Lauderdale.

Rochelle and I were always going to be on the cruise.  While I would have said to you quite calmly and with a clear and untrembling voice that I cannot imagine what world could possibly exist that I would go on a Caribbean cruise over, say, an Alaskan one, Jonathan Coulton and Paul and Storm provided that world I could not imagine. So I bought tickets in the late summer as a graduation present for Rochelle, and to push myself well out of my pasty white guy comfort zone.  When Paul F. Thompkins couldn’t make the cruise, I was asked to fill in for part of his segment along with David Rees. I was going to get to perform alongside Jonathan, Paul and Storm, John Hodgman, Molly Lewis, Kevin Murphy & Bill Corbett, Mike Phirman, John Roderick, Peter Sagal, and Wil Wheaton. So now not only was I going to have an amazing vacation, I was going to get to perform alongside my friends and heroes. I believe it is safe to say I was more excited for JoCoCruiseCrazy to start than I was inside my mom awaiting my birth.

Rochelle and I arrived the evening before the cruise.  The rest of the performers except for Molly Lewis and Mike Phirman were out at an early dinner.  Rochelle and I checked in and while she got ready for our own dinner I retired down to the bar.  I spotted Molly and her boyfriend while I was enjoying a martini, and a curious man calmly levitating six inches above the ground. I walked over to say hi to Molly and the sparkly floating gentleman introduced himself.

“I’m Mike Phirman” he said, his voice a melodious tone with a hint of mischief.  He reached out one hand to shake mine while the other absent-mindedly created a working origami Rubick’s Cube out of a hotel napkin.

The rest of the performers caught up with us after dinner, and we shared stories of how excited we were not just about the cruise, but about putting on our performances for the attendees and making them the best we could to make the event really one of a kind.  Late into the night stories and ideas were traded, and we retired to bed looking forward to what was to come.


The EuroDam just before our cruise. Lookie there's Molly Lewis!!

It’s difficult to describe just how big these cruise ships are.  The port of departure in Ft. Lauderdale was filled with them, including the Allure of the Sea, which we learned via John Hodgeman’s iPhone on the bus ride over is the largest passenger ship currently sailing.

“It was a fun ship to help build,” Mike Phirman said, and we discovered that indeed, he was chief welder during the construction of the ship and had invented an entirely new design of rivet that was twice as durable as any other.

We got off the bus at our ship, the Eurodam. Boarding was pretty straightforward, and we were all excited to get on the ship.  We were issued our on-board ship ID cards and sent off to cross the ramp onto the boat. Despite all the warnings I’d been given about cramped quarters, I found the boat far more spacious than I expected and our veranda stateroom was the size of quite a few hotel rooms I have been in. Our balcony overlooked the departure bay, and we unpacked in a hurry to meet the time for muster, which is the mandatory safety briefing.  After that we hit the back deck to meet cruise attendees and watch the departure. The excitement was just below the skin, but a lot of us had never been on a cruise.  So the undercurrent of worry about seasickness, sunburn, and Kraken was keeping people from their full excitement potential.

I stood on the deck, just a half hour away from the official kick off of JoCoCruiseCrazy in the Crow’s Nest Bar.  John Roderick stood next to me and Rochelle as the ship moved. Molly, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy and their families were all there taking in the view nearby.

“Well,” I thought, “I’m on a motherfucking boat.”

(to be continued) 

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