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Travel Blog

Blog post September 4, 2016
Jonathan Coulton performs at JoCo Cruise, the annual gathering of music and tech nerds at sea. The next  JoCo Cruise sails March 4-11, 2017, on Holland America’s Westerdam from San Diego.

Photo by Steve Petrucelli

Jonathan Coulton performs at JoCo Cruise, the annual gathering of music and tech nerds at sea. The next JoCo Cruise sails March 4-11, 2017, on Holland America’s Westerdam from San Diego.

JoCo Cruise 2017: Nerdy fun in Baja California

Pop stars, musicians, comedians join in annual weeklong cruise

Editor's note: We've updated this post with new information.

March 2017 marks the seventh sailing of JoCo Cruise, an annual weeklong cruise that began as a fan cruise for alt rocker Jonathan Coulton back in 2011. (See founder Mitch "Storm" Courtenay's writeup about the 2015 cruise.)

The experience is equal parts nerdy convention and music festival – and it has developed a cult following. The cruise is known for its daily concerts, 24-hour game room, welcoming “Sea Monkey” community, more geeky onboard events than one could possible attend, and the wide variety of high-profile, awesome guests on board, including actors and writers whose shows you'll recognize. 

The next JoCo Cruise will take place March 4-11, 2017, on Holland America’s ms Westerdam from San Diego with ports of call in Baja California. For the first time ever, the entire ship is chartered for the event, meaning everyone on board will be participating in the geeky fun. 

Jonathan Coulton and friends during the 2016 JoCo Cruise.
Photo by Michael BainJonathan Coulton and friends during the 2016 JoCo Cruise.

The cruise's organizers have announced the first wave of musicians and performers. Here's the latest lineup: 


Jonathan Coulton, co-founder/co-producer – geek rock musician, and his band.

Actors & performers

Rhea Butcher – standup comic, actor and writer

Cameron Esposito – standup comic, actor and writer seen recently in Garry Marshall’s Mother’s Day

Actor Wil Wheaton hugs a Monarch of the Seas during the 2014 JoCo Cruise.
Photo by Steve Petrucelli / Creative Commons BY NC NDActor Wil Wheaton hugs a fan during a past JoCo Cruise.

Paul & Storm, JoCo Cruise co-founders/co-producers – musical comedy duo

Peter Sagal – NPR’s "Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!" and PBS’s "Constitution USA with Peter Sagal"

Adam Savage - actor, educator and TV personality, former co-host of Discovery Channel’s "MythBusters"

Janet Varney – actor known for "The Legend of Korra," "Burning Love," "You’re the Worst"

Wil Wheaton – actor, blogger, gamer & writer known for "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and guest turns on "The Big Bang Theory" 


Ed Brubaker – writer for comics, film and TV, including HBO’s "Westworld" and Marvel’s "The Winter Soldier"

"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner will be part of JoCo Cruise 2017.

N.K. Jemisin – award-winning writer of speculative fiction, including "The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms"

Maureen Johnson – New York Times bestselling author of a dozen young adult novels

Mary Robinette Kowal - Hugo Award-winning author of "The Glamourist Histories" fantasy series

Patrick Rothfuss – author, podcaster and gamer, known for bestselling novel, "The Name of the Wind"

John Scalzi – science fiction author, known for "Old Man’s War" series & Hugo-winning "Redshirts"

Matthew Weiner – creator, exec producer, writer and director of the Emmy Award winning "Mad Men"

Pop singer-songwriter Jim Boggia performs at JoCo Cruise.
Photo by Michael Bain  Pop singer-songwriter Jim Boggia performs at JoCo Cruise.


Jim Boggia – Philly-based pop singer-songwriter

The Doubleclicks – aka Angela & Aubrey Webber, are sisters and geeky musicians

Jean Grae – hip hop recording artist from Brooklyn, New York City, fka What? What?

Aimee Mann will be part of the lineup for JoCo Cruise 2017.
Aimee Mann will be part of the lineup for JoCo Cruise 2017.

Zoë Keating – cellist, composer and one-woman orchestra

Ted Leo – singer, songwriter known for his years in the American punk underground and The Both

Molly Lewis – ukele player, internet sensation

Aimee Mann – rock singer, singer-songwriter and bassist known for solo works and as member of ‘Til Tuesday, The Both and Rush 

John Roderick - musician, writer, & podcaster known as the singer and guitarist for The Long Winters

More guest artists will be announced in the coming months.  

2,000 participants expected in March

The 2017 JoCo Cruise will be the biggest one yet, with more than 2,000 people expected to attend.

Co-Founder/producer Paul Sabourin says: “The cruise has gotten exponentially better every year. And now that we’ve increased the volume to an entire ship this year, simple math and geometry tells us that JoCo Cruise 2017 will be more fun than the human psyche can comfortably withstand.”

Past attendees say it’s the participants of the JoCo Cruise — the welcoming community of self-designated “Sea Monkeys” who attend every year — that make the theme cruise especially impressive.  Sea Monkeys live all over the world and come together to celebrate each other and their unique interests and to explore what makes them alike and different.

A central feature of JoCo Cruise are the daily live performances, both large scale (in the ship's main theater) and smaller scale (in the ship's various other lounges and public spaces). Every year the cruise assembles an eclectic mix of entertainers, experts and personalities: musicians, comedians, authors, game designers, webcomics and more.

Book a cruise on Holland America's Westerdam to transit the Panama Canal, cruise the Caribbean or explore Alaska.
Courtesy of Holland America Cruise LineHolland America's Westerdam will be the venue for JoCo Cruise 2017. 

Wide range of activities on board

Beyond the daily main performances, there’s a TON of other stuff to do while you’re on the JoCo Cruise. Some of you may even want to hang out with other people! Below is just a sampling of the many ways you can do just that:

  • Celebrity “Office Hours”
  • Panels and Q&As
  • Karaoke nights
  • Dance parties
  • Open mic nights
  • Cocktail parties
  • Movie nights

Featured in the New York Times, NPR, and Slashdot, headliner Jonathan Coulton's songs cover an eclectic range of subjects, from zombies and mad scientists to marriage and parenthood. What does the inspiration for the JoCo Cruise have to say about the community?

“The JoCo Cruise has always had that magical, alternate reality quality you get anytime you put a bunch of enthusiastic nerds together in one place," Coulton says. "But having the entire ship means we can really make the experience our own. It becomes this giant, weird, shared creative space for all of us.”

Booking a room on JoCo Cruise

You can book your weeklong, geeky vacation now at one place: This cruise starts in San Diego with stops in Cabo San Lucas, Loretto and Playa Pichilingue, near La Paz, Mexico. 

For updates and more information:

Cruiseable team
The Cruiseable editorial team consists of award-winning travel writers, cruise bloggers and journalists.