If you’ve never cruised before, going as part of a group — often called a theme cruise or affinity cruise — can be an incredible way to dive in. Or if you’re a veteran cruiser, you might find that group cruising makes it a brand new experience.
These days there’s a group for pretty much every interest. Music cruises are especially popular, with everyone from Kiss to New Kids on the Block sailing with their fans.
We were just ahead of the fan cruise explosion six years ago when we started the JoCo Cruise. And what started out as an experiment to see if fans of Internet superstar Jonathan Coulton (JoCo for short) would be interested in touring the Caribbean with him and a handful of related entertainers has turned into something much, much larger.
And not just in terms of numbers, though the growth has been amazing, increasing from around 350 people in 2011 to an expected 1,100 in 2016. Yes, people come to see the bands, comedians and other entertainers that JoCo Cruise books. Past guests include John Hodgman (“The Daily Show”), Wil Wheaton (“Star Trek TNG,” “The Big Bang Theory,” “Stand By Me”), Grant Imahara (“Mythbusters”), Peter Sagal (NPR’s “Wait Wait ... Don’t Tell Me!”), musicians Aimee Mann, Ted Leo and John Flansburgh (They Might Be Giants), and a raft of New York Times best-selling authors, game designers and well-known Internet personalities.
Did we mention we’re a bit nerdy? :-)
An inclusive community of like-minded souls
But what keeps people coming back year after year is the community — it’s almost like nerd summer camp, or a geeky family reunion. And it’s an amazingly friendly, inclusive and supportive bunch. Ever since the first year, lifetime friendships have been forged in the 24/7 game room (fully stocked with the latest tabletop games, provided by attendees and sponsors); over drinks at our open bar cocktail parties or before and after concerts; during massive karaoke and dance sessions (yes, nerds dance!); or hanging out with the performers at their informal “office hours,” typically held in whirlpools and bars throughout the ship all week long. Beyond that, anyone who’s ever been to a Comic-Con or other fan convention will feel right at home, with panel discussions and gaming demonstrations taking place all week long.
Perhaps most incredible of all is what’s known as the “Shadow Cruise,” in which JoCo Cruise attendees (who call themselves the “Sea Monkeys”) organize their own events. And they run the gamut: fan groups, song circles and a cappella singing, knitting and crafting, improv comedy, podcasting, a Star Trek-like video simulator called “Artemis” and, of course, lots of gaming of all varieties.
JoCo Cruise sets aside venue space and generally facilitates these events, but it’s the creativity and energy of the attendees that make it special. In fact, many people have found their true callings and changed careers after trying new things during JoCo Cruise.
2016 event aboard Freedom of the Seas
Before too long, JoCo Cruise may charter a full ship. But for 2016 we’ll occupy about one-third of Freedom of the Seas, so attendees will be given special badges to identify them as part of the group, and which get them admittance to all of the special entertainment and hangouts.
If all of this sounds like your kind of fun, you can learn more at jococruise.com, which is the only place to book if you want to participate in all of our special concerts and activities.
And if it doesn’t sound like your thing, well, that’s OK. We know that JoCo Cruise isn’t for everyone, which is part of what makes it special. But no doubt you won’t have to look too hard to find the right event cruise for you.
Details & pricing
JoCo Cruise 2016 is a 7-night Eastern Caribbean cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas celebrating music, comedy and general nerdery. The 2016 cruise will depart from Port Canaveral, Florida, on Sunday, Feb. 21, and return on Sunday, Feb. 28, with ports of call at CocoCay, St. Thomas and St. Maarten. Performers include Jonathan Coulton, Paul and Storm, and friends from across the music, comedy, gaming and writing worlds.
Cabin availability is extremely limited already — D3 (balcony) cabins cost $1,996 per person for double occupancy. Price is “All-in” and includes all taxes/fees, pre-paid gratuity and admittance to all JoCo Cruise 2016 performances and events. Must book via jococruise.com to participate in all of JoCo Cruise’s special performances, events and hangouts. No exceptions!