Two weeks ago today I woke up in a hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The night before Michelle and I had flown across the country from Sacramento (because it was easier to leave Connor with his grandparents that way) to join about five hundred plus other geeks and geek-adjacent people (the term for spouses of geeks who aren’t quite geeky themselves). After a free breakfast in the hotel lobby, which was full of Sea Monkeys (the name for those people attending JCCC2), we ran across the street to get me a pair of cheap sunglasses and hang out for a bit before it was time for us to get on our shuttle.
Getting on the boat was actually pretty easy although it was a little nerve wracking leaving your luggage in what is essentially a parking garage for buses, at least when you hand off your luggage to the skycaps at the curb of an airport you can watch them put it on the conveyor belt to where it needs to go. The Westerdam, the boat that would be our home for a week, was visible through the fence.
After going through a long line, Michelle and I later found out that we lucked out when it came to checking in. Holland America Lines (HAL from now on, and how awesomely geeky is that) was having computer issues with the sheer number of people they were having board that day and when we went through the lines it was slow, by the time our friends Kristi and Derek (two JCCC veterans from the year previous) it was glacial; the process that maybe took us an hour and change took them several hours to complete. So, pro-cruise trip: when you have an option of either sleeping in or getting on the boat early, go for getting on the boat early because you can always just take a nap.
Michelle and I unpacked our things and stowed our luggage before going up to the Lido Deck (deck nine of ten decks) where the buffet was for lunch. We cruised around, picked some things out, went to sit out by the pool and enjoy the sun, and was given diarrhea by Jonathon Coulton (well, he shook our hands and proclaimed “Now you have diarrhea!” anyway). We saw a couple of the other performers, such as John Flansberg of They Might Be Giants and John Hodgman of the Daily Show.
We met up with Kristi and Derek eventually for dinner and later on for the first night’s complimentary open bar and cocktail hour where we were able to meet more of the performers and our other Sea Monkeys. Mostly the attendees were from the US with some Canadians and a handful of Europeans but it was a nice mix of the US, with many people coming from states not just on the coasts (California was a smallish percentage of the people I met on the cruise, surprisingly).
The first day was done. Getting to the boat had been easy, we met famous people, dinner was excellent, and the company fantastic. The cruise was going to be great.