Sept. 26, 2008 -- I have never been on a cruise ship, but I'm intrigued by the concept. I enjoy travel, but I'm not so sure I enjoy traveling. My favorite travel generally involves sitting around somewhere new and reading, and generally there's an awful lot of fuss and bother required just to be able to sit and read among majestic glaciers or ancient Mayan ruins.
So, you can see why the cruise ship model compels. It's not so much going places, as going to a single place, and then, that place goes places. It is travel without movement, a Zen koan with a seafood buffet.
However, the activities promoted on cruise line ads -- sunbathing, dancing, paying ridiculous prices for Central American tchotchkes -- belong to the sort of tanned newlyweds I am not. Rather than paying $1,500 to sit in my room reading, I've started to look into more geek-themed cruise packages. I'd be happy to share my data.
I kind of feel bad for not enjoying chess. I feel like a biker who doesn't like knife fights. (I don't actually like knife fights, either.) However, if you enjoy chess, and want to be trapped on a moving vessel with dozens of other people who enjoy chess, and have a bunch of cash to blow on playing a game that's normally free, then the Caribbean Gambit Chess Cruise is for you. The site says that people who are new to chess are welcome, as well, but I'm not sure I buy it. I suspect that the first time you refer to the knight as a "horsie," you're going to find yourself in a lifeboat with no flare gun.
If I were into cruises, but not videogames, I might go on the cruise put together by The National Academy of Video Game Testers and Reviewers. You'd basically get the upper deck to yourself: You could swim and sun yourself all weekend while everyone else was below decks pwning noobs, or possibly noobing pwns. If you are into videogames, however, you might possibly be enticed by this year's inaugural NAViGaTR Cruise, which offers such entertainment sweetmeats as a Video Games Live concert and an appearance by Cloris Leachman. I can't count the times I've been on Xbox Live and heard someone say, "Man, I love this game but ... I just wish Cloris Leachman were here." We all sigh and agree. Also scheduled: an appearance by YouTube's Hardcore Granny, voted 2006's "Internet Celebrity You Least Want to Look for On a Google Image Search."
Some guy calling himself Captain Cane runs pirate cruises. Mostly, they're brief trips, but apparently, he also does a seven-day Caribbean cruise sometimes. Captain Cane's Pirate Adventure Cruise, inexplicably, is being billed mainly as a family event. I would think the kids would get tired of the pirate theme by day two, at the latest, and beg to go on an Avatar: The Last Airbender cruise, instead, but I know for a fact that geekfolk never get tired of sea chanteys, mizzenmasts and grog. They're happy to shout "Arr" long past the point where it's novel, clever or tolerable.
You just missed this one, actually. Galacticruise brought together a bunch of your favorite "Battlestar Galactica" stars, provided you prefer the original, feathered-hair series. Or, alternatively, soap operas: One of the guests was never on "Battlestar Galactica," but was on "As the World Turns" for 10 years. I'm as lost as you are. Galacticruise did, however, have on board Richard Hatch, an actor on both the original and the good series, as well as the soap opera "All My Children," so he should have made everyone happy. At any rate, before I'd go on this cruise, I'd want a guarantee that every single piece of paper on the ship was octagonal.
There are a lot of computer-themed cruises out there, but I'd probably pick MacMania, mostly because it offers a class in Extreme Googling. You can even become an Apple Certified Support Professional over the course of the 10-day cruise. That sounds like a lot of fun, but at the same time, I now feel like I should ask the guys at the Genius Bar how much of their training time was spent with a mai tai in hand before I hand over my laptop.