JoCo Cruise 2016 Feedback Thread

edited February 2016 in JoCo Cruise
Let's get this ball rolling!  Be as specific or general as you think is necessary.  Home Office is listening.  If the upcoming survey isn't enough to cover your thoughts, this is a great place to write them down.  Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand GO!


  • 1. Nick Maley (ThatYodaGuy). Sculptor, artist, and proprietor of the most unusual museum in all of the Caribbean. If we can't go to the Caribbean next year, let's bring him along with us.

    2. Lines. Nerds are good at following them if they are told politely where to go. Judicious use of line tape showing arrows where the line should be might help with situations like the Jim Boggia concert. In particular I recall lines snaking around the casino on the early JoCo Cruises.

    3. WiFi. Shipboard WiFi sucks and we all know it. If we're going to take over next year's boat, we might want a better result than this year where we struggled with the shipboard IT in getting any sort of working DNS workaround to the malfunctioning CruiseMonkey app.
    I floated the idea of maybe just setting up our own network with a series of routers and repeaters scattered about the ship, but then the issue becomes how do you find time to place the hardware and remove it.
    Maybe we can bring just a handful of boosters and routers and place them strategically in spots like the main venues and the conference room? Just brainstorming.

    4. The Home Office. Deserves a lot of love and appreciation for making really complex things look so easy.

    5. Event scheduling was close to perfect this year. My only suggestion would be to give a 10 minute window between events in the same venue, to give a little extra mandatory time to clear the room.

    Will add more as I get more time to reflect.
  • First thing that comes to mind - find a way to make the sea monkey nightly newsletter more legible. Many shadow cruise events were in the tiniest print in a hard to read font. 
  • edited February 2016

    We had the BEST time this time. It was awesome. Part of that is that the Sea Monkeys are the last group to see me walking again, which was cool, but the other part is just the sheer love on the boat coupled with the content and performers. It's just amazing.

    In no particular order:

    RCI/Boat-specific things

    These might be moot, but are worth documenting:

    • I dunno if it's something that's even addressable, but I really found the Indy to be more run down and in need of repair than the Freedom had been. That was disappointing, but not a material issue obviously.

    • I don't know who did it -- someone suggested it was a collaboration between the Freedom's bev manager and the Mystery Brewing guy? -- but last year's boat had an extended beer and whiskey selection that I really missed this time around. Obviously, it's not a big deal, either, but having HAD it in 2015, I missed it this time. Would it be possible for this kind of thing to come back for the Westerdam?

    JCCC-specific things

    • I fucking LOVED the lineup this time around. All the cruises I've been on have been embarrassments of riches, but sometimes there have been act I felt I could skip for a nap or an afternoon poolside; that was absolutely not the case this time. Having Imogen Heap was a coup; bringing Zoe back was an outSTANDING development (can we have her back for a whole set?). The comedy night was stellar. Jean Grae just kills, and I'm an old white guy with only a passing familiarity with hip hop. Brosh didn't really resonate with me as much as she did with some folks, but I'm super glad I got to see her, and super glad for the folks who loved it. And Boggia remains some sort of freakishly talented music elf who possesses the magical ability to make me give a damn about the Beatles. :)

    • I feel the same way about The Both for sure, but here's the one thing I really DO want to voice: having multiple official events that start AT MIDNIGHT is really tough. I was out of gas and missed the Both as a result. That sucked. I mean, I know Angela taped it (because I found her in the room before I felt okay about going to bed), but I'm really really bummed I missed seeing it live.

      I know there was pushback about midnight events after the 6-night cruise a couple years ago, so I hoped that was a settled issue, but apparently not. (Not to put too fine a point on it, but having the "early evening" concert slot taken up by karaoke while The Both played at midnight was especially vexing.)

    • I'm really glad Hodgman came back. I love that we have this "standing cast" of people -- him, Wheaton, Roderick, etc. It really enriches the experience.

    • What was UP with the reliance on the smaller, lower-seating Star Lounge vs. Studio B? Star was great for readings and other smaller events, but putting Boggia or the Both in there seemed like a weird call.

  • I think THO did an amazing job with such a huge lineup getting everything to run pretty smoothly.  I was only on JCCC1 & JCC6 so there was a huge difference between the two events in terms of how many planned activities there were (as well as the massive increase in attendance).  I really enjoyed all the events I made it to.  Unfortunately for me I missed a lot of the events because either they were after midnight or right in the middle of my afternoon migraine or food coma time period.  I prefer evening concert times, or morning, to afternoon for that reason.

    Imogen Heap is freaking amazing though, I am so relieved I made it to that one.  I also really enjoyed Nora Jemisin's events now that I'm reading her books and have become a new fan.  The comedians in the standup lineup were all new to me and I loved them all, which actually for me is a big deal because I tend to be underwhelmed by most popular comedians.  So that is awesome.

    I second the motion to bring Yoda Guy Nick Maley as a guest next time.  He would love it and we would love it too.

    A lot of my thoughts are specific to the Freedom of the Seas so not really super relevant.  However, I do think I can provide some constructive suggestions for the game room for next year since we'll have All The Space on the boat to get it right.  I am taking some pages out of the Board Game Geek playbook, since they have been running pretty awesome conventions and now cruises as well.  

    1)  Have all the designated gaming space be pretty close together.  While in theory having part of the dining hall was cool, it was SO far from where all the games lived (both library games and those we brought with us) that it wasn't really practical to go there unless you'd already found gamers and the game to play.  

    2)  We will need probably 3-4 times the open gaming space we had this year at a minimum.  That game room was super crowded, probably to the point of it being a fire hazard;  it was impossible to navigate between tables when people were using them and in the evenings people had resorted to the floor and using cardboard boxes.  

    3)  For some of the gaming space can we please designate "quiet games" rooms?  Every time a group tried to utilize one of the side rooms for quiet gaming it was taken over by Secret Hitler and other party games and became just as loud as the main game room.  While party gaming is fun, some of the other strategy games are much better in a quiet environment.

    Anything else I have to say is really just general personal impressions, everyone else's mileage may vary.  I found that on the first cruise when it was small and intimate, it was very easy to get quality time with the "talent" on an informal basis.  This time, it felt like most of the performers were off on their own and there weren't many opportunities to interact informally - it felt a lot more like there was a barrier between "us" and "them".  I don't think it was intentional and certainly in no way malicious;  it may just be an artifact of how many of them there were and how many of us and maybe I'm imagining it because I just personally barely saw any of them outside of their scheduled events.  But on the first cruise some of the highlights were just randomly plopping down at a table where people were chilling by the pool and having casual conversation etc, doing JoCo karaoke with JoCo himself, etc.  This one felt much more like a traditional convention to me than the first one did.  I still had an amazing time;  but it ended up being more because of the other amazing Sea Monkeys than anything else.  I think having the whole boat will be awesome in different ways but have to admit I did miss the intimacy of the first cruise this time.

    Please take all my comments in the spirit intended;  to help make an ALREADY AMAZING event even better.  I think you all did an amazing job!
  • Rereading my comment, I want to add that "Star Lounge being a weird choice" should be read as a question, i.e., why did we have to use the Lounge instead of Studio B for performances that have previously been in larger rooms?

    Re: gaming space, given that the Westerdam has less than half the passenger capacity of the Indy/Freedom, I assume that (a) the "game center" as such will be necessarily smaller, but (b) more theoretical, since literally any table in any bar or restaurant in the whole ship is potentially a gaming table, right? 
  • Re: specialty whiskys and beers on Independence last year.

    The Bar Manager on the Indy was a Campbeltown-area-native Scotsman, who was intrigued and excited by our requests (THO solicited several known Scotch-heads and hop-heads among our number) enough to move heaven and earth to make stuff happen ("How did you guys even *know* about some of the things you asked for?" he wondered aloud on the last night). He was apologetic that he couldn't find a distributor in the US for some of them, saying that if they were sailing out of the UK as the Indy did during the summers, he could have gotten even *more* stuff for us.

    I had hoped that THO would have been able to use that precedent to set up something similar on the Freedom, but I guess it was not to be. I suspect the combo of on-board staff and the home port (Port Canaveral being a bit more remote than Port Everglades in terms of distance from major metro & all the things that exist in major metro areas) conspired to limit this.

    (Things are blurry, but I *think* it was JCCC2 -- it may have been 3 -- where the sailing prior to ours was a Scotch sailing, and they had some leftovers that they happily sold to our group.)

    From what I've been able to learn about full-ship charters, the group making the charter has an opportunity to venture off-menu in this arena. It's entirely possible that THO is working with HAL on this already (and probably on the food menu as well), or will be now that This Year's Boat is over.
  • edited March 2016
    Jim Boggia had two concerts on JCC5, and both were pretty well-attended, as I recall.  The album cover one on 5 was also in the vaguely-Egyptian-lounge, and I think that was almost full; the other was at the giant-theater-venue alongside The Both. This year he only got the one hour-long concert in the smaller venue, so it wasn't even a little bit surprising that this one was swamped.  He's built up a pretty big fan base among the JoCo group, so I'm hoping if he comes next year that he gets a crack at either two separate concerts, or at least a concert in the big venue all to himself, and for more than an hour.  Between the album sing-a-long, the ukulele covers, and his own material, I think he could easily pull off three separate events, if he wanted. 

    Having said that, I don't want THO to feel too bad about the Boggia Incident this year.  It was disappointing, but I think it's part of the growing pains we're bound to encounter, and they seem very open to listening to ideas, which I appreciate. 
  • BryBry
    edited March 2016
    Re: venues: I forget if I saw/was told this directly or if it's hearsay -- well, now it's hearsay to you.

    As always, we were limited in the availability of the larger venues (Arcadia and Studio B), so THO had to decide which acts would get those slots. As @vpactionranger says, Boggia and the Both both got to play mainstage shows last year, so my understanding is that THO felt it would make the most sense to rotate them out so that other featured performers could take those shows. I even think I agree with that approach, given the constraints.

    (I think that answers @chetman 's question -- it's not that anyone thought that the Star Lounge was more appropriate than Studio B, it's that we couldn't take Studio B because it wasn't available to us. On top of that, again as @vpactionranger says, Boggia's Band on the Run album cover last year was in the Star-equivalent Pyramid Lounge, and "plays a bunch of stuff on uke and then covers 1/4 of a Beatles double-album" admittedly sounds a little nichey to be a mainstage show, though in hindsight it's obvious that it'd pack the house in the Star Lounge.)

    [ETA: I guess what I mean is that JCC6 was one day shorter than 5, but otherwise we got a comparable number of mainstage shows -- it's just that now we have more performers we love for the same number of timeslots.]

    [To be clear: I had no part in making those decisions and am not privy to the details of the decision-making process.]

    The line management around Boggia's show was indeed painful, but @paulandstorm [P]'s response on Twit-Arr covered all the things I would've wanted to hear, so I don't have anything more I want to add there.

    If y'all keep posting, I'll keep being reminded of more things I want to say.
  • Oh, I'd forgotten about the 8 night aspect of 5. Good point there. 
  • Please, please, PLEASE don't update the website until AFTER the current cruise sets sail.  Or at a minimum make it easy to find that information elsewhere.  It made things very difficult for the last few weeks when I needed to refer to information on the site and there was no way to find it because everything was about next year's cruise.
  • edited March 2016
    @redminx The changeover was necessitated by our needing to open up booking for 2017.

    While we should definitely have made it clearer, there was (and still is) a menu section devoted to the 2016-relevant pages:

    But definitely noted for future cruises.

  • I thought the cruise was excellent this year, though I missed having the "down" day we had in JCC 2015 thanks to the 8 night schedule that year.

    I forgot to include this in my survey, but I'd love to invite Gabby Dunn and Allison Raskin from Just Between Us ( They're two very funny comedians/actors and they would be a ton of fun!

  • In the vein of "forgot to include this in my survey", I had a couple of thoughts about vegetarian food on the next cruise:

    1. If we can add some extra vegetarian choices to the menu—I'm thinking of Indian dishes like we had this year, but also other Asian/flavorful dishes—that would be nice.

    2. Holland America has a separate vegetarian menu which you can order from, but you need to put in your order the day before. If we could have menus for the entire cruise available, either before the cruise or at the info desk or posted somewhere, it would make planning for when we want to put in special orders, or go to one of the specialty restaurants instead, a lot easier. (Asking every night if we can see the menu for the next day is really a pain.) If we can make sure that they can handle special orders with non-fixed seating, that would also be great.
  • Didn't think abought this during the survey but I really had fun at the group bomb defusing game. What about inviting these guys or something similar?
  • edited March 2016
    One day, I will learn to write things down during the week so as not to forget them.  In the meantime...

    [Events] I think THO is well aware of how poorly the Jim Boggia event was handled.  There are a few things are obviously learned.  Never give Jim Boggia a smaller venue, even for his side projects.  Also, never give Jim Boggia only an hour.  And it's unfortunate that we didn't recognize the need for line management sooner.  But I think the most important aspect we need to consider is how we handled clearing the room for sound check.  There are DEFINITELY better solutions than shoving people out the side door and having them fend for themselves.  Solution A, ask the present Sea Monkeys to stfu during sound check (which I am confident this community could manage, especially under the condition of "Be quiet or we will immediately ask you to leave").  Solution B, have a person of authority (Thera, Bob, Sara, or even any Helper Monkey really) escort them out the side entrance, through the crowd, and to the front of the line.  That would also be further viable with the aforementioned line management.  I understand the unfavorable conditions of how things ended up happening, but it was simply not an acceptable solution, and a plan of action should be prepared for future instances.

    [Shadow Cruise] I did not miss The Labyrinth/Raven/Crypt/Whatever as much as I thought I would.  Olive Or Twist and Star Lounge were both great venues for Shadow Cruise events.

    [Misc] I really appreciate the Helper Monkey lapel pin, but it kind of made my purchased lapel pin redundant.  If it's possible to let slip any planned Helper Monkey items before the merch store goes up, that would be convenient.

    [Events] I know my overly stubborn stance on recording policies will not be changing anyone's mind, but I would like to point out a perfect example of why I'm against them.  A substantial portion of Michael Ian Black's show was tailored specifically for the Sea Monkey audience.  It was a hilarious set that he nailed many times over.  And now that is a memory that's lost forever.  I could not even tell you what 2 of the 3 JoCo songs he came up with were, and I only remember the third at a concept level.  I love preserving these special moments that happen on the ship, and I feel like every recording restriction put in place actively works against that.  End grump.  Carry on.

    [Events] I absolutely LOVED how JoCo rotated through musicians for his band show.  Instead of just Roderick comes out for the Roderick song and Boggia comes out for the Boggia song, the way the rotation was handled allowed for a lot of performance stuff we've never gotten to see before, and that was fantastic.

    [Events] After watching Boggia and Roderick go at it in terms of musical talents, I absolutely want to see some sort of dedicated Jim Boggia Vs John Roderick show.

    [Hotel] I was upset to hear that the Marriott went out of their way to shut down every potential iteration of the cheese party.  I would recommend against grouping at a Marriott hotel in the future.

    [Misc] Magnets were AMAZING, both as an exciting addition to our doors throughout the week, and for making newsletter delivery substantially more efficient.  Please keep doing those!

    [Misc] I was not terribly thrilled with the approach that Sarah took to introducing the new Facebook page.  Particularly, "While this group is an excellent resource for meeting fellow 2016 Sea Monkeys and New Monkeys, the page will be the place to go for the latest news and updates about JoCoCruise as a whole."  Perhaps I'm in a particularly sensitive position about this, but that comment came off as very dismissive to all of the Sea Monkeys who put so much love and care into the Facebook groups.  I understand the value of having a such a page and I have no objection to its existence.  But mayhaps you should avoid trying to devalue the Facebook groups, especially when "the latest news and updates" are objectively appearing in the groups long before they show up on the page, if they end up there at all.  You'll have to forgive me if this introduction sparked some friendly rivalry between Facebook interfaces.

    [Misc] Obligatory unviable request for 7 sea days and no ports, especially now that we have a full charter.

    I have some feedback for Twit-arr but I will wait for any calls to specific feedback there.
  • edited March 2016
    There's a new Facebook page? Where? (And was it announced somewhere besides the 2016 page for folks who didn't go on the 2016 cruise? When I search Facebook, all I see are the groups for the various years, plus a community page that isn't new.)

    Also, I'm on a Mac, and in every browser I have, any post @anyeone has commented on prompts me to log in to Does that happen to anyone else?
  • What WAS the deal with the Marriott? I'm not a cheese party partisan, so the whole story is vague to me. 
  • edited March 2016
    New Facebook page.  Actually, I think it may be the same as the old Facebook page, just under new management.  I looked through my backlog of this year's emails, and I did not see it announced that way.

    Hotel cheese party went down like this.

    Talked to event management on site, as they never called me back. Take away:

    - we need a new venue
    - no food, no drink
    - they are aware of the idea of "room parties", plan to actively patrol and shut down
    - the game room that's already reserved will be monitored
    - even saying "so, potentially hundreds of nerds will find another venue. We can't even cut the alcohol, do JUST cheese?" was met with a firm NOPE.


    The cheese party on the boat is still a go. Please contribute all of your goodwill and your dairy products to that endeavor.

    The Marriott is not willing to have such a party under any circumstances, either with or without wine, nor in any private rooms. Given the remote location of the hotel relative to anything other than other hotels, and the fact that Saturday is only three days away and I am home sick, I don't see any other way to do it.

    Please accept my sincere apologies that I was not able to pull this together, and do enjoy the party that the amazing and talented Beth is hosting on the boat.

    They did find a nearby restaurant to accommodate us in the end, but that doesn't change any feelings towards the hotel.
  • @villicious: Yes, that happens to me as well. It's because @anyeone's profile picture is hosted somewhere that requires a password. I contacted @anyeone about it but it seems there's no way for us to change our own profile pictures at the moment, so I've been meaning to contact a forum admin to remove it (@chicazul? @Bry?), but haven't got around to it.
  • @Angelastic I can't seem to delete a user's photo, but I do seem to have mucked up @anyeone's profile picture while trying. Is it still causing an error for anyone?
  • BryBry
    edited March 2016
    @villicious et al, I had messaged @anyeone a couple of days ago to let her know about her profile pic situation but hadn't heard back -- thanks for taking a look, @chicazul , I think that's as resolved as possible until she logs in herself and fixes the link :)

    ETA: @Angelastic: huh, I didn't realize that we couldn't change our profile pics any more. That might be a thing to ping @Scarface about.
  • @redminx @paulandstorm You're probably already thinking this, but for next year, I'd find it useful to have a splash page that let me choose whether I wanted to enter the page for Cruise 7 or Cruise 8.
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