Update (2/28/19) planning for the 8th SP Cruise is going well and we have had a surprising number of confirmed reservations already for 4/28/20 departing Fort Lauderdale, FL for the "ABC" islands.
There have been six Steampunk cruises so far and another scheduled for March 2018: http://welcometosteampunk.com/events/steampunk-naval-expedition-6th...
It is such an expensive ordeal to travel to the l. 48 in the winter that we aim for big events like the SP Cruises which sometimes overlap with a large favorite SCA event, Gulf Wars so that we vacation to the point of exhaustion. In a good way.
The short story is that the original SP Cruise was started as a commercial venture that never engaged enough bodies to be profitable for the original organizers. Many of us had never been on a cruise of any sort and wanted the bragging rights of at least being on the 1st besides the performers were hard to pass up. Cpt Robert Brown, Unwoman, This Way to Egress, etc...
To our surprise we discovered an unadvertised benefit to these cruises which is the fantastic opportunities to socialize with most excellent people. It is sort of the opposite of a traditional weekend convention in a very good way. Activities just get worked in in the most comfortable way possible. For those who have presented at other cons try to imagine a situation with no stress. Unfortunately, despite creating a very loyal base of repeat offenders we never achieved the investor's desired attendance.
Not willing to let a great thing go and SPs being all closet pirate mutineers we took the reigns ourselves. As much as we enjoy each others' company and activities we are not growing with only a handful of new cruisers each year. It is frustratingly difficult to explain to most people the math of cruising over a weekend con. I keep trying, of course. With a few employment changes, family obligations, and separations (this does favor couples) our reservations are very low for 2018.
Being a glass half full sort and so impressed with the quality we have achieved so far, I still see this as an opportunity for greater adventure. We reserved a nice cruise schedule for 2018 in order to take advantage of discounted early bookings but where we really wanted to go was so new and uncertain that we could not schedule it - CUBA.
It is hard to not be morbidly fascinated with the idea of visiting such a forbidden port. What your SP persona might really do but with the extreme comfort of the modern cruise which is also rather steamy. We may have a chance today to switch to Cuba after all (insert happy dance). Of course everything comes with a price which in this case is not a higher cost but rather finding competing cruise options not previously available either because they had not been scheduled or because some of our regulars (who unfortunately had to drop out) could not get away that long. An excellent example is a 12 night cruise out of Baltimore visiting some past favorite and new to us countries. Gotta love those fancy passport stamps. This 12 day cruise is just a couple hundred more even though it is nearly twice as long. BTW they have excellent laundry service onboard and really know how to press clothes.
This long rant/rave/free association is me rehearsing my sale pitch to our veteran and new cruisers. I am not getting my hopes up but any constructive input from folks, even if you also think that you will never go on a cruise, is very welcome.
These are the parameters at this time: We are booking with Royal Caribbean (RCCI) even though we are aware that there are other perfectly good cruise lines these folks have been excellent to us and our veterans have collected so many bribes in the form of discounts, upgrades, and ship credit that we can't afford to move. We are limited by regulars to roughly February to March and the Caribbean mostly due to where people live and can fly into such as Canadians and Alaskans who do not want to miss summer at home and our home airlines fly to specific airports. As much as we would love to hire professional performers again, until our numbers grow enough to afford them we are using the group discount perks to reduce cruisers' fees. Besides we are fairly content with our own activities and ability get into trouble. You know that old saying about what happens on an underground river full of Mayan ruins stays in in the cavern full of Mayan ruins. Yes, we tend to stay in SteamPunk clothes especially for dining, often for swimming, and half the time for shore trips (it is kind of hot).
So from that too long "short" lead in, what would your dream cruise be if leave, family, fear of water, fear of flying, and under-employment were issues?
The Grandeur of the Seas sailing for the 12 night cruise is definitely smaller than our past ships. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGj_OClqVZ8 The suites and balcony rooms seem to be fewer and more expensive. It has many of the other features plus a 1920 style main dining room.
For that matter the Empress of the Seas is also a smaller ship. These are not deal breakers but they are considerations. The Empress does look like a prettier ship: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AV3v4cslQL0
Well that was fast; it looks like we may be switching to a CUBA cruise departing on 3/12/18. Cuba Cruise! I mentioned it and people started booking. Now they are hunting for cabin mates. The tedious part of swapping and reserving meeting spaces is probably next. Adventure attracts the best folks.
Apparently, these discounted cruise prices change. The reservations seemed to have dropped from $799. to $591. today. For a six night cruise that is quite a bit less than most convention hotel rooms per night plus it includes endless food and CUBA.
Hutchcroft proposed another SP Cruise option: http://cruiseship.homestead.com/cruiseships.html
Unless there are a lot more storms, RCCI should have everything up and running for the March cruise to Cuba.
There has been a price drop for bookings through 10/31/17 on http://www.vacationstogo.com/fastdeal.cfm?deal=12000&id=npfy
Maybe a perk to all of the storms(?)
Apparently we are not trying to fly home until the next Tuesday in order to visit Orlando. Are there any SPs in FL up for Universal Studios and such next March?
We received a notice from RCCI that due to increasing tensions US cruisers can only disembark in Cuba as part of an official shore excursion/tour. Not quite what we hoped for and this may change for the better before then. This is why we are so anxious to cruise to Cuba before the situation gets even worse. Despite what the media often claims these restrictions seem to be in response to these attacks on embassy personnel: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/cuba-embassy-attacks-baffle-u-...
Canadian SP Cruisers are exempt, of course.
Apparently we are supposed to tip out Cuban tour guide in peanut butter.
We are on various cruise chat sites and received some curious news. A couple that just returned from the same cruise itinerary on the same ship was offered a mini-suite for $299.00 each if they remained on board for the same cruise back to Cuba. We might make some backup plans just in case.
For 2019 what about a "repositioning" cruise like: http://www.vacationstogo.com/fastdeal.cfm?deal=16883&id=npfy
14 nights starting at $714./person is not bad but this would require flying for folks who have been able to just drive in the past. Navigator of the Seas is a nice boat which we have cruised on in the past.
About $1,200. for the two of us to fly "home" on Condor. By home I mean White Horse, YT then maybe fly my plane an hour and a quarter to Juneau as opposed to half a day on a bus to the train terminal to the ferry terminal for a half day trip to Juneau.
There is also an 8-night cruise out of Bayonne, NJ. We noticed that the SP crowd really got into the swing of socializing more on the slightly longer cruises. https://secure.royalcaribbean.com/cruises/?NewYork=undefined&de... Starting (currently) at $574./pp