JoCo Cruise Crazy 2012, Day 1

Cruise ships are huge. The port at Fort Lauderdale is huge. Taken together, you’ve got an overwhelming experience as your cab driver drops you off in a sea of people held in by wall after massive wall of floating hotels.

We left our luggage with a guy who assured us it would appear later in our shoebox stateroom, and joined the line for boarding Holland America’s MS Westerdam. Most of the folks in line were older and wearing Hawaiian shirts and pressed Bermuda shorts, but here and there I spotted a telltale Thinkgeek T-shirt, signalling the presence of others of our kind – Sea Monkeys taking to international waters to enjoy a nerd cruise. We were greeted by a Holland America employee who checked our paperwork, and a bright-blue-haired, corset-wearing, cheerful young woman who exclaimed “You’re obviously Sea Monkeys! Welcome!” An official greeter! Impressive!

The check-in line wound around and around, but we barely noticed the wait thanks to the folks ahead of us who were second-time Sea Monkeys. They were on the original JoCo Cruise Crazy Party Ship in 2011, and they were happy to be chatting with and advising newbies on what to expect. It was also easy to stay distracted craning our necks and giving ourselves whiplash whenever someone declared a Famous Person Sighting.

There was a mandatory safety drill, which consisted of everyone standing outside on the Promenade deck with their assigned lifeboats looming overhead while a crew member shouted out heavily-accented names and room numbers to take attendance. We got no information on how to get into the lifeboats, and no instructions on how to get off the ship if you’re not in your room when you hit the iceberg or the Italian coast. Just a loud list of names and cabin numbers, making it amazingly easy for crazies to find and stalk the Famous People, who, as it turns out, were almost all assigned the same lifeboat as us. I wondered, briefly, standing in the hot sun, which of the Famous People would be the first to turn to cannibalism when the food ran out on the lifeboat. Or maybe to save us all from such a fate, Jonathan Coulton would lean out over the water like a Grizzly, swatting fish out of the sea.

Orientation was next, with Paul and Storm telling us everything we needed to know and reminding us not to scare the old people.

I enjoyed the first of many fruity vacation drinks that afternoon (sadly, no umbrella in it) up by one of the pools, and stuck around for the excellently-named “First Transport is Away” party, where drinks were free and plentiful, and the buzz helped me to talk to more Sea Monkeys. Note: “I love your shirt” is a perfect ice breaker at a party where everyone is wearing a nerdy T-shirt.

We were so wiped out by the end of that day that we didn’t stay long at the late-night event, Dance Party with DJ Flans, hosted by John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants. But the schedule promised that Wednesday would bring us Dance Party 2: Flans Harder, so we went to our room, moved the towel-origami lobster to the nightstand, ate the pillow chocolates, and slept.

I have put in links to the artists we enjoyed on this cruise in the hopes that you will click through to their pages, sample their work, and love what you find.

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