Why? Because the ship has down in its bowels on Deck 2 a Conference Centre. It consists of a large area that can accommodate a couple of hundred people in one room or can be partitioned off to provide several smaller areas.
For the 3rd Unlock the Past Cruise the area was divided into a 150 seat theatre, a smaller room that holds around 50 people and a similar sized room set up as a classroom with tables and chairs which is wonderful for those who want to take notes on their laptops.
|150 seat theatre|
There are of course a few issues with the centre that is due for refurbishment. Some of the chairs are rather stained and some creak a lot. From a speaker's perspective it is frustrating to have to use a hand held microphone that only picks up one's voice if it is held about 3cm from one's mouth. A couple of these have dodgy wiring so, at the beginning of the cruise this was a huge issue. Thankfully someone did some first aid with masking tape. My major issue was that the ancient projectors do not allow for HDMI connections so that I was unable to connect my laptop and had to rely on foreign computers for my presentations. Thankfully fellow cruiser, Neil, was able to press some little boxes into service when we couldn't view presentations on the screen when the screen installed in the classroom failed to make its descent from its home in the ceiling.
|Microphone on Voyager of the Seas|
|Neil's handywork with the screen|
Bah, humbug to the Royal Caribbean staff who wouldn't let us swap tables with our fellow genealogists at dinner time. Forcing us to sit at the same table every night deprived us of valuable opportunities for networking. Hopefully our agent, Clean Cruising, will be able to negotiate a better arrangement for the 2014 cruise.
So, would I do another genealogy cruise? YES, YES, YES. I have already signed up for the next UTP Cruise on Voyager of the Seas on 4 February, 2014.
There is no way I would select this ship for a holiday cruise as it does not fit my criteria for that purpose but its large size allows it to provide the sort of facilities needed for a genealogy cruise.
I love this cruising concept for a genealogy conference. It is cost-effective, the venue is appropriate, the program has been great, there have been lots of opportunities to talk to like-minded people, the speakers are on tap to engage in further discussion and give advice and there are no distractions from everyday life.
Thanks to Alan Phillips of Unlock the Past for organising this event. It was a blast.