Several genealogy cruises take place every year. Cruising genealogists get to enjoy “how to” courses, software presentations, demonstrations of the latest genealogy techniques, good food, gorgeous scenery, and adventurous shore excursions. What could be better?
Occasionally we hear claims that interest in genealogy is declining. These claims are based on the fact that attendance at some genealogy conferences is less than that of a few years ago. Yet everywhere else we look, we see proof of the opposite. Who Do You Think You Are? Live! held in England a few months ago attracted 15,000 attendees. The corresponding Who Do You Think You Are? television series about genealogy is popular in several countries around the world with millions of viewers. Other popular television shows include The Generations Project (on cable), Faces of America (on PBS), and others.
Thousands of genealogy web sites attest to the current level of interest. The number of genealogy programs available for Windows, Macintosh, Linux, and handheld computers is increasing faster than ever before, and the latest growth is in cloud-based genealogy programs. Several of the software producers are reporting record sales. Finally, genealogy “theme cruises” attract more and more people every year.
I’d say that genealogy is alive and more popular than ever!
A few years ago there were one or two genealogy cruises per year, and each attracted a handful of enthusiastic vacationers. This year, at least six different genealogy cruises are being launched, and hundreds of genealogists, spouses, children, and friends will be on board. We seem to have genealogy cruises everywhere we turn, and they seem to become even more popular with each passing year.
Most of the genealogy cruises operate on a somewhat similar concept: take a vacation to one or more exotic spots, hold seminars on genealogy topics on the days at sea, and then spend the days in port sightseeing. The number and variety of presentations vary from one cruise to another, but I would describe all of them as “floating genealogy conferences.”
Indeed, genealogy cruises have much in common with the larger genealogy conferences held in convention centers in various American cities. Attendees can attend genealogy seminars with each lasting from one to perhaps two hours. Attendees can also choose from special breakfasts, luncheons, and sometimes genealogy dinners while on board. These sessions are normally held in meeting rooms and are not available to the other passengers on board.
Of course, one major advantage of a genealogy cruise versus a normal conference is the venue: instead of sitting on hard chairs and staring at the inside of a conference center’s meeting rooms all day, cruisers get to see exotic ports of call and sit in luxurious meeting rooms. The seat cushions are definitely better on cruise ships!
In the time between presentations, which would you rather see: the downtown section of some American city or the downtown section of Oranjestad, Aruba, or perhaps Bergen, Norway? Genealogy cruisers will have their choice of these and other locations on future cruises.
The price of a genealogy cruise is competitive with that of most conferences. Cruises typically cost $125 to $150 a day plus the price of airfare to get to and from the departure port. Most land-based conferences cost that much or more. In contrast, cruises typically last seven days and occasionally fourteen days. Most land-based conferences last one to four days.
Needless to say, spouses and other family members who are not interested in genealogy generally prefer a cruise ship to a conference held downtown in some city. A cruise ship typically includes a spa, exercise centers, basketball, Broadway-style shows, casinos, rock climbing walls, mini-golf, children's activities, babysitting services, and night clubs, and one cruise ship I was on even had an ice skating rink.
Another major difference is the food. If you have attended a genealogy conference and have also been on a cruise ship, you know what I am talking about. The “rubber chicken” luncheons served in convention center banquet halls are luxury when compared to the dried-out hamburgers and greasy French fries under the heat lamps at the snack bar. Contrast those with the luxury meals served on cruise ships. Most ships serve five or six gourmet meals per day, and the snack bars remain open 24 hours a day.
I well remember one dinner on a cruise ship a few years ago. While cruising off the west coast of Mexico, diners were offered Maine lobster as one of the choices at dinner. This Maine native can tell you that it was delicious, even though we were probably 4,000 miles from Maine. Yes, it was authentic Northern Atlantic lobster. After serving the main course, the maitre d’ returned and asked if anyone wanted seconds. I accepted, as did several others at the table. About twenty minutes later, the maitre d’ returned again and asked if anyone was interested in a third helping! (I resisted.) When was the last time you had a similar experience at a convention center banquet hall?
Then there are the pastries. Cruise ship pastry chefs must be some of the best in the world.
The genealogy lecture topics on cruise ships vary widely. Some of this year’s cruises are sponsored by software companies, but very few of the cruises focus solely on software presentations. Instead, they offer presentations on a wide variety of genealogy topics. Here is a sample of some of this year’s presentations:
10 Things Genealogists Can’t Live Without
Adding Photos and other Media to Your Tree Using Family Tree Maker
Canadian Ancestors: Where to Find Them and Exactly what ARE the Drouin Records?
Cold Cases: Genealogists, Coroners and the FBI
English Records – Searching the Parish Registers
Exploring Thy Quaker Roots
Family Tree Maker for Beginners
Family Tree Maker Tips and Tricks
Flesh on the Bones: Placing ancestors in historical context
Genealogy Internet Gems
Getting Started in African-American Research
Getting the Most from Your Ancestry.com Subscription
How to Find What to Search Next
Irish Resources – online and offline
Lassie! Go for Free Genealogy Help!
Online Trees: See Why They are Changing the Way We Do Genealogy
Organizing Your Clutter
Schlepping to Emess: The Basics of Jewish Research
Sharing Family History with the Genealogically Challenged
Stuck Going Backward? Move Forward: Tracing Descendants of Your Ancestors
Tesoro!: Beginning Italian Research
There’s Method in My Madness – Proven Steps in Successful Searching
Tracing Ancestors Back Across the Atlantic
U.S. Census Research for Beginners
Using Newspapers & City Directories to Help Fill in the Blanks
Who Do You Think You Are? Behind the Scenes on TV Shows
The above is a sample listing only; the complete list of all presentations is much, much longer. The total list of all the presentations on any one cruise is somewhat similar to those found at a typical state or regional genealogy conference although not as long as those of the national conferences.
When compared to traditional genealogy conferences, you will note one other thing is missing entirely on cruise ships: the exhibitors’ hall.
One of this year’s genealogy cruises is being run by the “old timers” in the genealogy cruise business: Millennia Corporation, producers of Legacy Family Tree software for Windows computers. This year's Legacy Genealogy Cruise to New England and Eastern Canada is already sold out early, proving the popularity of genealogy cruises!
The company has already announced its 2012 cruise will be held May 12-21, 2012, starting and ending in Oslo, Norway. The 10-day cruise will include visits to: Le Havre (Paris), France; Cherbourg, France; Dublin, Ireland; Liverpool, England; and Edinburgh, Scotland. Those on the cruise will sail on Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas ship.
Guests will also have the option of adding a second cruise! While the primary cruise ends in Oslo, the option includes a continuation on board the same ship. Instead of disembarking in Oslo on May 21, those who wish for an extended cruise may stay on board the Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas and continue on to Arhus, Denmark; Bergen, Norway; the fjord at Geiranger, Norway; and then return to Oslo on May 27.
The days at sea will be devoted mostly to classes about the use of Legacy Family Tree, a popular genealogy program for Windows. However, I expect a number of non-Legacy users will be on this year’s cruise. Given the popularity of the Legacy Family Tree cruises, I'd suggest you make a reservation soon.
Details may be found at: http://www.legacyfamilytree.com/CruiseInfo_2012.asp
This year’s second genealogy cruise is sponsored by Wholly Genes, the company that produces both The Master Genealogist genealogy software for Windows and Archive CD Books USA, producing digital reproductions of old books and other materials of interest to genealogists.
The Wholly Genes Cruise will depart Fort Lauderdale on November 13, 2011, and will make stops in the Bahamas, Aruba, and Curacao before returning to Fort Lauderdale on November 20. (That is the week before Thanksgiving in the U.S.)
The 15+ hours of genealogical lectures are completely software-neutral and presented by preeminent experts in their fields. While some presentations will be available about the use of Wholly Genes' flagship product, The Master Genealogist, the headline presentations will cover other subjects. This year's speakers include: John T. Humphrey, CG, professional genealogist and expert in German and Pennsylvania research; Audrey Collins, author and Family History Specialist at The National Archives at Kew, London; Rick Sayre, MA, CG, professional researcher, lecturer, author, and expert on land records, military records, and mapping tools; Pam Boyer Sayre, CG, CGL, professional researcher, lecturer, writer and expert on U.S. National Archives (NARA) and computer tools; Craig Scott, MA, CG, publisher, popular speaker, and military record expert; and Dick Eastman, author of a Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter. In addition, the presentations covering the use of The Master Genealogist will be made by Wholly Genes staff members, including Bob Velke. Other topics may be announced as well.
In addition, on the Wholly Genes cruises, all speakers also conduct a limited number of one-on-ones (private 15-minute consultations) and hosted breakfasts (casual meals at a table of eight). Other special events are also planned, including two cocktail parties, the ever-popular late-night roundtable discussions with Craig Scott, and more.
For those who can't stand to be out of touch, there's an Internet Cafe, and wireless wi-fi Internet connections are available throughout every inch of the ship!
For further details about the Wholly Genes Cruise, look at the cruise web site at http://goo.gl/8Vsk3 and join the cruise discussion forum at http://goo.gl/V3RhD.
Worldwide Cruise Headquarters is offering two different cruises in 2011. The first has already been held, but the second cruise on October 22 through 27, 2011, features a cruise from Cape Liberty, New Jersey, to Bermuda, and back again.
The presenters include: Megan Smolenyak, Shamele Jordan, George C. Morgan, Lisa Perry Arnold, Lesley Anderson, Crista Cowan, Duff Wilson, and a secretive blogger who goes by the pseudonym of “The Ancestry Insider.” I suspect he (she?) will be unmasked on this cruise.
Details may be found at http://goo.gl/bhocZ.
The Unlock the Past Australian History and Genealogy Cruise 2011 has already been held for this year, ending on March 26. Ports visited included Brisbane, Australia; Noumea, New Caledonia; Lifou, Loyalty Islands; Port Vila, Vanuatu; and a return to Brisbane.
Still ANOTHER History and Genealogy Cruise November 2011 has been announced with the second cruise of the year featuring a Scottish and Irish theme. The 14-day cruise begins on November 21, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand, and then makes stops in Tauranga (Rotorua), NZ; Napier, NZ; Wellington, NZ; Picton, NZ; Lyttelton (Christchurch), NZ; Port Chalmers (Dunedin), NZ; Burnie, Tasmania; Melbourne, Victoria; and ending in Sydney, NSW.
Speakers on board the History and Genealogy Cruise November 2011 include:
Chris Paton, a professional genealogist and regular contributor to several family history publications, including Your Family History, Practical Family History, Family History Monthly and Discover my Past Scotland. He holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Genealogical Studies and runs the Scotland's Greatest Story ancestral research service (www.ScotlandsGreatestStory.co.uk). He also teaches online Scottish courses through Pharos Teaching and Tutoring Ltd (www.pharostutors.com).
Keith Johnson, AM, FRAHS, FSAG, FSG, publisher of numerous historical books over the past 40 years.
Dr Perry McIntyre, publisher and speaker on genealogy and immigration, especially on Irish immigration, for more than 25 years, co-author of three books on single female emigration in the 1830s and currently a historian and archivist at St John's College, within the University of Sydney.
Dr Richard Reid, Historian at the Commemorations Branch, Department of Veterans’ Affairs, where he has authored websites and numerous publications on the topic of Australians at war.
Dan Lynch, a U.S.-based marketing consultant, professional genealogist, and award-winning author of Google Your Family Tree and of numerous genealogy magazine articles.
Jan Gow, owner of Beehive Books, Liaison Officer for FamilySearch/NZSG, and recipient of the AFFHO Award for Meritorious Service to Family History in 2006. Jan also has written a monthly genealogy column for ten years for New Zealand’s Netguide magazine.
Shauna Hicks, a Fellow of the Queensland Family History Society and a recipient of the Australian Society of Archivists Distinguished Achievement Award, who in 2009 received the AFFHO Services to Family History Award.
Rosemary Kopittke, a consultant for Gould Genealogy & History and Unlock the Past. She has published numerous indexes but is best known for Emigrants from Hamburg to Australasia 1850-1879. A current member of the AFFHO Council and the Queensland FHS Management Committee, Rosemary is a Fellow of QFHS and in 2006 received the AFFHO Award for Meritorious Services to Family History.
Details may be found at http://goo.gl/W3oyd
Indeed, genealogy is alive and well in the twenty-first century. One major difference I see is that many genealogists prefer to attend genealogy conferences on the high seas.
If you would like to combine an excellent vacation and a genealogy conference, you might investigate one or more of these cruises. You and your family are sure to enjoy them.
See you on board!
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