Unlock the Past logoBelow is my original post – I have now discovered Day 6 and Overview blogs written by Aimee which give her final points on her experiences during the cruise. Max and I found the smoke free side of the ship early on and I don’t think either of us will go close to only gaining .5kg like Aimee!

The other point that I sadly neglected to make in my original post was to thank Alan, Anthea, Alona,  Rosemary and Aimee from UTP and Jacqui from Clean Cruising for all their hard work organising a smooth running program all week. Thanks everyone.

Original post

Well I am just back from my first ever genealogy cruise on P&O’s Pacific Dawn and I could go again tomorrow. The inaugural Unlock The Past (UTP) history and genealogy cruise in conjunction with Clean Cruising was a success from my perspective on a number of fronts.

This is in contrast, however, to the strangely negative view of  UTP staff member Aimee who did daily blogs while on board – see Day 1 Part 1, Day 1 Part 2, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5.

Internet was expensive on board and I was having my annual time out from my laptop and the Internet just to prove to my loved ones that I am not addicted!

Had I accessed the Internet while on board and been aware of the content of Aimee’s daily blogs, I would have challenged her views and done my own blog. I acknowledge that everyone views things differently but I think if UTP does this again, they do need to have a blogger who is actually a genealogist to get a better overview of how the cruise was perceived by the primary attendees. I hope other attendees will blog their opinions as well.

Perhaps my different view is because I am more than twice Aimee’s age and while I probably do fit into her description of genealogists/family historians with a ‘wild, purposeful look in their eyes’, I also have a history background (as Aimee has) and find that the two disciplines can quite nicely complement each other. Even my partner who has neither discipline, found the sessions he attended interesting.

I also enjoyed the opportunity to meet Twitter and email friends in person and it is also nice to see that a few of my cruise friends are now trying out Twitter.

I had been on two previous cruises (back in 1975 and 1976 – my first ever overseas trips) so the difference this time was simply staggering. It was everything I enjoyed back then and more. Amazing where 36 years can go! The food was great, service was terrific, entertainment was non stop and there was onboard shopping too. Take all of that and add an interesting program of history and genealogy talks plus being able to network on a daily basis with genealogy friends from around Australia and New Zealand, I was constantly having to decide what to do next.

Talks were held in the International Show Room (huge room which left speakers disconnected from the audience I felt), the Dome (easily the most chilly room on the ship and not well designed for easy viewing of the screen) and the Captain’s Lounge (an on board wedding chapel which was my favourite as it was much more intimate with the drawback of only having 50-60 attendees at a time). There were also theme meetings over lunch and dinner, smaller group meetings around the ship and much discussion over breakfast, coffee and cocktails.

The cruise primary program offered a range of speakers and talks and once on board further talks were added as UTP was allocated time in the Captain’s Lounge. The only issue with the latter was the limited number able to attend but the more popular sessions were repeated. I would like to see these additional offerings added to the primary program on the UTP website as a permanent record of what the full program was during the cruise.

Some of the speakers had also been presenters on the November UTP Roadshow and I had heard their talks before so deciding what sessions to attend was a little easier for me but those who hadn’t attended any of the Roadshows it was a tough choice.

I personally enjoyed listening to Cora Num (handouts on her website click on the gopher), Mike Murray, Jeremy Palmer (handouts on his website), Ron Austin, Helen Smith (new book on one of her shipboard talks – UTP publications available from Gould Genealogy), Leigh Summers, Carol Baxter and Jan Gow. I personally didn’t get to many of the Captain’s Lounge talks due to the limited numbers.

My own presentations were well received and I was given feedback over various meal sessions, in the lift, on the innumerable stairs, on deck and even on shore. Two of my presentations are on my website in the Resources area (scroll down to Presentations) – Google Your Family Tree: Tips & Tricks and Online Trends in Family History but unfortunately you wont’ have the additional commentary that accompanied my talks.

Max and  I got a bit of a buzz hearing my public talk on Genealogy on the Cheap being announced on the ship’s TV program and also in the ship’s newsletter. Cora Num was the other presenter who gave a public lecture on Beginning Your Family History.

The three places visited, Noumea, Lifou and Port Vila, were interesting and I was somewhat surprised that there hadn’t been more development over the last 36 years but then perhaps that is a good thing for the island people! I always love travelling to different countries and observing their history and customs. I bought the obligatory fridge magnets to record my travels.

I must also thank Rosemary and Eric Kopittke for coming to our rescue when our digital camera totally filled up (who would have thought Max would take that much footage?). They lent us a USB cable so that we could download the photos and videos to my laptop so that Max could continue his enthusiastic filming of just about every moment!

For those on the ball, yes I did take my laptop on the cruise with me but that was so that I could review my talks before presenting them and I will also admit to doing some data entry into my Legacy program while Max was off on a quad bike ride. Other than that I was computer free!

While I learnt new things from the various presenters, I think it is the personal networking opportunity to discuss research issues with others that was the most valuable part of the cruise. With so many experts on board, even those not presenting, it was easy to refer people to someone who could assist with their questions. The seven days seemed to go remarkably fast and it was all over far too soon.

After disembarking we went back to Mum’s place and in the afternoon, we drove up to Mount Cootha and saw the Pacific Dawn berthed at Hamilton. We arrived just in time to see her depart and watched as she went under the Gateway Bridge. After a quick coffee, we went back up to the lookout area to see her at the mouth of the Brisbane River and sailing out into Moreton Bay. I found myself wishing I was still on board with all my genealogy friends!  Would I do it again – most definitely!