This will be an overview of the whole cruise as I’ve already given detailed account of the genealogy sessions in my Diary of an Australian Genealogist blog – check out Days 1-5 and Days 6-9. As this was my fifth cruise and third genealogy cruise I’m usually a very happy cruiser but I have to say I was a bit disappointed with some of the Royal Caribbean policies (we haven’t sailed with them before).
Of the nine nights on board we only got three reasonable nights sleep – normally on a cruise ship we never hear our neighbours and we sleep soundly. Not this time and for some reason that I still can’t understand we were allocated a cabin with an adjoining door to some very noisy teenagers. Their parents were in a cabin on the other side – my complaint is why weren’t the parents allocated the adjoining room to their own kids???
Not only are adjoining doors not sound proof, they are not light proof and these teenagers were up to all hours and every night we had to call security several times in the early hours of the morning. The kids took no notice and security had to come back when the parents got home, usually between 1-2am and then we had to listen to the father tell the kids off. I can probably understand why the parents wanted to get away from their kids but I don’t see why some poor unfortunate other couple had to put up with them.
While the kids then slept through the morning, we had to be up, dressed and breakfasted before the first genealogy session at 9am and some days I felt more like a zombie than a professional presenter! What really depressed me was that neither security or the desk staff who took our daily complaints could really do anything about the problem although we were grateful that the Clean Cruising staff person on board did offer to exchange rooms with us, but then why should she also suffer.
The other strange Royal Caribbean policy is that you can’t change dinner tables so that you end up having dinner with the same people over the nine nights. Part of a genealogy cruise is meeting new people and networking and learning from others so having the speakers at different tables or dining with new friends makes sense over the length of the cruise. I know others missed this opportunity that we had on previous cruises of dining with new people every night. In a it’s a small world example, we were surprised to find that one of the ladies on our table was also from Bribie Island and lives not that far from us. So we made another friend on the Island without even trying!
The other disappointment was not making it to Fiji but then I would rather stay on in a port (Noumea) and get repairs done there then run the risk of totally breaking down at sea somewhere. Still I had been looking forward to visiting Fiji again as I was last there in 1976! As all travellers know, anything can happen on a trip and sometimes you just have to make the best of these unforeseen changes.
Those were the only three things I didn’t really like on this cruise. Everything else was great and I found the speakers easy to listen to and learnt lots of new things. It’s always good having international speakers but as one lady said to me, it’s also good having Australian and New Zealand speakers too as that’s where a lot of our research is to start with.
Perhaps the afternoon sessions were too long as I mentioned in my Diary but on the 4th Unlock the Past genealogy cruise in 2014 there is a port almost every second day so that will definitely break up the sessions more as this time there were only two ports. One point in the Voyager of the Seas favour is that it does have a dedicated conference area which meant that we didn’t have to fit things in around the ship’s program and all three rooms were great.
I also enjoyed the one on one sessions I had with various other cruisers. It’s always good when you can suggest other avenues to research which may or may not help them break down their brick walls. One cruiser, who I’ve known for a few decades, gave me a really good one so I’ve brought it home with me – I think it must be spelling variations but that doesn’t explain every roadblock he has. Still it gives me something to play with on these rainy days in a very soggy Queensland!
The food was great and plentiful, some of the cocktails might have had a bit too much ice in them, the on board entertainment was good and the cabin and wait staff very pleasant and helpful. So this experience hasn’t put me off cruising but I will ask a few more questions re cabin allocation next time. It never ever occurred to me that we would be landed with some one else’s noisy kids. Why couldn’t we have had other UTP cruisers on the other side of the door, at least they would probably go to bed about the same time as us!
I’ve happily accepted an invitation to speak on the 4th Unlock the Past genealogy cruise and I’ve got some new talks and books in the pipeline which I’m really excited about. I also know some others have already booked or are planning to book for it too. In some ways it’s like going to annual conferences where you get to meet up with friends and colleagues from all over Australia and New Zealand. So despite the not so good parts of this trip, overall I wouldn’t have missed it and I am definitely looking forward to next year’s with Chris Paton and Thomas MacEntee as the main international speakers. Why not plan to join me and other regular UTP cruisers!