Answers to most (if not all) of your questions can be found in our FAQ. But for a brief rundown of the main differences between 2017 and previous years, read on…

We’ve Got the Whole Ship

We’ve talked for years about all we could do if we had a full ship, and that time is 2017. Moving from a group to a full-ship charter lets us do a bunch of things:

  • Program whatever we want, whenever we want. With a full-ship charter, we no longer have to juggle and fit our programming around the rest of the passengers and their schedule. Because we are the rest of the passengers! (This had been an increasingly difficult task in the past few years.)
  • Bring even more performers, gaming experts, authors, raconteurs, and creative/makerfolk of all stripe, both to entertain and for general mingling/chilling.
  • Take the ship wherever we want, including some off-the-beaten-path ports of call.
  • Do even more things to foster community, like ship-wide theme days/nights; our own shipboard TV and radio channels; and generally creating a fun and energizing environment where you know that everyone you meet “gets it.”
  • So. Much. Tabletop. Gaming. EVERYWHERE.
  • Allow us to not cap attendance, which we’d have needed to do otherwise—which means people will continue to be able to introduce new friends to the experience, which helps keep things fresh.
  • Destroy Alderaan. (We wouldn’t—it’s peaceful, they have no weapons—but it’s nice to know that we could.)

And it’s not just a question of being able to do more; we know that just adding more of everything doesn’t automatically make things better. But having complete control of the ship and itinerary gives us much more flexibility in the schedule, both to hold events at their most ideal times, and to be sure we have time when we’re not doing anything. (Except, you know, chilling and stuff.)

The overall point is: having a full ship gives us a whole new degree of flexibility and options to help us continue to make JoCo Cruise the fun, special event it’s always been.

A West Coast Departure

We’ve looked at West Coast departures ever since the first JoCo Cruise, and for 2017 it just happened that HAL had a ship of the right size sailing out of San Diego at the right time of year for us. And after six years in the Caribbean, a great number JoCo Cruisers expressed interest in changing it up a bit—we can hear many who live on the West Coast saying “FINALLY!”

And because we’ve chartered the full ship, we were able to build a custom itinerary to some terrific ports that cruise lines don’t usually visit. Specifically, we’ll be sailing the Sea of Cortez, with three stops along Baja California’s coast: Cabo San Lucas, Pichilingue, and Loreto.

Cabo is a built-up resort destination familiar to many, but the latter two aren’t as well known, because that’s the way they like it: they don’t want to be major cruise ship destinations—but they’re eager to welcome a group like ours with open arms. Their waters and beaches are fantastic, with a variety of fun and adventurous shore excursion opportunities. We’re also working with one of the towns to possibly throw a big ol’ JoCo Cruise party. ¡Disfrutaremos la fiesta de los monos del mar!

“New” Cruise Line

After four terrific years sailing with Royal Caribbean, our 2017 cruise will be back on Holland America Line (on the ms Westerdam), who had the right “hardware” in the right place at the right time for the right price. Makes sense, right?

We’re also excited to be back with Holland America because their ships hosted the first two JoCo Cruises (including the Westerdam in 2012); so we’re familiar with the hardware, and the Holland America staff already “get us” and our event. This will help us to really blow 2017 out of the water—okay, maybe that’s an ill-chosen metaphor.

New Cabin Distribution

Compared to our past few years, the Westerdam has many more Ocean-view (window) cabins, for those who want some sunlight in their room but don’t necessarily want to get a Verandah cabin. Plus, since we have the whole ship, there’s a bunch more cabins overall available to us.

Concerts, Events and Dinner

Because the Westerdam doesn’t have any single space that can hold all attendees at once, we’ve adopted a new system for the “Main Events” shows:

The JoCo Cruise “Main Events” (the main performances taking place in the ship’s main theater) will have both an early and a late show, corresponding with the ship’s two dinner seatings. Passengers will be placed in either the Early Dinner or Late Dinner group, and will receive a corresponding wristband to indicate their group. (You will be able to request which group to be placed in; requests will be honored on a first-come, first-served basis.) While the Early Dinner group is eating, the Late Dinner group will attend the Main Event show; then, everybody switches.

Many JoCo Cruise performers—the ones performing in the ship’s numerous other, smaller venues—will have multiple performances scheduled over the course of the week. The plan is that everyone will have at least one opportunity to see every performer they wish to. We are also working on plans to hold events in one or more ports of call, involving our entire group.

“Pay in Full” Discount

We’ve introduced a new discount for 2017: passengers paying their balance in full at the time of booking may be eligible for our new Pay in Full discount.

  • Bookings completed before February 29, 2016 will receive a 10% discount on their cabin cost
  • Bookings completed between February 29, 2016 and May 14, 2016, will receive a 5% discount on their cabin cost

NOTES:

  • Balance must be paid in full at time of booking to be eligible for the Pay in Full discount; balances paid in installments are not eligible
  • Pay in Full discount is applied to your booking’s remaining balance after any and all applicable discounts have been applied
  • Discount will NOT be applied to any berths added after the initial booking has been made. (e.g., if you book a single occupancy room and then later add a second occupant, your Pay in Full Discount does not apply to the additional cost of that second berth)

Worldbuilders

Also new for 2017: We’re thrilled to announce that a portion of JoCo Cruise 2017’s profits will go to Worldbuilders, a charity founded by author Pat Rothfuss to unite readers, authors, book lovers, gamers, and geeks of all kinds to make the world a better place.