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More than 100 Mac fans and their families set sail this evening from Copenhagen, Denmark, for seven Baltic Sea destinations as a part of MacMania 3.5, a cruise operated by Geek Cruises and co-sponsored by Macworld .

In the next 10 days cruisers will spend time learning how to better use their Macs thanks to sessions from Mac experts including Macworld Mac 911 columnist Christopher Breen, New York Times technology columnist David Pogue, broadcast tech guru Leo LaPorte, and even this humble blogger. Even more exciting, we’ll be doing all our Mac stuff in the down time between our ports of call, which include stops in Estonia, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Germany, and Denmark.

Tonight Geek Cruises “captain” Neil Bauman, who plans and operates MacMania, welcomed the Geek Cruisers onboard in a special reception on the ship's bow just as it pulled up anchor and steamed out of Copenhagen’s harbor and into the Baltic beyond.

All of us are excited about this little adventure of ours, but I’ve got to admit that our enthusiasm is tempered a bit by the jet lag caused by jumping ahead between seven and nine time zones. Adding to that fish-out-of-water feeling is the fact that this time of year, there only seem to be about four hours of actual darkness in Denmark. It sure is exciting to find yourself admiring a sunset at 10 p.m., though.

The ship’s got satellite-based Internet access, so none of us are truly cut off from the outside world. As a collection of tech-savvy Mac fans, that’s a good thing. At the welcoming reception tonight, Leo LaPorte let fly with the first tip of the cruise: namely, that satellite Internet connections have some really bad latency problems that slooooow everything down. Leo’s got a Terminal command (embedded in an easy-to-use AppleScript) that improves how a Mac handles a low-latency Internet network. Which is a must when you’re floating on the sea somewhere deep in the Eastern Hemisphere.

The cruise’s conference sessions—which are held when the ship’s not in port, so cruisers can maximize their time off the ship as well as on—begin in earnest tomorrow. On the agenda: an iTunes session from Mr. Breen, an iMovie session from Mr. Pogue, a GarageBand jam session with both Breen and Pogue, a slew of photography sessions, and a “Tiger Primer” that I’ll presumably be presenting to the handful of people who aren’t being wowed by the Breen/Pogue GarageBand jam.

Chris Breen, Macworld contributor Ben Long, and myself will be posting blog entries from the cruise throughout its duration at, as well as occasional photo galleries. For more photos of the cruise as it happens, you can also visit the MacMania 3.5 photo group on As the postcard saying goes, we wish you were here—so we’ll try to make it seem as if you are!

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