As the gigantic cruise liner Volendam pulled out of port in Vancouver, B.C., Canada, onboard were several hundred Mac fans and a large collection of Mac experts, all part of the first Mac Mania cruise, operated by Geek Cruises and sponsored by Macworld .
As the ship headed under the Lion’s Gate Bridge and headed north for Juneau, Alaska, the collection of Mac Maniacs gathered for an evening cocktail party to kick off the week’s festivities. Among the special guests in attendance were Macworld CEO Colin Crawford, Adam C. Engst, Bob LeVitus, David Pogue, Deke McClelland, Andrew Gore, AppleScript guru Sal Soghoian and actor John de Lancie.
GeekCruises skipper Neil Bauman pointed out during the party that de Lancie suggested to Bauman a year ago that he should expand beyond cruises devoted to topics such as Linux, Perl and Java, and create a Mac-themed cruise. The end result: a record attendance for a Geek Cruise, with nearly 200 paid attendees, not to mention quite a few more family members tagging along for the one-week cruise along the Alaskan coast.
But don’t just imagine a ship full of Mac fanatics, talking OS X and Aqua from stem to stern. The Volendam is a regular cruise ship, and the rest of the sold-out ship is made up of non-Mac Mania attendees. The end result is an interesting mix of cultures, but as I’ve already found out, you can’t usually make an assumption about whether or not a cruise participant is also a MacMania attendee just by looking at them — the participants in this unique conference at sea are just as broad in composition as the rest of the ship.
MacMania also features the first ship-wide wireless Internet access for attendees.
The network allows attendees to download conference files, communicate with speakers and other attendees, keep informed of any change in conference venues and participate in activities using state-of-the-art groupware. Plus, the wireless Internet link allows attendees to surf the Web, send and receive e-mail and transfer files to their own laptops using the ship’s satellite connection.
Conferences on the cruise ship include: “A Unix Guide to OS X,” “Macintosh Studio Secrets,” “Digital Video Postproduction and Special Effects,” “Microsoft Office X Inside and Out,” “Building Web Sites with Dreamweaver 4 and Fireworks 4,” “Eudora, Entourage, Mailsmith Shootout,” “Getting Comfortable with Mac OS X,” and “iMovie 2: the Missing Crash Course. Developer track courses will include “AppleScript Crash Course,” “Using Project Builder and Interface Builder,” “Cocoa in Action,” “Porting to Mac OS X,” and “Java Development for Mac OS X.”
Conferences began today, and continue throughout the week whenever we’re not in port. Our first port of call is Juneau, where we’re due Wednesday afternoon.