The idea of the Nomad cruise fired and excited my imagination ever since I came across it on the web last year so to be stepping onto the Zenith on December 10th was the realisation of a crazy plan to kick-start a new lifestyle.
As the older cruise ship (I nicknamed it The Tank) headed out onto the South Atlantic towards the Caribbean, the Nomad Cruisers took over the disco area for a programme of talks and workshops ranging from an entrepreneurial slant to online marketing, SEO, blogging, photography, travelling, nutrition and the nomad life in general. There was a wide mix of people on board; web developers, marketers, entrepreneurs, writers, so there was always someone to connect with.
A ship routine was quickly established. Nomads tended to sit together in groups at meals to catch up on the latest cruise rumours and gossip. Having a routine (breakfast, lunch and dinner are all at a scheduled time) you were able to plan your day in a bit more detail. I chose to generally get up early, hit the gym, have breakfast and get on with the day.
Alternatively there was lure of the deck sun loungers, pool and Jacuzzi or the library and gym, all of which I made fair use of. Late afternoons and early evening usually involved grabbing a drink from the pool bar and watching a series of spectacular sunsets on the ocean. Every night there would be a gathering of nomads somewhere on the ship, jamming with instruments (there were a few talented musicians), playing table tennis or just making full use of the inclusive bar and seeing out the night in an alcoholic haze.
If the socialising onslaught became too much, and for a secret introvert like myself it sometimes did, there were always possibilities of quiet retreat to the cabin or the library.
My cabin was pretty good, a good size with a perfect sea view which made a great basecamp for writing. Some other nomads had problems with the plumbing in their bathrooms apparently but my cabin was fine.
Part of the attraction of taking a slow boat across the ocean was to experience the passage of time. Adjusting to the time zone involved a change of clocks (back by 1 hour every couple of days when heading west) which made for the bonus experience of gaining time on a regular schedule and a really nice way to avoid jet lag. The other attraction was the chance to have a detox from the world, mostly without Wi-Fi. As getting online was so expensive I decided not to sign up for any packages apart from a PAYGO option just to sync documents and very quickly check of emails. (At 61 cents per minute you want to be fast)
Of course cruising is usually for the older retired crowd and there were a bunch of those on the same boat but with over 150 nomad cruisers, average age mid 20s it never felt like being on a retirement home or anything although it was sometimes interesting to watch the elderly couple sit in the bar from 10 am drinking beer all day. There were also a few surreal moments like the message on the address system that continually interrupted the talks with Bingo, bingo, bingo announcements or reassuring messages such as: Please ignore the previous signal. Everything is normal. Please return to enjoying your cruise.
The foundation and achievement of the nomad cruise, I believe, was the forming of relationships, friendships and business connections that will undoubtedly reach far into the future. It wasn’t perfect. There is always room for improvement in any ambitious project but Nomad Cruise are certainly having a go at building a community for nomads wherever they are from and have the ambition and know how to expand the concept.