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Training Questions

SQL Cruise AK Training

How much time is spent training versus vacationing? We only do training while we’re at sea, not when we’re in port.  Whenever we’re at a port, you can hit the town to enjoy yourself.  Training also stops at 6PM (okay, usually 5PM) – this isn’t a boot camp. Some exceptions for itineraries where we have limited full sea day opportunities.

Can I get a refund if I cancel? You can cancel up until 75 days before the sailing date, and we’ll refund your training fees less the cost of materials (shirt, printouts, etc.) After that date we will have to assess a 20% re-docking fee.  If you have a travel disaster and can’t make it to the cruise ship on time, just email us or call us. We’ve been there too.  However, any cruise refunds are between you and the cruise line.

Do I need to bring a laptop? Not unless you want to, but if you do, consider bringing a multi-outlet power strip.  Cruise rooms usually only have 2 electric outlets, and us geeks do love our gadgets. We’ll give you the scripts on a USB drive if you’d like to run the demos while we’re running the training, but we’ll have a projector, and you can just watch us do them.  If you plan on running the scripts, bring a laptop equipped with SQL Server 2014 or 2016.

What will the training rooms be like? We’ll be using meeting rooms on board – yes, cruise ships actually have meeting rooms with projectors! If you’d like to do a breakout session with different people talking about different interests, we’ll have plenty of spaces to choose from.

I want to register, but I have to get approval – can you hold space for me? Unfortunately, no. You’re responsible for booking a room on the cruise ship first, and they may run out of rooms before you get approval. Book fast before the cruise prices go up!  See our registration page for details on how you will need to reserve your stateroom.  Hint: it involves calling our Personal Cruise Consultant, Alex Gonzalez, at NCL directly.

Cruise Questions

Carnival Deck

Carnival Deck

Why are you doing training on a cruise? They’re surprisingly affordable.  Cruise ship rooms often cost less than $100 per night per person, which is pretty cheap when you consider it’s a hotel plus all your food plus meeting room space.  It’s really hard to do a conference on land that cheap.

Do I need a passport? Norwegian’s cruise documentation page says you can use a passport, an original (or certified) birth certificate, an Enhanced Driver’s License, or other forms of documentation.  When cruising, you don’t have to present a passport to get on & off the boat.  You’ll be given an ID card when you check into the cruise, and that card acts as your room key, charge card (on the boat), and your ID to get on & off the boat.  You can leave your passport or birth certificate in the room safe.

I’m a Manager.  Am I to believe that the Cruisers actually attend sessions and don’t just use this time as a paid vacation?  We’ve only had 3 late arrivals in our history of SQL Cruise.  One was because a cell phone synchronized to the wrong time zone, the other was due to a slight case of seasickness, and the last was one of the speakers that was not presenting that day.  That’s a pretty good track record when there are plenty of other options.

Can I bring alcohol on board? We haven’t tried it personally, but we’ve heard of people who’ve smuggled it on board.  Frankly, the cruise ship prices aren’t all that bad, and it’s really nice to just wave your hand and have the waiter bring over whatever cold drink catches your fancy at the moment.  They have a slick system for wine bottles – if you buy a bottle in the dining room and you don’t finish it at dinner, they’ll seal it for you and bring it out the next night.

Can I bring my family? This is one of the coolest things about cruising: they take care of everybody.  Kids have plenty of managed activities during the day.  Some cruisers choose to bring their kids.  Tim and and many of the Technical Leads will be bringing their better halves on some cruises, and shacking up together on other cruises.

SQLCruise Swag Bag

SQLCruise Swag Bag

Can I connect to the internet? Cruise ships charge by the minute for internet connections via WiFi or computer terminals in the Internet cafe.  $1 per minute isn’t an unusual fee.  Cell phones usually work in foreign ports, but with insanely expensive data roaming charges.

Can we have class in the hot tub? You won’t ask that again after you’ve seen Grant Fritchey in a thong.

What drinks will cost me money? Water, ice tea, coffee, and fruit juice are free.  Everything else – sodas, mixed drinks, espresso drinks, beer, etc – costs about what you’d expect to pay in a hotel bar on land.

Will I get seasick? Some people do, unfortunately, and it’s not pretty.  When you’re booking your room, pick one as close to the center of the ship as possible, and that’ll reduce the rocking movements at night.  If you’re worried about it, pick up seasickness pills before you leave, and start taking them 12 hours before the ship departs.  Stay clear of alcohol and get plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.

What’s this formal night stuff? The cruise has one formal night where some guys don suits and ladies wear dresses.  The formal night isn’t too formal – guys can get away with just a shirt and tie.  Thing is, you don’t have to participate in it at all if you don’t feel like it, and around half of the guests don’t.  If you don’t dress up, you’ll eat at the buffet instead of the sit-down restaurants on formal night.

Can I fly in on the day of the departure to board the cruise? Yes, but it’s a gamble.  If anything goes wrong with your flights, or your bags don’t make it on the same flight as you, you may not make the cruise in time.  We recommend attendees fly in the day before, stay in a hotel, and then catch a taxi to the cruise ship dock.

SQLCruise Snorkelers

SQLCruise Snorkelers

How do I get to the airport after the cruise? The easiest way is to use the self-debarkation process.  Carry your bags off the ship yourself, and you’ll be among the first guests off.  You can then walk straight through customs and out into a taxi.  If you’re not the bag-carrying type, consider buying the cruise ship’s transportation package.  The cruise ship porter will pick up your bags the night of return to port, and they take ’em straight to the airport for you.  You won’t see them again until you arrive back at your home airport.  (And maybe not even then, if your airline is anything like mine.)

Is the bacon really free at breakfast? Yes, all you can eat bacon. We understand there are other things on the buffet as well, but we haven’t paid attention long enough to know that for a fact.  We have even had platters of bacon delivered to the classroom.

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