SQL cruise was something I've always wanted to do ever since it's inception (years ago). Of course, no company was going to send me to any conference with the word "cruise" in the title. Rather, they would send me to local training facilities that cost 3x's the price and pushed an agenda that wasn't in line with what the businesses I was currently working with wanted. It was also taught by instructors who were not MVPs, MCMs and renown authors.
Now that I'm fully independent and run my own business, I can finally attend SQL conferences that mean something to me and to my clients. SQL cruise was the first major tech conference that I've attended.
When I decided on SQL Cruise this year I went over to techoutbound.com and pulled up the schedule. I asked my wife where she wanted to go and her choice was Alaska.
As the day approached Tim and Amy were great with communicating and having us prepared with what the schedule would be like.
On the first day, after embarkation and check-ins, we all met up for introductions and a short speech by Tim followed by a scavenger hunt which required us to solve all sorts of puzzles. It was a great way to learn how to navigate the ship and to also get to know our fellow cruisers.
Furthermore we were treated to some amazing swag. Tim and Amy really paid attention to detail and this was no exception. In fact, the quality of the swag would end up being quite analogous to the rest of the trip...
I won't go into full detail regarding the agenda, but we had a number great speakers (I urge you to visit each one of the links below to understand the level of presenters that we had):
Bob Ward (of microsoft)
All the sessions were very in depth, and due to the small group, very conversational. We ended up having some great discussions during the already thorough training. Often times, we went over the allotted time slots, which would eventually spill over to "office hours", which I will cover next.
As great as the actual classes were, this might have been the most valuable part of SQL Cruise. At the end of almost each day we would have an informal meetup where we would all get together and talk shop. I learned the most here because I got to have even smaller group or even one on one discussions with the presenters and other cruisers.
The discussions weren't limited to just the technical aspect of SQL Server. I also received some very valuable career advice (thank you Grant and Andy).
What would you expect? We're all stuck on a boat with each other for a week. Of course we would run into fellow cruisers after hours. Everyone was always open to discussing more, but we would expand beyond our profession and talk about other things. We go to know one another on a more personal level.
I Felt humbled and privileged to be in the presence of such amazing professionals. Everyone on the cruise was passionate about what they did and it was infectious.
By the end of the trip, along with my new found knowledge, I had made new connections, friends and mentors. I honestly could not put a price on this.
Lauren and I saying our bitter sweet goodbyes to our fellow cruisers. Thank you for an amazing week!
PS - SQL Cruise will now be referred to as Tech Outbound. I think there are plans to expand beyond SQL server. Go to http://www.techoutbound.com/