Let’s Cruise … Genealogy-style!!

Anyone who is a blogger (or a writer for that matter) will know that some posts/articles simply write themselves, while others take a whole lot of work. Writing, rewriting, scrapping, then starting again. It’s like they don’t want to be written. But you want it written, so you persevere. Anyway this post falls into that latter category, and I can’t figure out why.

Anyway enough with the analysing … today I’m writing about genealogy cruises, as in about three weeks I’ll be onboard the ‘Voyager of the Seas’ cruise ship for the 4th Unlock the Past cruise, and this voyage just keeps getting better and better.


First up we have the ship which is phenomenal. Now I was fortunate enough to go on the 3rd Unlock the Past cruise which was also on this ship, and trust me this is one mighty-big-megaliner of a ship. Unless you have seen in close up, it is hard to even comprehend. We all think of the Titanic as HUGE right? But in comparison to today’s cruise liners it looks rather piddly. So yes it’s big, and you get lots of walking done.

Titanic to scale in front of a modern passenger ship [via @JamesASexton on Twitter]

Titanic to scale in front of a modern passenger ship [via @JamesASexton on Twitter]

This ship is enormous and will hold 4000 or so people (maximum of 3138 passengers and 1181 crew), but because of it’s size, you simply don’t feel it because everyone is so spread out throughout the ship. The vessel itself is 15 levels/decks high, and has a heap of restaurants, sports facilities like a gym, running track, full size basketball court, mini-golf, and even a rock climbing wall area all these. There are  numerous bars and lounge type areas, there is a nightclub, cinema, photo shop (get photos printed onboard), even an ice skating rink. And there’s a mall with everything overpriced (at least until the last few days), and of course a conference room, which is where tend to hang out.

Voyager of the Seas, February 2013

Voyager of the Seas in Sydney Harbour, February 2013


With 26 speakers from 5 countries, and over 100 talks, this cruise offers the most variety. The guest presenters on the 4th cruise are: Chris Paton, Thomas MacEntee, Anne Daniels, Diane Foster, Geoff Doherty, Helen Smith, Kerry Farmer, Kirsty Gray, Jan Gow, Jane Taubman, Jill Ball, Lesley Silvester, Maggie Clarke, Marg Doherty, Maria Northcote, Melissa Hulbert, Mike Murray, Neil Grill, Neil Smith, Noeline Kyle, Pauleen Cass, Rob Hamilton, Rosemary Kopittke, Shauna Hicks, Tiggy Johnson and Alan Phillps. No doubt you’ve heard at least some of them before, others maybe not.
Click here for the list of guest presenters


With about 100 talks scheduled, there are so many topics on this cruise it’s going to do my head in with information overload. But seriously there really is something for everyone. I’m not going to list them all here, but here’s just a few so you get an idea of the variety: British newspapers, using timelines as a tool, Irish records online, military history, preservation of photos, and restoring them too,  DNA, mapping ancestors, genealogy blogging, heritage scrapbooking classes, mining ancestors, Freemasons records for genealogists, Family Historian workshops, genealogy Wikis, Pinning, Evernote and a bunch of other tech type talks, writing your family history, forced emigration, document analysis, New Zealand genealogy and various records available for that … and obviously a whole stack more
Click here for the list of topics


This 4th cruise has a host of unique features that has not been a part of previous Unlock the Past cruises, such as an artist, an astronomer, a poet, a scrapbooker, live streams from RootsTech, and Google Hangouts on Air.

ARTIST – Anne Daniels is one of the guest presenters on the cruise, and she has a gift for “turns memories into art”. She combines creates artwork by combining digital imaging and hand rendering to create a personalised picture, which can be treasured forever. And for genealogists it is a sensational way to showcase aspects of your family history. She will be holding classes while on board, and invites those who are likely to attend to bring along items that they’d like to include in an image.

ASTRONOMER – Melissa Hulbert is into genealogy and will be attending our cruise also as a guest presenter, but she is also an astronomer. And subject to weather conditions, will give those who are interested a tour of the night sky.

SCRAPBOOKER – Another feature of this particular cruise is scrapbooking. Maggie Clarke who is one of the guest presenters on the cruise, will be holding scrapbooking classes during the cruise. Scrapbooking is a fabulous way to present your family history, which will be an heirloom for future generations. But how do you get started? What is needed? How do you choose the layout? Maggie will be able to cover these are more in her talk and workshop that she’ll be holding.

POET – I bet you’ve never thought of making your family history into a poem? Well Tiggy Johnson has. And in her presentation she will hold a talk on writing poetry as a different way to present you family history.

LIVE STREAMS – Live streams from RootsTech. I’m excited about this as I did get to go to RootsTech in 2013, and it was seriously awesome. Sadly RootsTech 2014 was scheduled after we’d already booked the cruise, and they’re both on at the same time.  However as part of making RootsTech a global event, FamilySearch live stream some of the keynote speaker talks, and they have been kind enough to allow Unlock The Past to show a couple of these on the cruise. Ok, they won’t be live streamed at that very instant as it’ll probably be the middle of the night Australian-time when they’re on, and also as we’ll be cruising and will have lousy internet connection – at least until we get to a port. But they will only be slightly delayed. I’m still not sure which keynote talks we’ll get to see, but they all looked really interesting.

GOOGLE HANGOUTS ON AIR – Anyone who’s been reading my blog for the past few months will know that I’ve dabbled in Google Hangouts on Air. This seems to the be the new way to connect, interact and learn. And you just need an internet connection, a webcam, some headphones, a Google+ account and you’re good to go. Jill Ball who has hosted a number of Google HOAs already, will be holding at least one while onboard the ship. So others can interest with those on the cruise itself.


I’ve always thought that this particular cruise was going to be the best blogged one, and I’m not wrong. This cruise will have the most genealogy bloggers onboard to date. And so you can go visit their blogs I’ll list those that I know below, but please forgive me if I’ve missed anyone.
Jill Ball – Geniaus
Pauleen Cass – Family History Across the Seas
Maggie Clarke – Picture This Scrapbooking
Kerry Farmer – Family History Research
Kirsty Gray – Family Wise
Victoria Green – Campaspe Genealogy
Lee-Ann Hamilton – Pear Tree Cottage
Shauna Hicks – Shauna Hicks History Enterprises
Tiggy Johnson – Tiggy Johnson
Noeline Kyle – Writing, Editing and Publishing  Family Stories
Thomas MacEntee – Geneabloggers
Maria Northcote – Genies Down Under
Chris Paton – British GENES
Helen Smith – From Helen V Smith’s Keyboard
Alona Tester – Lonetester HQ (that’s me)
Maureen Trotter – Exploring Family
Sharn White – Family History 4 U
Jackie van Bergen – Jax Trax

Just recently there has been fabulous posts from Geniaus Gearing Up for a Geneacruise – The Second Time Around, Helen V Smith Cruising! Soon We’ll be leaving as well as Genies Down Under Genies Packin’ for a Cruisin’ each giving genealogy cruisers ideas on what to pack. So if you’re not sure, take a moment to read through their suggestions.


So that’s about it … cruising, genealogying, blogging, and generally just soaking it all up. That’s my plan for this 9 day adventure. So roll on February 4th, and Let’s Cruise!!


Related Posts:
Getting Organised for the Cruise

2 Responses to “Let’s Cruise … Genealogy-style!!”

  1. Pauleen says:

    Every time I read a blog post about the cruise it gets more exciting. It’s going to be a humdinger and a chance to meet people person to person instead of virtually. Just an oversight due to my late addition, but you missed me from the speakers 😉

    • Alona says:

      Trust me, it is going to be a lot of fun! And apologies for missing your name out on the speaker list, I’ve now added it in.

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