It’s that time of year again… where I like to recap my social media and cruising highlights for the year that was. Social media is all about the friendships, so I’ve included many of my online friends who helped make 2010 special. Thanks to Travel Leaders Leisure Group and CruiseDeals.com for allowing me to continue to mix social media & cruising; it was my best year yet!
Costa Deliziosa Inaugural
My wife, Jessica and I kicked 2010 off by flying to Venice to be among the first to board the Costa Deliziosa the day after Costa took ownership of her from the shipyard. We had a full day to explore Venice before cruising around Italy for 5 days with calls in Naples, Florence, and Genoa.
The Deliziosa is a beautiful cruise ship that allowed designer Joe Farkas combine his eccentric flare with fine Italian design. Being a Cruise Geek, getting to spend time and talk cruising history with legendary cruise ship designer Joe Farkas as well as Costa North America CEO, Maurice Zarmati who helped originally form Carnival Cruise Lines was a huge highlight of the trip. I also got to spend some time with cruise travel writers @AvidCruiser @CruiseCritic @CruisePRguy while onboard the Deliziosa. Read my full Costa Deliziosa Review.
South by Southwest Interactive Conference
I rented a house with #SoCruise friends @RyanWynia @KitMueller @Amberportercox and new friends @TimCourtney @Hansv_com. South by Southwest (SXSW) is touted as Geek Spring Break and it did not fail to disappoint. South by Southwest was a great opportunity to reconnect with old friends like @WayneSutton , @CouchSurfingOri , @TheMaidenVoyage, @MissKatieMo, as well as meet many online friends like @KateBuckJr, @TheRAB @TheJenATX, @MissyWard, @TDavidson, @TomMartin, @JasonFalls , @Krystyl for the first time in real life. My favorite part of #SxSW was grabbing lunch with 19 #SoCruise Alumni at PF Changs and having a few people stop by the table to ask how we all knew each other so well.
Featured in Wall Street Journal
I was interviewed by the Wall Street Journal as a cruise industry pricing trend expert and it actually made the print edition! Read the full article here.
Carolina NightLife Spring Break Cruise
Teamed up with @CLTnightlife for the 1st annual Carolina Nightlife Spring Break Cruise. Carolina Nightlife is a very successful party promoter in Charlotte and Charleston and their first Spring Break Cruise was a big hit.
Celebrity Solstice Family Spring Break
It was exciting to finally take my 8 year old son on his first cruise. Getting to see the cruise experience through the eyes of a child on his first cruise was very special and reminded me of the awesomeness of these new cruise ships. We cruised 7-nights to San Juan, St. Kitts, and St Maarten aboard the Celebrity Solstice. The Solstice Class ships are the most stylish, elegant large ships at sea. The Solstice’s food and service out-shined all of my other cruises. Read my full Celebrity Solstice review.
Cruise4Haiti – Fundraising Group Cruise
@CruiseBuzz , @KidTravel and I started planning the Cruise4Haiti in April of 2010. The Cruise4Haiti was our way to give back to Haiti after the devastating earthquake. The Cruise4Haiti group sailed in November on the Liberty of the Seas , raising money, delivering gifts to orphanages, and raising awareness for our non-profit partners Airline Ambassadors and For Haiti with Love. Read full post on the success of the Cruise4Haiti. A highlight of the Cruise4Haiti, was that it was the first time the online cruise community came together to support one project. Support online from @CruiselineFans @MeetonCruise @MontroseTravel @BethBlair @TravelingMamas @KimOrlando @theRCLBlog @MyBestFareFindr @CruiseMuse @TravelDesigned @Cajun_Mama @CruiseHolidays and many more helped raise awareness for the Cruise4Haiti and Voluncruising. I think that combining cruise vacations with helping others will be a concept that continues to grow in 2011 and I’m sure @kidtravel and @cruisebuzz will continue to be at the forefront. Click here to see @CruiseBuzz’s video of the Cruise4Haiti experience.
Interviewed in a Forbes.com Article
I was interviewed by Forbes about the potential impact of the Gulf Oil Spill on the Cruise Industry. Read the full article here.
#SCLTHoops – Basketball on Saturday Mornings
Ever since @93octane influenced me to go to my first #BtynBiz tweetup in 2008, I’ve used Twitter as a catalyst to meet as many like-minded people as possible. But, I was still a little hesitant about joining the #SCLTHoops crew for basketball on Saturday mornings at a local High School parking lot.
After playing for the first time in May, I ended up only missing a couple of weekends all year. Playing basketball for a two hours every Saturday morning has been great for my health plus it introduced me to some of the greatest local guys on Twitter. The organic growth of #SCLThoops from 6 players in a parking lot to 24 players playing on 2 indoor courts at @CarolinaCourts got us featured in the Charlotte Observer with a nice mention of CruiseDeals.com. @BoHussey @Milo_Z @RoyMorejon @Mahoney @McBride @ONM_Guy @LesPorter @ScottHepburn @larkenegleston @KenBuck @CLTDining instrumental in the growth and fun of #SCLTHoops and are great guys to follow on Twitter.
NCL Epic Inaugural
In July, my dad joined me on the NCL Epic 2 day inaugural. The night before the inaugural, I hosted a #NCLEpic Tweetup with @VegasBill and @24K at the Grand Double Tree Biscayne Bay Hotel in Miami, Florida. It was nice to get to reconnect with Miami friends from the 2009 #SoCruise Miami tweetup like @AlexDC, @ViceQueenMaria, and @AshevilleAllie. Once onboard the NCL Epic, we held her first onboard tweetup with @kidtravel @EarthXplorer @24K @VegasBill @RotCav @orlandochris @maggieblehert and a few others.
NCL Epic was the first time that I was tempted to try out water slides on a cruise ship. On day one we went down the slides to get video for CruiseSource.us. On day two, we went down the slides because they were fun.
#Cruise24 – 24 hours straight of Tweeting
I helped out some with @SilentClark’s Social Media Experiment as a Social Media Consultant. Clark Harris was silent for 100 days communicating solely through social media to raise money and awareness to help silence cancer. An amazing feat.
During Clark’s silence, I decided to do my own Twitter experiment. I sat in front of the computer and tweeted for 24 straight hours from my @CruiseSource Twitter account. Tweeting for 24 hours without sleeping was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done. The experiment was to see how many conversations I could have in 24 hours on Twitter about cruising. I was also raising awareness and money for the Cruise4Haiti. I raised $1780 for Airline Ambassadors from mostly $24 donations – Click here to see who all donated.
The night before the Bengals vs. Panthers game, Chad Ochocinco hosted a tweetup where he paid for 100 people to eat dinner at Chima Brazilian Steakhouse in uptown Charlotte. The location was a secret until 4 PM on Saturday when he tweeted the location. The first 85 people in line at the location got in. A little birdy gave me the cross streets where I needed to be at when @Ochocinco was scheduled to tweet out the location.
We were within the first 85 people in line at Chima. Ochocinco paid for over an hour of open bar as well as our meals at the pricey steakhouse. Terrell Owens joined Ochocinco at the event. Ochocinco said the pre-meal prayer and after dinner went around the dining room taking pictures with everyone in attendance. I do not follow many celebrities on Twitter, but Ochocinco is one of the few who truly interacts with their fans online and are accessible in real life.
@EddieKLive acoustic jam at 106.5 THE END
Kicked off @CruiseHolidays Social Media Boot Camp in sunny Cancun
In Cancun, at the Cruise Holidays Franchisee year end convention, we introduced the Cruise Holidays’ Social Media Boot Camp. We are offering the franchisees of Cruise Holidays, the oldest and largest cruise agency franchise, a series of webinars of how to effectively use social media to build their business. It is the first cruise industry social media training focused for travel agents and Travel Weekly featured it in an article.
Allure of the Seas Inaugural Cruise
To end November, I spent 2 days cruising on the largest cruise ship at sea, the brand new Allure of the Seas. I covered the Allure’s sister ship, the Oasis of the Seas inaugural cruise in 2009 for CruiseSource.us. The two ships are very similar. Although I’d been 3 Royal Caribbean ships with the FlowRider wave simulator, I’d never given it a spin. Boogie boarding onboard the Allure of the Seas reminded me the importance of allowing yourself to experience all that these mega-ships have to offer… zip-lining, ice-skating, rock-climbing, sports, spa, shows, etc. It is great to feel like a kid again and here is the video of me making an ass of myself on the FlowRider:
The 2nd Annual Social Fresh Cruise
I hosted the 2nd annual Social Fresh Social Media Cruise onboard the Carnival Triumph. The goal is to take the best parts of a social media conference and put it on a cruise ship. Of course, a dream come true for me! @Jakrose @SocialFresh @TedMurphy @IZEA @LucretiaPruitt @JennFowler @Adeletiblier @KateyMarie @CarnivalCruise and @93Octane all provided much needed support in planning and promoting the cruise. Speakers @Katebuckjr @NotAProBlog @AdamHoldenBache @TedMurphy @EricSchechter and @SilentClark added valuable content and discussion topics that helped set Social Fresh Cruise apart from other events. Unlike most other conferences, all of the attendees contribute by sharing insight, tips, successes, failures, and solutions to others problems.
The cruise departed from New Orleans and everyone stayed at the @SheratonNOLA. The Sheraton was an awesome host for the Bon Voyage party and a recommended property for pre- or post- cruise.
Special thanks to @Amanda_Pants @TweetTweetOne @Baznet @Adrants @LucretiaPruitt @93Octane @Jennfowler @AdamHoldenBache @KateyMarie & @RyanWynia for attending Social Fresh Cruise 2 year in a row! Your support and friendship is so appreciated!
So that is my 2010 recap… social media and blogging has provided me with a platform to do what I am most passionate about as well as build true friendships. It has been life changing. Over the last 3 years, everything that I have accomplished with social media has required the support of friends and partnerships… many of whom are mentioned in this blog post.
I am blessed for all the great people that Twitter has introduced to my life and I’m so excited to see what 2011 has in store for each of you!
Feel free to subscribe to CruiseSource to see where 2011 takes us.