I just returned from leading the first ever Mercy Ships Alumni Reunion Cruise. When I started planning this a year ago, I had no idea how much work it would entail!
98 Alumni from Canada, Belgium, South Africa, Holland, the UK, and of course the US, flew into Texas for a 7 day cruise exploring the Western Caribbean. Airport 3 days of airport runs and a 6 hour bus ride down to Galveston.
The cruise was hosted by the Mercy Ships founders so I had that extra lever of terror added too. 7 Days… 24 hours a day… I planned events so as not to be in competition too much with shipboard activities and worked around schedules.
Events were very well attended and normally had an attendance rate of about 85% at my major events and about 40-55 % at games and social events. I am very happy with that and higher than I anticipated.
I even held an open event where anyone from the general passengers who wanted to know more about Mercy Ships cold attend and about 30 people attended. Let me put that in perspective. 30 people that are on a paid holiday attended. While the belly-flop competition was held!
I am pretty convinced that I have never ever worked this hard. When I were not hosting, planning or prepping for events, I was chasing down missing luggage and/or people, dealing with a couple of attendee medical emergencies, rescuing missing toys etc. Spiritual warfare took on a brand new meaning for me.
One of my favorite moments came during prepping for a scavenger hunt that had attendees hunting across the whole 15 deck ship. I had to hide a pack of clues near a three storied Christmas tree and that place was packed, including a bunch of Mercyshippers.
I spotted an elderly lady that was seated near the tree and walked over and whispered my plight into her ear. She calmly took the clues from me and slipped it beneath her blanket, and then slipped it under the tree while having a conversation with me. In one of the lounges the clue led to a window and I hid the clues beneath a chair.
When I stood up I saw an eagle eyed Chinese waitress looking at me and closing in on me. I explained and asked her not to tell anyone. “No word, no word” was all she said and left.
Afterwards a few teams told me that when they got to the lounge the waitress wordlessly pointed them to the clue. She kept he promise, “no word” indeed. Other teams also reported that various passengers got into the game and pointed them into all different directions… all wrong of course.
Then the stress of getting everyone off in time to catch a bus back for a 6 hour trip home etc.