I just arrived in Salvador, Brazil on a cruise ship full of digital nomads. I am starting to realize that this must have been one of the most unique experiences of my life.
Imagine cruising from Spain to sunny Brazil at the start of the European winter, meeting other location-independent entrepreneurs, sharing knowledge and experiences in free workshops, enjoying the luxuries of a cruise without the normal cruise vacationers and arriving in Brazil without a jetlag…. A tax-deductible business trip! 🙂
During the summer of 2015 Facebook showed posts of a ‘repositioning cruise’ from Gran Canaria, Spain to Brazil for just €150 for 9 days, all inclusive. Cruise companies need to get their ships from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean at the start of the winter season. Because there are no stops, the cruise is ‘less attractive’ and is offered at this extremely low price.
I was just organizing a ‘write your book in a week’ workshop in Mallorca and had to arrange lodging, restaurants and a social program for the participants in addition to the content part. I wondered ‘What if I organize my next workshop on this cruise?’ and posted my idea on Facebook. Within half an hour I got so many reactions that I decided to just do it.
In the end 12 entrepreneurs joined me on the cruise, where I gave daily workshops on writing, speaking, social media, visual storytelling, personal branding and life as a digital nomad.
At the same time, other digital nomads had also heard about the cruise and started blogging about this unique trip. To cut a long story short; about 150 digital nomads from all over the world joined on the trip to Brazil, creating a workshop program of about 50 different sessions.
The name of the ship seemed fitting: the ‘Sovereign’ took off with an unlikely mix of people on board: hippies (who provided constant entertainment on the ship; juggling, making music etc), entrepreneurs with various levels of experience and success, backpackers, seasoned travelers and travel hackers mixed with an occasional ‘normal’ cruise passenger. I think the other passengers and the crew had no idea what was happening on the ship. We kind of took over.
The international crew (30 different nationalities) was so friendly, smiling and helpful. Brazilians told us proudly about their country, our personal waiters figured out our favorite food and drinks the first night and made sure we were pampered every evening. The food was surprisingly good and I think everybody on the ship must have gained a few kilos.
Because internet on board was slow and expensive, I had prepared myself for a ‘digital detox’ of 9 days. But it turned out I could connect for about half an hour every day to take care of the most urgent mails and every now and then post something on social media. However, the limited access prevented me from getting lost in Facebook, what sometimes happens… Because nobody was focused on their phone, there was much more conversation and just ‘being in the moment’.
Because I had to focus on ‘my’ participants and workshops, I did not get to know many other nomads for the first part of the trip. There was gossip on the ship that I was giving ‘secret workshops’ to a privileged group of Dutchies… Only towards the end of the trip I had time to follow some nomad workshops and teach a few. I even shared my “I got fired from my country for traveling too much” story at a conference on the ship.
Finally I got to know my fellow nomads and the full magic of the trip started to reveil itself. The travel blogger who managed to set up a successful webshop so she could quit her ‘normal’ job after a year. The young blond girl who hitchhiked through Iran. The flight hacker who explained how you can fly anywhere in the world, business class, for max $1500. The mom from New Zealand who travels the world with her 8 year old daughter from one house/pet sitting job to another. The guy who helped his mother share her homemade cards, making €1.1 million in the process… Everybody had a story to share; of inspiration, struggle, determination, serendipity, illness, discovery, passion, hard work and unique experiences.
When we got to Brazil, my real digital detox started. I had not realized that for security reasons you should leave your phone in your hostel or apartment. On the boat we could still take pictures even though we did not have an internet connection. Now I had no phone with me. Which made it really challenging to meet with the other nomads, who spread out all over the city. We would agree a time and place, but once we left ‘home’ there was just no way to communicate. I also realized how dependent I had gotten on Google maps to find my way around. And I saw so many unique details that I really missed my camera. I started making simple sketches instead of photos. How did we even live before mobile phones? It is a weird but sobering experience. But it also gives a feeling of freedom: walking around without a phone, wallet or bag even.
A few of us are staying in Salvador for a couple of weeks of co-working. Getting some work done in our air-conditioned rooms and going for a stroll, swim or a bite after work.
Only now, after the cruise, do I realize what a unique opportunity this was to have so many like-minded people together in one place for 9 days.
I can’t wait to do this again. So I am planning to invite some entrepreneurs and (wannabe) digital nomads for a cruise from Barcelona to Buenos Aires from Nov 26 – Dec 13, 2018. Do you want to come? Check Workshop Cruise your Business.