Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of attending SQL Cruise Alaska 2017. This marked my second SQL Cruise, having attended Mediterranean Cruise in 2015. My first SQL Cruise experience was so awesome that when the Alaska 2017 dates were announced in 2016, I immediately registered again!
SQL Cruise is a training experience unlike any other out there. When people hear the word "cruise," many think it is a week of drinking fruity drinks and working on your tan. Instead, what you get is a blend of focused training and career/relationship building opportunities. All of this is bundled into a very unique experience. It works so well that over half of the SQL Cruise attendees are repeat Cruisers! They have all come to understand the value of SQL Cruise beyond the classroom.
My teammate Allen White (b|t) wrote a fantastic re-cap blog post, with a great summary of the presented sessions. And while SQL Cruise offers fantastic in-depth training, it also offers so much more that I love.
SQL Cruise offers several "office hours" sessions. These are time slots dedicated to talking shop. Some were a free for all and others were run as a loosely-moderated panel discussion. On this cruise, we had a special Office Hours session – an Ask Me Anything with Bob Ward (b|t)! Bob fielded a variety of questions, which lead to some fantastic discussions, and even some takeaways for Bob to take back to Microsoft!
When class was over, the fun continued. Two different group dinners were scheduled, where we spent time getting to know our fellow cruisers better. We often shared other meals as well. And we attended shows together, played cards, talked more SQL Server, and even talked about non-SQL topics (imagine that!).
Some of the best bonding happens when you share awesome experiences together. On each of the excursions my wife and I went on, at least one other cruiser was with us. When our ship passed through the Tracy Arm fjord to visit Sawyer Glacier, a large group of us gathered in the Haven's observation deck. This was a breathtaking spectacle that I am happy to have shared with my #SQLFamily!
I am a firm believer in the saying "you are who you know." During these times outside the classroom, we all built stronger bonds with one another. Some of the conversations wound up being career related. In my last cruise, I asked for and received some invaluable career advice regarding a difficult situation I was facing. During this cruise, I had the opportunity to give back. I had several discussions with cruisers, some of whom were thinking about becoming speakers, and others who wanted to become more involved in the SQL Server community. And others had similar discussions with other technical leads. All of which I regard as being priceless.
I want to encourage you all to consider attending a SQL Cruise in the future, but unfortunately I can't. This cruise was the last SQL Cruise. *sad face* The good news is that it has been rebranded as Tech Outbound, with the future goal of expanding it beyond SQL Server topics and events beyond cruises! Coincidentally, the first two Tech Outbound events in 2018 are a Caribbean cruise and an Alaskan cruise!
So… will I see you at a future Tech Outbound event?