I had the great opportunity to represent SentryOne on the 2016 SQL Cruise to the Caribbean. I’'ll be doing it again in January, only this time I'll be sailing alongside my favorite buccaneer, Kevin Kline.
I'm sure a lot of people are thinking the same thing I did at first – “This is just a bunch of people trying to pass a vacation off as training.”
The truth is something very different than that statement, and I’m hoping my account of things may convince some of you to join us.
I would not call SQL Cruise a vacation, and I would not call it a conference. It is both and neither. It is something different and great, and I’m not sure what to call it by, other than its name.
During the week-long cruise, I built friendships that will last a lifetime, joined a network of professionals who stay in constant contact helping each other with issues at work, rubbed elbows (and rum drinks!) with elite personalities from the data platform world, and spent both productive and recreational time with new and old SentryOne customers alike.
The rest of this post contains some reasons I believe SQL Cruise is well worth your training budget AND your vacation stash.
This is not just an expression. If you are a trainer, the students literally have nothing else to do but pay attention and remain engaged during the training session. Phones don’t work, Internet is spotty (and recommended only for emergencies), and they can’t leave early unless they want to get very wet.
If you are a chronic multi-tasker like I am, you will find your classroom experience very rewarding. In this environment you start to realize all of the useful nuggets of information you’ve probably missed over the years, because you took a minute to reply to an email, or check your phone.
If you want to ensure that you will get everything possible out of your classroom time, the cruise ship really is a perfect venue.
We might all be wearing shorts and T-Shirts, but don’t let that fool you. Tim Ford and family pull out all the stops.
There are scheduled office hours for breaking into groups, and working on tough problems with the technical leads. This could be anything, from having David Klee help plan migrating an application to VMware, to reviewing your scariest execution plans with Grant Fritchey. The only rule here is that we talk shop. There are always SentryOne customers on the cruise, and this was an amazing opportunity for me to learn all about how they use SentryOne and Plan Explorer. Taking down their ideas on ways we can improve our software was definitely a highlight for me.
One thing I’ll hang onto forever is a thoughtful token that each of the tech leads received. I never thought my face would end up on a Rubik’s Cube, but SQL Cruise made it happen.
We also had a formal dinner, and several other group events, including a gathering for photos in our formal outfits for dinner. Don’t worry if you’re not that into dressing up. A shirt that buttons down and some slacks will be fine, but a lot of people went all out with their formal wear. It was a memorable occasion whether you choose to really dress up or not.
Apologies to all you cruise veterans who already know this, but it was new to me, and I figure someone out there will gain some benefit from the explanation.
The way a cruise works is that the ship goes from place to place, and it drops you off at various ports to do fun things for several hours at a time. The “vacation” part of SQL Cruise happens when the ship stops, and we all get a day trip wherever that happens to be. The training part is when the ship is sailing. These day trips are when you really get a chance to learn who everyone is behind the keyboard.
Sorry, I had to post that last one for Tone. CHICKENS!
If you’ve been thinking of going on a cruise, and you love SQL Server (or even just like it a little) — why wait? This is an experience you will never forget. Where else can you become better at your career, get consulting from some of the best in the business, and get some well-deserved R & R.
If you’re still not convinced, maybe Kevin can flip the switch for you.
Until next time,