How many times have said to a talking head on FoxNews, “Boy, I’d like to give him a piece of my mind?” Maybe you’ve spent hours polishing one brilliant email – only to send it out and hear nothing but a vast silence in response?
I have a much better proposition. How would you like to spend a week with dozens of political pundits collectively listening to your every word? Sounds impossible, but it isn’t. Just take one of the political-themed cruises offered every year.
There are actually several of them yearly, more of less depending on whether it is an election year. But since this is a BIG election year many regular pundits are busy, at least through Nov. 5. But that doesn’t mean these folks won’t make time for their regularly scheduled cruises; they take them very seriously.
Just five days after the election there is a week-long cruise that will feature 32 conservative “talking heads,” from television including columnists John Fund, Cal Thomas and Jonah Goldberg, historian Bernard Lewis, pollster Scott Rasmussen and author Michael Walsh. In fact, if any of the names mentioned here don’t ring a bell go to the web sites listed and you should recognize the faces.
These political cruises have been sailing yearly for almost two decades. Each will obviously have either a conservative or liberal agenda, although the number of conservative cruises makes them appear to be more popular even though the liberal ones attract the bigger Hollywood stars. That does beg the question, however, “Would you rather discuss politics with FoxNews correspondent Britt Hume and pollster Scott Rasmussen; or with singer/ songwriter Judy Collins and Mike Farrell, former actor from the hit TV show M.A.S.H.?
Whichever you choose – even if you don’t know the names, you know the faces. Take a look at the web sites to see them and you will be positively surprised with the people scheduled to attend most of these cruises. They are a simple way to meet literally dozens of your favorite political commentators at the same time and even spend several days and nights with them, discussing politics every waking hour of the day, even over breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Political Theme Cruises for 2012
We are already deep into the 2012 presidential election season, but not nearly as deep as we will get. This is the prime time for political pundits to be hitting the airwaves, so it's not surprising that they're not hitting the high seas. Yet, there are at least still five political-themed cruises scheduled to set sail before Election Day.
Unfortunately, one of the best and most popular year after year just started; the Weekly Standard Cruise sailing from New York to Bermuda (July 22). This cruise is a yearly event, this year featuring (as it does most years) the Weekly Standard's William Kristol, Fred Barnes, Stephen Hayes, Andrew Ferguson and Terry Eastland in addition to FoxNews' Britt Hume, Washington Examiner's Byron York and former Reagan Assistant Secretary of State Elliot Abrams. The Weekly Standard Cruise is a yearly event, and usually has more speakers onboard than we see this year due to the election, and by the way, this cruise was sold out months ago.
Incidentally, this is the cruise generally credited for the “discovery of Sarah Palin” in 2007 when the group sailed to Alaska and stopped at the state capital, Juneau. Palin reportedly met the group and invited them over to the Governor’s mansion for dinner. She reportedly charmed William Kristol to the point the he eventually recommended her to John McCain.
The following conservative cruise sets sail Aug. 8 on the beautiful Regent Seven Seas Navigator. The seven-night cruise from Vancouver to Anchorage, Alaska is called the “Young America’s Foundation Cruise,” though the speaker roster will appeal to any age including Ed Meese, former chief of staff for Ronald Reagan, author Brad Thor who penned the New York Times bestseller The Apostle, and many others.
On August 11 we have the Reason.org cruise on Holland America sailing on the Westerdam to Alaska featuring Reason editors-in-chief Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch, Thaddeus Russell, author of A Renegade History of the United States and Leda Cosmides and her husband John Tooby, specialists in the field of “evolutionary psychology.” A number of special guests will also be announced.
What about liberal cruises? Most years there are one or two -- the most popular being the annual The Nation Magazine cruise which in 2010 featured Judy Collins, or the Progressive Voices Cruise which recently featured Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Mike Farrell (from the TV hit M.A.S.H.), and Liz Winstead - one of the head writers from the Comedy Channel’s “The Daily Show.”
This year The Nation Cruise is sailing post-election, Dec. 9 for seven days in the Caribbean. It features popular commentators from the more liberal networks: Christopher Hayes and Katrina vanden Heuval, Nation Magazine Publisher Emeritus Victor Navasky, Code Pink co-founders Jodie Evans and Medea Benjamin, Online Beat correspondent John Nichols and political theorist Frances Fox Piven, author of Regulating the Poor and known for defining the “Cloward-Piven strategy” for public welfare.
The “All American” Political Cruise
For people who have a passion for politics but still prefer the view from sitting on the fence we have the Washington Week Voyage with Gwen Ifill; moderator and managing editor of "Washington Week" and senior correspondent for the "PBS NewsHour." This cruise sails on Sept. 27, less than six weeks away from election day.
This theme cruise takes place on the beautiful and newly renovated American Queen Steamboat rolling up the Mississippi River between St. Louis and St. Paul. Starting at $1995 per person this is one of the most reasonably priced political-theme cruises of the year.
The Biggest Party of Them All?
Feelin’ lucky? The National Review Post-Election Cruise sails just five days after the presidential election, and the roster is the biggest of the year. Presumably they will all be together to unwind after the non-stop political energy leading up that first Tuesday in November.
This cruise features 32 different guests including retired federal judge and U.S. Senator James L. Buckley (brother to William F. Buckley who chaired these National Review Cruises for many years), Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund, National Review columnist Jonah Goldberg, historian Bernard Lewis, Scott Rasmussen, Cal Thomas and author Michael Walsh – and many more.
It sails on Holland America from Ft. Lauderdale on Nov. 11. There are still staterooms available and the price is reasonable compared to some of these other cruises starting at just $1999 per person.
Booking these Cruises
The cruise company that logistically manages almost all of political cruises, liberal and conservative, is the independently owned and operated Atlanta-based cruise travel agency “Cruise Authority” which also runs a web site called Theme Cruise Finder.com with all kinds of specialty cruises listed.
The company got its start running political themed cruises almost 20 years ago. They manage to run both liberal and conservative cruises with equal aplomb year after year. What is their secret? Company president Howard Moses once told me that “Our onboard hosts are there to manage the logistics of the cruise, setting up meeting rooms, coordinating book signings, etc. No one on our team is allowed the drink alcohol onboard, or ever to discuss politics in public.”
Paul Motter is the editor of CruiseMates.com, an online cruise guide. Follow him on Twitter @cruisemates.