The bliss of a quilting cruise: Confessions of a Quiltaholic

The last time we chatted, I was off on a 10-day cruise with my husband and a contingency of approximately 174 quilters and their significant others. For those of you that don’t have a clue what a “quilting cruise’’ is, I thought I’d tell you!

The last time we chatted, I was off on a 10-day cruise with my husband and a contingency of approximately 174 quilters and their significant others. For those of you that don’t have a clue what a “quilting cruise’’ is, I thought I’d tell you!

“Bliss” may be a bit strong for a description, but it’s close. I hardly know where to start! Hum, why not start with: You don’t have to cook, clean toilets, answer the phone, tweet, drive the kids somewhere, go to work, or pick up dog poop for the duration of the cruise!

A “quilting” cruise is truly the best of two worlds! When you’re at sea, you quilt till you wilt, and when you pull into a port, you’re as free as a bird to take shore excursions. Are you with me so far?

So, here’s how it works – There are special tour groups that make arrangements for groups of quilters to go on cruises. The tour group I teach for, Quilt Camp at Sea hire famous quilting teachers to teach classes on-board, offer specialty lectures, and arrange conference space on-board for all activities. If you don’t have a significant other to travel with you or a quilting friend, most groups will arrange a room-mate for you. Worried about lugging your sewing machine on-board? Forget about it: Most tour groups make arrangements with a sewing machine vendor to furnish the “latest and greatest” sewing machines, and often host a quilt shop vendor to sell supplies. Faculty members furnish kits for each student in their workshop so you don’t need to lug fabrics or supplies on-board! If that isn’t enough incentive, if you cruise with Quilt Camp at Sea, you have the opportunity to bid on silent auction quilts, purchase tickets for raffles, and win some totally cool door prizes. The New England Cruise was sponsored by the Quilter Magazine, and proceeds from the raffle and the silent auction went towards breast cancer research. Imagine this - one lucky quilter won a 6600 Memory Craft Janome Sewing Machine - how cool is that!

I don’t know if I happened to mention this teeny tiny little fact – there is food available somewhere on the ship practically 24-7. As long as we are talking about food, I might as well confess, I succumbed to weakness and devoured at least one lobster roll at every port. When my pants got a bit snug, I decided to start walking. Never having traveled to Boston before, my husband and I signed up for the Boston Freedom Walking Trail tour. After scoffing down all those lobster rolls, my husband practically had to pull me along to keep up but I truly enjoyed the historical aspects of Boston.

As far as scenery goes, I was totally blown away by the spectacular beauty of the rugged Maine coastline. Imagine picturesque lighthouses nestled on rocky, tree-lined cliffs while tumultuous waves pound the craggy shoreline. I fell head over heals in love with the small-town atmosphere of Bar Harbor, its cozy quilt shop, as well as nearby Acadia National Park. If it didn’t snow a bazillion inches a year, I’d like to live there!

In addition to the quilting events there are a plethora of tempting on-board activities going on practically non-stop. There’s bingo, rock climbing, jogging, swimming, strolling the promenade deck, shopping at the specialty shops, libations, movies, dancing, trivia and other contests, karaoke, as well as fantastic performances each night by a variety of singers, dancers, and comedians.

Having taught on two Quilt Camp at Sea Cruises, with two more in my future, I can honestly say, my favorite part of the cruise was sharing time and experiences with the quilters and staff. What a total and utter blast! Not all quilting cruises are the same so make sure you research any quilting cruises in your future. If you think you can book your own cruise and join the quilting group once on-board, it doesn’t work that way. You need to sign-up before you go to enroll in classes, lectures, and special activities. Quilt Camp at Sea organizers, Len and Pat Tobin run a tight ship, and are organized to a fault. Nothing is left to chance and a great time is had by all. If you’d like to research a cruise with them in the future, go to www.quiltcampatsea.com. You’ll also find advertisements for quilting cruises in main-stream quilting magazines and on the web! Bon Voyage!


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