It’s been a bit more than a year, to be completely honest. But after having finished Nomad Cruise III, we finally had the time to sit, look back, and be a little bit proud – of what Nomad Cruise developed into and of what our community has contributed to it.
So for everybody who doesn’t know our backstory, here’s a quick rundown: Johannes stumbled across this offer on Holiday Pirates. And as most of you know, he’s not a man of big words, so went with a rather modest headline when posting it to the Web|Work|Travel-community on Facebook – “Let’s go!”.
If you ask him today, he will tell you that it was a decision made within five minutes. But as crazy as it may have seemed at the time, it brought over a hundred people on the first cruise and planted the seed for a company that is called Nomad Cruise today and has successfully executed three cruises by now.
A crazy idea became a beautiful reality
On the first cruise, we conquered the 360°-Bar and organized workshops on a daily basis. Everybody contributed and shared and enjoyed the incredible setting in the middle of the ocean. The atmosphere amongst the participants and the excitement of this new thing we were doing made everybody forget that they were on a digital detox. Nobody minded. Maybe also, because there was the opportunity to dial into the internet for a few minutes a day and get the most important tasks done.
The upside of this was: People could get work done on the boat. The downside was: People expected to be able to get work done on future cruises as well. Word spread that Nomad Cruise was a workation and that everybody could get all their work done while sailing the Atlantic.
Small failures – quick growth
We were happy to fill up the second boat, which would take us back to Europe in May 2016, fast. The conference took place in the Conference Room, people bonded quickly, the atmosphere was lovely. We could provide outside suites with balconies and other comforts. We offered advantages like the Waves Club, a private workspace that came with unlimited internet access. While it was a beautiful trip and we loved our group, we couldn’t anticipate two problems that grew out of these changes.
1. The Waves Club divided the group into two subgroups. Roughly 30 community members firmly focussed on their work and spent most of their time in the Waves Club zone, while the other 120 Nomad Cruise participants bonded during the general program.
2. Having unlimited wifi-plans for 150 digital nomads AND 1500 general passengers lead to a complete breakdown of the internet infrastructure on board.
Redefining our identity
For us as a company, it meant that we needed to act, but as we’re are dependent on many factors, we needed to see what was possible first. When we dealt with the aftermath of Nomad Cruise II and started drafting Nomad Cruise III, we reconsidered all the feedback we had gotten in the past and based our future direction and decisions on that.
- We reconsidered our branding. Instead of defining Nomad Cruise as a workation, we decided that ‘Networkation’ would be a much better fit. We agreed that focusing on the networking and community aspect had been our core strength since the beginning of Nomad Cruise.
- Nomad Cruise cannot improve the quality of internet infrastructure. What we can do is change our passenger’s expectations. The first cruise went well under the motto of a ‘digital detox.’ And so we chose this approach for communicating the internet situation again: ‘Expect nothing and appreciate everything.’ And that made all the difference. By using the internet in small doses, it stayed relatively stable; whenever it fluctuated, people were happy to switch off and focus on the conference.
But those weren’t the only improvements we could make. As a crowd-oriented business, we realized that we could only become better if we listen to our community. Based on your suggestions, we have done more changes on this cruise, and they have been taken on by the cruisers very well. Here are some:
- We changed our venue. Instead of hosting the program in the dark hold of the ship, we moved it to the disco, where we can enjoy some daylight during the program. We established the disco as a meeting point where everybody could meet other people, find information and hang out, even if they didn’t have a program item going on. It strengthened the community feel of Nomad Cruise and made it easy to find each other regularly.
Another important improvement that came with the disco was that we could make better use of time and space. It’s become a community meeting point, but also, we can host several small events (like workshops) at the same time.
- Another aspect you guys suggested was finding a way to let you guys communicate on board. For that purpose, we established communication walls. We put up boards, on which the participants could communicate their meet-ups and masterminds. Also, there is a skillshare wall for everybody to look for talents and offer their services as well. Of course, it’s all a process, and we are constantly rethinking our way of dealing with these tools.
- After NCII, we often heard that our participants would have wished to have more time to organize their own events. And why the hell not? As a crowd-oriented company, our project is dependent on what our customers contribute. With our curated program, we seek to guarantee a certain diversity, structure, and quality. But by leaving enough time and space for impromptu events and meet-ups, we can unleash an incredible additional potential.
We’re euphoric about the direction our Nomad Cruise has taken. Your feedback and your suggestions have allowed us to provide you with better service, and we are proud of the growth and development we experienced over the last months. We are constantly reconsidering our actions, and we love all the input you gave us. Together with our out of this world supportive, appreciative and productive community, we can’t wait to explore even more new horizons in the next years, and we want to use this opportunity for a loud and clear THANK YOU!