We’re just days away from Christmas, and I count myself richly blessed.  I do training.  I get opportunities with some of the most amazing clients on earth.  And because I work for myself, I get to pick some pretty fine assignments.

And in October, I’ll be sitting on a cruise ship in Baltimore harbor, sipping a scotch, and enjoying the sense that the next five days will include pink sand beaches, the world’s smallest drawbridge, a glass-bottom boat, and a little dash of military history.  It will also include training.  For the fourth time in the past decade, I’ll be with a small, but fortunate group of participants whose employers realize that there’s no reason to be Scrooge over the nature of where training will be conducted, as long as it’s legitimate, quality training.

It’s a Christmas present I’m giving to myself.  It packages all the best things in life.  I get to spend a week with my wife.  I get to spend a week at sea and on Bermuda.  I get to be a premiere trainer in a premiere environment.

The only disappointment in all of this?  The room I’m teaching in (on the Quantum of the Seas) should be packed.  Not a single empty seat.  But I fear it won’t be.  In fact, even though the 14-PDU training is under $1400 (including the cruise, the food, Bermuda AND the training) we’ll be working hard to muster the required ten participants.  PMI® SeminarsWorld packs the room in Indianapolis with 30 eager trainees for $1900 each, not including the hotel and transportation.  And yet for a cruise vacation/training, we work diligently to sign up a dozen.

Why?  Optics.

It looks bad.  That’s right.  It looks bad for training participants to select a travel destination that’s cheaper, more attractive, more fun and more rewarding.  Three cruises gone by, and each time, the folks who can’t come argue that “optics” and appearances are keeping them home.  I’ll be doing similar training at a higher price tag in upstate New York in 2018.  There will be over 100 in attendance.  I have gigs with PMI® in Scottsdale and Las Vegas that will muster the requisite 15 to hold the workshop.  But lower the price and plunk the training down on a cruise ship, and somehow, it’s wrong.

It’s not wrong.

Why not?  Value.

Organizations should close their eyes on the appearances of cruise ship training and begin to open their eyes to what real opportunity looks like.  For those of you who have never been on a cruise ship, here are a few things that people don’t often realize.

  • There’s an almost endless array of entertainment (including my favorite, doing nothing)
  • There’s an almost endless array of food (included in the tab)
  • There’s a therapeutic effect to finishing a day of work, and finding your way to a lounge chair and a nap
  • You can take advantage of everything on board, or hide out in your cabin and eat room service (included in the tab)
  • There are about 20 different ways to avoid seasickness without taking pills (my favorites are the wrist bands, which I wear religiously)
  • The training tends to be more interactive, as people don’t seem to be quite as proprietary with their insights when they’re sailing to an island with pink sand beaches.

And it’s fun.  You get beyond the training when you sit down to dinner with some of your professional peers.  You get to pick their brains (and find out that your boss’ idea of normal is apparently more normal than you thought it was).  You get to build your network.  You get to…heaven forbid…have fun.

Or not.

But those of us who attend will have fun.  We’ll have given ourselves a wonderful present.  Optics be damned.  We’ll treasure each other’s company and relish the chance to share stories of glass-bottom boats and lighthouses.  And we’ll even learn some new best practices on risk, ethics and meeting magic!

During the holiday season, gratitude counts.  And I am insanely grateful for every student, in every class and every business encounter I’ve had over the past 20 years.  It’s amazing.  I’ll be grateful for everything that comes my way in 2018.  I would hope you’d be part of that everything.  And if you opt for an Indianapolis or Cleveland kind of event for your training next year, I understand completely.  But know that you’ll be missed.

Hope your Christmas is Merry, your Hanukkah is filled with wonder, and your Kwanzaa is blessed.

And I hope to see you in 2018…here in the States…or maybe….


Carl Pritchard, PMP, PMI-RMP sets sail October 6 from Baltimore, Maryland training Risk, Risk Ethics and Meeting Magic aboard Royal Caribbean.  He welcomes your comments, questions and insights at carl@carlpritchard.com.