What is GeneaSpy?

GeneaSpy is an avid genealogist who attends national, regional, and local genealogical conferences, to learn about genealogy.

Friday, September 20, 2019

2019 Genealogy Cruise


 I attended this, my first big-ship cruise, in August. Even though I grew up in San Diego and have been around boats my whole life, I have never been on a cruise ship. There has been an explosion of themed cruises in the last couple of decades, and Genealogy has gotten on-board.

 Genealogist Gena Philibert-Ortega put this cruise together along with cruise ship planer and genealogist Terri O’Connell. The major sponsor for the cruise was MyHeritage. I have known Gena and Terri for many years and was looking forward to this cruise with them. Gena put together an impressive list of instructors that drew me to join this cruise.

·        GenaPhilibert-Ortega - Author, researcher, blogger, genealogist.
·        TamiOsmer Mize – Technologist, blogger, genealogist.
·        DanielHorowitz – Chief Genealogist with MyHeritage.
·        DavidAllen Lambert – Chief Genealogist with New England Historic Genealogical Society.

MS Zaandam

 This cruise started in Montreal onboard Holland America’s MS Zaandam and ended in Boston, which was perfect because I planned a side trip after the cruise up to Concord and Salem to visit some of author Nathaniel Hawthorne’s important sites, as he is (but not proven) a distant cousin to me.

 This part of Canada and the United States I have not visited before and was anxious to do so.

Map of ship itinerary:

Cruise Map

DAY  DATE           PORT  
1        Sat, 8/10/19   Montreal  
1        Sat, 8/10/19   St. Lawrence River      
2        Sun, 8/11/19  Quebec City       
3        Mon, 8/12/19 Gulf of St. Lawrence    
4        Tue, 8/13/19  Charlottetown    
5        Wed, 8/14/19 Sydney    
6        Thu, 8/15/19  Halifax    
7        Fri, 8/16/19   Bar Harbor
8        Sat, 8/17/19   Boston     

Number of Nights 7

 Each night on the ship we would meet at 8:30 PM for a class with Monday having all-day classes because we were at sea. Here is the line-up of classes:

 August 10: We Set Sail!
Hudson Room
8:30pm - 9:00pm Welcome
9:00pm - 9:30pm Tami Mize: Your Ultimate Digital Genealogy Research Log – Track
& Organize All Your Research Data, Citations, and Images (And It’s Free!)

August 11: Quebec
Hudson Room
8:30pm - 9:30pm Daniel Horowitz: Discovering Your Family History with MyHeritage Unique Techniques

August 12: At Sea Day - St. Lawrence River
Hudson Room
9:00am - 10:00am David Lambert: Canadian Census
10:00am - 10:30am Break
10:30am - 11:30am David Lambert: US and Canadian World War I Records
11:30am - 1:00pm Lunch (on your own)
1:00pm - 2:00pm Daniel Horowitz: Planting a Family Tree Online in MyHeritage
2:00pm - 2:30pm Break
2:30pm - 3:30pm Daniel Horowitz: Meet Your Match- Smart Matches and Record Matches
3:30pm - 4:00pm Break
4:00pm - 5:00pm Daniel Horowitz: Find Relatives in One Click with MyHeritage Genealogy SuperSearch Engine
King’s Room
11:30am - 1:00pm Genealogy Hangout
1:00pm - 2:00pm David Lambert: New England Probate and Deeds
2:00pm - 2:15pm Break
2:15pm - 3:00pm Gena Philibert-Ortega: The History of US Directories and Where to Find Them
Hudson Room
8:30pm - 9:30pm Tami Mize: I Know I Have That Picture Somewhere…”Organizing Your Digital and Print Photographs Once and For All”

August 13: Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Hudson Room
8:30pm - 9:30pm David Lambert: Nova Scotia Records

August 14: Sydney, Nova Scotia
Hudson Room
8:30pm - 9:30pm Tami Mize: Setting Up Your Optimal Internet Genealogy Workspace: Creating an Online Home Page Command Central for All Your Online Research and More & From Browser to Wowser! Supercharge Your Online Research with the Best Browser Tools and Extensions for Genealogy 2019

August 15: Halifax, Nova Scotia
10:00am - 12:00pm Pier 21 Immigration Museum - Presentations and Tour
Hudson Room
8:30pm - 9:30pm Daniel Horowitz: Integrating DNA and Family History at MyHeritage.com

August 16: Bar Harbor, Maine
8:30pm - 9:30pm Genealogy Hangout

August 17: Arrive in Boston

August 20: Boston
9:00am - 1:00pm New England Historic Genealogical Society

 The room we had our classes in was perfect! Very intimate with comfortable chairs and tables. We had 36 genealogists registered and eager to learn. The class times were structured so as not to interfere with shore excursions, meal times, and other ship activities. At our “get to know each other” party the night we boarded, Gena handed out a tote bag full of goodies which included the 200+ page syllabus!

  I met several new friends on this trip and got to know others a lot better. My experience overall was more than I had originally expected. I was so impressed that I am now looking forward to booking my next genealogy cruise ship adventure. Kudos to Terri O’Connell for answering all my pre-trip newbie questions and putting up with me. I could ask her anything via e-mail, text, or even Facebook messenger and I would get a prompt reply.

 Gena is a tremendously gracious host and always has a smile on her face. She even has two more cruises lined up for Alaska in 2020 and Cabo San Lucas in 2021. I am already booked for the Cabo trip and can’t wait!

For more information:

Gena Philibert-Ortega: Gena's Genealogy (website)

O'Connell Travel:  https://www.oconnelltravel.com/ (website)
                               https://www.facebook.com/CruisePlannersOConnell/ (Facebook)

Now for some pics!

Pre-cruise dinner with Becca and Terri O'Connell

Fairmont Le Reine Elizabeth, Montreal, where John & Yoko Lennon had their bed-in 50 years ago.

Joanna, Gena, and Dave at the cruise ship terminal, Montreal.

Becca and Terri excited to board!

My suite with veranda.


A whole lobster for just $25!

We had 5 tables for our dinner every night!

Leaving Montreal

 Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

Old Quebec City, Canada

Daniel Horowitz giving his presentation.

Daniel Horowitz of MyHeritage

Sunrise in the North Atlantic

The ship had a library too!

A lot of breakfast choices!

David Allen Lambert

The King's Room, where we had some of our classes.

Being welcomed by the ship's Captain.

My TV in my room always let me know where I was.

Our ship had a musical theme. These guitars were signed by Queen, The Rolling Stones, and more.

Sydney, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scortia

Getting off the ship and boarding our tour bus was a breeze.

Old Celtic House

Highland Village Museum, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

Bras d’Or Lakes, Cape Breton Osland, Nova Scotia

Alexander Graham Bell Museum

Canadian Museum of Immigration Pier 21, Halifax, Nova Scotia
We had some great presentations about immigration.

A couple of ladies from our group researching.

Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Acadia National Park, Maine

Acadia National Park, Maine.

Lunch in Bar Harbor, Maine.

Lido Deck. Who's in the jacuzzi?

Our wonderful instructors

Our group!

Last breakfast together on the ship.

NEHGS! Finally, after all these years!

Finally met my Facebook friend Melanie McComb, who works for NEHGS.

Heather Goebel and her husband researching at NEHGS

My buddy David Allen Lambert at his day job.

Dr. Henry Louis Gates

David McCullough

Louisa May Alcott

Nathaniel Hawthorne 

Henry David Thoreau

Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Old Manse

The Custom House, Salem.

Rebecca Nurse, hanged  in 1692

Salem Witch Memorial

Capt. William Hathorne, great uncle of author Nathaniel Hawthorne. 

Salem Witch Judge, Col. John Hathorne.

Touristy Witch store in Salem.

Pirate Museum (I didn't go in.... LOL)

Nathaniel Hawthorne statue, Salem.

Lori Lyn Price met us in Salem to spend the day with us!

Our Salem walking tour with a professional guide

The House of Seven Gables

Lori, Me, and Gena

House of Seven Gables

Leaving Boston

San Diego - Home!

What a wonderful experience! I'll be back!


  1. Paul, I enjoyed reading about this wonderful genealogy cruise! It sounds like a lot of fun, as you are also learning from some of the leading experts in genealogy. If "extra" money ever become available, I will have to look into this!

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