Here's what I don't like about typical teacher conferences:
- Having to make decisions: Especially on which talk I want to go to.
CSTA almost solves the problem by putting everything in one hotel, but they do it in two days so they have something like 5 concurrent sessions.
The ultimate conference was on that I went to in 2008. I think there were some times when there were two sessions at once and it wasn't hard to decide which one to go to. The best thing was that there were few distractions. When we were in port there were no sessions (hint, stay on the boat, as few people do, and the ship's staff isn't busy).
The other thing about being on a boat is that it forces the participants to socialize which is really good with tech people. We don't typically socialize.
So when the conference is on a boat, you get on a boat and the people who are world's best at housing and feeding mass numbers of people do it. And having it for 5 days with only the boats activities to do, makes you a captive audience. Best yet, pick a boat that doesn't have a super lot of distractions, so that you can focus on the conference – something I've not sure they did with the new boat.
But one of the great things about the cruise conference I went to before, is that the organizers set things up from the first day so that people felt comfortable with socializing. All of us were encouraged to sit down with conference attendees and just talk – I got to have dinner one evening with one of the guys who wrote the book, and did the talk earlier in the day and ask him in more questions – and he didn't seem to mind a bit. I've never gotten to do that before or since.