The ship is completely booked except for inside cabins.

(As of March 28, there are 22 of us in our group)



Group Activities:

18 Books will be presented by guests

Three workshops:

  • Reputation Banking
  • Decision Making
  • Game Design

May 15-22, 2011 on Holland America’s Veendam


  • The Ocean
  • Bermuda
  • Good Food
  • Good Company
  • Intelligent Conversation
  • and BOOKS?


  • Art Auctions
  • Bingo
  • Relentless Marketing


For the NORMAL COST of a cruise, you get:

Receive at least 10 brand new books.

Present and discuss these books with fellow cruisers

Dr. Ron Suarez will give two 90-minute presentations on: 1) Reputation Banking, and 2) Decision Making.

Jai Ji will give a short non-technical lecture on game design, followed by a hands-on workshop where we will design simple games for us to play while in Bermuda.



STEP 1: Be an interesting person.

STEP 2: Select a book about an interesting topic.

STEP 3. Write to me at brooke(at)brookeallen(dot)net and tell me about it.

STEP 4. Book the cruise for you and your guests.

STEP 5. Buy one copy of the book for yourself, and 10 copies of the book to share with others.

STEP 6. Prepare a 30 minute presentation on the book.



STEP 1. Drop the 10 copies of your book at my cabin.

STEP 2. Come to dinner where you will receive a bag with 10 randomly selected books from other cruisers.

STEP 3. Get to know your fellow cruisers, and trade books with them if you wish.

STEP 4. You will receive a schedule of everyone’s presentations for the two days at sea. Make sure to give your presentation and attend the presentations by other people that interest you.

STEP 5. Join us for two 90-minute presentations by Dr. Ron Suarez of Book discussions will take place only while the ship is at sea. These two presentations will happen immediately after breakfast during two days in port. These presentations are mandatory for Brooke’s employees, but optional for everyone else.



Step 1. Get up.

Step 2. Enjoy Bermuda.

Step 3. Return to the ship.

All presentations will be scheduled while at sea so as to not interfere with your enjoyment of Bermuda. Unlike all the larger ships, the Veendam will dock right downtown in St. George and Hamilton.

You can explore by foot, public transport, bicycle, or moped.



Sunday, May 15, 2011 New York, New York 04:45 PM
Monday, May 16, 2011 At Sea with PRESENTATIONS and BOOKS!
Tuesday, May 17, 2011 St. Georges, Bermuda 08:00 AM
Wednesday, May 18, 2011 St. Georges, Bermuda 02:00 PM
Wednesday, May 19, 2011 Hamilton, Bermuda 04:00 PM
Thursday, May 20, 2011 Hamilton, Bermuda
Friday, May 21, 2011 Hamilton, Bermuda 02:00 PM
Saturday, May 22, 2011 At sea with PRESENTATIONS and BOOKS!
Sunday, May 22, 2011 New York, New York 07:00 AM



By booking as part of our group, you will receive about $100 in discounts and on-board credits compared to the best prices you can find on the internet. (And, if you can do better with your own travel agent, book through them, and join us anyway).

As of March 2, 2010 we have booked category E outside cabins for $2,176 for 2 people sharing the cabin, and $2,414 for 4 people sharing a cabin. These are per cabin prices, and they include all taxes and port fees. (Note: 4 people can sail for $604 per person!). Inside cabins cost a few hundred dollars less, and you can pay a lot more if you want a suite with a balcony.

When you write to me, I will introduce you to the travel agent who is booking our group.



home: 973-509-1830 work: 201-369-3005

or write to me: Brooke Allen – brooke (at)


F. A. Q.

How many people are going? As of December 17, 2010 we have 22 people going of whom 2 are children and 20 will join in the presentations and discussions. We are limiting the group a maximum of 28.

What books will other people be presenting? I’m not telling – that is part of the fun. I’ll tell you if you want to present something someone else has already selected. See below for examples of books our group has discussed in the past.

What does the cruise price cover and what is extra. The fee to the travel agent includes the cruise, taxes, and port fees. Tips, bar tab, and certain upgraded meals are extra. Cruises cover so much, you can get away with spending only $100-$200 more per person for the entire week. Or, if you have drinking and gambling problems, it can be very expensive. The ship is small enough to dock right downtown, which makes it convenient to return to the ship for meals. There is good inexpensive public transportation, or you might want to rent mopeds.

How about other questions about the ship, terms and conditions, things to do in Bermuda, etc.? You can read about the ship here, and you can find info about the cruise line and their small print on the Holland America website. You can start learning about Bermuda at their tourism site, Bermuda Guide, and Bermuda 4U.

Why did you pick those dates? The weather in Bermuda is very nice in May with temperatures ranging between 75 in the day and 68 at night. (See: May Weather) The water temperature will be around 75 degrees, and visibility will be 100-150 feet. Bring a snorkel.

Many colleges are out by May 15, but the cruise fares are still low; they start to skyrocket in June after grade school lets out.

But I have kids in school! Take them out of school and take them with you. We took our kids with us on a vacation to the Virgin Islands and it was both fun and educational. I had them learn about our airplanes, they interviewed people they met, they studied the history of the islands, and we visited historic sites and nature parks. They wrote up what they learned and presented it to their teachers. When we asked, the school principal said it was perfectly OK to take your kids out of school for a week or two for a vacation, and they would strongly encourage everyone to plan educational vacations with children. Because their alternative was to stay at home with a babysitter, and keep trudging off to school, our kids were very eager to cooperate with our “home school” plans.

Bermuda is rich with history, and the ship is crewed by people from all over the world who will be happy to talk to your kids about life in their home countries and the operation of the ship.

And you’re going to have them read and present a book, right?

Tell me more about the two 90-minute presentation?

See the presenter’s profile and presentation descriptions below.

How did this get started?

In 2002, Brooke took his group from work on a cruise to Halifax, N. S. over the Labor Day weekend. The following year he decided to do it again, but this time he invited a guest speaker, and a number of his friends. In 2004 they spent an entire week on a cruise ship in from New York to the Bahamas and back. They had a guest speaker, and this time everyone who went had to make presentations to the group.

In 2009 the group began a lunch-time book club. Each week, one member of the group presents a book to everyone else, and they invite their interested friends. For 2011 they have decided to combine the book club and the cruise and invite their friends.

What kind of book do you want me to present?

We are looking for informative and easy-to-read non-fiction books and biographies that have lessons we can apply in our work or personal lives. See the list below for examples.

What books have you done in the past?

Please do not pick one of these books, unless you are the author. (If you wrote one of these books, we DEFINITELY want you to join us, and discuss it.)


Here Comes Everybody – Clay Shirky

SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance – Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine – Michael Lewis

Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss what Matters Most – Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, Sheila Heen, Roger Fisher

On Intelligence – Jeff Hawkins

Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy, and Why It Matters for Global Capitalism – George A. Akerlof, Robert J. Shiller

The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives – Leonard Mlodinow


A Random Walk Down Wall Street: The Time-Tested Strategy for Successful Investing – Burton G. Malkiel

Passions Within Reasons – Robert H. Frank

The Post-American World – Fareed Zakaria

Shop Class as Soulcraft – Matthew Crawford

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains – Nicholas Carr

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity – David Allen

Economics without Illusions: Debunking the Myths of Modern Capitalism – Joseph Heath

DIY U – Anya Kamenetz

The Happiness Advantage – Shawn Achor

Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone – Mark Goulston, Keith Ferrazzi

The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom – Jonathan Haidt


Success Built to Last: Creating a Life that Matters – Jerry Porras, Stewart Emery, Mark Thompson

Ethics {for the real world}: Creating a Personal Code to Guide Decisions in Work and Life – Ronald A. Howard, Clinton D. Korver

Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America – Paul Tough

The Art of Strategy: A Game Theorist’s Guide to Success in Business and Life – Avinash K. Dixit

Smart Negotiating: How to Make Good Deals in the Real World – James C. Freund

Slapped by the Invisible Hand: The Panic of 2007 – Gary B. Gorton

The Laws of Lifetime Growth – Dan Sullivan, Catherine Nomura

Why We Make Mistakes – Joseph T. Hallinan

Irrationality – Stuart Sutherland

Management of the Absurd – Richard Farson

Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age – Clay Shirky

On Writing Well – William Zinsser

Accounting for Non Accountants – William Label

BSAT Official Study Guide – John Foster

The Affluent Society – John Kenneth Galbraith

Since Yesterday: The 1930’s in America – Fredrick L. Allen



(Mandatory for employees of Brooke, optional for guests.)

Dr. Ron Suarez

Dr. Ron (@drron on Twitter) is a former psychology professor turned serial software and Internet entrepreneur with four start-ups over 25 years. In addition to having worn every hat on the business side, he has done every aspect of web design and development. His PhD in cognitive psychology from the University of Michigan formed the basis for decades of work in Object Oriented modeling, Design Patterns, User Experience (UX) and Information Architecture.



(90 Minutes)

Do your friends and business associates think you have a trustworthy reputation? How is your reputation communicated to a new person? Once upon a time it was enough for certain people to say “You have my word,” and you could believe they would follow through. “Bad players” in our social systems have been able to hide their true reputation with various tools, from money to control mass media to secrecy sometimes enforced through legal gag orders. Now, however, we are living in post Wiki-Leaks world, where you can’t hide things and tools like Twitter and FaceBook can even help to bring down a government, as in Tunisia. With unlimited information becoming available to assess reputation, new business models can mitigate risk and reduce friction in transactions. Thus, we see the emergence of game changing web based tools from monetary systems relying on trust like EBay to non-monetary forms of cooperation like Couch Surfing. This presentation will highlight emerging business trends that are leveraging reputation systems and offer guidelines to see how others are assessing your reputation.


Metrics, Decision Making and the Measure of the (Wo)Man

(90 minutes)

Your decisions create your reputation. You can both measure people’s responses to your decisions and you can base your decisions on measuring various data. Unfortunately, rather than using data, many decisions in an organization are based on the HiPPO (highest paid person’s opinion). Our data sources can vary from attitudinal (what people say) to behavioral (what people do). Our methods of gathering data can vary from qualitative (where information might be gathered in person), directly by an investigator, to quantitative, (where information might be gathered indirectly), through an instrument such as a web server log.

How can we measure of you or your organization’s reputation. The context of different communities with varying subjective reference points can result in the same action being judged “good” or “bad.” External variables may have interactive effects on the variable being measured. For example. it is a faulty assumption that an increase in page visits is always a good sign for a web site. The BP web site had a huge increase in page visits after the oil spill in the gulf. This presentation will describe best practices for how to improve your reputation based on making better decisions through the use of metrics.



Jia Ji is serial social entrepreneur and the CEO of Couchange, a social finance company that builds online donation platforms for nonprofits. He is also a game designer.


He will teach a beginner’s game design workshop using Jesse’s Art of Game Design book. Here is his proposed format:

1. Non-technical lecture focusing on the practical aspects of game design (conceptualization, quick prototyping, playtesting, balancing, etc) in an interactive format lasting around 30-60 minutes

2. Hands-on small-teams workshop where people design their own games to be played during the cruise ranging from card games to board games to physical sports.

3. Periodic play sessions during the cruise for people to playtest and practice their games, will also encourage people to play their own games during “downtime” and generally be more playful in their interactions




Mark Twain said, “You can go to heaven if you want. I’d rather stay in Bermuda.” Join us and you will know what he was talking about.

This British overseas territory is 640 miles east of North Carolina and is the subtropical home to 68,000 people living on 181 islands totaling 20.6 square miles (slightly smaller than Manhattan).  Bermudians enjoy the third highest per capita income in the world; 50% higher than the USA. In Bermuda you won’t feel sorry for the natives; instead you’ll feel envious.

Unlike the large cruise ships that dock at King’s Warf on the farthest tip of the island, the Veendam will dock right downtown in Hamilton and St. George.


Hamilton Bermuda as seen from a cruise ship. (Click on image for more info.)
Hamilton in 2007 (click on image for large panaoramic view)
Hamilton in 1911 from the same vantage (click on image for large panaoramic view)
St. George from a cruise ship.
Bermuda beach map
Elbow Beach
Horseshoe Bay
Port Royal Bay (at western end of Horseshoe Bay)
Bermuda Aquarium and Zoo
Dolphin show in Bermuda
Crystal Caves

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