Cruising With the National Review

Earlier this month, my wife and I went on the National Review's  2006 Post Election cruise.  We weren't on the cruise for the sunny and scenic destinations; we were on it for the conservative camaraderie and bonhomie for which National Review cruises are well known. The NR cruises offer an unparalleled opportunity for ordinary folks like us to meet and mingle with leading conservative academics, commentators, and politicians. 

The 7-day cruise was on Holland America Line's Oosterdam, and went from San Diego, California, to various ports of call in the Mexican Riviera.  Like the majority of NR cruisers, we have been on more than one.  This was our third. We also plan to go on the National Review's cruise to Alaska next summer.  (For details, see here
.)

This latest cruise featured Robert Bork, Bernard Lewis, Kenneth Starr, Norman Podhoretz, Dinesh D'Souza, Mark Steyn, Ward Connerly, Pat Toomey, and the National Review's own Bill Buckley, John O'Sullivan, Rich Lowry, Jay Nordlinger, and Kate O'Beirne, among many others.  The "speakers" as they are referred to were unfailingly friendly and willing to put up with the most persistent questioning by the cruisers, many of whom, not surprisingly, have rather strong opinions on the issues of the day.    

The centerpiece of the cruises are panel discussions at which the speakers offer their learning and insights on various topics.  This past cruise included panel discussions on the 2006 election results, the meaning of conservativism, the war on terror, the 2008 presidential race, the media and popular culture, and others.

I found the conservatism panel to be the most interesting, as Robert Bork, Ken Starr, Dinesh D'Souza, and Ward Connerly, among the other panelists, gave different but equally impressive (and ultimately compatible) answers to the question presented.  For Bork, conservatism fundamentally is about perceiving the world as it really is and not how we would like it to be.  Starr very eloquently described conservatism as a political philosophy derived from the principles found in the Declaration of Independence.  D'Souza agreed that conservatism at bottom is about preserving the vision of the Founding Fathers, but offered the more specific argument that contemporary conservatives seek to roll back the economic revolution of the 1930s and the social revolution of the 1960s (whereas liberals support both revolutions, and libertarians support the latter but not the former).  Connerly -- whose anti-affirmative action ballot initiative won in Michigan -- emphasized the vital importance of treating all citizens as individuals, to be judged solely on the basis of their own character and ability.  Overall, the panel was brilliant and the intellectual highlight of the cruise.

There were more than 400 guests on the Post Election cruise, mostly "older" folks (60+), but with a good number of people in their 30s, 40s, and 50s.  Mostly professionals, entrepreuners, and businesspeople (and their families), who are very informed and passionate about politics.  Like the Republican Party, the cruisers cover a fairly wide ideological spectrum, from "paleo-conservatives" to libertarians.  There was even a liberal or two! 

A "straw poll" taken during the panel discussion on the 2008 election showed that a plurality of the cruisers supported Mitt Romney for president, with Rudy Giuliani and John McCain running a strong second and third.  Interestingly, I did not sense much doom and gloom over the results of the 2006 midterm election.  I think most cruisers agreed that the election represented a defeat for the current Republican Party leadership and not for conservatism itself. 

Perhaps the best aspect of the NR cruises, certainly for people like my wife and me who live in very "blue" cities and states, is the ability to be candid about our political beliefs and share them with others in an atmosphere of mutual respect, even when we might disagree about particular policies, e.g., on the war on terror or immigration.  It is refreshing, to say the least, to be around hundreds of other folks who basically are like-minded and do not think you are evil for believing in the importance of limited government, free enterprise, and personal responsibility. 

But lest I leave the impression that the NR cruises are stuffy floating policy conferences, I must admit that most of the time is spent socializing with fellow guests and speakers at dinner (with rotating seating assignments), cocktail parties, late night "smokers" (at which cognac and cigars are served -- but no top hats, unfortunately), and impromptu karaoke sessions where John O'Sullivan's charming wife, Melissa, and the incomparable Mark Steyn sing the daylights out of classic tunes.  Not to mention all the standard activities available on cruises (live shows, movies, gymnasium, pool, spa, and so on). 

My wife and I always have a wonderful time on the NR cruises, and we have made many dear friends among our fellow cruisers.  I would urge anyone of like mind to consider an NR cruise for their next vacation.

Contact Steven M. Warshawsky 
Earlier this month, my wife and I went on the National Review's  2006 Post Election cruise.  We weren't on the cruise for the sunny and scenic destinations; we were on it for the conservative camaraderie and bonhomie for which National Review cruises are well known. The NR cruises offer an unparalleled opportunity for ordinary folks like us to meet and mingle with leading conservative academics, commentators, and politicians. 

The 7-day cruise was on Holland America Line's Oosterdam, and went from San Diego, California, to various ports of call in the Mexican Riviera.  Like the majority of NR cruisers, we have been on more than one.  This was our third. We also plan to go on the National Review's cruise to Alaska next summer.  (For details, see here
.)

This latest cruise featured Robert Bork, Bernard Lewis, Kenneth Starr, Norman Podhoretz, Dinesh D'Souza, Mark Steyn, Ward Connerly, Pat Toomey, and the National Review's own Bill Buckley, John O'Sullivan, Rich Lowry, Jay Nordlinger, and Kate O'Beirne, among many others.  The "speakers" as they are referred to were unfailingly friendly and willing to put up with the most persistent questioning by the cruisers, many of whom, not surprisingly, have rather strong opinions on the issues of the day.    

The centerpiece of the cruises are panel discussions at which the speakers offer their learning and insights on various topics.  This past cruise included panel discussions on the 2006 election results, the meaning of conservativism, the war on terror, the 2008 presidential race, the media and popular culture, and others.

I found the conservatism panel to be the most interesting, as Robert Bork, Ken Starr, Dinesh D'Souza, and Ward Connerly, among the other panelists, gave different but equally impressive (and ultimately compatible) answers to the question presented.  For Bork, conservatism fundamentally is about perceiving the world as it really is and not how we would like it to be.  Starr very eloquently described conservatism as a political philosophy derived from the principles found in the Declaration of Independence.  D'Souza agreed that conservatism at bottom is about preserving the vision of the Founding Fathers, but offered the more specific argument that contemporary conservatives seek to roll back the economic revolution of the 1930s and the social revolution of the 1960s (whereas liberals support both revolutions, and libertarians support the latter but not the former).  Connerly -- whose anti-affirmative action ballot initiative won in Michigan -- emphasized the vital importance of treating all citizens as individuals, to be judged solely on the basis of their own character and ability.  Overall, the panel was brilliant and the intellectual highlight of the cruise.

There were more than 400 guests on the Post Election cruise, mostly "older" folks (60+), but with a good number of people in their 30s, 40s, and 50s.  Mostly professionals, entrepreuners, and businesspeople (and their families), who are very informed and passionate about politics.  Like the Republican Party, the cruisers cover a fairly wide ideological spectrum, from "paleo-conservatives" to libertarians.  There was even a liberal or two! 

A "straw poll" taken during the panel discussion on the 2008 election showed that a plurality of the cruisers supported Mitt Romney for president, with Rudy Giuliani and John McCain running a strong second and third.  Interestingly, I did not sense much doom and gloom over the results of the 2006 midterm election.  I think most cruisers agreed that the election represented a defeat for the current Republican Party leadership and not for conservatism itself. 

Perhaps the best aspect of the NR cruises, certainly for people like my wife and me who live in very "blue" cities and states, is the ability to be candid about our political beliefs and share them with others in an atmosphere of mutual respect, even when we might disagree about particular policies, e.g., on the war on terror or immigration.  It is refreshing, to say the least, to be around hundreds of other folks who basically are like-minded and do not think you are evil for believing in the importance of limited government, free enterprise, and personal responsibility. 

But lest I leave the impression that the NR cruises are stuffy floating policy conferences, I must admit that most of the time is spent socializing with fellow guests and speakers at dinner (with rotating seating assignments), cocktail parties, late night "smokers" (at which cognac and cigars are served -- but no top hats, unfortunately), and impromptu karaoke sessions where John O'Sullivan's charming wife, Melissa, and the incomparable Mark Steyn sing the daylights out of classic tunes.  Not to mention all the standard activities available on cruises (live shows, movies, gymnasium, pool, spa, and so on). 

My wife and I always have a wonderful time on the NR cruises, and we have made many dear friends among our fellow cruisers.  I would urge anyone of like mind to consider an NR cruise for their next vacation.

Contact Steven M. Warshawsky