Publication Date

April 1, 2017

Set a course for adventure, historians! The AHA will be holding its 2018 annual meeting on a luxury liner, plying the blue waters of the Caribbean with all-historic ports of call, instead of in Washington, DC.

The 2018 AHA annual meeting has been moved to the Doktorvater, a German-engineered luxury cruise ship. Wikimedia Commons/CC By 2.0

The 2018 AHA annual meeting has been moved to the Doktorvater, a German-engineered luxury cruise ship. Wikimedia Commons/CC By 2.0

The Association’s membership has been unusually restive about next year’s meeting location. The nation’s capital has declined in desirability since the current administration took office, promising to “drain the swamp.” A focus group of potential attendees revealed apprehension about visiting a swamp prior to draining. When offered “wetlands” as an alternative, they still balked. The AHA then made an executive decision to move the meeting from the so-called swamp to the high seas.

On the German-engineered Doktorvater, historians will experience a degree of pampering unknown in the world of academic conferences. Research session attendees may take notes from their deck chairs, with discussion enlivened by unlimited complimentary adult beverages. Who needs ice water? Unlimited buffets will satiate even the hungriest graduate student and the fussiest professor. (Unfortunately, the Doktorvater does not offer to-go boxes.) Dress code on the Doktorvater is relaxed resort. Attendees are encouraged to step out of their blazers and sheath dresses in favor of Hawaiian shirts, flip flops, and shorts. Make sure to keep dark dress socks on, though, to maintain a semblance of respectability and ensure that non-historian vacationers will still be able to pick out the historians in the crowd.

Every night, the Doktorvater’s renowned five-star dinner theater will host a plenary, which will conclude before the ice sculptures of great historical personages melt. The staterooms are so plush that you may never want to leave—a good thing if the annual meeting makes you anxious!—but you won’t want to miss the receptions in the Doktorvater’s discotheque, the Terminal Degree. The shuffleboard courts will be resurfaced to show important dates, not mere numbers, and graduate students will be on hand to provide their advisers free lessons in rearranging the deck chairs. Also not to be missed are the receptions, mixing the limbo with academic excellence with a performance by the “dean of covers,” Reviewer 2. Sail away at the closing reception with the sonic stylings of What Weekend?

Historians concerned about the Doktorvater’s environmental footprint or the ethics of tourism in the Caribbean can attend sessions including “Floating Disasters: The History of Recycling on Cruise Ships,” “Jamaica: A Guilt-Free Guide to Paradise for Historians,” “Archaeologies of US Military Occupation in the Caribbean,” and “All the Fruit You Can Eat: A Brief History of Globalization.” Thanks to the Program Committee’s resident clairvoyant, we will also convene our first séance session, where we will attempt to contact C.L.R. James, Eric Williams, and Sidney Mintz. Bring your big stick to the business meeting, where we expect debate over whether the AHA should condemn the Platt Amendment.

As usual, tours will be available in the form of off-shore excursions. Historians who “really should be writing” can choose to visit local archives and libraries. (The AHA has reserved special research desks in dark, interior rooms to keep tropical temptations at bay). Our zip-lining and snorkeling tours are great networking opportunities and come with the added bonus of being able to zip or swim away when faced with awkward encounters. A beach plenary on work/life balance will be on offer, too; drinks will be served in coconuts with tiny umbrellas.

Contractually, the AHA must face penalties for canceling our hotel blocks at the last minute, which will total more than $1 million. This will be more than made up for by this year’s temporary increase in registration fees. Registration for members will go up from $197 to $997. Unemployed nonmembers can register for $407, but will have duties assigned on deck or in the kitchen. A full schedule of fees will be posted soon on

Questions? Contact April F. Day at the AHA. All aboard!

This post first appeared on AHA Today.

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