How does the prospect of sailing the Norwegian fjords on a luxury cruise ship sound to you? Imagine having a dream vacation like this sponsored free of charge, and spending it with about 200 other woodturning enthusiasts, including more than a dozen world-renowned turning experts.
No need to pinch yourself. If this seems too good to be true, it's not. Actually, all it could take to make the dream a reality for you and a guest is to sign up for Nova's 2014 Woodturning Cruise of a Lifetime contest, which runs now through midnight on May 31, 2014.
"Our Woodturning Cruise is the only one I'm aware of with a woodworking theme," says Anthea McQuoid, marketing manager of New Zealand-based Nova Teknatool's International Group.
The inspiration for a turning cruise got its start back in 1998, Anthea says, when one of Nova's distributors and partners in the Norwegian market wanted to bring products even closer to customers in a unique way. Arrangements were made for the first cruise, "and they've been happening every three or four years since to great success."
Two years ago, Nova, which makes a full line of wood turning lathes, chucks and lathe accessories, decided to sponsor an international contest in which one grand prize winner would receive an all-expenses paid trip for two on the 2011 cruise. "We received thousands of contest entries from all over the world," Anthea reports, "and Brad Ducket, a woodturner from Knoxville, Tennessee, won that trip."
Brad took his wife, Laura, and the two conveyed to Anthea that it was one of the most incredible trips of their lives. But what made the voyage up the west coat of Norway to the Arctic Circle even more memorable was the opportunity to spend time, both socially and in onboard lectures and turning sessions, with so many other turners -- some of whom included world-class experts such as Bonnie Klein and Richard Raffan.
"I recall Brad saying that he'd find himself in casual conversations during the trip with fellow passengers, then learn later that he had been speaking with some of the best turners in the business and didn't even realize it," Anthea says. "It's a very casual, supportive atmosphere on board ship, and it doesn't take long to make friends."
Similar to the 2011 trip, next year's Woodturning Cruise grand prize includes round-trip airfare to and from Norway for the winner and a guest, the 13-night cruise, a double cabin, hotel accommodations, all meals and a basic turning program. (Excursions and other extras will be at the winner's cost.) It's a prize valued at around $15,000 (U.S.). The second prize will be a Nova Comet II Lathe worth more than $500. The third place winner will receive $250 in Nova products. There will also be six more prizes worth $200 of Nova products each. The total value of the prize pool is estimated to be more than $17,000.
The ship MS GANN will set sail on August 11, 2014, for 13 nights, and visit 12 cities en route up the Norwegian coast. Stavanger is the departure and return port, with stops in Sandane, Geiranger, Molde, Namsos, Bodø, Tromsø, Honningsvåg, Sortland, Svolvær, Mosjøen, Trondheim, Ålesund and Bergen. Excursions for shopping, sightseeing and other activities will happen at each port of call. You can read about excursion activities and a more detailed overview of the itinerary by clicking here.
Among some two dozen experts that will be onboard for next year's cruise will be turners Richard Raffan and Terry Martin from Australia, Cynthia and Michael Gibson and Jimmy Clewes from the United States, and a host of turners, knife carvers and tool experts from Norway and the United Kingdom. You can read short biographies about each featured demonstrator by clicking here.
McQuoid says both lecture-style and small hands-on courses will be offered on a variety of turning, pyrography, carving, knife-making and routing topics while en route. When the ship docks for excursions, it will open to the general public so that locals can participate in various turning demonstrations, too. Nova will sponsor a special turning "clinic" area staffed by three instructors. It will feature at least seven lathes, the necessary safety equipment and turning tools. The clinic's hands-on sessions will be free of charge and open to all passengers.
There will also be a product area in which passengers can shop for tools and other supplies offered by Nova, Tormek, Sorby, Trend Routing Technology and others. "We'll be partnering with about five or six other woodworking supply companies that are aligned with our product offerings," Anthea says. "But, passengers can also bring their own turning tools from home and use those instead."
Other topics of interest, such as knitting, weaving and yoga also will be explored during the cruise, for passengers who may be interested in learning something outside the woodworking focus. For instance, a felting studio sponsored by Norway-based Ullform will offer classes on wool and silk scarves, hand warmers, hat-making and basic felting techniques. Other classes may be passenger-led and form after the cruise is underway.
It's easy to sign up for next year's contest by clicking here. No purchase of Nova products is required, but only one entry per person is accepted, and contestants must be 18 years or older to enter. Prizewinners will be notified by Nova in early July. A cash alternative is not available for prizes won, and the grand prize trip is nontransferable.
"We're always trying to take woodturning to a new level at Nova," Anthea says. "With this cruise, we're able to bring different people together for a unique woodworking opportunity you won't find anywhere else. We think it's a fun approach, so be sure to enter! You won't regret it."