Royal Caribbean’s ‘Liberty of the Seas’.

Royal Caribbean’s ‘Liberty of the Seas’.

Surrey writers’ conference cruises toward 25th-anniversary event with ‘SiWC at Sea’ plans

‘SiWC at Sea’ trip a satellite event for annual conference, which brings 600 people to Guildford hotel

SURREY — Organizers of Surrey International Writers’ Conference will celebrate the event’s 25th anniversary with a Caribbean cruise for writers and anyone else who wants to hit the high seas.

Passengers on the “SiWC at Sea” trip will depart Galveston, Texas, aboard Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas for seven days next April, with stops at ports in Honduras and Mexico.

The cruise, announced last week, is a satellite event for the annual conference, held each October at the Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel.

“The response (to the cruise) has been really excited, even though registration doesn’t open until August 9th,” said Kathy Chung, conference co-ordinator.

“One of the most common things asked for on our evaluation forms is more chances to get together at different events, extra time, because people like seeing their conference friends, and it’s a year between.”

Chung, a Richmond resident, has been lead planner of the conference since 2010.

Each year, close to 600 conference attendees, presenters and volunteers “completely take over the building” in Guildford, she said, and the story will be a similar one from Oct. 19 to 22 this fall.

Registration is moving at a brisk pace this year, she added.

“This is the fastest registration has ever gone,” Chung said. “We sold half (of available registration) on Day One (June 7), which has never happened before. You know, people tend to kind of trickle in, and we usually sell out a month or two before, or even during the month of October, but this year the full packages sold out in July.

“We get tons of people from all over the Lower Mainland, but also all over the world,” Chung added. “I don’t have the details yet for this year, of course, because registration is still open, but last year we had nine provinces and territories represented, I believe – maybe 10 – and 16 states, five separate countries, all at the conference.”

As for the cruise, Chung said there’s room for around 150 people with the SiWC group, depending on cabin availability.

She explained: “I had the pleasure of working with one of our regular presenters, Mary Robinette Kowal, who invited me to work with her on the Writing Excuses retreat held at sea, and it was such a great event, a great venue for something like that – lots of quiet spaces for people to go to write, lots of fun stuff going on. So we decided to give it a shot with something similar.”

The conference is on the web at


Kathy Chung co-ordinates the annual Surrey International Writers’ Conference. (Photo: Martin Chung/contributed)

Kathy Chung co-ordinates the annual Surrey International Writers’ Conference. (Photo: Martin Chung/contributed)