Editor's Note: The Tea Party is not a political party, but the movement is making efforts to organize. There's this weekend's first ever Tea Party Convention in Nashville, the countless rallies and hundreds of Tea Party Web sites. But there's another venue tea partiers are using to get together that you may not have heard of – cruises.
By Jim Acosta, CNN
On board a cruise ship easing into the U.S. Virgin Islands, among the thousands of passengers ready for some fun in the sun, are members of a rising American political movement having a meeting of the minds.
"People are just not ready for this mad charge to the left," says Kevin Collins, a Staten Island, New York Tea Party member.
Led by former Republican presidential candidate Alan Keyes, more than a hundred conservative and Tea Party activists and their families rented out space on this ship for what was billed as a "cruise for liberty."
Cruise organizer Michael O'Fallon markets this seven day voyage as a chance to talk politics in paradise.
"Right now people are wanting to be with other conservatives. Maybe it's because they feel like they're on an island right now,” says O’Fallon, Sovereign Cruise president.
At the pre-cruise kick-off at a Miami hotel, Keyes explained why he believes the Tea Party is gaining steam.
"I think it is quite obvious that this isn't about Republicans and Democrats. It may be about the failure of both parties and the whole party system," says Keyes.
Conservative activist Alan Gottlieb sees a golden opportunity.
"A lot of people have never been involved in politics before. They know nothing about politics. They're extremely naive. They're angry and they're upset. And they're venting their frustration by attending those rallies.”
Cruise for Liberty speakers Floyd and Mary Beth Brown have a Web site calling for President Obama's impeachment.
"I know all of us need some encouragement in fighting this battle … against Obama who's trying to destroy America and I know all of you love America and are fellow patriots," says Mary Beth.
When it comes to President Obama, this is no love boat. Liberal critics of these conservative expeditions through the Caribbean say they're a picture perfect example of how the Tea Party movement can sometimes go overboard.
Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons worries the tone at some Tea Party events – on shore and off – is getting out of hand.
"Are we just talking about voting differently or are we talking about something a little more edgy than that,” asks Simmons.
Keyes refers to the president as the "present occupant of the Oval Office," still questioning Mr. Obama's citizenship even though the White House and the Republican governor of Hawaii, where he was born, have produced evidence refuting the charge.
“If according to the Constitution you are not eligible for the presidency and that does turn out to be the case then Barack Obama was never president,” says Keyes.
Later this year, there will be more tea partiers in the Caribbean aboard the Liberty and the Newsmax cruise, sponsored by the popular conservative Web site.
But the founders of one leading Tea Party group wonder whether this is the best use of the movement's time during an election year.
“You know right now we're working about 20 hours a day, I can't imagine any cruise much less a Tea Party cruise,” says Jenny Beth Martin, a Tea Party Patriots founder.
But other tea partiers on these trips argue hitting the high seas is just a new way cruising for the cause.
A spokesperson for Carnival cruises sent us a statement stressing the organizers behind the Cruise for Liberty were simply renting out space on its ship and Carnival does not take positions on private group themes.