Salesforce’s annual Dreamforce conference didn’t just take over San Francisco’s downtown this week. The cloud software company also took over one of the city’s piers with a giant cruise ship.
Because finding a hotel in San Francisco during conference season can be a major hassle, Salesforce (CRM) went to the unusual length of partnering with cruise ship operator Celebrity Cruises to provide attendees with lodging.
People willing to pay $250 to $850 a night, depending on the type of room, got the chance to sleep in a ship outfitted with a blitz of Salesforce marketing as if still inside the Dreamforce conference hall, albeit with nicer views and a fresh sea breeze.
More than 1,100 conference attendees took rooms on the ship rather than at a hotel. From the deck, in every direction, visitors could see a famous San Francisco landmark like the Bay Bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Transamerica Pyramid, Coit Tower, and Alcatraz Island.
But, of course, Salesforce made sure to remind everyone that this ship was an extension of its trade show.
“Salesforce gets the capability to do what they want,” said Ron Gulaskey, global director of corporate sales and charters at Celebrity Cruises. Gulaskey was referring to the ship decorations and lighting. Just like at the company’s conference at San Francisco’s Moscone Center, blue lights lit up the public spaces like a giant aquarium. Meanwhile, slogans like “Customer love” and large placards of gushing customer testimonials plastered the walls. Salesforce set up a Wi-Fi network at the nearby pier where the ship was docked so attendees could always access the web and work.
Compared with some other cruise ships, this one was rather sedate. There were no waterslides or carnival-like attractions. “It is definitely not The Love Boat,” said Julie Liegl, Dreamforce’s conference chair.
Although there was a casino on board with slot machines and Vegas-style games, guest were not allowed to gamble because of California law, said Gulaskey. Gambling is only allowed in international waters (or when investing in startups).
At night, however, guests could loosen up with fancy cocktails in a lounge. One drink, appropriately called the Dreamboat, contained sparkling wine, vodka, and simple syrup, and was, of course, blue.
Guests who didn’t want to attend the actual conference could sit in a private theater on board that was big enough for 1,000 people, and watch conference sessions on the screen. It’s hard to blame anyone for wanting to avoid the throng of 100,000 people at the convention center.
At checkout time on Friday at 10:00 am, guests will have to leave for solid ground. Salesforce must remove all logos, lighting, and decorations by noon. Soon after, the cruise ship leaves for the Panama Canal on another cruise.
Dreamboat logo in a swimming pool.
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