Last month the fifth official Star Trek Cruise returned to port, after a seven-day voyage. Onboard to document the experience was a TrekMovie contributor and host of the Hungry Trilobyte podcast, Aaron Bossig who is a cruising regular.
More than a floating Trek convention
Star Trek: The Cruise V left out of Port Canaveral, FL on February 26, 2022. The event was set on Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas vessel, a Voyager-class cruise ship in service since 2003. The itinerary held three ports of call: Nassau, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten. Unlike other times when the Mariner left Florida, this day all of its 1,600 cabins were filled with Star Trek fans. The staff was wearing Starfleet uniforms. The wall art had been changed to portray Starfleet captains. The elevators had been redressed to resemble turbolifts. Sailing toward the horizon, the ship’s sound system played Star Trek themes by Jay Chattaway and Jerry Goldsmith.
As much the cruise ship had been transformed into a space fantasy, taking a Star Trek convention to the seas transforms the convention as well. Now, not only do fans travel to the convention, but the convention also travels with them around the world. Star Trek: The Cruise is an extra special convention experience, as a result of its unique ability to build an atmosphere, present unique events, and still let fans share new Trek despite being far from terrestrial shores.
From the moment someone is cleared to board, they can live as if they are part of the Star Trek world. STTC aims to make its convention its own ship and crew, and the level of camaraderie among shipmates is astonishing. Uniforms and cosplay are everywhere. A ship at sea is its own world. Traveling in between ports, there’s no outside world to interrupt the fun of Trek fans sharing good times and good stories. Star Trek: The Cruise travels with a full complement of Trek celebrity guest stars, including actors from all series as well as writers and artists. Leading the list is always the “captain” of STTC, and on Star Trek: The Cruise V, fans had not one but two Star Trek captains: George Takei and Sonequa Martin-Green.
Further enhancing the Trek wrapper put onto this cruise ship, normal cruise theme nights had been replaced with Star Trek equivalents. The first evening, typically a very casual time, was dubbed “Gorn’s Toga Party” and passengers went to the first parties and pub crawls wearing Trek-themed togas and pajamas. The following night, frequently the semi-formal evening on a cruise, was called “The Roaring Holodeck”. Guests wore 1920s-inspired costumes, and as anything is possible on the Holodeck, most added a Star Trek twist to their outfits. Formal night, often the third evening, became “Mirror Universe Night.” Wild makeup, armor, and sashes filled the ship as fans embarked upon an evening dressing for the glory of the Terran Empire.
For passengers seeking autographs and photo opportunities, Star Trek: The Cruise V had an impressive scheduling system. Because a cruise passenger list is considerably smaller than the attendance at most land-based conventions, getting something signed was a much quicker process with wait times generally under 15 minutes. Guests could bring their own items to be signed, purchase something from the Federation Trading Post gift shop, or have the celebrity sign the same photo op picture that was taken on the ship—thanks to instant-print digital photos and strategic scheduling of autograph sessions after photo ops. Autograph sessions and photo sessions are priced separately from the cruise accommodations.
Star Trek: The Cruise features something no regular convention can offer in the form of shore excursions. At each of the three ports of call, over a dozen different on-shore activities are offered (at an additional fee). Snorkeling, Jeep tours, and ATV exploration are just three examples, and occasionally these events are hosted by Star Trek celebrities themselves.
Get unconventional with Star Trek celebrities
STTC raises the level of engagement with the fans, providing events that are more intimate and showcase the talents of the celebrity guests beyond their appearances on the TV series. This is ideal for fans who continue to follow the careers of Trek actors, and who know their social media contributions well. It’s also one of the best convention experiences for hearing from behind-the-camera talent, such as writers, science advisors, and artists.
A great example was Denise Crosby reading from her pandemic writing project, “The Muses.” A series of short stories, Denise’s work was themed around classical archetypes (child, mother, crone, etc.) but presented modern stories that instantly grabbed the audience. With only a few minutes to each, it was remarkable how Denise’s writing was able to draw the audience into each tale. As a way to further enhance the event, artist Megan Levens sat behind Denise, sketching her vision of the story’s “muse”
live as the audience watched.
On Thursday evening, John de Lancie produced a stage production of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Lost World”… adapted for a stage with too few props and an audience with too many cocktails. The cast including John Billingsley, Nana Visitor, Conner Trinneer, and Robert Picardo performed the comedy in wardrobe modified from their cruise wear. The result was a feeling of seasoned actors doing what they do best: feeding off their own creative energy and adding new life to whatever script they’re given.
Garrett Wang, long known for being a first-rate emcee at conventions around the world, took his stage presence to new heights. In his stand-up comedy act “You Have Two Working Feet,” he captured the same energy he used telling in-jokes to his fans and developed it into a full comedy routine. Most remarkably, much of his material was pulled from events that happened while on the trip—so unlike other stand-up comics, his bits aren’t practiced for weeks or months on end, making Garrett’s style a lively blend of practiced routines and pure improvisation.
As if the experience of Star Trek: The Cruise wasn’t unique enough, later that evening fans gathered into the Royal Theatre to watch an early showing of the season premiere of Star Trek: Picard. This became more than a watch party. With the rest of the world still hours away from having access to the episode, Isa Briones welcomed cruise passengers to the new season, and remarked how wonderful it was to be able to hear the audience react in person, rather than over Zoom. Isa was also joined by Picard actors Evan Evagora and John de Lancie to introduce the new season to the audience packed into the theater’s 1,300 seats who greeted the premiere with cheers and applause creating a rare fun community event for watching an episode of Star Trek.
Each cruise gets bigger
Just as traditional land-based conventions have been growing in popularity and scope, Star Trek: The Cruise has been as well. Each voyage has seen an increase in fan attendance and celebrity guest participation, as well as the size of ship and the variety of destinations. For many, STTC has become their annual convention of choice, and it is impossible to walk around the ship and not see people wearing shirts and hats from the previous cruises.
Star Trek: The Cruise VI will depart from Los Angeles, CA on February 24, 2023. Kate Mulgrew has agreed to be the Trek captain for the next event. Joining here will be a number of Star Trek celebs from across the franchise, including Jonathan Frakes, Doug Jones, Terry Farrell, Robert Picardo, Connor Trinneer, and many more.
Cabins are still available with pricing starting at $1980 per guest (for new guests, with a discount for returning cruisers). For more info visit startrekthecruise.com.