"To boldy go where no man has gone before."
These iconic words from the original Star Trek series, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2016, rang true for many of the thousands of cruisers who joined Star Trek: The Cruise on its first and second year in operation.
Instead of boarding a starship to explore strange new worlds and seek out new civilizations, fans gathered on Norwegian Pearl (in January 2017) and Norwegian Jade (in January 2018) to depart for ports in the Caribbean, Mexico and the Bahamas. Most of the action, however, was centered aboard the ship with William Shatner (Captain James T. Kirk) serving as the headliner of the 2017 cruise and George Takei (Helmsman Hikaru Sulu) taking over as "host" for the two 2018 cruises. A slew of stars from each of the different franchises joined the headliners hosting Q&As, autographs sessions and even pub crawls and game shows. Numerous costume parties, trivia sessions and karaoke, often with one or more actors in attendance, kept fans busy and delighted.
For a taste of what a Trekkie fan cruise is like, click through our slideshow and you'll feel like you've been beamed onboard. (And read our companion piece for more on what to expect onboard.)
Staff dressed in Star Fleet uniforms greeted passengers as they boarded their ship, setting the scene for the theme cruise to come. The first-ever Star Trek: The Cruise, which sailed from January 9 to 14, 2017, sold out in less than two months after it was announced. It was one of the hottest tickets at sea, and the excitement and anticipation was palpable from the moment you stepped into the cruise terminal.
Once onboard, it was clear that the Star Trek theme would be carried through in a number of ways, and the cruise team did its best to transform the cruise ship into an Enterprise-worthy starship. Elevators were transformed into "Turbolifts" with various edicts and instructions. (We particularly liked the notes that stated whether you were in a forward or aft turbolift.) The Atrium Bar was renamed the "Captain's Club," with one area designated "Kirk's Corner," and an exhibit of props from various Star Trek shows was on permanent exhibit nearby. Specialty restaurants were transformed into options like "Klingon Karnivoria" and "Sandrine's," and in the library, regular books were replaced by Star Trek series books, Star Trek puzzles and games, and there was even a 3D chessboard to play. Only those with keen eyes spotted one very subtle nod to the franchise: On the usual wall of fame of ship's plaques and accolades, a USS Voyager registry notice was posted.
Celebrities onboard included William Shatner, Denise Crosby, Terry Farrell, Chase Masterson, Robert Picardo and several others from various series. Official photograph and autograph sessions carried an extra charge and mostly filled up before the cruise even started, but there were opportunities for free photos here and there. Actor John de Lancie, who played the character "Q" on The Next Generation, was a particularly good sport about letting fans take photos with him around the ship, as were most of the actors, many of whom mingled with the passengers during the trip.
Passengers never missed an opportunity to dress up as their favorite characters, and we saw Vulcans, Klingons, Orion slave girls, Borg, Q look-a-likes and many more. Some passengers went as far as to commit to full body paint, like these three women dressed as Andorians.
Onboard activities hosted by celebrities included trivia nights, karaoke and several shows and talks. Actress Terry Farrell (left), who played Jadzia Dax on Deep Space Nine, faced off against Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi) from The Next Generation, in a hilarious version of Family Feud. Two lucky passengers, one dressed as Q and one dressed as a Klingon, were chosen from the audience to play on each team.
The fun continued as actor Robert O'Reilly, who played the Klingon Gowron from The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, led a popular pub crawl through several of the ship's bars. Some passengers almost could serve as body doubles.
But where was Captain Kirk? Other than at one of the scheduled talks or panels, William Shatner was seldom seen around the ship, but each cruiser got the chance to get up-close-and-personal with the famous star at a quick photo session, which was part of the cruise package.
George Takei, aka Sulu, was more visible during the two 2018 sailings: from January 5 to 11 and January 11 to 17. Takei participated in several events throughout both cruises, was seen from time to time in the ship's atrium and went well beyond the time limits set for his photograph and autograph sessions.
As on Norwegian Pearl in 2017, the atrium on Norwegian Jade was renamed; this time, it was the "Shore Leave Bar" and it was decked out with 7-foot tikis of the Original Series cast. It was the place to see or be seen, to spot actors hanging out or to catch an iconic episode or two (or three) from each franchise.
A popular option throughout the cruise were alien makeovers from professional FX makeup artist John Paladin. The extra-fee options included something as simple as having Vulcan ears or a Bajoran nose glued on, or as complex as full-face Klingon and Cardassian makeovers.
Also on the schedule every day were panel discussions, focusing on individual shows (Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager) or specific topics (Women in Star Trek). Autograph sessions were scheduled throughout the cruise and though trekkies were encouraged to sign up before the cruises, there were almost always extra tickets available for purchase.
In addition to the typical theme-cruise activities, the schedule included events inspired by the real-life interests of the actors. Gates McFadden, an accomplished dancer and choreographer (in addition to having played Dr. Crusher on Next Generation), taught two tap dancing classes. Nana Visitor, Kira Nerys on Deep Space Nine, taught morning meditation, as well as a cooking class. (Visitor, many of the other DS9 actors told us, is infamous for her large get-togethers featuring home-cooked food.)
One option for cruisers that did sell out quickly, mostly before the cruises left port, were actor-led excursions. There were three to four choices in each port of call and ranged in size from small and intimate to too large to have any real interaction with the actor. On the first sailing, Connor Trinneer of Star Trek: Enterprise led a group of about 100 to Gumbalimba Park in Roatan, Honduras.
Two game shows made it on to the schedules of the 2018 cruises. In the Star Trek Squares, a take on Hollywood Squares, several actors along with other guests (science lecturers, moderators, musicians) tried to answer questions on behalf of two dressed-up contestants playing for a small prize. George Takei, as host of the cruise, was the middle square. In the Liar's Club, actors and guests tried to trick the audience into believing fake facts.
Jealous of our experience? Star Trek: The Cruise V will take place on Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas from February 26 to March 5, 2022. Book tickets as early as you can; the previous cruises all sold out.