Sometimes it’s nice to let someone else take the helm. And that’s exactly what George Takei, social media icon, gay rights activist and actor most famously known for playing helmsman Sulu on the original Star Trek, is doing aboard the Queen Mary 2.
Part of Cunard’s Insights speakers series, Takei will partake in several events onboard the ocean liner, including a Q&A session after the transatlantic premier of “To Be Takei.” The film is a biographical documentary about the actor’s life, paralleling the civil rights similarities between his experiences as a Japanese-American imprisoned in an internment camp during World War II and a gay man fighting for the right to marry the person he loves.
The iconic Queen Mary 2 voyage from New York City to Southampton will not be the Takeis’ first cruise experience; the couple have already done a dozen or so cruises.
Cruise Critic sat down with Takei at the mid-Atlantic premier of the film to talk about what makes cruising such a great way to travel.
Though Takei will be busy onboard with screenings, a Q&A session, book signings and a lecture, he did say he and his husband, Brad Takei, will be “thoroughly devouring our rich experience onboard.”
CC: Can you tell us about your first cruise experience?
George Takei: My very first cruise was an Alaska cruise. I had never been to Alaska and the word isn’t exotic, but it’s a whole different part of the world: glaciers and seeing salmon caught and cooked right there by the riverside was really a unique experience.
But this is my very first time on a legend, Queen Mary 2, and the elegance that we’re wrapped in is going to be a very special experience.
CC: What are some of your favorite things about cruising?
Takei: For one thing, you eat elegantly. [I was going to say sumptuously, but with Brad he sometimes forgets the meaning of the word restraint.] The eating is very good. It’s also relaxing, although with this one I’m going to be working. But a cruise is a wonderfully relaxing way to travel. Also, you avoid jet lag. We have a standing policy as we love the theater, and London theater is very, very rich; we never go to the theater on the first night of our arrival because of jet lag. But on this journey we will be going to the theater on the first night (when they reach London) because you avoid jet lag by taking human steps, an hour at a time over an eight day period, so it’s a much more comfortable way to go to London. The other thing that’s wonderful about cruising is the people on a cruise ship are all prepared to enjoy themselves. They’re relaxed; they don’t have their guard up, and you make friends. We’ve maintained friendships with friends that we’ve made on prior cruises.
CC: What advice would you give to a first time cruiser?
Takei: If you enjoy travel in a leisurely way surrounded by elegance and dining sumptuously, cruising is a lot of fun. And it’s an opportunity to travel without packing and unpacking and seeing a lot of different sites. On this one we’re going to one destination, but on most cruises like in the Caribbean or Alaska, you stop at different places.
CC: Is there any item you must pack to bring with you when you go on a cruise?
Takei: Because we’re doing this cruise we packed a lot of clothes. Ordinarily we don’t, but this time we have five pieces of luggage. We can’t be seen twice in the same outfit. I’ve got a different jacket for each night.
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