"To boldly go where no man has gone before."
Those iconic words from the original Star Trek series, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2016, rang true for more than 2,000 passengers as the first-ever officially sanctioned "Star Trek: The Cruise" took place on Norwegian Pearl in January 2017.
Instead of boarding a starship to explore strange new worlds and new civilizations, fans gathered on a 2,394-passenger mega-ship in Miami to depart for Cozumel and the Bahamas. Most of the action, however, was centered aboard the ship, with William Shatner (Captain Kirk) serving as the headliner and a slew of stars from the various iterations of the popular show hosting Q&As, autograph sessions and even pub crawls and sing-alongs. Costume parties, theme nights, trivia and karaoke, often with one or more actors, kept fans busy and delighted.
In January 2018, two more Star Trek: The Cruise sailings are planned on Norwegian Jade, both hosted by George Takei (Sulu). 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.)
Photos: Kim Foley MacKinnon, Cruise Critic contributor
Staff dressed in Star Fleet uniforms greeted passengers as they boarded Norwegian Pearl, setting the scene for the theme cruise to come. Once onboard, it was clear that the Star Trek theme would be carried through in a number of ways. The Atrium Bar was renamed the "Captain's Club," with one area designated "Kirk's Corner." An exhibit of props from various Star Trek shows was on permanent exhibit in the Atrium area and as people lined up to make reservations for specialty restaurants, they found options like the "Klingon Karnivoria" and "Sandrine's."
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. In the library, regular books were replaced by Star Trek series books. Star Trek puzzles and games were put out, and there was even a 3D chessboard to play. A very subtle nod to the franchise was only spotted by those with keen eyes. On the usual wall of fame of ship's plaques and accolades, a USS Voyager registry notice was posted.
Passengers got into the spirit as well, decorating their doors with tributes to their favorite Star Trek episodes or characters. Tribbles-themed doors were among the more popular.
Celebrities onboard included William Shatner, Denise Crosby, Terry Farrell, Chase Masterson, Robert Picardo and several others from various series. Official photograph and autograph sessions, which were an extra charge, were mostly filled up before the cruise even started. Actor John de Lancie, who played the character "Q" on Next Generation was a 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 people only brought costumes and bathing suits, while others chose to dress up only for special theme nights. As no Star Trek experience would be complete without the Gorn, several passengers also opted to portray one of Captain Kirk's iconic foes.
One passenger brought a full body costume of the "Mugato," another Kirk foe, and posed for pictures with other fans. Now, that's commitment.
Even the hot tub didn't deter passengers from staying in character, or at least part of their character. We can't promise that the real Mr. Spock would find hot tubbing a logical choice for a sea day activity.
Onboard activities hosted by celebrities included trivia nights, karaoke and several shows and talks. Actress Terry Farrell (left), who played Jazdia Dax on Deep Space Nine, faces off against Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi) from 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 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.
Many of the restaurants and bars had themed menus, like Neelix's "Dish of the Day" in the main dining room, which featured items like Uhura's lemon chicken. Anyone who has ever cruised before knows fruit and vegetable displays are also standard fare, so it was fun to spot the galley staff's homage to Star Trek with its creative display spelling out "Star Trek" in produce.
Specialty Star Trek beer and wine was offered throughout the ship's many bars and restaurants, including this 50th anniversary "Golden Anniversary Ale." Fans of Next Generation's Captain Jean-Luc Picard no doubt couldn't resist enjoying a bottle of Chateau Picard while dining in Sandrine's. There was also a themed drink-of-the-day, such as Guinan's Guilty Pleasure, a somewhat lethal concoction of vodka, gin, rum, scotch, bourbon, tequila, triple sec, brandy and fruit juices.
Evenings were also full of themed fun. Late one night, the comedian and singer Joe Piscopo, who appeared as himself in one episode of Next Generation, jumped onstage to sing with the band.
The onboard dress code swapped resort casual for alien chic (and other costumes). Some passengers went as far as to commit to full body paint, like these three women dressed as Andorians.
But where's Captain Kirk? Other than at one of the scheduled talks or panels, William Shatner was seldom seen around the ship, but each cruiser (including this writer) 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.
If the line of passengers at the tables to register for one of next year's Star Trek theme cruises was any indication, most people would say the inaugural sailing was out of this world.