"Apparently, some sort of transposition has taken place. I find it ... extremely interesting." -- Spock
In the "Mirror, Mirror" episode of "Star Trek: The Original Series" a transporter malfunction swaps the crew of the Enterprise with their alternative universe counterparts where things aren't quite right.
While I haven't run into my evil counterpart yet, cruising aboard the Star Trek: The Cruise II theme sailing aboard Norwegian Jade in the Western Caribbean this week is a bit like stepping into an alternate universe. And I find it just as fascinating as Spock did.
Even if you've been on a ship charter before, the Star Trek cruise is unlike any sailing you've ever experienced. Almost everything is just a little bit (or a lot!) different. The Star Trek theme doesn't just take over the programming and the spaces, it transforms them. Head to what would usually be the atrium, for example, and you'll find spaceship Jade's Shore Leave Bar with a Hawaiian theme and surrounded by seven foot(ish) tikis, at least one of which bears an uncanny resemblance to Spock.
Across from the Shore Leave Bar is a small Star Trek museum, with lots of pretty cool memorabilia. (Ok, yes, you have to be a Trek fan like me to find most of it "cool.") Star Trek: The Cruise is the official cruise operator for CBS, which owns the rights to Star Trek so all of the memorabilia is authentic.
Here's what else is different:
There's no Moderno on starship Jade; instead there's the Klingon Karnivoria. O'Sheehan's is Finnegan's and Le Bistro is Sandrine's II. Head over to Magnum's Champagne Bar, which is usually the place for a flute of bubbly, and in the late afternoon you'll find an intense trivia session in play; though not unlike other Norwegian sailings, you better be up on your starship ship classes if you want any chance of winning! Want to play a board game? Tankards Beer and Whiskey Bar has been transformed into a gamer's haven but you won't find Connect Four or checkers. Instead, it's games like Settlers of Catan and Star Trek Panic, among others. In the Captain's Club (otherwise known as the Bliss Lounge), the walls are stickered with photographs of the many Star Trek captains.
The bar menu is also unlike anything you've come across at sea. Just a few of the options include the James Tea Kirk with Bacardi rum, gin, vodka, blue curacao, lemon-lime soda, and sweet and sour; the For the Love of Troi, which has chocolate vodka, coconut vodka, caramel sauce, and coconut milk topped with whipped cream and caramel sauce; and Andorian ale (which on this Earth vessel has raspberry vodka, blue curacao and lemon-lime soda). There's even bottled Star Trek beer for those who prefer a brew.
Want to go to a show? There are plenty of them! Some of our options, among many others, have included a dramatization of the Scopes Monkey Trial with John de Lancie, Jonathan Frakes, Ethan Phillips and Robert Picardo; the Rat Pack Show with six of the Star Trek actors; a Mystery Science Theater style overdub of an Original Series episode with Denise Crosby, Rene Auberjonois and Robert Picardo; and a Star Trek Squares (based on the TV gameshow Hollywood Squares) with several of the Star Trek actors including George Takei. And all of this is excluding the numerous Q&As, the official photo and autograph sessions, group episode viewings, tap dancing classes with Gates McFadden, karaoke with Connor Trineer, meditation with Nana Visitor, and informational sessions with Star Trek and space experts.
I must say passengers on this Star Trek sailing put most cruisers to shame on formal night. Men (and a few women) dress up in their officer's dress uniforms; women don gowns that span centuries of fashion. At Q's Costume Party, the costumes rival any thing you've seen on the big screen -- I was too embarrassed to put on my Original Series uniform nightgown because it would just have looked pitiful compared to everything else. And in the late afternoon, the aliens come out to play. Most common are Andorians and Klingons but I'm still holding out hope for a Ferengi or two!
All excursions are standard cruise line excursions with a couple of specific exceptions -- on a select few tours some of the actors join along as unofficial "leaders." They are limited in capacity (though not by as much as they should be) and only open to passengers who were on last year's Star Trek cruise. Thanks to Entertainment Cruise Productions, we were able to squeeze into one led by Connor Trinner to the Gumbalimba Preserve in Roatan. Unfortunately the group was split into four smaller groups, but no one moved Connor around, so in the end he only spent time with two of the groups, leaving a lot of participants a bit steamed. We haven't been able to find any cruisers who were on any of the other actor-led tours, so we don't know if the others went off without a hitch. (Though at dinner we talked to a woman who'd done one last year that had no issues.)
Just a Bit Off
There have been a few oddities that stand out (and no, I'm not talking about the aforementioned aliens!) Star Trek episodes are playing on every TV in the public spaces of the ship. They're all different episodes, they have no sound and there's no subtitles; so if you wanted to follow along with one, it'd be difficult to do. At dinner one night in Cagney's Steakhouse (the name of this restaurant has not been changed for this sailing), the ambient music alternated between light music and Star Trek dialogue (or else it was Star Trek-inspired music; I couldn't quite tell). It wasn't quite the right accompaniment for a nice steakhouse dinner.
All in all, Star Trek: The Cruise is a fun, light-hearted experience for people who feel passionately about a TV franchise that promotes non-violence, multiculturalism and acceptance. There is no judgment onboard. It doesn't matter who you are, what you look like, if you're a little bit awkward or normally have few friends. As long as you're ready to "discuss" whether Picard is a better captain than Kirk, whether Deep Space Nine is a legitimate part of the franchise or whether the Enterprise should have gone with a theme song without lyrics, you're welcomed to the fold. (Honestly, even if you don't know your tribble from your trill as long as you're not going to judge anyone, you're welcome -- that's what Star Trek is about, after all.)
As one Trekkie cruiser put it, the actors and everyone onboard felt like distant cousins he was meeting for the first time. It feels like you already know everyone; you just haven't met yet.
--By Dori Saltzman, Senior Editor