The best part of a Star Trek-themed cruise is being surrounded by other fans and being in close contact with stars from the show.
Star Trek isn’t just another science fiction show. Gene Roddenberry, the creator, had an optimistic vision of the future which underpinned everything that happened in the TV shows. He foresaw a future where humans learned to settle their differences peacefully, and work together as one species. In co-operation with dozens of other species across the galaxy, humans formed the United Federation of Planets.
Growing up, Star Trek: The Next Generation taught me to be kind. It taught me to reserve judgement, and to give people the benefit of the doubt. To see the best in people. These are things I strive to embody every day, and I give credit to Next Gen and the Captain Picard character, played by Patrick Stewart, who demonstrated these values in everything he did.
So it was actually fitting that we kicked off our trip with two nights at the Copper Door B&B in downtown Miami. We originally chose this place based on price and proximity to the port. The accommodations were simple but comfortable. What really stood out, however, was the personal touch of staying at a B&B. The host was incredibly kind and welcoming — and a great cook, too.
The Copper Door used to be a hotel, so there’s two dozen or so rooms. In the lobby is a dinner table that seats 10. We sat down the first morning for breakfast with a handful of other guests, and all ate together as one. Complete strangers sharing breakfast, finding ways to connect.
The Cruise Kicks Off
If you’ve never been on a cruise ship before, it’s like a giant floating hotel. The Norwegian Jade is a modest ship, with 13 dining options — ranging from a complimentary buffet to a Brazilian steakhouse with some of the most mouth-watering all-you-can-eat steak — and another dozen bars. There’s a full-on casino on board, two saltwater pools, hot tubs, a full-service spa, and a gym, among other amenities I’m sure I’m forgetting.
That’s just the ship itself. The programming of the Star Trek cruise packs your day. There’s so many different things to do: Q&As, panels, interactive events, entertainment performed by the Star Trek talent.
The kick-off show began with the raising of the United Federation of Planets flag, followed by introductions of the entire cast. This year’s line-up included actors from all of the Star Trek series’ aside from TOS, including four new faces from Star Trek: Discovery. Harry Potter fans will also note the presence of Jason Isaacs, who played Lucius Malfoy in the movies.
One of the cool things of the cruise is that every evening there’s a show performed in the main theater by some of the talent. The first night’s show started off with a bang. At least, for a Star Trek fan!
We grabbed seats in the front row. One of the strangest feelings I can think of is sitting in a giant three-story theater, and feeling the entire room rocking back and forth. When you’re inside, it’s easy to forget you’re on a boat. Then the whole room starts moving.
The cruise director, JT, came out on stage to welcome everyone and make a few announcements.
The lights flickered and the video screen behind him flashed to static and back.
“Riker to the Stardust Theatre, Ensign JT, you’re needed on the bridge! It’s the Borg!” an urgent voice sounded over the speakers, cutting JT off.
JT paused a moment, then tried to continue.
“Ensign JT, did you hear me? It’s the Borg!” The lights went off and JT ran off stage.
If you’re not familiar with Star Trek, the Borg are a race of cybernetic drones, who roam the galaxy assimilating other species into their collective. What makes the Borg so special, to me, is that they’re completely counter to the ideals of Star Trek and the Federation. You can’t reason with them. You can’t negotiate with them. They don’t waver in their mission. You can’t even appeal to their emotions, because they have none. They’re also one of the most powerful and adaptable races in Star Trek.
So when green lasers flickered in a pattern across the theater, I got chills. The ominous, droning chorus of the Borg collective voice came over the speakers. A video played on the big screen, showing the inside of a Borg ship, and our cruise ship on one of the Borg screens. They had spotted us!
“We are the Borg. Resistance is futile. Your technological distinctiveness will be added to our own,” the Borg voices said.
6 Borg drones began coming down the steps from the back of the theater, and made their way to the stage. The costumes were elaborate, with wires and hoses coming out of various spots all over the black metal armor they wore. Red and green lights flicked on and off on their bodies. A large red light sat over top of their eyes.
Jonathan Frakes (Cmdr. Riker) and Michael Dorn (Lt. Worf) entered the stage, kicking the Borg out of the theater. No exciting battle scenes tonight.
As a Star Trek fan, It was a hell of a way to kick off the cruise!
The Rest of the Week
The week flew by so quickly. I was sad when it was over, despite knowing that I wasn’t going home. We focused more on spending time with friends than pressuring ourselves to check out as many panels and events as we could. We took it easy, and I’m glad we did.
Among some of the highlights for me were Jeopardy, the amazing cosplay, a 2-on-1 tennis match pitting Jason Isaacs against both Kenneth Mitchell and Michael Dorn, and listening to Wil Wheaton.
I have to say that Jason Isaacs is absolutely hilarious in person. He’s incredibly witty and always has a smart-ass remark. So when he was up against Wil Wheaton and Robert Picardo in Jeopardy, the laughter was near non-stop.
It was even more apparent in the tennis match, where all players were hooked up to headsets so we could hear what they were saying during the match. I’m not a fan of tennis and have never really watched it, but we had a blast watching these guys battle it out.
Positive Psychology Lessons
What I found most inspiring was having a quick chat with Wil Wheaton at our first port of call, and then listening to his Q&A later in the week on the last day of the cruise.
Our first port of call was a private island owned by Norwegian in the Bahamas called Great Stirrup Cay. This day was essentially a beach day, with an all-inclusive lunch buffet and several bars. There were some excursions, but they weren’t particularly appealing to us, so we chose to just hang out at the beach for the day.
During lunch, we headed over to refill our drinks and ran into Wil. During the kick-off party, he had said something that really resonated with me: that he was a fan of Star Trek. He grew up watching it, and like me, learned from it how to be kind. He was excited, he said, to create a slice of the Star Trek universe for 6 days aboard the cruise, where everyone can be kind and welcoming to each other.
I told him I appreciated his comments.
“But I get really disappointed when people are judgmental and mean-spirited towards one another,” I said.
He told me that the one thing I have to understand is that, most of the time, people’s behavior is more about them and their fears than it is about you. People have a lifetime of experiences which shape the lens through which they see the world, and you have no control over that. What you can control is your own behavior and how you react to and treat other people. He excused himself and returned to lunch with his wife.
It was a quick 5 minute conversation, but I took a lot away from it.
On the final day of the cruise, there was a Q&A with Wil in the morning. He talked about a wide range of things – tabletop gaming, his books, his experiences as a child actor, his battle with depression and generalized anxiety.
What stood out most to me was a comment he made about self-talk. Self-talk is a psychology concept for your inner monologue: the way you talk to yourself in your head. He talked about having a negative, critical voice inside his head, constantly telling him he’s not good enough, he can’t do anything right, etc – even despite awards that he has won and the audience that he has. So he tries to make a habit to change the inner monologue, to talk to himself the way he would talk to his dog: good boy! You’re so awesome!
It sounds kind of cheesy, but I loved the concept and the essence of what he was trying to say: that you need to very intentionally replace the critical bullying voice with a voice that builds you up, encourages you, and loves you unconditionally.
Later the last day, as the sun was setting, I was standing on the upper deck. I looked out over the pool deck which was mostly empty: I imagined most people had left for dinner or were packing to disembark the next day. And down below, I saw Wil and his wife playing Tribble Toss with a couple of other guests.
And this summed up the cruise experience for me: fans and stars mingling together on a ship, enjoying the experience and creating a little sliver of the utopia that Star Trek suggests can be a reality.
Stay tuned for my next article which will cover our experiences in the ports of Grand Cayman and Falmouth, Jamaica!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read about my travels! What did you like about this post? What didn’t you like? I’d love to hear from you. Shoot me an e-mail, hit me up on Twitter, or drop a line in the comments below and let me know what you think!