Many “Star Wars” geeks likely fantasize about escaping reality by hitting hyperspace aboard the Millennium Falcon, cruising to that galaxy far, far away, and leaving day-to-day cares in a cloud of space dust.
Leave it to Disney Cruise Line to nearly makes it happen. Yet instead of Han Solo’s favorite hunk o’ junk, guests hop aboard the Disney Fantasy for the “Star Wars” Day at Sea cruise. Taking place a total of eight times through April, it’s a seven-day Western Caribbean sailing departing out of Port Canaveral, Fla. with an entire day devoted to “Star Wars.” Along the way, the ship docks in Cozumel, Mexico, Grand Cayman and Disney's private island, Castaway Cay.
Like a Tatooine sandstorm, “Star Wars” Day blankets the ship for 24 hours, immersing guests in “Star Wars” character experiences, special events and more. Blasting your eyes, ears and even taste buds with the intensity of a stormtropper laser rifle, it’s an unprecedented, nerdtastic experience, and a must-do vacation for “Star Wars” fans.
Here's a video of an interview I had with Dan Fields, Dan Fields, executive creative director of Walt Disney Creative Entertainment.
Having stowed away on the inaugural “Star Wars” Day at Sea cruise, I’ve put together a list of highlights and not-to-miss activities. Keep in mind, no Bothan spies died in order to obtain the following information.
‘Star Wars’ Like It Should Be
“Star Wars” flicks were meant to be seen on a mammoth screen, a bucket of corn nestled in your lap. Beginning on the first day, “Star Wars” films start hitting the screen of the Buena Vista Theatre. It kicks off with a showing of “Star Wars: Episode One - The Phantom Menace.” Not so surprisingly, all of the prequels only get shown once. On day two, the powers-that-be squeeze in “Attack of the Clones” and “Revenge of the Sith,” following them with three, yes three, screenings of “A New Hope.” “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi” get three screenings each on day three and four, respectively.
By the time “Star Wars” Day at Sea arrives on day five, “Jedi” screens again in the morning, and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” gets three showings in Dolby 3D inside the massive Walt Disney Theatre. And not only can you watch these movies with a bucket of popcorn in your lap, you can buy tubs in the shape of tie fighters and Han Solo in carbonite.
Staying in Character
When the ship’s horn booms in the morning on “Star Wars” Day —the first strain of “The Imperial March” no less— it’s almost as if it signals the “Star Wars” characters to begin popping up around the ship. And that’s just what happens. But you never know who you’ll see as they all show up organically. Characters include representatives of both the Light and Dark Sides, including a fair share of scum and villainy.
Some “Star Wars” characters pose for photos with guests while others act as they do on screen. Stormtroopers march along the pool deck. Bounty hunter Boba Fett scopes out guests as he stands on the plank near the ship’s towering smokestacks. Sand People examine a guest’s iPhone, while a pig-faced Gamorrean Guard stomps by, axe in hand.
Guests are guaranteed at least two ticketed character photo opportunities. If you score a visit to Tatooine, you might rub metal with C-3PO and R2-D2 or get scowled at by Darth Maul. Cloud City features a meet-and-greet with either Chewbacca or Boba Fett. The dark side experience finds cruisers getting verbally grilled by either Darth Vader or Captain Phasma. With help from technology, both Vader and Phasma talk to guests in their screen vox. Most impressive. And at the moment, “Star Wars” Day at Sea is the only place where fans can see Phasma in the flesh.
Get Your Jedi On
If you have a young Padawan in your party, check the schedule for “Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple.” It takes place throughout the day in the Walt Disney Theatre. Kids lucky enough to be chosen can hop on stage and go saber-to-saber against Darth Vader. Although it’s geared for kids, the entertainment value glows brighter than a Jedi’s weapon of choice. You never know how these kids are going to react facing some serious Sith.
Be a ‘Star Wars’ Star
Fans have oodles of ways to get in on the act. Cosplayers can show off their duds during a pair of costume celebrations in the ship’s atrium. We saw gaggles home grown costumes from Yodas to droids to Kylo Rens. Even someone’s mom donned a slave Leia get-up. Yikes!
Later in the evening on the pool deck, guests can take the stage and play a part in “Star Wars Saga: Tales from a Galaxy Far, Far Away.” If you’re picked, you can take on a role in a condensed stage version of the original trilogy. Have you always wanted to belt out, “It’s a trap!” Well, Ackbar, here’s your chance.
Eat Like a Wookiee
Food seems to be as much apart of cruising as the water you’re sailing on. When dinner time arrives, each of the ship’s three main restaurants serve up a special “Star Wars” Day at Sea menu. Fans bite into Lord Vader’s Nerf Steak, Yoda’s Pappardelle Pasta and other themed cuisine. Make sure and finish it off with Princess Leia’s Warm Apricot Pudding, complete with hair bun-shaped cookies. All of the dishes are listed on snazzy lenticular menus created just for the meal.
Kiddie menus come as take-home masks featuring either Chewbacca or a First Order Stormtrooper.
And the grub it doesn’t stop there. A late-night buffet in Cabana’s features a bevy of “Star Wars” treats from Vader-shaped chocolates to Dark Side sliders.
The Really Big Space Show
Around 10:30 p.m., the day’s main event drops on the pool deck. “Summon the Force,” a stage show featuring all of the on-board characters, uses the “Star Wars” soundtrack and film clips to help celebrate the franchise.
Tiny Jawas chase C-3PO and R2-D2, Darth Maul gives a lightsaber demo, Captain Phasma shows up with some First Order Stormtroopers, and Chewbacca belts out a Wookiee roar for the crowd.
Actual explosions blast from stormtrooper rifles, and a fireworks display takes place in the sky above.
A Boatload of Merch
Of course, you’ll find copious amounts of “Star Wars” Day at Sea merchandise on board. In fact, there’s so much of it, they have to roll it out over several days.
This includes everything from collectible pins and T-shirts to high-end fashion bags and limited edition artwork.
Taking the cake on the cool meter, however, are the customized “Star Wars” Day at Sea badges, similar to what Disney Cast Members wear on the ship. Your name is printed in the “Star Wars” Aurebesh alphabet, and you get to choose your title. Options include Jedi, Bounty Hunter, Captain, Sith and more.
Remaining Star Wars Day at Sea sailings take place Feb. 6 and 20; March 5 and 19; April 2 and 16. 888-325-2500, disneycruise.com.