When Disney Cruise Line announced that select cruises would include a Star Wars Day at Sea, I knew I was going. I’m not a huge Star Wars fan myself, but my husband is. Since they’ve just announced that they are going to offer them again in 2017, I thought it would be a good time to share our experience on how this cruise differed from our other Disney cruises.
First, keep in mind that it is a “day” of Star Wars, not the entire cruise. While there were a few differences throughout the week, if one is expecting there to be Star Wars every day, there will be some disappointment. Also, if one is thinking it’s ONLY that day, that’s not the case either.
On the very first day, we were given a card to choose our character meet and greet on Star Wars Day. It didn’t list a specific character, but rather a generalization of Star Wars locations. This card had to be turned in by the end of the second day. There were three choices and we were told to put them in order (1 for our first choice, 2 for our second choice, 3 for our third). Our first choice was Tatooine, our second choice was the Dark Side, and our third was Bespin. There wasn’t a lot of information on this card so I was a little confused as to how it would work, but I turned it in and figured someone would let us know.
The first noticeable difference throughout the week was that Star Wars movies were often playing in the Buena Vista Theater. On the first night, A New Hope was playing. The second evening featured The Empire Strikes Back, the third was Return of the Jedi and so on. Other movies were playing, too. Being the opening week of Zootopia, it was offered regularly along with The Good Dinosaur, The Finest Hours, and Bridge of Spies, but every day of the cruise had at least one showing of a Star Wars movie, not just on Star Wars Day.
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Of course, the merchandise differed as well. We were given the opportunity to preorder some of the Star Wars Day at Sea merchandise, which we did. Pick up was available in the Buena Vista Theater on the first night of the cruise, which is what I did, although if one missed that, the merchandise could be picked up later in the week at one of the shops as well. Two of the shops had Star Wars merchandise available right from the beginning of the cruise; however, the limited edition items, specialty items like the Dooney & Bourke purses, and the other preorder items were not available until the first full day of the cruise. That morning, there was a line before the store opened, but it went pretty quick. We got in the line about 45 minutes after the store opened and only waited about 10 minutes. While I was glad I preordered for the peace of mind knowing that I was able to purchase what I wanted, it seemed like there was plenty of everything. It didn’t appear that anything sold out until a little later in the cruise. If I had to do it again, though, I would still preorder. It was convenient and I was assured that I got what I wanted.
Finally, the Star Wars Day at Sea arrived. It seemed that there were characters everywhere because not only were there the official Disney Cruise Line Star Wars characters, many guests dressed up as well. I knew about the official meet and greets, but we saw many “unofficially.” Stormtroopers were patrolling the halls and also performed “Pool Patrol” several times during the day. There were Tusken Raiders (Sand People) in the atrium. We bumped into a Gamorrean guard as we were getting onto an elevator. Basically, Disney Cruise Line had characters roaming decks 3, 4, and 5 throughout the day.
There were many other details as well. The ship’s horn played the Imperial March several times throughout the day. There was Star Wars Trivia to be played. Children could participate in Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple and the Padawan Mind Challenge. Buena Vista Theater had multiple showings of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The quick service restaurants were offering special food items such as the Darth Vader Bantha Burger, which was served on a dark brown bun. There were so many Star Wars activities and opportunities throughout the day, there was no way I could see them all.
So what about the official meet and greets? The evening before the Star Wars Day at Sea, our cabin host left us two envelopes, one marked Wednesday and one marked Thursday. Inside the Wednesday envelope was a ticket for Tatooine inside the D Lounge at 1:45pm. Inside the Thursday envelope was Dark Side inside The Tube at 9:30am. It appears that in order to give everyone the opportunity for more than one meet and greet, they extended them into Thursday as well. We still had no idea which characters we’d be meeting, but we now knew when and where.
At the appropriate time on Wednesday, we went to the D Lounge. I have to say that I wish all meet and greets were this organized. The line was short because one had to have a ticket. We were let into the D Lounge at the appropriate time to find R2D2 and C-3PO waiting for us! The professional photographer took quite a few photos and a Cast Member took photos using my husband’s and my phones as well, which was really nice.
Our Thursday meet and greet was pretty much a repeat of Wednesday with the exception of the location and characters. The line was short and well organized. The professional photographer took several photos and a Cast Member used our phones for even more photos. This time, however, we were greeted first by two Stormtroopers and then interacted with Darth Vader. I say interacted because he spoke. We had quite a conversation where I swore I didn’t know anything about the Rebels who stole the plans. I even provided my “Support the Troops” Stormtrooper t-shirt as proof. He let me go… this time.
On the evening of the Star Wars Day at Sea, there was a special menu for dinner. It featured appetizers and entrees named after Star Wars characters and locations. My favorite part was the menu itself. It had a lenticular look to it, although someone at my table mentioned that it made it more difficult to read. The food was the same great quality as always.
After dinner, we headed to the upper decks for the Summon the Force show and fireworks. This was my least favorite part not only of the day, but of the entire cruise. Since we were in the second seating for dinner, unless we skipped dinner which we did not do, there was no way to get to the upper decks early so by the time we arrived, it was extremely crowded and space was limited. We went to Deck 13 starboard side so we’d at least have a good view of the fireworks, but there was no way for us to see the stage for the show. My husband at 6’1” could see the screen, I could catch glimpses of the screen, but my son couldn’t see a thing. What I could see of the screen was OK, but it was mostly clips from the movies. If there was a character on stage, they cut to the stage briefly, but all I saw were mainly movie clips that I could see anywhere. I’m sure it would have been better if I could have seen the stage. It’s just too small of an area for that many people. It would be great if Disney Cruise Line would offer that show twice like they do the other shows and then just do one showing of the fireworks, which can be seen from all over. Anyway, the fireworks were just as one would expect. They are similar to the ones shown for the Pirates IN the Caribbean Party on other cruises, but set to Star Wars music. Speaking of which, I should mention that this cruise does still include the pirate night, but without fireworks. The fireworks instead are the evening of the Star Wars Day at Sea.
Immediately following the fireworks, Cabanas opened for a buffet. It was very similar to the buffet offered on the pirate night on other sailings, but had a few Star Wars decorations and the desserts were Star Wars themed. Again, the buffet was quite crowded so my husband and I each grabbed a dessert and left.
All in all, would I do a Star Wars Day at Sea cruise again? I would, but then, I love cruising, especially on Disney Cruise Line. If my husband wanted to do it again, I definitely would. If he didn’t care, then I only would if the timing was right and then only because I want to go on a cruise, not because of anything Star Wars related. If you are a Star Wars fan and love cruising, I do recommend it, but to avoid disappointment, go in with the understanding that it is pretty much only one day of the cruise (which is as advertised since it is Star Wars Day at Sea), there is no guarantee of which characters you will meet, it is not nearly as extensive as the Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and the evening entertainment is very crowded. It is still a Disney Cruise Line cruise, though, and I don’t think you can go wrong with a week on the Disney Fantasy.
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