EDITORIAL: Disney Cruise Line’s Star Wars Day at Sea – Cosplay! Cupcakes! Cantina music!
Last September, my brother mentioned wanting to go “all out” on a Star Wars-themed Halloween. Next thing I knew, he’d build a full replica backdrop of the Death Star. Costumes? “Film accurate”, he insisted. A casual seamstress, I set out to create my very own Jakku Rey outfit. A few months later, we were all trooping around on his driveway, Imperial Guards, Kylo Ren, and even a Jawa handing out (trading?) candy and rebel pilot cards in the balmy Florida night.
Shortly after, my parents invited me on a Disney cruise with them. I double-checked the sailing date. It was a Star Wars cruise! This changed everything.
So… what does a grown adult do while traveling on a Star Wars cruise with their parents?
The excitement began long before boarding as the terminal was filled with casually lightsaber-toting tourists mixed in with those who’d missed the intergalactic memo. Much like being at a con, the people-watching was exceptional and made the time leading up to boarding pass by that much quicker. Right upon boarding, they had a ton of photo backdrops set up in the atrium as a sort of preview. I’d seen the Han Solo frozen in carbonite replica online, but seeing it in person was, erm… chilling to say the least.
After embarkation day, besides the SWDAS merch available at the onboard stores (protip: most of it eventually ends up at the outlets) and daily Star Wars movie matinees, the Star Wars theme seemed to fade into the background a bit. After all, it is meant to be a one-day celebration. I, for one, really enjoyed getting to watch all the movies in chronological order on the big screen.
One night, the Fine Whines were playing to a packed atrium—I’m talking all three floors full of people. I figured everyone had finally realized how truly talented the duo was… until their smooth, jazzy tune morphed into that classic Cantina swing! The crowd went wild. They were soon interrupted by yet another Star Wars surprise—one you’ll have to see for yourself!
Star Wars Day at Sea finally came around and it was everything I’d dreamed of and more. I pre-selected my meet and greet times online via the My Disney Cruise portal a few months before sailing (much like Fastpass), making it easy to hop from the forests of Endor to the Millennium Falcon for some amazing pictures.
To my surprise, there was actually a cosplay activity scheduled in the atrium (a huge departure from the parks, where anything beyond Disney-bounding is a huge no-no.) The turnout was impressive! I witnessed multiple full-gown Queen Amidalas, an Admiral Hodo, and a whole group of mini Reys who were invited onto the staircase for a huge group picture. However, I never made it into that picture because I received a special invitation from none other than Finn to join him up on the balcony with some other amazing cosplayers. Among them were Stormtroopers from the 501st Legion, a Darth Maul with some serious SaberCraft skills, and a family from California whose mother had hand-made each one of their outfits
We all got to introduce ourselves and talk a bit about our costumes, as well as take tons of photos with Finn (and each other!) It was such a great experience meeting other fans and making onboard friends. If you are considering taking a Disney cruise that features a Star Wars Day at Sea, I highly recommend dressing up. It seriously amplifies the experience and allows Cast Members to really get into character with you, regardless of age.
I pretty much spent the rest of my afternoon eating BB-8 cupcakes while getting heckled by roaming Imperial Military, running around with Ezra and Sabine (of Star Wars Rebels) and finally racing my very own BB-8 unit! All anachronisms aside, it was tons of fun.
While it feels like I’m light years away from my next Disney cruise, I’m glad DCL has decided to continue SWDAS itineraries. These cruises bring a whole new level of park-like immersion with the convenience of being on a floating hotel, and until Galaxy’s Edge (and its accompanying resort) opens up, it’s pretty much the most seamless, stress-free Star Wars experience Disney can provide. Now if only they could announce sailings to Ahch-To…