Honest, In-Depth Review of the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser: A Tremendous, Groundbreaking Experience at a Bank-Breaking Cost
We’re back on Earth from our first trip to the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, and with the few hours I have before we board the second cruise, I wanted to put together the honest, in-depth review that you’ve been asking for. A full review video is also at the bottom of this article.
I want to warn you — it’s mostly positive. (Editor’s note: I also want to warn you — there are mild spoilers for the experience in this review.)
But before we get to that, I think it’s important that we acknowledge that, yes, these were things we were promised for Galaxy’s Edge. The droids, the aliens, the reputation system. And I mean promised, they were announced to the public on several occasions. But I’m going to focus not on the executives, whose bean-counting decisions hurt the experience of the guests, but on the Cast Members, the entertainers, and the creative team.
Walt Disney Imagineering got a chance to do what they do and, almost unencumbered, create something completely new that changes the business. This industry is different now than it was a few days ago. I’ll explore that more a little later.
The arrival is a weak point. You drive down this weird side road that is shared by Cast Members at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. They have literal shipping containers with the Starcruiser logo painted on the side telling you where to go. It’s not great. I’d even say it’s thoughtless.
Think about arriving at the Magic Kingdom. You get to the TTC, you travel across a beautiful lake, and see the castle welcoming you on the horizon. You don’t see show buildings, or backstage elements (like the spires of Batuu on sticks).
When you arrive at the Starcruiser, you see backstage. You can see the actual hotel building, too. And sure, you can say it’s the terminal, but it looks like a hotel. It doesn’t set the stage well.
I hope they give this some thought, plant some trees, and add something to improve the arrival experience.
Generally, for this experience, you’ve paid around $6,000, and with that price comes expectations. Here at the terminal for arrival and departure is where the white glove service can be found. This isn’t to say that the crew members onboard aren’t fantastic, because they are. But when you arrive, the crew opens your doors, takes care of your luggage and assures its safe delivery to your room, and gets you checked in.
If you arrive very early, they may try to convince you to take a bus to Disney Springs. We arrived around 12:15 p.m. and were behind 40-50 people. They don’t let you in until closer to 1:00 p.m., but the atmosphere is fun. People are excited, and there’s iconic Star Wars music playing. It builds the anticipation.
The music is something they’ve done right, where they’ve course-corrected from Batuu. The Star Wars music on Batuu is used sparingly, albeit at very good moments. Here, the Star Wars music serves to set you up to “live your adventure.” At the end, it plays as you depart on your launch pod and arrive back at the terminal, and it feels like you’ve reached the ending of your own movie.
On our cruise, we stayed in a Galaxy Class Suite (one bedroom) while friends of ours had a Standard Cabin, so we were able to get a good look at both room styles. I won’t spend too much time on these since we do have full room tours up where I talk through the details, but I do want to say the rooms are not as small as they appear in photos.
The Standard Cabin has a good amount of floor space. And to answer a question many of you have asked, the bunk beds are a sort of optical illusion. They look small in photos, and they look small in real life, but they fit adults over 6′ tall. I don’t know if it’s the curved trim or the way they are built-in, but they are regular-sized beds.
They don’t give you regular bedding. The mattress has a sheet on it, and you are given a weird sleeping bag. It has the Chandrila Star Line logo on it, which is great. And it’s comfortable.
The viewport is the downside of the rooms. It’s not great. It has a weird glare and sometimes gets blurred, especially around the sides. It’s difficult to capture photos and video of the screen. However, watching it is neat. It was thoughtfully done and is in sync with events happening around the ship. For example, when a hyperspace jump is performed during a Bridge Training session, you can see the jump in your room’s viewport. It all ties into the story, and you can see nearby planets as the ship travels the galaxy.
As a concept and story point, it’s very cool. As a practical display piece, it leaves some things to be desired.
Overall, the rooms have a lot of charm. There are small details that are fun to find, and they feel very “Star Wars-y.” And so do the hallways, which reinforces that Disney did such a disservice to themselves with the early promotional material. The whole ship feels very authentically Star Wars.
Ultimately, you won’t likely spend a lot of time in your room unless you have small children who need a break.
After we checked in and got settled, we went to the Sublight Lounge to have cocktails. There was a lot of mingling happening, and the story started to gradually begin. Some of the characters were in the lounge and introducing themselves to guests. Raithe Kole, Gaya’s manager, stopped to chat with us, but the most important interaction was when First Order Lieutenant Croy came by. He hit it off with some of our group, and it stuck.
The Cast overall are a huge highlight of the experience. Regular readers will know we always say live entertainment is the magic, and it’s so apparent here. But even the crew members who weren’t actors were incredible. Everyone onboard has a story. They’ll tell you their homeworld, information about their character, and we even learned some Star Wars facts along the way. We didn’t have a single bad experience with the cast; they were truly exceptional.
I know many of you are concerned about the level of roleplaying involved. This adventure is up to you. Even as a bystander, it’s so much fun to watch, and you’ll still feel involved. Because this first cruise was mainly for this review and to learn all about the experience, I didn’t participate much. I sat back to watch and see what people were doing and how everything worked.
I wished I had put myself out there more. On the next cruise, I’m going to go full out and really dive into it. It really is what you make of it. You’ll still have a ton of fun if you don’t get involved with the roleplay aspect, but if you put yourself in the story and actively participate, it’s a whole other level.
We saw people who put themselves out there and really connected with the characters, and really, became memorable characters themselves. The more you show your face and talk with the main characters, the more they remember you. They’ll address you by name, remember information you told them, and trust you with harder tasks (which you can fail!).
It was also a great part of the experience to be part of the group you end up aligned with. The missions and meetings become enthralling experiences because the other guests are the people you wished showed up every day in the parks. These are the fans who truly love live theater, theme parks, or Star Wars and want to be a part of it.
The cast are fantastic at improv and quick to respond to anything you say to them. It’s fun and funny to see what unfolds.
The bad part of the experience is the Play Disney Parks app, which is, unfortunately, a necessary part of the stay. My advice is to use the device Disney provides because guests are having problems with personal phones. I tested it out to see what the issues were and didn’t receive certain mission prompts on my personal phone. Cast Members said it was just a weird issue with the app. Plus, it was kind of nice to have my own phone for taking photos and videos.
Another issue with the app is the excursion to Batuu, whereas on the ship, the app sends you to do things and meet face to face with characters and physically interact with elements of the ship. The missions on Batuu are the same as they ever were; solving puzzles, turning off a ship, etc. It doesn’t feel like Star Wars, and it doesn’t feel like you’re actually doing anything.
I didn’t love the excursion to Batuu, but it’s instrumental for your reputation and achieving what you need to do for your chosen alliance. The box truck ride is the weakest point of the whole experience. You take this cool transport up to the ship, and then you ride in a truck to Batuu. It’s dark, crowded, and clearly the victim of budget cuts.
The original concept had video screens to see your journey and a physical droid pilot. Now, you have a few minutes of voiceover from an unseen droid and no screens. Even if I hadn’t known what could have been, this still would have been a lackluster experience.
On Batuu, it really does take away from your immersion. It’s hard to ignore that you’re suddenly in a theme park. However, like I said, the tasks you are assigned are important to the story, and you technically paid for the Lightning Lane passes and meal voucher. Also, the food on Batuu is better than what’s served at the lunch buffet that day, and the voucher can be used for the only free alcoholic beverage of the trip.
Rise of the Resistance is the same experience, though while wearing your Halcyon Passenger button, you may get some unique interactions with the cast. However, on Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run, Hondo has two added lines about the Halcyon at the beginning of the preshow and when you exit.
The line at the exit is important because it alludes to the coaxium that plays a big role in the Starcruiser plot. It’s really neat, because you’ve been to Batuu before and ridden Smugglers Run, and now on the Starcruiser, you get the payoff. The Starcruiser story creates a compelling ending to the narrative of Galaxy’s Edge. The show writing is great, and they did an excellent job putting the story together.
Having nearly 48 hours for the story to marinate and unfold, for little moments to come together piece by piece, really pays off. It’s wonderful.
Back on the ship on the second day, activities start to pick up around noon. Most of them are the little generic “cruise” activities. Sector Set is Space Bingo, Know Your Co-Pilot is a watered-down Newlywed Game, kids can race droids, and more.
We didn’t find those to be worth our time, but we did attend Cantina Chronicles at the Sublight Lounge. It features three non-alcoholic specialty drinks that are normally an extra charge, but this experience is complimentary. The bartenders give you an in-universe backstory for each drink. It was fun and relaxing.
Honestly, you’re not going to be able to do everything. There are so many things happening, and you only have so much time. I recommend that you sit down and look over the schedule and really think about what’s important to you and plan on missing out on some things. The schedule doesn’t account for the missions that pop up, and you don’t want to miss those.
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Keep in mind that you will also miss out on missions for the other paths. We followed the First Order path but could tell we were missing out on adventures with the Resistance and helping Gaya. We’ll have more in-depth articles detailing each track soon if you want to know more.
I don’t want to spoil the adventure, so I’m not going to go into too much detail here, but the story plays out as a real, living scenario. It moves across the decks and around the ship. You can’t see everything simply because it’s too organic; it’s playing out in real-time. And that’s a good thing. It feels authentic.
If you do the basic stuff in the Datapad at the beginning, you’ll get invited to the key events on the final night, which should not be missed. It’s very important and very cool. The events build up to the finale and escalate the tension. Big story events start happening across the ship, not small five-minute things, but scenarios that put you in an important role in the finale.
These moments really encapsulate how great the entertainers are and how thought-out the story was. Minor spoilers ahead; but for me, the highlight was this one moment that I happened upon by chance.
I was on the landing of a staircase leading to guest cabins when the elevator doors opened to reveal Resistance operatives (pretending to be First Order sympathizers) attempting to distract Lt. Croy. It was a real Abbott & Costello moment as the guests were hitting all the buttons and standing in the way of the door. Just then, the other elevator opened to reveal some of the Saja, who peeked around the corner to see if Croy was around. They kind of looked at me like, “Is he there?” and when I confirmed, they just slunk back into the elevator and closed the doors so they wouldn’t be seen.
It was a really fun moment, and there’s a lot of magic here. If you love theme park entertainment, improv, or live theater, this is top-notch. And the guests who are getting into the roles and becoming characters who are part of the story get to interact with these tremendous actors. It’s a well-constructed system that’s fun to watch and fun to be a part of. It really works.
Food and Beverage
It’s not great.
The Sublight Lounge is the best dining experience, and not just because of the alcohol. The cocktails (which cost extra) are solid and have cool souvenir cups. The snacks there are great, especially the smoked cheese en cloche and chips. There’s a lot of really good food up there, and it’s included in your stay.
The buffets in the Crown of Corellia dining room were lackluster. One or two things at each buffet were good, but the rest ranged from underseasoned to flavorless to outright gross. The few good things are good, not great, and the rest ranges from mediocre to bad. At one point, during the lunch buffet on day two, we were laughing because there were chocolate chip cookies. They ended up being the best thing during that meal.
For dinner on the first night, which is the performance with Gaya, we had upgraded to the Captain’s Table. It’s in the middle of the room, and it’s not really dining with the Captain. She visited the table for about ten minutes, and it was the only awkward interaction we had on our trip. I don’t know if it’s the setting or because everyone but the Captain is eating, but it was a little weird.
Story moments play out near the Captain’s Table, like interactions between Lt. Croy and Gaya. There are tiny, supplemental extras on the menu but nothing significant. Overall, we don’t think the upgrade is worth it.
Gaya’s performance at dinner was awesome, which is another reason we don’t recommend the Captain’s Table. Half of the table faces away from the stage, and while Gaya moves around the room during the show, you still miss out on things like Ouannii playing the keyboard.
For dinner on the second night, each dish is themed to a different planet for a “Taste Around the Galaxy.” It’s cool. The presentation is fun. The chefs come out and introduce each dish and give a little history about it, the lighting and music change, and the servers all come out in a line and present the dishes to each table.
Both dinners have their moments. The food was a mixture of good and forgettable. Nothing was outright bad, but again, a lot was underseasoned. The dinners are solid and definitely better than the buffets.
There’s a grab-and-go breakfast in the Sublight Lounge with pre-boxed selections of a few items from the buffet.
There’s also a snack area in the Atrium that is stocked with some good stuff like spicy popcorn, cookies with the Chandrila Star Line logo, fresh fruit, and more. It’s available most of the day.
The drinks are only available when the dining room is open but offer unlimited blue and green milk, soft drinks, coffee, and more. There is a water fountain for refilling your bottles in the Atrium that is available 24/7, and you can ask for soft drinks and such in the Sublight Lounge.
We’ll be posting reviews of every item available, so stay tuned.
Is It Worth It?
I know this is the question everyone has.
The answer is no.
I’ve seen others try to sound objective like “Can you really tell someone if something is worth it to them?” But when it comes down to it, there is a trade-off of goods and services for money, and the price of something delivers an expectation. That’s life.
So is it worth it at the price they are charging for it? No. It can’t be. It’s an insane amount of money.
You can have a luxury cruise vacation for less money. Even the shortest Disney cruise is longer than this. It’s true that those are two very different types of trips. And maybe it feels so rushed because it’s great, and you don’t want to leave the story; I don’t know.
But whenever you spend money on an experience, even if you’re very wealthy, it comes down to wanting to get the value of what you’ve paid and do everything you want to do.
For the Galactic Starcruiser, there’s no way it’s worth this amount of money. As a Star Wars or theater fan, you will have a tremendous, unbelievable, unforgettable time. But it’s just an absurd amount of money.
In good faith, I have to say this: please do not put yourself in debt to go to the Star Wars hotel. I know I’m sitting here telling you that it’s great, but it’s not worth putting yourself in a hole financially. And I assure you, this isn’t going away. At some point, bookings will go lower; it’s inevitable. Disney will burn through the number of people willing to pay that much, and everyone who wants to do it will have done it.
Eventually, they’ll need to update or change the experience, so people want to come back. But in between those two moments, there will be lower rates. Groups like Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club members will get discounts. And it will be more affordable. If you feel you need to do this, but it’s a big financial burden, wait Disney out. The chips will eventually be down, and when they are, they’ll always come back for the rest of us.
That being said, if you can afford to do this, do it. It’s really cool. To see unencumbered creativity at work is amazing. I love this artistry, and nothing has ever brought me greater joy than to see what it can be at its full potential.
The live entertainment is so powerful, so much more magical than any attraction could be. It’s the forefront and star here. When the whole experience comes to an end, and the whole ship is packed into the Atrium and screaming and cheering, and the Star Wars music swells over the noise, it’s a powerful moment you will never forget. It really made me emotional.
What the Starcruiser Means for the Future of Themed Entertainment
It means we can’t go back. We can’t accept less than this ever again. This is the level that everything has to be after. It has changed the industry for the better and set a new bar for immersion, storytelling, and the future of themed entertainment.
The pressure is on, Disney. You’ve shown what can be done and done it well.
So rarely do we get new things from a company that has become so budget-conscious. This is the shiniest moment in an era of darkness for Walt Disney World.
It’s important that we remember they’ve put this behind a huge paywall. It’s a hard pill to swallow, and this positive review does not absolve anyone of that. Disney should believe in giving that experience to every guest. The Starcruiser stay can be a step up, but the other elements should be in Batuu. Bring the droids and aliens. Make the Datapad more interactive and interesting.
Is it worth $6,000 or more? No, but it is really fun. It’s truly fantastic. If you’re a Star Wars fan or a theme park fan, you’ll love this. If you’re both, you’ll be blown away.
The video version of this review is available below.