Beam Me Up, Scotty!

Beam Me Up, Scotty!
A Star Trek theme cruise is a voyage like no other.

By Clark Norton

Do you dare to boldly go where no cruise-goers — well, comparatively few — have gone before? No, not to the middle of the Sahara desert (though that would make for some mighty bold cruising). Instead, how about a seaborne voyage to the galactic fantasy world of Star Trek, one of the longest-running, most-beloved TV shows in entertainment history?

Your vessel is not Enterprise and Captain Kirk is not at the helm. Instead, you’re on a chartered cruise ship such as Zuiderdam or Norwegian Dawn, led by cruise maven Charlie Datin. For two decades his California-based Cruise Trek has been bringing together Trekkies, as devotees call themselves, with actors and crew from the 1960s-era show and its multitude of spin-off series and films.

No venturing into deep space, but you will discover the deep seas that surround Alaska, Bermuda, Hawaii, the Caribbean, and the Mediterranean. And as you explore new realms, you’re treated to a host of themed activities and events such as Trekkie games, insider stories, talent shows, parties, and workshops. A perfectly “logical” way to escape the workaday world, as Spock might say.

Though Cruise Trek’s Datin admits he’s never been a full-fledged Trekkie himself, he put together his first Trek event in 1992 — a 3-day cruise to Ensenada, Mexico — at the suggestion of a Trekkie sister of his then-business partner. “There was one other company doing Star Trek cruises at the time, and we thought we could do it better,” he recounts. “Now they’re long gone, and we’re still here.”

Within two years, Datin was drawing as many as 750 Trekkies per cruise, though the average is closer to 200 and on the occasional European river cruise, it’s more like 75. Though he usually runs one Cruise Trek per year, Datin organized two in 2011 (a September voyage to Alaska and a second along the Rhine in December) and has another (Hawaii) lined up for October 2012. About two-thirds of his passengers are repeat customers. “It’s become like a family,” he says.
A highly extended family: Besides North America, Cruise Trek passengers have hailed from England, Spain, Germany, and Australia; have ranged from infants to seniors (“We’re aging a bit as a group,” Datin says, “but we still bring the average down on a typical cruise.”); and include a cross-section of professions, from lawyers and doctors to waitresses and undertakers. “The stereotype is that we’re just a bunch of nerds, but that’s not the case,” Datin insists. The common link is a love of Star Trek.