Tuesday, September 25, 2018
Features and More

Disney Cruise Line’s Star Wars Day at Sea is back and bigger

PORT CANAVERAL — Visiting a galaxy far, far away can be as simple as stepping on board a Disney cruise ship.

Disney Cruise Line’s Star Wars Day at Sea returns for a third round through April on the Disney Fantasy out of Port Canaveral. And the company recently announced more dates on select 7-night Caribbean cruises in 2019. Star Wars fanatics now have more chances to pay between $2,900 and $10,000 for VIP Star Wars experiences on a boat.

Disney previewed the expansion on a docked cruise ship in Port Canaveral last weekend, a floating comic convention with patrolling stormtroopers, Star Wars trivia and a Porg scavenger hunt.

It’s a move that combines two buzzy tourism drivers — Star Wars and themed cruises. Cruises now cater to almost every niche interest. There are cruises with Kid Rock and Melissa Etheridge, cruises for running enthusiasts and crafters, a Walking Dead-themed cruise with some of the show’s stars and even nude cruises.

"You can find a themed cruise on literally any passion you have in life," said Suzanne Kelleher, a family travel expert who has written for USA Today, CNN and Parents. "You get this sort of extra layer of very specialized activities that sometimes aren’t available anywhere else."

Disney and Star Wars, two behemoths of pop culture, keep growing. The most recent movie, The Last Jedi, hit the $1 billion mark at the box office after three weeks in theaters in December. Disney also announced this week that Game of Thrones writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are set to write a new series of Star Wars films.

And on a recent Disney earnings call, the company reported spending billions to bring the juggernaut franchise to its theme parks. The Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge land is set to open at Walt Disney World in Orlando in summer 2019.

"Guests are always telling us about how they grew up with Star Wars and how they now get to embrace it on board with their young ones," Cruise director Trent Hitchcock said during a press preview on the Fantasy. "It’s a day for the entire family."

The Star Wars cruise experience starts with an appearance by Darth Vader and his stormtroopers in the ship’s center atrium, claiming there has been "a disturbance in the force." Guests watch Star Wars movie and TV screenings, join in trivia challenges, kids lightsaber training, BB-8 droid races, animation classes, character interactions and a nighttime "Summon the Force" deck show with fireworks.

The Disney cruise line also offers Marvel Day at Sea on board 5-night cruises from Miami. Like Star Wars Day at Sea, the Marvel cruise gets guests up close with Thor, Black Panther and Groot.

"We are always looking for new ways to entertain and delight our guests," said Christiaan Abbott, director of entertainment with Disney Cruise Line. "We know the Star Wars saga transcends generations."

The ships, Kelleher said "aren’t floating theme parks."

"Even though the ship is full of people, there’s a sense of exclusivity, where you’re not going to be competing with everyone for the same thing," she said. "They aren’t the high energy spaces you might expect."

Contact Chelsea Tatham at [email protected] Follow @chelseatatham.

     
   
Comments
Fall is the perfect time to master cooking dried beans

Fall is the perfect time to master cooking dried beans

By JeanMarie BrownsonAs we head into a cooler time of year, the upcoming months practically beg for slow-simmered foods. Beans, for example. Beans prove an excellent source of lean, inexpensive protein. Their versatility and adaptability means they c...
Published: 09/25/18
Unique tactile map made on 3-D printer could have widespread use

Unique tactile map made on 3-D printer could have widespread use

For people who are blind or visually impaired or face that possibility in the coming years, the future is almost literally in their hands.Thanks to a visualization specialist at the University of South Florida in Tampa and his 3-D plastic-printing ma...
Published: 09/25/18
Don’t go overboard on those abs

Don’t go overboard on those abs

Strengthening abdominal muscles seems to be at the top of the exercise to-do list for many exercise enthusiasts. However, according to exercise pros, many people are going about it the wrong way. And it doesn’t help that abdominal workouts are still ...
Published: 09/25/18
Restaurant review: Elevage has made some smart changes to its restaurant and Lobby Bar menus

Restaurant review: Elevage has made some smart changes to its restaurant and Lobby Bar menus

Checking out the changes at Elevage, which opened five years ago as the first Bern's sibling to offer breakfast and lunch.
Published: 09/25/18
Before Tampa show, comic Hari Kondabolu talks Apu, Colin Kaepernick, #MeToo and race in America

Before Tampa show, comic Hari Kondabolu talks Apu, Colin Kaepernick, #MeToo and race in America

Hari Kondabolu’s grandmother died this summer. He spent three weeks in India, saying goodbye and grieving with family. And even then, even at such a sorrowful time in his life, he couldn’t turn off the part of his brain that looks for jok...
Published: 09/25/18
Zesty Lemon Shrimp, and more quick bites to make for guests

Zesty Lemon Shrimp, and more quick bites to make for guests

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about hosting, and the dos and don’ts for ensuring everyone at your house, including you, has a great time. There are a lot of things that go into the gig beyond food. But all of those become a little easier if you’re a...
Published: 09/25/18
Louie Anderson talks Emmy, ‘Baskets’ and his brush with #MeToo

Louie Anderson talks Emmy, ‘Baskets’ and his brush with #MeToo

Everyone wants a picture. That’s the thing when you win an Emmy. You’re stumbling around at a party, out of your mind with elation, the statuette glued to your hand. Smile and click, smile and click, smile and click."I never turn anyone down for a ph...
Published: 09/24/18
Review: Freefall opens its season with a crafty and talent-laden ‘The Fantasticks’

Review: Freefall opens its season with a crafty and talent-laden ‘The Fantasticks’

ST. PETERSBURG — The longest-running musical ever, The Fantasticks, weaves fairy tale and disillusionment, theater and its deconstruction together in charmingly simple ways. Freefall Theatre take it a few steps further, with two actors also playing p...
Published: 09/24/18
USF assistant VP rides AHN wave of support to success

USF assistant VP rides AHN wave of support to success

Editor’s note: Academy of the Holy Names junior Tress Jacobs spent the summer of 2018 shadowing Tampa Bay Times columnist Ernest Hooper. To conclude the experience, she interviewed Academy alumnus Kim Wilmath Hill and filed this report.By Tres...
Published: 09/23/18
At 50, Clearwater's real-life superhero is hanging up his super suit

At 50, Clearwater's real-life superhero is hanging up his super suit

CLEARWATER — For two decades, Dale Pople patrolled the streets feeding the homeless, helping old people carry groceries, extinguishing a car fire. He wore a red, yellow and blue Spandex outfit with an SH emblem: "Super Hero." Now, Clearwater&...
Published: 09/21/18
Updated: 09/24/18