By Jordan Hoffman
Only the number of stars in the night sky can match the sheer amount of awesome things one can do on Star Trek: The Cruise. (And one of those things is to go outside at night, find a quiet corner, and try to count the number of stars in the night sky!)
As a hardcore Trekkie that has lucked into being your host for many of the panels, my personal cruising experience is a unique one. I get a front row seat as your fan representative when moderating talks with the celebrity crew. It’s a thrill and an honor to work as an interlocutor, getting your questions to our Starfleet heroes all the while hoping they’ll tell some new stories from days of yore. I also love leading the bar-side trivia sessions. No matter how tough I make the final round, someone always comes in with the answer.
But in my “off-hours” (which isn’t to suggest that my “on-hours” are anything resembling work) I have time to poke my head in on the other programs. My schedule often prevents me from seeing the evening’s Main Show, but the daytime and late-night gigs are fantastic in their own right.
Here are my Top 3 memories from Star Trek: The Cruise III:
Bronze Medal goes to my favorite Talaxian morale officer, Ethan Phillips, who returned with his after-hours comedy club routine. It isn’t quite stand-up, it’s more of a master class in joke telling. Phillips is a scholar of the off-color punchline, and he carries in his noggin a boundless encyclopedia of bawdy remarks that push boundaries. But when he says them, they are hilarious. You’ll never look at Neelix the same way again!
Silver Medal goes to Nana Visitor’s cooking show, which is very much a real lesson in cuisine, but more of an improvisational free-for-all. Nana, who I’m sure you know is the warmest person in the galaxy, loves nothing more than to feed people, to tell stories and to make us all feel good. With the ship’s chef as her straight man comedic partner, her chatty style turns something as mundane as making a salad into an afternoon of exuberant theater. I swear, it’s not just because I love Major Kira; listening to Nana talk is like swimming in a flute of champagne.
We’ll award the Gold Medal to Jonathan Frakes, but really it’s a group effort. Frakes brings his director’s chair to the cruise and leads a staged reading of a classic Trek episode. Last year it was “Amok Time,” with Gates McFadden voicing Kirk, Wil Wheaton voicing Spock, Rekha Sharma voicing Bones and John de Lancie as additional voices (including a very funny Sulu). Frakes reads the stage direction and it’s a very specific kind of magic. It’s surprising just how well these old television scripts work as radio drama. Also, though much of it is played for laughs (and it’s amazing how merely an altered vocal inflection can spin a scene), things do turn dramatic. It’s surprisingly meaningful to see one of your Trek favorites performed by another of your Trek favorites. Wil Wheaton as Spock was just perfect. I can’t wait to see what next year brings.