When Star Trek: The Cruise pulled into port on March 8, 2020, it was more of a return from lightyears away than ever before. The world feels upside down right now as we shelter in place, so memories of our recent adventure — and thoughts of what’s to come next year — offer greater comforts than ever.
Cruise IV was special for so many reasons, chief among them seeing the bulk of our beloved Voyager crew back together again. As “the fan with the best view,” lucky to moderate so many of the panels, I am privy to some golden moments backstage.
After spending seven seasons with Captain Janeway and company as they navigated the dangers of the Delta Quadrant, I am thrilled to report that this is a group of actors who genuinely rejoice at reunions. Yes, I guess you can call it eavesdropping, but to watch them compare their individual schedules to plan a group hang for drinks brought me great personal joy.
Better still was seeing members of the Voyager cast, especially those on their first voyage with us, strut their stuff in unconventional ways. The unscripted (and unfiltered) solo talks Kate Mulgrew gave were informative and inspiring, and I loved getting a film school lesson from Roxann Dawson when she presented the episode “Riddles.” This was a case where my “duty” as a cruise host was merely to introduce Ms. Dawson, but I ended up spending the entire hour in the audience because I wouldn’t be on this ship in the first place if I wasn’t so easily wrapped-up in this stuff.
Later at night, I was delighted to rock out to Tim Russ’s blues-rock band, The Tim Russ Crew. I’ve never quite heard “Eleanor Rigby” played like that before. Another highlight was seeing Garrett Wang, whom I’ve always found so funny with his off-the-cuff comments at panels, make a brave plunge into stand-up comedy. Better still was seeing Voyager pals Ethan Phillips and Robert Picardo cheer him on from the audience.
But the most emotional aspect of this cruise, and surely of all four years to date, was witnessing the bravery and celebrating the warmth of Kenneth Mitchell. As you know, Ken’s been given a tough diagnosis with ALS, but he did not let that stop him from joining us this year.
I first met Ken at his very first convention, before Discovery had ever aired, and have witnessed the bond between he and the fandom grow. His good cheer, and that of his longtime buddies offering aid, immediately set the mood. Before one of our panels he had us all cracking up backstage as we strategized how he should make his entrance. “Put a black sheet over me in the chair, but act like you don’t see me, then I’ll fling it off when you say my name,” he joked. Later, during his Kol’ective Rave, Ken bodysurfing with the fans gave tribute to the level of trust he has in us, and the amount of love we have for him.
And what about next year?
I am thrilled for the return of George Takei, the friendliest man in the galaxy. He’s bringing Walter Koenig along for his first Star Trek voyage, and I can’t wait to hear stories between Helmsman and Navigator. It’ll also be great to welcome back Jonathan Frakes and to get to know Anthony Rapp, who’ll be making his first journey.
Until then, stay safe, stay healthy, and watch Star Trek.