Aliens, Lightsabers, and More: Our STAR WARS: Galactic Starcruiser Review - Nerdist
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Aliens, Lightsabers, and More: Our STAR WARS: Galactic Starcruiser Review

Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser takes its first guests to space soon. This first-of-its-kind experience from Disney aims to bring guests into the world of Star Wars with a two night immersive experience. Your destination? The Halcyon, a luxury starship operated by Chandrila Star Line. While aboard you interact with characters and crew members and entangle yourself in different storylines and events. Nerdist joined an early preview voyage of Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, and we’re here to break down every aspect for you without any plot spoilers with our review.

Reviews are always subjective, but keep in mind this one is especially so because it’s impossible for a single person to experience everything aboard Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser. Use the below links to jump ahead if you’re only curious about certain aspects.

COVID Safety // Check-In Process and Arrival // Cabins // Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Food // Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Drinks // How Immersive Is Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser? // Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge // Shopping // Activities Aboard Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser // Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser’s Characters and Story // General Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Impressions // Is Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Worth It?

COVID Safety
A ship in space from the Halcyon bridge for Galactic Starcruiser
Nerdist/Amy Ratcliffe

Disney Parks in Florida recently changed masking rules: vaccinated guests do not have to wear masks indoors. However, this is an honor-based system. Disney does not ask for proof of vaccination. They also do not require any kind of testing before boarding the ship. The experience unfolds indoors in a windowless building, aside from your excursion to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

Most people on my voyage did not wear masks. I sat only with my party of one other person at meals and found empty hallways for unmasked photos. Public spaces were relatively empty late at night and during the excursion, but at other times? You’re around strangers mostly not wearing masks. Especially when crowded moments happen in the atrium during big events. I’m not sure about how many people were on my voyage, but when everyone filled the atrium, it felt uncomfortably tight.

Check-In Process and Arrival
People arrive outside of the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser terminal
Disney Parks

Upon arrival, you check in outside at the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser terminal. If you drove yourself, they will valet park your car (included in your reservation cost). A crew member will give you a MagicBand that serves as your room key and more; you’ll use it throughout the trip for activities. The crew will also tag your luggage and deliver it to your cabin. You should carry a purse or backpack for anything you may need immediately. Upon check-in, guests on early voyages may receive ship-issued datapads (a.k.a. iPhones) to use, and if so, you’ll need your Play Disney Parks log-in information handy.

When you enter the terminal, you’ll watch a preshow video with some basics. This video communicates the difference between fictional in-story emergencies and actual emergencies.

Then you board the transport to the Halcyon. From this point, everything is in-story. The transport has screens so you can watch your voyage into space. It’s small and they only load a few parties at a time. Your transport opens up in the ship’s atrium where a crew member will greet you and show you to your cabin.

Cabins
People looking at D3-O9 from their room
Disney Parks

The cabins can sleep five with a queen bed, two bunk beds, and a wall pull-down bed. With only two people in my party, the room felt spacious enough. I can’t imagine having five people and all their luggage in the room and remaining comfortable. The cabin comes with your standard amenities. But not an iron and ironing board (I brought a steamer), though you can request one. The cabin has a TV with all the same offerings as any Disney resort TV, just with a custom interface. You cannot get room service.

Each room has a window into space. You’ll see the same things across the ship. So if someone on the bridge launches the ship into hyperspace, that’s what you’ll see out your window. Space, as it turns out, is pretty bright. I couldn’t sleep with the space window, but you can close a shield with a button to shut it down for a comfortable, completely dark room.

The cabins also have a screen to speak with D3-O9. She’s the ship’s logistics droid and you can interact with her by pushing the button whenever it’s blinking. I found it fun to check in with her whenever I popped into my cabin.

Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Food
Blue shrimp with dry ice
Nerdist/Amy Ratcliffe

Lunch and dinner aboard the Halcyon represent some of the best food I’ve eaten in a Disney setting. You get your main meals in the Crown of Corellia Dining Room. Breakfast and lunch are served as buffets with individually plated bites. Dinner is full table service. Outside of the meals, light snacks show up in the atrium during the afternoon (think bananas, oranges, and some sweets—not anything impressive). The Sublight Lounge also has grab and go breakfasts and late night snacks, but I didn’t have a chance to try those.

Breakfast offerings included the Chandrila Star Line version of a Mickey waffle but also more inventive takes or presentations for food like Scotch eggs (that one was too rich for me) or yogurt and berries. I found a trio of small pastries delicious. And the pastries represented something the kitchen does well across the board: take the familiar and put a new spin on it.

Lunch ended up being my favorite. Small plates included a version of a grilled cheese to die for, rich stews, flatbreads, and bite-sized desserts. All items have in-story Star Wars names.

Both dinners feature multiple courses. The appetizers and main entrees come family style so everyone gets the same dishes. Then the crew serves desserts individually. Many elements have rich textures and flavors, but I did find some balance. Of the two dinners, I preferred the second night’s Taste Around the Galaxy with its Mustafarian bread service and Felucian blue shrimp cocktail. And for those wondering, the blue shrimp tastes like shrimp.

For some, a highlight of the breakfast and lunch buffets will be that you can get blue milk and green milk, just like the ones in Galaxy’s Edge, at will from a tap.

Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Drinks
Two cocktails in the Sublight Lounge
Nerdist/Amy Ratcliffe

The Sublight Lounge quickly became one of my favorite places on board. For obvious reasons, yes, but it also served as the right location to meet up with friends at the end of the day and hear about their adventures. But let’s discuss the obvious reason: drinks. I’m thrilled to say the Sublight Lounge does not offer prebatched drinks like Oga’s Cantina in Galaxy’s Edge. They have a bar and mix the cocktails as you order. A gift. My guest and I worked our way through several drinks, and I can heartily recommend the Mark of the Huntress (pictured in the above left), a bourbon forward cocktail with some bubbles and blackcurrant. If you want something more familiar, they have Star Wars twists on classics like an old-fashioned or a gin and tonic.

The Sublight Lounge also hosts the holographic sabacc table. It’s easy to learn, and from what I observed, kids especially enjoy playing. Rounds go quickly so it’s easy to slip in for a turn. When I played, a key button was broken, but it appeared to be fixed later that day.

And as far as hours, the lounge stays open throughout the day. It closed at 1:00 a.m. the first night and 2:00 a.m. the second night.

How Immersive Is Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser?
People gathered around the holo sabacc table in the Sublight Lounge
Disney Parks

We’ve heard a lot about Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser’s immersiveness, but how does it work? Once you board the transport to the Halcyon, you’re in Star Wars. Crew members will ask where you’re visiting from and express confusion about Earth (crew members’ nametags note which planet they come from). If you come with a backstory for yourself, including which Star Wars planet you’re from, those interactions are probably more fun. I somehow didn’t prepare for this.

Much like Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, you won’t see the words “Star Wars” anywhere (except on guests’ apparel). Crew members greet you with “Good journey” and use a host of other phrases particular to the Halcyon. As you wander the ship, crew members will share history about Chandrila Star Line founder Shug Drabor and artifacts related to him in the atrium. They’ll ask what you’re doing when you access secret spaces for missions. No one I encountered broke character.

The datapad (within the Play Disney Parks app) drives communication and missions between you and characters. You will use it extensively, so be prepared with extra battery packs for your device. You’ll accept missions, find out meeting locations, and more through the datapad. None of the basic functionality of the datapad has changed, but I do like the element of having a connection with an actual person. That said don’t expect the relationship you build with a character in the datapad to transfer to in-person communications. Yes, they contact you in the datapad, but it’s all prewritten messages and you choose from a set of replies.

The astromech SK-62O aboard the Halcyon
Nerdist/Amy Ratcliffe

And the datapad has flaws. At one point, I got a message from a character asking for “another” favor, but I’d never interacted with the character before. Another time, I got the same message twice. I also got tapped into a character’s inner crew even though I hadn’t done what he asked.

Overall, the datapad and talking with individuals is how you immerse yourself. You need to look at your itinerary in the datapad frequently, as it will change depending upon which jobs you take. But I didn’t experience too much in the way of solving puzzles or picking up clues. And while you do carve your own story path by making choices, you ultimately do not affect the outcome of the voyage. That’s a little bit of a let down. The same endings will always happen regardless of your actions. But your actions do customize how the ending happens for you if that makes sense. Everyone wraps their stories before the celebration/finale with variations of a big event on the bridge.

I would keep in mind that even though you’re having your own experience, so are other guests. You have to remember characters have to give attention to several dozen people. Sometimes while you’re in the middle of an activity with a group, others may wander up. Be welcoming and bring them in, especially kids.

Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
Lt Bek in Rise of the Resistance attraction
Nerdist/Amy Ratcliffe

On the second day of your voyage, you take an excursion to Batuu, a.k.a. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. You receive a designated departure time. Before you board, crew members will give you a special Halcyon starcruiser passenger pin to wear (the backing for the pin calls you one of the “select”). The transport to Batuu is small; around 15-20 people were on my transport to the planet. You never see the exterior of the transport (it’s a box truck), and the inside is decked out. A few signs about businesses in Black Spire Outpost hang on the transport’s interior. The trip to Batuu takes around 15 minutes. You’ll hear plenty of music from Black Spire Outpost’s local radio station on the trip.

You wind through a corridor and enter near the First Order area of Galaxy’s Edge. Your excursion to Batuu includes lightning lane access to the two attractions: Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and Rise of the Resistance. It also includes a meal and beverage at Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo (note we were able to snag an alcoholic beverage with our meal without paying extra). We didn’t have vouchers or anything; they just went by the pin mentioned above. I’m a fan of Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo, but I would have been totally fine doing the lunch buffet on the ship instead.

If you want, you can stop by Oga’s Cantina too. You don’t automatically get an Oga’s reservation with your booking but passenger services may be able to help you book one. Any drinks or food you get at Oga’s is on your own dime. But if you need to make a quick visit to Oga’s staff for story reasons, just let the cast members outside know.

But let’s talk about how the story connects between Galactic Starcruiser and Galaxy’s Edge. Those connections come through with the attractions and with missions from characters aboard the ship. So with Smugglers Run, the coaxium you steal (and that you’ve been stealing since the ride opened) plays into an important moment on the Halcyon. Going on the ride and successfully getting the coaxium fulfills requests from various characters. Similarly, going to the Resistance base for Rise of the Resistance completes a request. And the First Order Star Destroyer you attack as part of the ride has consequences aboard.

The rides don’t bring the kind of story connection I hoped for. Instead, I got that in smaller moments. My guest had a mission that involved contacting Zabaka, the owner of the Toydarian Toymaker. We both had a mission to find a certain contact through Oga’s. Not everything went according to plan. For example, I was supposed to deactivate a piece of equipment with hacking but nothing physically happened. Still, these jobs and others like them had me interacting with Batuu in a way I hadn’t before. I’m glad for that, but I think the connective tissue between the two areas could be stronger.

As someone who’s been to Galaxy’s Edge frequently, I spent about four hours on Batuu before heading back to the ship.

Shopping
A person wearing a Padme inspired cloak
Disney Parks

The Halcyon comes with two opportunities to shop: The Chandrila Collection and a small gift pop-up outside the terminal when you depart. The Chandrila Collection offers in-story clothing, perfect for wearing during your voyage. Options include cloaks, tunics, dresses, and several subtle jewelry items. My favorite item (that I didn’t purchase but wish I would have) is a sleek gray Chandrila Star Line coat.

Besides soft goods, the gift shop has a model of Halcyon, an exclusive lightsaber hilt design, a small Droid Factory-sized toy of SK-62O, a special sabacc deck, mugs, and a wine goblet reminiscent of the ones in Solo: A Star Wars Story.

No items in The Chandrila Collection have the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser logo obviously emblazoned upon them. However, when you leave a stall at the terminal has your logo attire. Think magnets, pins, t-shirts, etc that have the Galactic Starcruiser logo. After you depart, you’ll receive a one time link you can use to purchase soft goods with the logo.

Activities Aboard Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser
People training with lightsabers aboard the Halcyon in Galactic Starcruiser
Disney Parks

Every passenger gets a couple of activities on their schedules automatically: lightsaber training and bridge training. Both of my sessions happened to fall on the same day, and I found that to be a bit much. You can ask any crew member around the atrium if you want to try to reschedule, but keep in mind you’ll always have conflicts. You will always have to choose between different activities. Galactic Starcruiser has that in common with regular cruises, but on a Disney cruise, I’m choosing between like, a trivia session or a mixology class—not events that determine the course of my trip. Given the price tag, I don’t think it’s reasonable to tell someone they can just try to do whatever they missed on another voyage. There is no next time for most people with the high costs involved.

I found the bridge training and the lightsaber training a little lackluster. Especially the latter. On the bridge, you learn how to operate different stations—skills you will put to use later in the voyage. The actual operating of bridge controls is an extended version of the different jobs in Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. You do have a very cool view out the window of the bridge as you work. I did quite like the story elements that happened during my bridge training, which I don’t want to spoil. It involved putting our skills to the test and came with some intriguing interactions between characters.

Lightsaber training… I’m missing a beat there. The Saja, descendants of the Guardians of the Whills, have found safe haven aboard the Halcyon and use a space aboard for training. They are not Jedi, but they can sense the Force in others. I learned all of that from press material instead of in the lightsaber training session. Talking to a Saja during the voyage may have enlightened me. And the training itself, though bolstered wonderfully by a strong and moving performance by the Saja for our group, felt repetitive and underwhelming.

The schedule comes with a smattering of other offerings. You can learn how to play sabacc with a deck of cards. Though the schedule lists specific times for sabacc lessons, you can ask a crew member around the atrium any time and chances are they can teach you. You can put your skills to the test in a sabacc tournament too, though I didn’t get check that out.

And stepping away from the schedule, activities happen all the time. You’ll receive constant invitations to learn about the ship or go off on some random side quest. I’d compare the play style aboard to choose your own adventure or a video game. My favorite interactions came in the unexpected moments. Like once, while talking with a few friends in the atrium, one of the Saja approached and took us off on a deeply beautiful experience in the Climate Simulator (the lone outdoor space on the ship that simulates the exact climate of Batuu). I also got hooked into a love story and helped a character write a love song. No part of those activities appeared on my itinerary, but I stumbled into them.

Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser’s Characters and Story
A Rodian, Mirialan, and a Twi'lek on Galactic Starcruiser
Nerdist/Amy Ratcliffe

The story of Galactic Starcruiser, like Galaxy’s Edge, takes place between the events of The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker. The Halcyon is celebrating it’s 275th anniversary. The ship welcomes passengers aboard for a trip with a performance by galaxy superstar Gaya. But of course, things go awry. The First Order, suspicious of the Resistance activity coinciding with the Halcyon‘s ports of call, boards the ship. Then more things go awry and guests get caught up in a First Order and Resistance tangle. That’s the gist. Based on everyone I talked to, you can get swept into one of three main story arcs: Resistance, First Order, and smuggler. More arcs could exist. Then everything ends with a finale on the last night, and the finale didn’t wow me. I did not have a good place to view the action from, though, so that definitely affected my experience.

And let me say that the performers gave excellent performances across the board. From the entertaining Lt. Croy of the First Order, to the earnest Sandro, to the mischievous Raithe, to the showstopper Gaya, everyone delivered. I developed emotional connections to some of the characters quite quickly. And Gaya’s dinner performance? It’s an absolutely magical time that exceeded my expectations. Plus Ouannii, a Rodian musician who plays with Gaya, has a sophisticated mask with realistic articulation. She does only speak Huttese, which makes understanding her a bit challenging. I felt overall impressed by the characters aboard.

But of the physical characters and crew members, we have four new alien characters (I’m not counting Chewbacca) and one droid. A single astromech droid on a bustling luxury starship. For it to feel truly like Star Wars, I need more droids and different kinds of droids. I hoped for more aliens too. The ones they had—a Twi’lek, a Pantoran, a Rodian, and a Mirialan—made an impression. However, their presence also made me want more aliens because it highlighted how few appeared around the ship. A few guests on the voyage did add some additional non-human looks. But again, for being in the Star Wars universe, I’m greedy for more aliens. Especially considering we didn’t get the aliens we were told we would get for Galaxy’s Edge.

General Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Impressions
The Sublight Lounge aboard Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser
Nerdist/Amy Ratcliffe

I enjoyed walking around the ship and taking in the design. Things like having the hair dryer in the room called a “thermal blower” tickled me. While the aesthetic of the Halcyon is not what we’re used to seeing with Star Wars, it unmistakably feels Star Wars throughout most of the ship. The bridge skews more sci-fi for me, but the public spaces have an elegance that would fit right into Canto Bight. I loved spending time in a Star Wars lounge different from the grubby cantina style.

And I know people are wondering about being indoors without windows. I love being inside, so only popping out to Batuu for four hours and into the Climate Simulator a couple of times didn’t bother me much aside from the air feeling dry. I did lose track of time, but I think that had more to do with my busy schedule instead of a lack of windows.

About that schedule. This is a very active cruise. If you want a relaxing Star Wars vacation, this isn’t it. The ship doesn’t have much in the way of leisure activities aside from sitting in the atrium or in the lounge. And while a day of boozing in the lounge sounds like a good time, you’re paying a lot of money for this vacation. Plus, the drinks aren’t inexpensive. I hopped from one activity to the next and even with the short time I went to my cabin to change for dinner and charge my phone, I missed events and activities. The schedule overflows so much that the finale even cut into my dinner on the last night.

On one hand, you’re paying a lot and they keep you busy. On the other hand, I left my trip feeling as though I’d just worked five days at San Diego Comic-Con. Just utterly drained and wiped after less than 48 hours. That’s not a bad thing—I had a good time—but I want people to be aware this isn’t a vacation with downtime. The pacing needs work.

And I don’t think it’s a vacation for people who aren’t into Star Wars. If you’re not a Star Wars fan or if you only have a passing interest, I’m just not sure you’ll feel drawn in enough to go all in.

Is Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Worth It?
Looking out the bridge of the Halcyon aboard Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser
Disney Parks

When Disney revealed pricing for Galactic Starcruiser last August, it had an impact. Probably not the one Disney wanted. A sample price for two people in a standard cabin is $4,809. It’s a lot of money. A price that certainly sets expectations at a high level. So the question that pops up repeatedly is: is Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser worth the money?

First, let’s remember what the price includes: your cabin for two nights, all meals and beverages, valet parking, admission to Disney’s Hollywood Studios with a meal in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, and an exclusive MagicBand. You pay extra for alcoholic or specialty beverages, Photopass images, or merchandise.

The question is tough to answer. For one thing, I experienced Galactic Starcruiser as part of a complimentary press preview. Is a free trip worth it? Of course. But also, whether something is “worth” it is wildly subjective and depends upon a number of individual factors. Personally, I cannot see myself booking a trip at the current price. I had a fun time, but I am not made of money and for that price, I hope for and expect near perfection. Especially as Galactic Starcruiser is something they tout as an experience to keeping coming back to when, for most people, it will be a one-time vacation.

If you love Star Wars and want to commit to this experience in full by wearing costumes and interacting with characters and living your best Star Wars life, you’ll enjoy yourself. You will one hundred percent need to collapse into a pile and rest at the end of your voyage, but I believe you will walk away feeling Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser was worth the cost.

But if you’d rather have a chill vacation with touches of Star Wars flair, you will probably feel like you could have spent your money in other ways to get that experience.

Featured Image: Disney Parks

Amy Ratcliffe is the Managing Editor for Nerdist and the author of A Kid’s Guide to Fandom, available now. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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