The hype has been strong ahead of the approaching launch of Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser at Walt Disney World on March 1. Nothing like a traditional hotel stay, the two-day, two-night “voyage” aboard the Halcyon starcruiser aims to take guests on an immersive adventure through the “Star Wars” galaxy (without actually leaving the planet … or even Disney World’s property).
At less than 48 hours in total, but with a starting price of $4,809 for two guests, the experience calls for a whole lot of galactic credits, leaving many to wonder just what this experience is really like and whether it could possibly be worth the bill. I brought my “Star Wars”-obsessed family to experience Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser during a media preview event. Here’s an inside look at the whirlwind that was our two days in a galaxy far, far away.
Spoiler alert: This story includes descriptions of some portions of the Galactic Starcruiser experience but does not reveal major plot spoilers.
Preparing To Launch On Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser
Billed as “the most immersive ‘Star Wars’ story ever created — one where you live a bespoke experience and journey further into a ‘Star Wars’ adventure than you ever dreamed possible,” guests are encouraged — but not required — to lean into a backstory.
Costumes run the gamut from simple “Star Wars” T-shirts to store-bought “Star Wars” Halloween costumes to cosplay so elaborate, it’s hard to tell guests from crew members. If you’re not into making your own getup, ShopDisney sells a selection of pieces exclusively available to booked Starcruiser passengers and the Chandrila Collection onboard has an even wider range of intergalactic fashions.
My kids drew their lines in the sand long ago — my 8-year-old is Resistance through and through while my 5-year-old is a Dark Sider for life. Costumes help get everyone into the role-playing mindset and are a great way to help kids warm up and begin interacting.
This isn’t the first time Disney has set out to give fans a blank slate to write themselves into the world of “Star Wars.” Since opening at Disneyland in May 2019 and at Walt Disney World that August, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, the immersive “Star Wars”-themed land set on the Outer Rim planet of Batuu, has promised fans a place where they can to “live their own ‘Star Wars’ story.” But, according to creative director Cory Rouse in a video shared by the Disney Parks Blog, the immersion here takes that to another planet (pun intended).
“We took what was basically quick hits that happen over in [Galaxy’s Edge] — things that happen between like 30 seconds and two minutes — and now you’re going to do that for two days?” Rouse said. “We had to completely look at a different process.”
Boarding The Halcyon
The arrival process is swift and efficient and sets the stage for the individualized level of service provided onboard the Halcyon. Passengers are greeted by a crew member who will help finalize check in, and distribute “M-bands,” aka MagicBands (called “Databands” during our experience but we were told the name is shifting). Guests hand off their luggage, go through a metal detector and make their way to the launch pod.
Film series score composer John Williams’ iconic music adds emotion to the moment as the launch pod makes the jump to hyperspace and “docks” on the Halcyon. Doors swoosh open to reveal the sparkling, sprawling atrium where guests are greeted by a crew member and immediately shown to their cabin.
Inside The Cabins
Cabin doors line what can only be described as a perfectly imagined “Star Wars”-style hallway.
Doors slide open to reveal sleek, compact rooms in shades of gray and white with bright orange accents and a large “viewport” into space, with its stars, planets, passing ships and space debris. The viewport can be “opened and closed” with the push of a button for darkness at night.
If you’ve been on a cruise before, the cabins on the Halcyon will feel somewhat familiar — and that’s “very deliberate,” according to Doug Chiang, vice president and executive creative director for Lucasfilm. He describes the design approach applied to Galactic Starcruiser much as that of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, where he has noted that the land’s rooting in real places is what makes it “believable, authentic and real.”
“It was very important to us that we relate it to something we experience on earth,” Chiang said about the Halcyon and its cabins. “When you look at it, is very much mirrored like a real cruise ship, an earthbound cruise ship cabin in terms of the size of the room, the bunk beds and stuff. And knowing that we were using that as a framework, we gave it a veneer of ‘Star Wars.’ We want to make sure that it feels authentic — it feels like you’re really on a cruise ship. And cruise ships obviously aren’t spacious. So we really forced ourselves to be in a small box on purpose to make it very authentic.”
Standard cabins sleep up to five guests. Younglings and kids at heart will scramble to check out the bunk beds, little nooks carved into the wall that look just like the beds seen onscreen in the films and shows. Large enough to accommodate an adult, bunk mattresses are each topped with rolled-up “sleeping bag” that had my kids squealing with delight.
A fifth bed that’s smaller than the bunks pulls down from the wall. At 5 feet, 10 inches tall, I was pushing it to fit in this one, so it’s probably best to reserve that one for kids or smaller adults.
A panel on the wall connects you to D3-O9, a droid in charge of ship logistics who gives ship updates and holds actual conversations with guests. A flat-screen monitor displays a map of space and the ship’s path, showing you where you’re at in your intergalactic journey.
As promised, no corners were cut when it comes to theming — the hair dryer is a “Thermal Blower,” concealed in a sleek case; the mini-refrigerator is a “Cooling Supply Unit” and even the TV remote has a themed overlay.
You Can’t Unplug During This Trip
If you’re looking to unplug on your family vacation, this is not the trip you’re looking for. In-cabin screens are fun, but your phone is the most important piece of tech you’ll need. For the full Galactic Starcruiser experience, staying engaged with your Datapad (aka smart device with the Play Disney Parks app and your linked Galactic Starcruiser reservation), is essential.
Every member of your party should have a Datapad and a profile — kids under 13 without an account on My Disney Experience can get set up for one with a parent’s permission. Those who don’t have a smartphone can actually request one for use during the voyage.
Once you’ve linked your Starcruiser reservation in My Disney Experience, your personalized itinerary will show up in a special section of the Play Disney Parks app.
Building Your Story
Your itinerary will look largely the same as the rest of your party’s on your first day, save for any variations in scheduled events like lightsaber training, which has age restrictions, but this changes quickly once you begin monitoring your “Comms.” Characters will send you messages, ask you questions and offer you choices, and your story will begin to take shape as you answer.
An in-room card with “Tips for a Successful Voyage” warns that “as you make choices, your path may diverge from your travel party. If you want to stay together, coordinate your choices.” Parents wanting to stick with their kids should consider dividing and conquering. My 5-year-old (who can’t read yet and needed a lot of Datapad help) quickly aligned ourselves with the villainous First Order while my husband and 8-year-old offered their support to the heroic Resistance.
A muster drill in the atrium sets the story in motion, introducing guests to some key characters, including the Captain Riyola Keevan, Cruise Director Lenka Mok, the ship’s lovable but bumbling new mechanic, Sammie, and even roaming droid SK-62O. The plot thickens quickly when the Halcyon is boarded by First Order Lieutenant Harman Croy, an ambitious officer intent on uncovering Resistance activity on the ship.
There are more than two sides to the story, however, and guests will quickly find themselves on a range of different paths, adding to the potential value of return trips. Within an hour, we’d each landed ourselves in secret meetings and covert gatherings in hidden corners of the ship as we raced from one scheduled event to the next — from Lightsaber and Bridge Training to Sabacc (the poker-like card game notably played in “Solo”) and even dance lessons.
Dining On Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser
Guests can arrive any time from 1-4 p.m. on the first day of their voyage, but with less than 48 hours to experience Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, I highly recommend arriving right at the start of that window. Throw out any preconceived notions about cruise-ship buffets and carve out plenty of time for breakfasts and lunches in the Crown of Corellia Dining Room.
On night one, the dining room became a table-service supper club with entertainment by Gaya, a Twi’lek galactic superstar, and her Rodian backup musician, Ouannii. Touches like this only add to the immersion, making you really feel like you’re in the “Star Wars” universe.
All meals during your voyage are served in this same sleek dining room, cheerfully lit by day and transformed with colorful, mood-enhancing lighting at night. Breakfast and lunch options are a dizzying array of vibrant, exotic-looking dishes served bento-style. Guests can assemble dishes like culinary puzzle pieces on an indented tray. Soda, coffee and unlimited blue and green milk are self-serve and beer, wine and cocktails are also available for purchase.
Dishes look exotic, but flavors are familiar and most dishes are accessible to less-adventurous palates. Grilled cheese and tomato soup is reimagined as Fire Melted Cheese Takeaway with Red Fruit Soup Dipper, for example. A traditional Caprese salad is reinvented as Red Fruit Buratta with Balsamic Pearls that burst in your mouth and Red Fruit Jelly.
Breakfasts on both mornings are similarly exotic looking, but there’s plenty of staples like bacon, eggs and sausage, if you look for them. Like the milk, yogurt is blue and those beloved Disney waffles still find their way to the table, but here rebranded with Chandrila Star Line logo, which operates the Halcyon in this universe.
Dinner is another bento experience, which begins with colorful Spiral Dumplings and Interplanetary Dipping Sauces, followed by a selection of dishes like Tip Yip Chicken, Bantha Beef Tenderloin and Stewed Shrimp. Once again, the look of everything is unlike any meal you’re likely to have had on Earth.
The theme of the second night’s dinner is A Taste Around the Galaxy, with dishes hailing from a variety of “Star Wars” planets and includes some surprising plot moments we won’t spoil, and an out-of-this-world plate of blue shrimp, which you can see below.
Picky younglings in your party? You can still get the basics like cheese pizza and chicken nuggets, as well as some waffle-shaped hash browns that were a big hit with my 5-year-old.
Cocktails In The Sublight Lounge
Every “Star Wars” story needs a good watering hole, and the Halcyon includes a classier take on the infamous cantina.
Sublight Lounge is located just off the atrium and open all day and late into the night for cocktails and snacks that carry the same otherwordly looks as the other offerings onboard. A Holo-Sabacc table in the center of the lounge keeps things lively, while half-enclosed tables create plenty of discreet nooks for plotting your next move against the Resistance or First Order.
A Special Visit To Galaxy’s Edge
The Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser experience includes a visit to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, complete with a fast-tracked ride on both of the land’s attractions, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Guests also have the option to book a reservation at Oga’s Cantina, Black Spire Outpost’s watering hole, Savi’s Workshop — Handbuilt Lightsabers and Droid Depot.
You’ve got got less than 48 hours on the Halcyon and you’ve paid more than a few credits for the experience, so it’s understandable you’d be hesitant to even leave the ship during your voyage if you’ve been to Star War: Galaxy’s Edge before. But, there are some moments and experiences unique to Halcyon passengers that you won’t want to miss, and some missions you’ll need to complete if you want to keep your story going.
Depending on the path your story took the night before, your Datapad’s Comms tab will include a number of tasks for you to complete around Batuu.
To get there, you’ll board a transport shuttle from the Halcyon (a worthwhile “ride” in its own right, which you can see a picture of below), and be dropped right in the middle of Black Spire Outpost. Halcyon passengers wear pins that help them stand out to the Batuu locals (Disney World Cast Members), who ensure Halcyon passengers get the VIP treatment.
We were whisked straight to our table at Oga’s Cantina and served swiftly (Oga’s regulars know this is not always the case here). Rides also include some interactive moments to Halcyon guests, but we won’t spoil anything.
Your visit to Batuu also includes lunch at one of the land’s two quick-service spots, Docking Bay 7 Food & Cargo or Ronto Roasters, but if you’ve ever visited Galaxy’s Edge and eaten there before, I recommend getting to the land first thing, hitting the rides and Oga’s Cantina, completing all your missions, and heading right back to the Halcyon for lunch so you don’t miss an extra minute on the “ship.”
Back On Board — Things Get Serious
Once you’ve returned to the ship from your excursion to Galaxy’s Edge, depending on how your missions have gone, things start getting serious. You’ll likely be invited to a number of different secret meetings around the ship — from the deep in the Engineering Room to up on the Bridge — from one of several key players on board.
Your Datapad profile will reflect your standing among various characters you’ve been able to interact with, and your invites will likely come from whomever you’ve gotten closest with.
Character interaction on the ship is absolutely incredible and if you put in the time with your “Associates,” they will get to know you. My 5-year-old made was eager to earn Lt. Croy’s approval, always at his side ready to help and was regularly referred to by name by the First Order lieutenant.
He was thrilled to be invited to several important events by Lt. Croy on the second night, proudly announcing that he had to “get to a meeting with Lt. Croy,” which was held among only about 15 other guests deep in the Engineering Room. These “confidential” meetings are accessed on your Databand, and only those invited can enter the top-secret locations where they’re held.
Family allegiances were even tested, with my 5-year-old blowing his brother’s cover and telling Lt. Croy something he’d done to help the Resistance. Later, it was payback time when my older son called out his brother to Rey, alerting her that he was a First Order spy.
At one point my son even told my husband, who was helping him with Resistance missions, that he was no longer sure even his dad could be trusted.
You Can’t Do It All — But Do As Much As You Can
To get the most out of the experience, I can’t stress enough how essential it is to keep up with your Comms and engage with your Associates. Some guests we spoke with didn’t interact as much as we did and had fewer events show up on their itinerary and felt they’d missed out on certain story elements when they heard about the interactions we’d had.
It’s also impossible to do everything — your path may bring you face to face with Rey or Chewbacca, but you could also go nearly the whole evening without spotting certain characters. Everyone plays a role in the story — even Gaya, the singer who entertained us with dinner, and her manager, Raithe Kole, play an important role in the way the events unfold.
Must-Do Activities On The Ship
Much like a traditional cruise, there’s more to do around the ship than one could even get to during a single voyage. If you need help prioritizing, bridge and lightsaber training are can’t-miss experiences.
Bridge training is a particular highlight — work together with other passengers to brush up on your skills (which will come in handy later) as you complete a number of interaction training missions. Lightsaber training shouldn’t be missed, though guests in the know will find the experience less dramatic than Jedi Training formerly held in the parks, and less emotional than the lightsaber-building experience at Savi’s Workshop in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
Another experience worth potentially devoting the time and a little extra money toward is the CSL Portrait Experience. This is Starcruiser’s answer to the “Capture Your Moment” private photo session from Disney PhotoPass.
For a $99 introductory rate, you’ll get a 30-minute private photoshoot with an “Image Scanner,” aka Disney PhotoPass photographer, in scenic locations around the ship. The experience needs to be booked by phone in advance of your voyage, and includes the high-resolution downloads.
Final Thoughts: A Weekend At Lightspeed
In some ways, the 45 hours we spent aboard Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser are a dizzying blur. As we raced to pack up our bags to leave the room by 10 a.m. on our second morning, we realized we’d hardly had time to flip through the onboard options on our TV or talk to D3-O9. We also brought twice as many outfits as we ended up wearing, realizing that devoting even 15 minutes to changing in the room could mean we missed a critical story moment or opportunity to interact with characters.
And yet, at the close of our second night, as we watched fireworks out the windows of the Bridge during a climactic celebration to the tune of John Williams’ epic score, my boys began to cry — and then I joined them — because we couldn’t believe it was over.
In some ways we felt like we were saying goodbye to a place we knew so well, we couldn’t possibly have arrived just a day before. Through his tears, my 5-year-old asked me if Lt. Croy would remember him when he returns, and my 8-year-old demanded to know when that would be (ahem, looks like I better start saving my credits).
Before we boarded the Halcyon, I thought I’d feel like this experience was missing something without some of my favorite “Star Wars” characters being part of the action. How could they possibly create a “Star Wars” experience this expensive without including Darth Vader or Boba Fett, I wondered.
But as I hid with my 5-year-old behind a stack of crates to see what his big brother and Sammie, the ship mechanic, were up to, I forgot all about Anakin, Obi-Wan and Leia, because this time, it was our story.
This story originally appeared on Simplemost. Checkout Simplemost for additional stories.