At the Benson house, we like to travel to celebrate milestones. When the kid’s 18th birthday rolled around, we knew we had to go big. To celebrate, we did a whirlwind trip to visit Walt Disney World, a brief stopover at Universal Orlando, a 3-night cruise on the Disney Wish, and a 2-night stay on the Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser. It was an incredible week away and the memories we made will definitely stay with us forever. Since we’ve been to Disney so many times before, I’ll touch on that but my big focus will be our time on the Wish followed by the Starcruiser adventure.
We started our trip at the Grand Floridian resort, kicking off with time at Magic Kingdom and Epcot. I finally got to ride Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, the newest coaster in Epcot. Let me say, not for those who suffer from motion sickness, but I absolutely loved every second of it! This coaster is so innovative with the way the ride vehicles move throughout the experience and how the soundtrack really brings it all together. I ended up riding it three times in this super short trip to the parks and cannot wait to ride it again! I love how fun it is to celebrate at Disney, the little unexpected surprises and terrific Cast Members make it even more memorable. We were chatting with a Starbucks Cast Member and noticed that my daughter had a Haunted Mansion shirt on. They shared how they both love that attraction and she made a special surprise just for Hailey!
Popping over to Universal Orlando for a night at Sapphire Falls resort, we were so fortunate (LOL) to enjoy an evening at CityWalk during the worst thunderstorm I’ve seen in a long time. The hardest and heaviest rain, ponding everywhere, and getting stuck in a small store while trying to wait out the storm… so much fun! We did come home with new shoes, a beach towel, and umbrella I wasn’t expecting to add to my collection. The hubs braved the same storm while enjoying Halloween Horror Nights in Universal Studios but man, hours of a major downpour were not in the plan!
Moving right along, we drove over to Port Canaveral and boarded the newest ship in the Disney Cruise Line fleet, the Disney Wish. This is the 5th ship in the fleet and very different in layout and offerings from the first four. Since we were celebrating, we opted to go with a Concierge level room, which took the cruise to a whole new level of pampering! It took a bit to get used to the new flow of the ship, but once we got the hang of it, we were smooth sailing.
We had some friends staying in the Wish Tower Suite (aka the funnel), so we were able to go there and check out the palace that was their room (thanks Kelley!!). Talk about incredible! That room was huge and the bathroom… OMG!!
Concierge was great with the private lounge and pool, sundeck (perfect for an afternoon nap!), early entry to the nightly shows plus free popcorn, upgraded bath amenities, in-room sodas and waters, the best table locations each night in the main dining rooms for dinner, and so much more! Loved it!! Ten out of ten, would do concierge again. We were able to get a family cabana at Castaway Cay too (super hard since there are a very limited number available) and enjoyed soaking up the sun in our own private hideaway for the day.
The new restaurants onboard are great with tasty food and fun show experiences. My favorite, surprisingly, was Arendelle. This is the Frozen themed restaurant and the show for that meal is incredible. I really liked the show in the Worlds of Marvel restaurant as well but the food there was my least favorite. 1923, the third main dining room for dinner, didn’t have a show but was beautifully decorated and we really enjoyed the atmosphere and food there. The Little Mermaid is a fantastic evening show in the Walt Disney Theatre, the level of talent there was incredible! We never made it to the AquaMouse, the first Disney water attraction at sea. A three-night cruise is just so short, some things have to get tossed to the side to experience next time! Something we did experience a good bit, the laundry room onboard. Who does laundry on a cruise? This girl. I’m so happy to report that there is just one laundry room on the Wish and it is huge, with so many machines. For someone who has done laundry on all four ships and been frustrated time and time again, this was the best!! Look folks, it’s the little things…
Now we’re on to my most favorite part, our voyage on the Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser! This is the ‘Star Wars hotel’ at Disney and is unlike any hotel experience in the world. The voyages on the Starcruiser are only for two nights and are an all-inclusive experience. The only things you pay extra for are souvenirs and alcohol. These two nights are not cheap by any means. If you read about the voyages online, you’ll find plenty of people grousing about the cost, it not being ‘Star Wars enough’, etc. As a family of three huge Star Wars fans (movies, books, animated shows, live-action shows, video games), I’m here to tell you that that is all noise. This was one of the best things we have ever done, and we enjoyed every single second.
The voyage starts by arriving at the Starcruiser, which is located behind Batuu (Star Wars Land) in Hollywood Studios. The hotel looks pretty non-descript from the outside. When you arrive at the entrance, you’re greeted, and a team helps unload your bags. If you have a car, it is valet parked during the trip. You’re given your Starcruiser databand (a Starcruiser-exclusive MagicBand) and the arrival team will help you set up the Disney PlayParks app, if you haven’t already set that up, for each guest. If you’ve ever used the datapad function in Batuu during a visit to Hollywood Studios, this is a gigantic extension of how that works. You’re using the datapad to do missions and get messages throughout your voyage.
You’re escorted in to watch a brief video about safety during your voyage and then you’re taken to a launch pod to send you up to the Starcruiser itself. This Starcruiser is known as the Halcyon from the Chandrila Star Line and it has been taking guests around the galaxy from Core Worlds to the Outer Rim. When you exit the launch pod, you enter the enormous atrium of the Halcyon. This is the hub of the action throughout your journey. The bridge of the ship is off the atrium, there’s a bar (the Sublight Lounge), a retail spot for your Halcyon memorabilia purchases, and so much to explore! You are taken to your cabin (there are 100 cabins onboard) and shown the highlights of the room as well as how to operate your in-room droid D3-09. Your luggage is delivered straight to your cabin, so no need to fuss with the heavy lifting! Most of the rooms are standard cabins but there are a few suites onboard as well. For the three of us, a standard cabin was more than sufficient. We had a queen bed, two in-wall bunks (twins), and a pull-down twin bed for a 5th adult. You have a viewport that shows the view out into space during your travels (you can close it at night) and some other creature comforts like a pull-out desk and a TV if you need to keep up with what is going on back on your home planet. The bunk beds were really cool and more spacious than they look. They had a neat blanket like a sleeping bag without the zipper that was super comfy. The panel on the right below is where you tap your databand to contact D3-09.
What doesn’t the ship or rooms have? Windows! Remember, you’re in space so your viewport is your window to what is going on outside. I’ve heard some people say that would make them insane but you really don’t notice the lack of a window. There is a climate simulator that you can go into to simulate what the climate is like on Batuu (i.e. somewhere for you to go outside if you get claustrophobic) but it is just open air and you still can’t see the horizon, just some of the sky.
Speaking of Batuu, you do get a day (8am-4pm) to spend on an excursion to Batuu. Now, I’m guessing if you’re traveling on the Starcruiser that you’ve spent a good bit of time in Batuu already, so you’d likely do like we did and just visit long enough to do your missions and come back to the ship. You’re paying that higher price point to be able to enjoy the ship, so enjoy the ship! Guests to Batuu are given a special pin to wear so they’re easily identifiable to the Batuu crew. Your MyDisneyExperience app is preloaded with an anytime pass to ride Rise of the Resistance and Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run while you’re in Batuu. There are missions surrounding each of these but you don’t actually have to ride them if you don’t have time, the ride goes down, etc. You can still complete the missions regardless. We stopped for a drink in Oga’s Cantina (reservations still required but Starcruiser can help you book that) as there was also a mission related to Oga’s. Ultimately, we spent very little time on Batuu and hurried back to the ship for lunch and more fun! Oh! To get back and forth between Batuu and the Starcruiser, you traveled in a launch pod. I’ve heard the stories on the interwebs about how these don’t look like much from the outside but they are super fun on the inside. Very authentic looking and definitely part of the whole experience of heading to the planet for a visit.
I keep talking about missions and you’re probably wondering what that means. So, if you’ve ever used the datapad in Batuu before, you’ll know what I mean (kind of). What happens is that you board the ship and you’re sent various messages during the voyage about places you need to go, things you need to do, people you need to talk to. Even D3-09 is part of the action! Do you have to play along? Nope. Should you? YES!! You can also stay in costume for the entire experience if you’d like, just wear your favorite Star Wars t-shirt, or wear regular clothes. Nobody will judge you! The group of folks sailing with you are most likely huge Star Wars fans (or wet blankets, but they will become obvious pretty quickly and stay out of the fun) and be just as into the action as you are. After you choose your alliances, you’ll soon find yourself running around the ship trying to help your chosen side succeed. I’m not going to spoil any of the storyline, but you’ll find familiar faces (old and new) and some new friends onboard during your journey.
Besides the missions, you also get to participate in lightsaber training and bridge operations training. If you’ve bought a lightsaber in Batuu at Savi’s or Dok Ondar’s, you know how cool those are. Imagine using one and actually deflecting hits! So. Much. Fun! Bridge Ops is super, and you get to work at every station in the bridge, maybe with more action than you were bargaining for! There is ALWAYS something going on aboard the ship and the more you explore, the more fun you’ll have. Think of it sort of like an Escape Room, except you’re not trying to get out! There is even a game like Bingo you can play that is based on the planets of Star Wars as well as separate activities for the Loth Cat Crew (the younger children onboard). The Sublight Lounge has an electronic Sabaac game table if you want to see if you’d have been able to beat Lando to win the Millennium Falcon like Han did.
While you’re doing all of the missions and gathering intel, you definitely work up an appetite! Meals and snacks are provided and were delish! All types of foods were available for a variety of dietary needs. I am a vegetarian and had no issues finding something to eat. Oh yeah, blue and green milk are both on tap! Breakfast and lunch are buffet-style and dinner is served plated with a show/entertainment. We scored a reservation at the Captain’s Table for our second night, which allowed us to be even more in the action and also get a few extra courses with our meal. The first night, our table was front-and-center of the stage so we could take in the performance that night with a fantastic view. Each evening, there were also snacks available in the atrium and we had a big dessert party the last night.
The crew of the Halcyon was incredible. They go out of their way to help you and make you come away with the best experience possible. I was blown away by how well everyone follows the storyline and comes together to end the voyage with a bang! The other guests onboard our sailing were largely adults of all ages (late teens up to probably late 60s-early 70s) and a handful of kids probably under age 10. We often say that we’re huge nerds, especially when it comes to Star Wars, and we were in heaven! We found our people!
If you’re only “kind of” into Star Wars or know nothing about Star Wars, save your money and stay elsewhere. Honestly, that’s for no other reason than to not drag down everyone who enjoys it. If some of your family is really into Star Wars but others aren’t, have the others stay somewhere else and meet up with them after your two-night stay on the Starcruiser is finished. This is the place to geek out and get into the action (or watch from the sidelines but you’ll want to understand what you’re watching) and live your Star Wars dreams!
That’s it for now! Gotta rest up from this one!