Geek Road Trip: 5 nerdy cruises that let you geek out on the high seas

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Aug 4, 2018, 6:34 PM EDT (Updated)

Cruising used to have a yawn-inspiring reputation, but that is far from the truth today. Now theme cruises empower you to enjoy a vacation while immersing yourself in your favorite fictional world. From having an adventure with your favorite Doctor Who character to playing limitless games with fellow geeks, you can choose from a diverse array of geek cruises.

Basically, if you can dream it, you can geek out with it on the high seas. Consider these five fascinating geek cruises as gateways to fandom with the fishes (we're going to trademark that, so don't bother trying to swipe it).

Star Trek: The Cruise

The devotion of Star Trek fans would be hard to best. The fandom is respected and celebrated in Star Trek: The Cruise, which is next setting sail in July 2019. "Folks have been going to Star Trek conventions for years where they line up for hours to get autographs and photographs. The entire interaction takes less than five minutes. Here, they are sailing with these stars for six days," explains Michael Lazaroff, the executive director of Entertainment Cruise Productions.

The personalized care and attention attract many fans. In the past, the immersive experience has included unique interactive activities with beloved Star Trek actors from the films and television shows. "In the past, fans on the cruise have done everything from a Klingon Pub Crawl with Michael Dorn in full costume and makeup to shore excursions led by actors such as Denise Crosby to meditation with Nana Visitor to creative performances by the actors that they have chosen and developed themselves," Lazaroff notes. "We've even had fans renew their vows with one of the actors onboard acting as the officiant."

Keep in mind that the activities on past cruises may not be on the upcoming Star Trek cruises. They strive to make each one unique. However, fans always get interactions with the actors and the opportunity to see them in a relaxed cruise environment. The ship also includes a fun homage to the Star Trek Universe by flying the Federation flag and has redesigned several spaces to pay homage to places from the Star Trek films and television shows.

So, what else is in store for 2019? According to Lazaroff, "We've got amazing parties every night like Q's Costume Party, nightly shows that feature the actors and other fascinating artists and speakers, panel discussions, cocktail parties and more."

JoCo Cruise

The JoCo Cruise, which next sails in March 2019, is a weeklong cruise that offers a week of music, comedy, and general nerdery on the highs seas. It's named for Jonathan Coulton, the American singer-songwriter who is known for his music that celebrates geek culture. He co-founded the cruise with Paul and Storm (Paul Sabourin and Greg "Storm" DiCostanzo).

About the cruise, Coulton says, "We like to say it's your favorite Con, but with only the good parts. The community is warm and welcoming, and there's a little bit of something for everyone — tabletop gaming, music, stand-up comedy, panels and Q&A, plus all of the ridiculous fruity-drink fun you'd expect on a cruise."

And unlike some cruises, you don't have to worry about not being stuck on deck for a week with passengers with very divergent interests and tastes.

"Unquestionably, this cruise is about the community," observes Coulton. "We just create a space for them to play in, and they fill it with this amazing spirit of fun and participation and goofy joy. Of course, we set up shows and meet-ups and all kinds of entertainment, but we leave space for the week to grow into whatever shape it wants to take."

The JoCo Cruise also is the ultimate vacation for gamers. The boat has a dedicated space for tabletop gaming and, according to Coulton, "a literal ton of games (as in 2,000 pounds!) in our game library." The cruise also includes a whole parallel schedule of events created and run by the attendees, which the organizers refer to as the shadow cruise. It offers events like a Hamilton singalong, open mic nights, dancing lessons, crafting circles, and puzzle hunts.

Disney's Star Wars Day at Sea

Two iconic brands, one boat. Star Wars Day at Sea that "transports Disney Cruise Line guests to a galaxy far, far away for a daylong celebration of the legendary adventures of the Star Wars saga," says Jim Urry, the Vice President of Entertainment of the Disney Cruise Line. The next one will take place in early 2019 aboard select seven-night Disney Cruise Line sailings from Port Canaveral.

The Star Wars Day at Sea immerses cruisers in the iconic world of Darth Vader, Chewbacca, Stormtroopers, Jedi, and droids. It is part of a weeklong Caribbean cruise, and it offers attendees of all ages the chance to enjoy intergalactic menus during all meals of the days, Star Wars entertainment, character encounters, costume celebrations, the chance to buy specialty merchandise, and a huge deck party spectacular with fireworks at sea.

"The stories and characters of the Star Wars saga uniquely transcend generations — from parents and grandparents who grew up with the original trilogy to young children who are just being introduced into this incredible galaxy — so we saw Star Wars Day at Sea as a great way to give both longtime Jedi Masters and aspiring Padawans the chance to fully immerse themselves into the world of Star Wars during their cruise vacation," Urry says.

Character appearances take place throughout the day. Guests are also encouraged to bring their own galactic costumes for a special gathering in the atrium lobby. Children can enjoy a special Jedi training session where they can try out their new-found skills in a final faceoff with Darth Vader and Kylo Ren.

Sci-Fi Sea Cruise

scifi sea cruise

The Sci-Fi Sea Cruise offers experiences designed to delight Doctor Who fans. Organizer Dan Harris explains that this cruise offers a "greater degree of close personal experience between the celebrities and their fans that is simply not possible at a traditional convention, or on any of the larger more mass-market cruise experiences."

The Sci-Fi Sea Cruise has celebrated Doctor Who and the show's fandom throughout the more than 20 voyages they have sailed since the first trip in 1988. Harris says keeping the group limited to a comfortable size is a decision to help keep both the fans and celebrity participants happy. The group size tends to be very low for a fan cruise, with the group typically being between 20 and 50 participants, with the largest group being just over 60.

This cruise offers interesting shore activities where the Doctor Who celebs and fans can casually enjoy an adventure together. Harris says they also offer "creative workshops where the fans and the actors get to work together, either on writing workshops on the shorter cruises where the actors do a cold reading of the stories on the last night of the cruise."

Longer cruises get the fans in on the action.

"On cruises of a week or longer we actually produce a short script and film our own mini Doctor Who story, where the actors can play their original parts and many of the fans can join them on screen or in production work," Harris says.

September 2019 is when the next Sci-Fi Sea Cruise will sail After that? Harris says, "The next voyage has not been officially announced yet, but the wheels are turning. I can tell you to keep your calendar clear for the 13th through the 22nd of December 2019 for a nine-night voyage out of Miami to the deep southern Caribbean and back, and that two of the Doctors have already told me that they most definitely intend to be on board with us, and three others are seriously thinking about it. Who you ask? Who indeed! Only time will tell..."

ConVoluted CON Cruise

According to its founder Jay Wright, the ConVoluted CON Cruise is a "time for fans of sci-fi and cosplay conventions to get together and get to know each other without having to rush to panels and events or go stand in long lines." The 4th annual ConVoluted CON Cruise will depart in February 2019.

The ConVoluted CON Cruise is the perfect fit for fans who want the activities and ambiance of cons without the celebrities and hype. Wright explains, "We do all the usual things that people would normally do at a convention such as cosplay, gaming and room parties. The only difference is we are not paying celebrities to be there so that the attendees can then pay them for autographs and pictures." Not having featured guests or panels allows them to keep the costs very low and free up time for the people on the cruise to relax and participate in the group activities with like-minded people.

All group activities onboard are structured to encourage interaction with others. "A good example is our game night where we play games like Cards against Humanity, but we play it musical chairs style. We start with 10 to 15 tables. Then every 20 to 30 minutes, everyone has to switch tables. This gives everyone a chance to meet and interact with others in the group to make new friends. All group activities are structured in a similar manner," says Wright.

"This is a not-for-profit group. Everything is by the fans and for the fans. Even the organizers pay 100% of their own way for the cruise. This is a time for our fellow nerds and geeks to let that Geek Flag fly high and be among like-minded people. We create a very welcoming and diverse environment for people to get together and be who they are."

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