"Cruise Trek and Cruise Trek! What is Cruise Trek?!" (apologies to Classic Trek's episode "Spock's Brain" but I just couldn't resist!) I'm sure I heard phrases like that rattling around when Marguerite first let everyone know that René would be joining this year's adventure. In short, it's a Star Trek convention on the high seas, but to leave it there doesn't do the event justice.
Cruise Trek, brain-child of Charles Datin and his former business partner Linda Wolfe, started in 1992 with a three-day cruise from Long Beach to Catalina Island and Ensenada, Mexico. Following the success of that trip, Charlie and Linda booked Holland America's ms Masdaam in 1994, taking over 900 Trek fans along with 10 actors (including René) to visit Alaska's Inland Passage. From those humble beginnings, Cruise Trekkers have explored the globe, seeing the sights in the Americas, Europe, Asia, the Caribbean, and Down Under.
Like all Star Trek conventions, there are activities for enlightenment and entertainment. Actors and behind-the-scenes guests are invited to participate in formal panels and informal discussions. The Cruise Trekkers play a variety of games of skill and chance. Over the years, Star Trek-themed versions of popular games shows such as Jeopardy, Pictionary, Family Feud, Password, and Wheel of Fortune along with various trivia contests have kept everyone busy on the days at sea or after hours. The annual Uno Tournament has brought out "aggressive tendencies" on more than one occasion.
This year's Cruise Trek sailed from Savona, Italy to visit Valencia, Cadiz and Barcelona in Spain, Lisbon, Portugal, and Casablanca, Morocco. In addition to René and Judith, John de Lancie and his wife Marnie Mosiman, along with Lolita Fatjo (TNG/DS9/Voyager Script Coordinator), Eric Stillwell (writer of TNG's "Yesterday's Enterprise" and former assistant to Michael Pillar), and Richard Arnold (Star Trek expert and former assistant to Gene Roddenberry) joined the Cruise Trek Family Travelers.
One of the hallmarks of Cruise Trek is the goal of making the cruises a vacation opportunity for the actor guests as well as the passengers. Other than the Welcome Aboard party, Q&A, photo session, and Farewell event, guests are invited to participate in the fun and games as they wish. Days in port allow everyone to explore using organized tours or whatever walkabout option suits one's preference. There's never a need to explore solo, as groups of Cruise Trekkers are always open to adding one more to their Away Team.
René and John's first "formal" event was a Q&A session on the first day from port. "Formal" is perhaps a misnomer, however, as these sessions invariably become a shared conversation (if you've attended any of René's hotel room gatherings at a traditional convention, you have a good idea of the way this activity is structured). Both actors opened by sharing some of their current projects. As often happens, someone will ask a question about the craft of acting, theater, or a similar topic and the conversation takes off. Much too soon, the hour is gone. Fortunately, the conversation continued during the CT Farewell on the last evening at sea.
One of the highlights of any Cruise Trek is Pictionary, with all the categories related to Star Trek. René got this year's game off to a rousing start, taking advantage of the poster-sized paper to create several of his signature drawings which he donated to the charity auction. He quickly distinguished himself as the "King of Pictionary" much to the delight of everyone, even stepping in to offer an assist to John on one of the topics ("Encounter at Farpoint").
René was a welcome participant in various other activities, including the walking tour in Lisbon. He also dropped by our "home" on Deck 12 from time to time to see what was happening.
On a personal note, I've been lucky enough to sail on all the Cruise Trek's since 1992 except one. It's my favorite way to spend my vacation! Through the years, I've gotten to know many of the personalities from Star Trek as "people," not just faces on the screen, and made friends all over the world. From all of us at Cruise Trek, a big THANKS to René and Judith for sailing with us this year. Hope to see you again soon!