Tiger Cruise

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Tiger Cruise
Upper side (above title logo): blond young daughter at left, Navy father at right; lower side (below title logo): the United States Navy ship on the sea
Promotional poster
Written by Anna Sandor
Bruce Graham
Directed by Duwayne Dunham
Starring Hayden Panettiere
Bill Pullman
Mehcad Brooks
Troy Evans
Jennette McCurdy
Theme music composer Steve Bramson
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
Producer(s) Bill Borden
Barry Rosenbush
Running time 88 min.
Production company(s) Stu Segall Productions
First Street Films
Distributor Stu Segall Productions
Disney–ABC Domestic Television
Original network Disney Channel
Original release August 6, 2004

Tiger Cruise (released August 6, 2004) is the 54th Disney Channel Original Movie. It stars Hayden Panettiere and Bill Pullman. The film's fictional events are intertwined with the real-life events of the September 11, 2001 attacks. The USS Constellation was, as depicted, actually returning from her 2001 Western Pacific deployment with "tigers" onboard when the September 11 terrorist attacks occurred.

This is one of only two films to date in which both Panettiere and her real-life younger brother Jansen appear, the other being The Forger. (Both were also involved with Racing Stripes – Hayden was the human star and Jansen's voice was used for the young zebra, Stripes, at the beginning of the film.)


Maddie Dolan, a teenager from San Diego, wants to convince her father Gary Dolan, a U.S. Navy Commander, to give up his career and come home. Maddie accepts her father's offer to participate in Operation Tiger, a week-long cruise for military families and their friends aboard his aircraft carrier. She meets two other teenagers boarding the Tiger cruise, Tina and Anthony. Tina is fascinated by military life; her older sister Grace is a United States Naval Aviator. Anthony, whose older brother Kenny is a sailor, is a drummer who prefers to have nothing to do with military life.

On September 10, 2001, one day into the cruise, Maddie and Tina are excited about the day's upcoming air show. When Grace hears that the girls want to be on the flight deck taking pictures of her jet taking off, she refuses, telling them that the flight deck is a restricted area due to safety regulations and they can watch the airshow only from Vulture's Row. The three teenagers, disguised as members of the deck crew, take pictures of Grace's jet taking off from the flight deck. The instructor recognizes them as civilians and orders the airmen and sailors to capture them. In Captain Anderson's office, he reprimands the teenagers for their reckless actions and he gives a warning; if any of them violate any further regulations, they will be restricted to their quarters until the carrier lands. The incident leaves the teenagers' families disappointed.

Dolan confronts an unrepentant Maddie about disobeying those regulations. He tells her about another incident when a crew member was lost while trying to land a jet during a practice maneuver. Kenny confronts Anthony about his actions and violating the rules. Maddie, Anthony and Tina apologize to each other and discuss how their parents reacted to their actions. Maddie apologizes to her father, then tearfully divulges her true reason for agreeing to met him in Hawaii: she is tired of being a navy brat. She explains she and her sister, Kiley got jumped on their first day and the school claimed she was fighting. Commander Dolan then forgives her and tells her he will come home after the voyage.

On September 11, 2001, the passengers learn of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and The Pentagon. The ship goes into high alert. Tina finally realizes the full meaning of her sister's assertions that military life was not as glamorous as she thought it was. Anthony, who lives in New York City, finds himself fearing for the safety of the people he knew who had jobs in the Twin Towers. Maddie experiences her father's honor, courage and commitment to his family, and his will to make sacrifices for his country. She realizes that he will have to remain in the military, which upsets her. At Maddie's suggestion, the passengers unfurl a giant American flag on the deck. Maddie tells her father to keep doing what he's doing and she has accepted being a military brat.


When the Constellation arrives in San Diego, California, downtown San Diego is featured in the background, showing the Twin Hyatts. In actuality, only the first one had been completed by September 2001, roughly around the time of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Much of the movie was shot on board the USS John C. Stennis, with additional filming on board USS Nimitz (the Constellation was decommissioned before production started). The hull numbers of all three ships are visible at various times throughout the movie. Actual crew members of the Stennis were used as extras, and a few can be seen wearing Stennis ballcaps instead of the prop Constellation caps.

On September 12, 2001, the full moon was shown. The actual phase of the moon was a waning crescent less than a week away from a new moon.

The shots in the beginning of the movie featuring Maddie's home were filmed at Orange Lake Country Club in Kissimmee, Florida.



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