Tiger Cruise (2004)


Tiger Cruise is a Disney Channel Original Movie that debuted on Disney Channel in the United States on August 6, 2004. It stars Hayden Panettiere and Bill Pullman.

The film’s fictional events are intertwined with the real-life events of the 11 September 2001 attacks in which USS Constellation was, as depicted, actually returning from her 2001 Western Pacific deployment with “tigers” on board when the September 11 terrorist attacks occurred.


Teenager Maddie Dolan hails from San Diego. She looks forward to the day her father Gary, a Commander in the US Navy, retires from military service so that he can share Maddie’s life at home with her sister Kiley and their mother Kate. Maddie’s dad invites her to participate in Operation Tiger, a week-long cruise for military families and their friends aboard the aircraft carrier USS Constellation. She agrees and soon hits it off with fellow teens Anthony and Tina. Tina is fascinated by the military, her elder sister Grace being a United States Naval Aviator. Anthony, an aspiring drummer from New York City, would rather have nothing to do with the military, although his elder brother Kenny is a sailor. Maddie also bonds with preteen Joey, whose mom is a “Squid” (Naval slang for sailor) aboard the Constellation.

On 10 September 2001 (one day into the cruise), the “Tigers” are excited about the day’s upcoming air show. Tina hopes to take pictures from the flight deck of Grace’s jet taking off. However, the flight deck is a restricted area due to safety regulations; non-military personnel must watch the airshow from “Vulture’s Row”. Tina, Maddie and Anthony disguise themselves as members of the deck crew so that Tina can get the pictures she wants. The threesome are recognized by the instructor and brought to Captain Anderson’s office. The Captain reprimands the teenagers for their reckless actions, warning them that violation of any further regulations will get all three confined to their quarters until the carrier docks. After the teens retire, Anderson admits to their families that – more than anything else – his threats were intended to scare the threesome into line and keep them there.

Gary, Grace, and Kenny express their disappointment over what happened during the air show. Commander Dolan tells Maddie about another, tragic incident when a crew member was killed landing a jet during practice manoeuvres. Maddie tearfully divulges her true reason for accepting his invitation: she dislikes the negative connotations that come with being a military brat. Maddie recalls how she and Kiley got jumped on their first day at school and suspended for fighting. Gary agrees to come home after the voyage.

On 11 September 2001, the crew and passengers learn of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre and The Pentagon. With the Constellation abruptly going on full alert, Tina finally realises the truth behind her sister’s assertions regarding the less-glamorous side of military life. Anthony fears for the safety of people he knew who had jobs in the Twin Towers. Maddie experiences her father’s honour, courage, and commitment to his family and also his will to make sacrifices for their country. Although upset that her dad is still needed in the military, she and her fellow Tigers express their pride and support by unfurling a giant American flag on the Constellation’s flight deck. Maddie, having concluded that being a “brat” is not so bad after all, tells her father and his crew-mates to keep doing what they do.


  • Hayden Panettiere as Madeline “Maddie” Dolan.
  • Bill Pullman as Commander. Gary Dolan.
  • Bianca Collins as Tina.
  • Nathaniel Lee, Jr. as Anthony.
  • Mercedes Colon as Grace.
  • Mehcad Brooks as Kenny.
  • Jansen Panettiere as Joey.
  • Lisa Dean Ryan as Diane.
  • Troy Evans as Chuck Horner.
  • Ty O’Neal as Danny Horner.
  • Chris Ellis as Captain Anderson.
  • Gary Weeks as Lieutenant Tom Hillman.
  • Barbara Niven as Kate Dolan.
  • Jennette McCurdy as Kiley Dolan.
  • E. Matthew Buckley as Pilot Brown.
  • Mark Christopher Lawrence as Pop.


While the film is set aboard the USS Constellation, it was actually filmed aboard the USS John C. Stennis and the USS Nimitz. It was also filmed on location in San Diego.

Panettiere sings the theme song for the film, “My Hero Is You”.


Tiger Cruise had its broadcast premiere on Disney Channel on 06 August 2004, but the film had its premiere in Los Angeles with many stars of other Disney Channel Original Movies in attendance.

Many critics noted that the film departed from the usual Disney Channel Original Movie formula.


When USS 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 USS John C. Stennis, with additional filming on board USS Nimitz and at least one passing shot of USS Abraham Lincoln. (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 John C. Stennis were used as extras, and a few can be seen wearing John C. Stennis ballcaps instead of the proper Constellation caps.

On 12 September 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.

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s): Duwayne Dunham.
  • Producer(s):
    • Bill Borden … executive producer.
    • Sanford Hampton … line producer.
    • Barry Rosenbush … executive producer.
  • Writer(s): Anna Sandor and Bruce Graham.
  • Music: Steven Bramson.
  • Cinematography: Robert Seaman.
  • Editor(s): Don Brochu.
  • Production:
    • Disney Television Studios.
    • First Street Films.
    • Stu Segall Productions.
  • Distributor(s):
    • Disney Channel (2004) (USA) (TV) (original airing).
    • RTL Klub Televízió (2007) (Hungary) (TV) (original airing).
    • Disney+ (2019) (Australia) (video) (VOD).
    • Disney-ABC Domestic Television (2004) (USA) (TV).
  • Release Date: 06 August 2004.
  • Running Time: 88 minutes.
  • Rating: PG.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

Video Link

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