Gay and lesbian cruisers may be able to meet their "fellow travelers" at the occasional "Friends of Dorothy" party on mainstream cruise lines; but taking a charter provides a unique seagoing vacation in an openly gay environment all over the ship.
Five travel companies offer all-gay charters: RSVP Vacations, Atlantis, Olivia, Windjammer, and the newest one on the block, Rosie O'Donnell's R Family Vacations. For simplicity's sake, we are talking only about gay cruises on chartered ships – not those travel companies that book GLBT tours on standard sailings.
Companies offering all-gay or lesbian cruises tout their sailings as a means for GLBT sailors to feel free to be themselves anywhere on board, without worrying whether Mr. and Mrs. Heterosexual Cruiser will be offended at the sight of two men walking hand-in-hand along the promenade deck, or two women enjoying a slow dance to k.d. lang's "Miss Chatelaine."
This open environment is the main attraction of all-gay charters, but these trips offer more than that. There may be unique events on-board, such as a take on Palm Springs' famous "White Party," or the gay version of the cruise staple "Newlywed and Not So Newlywed Game," providing gay travelers with a new version of fun.
Moreover, most lines will book not only gay-oriented comedy acts for these charter sailings, but also name entertainers, including Melissa Etheridge, the Indigo Girls, Chaka Kahn, Blondie, and more.
Following is a summary of gay and lesbian cruises for 2005, with summaries of rates, ports and ship information. Contact each company directly for more details, or your travel agent.
- 7/14/05-7/24/05 – Prague to Budapest. Cruise/tour on a river boat visiting Prague, Nuremberg, Salzburg, Vienna and Bratislava, Slovakia. $2,295 forward. All other 2005 sailings are currently wait-listed.
- 03/12/05-03/19/05 – Southern Caribbean on Celebrity Constellation. Departing San Juan, and visiting St. Martin, St. Lucia, Grenada and Aruba. Inside rates begin at $899.
- 07/29/05-08/07/05 – Barcelona to Athens on Celebrity Millennium. Departing Barcelona and visiting Ibiza, Florence, Rome, Santorini, Mykonos and Athens. Inside cabins begin at $1,599.
- 08/21/05-08/28/05 – Summer in Alaska on Celebrity Infinity. Departing Vancouver and visiting Ketchikan, Hubbard Glacier, Juneau and Sitka. Limited number of ocean view cabins available at $1,349.
- 08/31/05-09/09/05 – Italy and Greek cruise on RCCL's Brilliance of the Seas. Sailing round-trip from Barcelona and visiting Nice, Rome, Mykonos, Crete and Naples. Inside cabins from $1,799.
- 10/15-10/23/05 - Mexican Riviera cruise on RCCL's Radiance of the Seas. Sailing round-trip from San Diego and visiting Ixtapa, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas. Inside cabins beginning at $959.
- 1/29/05-2/2/05 – Four Night Caribbean cruise on Holland America's Zaandam. Guest entertainer: Wynona. Visiting Freeport and Half Moon Cay. Rates available direct.
- 04/3/05/-04/10/05 – Eastern Caribbean on Holland America's Westerdam. Guest entertainer: Melissa Etheridge. Departing Fort Lauderdale and visiting the Bahamas and Virgin Islands. Rates available direct.
- 05/08/05-05/15/05 – Alaska Discovery on Holland America's Veendam. Guest entertainer: Mary Chapin Carpenter. Departing Vancouver and visiting Seward, Alaska. Rates available direct.
R Family Vacations www.Rfamilyvacations.com
- 07/10/05-07/18/05 – New England Cruise on Norwegian Dawn. Round trip from New York and visiting Halifax, Nova Scotia; Provincetown, MA; Boston; and Martha's Vineyard. Inside cabins beginning at $999.
Windjammer Gay Cruises www.Windjammerwest.com/gay.htm
- 04/03/05-04/09/05 – Caribbean cruise on Polynesia. Sailing to St. Maarten, St. Barts, St. Kitts and the Leeward Islands depending on weather conditions. Rates begin at $800.
- 07/28/05-08/02/05 – New England cruise on the Arabella. Visiting Newport, R.I.; Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket Island. Rates begin at $1,100.
- 11/27/05-12/03/05 – Grenada. On board Yankee Clipper, sailing to Grenada and the Grenadines. Ports depend on weather conditions. Rates beginning at $900.
Harry Martin is the moderator of the G/L and Mexico boards on Cruisemates.com.
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