So I sent away for a brochure from Atlantis Events, a specialist in chartering entire ships to provide cruises just for gays. I soon started receiving their yearly brochure and I was on their e-mail list. In October of 2002, I asked my partner if he would be interested. At first he had some reluctance about going on an all-gay cruise, thinking that it might be a little "too cruisey," or that it might be like a floating bathhouse. But for us, it wasn't that at all.
In October 2002 we booked our first Atlantis cruise, joining 2,000 other guests of Atlantis Events in the Caribbean March 9-16, 2003 aboard Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Sky (now the Pride of Aloha).
An Atlantis Cruise is a unique experience. It provides fun activities, an opportunity to relax and be pampered, and to be entertained by great performers - a lot of them gay themselves. Most of all, it gives you the chance to meet new friends and diverse people from all over. Some participants in an all-gay cruise are traveling alone, while others are among groups of friends, and still others are couples. The age of guests ranges from young people in their 20s to older gentlemen in their 70s, who often take these cruises to celebrate the anniversaries of their life-long relationships. The average age of guests on these cruises seems to be between 35 and 45.
Our first cruise with Atlantis Events was the best vacation of our lives. So in the summer of 2004, we booked our second gay cruise with Atlantis aboard Royal Caribbean's huge vessel Navigator of the Seas, sailing January 29, 2005 in what was billed as "the largest gay cruise in history".
Atlantis had chartered one of the largest cruise ships in the world, and it completely sold out many months in advance. The cruise was amazing, and the ship itself was astounding. We were among approximately 3,100 gay men and 30 or so lesbians, all experiencing the trip of a lifetime
After our first all-gay cruise with Atlantis in 2003, we knew better what to expect and had better prepared ourselves for the fun and festivities. Our preparation for the second cruise started months in advance, finding fun things to decorate our stateroom door with, creating costumes for the various theme parties, buying glow sticks and blinky-light jewelry, and creating our own contact information cards to hand out to new friends.
The cruise lines' crew seems to enjoy when their ship is chartered by gay groups such as Atlantis, and they have always been very respectful. Many of the ship's crew get into the spirit of things and want to join in with some of the partying and festivities.
Let's Talk About Sex
However, an all-gay cruise is NOT a "floating bathhouse." At times, certain areas of the ship do tend to become "cruising areas," so to speak, but that's the same kind of thing you would find in any city or at any gay bar. When you think about it, a cruise ship really is a floating city. If you want to avoid these areas, you certainly can; if you are looking for that kind of activity, it is discreetly there and available.
If you are going on a gay cruise as a monogamous couple, simply looking for a great vacation in a comfortable environment -- where you could be affectionate with each other in public areas - this kind of a cruise definitely provides that.
We met many nice people on the Atlantis cruises that we took. Not everyone on these ships is the buff circuit-boy type like you see in some of the brochures. There are lots of ordinary, everyday people -- from different age groups, with different builds, and from different countries.
Many people we met had been on other gay cruises with Atlantis, some of them many times over. We can see why: Atlantis seems to have a well managed team of dedicated individuals who do their best to ensure that you have a fantastic time. Having such an excellent reputation and a strong base of repeat guests, it's no wonder Atlantis has been able to charter some of the newest and the largest ships. The popularity of these all-gay charters can be measured in how quickly they sell out - usually many months in advance of their sailing.
There wasn't a single thing about any of the gay cruises I have been on that I would have changed, or that I could criticize. I would encourage anyone thinking about going on a gay cruise for the first time to "Just Do It." Like so many of us, you will thoroughly enjoy yourself and will probably be back for more. For additional information, visit Atlantis at www.atlantisevents.com.