I had the priviledge of having worked for Princess both shoreside at their corporate offices as well as onboard. Since that time, I have continued sailing with Princess because their product is great and I know from experience that they value the GLBT community. Albeit a bit slanted because of my brand loyalty, I'll offer my experiences for you to judge and compare with other cruiselines.
While working shoreside, my experience was one of total acceptance and open-mindedness from all coworkers. Although this may have changed over the years, the majority of my coworkers were women and most of (if not all) the men were very accepting. Yes, there were plenty of gay men shoreside as well.
My experience onboard was interesting to say the least; more than 600 crew members and I was 1 of 10 Americans onboard (). My cabin mate was also gay and despite culture differences, we got along great. The dancers - all gay. Every last one of them. The singers - both gay. From the Purser's staff, to the casino staff, to the bar staff and waiters, to the Shoppies, Photogs, especially the cruise staff, gay, gay, gay. I would have to say that the 10% rule jumps up on ships to about 20-30%. And the rest of the staff? Either they didn't mind or didn't care ... everyone just got along. I'll never forget my conversations with my Romanian friends that, despite being straight, they treated me like a brother. For those who don't know, being gay in Romania is a crime, which made their acceptance even more special. I even learned to speak Romanian which just baffled them. Everyone just got along great and looked out for one another.
Post ship life, the cruises I've taken with friends and my partner have always been very gay friendly. When reqeusted, my partner and I have never been turned down for a FOD party. We typically receive either a personal call or a short letter from the Cruise Director thanking us for our request. On our last 7 day cruise we had 3 get-togethers while on our 12 day cruise we had about 6 (YES, SIX!). A member of the Cruise Staff typically kicked off the 1st meeting, acting as the "social lubricant" as one staffer told us. They've brought with them a bottle or two of champagne and have been VERY welcoming to anyone gay or straight (we've had some stragglers that wanted to know what FOD meant - ). Our smallest gathering was approximately 6 people while our largest was 14-16. We were on our own for subsequent meetings, but it was OK. On our 12 day cruise some of us became an unseparable group of 8 that would always meet up at the Lobby Bar for pre-dinner drinks, FOD party or not. We got to know the bartender very well and he never batted an eye that we were gay. The rest of the staff has always been just as accomodating. As a note to anyone reading this who may wonder: my partner and I do not hold hands or show any other type of public displays of affection short of a hug or eating from each other's plates. We look like two average guys taking a cruise together that just happen to have a queen bed configuration in their cabin ... ! Should someone ask if we're gay, we have no problem saying so either.
All in all, boarding a Princess cruiseship whether domestically or abroad, I am confident in knowing that I will be treated like everyone else without regard to sexual orientation. To be honest, I kinda' expect to be treated better BECAUSE of my sexual orientation (). They don't call it Princess for nothin'!
Hope this helps you or any board readers. Princess Cruises truly is special and I hope each of you has the opportunity to experience it for yourself some day.
I wanted to thank you for the time you took in composing your thoughts and recommendation for Princess Cruise Lines. Your feedback is valuable to our readers, me included! I'm a "new Princess", or at least I will be in 2-weeks. Being an "X" die-hard cruiser for the past several years, this will be a big change for me and my partner.
Have you and Greg been on the smaller ships? Pacific or Tahitian?
I am sure the staff is affirming and very welcoming of the GLBT crowd....I guess my biggest concern are the passengers. You know, the fundamentalist type who have no tolerance? The kind we like to get away from on vacation?
Thanks again for providing very useful information. We all appreciate your kindness and reply to this post.
Greg & I have not been on Princess's smaller ships. My only concern is that your first "Princess experience" will be on a smaller ship that was not ordered or designed by Princess. As I'm sure you already know, Tahitian Princess was formerly "R Four" of Renaissance Cruises. From what I've seen and those I've spoken to, TP doesn't have the same type of ambiance that the line traditionally aims for like large/spacious lobbies, light woods, intimate areas, overall design, etc. The dark woods and ship configuration, especially, may lead some to believe that those were chosen by Princess. While I have zero doubt that the staff will be excellent and your cruise wonderful, it's human nature to naturally compare surroundings with what we already know. In this instance, I'm afraid Celebrity may win in comparison.
Because Greg & I have sailed on a couple of different Princess ships before, I'm tempted to try a smaller ship for comparison's sake. Please be sure to keep all of us informed on your thoughts after the cruise - I would LOVE to hear what you think.
Wishing you a great time on your upcoming journey,
we have done one carnival 2 hal 1 princess 1 rcl 5 and Celebrity here is a disclaimer.. Celebrity and RCL treats us so good we bought shares in the company..
After our November Cruise on the Connie..Azamara will be next on our list followed by Regent.. (or vica versa)
We did too! Thankfully, they have not stopped the owners credit. On our next X cruise in September, we'll be getting a $250 stateroom credit. Sure pays to be stock holders (even in a shaky economy).
We've been on 1 Carnival, 1 Princess and 10 Celebrity. Man, just calling Celebrity the other day to book our cruise made us feel 100 x better, from being on Princess.
I think you hit the nail on the head, when you referred to "them doing us the favor by allowing us to sail with them." I agree!
, I certainly didn't feel like a "Princess" while on their ship, but you know on Celebrity? I do feel like one. It goes without saying, their service is top-notch. There is a reason why they have been voted the best large cruise ship / line for a few years in a row.
That's funny, we were on Celebrity in December and we have been on a number or Princess cruises and always felt welcome on Princess. We did one Carnival, but it was a horrible experience. We were expecting more from the food on Celebrity, but being Montrealers, I guess that's just natural.
I guess it's different stroke for different folks. And I'm sure that ship makes a difference as well.
Quote: Subdued maybe.. but we felt like princess felt they were doing US the favor by allowing us to sail with them..
That sums up my last experience on the Pacific Princess as well. I won't get into detail on the board, but if anyone is interested, PM me and I'll share more.
I will say on my last cruise, I stopped and wrote a 2-page complaint. I told the Cruise Services Director that not only do I work for a hospitality company in Human Resources, but am a board moderator for Cruisemates.com.
I actually waited until the 10th day into the cruise to do this and although did not enjoy pulling this card, felt that they could care less about my passenger expereince if I didn't continue to speak up.
When my partner booked a family cruise (for 20 of us last year!), we were not sure. His parents were funding the cruise and we wanted to make sure we got the most value and service for our dollar. The travel agent at Virtuoso said, "If you're from the East Coast or West Coast, you won't want to go any lower than Celebrity." I didn't understand that until my last cruise. I live in SF, our friends who are from Boston were also on this past cruise and their feedback is similar to ours. Neither of us will go back to Princess. It's too costly for us to take that risk again.
I think you hit the nail on the head, when you referred to "them doing us the favor by allowing us to sail with them." I agree!
I must tell you the difference between our first HAL cruise on the Ryndam and the second on the Oosterdam was as different as night and day... the difference and it was huge was the Ryndam was pre Carnival..
My partner and I have cruised on Cunard, NCL, Princess, RC, and Celebrity. The best FOD experience was on a Princess cruise to Mexico-- the meetings were hosted by a very welcoming staff member. However, our last Princess cruise to Hawaii was very disappointing. I honestly don't remember anything about the gay experience on board, only that everything about the cruise felt shabby. I do remember that we vowed never to travel Princess again. We love RC and Celebrity and have always felt very comfortable on both. We particularly enjoyed the transatlantic crossings that we did on RC, our favorite on the Legend of the Seas, one of their smaller ships and one with a loyal staff. We had a table for two every night for 11 days at sea with a staff that we looked forward to seeing every night.
On a side off-topic note, I'm curious about the food on Cunard nowadays. We did a crossing on the QEII in 95 and the food and service was just superb; in fact, those meals remain the best dining experiences I've ever had. We did the same cruise 8 yrs later (in 03), same class, same dining room, and the dining experience was the worst we've ever had on a cruise ship. It was a major disappointment.
I am wondering if your question about Cunard's culinary services might receive more feedback if you posted this as a separate topic on the G/L board? Just a thought, but please feel free to put it out there if you like.
I have to say, I'm curious too! lol
Happy Sailing to you boys-I appreciate your feedback!
Hi Trition - My partner, Rob and I are from Boston, and have cruised on Princess, Celebrity, Holland America, and NCL. I agree with you that Celebrity does a great job of making us feel welcome and special. However, we have also had great experiences aboard Princess. On our first Princess cruise in 2003, we had a gay cruise director who went out of his way to make sure that we all "gay men" had an opportunity to meet each other, and even hosted a small cocktail party one evening which Princess paid for.
I think more and more we'll see most of the cruise lines step up to the plate and extend great hospitality.
I agree with you completely. For heaven's sake, it's past time for the major hospitality companies to recognize much of their business comes from "gay dollars". 8)
On my last Princess cruise, there was not a FOD - that I can recall. We were on the smaller Pacific Princess on an exotic, so maybe that's why? There were not too many younger or middle-aged and we only ran into one other gay couple.
My adopted parents live in Marlboro, MA. Parrot Mom is her screen name and she comes on the G/L board once in awhile to stir things up. She's a hoot and hope you boys can meet her.
My bestfriend is gay and married his partner.. They have not been on a cruise,, if i would suggest a ship and cruiseline, it would be Princess. The Crown and Caribbean Princess are both accomodating and the people who board these ship are more intellectual and less ignorant.
Royal caribbean has many upper middle class families that are snoby in some sense who turn their backs.
\Carnival is the Jerry Springer of all cruiselines.
Princess has many senior Bankers, Union workers who are close to retirement, business owners who enjoy what relaxation is meant to be.
Saddly, some parents bring their babies on Princess. There should be a age limit and no smoking policies at all times. Princess is good making smokers smoke only on one side of teh ship.
My past princess cruise, i met a couple from St Thomas. They were hilarious.
I'm shacked up to a lovely lady name Sherry and we are happy to have Gay friends.
I've been told Celebrities is the best when comparing to RCL and Princess. I will try them next time. Good Luck!
NCL stands out for me. We have been on 20 cruises over 5 each on Carnival, Celebrity/Rccl/ and NCL. One on Holland, Princess, and Disney. Never had a problem on any cruise from the staff. NCL staff's seems to be under less stress and not to busy and overworked to visit. NCL always very gay friendly and we meet more gay travelers on NCL. Love free style dining and so many choice of when and were to eat and we don't have to bring our tux or even a suit.
We live near Galveston and do avoid Carnival not because of the staff but because the Passengers tend to be not very gay friendly, we seen to always be assigned table mates uncomfortable with us. But only out of Galveston, have done Carnival out of other ports and no problems. And you can always dine elsewhere or have the assignments changed.
NCL Gay friendliest, affordable, great entertainment, dining options.
Celebrity Our second favorite for the great service and spa's
Carnival Great for a party, younger crowds, lots of good food.
We must be the odd ones out here. We've only ever cruised on Carnival or RCI and we've never once been discriminated against by any crew member or straight fellow passenger. We've found the attitude comes from fellow gay passengers that you see all over the ship, who won't involve themselves in GLBT get togethers, and seem content to "be above it all."
NCL STAR: 10/25/10
MONARCH OF THE SEAS: 08/31/09
STARSHIP OCEANIC: 92
Just returned from a 16-night Panama Canal cruise on Celebrity Infinity. My partner and I were most unhappy with Celebrity's change in policy concerning "gatherings." Based on our experience on this ship in early 2008, we expected to see several FOD meetings listed in Celebrity Today early in the cruise. After three days and no listing, we asked at Customer Relations, only to be told that corporate had ruled that no FOD meetings would be scheduled unless requested by passengers in at least two staterooms, and then they would only publish them on a "message board" next to Customer Relations.
On the sixth day of the cruise, we got a phone call that a FOD meeting had been scheduled that night at the Martini Bar. We contacted two other family members we had happened to meet so seven folks showed up. We were enjoying cocktails when the Hotel Director walked by. She was most welcoming and said she would be happy to schedule FOD whenever and wherever we wished, but that she could not publish them in the daily newsletter.
We could understand Celebrity's desire to limit the number of items listed in their daily newsletter, but they had no problem listing any number of other "gatherings" in the newsletter.
We were led to believe that this change was company wide and dictated by corporate. We'd be interested in anyone else's recent experience on Celebrity.
HI GH Dallas. I was on your cruise as well. Actually Celebrity explained in their first "Celebrity Today" paper that those meetings would not be posted in the paper, but on the activities / message board on the ship. I think they printed that article again later in the cruise.
Celebrity made this decision a few months ago as they were receiving a lot of requests for special gatherings for "special interests". The only other meeting group I noted in the daily paper was the "Freinds of Bill W".
I loved the cruise, we had a fabulous experience - especially on the heels of a Princess cruise taken in April, where there was no compliance or attention given at all to FOD.
I will be writing a review of our cruise and posting it later this week!
Glad you enjoyed your Panama Canal cruise and sorry we didn't run into you there -- perhaps the lack of FOD meetings? We enjoyed the cruise as well, but still have a bad taste in our mouths about Celebrity's FOD posting policy. We're wondering just how Celebrity defines "gatherings."
After noting the absence of FODs, we started looking for other gatherings in the daily newsletter. Every day a Friends of Bill W meeting was posted in Celebrity Today as well as on the message board. In addition, we noted listings in Celebrity Today for Singles and Solos, Service Club members, Catholic and Jewish services, and, I believe, at least one veteran's group. Are these not also gatherings?
It seems to us that if they are going to list gatherings such as those they should also list FODs. To not do so is discriminatory. After all, we've always felt that the main purpose of FOD meetings is to identify others with similar interests early in the cruise. Given that objective, it does little good to schedule them unless they are publicized. (Did you look for that "message board?" Could you even find it? It was hardly conspicuous.) One or two meetings scheduled early in a cruise and noted along with other gatherings in Celebrity Today should be sufficient.
In this case, Celebrity only hurt themselves. On last year's South American cruise on the Infinity, several of us met at early-scheduled FOD meetings and as a result, 8-12 of us met nearly every evening thereafter for cocktails at Michael's Club. The bar bill was significant and we all had a great time. This time fewer gatherings and lower bar bills.
I understand and hear your concerns and wish =X= didn't take this step backwards. Honestly, I don't think their motive was disciminatory. Working in hospitality, I think it would be a foolish move for any hotel, cruise line, restaurant, etc. to move backwards or blatantly take a stand which subjected the GLBT vacationer to feel awkward and second-best. Truly, it would have been better for X to not have advertised FOD at all, than to post and then take it away.
Saying that, maybe we should voice our concerns collectively and individually to Celebrity and RCI. I'm game, how about you? Any others?
In answer to your question about "what is a gathering", I think that FOD would be more of a social gathering, wherein Freinds of Bill W is a support group for alchoholics and the Protestant / Jewish meetings are for religous ceremonies or services. I do hear what you are questioning, and hope that the GLBT voice reaches out to not only Celebrity but other organizations to challenge their "executive" decisions.
My partner and I have cruised NCL, Princess, and Celebrity. I have been most impressed with NCL as far as recognizing us as a couple. When they send us mail, a single piece comes addressed to both of us, as in Mr. A and Mr. G. On board we've always been recognized as a couple, and they have always had FOD gatherings posted in the daily newsletter, and have always met others on board. We enjoy the number of dining choices on board and the freedom from formal nights! We really like the Dawn and Jewell class ships.
Our Princess cruise was just o.k. Nothing was really wrong, but having read about how great Princess was and how much better Princess was than NCL, I was really quite disappointed in the overall experience. We were on the Crown Princess, and the ship's public spaces were beautiful. Several FOD's were planned and posted in the Patter and were well attended. It was very nice that these were hosted and usually Champagne was provided. The food was very good, but overall the offerings were "safe" choices that were geared to the North American tastes. We did not find it to be the much higher quality that many reviewers expressed when comparing to NCL. We missed the variety of food types that are available on NCL. Would we go on Princess again - maybe if the price and itinerary were right.
My partner went Transatlantic on the Millennium, and we both took a quick 3 nighter on the Mercury. We were very impressed with the service, food, and hospitality on board the ships. There were FOD meetings on the TA, and as well as one posted for the 3 nighter on the Mercury. Yes, on the Mercury the meeting was posted on the message board at the desk in the atrium. The board was easily located. We found the food to be much better than Princess, and the staff on the Mercury was great to us. We had no problems with our dining room tablemates, and it was a very enjoyable quick get away. We look forward to trying out one of the new Solstice class ships!
S/S Emerald Seas - 6/83
S/S Norway - 12/99
Norwegian Majesty - 11/02
Norwegian Sea - 12/02
Norwegian Star - 10/04
Norwegian Star - 04/05
Norwegian Jewel - 10/06
Norwegian Pearl - 6/07
Crown Princess - 10/08
Norwegian Spirit - 4/09
Star Clipper - 09/09
Celebrity Mercury - 10/09
Pride of America - 6/10
Celebrity Eclipse - 11/10
Norwegian Dawn - 2/11
My husband and I have always found Celebrity to be the most gay friendly. I read reciently on the Celebrity forum that the line will no longer be schedueling religious services and FOD meetings? and other special interest group meetings?
Triton, do you have the scoop on this? are meeting simply no longer printed in the daily newsletter? but instead posted somewhere on the ship? what gives?
My partner and I are in the process of booking a cruise to the Eastern Caribbean, and I was hoping for a few opinions on the Celebrity Solstice (especially from the "gals").
We took our first cruise last March on the Carnival Legend, and while we had a great time, it would be a nice treat to hang out with a few more "like-minded" people this time around.
It would appear that some of you really LOVE the Princess line, while others are partial to Celebrity, and still others recommend Norwegian. I am wondering if these preferences are gender specific though.
I would like to book ASAP, and welcome anything additional you all might have to add.