I am interested in your feedback on your preferred cruise line (and why)...particularly would like to hear from women and men who have sailed more than one cruise line.
For example, I have sailed on Carnival and Celebrity only. My first cruise was on Carnival and although it was OK, I didn't feel comfortable at my dinner table. I remember asking the Restaurant Manager for a table for two. I met other Gay and Lesbian couples on that Carnival sailing, but for some reason, there were no FOD meetings. I can't really say it's a "fair" analysis though as it was only a 1-week cruise.
For the past several years I have only sailed on Celebrity (most of their vessels). Every cruise has had FOD meetings. I have met many new friends on the Celebrity cruises and only on ONE cruise felt there wasn't a lot of tolerance (happened to be a 12 night cruise on the Mercury to Mexico).
On Celebrity, the staff treats me and my partner really special...when it's our anniverary or birthday or any reason to celebrate, they seem to go out of their way to make our stay with them as comfortable and hospitable as they can. We're from California and may be more used to others respecting our sexuality, but their genuine kindness for two gay men amazes me sometimes. This may sound strange, but on the past three cruises, we found our neighbors to be gay and lesbian!! We were not on a chartered cruise or with a tour group either. Anyhow, it helped us feel more at home and "comfortable".
I have found it very easy to find and enjoy the company of other "straight" passengers on Celebrity, this may be a gross generalization, but there seems to be a lot of "tolerance" and open-mindedness with those passengers...of course not eveyrone is, but as the saying goes, "Some will-some won't-so what".
If you have some time, please post your preferred cruise line. Thanks and look forward to hearing from you all!
Without a question of doubt, in our mind Princess is by far the most supportive and accommodating of the lines that we have sailed. You can expect to see an FOD posting in their Patter without ever having to ask for one and the gathering will be hosted by a crewmember. As to staff, we have become friends of gay staff members aboard several ships who greet our return with enthusiasm. One evening when we were all but last to leave the dinning room due to a late tour return, we ask our captain just how many of the floor staff were gay. He smiled and rounded up a whole group of waiters and staff who surrounded our table. We were flabbergasted but it showed us how gay friendly Princess is in both aspects of the cruise business.
On the other hand, Holland American, while not hostile, will go out of their way to delay a request to post an FOD until the end of the cruise and we have yet to meet a gay staff member on any of our cruises although we're sure they exist. As with Royal Caribbean and Celebrity, HAL have been good hosts but not from the gay perspective. That then takes us to Oceania, which, even with its magnificent decor and elegance seems to be oblivious to the fact that there may be gay people aboard their ship. But to be fair, when asked to post an FOD they did so with the utmost of discretion...
Thanks Ron and Jon, I appreciate the feedback and did not know this helpful information about the Princess Line; we will do some more research on Princess for a potential future cruise.
We love the service on Celebrity and have heard equally compelling accounts for HAL, regarding their service and the "little touches" that set them apart.
I work for an international hospitality firm and for any other well-traveled person or hospitality employee reading this, we know that ours is quite possibly one of the largest industries which employ gay men and women. Point is, we know they're there, but the fact that Princess actually honors gay passengers by unashamedly introducing their GLBT staff, and having a particular venue operated by a gay employee says a lot, IMHO.
Anyone else? I see that a lot of folks may be lurking this board, and interested in this thread...would really like to know your preferred cruise line, and why? Doesn't have to be "gay-related".
A little late to this post, but my favorite cruise lines would be Princess, Holland America and NCL.
I've cruised one time each with Princess, Hal, Carnival, Disney, Royal Caribbean and NCL America. And I'm going back to Mexico with my partner on Princess in January. All cruise lines have their pluses and minuses, and I've never been on a cruise I didn't thoroughly enjoy. One of these days I want to try Celebrity - especially the incredible looking new Solstice!
My reason for selecting Princess, HAL and NCL is that they offer restaurant style seating in the dining rooms - meaning you aren't "forced" to have other tablemates. Typically, my partner and I sit at our own table at dinner, but often opt to sit with others at lunch as we do enjoy meeting other passengers. Most cruise passengers are fairly tolerant of lifstyles different than their own, but having the choice to move around each day takes the pressure off. i.e. no worries about bigoted tablemates.
Princess hosted an FOD reception on day two of the cruise, and went out of their way to ensure gay couples were treated well.
HAL hosted a lunch on the last day of the cruise. It would have been nice to have the FOD function earlier, but the fact that they popped for wine made for a very nice afternoon.
One of the most surprising times though was on HAL Pride of America. A young photographer asked if my partner and I wanted a photo taken of us holding hands! This was in the main lobby none the less. We must have looked extremely surprised as he then quietly verified that we were in fact partners and not just buddies.
In all fairness to the other cruise lines, we have never felt "lesser than" on any. Most employees are just grateful if you treat them decently. And most passengers are fairly well traveled and are used to a wide variety of people. In fact, our table mates on Royal Caribbean included a lesbian couple, a Mormon family with two VERY handsome college age boys, and a couple from Japan who spoke virtually no English. An odd mix, for sure, but everyone had a great time and we all returned to the table on subsequent evenings - so it couldn't have been too uncomfortable for anyone.
BUT, my personal preference is to have a choice on who I like to dine with.
Thank you for your thoughtful reply to my post...and your reply is not late at all. I hope this topic grows, actually.
I enjoyed reading your preferred cruiseline(s) and why; it makes sense to me! I am sure others will appreciate your feedback and musings as well. I was especially happy to hear of the photographer on HAL, and even chuckled at that! Isn't it something that some of the "little things" like that can really win us over? As Gay men and women, I tend to think we really do appreciate great customer service and being treated with the same courtesy, dignity and respect as other passengers. We do like to "vote with our dollars" don't we?
I like the idea of "restaurant style seating" on Princess. My partner and I are cruise shopping right now for our next big adventure (there's a 22-day from Victoria to Alaska, Japan, Korea and China with an incredible itinerary at a very low price!) on Princess, so we may just need to put a deposit down on it. We have only sailed on the Celebrity vessels (with the exception of one Carnival cruise years ago) so we haven't had the restaurant-style experience. After one bad experience with bigoted table mates, we've always requested and received a table for two on Celebrity.
Jim, on Princess, do you still need to reserve your dining time (early or late) and request a table for 2? Or do you opt-out of the main-dining and simply show up every night and ask for this? Thanks for clarifying your experience.
Sure wish I had the time to take a 22 day cruise I know the prices on longer ones are almost less than weeklong cruises sometimes.
The anytime dining on Princess as I believe it is called works pretty much like a restaurant. You may either make reservations or walk in. If I remember correctly you can reserve several days in advance. I would recommend making a reservation if you have specific times you would like to dine. The dining rooms fill up during peak dinner hours. Just be sure to specifically request a table for 2 if that is what you want. If you just make a reservation for 2, you may find yoursef with a larger group of people.
Not sure if you've been to Victoria before, but it's a pretty city. My partner John and I cruised to Alaska in May and our final stop was Victoria. If you haven't already done Alaska, that trip certainly lives up to all the hype.
Thank you Jim, great information. We'll keep your advice in mind when we cruise Princess. We got the laptop out last night and laid in bed looking at cruises (I know we're NOT the only ones who do this- ) and watched two new marketing videos on Princess, on their website. I think it was the Island Princess and the Coral Princess. Very nice videos. We'll be sure to request a "Table for 2", specifically.
The 22-day does sound nice, my only hang up is wanting a post-cruise, which would eat away at more vacation time at work...what to do? We've always wanted to see the Terra Cotta Soldiers in Bejing, too.
I haven't sailed Alaska yet, which is surprising since we live in SF and can catch a sailing out of here...we are looking forward to checking out Victoria as well. The picture of the port was very pretty.
My partner and I have always sailed on Celebrity (with some Royal Caribbean exceptions of his before we met) and enjoy them, but have rarely met other gay men and women. The FOD's were always no-shows. But our principle reasons for choosing Celebrity are quality, destinations, and price - all else is secondary. That said, it would be nice to meet some others to enjoy the trip with.
Thanks for your reply to the post. Your reason for sailing Celebrity is much like ours, the quality and destinations / price. Sorry to hear you haven't met many gay men and women. It's hit or miss with us too.
My partner and I seldom go to the FOD meetings but usually "walk through" one or two of them, or maybe just pop in to say, "hi". It seems they are either "no shows" or populated by a lot of gay men and women. Often we'll meet gay couples at the Spa, Thallossotherapy, Cova or the Martini Bar.
Our last Celebrity cruise a couple of months back, had close to 100 gays and lesbians, the most we've ever seen. But we've been on Celebrity cruises where we've radar'd maybe one couple?
Have you ever considered booking a cruise through a gay TA, such as "Virtuoso" or "Pied Piper"? We did that once and it was OK...I don't want to hang with a group for the entire length of the cruise, but it's nice to at least meet others. Then sometimes, it's nice to just lay low.
By the way, Celebrity has a few good looking cruises in January out of Puerto Rico! We were in your home town last February on a Caribbean cruise and had a great time.
We have never booked through anyone other than our regular travel agent (she's a whiz at getting us extras). It may be that others have just "poked their heads in" at the FOD's as well and we just missed them. I guess we'll take a wait and see approach. Either way, it's a cruise and I'm sure there will be interesting people nonetheless.
I'm another guy who thinks Princess is the most comfortable for gay travellers. I've done just over 40 cruises, on all the major lines (except Royal Caribbean) and certainly feel at home on Prncess. The FOD get togethers are alway early on, with champagne provided. Stewards do not bat an eye when you requests the bed together. On many occasions, when entering the any time dining room, and requesting a table for 2, the maitre de has indicated that there is still room at a large table, with all those seated being male couples! Invitations to other special get togethers are always inclusive of your partner.
On HAL there have been glares over similar things, especially from the Asian staff. Not once has an officer attended the FODs, while on Princess it is common. Getting a mention in the daily paper for an early get together during a cruise is denied or refused. I can't really comment on Celebrity as I have only done 3 cruises there, but I felt their attitude was forced rather than genuine.
I've get two more cruises booked, a 10 nighter on Emerald in January, and then 32 days on Star in September. I guess I'm a Princess fan!!
My fiancee owns her own travel business and we have some friends that like Norwegian Cruise lines. We also sailed on the Norway, long gone, and the piano player was gay and he did an excellent job. We also met him before another cruise when he was playing at Tropic's in Fort Lauderdale.
He passed away a couple years ago as a result of an auto accident. I just
wanted to offer our suggestion of NCL and also Carnival, they do a pretty good job as well. It is my thinking that there should NOT be any difference in how comfortable you feel on a cruise, its to bad if it is other wise!! Thanks for hosting this section! Lee & Kelli
Thanks Lee and Kelli, Paul, yyjguy and everyone else! I appreciate the tips and feedback. It's interesting that Princess gets high marks. I honestly don't have any comparison, yet!
Over the weekend, we just booked a Princess cruise for this coming April, out of the Amazon. The prices couldn't be beat (half off for a suite). It is a 14-day cruise on the Pacific Princess, which is the former R3 Renaissance. We've never sailed a smaller ship before, only one large ship (Carnival) and the rest were mid-sized, on Celebrity.
Sometimes I enjoy getting lost in the crowds, but on the same token don't enjoy having to wake up at 4 AM just to reserve a chaise lounge in the spa, do you feel me? I hope the ship is intimate, but not "too small". We reserved an Aft suite, hoping to have a great view of the Amazon and the ports in the Caribbean Sea.
Will be sure to add my feedback regarding Princess after next April.
Really enjoying the feedback ladies and gents, please keep it coming.
Happy New Year! I agree with all the Princess comments! My partner and I are going on our 5th cruise this May. Thanks to the FOD get togethers, which we are happy to report are now listed in the Patter as "GLBT Get Togethers" we've met lots of folks from all across the country and still keep in touch with several of them. Princess definately gets our vote! I could go on, but this is a an old string.
Not sure that my post will exactly be in the spirit of your question, as I've only sailed on 1 cruise line... but this will be my 7th cruise with them.
I saw a couple of earlier posts on Holland America Line where the Cruise Director has refused or delayed FOD gatherings until the very end of the cruise.
Sadly, I've also encountered this before with them, but only with 1 particular CD, only on 1 cruise. Luckily it wasn't my first Holland America cruise, or I'd probably not have returned to sail with them again.
My last cruise - 15 day Hawaii - Zaandam was hosted by a "Family" Cruise Director. Not sure if it's politic to put his full name, but he's Adam D. He hosted 5-6 FOD events and even picked up the tab for the first couple of rounds of drinks. He was a fantastic CD and helped to make that cruise a magical experience.
I recently heard of another 'Anti-FOD' cruise director and emailed Mr. Steins office (President of Holland America Lines) with my concerns when I found out he was to be CD on my next cruise. Mr. Steins office actually phoned me the next day. They've even sent a letter to show to any 'reluctant' cruise directors specifically authorizing FOD events AND their being published in the daily listings onboard.
While I had read a couple of complaint emails on another cruise message board site, Holland America stated that they were unaware this problem existed. Maybe the posters didn't complain to HAL, just on the board?
I find that a bit odd, as another couple, who have almost 300 days on HAL ships, already have the same kind of 'authorization letter' I just received.
At any rate that's my 2 cents.
Oh. Here's another 2... If you have any trouble with your CD not getting the FOD gatherings in the daily log, PLEASE let the head office know! Squeaky wheels and all that.
My partner and I have sailed Cunard 8 times and will have our 9th. cruise with them this summer. Our first two cruises in 01 and 02 on QE2 and Caronia were with gay groups and nobody on board batted an eyelid. Other gay couples travelling on their own were also evident.
Since then, we have booked independently and have always asked for the beds to be made up as one - again no comment - and the daily programmes have always advertised FOD meetings. Indeed, there was a FOD meeting advertised on QE2 on her second last night in service.
As a gay couple, we have always found Cunard a comfortable line to travel with, and our table companions have always been friendly and welcoming, in all the restaurants we have eaten it - Mauretania, Caronia and, most recently, Queens Grill. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Cunard to gay travellers.
My partner and I have probably enjoyed close to 20 cruises, including NCL, Princess, Celebrity, Carnival, HAL and a few lines no longer around. Except for one cruise on a now-defunct cruiseline where ruby slippers appeared in the bar and hallways on the next-to-last night of the cruise, I don't recall ever feeling uncomfortable because of our gayness.
On our one and only HAL cruise, we were seated at a table with three generations of Mormon potato farmers from Idaho. Not only did we all enjoy each others company, but grandma wanted to sample all of our "adventurous" food choices, and mom passed all the drinks that were being sent to their very attractive daughter our way.
Overall, we prefer Celebrity for the quality of their ships, food and service. We'd rate Princess a close second, and we often sail NCL because of their prices and because we very much enjoy the freedom to eat when, where and with whom we want. However, we find that NCL is probably the least responsive to issues of any kind.
On our first Celebrity cruise on the Mercury, the Asst. Cruise Director hosted two FOD meetings and made us feel most welcome. Our last two Celebrity cruises featured non-hosted FOD meetings nearly every evening. We usually attend the first few, but have always found plenty of other GLBT folks around the ship or onshore to socialize with.
Regardless of the cruise line, ship or itinerary, we've always found that nearly all passengers quickly ID us as a gay couple and warmly welcome us. On our last Celebrity cruise around Cape Horn, a straight Southern Baptist couple from Waco, TX even invited us to join them at their dinner table after we played Trivia together.
So, in answer to your original question, our experience suggests that GLBT folks can probably choose almost any cruise based on the same criteria as non-gay passengers and feel most welcome.
Thanks for your comments. I work in the hospitality industry and my two bosses (partnered / gay) cruise a few times a year. Like you, they highly recommend Cunard and have always had a very pleasant experience.
While sitting in the sauna on Celebrity's Constellation last September, a couple of men were discussing Cunard compared to the X. They too really enjoyed the level of service, et.al. Will have to try Cunard one of these days.
My only issue, albeit minor, is the classification of cabins and assigning of dining...from what I understand, the cabin level you choose determines which grill or restaurant you dine in?! I recall that from the Titanic, . Is that accurate?
We too love the Celebrity experience and have always (with the exception of a Mercury cruise to Mexico) felt very welcome. We especially enjoy the Transatlantic and European cruises on Celebrity, as it attracts (IMHO) a more seasoned and tolerant traveler. Isn't it odd? We found on the shorter 7-day, Mexico, Pacific or even Caribbean sailings, we're likely to get "looks", you know the kind I'm talking about...but on the longer, Euro cruises, we don't. Matter of speaking, we always find straight and gay couples and quickly bond.
We leave in 7 1/2 weeks for an Amazon cruise on Princess. We have never sailed a ship this small (670 passengers) so it will be interesting to see how it goes.
Thanks again, everyone. Please keep your comments coming.
We/I have found that Celebrity is the most gay supportive staff we've been on, with RC a close second. Princess is up there too, but not as "tolerant". I've noticed that the longer the cruise is also, the more people are accepting.
While getting a massage on RC one time, they said that the spa staff only have females doing massages. I usually like a guy to do it because of his strong hands and they aren't as chatty. Oh alright, they look better too!
We are just now booked on an Atlantis cruise for the first time, to celebrate our "20th" anniversary with RC. If anyone's around, come join us for a cocktail!
You are right in thinking that on Cunard the grade of cabin you book dictates the dining room you eat in - Britannia Restaurant, Princess Grill and Queens Grill. In all three, you get allocated a fixed table for dinner, but in grill class, you also have the same table for breafast and lunch as well.
Our own preference is for the same table for all meals, but since the demise of the QE2, it's a more expensive option to go for on the remaining ships - it's better for getting to know your table companions and, of course, the stewards. Even if you are allocated a table for all meals, though, you're bound to eat elsewhere at times - on shore excursions, by the pool, in the Todd English Restaurant, so you don't get tired of your fellow diners. It's also less frenetic at mealtimes than queuing outside the restaurant waiting for the doors to open.
We've always found the level of service on Cunard excellent (except our first time on QM2 in 2004) and last year, superb, when we were upgraded to Queens Grill on QE2. It's very tempting to pay that extra for the next cruise!!
Hi Steve: Thanks for your comments. I agree with you about the level of service from Celebrity. The X has always surpassed our expectations. I will be curious to see how Princess is next month.
Paul and Andrew: I appreciate your comments again. We wanted to do a QM2 back to back this year, but couldn't find the right schedule that would permit us to do an Eastbound crossing, remain in the UK for a week or so, then sail back on a Westbound crossing. Hopefully next year...or perhaps we will identify one later this Fall. Just curious, was your upgrade unexpected? Do you boys book through a TA or go through Cunard directly. Also, what are their perks like for repeat guests?
Our upgrade to Queens Grill was totally unexpected. We originally planned to book a Caronia cabin (on QE2, cabin grades were Mauretania, Caronia, Britannia Grill, Princess Grill and Queens Grill), but because it was shortly after the announcement of the ship going out of service, we couldn't get the cabin we wanted. As a result, we paid a bit more (not very much) and booked a P2 Britannia Grill cabin.
We don't know the reason for the upgrade, jumping Britannia Grill to Queens Grill, but perhaps it was to show what we were missing out on and tempt us to book a higher grade. It must have worked! We booked Queen Victoria in May last year for an August cruise to the Baltic this year and booked a lowly A5 balcony cabin (it was a deal through the travel agent, getting a two-grade upgrade for the same price). After we got back from the QE2, I changed this to a P1 suite in Princess Grill !! (of our 13 cruises, we've booked all but the first two through the same travel agent).
As far as benefits accruing to repeat guests, I have cheated and copied them from the Cunard site below. Incidently, we have reached Platinum level in the Cunard World Club
Paul & Andrew
With our magnificent ships and a world of destinations that range from the exotic to the sublime, there are plenty of reasons to sail with Cunard time and time again. After completing a single voyage aboard Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth 2, or Queen Victoria, guests, 18 years of age or older, join the Cunard World Club as a Silver Cunarder. The following are the four membership levels and their associated benefits:
Guests who have completed one voyage* with Cunard will enjoy the following benefits:
World Club Member Savings of up to 5% off our Early Booking Savings on all voyages
Notification of exclusive World Club special offers
Dedicated World Club Desk service at 0845 071 0305 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On board World Club Representatives
The Cunarder - Keep in touch with the latest offers and news from Cunard
Guests who have completed two voyages or 20 days* on board, will enjoy even more benefits. In addition to the core Silver benefits, Gold Cunarders will receive:
Gold Cunarder Pin
Up to two hours of complimentary internet***
Invitation to the Cunard World Club Cocktail Party
Preferred reservations for Todd English (speciality restaurant)
For those guests who have completed seven voyages or 70 days* on board, there are even more benefits that come with Cunard World Club membership. In addition to the Silver and Gold benefits, Platinum Cunarders enjoy:
Platinum Cunarder Pin
Priority check-in and embarkation in New York and Southampton**
An additional two hours of complimentary internet time***
Complimentary member-exclusive Wine Tasting Event
20% Discount on Dry Cleaning and Laundry Services
10% Discount on White Star Luggage Service
Invitation to the on board Senior Officers' Party
Diamond membership is reserved for our most travelled guests who have completed 15 voyages or 150 days* on board. In recognition of this achievement, Diamond Cunarders will continue to receive all of the Silver, Gold and Platinum benefits, in addition to the following exclusive rewards:
Diamond Cunarder Pin
An additional four hours of complimentary internet time***
Priority Luggage Delivery
Preferred on board Sales Appointments
Complimentary lunch at Todd English
Just a short reply on my one only cruise expericence...
Went on Carnival Trumph January this year for a week and had such a great time. The staff did really do a good job on that cruise...I had a dinnertable with another single gay guy and two mother-daughter constellations. We had such a nice time together. There were FOD meetings every evening at the same bar and time and I met about 15-20 "friends" that week and even if we didn´t were together all the time, we taked now and then during the day. There were one gay couple I talked to who were very impressed. They sat at the dinnertable with two other gay couples and noone knew the others before...
My husband (Yves) and I have sailed on NCL, RCL, Celebrity, Carnival and Princess. We have to give it to Princess hands down. First of all, it's really nice to see that they have gotten rid of calling it "Friends of Dorothy". Heck, We don't even know a thing about Dorothy Parker. But we have always had the meetings hosted by a crew member and people introduced around. It has always been a pleasure.
Many years ago we had an incident with a formal night and a photographer. (He skipped our table, maybe assuming things) When we mentioned it to the Maitre d' he couldn't have been nicer about it. We got a beautiful apology and we were treated so well.
On our last trip with NCL one of our team mates from trivia comes in and asks us what "Friends of Dorothy" are. He didn't know, figured he would ask at the front desk but they refused to tell him. It was just odd. We also had a gentleman on the ship who would yell "There go the brothers" when we walked by him on the ship. Just odd.
Thanks Paul and Andrew for the follow up. We would love to give Cunard a shot. We have heard so many good things about their service.
Tomas, it's great running into family on board, and always a relief when table mates are family, or family-friendly. Glad to hear of your positive experiences with Carnival.
Ephraim-thanks for your feedback. I will be looking forward to having a comparison after our return on the Pacific Princess next month. I've only sailed Celebrity and Carnival. Celebrity ranks #1 with us. My partners parents have been on both, Celebrity and Princess and they consider both to be fairly even.