Baby, let’s cruise away from here Cruises de­signed specif­i­cally for the LGBT trav­eler

GA Voice - - Summer Travel -

By DAR­IAN AARON daaron@the­gavoice.com

Pic­ture it—Si­cily. Now se­ri­ously, imag­ine for a mo­ment that you and your part­ner or clos­est friends are on board one of the most fab­u­lous cruise ships ever cre­ated— sail­ing to some of the world’s most ex­otic lo­ca­tions. Lux­ury, cul­ture, din­ing, and non­stop partying beckon you to clock-out from your 9 to 5 and clock-in to par­adise. I bet you don’t want this mo­ment to end.

And guess what? It doesn’t have to. There’s a num­ber of cruises de­signed specif­i­cally for the LGBT trav­eler in mind. The hard­est part may be find­ing a cruise that isn’t sold out or one that caters to your spe­cific travel needs. Do you want to take your White Party ex­pe­ri­ence from land to the sea? Or maybe you’re look­ing for a les­bian cruise or an ex­pe­ri­ence that in­cludes the en­tire fam­ily? There are a few things you need to know be­fore you set sail on your fab­u­lous gay cruise.

Set­ting sail to Cuba

Most LGBT cruises are char­tered by one of “the big three,” which in­cludes At­lantis Events, RSVP and Olivia, al­though there are oth­ers. Th­ese com­pa­nies have the abil­ity to char­ter some of the world’s largest ships from com­pa­nies like Hol­land Amer­ica, Nor­we­gian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean, which al­lows them to pro­vide a cus­tom­ized ex­pe­ri­ence and itin­er­ary specif­i­cally for the LGBT trav­eler. Ev­ery de­tail from on-board en­ter­tain­ment— some of the worlds best gay DJs and en­ter­tain­ers are booked—to se­lect­ing port cities that are wel­com­ing to LGBT peo­ple is care­fully con­sid­ered.

“There have been well-pub­li­cized in­ci­dents of all-gay char­ters fac­ing op­po­si­tion and scat­tered protests at ports in such coun­tries as Grand Cay­man, Ja­maica and Turkey,” says travel and cruise ex­pert Gary Buchanan. “The gay char­ter com­pa­nies gen­er­ally steer clear of con­tro­versy and head to the ‘great­est hits’ port stops, most- ly in the Caribbean and Europe.”

And now, LGBT trav­el­ers can add Cuba to their list of cruise des­ti­na­tions thanks to ease on U.S. travel re­stric­tions to the coun­try and a sec­ond ex­clu­sive gay cruise by Aquafest planned for 2017.

Aquafest was the first LGBT cruise com­pany to ar­rive in Cuba with nearly 300 gay and les­bian pas­sen­gers on board the in­ti­mate Ce­lestyal Crys­tal in Jan­uary 2016.

“I en­cour­age any­one who wants to ex­pe­ri­ence a va­ca­tion that is like step­ping back some 50 years to do it now be­fore things re­ally do change,” said Cruise Cen­ter Pres­i­dent Tom Baker in a state­ment.

“The Cuban peo­ple are kind, warm, will­ing to talk to you and have a strength that is amaz­ing given their strict com­mu­nist gov­ern­ment im­pli­ca­tions.”

Aquafest has made it fairly sim­ple for U.S. cit­i­zens in­ter­ested in travel to Cuba to com­plete the “Cuba/U.S. Peo­ple to Peo­ple Part­ner­ship,” which grants the li­cense to travel to Cuba for “ed­u­ca­tional ac­tiv­ity.” A $95 do­na­tion to the Fund for Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and De­vel­op­ment is also re­quired and you’re on your way.

Ex­plor­ing other LGBT cruise op­tions

So what do cruise com­pa­nies like At­lantis Events, Olivia Travel and R Fam­ily Va­ca­tions have to of­fer the LGBT trav­eler? Let’s take a look.

At­lantis Events

Go big or go home. At­lantis caters to a mostly gay clien­tele and roughly half of the pas­sen­gers on board their cruises are sin­gle. They’ve char­tered and sold out the largest ship in the world—Royal Caribbean’s Al­lure of the Seas, which ac­com­mo­dates 5,400 pas­sen­gers. Only about 5 to 10 per­cent of pas­sen­gers on At­lantis cruises are les­bian. Caribbean and Mediter­ranean cruises are sched­uled to start on May 21 through 2017. You’ll also pay a pretty penny for an At­lantis cruise, but with the finest in ac­com­mo­da­tions and LGBT en­ter­tain­ment, guests don’t seem to mind.

Olivia Travel

Les­bians should have a cruise ex­pe­ri­ence de­signed specif­i­cally for women who love women and Olivia Travel has been in the busi­ness of mak­ing this hap­pen for over 40 years. Olivia pro­vides in­ti­mate sail­ings to the French Riviera to grand cruises to the Caribbean and Mediter­ranean on ships with over 2,000 les­bians. It’s com­mon to ex­pe­ri­ence the tal­ents of en­ter­tain­ers like Melissa Etheridge, k.d. lang, Mar­garet Cho and Lily Tom­lin on board an Olivia cruise. Of spe­cial note, Olivia of­fers the Sis­ters at Sea pro­gram de­signed specif­i­cally for les­bians of color and a so­los/sin­gles pro­gram for pas­sen­gers to con­nect through spe­cial on-board events.

R Fam­ily Va­ca­tions

The en­tire fam­ily is al­ways wel­come on cruises by R Fam­ily Va­ca­tions. Founders Kelli Car­pen­ter and Gregg Kamin­sky are team­ing up with Olivia Travel for the Puerto Val­larta, Mex­ico re­sort ex­pe­ri­ence in 2016 with their sig­na­ture Broad­way Cruise to fol­low in 2017. Many pas­sen­gers choose R Fam­ily Va­ca­tions for the re­laxed at­mos­phere with less em­pha­sis on all-night dance par­ties.

May 13, 2016

Aquafest was the first LGBT cruise com­pany to ar­rive in Cuba with nearly 300 gay and les­bian pas­sen­gers on board the in­ti­mate Ce­lestyal Crys­tal in Jan­uary 2016. (Photo via Face­book)

Les­bians should have a cruise ex­pe­ri­ence de­signed specif­i­cally for women who love women and Olivia Travel has been in the busi­ness of mak­ing this hap­pen for over 40 years. (Photo via Face­book)

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.