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by Danny Whitehouse and Adam Lowe
Cruises can be fun for a variety of reasons – but often the image we have is one of older married straight couples. That image, though, is proving to be more and more inaccurate as cruise-lines slowly become more accepting of LGBT people.
Although it might seem a niche market, there are now a number of singles cruises and holiday cruises that cater solely to LGBT people. These are usually run by budding LGBT entrepreneurs keen to create a welcoming environment for likeminded people. Other times you’ll find popular cruise-lines throwing special parties and one-off events on their ships which are exclusively for LGBT people to meet and get to know each other.
An LGBT-only cruise allows lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people to mingle without having to hide (or explain) their sexualities or gender identities. Same sex couples don’t have to worry about stares and uncomfortable looks from the other passengers. Trans people can feel confident that they won’t be challenged – as is currently happening in America – over their choice of bathroom.
The Pink Pound remains valuable to travel companies and that’s why an increasing number of cruise-lines are making accommodations specifically for the LGBT community, offering a comfortable experience at sea without fear of prejudice or discrimination.
So where to begin to look for such cruises? The websites Cruising with Pride, GayWelcome.com and Happy Gay Travel offer decent listings of LGBT cruises around the world. Meanwhile, Aquafest Cruises and Night Tours work with cruise-lines to offer LGBT-themed trips directly. QueerTrip.com and Cruise Critic also have their own lists of LGBT cruises.
RSVP Vacations serves the LGBT community at large. Olivia serves lesbian and bisexual women specifically, while Dynamic Travel & Cruises specialises in cruises for trans people and SongMaster focuses on trips for the black LGBT community. The Cruise is geared to those who like a party, touring Barcelona, Malaga, Cadiz, Ibiza and Valencia.
Popular cruise-lines catering to LGBT people include Crystal Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Royal Caribbean International. Other cruise-lines may offer one-off LGBT events and packages, although LGBT-run cruises often provide the most appealing trips.
It’s always helpful to research a cruise-line’s LGBT-friendly credentials before you book – but consideration should also be given to your destination too. There have been unfortunate incidents where LGBT travellers passing through countries with anti-LGBT laws have been arrested, even though the British government usually exerts pressure on such nations to release the tourists promptly.
You may find LGBT-only themes around holidays such as Christmas. But if you want to find an exclusively LGBT-themed cruise that is available throughout the year, you will have to look at cruises throughout Europe, where liberal attitudes to LGBT travellers prevail. America and the rest of the world, sadly, is yet to catch up.
European cruise-line Atlantis Events frequently makes trips in the summertime from Barcelona to Athens. The Greek islands is one of the most popular regions, as it happens, for LGBT cruises – perhaps because of the nation’s traditional history of embracing same sex love, from Lesbos to Sparta.
There is even one cruise-line called GaySail that has its own GayNudeSail brand for an espcially cruisy, erm, cruise. Whether single or partnered, gay and bisexual men can travel onboard and walk around in their birthday suits. GaySail, however, doesn’t sport the same vasty vessels you’d expect on one of the larger cruises – instead, it uses two small yachts which can hold up to 20 naked men in total. This certainly creates a more intimate trip!
If you’re looking to make new friends on your cruise, consider joining MeetMeOnBoard.com, where LGBT travellers can connect prior to their journey.
Wherever you decide to take your cruise, supporting LGBT-friendly businesses ensures LGBT cruises will continue to be a viable business. If you have any tips, recommendations or advice for fellow travellers, please feel free to leave your comments below.
Danny Whitehouse is the editor of Into Forward.