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If you’re cruising through, from, or to Miami / Ft. Lauderdale in mid-June, check out this cool LGBT festival that runs June 13-16 (content below provided by festival):
MIAMI’S “OUT IN THE TROPICS” CELEBRATES ADVENTUROUS LGBT PERFORMERS
Miami is once again the vortex for lgbt performing arts via OUT in the TROPICS, June 13-16 at The Colony Theater on Lincoln Road. The fourth annual celebration features an adventurous lineup of award-winning lgbt artists from throughout the country (and new performers direct from Havana making their U.S. debut).
The event is produced by FUNDarte, a non-profit arts organization celebrating its tenth anniversary, dedicated to producing arts events that speak to diverse audiences with a proud history of commitment to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.
This year’s OUT in the TROPICS features performances by:
- Taylor Mac
- Carmelita Tropicana
The festival also presents the first-ever U.S. performance by Havana’s notorious lesbian feminist performance group El Ciervo Encantado, and the U.S. premiere of the Cuban film about homophobia and gay life
in Cuba, “Verde Verde.”
“FUNDarte is proud to present our fourth annual salute to the very best in contemporary lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender performance,” said Artistic Director Ever Chavez. “This year’s OUT in the TROPICS features two Obie award-winning artists, and the U.S. premiere of one of Cuba’s most daring performance groups. There’s no other lgbt performance festival quite like this anywhere else in the country, and we continue to break new ground via this bold celebration that once again showcases an unparalleled collection of queer talent.”
For the first time this year, a specially priced three-day pass ticket option is available at this Ticketmaster link.
When I see a really tall woman in a dress, I often guess it’s a drag queen. Well, the woman in the middle of New York’s harbor doesn’t have any girly or boy parts under the dress (as far as I know), so who knows?
The good news is that this national American treasure–and one of the world’s most recognizable symbols–has now reopened for tours. Apparently she required repairs after Hurricane Sandy. Info below is from the official boat company that takes NY visitors to the lady’s island. Note that you can also get excellent views of the statue, free of charge, from the Staten Island Ferry (but you can’t get to the statue’s island that way).
New York, NY – May 8, 2013 – In preparation for the celebratory reopening on July 4th, Statue Cruises announced today that tickets for the Statue of Liberty National Monument will go on sale on Wednesday, May 8, 2013.
Visitors will have access to The Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island for the first time since Hurricane Sandy made landfall on October 29, 2012. Visitors will have access to the Statue of Liberty’s crown, pedestal, observation deck, museum, and grounds. “We are looking forward to the opportunity to welcome visitors back to Lady Liberty,” said Mike Burke, COO, Statue Cruises.
Visitors will have limited access to Ellis Island and further details about Ellis Island will be announced in the next few weeks.
Tickets will be available through September 2, 2013 and can be purchased online at http://www.StatueCruises.com or by phone at (201) 604-2800.
Prior to the July 4 reopening, you can only get relatively close to the statues via a boat tour (Statue Cruises offers those) a helicopter tour, or the FREE Staten Island Ferry.
Dale and I just returned from New York City where we joined the 3-Day Inaugural Cruise on the new Norwegian Breakaway. This 4,028-passenger ship is slightly smaller than the Epic but with many improvements.
The Breakaway’s accommodations, dining and entertainment all exceeded our expectations. However, to our eyes it also represent the shift in the “new economic reality” of cruise ships.
I missed the grand, luxurious open spaces but today there’s a need to get more passengers and revenue sources into a smaller space without sacrificing comfort. I personally often prefer a comfortable chair in one of the public areas where I can relax in peace while I read or watch the ocean go by, and those areas seemed to be in short supply on this ship. Are those days simply gone on the new generation of ships?
But there was so much on the upside so let’s start with the accommodations. Our mini-suite located on deck 10, mid-ship was beautifully decorated. Our initial reaction was that the room was longer and narrower than others but that reaction soon passed with the discovery of it’s functionality and beautiful décor.
Like most high-end hotels, all guest information and reservations can now be done on the 26-inch flat screen T.V. Gone are the days of making reservations by telephone. This ship is taking advantage of today’s technology in many ways.
The Breakaway had the best bathroom by far of any ship we have traveled on at this cabin level. It has a very contemporary design with a double sink and plenty of storage. The shower was oversized with a waterfall shower head and multiple body spray jets. With the right person you could spend a lot of time there!
As an ex-Seattleite, I was trilled to have my own one-cup coffee maker in our room. Nice touch. You do not want to talk to me in the morning until I have my first cup of Java – just ask Dale. If you are one of the lucky ones in The Haven, you will be blessed with your own espresso/cappuccino machine.
If you like to be treated like a diva, check out The Haven. This is a private key-access area containing luxury accommodations, concierge, 24-hour butler, private pool and spa. You’ll even have your private lounge and restaurant. When we entered this area we no longer felt like we were on a large cruise ship but rather a luxury yacht. Truly, a diva’s paradise.
Breakaway’s dining opportunities seem endless. In fact, you have 28 options, including three main dining rooms which are included in the cruise fare. Each dining room offers distinct menus and décor which provide you with many choices. There are seven ethnically themed dining options plus Cagney’s Steak House where we ate the first evening. The service and food at Cagney’s was exceptional. Whatever your tastebuds are in the mood for, The Breakaway has you covered. Check out their website for all their offerings.
The entertainment venues on board are top-notch. From broadway musicals like ‘Rock of Ages’, jazz and blues, comedy, outdoor fireworks and much more, there is something for everyone’s taste.
OK…it didn’t have a gay bar but we certainly found ‘family’ at Shaker’s for a pre-dinner cocktail. There were many LGBT on board but unfortunately no pre-planned gathering on this short 3-day inaugural cruise.
If you like to be outside splashing in the water, the Aqua Park is for you. The Breakaway has five water slides, two of which are the largest at sea. ‘The Plunge’ will surely get your adrenaline pumping. I know this for a fact since I heard Dale’s inner school-girl scream.
Remember the old days when there was a virtual sun worshiping amphitheater around a large pool? Lots of sun, cocktails and liberal doses of skin? No more. The pool is small and there is very little area around it for lounging. There are other areas designated for sun bathing where you can enjoy your cocktails while working on that golden tan.
The sports complex has everything you need including a bungee trampoline, miniature golf, rope and zipwire course, climbing wall, basketball court and jogging/walking track. If you’re the fearless type, walk the plank. Take an eight foot walk over the sea 150 feet below.
Our 3-day inaugural sailing was 50% capacity and amazingly there were times that the ship felt crowded. Perhaps this is due to the many dining, drinking and entertainment venues taking away from large public spaces. It will be interesting to know what it feels like at or near 100% capacity.
The Breakaway will sail year-round from New York City to Bermuda, the Bahamas and Caribbean.
Note: Watch for Dale’s review of his day at the spa.
Viking River Cruises has just unveiled plans to build two 928-passenger cruise ships. The Viking Star will enter service in 2015 and compliment their already extensive river cruise operation.
Last summer I had the privilege to go with Source Events on my first-ever European Riverboat. It didn’t take long before I realized all of the advantages this type of travel offered.
1. More interaction with all of the passengers due to the smaller size
2. Feeling more connected with the water and the landscape
3. Free internet access
4. Complimentary beer and wine at all meals
5. All shore excursions / transfers included in the price
6. More opportunities to learn and experience the local customs and cultures
7. An overall more relaxed feeling due to the all-inclusiveness of the cruise.
8. No nickle-and-diming the customer
9. Longer stays in port for more exploring
10. No smoke-filled casinio
11. No sur-charges in specialty restaurants
All of the advantages that I felt on a riverboat will now be offered by Viking as they introduce Viking Oceans.
I don’t know about you but I can’t wait to have the riverboat experience on the ocean.
Anyone who’s been on a mainstream cruise knows that while the main theatre entertainment is usually pretty good, it’s generally just a bunch of young performers who haven’t made it to Broadway yet, and are cutting their teeth by working on the ships instead of summer stock or Disney parks. Indeed, seeing a big Broadway name on a ship is a rarity previously reserved for special “theme” cruises.
Celebrity Cruises has just changed that, and your Broadway-loving editor couldn’t be happier about the May 2, 2013, announcment from Celebrity:
“Celebrity Cruises announced an exclusive partnership with Manhattan’s noted “54 Below,” which will bring guests on Celebrity’s newly “Solsticized” Celebrity Summit the industry’s most comprehensive, direct-from-Broadway entertainment experience while sailing to the pink-sand paradise of Bermuda.
54 Below – ensconced in a cool, cozy cellar space beneath the legendary, disco-era “Studio 54” – has been dubbed “a throwback to the heyday of authentic New York nightlife,” and “the hot new stage attracting Broadway’s brightest stars.” Now, those stars will light up the stage of Celebrity Summit during its Bermuda vacation season from Cape Liberty (Bayonne), NJ, from this Sunday, May 5, through October 2013.
“‘We are incredibly excited to partner with 54 Below, offering our guests a unique theatrical experience featuring world-class Broadway talent in cabaret style performances,’ said Celebrity’s Director of Entertainment Eric Bohus.”
As of today Celebrity’s planned “Below 54″ schedule are those listed below. If I were booking, I’d be glad to hear any of them, but personally I’m especially keen on Faith Prince, Darius DeHaas, Tom Wopat (well howdy, Luke Duke!), and Marin Mazzie. At this time, the schedule of dates and performers is not available, but Celebrity has confirmed that there will be a performer on each sailing through the specified period. Who would you be excited to hear?
- Faith Prince, Tony Award winner for Best Actress in a Musical for Guys & Dolls
- Donna McKechnie, Tony Award winner for Best Actress in a Musical in A Chorus Line
- Anthony Rapp, best known for originating the role of “Mark Cohen” in Rent
- Jarrod Spector, who starred as Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys
- Alice Ripley, who won a Tony for Best Actress in a Musical for Next to Normal, and also has appeared in Les Miserables and Sunset Boulevard
- Telly Leung, star of the hit TV show Glee (“Wes”) Telly Leung, whose Broadway credits include Rent and Godspell;
- Andrea McArdle, the original “Annie,” who went on to star in Les Miserables, Starlight Express and Beauty & The Beast
- Christine Andreas, three-time Tony Award nominee recognized for her roles in Oklahoma and On Your Toes
- Elizabeth Stanley of Company, Cry Baby, Million Dollar Quartet
- Shoshana Bean, whose credits include Hairspray and Wicked
- Darius DeHaas of Kiss of the Spider Woman, Rent and Carousel
- Tom Wopat of TV’s The Dukes of Hazzard, City of Angels, 42nd St., Guys & Dolls, Chicago and Sondheim on Sondheim
- Brent Barrett, whose credits include West Side Story and Chicago
- Ann Hampton Callaway, Tony-nominated for her role in Swing
- Liz Callaway, nominated for a Tony for her role in Baby, and who also performed in Cats and Miss Saigon
- Gregg Edelman, a four-time Tony nominee, including nods for Best Actor in a Musical for City of Angels
- Marin Mazzie, three-time Tony Award nominee for her roles in Passion, Ragtime and Kiss Me, Kate
- Karen Mason, who has appeared in Mamma Mia and Hairspray and is best known for her portrayal of “Norma Desmond” in Sunset Boulevard
- Emily Skinner, whose credits include The Full Monty and Billy Elliot
Additional acts will yet be announced.
Who from the list would you be excited to hear? Who’s the most amazing performer you’ve ever heard on a ship?
The recent coming out announcement made by NBA player Jason Collins initiated a discussion with a straight friend. She said, “The gay community has made such progress in the last several years with society’s acceptance, why do you feel the need to meet other gays on a cruise? Aren’t you just part of the overall fabric now?”
The need for people of my own “tribe” is such second nature to me, I had to take a moment to respond. What I said was something to this effect: We have a history as a people. My first inkling of being part of a wider community goes back to a TIME Magazine cover in 1975. I still remember the picture of Sgt. Leonard Matlovich with the words “I Am a Homosexual.”
The men and women who lifted up gay pride when it meant more than a fun parade carried on from there. Only a few short years later we began fighting the battle with AIDS and with all those who wanted to keep their eyes closed to the plague.
I was the founding Conductor of the Seattle Lesbian and Gay Chorus, where we built a successful group around our common love of song. The group became family, plain and simple.
I’m proud to be who I am, and believe that we need to continue to build community wherever we can. We’ve made wonderful friends onboard ships, most recently Gilles and Gord from Toronto. Knowing that we have so much in common with people all over the world who share our orientation is comforting and gives me strength. I believe this is one of the reasons we continue to see growth in the all-gay and gay-group cruise industry and in the need for cruisers on “mainstream” cruises to find other LGBTs. We have a need to be with our community as long as the struggle for full equality continues.
What do you think? Do you feel a need to find other LGBT people when you take a cruise?
It seems just about every cruise ship that heads to Alaskan waters will visit Ketchikan. On our first Alaska cruise, Ketchikan was simultaneously one of our most- and least-anticipated port stops. I was excited about it because it sounds exotic, plus one of my university crushes was from there and I hoped to catch a glimpse and see if his hotness remains. It was least-anticipated because my husband grew up in nearby Prince Rupert, British Columbia, and basically figured Ketchikan would be just like Prince Rupert.
Turns out, it was our favorite port of our entire Celebrity Millennium cruise during August, 2012. Why?
1. The Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary – Bear tour. This is among the coolest things I’ve ever done, anywhere. Wandering into woods filled with black bear mamas and their cubs seems a foolish thing to do, but the guides from the sanctuary gave me the confidence that they could keep us safe, and they did. This is a phenomenal operation. And yes, we saw plenty of lovely black bears and cubs. At right, you can see a photo of Denni on one of the viewing platforms (between platforms we were often on trails, complete with bear scat!), and below that is a video:
2. The totems. I’ve seen the totems in Vancouver’s Stanley Park, but in Alaska they seem to belong even more. We enjoyed wandering amidst the totems at the Totem Heritage Center, about a 20 minute walk from downtown and the cruise pier.
3. The amazing “chef’s table” experience at the Alaska Fish Co., as detailed in a previous posting here. If you’re as
lucky as we were, owner/fisherman Chuck Slagle, seen in the photo here, will be your “lunch guide,” sharing the stories of the region’s seafood bounty and history.
4. Gallery strolling. Mind you, it often rains in Ketchikan, so it is an ideal port for shopping. We particularly enjoyed the art and the crafts at a shop called Coho Soho, which features many fabulously fun pieces by Ray Troll. This gallery is in the “Creek Street” area, which is basically structures built above a creek—once home to many seedy elements of the port city. Fun stuff!
Note: As is customary in the travel writing industry, the author visited as a guest of Celebrity Cruises and the Ketchikan Visitors Bureau, who arranged the experiences mentioned. None of these travel/experience providers has reviewed this text/photos, and the opinions are purely those of the author.
With the upcoming gay film festival at sea, called Pride of the Ocean, just over three months away, I’ve been thinking a lot about movies and ships, since we’ll be watching a number gay-themed films onboard the Norwegian Pearl.
But beyond gay films, I’ve been thinking about movies I’ve seen that take place primarily on a ship. Surprisingly, my list is very short, and both are tragedies:
- The Poseidon Adventure
Both of them, of course, are memorable for so many things. Shelly Winters’ death scene in The Poseidon Adventure, after she’s done the big swim through some impossible underwater labrynth, is among my all-time fave drama moments.
But this little exercise got me thinking about other entertainment forms that have used ships as an important part of the story.
On TV, The Love Boat is a shoe-in. But I often giggle about Further Tales of the City when Deedee Halcyon Day sends her mother and the twins on a cruise to Alaska. If you’ve never seen the Tales series, find a way to download and watch it (better yet, read Armistead Maupin’s marvelous books!).
On the live stage, we have the always delightful Anything Goes, and the lesser-known Dames at Sea.
What are your favorite films, TV shows, or theatre that involve a ship? Comment below!
Anyway, dreaming of watching the glaciers and the movies on our upcoming cruise. I have received the planned outline of festival films and activities, and it looks to be a really interesting, fun time! I’m very excited to meet Greg Louganis—the biopic about him will preview on the ship.
There is still some space for festival attendees on the boat, if you’d like to jump aboard and sail with Denni and me, and the many other LGBT film festival-goers sailing from Seattle on August 18.
Note: As is customary in the travel journalism industry, the author will travel on Norwegian Pearl as a guest of Pride of the Ocean organizers. Opinions about the experience, shared on this blog, have not and will not be approved by the travel providers.
If only they could promise certain characters would be, um, available, this interesting cruise would sound even better. Who wouldn’t enjoy a roll in the hay with Thomas Barrow?! Or the chance to flirt with Tom Branson?!
The following is from a provided press release announcing this unusual and interesting river cruise (note that there is nothing gay-specific about this itinerary):
WEXFORD, Pa. — Sail on the Royal River Thames to Downton Abbey aboard the 8-passenger hotel barge, Magna Carta. Frontiers Travel has announced two departures, August 25-31, 2013 and September 8-14, 2013 with new excursions to Highclere Castle, the setting for period drama, “Downton Abbey.” The hugely impressive Victorian castle sits on a 1,000 acre estate, and is the iconic home of the fictional Crawley family on the show. The actual Downton Abbey has been owned by the Carnarvon family since 1679, where Lord and Lady Carnarvon still live today.
For film lovers the cruise itinerary features a private tour of Dorney Court, a beautiful Tudor home on the banks of the Thames, where “Elizabeth,” “The Other Boleyn Girl,” and Agatha Christie’s series “Poirot” were all filmed. Guests also visit Hampton Court Palace, one of the locations for the award winning film “A Man for All Seasons.”
Celebrating her 12th year, the attractive 8-passenger Magna Carta is an ideal vessel for both first-time travelers to England as well as veteran cruisers. Based on the Thames River, she cruises the pastoral English countryside from Hampton Court Palace to classic Henley-on-Thames, famous for the Henley Regatta. Sights are visited with a private guide, featuring several optional special-interest itineraries such as English Gardens, Murder and Mystery, and Countryside Walking.
Modern amenities onboard include heated floors and TV/DVD players, while the deck boasts beautiful teak furniture and a large Jacuzzi. Captain and co-owner Dominic Read is happy to customize the itinerary to the interests and objectives of his guests. This is an exceptional cruise, gliding past the world-renowned landmarks that line this bucolic, “Wind-in-the-Willows” section of the Thames River, with plenty of cycling available along the riverside bike route.
To learn more, click here. Prices from $4,190 per person.
As state capitals go, Juneau is both a tiny one, and a huge one. It’s tiny in population—just over 32,000 people—but huge in land area, covering 3,255 square miles, the second largest in America.
Our ship, Celebrity Millennium, docked right at the downtown pier, and as we disembarked Denni and I noticed a guy with a “Jesus saves” sign, so we took hands and shared a kiss with hopes of reminding him that Jesus, from what I was told in Sunday School, loves everyone.
Mount Roberts Tramway.One of Juneau’s top tourist attractions is located, literally, at the port, the Mount Roberts Tramway.
On a clear day, the view from the top of this steep tram ride is a stunner: you can see all of Juneau and Gastineau Channel, along with the area called Douglass across the water. There are some excellent hiking trails at the top, along with a restaurant and a raptor discovery center where you can see a wounded bald eagle.
Tip: do this first thing when you get off the ship—your ticket is good for repeat rides during the day if you choose to go up the mountain again.
Wandering town. Grab a visitor map, and walk off a few ship-food calories as you explore the downtown area of Juneau. It’s got a bit of wild-west/goldrush vibe to it, alongside the modern trappings of a state capital city. Don’t miss the 49-star flag that still flies over the city museum, the Russian Orthodox Tlingit church, and the totem pole at the governor’s mansion, which tells the story of the mosquito. When you’re hungry, Tracy’s Crab Shack is a must try, down by the cruise pier. There’s also a funky coffee and lunch stop called Silverbow Bagels with outstanding cookies.
Tip: Juneau gets over 100 inches of rain a year…carry an umbrella!
Learn about salmon. For those who like to learn about the food we eat (and we all should), the Macaulay Salmon Hatchery is a fascinating stop for about 30 minutes. This non-profit facility releases some 115 million salmon into the wild each year, and about 2-10% return to spawn—despite the fact that their birthing area is pretty much made of concrete.
Tip: If the salmon hatchery is included as part of a ship-purchased shore excursion that includes other elements like the glacier, it’s worth your time; if not, you need to really be into fish and biology to make this worth your time.
Glacier education. The Mendenhall Glacier, a few miles up the road from Juneau, is a famous one. The UF Forest Service has built a very informative visitor center there, and since most of the other major glaciers you’ll see on an Alaska cruise will be viewed from the ship, this is a great chance to learn from informative exhibits and a film. Meanwhile, the glacier itself is a testament to the unfortunate realities of global warming—it has receded nearly 2 miles since 1958.
Whale Watching. Juneau offers some excellent whale watching. We went out with Dolphin Tours, and totally enjoyed the experience—as much for seeing the magnificent scenery as for the handful of orcas present that day. The tour was informative and a lot of fun. This company offers a combination tour which will swing you past the Mendenhall Glacier so you can easily combine the two activities.
Note: As is standard in the travel journalism business, the author’s shore day in Juneau was hosted by the Juneau Visitor’s Bureau and complementary admission and meals were provided. The views expressed are the author’s own, and no one has reviewed the above content prior to publication.
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