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The "only" gay on the ship — Canadian Arctic Cruise Experience
As you may have heard, my story about cruising in the Arctic recently won a major travel writing award.
But the article as run by The Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, and Dallas Morning News is only part of the story. You see, I traveled on board Cruise North’s Lyuba Orlova because I’m gay, to gauge the reaction of staff and crew to homos. Not that polar bears and muskox really care about humans’ sexual orientation. But cruise companies’ sure do.
I was assured in advance that Cruise North had seen lots of gay passengers, and that gays love the experience. Unfortunately, neither my partner nor a friend was able to join me for my Cruise North expedition, so it’s really hard to say exactly how “gay friendly” shipboard staff actually is…on my itinerary, I was the only “out” gay person onboard.
There was certainly no “Friends of Dorothy” party. It would likely have been a “Friend of Dorothy” party; I’m fairly sure I wasn’t the only homo on board, but none of the Russian sailors or Inuit crew come from cultures where being out is an easy thing.
Lest you think I’m a pansy, you should know that I was as out as I could be onboard the Orlova, and my experience was very good. The chance to see polar bears from the deck of a cruise ship is brain-dazzling beyond words (even for a writer), and my experiences with ship staff and fellow passengers were uniformly accepting. As for the Russian sailors–the crew–who run the boat, I can’t really say. We didn’t have enough chance to interact…although I winked at a couple of them and like to think they smiled knowingly in return.
If you’re looking for a remarkable cruise experience in a region few travelers will ever visit, I encourage you to take a good look at the remarkable itineraries offered by Cruise North. I’m actually considering a return voyage with them to the Arctic this summer or in 2010, although I’ll be bringing my partner or a gay friend to truly gauge the staff & crew reaction when two “out” men travel together, not to mention having a more meaningful experience.
Better yet: invite several friends, make your own gay “polar bear group” cruise, and let me know how it turns out. I suspect sailing on top of the world will be life-changing for you as it was for me, in a very positive way.
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