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No Friends of Dorothy Party on this boat…or is there?
I just completed a cruise.
It was not a luxury cruise, nor was it a cheap cruise. For the same price, about $1,200/person for an inside cabin, there are much nicer ships…especially in the current economy.
But the cruise I took, aboard the MV CTMA Vacancier, is unusual, and I’m curious if any of you have taken a similar “regional speciality” cruise.
The 12,000-ton, 500-passenger Vacancier (French for “holiday maker) sails entirely within Quebec, Canada, traveling a weekly route from Montreal (a glorious destination), up the St. Lawrence River, to its home port of Les Iles de le Madeleine. After a 2-night stop on the islands, the ship returns to Montreal, with day stops on the Gaspe Peninsula and in Quebec City. Most of the passengers are French Canadians, and they happily pay the hefty cruise price to see a tiny group of islands that are legendary in the Quebec culture.
The ship itself is old (circa 1972), and is really just a ferry with upgraded passenger facilities, including a couple of bars, a cafeteria, an evening dining room, and small rooms with exercise equipment and children’s activities. Music is provided by an island singer, or by the ship’s staff crooning to their guitars. The food is sub-par, but the passengers don’t seem to mind. They are quite content to sail within their own waters–a regional staycation, perhaps–viewing shore features they’ve only heard of, such as the giant windmills near Cap Chat or the hole-in-the-rock at Roche Percé.
On board, I met a gay couple, around 30 years old, who live in the Montreal suburbs. When I asked them why they chose this cruise, they shrugged “we’ve always wanted to experience Les Iles de la Madeleine.” It seemed to be the answer of everyone on the boat–gay or straight.
I became table-mates with the couple, and the maitre d’ added a fourth person–a single older woman–to our table. She was straight, but turned out to be the perfect fit. For the two nights we cruised together, we became the ship’s sole “Friends of Dorothy” party. I taught them English words like “shenanigans;” they explained many facets of French Canadian culture to me.
My cruise ended on the Islands where I’m now spending four-nights in a splendid gay-owned B&B, La Butte Ronde. I’ve been treated to dinner by the hosts–one of them, Guy, made his version of the idlands’ signature seafood pie called “pot en pot.” It was crammed full of lobster and scallops, and divinely delicious.
But back to the cruise–I enjoyed sailing to these mysterious islands rather than flying (although I’ll fly back), and I did have a “meet me on board” experience–even if it wasn’t arranged through our site.
Have you ever taken a specialty or regional cruise such as this one? What was your experience? Did you meet fellow gays on board? Share your thoughts!
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