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Unique gay group cruise: HIV+ travel

Carnival Freedom, image courtesy Carnival Cruise Lines.

Carnival Freedom, image courtesy Carnival Cruise Lines.

If you thought gay group cruising was a “niche,” get ready for a niche-within-a-niche: cruises for HIV-positive gay men. Advertised as a “retreat,” the upcoming cruise will sail from Fort Lauderdale on October 23, 2010, on the Carnival Freedom.

While I only recently learned of this niche, it’s been around for a while. The trips are organized by Paul Stalbaum, a Flordia-based travel agent with Jacaranda Travel/American Express, and he’s been doing it for five years. While sailing on a mainstream itinerary, the group will have many of their own activities, and even their own emcee, Mark S. King “an award-winning author and internet personality who has been an advocate for those living with HIV since he tested positive in 1985.” They’ve lined up other speakers and hosts, and also plan some of their own shore excursions.

If you’re wondering “why,” consider this from the organizer:

For many, our cruises with other positive guys is a very life affirming week that regenerates the body and spirit. Disclosure is never an issue. We have men who come from small towns in Alabama where social opportunities are almost non-existent. Other come from large cities like New York, Chicago but may be faced with the discomfort of disclosure. Here were “are all in the same boat” both literally and figuratively.

Rates for this niche sailing start at just $439, inside.

If you’ve ever sailed on one of these cruises, I’d love to hear about your experiences. Due to the potentially-sensitive and private nature of HIV, you’re welcome to contact me directly at randall@meetmeonboard.com, and I will keep your identity private. I’d really like to hear how the organizer manages this sensitive topic onboard a very mainstream ship.

For more information, click here.


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  • John R. Cullember (Ron)

    Thanks for the info on the “niche” within a niche. I did not know that they existed until now. Something for everyone in mainline cruising. Thank you Carnival Corp.

  • http://www.meetmeonboard.com Randall Shirley

    Don’t thank Carnival, John, thank Paul Stalbaum, a Flordia-based travel agent with Jacaranda Travel/American Express.

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