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Cruisey steam room lurkers…please mind your manners. All too often I hear gay men talk about cruises, and giggle about steam room antics.
Several years ago, my partner and I were on a Royal Caribbean ship, mainstream itinerary, with a really nice, adult-only male steam room. Problem was, it wasn’t so pleasant for most of the trip due to the incessant cruising of a fellow passenger. God knows why he booked a cabin–he should have just stowed away in the steam room as he seemed to be in there all the time…or else our schedules were strangely identical.
I was not looking for sex in the steam room, nor were most of the other men who used it during the cruise. But the cruisey guy worked it and worked it and worked it. I won’t go into details of his behavior–but there was no question why he was there. It doesn’t matter whether he was attractive or not, his behavior was the kind of thing that is not “straight friendly” or approrpriate.
Later in the cruise, he admitted that he was closeted, from a conservative midwest town, and traveling with his parents. The steam room was his entree into the gay world, and back in Kansas it could be months before he’d have freedom like this again. Well, I never saw it pay off for him…all it did was frustrate him further and bother a lot of guests who just wanted to relax and detox in the steam.
I’m no prude, and I realize that steam rooms everywhere–from hotels to gyms to cruise ships–have historically been pick-up spots. I realize that there are (sadly) closeted people…although in this age I think that’s ridiculous. I realize there are some gays who, for whatever reason, have a wife, and look for men on the side.
If that’s you–or you know someone who is a steam room lurker on mainstream cruise itineraries–please reconsider your behavior. Most of the other men–including gay men–in the facility are likely not looking for sex. Instead of sexualizing the place and potentially disturbing other guests, try just being friendly and inviting someone you find interesting to have a drink elsewhere on the ship, and work your magic from there.
We have come a long way in gaining the “gay-friendly” attitudes and respect we now find throughout the cruise industry. My partner and I act just like any couple on a ship–we hold hands, briefly kiss hello/goodbye, eat from each other’s plates, finish each other’s sentences…there’s no question we’re together. That’s the kind of “gay behavior” that is appropriate in a public area on a cruise ship.
Cruise lines welcome us, and middle-America is gradually getting used to us. I believe it’s important that gay people act in a manner that deserves and continues to earn that respect from both our fellow passengers and crews, everywhere on the ship.
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There’s a big secret out there that many gay luxury cruise travelers don’t realize: “complimentary perks.”* Many cruise lines such as Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas, Silversea and Crystal offer these perks, as well as some of the longer cruises on Holland America and Cunard.
What type of free perks might be offered?
1. Complimentary shore excursions. Depending on the agency that you book with, these excursions can be quite spectacular and can include exclusive events just for your group. An example might be a gala event at Henry Cabot Lodge’s residence in Saigon or a private group lunch and swim in St. Barts.
2. Onboard credits. Typically these credits are between $150-$175 per person.
3. Onboard host. To make your experience even that more memorable, an on board host will guide you along the way.
4. Cocktail Reception. I can’t think of a better way to begin your cruise than to meet your fellow travelers.
5. Exclusivity. Cruise lines actually like it when you book through one of their preferred agencies and they’ll take care of you (unofficially) a bit better if something goes array.
Are there gay groups on board? There are a few gay hosts who would love to have members of the LGBT community sailing with them. I know I sure would! Traveling with a LGBT group can make it much more enjoyable. Due to the generally-smaller size of the luxury ships, there are rarely gay groups onboard. You’re likely to find other gay individuals or couples though, which can be plenty of fun.
How do I get these perks? Many of these perks are not available if you book directly through the cruise line so I recommend you use an agency that has a large cruise club, usually as part of an affiliation with a travel marketing group. The three most popular are – Virtuoso, Signature and Ensemble.
If you love to cruise but have never sailed on a luxury line, I would highly recommend that you include it in your future travel plans. Don’t we all deserve a little pampering?
Josh Friedman is a Virtuoso travel agent based in San Francisco specializing in luxury travel for small groups and individuals. His relationships with the world’s top hotels, cruise lines and local agencies will ensure your successful business or leisure trip. If you’d like to learn more about luxury travel you can contact Josh at: email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, too.
*Editor’s note: nothing is really complimentary or free! You’re paying for it, but just getting a better deal.
I’m keen to travel and cruise just about anywhere, and like you, I have something of a destination dream list. Cruise destinations like Barbados, Grenada, Trinidad, and St. Lucia in the Caribbean are certainly of interest. Further afield, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Samoa, and Mauritius are all places I’d love to cruise.
Malawi was never on my travel list. However, the events that occurred in Malawi over the past few months have made me think a lot about whether or not I should travel to countries where it’s illegal to be gay. (In case you haven’t heard, a gay Malawian couple was imprisoned for getting engaged; after massive international outcry the couple was released from prison, one of them is now trying to be straight and the other lives in fear for his life).
According to the annual ILGA* report State-sponsored Homophobia: a worldwide survey of laws prohibiting same-sex activity between consenting adults, it is currently illegal to be gay in 76 countries, “including the ‘infamous five’ which put people to death for their sexual orientation: Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen (plus some parts of Nigeria and Somalia).”
I’m not surprised to see those five on the list. But digging into their list is fascinating. Other than South Africa, I’ve always assumed we’re “criminals” everywhere in Africa. Not so. Surprisingly, being gay is not a crime in a handful of African countries, among them Benin, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Niger, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Madagascar.
What should be more sobering to gay and lesbian travelers is the reminder that we are very illegal in some nearby, sexy vacation spots, as listed above. Jamaica has a particularly bad reputation with gay travelers. But other spots where gay people go have nasty laws that, if ever enforced, could land you in the proverbial brig, or worse. In Barbados homosexuality carries a life sentence.
Of course, enforcement varies around the globe. While homosexuality is legal in most of the world’s nations, that doesn’t mean it’s widely accepted. While I am comfortable holding my partner’s hand throughout our “home ports” of Seattle and Vancouver, I doubt I’d do the same in Acapulco or Shanghai—or New Orleans, for that matter–all in countries where homosexuality is legal.
The big question is really this: should we visit countries where we’re “illegal?” Check out the easy-to-read list of countries on Wikipedia.org. Then tell me what you think. Also, I’d love to hear if you’ve ever been harassed or had problems when cruising through gay-unfriendly destinations.
* The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association
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I’m not toally sure what this means, but apparently cruisers are wanting more exotic destinations. Royal
Caribbean announced today that they are pulling their Mariner of the Seas off the Mexican Riviera, without much explanation, and moving it to European itineraries. They are offering a package to guests already booked on the Mariner‘s Mexico itineraries.
I’m rather perplexed by this move, and will do further research. What do you think?
________ROYAL CARIBBEAN ANNOUNCES NEW 2011-12 DEPLOYMENT FOR MARINER OF THE SEASMariner of the Seas to Augment Record-setting Europe Deployment in 2011MIAMI, April 22, 2010 – Royal Caribbean International today announced the redeployment of Mariner of the Seas, which will take effect in January 2011. Mariner of the Seas will offer a short South America season before debuting in the Mediterranean as Royal Caribbean’s record-setting 11th ship in the region for summer 2011. Mariner of the Seas will homeport at Rome (Civitavecchia) from March through October 2011, replacing Splendour of the Seas, which will now homeport in Venice, offering 10- and 11-night Greek Isles and Turkey itineraries for the season. Mariner of the Seas will then return to North America for the 2011-12 winter season, offering seven-night Western Caribbean itineraries from Galveston, Texas, replacing Voyager of the Seas. As a result, Voyager of the Seas will herald Royal Caribbean’s return to New Orleans in winter 2011-12, offering vacationers another Gulf Coast port to embark on a memorable seven-night Western Caribbean cruise.The Mexican Riviera has traditionally been an important market for Royal Caribbean International, with the Port of Los Angeles and Mexican local, state and federal government agencies, and their private sectors playing a supportive role as valued partners. While Royal Caribbean International looks forward to returning to the region in the future, Mariner of the Seas will sail its final round-trip Mexican Riviera itinerary from Los Angeles on January 9, 2011.Guests currently booked on Mariner of the Seas’ Mexican Riviera sailings from January 16, 2011, and onward will be contacted with the following offer. Until May 6, 2010, affected guests can opt for a full refund of any fares paid, or enjoy $200 onboard credit per stateroom ($400 per suite category stateroom) when they rebook their vacation, at the same fare or lower prevailing fare, on a Mariner of the Seas sailing before January 16, 2011, or on the same 2011 departure date aboard Voyager of the Seas, sailing from Galveston. Travel agents also will receive a $50 bonus commission for rebooking affected clients, whose names and deposits have been submitted, to these Mariner of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas sailings. More information is available at http://www.RoyalCaribbean.com/MarinerOfTheSeasRedeployment.On January 16, 2011, Mariner of the Seas will reposition from Los Angeles on a 16-night itinerary to Valparaiso, Chile, followed by a 14-night voyage that cruises the Straits of Magellan and Cape Horn at the southern tip of South America to Sao Paulo (Santos), Brazil. The ship will then offer a short Brazilian cruise season, before crossing the Atlantic to debut in Europe at its new seasonal homeport of Rome (Civitavecchia), where Mariner of the Seas will sail seven-night Western Mediterranean and 12-night Mediterranean Holy Land and Mediterranean Egypt itineraries. In November 2011, Mariner of the Seas will debut at Galveston to offer Texas vacationers two roundtrip seven-night Western Caribbean itineraries through April 2012. Mariner of the Seas’ new 2011 Europe and South America, and 2011-12 Western Caribbean itineraries, Splendour of the Seas’ new 2011 Europe itineraries, and Voyager of the Seas’ new 2011-12 Western Caribbean itineraries will be opened for booking in the near future.Guests aboard Mariner of the Seas’ new 2011 Holy Land itineraries can choose a variety of shore excursion options, at an additional charge, that visit some of the most sacred sites in Israel, including Bethlehem, Nazareth, the Wailing Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and many others. “Grand Overland” takes guests on the most comprehensive overview of this fascinating region with an overnight stay in Jerusalem. On the Egypt cruises, “Grand Egypt Tour” offers guests a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit the awe-inspiring Pyramids and mysterious Sphinx at Cairo, and the Valley of the Kings in Luxor. Guests also should not miss the largest collection of Roman ruins in the eastern Mediterranean and the iconic Library of Celsius on “Best of Ephesus.”
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In our first ship review by cruise expert Tom Baker, we go onboard Royal Caribbean’s new Oasis of the Seas. –Ed.
Size Queens: Oasis of the Seas is five times larger than the Titanic, and the original Love Boat Pacific Princess could fit comfortably in the Oasis’ Opus Dining Room–amazing!
Overall I rate the ship a 10 for innovative features. I would choose to vacation on this ship.
- Atlantis Events has a sold-out full ship charter in February of 2011 on identical twin ship Allure of the Seas, you might wait-list with rates starting at $1249pp.
- Aquafest Events has a Labor Day-Getaway Summer group September 4, 2011 on Allure of the Seas with rates starting at $759pp.
- This is a great ship for families, both multi-generational and families traveling together.
- It’s great for couples, honeymooners, and singles!
- While it has features for handicapped guests, it is a bit big and accessibility could be challenging although there were a large number of disabled guests on my cruise and they all seemed to be getting along just fine.
- I would not recommend this to seniors or for folks looking for a more traditional cruise experience. There is nothing traditional about this ship whatsoever…
- If you want to be part of something really special-cruise on this ship. You will pay a premium to do it but it is different than anything else out there.
- Bargain hunters-shop elsewhere. There are lots of great deals on cruises but this is an experience that is unique and promises to be for years to come!!!!
After sailing on some 250 cruise ships worldwide, I am in absolute amazement after disembarking the new Oasis of the Seas. For gay cruisers looking for something totally unique, Oasis of the Seas and her sister ship coming late in 2010 are here just for you…
Stats. As the largest cruise ship ever built, Oasis is 1,187 feet long, 208 feet wide, with 18 decks above the sea. There wow factor everywhere. I am overwhelmed by its architecture, array of cabins, entertainment venues, dining options, and massive size-again WOW!
Unique. Oasis and her to-come sister-ship are in a class of their own, There has never been anything like them and may not be anything to top them for many years to come. There are no plans to rival them by any other cruise line and even Royal Caribbean has no plans to top this incredible outing. It would be ten years before a ship could be drawn up, financed and built.
Pricing. These ships are so unique that they are collecting a premium price by guests willing to pay for something they cannot find on anywhere else. Deal seekers…sorry, this one isn’t for you. Prices start at a low of $1099 per-person for interior cabins. The cabins ands suites are bigger and better than any other ship in the company’s fleet. Smallest cabins start at 149 square feet; the largest suite is 1,524 square feet plus a balcony of 843 square feet.
Embarkation. The new terminal at Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale) built exclusively for Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas is the best designed and flowing terminal anywhere. Check-in took less than two minutes and boarding was within 20 minutes of arrival at the pier. Cabins are not open for embarkation until 1:00 p.m. but you can enjoy a welcome aboard meal, make spa appointments, and tour the ship to get a feel for your exciting cruise!
Overview. I visited many cabins and suites, and felt all were above cruise industry standards, well decorated, and
ample for a cruise for 7-days.
Most of the cabins on this ship consist of balcony staterooms, standard at 182 square feet and balconies that range in size from 50-82 additional square feet depending on your location. Since 90% of the ships accommodations are this type of cabin, I will focus on this specifically. These are spacious rooms with twin or queen sized beds, a full sized couch, vanity, 32 inch flat screen television with internet connectivity and plenty of channels .
- Storage. There are three drawers for storage a couple of narrow cupboards, and a small refrigerator which will act as a mini-bar. The closet sits alongside the bed or next to the couch depending on the cabin configuration. There is ample storage for a couple (maybe for a third guest). There are a few shelves and a tiny safe one of the lower shelves. Cabin doors open outwards into an alcove so there seems to be more internal space.
- Bathrooms are well laid out with a long vanity but tiny, impractical sink. There is enough storage space for toiletries, although it’s awkward. The shower stall had nice space with sliding doors for total privacy.
- The phone is digital, easy to use, has a clock, alarm, and can be used for any reservations or room service. The same can be done by using your interactive cabin television.
Oasis of the Seas has more dedicated space to passengers than any other in history.
I was particularly taken with two areas.
- The Royal Promenade spans decks 5 and 6. It is a huge area that offers the ships Guest Relations desk, coffee bar, Champagne Bar, photo shops, Pubs, Bars, Dining Venues, Cupcake Shop-they are delicious, and an amazing Rising Tide Bar. An elevator wine bar that travels from deck 5 to deck 8 (Central Park). It is a unique feature that has a wonderful waterfall that works under the bar as it moves up and down into a gorgeous skylight above embarking guests on decks 5 or 8. It is something to behold!
- The 6 level high Central Park area which spans an area in length of nearly 500 feet and flanks two massive glass enclosed stairwells and elevator shafts that transverses from top to bottom of this massive luxury liner. The gorgeously landscaped Central Park is filled with tropical trees, plants, and flowers-nearly 12,000 and lined with elegant boutiques, bars, and fee-based alternative restaurants that offer gourmet international cosine. There is a really awesome dining venue that is like a bistro market called the Park Cafe which is open for breakfast and lunch and was popular.
These are only two of 7 neighborhoods–I could go on and on but you get the picture.
There are dozens of dining venues on this ship ranging from the casual Windjammer Cafe on Deck 16 to the massive and most popular Opus dining room spanning decks 3-5, Sorrento’s Italian Cafe on the Royal Promenade, and the gorgeous gourmet fee based 150 Central Park. I tried a number of venues and found the food to be above Royal Caribbean standard (impressive as I was on a travel agent/press junket as guinea pigs for this massive start up ship). The quality was good to excellent and the variety would give the most sophisticated palate a run for their money. A week onboard would not even allow one to try everything this ship has t offer unless you spent your entire time running from venue to venue…
Was friendly from stem to stern. While the ship is ramping up and half the staff has never worked on a ship before, a pleasant hello was always in order from the staff met throughout the ship. I think this will be a very friendly ship. All staff that I spoke with was very proud and happy to be a part of this one-of-a-kind exciting cruise ship.
Entertainment If you ever thought you would be bored on a cruise ship, Oasis will prove you wrong. It has seven unique neighborhoods–each with a theme and unique style giving the ship a kaleidoscope of style and decor.
- Rock climbing, ice skating, flow-riding, or zip lining are available.
- Oasis has a huge number of entertainment venues ranging from the professional Broadway Opal Theater which will have production shows and a full rendition of the popular show Hairspray.
- Aqua-Theater offers a great aquatic and diving show.
- Excellent gym, pools, and fitness areas–perfect for the gym-bunnies!
- Royal Promenade parades with themes ranging from 70’s disco to zany cirque like costumes
- Multiple dance clubs both indoors and out.
- Jazz club, karaoke club, comedy club, strolling singers, musicians, piano bar, live music everywhere
- Beautiful ice skating rink with magnificent ice show,
- and much more…
My Top 10 Favorite Things
- The best designed user-friendly “find it” board. The ship has easy access electronic maps telling you how to find your cabin, public spaces, daily programs, and dining venue capacity offerings everywhere. It is well signed and fairly easy to find your way around.
- It has the best architecture of any cruise ship ever built-period!
- There is an incredible array of comfortable and well designed cabins suites for all budgets and tastes
- The food is above par for any other Royal Caribbean ship I have been on and the variety of dining venues is exceptional.
- The Aqua Theater and many entertainment venues will never allow for boredom as there are so many multiple options for everybody.
- The spa and gym are among the best I have seen anywhere in the World
- This ship will WOW kids and teens of all ages with the most extensive and cool programming and dedicated areas. It is amazing!!!!
- The Central Park area is romantic and high-end, filled with designer shops, wine bars, and gourmet dining venues. It is perfect for adults, honeymooners and up market travelers looking for the BEST!
- Embarkation and disembarkation was the easiest of any ship I have even been on
- This ship has the most variety of any ship I have ever been on-book a cruise on it and enjoy all that it has to offer.
10 Things I Did Not Like
- The ramp at embarkation was way to steep for almost anybody but it is being corrected.
- The shower head does not slide up and down bad for shorter guests who cannot reach it.
- The Boardwalk and Central Park cabins face each other so privacy is a real issue.
- The bathroom sinks in virtually all standard cabins is tiny and your head will hit the mirror if you stoop down to use it properly-use caution!
- The noise factor is higher than most ships due to huge cavernous spaces and hard surfaces
- The Windjammer Cafe is smaller than most other Royal Caribbean ships and although the design is excellent, the space is very crowded.
- The pool areas albeit designed well and there are many of them are small. I think when the ship is full, there will be some issues finding deck chairs in the sun and around the pool itself.
- One must have a reservation for all shows. This does not allow for flexibility for people like me who decide on the cuff. It is more like going to Las Vegas.
- The ship has some going up and around to get to certain places making transverse difficult. This isn’t bad but could have been planned better.
- The Central Park area on Deck 8 where the gorgeous plantings is very muggy and does not have enough breeze going through it.
Conclusion: The pros far outweigh the cons in the big scheme of things. A colleague asked me if I would vacation on this ship and I was very quick to say YES!!!
I just got my new National Geographic Traveler magazine (October 2009), and they’re reviving the 50 places concept. It’s been 10 years since they first created their list, and now they’ve added another 50–so technically it’s their list of 100 places of a lifetime.
I’ve pulled out the places from their list that you can visit by cruise ship, and have bolded the spots I’ve personally visited. (Note: I’ve only kept places that are actual ports or easy shore excursions, not nearby major cities).
In the future we’ll do a survey on your favorite cruise places of a lifetime. Now, what do you have to say about the Nat Geo choices?
- Athens, Greece
- Barcelona, Spain
- Dublin, Ireland
- Hong Kong
- Istanbul, Turkey
- New York, New York
- Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
- San Francisco, California
- St. Petersburg, Russia
- Tokyo, Japan
- Vancouver, Canada
- Venice, Italy (soon, I hope!)
- Aleutian Islands, Alaska
- Amazon Forest
- Arnhem Land, Australia
- Auyuittuq National Park, Canada
- Galapagos Islands
- Papua New Guinea’s Coral Reefs
- South Georgia Island, South Atlantic Ocean
- Venezuela’s Tepuis
- Aitutaki, Cook Islands
- Amalfi Coast, Italy
- British Virgin Islands
- Fernando de Noronha Archipelago, Brazil
- Greek Islands
- Hawaiian Islands
- Kerala, India
- Lord Howe Island, Australia
- Mayreau, St. Vincent & the Grenadines
- Molokai, Hawaii
- Pacific Islands
- Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
- Salina, Italy
- Torres del Paine, Chile
- Yap’s Outer Islands, Micronesia
- Asturias, Spain
- Azure Coast, Turkey
- Canadian Maritimes
- Cordillera Terraces, Philippines
- Danang to Hue, Vietnam
- Gaspe Peninsula, Canada
- North Island, New Zealand
- Norway’s Coast
- Easter Island, Chile
- Karnak, Egypt
- Leptis Magna, Libya
- Pyramids, Egypt
- Sagrada Familia, Spain
- Vatican City
Of course, not all these interesting spots are fully gay-friendly…I’m interested in your take on that, too!
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!
Cruising out of San Diego, California? Here are three highly recommended hotels.
- The Ivy Hotel. Metrosexual to the max. This design hotel in the gentrified Gaslamp area is close to
all the shopping of Horton Plaza, and just a short ride to the gay zone of Hillcrest. Rooms are over-the-top chic. My junior suite had large, flat screen TVs in both rooms. Super comfy beds. The rooftop patio includes a bar with dazzling views, a lap pool (did someone say muscle boys sunbathing…yes, they were there), a fire pit, and on weekend evenings, the coolest dudes and chics San Diego can offer. Several gay pals and I took over the bar one weeknight, and the coversation was 100% “out.” The bartender (likely straight) was right in on it. Fun.
- Best for: Luxury, pampering, exclusivity
- Gay-friendly: VERY
- Distance to cruise pier: 1 mile (walkable with no luggage)
- Distance to airport: 2.5 miles
- Secret tip 1: Call the concierge, request to be driven around downtown in their Escalade. It’s free, you just need to tip. Cruise pier is included. When possible, they’ll even drive you outside the free zone.
- Extra touch: if you forgot your condoms, they have a “love pack” in the minibar
- Holiday Inn on the Bay. Yes, It’s just a Holiday Inn. But the location cannot be beat! This sprawling hotel complex is quite literally across the street from the cruise ship terminal. Fly in, sleep, walk your bags across the street, sail. It couldn’t be easier. Nothing terribly gay about it, but one of the world’s most convenient port hotels.
- Best for: Quick overnighter, walk to ship
- Gay friendly: we felt comfortable, although the chain is family-focused
- Distance to cruise pier: 0.1 mile (they offer park ‘n cruise packages)
- Distance to airport: 2.7 miles
- Secret tip: request a room facing the water, get up early and watch your ship sail in!
- Park Manor Suites. On our recent San Diego trip, some of our group stayed at this spot and quite
liked it. It’s a plenty-nice property, and very gay friendly–a member of IGLTA. Rooms are spacious enough, and it’s just across the street from Balboa Park if you want to go jogging or explore the amazing Spanish Colonial architecture of the park.
- Best for: near Hillcrest (SD’s gay village), 0.7 mile, an easy walk.
- Gay friendly: they usually fly a rainbow flag and belong to IGLTA.
- Distance to cruise pier: 2.2 miles
- Distance to airport: 3.2 miles
- Secret tip: request a room facing the park–it’s an amazing view! Plus, be sure to check their site’s “specials” page.
A question: when you’re cruising on a mainstream itinerary, have you ever had any challenges with your stateroom steward with regards to your sexuality? I.e., if you’re two guys who want a queen/king bed, has the steward generally had the beds prepped that way when you boarded the ship? If not, and you’ve had to request it, have you always had positive responses?
My partner and I have had very good luck with getting the two beds remade as one, although they’ve always been separated when we boarded (fine, as the steward would have no way of knowing we are a couple). On our recent Hawaii cruise, one couple mentioned that during the early days of the voyage their steward asked several times if they would like the beds separated. My suggestion to them: Just tell him/her that you’re a couple.
I’d love to hear what you think about this. Comments, please.
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It’s Christmas Eve eve, and onboard the Celebrity Mercury plenty of creatures are stirring as we finally feel Hawaiian breezes blow across the decks.
The gay guys are all having plenty of fun. Sun, gym, sublime food, dancing, connecting. Gay staffers have noticed us and are warming up. (As yet, haven’t met any lesbians).
It’s all good. In fact, it’s better than good. It’s fantastic. It’s why I continue to believe cruising is the best vacation value on earth.
We’re enjoying getting to know our MMOB pals Mike & Joey. And all the other gays we’ve met seem pretty keen on learning more about how to use the site. Perhaps they’re just a little jealous that Mike & Joey already had good dining partners lined up before the cruise.
Meanwhile…happy KwanChrisMakkuh. I’m off to find a fruity drink and flirt with a hot homo. Wish you were here. Loving this cruise!
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