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Tagged: Gay Group Cruises RSS
Venture Out emerged in 1998 out of the growing need for a greater selection of upscale, small-group, specialized theme tours for the LGBT audience. They bring together usually no more than 15 participants, ensuring an intimacy and camaraderie between group members and with the professional guide who accompanies each vacation.
Join them for an all-inclusive 8-day/7-night luxury yacht-style adventure aboard the newly renovated 86 guest Safari Endeavour. The small ship experience enables you to see the awe-inspiring sights that Alaska has to offer in a unique way. This ship can sail through narrow fjords where you will have the opportunity to hike, kayak, paddle board, and beach comb, and to see awe inspiring glaciers and wildlife very close up — something that the big cruise liners simply can’t do. In Glacier Bay National Park, a Park Ranger will board the ship for two days to lead hiking and kayaking excursions and provide interpretation of the the area’s history, culture and geography.
Survey Results: Part 2
By: Michael Bradbury, MMOB Director of Marketing
For a lot of LGBT travelers, being trapped on a ship far from land with members of their own family strikes fear into their hearts. For others, sailing on a cruise ship is a way to get closer to blood relatives and spend time together away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. As gay people we have the added bonus of being able to choose our second family—each other. And according to all the members at MeetMeOnBoard, we love to do it together.
As was clear from our recent membership survey, we LGBTs love to be together. Over a third of our nearly 4,000 members have had the pleasure of traveling on an all-gay charter cruise like Atlantis, RSVP or Olivia. Another 25% have traveled on a mainstream cruise line but as part of a larger gay group, like Aquafest, Pied Piper, Chumley’s or Sweet.
But the vast majority—85%—tend to stick to the mainstream cruises and make their own gay fun.
- We discovered that price is the number one reason members opt for mainstream cruises over all-gay cruises.
- Several members say that it’s fun to do an all-gay cruise just to have the experience but you pay more and give up the choice of going where you want to go.
- Since destination was clearly the biggest factor for members when choosing a cruise, it stands to reason that there are many more options when traveling singly or as a couple on a mainstream departure.
John Tolliver, an avid cruise ship traveler from Wappinger Falls, New York has sailed on all-gay, gay group and mainstream cruises. And he says each style of cruising has its pluses and minuses.
He says, “The advantage of the gay charters I think is you feel you’re in a whole new world, and the blinders come off.”
Most all-gay cruises book out the newest, biggest ships and bring their own top-notch entertainment on board. That’s a huge advantage for some, turning a more traditional cruise ship into a floating party.
Several members specifically commented that on an all-gay charters the crew is allowed to let their hair down a little bit more than they would otherwise. One recounted a story of a hotel manager ending up in a hot tub at the end of a raucous night.
For some removing those blinders can be too much. Call it sensory overload. The late-night parties, excessive drinking, wild costumes and theme nights can be too much for some, making an all-gay charter overwhelming. With so much going on all the time, it’s hard not to get exhausted.
- One man says, “The all-gay ones are just so much fun, almost too much. And we don’t dance all night or drink too much or have sex in the sauna. The passengers are just all so nice and attitude is seldom in view. The entertainment, including the hilarious versions of BINGO and the Newlywed game, is so wonderful. So much better than any ordinary cruise I have ever been on.”
- Another says, “Shockingly most times I find straight NCL cruises more fun than gay cruises… with the exception of how awesome the deck parties can be with Atlantis (lasers, lights, sound mostly).” He also says, “Atlantis has priced itself out and I think it’s catching up with itself. Booking bigger newer ships gets people but the same stale itineraries for sometimes double what you’d pay for the same cabin otherwise is just silly.”
- Several members say that to go on an all-gay cruise you are really paying a gay tax. Supply and demand dictate those high costs. And the all-gay charters are selling out so they must be doing something right.
- One cruiser put it very succinctly. “No children, everyone is on the same vacation (unlike your typical cruise where there are reunions and family gatherings, etc…) the other cruisers are very friendly and there is little complaining.”
A lot of you would much rather choose a vacation destination and develop a cruise around that, selecting cruise line and then ship. And it appears that no one has trouble spotting one another once the ship sets sail.
Many members say they thought they were booked on a straight cruise—until the gays showed up.
This story is oh so common and makes the MeetMeOnBoard staff quite giddy. That’s the purpose of this site—to connect LGBT cruise travelers.
Tolliver says, “Straight cruises are a whole different game. So much it seems is up to the Hotel Director/Cruise Director onboard.” He says they can either embrace the gays or ignore them.
And, many members have stories of both. It appears that many Princess ships are no longer actively hosting their Friends of Dorothy cocktail gatherings (or the members aren’t seeing those parties listed anywhere). But just by walking around the ship’s deck, many gay singles and couples are finding each other.
And, then there is the hybrid between an all-gay charter and a mainstream cruise—the gay group cruise.
This relatively new way to travel has been expanded in the last few years. Travel agents who aren’t able to fill a whole ship just reserve a handful (20-500) of spaces on ships that hold 2,000-4,000 passengers. The gay group is a great way to feel the comfort of the gay vibe without being immersed in it during an entire vacation.
- Karen, a single lesbian from Lawrence, Kansas says she travels with a group of 8-10 gay friends. She began with a cruise to Alaska in 2008 followed quickly by trips to Columbia, and Central America that same year. Then after a summer in Spain and Sweden, she formed a new family of friends which they turned into Fika Tours. Now she says, “We are our own gay-group in a mainstream cruise.”
The membership survey showed that MeetMeOnBoard is a diverse community of people who share an important common thread — an insatiable desire to travel by cruise ship. We have avid fans of all-gay charters, where the price is higher, destination is out of your control but the party goes all the time.
We also have regular vacationers who go where they want, how they want (by cruise ship) and leave meeting other gay people up to fate. With so many LGBT couples and singles traveling by cruise ship, it’s nearly impossible to be the only gay people on a ship these days.
MeetMeOnBoard is also comprised of a growing number of members who love the best of both worlds. The gay-group allows the freedom to be yourself, hold hands or kiss your partner without feeling like you are making a political statement. It allows passengers to opt in or opt out of gay-specific activities. And many of our members really enjoy the idea that they can go on a cruise, be themselves and show straight people that being gay is really no big deal.
- Bill, from North Carolina (not a member) and his wife were traveling on a Princess cruise a few years ago and there was a gay-group on board. One night he and his wife were in the top deck lounge watching the gay group dance and have a great time. He says another straight couple came into the lounge and sat down, not seeing the obvious group of gay men dancing. The wife decided she wanted to dance and Bill says when she returned to her seat, “We could hear the woman say ‘There aren’t any women on the dance floor!’ My wife and I just about died laughing.”
Tolliver says, “I think it’s kind of cool on the straight or gay group cruises because just about everyone you meet, straight couples learn that there is nothing to fear from gay men and women.” He adds, “Like that whole philosophy of showing how alike we are by example rather than how different.”
How You Use MeetMeOnBoard
It’s clear from our survey that you are connecting with each other before, during and after your cruises. We set up MeetMeOnBoard.com to do just that. We offer many different ways to engage with each other. But we are always listening to your kind suggestions and trying to improve the site and our services to better serve your cruise-connecting needs. We’ll explore that in our next installment of our 2011 Survey Results, Ask and You Shall Receive.
Survey Results: Part 1
By: Michael Bradbury, MMOB Director of Marketing
The very first question we asked you on your 2011 MeetMeOnBoard membership survey was about how often you travel by cruise ship. The data was clear. All MeetMeOnBoard members love to cruise. That didn’t surprise us but the numbers did.
Almost three quarters of our 4,000 members love going on cruises so much that that feel compelled to travel by ship at least once a year.
This begs the question why.
Only one member mentioned the ocean even though logically cruising involves water. For most of you, traveling by cruise ship is more about price, convenience, amenities, entertainment and quick travel.
Rick Dallin from San Diego captures the sentiment of many of you. He says, “Cruises are a good value. You have entertainment, lodging, all the delicious food you can eat, and ports of call.”
He’s right. Seasoned cruise ship passengers seem to like the whole lifestyle of cruising—with all the creature comforts of home mixed with all the finest elements of hotel living combined with non-stop entertainment.
While a whopping 74% of MeetMeOnBoard members travel by cruise ship at least one time every year, 17% of our members travel when they can—not every year but every couple of years.
One man who asked to remain nameless says he goes on a cruise only when his family coerces him. Another member keeps running into hurricane cancellations in the Caribbean and that has broken his annual cruise record—twice.
Jen Rainin loves traveling by cruise ship because she wants to see many different places. A cruise ship gives her family (wife plus kids) a taste of places they might want to travel to in the future. And the best part for her is that she doesn’t have to keep packing up and switching hotels.
Many of you like the convenience of cruises for that reason. You lug your luggage aboard, get settled and then the logistics of the trip melt away as you wave bon voyage to your departure port and plan for fun in the sun and midnight buffets.
At MeetMeOnBoard we are proud to gather such seasoned cruisers in one spot, to create community and lifelong friendships, bonded by the love of cruise ship travel.
And some of you—nearly half—really love to go on cruise. 40% of members indicate they travel by cruise ship at least two or more times per year. We know from seeing profiles and comments gathered in this survey that quite a few of you go on cruises about 4 times a year. And some of you sound like you practically live on ships, traveling on multiple 60-day cruises pretty regularly.
On man says he tries to go on 7-10 cruises every year.
For those cruise die-hards there is obviously something very appealing about traveling this way.
Rainin loves the home-base feel of a cruise ship. She is going on a Holland America Cruise to Alaska in August and looks forward to this safe way to travel with her children. She says, “They have such autonomy onboard and there are tons of opportunities for learning.”
Many of our new members sign up at MeetMeOnBoard before embarking on their first cruise. It’s always heartening to see a new cruiser’s enthusiasm and excitement. And it’s equally exciting to see our veteran sailors helping out the new folks by answering questions, sharing wisdom and just being so welcoming.
Our survey results show that for those who are new to cruising, you tend to return from your maiden voyage energized and ready to go on another cruise as soon as you can. For most of our members, once they get a taste of the cruise life, it becomes very important to them.
Rainin says, “It’s a wonderful way to travel, to experience the world, to meet and make new friends and to make a difference.”
Pasadena David says, “It doesn’t even have to be a cruise ship.” He’ll go on a barge or freighter. “I just love the ocean,” he says. “Cruise ships have the added appeal of lots to do, people to meet and some of my closest friends are people I have met on cruises.”
MeetMeOnBoard founder Mark den Hartog says, “MeetMeOnBoard is very proud that we have a high percentage of frequent cruisers but we also invite the first-timers and infrequent cruisers to join our growing MMOB family. No matter how many times one has cruised, our site will offer a wealth of information to other LGBT cruise enthusiasts.”
Gay v. Mainstream
The vast majority of members—85%—have traveled on a mainstream cruise line. But many of you prefer a gay group cruise within the mainstream sailing. We’ll explore that in our next installment of our 2011 Survey Results, Cruising with Family.
Today, a question: What current cruise trend(s) interest you the most?
I ask because I find myself waffling on some upcoming cruise options. We’ll be in Europe this fall, and want to do a Mediterranean sailing. Cruises in Europe are, in fact, a burgeoning trend.
But beyond that, we’re looking at different types of cruises we could take within our date range. I’ve found luxury options, all-gay options, gay groups, big mainstream ships, small mainstream ships, lines that cater mostly to Europeans, Broadway’s Playbill group (expensive!), other special interest groups…and more.
I know what I’m leaning toward, but I’m curious what you’re leaning toward in your cruise planning. What trends catch your eye?
Queen Elizabeth Spec Sheet Gross Tonnage: 90,900 tons Overall Length: 964.5 feet Beam: 105.8 feet Beam at Bridge Wings: 120 feet Draft: 26.2 feet Height – Keel to Funnel: 205 feet Height – Above Waterline: 179 feet Guest Capacity: 2,068 Crew Capacity: 1,005 Number of Staterooms: 1,034 Keel Laid: July 2 2009 Maiden Revenue Cruise: October 12 2010
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