an overview of gay travel and essential advice for getting
the best deals, start at the Travel
Deals and Advice.
While gay travel and gay
travel agents have sprung up everywhere
- few seem to have much to offer older men.
However we have created extensive calendars of Events for
older men and admirers.
Crusing (on ships!) is
an increasingls popular option for many people but
there are many options
from to get the perfect trip for you, so read our Guide
to Gay Cruising and then the
Gay Cruise Calendar.
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What could be more relaxing than
arriving at an exotic new port each
day, enjoying gourmet meals,
taking part in unlimited shipboard activities and being rocked
to sleep at night by gentle Caribbean or Mediterranean waves?
you book that luxury cruise trip, it helps to know what
your options are to ensure you travel with compatible people -
do you go All Gay on a Large Ship or on
Small Ship. Or decide between joining a Gay
Group or going independently on a Mainstream
GO ALL GAY CRUISING The reasons why many gays and lesbians opt for all-gay
charters include the ability to hold a lovers hand or kiss openly.
the duration of the voyage you don't have to feel concerned about
the views that some other people in society may have. An all-gay
cruise gives many gay men and lesbians an opportunity to feel
totally comfortable about themselves, their peers and their companions – especially
those that live in less tolerant locations at home.
These gay charters focus on the
most-popular itineraries such as the Caribbean, the Mexican Riviera
that may not be as appealing to experienced cruisers. But because
of the limited number of sailings, you are advised to book at least
6 months in advance. The gay charter companies build in many "extras" into
their cruises, such as special gay-themed parties, entertainers --
and gay-themed shore excursions -- they generally cost 20-40 percent
more than the same mainstream itinerary. Many passengers have no
problem paying this premium because they love the packed schedule
of special activities such as parties, dating games, gay comedians,
financial seminars etc.
However, an all-gay cruise is NOT
a "floating bathhouse." At
times, certain areas of the ship do tend to become "cruising
areas," so to speak, but that's the same kind of thing you would
find in any city or at any gay bar. When you think about it, a cruise
ship really is a floating city. If you want to avoid these areas,
you certainly can; if you are looking for that kind of activity,
it is discreetly there and available.
If you are going on a gay cruise as a monogamous couple, simply
looking for a great vacation in a comfortable environment -- where
you could be affectionate with each other in public areas - this
kind of a cruise definitely provides that.
Not everyone on these ships is the buff circuit-boy type like you
see in some of the brochures. There are lots of ordinary, everyday
people -- from different age groups, with different builds, and from
different countries. You'll usually find a nice mix of gay and lesbian
couples, singles and groups of friends traveling together. The all-gay
charter companies report that the average age of their passengers
is in the late 30s to 40s (on mainstream cruises the average age
is around 55) and guests come from all over the world
The two big players in the gay male all-ship charters (generally less than 10 percent on board these ship are women) are RSVP Vacations and Atlantis Events. RSVP is now owned by Atlantis but the two brands are aimed at slightly different clientele. RSVP is aimed at a more relaxed older crowd whereas Atlantis is for a more party orientated younger crowd - although you can find people of all ages on both cruises. They charter some of the best and newest ships (such as the Celebrity Millenium and Holland America's Westerdam), expanding their sailings and opening long waiting lists for those who don't book early.
RSVP also cruises to popular destinations,
and it has expanded into Tahiti land vacations and European riverboat
cruises as well as small luxury sailing ships that each host fewer
than 220 passengers and ply the waters of the Mediterranean and Caribbean.
As well as popular Caribbean
and Mexican Riviera sailings, Atlantis also offers Barcelona, Italy and Greek Isles cruise in August each year
on a 2,000-passenger Royal Caribbean ship and has included cruises from New Zeland to Australia.
Both companies hire A-list onboard entertainment and boast experienced,
friendly onboard staff members that goes out of their way to make
sure everyone is mingling well. Proof of this is that over 90 percent
of passengers book another all-gay cruise with the same company.
ALL-GAY SMALL CRUISES Two niche players in the all-gay cruise company market are: Romance
Voyages, which charters upscale small
ships for Galapagos Island and European river adventures, and Journeys
by Sea, which charters private yachts (two
to eight guests only) for intimate, week-long sailings in the Caribbean.
GAY GROUPS ON MAINSTREAM CRUISES Between choosing an all-gay charter and just signing up
a mainstream cruise is the option of joining a gay group, organized
agencies or companies. You'll be traveling on a regularly scheduled
cruise with a group of other gay men (and lesbians), often with
a "host" on board, and you'll have special group amenities
such as private dinner rooms, cocktail parties and shore excursions.
The two biggest organizers of gay
groups on board mainstream cruises are Ocean Voyager Cruise Consultants
and Pied Piper Travel. Known
for its upmarket gay groups, Ocean
Voyager Cruise Consultants organizes several groups on Celebrity, Holland America, and Norweigan
cruise lines. Pied
Piper Travel organizes gay groups on board Cunard's
new Queen Mary 2, Princess and Celebrity cruise lines.
Two other tour companies that organize
similar gay groups are: Above
and Beyond Tours and Aquafest.
Likewise, luxury gay tour operator David
Tours books cabins aboard
premium cruise lines such as Radisson Seven Seas or Silverseas.
David arranges special amenities and dinner for his upscale gay clients
(and their friends).
The big benefit of joining one of these groups is the promise of
gay bonding, if you'd like it, as well as the ability to just meld
into the larger group of passengers and be anonymous, so to speak.
Prices are generally comparable to regular rates -- less than the
all-gay charters. Gay and lesbian travelers who aren't ready for
the full-on gay experience (which can be overwhelming) on an all-gay
charter may find that joining one of these groups is a fine introduction
to the gay cruising lifestyle.
MAINSTREAM CRUISING Nearly all of the mainstream cruise companies want to attract
gay customers, although some are more gay friendly than others. Especially
cruisers who want to go somewhere different, or to have a more exclusive
floating gay ghetto.
Many mainstream cruise companies now
include “Friends of Dorothy”*
gay social meetings on their itineraries for their gay customers.
The term FOD now appears on some ships' daily programs - but by not
all and there's no guarantee you'll see one when you step onboard.
Cruise directors can decide to add
or withdraw the meetings at any time, at their discretion.
The larger lines such as Norwegian,
Carnival and Princess will include FOD meetings on most of their
The second group generally
holds the FOD gatherings upon passenger request; large popular lines
like Holland America, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean generally fall
into this category. You won’t find them on the ultra-premium
luxury lines like Crystal,
Cunard (QM2 excepting), Oceania, Regent Seven Seas, Sea
Dream, Silversea, Yachts of Seabourn, and that, because
of their small
size, rarely feel the necessity of offering FOD meetings.
If you don't see an FOD meeting scheduled on the first or second
night onboard and you want to meet some new gay friends, ask for
one! Make your request known to the cruise director and social staff
early on. Bear in mind that the length of the cruise as well as how
port-intensive the itinerary is can affect whether there is room
in the schedule for an FOD meeting.
However, the term "Friends of Dorothy"
or FOD is not recognised by many non-U.S. cruisers and by younger
so don’t be surprised
if the turnout is low even though your gaydar has recognised many
board. Just get those that do attend to go on a mission to invite
others along to the next meeting. You can also arrange to meet up
in advance - Online forums on sites such as CruiseCritic.com often
have a Roll Calls for specific cruises in the gay section.
* The evolution of the term "Friends of Dorothy," came
into popular use in the 1950's in the U.S. as gays and lesbians developed
a special connection with Judy Garland, whose ballads of hope and
despair and whose relentless spirit, and tragic history, mirrored
their struggles in everyday life. She wasn't the first diva or drama
queen, but certainly the one who resonated the most to a generation
of gays and lesbians. Garland's most famous role -- as the ever-optimistic
and wistful Dorothy in the 1939 classic "The Wizard of Oz" --
gave gays and lesbians a "secret" code word that they could
use to refer to themselves.
GO DADDY CRUISING The age of participants on all-gay cruises tend to be younger
then the average regular cruise and the attitude towards older men
inter-generational relationships) can be off-putting. The alternative
is to go with one of the cruise groups for mature gay men and admirers.
Although none of these yet are all-gay - some have become regular
annual events, such as Salvo’s
Loveboat, as well as the many
one-off events organised by gay social groups such as PrimeTimers.
You’ll find them listed in the GrayGay.com Events
Additionally, there is one specialist
company offering cruises in small ships along the Turkish coastline
only for bears and older men. - Bear
CRUISING RESEARCH Just be sure to spend the time to fully research the specific
cruise you're interested in before committing. Important questions
as if you have assigned seating at dinner, if gratuities are included
or not, what is the typical guest profile, and so on should be
answered by the cruise company you're working with or by a knowledgeable
gay-friendly travel agent, so you'll get a perfect "fit" with
the cruise you've chosen. You can also find forums on sites such