OK, I anticipate getting flamed for asking this question, but here goes. My company specializes in booking small groups of gay men aboard the "mainstream" cruise lines. Our clients specifically avoid the all-gay charters because they're not the party-and-hook-up types. (As I like to say, we travel for the scenery rather than "The Scene.")
So here's the question: How would I go about finding ships with openly gay cruise directors, staff, etc? Most of our guys have cruised many times, they've been there/done that, seen it all. With all their "amateur" cruising experience, they'd really enjoy meeting up for a drink with people who do this for a living--swap stories with cruise staff, talk about the show with a dancer, etc.
Am I being naive to think that staff would actually WANT to hang out at the bar with some "cones" for a night or two? I have a couple of buddies who were dancers and they said they always enjoyed chatting up other FOD, but maybe they were the exception.
I tend to book our groups most often on Princess & NCL for a variety of reasons, but I'd actually defect to other lines if I could find staff that I could count on to really make a cruise memorable. Any input would be much appreciated.
I can see some flames coming, but thought I'd give an answer before they start
Just from experience - staffing on ships is very fluid. Who's on this month may not necessarily be there in 2 or 6 months or next year, so it would be hard to book a cruise a year out and get the staff you wanted. Entertainers change on a per cruise basis, cast on a 5 to 8 month contracts.
(For the benefit of others reading, companies like Atlantic and RSVP will charter an entire ship. With those groups, the cruise line specifically schedules the FOD staff for the duration.)
Have you spoken directly to the cruise lines groups and charter reps? What do they say? I would think if you're booking in a group of any size, they'd be able to advise you.
However, what you're asking seems to be the equivalent of walking into a hotel or resort and asking 'who's gay here' . . . would you do this in that situation?
The line I work for does have a community bulletin board where both FOD and other groups like vetrans or Friends of Bill W have meetings posted every cruise. I have known a few of the cast to check out the meetings. . . .
Thanks for your input, sz. Just to clarify, we're nothing like Atlantis/RSVP. The guys who sail with us do so specifically because they don't want an all-gay charter. They don't live in the gay ghetto, and they don't want to vacation there either. They enjoy meeting people from all walks of life--in fact, they believe that's what travel is all about.
Having said that, however, any LGBT traveler will tell you that it's always nice to run into other "family members" while on a trip. Would I walk into a hotel and go, "Where my gays at?" (to quote Kathy Griffin). No. But if I got the vibe from the guy behind the desk, I'd certainly chat him up, get restaurant recommendations, find out about local life, etc. I do that all the time, in fact.
I guess what I'm hoping to do is just to schedule such serendipitous moments on our cruises. I know our guys would love to talk to staffers who share some of the same life experiences but also have a totally different, insider perspective on cruise travel.
Since we typically block our group cabins 6 to 8 months in advance, you're probably right that we couldn't guarantee a favorite cruise director would be onboard. But even at 2 months out, if I knew a couple of cool guys would be onboard, it would be fun to invite them for a drink or a beach excursion or whatever.
Maybe too much to expect. Maybe you just can't force serendipity
Facebook has a few groups just for cruise entertainers, shoppies, spa people, even certain ships have their own fan groups with crew members. Very, very popular with crewmembers that I know right now - in fact it's now quickly becoming the preferred way to keep in touch, especially when on vacation from the ship
If the gaydar is working (and a good search with keywords) - I'm sure you can find some connections. 8)
go with holland america......very open minded...always lots of gay staff....nearlly all cast are gay....my last ship the wil hal..the cruise dir was gay too....and all the 5 male members of the shop staff gay too...but yes it changes from ship to ship
During my three years with NCl we had gay crewmembers in many departments and my impression is that a cruise ship community is very open minded about these things. I know for myself I had absolutely no problem with it, in fact knowing a couple of gay lads was a great way to make contact with women!
Not a crew member, but going to bump this up because I'd like to see some more current responses.
No one should want to cause a crew or staff to risk their job, nor can individuals be asked to out themselves just for the pax interest, but I always try to seek out "fellow travelers" in the hopes I can make their day brighter with a little friendly interaction, and it certainly is a pleasure for the pax to feel as if "friends" are in their midst.
It would be nice if gay officers, staff or crew could stop by the GLBT/FOD gatherings and say hello. That ever considered or happen?
I notice that if the CD is gay, it is a hosted FOD gathering... otherwise, we are on our own. Oh well....
Always up for a chat about cruising or Baja Mexico: Kenito@BajaGay.com The BajaBoyz future cruise: Alaska in 2013.