My partner and I have been wanting to take our first time cruise. We were looking into some cruises that either departed from Mexico to Hawaii or from Vancouver to Hawaii ( str8 cruises) but I feel a bit apprehensive and a little uncomfortable about a str8 cruise. I've read some of the post that there are quite a bit of gay people on these str8 cruises. We also found the Atlantis cruise on NCL Dawn in June that leaves from NYC to the Bahamas which sounds very intriguing and gets back on NYC's gay pride. My question to you all is what cruise would be better? Fun? Etc... Thanks.
I have been on 53 cruises (#54 and 55 in 2 weeks), and they have all been straight cruises. I usually find that the passengers simply don't care about your lifestyle. The options for straight cruises are more abundant, I'd go for the itinerary that you want.
For me, it is the other side of the coin from Cruiseaholics comment. There are many choices for straight cruises, but gay cruises are fewer and further between. If you find a gay cruise with an itinerary that interests you, jump on it! I am still kicking myself for not going to Alaska with Atlantis when they went and it has not come up again.
I still go on straight cruises with family, but given the choice I will take the all gay cruise anytime. They are simply that much more fun. I enjoy cruising with a ship full of people I have things in common with, rather than sitting around dinner hearing about everyones children, weddings, etc.
Any gay person should try an all gay cruise at least once. My partner and I have traveled extensively (we take 15-20 trips per year) and by far the all-gay cruises are the most fun trips we do.
I recently returned from RSVP's Que Rico (Lauderdale-Half Moon Cay-St Bart-St John-San Juan-Lauderdale) and Mardi Gras (Lauderdale-Key West-New Orleans-Nassau) cruises. These were my first cruises (straight or gay). I've heard from numerous people that different gay cruises have very different atmospheres. The Atlantis cruises are supposed to be more of a "circuit party"...gym bunnies, sex, drugs etc. If that's not you, you might prefer an alternative.
The two RSVP cruises were quite diverse. Ages ranged from 25 to 85. Some passengers participated in every party/dance while others used it as a romantic get-away. There was something for everyone. I also found that the RSVP crew (not to mention the Holland America crew) bent over backwards to make sure that everyone was taken care of and having a great time.
In choosing a cruise, I'd consider the following factors. The rank/order of importance of these factors depends upon you:
Cruise Line - There are huge differences among the different cruise lines with respect to: quality of accomodations, level of service, food quality, etc. Only recently have the gay travel organizers been able to get the attention of the higher-end cruise lines. Ask around about the differences between Carnival, HAL, Royal Carribean etc. For straight cruises, the different lines also attract different crowds. For the gay cruises, the crowd is determined more by the cruise organizer (e.g., RSVP, Atlantis, Olivia etc.)
Ship/Ship Atmosphere - A cruise on a smaller ship is going to have a very different feel than one on a 1500-2000 passenger megaship. Also, different cruise lines/cruise organizers attract different people.
Destinations/Ports of Call - Some people choose cruises based upon the destination. For others, the ports of call are simply a break from the on-board activities.
Cruise Organizer (unmanaged, RSVP, Atlantis, etc.) - For gay cruises, the organizer makes a huge difference. They schedule their own entertainment for several nights, they define the theme/atmosphere, they act as the conduit between the passenger and the cruise line. Generally, RSVP books their own entertainment for most of the nights, using the ship's own entertainment for 1-2 nights of a one week cruise. Atlantis, uses more of the ship's own entertainment, but schedules one "big name" entertainer of their own.
Just got back from a str8 cruise with Princess and it was just great. We meet 6 other gay couples on the cruise, so you always bump into family no matter where you go. As for the Vancouver -Hawaii cruise its great never been on one, but know afew that have.
My first cruise was a 10 day str8 cruise on Celebrity out of Baltimore. We had our own group of family and friends, so we made our own fun. Good thing, because the crowd was BORING. It was blue-hair central. Granted, the line isn't known for non-stop partying, but it would've been nice if the disco had at least been half full. I'm 38, so it's not like I'm looking for all night partying, but still, a little liveliness would've been enjoyed.
My partner and I just booked next year's RSVP in late Feb and can't wait. All the people I've spoken to that have taken an RSVP liked the variety of people, ages, and activity level offered, and all had a great time.
I vote for regular cruises. We. David and I, have been on 13 cruises together. All have been great in their own way. Cruise line, ship and itinerary, not to mention price are big determiners for us. General cruises are generally a bit more affordable, especially if you watch prices. When the prices go down on the better lines and ships, book immediately because prices do go back up, quickly sometimes.
My partner and I just took our first cruise on NCL Sky out of San Juan and had a wonderful time. There were several gay couples and we met a few of them. Had dinner with them and played Trivia with a couple. Had some of the best times ever. The staff doesn't care, in fact, probably half of them are gay. There is quite a mix of guests on ships though but there is so much to do and the ships are so big that people don't have time to get into "whose a girl and whose a boy" stuff.
What we like best about NCL was the free style crusing where you can eat with whom ever or eat by yourself. Everything about the freestyle appealed to us. The tipping, disembarking when your flight leaves, different restaurants, etc.
Have fun and forget about the gay thing, these are the good times when our $$$ means everything to merchants and we were treated with equal respect and dignity and belive me, we have had to go through a lot in our lives to get to the point where I can get on a boat and sit at the bar and be treated just as well as the other guy and there is no guessing that we are gay, 25 yrs as a couple.
Have fun at gay pride in New York
I've been on over 30 cruises and all but one have been "general public". I did an Atlantis cruise as well. I personally feel (emphasis on personal opinion) that the 'worth' of the often double-the-price all-gay charter depends on where you live and how much contact you have with gay folk in daily life.
I didn't think that the Atlantis cruise gave me double the amount of cruise. Sure, everyone was gay, the entertainers were either gay or gay icons and the entire ship took on a decidely more festive feel. Even the crew seemed more relaxed. But I don't think it was worth paying more than twice the amount that it costs to take basically the same cruise any other week. For instance, this Saturday I embark on Norwegian Dawn for a 14 day cruise from Miami to New York for its repositioning. The same ship was/is home to Atlantis twice this year - in January and again the last week of June. Let's say I booked the 7 day June cruise which I can take a taxi to 15 minutes door to gangway. If I had been quick enough to book the cheapest cabin category with Atlantis my fare would be more than DOUBLE for the 7 day cruise as the 14 day "public" cruise on the exact same ship. With an eye for a bargain I managed to find an incredible discount fare. And that's about as all-gay as I need it to be.
I live in a predominantly gay neighborhood in New York City. I work with gay people. I patronize many gay businesses. When I travel it isn't important to me that I be able to socialize with 100% gay people. In fact, I enjoy the mix that a diverse ship population provides and usually there are several gay folk aboard to socialize with (this upcoming cruise is no exception. I've already been in contact with six guys who will be aboard. Most likely there are more. Frankly, that's sufficient). So for me I'd rather take a couple of 14 day "public" cruises than one seven day gay cruise. Passing up the all gay charters is a no brainer.
As is always the case when one of these threads gets started: It all comes down to personal preference and no one can really answer that question for you.
I live near the gay area of Atlanta and and am around many gay people in my day to day just as Warren. My partner and I still prefer to be around gay people on vacation so there are no filters to our conversation or behavior. While we have met some great people on board our straight cruises, the longer term friends that we end up traveling with on other types of vacations come from the gay cruises.
I still maintain what I said in an earlier post: Every gay person should try the all gay cruise once. Use the boards to try to determine which is a better fit for you to try out. Someone earlier in this thread posted implying that Atlantis was circuit parties, gym bunnies, drugs, etc. having never set foot on an Atlantis cruise. We have been on four Atlantis trips so far and ALL of them have had a broad spectrum of ages and have been close to an even split between couples and singles. My parter and I are certainly not circuit boys or gym bunnies, but we have a great time and have made great friends with people from all over the country (even some of the pretty boys, they leave the attitude at home). True, the average age of the cruiser on Atlantis is slightly younger than RSVP based on the statistics of the companies themselves, but Atlantis average age is 39. So for every 24 year old circuit boy, there is a 54 year old gay man on board.
One last comment: All cruises (straight or gay) are a collection of individuals and you never really know what you are going to have until you get there. None of my Atlantis trips have been exactly alike. Some there are more "party boys" on board, some are more reserved. But all still have a broad spectrum of ages, backgrounds, etc. Don't write off gay cruising until you give it a try.