My partner and I have opted to take the Norwegian Dawn from New York on January 12 and were looking to stay the night in a 4 or 5 star hotel the night before (rather than exchange Christmas Gifts) somewhere in New York near the boat. Can anyone suggest any nice hotels close to the port. We have never taken a Cruise so we are really excited.
Since you will be able to get to the port really quickly from anywhere in Manhattan, I don't think you should be too concerned about being close to the port. Boarding takes place over 5+ hours so you will be able to get on when you want.
I would suggest the Soho Grand, 60 Thompson or the Tribeca. All of them are in interesting parts of the city with lots to see and do. The restaurants in Soho are great and you are a quick walk to Chelsea.
NCL is a good choice I think too - I've been on several cruises and prefer the more classic cruise experience to the party atmosphere of RCI or Carnival.
Compared to Gay Only cruises I think mixed cruises are more fun. If you want to find other gay cruisers, you can almost always find them in the piano bar on the ship. If you get there the first night of the trip...you can all request a table exchange and sit together for the rest of the cruise at dinner.
I would also encourage you to take advantage of all the opportunities on the ship. If you want to slow dance together in the lounge do it! I always find people on a cruise to be very supportive of gay cruisers and you will probably make a lot of friends quickly. Sometimes I will meet gay cruisers that seem to be restrained as it is a new atmosphere and they question how openly gay they can be... no worries there.
I know you will have a great time. I never had much interest in ships, but after I started cruising (I've been on 9 cruises now), I grew to love the ships and the stories that surround them. In 4 months I'm going to do my first transatlantic crossing on the Queen Mary 2. I'm pretty excited about it too.
Have a good time and if you have any more questions, just let me know.