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Old March 9th, 2006, 04:08 AM
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Default GLBT Tours vs. booking regular tours

After reading several posts that say you've been on RSVP/Atlantis charters and had sub-par food/service/etc...it's hard for me to justify spending so much more $$$ to go with them on a cruise vs booking a regular sailing or tour. It's hard enough for me to get the S/O to even consider a cruise, much less a gay one, without hearing the service seems to actually go down when it's a charter that charges more!
We did go on a Windjammer Barefoot gay charter and loved it! But there were only 60 passengers and the ship/food/ports/crew were all amazing.
We have traveled extensively internationally and 90% of the time do our own bookings and tours (3 Club Meds, 1 South Pacific/Southeast Asia adventure). We did go on a China trip with Toto Tours and again, didn't find much of a reason to "go gay". Yes, we made a couple of nice friends but we could have done that on our own. We also did an Above & Beyond land portion for Sydney's Mardi Gras 12 years ago and the obvious benefits were party tickets and private tours and lodging.
My question is, aside from feeling welcome as a gay person and knowing you are with MANY FOD's, is what is the advantage, if any, for booking such trips vs. booking a scheduled, non-gay cruise? We are a couple for 13 years and have always felt comfortable being anywhere in the world we have gone so I'm curious to hear the answers.
I'd also be curious to hear how many GLBT folks here have traveled exclusively with charters vs traveling on your own?
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old March 9th, 2006, 01:55 PM
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Personally, we have never gravitated toward the all-gay charters. For me, it's the money, and we negver have a problem enjoying ourselves on a mainstream cruise. But many rave about 'em and more power to those who go. Just not for us.

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Old March 9th, 2006, 02:38 PM
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There are probably as many reasons to sign up for a totally gay cruise as there are for an open cruise. To gays who, for whatever reason, live a rather secluded life, perhaps in a small community, the gay cruise would be a wow of a release, a chance to let go and have a ball. To others who have had a more exposed gay lifestyle it can be rather deja vu.

For part of our life together, we have been involved in the gay Levis/Leather scene where hundreds and hundreds of gays travelled to and congregated at weekend Runs where the parties had no limits. Age and interests have put that behinds us now and although we have been on but one gay cruise ourselves, we have chosen to make it our last.

Our preference today is to be gay men in public. Not as "in your face" but to be where we belong. On our many cruises, we introduce ourselves to our new table mates as being a gay couple and for the most part it has been a delight to see the favourable reception. One can serve as an ambassador for our life's being while partaking in of all the table's subject matter. But also to meet and quietly enjoy the company of fellow gay passengers is a happening that, while not rare anymore, is a delight leading to continued friendships in travel.
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Old March 9th, 2006, 09:14 PM
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Having been on both straight and gay cruises... I cannot say that I was ever disappointed in any of the Atlantis cruises I have been on. I think the service we received on my last gay cruise was actually far and away better than the straight cruises I have been on. The crew was ecstatic to have us on board... welcomed us.. and went out of their way for anything you wanted. Also the many of the crew were able to participate in many of the activities on board each night (mardi gras party/white party) and they had fun. It was fun to see the waiter who served you dinner up on the pool deck out of their uniform and having fun too!! It adds to the experience and you get to know them. Many of the crew look forward to the gay cruises. The food is no different than on any straight cruise as the menus are the same. Entertainment is generally much better on gay cruise as well... recent Atlantis events had Charo(who was amazing!!) Margaret Cho, sometimes a dance diva.... Broadway stars... each cruise is unique.

While there is a premium price to an all gay charter... the things I mentioned above make it part of a great deal.... plus you are in an environment that allows you to be yourself and do things you may not or cannot do in a straight environment for obvious reasons. It is a great opportunity to meet new people and make new friends throughout the country and world!! I leave on a straight cruise in a few days and I paid about $200 less for it than I did the Atlantis cruise I took in October 2005. All in all.... its a matter of preference. I enjoy cruising... and will definitely continue to cruise both regular bookings and all gay charters.
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Old March 10th, 2006, 11:58 AM
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I have done both Atlantis, RSVP and "straight" Cruises and the big difference is the entertainment. They, especially Atlantis, puts on a great show. The $200 premium covers partys, T-dances, entertainment in an all gay atmoshpere. It is without a doubt, the epitome of a good time. The energy on an Atlantis cruise can not be duplicated. THere is nothing like sailing the ocean on dark night with the stars above and the breeze across the deck and 2000 gay men on deck dancing to one of the best DJ's in the country with an amazing laser and light show going late into the night.

With that said, they are not very relaxing. There is so much more to do and see than a regular cruise. I do believe you get more for the extra charge.

Lastly the service has nothing to do with the charter, it has to do with the cruiseline and everyone has a different opinion on that.

I am going on a straight cruise a week from today (yes!!). I opted not to do an Atlantis trip this year. I did one last year and this year I want to relax.

I reccommend Atlantis cruises for the cruise wary, and I dont know anyone that has been disappointed. I am sure there are some that would not enjoy it, but for the most part it is great fun.

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Old March 15th, 2006, 03:49 PM
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Hi - I've been on 18 "non-gay" cruises and only 1 gay charter. My partner and I prefer the non gay cruises for a number of reasons:
1. We can get a much better room on a regular cruise at a better rate than the premium on the gay cruises
2. We have always found at least 20 other gay people and couples on the regular cruises to socialize with. Sometimes as many as 60 depending on the line, time of year and size of ship.
3. We always find the straight people we meet to be very friendly and accepting. We've met several straight couples who we still commnicate with.
Again this depends on the line and size of ship
4. The service and quality of food is higher on the regular cruises

We've found the best gay experience on a non-gay cruise to be on the larger ships of RCCL, Celebrity and occasionallly HAL

Big gay booking times seem to be Halloween cruises, Anytime in FeB especially Feb 14. and thanksgiving
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Old March 15th, 2006, 08:57 PM
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I'd been on 3 straight cruises before my last cruise, which was the Atlantis "Largest Gay Cruise II" back in January.

I had to be dragged on the cruise kicking and screaming so-to-speak. I was concerned about the extra cost and I was concerned it'd be just a big circuit party on the ocean.

Well I was convinced and I told my b.f. that we'd never go on another straight cruise again.

In my opinion:
* I thought the food was just as good as on a straight cruise.
* The entertainment was 1000% better than on a straight cruise.
* People are more friendly and polite on the gay cruise. I was never once embarassed by a fellow passenger treating a member of the staff like a dog (I was on all my past straighr cruises).
* NO CHILDREN. I'm I love my nieces and nephews and my friends' kids, but my vacation isn't the place for them.
* There was a "Circuit Party" atmosphere if you wanted that during the night time parties on the deck. However there were numerous options such as cabaret, shows, and piano bar type stuff to do well into the still of the night if you weren't into that.
* There was none of the attitude I was expecting, even from the muscle-boy party queens. There was a wide variety of ages, sizes, colors, folks with handicaps, nationalities, couples and singles, etc. Way more inclusive than any gay bar or other gay event I've ever been to.
* In order to cut costs, I did go for an interior stateroom this time. However it was at least just as big as outside rooms I've had and we spent so little time in our room, I didn't miss the window.
*Atlantis provided several "little things" that really made a difference. First off, the hole-punched our cruise cards and provides lanyards for them. Then there was wine and desserts in our cabin when we arrived. Also they provided these nifty duffle bags that converted into back packs the day before the first day ashore. Small things, but that kind of thoughtfulness really makes a difference.

* The service was slightly, slightly not as good. Instead of being spoiled rotten, I was merely spoiled. I got the feeling, but have no proof, that RCCL Navigator had a smaller crew than they are used to.
* I wasn't a fan of the open seating for dinner, nor the casual atmosphere at dinner. But I didn't hate it either. I like the traditional cruise idea of sitting with a group of strangers all week and getting to know them and I like the idea of dressing up for dinner. But, we didn't have any bad experiences with random dinner partners, in fact we became friends with another couple.

Well, that's my two-cents. Your mileage may vary.
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