LGBTQ+ Out on the Water
Photo: Olivia Travel © OLIVIA TRAVEL
LIFE ON THE OPEN SEAS has become an exceedingly welcoming experience for LGBTQ+ travelers as cruise operators of all sizes and specialties devise unique options around the globe.
To stay on top of all the possibilities, Tzell Travel Group, an international agency specializing in upscale and business travel, has a team dedicated to the LGBTQ+ cruise market. Gregg Kaminsky, cofounder, R Family Vacations, a Tzell affiliate focusing on vacations for LGBTQ+ families and their friends, proves an industry guru when it comes to cruising for LGBTQ+ travelers.
“There are two types of LGBT cruises: groups and full-ship charters,” he explained. “Both are really amazing experiences. It’s all about traveling with like-minded people with some great entertainment and programming. The two biggest companies are Atlantis Events — where I was VP for seven years — and Olivia Travel. Atlantis is for gay men, and Olivia is for the lesbian community.”
Those two companies — which include RSVP Vacations, an Atlantis-owned brand — may be the biggest players in the field, but alternatives continue to grow. R Family, for example, will host an LGBTQ+ group cruise aboard the new Celebrity Edge, as well as an Out on the Seine itinerary aboard a Uniworld ship, both in 2019.
Additional options include GaySail, which specializes in sailing cruises for gay men in Europe, Latin America and Asia; and the Katarina Line, a Croatian small-ship cruise line offering seven-day Adriatic gay cruise packages.
Nearly every so-called mainstream cruise line also touts its own LGBTQ+-friendliness. So how can travelers make the right choice? Jeff Rutledge, CEO, AIG Travel, the travel insurance company, offered advice: “Research your cruise line’s LGBTQ-friendliness,” he said. “Most companies will self-promote if this is the case because they likely want to advertise that they are welcoming to all travelers, but outreach to a cruise line’s representative or a travel agent would be a good first step to learn more.” He added travelers should also verify if the planned ports of call are LGBTQ+-friendly. “Even when cruising on a ship with the friendliest, most welcoming environment, ports of call in foreign countries can be a different matter,” he said.