Gay & Lesbian Cruise Choices
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Gay & Lesbian Cruises banner

There are cruises out there for all types and this extends to the gay and lesbian community too. Just like anyone looking to book a cruise holiday, gay and lesbians need to choose a cruise line, ship, cabin and destination to match their individual tastes.

However, gay and lesbians have additional decisions to make when planning this type of holiday.

They will need to decide whether to choose an all-gay cruise or a gay-friendly sailing.

Chartered Sailings

The first gay exclusive cruise began in 1985 with the company RSVP, attracting the attention of famous figures such as Quentin Crisp, Armisted Maupin and Vito Russo. The news of this first-of-its-kind sailing spread quickly throughout the gay community.

The group charter was born and tour companies catering exclusively for gay and lesbian travellers included the one that started it all RSVP. Other well other established companies such as Atlantis, Aquafest and Sweet and Oliva for lesbian travel should be looked into as well.

The ships chosen for charter can range from small and intimate sailing vessels to the massive mega-ships.

For 2015, some all-gay sailings include:

  • Celebrity Silhouette’s Caribbean holiday which departs on the 1st of February
  • Mardi Gras Cruise from Auckland aboard Holland America’s Oosterdam departing the 24th of February
  • Greek island hopping with Azamara Quest commencing on the 16th of August

These types of cruises are particularly popular with singles that associate cruises with romance.

The charters that are exclusively for the gay community certainly will pack a week with plenty of meet and greets, as well as a larger amount of parties than other sailings.

Gay-Friendly Cruise Lines:

The leaders lines in the cruise industry welcome gays and lesbians as their passengers even though most of them don’t actually have dedicated itineraries.

Here are some of the well known lines that have become popular with gay and lesbian travellers:

Celebrity

There are eleven ships in their fleet and all of them pride themselves on catering towards all types of passengers. Celebrity ships are trendy in décor and offer exquisite dining that aficionados of food will appreciate.

Crystal Cruises

Live in the lap of luxury with this line, which is one of the most popular amongst the gay community. Crystal is a six star line that prides itself on its attention to detail. Their enrichment programs are always popular and there is a wide variety of Broadway type performances.

Cunard

Contrary to their stuffy image, the ships have been given a more vibrant nightlife in recent years. The Commodore Lounge bar on Queen Mary 2 for instance is one of them. The bar is a great place to relax and talk amongst your fellow ship mates.

Norwegian Cruise Lines

Norwegian was perhaps the first line to offer Freestyle Cruising and this idea has proven ideal for the gay community with its relaxed dress code and open seating. This style has stood the test of time and the line plays host to several seminars and gatherings for gays and lesbians.

Princess

Princess is renowned for being able to accommodate a large variety of demographics. Their Personal Choice dining adapts to everyone’s taste and the nightclubs found on board their ships rival many of those found in the big cities.

Gays and lesbians searching for a cruise holiday should rely on feedback from their friends and the advice from an experienced cruise agent who will be able to advise on the perfect ship for you and or your partner.

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Cruise Lines and Their Halloween Offerings
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Halloween cruises banner

Halloween spells magic especially whilst onboard a ship. This yearly celebration is embedded into the folklore and superstitions of our ancestors. Over the years it has become much more intense than during the times of its origin. Each year this celebration seems to become bigger and bigger throughout the world.

In recent years, the cruise industry has started to take notice. With the ongoing challenge of creating new experiences for their passengers a Halloween cruise is undoubtedly going to appeal to many people with or without children.

Halloween’s History

Halloween is celebrated on the 31st of October and translates to ‘Hallows Eve’ with its origins being traced back to the Celts. This ancient festival day was known as ‘Samhain’ and celebrated in parts of Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales.

The festival marked the official end of the summer’s harvest. The Celtic New Year began right after Samhain on the 1st of November.

Individual families would take the vegetables from the harvest, such as gourds, potatoes, and turnips and carve lanterns out of them to honour the dead. They took the lanterns to a sacred fire for assurances of keeping themselves safe from the wickedness of restless souls.

In the early 19th century, many of the Irish left their homelands during the potato famine and headed to the Americas. With them came their traditional carving skills to keep their heritage alive They discovered that pumpkins were more bountiful on the other side of the ocean than the produce previously utilised and were substituted for carving.

What can you Expect on a Halloween Cruise?

What can you expect on a Halloween themed cruise? It may be too late to book this year but next year is bound to be filled with just as many creative festivities as any Halloween celebration should be. Take a look below to see what some of the major cruise lines are offering.

Carnival Cruise Lines

Carnival has many activities planned for their Halloween cruises. All of the ships are due to get a seasonal makeover and children from the ages of 1 to 17 will have the chance to take part in both a scavenger hunt as well as a trick or treat.

For adults, there is a costume contest as well (although masks are forbidden) and a dance party in the nightclub. Classic horror films are due to be screened on TV and at the poolside movie screen. There will also be special gambling tournaments at the casino based on the theme as well as a pumpkin carving competition.

Disney Cruise Lines

It’s always a ‘Fun Holiday’ onboard a Disney cruise ship and Halloween is extra special. All ships in their fleet are going all out with their Halloween trends, from Disney villains swarming the ships to a “takeover” by a mysterious pirate, people of all ages will be thrilled by what Disney has planned.

A screening of Tim Burton’s classic film, “The Nightmare Before Christmas” will be shown. For adults, in the adults-only nighttime district, ghostly musicians will perform a “Creepy Cabaret” and Disney villains will hit the dance floor. Restaurant menus will also embrace creepiness with such items as spider cakes and a “Witch’s Brew.”

Holland America Lines

Get ready for Holland America’s costume contest. It’s the perfect time to be creative and outlandish in a costume that is sure to get you noticed. The crew will get creative too and will be involved in their own pumpkin carving contest. Who decides the best Jack-O-Lanterns onboard?

The passengers have the deciding vote. On the night of the 31st, there is an extraordinary dessert buffet planned, filled with not only scrumptious cakes but pastries and candy touching on the spirit of Halloween. Unlike other cruise lines, Holland America will continue their festivities on shore whilst in a port of call.

Norwegian Cruise Lines

Norwegian are offering a Halloween culinary experience for those that have a sweet tooth including both life sized and miniature pumpkins, candies and “spiders” that are made out of pecan and caramel.

There will also be a costume parade as well as a masquerade ball and a scavenger hunt. The Second City comedy troupe will put on a special Murder Mystery show. The ships will be decorated with spooky imagery and frightening décor to complete the transformation.

Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises promise a large variety of activities for a creepy and spooky Halloween celebration. Their ships will feature costume parades, theme nights and Halloween trivia games for the entire cruise.

Pumpkin carving lessons will help increase your skill to make your very own Jack-O-Lanterns. Even the onboard films and television are getting in on the fun: changing to a horror and spooky genre. Of course for children, special activities are planned exclusively for them including trick or treating for sweets while onboard the ship.

Royal Caribbean            

Both children and adults will be encouraged to dress up in costume for this trip, so don’t forget to pack your own. Apart from Halloween festivities such as Trick or Treating, Royal Caribbean also boasts a walkthrough haunted mansion .

Even the crew members will get in on the fun, dressing up for the occasion as ghouls and zombies. There will also be special and bizarre “contests” held such as screaming or howling at the moon.

Ghosts, ghouls and goblins have become a part the Halloween season with many cruise lines. Cruise passengers can expect all sorts of spooky celebrations and still have a holiday that visits several destinations.

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A Date with Death & The Duchess
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poison murder mystery cruise

Everybody loves a good mystery and Fred.Olsen Cruise Lines are no different!

They have introduced a ‘Poison, Murder & Mystery Cruise’ that will take place on their Boudicca ship. The 16 night cruise departs on the 10th of July of next year. The ports of call will be contributing to the sinister role play onboard the ship with the subject of poison and mystery evident with plays, talks and special tours and even a murder-mystery game.

The ship will be leaving from Rosyth in Edinburgh and will be working in tandem with the only ‘Poison Gardens’ in Britain at Alnwick Castle, owned by the Duchess of Northumberland. As the estate and castle owner is very proud of her infamous ‘Poison Gardens’, she will join the festivities’ onboard for a portion of this cruise holiday.

AINWICK CASTLE AND THE HARRY POTTER CONNECTION

Alnwick Castle is one of the most popular attractions in the Northeast with more than 800 thousand visitors each year. The castle is better known as the castle that served as the set of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter series of films.

Besides Alnwick, the mythical ‘Pyramids of Guimar’ will be waiting to be discovered for passengers at a ‘Poison Garden’ in Santa Cruz, Tenerife created by Mr. Fred. Olsen Senior.

As the serving Chairman of the Board, Mr. Fred. Olsen Senior stated, “It is very special to be able to link these gardens with a unique cruise itinerary and we know that many of our guests share an enthusiasm for gardening. We also know, from previous experiences such as our Titanic Centenary cruise two years ago, that they enjoy dressing up and taking part in murder mystery-themed events.”

fred olsen senior

Other ports that the ship will be visiting in Portugal and the Canary Islands area are also very intriguing. The route has been specifically chosen as it is the ‘Agatha Christie Route’, named after the famous mystery story author. Agatha may be long gone but thriller-writing legend, Dick Francis’s son, Felix Francis, will be on-board to create a short crime story as it is happening during the sailing.

MANY OTHER THINGS TO SEE ON THIS CRUISE

There are plenty of other interesting things to experience on this cruise besides murder and mayhem. In Leixoes, visit the Porto Cathedral which is constructed in three different architectural styles. In addition, take in the Ribiera Old district designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In Funchal, you can try out Levada Walking by using aged irrigation canals as hiking trails.

When you arrive in Santa Cruz, you will be greeted with the enormous Parque Nacional del Teide as well as the Playa de las Teresitas, a beach that has managed to remain unspoiled.

Las Palmas contains intriguing sights as well such as the Plaza de Santa Ana with its iconic twin towered cathedral and ornaments originally from St. Paul’s cathedral. Another attraction is the Casa de Colon, an enormous mansion where Christopher Columbus was rumoured to stay in 1492. It also served as a governor’s palace and is now a museum.

Finally, there is an endless amount of things to do in the capital of Lisbon. Must-see landmarks and attractions include the famous and World Heritage Site the Torre de Belem, the commerce centre of Praca do Comercio and the 25 de Abril Bridge, one of the largest in the world.

GET IN TO CHARACTER ON FRED. OLSEN’S POISON  GARDENS CRUISE

Of course, every evening there will be some mystery  guest speakers to match the theme. Former Forensic Medical Examiner with the Metropolitan Police and the Coroner for Essex, Peter Dean will be providing his insight into the fascinating subject of murder and forensic science to figure out ‘who did it’.

Everything you wanted to know about poisons but were afraid to ask will be clarified by eminent poison Historian and Archaeologist, Dr. Dan Jones.

And if learning wasn’t enough, the curator of ‘The Power of Poison’ exhibition, Doctor Mark Siddall will be offering interactive and hands-on classes.

Now is the time to book and not miss out of this once in a lifetime adventure onboard Fred.Olsen’s Boudicca. To book the D1516 cruise click here

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A look at some upcoming Theme Cruises
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upcoming themed cruises

One way the cruise lines try to entice new passengers onboard is to have their marketing experts come up with a theme cruise.These are targeted towards specific interests and tend to be more enhanced than the enrichment programs found on many ships and can range from stamp collecting to football to theatre and music. Many times experts in these topics will be on board and the theme can continue even when on shore in a port of call.

Check out the examples below to see what’s on offer.

Culinary & Wine Delights of Spain

Get to know some of the best wines imaginable from Spain with this special themed cruise that Windstar Cruises has drawn up. The cruise will be departing on November 15th of this year. This is part of their culinary themed cruises that have been very successful for them.

The cruise aboard the Wind Surf for eight days out of Barcelona will be calling at six ports in Spain at locations such as Palma de Mallorca, Valencia, and Cartagena before finishing off in Lisbon. Hosting is by famous wine experts and Spanish wine importers Stephen Metzler and Almudena de Llaguno, there are over 40 activities available on the ship with a Spanish theme. Everything from lectures to special wine dinners to excursions are planned as well as taking tourists to see unique and interesting sights.

Danube River Adventure Marathon

AmaWaterways has scheduled the Danube River four country tour of walking, running or biking aboard their AmaDolce sailing on the 28th of April of next year. This once in a lifetime opportunity takes you on a heart-pounding journey through Germany, Hungary, Slovakia and Austria.

Experience the sights and sounds along the way that have inspired those creators of classical art and music. The 7-day sailing begins in Budapest and ends in Germany. Besides the large amount of events planned, one can still enjoy the peace and tranquility of cruising along the river. The cruise visits both big cities and hidden villages.

amawaterways cycling

The Ghost Hunter’s Cruise

For those with a flair for the supernatural, this 7-day cruise is the right one to pick. Norwegian Cruise Line’s Gem is heading out to areas rumoured to be haunted in New England and Canada. The cruise is hosted by professional paranormal experts and America’s Syfy Channel personalities Barry Fitzgerald and Karl Pfeiffer as well as Medium Sarah Lemos.

The hosts will take passengers on tours through spooky locations as well as holding seminars on ghost hunting and workshops of the tools they use to find mysterious apparitions. The cruise will take place on September 20th of this year and departs from and returns to New York City.

Harry James Orchestra Ballroom Dance Cruise

Harry James was one of the most successful bandleaders in the days of the big bands in the 1940s working with legends such as Frank Sinatra. He got his start as an expert trumpeter in other bands such as the Benny Goodman band before deciding to go on his own in 1939.

Crystal Symphony

James wrote songs for hit movies such as “Youth on Parade” and recorded an endless amount of hits. Audiences can still enjoy his songs aboard Crystal Cruise’s Crystal Symphony and dance the night away. October 5th of this year is the day to mark when the ship departs from Lisbon on a transatlantic crossing to the Turks Caicos Islands and finally Miami for a ten-day musical journey.

Ireland Knitting Cruise

Choose a 14 day excursion leaving from Rotterdam and hit the British Isles, Ireland and Norwegian Fjords and knit. Knitting classes are available for both novices and experts through the cooperation of expert Chris Bylsma. These classes are mostly focused on the theme of Irish Cables and aim to build skills in everyone.

The classes even extend to the ports, where one can see rare knitting materials, as well as tours of factories and special demonstrations. Learn the history and popularity of the ancient art of knitting. The sailing is only available on the 16th of August sailing aboard Holland America’s Rotterdam.

There are hundreds of theme cruises during the course of the year and they are open for bookings on nearly every major cruise line.Take advantage of these upcoming five cruises or one of the others that have a theme tailor made for you.

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Art Auctions at Sea
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cruise ship art

One of the most exciting side attractions on any major cruise ship is the art appreciation. It is not anything new to the cruise industry but like everything else, it has gone through several changes over the years.

The idea of art at sea came in the 1990s and turned into a wildly popular pastime especially for those days at sea. Passengers are treated to an array of authenticated and signed pieces of art on display prior to the scheduled auction.

For those who are new to the idea of obtaining a piece of artwork, it can be a bit intimidating, and the auctions at sea are the perfect opportunity for the novice to learn and take the first steps to starting a collection.

AUCTIONS BEGIN WITH LECTURES AND CHAMPAGNE

These auctions begin with a traditional serving of champagne and an enrichment lecture that gives passengers interesting particulars about the works on display. At times, a specific artist is emphasised in the opening talk. The selections available to bid on included original paintings, signed lithographs and etching, sculptures or even film cells of favourite Disney films enlarged, numbered and framed.

These series of auctions have been aboard Carnival Cruise Lines, Norwegian Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean International, Disney Cruise Lines and Celebrity Cruises amongst others.

Eventually, the ship’s art curator was able to secure items for high end buyers of original masterpieces. Those who have dabbled with the palette such as Warhol, Picasso and Dali and were not represented in the auction were obtainable for passengers through the ship’s art agent.

CRUISE SHIP ART AUCTIONS INCLUDE QUALITY REPRODUCTIONS

If owning an original such as that is out of the price range, then the best alternative is bidding on a high quality reproduction in the form of lithographs or etchings signed and numbered by the artist for the fraction of the cost. Not only do they add a lifelong memory of the cruise holiday, they serve as an attractive decor offering many years of visual pleasure.

Unfortunately, the age of the art auction began to decline a few years ago, although you can still attend them on some cruise lines. They tend to be held only on sailings going to the Caribbean.

Prior to even setting foot on the ship, passengers can check out the pieces selected for their sailing on-line.

Some ships have developed new art based activities to replace the fast pace auctions of the past.

One of these alternatives is the enrichment programs that feature art related trips in ports. On the trips, sights related to the arts are seen in museums and personal collections, in galleries to places of worship and local iconic monuments. Back on board, a lecture and Q & A takes place.

If one wants to see art at their own leisure, the interactive art tour program is perfect from them. Some lines such as Holland America offer downloadable MP3s for tablets for museums and other points of interests. The MP3s even include a tour of the ship’s artwork featured throughout the public areas. These walking tours average a half an hour and contain intriguing items such as interviews and pointing out lesser known art of interest.

SOME CRUISE LINES INVITE FAMOUS ARTISTS ONBOARD

Other cruise lines, such as Celebrity Cruises, go so far as to invite renowned artists on board for their meet and greet series, as well holding live interviews and lectures. Of course, this leads to the artist’s work being prominently featured, as in the case of pop artist Peter Max who celebrated his birthday in 2010 on the Celebrity Solstice.

Sometimes, artists will even create works of art on site, such as marine life artist Wyland, who came up with a portrait of dolphins in the pool of the ship.

Most ships still maintain an art curator or art gallery manager who can be instrumental in helping a passenger obtain a piece of art, whether on-board the ship or held in any world-wide gallery. Art collecting is fun, invigorating, exhilarating and mind expanding.

Buying a piece from the vast array of visual art offered on a ship need not be a daunting process. Even if a passenger prefers browsing to buying, they are most welcomed to view and ask questions.

The magnificent colours, shapes, designs and concepts can be seen in the home or office each and every day with a signed reproduction or an original piece of art purchased on-board.

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