Rise of the small gay cruise: looking for some intimacy on your next queer voyage? A new generation of cruises awaits.
What's the difference between these and the larger all-gay cruises? On a small gay-group cruise (sometimes called a "gay-hosted" cruise) you are escorted by your own personal "Julie," a tour guide who arranges activities and events for an all-gay group ranging from a handful to hundreds of passengers. Small gay-group cruises offer the flexibility of many dates and points of departure and itineraries, versus the larger all-gay cruises, which have a more limited calendar. Also, smaller gay groups can hop aboard a wide variety of ships that the all-gay cruises don't lease, such as the historic Queen Mary 2 (on which I've escorted many a gay group).
What's more, the larger gay cruise companies are getting in on the all-gay, small-cruise act too--Olivia now has a 40-passenger cruise in Greece and a 100-passenger cruise to Antarctica, and RSVP has a 150-passenger river cruise from Budapest.
Travelers who enjoy small gay-group cruises see it as the best of both worlds--being able to enjoy the wider possibilities of a main stream cruise while feeling comfortable being out with other gay passengers. Gone are the lavish parties, DJs, and infinite gay events, but in their place is a stronger sense of intimacy as you bond with your fellow shipmates in smaller settings.
That's not to say there isn't a lot of fun too. During one cruise I worked on we opted for a morning excursion to legendary Super Paradise Beach in Mykonos. Once at the beach everyone was free to go local, sample snacks and drinks at the beach tavernas, swim nude, or just hang out. By splitting up the group and sharing cabs, everybody found something to do in port. The second advantage is that out-of-pocket day-trip costs were easily reduced by at least 75%. My groups would 'also take over restaurants, making them instantly gay, and even discos aboard the straight cruises would become all-gay events.
Roughly speaking, the passenger population on small gay cruises skews toward men from 35 to 50. For those concerned with age, a simple rule of thumb holds that the more expensive the cruise, the higher the average age. And event or party, cruises typically get higher proportions of singles than purely touristic cruises.
All the tour operators I spoke with agree on the amazing growth in the gay-cruise market (better than the industry norm of 13% per year) as word of mouth shifts more cruisers from mainstream ships to the unique world of gay groups or to all-gay charters on smaller ships. There are even more versions of the small gay-group cruise evolving. In 2004, Romance Voyages launched as a luxurious all-gay small cruises company; using intimate boats in exotic locales like the Yangtze River and the Galapagos Islands. So stay tuned: There are sure to be more to come.
Klein has worked as a gay-tour ship guide for 12 years.
Those Who Cruise Small and Gay
Above and Beyond
Coda Tours Inc.
Friends of Dorothy
Gay Travel One
Out on the Water
Pied Piper Travel
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|Publication:||The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)|
|Article Type:||Product/Service Evaluation|
|Date:||Apr 26, 2005|
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