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SETTING SALE\No worry what to pack on nudist cruises.

Byline: Arline Bleecker Orlando Sentinel

Most vacationers planning a cruise worry about what to pack. For nudists, such a dilemma not only is immaterial, but they probably wouldn't worry much if their luggage got lost altogether.

With or without bulging suitcases, nudists are taking to the seas. According to the American Association for Nude Recreation, based in Kissimmee, Fla., nude vacationing is one of the fastest-growing segments of the North American travel industry. Cruise lines have begun to take notice of AANR's 46,000 members, 47 percent of whom earn more than $50,000 a year and 77 percent of whom have a college education.

Two agencies seem to have, well, blanketed the buff market - Bare Necessities Tour & Travel in Austin, Texas, and Travel Au Naturel, in Land O' Lakes, Fla. Their stripped-down versions of seagoing travel offer full-ship charters on vessels ranging from windjammers to luxury ships.

Bare Necessities launched its first nude cruise in 1992. The agency's nude cruises reportedly sail at 100 percent capacity, a rarity in an industry where traditional cruises average about 75 percent bookings.

"Our cruises sell out sometimes six months ahead," says Nancy Tiemann, owner of Bare Necessities.

Nude cruising isn't merely streakers going to sea, though. The focus, according to Tiemann, is on upscale "clothing-optional" travel. A small percentage of nudists do live and breathe the nudist lifestyle, but for most the attraction is sunbathing, snorkeling . . . and not having to hassle with sand in your bathing suit.

Misconceptions about nudity may abound, but there is no pressure to take it all off on these cruises, and no tantalization, Tiemann emphasizes. "It's not a cheap thrill or a free-for-all on the high seas."

She does admit that nothing can quite prepare crew and staff for that initial shock, however. So Tiemann routinely does a shakedown cruise the week before a scheduled nude cruise, spending time with staff and crew to answer their questions or deflect apprehensions. In a nod to personal rectitude, cruise staff members also are offered the option of taking the week off. None do.

Some cruisers don't find it natural to be nude for breakfast or in lounges, casinos or showrooms, and many do choose to dress in the evening. Besides, it can get pretty darn chilly aboard.

Not surprisingly, warm-weather destinations make for prime itineraries for nude cruises, allowing opportunities to enjoy nude recreation on shore. Excursions include visits to rain forests and waterfalls and river-rafting trips in such lush destinations as Jamaica, Grand Cayman and the Dominican Republic. This year, Bare Necessities even plans a trip to Tahiti.

To learn more about nude cruises, call (800) 879-6833. Or write the AANR at 1703 N. Main St., Suite E, Kissimmee. Fla. 34744.
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Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

 
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Title Annotation:Travel
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 11, 1996
Words:453
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