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Home > Virtual Cruises > Gay Charter Cruise Onboard Freedom of the Seas
Gay Charter Cruise Onboard Freedom of the Seas
Day 1: Embarkation in Miami
Day 2: At Sea
Day 3: San Juan
Day 4: St. Maarten
Day 5: At sea
Day 6: Labadee
Day 7: At Sea/Wrap Up
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Day 2: Tuesday, At Sea
At SeaDoug and I love sea days for the same reasons others do: the chance to unwind a bit without any time pressures and, as well, to leisurely explore every nook and cranny of the ship. Onboard the behemoth Freedom of the Seas, the effort to chill out and sit back is difficult! There's a lot of ship to navigate and Team Atlantis seems to have worked extra hard to make sure that we could occupy ourselves every minute of the day with special activities (if we chose to do so, of course).

Out on the pool deck in late morning, the sun gods already staked out their prime spots by the pool, sporting the most fashionable square-cut suits and designer sunglasses. Relatively mellow house and disco music was playing on the sound system. Doug did a double-take when he recognized some friends of ours already lounging by the pool; they were just getting warmed up on the Opening Night Party dance floor when we left last night at 2 a.m.! And here they were, looking fresh and rested just hours later. Hey, I guess they can sleep "after" the vacation, right?

We spent way too long in the Royal Caribbean online center trying to send e-mails and photos (including those for this virtual), as there were intermittent technical difficulties all day long (and no Wi-fi access). This is one area where Freedom's marketing as "the most technologically advanced ship" did not hold true.

More fun -- heading back to the pool deck at lunchtime, jammed with guys sunning and flirting (and having more of those mini-reunions I talked about yesterday). Doug and I pounced on two empty deck chairs on a windy Deck 12 and soon began chatting with one very friendly couple from a small town in Ohio who told us they were not "out" yet -- and as such didn't have much interaction with fellow gays in their conservative town. This cruise vacation was a welcome chance to let their hair down and just be themselves for a week.

While a lot of people see Atlantis' typical traveler as urban gay males, there were quite a few passengers hailing from smaller towns and others, too, commented on how welcome was the chance to be themselves.

Doug and I were way too relaxed on the pool deck to participate in the first pool game, a campy "Project Runway" contest in which various teams were given fabrics of material to devise themed outfits and swimsuits. Skimpy and sexy seemed to trump practicality in some of the winning creations, which was hardly surprising in this body-conscious crowd.

At 4 p.m., the same Pool Deck became the focus of the first outdoor party of the cruise, a "Dog Dag T-Dance" in which guests, many of whom wore military-themed fatigues and uniforms, put on Atlantis-supplied dog tags denoting their status (single and searching or committed and coupled). The refreshing ocean breezes felt great as we joined the crowd of several hundred men (and a few women), dancing to the pounding remixes of DJ Manny Lehman. Not only were the bars jammed, but bartenders also circulated throughout the crowd offering tempting cocktails for sale. I've never seen the alcohol flow so much as on this particular cruise, in every venue and at every event; it's a wonder they didn't set up alcohol stations in the restrooms, too! One very busy Philippino bartender smiled at me and remarked, "Last time we had religious cruise. All they do is pray. No dance and no drink!" This is probably one of the reasons why the Freedom's staff, especially those tip-oriented, seemed to love having us onboard; some of 'em even cut loose and joined us in the dancing mania as well.

Tonight we headed into icier realms. The ship's regular ice skaters performed in in Studio B. The audience all oohed and ahhed when the skaters inserted a male-male embrace into an "Icarus"-themed number, and gave raucous applause when the skaters pulled out a large, colorful Gay Pride Flag during a 60's/Freedom act. Small, positive moments like these showed that the entire ship entertainment staff was "onboard" with our special charter group and knew how to appeal to our sensibilities.

Later, the Gay Comedy Showcase in the Arcadia Theatre featured three well-known gay and lesbian comics (Jim David, Shann Carr, and Alec Mapa), who pulled out all the raunchy stops to entertain this fun-loving crowd. Most of their (in) jokes are unrepeatable here.

Also on tap tonight: the energetic and colorful Circus Parade, which takes place on every Freedom of the Seas cruise, and then the Street Dance Party (which decidedly is only held on our voyage). Most folks in the festive crowd were already dressed in skimpy, not-for-the-faint-of-heart costumes of every imaginable type (elaborate feather headdresses, eye masks, dominatrix, superheroes -- very "loose" interpretation of the official Mardi Gras theme).

To cap off the night, the crowd headed up after midnight to the upper pool decks for the all-night Mardi Gras Party. The light system was even more elaborate than last night, and the masses even more packed-in and energetic. This costumed crowd was getting more heady and flirtatious with every pounding dance remix; I wondered what crew on any passing ships now might think of our intense spectacle of blaring sound and colorful lights in the middle of the ocean.

These two "old fogies" headed to bed around 2 a.m., just as the thumping Mardi Gras party was getting warmed up. No rest does not a good Cruise Critic journalist make.

Tomorrow we're at sea during the day -- and land in San Juan just in time to explore the city's nightlife.

--by Stan Wu, Cruise Critic contributor

Day 1: Embarkation in Miami red arrow Day 3: San Juan

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