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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 6: Monday, Labadee
LabadeeFreedom's arrival at Labadee, Royal Caribbean's private beach resort on the coast of Hispaniola (the term the cruise line prefers for Haiti; Hispaniola is actually the name of the landmass containing Haiti and the Dominican Republic), was accompanied by the same sunny, cloud-free skies and perfect 80 degree weather that has marked the trip along the way. We've been lucky; at breakfast, veteran Atlantis guests told us that past Caribbean cruises in January and March were not nearly as pleasant.

Doug and I were on the first (8:30 a.m.) tender in order to make our early shore excursion -- WaveRunner around the island. Landing at this verdant tropical paradise, we could sense why Labadee is an Atlantis favorite: Hundreds of inviting beach chairs were set out on both sides of the compact beaches, fronting clear waters and postcard-perfect Caribbean views. After the requisite waverunner instructional video, Doug and I were soon zipping through the blue waters with our group of six runners, hugging the "wild"-looking coastline of Labadee at high speeds.

During the brief stops to catch our breath and hear about the history of this beautiful peninsula from our guide, we chatted with our fellow Atlantis adventure seekers. Two of the couples sharing the "ride" with us were international guests from Spain and England. They had both been on numerous Atlantis cruises and said "they looked forward to these trips all year long." I learned from them that there were at least 300 international passengers from many countries onboard this week, including unexpected ones like Russia and Italy, and even Brazil; they attended an "international" cocktail party last night, one of many special themed get-togethers put on by Atlantis throughout the week. Others included married couples, singles and prime timers (the over 55 crowd -- and there were quite a few of these folks). Atlantis doesn't do too much marketing beyond the U.S. and Canada, but positive word of mouth (and the reach of the Internet) made these trips special getaways for gays from around the world.

After the exhilarating WaveRunner trip, Doug and I headed back to Freedom of the Seas for a bit. Even at 11 a.m., we noticed many "Do Not Disturb" signs on doors in our hallway, as many guests must still be recuperating from last night's all-night dance party. Our cabin attendant and other members of housekeeping surely made adjustments for these time inconveniences, but they were always extraordinarily upbeat and smiling, greeting us warmly every time we passed in the hallways and public spaces. I got a sense that our sometimes high-maintenance crowd more than made up for the efforts they demanded with their very open and friendly attitudes towards ship crew and staff. I saw many "hugs" between guests and staff this week that were genuine and warm.

One staff member at the Royal Promenade coffee cafe even pulled me aside to say, "I'm from Jamaica, and I'll tell everyone back home how nice you all are!" Coming from a native of one of the more homophobic countries in the Caribbean (as evidenced by anti-gay laws and many cases of overt discrimination), her comments were very refreshing. Guess the old adage that "travel changes people" was true in the case of these passengers, at least in interactions with Freedom's diverse international crew and staff!

Doug and I went back on Labadee for lunch. By then, the island's beaches and three dining areas (where an excellent barbeque was served) were filling up, even with late-sleeping party boys. We ran into some friends and joined them for some fun frolicking in the island's mini water park, with water trampolines, "iceberg" mountain to climb and other water toys. The water slide was a hoot, and the Haitian locals who worked on the island were all very welcoming towards us. After lunch, Doug and I got in some savage sun time (sunscreen lathered on) on a beautiful beach cove, facing Freedom in the distance and the hills of the island. We idled a few hours away, chatting with new and old friends about the week so far. The only real complaints we heard (beside the grim Internet challenges) were, "There's just too much to do!" and "I wish there was just one big dance party -- with everyone -- instead of two of three every night." Hardly major problems at all.

After dinner in the main dining room, Doug and I strolled around the ship. It was relatively quiet onboard with a few entertainers (Delisco, an up-and-coming pop vocalist and Jason&DeMarco, a gay cabaret act) and lounge singers (Pamala Stanley and Mark Ferris) sprinkled around the various public spaces. After a long day under the hot Caribbean sun, many guests were taking their "disco naps" in preparation for the "White Party," the week's big blowout shindig.

This Atlantis tradition, held poolside starting at 11 p.m., was probably the easiest to dress for all week (white outfits of any combination -- and there were many angels sporting sexy wings) and featured favorite D.J.'s Manny Lehman and Warren Gluck spinning the house and disco beats. And the pool deck, which was packed all week, was the most crowded as well, with thousands of guests pressed into a flaring, bright sea of white, shaking their groove things. This was truly an all-night dance party for this energetic group of Atlantis friends, since nothing was held back.

Tomorrow is our final sea day, and final day to make some new memories during our all-gay cruise adventure.

--by Stan Wu, Cruise Critic contributor

Day 5: At sea red arrow Day 7: At Sea/Wrap Up

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