A message from Cruise Critic: During this unprecedented time throughout the world and across the cruise industry, it is important to note that article information might be impacted by cruise line hiatuses and port closures due to COVID-19. For the latest information, please visit our regularly updated article on what cruisers need to know about coronavirus.
Gay and lesbian cruises are ready for their comeback, and the party's just about to get started! Following a landlocked year, cruisers will revel in once-in-a-lifetime celebrations onboard as the world reconnects and makes up for lost time. As COVID-19 vaccinations become more widely available, plans for cruise travel are becoming realities. LGBTQ cruise organizers are struggling to keep up with the surging demand for post-lockdown travel, with one likening the renewed interest in LGBTQ cruise travel as "trying to drink from a fire hose."
Recognizing the surging demand, nearly every cruise line, from luxury to midrange to mass market, works to attract gay and lesbian travelers. LGBTA cocktail parties or meetups are a popular activity onboard various ships. Some cruise lines even cater to the community on land through various partnerships. (For example, Celebrity Cruises sponsors the Miami Beach Gay Pride festival, the first cruise line to ever partner with this celebration of the community.)
Passengers will find gay and lesbian travelers on just about any cruise, but some companies offer specialized sailings catering specifically to gay cruisers. All-gay charter companies, such as Atlantis Events (focused on gay men) and Olivia (exclusively for lesbians), charter entire cruise ships -- from large, mainstream ships and smaller luxury ships to riverboats -- and customize the whole trip.
The charters work closely with the cruise line to develop itineraries, and they always bring aboard their own group of entertainers, musical guests and speakers. Major cruise lines that frequently host LGBTQ charter cruises include Celebrity, Holland America, Royal Caribbean, Uniworld, Azamara and Virgin Voyages.
Here, we introduce you to the main charter companies catering to LGBTQ cruisers, and provide a preview of upcoming gay and lesbian charter cruises. Cruises can expect many postponed trips to finally set sail, a few newly-charted cruises that are sure to sell out fast, and new travel groups catering to the LGBTQ community.
This information, with specific dates, offers a snapshot of some of the adventures, but it's not meant to serve as a comprehensive calendar. Refer to each company's website for any updates or additions. Be aware that some gay and lesbian cruises sell out very quickly.
LGBTQ Cruise Companies
, Jan. 16-23, 2022 and is already sold out. You can sign up for the
.Among the newer entrants to the LGBTQ cruise market, VACAYA offers both large and small ship charters with a welcoming atmosphere for all members of the LGBTQ community. VACAYA has five charter cruises slated for the upcoming year including the first-ever LGBTQ+ charter of a
.Other players in the market offer more intimate full-ship gay charters, spanning from small ocean ships to river cruises. Most notable include Brand g with over a dozen full-ship river cruise charters scheduled through 2022, the newly-formed
(co-founded by celebrity couple Jonathan Bennett and Jaymes Vaughan),
(which also offers partial charters),
(a small lesbian tour group offering a 2022 Rhine River Cruise), and
, offering charters for both LGBTQ families and adults only.Note: Partial charters are not listed below, but you can find more details on each company's website.
Where You'll Cruise
Gay and lesbian charter companies conduct extensive research before committing to a foreign destination. There have been well-publicized incidents of all-gay charters facing opposition and scattered protests at ports in such countries as Grand Cayman, Jamaica and Turkey, so the gay charter companies generally steer clear of controversy and head to the "greatest hits" port stops, mostly in the Caribbean and Europe. Gay travelers should be aware that, in some ports, they might be faced with different levels of social tolerance.
Venice to Athens Cruise
Atlantis returns to the Mediterranean this summer with a
on Oceania's mid-sized
. More than 1,200 cruisers will enjoy 10 nights on the luxurious ship with five port calls including Santorini, Mykonos, and an overnight in Istanbul. The cruise sails from the bustling port of Venice and features parties with famed DJs, Atlantis' signature entertainment and the ship's fine amenities, including four no-fee specialty restaurants, complimentary afternoon tea service and Martinis, the onboard specialty cocktail hub. Fares start at $2,799 for an ocean view stateroom, based on double occupancy.
Dates: July 9 -18, 2021
Bliss Halloween Cruise
Chartering their largest West Coast cruise ever, Atlantis'
is the perfect match for the fun-packed
. Touring the Pacific with 4,000 passengers, the ship will sail a weeklong, round-trip cruise from Los Angeles, with stops in Cabo, Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan. Expect Atlantis's famous entertainment, with plenty of DJ'd parties and special guests, including big names in the ship's large theater and gay cabaret performers in smaller lounges. Fares start at $699 for an inside cabin, based on double occupancy.
Dates: Oct. 31 - Nov. 7, 2021
Virgin Caribbean Cruise
Be one of the first to sail on Virgin Voyages' adults-only
, sailing roundtrip from Miami. Onboard, get a tattoo, enjoy a drag brunch, dance to cutting-edge DJs and even attend a sex-themed talk show. In port, live it up on Virgin's new
, and explore ashore in Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico. Fares start at $899 for an inside cabin, based on double occupancy.
Dates: 2022 sailing dates to be confirmed soon.
Lisbon to Dublin Luxury Cruise
is one of the first LGBTQ charters to sail this summer. Soak up some sun, enjoy an Irish Guinness stout from its place of origin, and immerse yourself in Portuguese culture in the comfort of Olivia's all-women atmosphere. The 11 day/10 night sailing on Windstar's
will take passengers from the coast of Lisbon, Portugal north to Dublin, Ireland, with port highlights that include Porto, Vigo and Brest, France. Onboard entertainment will include comedians, musicians and speakers hand-picked by Olivia. Fares start at $5,799 for a porthole cabin, based on double occupancy.
Dates: July 4 - 14, 2021
Winter Wonderland & Christmas Market Riverboat Cruise
The charm of Christmas perfected in true historic European style,
is Olivia's third Christmas market tour. This year, board Avalon's
along with over 120 women for a holiday-spirited journey from Frankfurt to Prague. The journey includes stops in Würzburg to see the largest ceiling fresco ever painted, a guided tour of medieval Bamberg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the delicious hot mulled wine of Nuremberg. Fares start at $4,399 for a porthole cabin, based on double occupancy.
Dates: Nov. 29 - Dec. 7, 2021
Costa Rica and Panama Canal Luxury Cruise
Head to the rainforest in a sailing yacht with this
aboard Windstar's 148-passenger
. Explore mangrove swamps, jungle forests and beautiful beaches in search of the region's diverse flora and fauna. A private beach barbecue and Panama Canal transit will be highlights. Fares start at $5,459 for an outside cabin with a porthole, based on double occupancy.
Dates: Jan. 15 - 22, 2022
VACAYA is going upscale with a bucket-list circumnavigation of Iceland on luxury cruise line Ponant's 180-passenger
. The seven-night
sails roundtrip from Reykjavik and will take cruisers to see glaciers, fjords, geysers and an array of wildlife, from puffins to whales. Plus, there's plenty of time to explore Iceland's capital city with an overnight in Reykjavik. This sailing is best for travelers who want to combine exploration with luxury, and have a large vacation budget. Fares start at $5,997 per person for a balcony cabin, based on double occupancy.
Dates: Sept. 3 - 10, 2021
VACAYA is heading to the
for the first time with a seven-night sailing from Fort Lauderdale to Aruba and Curaçao aboard
. The full-ship charter is also allowing cruisers to purchase unlimited beverage packages (something not always available on chartered sailings). Escape the cold and embrace the warmth of an inclusive community representing the entire LGBTQIAPK (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, Polygamous/polyamorous, Kink) spectrum. Fares start at $897 per person for an inside cabin, based on double occupancy.
Dates: Jan. 10 -17, 2022
Brand g Vacations
Prague and Danube River Cruise
Relish all the Old World charm and beauty the Danube River has to offer. Passengers on the newly-minted 168-passenger
with a two-night hotel stay in Prague, where they can enjoy a half-day tour and daily buffet breakfast. The seven-night cruise will then depart from Passau toward Budapest, for its cruise through Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary. Fares for this cruise start at $4,199 per person for a Panoramic Window cabin, based on double occupancy.
Dates: Aug. 16 - 25, 2021
Royal Clipper Mediterranean Sailing
Experience the romance of a masted sailing ship on this seven-night full-ship charter of
to the Mediterranean.
begins with two nights on land in Cannes, before the ship sets sail for Italy, Monaco, Corsica and Sardinia. Onboard, climb the mast to a crow's nest lookout or enjoy views from the underwater lounge. Fares for this cruise start at $3,899 per person, based on double occupancy.
Dates: Sept. 15 - 24, 2022
Paris, Normandy and the Seine River
Satisfy your passion for history, wine, food and art with a seven-night
. The cruise starts and ends in Paris and takes passengers to the former home of Van Gogh in Conflans, museums and abbeys in Rouen, the Normandy coastline (including the landing beaches) and Giverny, home of Monet. Fares for this cruise start at $4,299 per person, based on double occupancy, for single rooms fares start at $5,699.
Dates: Postponed until 2023
Greek Isles Cruise
New traditions and new friends await on the inaugural OUTbound charter
, a 198-passenger coastal explorer. The trip promises plenty of fun, unscripted moments as you travel alongside co-founders Jonathan Bennett (of Mean Girls fame) and his partner Jaymes Vaughan. Highlights of the itinerary include the awe-inspiring azure domes of Santorini, the ancient Greek ruins of Rhodes, and an overnight in Mykonos to immerse yourself in the city's hopping nightlife. Fares start at $2,597 per person for a porthole cabin, based on double occupancy.
Dates: Nov. 1 - 7, 2021
Berlin Pride to Amsterdam Pride Cruise
Catch the best of Pride celebrations across Europe with
. The journey begins with Berlin's fabulous Pride festival where thousands celebrate on the streets, dancing under Berlin's Brandenburg Gate. Then travel west on the Elbe and the Havel Rivers with a small group of 90 on the
river cruise. The ship ports in small German cities including Potsdam, Magdeburg and Bremen before arriving four nights in Amsterdam. Fares start at $4,597 per person for a full picture window cabin, based on double occupancy.