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Gay and Lesbian Charter Cruises 2018 - 2019 (Photo: RSVP Vacations)

Gay and Lesbian Charter Cruises: 2018 to 2019

Almost every cruise line, from luxury to midrange to mass-market, works to attract gay and lesbian travelers. LGBT 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 sponsored the 2017 Miami Beach Gay Pride festival in April 2017 -- making it 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 like 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 LGBT charter cruises include Celebrity, Holland America, Royal Caribbean, Oceania and Azamara.

Here, we introduce you to the main charter companies catering to LGBT cruisers, and give a preview of upcoming gay and lesbian charter cruises. 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.

Updated August 21, 2018

LGBT Cruise Companies

Atlantis continues to be the dominant player in the gay cruising industry by chartering the biggest and most glamorous ships afloat -- such as Royal Caribbean's 4,579-passenger Harmony of the Seas, which was used for the largest-ever all-gay cruise in January 2018. Brand G Vacations also has made its way to the forefront, with the widest selection of LGBT river cruises. Olivia recently celebrated its 40th anniversary as a company (with 20-plus years in gay travel, specifically). The newest member to the gay charter cruising sector is VACAYA, which kicks off its inaugural cruise in August 2019; it is run by former executives from Atlantis and RSVP Vacations.

Other players in the market offer smaller, more intimate full-ship gay charters -- including Source Events (which also offers partial charters) and r Family Vacations.

Houston-based travel agency Concierge Travel has made a name for itself by expanding the market through high-quality, lively gay-affinity groups aboard regularly scheduled cruises (i.e., partial, not full-ship, charters).

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.


Atlantis Events

Three men drinking wine on a balcony

Trip: Rome to Barcelona Cruise

Ship: Celebrity Constellation

Dates: August 4–11, 2018

Details: Historic Rome and Barcelona—with its thriving gay scene—are the perfect starting and ending points for this weeklong Mediterranean adventure on Celebrity Constellation. Soak up the summer sun in Rome; Naples; Corsica, France; the Cote d'Azur's Villefranche; Portofino, Italy; Palma de Mallorca, Spain; and Barcelona -- where you also can attend the annual Waterpark gay festival. Atlantis entertainment will abound onboard. Fares start at $1,199 for an inside cabin, based on double occupancy.


Trip: Italy and Greek Isles Cruise

Ship: Celebrity Reflection

Dates: August 21–31, 2018

Details: White-sand beaches and cerulean seas await passengers on Europe's largest all-gay cruise. For 10 nights, Celebrity Reflection will treat more than 3,000 cruisers to an exotic Greek Isles and Italy itinerary as well as an array of dance parties, performances by guest acts and other themed activities. Port stops include Crete, Mykonos, Santorini, Malta, Sicily, Sardinia and Naples. Fares start at $1,799 for an inside cabin, based on double occupancy.


Trip: Mexican Riviera Cruise

Ship: Norwegian Pearl

Dates: October 14 - 21, 2018

Details: Sailing roundtrip from San Diego, Atlantis cruisers can experience three gems of Mexico's west coast: Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan. Atlantis entertainment will include the company's very own gay circus show, Miss Richfield 1981 and La Voix, as well as a special guest from Broadway that has yet to be revealed. Fares start at $699 for an inside cabin.


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Olivia

Four women on beach with cruise ship in background

Trip: Venice to Athens Luxury Cruise

Ship: Azamara Quest

Dates: October 6–13, 2018

Details: Enjoy two nights in the romantic city of Venice, then visit the medieval town of Dubrovnik, Croatia, before hopping around the Greek islands. Cruisers also can enjoy complimentary standard spirits, international beers and wines, bottled water, soft drinks, specialty coffees and teas onboard. Onboard entertainment details were not available at press time. Fares start at $3,299 for an inside cabin, based on double occupancy.


Trip: Ultimate Alaskan Summer Cruise

Ship: Holland America's Amsterdam

Dates: July 1–8, 2019

Details: Feeling adventurous? Sail to Alaska with Olivia, where you can kayak, hike, witness breathtaking glaciers and get up close and personal with wildlife. After a long day, relax in a hot tub under the Midnight Sun. The cruise will begin in Seattle and end in Victoria, B.C., and include visits to Ketchikan, Tracy Arm (scenic cruising), Juneau and Skagway. Fares start at $1,499 for an inside cabin, based on double occupancy.


Brand G Vacations

Two mature women hugging on river boat with bridge in background

Trip: Splendor of India & the Ganges River (2018 and 2019)

Ship: Ganges Voyager

Dates: November 5–17, 2018 and September 30–October 12, 2019

Details: An intimate adventure awaits cruisers in India, on the lower Ganges River. On two separate, all-LBGT cruises, the 56-passenger ship will visit the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Humayun's Tomb and Qutab Minar; the ancient Mughal capital of Old Delhi; and the Hazarduari Palace in Murshidabad, among other landmarks. Various hotel stays and meals -- as well as complimentary beer and wine with lunch and dinner, onboard the ship -- also are included. Fares start at $7,099 for the 2018 sailing and $6,799 for the 2019 sailing, based on double occupancy.


Trip: Jewels of Vietnam and Cambodia

Ship: Lueftner Cruises' Mekong Navigator

Dates: January 3–15, 2019

Details: The temples of Angkor Wat, UNESCO World Heritage Site Ha Long Bay and Phnom Penh's famous Silver Pagoda are only a few of the highlights you can enjoy on Brand G's all-LGBT Mekong River cruise. Kick off your adventure with a pre-cruise hotel stay in Siem Reap before boarding the 56-passenger ship, which includes local soft drinks, beer, wine with dinner and other alcoholic beverages in its prices. Passengers also can choose to extend their trip after the cruise in Ho Chi Minh City. Fares start at $3,999 for a superior suite, based on double occupancy.


Trip: Spain & Portugal Douro River Cruise

Ship: CroisiEurope's Miguel Torga

Dates: July 5–13, 2019

Details: Raise a glass of Portuguese wine with fellow Brand G cruisers as you sail past the rolling hills and vineyards of the Douro River Valley. The nine-night, all-LGBT cruise begins in Madrid -- where cruisers will have three days to soak up the city and Gay Pride festivities (a two-night hotel stay is included). It will then make its way to Porto, Portugal, stopping in charming small towns along the way. Complimentary wine, beer, spirits, coffee, tea, mineral water and soft drinks are offered onboard. Fares start at $3,799 for a standard cabin, based on double occupancy.

VACAYA

Eight shirtless men on rocky bluff

Trip: Ptown Cruise

Ship: Celebrity Summit

Dates: August 11-18, 2019

Details: Brand-new gay charter cruise company VACAYA is going big for its inaugural sailing. It will become the largest all-gay cruise to ever attend Cape Cod's famed festival, Provincetown Carnival -- with an overnight stay to prolong the celebrations. Roundtrip from New York City, the Ptown Cruise will include stops in Saint John, New Brunswick, and Bar Harbor, Maine, in addition to the two days spent in Provincetown, Mass. -- all while offering themed activities and nighttime entertainment onboard. Fares start at $997 per person, based on double occupancy.


Trip: European Christmas Markets River Cruise

Ship: Emerald Star

Dates: December 5 - 12 and December 12 - 19, 2019

Details: Choose between two itineraries -- Amsterdam to Nuremberg and Nuremberg to Budapest -- to soak up the magical scenery of Europe's Christmas Markets. Passengers also won't have to worry about paying out of pocket for many extras, as the cruise includes soft and alcoholic beverages, select shore excursions, Wi-Fi, transfers and gratuities. Early booking fares start at $2,149 per person, based on double occupancy.

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