There was a time when the best a gay or lesbian cruise passenger could hope for from a "gay-friendly" cruise would be a self-organized "Friends of Dorothy" meet up. Now, gay and lesbian socials are standard on most cruises, and are actually organized, promoted and hosted by the cruise lines and their staffs.
The cruise industry has come a long way, not merely acknowledging but embracing its gay and lesbian passengers. It's really no surprise, given there is data suggesting that the percentage of gay and lesbian travelers who take cruises is the same as -- or even slightly higher than -- the percentage of heterosexual travelers who cruise.
Gay and lesbian cruise passengers haven't been shy about their enthusiasm, either. There are now dozens of Facebook pages and online forums, such as Cruise Critics' Gay and Lesbian Cruisers board, where information about cruise lines is readily shared. That enthusiasm isn't limited to the virtual world, as many gay and lesbian passengers are much more comfortable, compared to just a few years ago, in being open about their sexual orientation while onboard, and quick to call out incidences of perceived homophobia by fellow passengers or cruise-line staff.
In short, the gay and lesbian market is one the cruise industry cannot ignore.