(10:01 a.m. EDT) -- The seas have never been more welcoming than on the decks of the newly minted cruise outfit VACAYA, the largest expansion of boutique LGBT+ tour operator VACAYA.
VACAYA’s mission is to deliver a 360-degree escape into a queer utopia, where the entire LGBTQIAPK (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, Polygamous/polyamorous, Kink) community and their allies can relax, enrich themselves and celebrate life through full-ship charters and resort buyouts.
But what makes this different from the muscle-bound gay cruises we’ve seen for years? VACAYA finds its niche in the market of LGBT+ cruise operators as the first to offer a large-scale luxury ship in an all-inclusive setting. VACAYA’s all-inclusive atmosphere goes beyond just the amenities to welcome all members of the LGBT+ community and their allies.
As VACAYA co-founder Patrick Gunn says with pride, "Anyone who believes love is love has a place on our cruises."
VACAYA launches its inaugural voyage this summer, sailing roundtrip from New York City, August 11 to 18, on an exclusive charter of the newly refurbished Celebrity Summit.
The cruise will spend a week along the northeastern seaboard, porting in Saint John, New Brunswick; Bar Harbor, Maine; and most excitingly, making a dramatic entrance into Provincetown, Massachusetts, just in time for the town’s legendary Carnival week.
The cruise ship will break the record as the largest to ever port in Provincetown, as well as the largest to ever overnight there.
What is going to set this LGBT+ vacation apart from the rest of the pack? Here are the top reasons to get excited for VACAYA’s new cruise brand:
1. Safety First
You’re going to feel safe on this cruise. The passengers are likeminded, and you’ll be in a protected space where you’ll be able to let your pride flag fly.
VACAYA has developed special LGBT+ sensitivity training for the staff of each cruise, so not only will you feel comfortable among your fellow passengers, but the crew will be 'woke,' too.
You’re also only going to travel to safe places with VACAYA’s commitment to port exclusively in locales where the LGBT+ community is welcome. Fostering a safe environment for their audience is VACAYA’s primary goal, particularly with the transgender community. For some transgender passengers, spending the week with VACAYA may serve as a rare opportunity to be in the majority. Gunn adds that opportunities like these “have a profound effect on people long after the cruise.”
In the future, expect VACAYA itineraries that will start or finish in cities during gay pride festivals, and port stops in bucket-list locations around the globe that have long been on LGBT+ travel lists for their safety and culture, such as Amsterdam and Iceland.
2. Balance is Everything
You’re not getting yourself into a party-all-night hot mess of a ship. VACAYA caters to a wide range of LGBT+ passengers that like to enjoy the nightlife, but also value going on excursions, seeing the sights and seizing the daylight.
Yet rest assured, the parties will be fabulous. From tea dances blasting retro beats to nightly extravaganzas that promise to dazzle, you aren’t going to want to miss the many surprises planned for each sailing.
3. Travel Like You Mean It
This isn't just a point-and-shoot excursion vacation. VACAYA's Reach Out initiative will bring guests closest to the community of each port, with voluntourism opportunities that include delivering backpacks filled with school supplies to children, spending the day organizing a newly-formed LGBT+ center, or making effective water filters and personally delivering them to local families in need.
These opportunities give you the chance to make something of your vacation time that fills your soul, not just your belly.
Most ambitiously, VACAYA is orchestrating a special reuniting of the Gilbert Baker rainbow flag for its inaugural PTown cruise. The record-breaking 1.25-mile flag was first assembled for Key West’s Pride Parade in 2003 and has since been dispersed throughout the country. VACAYA is working on reuniting many pieces of that ginormous flag and plans to parade it through the streets of Provincetown on August 15, kicking off the town’s 41st Annual Carnival celebration.
4. A-List Entertainment
It’s going to be more like the “high C's” as Kristin Chenoweth is ordained as the godmother of the inaugural VACAYA voyage and for the LGBT+ venture overall. Chenoweth will perform and toast VACAYA at a special launch party the day the inaugural cruise sets sail in New York.
VACAYA is promising top-tier headliners on each cruise, starting with their inaugural voyage “All-Star DIVAS” lineup of performers that will include Broadway stars Katharine McPhee, Leslie Jordan, Alex Newell and Lesli Margherita.
5. The Standard of Luxury
This isn’t a kitsch gay cruise. Ditch the buckets of beer for a chilled glass of rose. VACAYA understands modern luxury and is keen on delivering top-notch service and accommodations for the most value, partnering with cruise lines and resorts that cater to boutique, luxury style. Future cruise lines announced to partner with VACAYA include the upscale brands Emerald Waterways and Ponant.
Is a VACAYA Cruise For Me?
VACAYA is built to serve all corners of the LGBT+ community. "Gay cruises are a full spectrum of our entire community. Not one type of person goes on an LGBT+ cruise," says Gunn. “It is impossible to not find someone who you can relate to onboard. In the end, it's always the people who are most hesitant that end up being the cruise's biggest advocates."
Inaugural PTown Cruise rates start at $1,197 per person for a double-occupancy inside cabin, and there's still availability left in most cabin classes.
Learn more about how to choose an LGBT+ cruise, as we break down the charter companies, as well as the most gay-friendly cruise lines and ports.