Rosie O'Donnell's R Family Vacations Sets Sail on Norwegian Dawn

July 12, 2004
In what represents a new era for gay and lesbian cruising, R Family Vacations -- the industry's first family-oriented cruise travel operator -- launches via its first-ever voyage. The company, which has chartered, in its entirety, NCL's 92,250-ton, 2,240-passenger Norwegian Dawn, set sail yesterday for a weeklong trip. It has created its own itinerary (a mild departure from Norwegian Dawn's standard seven-day cruise); this includes the addition of a stop at Key West, a notoriously gay-friendly community, along with calls at usual Dawn ports such as Port Canaveral and the Bahamas.

What's intriguing about R Family Vacations' approach is not just that it turns the traditional image of a party-hearty gay cruising charter on its proverbial head, but also that the voyage will feature specially chosen entertainers and programs.

Among those performing include founder Rosie O'Donnell herself; she "opened" the voyage, so to speak, by taking to the stage last night, on the cruise's first day. Others include Broadway's Christine Ebersole, television's Joy Behar (from "The View"), and comedians Bob Smith and Judy Gold.

R Family Vacations has contracted with the Family Pride Coalition, one of whose missions is to foster healthy families, as well as offer workshops, round-table discussions and various panels. Among the topics? Surrogacy, adoption, and artificial insemination.

While this is R Family Vacations' first-ever trip, the company will not necessarily limit them to cruises (though other trips have yet to be announced).