(5:35 p.m. EDT) -- A new cruise line, called Anteros, will offer year-round sailings for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender passengers, beginning in 2017.
The first dedicated cruise line for LGBT passengers will use a 400-passenger ship for its sailings, which will begin in the Mediterranean in 2017, said Marc Baron, the line's director of business development. The company is not disclosing the current name of the ship for contractual reasons, he said, adding that the vessel would receive a new name once it transfers to Anteros.
LGBT charters have long been popular among cruisers. Anteros will be different because it will offer year-round cruises, with programming that is designed to build a community, Baron said.
"What we want to be able to do is let the gay and lesbian consumer know when they come onboard, they are welcomed and have no reason to feel they can't be who they are," Baron said, adding that the ship's smaller size will foster friendships better than a mega-ship. "We want our guests to feel like they are part of a family."
Speaking of families, the line will have cruises that are aimed at them, particularly around the holidays and spring break, Baron said. Anteros should appeal to two types of families, he noted -- parents who have LGBT children and same-sex couples who are raising kids.
"That is part of the difference of Anteros. We have every intention of addressing every segment of the LGBT community," he said. The name itself is significant; Anteros is the Greek god of requited love.
Anteros will time its launch and Mediterranean itineraries to coordinate with Europe's Pride festivals, which are known as Christopher Street Day on the Continent; the first sailing should coincide with Maspalomas Gay Pride in the Canary Islands, Baron said. Homeports for the line will be Barcelona and Athens in Europe in the summer and fall, and St. Maarten and Colon in the winter.
Bookings for the five- to 14-night itineraries will begin in April 2016. Pricing is not yet available.
--By Chris Gray Faust, Senior Editor