Gay and lesbian holidaymakers face the same decisions as other cruise goers - how do I know this is the right cruise for me? Who will my travelling companions be? But every gay traveller also must decide between all-gay cruises, or a gay tour, or whether you should book a cruise that'll be predominantly straight.
With so many cruise lines and destinations to chose from it can be difficult to know where to start. Which ship is best, and which time of year, and which will allow me the most value for my pound? You'll maybe have had some recommendations from friends and these are a great starting place for your research.
For most LGBT people, the question will be how comfortable you are surrounded by other gay cruisers. Age will play an important factor, and cruise packages for younger people certainly won't be family friendly if that's what you're looking for.
Personally, I like to go for variety. I've been on cruises with all-gay parties, and that was fun, but it's easy to forget that holidays are a great time to mix with other cultures and life styles. This way you'll certainly have a greater choice of ships and destinations, and the more flexible you are with your arrangements, the more likely you are to find a bargain.
Another sound piece of advice if you're going all-gay. Check out if it's an all-gay ship, or whether your party is taking over a part of a larger ship, which is more likely. Smaller ships or sailboats can easily go all-gay, and this can be a brilliant experience. Being in the gay ghetto on a 2,500 berth mega-liner can feel fun at times, but you have to be prepared to vanish into the crowd, even though you will have the best of both worlds - gay friends and fellow diners, while being able to blend in with the crowd if you want.
A big part of any cruise are the shore excursions and in some places it's all but impossible to blend in with the locals. I'm thinking of a friend of mine who'd taken a cruise to the Adriatic and Venice and enjoyed it, so took another all-gay cruise to Egypt, Jordan and the Red Sea. He said that in most destinations their rather conspicuous party stood out like the proverbial sore thumb.
Fellow cruisers are an important consideration for anybody who takes a cruise, not just LGBT people. I can't tell you how many times I've heard friends complain that they didn't know the ship they were on was going to be full of Americans. Not bad, per se, but the point is that you have to know who you're sailing with, and this can be quite difficult information to come by.
After destination the primary concerns for me are always comfort and atmosphere. It's a certainty that you'll make new friends on the cruise, and you might even be looking for romance. If the latter is the case then you should research the best all-gay cruises for you. Don't just head off to somewhere you've always wanted to cruise to, to find yourself surrounded by middle-aged married couples or senior citizens!
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