Cruises of freedom

Deccan Chronicle.  | Imana bhattacharya

Sunday Chronicle, High Life

From arranging gay-friendly meet-ups to hosting same-sex marriage ceremonies, the cruising business has come a long way in embracing the community.

Paul Gauguin Cruises

When one thinks of luxury travelling, cruises are an obvious option. Driving the million-dollar ocean tourism industry forward, these sailing giants can provide tourists with travel experiences like no other. Add to that the rising popularity of pink tourism and the onset of LGBTQIA+ inclusivity, an entirely new beast is born — the industry of queer-friendly cruises. From arranging gay-friendly meet-ups to hosting same-sex marriage ceremonies, the cruising business has come a long way in embracing the community.

We take a look at some of the extravagant cruise companies that are topping the charts with their rainbow-tinted, discrimination-free services, along with some of their most expensive packages.

*All the rates are per head, exclusive of taxes, and for a seven-day-long
cruising experience

Azamara club Cruises
Sailing around popular destinations like Miami and Florida and earning the title of ‘Best small ship cruise line for LGBTQ people’ (Cruisecritic) for seven consecutive years, Azamarany has quite a head start in this category. The company claims to roll out the rainbow carpet with activities and events that embrace and celebrate the queer community and their allies on every sail. They also host meet-and-mingle cocktail parties, plan destination-themed programming and provide world-class queer-themed entertainment for their guests.

Atlantis RSVP Cruises
When gay cruise and vacation pioneer Atlantis decided to merge with its biggest competitor in the market, RSVP Travel, a great experience of cruising vacation just had to come out of the closet. Serving mainly to queer clientele and allies, no two days on this Western Mediterranean party cruise ship are alike. From pride parties to drag shows, this cruise brings out the biggest talents of the queer community, like RuPaul.

Cunard line
Hailed as the grandest and one of the oldest royal cruising experiences to continue operations, Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 is famous for its transatlantic crossing and a treat for everyone, defying any kind of discrimination. Cunard, which is famous for its grand same-sex weddings on-board has long been a supporter of the queer cause and teams up often with LGBT+ travel agencies for full charters and group bookings. The quintessential British sailing experience provider claims to have a fleet full of LGBT+ supporters.

Paul Gauguin Cruises
The gay- and lesbian-friendly cruises of Paul Gauguin make for a long fleet of ships that cover various destinations and span multiple durations. These cruises specialise in arranging itineraries all over the world to what are considered go-to destinations for the biggest and most colourful pride parties and celebrations. For instance, Tahiti’s gay-friendly pockets are best connected with these opulent cruises.

UnCruise
Travelling for the queer community is not only about celebrating their vibrant colours but also about feeling safe and welcome. For those who are seeking more than just queer-friendly parties and performances, UnCruise usually offers an immersive and quieter experience. They specialise in wildlife related adventures like kayaking and snorkeling. With a small and cosy number of travellers per cruise, the peace and security of the queer tourists are the first priority for this cruise line. They also host weddings for same-sex couples on demand.

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