atlantis gay cruise october

35th Anniversary Caribbean Cruise

Logo for Atlantis Events

Celebrate 35 Years of Atlantis on the World’s Biggest Gay Festival at Sea.

Celebrate 35 years of Atlantis next February on the world’s biggest gay festival at sea! We’re going back to where it all began – the awe-inspiring Allure of the Seas for seven outrageously fun nights of non-stop entertainment, jaw-dropping parties, and 5500 guys from around the world. Sailing from Miami to three dazzling Caribbean islands with plenty of time to play onboard.

We’ll pull out all the stops for a star-studded extravaganza of thrills unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Get onboard the big one and discover why our massive winter Caribbean cruise is unlike anything on sea or land. You’ll have to experience this one for yourself!

Cruise Itinerary

Depart 5:00 pm

Playful Day at Sea

Awesome Day at Sea

St. Maarten

Arrive 8:00 am - Depart 8:00 pm

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Arrive 8:00 am - Depart 4:00 pm

Arrive 12:00 pm - Depart 6:00 pm

Great Day at Sea

February 10

Arrive 6:00 am -

atlantis gay cruise october

Itinerary subject to port berthing confirmation

Enjoy South Beach, home to Miami’s gay beach, or explore Wynwood Arts District with more than 50 galleries, studios and museums. With Miami’s infamous bars and clubs, exciting dining scene, and bustling beaches, you’ll never experience a dull moment.

Image of Miami

We're ready to play on the world's largest ship! Your first full day at sea gives you plentiful time to explore the myriad of activities onboard Allure. Save some energy to join your new friends for an afternoon T-dance, a festival of Atlantis' signature shows. And then there's the party...

Image of Playful Day at Sea

Hang with your new friends by the pool, indulge in a day at the spa, or enjoy our famous pool games. Or maybe today's the day you tackle the flowrider, zipline, or hit the gym. Whatever you do, just save energy for and a full night of excitement.

Image of Awesome Day at Sea

Dutch and French cultures meet in captivating St. Maarten for an extraordinary day of sightseeing and adventures. We’ll dock in Philipsburg, where duty-free shopping and beachfront dining await. Venture to the French town of Marigot to soak in its European flair and panoramic views from Fort Louis. Thrill-seekers can enjoy water sports at Maho Beach, famous for its close airplane landings, or relax on the calm shores of Orient Beach. Whether you're exploring colorful markets or relaxing on its many turquoise beaches, St. Maarten offers an unforgettable blend of cultural and natural attractions.

Image of St. Maarten

San Juan combines the culture of a historic city with the lifestyle of a modern metropolis. Visit Old San Juan’s beautifully restored historic sites, go shopping, or stop to enjoy authentic sangria and tapas. One of the gayest destinations in the Caribbean, San Juan features two gay beaches, numerous popular gay restaurants, and bars for brunch or day drinking, and more. Beyond San Juan, visitors can venture off to the mountains, caves, coral reefs, pristine beaches, and even the massive rain forest, El Yunque, for fantastic explorations.

Image of San Juan, Puerto Rico

Beachside meets mountainside on the shores of Labadee — a Royal Caribbean® private destination on Haiti’s northern coast. Here you’ll find pristine sands, coral reefs and jungle-covered hilltops nestling lagoon-like bays. There’s no shortage of places to relax and recharge across five stretches of beach. Or dial up the thrills on an active adventure like a half-mile-long zip line ride over the ocean.

Image of Labadee

The anticipation builds on our final day at sea. Catch the last of comedy or rest up before the Last Dance. Whether you turn up or wind down, find an endless selection of activities for your last day on board.

Image of Great Day at Sea

Welcome back to the vibrant city of Miami. Stay and enjoy the culture, sights and sounds or continue on to one of the many great destinations in South Florida, including Ft. Lauderdale and Key West.

Disembarkation begins at approximately 7 am on February 10th. Atlantis does not recommend flights before 11 am.

Image of Miami

airOtirc Tdance

The World’s Biggest Ship. Ours.

Step onboard Allure of the Seas – the world’s largest and most exhilarating cruise ship. Five amazing venues host original Atlantis entertainment, superstar special guests, spectacular outdoor concerts, brilliant cabaret stars, massive production shows, and so much more. Four spectacular venues become rousing spaces for the world’s most outrageous parties — day and night. And four gorgeous pools invite you to relax and revel in the Caribbean sunshine. No matter what you’re looking for, you’ll find exciting ways to play on everything from a surf simulator to an ice rink to rock wall.

Seven distinct neighborhoods span Allure’s seventeen decks. Stroll the lush gardens in Central Park, ride a carousel on the Boardwalk, laugh in the Comedy Club, or take a spin on the ice rink. Maybe try a few things you never imagined like our spine-tingling zip line. Marvel at our high-diving show, enjoy a drink at The Rising Tide bar, or learn to surf on twin FlowRiders!

atlantis gay cruise october

Three Inviting Islands

Adventure beckons as we sail from gay-central Miami to three of the most alluring islands in the Caribbean. After two glorious days at sea, you’ll arrive on the endlessly charming island of St. Maarten where Dutch and French cultures combine to create a little magic everywhere you turn.

Wake up the next morning for a day in gay-friendly San Juan, Puerto Rico. Take a walk around Old Town, venture out to the rain forest, shop for duty-free bargains, or find the perfect spot on Condado Beach.

Finally, indulge in our very own private beach with a magnificently relaxing day on the private island paradise of Labadee. We have the entire island to ourselves to create a magical all-gay beach day filled with friends and fun.

aqua theater

Stars. Super and More.

The world’s biggest festival of LGBT entertainment starts with massive shows in Allure’ three awesome main-stage venues. The 1300-seat main theater hosts Atlantis signature performers, special guests, dazzling production shows, original Broadway productions, Air-Otic, our uniquely original gay flying show, and many more.

Outdoors, the spectacular Aqua Theater boasts an original choreographed dive show – a true marvel of acrobatics, high-diving, and visual spectacle set against the ocean’s night sky. Discover the brilliant ice-skating show in Studio B, or take in a unique Atlantis musical concert up-close.

For something more intimate, check out our Gay Comedy All-Stars in the comedy club. Outrageous drag queens and dazzling singers are in Music Hall, and there are plenty of surprises everywhere you turn!

top view

Electrifying Original Concerts.

Atlantis creates a live musical spectacle unlike anything our community has ever seen with live concerts featuring the world’s top artists. All in the ocean’s largest and most magnificent outdoor setting hosting thousands of guests for an extraordinary display of dazzling lights, lasers, and special effects. Past years have showcased headlines such as Above & Beyond, Oliver Heldens, Paul Van Dyk, Markus Schulz, Cosmic Gate, Galantis, Gareth Emery, Spencer Brown, and so much more. We’re planning even more concert shows in 2025 so get ready to be amazed!

two guys dancing

Worlds. Best. Parties.

Atlantis’ legendary parties explode throughout Allure to create the most spectacular events on land or sea. From our themed T-dances to endless nighttime parties, there’s nothing like dancing outdoors under the ocean’s sky. The sensational AquaTheater hosts Atlantis’ legendary afternoon T-dances (and a few special events), surrounded by huge LED screens, world-class sound, and of course endless ocean views.

At night, we’ll transform the massive open-air Solarium into the ocean’s most technically advanced nightclub, with walls of video, awesome lasers and dazzling lighting. The two-story dance floor creates the perfect space to get lost in a magical night. And indoors, Studio B is simply the greatest dance club at sea. Ever. From after hours to a few special themed events, It’s a magical, silly, crazy space that never stops.

We’re creating some new and dynamic experiences for our anniversary that have never been seen before on Atlantis. Wait until you see what we have in store!


Something for Everyone.

Every moment on an Atlantis cruise is an opportunity to share, be it your name, your story, costume, or something a bit more scandalous. Whether having cocktails, laughing together at a comedy show, partaking in a game on the pool deck, grabbing a quick bite between events or sharing a leisurely meal, each of these moments can lead to new friends and a community that lasts long after you depart the gangway.

Our friendly team welcomes all, from large groups of friends to solo travelers, ready to bring people together, with engaging experiences for every taste, style, and pace. We make it easier than ever to connect, relax, refresh, and be a part of the wonder that makes our community strong when we all come together.

More Included in 2025.

Our annual winter cruise has become a legendary experience, shared by tens of thousands of guys from around the world. We’re committed to keeping it accessible to everyone, with fares starting at just $1299 for a week of nonstop joy. Our monthly payment plan makes it easier than ever for everyone to discover.

This year, we’re adding even more to your experience, with each guest receiving one complementary specialty restaurant dinner, as well as 21 of our new Universal Drink Tickets. It’s our way of saying thank you for your loyalty and making connecting easier than ever!

We invite you to get on board the most spectacular and fun-filled Atlantis cruise we’ve ever conceived as we start a new chapter in gay vacations. But don’t delay; we’ve sold out yearly in record time!

atlantis gay cruise october

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The Globetrotter Guys

The Atlantis Gay Cruise: Review and Essential Guide

We had wanted to go on an Atlantis gay cruise for years! This is  the gay cruise that everyone talks about and the Atlantis gay cruise in particular is one of the best known and hosts the biggest gay cruise in the world.

To us it looked like pure fun in the sun with all the different themed parties, visiting spectacular destinations and all held on-board a luxurious ship! However take a minute to look past the incredible parties and you will see there so much more to an Atlantis gay cruise.

We have been on many Atlantis gay cruises and after our first, all of our expectations were exceeded and our preconceptions challenged.

In our Atlantis gay cruise review and essential guide, we will share all our personal gay cruise experiences as well as answering all the questions you might have about going.

Here is what you need to know about going on an Atlantis gay cruise and why you need to go on one at least once in your lifetime.

What is an Atlantis Gay Cruise?

atlantis gay cruise

Atlantis events is a company that is has been running gay trips for over 30 years. They started small and now charter some of the largest cruise ships in the world to host multiple Atlantis Gay Cruises around the world.

This means that Atlantis will buy out (charter) an entire ship from Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Virgin Voyages or Norwegian Cruise lines, and then use the ship to run a gay cruise for normally 7 nights.

By chartering the ship exclusively for Atlantis guests, Atlantis can then run their own programme of events, parties and activities catered to gay travellers.

Who goes on an Atlantis Gay Cruise?

atlantis gay cruise review

We had some big preconceptions here, we thought it was only the sterotypical poster muscle boys and we were a little intimidated – however, and this is a recuring theme in this gay cruise review, we were wrong.

Yes there are plenty of poster boys, but having done multiple gay cruises we have seen every body type represented and celebrated, every age and people from all over the world. It’s amazing to see people just let loose and enjoy themselves no matter their body type.

Do not worry about your body, just turn up as you are and you are sure to have a great time! If you want to smash the gym pre-cruise that is also fine – it is all about what is good for you!

In terms of gender and sexuality, anyone is welcome to book an Atlantis gay cruise, we have met straight couples and lesbians onboard, but it is 90+% gay men.

We have also met plenty of solo travellers, couples, groups of friends, throuples and everything inbetween

Don’t take our word for it, read from other guests about who goes on gay cruise .

Are Atlantis gay cruises friendly?

For our first sailing, we didn’t know what types of people we would be meeting on-board. We had seen in advance through various Facebook groups that there were a lot of large groups of friends, and this being our first cruise and not knowing anybody in advance we were worried that it might feel ‘clique-y’ and that we might not fit in.

It turns out we were completely wrong.

Without a doubt the environment on the Atlantis gay cruise ship was the most friendly and welcoming environment we have ever encountered in our lives.

People would talk to you at every opportunity and it felt refreshing to experience this – people were just genuinely nice. We really wish it was like this in day to day life, people don’t talk to each other enough or simply ask how your day is going.

You will meet so many people and some will become lifelong friends – given that there are thousandss of people on-board and they booked immediately for the following year, you can see how the community builds and builds.

We purposely go on the same sailing each year to see a lot of familiar faces.

What are the parties like on an Atlantis Cruise?

Atlantis gay cruise party

The parties on an Atlantis gay cruise are a full scale production, exactly like you would expect from any big gay circuit party with international DJ’s and the party locations being turned into jungles, under the sea worlds or whatever the theme might be.

What are the Atlantis Cruise Party Themes?

On the topic of themes, we love to party and we (Sion mainly) loves a themed party.

For every cruise both the day time parties (T-Dance parties around 3pm) and the night time parties (around 11pm until as late at 9am sometimes!) have themes.

Guaranteed party themes include the dog tag T-Dance (military style), the White Party and the Disco T-Dance – other nights take on a range of themes (more below).

People get incredibly creative and you can wear anything you want at all.

Do people have ടex at the parties?

You will see everything at the parties, and by everything we mean everything.

This is not a bad thing at all in our eyes. In fact it’s quite liberating to see people taking the social stigma away from enjoying ടex and feeling free enough to do whatever they want – no one seemed to mind or care and everyone just seemed to have a good time! Do be mindful of staff, for the most part it’s deep in the crowd.

This extends well into the early hours of the morning…especially on certain ships that have the D*** Deck.

What do people wear on an Atlantis Gay Cruise?

Atlantis gay cruise outfits

Keeping on the theme of the parties, you might decide to wear very little (i.e just a jockstrap), be nervous stood in your room (like we were the first time) and then get to the party and realise you had nothing to worry about – no one judges you and it is super liberating!

On the other hand we have seen people dress full on as jelly fish, sea gods and polar bears!

We have an entire post on ‘What to pack for a gay cruise’ but here are the typical themes you can expect to see every year are:

  • White Party – the name says it all, wear all white. You can go all out and maybe don some angel wings , these white elastic body harnesses are a cheap and easy option for anyone or you can simply wear a white vest and shorts. We have never seen so many bare bums so feel absolutely free to simply grab yourself a white jockstrap and get ready to party!
  • Dog Tag T-Dance – This one is all about the military – think black, green and camo. Grab some camo speedos , some trainers or boots and you are good to go. If you want to take it further, you will see a lot of guys wearing a good quality leather chest harness and maybe getting into character with some face paints too. 
  • Disco Theme – We have never seen so much gold fabric! For this party, grab yourself a comedy disco wig , some gold pants  or maybe a ridiculous 70’s style shirt!

JJ Malibu tick all the boxes for ‘gay’ party attire and we stocked up before going on our first cruise (as you can tell in all these photos!). They have whole sections on their website for white parties, military themed parties, circuit parties etc.

In previous years the additional themes were ‘Under the Sea’ – think cheeky sailors; ‘Champions’ – think sports; Jungle and ‘Playground’ – cartoon characters and so on.

What to pack for an Atlantis gay cruise?

There is so much more to consider! Outfits, cruise cards to keep in touch with all your new friends, white boards. And we especially wish we had taken earplugs! The music was LOUD!

For the full list check out our list ‘ What to pack for a gay cruise ’.

Is an Atlantis Gay Cruise all about the parties?

We fully understand that parties are not for everyone, and so if you don’t want to go to them, simply don’t. You are probably on one of the largest and most luxurious cruise ships in the world and there is so much else to enjoy.

You have the shows to watch, whether this be theatre based shows like Mamma Mia, or the incredible acrobatic Airotic show. The food is great and each night you can enjoy a 3 course or more fine dining experience. There are usually sports courts, climbing walls, surf riders, and more bars and cafes than you attend.

There is something for everyone so if you don’t like to party, do not worry, you will still have the best time in the friendliest environment.

What are the staff like on an Atlantis cruise?

Now you might be thinking ‘what about the poor staff?’

After speaking to many members of staff on-board they all know what to expect and in fact some actively volunteer to work on an Atlantis gay cruise. One member of staff even went as far to say “it was her favourite charter of the year regardless of destinations”. They say as a group we are friendlier, politer, more fun and tip more – and they even party with us! They also enjoy not having screaming kids and, in some cases, entitled parents on board!

We don’t need to tell you, but the staff do deserve so much respect and it was lovely to see everyone giving it to them!

Is there a compromise on cruise quality?

one of the stops on atlantis

Cruises are known for being high end vacations with exceptional service from the staff, exceptional food and the best facilities.

Just because this is a gay cruise with a heavy focus on partying does not mean that this is any less true. We thoroughly enjoyed the meals on the evening in the a-la-carte restaurant and did not miss one meal!

We made it to a couple of shows during our cruise too, before getting ready for the evening parties. And we even bravely fought the hangover to try the flow-rider, the climbing wall and on-board ziplines too!

The staff as we have already said, go above and beyond to help in anyway they can and the facilities on board the ship were top class.

The same can be said for the destinations – please make sure to drag yourself off the ship for a few places. This year we loved the water in the Bahamas, the vibe of Cozumel and the pool side bars in Costa Maya.

If you want an amazing cruise experience, you are still going to get one!

Do you need wifi on a Gay Cruise?

In all honesty, the wifi is not worth it. We know many people get it so they can stay active on Grindr, but actually most of the time location services does not work so neither do location based apps like Grindr or Scruff.

If you really need it occasionally then get it at the port without spending hundreds of dollars.

Like we said, everyone is super friendly, you don’t need an app to hook-up, if you want it you got it!

There is also an onboard app for free on Royal Caribbean Sailings you can use to message between rooms, this is what we did with our friends.

The one thing wifi can be useful for is when making new friends and trying to keep in contact on social media whilst onboard since not everyone checks the ship app.

What are the shows like on an Atlantis gay cruise?

atlantis gay cruise

We fully understand the temptation to go for a pre-party nap each night but the shows are really quite special.

The one that we loved the most this year was called Airotic. The show has many incredibly talented aerial performers showcasing their skills in silks, hoops, pole and many other disciplines. They absolutely know how to put on a show and it helps that the performers look incredible in their minimal costumes. A very impressive and sensual show indeed!

The other show we saw was the classic Mamma Mia! which we enjoyed, other nights showcased popular gay comedians . You are paying for the entertainment so you should definitely go and see it!

Is an Atlantis Cruise just a floating gay ടex cruise

It can be if you want it to be and that is absolutely fine , gay cruise ടex is widely available!

But the ship is so large with so much going on you could be in your own little world while all the “frolics” take place elsewhere – it is your vacation and you make it what you want and leave your judgement at home.

How much does an Atlantis Gay Cruise cost?

Naturally, a gay cruise is more expensive than an everyday sailing but you really can’t compare the two.

Prices per person for the week range from about $1,200 plus taxes per person at the lower end to much higher for the suites etc.

It’s not a cheap week but we always feel it is great value for money, mainly because you can’t get the same experience anywhere else.

Is an Atlantis Gay Cruise All Inclusive/ can you bring Alcohol?

In terms of what is included on an Atlantis Gay Cruise, it is all of your food, water, basic teas/coffee, parties, shows and entertainment.

Drinks are additional and depending on which ship they use you can sometimes get bulks buys or packages. You don’t normally have access to unlimited alcohol packages like you might on an everyday cruise (and it is easy to guess why!)

Like all cruises, you are not meant to bring your own alcohol onboard and this can be conviscated. However it is worth noting for a Royal Caribbean Atlantis Cruise you can bring two bottles of wine per stateroom.

Our final word -PACE YOURSELF!!!

There is so much going on at all hours of the day, and if you try and attend between 2-3 parties a day you will burn out! It is totally OK to take a night off!

We both get serious FOMO but knew we would not make it to the end of the week if we did not have a mid week rest and we ended up sleeping for 12 hours!

When is the next Atlantis Gay Cruise?

Atlantis run gay cruises throughout the year across many different destinations, for the most up to date dates and locations head to their website .

We are itching to book our next Atlantis Gay Cruise!

Atlantis Gay Cruise: Review Conclusion

atlantis gay cruise october

An Atlantis gay cruise is an experience we know we will never find anywhere else in any circumstance.

The entire week felt like we were in ‘gay-topia’, surrounded by a protective little bubble from the outside world!  It was an incredible feeling of liberation, freedom, community and happiness.

The ships are beautiful, the staff incredible, the parties out of this world and you will make friends to last a lifetime.

Our biggest message from this post is just come on-board and truly, truly BE YOURSELF and feel liberated.

We hope you enjoyed our gay cruise review.

Once you have done your first one, we are pretty sure you will want to go back. Let us know your own gay cruise stories in the comments below!

Want to know more about being gay at sea? Check out:

  • Join us on our Gay Sailing trip to Croatia!
  • Are Celebrity Cruises Gay Friendly?
  • What to pack for a gay cruise?

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gay atlantis cruise

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Saturday 11th of January 2020

Do you happen to know about when booking opens up for the Jan 2021 Atlantis cruise? We are wanting to get a suite cabin and we know they are limited so we want to be prepared when it becomes available.


Saturday 2nd of November 2019

I've booked my first ever gay Atlantis cruise next march 2020 from.puerto rico im a solo traveller and am very nervous as ive chosen the single sharer option

Tuesday 13th of August 2019

It was such an amazing cruise... Will you boys being going again this January?

The Globetrotter Guys

Sunday 8th of September 2019

Yes! We booked for January 2020 almost immediately after this years :)

Top Cruise Trips

Final Prep & Boarding Advice! Atlantis 2022 LA-Mexico October | JustJoeyT #Gay #Cruise #Advice

– Drinks/Wifi/Dining Packages: – Packing Checklist: – Things I Always Pack:

All advice for this cruise:

More gay cruise advice:

00:00 Intro 00:58 Cruise Vacation Guide (CVG) 02:28 Register online with RC 03:51 Drinks/Wifi/Dining packages 04:12 Packing 04:35 What to pack in carry-on 05:02 Porters / Checking luggage 05:58 Special items 06:33 Getting to the port 07:28 When to arrive 09:06 RC arrival time-windows 10:07 When you’re onboard 10:29 Stateroom attendant 11:06 Balcony dividers 12:14 Safety briefing 12:55 Final advice

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Everything You Want to Know About Going on an Atlantis Gay Cruise

Going on an Atlantis Cruise is one of the most enjoyable vacations you can take. The options are limitless ranging from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean or even the South Pacific. The entire ship is full of LGBT guests and all staff have been extensively trained to provide you with a welcoming and gay-friendly experience. It’s a very open environment and one where you can relax and be yourself. The environment is friendly with a great social atmosphere and there are great parties and entertainment throughout the trip.

About Atlantis Gay Cruises

Atlantis Cruises was founded in 1991 and is the most popular and well-known gay cruise company in the world. They offer large, full-ship gay cruises where all the guests onboard are LGBT and they charter top-of-the-line cruise ships from well-known companies like Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises or Norwegian Cruise Lines. The number of guests on an Atlantis cruise typically ranges from 1,000 to 5,000 depending on the ship and route. Atlantis offers 4 to 5 cruises a year in North America and Europe as well as occasional cruises in Asia and Australia/South Pacific.

Why Take an Atlantis Gay Cruise?

  • Easy to meet new people – one great aspect of taking a gay cruise is that most of the guests are friendly and open to meeting new people. On a straight cruise, guests come with friends or family and already have a social group established. On a gay cruise, there are many activities that help connect guests and give you a chance to others.
  • Travel alone – Atlantis cruises offers a cabin match program where they will assign you a roommate, so you don’t have to pay for the full price of a two-person cabin if you’re traveling alone.
  • Awesome parties – If you book a cruise with Atlantis, you’ll be in for a treat with awesome and over-the-top parties. The events are usually themed, often outdoors and guests are encouraged to dress up.
  • Great entertainment – most of the big gay cruise lines like Atlantis bring on big headliners or “gaylebrity” performers. Into drag queen bingo? How about performances from some of the top gay celebrity comedians, entertainers and famous drag queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race?
  • Be yourself – probably one of the most attractive parts about a gay cruise is the comfort zone. The entire ship is full of LGBT guests and all staff have been extensively trained to provide you with a welcoming and gay-friendly experience. It’s a very open environment and one where you can complete and be yourself.

Is a Gay Cruise Right for You?

First, you need to decide whether taking a cruise, in general, is something you want to do. Not everyone likes cruising due to the nature of the experience, but many do. Second, if taking a cruise definitely interests you, next you’ll need to decide if you prefer a gay cruise or a mainstream (e.g. straight) cruise. Here are a few things to consider.

  • Your cabin, meals and entertainment are included in the price
  • The ship will be almost exclusively LGBT guests
  • Cruises can be crowed and there isn’t a lot of privacy
  • You can visit many new destinations in one trip, but you only have a short time at each port to explore
  • Gay cruises can be a bit more expensive than mainstream cruises due to the elaborate parties and unique entertainment onboard

What to Expect from an Atlantis Cruise?

Determining which gay cruise or trip to take is completely subjective. People have different preferences, budgets or destinations in mind when it comes to booking a trip. Atlantis is popular for a reason but it’s not for everyone. However, they definitely do a great job in providing an enjoyable and unforgettable experience. Below are a few things to expect if you take an Atlantis gay cruise.

  • Party focus – Atlantis cruises tend to be very party-focused and many guests go on these cruises just for the party atmosphere. Some people might not even get off the ship at the ports. The music tends to be electronic, circuit party style and not necessarily pop or top 40.
  • Price – Atlantis cruises generally start out at about $900 per person for trips departing from Los Angeles or Miami. Cruises in Europe, Asia or the South Pacific might start at $1,500 to $2,000 per person. You’ll also need to add the price of flights or transportation into your budget so the location of the departing and arrival port should be part of your planning process.
  • Size – Atlantis cruises are all large groups and full ship takeovers. If you’re someone who doesn’t like crowds, then you may want to avoid an Atlantis cruise and opt for a more intimate experience on a small ship.
  • What’s included – the price of an Atlantis cruise includes the cabin, meals, parties and onboard entertainment. These items are typically not included in the price: pre and post hotel stay, land tours and excursions, specialty drinks/alcohol and airport transfers.
  • The crowd – Atlantis cruises are typically about 99% gay men. Their main client market comes from the US, but people from all over the world go on their cruises. The average age range is usually mid 30’s and 40’s, but you’ll see guests of every age onboard ranging from 18 to 80.

Reviews from Past Travelers

Our atlantis cruise review & videos.

We took an Atlantis gay cruise back in 2010 and had a great time. We’ve been on gay cruises from a few other major companies including Le Demence and Open Sea by Axel. Atlantis definitely offers the most diverse entertainment and they have great parties. We took the Mexican Riviera cruise which departs from Los Angeles and visits various coastal cities in Mexico, including the gay-favorite Puerto Vallarta.

If the idea of a cruise, in general, doesn’t sound like your type of vacation, then an Atlantis cruise probably isn’t for you. Some longtime Atlantis guests have even become frustrated with Atlantis' complacency in the market, having been the only large-scale, gay cruise provider. But that has now changed and for that reason alone, VACAYA was founded in 2018 and has now become their biggest competitor. Atlantis also really focuses on the parties, so if that's not your scene then you may want to consider another gay cruise provider . However, if cruising is something you enjoy or think you might enjoy, then we’d definitely recommend you try an Atlantis gay cruise. It’s an unforgettable experience but you need to go in with the right mindset.

Check out these additional reviews and videos created by guests on a few Atlantis gay cruises.

  • What is a gay Atlantis cruise really like?
  • On Board Gay Cruise, Oasis of the Seas with Atlantis
  • Atlantis Oasis 2019 Mediterranean Gay Cruise
  • What to Expect on an Atlantis Gay Cruise

Image credits: Atlantis Events

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  • Home » Blog » My Atlantis Gay Cruise

My Atlantis Gay Cruise Trip – What It Was Like

Atlantis gay cruise

The Atlantis Gay Cruise Experience, First-Hand

While most of us have seen an Atlantis gay cruise via social media or advertisements, you’re probably still wondering…what are these Atlantis gay cruises really like?

atlantis gay cruise party

Johnathan N. from New York shares his personal experience joining an Atlantis cruise, telling it like it is and offering useful tips for travelers interested in booking!

What Did You Like Best About the Atlantis Cruise?

Total inclusivity on a massive scale was definitely the best part of joining an Atlantis Cruise. I’ve done some other gay vacations, but a huge gay cruise like this is pretty unique.

sexy cruise costume party

Other trips for international gay pride events, ski weeks, and events like Gay Days are great, but the Atlantis Gay Cruise just felt grander. Plus, everything was catered to the gay community.

How Were the Atlantis Gay Cruise Theme Parties?

I thought the Atlantis theme parties were awesome. But I wish I had a little more time to plan out the costumes. I think Atlantis gave us a 2-week notice of the theme, but even so, it was a lot of fun. I had a blast.

atlantis gay cruise themed party

Some of the commonly hosted themes include the Glow Party, White Party Dog Tag Tea Dance, and the Disco Tea Dance. So, at a minimum, you can start prepping the gay party accessories that you can wear to these.

wolfyy’s Travel Shop → Everything from underwear to luggage .

Any Recommendations for Which Rooms to Book?

Since there’s so much to do on the ship, you honestly don’t spend much time in your room. So, I wouldn’t stress out about which specific room you book.

If you’ve got the cash for a veranda and totally need that ocean view, then go for it. But in my opinion, an interior room is completely fine if you’re on a budget. Plus, if you book a budget room, you’ll have more money for the expensive booze!

ocean view room

The smaller interior rooms usually start around $1200 USD for two people, plus fees. When you have more than 2 guests sharing a room, there’s an additional fee. 

Oceanview and balcony rooms for two people can run anywhere from $1200 to $2400. And then when it comes to suites, prices can easily exceed $5000.

Is the Atmosphere Super Sexually Charged?

The sexual vibe depends on where you hang out on the ship. Without a doubt, there are areas where things are very sexy. On the dick deck at 10 PM, yes…you will get groped… and then some.

The rest of the boat is a bit more relaxed. It can sometimes be “cruisy” but it’s definitely not all sex, sex, sex. Lots of first-timers expect Atlantis gay cruises to be a constant sex party, but it’s not exactly like that.

events on Atlantis gay cruise

The Atlantis cruise I went on offered singles events. These can really help solo travelers or anyone who’s shy get out of their shell. I personally can’t fully credit the Atlantis Cruise event for meeting my newest travel buddy at the time. (We met the night before at a hotel rooftop).

But, we quickly found ourselves in an “it’s complicated” situation and ended up spending 95% of our time on the ship together.

What Should Travelers Bring on an Atlantis Gay Cruise?

Most importantly, you’ve got to bring some sexy swimwear attire. Check out my extensive list of the best gay swimwear brands . Get ideas from bikini thongs to printed trunks, plus everything in between.

People really get into decorating their room doors, too. While I didn’t on my first cruise I will do it on my next one. Most people pack mini dry erase boards to hang on their door along with photos so everyone can get a sneak peek of who’s in the cabin.

decorating doors on atlantis gay cruise

I’ve even seen some groups stick a small ticket box to their door along with some little colorful sticky notes so people can leave secret messages. It’s pretty cute.

I would really encourage getting some costumes for the themed parties. You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on them, but you will feel a little out of place if you don’t participate.

At the very least, throw on a harness , a sexy jockstrap , and some shorts you wouldn’t mind losing! I definitely recommend getting some good circuit party gear for the trip.

Oh, and like any cruise, don’t forget your sunscreen , especially since it’s so expensive on the ship.

Related → wolfyy’s Gay Men’s Harness Guide

Did You Witness a “Lack of Diversity” Issue on the Cruise?

This was not the case in my experience. However, I did go on an international cruise, not a domestic one. Perhaps those could be different. There were people from every continent on mine, and it was a great time.

Can Atlantis Gay Cruises Be Overwhelming for First-Timers?

Real talk—I had a panic attack as we landed in Barcelona . I was traveling alone which I have done many times before. But for some reason, the idea of getting on a 5000+ person gay cruise hit me like a brick wall. Later that night, my anxiety started to go away, and getting on the ship the following day was fine.

atlantis pool party

I think it’s important to know that every Atlantis gay cruise has so many programmed events happening, that it’s truly impossible to do everything. It’s kind of by design.

The entire experience is sort of a “choose your own adventure” and that’s really what makes it so unique.

Want to go to a circuit party ? Great. Feeling horny and need a little help? Head to the dick deck. Feel like you overdid it the night before and need a more mellow night? Go to one of the many gay comedy, musical, piano bar, or drag shows happening on the ship.

Anything You Didn’t Like About the Cruise?

Honestly, the amount of money I spent on booze. It adds up. Ha!

Any Other Tips?

Some people don’t leave the ship when docked at the ports. It seems most people do on the international cruises, but it sounds like the gay cruises out of Miami and San Diego are pretty much constant circuit parties .

tips for Atlantis gay cruise

Atlantis gay cruises can get quite expensive, so there generally wasn’t a huge number of younger people. Unless it was a “daddy” situation I would say 20 somethings made up less than 10% of the attendees.

Your Gay Cruise Alternatives

Gay guys are booking Atlantis cruises like crazy, especially now that we’re out of the woods regarding the pandemic. Check out some of the other scheduled Atlantis Cruises you can join.

If you’re thinking about browsing some tamer or not-so-gay cruises, there are plenty of fun alternatives.

friends on gay cruise

There are several bear weeks that take place on huge cruises. These are definitely worth a look, including the Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady .

Cruise Critic  compiles a huge range of the best international cruises. Definitely check your booking options here as well.

Looking for other gay vacation options? Check out these epic gay sailing trips in the Mediterranean!

Explore the world with inspiration from wolfyy’s collection of   gay travel guides .

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LA to Mexico Cruise

October 23 – 30, 2023.

Get ready for the biggest party in the West when Atlantis takes over the massive Navigator of the Seas for a week of non-stop thrills and epic adventures. Sail from LA to Mexico’s best beaches with 3100 guys from around the world. With more incredible places for a party than any other ship, Navigator is the perfect setting for our friendliest and easiest cruise of the year. With fares starting at just $899 it’s the best deal ever in all-gay vacations!

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Singapore to Bangkok Cruise

November 11 – 20, 2023.

Atlantis returns to Asia in a big way in 2023 with an all-new, all-gay cruise from Singapore to Bangkok. In 9 magical nights, you’ll explore five of the world’s enthralling destinations from island paradises to thriving metropolises to fascinating temples. All as we sail the magnificent Norwegian Jewel, recently upgraded in every way and the perfect ship for exploring and enjoying all that Atlantis has to offer.

Get onboard this once in a lifetime exotic adventure for 2100 guys from all corners of the planet. There’s never been an Atlantis cruise like this with amazing low fares starting at just $1099 for 9 nights of pure magic.

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January 21 – 28, 2024.

Get onboard our all-new edition of the most outrageously fun cruise Atlantis has ever created! We’re sailing the fantastic Oasis of the Seas from Miami to four thrilling Caribbean islands to create a star-studded festival of pure excitement unlike anything you’ve ever imagined.   

Join 5200 guys from around the world for seven fabulous nights packed full of awe-inspiring parties, superstar performers, great friends, and endless surprises. There’s nothing like the Atlantis January cruise on sea or land. You have to experience this one for yourself.

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Virgin Exotic Southern Caribbean Cruise

March 16 – 23, 2024.

Atlantis charts a new course in 2024 when we set sail on Richard Branson’s Virgin Voyages from San Juan to four of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean. Discover a new way to play with unforgettable experiences everywhere! In seven magical nights you’ll discover jaw-dropping entertainment, fabulously original dining, gorgeous design, spectacular service and so much more on the dazzling new Brilliant Lady. It’s the perfect match of Virgin Voyages design plus Atlantis’ sensational entertainment and fun!

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Cruising With Pride offers the largest selection of gay cruises, gay tours, gay group cruises and lesbian travel on the net. If you can't find what you're looking for, E-mail us and we'll do our best to meet your travel needs. Besides all gay cruises and tours, we can help you with just about any travel destination you're looking for on land or sea. Hawaii, Mexico, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and the world. We do it all! Let us help you with your gay cruise and you'll receive an onboard gift from us! We specialize in gay cruises and gay group cruises for both singles and couples. And we don't forget our lesbians, either! We can help with lesbian cruises and all other lesbian travel. Cruising With Pride is a specialst for RSVP Vacations and Atlantis Events all gay cruises!

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Protect Your Trip »

The 9 best gay cruises for 2024 (+ planning tips).

Dance parties, drag queen performances and fun destinations await on these LGBTQ voyages.

The Best Gay Cruises

A party on board The Cruise With La Demence

Courtesy of The Cruise with La Demence

Embark on an all-gay or LGBTQ-friendly cruise for excellent entertainment, food and excursions.

Whether you are looking to hop aboard a Pride Week cruise with a major line or sail away with a smaller company that specializes in LGBTQ voyages, the following cruise operators promise a fun, safe and memorable vacation.

(Note: While many of these cruise lines sail to LGBTQ-friendly ports of call, travelers should research destinations to learn more about cultures, customs and safety in each location and determine what's right for them.)

Virgin Voyages

Atlantis events, brand g vacations, celebrity cruises, royal caribbean international, the cruise with la demence, source journeys.

Travelers lounge on a gay cruise with VACAYA

Gabriel Goldberg | Courtesy of VACAYA

Founded by avid travelers Randle Roper, Patrick Gunn and John Finen, VACAYA bills itself as the first all-LGBT travel company in the full-ship charter/resort buyout sector of the travel industry to launch in more than 25 years.

"[VACAYA] was sparked by our own vacations, where we all had encountered two very different experiences," says Gunn. "The all-gay cruises were liberating, empowering and fun, but limited to a small spectrum of people. And while everyone loves a good time, there's more to a memorable vacation than just parties. Mainstream vacations offered more activities and destinations, and were accessible to a diverse set of people, but didn't always feel like a friendly, judgment-free environment."

As such, VACAYA set out to bring LGBTQ travelers from across the spectrum together in a welcoming, inclusive setting, while offering varied onboard activities and immersive itinerary options. Cruisers will enjoy traveling to ports around the world, in the Caribbean , the Galápagos, Europe , Antarctica and more. You can participate in shipwide events ranging from themed deck parties to performances by LGBTQ entertainers to rejuvenating yoga classes. Note that VACAYA's cruises are for adults only.

Previous cruisers had abundant praise for VACAYA's voyages, highlighting the company's responsiveness when booking and the kindhearted staff, as well as the genuine connections they made with other passengers on board. Many were also impressed by the events and entertainment options throughout their sailings.

In 2024, VACAYA will offer a number of voyages worldwide. The seven-night Caribbean Cruise on Celebrity Apex in February will sail round-trip from Fort Lauderdale, with several fun-filled days at sea in addition to stops in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Antigua. In August, VACAYA has a 12-night river cruise in Northern Europe on board Advance by Transcend Cruises; this sailing includes the Amsterdam Pride event. The 11-night Antarctica expedition on Atlas Ocean Voyages' World Navigator in December 2024 is sold out, but you can join the waitlist.

The pool on a Virgin Voyages cruise ship

Courtesy of Virgin Voyages

The Virgin brand has long been known for its celebration of the LGBTQ community, and cruise line Virgin Voyages is no different. The strictly adults-only cruise operator aims to provide a unique experience, with onboard tattoo parlors, impressive live entertainment, and dining options that include more than 20 eateries and menus created by Michelin star chefs. This line gets the stamp of approval from previous LGBTQ cruisers, who praise the ships' gender-neutral bathrooms, diverse staff and onboard shows with resident drag queens.

Virgin Voyages offers gay-specific sailings through travel companies like Atlantis Events, but its more mainstream itineraries still offer a welcoming, inclusive atmosphere that attracts LGBTQ cruisers year-round. Virgin hosts a number of events during Pride Month each year, including deck parties and interactive social media campaigns.

"Each June here at Virgin Voyages, we like to go big for Pride Month with larger-than-life events … all monthlong," the cruise line says in a statement on its website. "It's an important time for us – both internally within our crew and for our sailors – to honor and celebrate the LGBTQ community; who for so long has had to continually fight for equality and the right to be seen, heard and included."

Virgin Voyages sails to a variety of LGBTQ-friendly countries, including New Zealand, Greece and Spain. In June 2024, consider a seven-night sailing aboard Scarlet Lady departing from Barcelona with stops in Marseille and Cannes in France as well as Spain's Palma de Mallorca and Ibiza.

Read: The Best Cruise Lines for the Money

The world's largest gay and lesbian travel brand, Atlantis Events was founded in 1991 and welcomes more than 20,000 travelers annually on LGBTQ vacations. For its all-gay cruises, Atlantis charters megaships from popular lines like Royal Caribbean International , Norwegian Cruise Line and Virgin Voyages in addition to smaller vessels with companies like Oceania Cruises so cruisers will have a fully immersive experience.

On board, travelers can enjoy all the perks these ships have to offer (think: pools, hot tubs, sports courts and plenty of dining choices), plus special events like drag performances, motivational speakers, LGBTQ movies on demand in each cabin and high-energy circuit parties across the ship.

"As an LGBTQ cruiser, you're looking for a ship with lots of entertainment, including dance parties and events," says Marcos Martinez, founder of Men Who Brunch, a Black gay lifestyle blog. "One of the best cruise [lines] for gay cruising is Atlantis, since you'll be able to meet hundreds of attractive men and party all day and night on the ship."

Atlantis hosts primarily gay men; women make up about 5% to 10% of bookings, according to the Atlantis website. Previous cruisers said the atmosphere on board was fun, friendly and welcoming, though some noted that the company's customer service could be better, especially when it comes to details about the cruise.

Due to the company's popularity, its three 2024 cruises are already sold out.

Read: The Best Cruise Lines in the Caribbean

Travelers on an all-gay cruise with Brand g Vacations pose in front of the Taj Mahal

Courtesy of Brand G Vacations

Specializing in all-gay river cruises – and now luxury ocean liners – Brand g Vacations was founded in 2011 and explores destinations all over the world. Chartered river cruises typically welcome between 40 and 200 LGBTQ passengers (and their straight allies), which allows cruisers to get to know one another in a smaller setting. Guests tend to skew more mature (think: 40 and older), and the line attracts both men and women.

Onboard entertainment differs slightly from larger ocean voyages: Expect more cabaret-style entertainment than massive all-night dance parties. Cruisers will also enjoy performances by drag queens, gay Broadway stars and more, on top of typical river cruise perks like sightseeing and lavish meals. Past guests recommend choosing Brand g if you're looking for a well-planned, relaxed and luxurious experience over a busier, more party-heavy vacation.

Brand g aims to provide a nearly all-inclusive cruise experience , with Mercedes or small van airport transfers, upscale hotel stays prior to embarkation, and unlimited alcoholic beverages as well as meals included in the fare. As such, prices tend to be on the high end. Plus, cruisers can feel good about their trip knowing that Brand g donates to causes in the U.S. and around the world that assist LGBTQ refugees, AIDS organizations, LGBTQ centers and more.

In 2024, Brand g sails through unique waterways around the world, including the Amazon, the Loire, the Danube, the Mekong, and the Columbia and Snake rivers in the Pacific Northwest. The line's small cruise ship charters also take guests to Iceland, Spain, Morocco, Italy, Croatia and other European destinations.

Read: The Top River Cruise Lines

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Aerial shot of Celebrity Cruises ship Celebrity Apex at sunset

Courtesy of Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises sets the scene for an excellent vacation for gay travelers, from its extravagant annual Pride parties to its daily LGBTQ programming throughout the year. The mainstream line has received numerous awards for its inclusivity, receiving accolades from the Cruizie Awards, TTG Travel Awards and Travel Weekly's Magellan Awards for being one of the best cruise lines for LGBTQ passengers.

LGBTQ cruisers can start their vacations off on a high note with a special welcome party on the first night of their voyage to meet other travelers on board. After night one, there are other social events for gay cruisers to party and hang out together. Additionally, Celebrity Cruises was the first cruise line to legally marry a couple at sea in 2018, and it continues to perform same-sex marriages on its ships.

Past cruisers enjoyed their voyages with Celebrity, noting that the line was welcoming, the food was delicious, and there were plenty of areas to hang out as a group with fellow LGBTQ passengers or other companions throughout the ship.

Although all itineraries are gay-friendly, consider booking a sailing during Pride Month in June for an extra special experience. Onboard entertainment during this month includes guest entertainers, a flag raising ceremony, Celebrity's signature Pride Party at Sea and more. The Italian Riviera & France cruise will depart from Barcelona on June 8, 2024, on the new Celebrity Ascent; this 10-night Mediterranean sailing stops at ports in France, Italy and Malta. Private travel companies like VACAYA also charter Celebrity ships for all-gay voyages throughout the year.

Read: Cruise Packing List: The Top Essentials for Any Cruise

Young Lesbian Couple on Boat Trip on Summer Vacations.

Getty Images

Specifically marketed toward lesbians and LGBTQ women, Olivia has hosted more than 350,000 travelers by land and sea over five decades. Cruisers can choose between river voyages or ocean sailings to destinations around the world. On the lesbian cruises, expect a mix of nostalgic decade-themed dance parties, folk singers, writing workshops, karaoke and other activities. Cruisers can also relax poolside, spend some time in the onboard spa or take it easy in one of the ships' lounges.

Travelers who are looking to connect with others who share similar backgrounds can do so in one of Olivia's specialized programs. There are group and solo traveler meetups, as well as programs like Sisters, which is for LGBTQ women of color; Gen-O, for cruisers 40 and younger; Women in Uniform gatherings, for veterans and those currently in the armed forces; and events for OWLs (which stands for "older, wiser lesbians"). Past cruisers on Olivia's voyages report feeling a true sense of community and belonging on board, resulting in a fun, carefree trip.

In June 2024, set sail with Olivia from Edinburgh, Scotland, to Dublin on Windstar Cruises' Star Legend. Or, visit the islands of Tahiti on the line's Star Breeze in September. Other cruise itineraries include Alaska, the Greek Isles, Mexico and the Panama Canal.

Read: The Best Girls Trip Ideas

Aerial shot of Royal Caribbean International cruise ship

Courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean International provides a welcoming and inclusive experience for LGBTQ travelers. The popular cruise line frequently partners with Atlantis Events to offer all-gay voyages throughout the year, but even the standard sailings earn praise.

Highlights of the sailings are the ships' entertainment options (including the Tony Award-winning musical "Mamma Mia!") and attentive staff, according to past cruisers. Itineraries typically include LGBTQ meetups at the beginning of each cruise for gay travelers to meet like-minded passengers. Outside of the sailing experience, Royal Caribbean has also publicly committed to supporting the LGBTQ community throughout the year, and it was the first cruise line to earn the title "Gay Traveler Approved" from GayTravel in 2016.

In 2024, consider a Royal Caribbean voyage that sails to gay-friendly destinations. "Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, [is] full of gay bars, clubs and gay beaches," says Martinez. Hop aboard Navigator of the Seas in May for a seven-night sailing round-trip from Los Angeles that stops in Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta and Ensenada, Mexico. Navigator of the Seas also hosts a seven-night itinerary throughout the year that calls on Mazatlan, Mexico, as well.

Ready to plan a cruise? Find the best value sailings on  GoToSea , a service of U.S. News.

A party on board The Cruise With La Demence

Courtesy of The Cruise With La Demence

According to past cruisers, if you're looking for one of the best party scenes on the open seas, consider an all-gay cruise with La Demence. Powered by a popular gay nightclub in Brussels with the same name, La Demence – French for "the madness" – primarily caters to a European crowd. Most passengers are male, though women are also welcome.

On board, passengers should expect to dance the night away at massive deck parties that last into the wee hours of the morning. The line prides itself on its top-notch DJs, impressive light setup and electric party atmosphere. Previous cruisers had high praise for the itineraries – which exclusively visit gay-friendly locations – as well as the fruity cocktails, themed nights (costumes strongly encouraged) and glamorous entertainment. Enjoy unique events like drag bingo, high heel runs and more.

La Demence sails every summer to European destinations like Greece, Italy and Malta. The 2023 cruise was chartered on Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas. Fares include all food and nonalcoholic beverages, plus access to all parties, shows and the onboard gym.

Read: The Top Party Cruises

Source Journeys has been planning luxury vacations for LGBTQ travelers for more than 20 years. The Miami-based company, with the vision of founder and chief executive officer Craig Smith, offers small group land tours and full-charter cruises for like-minded travelers with a focus on giving back to the communities they visit. The company also supports LGBTQ organizations, such as the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force and the Human Rights Campaign.

Past guests of their tours say their fellow travelers were as fun and interesting as the destinations. They appreciated the excellent personalized planning for the trips by Smith and his life partner, Rafael Rodriguez.

The company's cruises in 2024 include a seven-night Galápagos sailing in late September on a Relais & Chateau luxury yacht: Ecoventura's new ship, Evolve. The intimate ship accommodates just 20 passengers. Source Journeys is also offering a seven-night river cruise through Burgundy and Provence, France, in June on Avalon Waterways' Avalon Poetry II, as well as a seven-night voyage from Venice along the Dalmatian Coast. This ocean cruise scheduled in August is chartered on Star Clippers' masted sailing ship, Royal Clipper.

Frequently Asked Questions

When it comes to gay cruising, gone are the days of discreet "Friends of Dorothy" meetups. The term – a euphemism that dates back to the 1950s – was once used to indicate gay social events on daily cruise line programs, without explicitly calling out members of the community on board. It's a far cry from today's LGBTQ cruising industry, which loudly and proudly celebrates passengers from all walks of life.

According to experts, LGBTQ cruising is a market that will only continue to grow. Travelers can take their pick between cruise operators tailored specifically to queer communities and major cruise lines that offer festive Pride celebrations and inclusive onboard entertainment. As travel on the high seas continues to grow in popularity for vacationers, gay and lesbian travelers should consider setting sail on a fun-filled cruise vacation for their next trip.

When planning a cruise, vacationers should first consider what their ideal sailing looks like.

Gay-friendly vs. all-gay sailings: Cruisers should think about whether they'd like to travel aboard a gay-friendly mainstream line – such as Celebrity Cruises or Virgin Voyages – or opt for an all-gay, full-ship charter with a third-party vacation company.

"Each and every LGBTQIAPK person has a different level of comfortability in their 'outness,' " says Patrick Gunn, co-founder and chief marketing officer of LGBTQ vacation company VACAYA. Of VACAYA's all-gay charters, he adds, "For one magical week, our community gets to be the majority and live life out loud in the blissful utopia VACAYA creates on a gay cruise. That single change from being an always-minority to a sudden majority can have a profoundly positive real-world effect on individuals."

  • Travel style: Some cruise operators (think: Atlantis Events and La Demence) are known for their electrifying all-night parties, which may be perfect for gay groups of friends. Meanwhile, other companies like VACAYA and Olivia look to provide a more diverse selection of activities, ranging from tea dances (LGBTQ parties that, historically, included tea service) to philanthropic service activities to immersive onshore experiences.
  • Ports of call: Some of the most LGBTQ- and gay-friendly destinations for cruises include: Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Sydney; Barcelona, Spain; Taipei (Keelung), Taiwan; Helsinki; Quebec City; Auckland, New Zealand; Mykonos, Greece; Reykjavik, Iceland; Amsterdam; Tel Aviv, Israel; Buenos Aires, Argentina; and San Francisco. Countries that gay travelers may want to avoid include the Maldives, Jamaica, Morocco, Malaysia and Haiti, as homosexuality is illegal in these destinations.

Why Trust U.S. News Travel

Gwen Pratesi has been an avid cruiser since her early 20s. She has visited destinations around the globe on nearly every type of ship built, including the newest megaships, luxury yachts, expedition vessels, traditional masted sailing ships and intimate river ships on the Mekong River. Pratesi covers the travel and culinary industries for major publications, including U.S. News & World Report.

You might also be interested in:

  • The Best Cruise Lines
  • The Top Solo Cruises (No Supplement Fare)
  • The Top Themed Cruises
  • The Top 3-Day Cruise Itineraries
  • The Best Cruise Insurance Plans

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As Sharon Moss' cruise vacation came to an end, the 42-year-old went big before going home.

Moss, who is fine with any pronoun but mostly uses they/them, spent the last day of February sailing to the Caribbean on Celebrity Cruises' Reflection ship dancing in the pool with their girlfriend. Being surrounded by fellow guests decked out in feather boas, shower curtains and lopsided wigs – the party's theme was "She's a Mess" – Moss felt there was something different about the trip.

The voyage was Moss' first trip with theLGBTQ travel company VACAYA and their first cruise since sailing with Disney Cruise Line as a child.

"People were waving at us, and we were like the stars of our little dance pool. It was just freeing and fun, and not something that you get to necessarily feel like you can do," Moss said. "You can't pop over to your local YMCA and be like, 'Can I have a dance party in the pool?'"

Before booking the sailing, the retired professional weightlifter said many mainstream cruises seemed more geared toward heteronormative families and they hadn't considered booking one. But in the wake of the pandemic, the couple craved a relaxing vacation. Both jumped at a chance for Moss' girlfriend to be somewhere "culturally entirely queer"because she had not had as much experience socializing in LGBTQ+ spaces.

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For some LGBTQ+ travelers, gay cruises have offered a kind of haven on the seas. While early cruises catered primarily to gay men and lesbians, the market has grown in recent years, with more options aimed at a more diverse array of queer travelers.

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When did LGBTQ+ cruises start?

Cruise operators that catered to gay and lesbian passengers began sailing in the '80s and '90s, according to a  timeline from IGLTA . 

"When it first started, it was somewhat underground and they were definitely more in the charter side of things ... where people could be together with members of their community and get away and be free from families or work, you know, be out, because the world was so different in the '80s," John Tanzella, president and CEO of the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association, said.

The sailings were a tougher sell back then, though."It was probably really hard to get a cruise line to take a gay group (in the early days)," Tanzella said.

In some cases, ships carrying LGBTQ+ passengers were turned away from ports, he added. By contrast, today, cruise lines are "going after the market," and destinations court those sailings and their loyal customer base. "You know, a port city might host a reception the night before the cruise departs, like going that extra mile to welcome the cruisers," Tanzella said. In addition to chartering entire ships, IGLTA has members that host groups on nonspecialty sailings too.

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Jon Fenwick went on his first gay cruise in 2008 with Atlantis Events after some friends talked him into it. The 46-year-old enjoyed the trip so much that he made it a tradition of it, taking at least one LGBTQ+ cruise annually most years since. And he isn't the only one.

"You definitely see a lot of the same faces from trip to trip, and a lot of people would go on the same ones every year just to have a reunion, or sometimes we call it gay summer camp," said Fenwick, a government information technology specialist based in Arlington, Virginia.

The options were also more limited and siloed, with cruises aimed primarily at gay men or lesbians, he added. Over the past decade or so, though, the industry has made an increased effort be inclusive, and somenew cruise operators targeting a diverse clientele have entered the market.

Fenwick has met other gay passengers on mainstream cruises but said the experience isn't the same, "You definitely don't have the (same) freedom to be yourself on a regular cruise."

'We are the majority'

VACAYA is among those new companies catering to a diverse audience, with an emphasis on the LGBTQ+ community, as well as straight allies. The company, which also offers land-based vacations, launched its first trips in 2019. 

"If you believe love is love, then you belong on a VACAYA vacation," said Patrick Gunn, the company's co-founder and CMO. The company has worked with Celebrity, Ponant, Emerald Cruises and others.

Those principles of inclusion guide what guests experience during their trip. VACAYA recently began giving out pronoun pins to help guests and staff use each other's preferred pronouns (the company also provides diversity and inclusion training to resort and cruise line partners).

The company also offers a wide range of programming. In addition to drag shows and pool parties, the VACAYA has also held a makeup seminar geared particularly toward nonbinary and transgender passengers.

"We believe in balance," Gunn said. "So, we love a good party, don't get me wrong, but we also love to wake up and go into port the next day."

On a March cruise that visited Panama, Colombia and more, passenger ages ranged from 21 to 91, according to co-founder and CEO Randle Roper. The company's clientele is predominantly gay men, but 20% of the sailing's guests were women.

Margaret Riedling, who joined VACAYA for the March sailing with her wife, found it refreshing. The 59-year-old had not taken an LGBTQ+ cruise since she was in her 20s.

"We have gay, straight, queer friends in our real lives," said Riedling, who lives in Spokane, Washington, and Palm Springs, California. "Why wouldn't we have them in our vacation life?"

Brand g Vacations, which was founded in 2011, also caters to a range of queer travelers, along with straight allies. The company offers river cruising, small-ship ocean cruises and land-based tours, according to its website.

That doesn't mean longer-running operators aren't inclusive. Among those, Atlantis is particularly popular among gay men but welcomes women, transgender and nonbinary guests, and "even straight parents," as well, CEO Rich Campbell said in an email.

And while Olivia Travel's guests primarily identify as cisgender lesbians and queer women, nonbinary and transgender guests have always been welcome, according to VP of marketing Autumn Nazarian.

For Roper's part, he said the kinds of sailings VACAYA aims to offer shift the dynamic LGBTQ+ people experience elsewhere, even if only for a week or two at a time.

"We all live in the minority every single day of our lives, and when we create these events, whether they're on a cruise ship or at a resort, we are the majority," he said.

Upcoming LGBTQ+ cruises

◾ Brand g Vacations will operate a Prague and Danube River itinerary – with two days in the Czech Republic city pre-cruise – from Aug. 12 through 21. Cabins on Amadeus River Cruises' Amadeus Silver III start at $4,499 per person based on double occupancy, according to Brand g's website .

◾ Atlantis is offering a voyage from Los Angeles to Mexico from Oct. 23 through 30, with stops in Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta and others. The cruise will take place on Royal Caribbean International's Navigator of the Seas ship, and available cabins start at $899 per person based on double occupancy, the company said on its website .

◾ VACAYA will sail a Caribbean cruise from Feb. 17-24, 2024, aboard Celebrity Apex. The cruise will stop in Puerto Rico, Antigua and more, and available rooms start at $2,297 per person based on double occupancy, according to the company's website .

◾ Olivia is operating a Sept. 21-28, 2024, sailing to Alaska. The sailing, on Holland America Line's Eurodam ship, will visit Juneau, Glacier Bay, Sitka and more, according to the company's website . Available rooms start at $1,299 per person based on double occupancy.

Nathan Diller is a consumer travel reporter for USA TODAY based in Nashville. You can reach him at [email protected].


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