gay cruises europe 2024

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Welcome to VACAYA, a vibrant and inclusive travel community, where every journey is a celebration of diversity, love, and freedom to explore the world authentically as your true self.

If you need assistance, we’re just an email or phone call away. Our V Team vacation planners can be reached via phone at +1.718.504.0404 or through SMS chat here on our website Mon-Fri 10am-4pm ET. Outside of those hours, feel free to send us an email at [email protected] .

Remember… even when our offices are closed, you can book online 24×7 by clicking any of the big pink BOOK NOW buttons for your desired trip. Then, simply follow the prompts. If you already know which trip you’d like to book, start HERE . Over 99% of our guests book using our online reservations system. You’ve got this!

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Vacaya is the first  large-scale adults-only vacation company on earth built for the entire lgbtqiapk community and their straight ally friends.

VACAYA – Gay & LGBT+ Cruises & Resort Vacations Reimagined

VACAYA completely reinvents the all-gay cruise and all-inclusive gay resort concepts by opening up the experience to lesbians, bisexuals, trans persons, queer men/women, those questioning their sexuality, intersex, asexual, pansexual, and polyamorous individuals, as well as gay men who’ve enjoyed the typical gay cruise experience. VACAYA is the only large-scale adults-only vacation company on earth built for the entire LGBTQIAPK community and their straight ally friends. VACAYA offers fun easy vacations with customized itineraries, personalized service, tailored entertainment, welcoming activities, friendly parties, and transformative moments. Shared experiences with like-minded LGBT+ adults and friends give us a new perspective on the world and remind us how lucky we are to be alive. VACAYA charters the entire ship or resort so we have the freedom to express our individuality, make personal connections, celebrate life, rev up, or simply relax… together. Our mission is to fulfill the vacation dreams of all adults who believe “love is love” while giving back to the community and immersing our guests in the cultures and places we visit around the world.

All-Inclusive Resorts – Staying at a VACAYA Oasis all-inclusive resort delivers a truly relaxing and exhilarating vacation because nearly everything is included for one incredible price. Our resorts offer scores of daytime activities, exclusive nightly entertainment, gourmet restaurants, exquisite turquoise waters, and sun-soaked beaches. But that’s only the beginning. These are places where we come together and feel part of a bigger family. With so much included, all that’s left to do is have fun and enjoy the value! Occasionally, we’ll offer something altogether different with VACAYA Oasis and we’ll be sure to list all that’s included/not included on the trip’s VALUE page.

LGBT+ Cruises – Life on the open water is about savoring the good times, finding beauty in the details, appreciating friends, and discovering new ones. Sailing the seven seas is about leaving the ordinary behind. It’s the moments we spend connecting, laughing, and living life to the fullest. Its possibilities are endless and exciting. Sensual. Life changing. These experiences connect us to each other. They open our minds and unify our rhythm.

This is the spirit of VACAYA. open sea. open mind.


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Italy, France, & Ibiza Cruise

Logo for Atlantis Events

Europe’s Biggest. Boldest. Adventure.

Get ready for excitement on the largest and most spectacular gay cruise to sail Europe. Ever. Atlantis returns to the brand-new, over-the-top Odyssey of the Seas for a breathtaking adventure from Rome to the rivieras of Italy, France & Monaco, plus an overnight visit to the playground island of Ibiza! It’s the ultimate Med cruise for 4000 guys from over 60 different nations on the world’s most technically advanced and outrageously engaging ship.

In 9 sensational nights we’ll dazzle you with stellar entertainers, special guest stars, world-class DJs, fantastically inventive parties, and innovative ways to play. It’s the perfect combination of thrilling exploration and onboard excitement.

Cruise Itinerary

Rome, Italy

Depart 5:00 pm

Naples, Italy

Arrive 8:00 am - Depart 8:00 pm

Palermo, Sicily

Arrive 8:00 am - Depart 6:00 pm

Wonderful Day at Sea

September 1

La Spezia, Italy

Arrive 7:00 am - Depart 9:00 pm

September 2


Arrive 8:00 am - Depart 11:00 pm

September 3

Ibiza, Spain

Arrive 8:30 pm -

September 4

Depart 8:00 pm

September 5

Relaxing Day at Sea

September 6

Arrive 6:00 am -

gay cruises europe 2024

Itinerary subject to port berthing confirmation

Whether it’s the Forum, the Sistine Chapel, the Colosseum, or St. Peter’s Basilica that interests you, Rome is home to a lifetime’s worth of historical, architectural and spiritual sites. You’ll also discover Rome to be a modern, vibrant city teeming with crowded cafes. Get lost in this remarkable city.

Image of Rome, Italy

There's no more fasinating port in Italy than Naples, where options abound. It's a short trip to Sorrento, Positano and the Amalfi Coast, where some of the most beautiful villages in the Med meet exquisite coastal landscapes. Or take a day trip to the island of Capri, an enchanting and picturesque island made of limestone rock. A favorite with Roman emperors, the rich and famous, artists, and writers, discover the secrets of this beautiful island that has charmed visitors for centuries.

Image of Naples, Italy

Palermo is a burgeoning destination in Italy for good reason. This underrated city is the perfect place to experience authentic Sicilian cuisine and culture, and learn about the incredible history of an ancient city. The 12th-century Palermo Cathedral houses royal tombs, while the huge neoclassical Teatro Massimo is known for opera performances. Also in the center are the Palazzo dei Normanni, a royal palace started in the 9th century, and the Cappella Palatina, with Byzantine mosaics. Busy markets include the central Ballarò street market and the Vucciria, near the port.

Image of Palermo, Sicily

Get out and play today to experience all Odyssey has to offer. We've got a day of endless surprises in store for you. Surf on FlowRider or feel the freedom of freefall without even leaving the deck in RipCord®by iFLY®. The day is yours to enjoy.

Image of Wonderful Day at Sea

Crystal-clear sea, unspoilt nature and enchanting villages are just some of the features you will find in La Spezia Italy, but there are also important monuments, museums and churches.

Image of La Spezia, Italy

Villefranche-sur-Mer is a must-visit on the French Riviera. Every little corner of this seaside town is stunning, from the old town and the deep blue sea to the dense green hills behind.

Steeped in 700 years of Grimaldi royal history, Monte-Carlo’s location is stunning, tucked between French medieval villages and the Alps. Monte-Carlo is home to the celebrated Monte Carlo Casino. This glamorous palace is full of frescoes, sculptures, and features an astonishing gold and marble atrium—not to mention the main attraction—gambling. Watch the perfectly synchronized changing of the guards at 11:55am outside the Palais Princier, put modern art on the agenda at Monaco's newest museum, Villa Paloma or just bask in the sun on Larvotto Beach.

Image of Villefranche/Monaco

Everyone has their own opinion of Ibiza, and it’s the one place that truly has something for everyone. From the world’s best nightlife to some of Spain’s most isolated and quiet beaches, it’s an island that lets you create your own playground. We’ll arrive at night, in time for a walk through the streets of the old town of Dalt Vila, a drink on the terrace, and a visit to one of the legendary nightclubs. Or just watch the parade of craziness!

We’ll have time the following day to enjoy one of the magnificent beaches with tours to the gay beach at Els Salinas. Or explore on your own to one of the islands many charming villages. No matter what you do, It’s hard not to fall in love with Ibiza’s many charms.

Image of Ibiza, Spain

Today is a day for seeing the other side of Ibiza. After last night's fabulousness, maybe a relaxing day on the beach is in order and Ibiza has plenty of them, ranging from the electric gay beach at Els Salinas to quiet coves scattered along the island's ruggest coast.

Take some time to wander through Dalt Vila during the day. Or explore on your own to one of the islands many charming villages. It's all here for you and easy to reach with our extra-long visit.

Image of Ibiza, Spain

Hang out by the pool with new friends or get pampered in the spa. This day is all about relaxing!

Image of Relaxing Day at Sea

We return to the port of Civitavecchia, gateway to the magical city of Rome. Once the center of the Ancient World from which emperors ruled over nearly all of western civilization, Rome is still a cultural mecca. Only a few cities in the world can boast such a well-preserved level of architecture, art, and religious iconography.

Disembarkation begins at approximately 8 am and Atlantis does not recommend flights before noon.

Transfers from Civitavecchia to Rome and the airport will be available from Atlantis, along with some exciting post-cruise options!

Image of Rome, Italy

Find Your Perfect Island

Our Odyssey starts in majestic Rome, one of the world’s most vibrant cities before heading to three thrilling italian destinations. Begin your journey with an extended stay in the vibrant port city of Naples where the historical treasures of Pompeii, magical cliffs of Capri, thrilling coasts of Amalfi, and sensuous streets of Sorrento beckon.

Our dramatic arrival into historic Palermo showcases the rugged shores and bold landscapes of Sicily where fascinating cultural history will thrill you in unexpected ways.

ibiza beach

Ibiza by Night. And Day.

After a playful day at sea, we’ll arrive to the pulsing island of Ibiza, where our overnight stay lets you discover all this gorgeous playground has to offer. Explore the walled city of Evissa before sampling Ibiza’s legendary nightlife venues. Just save some energy to explore the island’s fascinating and beach culture. We’ve been visiting Ibiza for years and Atlantis will create some unique experiences to show it to you like a local!

gay cruises europe 2024

Summer in the Riviera

France, Monaco and Italy boast the world’s most alluring riviera coasts – and we’re visiting them all!

If you’re ever dreamed of playing in the Monte Carlo Casino, sunbathing in Cannes, or taking in the breathtaking vistas of the French coastline, Villefranche lets you do it all. We’re just minutes from the heart of Monaco, the boardwalks of Cannes and Nice, and the medieval hilltop village of Eze. Explore, play, and enjoy with our extended stay.

La Spezia consistently surprises Atlantis guests with incredible options, from the five villages of Cinque Terre to Florence, Tuscany, and Pisa. All of it easy to get to from this charming and welcoming city just steps from Odyssey.

back of OY

The Ultimate Ship for Atlantis

The all-new Odyssey of the Seas launched in 2022, setting a new standard for thrilling experiences and relaxing environs. From her massive pool decks to innovative sports complex, Odyssey tempts you with so much action that you might never head ashore! Feel the rush of skydiving with RipCord, surf our waves on FlowRider, soar to breathtaking new heights in NorthStar, and play on at SeaPlex – where you’ll find everything from flying trapeze to volleyball to bumper cars and so much more.

Technical innovations abound, from Bionic Bar’s robotic bartenders to magical video effects in Two70. Three distinctive pools offer plenty of places to take in the Mediterranean sun, splash a bit, and of course dance under the stars on the largest outdoor deck in Atlantis’ 30-year history! And with thirteen innovative places to dine, you’ll fulfill every imaginable culinary fantasy.

gay cruises europe 2024

Our Festival of Entertainment.

Our non-stop festival of gay and lesbian entertainers explodes onto Odyssey’s stages every night. The 1300-seat main theater host our superstar special guests, dazzling production shows, and Atlantis signature performers like La Voix and Air-Otic – our uniquely original gay flying show. And that’s just the beginning.

Check out our Gay Comedy All-Stars, outrageous drag queens, cabaret stars, and electrifying singers in the raucous Music Hall. Be prepared to be amazed by immersive productions in Two70 – one of the world’s most advanced and original performance spaces. In 2023 look for fresh new shows, including some in French, Spanish, and other languages. Watch our “Already Booked” page for regular updates on who’s coming to perform!

We’ll even bring the show under the stars with concerts on the massive pool deck from world-class electronic music acts. Past shows have featured Above & Beyond, Galantis, Markus Shulz, Gareth Emery, Cosmic Gate, and many more. Who knows who we’ll bring this year!

The one thing we know for sure is that there’s nothing like an Atlantis show and no matter where you end up, you’ll be amazed.

gay cruises europe 2024

Sizzling Parties. Everywhere.

With more outdoor space than ever, Atlantis creates our biggest and boldest parties yet on Odyssey! From themed T-dances to endless nighttime parties, there’s nothing like dancing outdoors in the middle of the Med. Featuring huge LED screens, brilliant lasers, world-class sound, and of course endless ocean views.

We’ll change things up with a few parties in the massive SeaPlex featuring soaring ceilings, a huge unobstructed dance floor, and wrap-around balconies. We’ll transform it into a dazzling show of lights and lasers for the ultimate after-hours and music-themed experiences.

As you head into morning, it’s hard to resist the call of our sizzling events in the clubby Music Hall, where two-story ceilings and walls of sound set the perfect vibe for a true after-hours vibe.

Odyssey offers the most dynamically different and dramatic settings Atlantis has ever had for a party. Wait until you see what we have in store for Europe’s largest and most sensational gay cruise!


Friends from Everywhere

With 4000 guests traveling from over 60 different nations, the Atlantis Med cruises have become the largest and most diverse gay experience in the world. Around half of our guests are from Europe, with large groups from Australia, Brazil, and beyond. It’s a unique place to revel together, take pride in who we are, expand our horizons, and have a lot of fun along the way. We’re thrilled celebrate the diversity of our community in new and exciting ways.

While most of our entertainment is in English, Atlantis supports guests who speak French, German, Spanish, & Portuguese through our international hosts, original entertainment, and many special events. In 2023, Atlantis will present some original shows in French, Spanish, and likely other languages depending on talent availability

Whether you come with a partner, friends, or on your own we’ll make you feel right at home. Everything we do brings our community together, whether exploring a new city, laughing at our comics, learning about wine, or joining a table of new friends for a meal. You’ll find so many ways to relax, from the first day at the pool to nights filled with the silliest costumes you’ve ever seen.

Join the Celebration. It’s Easy.

We want everyone to join into the celebration, and have kept our fares low with great deals from just $1299. On Atlantis, virtually everything is included – superb accommodations, world-class dining, stellar entertainment, fascinating enrichment activities, endless parties & nightlife, and so much more.

Get onboard the ultimate all-gay cruise in 2023 and join 4000 friends from around the world for 9 days of non-stop sensory overload!

gay cruises europe 2024

Royal Caribbean Odyssey of the Seas

Room Key Legend for Royal Caribbean Odyssey of the Seas

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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12 top gay cruises you don’t want to miss in 2024 and 2025

All Inclusive Project_Celebrity Cruises_00012

There's never been a better time to consider a gay cruise. Itineraries include more remote destinations, and more charter companies are offering a wider variety of cruise experiences to meet the full spectrum of the LGBTQ+ community. Also, the ships chartered are almost uniformly elevated and luxurious.

No longer are gay and lesbian groups and full-ship charters relegated to older, tired vessels. Full-ship gay charters command big business for the cruise industry, and major cruise lines are responding by offering their newest and most exciting ships. Many charter companies will take over the entire ship, bringing aboard their own dance parties, entertainment, activities and hosts to tailor the vacation experience to their audience.

The magic of a gay cruise lies in the shared experience of traveling with your community. Each sailing fosters an environment where you can be yourself. You can choose whether to blend in with the crowd or stand out and be celebrated for your flair.

For more cruise news, reviews and tips, sign up for TPG's cruise newsletter .

Bonds often form more quickly and naturally aboard a ship where you're surrounded by your people, especially on full-ship charters where large mixers kick off each sailing.

Expect welcome parties with themes that go beyond just a name tag, whether that's icebreaker games or an opportunity to dress up in a way that signifies where you're from or how you identify. You'll find more openness throughout the ship compared to a traditional non-themed cruise, especially on the pool deck, as many passengers seek out the experience to expand their social circle.

Don't miss the boat on making lifelong friends during an epic cruise vacation. Here are 12 of the best gay cruises in 2024 and 2025.

R Family Vacations' 2024 Summer Cruise

gay cruises europe 2024

Date: July 7-13, 2024

Join R Family Vacations for a special group sailing on board Celebrity Beyond . While this is not a full-ship charter, R Family will host many exclusive group activities during the sailing, including performances by Broadway belters, an LGBTQ+ comedy show, dance parties, a theater camp and special R Family dinners.

The ship will depart from Fort Lauderdale, with stops in Perfect Day at CocoCay , Royal Caribbean's private island in the Bahamas; George Town, Grand Cayman; and Bimini, Bahamas.

R Family was the first LGBTQ+ family travel company and has been a leader in the LGBTQ+ family travel market for 20 years, creating the opportunity for queer families to connect and share in the joy of travel. The company has since expanded beyond family travel to include adults-only, small-ship sailings.

Rates for the company's summer cruise start at $920.79 per person, including taxes, fees and gratuities.

How to book: Visit R Family's website for pricing and availability, or call 917-522-0985 to book.

Vacaya's Europe River Cruise 2024

gay cruises europe 2024

Date: Aug. 3-15, 2024

If you're looking for one of the best Pride celebrations in the world, Vacaya's Europe River Cruise 2024 is the place to be. The cruise begins with the ship docked in the heart of Amsterdam for two nights during its celebrated Pride festival. Catch the one-of-a-kind floating Pride parade that snakes its way through the city as you revel in the party atmosphere.

The travel company's Europe River Cruise will bring LGBTQ+ passengers to many ports in the Netherlands and Belgium on a luxury river ship, the newly revamped Advance by Transcend (the former Crystal Mahler).

The 12-night itinerary begins with two nights in Amsterdam, followed by stops in the Netherlands that include Volendam, Edam, Ultrecht, Nijmegen, Kinderdijk, Schoonhoven, Heusden, Rotterdam and Dordrecht. The journey finishes in Belgium with a stop in Ghent and an overnight in Antwerp. The itinerary finishes in time to make the quick trip down from Antwerp to Belgium for the stunning Flower Carpet Festival.

Rates for available cabins start at $6,997 per person based on double occupancy and do not include port fees, admin fees or gratuities. Fares do include open bar and unlimited internet. There are only a handful of cabins remaining for this summer sailing.

How to book: Check the latest cabin availability and book Vacaya's Europe River Cruise 2024 on Vacaya's website or by calling 718-504-0404.

Source Journeys' Treasures of Venice and Dalmatian Coast

Date: Aug. 17-24, 2024

Source Journeys has been a small-group LGBTQ+ charter company for more than 20 years, hosting a handful of small-ship charters and land-based tours each year. Source prides itself on a shipboard atmosphere of acceptance, where all feel welcome.

Of the company's upcoming trips planned, its summer 2024 Venice and the Dalmatian Coast cruise on Star Clippers' Royal Clipper is a highlight, as it charters the world's largest sailing ship.

The round-trip itinerary from Venice, Italy, includes a stop in Kotor, Montenegro, before hitting up the highlights of Croatia, including Dubrovnik, Zadar, Hvar, the Pakleni Islands and Rovinj.

Pricing for the seven-night cruise starts at $2,899 per person based on double occupancy. The fare does not include port fees, gratuities and pre- and post-cruise packages.

How to book: Reserve your spot on the Treasures of Venice and the Dalmatian Coast cruise via Source Journeys' website or by calling 305-672-9779.

Related: From Asheville to Prague: 11 underrated LGBTQIA+ friendly destinations to visit

Olivia's Majestic Alaska Cruise

gay cruises europe 2024

Date: Sept. 21-28, 2024

Olivia is the most renowned and popular travel group for lesbians, having hosted more than 300 trips for 350,000-plus women. Among the many trips on the books for the next two years, Olivia will charter its first-ever large-ship Alaska cruise on Holland America 's Eurodam.

Join 2,100 women for a seven-night cruise through Alaska from Seattle. The itinerary includes visits to Juneau, Glacier Bay, Icy Strait Point, Sitka and Ketchikan, Alaska, as well as Victoria, British Columbia. Several renowned guests and performers will also be on board.

Rates for the remaining available cabins start from $1,499 per person based on double occupancy, not including fees and airfare.

How to book: Reserve your spot on Olivia's website or by calling 800-631-6277.

Related: 15 Alaska cruise mistakes you never want to make

Atlantis Events' Halloween San Diego to Mexico Cruise

Date: Oct. 26-Nov. 2, 2024

Atlantis is the largest gay cruise charter company. When it hosts a sailing, the company takes over some of the largest ships at sea.

If you appreciate partying 'til sunrise, don't miss the chance to sail on Holland America Line's Koningsdam this fall with Atlantis' Halloween San Diego to Mexico Cruise.

Expect a one-of-a-kind fusion of Holland America Line's classic cruising experience (think white glove service and baked Alaska dessert ) with an impressive overlay of high-tech party lights and sound gear to keep the dance parties hopping day and night.

This weeklong itinerary from Los Angeles returns after a successful 2023 cruise, sailing round-trip from San Diego with a stop in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, on its way to an extended stay in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, until 2 a.m., followed by a stop in Mazatlan, Mexico.

Make sure to pack accordingly, as this sailing spans Halloween week, and you will want to dress to impress. Every night will bring a different theme, and you can be sure many of the 2,500 guests on board will dress up.

Select cabins for the fall 2024 sailing are still available, with rates from $919 per person based on double occupancy. Prices do not include gratuities, taxes and port fees.

How to book: Pick the cabin you want for the Halloween Cruise on the Atlantis website or by calling 310-859-8800.

Related: Best Caribbean cruise tips to help you make the most of your time aboard and ashore

Out Adventures' Egypt: Nile River Cruise & Cairo

gay cruises europe 2024

Date: Nov. 8-17, 2024; March 7-16, 2025; Nov. 7-16, 2025

Check the Great Pyramids of Giza off your bucket list, trace Egypt's queer history while exploring the tomb of Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum, and lose yourself in Cairo's bustling bazaars on Out Adventures' nine-night Egypt tour. The trip features three nights in a hotel in Cairo, followed by a four-night Nile River cruise and two additional nights in Cairo before flying home.

You'll sail with a small group of no more than 20 gay men (and their allies and families) with excursions that'll include visits to Luxor Temple, the Royal Tombs in the Valley of the Kings and the Abu Simbel temple complex.

Out Adventures has a number of gay charter cruises, some combined with land tours, planned through 2025. The trips focus on groups no larger than 40 to enable a more tight-knit sense of community and connection. Additionally, the small size allows Out Adventures' groups to travel to more exotic, remote destinations.

There are only a few spaces left for the November 2024 sailing, with more availability for the 2025 sailings. Rates for these sailings start at $5,395 per person based on double occupancy, not including taxes, tips and fees.

How to book: Book your spot on the Nile River cruise on the Out Adventures website or by calling 866-360-1152.

Related: 4 things to consider before booking an LGBTQ cruise

GaySail's Gay Nude Cruising in Tahiti

Date: Nov. 23-30, 2024

Anchors aweigh, and off with your clothes! GaySail's nude sailings offer the rare chance to sail au naturel in the safe confines of a private, full-charter catamaran.

GaySail's upcoming Tahiti cruise will take a small group of up to 14 gay men on a journey to many of the highlights of the South Pacific, including Bora Bora, Maupiti and Moorea.

GaySail has an impressive lineup of small-ship charters scheduled, including both clothing-optional and all-nude sailings. The charter company predominantly caters to European gay men (its headquarters is based in Amsterdam), but men from all around the world are welcome to join.

Pricing for the November 2024 sailing starts at 2,495 euros (about $2,696) per person, including taxes and fees.

How to book: While the experience of sailing naked will be freeing, the experience is not free. Book your reservation on the GaySail website or email [email protected] for more details.

Outbound's Rhine River Christmas Market Cruise

gay cruises europe 2024

Date: Dec. 14-21, 2024

The best part of a winter river cruise is docking in a port that's a few steps away from the warm glow and transfixing scents of a European Christmas market. The best part of booking that cruise with Outbound, a charter company that focuses on LGBTQ+ travelers, is going to those markets with your newfound group of queer friends.

Outbound will take passengers on the Rhine River this December on Emerald Cruises' Emerald Sun. The itinerary begins in the Netherlands and alights in ports in Germany, France and Switzerland, where guests can sample the local warm chestnuts and mulled wine.

A few cabins are still available for the 2024 cruise, with rates starting at $2,997 per person based on double occupancy. Fares do not include port fees and taxes.

How to book: Reserve your spot on the Outbound website or by calling 916-683-1000.

Vacaya's Caribbean Cruise 2025

gay cruises europe 2024

Date: Feb. 22-March 1, 2025

Now in its sixth year of large-scale charter cruises and full resort buyouts, Vacaya is changing its annual winter Caribbean itinerary in 2025. Instead of sailing round-trip from southeast Florida, this year's island getaway will depart from New Orleans. The travel operator will be chartering Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas for a sailing taking place the week prior to Mardi Gras (scheduled for March 4, 2025).

The ship will depart from New Orleans and stop in Cozumel, Mexico; George Town, Grand Cayman; and Yucatan (Progreso), Mexico, with three days at sea.

Vacaya is the first and only large-scale travel group to openly and outwardly welcome the entire LGBTQIAPK (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, polygamous/polyamorous and kink) community and its allies.

The vibe on board is friendly and easygoing, the entertainment is Broadway-caliber and the nightly parties are more about gay anthems than house beats. The company also features an opportunity to give back on each trip with its ReachOut program, where passengers can volunteer with a local project while in port.

Fares for available cabins on the upcoming Caribbean cruise start at $1,147 per person based on double occupancy, not including port taxes, fees and gratuities.

How to book: Get up-to-the-minute availability on the cabins and their locations for the Caribbean Cruise 2025 on Vacaya's website or by calling 718-504-0404.

Related: 11 things I learned on my 1st gay cruise

Pied Piper Travel's Post-Thanksgiving Caribbean cruise

Date: Nov. 30-Dec. 7, 2024

Pied Piper's small gay groups on large-scale ships have sailed on hundreds of cruises since its inception in 1990. With more than 20 group sailings currently scheduled through February 2025, Pied Piper's globe-trotting trips span an impressive variety of destinations and themes, including trips to Alaska, New Zealand and Rio de Janeiro during Carnival.

Of the many cruises scheduled, the company's upcoming 22nd annual post-Thanksgiving cruise on Celebrity Apex is the company's most popular itinerary. Sail on Celebrity Cruises' Edge Class ship as it departs from Fort Lauderdale with stops in Basseterre, St. Kitts; Tortola, British Virgin Islands; and Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.

Sailing with the Pied Piper group includes a special Welcome Aboard cocktail party, private dining tables, an onboard Pied Piper host and invitations to special events and activities. The base rate for cabins available on this cruise is $1,095 per person based on double occupancy, not including taxes, gratuities and additional port fees.

How to book: For more details about Pied Piper Travel's Post-Thanksgiving Caribbean Cruise on Celebrity Apex, visit Pied Piper Travel's website . Book your reservation by calling 800-874-7312.

Related: Tipping on a cruise ship: Everything you need to know

Brand g Vacations' 2025 Amazon Cruise and Machu Picchu Discovery

gay cruises europe 2024

Date: March 30-April 11, 2025

Join a small group of 40 other LGBTQ+ travelers for Brand g's four-night cruise on the Amazon River on Delfin III, an all-suite ship owned and operated by Delfin Amazon Cruises. The cruise is part of a 13-day luxury vacation package that will capture many highlights of Peru, most notably with a glass-domed train journey to Machu Picchu.

Brand g is known for its intimate, small-ship charters with a focus on all-inclusive luxury. The tour is priced based on the cruise cabin you select and still has availability in the base rate suites. Trip fares start at $7,699 per person based on double occupancy, not including taxes, tips and fees.

How to book: You can reserve a cabin for this cruise on the Brand g website or by calling 952-405-9309.

Related: 21 tips and tricks that will make your 1st cruise go smoothly

Brand g's 2025 Norway, Greenland and Iceland cruise

Date: July 31-Aug. 9, 2025

Brand g continues to expand its full-ship charters for LGBTQ+ travelers and their straight allies with its 2025 Norway, Greenland and Iceland cruise. The travel operator will charter Atlas Ocean Voyages' World Voyager, a luxury expedition ship, as it sails the Arctic waters in the temperate summer months.

The all-inclusive trip includes nearly everything but the guarantee you'll spot a polar bear. You will, however, witness vast and diverse bird colonies on Clavering Island, Greenland.

The nine-night itinerary starts at the top of the world in Longyearbyen in Norway's Svalbard archipelago. Guests will visit additional Svalbard ports including Ny-Alesund and Gashamna, before crossing to Greenland, stopping in Wollaston Foreland/Clavering Island, sailing the Kaiser Franz Josef Fjord, and visiting Ittoqqortoormiit and Hurry Inlet, Scoresbysund. The journey ends in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Fares for available cabins on the upcoming Norway, Greenland and Iceland cruise start at $7,999 per person based on double occupancy, not including port taxes, fees and gratuities.

How to book: Check the latest cabin availability and book Brand g's 2025 Norway, Greenland and Iceland on Brand g's website or by calling 952-405-9309.

Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:

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  • A beginners guide to picking a cruise line
  • The 8 worst cabin locations on any cruise ship
  • A quick guide to the most popular cruise lines
  • 21 tips and tricks that will make your cruise go smoothly
  • Top ways cruisers waste money
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  • The ultimate guide to what to pack for a cruise

Ellie's Travel Tips

15 Best Gay Cruises of 2024 & Destinations!

Dive into the vibrant world of gay cruises, a sanctuary at sea where inclusivity reigns.

This guide unveils the best LGBTQ-friendly cruises, offering a blend of fun, freedom, and camaraderie.

Understanding Gay Cruises

Gay cruises offer an unparalleled experience tailored to the LGBTQ+ community, blending travel, entertainment, and the opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals in a welcoming and inclusive environment.

Below, we delve into what sets these cruises apart, what you can expect, and why they’ve become a cherished vacation choice for so many.

best gay cruises

What to Expect on a Gay Cruise

  • Inclusive Environment: The core appeal of gay cruises is their commitment to creating a safe, welcoming space where LGBTQ+ individuals can express themselves freely and celebrate their identities without fear of judgment.
  • Diverse Activities: From extravagant dance parties and themed nights to insightful seminars and workshops focused on LGBTQ+ issues, the range of activities ensures there’s something for everyone.
  • Entertainment and Performances: Expect top-tier entertainment, including drag shows, cabaret, DJ sets, and performances by LGBTQ+ artists and allies.
  • Networking and Socializing: Opportunities to meet and connect with other LGBTQ+ travelers are plentiful, with social events designed to foster friendships and romantic connections.
  • Exclusive Tours and Excursions: Many gay cruises offer exclusive, LGBTQ+-friendly excursions at their ports of call, providing safe and enriching local experiences.

best gay cruises

LGBTQ-Friendly Amenities and Events

  • Specialized Facilities: Some ships feature amenities like LGBTQ+ bars and clubs, adult-only areas, and private party venues.
  • Mixers and Meet-Ups: Regularly scheduled LGBTQ+ mixers allow guests to meet in a relaxed setting, ideal for solo travelers and couples looking to expand their social circle.
  • Health and Wellness: With a focus on holistic well-being, many cruises offer LGBTQ+-inclusive health workshops, fitness classes, and spa treatments.

How Gay Cruises Differ from Regular Cruises

  • Community Focus: While many mainstream cruises are LGBTQ+ friendly, gay cruises specifically target the LGBTQ+ community, ensuring every aspect of the cruise experience is designed with these travelers in mind.
  • Customized Itineraries: Gay cruise itineraries often include destinations known for their LGBTQ+ friendliness and vibrant local gay scenes, as well as exclusive events both on and off the ship.
  • Cultural and Social Relevance: Beyond entertainment, these cruises often feature speakers, activists, and performers from the LGBTQ+ community, adding a layer of cultural enrichment and social awareness to the travel experience.
  • Privacy and Safety: Understanding the unique concerns of LGBTQ+ travelers, gay cruises prioritize privacy and safety, with trained staff and security measures in place to ensure a secure environment.

Why Choose a Gay Cruise?

Choosing a gay cruise means opting for a vacation where you can be your authentic self in a supportive and festive environment.

Beyond the allure of exotic destinations and luxurious amenities, it’s the sense of belonging and community that truly sets these experiences apart.

Whether you’re looking to make new friends, celebrate with your partner, or simply enjoy a break from the everyday, a gay cruise offers the perfect backdrop for creating lasting memories and connections.

best gay cruises

Major Cruise Lines Offering LGBTQ-Friendly Amenities

The cruise industry has increasingly recognized the value of catering to the LGBTQ+ community, with many lines offering specialized amenities, events, and itineraries.

Below, we highlight a few of the frontrunners in this inclusive evolution.

Atlantis Events

  • Specialization: Known for chartering entire ships for gay cruises, transforming them into floating LGBTQ+ resorts.
  • Extravagant Parties: Themed parties and international DJ sets.
  • Shows and Performances: Drag shows, comedy nights, and performances by LGBTQ+ artists.
  • Social Mixers: Events designed to help guests connect, including singles mixers and group activities.
  • Destinations: Offers a wide range of destinations including the Caribbean, Mediterranean, and unique itineraries like Antarctica expeditions.

RSVP Vacations

  • Specialization: Pioneers in gay and lesbian cruises, RSVP Vacations focuses on creating a welcoming atmosphere for all members of the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Diverse Entertainment: Live music, cabaret performances, and celebrity appearances.
  • Community Building: Workshops and seminars that address LGBTQ+ issues and interests.
  • Inclusive Activities: Sports tournaments, dance classes, and themed parties that encourage participation from everyone.
  • Destinations: Their itineraries include popular spots in the Caribbean, Europe, and Alaska, often coinciding with significant LGBTQ+ events.

Celebrity Cruises

  • LGBTQ-Friendly Policies: Celebrity Cruises has been a leader in promoting inclusivity, with legal same-sex marriages performed onboard and special events for LGBTQ+ passengers.
  • Rainbow Hour: Daily LGBTQ+ social gatherings.
  • Pride at Sea: An annual celebration with a series of events across their fleet during Pride month.
  • All-Inclusive Packages: Luxurious accommodations, fine dining, and Broadway-level entertainment.
  • Destinations: Offers global itineraries, including exclusive LGBTQ+ charters and themed cruises.

best gay cruises

Holland America Line

  • LGBTQ-Friendly Initiatives: Holland America has developed programming to welcome LGBTQ+ travelers, including partnership events with LGBTQ+ organizations.
  • LGBTQ+ Gatherings: Regularly scheduled meet-ups for LGBTQ+ guests.
  • Culinary Excellence: Renowned for its dining experiences, with menus curated by world-class chefs.
  • Enrichment Programs: Offers workshops, lectures, and classes ranging from cooking to digital workshops, appealing to diverse interests.
  • Destinations: Features a broad selection of destinations, including exotic locales and traditional cruise routes, with accommodations for LGBTQ+ group travel.
  • Specialization: Exclusively serving lesbian travelers, Olivia charters entire ships for women-only cruises, creating a unique community atmosphere.
  • Women-Focused Entertainment: Concerts, comedians, and speakers from the lesbian community.
  • Active and Relaxation Options: From adventurous excursions to wellness and yoga sessions, catering to a range of interests.
  • Engagement and Activism: Opportunities to engage in LGBTQ+ activism and community-building activities.
  • Destinations: Diverse itineraries that span the globe, from tropical paradises to European river cruises and African safaris.
  • Specialization: A relative newcomer that focuses on full-ship and full-resort LGBTQ+ vacations, promoting inclusivity for all identities within the community.
  • Broadway Caliber Shows: High-quality entertainment options.
  • Unique Social Events: Theme nights, dance parties, and mixers designed to foster connections among guests.
  • Custom Excursions: Tailored activities and tours at each port, emphasizing local LGBTQ+ culture and history.
  • Destinations: Carefully curated itineraries that include both popular and off-the-beaten-path destinations.

Brand g Vacations

  • Specialization: Focused on river cruises and small ship cruises, Brand g Vacations provides intimate and luxurious experiences tailored for the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Cultural Immersion: Expert-led tours that dive deep into the history and culture of each destination, with a focus on LGBTQ+ heritage where possible.
  • Intimate Setting: The smaller size of river cruises facilitates a close-knit community atmosphere, making it easy to meet fellow travelers.
  • Exclusive Events: Private concerts, local shows, and special onboard entertainment that cater specifically to LGBTQ+ guests.
  • Destinations: Offers unique itineraries such as European river cruises that explore major cities and hidden gems, Asian adventures, and more.

R Family Vacations

  • Specialization: The pioneering LGBTQ+ family travel company, evolving from focusing solely on queer families to include adult-only, small-ship sailings, creating opportunities for queer families and adults to connect and share in the joy of travel.
  • Broadway Caliber Shows: Featuring performances by Broadway stars and LGBTQ+ comedians.
  • Unique Social Events: Hosts dance parties, theater camps, and special R Family dinners to encourage bonding.
  • Custom Excursions: Offers exclusive group activities at destinations like Royal Caribbean’s private island, ensuring experiences are tailored to LGBTQ+ interests and family-friendly fun.
  • Destinations: Selects destinations with an eye towards inclusivity and family appeal, such as the Caribbean islands, focusing on ports that welcome diverse families.

best gay cruises

Out Adventures

  • Specialization: Specializing in small-group tours and cruises for gay men, allies, and families, Out Adventures focuses on creating intimate and enriching travel experiences that explore the queer history and culture of their destinations.
  • Broadway Caliber Shows: Although more focused on cultural tours, when available, includes high-quality entertainment reflective of local traditions.
  • Unique Social Events: Offers excursions and activities that encourage connection among guests, such as visits to Luxor Temple and the Royal Tombs in the Valley of the Kings.
  • Custom Excursions: Tailors activities to highlight LGBTQ+ history and culture, such as exploring the tomb of Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum.
  • Destinations: Focuses on exotic, culturally rich itineraries like Egypt, ensuring a blend of adventure, history, and LGBTQ+ community engagement.
  • Specialization: Catering specifically to LGBTQ+ travelers, Outbound combines the enchantment of European Christmas markets with the camaraderie of queer community travel, offering a festive and friendly atmosphere.
  • Broadway Caliber Shows: Emphasizes cultural performances and local festivities, especially those related to the Christmas market experience.
  • Unique Social Events: Facilitates gatherings and excursions that immerse guests in the holiday spirit of European markets.
  • Custom Excursions: Activities are designed to showcase the best of each market visited, from Germany to Switzerland, with a focus on local traditions and LGBTQ+ friendly spaces.
  • Destinations: Selects iconic Christmas market destinations along the Rhine River, providing access to markets in Germany, France, and Switzerland, with a cozy and welcoming winter atmosphere.

Pied Piper Travel

  • Specialization: Known for organizing gay groups on larger, mainstream cruises, Pied Piper Travel blends the luxury of big-ship amenities with the intimacy of LGBTQ+ community events, making it ideal for those seeking both privacy and social opportunities.
  • Broadway Caliber Shows: Access to mainstream cruise entertainment with additional LGBTQ+-focused gatherings.
  • Unique Social Events: Includes a special Welcome Aboard cocktail party, private dining, and group activities to foster community among guests.
  • Custom Excursions: While leveraging the cruise line’s excursions, often organizes group outings to explore destinations with an LGBTQ+ angle.
  • Destinations: Offers a wide range of itineraries, from the Caribbean to exotic locales, focusing on destinations that provide memorable experiences for LGBTQ+ travelers.
  • Specialization: GaySail excels in offering unique sailing experiences, including clothing-optional and all-nude cruises, on private yachts and catamarans. It caters primarily to gay men looking for an intimate, adventurous, and liberating sea adventure.
  • Broadway Caliber Shows: While not featuring traditional shows, focuses on creating memorable experiences and personal connections on board.
  • Unique Social Events: Encourages a sense of community and freedom through its clothing-optional and nude sailing options, fostering a unique bond among guests.
  • Custom Excursions: Plans stops at secluded coves and picturesque destinations, allowing guests to explore the beauty of each location in a relaxed and open atmosphere.
  • Destinations: Chooses stunning, often secluded sailing areas like the South Pacific, focusing on destinations that offer both beauty and privacy for a truly free-spirited adventure.

best gay cruises

Creating Inclusive Spaces at Sea

The above cruise lines and organizations lead the way in LGBTQ+ inclusivity at sea, but their efforts go beyond just hosting gay cruises.

They strive to create spaces where LGBTQ+ individuals can feel valued and celebrated, not just accepted.

This means offering a range of activities, entertainments, and amenities that cater to the diverse tastes and interests within the community, as well as ensuring that staff are trained in LGBTQ+ sensitivity and inclusivity.

The Evolution of LGBTQ+ Cruising

As the demand for LGBTQ+ friendly vacations grows, so does the variety and quality of options available.

These cruise lines have set the standard for what it means to offer a truly inclusive and enjoyable travel experience for the LGBTQ+ community.

They have pioneered a range of offerings from luxury cruises to adventure travel, and from large, floating festivals to intimate river voyages.

Each line has its own unique approach to creating an inclusive environment, but all share a common goal: to provide a safe, welcoming, and thrilling experience for LGBTQ+ travelers.

best gay cruises

Best Gay Cruise Destinations

The allure of gay cruises is not just in the onboard festivities and the inclusive atmosphere but also in the carefully selected destinations that offer rich cultural experiences, stunning landscapes, and LGBTQ+-friendly environments.

Let’s delve into some of the most popular destinations for gay cruises, highlighting the unique appeal of each.

1. Caribbean Cruises

  • Overview: The Caribbean is a perennial favorite for its crystal-clear waters, vibrant nightlife, and warm, welcoming cultures. Many islands are known for their gay-friendly beaches and bars, making them perfect stops for LGBTQ+ cruises.
  • Notable Stops: Key West, Florida, with its historic LGBTQ+ scene; San Juan, Puerto Rico, known for its lively LGBTQ+ community and events; and the Dutch Caribbean islands like Curaçao , which are celebrated for their progressive attitudes and inclusive atmosphere.

2. Mediterranean Cruises

  • Overview: Offering a blend of ancient history, stunning landscapes, and modern LGBTQ+ hotspots, Mediterranean cruises are ideal for travelers seeking a mix of relaxation, adventure, and cultural enrichment.
  • Notable Stops: Mykonos, Greece, famous for its gay beaches and nightlife; Barcelona, Spain, with its renowned LGBTQ+ district, Eixample; and Ibiza, Spain, known for its superclubs and LGBTQ+-friendly beaches.

3. Alaska Cruises

  • Overview: For those looking for breathtaking natural beauty and wildlife, Alaska cruises offer an unforgettable experience. While Alaska might not be known for a vibrant LGBTQ+ scene, many cruise lines host special events and excursions that cater to gay travelers.
  • Experiences: Glacier tours, wildlife spotting, and the majestic Northern Lights are just a few highlights, with some cruises offering LGBTQ+-specific groups and activities.

4. European River Cruises

  • Overview: These cruises provide an intimate setting to explore Europe’s heartland, with stops in historic cities and picturesque towns. Many operators offer LGBTQ+-exclusive cruises, ensuring a welcoming atmosphere throughout the journey.
  • Notable Routes: Cruises along the Danube and Rhine rivers stop in LGBTQ+-friendly cities like Amsterdam, Vienna, and Cologne, offering rich cultural experiences and vibrant gay scenes.

5. Special Event Cruises

  • Overview: Aligning with major LGBTQ+ events, these cruises offer the unique opportunity to celebrate global Pride festivals and other significant events with like-minded travelers.
  • Examples: Cruises that coincide with Sydney’s Mardi Gras, Amsterdam’s Gay Pride, or São Paulo’s LGBTQ+ Pride Parade, providing an immersive experience that combines the thrill of travel with the joy of celebration.

6. Exotic and Off-the-Beaten-Path Cruises

  • Overview: For the adventurous spirit, some gay cruises venture to less-traveled destinations, offering unique experiences in places like Antarctica, the Galápagos Islands, or the Arctic Circle.
  • Experiences: Wildlife expeditions, snorkeling in pristine waters, and exploring remote landscapes, all within an LGBTQ+-friendly setting.

Making the Most of Your Destination

Regardless of where your cruise takes you, there are several ways to maximize your experience:

  • Research Local LGBTQ+ Scenes: Before arriving, look into the LGBTQ+ bars, clubs, and community spaces in each port to make the most of your time ashore.
  • Participate in LGBTQ+-Friendly Excursions: Many cruises offer excursions designed with LGBTQ+ travelers in mind, focusing on inclusive experiences and exploring the local culture.
  • Connect with Locals: Engaging with the local LGBTQ+ community can provide a deeper understanding of the destination and enrich your travel experience.

Gay cruises not only provide a vibrant and fun atmosphere on board but also offer the chance to explore the world’s most beautiful and exciting destinations in an inclusive environment.

Whether you’re lounging on a beach in the Caribbean, exploring ancient ruins in the Mediterranean, or marveling at the natural wonders of Alaska, the destination-specific focus of gay cruises ensures an unforgettable journey tailored to the interests and needs of the LGBTQ+ community.

best gay cruises

Overnight and Day Cruises

For those looking for a brief escape or a taste of the cruising experience without committing to a week-long itinerary, overnight and day cruises offer the perfect solution.

These shorter voyages provide a condensed version of the traditional cruise experience, with a focus on LGBTQ+-friendly environments, amenities, and activities. Let’s explore the unique appeal of these cruises.

Overview of Short-Term Cruising Options

  • Convenience: Ideal for travelers with limited time, these cruises pack entertainment, relaxation, and adventure into a single day or night.
  • Variety: From luxury yachts to riverboats, the range of vessels and experiences caters to diverse preferences and budgets.
  • Accessibility: Often departing from major cities, they provide an easy getaway without the need for extensive travel planning.

Popular Destinations for Overnight and Day Cruises

  • Urban Escapes: Cities like New York, San Francisco, and London offer LGBTQ+-friendly day cruises that explore iconic landmarks from the water.
  • Natural Wonders: Locations such as the Florida Keys or the islands off the coast of Southern California provide picturesque settings for short-term cruises.
  • Cultural Journeys: European cities with navigable rivers, such as Paris and Amsterdam, offer cruises that blend scenic views with cultural immersion.

What to Expect

  • Tailored Activities: Even within the compact timeframe, guests can enjoy a variety of activities, from dance parties and live DJ sets to wine tastings and gourmet dining, all designed with the LGBTQ+ community in mind.
  • Intimate Settings: Smaller ships and shorter durations foster a more intimate atmosphere, making it easier to connect with fellow travelers.
  • Focused Themes: Many day and overnight cruises have specific themes, from Pride celebrations to film screenings and drag performances, enhancing the community vibe.

Making the Most Out of Short Cruises

  • Plan Ahead: With limited time onboard, it’s wise to review the cruise’s schedule in advance and prioritize activities or amenities you don’t want to miss.
  • Pack Light: For overnight cruises, packing light but thoughtfully can maximize your comfort and convenience, ensuring you have everything you need for a night away.
  • Connect and Socialize: Take advantage of the communal atmosphere to meet new people. Many travelers on these cruises are locals who can share insider tips about the LGBTQ+ scene in the area.

Why Choose an Overnight or Day Cruise?

  • Sampling the Experience: For those new to cruising, these shorter trips offer a glimpse into what a longer cruise might offer without the same level of commitment.
  • Celebratory Occasions: Perfect for celebrating special occasions like anniversaries, birthdays, or Pride month in a unique and memorable way.
  • Community Connection: These cruises provide a space to connect with the local and visiting LGBTQ+ community, often serving as social gatherings for those seeking to meet others within a relaxed setting.

Overnight and day cruises are an excellent option for LGBTQ+ travelers looking for a quick escape or a novel way to celebrate and connect with the community.

They combine the excitement and luxury of cruising with the convenience of shorter travel times, offering a unique blend of adventure, relaxation, and socializing.

Whether you’re exploring your local waterways or enjoying a thematic voyage, these cruises create memorable experiences and foster connections within the vibrant tapestry of the LGBTQ+ community.

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Planning Your Gay Cruise

Embarking on a gay cruise is an exciting venture, offering a blend of adventure, relaxation, and the opportunity to connect with the LGBTQ+ community.

Whether it’s your first time or you’re a seasoned cruiser, planning is key to ensuring a memorable and enjoyable experience.

Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you navigate the planning process, from choosing the right cruise to making the most of your time onboard.

Choosing the Right Cruise

  • Consider Your Preferences: Reflect on what you’re looking for in a cruise—whether it’s non-stop partying, cultural immersion, luxury pampering, or adventure activities. Different cruises cater to different interests and demographics within the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Research Cruise Lines: Look into various cruise lines and their offerings, focusing on those known for their LGBTQ+-friendly amenities, events, and itineraries.
  • Timing and Destination: Decide on your preferred timing and destination. Consider aligning your cruise with significant LGBTQ+ events or choosing off-peak times for a more relaxed experience.

Booking and Preparation

  • Early Booking Benefits: Booking early can secure you better deals and more options for cabins. Additionally, some cruises offer early bird discounts.
  • Understanding What’s Included: Familiarize yourself with what’s included in your cruise package (meals, entertainment, excursions) and what will be extra (alcohol, special activities).
  • Packing Essentials: Pack according to the destinations you’ll be visiting, the cruise’s theme nights, and any specific events. Don’t forget essentials like sunscreen, comfortable footwear, and formal wear if required.

Onboard Experience

  • Making Connections: Participate in onboard events and activities, especially those designed for the LGBTQ+ community, to meet fellow cruisers.
  • Stay Open and Flexible: While it’s good to have a plan, be open to spontaneity. Some of the best cruise experiences come from unexpected opportunities and new friendships.
  • Respect and Inclusivity: Remember, the LGBTQ+ community is diverse. Approach every interaction with respect and an open mind to ensure a positive experience for everyone.

At the Destination

  • LGBTQ+-Friendly Excursions: Choose excursions that offer unique local experiences while respecting the cultures and laws of the destinations you visit.
  • Safety First: Stay informed about the LGBTQ+ rights and social acceptance in each port. Always prioritize safety, especially in less LGBTQ+-friendly locations.
  • Explore Local LGBTQ+ Scenes: If time allows, explore the local LGBTQ+ nightlife or community spaces. It’s a great way to support local businesses and immerse yourself in the destination’s culture.

Health and Safety

  • Stay Informed: Be aware of health advisories and necessary vaccinations for your destinations. Also, consider travel insurance that covers medical care abroad.
  • Safe Practices: Cruise ships are known for their communal living spaces, so it’s essential to practice good hygiene and be mindful of your health and safety.

Community and Connections

  • Join Online Forums: Before your trip, join online groups or forums related to your cruise. It’s a great way to get tips, meet people, and even organize meet-ups before boarding.
  • Sharing Experiences: Consider sharing your room or excursions with fellow travelers to cut costs and make new friends.

Planning your gay cruise is an exhilarating process that sets the stage for an unforgettable journey.

By considering your personal preferences, engaging fully in the onboard experience, and exploring the rich cultures and LGBTQ+ communities at your destinations, you’re set for a trip filled with adventure, connection, and discovery.

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Health and Safety on Gay Cruises

Ensuring the health and safety of all passengers is a top priority for gay cruises, just as it is for any travel experience.

Given the unique needs and concerns of the LGBTQ+ community, gay cruises often go the extra mile in creating a secure and welcoming environment.

Here’s what you need to know about staying healthy and safe while enjoying the voyage of a lifetime.

Health Precautions

  • Vaccinations and Medical Check-ups: Before embarking, check the recommended vaccinations for your destinations and ensure you’re up to date. A pre-travel medical check-up can provide peace of mind.
  • Onboard Medical Facilities: Familiarize yourself with the medical services available on board. Most ships are equipped with medical centers that can handle a range of health issues.
  • Mental Health: The excitement of a cruise can be overwhelming for some. Cruise lines often provide resources and support for travelers facing mental health challenges, ensuring a supportive environment for all.
  • Sexual Health: Given the social nature of cruises, some offer access to sexual health services, including information, protection, and sometimes even testing, acknowledging and respecting the needs of their passengers.

Safety Tips

  • Stay Informed: Attend the safety drills and briefings provided at the beginning of your cruise. Familiarize yourself with the ship’s layout, particularly the location of emergency exits and assembly stations.
  • Be Aware of Local Laws and Customs: When visiting international ports, it’s crucial to be aware of and respect local laws and customs, especially in countries with restrictive laws regarding LGBTQ+ rights.
  • Buddy System: Especially when disembarking at ports, consider exploring in groups or pairs. Not only is it safer, but it also enhances the experience.
  • Protect Your Belongings: Use safes for valuables and be mindful of your belongings, especially in crowded public areas or on excursions.

Understanding Your Rights

  • LGBTQ+ Rights on Board: Familiarize yourself with the cruise line’s policies regarding discrimination and harassment. Knowing the process for reporting any issues is essential for your comfort and safety.
  • Embassy Contacts: For international cruises, have the contact information for your country’s embassy or consulate in the destinations you’ll visit. They can be invaluable resources in case of legal trouble or emergencies.

Travel Insurance

  • Comprehensive Coverage: Opt for travel insurance that covers medical emergencies, trip cancellations, and lost luggage. Some policies also offer specific coverage for LGBTQ+ travelers.
  • COVID-19 Considerations: In the current landscape, ensure your travel insurance covers COVID-19-related issues, including quarantine costs and medical treatment.

While the primary goal of a gay cruise is to offer an unforgettable and joyous experience, the health and safety of passengers and crew remain paramount.

By taking the necessary precautions and staying informed, you can fully enjoy the freedom, camaraderie, and adventure that gay cruises provide, all while feeling secure and respected.

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Community and Connection on Gay Cruises

One of the most compelling aspects of gay cruises is the profound sense of community and connection they foster among passengers.

These cruises provide a unique environment where LGBTQ+ individuals can come together to celebrate, share experiences, and form lasting bonds.

Below, we explore how gay cruises cultivate these connections and the impact they have on passengers.

Building Relationships

  • Social Events and Mixers: Cruise lines often organize mixers, cocktail parties, and themed nights specifically designed to encourage mingling and conversation among guests. These events are perfect opportunities to meet people from all over the world who share a common identity.
  • Group Activities and Excursions: Participating in group activities and shore excursions can also serve as a great way to meet fellow travelers. Whether it’s a city tour, a beach outing, or a hiking adventure, shared experiences can quickly turn into shared friendships.
  • Online Communities: Many cruise lines and charter companies have online forums or social media groups where passengers can connect before the cruise departs. This can be a great way to find people with similar interests or to organize meet-ups during the cruise.

Finding Support and Understanding

  • Inclusive Environment: On a gay cruise, passengers can find comfort in the knowledge that they are in a safe and inclusive environment. This sense of security allows guests to open up, share personal stories, and offer support to one another.
  • Visibility of LGBTQ+ Staff and Entertainers: Many gay cruises feature LGBTQ+ staff, entertainers, and guest speakers who share their own experiences and contribute to the sense of community onboard. Their visibility and engagement can be empowering for passengers.

Celebrating Diversity

  • Representation Across the Spectrum: Gay cruises are celebrated for their diversity, welcoming guests from all walks of life and across the spectrum of sexual orientations and gender identities. This diversity enriches the cruise experience, allowing passengers to learn from each other and celebrate their differences.
  • Special Interest Groups: To cater to the diverse interests and demographics within the LGBTQ+ community, some cruises offer specialized programming for various groups, such as LGBTQ+ families, singles, elders, and those interested in specific hobbies or activities.

Creating Lasting Bonds

  • Shared Memories: The unique experiences and adventures shared on a gay cruise often lead to lasting friendships and connections. Many passengers leave with not just memories, but new friends who have become like family.
  • Post-Cruise Reunions: It’s not uncommon for groups of friends who meet on a cruise to plan future trips together, attend reunions, or visit each other in their home countries. The bonds formed on these cruises can last a lifetime.

The Impact of Community on the Cruise Experience

The community aspect of gay cruises significantly enhances the overall experience.

For many, it’s not just about the destinations visited or the amenities offered onboard, but about the people they meet and the sense of belonging they feel.

This community atmosphere can transform a simple vacation into a profound and life-changing journey.

Gay cruises stand out not only as a vacation option but as a vibrant, inclusive space where connections are made, and community is celebrated.

Whether you’re looking for friendship, support, or simply the joy of being surrounded by like-minded individuals, the community on a gay cruise provides an enriching and unforgettable experience.

These cruises are about more than just travel; they’re about finding a place where you can truly be yourself, surrounded by a community that understands and celebrates every aspect of who you are.

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7 Not-to-Miss Gay Cruises in 2024

Have the tides swayed in your favor this year? Feeling down in the doldrums? Caught Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea about what to do? Maybe you aren't onboard with so many sailing metaphors – ok, we'll stop – but one thing is for sure: a new year brings new adventure possibilities on the high seas! One of our favorite travel experiences is a gay cruise and 2024 has got some great ones lined up.  Why not go sailing through idyllic Croatia? Or how about exploring the Caribbean aboard a large cruise ship? Or better yet, join us with Virgin Voyages for an all-inclusive cruise through Greece and our home country Spain.

Only you can choose, all we can do is point you in the right direction. Pick your favorite or pick them all, just don’t miss out!

Gay Group Tour of Greece & Croatia on Virgin Voyages by Two Bad Tourists

Join us on our gay group cruise with adult-only LGBTQ+ friendly cruise liners Virgin Voyages. We'll be hosting you ourselves as part of a large group, on an even larger fun-filled adult playground of a boat. Together we'll enjoy group dinners in quirky themed restaurants, an eclectic mix of shore excursions, private events, amazing entertainment, drag shows & more. The cruise is all-inclusive – apart from alcohol and any special treatments you might want to pamper yourself with – so the cruise is also friendly on the wallet. Come with your friends, family, partner(s) or even come alone. In fact, most of our guests are solo travelers so you’ll be in good company. We'll anchor in three countries over seven days – beginning in Athens then porting at Dubrovnik and Split in Croatia, Kotor in Montenegro and finally loop back to Corfu and Athens in Greece.  View Greece & Croatia Cruise →

June 16-23, 2024

Gay Group Tour of Spain, France & Italy on Virgin Voyages by Two Bad Tourists

Hop aboard the Irresistible Med cruise to see three of Europe’s most beloved countries in just one week! Virgin Voyages isn’t just gay-friendly, they are gay-loving, and they’ve invited us to be your hosts as we set sail from Barcelona in October. We’ll see Toulon – the “crown jewel” of Southern France -, the snow-capped mountains of Marina di Carrara in Italy, hit the party island of Ibiza for a bar crawl and more. No Virgin Voyages cruise is ever the same and they know how to run a fun-filled vessel. Expect group dinners in quirky restaurants, unique shore excursions, private events, late-night parties, eclectic entertainment, drag shows & a host of other surprises besides. Don't forget to pack your red clothes for the infamous Scarlet Party!  View Med Cruise →

October 6-13, 2024

Treasures of Venice Dalmatian Coast Cruise (Source Journeys)

Source Journeys are an LGBTQ+ cruise operator whose cruises effortlessly blend luxury with old school style adventures. Their vessel, The Royal Clipper, is the largest five masted full-rigged sailing ship in the world. August 2024 it sets sail from Venice along the Dalmatian Coast – porting at Kotor, Dubrovnik, Zadar, Hvar, the Pakleni Islands and Rovinj before looping back to Venice. Throughout the all-inclusive cruise you’ll enjoy on shore excursions into ancient old towns, see cascading waterfalls and hidden coves, relax on picture perfect beaches and dine on fine regional food while lubricating your adventure with unlimited free drinks. On board there’s two swimming pools, a spa, a crow’s nest to climb, LGBTQ+ focused entertainment and fun themed parties to keep you entertained when out on the high seas. View Venice Dalmatian Coast Cruise →

August 17 – 24, 2024

LGBTQ+ & Friends Cruise – The Netherlands (VIVA Cruises)

Take a cruise through an understated world of rich history and vibrant culture with VIVA Cruises this March. Set sail from Antwerp – Belgium’s second largest city and foodie paradise – on an all-inclusive five-day LGBTQ+ & Friends River Cruise from Belgium to Holland. Port at Rotterdam – a timeless beauty of a city known for its bold architecture and intriguing museums –  before arriving in Holland's much lauded capital and holiday destination, Amsterdam. There you’ll spend two days traversing the vibrant streets of Amsterdam – visiting the Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank’s House, the infamous red light district and more. VIVA cruises' excursions will show you the best the cities have to offer, while fun, quirky and LGBTQ+ focused on board entertainment will keep you partying till the early morning. View European Cruise →

February 28 – March 3, 2024

Croatia Gay Sailing (Pride Sailing)

Pride sailing trips are second to none, we should know because we've been  on this gay sailing trip – multiple times. You can enjoy an island-hopping vacation around the beautiful Croatian coastline with gay guests from around the world and a certified skipper to pilot the boat. You’ll stop at the best gay-friendly locations in the area for you to explore, as well as great beaches for an afternoon dip. You will arrive in port with enough time to explore the island, relax on your private yacht or find a nice cocktail sunset bar. The amazing destinations include the famous island of Vis, Hvar with its buzzing nightlife and fine dining, plus you’ll get the opportunity to party in Split’s bars and clubs. View Croatia Sailing →

Multiple departure dates in June, July, August and September 2024

Greece Gay Sailing (Pride Sailing)

Sail the legendary Greek islands in 2024! Athens is the departure port since it makes booking flights simple with lots of direct options from Europe and abroad. The itinerary from Athens features a variety of islands and mainland ports including Hydra, Spetses, Porto Heli, Ermioni, Poros and Agistri. This group of islands known as the Saronics offers picturesque and energetic stops where you can discover local culture, classical architecture and the best of Greek cuisine, all while enjoying breathtaking islands, ports and local hospitality. It's the side of Greece where sailors gravitate due to its gentle winds and calm seas and is the perfect sailing spot. Add on a few days in Athens before or after the trip to explore the history of this Ancient Greek city. Alternatively, take their Ionian Sea Cruise for a more relaxed 7-day island hopping adventure from Lefkas on the other side of Greece. View Greece Sailing →

Melbourne to Sydney Cruise (Atlantis on Virgin Voyages)

Atlantis cruises are always a bit raunchy and this one is no exception. Come aboard the Resilient Lady for four days of no-holds barred fun, sailing from Melbourne to Sydney with stops at Burnie in Tasmania and Australia's Newcastle along the way. If that ship name sounds familiar, it's because it belongs to adult cruise liners Virgin Voyages, who are lending out their vessel for an all gay cruise that isn't likely to have many virgins aboard! Just as with all Virgin ships, buffets and large dining halls are replaced with quirky international themed restaurants and there are no hidden fees, since gratuity/tips are already included. The entertainment naturally has a gayer twist to it, but Virgin ships always have vibrant shows like drag queen bingo, night-time parties – up on deck or in their own club – and many extra surprises. On land excursions include trips to Australia and Tasmania's iconic beaches, wineries and other treats. It’s the perfect blend of true relaxation and the absolute best Atlantis parties, entertainment, and endless fun for 2,000 guys from around the world. View Atlantis Australia Cruise →

February 7 – 10, 2024

Interested in joining a gay cruise? Check out our Ultimate Guide on Finding the Best Gay Cruise !

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Embark on a unique journey with your Cruise4Bears. Our inclusive voyages offer unforgettable adventures for LGBTQ+ men of all sizes, and ages. Upcoming sailings for 2024-2025:

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VACAYA: Amsterdam Pride Europe River Cruise 2024

Dates: august. 3–15, 2024 transcend: advance departure city: amsterdam, netherlands disembark city: antwerp, belgium.

VACAYA  does this special river cruise.  For the Brussels Carpet Flower Festival.  You start off in one of the world’s gayest cities  Amsterdam .  Your ship is 2 nights 3 days docked for pride.  Sail the River to 9 stops in the Netherlands and Belgium . Your last stop overnight in Antwerp . This ship was previously a Crystal. This all inclusive River Cruise. It includes free flow spirits, wine, beer and non alcoholic beverages throughout the cruise.  Plus most excursions. With 104 guests. You really connect with your fellow passengers. Pre and Post add ons available to make the trip even longer.

From $6997 per person

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‘Support For The Cuban People’ LGBTQ+ Tours For Americans

Our Support For The Cuban People tour is designed to satisfy the requirements and documentation for Americans to visit legally, as well as provide a comprehensive perspective on Cuban art, cuisine, history, and daily life. Read More

Mykonos, Greece: Why You’ll Love This LGBTQ-Friendly Paradise

Greece was one of the first places on Earth to embrace gay stuff way back in the 7th century BCE, and today, it's home to Mykonos, one of the most LGBTQ-friendly islands in the world. Read More

Ooooooookavango Where The Wind Comes Sweeping Down The Delta

We're flexing our musical muscles, (sometimes terribly) and defying gravity to visit 525,600 creatures on a sassy safari sojourn to Botswana's Okavango Delta. If you're a fan of broadway, this blog's for you! Read More

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Are You A Travel Top? You May Be Missing Out.

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Costa Rica gay tourism might be the best-kept secret; dazzling nightlife, lush jungles, pristine beaches and a volcano! Read More

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Small but mighty, little gay NZ punches above its weight in regards to LGBTQ+ rights and happiness. Read More

Homosexuality In Japan: A Surprisingly Colourful History

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The World’s 10 Greatest LGBTQ-Friendly Countries for Travellers

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Gay Cruises in Europe

Gay Cruises in Europe: Top Destinations and Tips for an Unforgettable Vacation

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Embarking on a gay cruise in Europe can be one of the most memorable experiences of your life. An opportunity to not only explore some of the world’s most iconic landmarks, stunning landscapes, and diverse cultures, but also to make connections and share experiences with like-minded people from the global LGBTQ+ community. 

This article aims to guide you through every aspect of a gay cruise Europe experience, from choosing the right operators to exploring top destinations, and from planning your trip efficiently to maximizing your enjoyment on board.

Understanding Gay Cruises in Europe

If you’re looking for a unique way to explore Europe and connect with other LGBTQ+ individuals, a gay cruise Europe might be the perfect option. These cruises are explicitly tailored to the LGBTQ+ community, providing a safe and welcoming environment where you can be yourself and meet like-minded people.

Lovers on Cruise 1

One of the most significant advantages of a gay cruise Europe is the opportunity to visit multiple destinations in one trip. You’ll be able to explore different cities and countries while enjoying all the amenities and activities available on board the ship. From sunbathing on the deck to dancing the night away at the onboard club, there’s something for everyone on a gay cruise Europe.

Another benefit of a gay cruise Europe is the chance to connect with other LGBTQ+ individuals worldwide. You’ll be able to make new friends, share experiences, and build lasting relationships with people who understand and appreciate your identity.

When choosing a gay cruise Europe, it’s essential to do your research and find a cruise that fits your preferences and interests. Some cruises are more party-oriented, while others focus on cultural experiences and sightseeing. You’ll also want to consider the size of the ship, the itinerary, and the onboard amenities to ensure you have the best possible experience.

The Major Players: Top European Gay Cruise Operators

When it comes to gay cruise Europe, there are a few significant players that stand out. These operators offer a range of packages, services, and entertainment options to suit different tastes and preferences. Here are three of the top European gay cruise operators:

Atlas is a well-established operator offering gay cruises in Europe for over a decade. The company has a reputation for providing high-quality services and entertainment, focusing on creating a fun and inclusive atmosphere for all guests. Atlas offers a range of routes and packages, from Mediterranean cruises to Baltic Sea adventures. On board, you can expect top-notch amenities, including fine dining, spa services, and exciting nightlife.

Baltic Sea adventures

2. Brand g Euro River Cruise

Brand g Euro River Cruise is a newer player in the European gay cruise scene, but it has quickly made a name for itself with its innovative approach to cruising. The company specializes in river cruises, which offer a unique way to explore Europe’s waterways and cities. Brand g Euro River Cruise is known for its attention to detail and personalized service, focusing on creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for all guests. The company allows a range of packages and routes, including cruises along the Danube, Rhine, and Seine rivers.

Seine rivers

3. La Demence Cr uise

La Demence Cruise is one of the most popular gay cruise operators in Europe, with a reputation for throwing some of the wildest parties at sea. The company offers a range of cruises, from Mediterranean adventures to Caribbean escapes, all focusing on non-stop entertainment and fun. On board, you can expect world-class DJs, themed parties, and plenty of opportunities to let loose and enjoy yourself. La Demence Cruise is not for the faint of heart, but if you’re looking for a wild and unforgettable experience, this is the operator.

If you’re looking for a gay cruise Europe, these three operators are among the best in the business. Each offers a unique experience, with different routes, packages, and entertainment options to suit other preferences. Whether you’re looking for a luxurious river cruise or a wild party at sea, an operator can provide the experience you’re looking for.

Detailed Look at Key Gay Cruise Destinations in Europe

Gay-friendly european ports of call.

Regarding gay-friendly ports of call in Europe, several destinations stand out. One of the most popular is Ibiza, Spain, known for its vibrant nightlife and beautiful beaches. The island is home to several gay bars and clubs and a thriving LGBTQ community.

Another popular destination for gay cruises in Europe is Mykonos, Greece. This picturesque island in the Aegean Sea is known for its stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and lively gay scene. The town of Mykonos is home to several gay bars and clubs and several gay-friendly hotels and resorts.

Cannes, France, is another popular port of call for gay cruises in Europe. This charming coastal town is famous for its film festival, but it’s also a great place to explore on foot, with its narrow streets, colorful buildings, and bustling markets. There are several gay-friendly bars and restaurants in Cannes and several LGBTQ+ events throughout the year.

Exploring Off-The-Beaten-Path Destinations

If you’re looking to explore some off-the-beaten-path destinations on your gay cruise in Europe, consider several options. One is Dubrovnik, Croatia, known for its stunning architecture, rich history, and beautiful beaches. The city is also home to several gay-friendly bars and clubs and several LGBTQ+ events throughout the year.

Another off-the-beaten-path destination to consider is Kotor, Montenegro. This charming coastal town is nestled at the foot of a mountain range and is known for its beautiful scenery, historic landmarks, and relaxed atmosphere. While there aren’t many gay-specific venues in Kotor, the town generally welcomes LGBTQ travelers.

Features of an Ideal Gay Cruise

When planning a gay cruise Europe, you want to choose a cruise with the best features for an unforgettable experience. Here are some features to look out for:

1. On-Board LGBTQ+ Events

An ideal gay cruise Europe should offer a range of onboard events that cater to the LGBTQ+ community. This could include drag shows, cabaret performances, and themed parties. Look for a cruise that has a diverse range of events that cater to different interests and preferences.

Parties are an essential part of any gay cruise Europe experience. Look for a cruise that offers a range of parties, including pool parties, dance parties, and themed parties. A great party should have a lively atmosphere, great music, and plenty of opportunities to socialize and meet new people.

cruise gay party

3. Diversity

Diversity is an essential aspect of any gay cruise Europe. Look for a cruise that offers a diverse range of passengers, including people from different backgrounds, ages, and nationalities. This will ensure you can meet people from all walks of life and make new friends.

4. Inclusivity

Inclusivity is another essential feature of an ideal gay cruise Europe. Look for a cruise that is welcoming to all members of the LGBTQ+ community, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation. This will ensure that anybody feels comfortable and included on the cruise.

Overall, an ideal gay cruise Europe should offer a range of onboard events, parties, diversity, and inclusivity. By choosing a cruise that provides these features, you can ensure that you have an unforgettable experience and make new friends from all over the world.

Practical Tips When Planning Your European Gay Cruise 

If you’re planning a gay cruise in Europe, there are a few practical tips you should keep in mind to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience.

Time to Cruise

The best time to go on a gay cruise in Europe is during the summer months, from June to September. This is when the weather is warm and sunny, and most cruise lines offer their itineraries during this time.

Packing Tips

When packing for your gay European cruise, bring plenty of sunscreens, swimwear, and comfortable clothing for daytime activities. For evening events, consider packing some dressier outfits. Also, remember to pack any necessary medications and travel documents.

When booking your gay cruise in Europe, it’s crucial to choose a reputable cruise line that caters to the LGBTQ+ community. Research different cruise lines and read reviews from previous passengers to find the right fit for you.

Budget Considerations

Gay cruises in Europe can vary in price depending on the itinerary, cruise line, and time of year. Make sure to set a budget and stick to it. Consider booking early to take advantage of early-bird discounts, and look for package deals that include airfare and other perks.

While Europe is generally a safe destination for LGBTQ+ travelers, taking precautions is still important. Avoid public displays of affection in countries where diversity is not widely accepted, and be aware of your surroundings when exploring new destinations.

Cruise travel insurance is a must-have for any traveler hitting the high seas. Discover why you need this valuable coverage and how it can benefit you.

Before embarking on your gay cruise in Europe, consult your doctor and get any necessary vaccinations or medications. Packaging a basic first-aid kit for minor injuries and illnesses is also a good idea.

Considering these practical tips, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable gay cruise in Europe.

A gay cruise in Europe is an unforgettable adventure, filled with stunning sights, great parties, and friendly people. It’s the perfect way to see new places and meet fellow travelers from the LGBTQ+ community. Whether you’re a fan of history, culture, or just love to be on the sea, a gay cruise offers something for everyone. So, pack your bags and get ready for a vacation of a lifetime! Happy cruising!

Christian Petzold

Christian Petzold is a successful touristic entrepreneur, experiential traveller and round-the-world backpacker. He holds an academic degree in tourism management.

His touristic expertise has been covered in radio, newspaper and television.

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2024 Greece & Turkey Cruise



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Choose from an incredible array of beers, spirits, cocktails, liqueurs, frozen drinks, wines by the glass, sodas, juices, specialty coffees and bottled water.  Click to view what's included in each package.

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Cruising your way...

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Pied Piper Cruises is the premier agency for LGBTQ group cruises, serving the LGBTQ community for over 32 years! Committed to offering an extensive variety of cruise destinations on the finest cruise ships and liners at the best fares available, Pied Piper gives you so much more, including private parties, group shore excursions and dining together with your new friends. You’ll have more fun and will never be alone when you are in the comfort of your own group environment. You can relax in knowing that Pied Piper will have it all arranged for you before you board your ship. It’s cruising your way. All Pied Piper LGBTQ group cruises are subject to minimum participation.

PIED PIPER CRUISES is thrilled to announce that we have partnered with MSC Cruises to offer you sailings on the fabulous and exciting ships of MSC Cruises! Thanks to requests from our passengers, we are pleased to offer more alternative itineraries and different innovative ships! First to be added to our calendar are three amazing voyages to Europe in the Summer of 2024! We’ll be sailing on three amazing MSC Cruises ships, Orchestra, Splendida and the incredible new ship, World Europa! The itineraries we’ve selected are spectacular, with visits to new and exciting ports of call you’ll love! Please click on our calendar for exact dates and details!

Why MSC cruises? MSC has an incredible fleet of new and exciting ships! They’re larger and have much more activities to do onboard. Also, the MSC ships have larger cabins, more onboard dining options, lounges, and incredible entertainment! Plus, the balcony cabins on MSC ships have real outdoor balconies and not Verandas with windows! Also, the MSC itineraries are more unique with ports of call you most likely haven’t been to before! Not the same old itineraries, but something new and exciting!

MSC matches other cruise lines loyalty status! Even if you’ve never sailed with MSC cruises before, they will match the loyalty status you have with other cruise lines before you even make a reservation with them! Then, you will get on your MSC cruise the same benefits that you enjoy with the other cruise lines, including onboard benefits and past-passenger discounts! Please let us know your other cruise line membership number at time of inquiry or reservation and we’ll set up a matching loyalty status account with MSC cruises. Your benefits will be similar to what you get with the other cruise line! You’ll also get an additional discount on your new reservation with MSC cruises!

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Pied Piper is celebrating our 34th anniversary season of LGBTQ Group Cruises! We hope you can join us on a cruise this year and in the future.

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Cruise Gay Atlantis Istanbul Chypre Le Caire Crete Mykonos Athènes

From Wednesday 17 July 2024 to Wednesday 24 July 2024

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Cruise Gay Atlantis Barcelone Malaga Cadix Lisbonne La Corogne Bilbao Bordeaux Portsmouth

From Tuesday 13 August 2024 to Friday 23 August 2024

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Cruise Gay Atlantis Croisière anniversaire des 35 ans dans les caraïbes 2025

From Monday 03 February 2025 to Monday 10 February 2025

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Istanbul Chypre Le Caire Crete Mykonos Athènes

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gay cruises europe 2024

Barcelone Malaga Cadix Lisbonne La Corogne Bilbao Bordeaux Portsmouth

From the Mediterranean to the English Channel

gay cruises europe 2024

Croisière anniversaire des 35 ans dans les caraïbes 2025

Anniversary cruise, 35 years.

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  • Brand g Gives Back: We’ve donated more than $750,000 to LGBT+ organizations in the U.S. and around the world, including LGBT Centers, HIV organizations, Gay Men’s Choruses, Refugee NGO’s and more. 

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2024 japan – land of the rising sun, may 12 - , may 24, 2024.

  • Sold Out - Waitlist Only

Customized tour of Japan, including Tokyo, Hiroshima and Kyoto and many more Japan top destinations, epic sites and off-the-beaten-track hidden gems.

2024 bordeaux and the loire valley cruise, may 22 - , may 29, 2024.

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An all-inclusive, all-LGBT+, 5 night riverboat cruise featuring 2 pre-cruise nights in Bordeaux.

2024 norway and iceland luxury exploration, jun 18 - , jun 26, 2024, 9-day cruise from bergen in norway taking in flam, olden and alesund with a day at sea before exploring the delights of iceland including seydisfjordur, akureyri and isafjordur and finally the country's capital, reykjavik., 2024 dutch & belgian delights river cruise, aug 5 - , aug 12, 2024, an all-inclusive lgbt+, 7 - night deluxe riverboat cruise featuring the idyllic waterways of holland and belgium., 2024 tuscany, treats and treasures, aug 6 - , aug 14, 2024, as part of our luxury land collection, we are pleased to offer this brand new customized tour of tuscany, italy, including pisa, lucca, cinque terre, florence, chianti region, parma and ending in venice., 2024 venice, croatia and sicily luxury cruise, aug 14 - , aug 23, 2024, 10-day all lgbt+ luxury cruise from venice, italy along the adriatic coast to rovinj, sibenik and dubrovnik in croatia, albania with a day at sea as you sail towards gallipoli and sicily, finishing in malta., 2024 prague & danube river cruise, aug 27 - , sep 5, 2024, an all-inclusive, 7-night deluxe danube riverboat cruise aboard the brand-new, high-tech amadeus nova, plus 2 deluxe pre-cruise nights in prague., 2024 portugal & the douro river, sep 20 - , sep 29, 2024, an all-inclusive, 7-night deluxe douro riverboat cruise featuring 2 pre-cruise nights in lisbon., 2024 andalucía – land of the moors and more, oct 1 - , oct 7, 2024, customized tour of andalucía, spain, including seville, ronda, granada and sacramento and many more andalusian top destinations, epic sites and historical gems., 2024 nepal & bhutan exploration, oct 5 - , oct 15, 2024, immerse yourself in the natural beauty and culture of two beautiful himalayan kingdoms in one magical lgbt+ tour of nepal and bhutan., 2024 málaga, morocco and the canary islands cruise, oct 7 - , oct 14, 2024.

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8-day cruise from Málaga, Spain, through the Strait of Gibraltar to Morocco and ending in the Canary Islands!

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What’s the Difference Between Big-Ship Gay Cruise Companies and Brand g?

Big LGBT+ ocean cruises can be a blast – there are tons of hot people to get to know biblically, big, all-night dance parties, and

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Why are Destinations Like the Galapagos, Antarctica and Gorilla Trekking So Expensive?

Who hasn’t dreamed of bucket list trips like the Galapagos, Antarctica, or gorilla trekking in Rwanda? Who doesn’t want to get a selfie with the

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Morocco is a country that had always been on my bucket list, ever since I saw Patsy and Edina go there in an Absolutely Fabulous

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From prom to pirates: 10 LGBTQ+ cruise pics that'll inspire your next theme party

VACAYA/Gabriel Goldberg (@HollywoodBruisers)

June marks the beginning of not only Pride Month, but the height of cruise season. You'll need sunscreen and a bathing suit, of course. But LGBTQ + cruises are also renowned for their various theme parties, which require their own level of prep and packing.

Standing out amid a shipful of theme queens can be daunting. So for inspiration, check out some of the highlights from the theme parties of VACAYA's 2024 Caribbean cruise. Themes included prom, pirates, cowboys, nearly naked, fetish, seeing red, and red-yellow-green.

Check out the lewks below. And learn more about VACAYA events, including upcoming cruises through Europe and Alaska, at .

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'Gay summer camp': How cruises create space for LGBTQ+ travelers at sea

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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.

'We have to be on guard a lot': Why safety comes first for so many LGBTQ travelers

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].

'You're not fighting the crowds' in Europe when you visit on a river cruise

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Europe has no shortage of marquee tourist hot spots , but Diamond Meadows’ first river cruise there didn’t include them.

The 28-year-old graduate student took a cruise along the Rhine and Moselle rivers that took her to cities like Koblenz and Trier in Germany (she supplemented the sailing with train travel around Austria, Switzerland and elsewhere).

Meadows was traveling with her mom and her mom’s boss, who uses a wheelchair. The group chose the CroisiEurope Cruises sailing for the ease of sailing with a mobility device . But she discovered other upsides.

“It takes you exactly into the heart of the city,” said Meadows, who is based in Tennessee. Their roughly 160-guest vessel offered convenient drop-offs in smaller destinations, allowing them “to access so much more.”

Many European destinations were packed with tourists last summer . But river cruises in the continent can offer a more laid-back way to travel with small ships visiting a mix of popular and less-crowded ports.

Are river cruises better than ocean cruises?

Jen Campbell Boles, founder of the travel agency Explore More Family Travel, said that while cruising in general is a “great value for seeing Europe,” river sailings are particularly immersive. “One quote we always use in the travel industry is, ‘Ocean cruise liners take you to the destination, river cruises take us through the destination,’” she said.

Passengers visit not only major cities but also quaint villages and often disembark within walking distance of attractions. When they are done exploring, they return to a ship with an average of 150 guests.

“It's more intimate, it's cozier,” said Campbell Boles. “You're not fighting the crowds, obviously.”

That was part of the draw for Jim Jones, 57, who took Avalon Waterways river cruises with his wife in 2011 and 2014.

“The smaller cities were an attraction,” said Jones, who is based in Phoenix and works for a software company. He enjoyed visiting Avignon in the south of France, for example, which was once the seat of the papacy . “I’m a total history geek,” he said. On their first cruise, he recalled, “just about every town” they visited had a farmers’ market, allowing them to sample local food.

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Unlike ocean cruise ships, with their large casinos and plentiful bars, onboard “it was very relaxed and a much slower pace.”

River cruise vessels tend to have “less bells and whistles,” Campbell Boles said (though she added that guests get a more personalized experience as a result of their small size).

Adam Duckworth, president and founder of Travelmation, echoed that. He said the cruises are less about the ship than where it’s going. “This is truly an experience about itineraries.”

Are European river cruises cheaper than land-based trips?

While travelers can find land-based accommodations that are less expensive than river cruises, there are other factors to consider.

River cruises tend to bundle more costs, such as alcohol in the fare, than a mainstream ocean cruise line, Duckworth said (though exact policies vary by line). At least one excursion per day is typically included, as well, Campbell Boles added.

She said demand for Europe is still “through the roof” and land-based pricing is particularly high. “Even if you're staying in the highest category stateroom or suite, you're spending less than an equivalent hotel,” she said.

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Transportation from one destination to another is also built into a river cruise, whereas travelers might have to take a train or make other arrangements to visit a mix of places. “I mean that really adds up in Europe, so this is a great way to see a lot more variety,” Campbell Boles said.

Passengers can also add pre- and post-cruise stays, allowing them to “get the best of both worlds.”

“What we say is that a river cruise oftentimes can be a premium product,” added Duckworth. “But for what you're experiencing – the comfort, the (lower) stress, the luxurious experience on board – we find it to be actually the best value through Europe from our experience.”

Are European river cruises kid-friendly?

Since river cruises require a certain amount of free time – most are at least seven days long – they have tended to be popular with older guests, according to Duckworth.

But in the past couple of years, he has noticed more multigenerational travel in the sector. “We're seeing grandparents bring their grandkids, we're seeing young professionals go on a river in Europe for the first time,” Duckworth said.

Some operators have offerings that are particularly well-suited to younger guests. Adventures by Disney offers river cruises with AmaWaterways, and Uniworld Boutique River Cruises has a Generations Collection .

How long should I go on a cruise?: How long and short cruises compare

Even if programming is curated with kids in mind, though, Duckworth cautioned that river cruise vessels don’t offer the same breadth of amenities as large ocean ships. “If your kids want to go to a waterpark and they want to go on a FlowRider and they want to play putt-putt all day, there are great lines for you, but a European river cruise is probably not one of them currently,” he said.

Some lines also don’t allow kids or have varying age requirements, so it’s important to do some research beforehand.

For those going for the first time, Campbell Boles suggested starting with a cruise on the Danube or Rhine since they are “kind of the most iconic.”

“I mean, it’s Europe,” she added. “It’s going to be great no matter what river you go on.”

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


From shaking beds to gender-neutral toilets, we’re flying the flag for these inclusive cruises

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An LGBTQ+ couple on a Virgin Voyages cruise

A holiday isn’t a holiday if it makes life more difficult, right? And for many, a cruising trip abroad can feel like a bridge too far.

If you’ve ever gone away and been tutted at or gawked at while enjoying a moment at the bar, you’d probably rather stay home instead.

Well, a number of cruise operators have been thinking about how to make their trips more inclusive and accessible to a wider variety of guests, and their efforts have not gone unnoticed.

Whether it’s gender-neutral toilets or sign language interpreters, we’ve plucked the boats that boast a better experience for everyone from the Sailawaze Excellence Awards .

Virgin Voyages

After a day of sightseeing, what can be more entertaining than a night of drag performance? It’s par for the course at Virgin Voyages, where all staff are encouraged to express their gender identity freely.

The company prides itself on being a welcoming space for LGBTQ+ passengers with its gender-neutral toilets and hospitable atmosphere.

Founder Richard Branson has a long history of supporting gay rights, beginning with legendary Heaven nightclub in London, and the celebrations on his ships ramp up in June as themed parties are thrown and guests are presented with pride-inspired cocktails and on-deck DJs.

A wedding on a Virgin Voyages cruise

Celebrity Cruises

If you thought cruises were only for the silver-haired, you’d be wrong. Celebrity Cruises are a riot of colour, flying every hue of the LGBTQ+ flag – especially in June, Pride Month.

The operation, which travels to every continent, even hosted the first legal same-sex marriage at sea in 2018 and regularly holds gay weddings.

Celebrity Cruises says it promotes diversity among both staff and guests and throws regular LGBTQ+ welcome events to get the party started.

Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line

Family-friendly operators Disney Cruise Line prides itself on making trips accessible to those with additional needs. Guests with disabilities have access to comfortable staterooms and suites, along with a full range of services, facilities, and amenities, including auxiliary aids.

Its liners are also home to specially designed communication staterooms for guests with hearing disabilities, including a vibrating bed shaker under the mattress and an indicating panel with light signals for the doorbell, telephone calls, general alarm and fire alarm.

The ships also provide sign language interpreters for shows and entertainment.

Saga Cruises

If a loud party isn’t for you, over 50s can enjoy a more sedate voyage, with Saga Cruises providing a number of options for guests with mobility issues. A chauffeur service to and from ports is provided as standard on all trips, rooms are equipped with hearing loop systems and hoists are available to help guests in and out of the pools.

Assistance is also provided to those who need help with baggage and large print is provided in the cinema guide and daily paper, alongside Braille playing cards.

A-Rosa Cruises

A child doing a peace sign in a pool on a ship.

Meanwhile, A-Rosa Cruises are designed with families and multi-generational groups in mind. Under-15s travel for free and family rooms have been provided so up to five can share a room while they meander along Europe’s rivers, waking up in a different city each day.

Hosts are available to take care of youngsters in the kids club, where children can choose from a variety of activities, including crafting, T-shirt design and face painting while adults can enjoy a relaxing treatment at the spa.

The rest of the nominations

Food & beverage.

Aqua Expeditions

TUI River Cruises

Windstar Cruises

Explora Journeys

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

P&O Cruises

Riverside Luxury Cruises

Emerald Cruises


Swan Hellenic

Princess Cruises

MSC Cruises

Royal Caribbean


AE Expeditions

The Majestic Line

Portsmouth International Port



Carnival Cruise Line

Marella Cruises


Ambassador Cruise Line

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines

Oceania Cruises

Havila Voyages

Pandaw Expeditions

Holland America Line


VIVA Cruises

This year, European river specialist VIVA Cruises launched its inaugural LGBT voyage, which took travellers to Antwerp, Rotterdam and Amsterdam where they could visit the world’s largest archive of LGBTQ+ history by day and party at the city’s vibrant gay and lesbian bars by night.

VIVA is a member of the International LGBTQ+ Travel Association, an organisation built to promote equality and safety within LGBTQ+ tourism.

Autistic travellers, those with Down syndrome and other additional needs can benefit from a specially designed holiday with Royal Caribbean. Priority check-in, boarding and departure are available to those who need it and the Autism on the Seas programme offers ‘staffed cruises’ with specialised respite sessions and private activities and sessions.

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A cruise ship crashed with a motorboat in Hungary over the weekend, leaving two dead and five others missing — with the captain later detained on suspicions that he failed to stop before the accident and didn’t help the victims, police said Monday.

The captain, a Czech national, was on the Swiss-based cruise ship Saturday night when it struck a motorboat that was carrying eight people on the Danube River.  

Damage to the front of the cruise ship that authorities say slammed into a smaller craft on the Danube River this weekend.

“Based on the suspicion of police, the captain did not alert his crew after the accident, did not follow provisions of the rescue protocol and took no action whatsoever to save the persons afflicted,” police said in a statement.

Authorities uncovered the catastrophe that night when a 35-year-old man was found with a bloody head wound near a main road near Veroce, about 35 miles north of Budapest.

“Police talked to the man and from his initial communication they drew the conclusion that he was probably the victim of some kind of boat accident,” Soma Csecsi, spokesperson for the Budapest police, said this weekend.

Authorities also recovered another man’s body downstream — and found a woman’s corpse farther along, near a bridge on the outskirts of Budapest.

Cops also found their damaged boat there.

Disaster response units have been searching for the five missing people — all of whom were in the smaller craft — as they question dozens of witnesses, including the cruise shop crews, tourists on board and others.

Police near the ship.

Cops have also found signs of damage on the side of the cruise ship.

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Damage to the front of the cruise ship that authorities say slammed into a smaller craft on the Danube River this weekend.


Hungary detains captain of cruise ship involved in Danube collision

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The river cruise ship 'Heidelberg' is seen following an accident on Danube river, near Komarom

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