Travel
4 min

9 great cruises from winter to spring

Snap up a stateroom on an LGBT cruise and sail off into the sunset

A sexy cruiser in his Atlantis cap relaxes on the pool deck with Peter James’s Not Dead Yet. Check out what other Atlantis cruisers were reading. Credit: Jeffrey Luscombe

It’s that time of year again when those of us in chillier lands eagerly eye outbound flights and temperatures in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s the perfect time to snap up a stateroom onboard one of the enticing LGBT cruises about to sail off into the sunset. This winter has some wonderful escapes on offer for lesbians and gay men, from a luxurious Amazonian riverboat adventure set for deepest Peru to the marvellous mayhem of two itineraries that coincide with the greatest LGBT carnival of them all, Sydney Mardi Gras.

1.  Panama Canal to Costa Rica cruise
Olivia’s Panama Canal to Costa Rica Cruise, on the five-star, 148-passenger, four-masted MS Wind Spirit, offers ample opportunities for adventure in Panama and Costa Rica as it sails from Colón, Panama, through three locks of the Panama Canal, to the UNESCO-venerated coral reef destination Coiba Island (the largest island in Central America). Continuing on, ports of call include the stunning Costa Rican beaches of Golfito and Bahia Drake — with its crags, crocodiles and tapirs — and the rainforest town of Quepos, before it’s time to disembark in Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica. Onboard entertainment is taken care of by comedian Sandra Valls and singer/comedian Lisa Koch.
Jan 24–31
Olivia, olivia.com
Clientele: Mostly lesbian
Price: From $4,199 (all prices in US dollars) for ocean-view cabins

2.  Silhouette Caribbean cruise
Escape winter in the most luxurious way possible aboard the 2,800-passenger Celebrity Silhouette as she sails from Fort Lauderdale for the warm waters of the Caribbean. Among a host of amenities, the Silhouette boasts an incredible spa, an outdoor barbecue grill and wooden decks. Tea-dances, parties and events confetti the social calendar for this seven-day sailing to Labadee, Haiti; Philipsburg, St Maarten; and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Feb 1–8
Atlantis Events, atlantisevents.com
Clientele: Mostly gay men
Price: From $1,349

3.  RSVP 30th Anniversary Caribbean cruise
The 3,500-passenger Regal Princess is the birthday-party boat for RSVP’s big 3-0 cruise. The youthful Princess took to the waters only in May 2014, so it’s a shiny, new ship with such spectacular features as a glass-bottom sea walk (extending 8.5 metres off the side of the ship); a vast, ornate atrium; and an enticing Bellini bar. This cruise sails from Fort Lauderdale and visits the private Princess Cays, Cozumel and George Town in Grand Cayman, before returning to Florida.
Feb 8–15
RSVP Vacations, rsvpvacations.com
Clientele: Mostly gay men
Price: From $1,059

4.  Australia and New Zealand Cruise Odyssey
Trot onboard Holland America’s 1380-passenger MS Amsterdam for a week of Australian summer fun with none other than Olivia Newton-John. The crew of fine, funny women includes Lisa Koch, Vickie Shaw and Karen Williams. Departing Sydney, the cruise explores Tasmania, Fiordland National Park, Dunedin and Christchurch, before docking in Auckland.
Feb 13–24
Olivia, olivia.com
Clientele: Mostly lesbian
Price: From $2,099

5.  All-gay French Caribbean cruise
Explore the French Caribbean on the 72-metre SV Mandalay, built in 1923 and remodelled in 2012, as she sails from St Martin to Anguilla, Nevis, St Barts and Tintamarre and back to St Martin. Visit the famed Saltine nude beach and shop on St Barts; experience the quaint bistros and beaches of the Dutch and French sides of St Martin; sip daiquiris on Anguilla; snorkel, cycle or scuba on lush Nevis; and picnic on deserted Tintamarre.
Feb 15–21
Source Events, sourceevents.com
Clientele: Mostly gay men
Price: From $1,849

6.  Auckland to Sydney Mardi Gras cruise
Holland America’s floating pamper palace, the 11-deck Oosterdam, will see 1,900 passengers board in Auckland. The vast vessel then charts a course for Napier, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin before crossing the Tasman Sea for Melbourne and the final stop, Sydney, where a smorgasbord of Mardi Gras celebrations awaits, complete with a trio of LGBT mega-icons: George Michael, Kylie Minogue and Boy George.
Feb 24–March 8
Atlantis Events, atlantisevents.com
Clientele: Mostly gay men
Price: From $1,599

7.  Singapore to Hong Kong cruise
Celebrity Millennium will be the floating address for 2,138 passengers for the 11 days of Atlantis Events’ Asian journey from Singapore to Hong Kong. Teak decks, a solarium with a thalassotherapy pool and a gloriously indulgent Persian-garden spa add to the luxurious nature of this cruise. After leaving Singapore, this trip of a lifetime goes on to explore the stunning lagoons of Koh Samui, the cultural contrasts of Bangkok, the French colonial sights of Ho Chi Minh City, Nha Trang’s golden sands, UNESCO-acclaimed Hue and the 1,600 islands of breathtaking Halong Bay. The final port of call is glittering Hong Kong.
March 29–April 9
Atlantis Events, atlantisevents.com
Clientele: Mostly gay men
Price: From $1,599

8.  Miami Pride Cruise 2015
This is the sixth year in a row that this party boat has left Miami’s docks for four fantastic gay days on the ocean to celebrate Miami Pride. The boat in question is the activity-packed Majesty of the Seas. With parties, cocktail parties, beach barbecues and a Key West stop en route to the Bahamas, it’s an understandably popular departure, so book early if you’re keen to take part.
April 13–17
Source Events, sourceevents.com
Clientele: Mostly gay men
Price: From $429

9.  Amazon Discovery
One of three Amazon riverboat adventures on offer from Brand G this year, but the only sailing not sold out at press time, this all-gay rainforest odyssey explores the world’s most biodiverse region from the comfort of the five-star, 32-passenger, colonial-era Delfin II. Daily shore excursions offer insight into the culture, wildlife and history of this fascinating region. There are more than 1,000 species of bird in the Peruvian Amazon alone, plus countless mammals to encounter. Once the riverboat portion of this adventure ends, travellers continue on to the Sacred Valley, near the Incan capital Cusco, and to 15th-century Machu Picchu via a scenic train trip.
April 20–30
Brand G, brandgvacations.com
Clientele: Mostly gay men
Price: From $3,995

If these all-LGBT dates don’t rock your boat, there is also a host of “affinity group” options, organized gay groups on mainstream cruises. You’ll find an extensive list of them here.

For more on cruise vacations, read Is taking a cruise vacation right for you? and “Straight’ cruising the gay way.”