January through April 2016
Leave winter behind for a week or two and dive into a smorgasbord of sunny escapes on offer on the water. Four sumptuous, all-women sailings are about to embark for almost every corner of the globe. For those who want a more mixed experience, a huge LGBT cruise is also getting ready to up-anchor and set a course for the Caribbean.
1. Caribbean Escape Cruise
The only fully fledged, all-lesbian big ship on the 2016 winter calendar, the 1,900-passenger Holland America MS Westerdam, will set off from sunny Fort Lauderdale to Grand Turk in the Turks and Caicos, San Juan in Puerto Rico, St Thomas and St John in the US Virgin Islands and private island Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas. And while you’re on deck, entertainers like the legendary Patti LaBelle, funny ladies Judy Gold and Gina Yashere, and many more will keep spirits high. The final few cabins available are Signature Suites (from US$3,399), but there’s a waitlist available for cabins at prices that won’t have you remembering the credit card bill instead of the sunny memories of visiting UNESCO Heritage Sites like Fort San Felipe El Morro, snorkeling over the big drop of Grand Turk Wall and frolicking with 1,899 new female friends.
Jan 30–Feb 6, 2016
2. Riverboat Discover China and the Yangtze
Our top-choice riverboat cruise this winter is the riverboat part of Olivia’s Discover China and the Yangtze cruise, on the 256-passenger Viking Emerald. This trip takes passengers from Beijing’s Tiananmen Square and the legendary Forbidden City, past the Great Wall, Ming Tombs and futuristic Shanghai. This two-week trip packs in an incredible amount of sightseeing and culture, including glimpses into Old Beijing from a rickshaw ride, visits to 17th century pagodas and a performance at Peking Opera. The cruise component offers five gorge-tastic days on one of the world’s greatest rivers, passing through the famed Three Gorges, plus Wu and Qutang gorges. The waitlist is still open for cabins.
March 16–28, 2016
3. Belgium to Netherlands Riverboat Cruise
This is Olivia’s first visit to Belgium, happening on the luxurious Avalon Luminary, a sleek, 138-passenger river vessel that’s been bobbing on gentle waters since 2010. Starting at Roman town Namur, the cruise visits Huy and Liege before reaching cobblestoned university town Maastricht in the Netherlands. After this brief dip across the border, the Luminary goes back into Belgium and stops at charming, lesbian-friendly Antwerp, the battlefields of Ypres and Flanders, and medieval Ghent. After stops to visit the gardens and churches of Dordrecht in the Netherlands, the cruise disembarks in vibrant Amsterdam. Entertainers include comedian Lisa Koch and singer Roxanna Ward. At time of press, there are cabins available from US$3,299 per person.
April 12–19, 2016
4. Tulips in Amsterdam
Avalon Luminary is once again the craft for this Olivia trip from Haarlem, near Amsterdam, and through the Netherlands’ famous flower fields. This cruise travels to Enkhuizen, Friesland, Leyystad, Kampeb, Gelderse Ijssel, Arnhem and Rotterdam before returning to Amsterdam. It’s a week of lazy meandering through picturesque villages and charming waterways. Local delicacies such as Gouda cheese, syrup waffles and genever Dutch gin add to the colourful experience. Prices start at US$3,299.
April 19–26, 2016
If none of the above departures float your boat, Atlantis Events, one of the two biggest names in gay cruising (along with RSVP Vacations), still has a few cabins available on one of its hot Caribbean winter cruises. Atlantis reckons 5–10 percent of its guests are women, which, on these big boats, means 100 to 200 women on board every departure.
5. Southern Caribbean Cruise
On this celebratory southern Caribbean cruise, 2,100 lucky passengers will visit five Caribbean islands on the incredible Celebrity Summit. The cruise boasts decadent on-board parties and entertainment, and its stops include Bridgetown in laid-back Barbados, Castries in captivating St Lucia, Fort de France in debonaire Martinique, Gustavia on the island playground of St Barth’s, and San Juan in vibrant Puerto Rico. At time of press, there are still a few state rooms available for US$1,099 per person.
March 12–19, 2016