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Rosie O’Donnell’s gay cruise docks in Halifax

But former talk-show host stayed onboard; fans disappointed

Credit: (Shannon Webb-Campbell photo)

Over a million immigrants came to Canada via Halifax’s Pier 21 between 1928 and 1971, but on Jul 16, the city’s historic port was flooded with roughly 2,000 gay travellers.

Halifax was the second Canadian stop on R Family Vacations’ week-long cruise of the Maritimes, which departed from New York City on Jul 13. The queer travel company was co-founded by Rosie O’Donnell and her partner Kelli O’Donnell in 2004.

This year marks the return of the cruise to Halifax, which first docked in the city in 2005.

“In our five years, Halifax is certainly one of the most welcoming ports we’ve ever experienced,” says Gregg Kaminsky, one of the cruise’s founders. “It is a port that we’ve known we wanted to visit again.”

Many passengers on the Norwegian Dawn celebrated in style the previous night, as a handful of gay couples wed in Saint John, New Brunswick — the first Canadian stop on the American cruise.

Upon the ship’s arrival in Halifax, sculptors Joseph Landry and Brian Gazeley held a special workshop for the travellers. The artists organized a hands-on activity at the Mary Black Gallery at Pier 21, where they created plaster hand casts as a memento for the newlyweds.

Local tourism organization Destination Halifax boasts that the cruise has reaffirmed the city’s status as a gay-friendly destination.

Unfortunately for Rosie fans, the woman of the hour stayed on the boat.

A small crowd perched outside Pier 21’s entranceway all day in hopes of spotting the former talk-show host. They left disappointed, as they never saw O’Donnell leave the ship.

Some celebrities were seen around town, including Kynt and Vyxsin (from television show the Amazing Race), film actress Heather Matarazzo, Ross Mathews (the intern on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno), the former world’s best shot-putter Tressa Thompson and Broadway actress Christine Ebersole.