(EDGE) Why travel to one destination when you can experience an entire region? (Or the world, if your budget will allow?) It's no secret that queers love to travel. According to a recent survey, 77 percent of LGBTQ travelers have a valid passport, compared to 42 percent of our straight counterparts.
Where and why we travel continues to evolve. Travelers are looking for more authentic, immersive experiences that put them in the center of cultural attractions and natural wonders. Cruising offers the best of both worlds. Unpack once, settle in, and let the captain steer the ship, riverboat or clipper towards your dream destination.
EDGE took a deep dive to select our top picks for 2019. Whether you're looking for extreme adventure in the Arctic, a romantic Mediterranean sailing, or a modern luxury experience aboard one of the industry's most LGBTQ-friendly cruise lines, your options are as limitless as your wanderlust.
Celebrity Cruises continues to define modern luxury with the launch of its 14th vessel Celebrity Edge and its 10th ship registered in Malta, which enables the forward-thinking company to host onboard same-sex weddings.
Celebrity has long been a champion of the LGBTQ community, and this plume in the company's already well-coifed cap was a major celebration in January 2018 when it hosted the first legal same-sex marriage at sea on a major cruise line. Francisco Vargas and Benjamin Gray tied the knot aboard Celebrity Equinox and Celebrity's president and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo applauded their union.
"Words cannot express how proud I am to congratulate Francisco and Benjamin at this truly historic moment, both for them and for Celebrity," said Lutoff-Perlo. "Together we are paving the way for couples around the world to know that their love and commitment is to be celebrated equally, and that everyone is welcome on board a Celebrity cruise."
Those looking for revelry rather than a ring can choose from hundreds of itineraries, and if you're looking to amp up the LGBTQ quotient, consider one of these queer-centric chartered cruises:
Atlantis Caribbean Cruise aboard the brand new Celebrity Edge docks in Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico, as well as Grand Cayman. Expect T-dances and plenty of nights that linger into sunrise. (March 17-24, 2019, limited availability)
Olivia Caribbean to NYC Cruise aboard the newly refurbished Celebrity Summit will depart from San Juan, Puerto Rico, with stops in Antigua, St. Kitts, British Virgin Islands, and Bermuda before finally arriving in Cape Liberty, New Jersey. (April 27-May 5, 2019)
VACAYA Provincetown Cruise, also aboard the Celebrity Summit, sails from Cape Liberty to New Brunswick, Canada, then Bar Harbor, Maine before arriving just in time for Provincetown's legendary Carnival. (August 11-19, 2019)
The romance of cruising reaches lofty new heights aboard a modern clipper ship. From the moment the sails and jibs fill with wind, sending the vessel gliding across the sea, serenity emerges.
Such tranquility is among many delights of the "unique sailing adventures" offered by Star Clippers. Its award-winning sailing excursions put wind power to as much use as possible, making them more eco-friendly than other cruises. The fleet is outfitted in luxury, from yacht-like cabins and fine dining to fun onboard events and impeccable service. The allure of cruising comes in many forms, but sailing aboard Star Clippers feels closer to an authentic voyage.
Setting sail to the Greek Isles is a no-brainer, but the brand also offers other LGBTQ-friendly voyages to queer-friendly European locales like Mallorca, Ibiza, Cannes; Southeast Asian ports like Phuket and Bali; and Caribbean islands like Martinique, Antigua, and St. Maarten.
"While most cruise lines appeal to a narrow core market, Star Clippers is a notable exception," says Terri Haas, Vice President of Sales, Star Clippers America. "Our sailings attract a diverse crowd, from 30-somethings to multigenerational families, to LGBT couples and honeymooners from all walks of life. We love that everyone feels at home on board a Star Clippers ship."
With a fleet of 50 ships and hotel barges, plus an additional five chartered vessels, CroisiEurope is well-positioned to take even seasoned travelers to new destinations - locales like Lake Kariba in Southern Africa, Vietnam's Mekong River, and even fresh territory in the heart of the Old World. Cruises include all port fees, refined local cuisine (with drinks included), and onboard as well as on-land activities.
The company's wealth of options comprise over 170 itineraries and include themed cruises developed around hiking, biking, food, family, and more. Being a member of the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association, CroisiEurope enthusiastically welcomes LGBTQ travelers on board while offering a more relaxed experience compared to the typical all-gay charter cruise.
The company's North American marketing manager, Michael DaCosta, says, "As a European Cruise Line we've always welcomed guests from all countries, ages, races, creeds, and cultures. As a family-run business, we believe our river cruises should be uniting experiences — travel makes the world a little smaller and brings people a little closer. To that end, our doors are open to all."
Adventure Canada Expedition Cruises
They don't call them expeditions for nothing. After all, Adventure Canada specializes in thrilling voyages that take clients deep into the last wild places on the planet. Trips for 2019 include In the Wake of the Vikings: a Voyage from Iceland to Greenland, High Arctic Explorer, as well as sailings in warmer climes, like the Galapagos Islands.
The family-operated company brings a warm, homey vibe to the enterprise, which welcomes every passenger aboard as family, according to General Manager Ashalee Mohamed.
"Adventure Canada's essence is celebrating and connecting different cultures, peoples and places in the remote regions we visit," says Mohamed. "On our trips and in our offices, with our guests and teams, we promote an inherent culture of inclusion regardless of sexual orientation, gender, race, age or ethnicity. As a gay, out and proud person myself, I wouldn't have it any other way."
Contributing Authors: Matthew Wexler, Kelsy Chauvin, Kilian Melloy, Jill Gleeson
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