In 2003 after seven years of work for Atlantis cruises, Gregg Kaminsky decided he was tired of the parties and all-nighters he thought he had become accustomed to. He set out on uncharted waters to change the way gays and their families travel. Nine years and more than 15,000 customers later, Kaminsky has taken his own R Families Vacations to unprecedented new heights in family vacations.
“I was a crazy kid growing up,” Kaminsky said. “I was at every Winter and every White Party in Miami for as long as I can remember. I think those parties are great, but unlike some of the people I saw there, I grew up.”
Now in his 50’s, Kaminsky no longer desires the fast paced and loud music that came with his party days. With his experience at Atlantis, business partner Kelli Carpenter by his side, and a little persuasion from friend Rosie O’Donnell, R Family Vacations was born.
“I had an entertainer cancel on me at the last minute when I was at Atlantis, I called Rosie up and she was glad to fill in,” Kaminsky said. “She had her partner and kids with her on the cruise. That’s when we got to talking about gay family cruises.”
Kaminsky says that since starting R Family Vacations, he’s been able to reach a much broader demographic inside the gay community.
“Gay families live in communities all over the globe,” he said. “But there is no community for gay families. That’s what we set out and now have successfully created.”
Kaminsky’s best friend and business partner, Kelli Carpenter, is partnered with four children. He said their group of friends in New York is a bunch of men and women, gay and straight, that are all mostly in their 40’s and 50’s. The core goal for creating R Family Vacations was to appease the wants and needs of a fast expanding sect of gay families and their friends.
“A lot of gay men have kids that are 2 to 3 years old. These kids don’t often have friends or any way to meet friends that are in the same situation of family that they are,” Kaminsky said.
With a changing society came the need for changing the way families get away. Kaminsky says it’s rewarding for those kids to meet others like them, to realize they aren’t alone. Also benefiting is gay couples that come aboard that don’t have children but are thinking about it.
“We’re a vacation company that caters to gay families and their extended families,” Kaminsky said. “Grandparents, aunts, uncles and people thinking of having kids come along just to be with their families and friends. It’s like a crash test to having kids, “ he said laughing.
Realizing that gay families aren’t the only ones who need their own vacations, Kaminsky and Carpenter partnered with three-time Emmy award nominee Seth Rudetsky to produce a Broadway Cruise. The cruise boasts incredible Broadway stars, theater camp, New York City style piano bars, and the beautiful pink sand beaches of Bermuda. This summer marks the second year of the cruise.
With almost a decade of helping families grow and maybe even help starting new ones, Kaminsky and R Family Vacations will be looking for more ways to expand their brand and reach.
“People are out there seeking an alternative vacation, and we plan on giving it to them.”