By Trudy Ring
Originally published on Advocate.com November 27 2012 2:04 PM ET
Carnival Cruise Lines has rescinded a ban on cross-dressing and drag costumes in public areas on a drag-themed cruise after a public outcry.
The Carnival ship Glory is hosting the Drag Stars at Sea cruise, featuring performances by contestants from RuPaul’s Drag Race, departing from Miami Sunday. However, there will be other passengers on the ship besides those attending Drag Stars at Sea, and Carnival yesterday sent attendees an email stating that drag costumes would be allowed only for performers and only onstage.
“Carnival attracts a number of families with children and for this reason; we strive to present a family friendly atmosphere,” the email reads in part. “It is important to us that all guests are comfortable with every aspect of the cruise. Although we realize this group consists solely of adults, we nonetheless expect all guests to recognize that minors are onboard and, refrain from engaging in inappropriate conduct in public areas. … Guests are not allowed to dress in drag for the performances or in public areas at any time during the cruise. We’re sorry to say that any guest who violates our policies and/or whose behavior affects the comfort and enjoyment of other guests, will be disembarked at their own expense and no refund will be given.”
Today, Carnival Cruise Lines president and CEO Gerry Cahill sent out the following letter:
“Within the last 24 hours, we became aware of a miscommunication between Carnival Cruise Lines and AlandChuck.travel, who have booked a large special interest group on the upcoming Carnival Glory cruise departing December 2, 2012.
“The group, 'Drag Stars at Sea,' includes several performances by stars from Logo TV as part of a series of private events onboard. When the group was presented to us we were advised that only the performers would be dressed in drag during the private events. However, we are now aware that this was not clearly communicated to members of the group and therefore anyone who wishes to dress in drag may do so. Please keep in mind that our safety and security procedures require guests to present government-issued ID, and to be recognizably that person.
“At Carnival, we are proud to carry more than 4.5 million guests every year and we welcome them all aboard. We do not practice any form of discrimination against the LGBT or any other community. We sincerely apologize for the miscommunication and for any unintended offense we have caused.
“Given this misunderstanding, anyone on this cruise who wishes to cancel for any reason may do so and will receive a full refund of their cruise fare, as well as reimbursement for any non-refundable travel related expenses.
“We constantly strive to provide our guests with a fun and memorable vacation. We look forward to welcoming everyone onboard Carnival Glory and again want to apologize for the misunderstanding and for any offense we have caused.”
Yesterday, after any of those planning to go on the cruise expressed outrage, Al Ferguson of Al and Chuck Travel, the gay-owned, Florida-based company booking the cruise, issued an explanation on the company’s Facebook page, saying the ban on costumes was due not to homophobia or transphobia but security considerations. He also said transgender passengers would be able to dress in their preferred clothing.
“We are sympathetic to your sentiments that you have expressed via email and social media,” Ferguson wrote. “As a gay man who has been partnered for 25 years, I have suffered many forms of discriminations because I am part of the GLBT community. But please take note, Carnival’s regulation is NOT an example of discrimination. Carnival is an ally of the GLBT community. Please understand that this cruise could not even be happening on the GLORY if Carnival was not an ally of our segment of society. When they say they are a ‘family friendly’ cruise line they mean it in both the traditional and metaphorical sense of the phrase.
“Carnival's ‘no costumes rule’ is NOT meant to be an insult to the gay community. As a gay business, we would not have organized this cruise if they were prejudiced against gay people. This rule goes for both GAY and STRAIGHT passengers that travel on all Carnival cruises. It is in response to the post-911 world we live in. It is meant to protect passengers and guests — NOT to marginalize a few.
“Additionally, we know that transgendered members of our community will be aboard with us during this event. Please do not worry, Carnival’s rule is not meant towards you. Your right to live your identity is always supported.”
Also, in response to an attendee’s inquiry, Logo TV, which airs Drag Race, sent a message saying, “We apologize that this has happened, but we are in no way affiliated outside the fact they were on our channel.”