Cruising on the High Seas

Traditionally afraid of gay cruises, one man takes his chances with a gay cruise company aboard an otherwise straight ship and lives to tell about it.




Afternoons, as my boyfriend napped, I'd visit the Coffee Corner -- one of the ship's many cafés and, ironically, the only room on board that had no corners. Snuggled against one of the curved walls, I'd order a Diet Coke. It would always come with a swizzle stick, at first causing me a moment of worry: What had they put in my soda pop that needed stirring?

On one of these occasions, a voice over the loudspeaker informed me in five different languages that there was to be an art auction. What intrigued me was that one of the selling points they mentioned was there would be art "for the ladies, and also the gentlemen." Really? Gender-specific art? I went to investigate…

It was the same kind of art that is occasionally displayed outside the entrances of your local supermarket, or at a kiosk in a mall -- dancers, horses, flowers, pastel pastorals, etc. I studied the assortment and realized I couldn't see which was meant for what gender. OK, the still life of chrysanthemums in a picnic basket, that's pretty feminine. But the circus clown balancing on a barrel of alcohol -- which sex wants responsibility for that?

By the end of the cruise I was split down the middle. While I missed the rocking back-and-forth motion that so lulled me at bedtime, I was eager to escape the piped-in pop music that played on a loop in the hallways 24 hours a day. (Imagine hearing "99 Luftballons" every other night in your dreams!) I'd often wax poetic about the vision of hundreds of kites flying over the coastal cemetery in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, but never again want to see the cleaning woman who wasn't aware her uniform was sheer enough to show she never wore underwear.

Luckily, Aquafest does not book its cruises solely on the MSC Lirica , and I can with sincerity recommend Tom Baker's services.

I leave you with this advice: Not everyone in the world is lucky enough to be queer, so when traveling amongst the poor majority that isn't so fortunate, remember, keep an open mind. And be careful when ordering eggs.

Tags: Travel