BY Jon Barrett
March 09 2010 9:00 AM ET
The transformation didn’t take me completely by surprise. Just as anyone might do before bungee jumping or sky diving for the first time, I asked countless gay cruisers, “Should I really do this?” And I was repeatedly told, “You’re either going to love it or hate it.” I just didn’t know how quickly I’d fall into the “hooked” side of that equation.
There were feather boas, rainbow flags, and “hey, girls”; there was no question that this was a gay cruise. But the regalia had the opposite effect than I’d imagined. Rather than making me feel as if I was vacationing on West Hollywood’s Santa Monica Boulevard, it instead signaled that this really was a place I could be myself.
There was a lot of dance music too—and I enjoyed my fair share of it. But only one night out of the seven did I have any indication that anybody was dancing after I’d gone to bed, and that was only because the strobe lights from the pool deck were reflecting on that night’s fog as we passed through it (creating a show I quite enjoyed from the comfort of my cabin).
Perhaps most surprising was that the ship didn’t become a body-fascist republic as soon as we left the democratically controlled shores of the United States. Quite to the contrary, I can now quite confidently confirm that gay men and lesbians really do come in all shapes and sizes—and all of them very well represented on the RSVP cruise.
All of this is not to say that it was smooth sailing the whole way—after driving an hour and a half outside of Mazatlán to go zip-lining through the Sierra Madres, our Mexican bus caught on fire. And after spending a day lounging at the amazing Blue Chairs resort in Puerto Vallarta, we returned to the ship, turned on CNN, and learned that all of Mexico had been overwhelmed by swine flu. But what holiday doesn’t come with a couple challenges?
I had a blast. I fell in love with regular RSVP musical entertainers Amy and Freddy (check them out at AmyFreddy.com), I made a bunch of new friends, and I gained a few pounds. Most notably, though, I got over my notion that any gay cruise, by its very nature, would automatically be too too. In my experience, this is a vacation that truly is what you make it. I’m gay; it’s a gay cruise. And as far as I’m concerned, there can never be too much of those two very good things.