There are however plenty of welcoming destinations to whet the appetite. There are the staples of friendly Caribbean islands, the ABCs (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao), the Mediterranean – checking in at Mykonos, Venice, Ibiza or Barcelona. These ports deliver over and over again for OutThere travellers and will always hold appeal. However, a new wave of itineraries is starting to take in some really interesting ports. The Mexican Riviera, Antartica, Galapagos. Further afield there are exotic experiences to be found in Asia – Thailand, Hong Kong, Vietnam and the Indonesian islands. It seems that cruises are ‘growing up’ somewhat, evolving from their traditionally hedonistic reputations.
And in this ‘growing up’ we are seeing more sophisticated cruise scenes emerge. Cruise organisers are seeing a trend in guests wanting more intimate cruise ships. These smaller vessels can visit ports that the larger ones can’t get into. Also, it allows a more personalised service – special programmes, onboard enrichment activities, education and philanthropy, so that guests can get more out of the travel experience than just casino, show and spa, returning home with renewed energy, skills and knowledge.
This is natural because as the community evolves, so do our needs and wants. An interesting trend is in the emergence of more ‘family’ holidays. As more and more OutThere people have children, this is going to be the next big thing in cruising – for those who are looking for a ‘family-friendly’ experience but yet be among other likeminded people. And these people don’t just holiday alone. They come with grandparents, gay goddads, queer uncles – cruise operators are realising that there is an enormous opportunity here, for multi-berth sales from just one, often multigenerational family unit.
So it seems that cruising of the future is less about space-aged floating cities and far more about meeting the growing needs of an increasingly sophisticated customer base.
Destinations and passenger lists will diversify. Onboard experiences will develop to be enriching as well as enjoying. Social networking will create cruising communities who share and care. Gay ‘families’ will no longer just be cruise alumni but actually include children. Perhaps if the issue of marriage equality ever gets solved across the world, we’ll see fully legal registrations on board.
But whatever the future holds, unlike the ever-changing landscape of gay travel on-land, it seems that we are more than happy to carry on cruising into the sunset.