Nearly every cruise line has adopted policies banning discrimination based on sexual orientation, with a growing number also including gender identity. Indeed, many are proactively marketing to gay and lesbian travelers through traditional advertising, social media, onboard programming and sponsorships of LGBT events and organizations. Along with this increasing openness of cruise lines is the fact that the options for gay and lesbian cruisers have never been better.
1. Crystal Cruises
Luxury is Crystal’s priority, and its two oceangoing cruise ships, Crystal Symphony (922 passengers) and Crystal Serenity (1,070), provide passengers outstanding service. The cruise line operates on an all-inclusive model with one of the highest passenger-to-staff and passenger-to-space ratios in the industry. In addition to its big ships, Crystal operates a 62-passenger yacht and Crystal River Cruises.
2. Princess Cruises
Princess caters to a wide variety of cruisers. The “Love Boat” line offers approximately 100 itineraries, ranging from one to 100-plus days, and calling on more than 300 ports. That range is also reflected in the fleet, from cozy 680-passenger ships to amenity-packed 3,600-passenger water worlds.
3. Azamara Club Cruises
Accommodating merely 690 guests each, Azamara’s two ships – Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest – are very appealing to travelers seeking a more intimate experience. Another of the line’s strengths is its “Destination Immersion” program, which means relatively longer port stays, affording passengers an opportunity to more fully explore and experience destinations. Back onboard, Azamara gets a great deal of praise for its inclusive amenities such as select alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, gratuities and self-service laundry.
4. Cunard Line
The operator of Queen Elizabeth (2,058 passengers), Queen Mary 2 (2,600) and Queen Victoria (2,014), Cunard dates back to 1840 and embraces the “Golden Era” of cruising. Every cruise includes afternoon tea served by white-gloved stewards. Among Cunard’s most popular offerings are its iconic transatlantic crossings aboard Queen Mary 2.
5. Celebrity Cruises
Providing the “best aspects of classic, elegant cruising and updating them to reflect current lifestyles” is Celebrity Cruises’ goal – and it meets it well. Celebrity’s newer Solstice Class (2,850 passengers) and its older, refurbished Millennium Class (2,138 passengers) ships are very popular. Travelers are frequently drawn to Celebrity for its ships’ upscale decor, spacious standard cabins and high level of personalized service.