Story and photos by Aefa Mulholland
Despite a fast approaching hurricane, my friend Maggie and I practically galloped up the gangplank to get on board the very first Sweet Caribbean cruise — the inaugural voyage by eco-conscious, lesbian travel company Sweet. Sailing out of New Orleans with 1,200 women on board, we raced down the Mississippi, our sights set on avoiding Hurricane Ida and making it to Cozumel, Costa Maya, Belize and Roatan for sun, sand, tequila… and a slew of groundbreaking voluntourism projects.
Marybeth and Belinda from Phoenix and Maggie from Toronto cavort in New Orleans with actor Jill Bennett (star of Dante’s Cove, And Then Came Lola, and We Have To Stop Now), the night before eco-conscious, lesbian travel company Sweet’s inaugural Caribbean cruise.
Sweet is decidedly different from other cruise companies in that, as well as traditional beach and shopping port calls, there are voluntourism options offered before and during the cruise, from painting and stocking a kids’ library in Belize to planting trees in wetlands outside New Orleans with a Katrina relief organisation. Voluntourism isn’t something that’s taken off in the cruise world, so it’s really interesting that it’s such a major component of a lesbian cruise.
As well as some incredible voluntourism initiatives, including painting and stocking a school library in Belize and cleaning up beaches in Mexico, the 1200-woman cruise had a hot party schedule – from 80s night to a formal party.
It wasn’t all saving the world, one book, tree or beach cleanup at a time, though, the cruise had a fabulous array of parties, events and mixers. We practically had to be dragged off the boat when we docked back in New Orleans one week later.
Aefa with Beth from Boston at the pyjama party the last night on board Sweet’s inaugural cruise, everybody made plans to meet up again on the next Sweet voyage (April 16-21, 2011, Miami to Key West and Belize.)