“I am from Turkey. This is my 22nd Atlantis cruise and second aboard the Solstice. I love these cruises.” This enthusiastic quotation isn’t from a fellow passenger. It’s from one of the heterosexual crew. When gay cruising started approximately 25 years ago by Atlantis’ sister company, tour and cruse operator RSVP, it was a very different world. Many crewmembers, especially men, opted not to work aboard the gay cruises. Now, most crew clamors to work these cruises.
I always interview a cross-section of crew when I’m aboard a gay cruise. They tell me they love the friendly, relaxed vibe on the cruise, the younger age range than the typical cruise, and for some the lack of children on board. It probably doesn’t hurt that gay men drink more and therefore the tip pool is significantly enlarged compared to the average cruise.
There’s a lot to love on this cruise and it’s only my second full day. On Sunday evening we sailed away from Ft. Lauderdale, arriving in CocoCay, Bahamas — the private beach reserved for the cruise — Monday for a day of beach going, swimming, nature trail walking, and birding. Today we are at sea all day. My friend and paying customer Chris gamely joined me for a week. That’s him in the picture on the balcony. We explored the ship from stem to stern and in my experience on a dozen cruises (gay and straight) on at least 10 different ships, the Solstice is far and away the most beautiful ship I’ve ever been on and crammed full of cool features. From its pleasing décor, more reminiscent of a W Hotel than a Holiday Inn, to its stunning 15-story atrium and buffed out gym, it’s kept us pretty entertained. Check out the giant globe in the Team Earth room on deck 7 and enjoy the interactive feature describing Celebrity’s ecological and environmental efforts, which is extremely well done. Glass art aficionados will enjoy the Hot Glass Workshop and Show.
As usual, while you can tell a lot of guys spent a lot of time preparing for the cruise at their home gym, this Atlantis cruise has a wide diversity of ages and body types. Malcolm, Atlantis’ cruise director announced that on this ship as on most of their cruises, the average age is 41. Each year I take an Atlantis cruise it seems like the international factor increases. So far on this trip we met Australian, Dutch, German, Austrian, Italian, Spanish, and French passengers.
The entertainment and event programming are also diverse. For example, here are the options from 5pm to 9pm on Monday: Spa seminar; bocce tournament (on the gorgeous real lawn on deck 15); abs work out at the gym; singles cocktails; hot glass show; Friends of Bill W; singles dinner; gay comedy showcase. Sometimes it’s kind of hard to choose this embarrassment of riches. Tomorrow we land in the French-speaking isle of St. Barts (975 nautical miles from CocoCay) for a very long day, with sail away scheduled for 11pm.
Follow me as I float around the Caribbean on the Atlantis Exotic Caribbean cruise aboard the Celebrity Solstice (March 7-14) with 2,400 other gay men (and a handful of fabulous lesbians). Check back through the week for more posts.