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Gay Sail Away Gay Friendly Destinations
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GAY-FRIENDLY DESTINATIONS

A great way to explore the world starts from the deck of a cruise ship. Image the thrill of seeing your destination far out at sea, soon the coast looms closer as unspoiled white beaches, small villages, hidden coves pass by and viola, the port is in view and it’s time for the adventure to begin.  But is this destination gay-friendly?  Is there a history of hostility towards our community?  Should I spend my money supporting their economy with my gay dollar?

Unfortunately, as a member of the LGBT community, there are so many things to consider when selecting a destination to visit than our straight compadres are confronted with. Sadly, some ports have historically been intolerant and hostile to LGBT visitors. When visiting en mass some destinations have denied gay cruises from docking or had protestors at the docks.  And some ports even deny access to visitors with HIV.

Thankfully many of these attitudes and regulations have changed and we are welcomed to places where, not long ago, we were shunned.  Much of this is because Gay Groups like Olivia, Sweet and Atlantis have added socially conscious group activities on their cruises that provide impoverished schools and communities with needed supplies, even providing groups of volunteers to help build homes, community buildings,  start gardens and most recently providing funds, relief work and goods to the earthquake victims in Haiti.

When selecting a gay-friendly destination there are four major things to consider:

  1. Is there a Gay Community?
  2. Are there any anti-homosexuality laws?
  3. Has there been any recent anti-gay protests, hostility or violence towards LGBT visitors?
  4. Are there destinations that ban visitation by people who are HIV positive?

Is there a Gay Community?  Many ports that the Cruise Lines visit will have some sort of a Gay Community. It may be just a little bar, a disco, beach or hotel –separately or combined.  Some destinations, like Lihue on Kauai, don’t have any bars but have social outings at local restaurants that are held on the days the ships are in port.  The best thing to do is do your research to find these events. Search the Internet to see if there are any gay places listed online.  The Dameron Guides, Spartacus and even Formers Guides, have LGBT listings for the more popular destinations.  Your ship’s Cruise Director and his staff are usually good resources for up-to-date information on gay bars, restaurants, beaches and destinations.

Are there any anti-homosexuality laws?  Many destinations overseas have laws prohibiting gay sex and visible displays of same-sex affection.  Egypt, the Middle East, Turkey and even the Bahamas and the Cayman Islands all have laws prohibiting all or some homosexual activity. Some punishments are severe including imprisonment. It’s important that when traveling to use common sense and good judgment when visiting an unfamiliar destination. Public gay sex almost anywhere can land you in jail.

Cruising a park in big cities like Paris or New York City may seem relatively safe, however cruising a beach on a small tropical island or in a back alley may get you incarcerated or worse yet maimed or killed. 

Has there been any recent anti-gay protests, hostility or violence towards LGBT visitors?

Unfortunately there are recent altercations that make some destinations unsafe or unfriendly for LGBT travelers to visit. In Egypt a group of gay men partying on a barge on the Nile River were arrested for homosexual activities and many were imprisoned for 5 years.  In 2006 on the island of St. Martin in the Caribbean two gay men were severely beaten making international news and receiving an outcry of rage from the international LGBT community.  In recent years, the island has taken steps to make the beautiful island safe for our community to visit.  In the Bahamas, an island nation where gay sex is still against the law, an r family cruise was met at the dock by hundreds of religious protestors shouting anti-gay rhetoric.

Thankfully, most of the world is not completely intolerant of LGBT people. Many nations, cities and communities that cruises visit are rich in culture and acceptance.  The most important thing to be is informed and safe, know the laws and chose either to visit a port or take your vacation dollars to a port that accepts our community.  Most Gay Group Cruises like Atlantis, Olivia, RSVP and Pied Piper, have enough experience planning safe and fun Gay Vacations that they will choose an intinery that does not include a port where our community is unsafe or unwanted (however some ports that are culturally rich like Alexandria, Egypt to view the Pyramids have been added to itineraries).  It is important to understand that norms and attitudes change toward our community and even though a Cruise Operator may choose a port that has a history of tolerance there is the occasional shift in attitude or an altercation that may deem the port unfriendly leaving the Operator with not enough time to change itinerary to accommodate the group’s sailing. In situations like this the Cruise Operator will do everything in their power to make your visit safe and comfortable.

The Internet is a great tool to find information on how gay tolerant a destination is. Sites like gay.com, planetout.com and out traveler.com are good sites to attain comprehensive and somewhat up-to-date information of world destinations. They do not focus their attention specifically on the cruise industry or major cruising ports, but they do provide good information on many of the major vacation destinations that our community loves to visit.

Are there destinations that ban visitation by people who are HIV positive?
Unfortunately there are destinations that do not allow visitors who are HIV positive. For up to date information on these destinations visit the U.S. Department of State’s website at  http://travel.state.gov/travel/travel_1744.html .  For comprehensive information on cruising with a medical condition visit GaySailAway’s article “Cruising With A Medical Condition” where we discuss issues including how much extra meds should be packed,  ship’s medical facilities,  medical evacuation, local hospitalization and travel insurance.

Gay Sail Away Mexico

MEXICO
White sandy tropical beaches, verdant landscapes, rich culture, archelogical sites and a great return for your vacation dollar, Mexico is a great place to relax and unwind with a Margarita or a Corona. Ports of call include destinations on the Pacific's Mexican Riviera as well as the beautiful and fun filled Yucatan Penninsula. From the desert vistas of Cabo to the hugely popular snorkling and diving at Cozumel, Mexico is a great destiantion for the LGBT Traveler.

Relaxing in Cozumel
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CARIBBEAN
Hundreds of little jewels dot the Caribbean Sea. These jewels are the Islands of the Caribbean. Flying the flags of Spain, France, the Netherlands, the US, as well as independant Caribbean nations, the islands are steeped in culture and religious tradition and most are slowly becoming Gay-Friendly with just a few places where LGBT tollerance is not embraced.

A Hidden Gem of a Caribbean Beach
Gay Sail Away Destination Hawaii
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HAWAII
Hawaii calls and in all its alure it is a LGBT Paradise. The Hawaiian Islands are the most remote chain of islands on earth. Positioned approximately half way between the Mainland US and South Asia, they offer sunny skies, sandy beaches and a culture that is gay-freindly and affirming. Of the hundreds of tiny atolls and small islands, only the six southern-most islands are visited by tourists; Hawaii, the Big Island, Maui, Lanai, Molokai, Oahu and Kauai.
The Clouds Roll By on the Tradewinds on Lunakai Beach on Oahu

GAY FACTOIDS: In December 2009 Mexico City legalized Gay Marriages and Adoptions - Blue Chairs Beach in Puerto Vallarta has been Mexico's premier Gay Beach for over 25 years

GAY FACTOIDS: French, Dutch and US ports in the Caribbean are far more Gay-Friendly than the Bahamas, Jamacia and the Cayman Islands - Curacao is the most Gay-Freindly island in the Caribbean with a tourism board that actively seeks LGBT travelers
GAY FACTOIDS: In early Hawaiian Culture many Kahunas, the healers, were gay and in same sex realtionships - Hula's Bar and Lei Stand, Waikiki's premier gay bar, is celebrating it's 35th Birthday this year.
Gay Sail Away Destination Europe
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EUROPE
2009 was a boom year for new cruise ships heading to Europe. Over the next two years the big cruise lines are positioning mega-ships to regularly sail from major Gay-Friendly European cities including Barcelona, Rome, Amsterdam and Athens.  Luxury lines are also positioning many of their cruises throughout Europe and the Mediterranean providing itineraries that are exciting and unique.
GAY FACTOIDS: Europe is getting it right with legalized same sex marriage. Countries that have legalized same sex marriage include Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain.
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