By Jenna Berndt
Cruising is a truly great match for LGBTQI travellers who’re looking for an inclusive, comfortable experience where even the smallest detail is looked after. Here are the cruise lines and destinations to add to your 2020 cruising wishlist today!
Packed with culture, art, history, stunning beaches, café culture and leisurely lifestyle, the Med appeals to a diverse range of traveller interests. The Italian Riviera, Venice, the south of France, Greece, Croatia, sultry Spain and trendy Portugal await.
The temperate Mediterranean climate is ideal for visiting year-round. If you’re travelling outside of the peak summer months, you can take advantage of off-peak season discounts.
As for cruise lines and vessels, it’s up to you. The Med is one of the most popular cruising regions, so you are truly spoilt for choice.
“Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises are incredibly popular with same-sex couples and the LGBTQ traveller,” says Sara Park, Marketing Campaign Manager for Cruiseabout, a division of the Flight Centre Travel Group. “Royal Caribbean operates cruises worldwide, including the Mediterranean.”
“The Celebrity Apex is an excellent choice for cruising the Western Med, and the Celebrity Edge offers a fantastic ten-night Eastern Med cruise.”
Celebrity Cruises is famous for hosting the Largest Pride Party at Sea in 2018 and is an ideal choice for the luxury traveller. This has become a legendary annual tradition each June in celebration of Pride Month. Each ship in the Celebrity Cruises fleet will feature at least one Pride activity every day during June. The flagship party takes place on Celebrity Edge —this year, falling on the Barcelona to Rome route. Celebrity Apex will have this honour on 22 June 2020 in Ibiza, Spain. Don’t miss out on the biggest and most colourful party at sea.
The sunny beaches and festive atmosphere of the Caribbean, South Pacific and Hawaii is another firm favourite with South African cruisers.
Pack the sunscreen and fedora and get ready to enjoy a sun-splashed vacation in paradise.
The British Virgin Islands, Curaçao, Puerto Rico, St Bart’s and St Martin are particularly popular with LGBTQI travellers.
MSC ships and the Norwegian Encore offer Caribbean itineraries ranging from six to eight nights. The MSC Armonia is an excellent choice for travellers who don’t have too much time. The six-night route visits Miami, Cozumel and Costa Maya in Mexico, and Ocean Cay in the Bahamas.
“Cruises can be priced from R8 350 per person sharing for a 20 April 2020 departure. A Cruiseabout specialist can bundle your flights and other travel essentials into a value-for-money package,” suggests Park.
If the culture, cuisine and delights of Western Europe are calling, don’t think a cruise is out of the question. If you’re looking for a more intimate cruise experience, consider a river or canal cruise. These smaller vessels dock right in the heart of age-old Medieval cities, allowing you to immerse yourself in the heart of the city, engaging with the locals and making the most of the nightlife. Uniworld is an ideal option for the discerning, luxury-loving traveller while U River Cruises appeals to the Millennial and millennial-minded individual.
There’s also Le Boat canal boating holidays. Captain your own boat (no boating experience required) and cruise the canals through quaint villages and towns. It’s an ideal holiday for groups of friends, families, or couples travelling together.
Thai people are renowned for their friendliness, kindness and inclusivity. For South Africans, in particular, the destination represents excellent value for money with a favourable exchange rate — and it’s visa-free.
But there’s a different way to island-hop this exciting Southeast Asian favourite than by catching a tuk-tuk and quick ferry from here to there. Hop on board a cruise liner to visit multiple destinations in one go and only unpack once.
A cruise to Thailand also perfectly combines with other Asian destinations. Trendy Japan is set to enjoy even more popularity (thank you, Bokke!), and Singapore’s star is also on the rise in the local market.
“Costa Fortuna cruises Singapore, Koh Samui and Laem Chabang (Thailand), and Sihanoukville (Cambodia) before returning to Singapore. This cruise, set for departure on 25 February 2020, also includes a free drinks package,” recommends Park.
The Spectrum of the Seas, belonging to the Royal Caribbean stable, also offers various itineraries that include Japan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.
She’s a 4 900-passenger floating hotel plus adventure and entertainment venue. Think a 1 300-guest theatre, karaoke lounge, a two-storey entertainment venue and concert hall, and much more.
Last but certainly not least, a local and regional cruise with MSC remains a popular favourite. Whether you have two nights or two weeks to spare, enjoy a fun-filled cruise around South Africa or to Mozambique, Mauritius, Reunion Island and the like.
With accommodation, meals, transport and entertainment included, a cruise remains not only one of the best value-for-money holidays out there, but also one of the most enjoyable. Get ready to cruise the high seas!
Your Cruise Checklist
Pack the suit
Don’t just pack a swimsuit. Most cruise lines still require more formal attire at dinner. For example, on MSC Cruise’s ships, the dress code for evenings is casual resort wear (i.e. no t-shirts and shorts in public areas after 18h00) with designated gala dinners requiring suits and a casually elegant dress or cocktail dress. Swimsuits are also generally reserved for the pool and pool deck only.
Go all-inclusive – with your drinks
If you want to enjoy more than a few alcoholic beverages a day, it pays to prebook the drinks package. Drinks and other amenities are usually priced in foreign currency, so pay upfront in good old Rands to save.
Match the right package
Ask a cruising specialist for advice on booking the right package, perfectly tailored to your specific needs. Not all cruise lines, vessels or cabins are the same. Do you want a balcony cabin or suite? Do you want to include a drinks package or prebook spa treatments? Ensure you express your vision of a perfect cruise to ensure you’re matched with just the right package.