Cruises are a very popular way to travel to many locations on a budget, and they also happen to be an excellent option for a honeymoon getaway. But as news proves, be careful who you cruise with, considering the recent drama unfolding with Carnival Cruise Lines.
We were initially really excited to hear about this event, hosted by Carnival and organized by Al and Chuck Travel, a gay-owned and operated travel agency. The cruise, billed as "Drag Stars at Sea: 2012 Caribbean Adventure Revenge of the Wench Cruise," was scheduled to take place from December 2-9 and hit up deliciously tropical spots such as St. Thomas, Puerto Rico and Paradise Island. And, of course, the highlight of the cruise was to be the featured talent, over 30 participants from RuPaul's Drag Race.
That is, until Vicky Rey, Vice President of Guest Services sent out a bizarre "Urgent Notice" to all guests on Monday, November 26 giving the "fun seekers" a heads-up on "certain policies and conduct expectations so as to avoid any potential disappointment during [the] cruise." I'll skip her obnoxious language and just tell you what's up: Rey wanted all guests to know that Carnival would be forbidding its guests to dress in drag … on its drag cruise. The drag performances would go on in the main theater, but only the performers would be allowed to dress in drag.
What happened next is an example of poor planning and bad marketing strategies, in my completely unprofessional opinion because I am neither a cruise planner nor a marketing strategist. But I am an LGBT consumer, and I know as a community member I try to put my money where my rights are. Carnival tried to explain that the policy was in place because they "attract a number of families with children and … strive to present a family friendly atmosphere." Hosting a drag cruise on the same ship as a family vacation cruise seems like a poor choice, and it's also offensive to imply that drag isn't family friendly. Next up Al and Chuck Travel tried to explain this was standard procedure and had to do with post-9/11 security, and asked in quite a condescending tone that guests "use this opportunity to set an example so that all the world can see that the GLBT community can follow rules and regulations just like everyone else."
The latest update seems to imply that both Carnival and the travel agency have realized that their approach was extremely bad for business, as Carnival has now released a statement saying their was a "miscommunication" and that they will indeed let passengers dress in drag. They are also offering guests the option to cancel their reservations and receive a full refund.
I know you're dying to hear my opinion, so I'll say upfront that I think the whole thing is obviously not a miscommunication. I could go on for pages about how poorly this reflects on everyone involved, and how I think Carnival is probably extremely uncomfortable with the idea of people in drag, particularly with the idea of men dressing up as women, and I could even talk about how their procedure that requires "guests to present government-issued ID, and to be recognizably that person" reminds me of the unfair voter ID laws we all just campaigned against during the 2012 election.
But as always, what I'm really curious about is what you guys think. If you were booked on this cruise, would you have been angry to receive the letter? Do you think Carnival's rules make sense or would you be outraged? And how about Gay Travel Trips role in the saga? Have you used them in the past, and would you consider using them in the future?