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Best major cruise lines for LGBTQ+ cruises

LGBT-friendly cruises are ubiquitous these days, with most major cruise lines priding themselves on inclusivity.

LGBT cruise vacations are far from a rarity nowadays as cruise lines vie to be the most welcoming they can be.

We’ve investigated what major cruise lines are doing to make sure everyone in the LGBTQ+ community is included out on the waterways of the world.

From Celebrity Cruises to Royal Caribbean, this is what you should know about LGBT cruises with the big names in cruising.

Celebrity Lgbt cruises pride party

Celebrity Cruises - LGBT cruises

Celebrity Cruises prides (sorry) itself in valuing the importance of diversity among guests and crew. The proof is in the pudding – the luxury line was awarded LGBTQ+ Friendly Travel Company of the year in 2016 and won the title of Best Large Ship Cruise Line for LGBTQ+ Passengers four years in a row.

The brand has been performing legally recognized same-sex marriages onboard its ship since 2017.

Celebrity Cruises’ LGBT Welcome Parties are held on the first night of almost every cruise and are open to all guests. There are also various LGBTQ+ events and social hours onboard throughout the cruise.

What’s more, the line holds a Pride Party at Sea and has been a regular major sponsor for Miami Beach Gay Pride.

Royal Caribbean - LGBT cruises

As for LGBT cruise Royal Caribbean, the line has also won awards for its LGBT-friendly cruises – in 2016 it was the first cruise brand to receive the sought-after distinction of being Gay Travel Approved by GayTravel.com, the ‘go-to’ resource for members of the LGBT community.

This was thanks to its ongoing commitment to the LGBT community, demonstrating a spirit of diversity and inclusion on all of its ships.

This year, the line started a new partnership with Pride 365. The Pride 365 seal recognizes Royal Caribbean International as an organisation publicly committed to being an active year-round supporter of the LGBT+ community, treating their LGBT+ employees, guests and crew members with dignity and respect and having workplaces that are committed to real inclusion.

Ben Bouldin, Vice President EMEA, Royal Caribbean International, told Sailawaze: “As a vacation provider, our aim is to put a smile on our guests’ faces 365 days a year. We believe that our differences make us stronger and that happy employees make for happy guests and happiness comes from the freedom to inexplicably be true to oneself, both in the workplace and on vacation.

“We are committed to cultivating a trusting environment where all ideas are welcomed and where employees feel comfortable and empowered to have meaningful discussions — a place where they know they belong.”

The company also hosts LGBT meet and great events, regular LGBT cruise events onboard and symbolic same-sex marriage ceremonies at sea or at select ports of call.

While Royal Caribbean isn’t currently promoting any LGBTQ-themed sailings itself, the ships are often chartered by companies that run LGBTQ-themed charters. Coming up is Navigator of the Seas from LA in October and Harmony of the Seas in the Caribbean in February 2023.

A past passenger of the line said: “From the moment I set foot on my first Royal Caribbean cruise, I felt like I belonged… On every one of my cruising adventures, I feel like I am home and that Royal Caribbean is my family.”

Royal Caribbean navigator of the seas
Virgin Voyages lgbt cruises

Virgin Voyages - LGBT cruises

Virgin Voyages “welcomes and celebrates members of the LGBTQ+ community every day”. All the line’s ships offer gender-neutral and accessible bathrooms and allow “sailors” to select the gender in which they identify when sailing.

Virgin Voyages held a Pride party onboard Scarlet Lady in June 2022. The LGBT cruise 2022 offered PRIDE-themed cocktails and DJ Hannah Rad who’s performed at Lollapalooza was on the decks (sorry, again).

Then in August 2022 the line offered a Studio 54-inspired adults-only voyage around the Caribbean as Fluid hosted a series of disco parties aboard Virgin Voyages.

Fluid is known for attracting a diverse and inclusive crowd that enjoys music and fashion; the nightclub concept ensures it creates an inclusive environment, both ego and label-free, where people can be their true, authentic selves.

“Diversity and acceptance are some of our key pillars, so we can’t wait to bring people of all different backgrounds together on the ship,” said David Darden, Senior Manager of Influencer Marketing at Virgin Voyages ahead of the sailing

“The judgement-free atmosphere we’ve cultivated, paired with the vibe of this crowd is going to make for one truly unforgettable moment.”

P&O Cruises - LGBT cruises

Among the LGBT cruise lines is also P&O Cruises which “celebrates the diversity, inclusion, and equality of all people,” and in June 2022 changed its logo to feature a rainbow to reflect its “commitment to the LGBTQ+ community.” The cruise line also continues to partner with and sponsor Southampton Pride.

P&O’s parent company Carnival Corporation has been recognized for its LGBT employment practices, scoring a perfect 100 on the Human Right Campaigns’ (a leading global non-profit organization working to advance diversity, inclusion and gender equality at work) corporate equality index.

In 2021 P&O Australia announced its first-ever LGBT+ Pride cruise will set sail in November. The LGBT cruise 2022 to “honour pride in self, the diversity of the community and the endless variety of talented artists, entertainers and educators in it”.

Carnival’s UK’s president Sture Myrmell commented: “P&O Cruises has long been a supporter of diversity and inclusivity, championing marriage equality and working with campaigners of inclusivity.”

P&O Cruises Iona ship

Azamara - LGBT cruises

Azamara is another great LGBT cruise line. It won “Best Small Ship Cruise Line for LGBTQ Passenger”, and was voted by LGBTQ cruisers as “Best Small Ship Cruise line” for seven consecutive years.

Azamara hosts multiple shindigs for the LGBTQ+ community. In its own words: “We’ll roll out the rainbow carpet with activities and events that embrace and celebrate your community and your allies.

It also visits “welcoming destinations” with each of its LGBTQ-friendly cruises and hosts Pride cocktail parties.

Princess Cruises - LGBT cruises

Is Princess Cruises LGBT-friendly? The answer is yes, and has been for some time. LGBT meet-ups are held every sea day as well as events aimed at the LGBT community.

The line also will not call at “unfriendly” destinations – in 2019 Princess dropped its calls at Brunei over anti-LGBT laws.

“At Princess Cruises, we celebrate diversity and equality and would avoid any location where any guests are not treated with dignity and respect,” a Princess spokesperson said at the time.

Princess Cruises lgbt cruises

Seabourn & Holland America Line - LGBT cruises

Seabourn and Holland America line both provide LGBT-friendly cruises that welcome guests “from all walks of life, ethnicities, cultures and backgrounds, including of course our very important LGBTQ guests,” said a spokeswoman.

Both cruise lines offer LGBTQ welcome parties and ‘get togethers’ on regular cruises. What’s more, the vessels are occasionally chartered to organisations such as RSVP Vacations which has specialised in gay men and lesbian cruising since 1985.

Viking Cruises - LGBT cruises

As for LGBT river cruises, Viking is an LGBT-friendly cruise line. Ships offer regular LGBTQ+ meet-ups as well as entire-ship charters for LGBTQ+ travelers.

If you needed further convincing, in 2019, Viking won Best River Cruise Line for LGBTQ+ Passengers.

LGBT river cruises are growing in popularity and stop at a range of LGBT-friendly destinations such as Amsterdam.

Viking Cruises river cruise
Uniworld women in france

Uniworld - LGBT cruises

Uniworld’s mantra when it comes to satisfying its LGBTQ+ audience is “inclusivity goes beyond amenities”.

The line offers annual dedicated week-long cruises full of fun, friendship and memorable travels for LGBTQ+ travellers and their friends, family and allies. Hosted by gay and lesbian travel veterans, Gregg Kaminsky & Kelli Carpenter, these holidays feature special programming, such as LGBTQ+ performers, dance parties, themed events and more.

What’s more, Uniworld’s sensitivity training takes care to ensure its personalised service approach is responsive to the LGBTQ+ community, with staff taking part in a series of expert-led LGBTQ+ training sessions.

Set Sail

Pride at Sea 2023 with Celebrity Cruises

Duration: 11 nights

Where:  Rome (Civitavecchia) | Sicily (Messina) | Santorini | Mykonos | Istanbul | Ephesus (Kusadasi) | Athens (Piraeus), | Naples | Rome (Civitavecchia)

Ship: Celebrity Beyond

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Published 06.30.22