Cruise Line Survey 2015

THE GAY FRIENDLY SEAS

The cruise industry hasn’t always had a great relationship with gay cruisers. When Kevin Mossier first started chartering ships at RSVP 30 years ago, most lines wouldn’t even allow a gay group. Today, most lines are actively welcoming, if not marketing directly to LGBT customers. But when it comes to policies that actively engage LGBT customers and protect LGBT employees and guests, the lines in general, are not as far along as you’d think, and in general, reluctant to discuss it.

We’re proposing a set of LGBT criteria for the cruise lines. We don’t have enough responses to fairly grade the individual lines this year, but we’re reporting the responses we did receive, and the lines that failed to respond at all. We believe their answers should matter to all of us as gay consumers, and urge you to join the conversation. If you have comments or questions about our criteria or survey, please share them in the comments.

LGBT-Friendly criteria for Cruise Lines:

  1. LGBT employees should be covered by a non-discrimination policy that explicitly mentions sexual orientation and gender expression.
  2. Customer-facing employees should have diversity/inclusion training that specifically covers LGBT guests.
  3. Cruise lines docking in ports where homosexuality or gender expression are criminalized should provide all passengers notice about such laws before disembarkation in those ports.

In addition to these minimum standards, we believe marketing and outreach to LGBT consumers, membership in the IGLTA and promotion of LGBT gatherings in daily cruise calendars to important indicators of a cruise line’s commitment to LGBT customers, not just commerce.

The following cruise lines did not respond to numerous requests over two months: NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE, ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL, SILVERSEA CRUISES, WINDSTAR CRUISES

MSC CRUISES

MSC offers Mediterranean-style cruising, with one ship, the Divina, based in the Caribbean seasonally. They have just launched a wedding program for lesbian and gay couples, performing legal same-sex weddings in Miami, and symbolic weddings in select other ports. Oh, and Sophia Loren is the line’s godmother.

  1. Do you promote LGBT social events on non-charter sailings?

Yes, MSC has just launched a new wedding program and will be promoting same sex weddings. We are currently working on an ad to let people know about the new wedding program and same sex weddings and will also be advertising this on our wedding page.

  1. Do you do any marketing or outreach to the LGBT community?

See above.

  1. Do you do any diversity/inclusion training for employees that specifically covers LGBT? MSC Cruises strives to maintain a workplace free of harassment and sensitive to the diversity of its employees. We offer a diversity training titled “Just be F.A.I.R.” which discusses diversity in the workplace. While the training doesn’t specifically cover LGBT, it does an excellent job of stressing the inclusion piece.
  2. Are LGBT employees covered by a non-discrimination policy? We are committed to provide a work environment that is free from all forms of discrimination and conduct that can be considered harassing, coercive or disruptive, including sexual harassment. Actions, words, jokes, or comments based on an individual’s sex, race, color, national origin, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation or any other legally protected characteristic is not tolerated.
  3. Do you provide any guidance for guests or employees when docking in countries where LGBT is criminalized? All our employees are advised about local customs and regulations and asked to observe local laws when docked in various ports around the world.

CELEBRITY CRUISES

1. Do you promote LGBT social events on non-charter sailings?

Yes and I believe Celebrity Cruises is the only one with signage on embark day noting our welcome event? We do a meet/greet for LGBT gatherings on the 1st day of the cruise in a high profile lounge and some senior officers come as well. If well attended we plan others throughout the week. We put the information on a sign and it is included in our daily program guide put in the guest stateroom. We call it LGBT Gathering, and not “Friends of Dorothy” like other cruise lines. No hiding our affection for the LGBT market. As well: Guests will be made aware that all future LGBT events will be posted on the community board at the Guest Relations Desk.

2. Do you do any marketing or outreach to the LGBT community?  

We do a lot of LGBT marketing including digital advertising, magazines. Additionally we are active in numerous pride events and activities in large US cities such as LA, SF, Atlanta, DC and NYC.We also have a video with all LGBT guests being promoted and it ends with our Cruizie Award. And our overall Celebrity brand video has straight and LGBT people featured in it.

3. Do you do any diversity/inclusion training for employees that specifically covers LGBT?  

HR training has LGBT covered as well as other diverse groups. We are a leader in this and the travel industry overall is excellent with inclusion

4. Are LGBT employees covered by a non-discrimination policy? 

Absolutely

5. Do you provide any guidance for guests or employees when docking in countries where LGBT is criminalized?  

We do not, but we also feel our guests do their homework for every port as well. Celebrity Cruises hosted a Caribbean Islands LGBT Summit in our offices last Fall – Charlie Rounds ran it – we are figuring out ways to potentially do shore ex specific to those in the community looking to visit local chapters or see how they can help the cause in each island. We are aware of some of the island challenges and me especially since I heard each island LGBT representative tell their stories – I was horrified and sad.

6. Is there anything about your brand that would compel LGBT travelers to consider it favorably compared to your competitors?  

Cruizie Award winner overall and in many categories as well as Atlantis Event leading charter partner are strong proof points. Our calling LGBT gatherings what they are and not saying Friends of Dorothy… many of the ideas he shared we executed and we have had senior VPs, heads of entertainment, sales, marketing all meet or speak with Mark, Charlie Rounds and Rich Campbell to make sure we are on point. We also now are partnering with groups with RFamily vacations and love working with Gregg Kaminsky and Kelli Carpenter………..I think knowing all those key leaders in the LGBT market solidify us. We are a very accepting and inclusive brand.  Our onboard experience is designed for any individual including the LGBT guest.  We have amazing culinary experiences, attentive service, world class ships and sail to all 7 continents. We also have many times quoted and worked with Olivia and TIsha and I just can’t get to the right price point or we would be sailing the ladies more as well.

7. Are there distinctive new features or programs you’ve launched or will launch in 2015 that you’d like our readers to know about? 

The information in #1 above should cover that – except now we have a year of promoting this and guests can’t wait to come back an experience their next gathering on Celebrity Cruises because the parties are getting bigger and better! We are THE cruise line for the LGBT community – a wonderful adult focused product!

CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES
Carnival really created the modern cruise business in the 1970s, and has earned its position as the world’s most popular cruise line by providing a fun, welcoming environment for the more than 4.5 million guests who sail with them each year. They answered our questions more generally.

  1. Do you promote LGBT social events on non-charter sailings?

Each of our 1,500 cruises a year includes a meeting for members of the LGBT community.

  1. Do you do any marketing or outreach to the LGBT community?

Not answered.

  1. Do you do any diversity/inclusion training for employees that specifically covers LGBT?

All 39,000 of Carnival’s shipboard team members – a diverse group of employees who hail from more than 100 different countries from around the world – undergo intensive training in hospitality management and quality guest service. One of the pillars of Carnival’s Service Values fleetwide hospitality training program is to show care and respect for each other, our guests and the places we visit. Above all, Carnival strongly supports a team atmosphere, both aboard its ships and in its shoreside offices, that values and respects diversity among our employees and guests.

  1. Are LGBT employees covered by a non-discrimination policy?

Carnival strives to maintain an atmosphere free of discrimination or harassment in the workplace based upon race, color, sex, national origin, religion, disability, age, marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity. Such harassment and discrimination at Carnival will not be tolerated.

  1. Do you provide any guidance for guests or employees when docking in countries where LGBT is criminalized?

Not answered.

 

HOLLAND AMERICA LINE
As befitting their Dutch ancestry, Holland America Line met every one of our criteria, with a comprehensive response to each of our LGBT-specific criteria. Holland America Line is popular for gay charters, and has an innovative dining program, working with master chefs to create new menus that include a Le Cirque-inspired and 20-course Master Chef dinner each cruise, along with sustainably-sourced seafoods and a new alternative vegetarian menu in their main dining rooms. Dancing with The Stars program returns to Holland America Line in 2015 with a program on every sailing, and six full-experience theme cruises.

  1. Do you promote LGBT social events on non-charter sailings?

Yes, we offer LGBT get-togethers on every cruise. The events are introduced by a cruise staff member at the first gathering and then open to guests to host at following events. The get-togethers are always listed in the ship’s daily program.

  1. Do you do any marketing or outreach to the LGBT community?

We market to all demographics and communities. Some specifically targeted outreach takes place with various partnerships, but our general advertising and marketing addresses our brand experience, which appeals to many groups and demographics. We also support the LGBT community through sponsorships with various organizations and support and advocacy groups. A few recent examples include the Human Rights Campaign Dinner, Taste of GSBA, the LGBT Community Center in San Diego, the Seattle Men’s Chorus/Seattle Women’s Chorus and the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force in Miami. We also have had a corporate sponsorship with the Seattle Pride Parade, with employees taking part in the event for the past few years.

  1. Do you do any diversity/inclusion training for employees that specifically covers LGBT?

It has been, and will continue to be, the policy of Holland America to afford equal opportunity for employment to all individuals regardless of race, creed, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, or mental, sensory or physical disability. Therefore, all personnel matters such as recruiting, hiring, training, termination, compensation, benefits, layoffs, transfers, education, tuition assistance and social and recreational programs will continue to be administered in accordance with company policy. Diversity and inclusion is a part of yearly required training, online continuing education and in new employee training.

  1. Are LGBT employees covered by a non-discrimination policy?

Yes, and as well in the context of state and federal employment laws. It is the Company’s intent to provide a work environment free from all types of discrimination. All employees are expected to be sensitive to and respectful of their co-workers and others with whom they come into contact while representing the company. We prohibit all forms of discrimination whether due to race, creed, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, gender identity, disability, veteran status, or political ideology.

  1. Do you provide any guidance for guests or employees when docking in countries where LGBT is criminalized?

Depending on the area and concerns, we provide a ship-wide letter advising all guests if there are major concerns. The letter is general and provides an overview of the issues for the area, and invites guests to contact the front desk with concerns. It is not a standard practice with every port though.

PAUL GAUGUIN CRUISES
Paul Gauguin Cruises offers smaller, luxury cruises in Tahiti, the Caribbean, Panama Canal and Europe. Naturalists, lecturers, and the Gauguines and Gauguins — a troupe of Tahitian entertainers — aboard the 332-guest m/s Paul Gauguin provide enriching experiences of the destinations throughout each voyage in French Polynesia. The ship also has a watersports marina for kayaking, windsurfing, and paddle boarding and also offers an optional SCUBA diving program. The 88-guest m/v Tere Moana which offers luxury voyages in the Caribbean, Latin America, and Europe. Both ships feature exceptional service, luxurious oceanview accommodations, fine dining in a choice of venues, complimentary select beverages, a spa, a fitness center, spacious outdoor decks, and pool. In 2015, Paul Gauguin Cruises will be offering two new itineraries: a 10-night Fiji Roundtrip voyage and a 7-night Venice Roundtrip voyage.

  1. Do you promote LGBT social events on non-charter sailings?

Paul Gauguin Cruises has small ships, so all of our shipboard activities are open to all guests.

  1. Do you do any marketing or outreach to the LGBT community?

Yes, we market to LGBT groups and have had LGBT groups and charter sailings on both ships.

  1. Do you do any diversity/inclusion training for employees that specifically covers LGBT?

Yes. Our captains and hotel directors lead training for our entire staff on board.

  1. Are LGBT employees covered by a non-discrimination policy?

Yes. Our company provides equal employment opportunities to all employees and complies with applicable state and local laws governing nondiscrimination in employment.

  1. Do you provide any guidance for guests or employees when docking in countries where LGBT is criminalized?

Our ships don’t cruise to countries where LGBT is criminalized.

CRYSTAL CRUISES
All-inclusive Crystal Cruises has been ranked by Condé Nast Traveler and Travel+Leisure as the World’s Best Luxury Cruise for 21 and 19 consecutive years, respectively — unprecedented recognition as the World’s Best, and unmatched by any other cruise line, hotel or resort anywhere in the world. Crystal Cruises travel all around the world, ranging from 100+ day itineraries to 6-day getaways, featuring Chef Nobu’s Silk Road Restaurant, PURE hypoallergenic staterooms, theme cruises, and endless onboard enrichment classes and entertainment. Their answers to our questions were a little vague, and we hope that their hospitable intent will soon be backed by specific policies.

  1. Do you promote LGBT social events on non-charter sailings?

Upon request from guests, our Cruise Directors on Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity will coordinate special functions and meet and greets, as well as arranging table for six or table for 8 dining reservations.

  1. Do you do any marketing or outreach to the LGBT community?

As a niche luxury travel experience, our prospect, market and targets are based by demographics and psychographics. A complete modeling analysis helps us target luxury travelers who act, spend and travel in similar ways to what we see with our returning Crystal guests. Our research shows this is also is inclusive to the LGBT community traveling with us.

  1. Do you do any diversity/inclusion training for employees that specifically covers LGBT?

Overall, all Crystal Cruises staff, both shoreside and shipboard, undergo the highest service standards training possible for all guests and crew.

  1. Are LGBT employees covered by a non-discrimination policy?

Crystal Cruises believes that all persons are entitled to equal employment opportunity and does not discriminate against its employees or applicants because of race, color, citizenship, religious creed (including religious dress practice and religious grooming practice), sex, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, breastfeeding and related medical conditions, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, physical and mental disabilities, genetic characteristics or information, a diagnosis or history of cancer, or veterans status, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state and/or local law.

  1. Do you provide any guidance for guests or employees when docking in countries where LGBT is criminalized?

The safety and security of all our guests and crew are paramount. Prior to calls of port, we provide safety reminder information in our daily newsletter for all guests when traveling ashore.

UNIWORLD BOUTIQUE RIVER CRUISE COLLECTION
With more than 500 departures on 40 itineraries, Uniworld is a leader in river cruising, overseeing all its own operations (nautical, culinary, hospitality) onboard its highly-rated ships and all onshore activities. They have six new itineraries and a new Super Ship, the S.S. Maria Theresa debuting in 2015.

  1. Do you promote LGBT social events on non-charter sailings?

None to date.

  1. Do you do any marketing or outreach to the LGBT community?

None to date.

  1. Do you do any diversity/inclusion training for employees that specifically covers LGBT?

Not answered.

  1. Are LGBT employees covered by a non-discrimination policy?

Yes.

  1. Do you provide any guidance for guests or employees when docking in countries where LGBT is criminalized?

No.

AZAMARA CLUB CRUISES
Azamara is definitely geared towards couples’ travel but also has specific programs dedicated towards singles, who pay just 125% of the double occupancy fares on select sailings. Their 686-guest club-like ships take you to ports where larger ships won’t fit, like in the heart of Marseille, Amalfi, and Crete, or even to the doorstep of Bangkok (while other large cruise lines dock a few hours away), and their focus on Destination Immersion® means they spend more time in ports than any other cruise line, giving you more time to fully experience the culture, cuisine, scenery, and people of your destinations. Azamara is refining its shore options with a thoughtfully curated selection of tours that complement and cap off their daytime explorations. These after-dinner activities highlight the unique characteristics of their ports of call — the arts, architecture and scenery — that are best experienced after night falls.

  1. Do you promote LGBT social events on non-charter sailings?

Yes, each voyage Azamara Club Cruises holds a special cocktail party for those guests that have notified the ship they are a member of the LGBT community at booking. Once onboard a personalized invitation is sent to their stateroom.

  1. Do you do any marketing or outreach to the LGBT community?

Yes, Azamara has a marketing partnership with MeetMeOnboard.com. Also, for the past two years, Azamara has won the Best Small ship cruise line for LGBT guests from the MeetMeOnBoard community.

  1. Do you do any diversity/inclusion training for employees that specifically covers LGBT?

Not answered.

  1. Are LGBT employees covered by a non-discrimination policy?

Not answered.

  1. Do you provide any guidance for guests or employees when docking in countries where LGBT is criminalized?

Not answered.

PRINCESS CRUISES
One of the most lucrative lines in the Carnival family (accounting for nearly 20% of its annual revenues) Princess is geared towards the “meaningful traveler,” a psychographic segment which “immerses itself in the culture, food, and lifestyle of the places” they visit. So LGBT travelers are a natural fit. While Princess doesn’t actively court the gay market via advertising it recently hosted the 30th-anniversary RSVP Vacations cruise and has hosted Atlantis Events charters. Even gayer, in a nod to Princess’ starring role as the cruise ship in Love Boat all six cast members of the original series served as godparents for the new Regal Princess last November, with frequent guest star Florence Henderson acting as Mistress of Ceremonies for the event. And for millennials who have to Wikipedia the Love Boat reference Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, is godmother to the Royal Princess.

  1. Do you promote LGBT social events on non-charter sailings?

Yes, we promote LGBT Get-Togethers (formerly known as Friends of Dorothy) on all sailings. These gatherings are listed in the Princess Patter, a daily onboard activities schedule distributed to all guests. The first gathering is often times hosted by a member of the ship’s social staff to facilitate guest introductions and other gatherings later in the cruise are non-hosted.

  1. Do you do any marketing or outreach to the LGBT community?

We currently don’t do any direct advertising in LGBT publications, however Princess has hosted charters with Atlantic Events and recently the 30th Anniversary Charter for RSVP Vacations.

  1. Do you do any diversity/inclusion training for employees that specifically covers LGBT?

Yes, our current diversity training does cover the LGBT community.

  1. Are LGBT employees covered by a non-discrimination policy?

Yes: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act ED: The Civil Rights Act does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.

  1. Do you provide any guidance for guests or employees when docking in countries where LGBT is criminalized?

We include a section in our Passenger Contract that advises regarding travel to other countries and awareness of laws that may impact them.

Cunard
Celebrating its 175th anniversary Cunard is the queen of the seas offering classic ocean travel experiences such as transatlantic crossings aboard legendary ships including flagship Queen Mary 2. The onboard captain’s welcome is an invitation to join the most elite travelers (not tourists) aboard a sailing or crossing (not a cruise). Princess Grill and Queens Grill accommodations are luxurious and spacious, and the dining options are world class. The ships’ recent enrichment programs have included gay and gay-friendly icons from George Takei and Tilda Swinton to Desmond Tutu. The Friends of Dorothy gatherings are prominently advertised and popular, and gay solo travelers, couples and groups are comfortable and visible on board. This may be among the most effortlessly queer of the non-gay cruises.

  1. Do you promote LGBT social events on non-charter sailings?

Yes, Cunard offers Friends of Dorothy gatherings on all sailings, which are listed in the Daily Programme, a daily activities schedule distributed to all guests.

  1. Do you do any marketing or outreach to the LGBT community?

Cunard is a former National Gold Sponsor of the Human Rights Campaign donating cruises for live auction events which have raised more than $200,000 for the nation’s largest LGBT organization. Cunard is also partnered with travel agent retailers that focus on the LGBT community as clients for group cruises and charters. For example, RSVP Vacations chartered Queen Mary 2 in 2007.  Cunard does not currently do any targeted advertising to the LGBT community, although the line has hosted several journalists writing for various LGBT-focused magazines over the years.

  1. Do you do any diversity/inclusion training for employees that specifically covers LGBT?

Cunard staff adheres to the high standards of Cunard’s legendary White Star service, and are trained in the art of serving guests from all over the world with a variety of sensibilities. Being attuned and welcoming of the LGBT guest is included in the training.

  1. Are LGBT employees covered by a non-discrimination policy?

Yes: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act ED: The Civil Rights Act does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orien

  1. Do you provide any guidance for guests or employees when docking in countries where LGBT is criminalized?

Our Voyage Agreement includes information on traveling to other countries and related local laws that may affect them.