Gays and lesbians are among the most enthusiastic cruise passengers around, with no shortage of choices available when it comes to booking the ship or itinerary to suit. Nearly all of the larger cruise companies want to attract gay cruise customers, although some are more gay-friendly than others. They can be a more attractive option than all-gay charters especially for cruisers who want to go somewhere different, or to have a more exclusive experience.
Many cruise operators now include social meetings for their onboard gay community referred to as ‘Friends of Dorothy’ or ‘FOD’ meetings. The term ‘FOD’ now appears on some ships' daily programs - but there's no guarantee you'll see one when you step onboard. The entertainment director onboard can decide to add or withdraw the meetings at any time, at their discretion.
The larger lines such as NCL and Princess cruises will include FOD meetings on most of their ships. Other cruise lines generally hold the FOD gatherings upon passenger request; large popular lines like Holland America, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean generally fall into this category. You won’t usually find them on the ultra-premium luxury lines like Cunard (QM2 is an exception), Crystal, Regent Seven Seas, Sea Dream, Silversea, Yachts of Seabourn. Because of their small size, they rarely feel the necessity of offering FOD meetings. Just because a cruise line doesn’t hold official meetings, doesn’t mean that gay travellers aren’t welcome on board, that’s not the case at all.
If you don't see an FOD meeting scheduled on the first couple of nights onboard (the meetings are customarily held on one of the first sea days) and you would like to meet some new gay friends, ask for one! Make your request known to the cruise entertainment director early on. Do bear in mind that the length of the cruise as well as how port-intensive the itinerary is can affect whether there is room in the schedule for an FOD meeting.
Many of the cruise lines have trained their staff in sensitivity regarding homophobia, and have learned to extend the same accepting, friendly courtesies to gay passengers as they do to straight guests. This basically means you needn’t feel worried that you’ll be treated any differently by staff members simply because of your sexual orientation.
When it comes to public displays of affection, most people aren’t keen on watching someone sticking their tongue down the throat of their husband/wife/partner/lover at the dinner table, gay or straight. However, there is nothing wrong with a quick kiss, an arm around your loved one, or even holding hands. Just remember, that there will definitely be people who will take notice and disapprove but it’s your holiday and as long you're OK with it, then go ahead and stroll arm and arm along the promenade deck under the moonlight and have a great time!