Monday, June 25, 2012

Passengers flock to Barcelona for first all-gay cruise to Morocco, tour of Ibiza, other Spanish treasure cities



At long last I’m about to embark on one of those celebrated all-gay cruises I’ve heard about for so many years. This week I’m flying to Barcelona, where I will board the Nieuw Amsterdam en route to our first port of call, Casablanca, Morocco.

My best old friend, whom I’ve known since junior high school, will be flying out of Atlanta and meeting me in Barcelona for a day and night tour of that famed Spanish city before we begin our lengthy RSVP Vacations-sponsored journey at sea to Casablanca, the colorful destination made famous by the 1940s movie of the same name starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.  It will be, I understand, the first visit by an all-gay cruise to visit Morocco’s most famous city.

After the international scandal that blew up last March when an all gay cruise operated by Atlantis Events docked at the Caribbean island of Dominica and two gay men from California were arrested after allegedly being seen engaging in sex on their cabin balcony, I’m hoping for a much better reception for our ship in Morocco.

Some gay activists called for a boycott of all gay cruises that go to LGBT-unfriendly ports, but I made this reservation in December, a good three months before the Dominican incident.

 But even if that weren’t the case, I wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit the Hassan Mosque, the exotic markets and Marrakech. If everyone keeps their clothes on and behaves, we should all be just fine. What’s more I don’t have a balcony on this cruise. So there’s not even a chance of my going senile and accidentally stumbling naked in view of any shocked Moroccans.

It will be my first cruise ever, something I have wanted to do for decades. The closest I had come in the past to a cruise, would be taking the daylong boat ride hosted by Diana’s Tours of Puerto Vallarta.
Incidentally, Diana, helped coordinate a group for the upcoming cruise and will also be on board. Based on the immense enjoyment I’ve had over the years enjoying Diana’s cruises down the coast of Mexico, I’m confident this cruise will be everything I’m anticipating and more.

From Morocco we will be cruising on to Cadiz and Seville, another pair of Spanish cities famed for their architectural and culinary treasures. Then after another day at sea will dock that night off the island of Ibiza, which is famous all over the world for its nightlife. After what is bound to be a glamorous night of partying followed by beauty sleep on the Nieuw Amsterdam, we will tour Ibiza’s Old City and visit Es Cavallet, the renowned gay beach of Spain.

Finally, we will visit Valencia, another city renowned for its architecture before we head back for Barcelona, where I’m spending another few days for sightseeing and resting up before making the long flight back to Dallas-Fort Worth.

The promotional materials I received indicate the Nieuw Amsterdam boasts “spacious and well-appointed staterooms, elegant restaurants, a full-service spa, two outdoor pools, intimate private cabanas, pool games, bingo, enriching lectures, themed T-dances, shows with entertainers such as Leslie Jordan, disco nightclubs, a piano bar, casinos and whatever else one might want to do on a vacation.

With an estimated 2,300 LGBT people on board, I doubt that anyone is going to get bored. For my first cruise, I don’t think I could have made a better choice, regardless of the criticism of the naysayers.

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