Gary Buchanan is ready for parties, pecs and pink outfits as he sets sail on his first gay cruise with RSVP Vacations. Here’s the first installment of his fantastic blog!

Gay CruiseDay one

My pre-cruise information which came with the tickets for my forthcoming Mediterranean cruise called for a ‘Night at the Baths Underwear Party’, a ‘Gay Paree T-Dance’, and a ‘Roman Conquest Leather Night’!

I was about to embark on a cruise with a difference: one where the Rainbow Flag was flown with pride and hedonism came in spades. This was to be my first all-gay cruise.

Established in 1985, RSVP Vacations is the originator of the gay and lesbian cruise concept. Now in its 25th year, RSVP has firmly stuck to its core principal: to appeal to a broad spectrum of the gay community whether aged 25 or 85; from London or Los Angeles; for single travellers or couples; all the time celebrating their diversity. Over 35,000 people have travelled with RSVP since their first cruise and while the majority of guests are from North America; their international presence is growing with each sailing.

Boarding Holland America Line’s Nieuw Amsterdam in Barcelona I was weighed down with apprehension as I checked out my fellow cruisers. Being in my fifties was I too old to fit in? Would the cruise be filled with muscle-toned clubbers populating a decadent Cage au Folles sur Mer? Would my choice of cruise wear render me mutton dressed as lad?

I have been on many cruises over the years where a sizable proportion of passengers are gay men – indeed ‘Friends of Dorothy’ parties are now a permanent fixture of most cruise company’s on-board schedules. But this was the first time I had sailed on a charter cruise with more than 2,000 people who shared the same sexual orientation.

As we bade farewell to Barcelona the ‘Bon Voyage’ Party on the expansive open deck got underway in earnest. Beside the large pool, DJ Robbie Leslie put the bespoke sound-system through its paces with gay anthems such as ‘YMCA’ and ‘It’s Raining Men’. Guests on other ships preparing to sail looked on, no doubt wondering why Nieuw Amsterdam appeared to be party central.

I had been curious about the choice of cruise line for a gay charter. All was explained by Jeff Gundvaldson, President of RSVP Vacations, “We’ve been working with Holland America for over 10 years and are delighted at their high standards and on board experience. The crew absolutely love it because passengers are polite and appreciate fine dining; indeed there’s equal level respect between passengers and crew.”

When I discussed my preconceived views of gay cruising with Jeff he chuckled, “To me there are a lot of misconceptions about what a gay cruise is all about. What we deliver shatters those expectations. We offer a fun time for like-minded people.”

Curious to find out about the rest of Gary’s trip? Read the next installment of his blog!

Whether you’re looking for a cultural holiday or relaxing break, find your perfect cruise with our Cruise Finder.