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Author Topic: Excuse me, is this a fitness convention?  (Read 46 times)
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« on: 07 December 2009, 10:26:PM »

When BRIAN McINTYRE booked a gay cruise, it was the start of nine days of stepping out of everyday life, meeting a global community and being free in a surprisingly liberating way

WHEN SHE SAW US come down the gangway an American woman from a neighbouring cruise ship wandered over. She peered out from under her large sunhat at the striking group of men who had just emerged into the bright sunshine of the Greek island of Rhodes.

About 50 of us had signed up for a 10km walking tour, and even at this early hour the group was all chatter and laughter – as well as tanned, muscular, nattily dressed and exclusively male. “Is this a, um . . ?” she began, her voice trailing off as she gestured to the men in front of her. “Is this a fitness convention?”

Gay cruises are well established, having emerged in the mid 1990s in the US. Olivia Travel serves lesbians. The dominant player for men is Atlantis, which runs up to a dozen all-gay cruises a year; three are scheduled for Europe next summer.

The proposition is simple: the cruises give gay men and their friends a chance to holiday together in a mini community on the open seas, and to see a bit of the world. Mini is a relative term: most Atlantis cruises have between 2,000 and 4,000 passengers, half couples and half singles. Most seem to be between 30 and 50, but the age range is wide.

Even on Mediterranean cruises more than 70 per cent of passengers are North American. You feel as if you are in an ultraliberal part of the US, with American brands and prices in dollars. The only thing missing is the jet lag.
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