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Carnival apologizes and says cruise passengers may dress in drag

BY STEVE ROTHAUS, SROTHAUS@MIAMIHERALD.COM

Miami-based Carnival Cruise Lines quickly apologized Tuesday after finding itself in hot water with gay passengers on an upcoming drag cruise, who were told to "refrain from engaging in inappropriate conduct in public areas" — or be kicked off the liner Glory.

alandchuck"Anyone who wishes to dress in drag may do so," Carnival President and CEO Gerry Cahill wrote in a letter to passengers, adding that anyone still unhappy could cancel travel and receive a full refund including “reimbursement for any non-refundable travel related expenses.”

The Drag Stars at Sea cruise is scheduled to depart PortMiami on Sunday, visit ports throughout the Caribbean and return Dec. 9. About 1,000 passengers (one-third of the Glory’s total travelers) booked through AlandChuck Travel, a gay-oriented travel company in Sarasota, according to Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen.

The AlandChuck guests are scheduled to be entertained separately throughout the cruise by well-known drag stars who’ve appeared on Logo TV’s RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Monday afternoon, AlandChuck’s guests received an “urgent notice” via email from Vicky Rey, Carnival’s vice president for guest services:

“Carnival attracts a number of families with children and for this reason; we strive to present a family friendly atmosphere. It is important to us that all guests are comfortable with every aspect of the cruise. Although we realize this group consists solely of adults, we nonetheless expect all guests to recognize that minors are onboard and, refrain from engaging in inappropriate conduct in public areas,” Rey wrote.

“Arrangements have been made for drag performances in the main theater featuring stars from LOGO TV. These functions will be private and only the performers are permitted to dress in drag while in the theater. Guests are not allowed to dress in drag for the performances or in public areas at any time during the cruise.”

Rey told passengers that anyone breaking the rules would be forced off the ship, no refunds given.

Within hours, gay travelers and their friends had posted hundreds of angry messages on AlandChuck’s Facebook page.

“This is where I WANT my DISLIKE button. This is ridiculous and if this was the case it should have been communicated far before six days before the cruise. Drag is not a costume in my opinion it’s an expression of speech. Our rights are being violated,” posted Tommie Tiboni of Phoenix.

Al Ferguson of AlandChuck quickly posted in Carnival’s defense: “Please take note, Carnival’s regulation is NOT an example of discrimination. Carnival is an ally of the GLBT community. Please understand that this cruise could not even be happening on the GLORY if Carnival was not an ally of our segment of society. When they say they are a "family friendly" cruise line they mean it in both the traditional and metaphorical sense of the phrase.”

Still, some passengers demanded refunds.

“My husband doesn’t want to go now,” said Shane Windmeyer of Charlotte, N.C., who planned to travel with Tommy Feldman. “We’ve been together 17 years now and the last thing we want to do is go on a cruise where we don’t feel welcome.

“What was expressed by Carnival is discrimination in the worst way,” said Windmeyer, executive director of Campus Pride, a nonprofit organization for LGBT students. “We paid about $2,500 for two of us. We got a balcony. it was my birthday gift for turning 40. I’ve been looking forward to it since May.”

Windmeyer said despite the apology, he and Feldman won’t be on the cruise.

“My husband does not want to go,” Windmeyer said. “It would be like dragging a cat on board.”

Michael Teague of Phoenix said on Facebook that he decided to take the trip. “This was a professional blunder of the highest order. I will still be on the cruise.”

The controversy put a spotlight on Carnival’s treatment of gay employees and travelers. This year, Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest gay-rights group, rated the cruise line’s parent company “zero” on its Corporate Equality Index. (Royal Caribbean International scored 90 on the survey; American Airlines a perfect 100.)

Carnival, which told The Miami Herald on Tuesday that it offers medical/dental/disability insurance benefits to same-sex domestic partners and protects gay workers with the company’s nondiscrimination policy, earned the zero for not responding to HRC’s survey.

“When I see a company like Carnival ... not engage with the nation’s largest LGBT rights organization that has for 10 years has been benchmarking corporate America, it strikes me as a missed opportunity,” said Deena Fidas, deputy director of HRC’s Workplace Project.

Carnival said Tuesday it would soon be in touch with HRC.

“We checked on the HRC survey and have been told that our human resources department has been in touch with the organization and is in the process of completing the survey,” Gulliksen said in an email to The Herald.

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This country is in big trouble because we no longer have a moral compass. This is gross.


youtube.com/watch?v=ysNd4QGOgeY

Great news. Ligero1 will be thrilled.

They were angry because the cruise line merely said they need to "refrain from engaging in inappropriate conduct in public areas."

What a disgusting lifestyle they lead.

ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLL ABOARD!
The sodom ship!

Sodom & Gomorrah cruise to Hell's Fire ;(

What is more wholesome than children seeing a drag show, and parents teaching them to a learning experience. American parents seem too prudish.

There is obviously some controversy started here. Comments like "The Sodom Ship" and "Glory Hole" are unwelcome. To accomodate every patron gay cruises should be well publizided in advance and those opposed to gay values can take a different cruise. Carnival needs to adjust their policy on this and regarding the construction of the Destination Resort which they have done their best to suppress. The new resort to be built on the site of the Miami Herald will bring plenty of jobs, tourism economic relief and even more business to Carnival.

I'm gay but I think it's rather distasteful to subject the majority of passengers (based on group size vs. ship capacity) to those dressed in drag during non-sanctioned events. I don't have a problem with drag at all but if ya wanna do it...charter the whole ship. Carnival is a very gay-friendly company; I used to work there. Also, the "destination resort" referred to on one of the posts is being proposed by Genting Group, a part-owner of Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), not Carnival.

Don't forget. We are "all" God's children.

I'M sure it will be comical,
but I also predict major problems for Carnival
What will they do with drag queens in the ladies lounge?
What will they do when some drunk 300 lb drag queen gropes a straight man
Think of the same 300 lb drag queennow hung over lounging by the pool in her two piece bikini with some of his junk hanging out

Ah, the comments section - where morons of all types can expose the civilized world to their moronic ways. Some "straight" talk for some of my commenting friends above:

Javier, sweetie, can you direct me to the article where you commented on our country losing its moral compass when we invaded Iraq under false pretenses? Thanks so much in advance!

Pedro, darling, drag is simply another form of performance and self-expression, so if you have issues with that, then perhaps you should return to your family's country of origin.

Peter, I appreciate your trying to help but there are no such thing as "gay values" - gays, shockingly, are humans, and have the same human values as most other people. Asserting that there's some subset of "gay values" only makes it easier for homophobes to continue their denunciation of the LGBT community.

And finally, dear, dear Mr. Pete. Allow me to make this very clear for you: gays aren't interested in straights. As a gay man, I'd sooner have sex with my many girlfriends than even glance at you -- but I'm glad you have such fabulous self-confidence! I'm sure your mommy is proud.

Carnival made the right move here, and anyone that has an issue with it can select another cruise line. Thanks for playing.

I rather have breakfast, lunch and dinner with a drag queen than spend 10 seconds with a smoker.

How about on all future cruises all passengers be required to dress in white long sleeve shirts and grey pants with brown or black sandals? A dress code is a dress code.

You can still book that cruise from carnival.com and there is no mention anywhere of it being a drag cruise... This is gonna be interesting

I WISH I was going on this cruise, I think it will be a wonderful time. FYI I am a straight 54 year old female. The LBGT community is amazing. I've seen more public disgusting behavior from straight people in my years than EVER from the LBGT community.

My straight daughter and her friends are going on this trip and looking forward to dressing up and having fun. I wish another cruise company was being used and hope that is the case in the future!

I am a mother to four children, ages 20-4 yrs old. I raise them in such a way that two people expressing affection for each others is not unusual to them, that gender (amongst other things) does not dictate choice of apparel and that this family stands for and defends equality for all. I assume the memo regarding inappropriate behavior does not go out to All of those who book a cruise. Why did they feel it necessary for such a memo on This trip for Some of the occupants? My family takes a vacation every year, we will consider this matter when deciding whether to book with this cruise line or not.

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