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Carnival apologizes to LGBT community for restricting drag wear on upcoming themed cruise

Nov 28, 2012 1:41 pm

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Theme cruises bring in guests at higher price points than the average cruise passenger, so keeping organizers happy — no matter how odd their grouping may seem to outsiders — is in a cruise line’s best interests.

— Samantha Shankman

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Robert Neff  /

A Carnival Cruise ship in Cozumel, Mexico. Robert Neff /

A cruise company has been forced to back down in a row over the dress code on board a transvestite-themed voyage.

Carnival Cruises’ “Drag Stars at Sea” sailing, which departs on December 2, will feature cross-dressing performers, but the company had urged guests themselves to refrain from wearing drag for fear of offending families on board.

But after the diktat triggered widespread anger on internet forums, Gerry Cahill, Carnival’s president, chose to reverse the ban, citing a “miscommunication” between his company and Al and Chuck Travel, a specialist gay holiday company through which a number of passengers booked their place on board.

He said: “At Carnival, we are proud to carry more than 4.5 million guests every year and we welcome them all aboard. We do not practice any form of discrimination against the LGBT or any other community. We sincerely apologize for the miscommunication and for any unintended offence we have caused.”

The decision was praised by internet users.

On the cruise website CruiseCritic, one member, gtalum, said: “Good move by Carnival to recognize their error and backtrack”. Another, robbieone’, said Carnival had been “amazingly honest and unprecedented…I cannot wait to set sail next week.”

The cruise will visit the Caribbean, and includes a live show featuring stars from the American reality television series RuPaul’s Drag Race.

The popularity of themed cruises has grown sharply in recent years. Some of the more bizarre options available include The Barge to Hell, an annual five-day sailing to the Caribbean aimed at fans of heavy metal, and the “Cougar Cruise”, offered by and described as “five nights of fun for younger men/older women”.

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