5 Incredible Cruise Ports for LGBTQ Travelers

On a cruise you can find a variety of ports which offer something for everyone. LGBTQ cruise travelers might like to consider 5 of our favorite cruise ports, culled from the many we’ve visited through the years. Drum roll please? Here’s the list.

San Francisco

LGBTQ people can justifiably look at this city as the Mecca of gay life and one of the hotbeds of gay activism through the years. Remember in 2004, when San Francisco’s mayor at the time, Gavin Newsom, simply directed the city clerk to issue same-sex marriage licenses? And of course the struggle for equal rights goes back decades with SFO in the lead.

Today the Castro is no longer the Main Street of gay life in the USA. However the city is incredibly open and appreciative of LGBTQ visitors. Plan on additional days to enjoy the scenic harbor, the iconic Golden Gate Park or perhaps an hour-long drive to the wine country, either Napa or Sonoma. Sipping a great vintage overlooking the vineyards will help slide you right into cruise mode.

The cruise lines have belatedly discovered the potential of San Francisco as a cruise port. Currently Princess has the largest presence in the City by the Bay. Visits by that line and others will total nearly one hundred in 2019. Carnival will begin Alaska cruises from SFO in 2020.  

And remember, the locals hate it when you say “Frisco” or San Fran.” Just say “The City” and you’ll sound like an insider.

Barcelona

Our favorite memories of this wonderful Catalan city on the northeast coast of Spain? The unbelievable architecture of the Sagrada Familia, Antonio Gaudi’s famous cathedral that’s been under construction since 1882. 

 

Now I’ve never met a cathedral I didn’t like. But on every trip abroad Mark says he’s going to refuse entry to any church, cathedral, basilica, or shrine unless the nude statues are especially tempting. Even Mark agrees that Sagrada Familia is not to be missed.

We’ve been privileged to see this stunning site twice, and the progress toward completion is impressive. Don’t let the fact that it’s unfinished put you off. This is a Unesco World Heritage Site, and you don’t have to be a person of faith or an architecture buff to enjoy it. 

MMOB TIP:  For a side-trip from Barcelona, take the 35-minute train trip to Sitges, a gay paradise on the Med. Great beaches with a gratifying amount of skin, a Pride celebration, bars, clubs and gay accomodations make this an excellent pre-post cruise destination. Check out the rolicking Bear Week in early September this year.

Other memories of Barcelona are the best $9 bottle of wine we’ve ever had, most of which I spilled on the floor. And OMG the food! Tasty Tapas everywere. Then there was my careless fall that nearly resulted in my being covered in horse dung.  

Mykonos

We booked Venice to Istanbul on Azamara Club Cruises, and said to ourselves “Yeah, yeah, the Greek Islands. Sure. They can’t possibly be all what people say, right?”

 

Wrong. The tired old cliche about a“jewel” of an island really does apply in this case. Our ship was anchored in the beautiful bay at Chora with indescribably blue water. Not only that, but this port is the gayest we can remember visiting. Sexy swimwear is omnipresent and eye-popping, found on men, on mannequins, and advertisements. The city is beautiful with narrow winding lanes and the characteristic whitewashed buildings that seem tailor-made to contrast with the deep cobalt blue of the sea.

Gay beaches, lodging, and parties abound on this Island. It too has a well-deserved reputation as a gay travel mecca. We can’t wait to return, and maybe we’ll even squeeze into one of those Speedos.

New York City

The Big Apple is arguably the world’s most exciting city, and certainly holds special attraction for LGBTQ cruisers. Cruises depart from New York for Bermuda, Canada, the Caribbean and Europe. Plan on some time pre-or-post cruise to sink your teeth in to this fabulous city that never sleeps.

Plan far in advance for your tickets to the Broadway hits. We don’t think it’s worth the time to wait in the long line at the half-price ticket booth. But remember, there are always arts events of all kinds occuring in NYC. Consider searching for NYC MeetMeOnBoard members and email locals for tips and suggestions!

And of course there’s the shopping! You’re too late for the now-closed Lord & Taylor flagship store. But boys….Barney’s is still there!

This June is the ideal time for LGBTQ cruisers to visit New York City. The city will host World Pride/Stonewall 50 with events all month, and the Parade stepping off at noon on June 30.

As old blue-eyes used to sing: “It’s up to you, New York!”

Adam’s Pick:If you plan on attending World Pride/Stonewall 50 but want to hold the budget in check, consider Carnival Sunrise, departing July 2 for a 9-day Eastern Caribbean cruise. Fares are reasonable, leaving you more money to buy drinks for that cute guy at the bar. For more information contact Adam Martindale, our MMOB Travel Expert.

Copenhagen

Denmark is perennially on the list of countries where residents report a high level of happiness. We can understand why. This is a spotless country, with terrific public transit and a wide variety of social programs increasing the quality of life. Denmark was the first country to recognize LGBTQ civil unions, and formalized same-sex marriage in 2012. Last summer we met a wonderful gay couple from Copenhagen, Flemming and Tony, who reinforced our fondness for the Danish people.

Dale (L) with Tony and Flemming from Copenhagen aboard Azamara Journey.

Our Atlantis cruise aboard Celebrity Constellation in 2008 originated in Copenhagen so we planned several days there pre-cruise. The quiet, comfortable hotel enabled us to store up  sleep credits which we knew we’d need to draw upon once we were on board!

Copenhagen is flat as a pancake which makes for excellent biking. We spent an afternoon pedaling around town and managed not only to stay together but didn’t even get lost. If you do stray and need directions, no worries. Virtually everyone speaks flawless English.

MMOB TIP: Our biking route advice? Skip the Little Mermaid statue, we think it’s a big yawn. But save extra money for Copenhagen. Although prices are breathtakingly high, this city of Hans Christian Andersen is worth it.  

Most importantly, cyclists can be…er…rather aggressive when it comes to their bike lanes. Stay in the pedestrian walkways, and even then, watch your back.

Counterculture in Copenhagen

The funky Christiania neighborhood is a hoot and should be on your must-see list. Formed by squatters in the early ’70’s from property formerly occupied by the military, this is a freewheeling area given a very long leash by the government. A certain herb-like smell permeated the air at the time we visited, but we understand the marijuana and hash trade has been vastly diminished. But you’ll still definitely be able to buy a tie-dye T-shirt.

Of special note to gay male readers is the often homoerotic sculpture of Bertel Thorvaldsen. The museum housing much of his work is incredible. Keep your eyes open and you’ll see a lot of his statues around the city. 

What are some of the cruise ports you’d reccomend to the LGBTQ crowd, and why?