VACAYA Makes a Great First Impression


It’s said if you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door.  The question of whether or not VACAYAbilled as “the first and only large-scale, full-ship/full-resort LGBT+ vacation company on the planet designed for the entire LGBT+ community”has invented that proverbial better mousetrap is still to be answered. However, its recent inaugural cruise was certainly a step forward for a segment of the travel industry that had remained relatively unchanged for over two decades.

VACAYA’s inaugural cruise included a rainbow pride flag art installation enveloping the entire Celebrity Summit. Photo courtesy of VACAYA

Held August 11 to 18, the cruise was aboard the recently renovated Celebrity Summit and sailed from Cape Liberty Cruise Port outside of New York City to Saint John, New Brunswick; Bar Harbor, Maine; and Provincetown, Massachusetts. It set a record with its Ptown stop by becoming the largest ship to date to overnight at the popular LGBT+ seaside resort destination.

Photo courtesy of Barnette Holston (@DCFashionFool)

I was among nearly 2,000 passengers hailing from 16 different countries and 44 U.S. states that were part of the experience. And while the majority of passengers were like me–gay white cis and male–there was visible representation from across the “alphabet rainbow” that makes up our community. Most notable were the dozens of lesbians, which–albeit a small contingent–far exceeded the number of lesbians seen on cruises other than those produced by Olivia (for more perspective, read Curve Magazine Editor In Chief Merryn Johns’ article “My VACAYA Experience”).

Beyond their LGBT+ designations, I found the passengers also varied across age, body type, and race.

Photo courtesy of Barnette Holston (@DCFashionFool)

“[VACAYA’s inaugural cruise] provided me with elements other cruises miss time and again: a sense of purpose in their daily activities, a sense of camaraderie given the age and diversity of culture among the guests, and a sense of comfort extended through the personal attentiveness from their ebullient team,” said Jacko Fajardo, a 42-year-old gay blatino cis male from Washington, D.C.   

In addition to bringing together a unique mix of passengers, VACAYA also introduced a variety of entertainers who were announced well in-advance of the cruise (something often lacking with other operators). Among the many highlights were performances by Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth, American Idol standout Katharine McPhee (BTW – her husband and acclaimed music producer David Foster traveled with her and actively engaged with passengers), comedy actor Leslie Jordan, gender nonconforming singer and actor Alex Newell, and transgender country music singer Brody Ray.

Photo courtesy of Barnette Holston (@DCFashionFool)

Beyond the diversity of the passengers and the exceptional entertainment, VACAYA included many of the same activities enjoyed on other cruises including themed afternoon and evening dance parties and meet-ups.

I made a point throughout my time on the cruise to ask other passengers whom I had the pleasure of meeting if they were enjoying themselves and what their impressions were of VACAYA.  I spoke with veteran cruisers of partial and full charters and general cruises as well as first-time cruisers. Each person said they were having a wonderful time and spoke positively about the cruise.

As first impressions go, it appears VACAYA has made a good one. If you’d like more information on upcoming Vacaya events be sure to contact Adam Martindale, the MeetMeOnBoard Travel Expert.

VACAYA’s remaining 2019/2020 schedule includes an all-inclusive Mexico resort experience, Oct. 27 to Nov. 2, 2019; 7- or 14-night Europe river cruise, starting Dec. 5, 2019; and Iceland cruise, Aug. 30 to Sept. 6, 2020. Additional details are available at

Troy Petenbrink

by: Troy Petenbrink
Twitter: @thegaytraveler
Instagram: thegaytraveler