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Is Holland America's older demographic less welcoming to LGBTQ folks?


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Hello!

we are traveling on the MS Koningsdam in October and while we have sailed on HAL before, I have some questions. 

We are a married gay couple in our mid 30s. We love the laid back types of cruises and aren't really there for waterslides and nightclubs. We have only done a 1 night repositioning cruise out of Seattle and didn't really get a feel for the atmosphere.

My primary concern is that in older crowds we tend to have more crappy looks and comments while in younger crowds nobody really cares if they see two men dancing. We aren't a heavy PDA couple but I would like to be able to dance with my husband without some dude calling me a fag. I know each crowd will be different but I'd love to hear some personal experiences. I love cruising and I want to love HAL but this has been on my mind. 

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Posted (edited)

Hi!

We are in our 60s and had a similar experience on Carnival years ago and while they have improved in their acceptance of us among the crew, we have heard snarky comments from fellow passengers now and then. These days we look for cruises where we think we'll feel comfortable. One thing I look for is a "Friends of Dorothy" get-together. On our last two cruises we've had such gatherings before dinner in one of the small bars on board and have made some very good friends. We would met up pre-dinner and catch up on the day's fun before either breaking up into smaller groups or dining together as a large group. The lines were we have felt the most comfortable have been on Princess and NCL (our preferred line). 

On one occasion (I think we were traveling on NCL this trip}, I wrote ahead to the cruise director on board to inquire about the FOD meeting because I didn't see anything here on CC. I got an immediate reply from the CD who encouraged us to get involved and said that on some trips they wait until they hear from future passengers before making the decision to advertise FOD. I hope this helps; I wouldn't let one bonehead ruin your time (especially considering how much these experiences cost), but I do definitely feel that we should spend our hard-earned vacation dollars with cruise lines where we can relax and enjoy the experience. 

We haven't tried an all-gay cruise because we enjoy getting to know straight couples and have met several on our travels who we have met at FOD meetings because they enjoy meeting members of the LGBT community (which I think is really cool).

Edited by stuart@stu4runner.com
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we never had a problem on HAL. Last Panama Canal 18 days Feb 2020 we had a blast with 20 gay guys with whom we kept in touch. Another good thing with HAL, they all go to bed at 20h00/8pm so you have the ship for yourself hahaha

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My husband and I have been on 7 HAL cruises and only had one issue, and that was back in the 90's.  Our dining table companions did not like us.  I found it amusing, but my husband was mad.   The main dining room host---can't remember his title moved us the 2nd night.   

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I only sail HAL and I've never had any problem, while I don't travel "out", on my last cruise which was a lengthy Hawaiian itinerary and a mostly older crowd,  a woman determined my traveling companion and I were "together" (we weren't) and started a lengthy conversation because her son played for our team. 

 

We only attended one FOD and it was okay, but the two guys there had already bonded and we felt as if we were crashing a party, on that particular sailing, HAL had a FOD meeting EVERY night in an out of the way lounge with little foot traffic, it wasn't something people would have stumbled on by accident, I have to say that was very clever of HAL.  

 

I'm sure there are exceptions based on cruise length, itinerary, and point of embarkation (ie. southern california) where the passenger base will strongly reflect the local population, but generally the HAL atmosphere is a lot less "out" than what you'd probably find on RCI or NCL. 

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Posted (edited)
On 7/12/2021 at 9:05 PM, Puppower said:

Hello!

we are traveling on the MS Koningsdam in October and while we have sailed on HAL before, I have some questions. 

We are a married gay couple in our mid 30s. We love the laid back types of cruises and aren't really there for waterslides and nightclubs. We have only done a 1 night repositioning cruise out of Seattle and didn't really get a feel for the atmosphere.

My primary concern is that in older crowds we tend to have more crappy looks and comments while in younger crowds nobody really cares if they see two men dancing. We aren't a heavy PDA couple but I would like to be able to dance with my husband without some dude calling me a fag. I know each crowd will be different but I'd love to hear some personal experiences. I love cruising and I want to love HAL but this has been on my mind. 

 

To put you at ease.  I don't really think you'd ever experience somebody dropping an F bomb on a HAL ship, it's just not that type of demographic, however two men dancing may get some curious looks mainly because you don't see a lot of dancing on HAL to begin with especially the nights before port days when people want to get up and out early.  On 7+ day sailings HAL ships can sometimes feel dead by 9:00 except for maybe in the theatre/casino area, but a "booze crooze" is going to be in a category all by itself regardless of the line, so don't use that as a comparison.  We ended up on one because it was a quick way to get up to Canada for a much longer cruise and we're scarred for life now, never again! 

 

PS If you have any other questions feel free to ask.  

 

Edited by atexsix
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This is all such great info. Thanks folks!

We are fairly at home with the slower ways of a HAL cruise. Sipping a drink and watching a great musician is the perfect night for us. Reading on a cruise is also a big time suck of ours. I love it.

I don't really see there being any problems but its always best to get a little first hand knowledge from people to put the mind at ease.

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On our first HAL cruise, we took advantage of the half price dinner at the Pinnacle Grill on the first night (since discontinued). We stopped by our assigned table to meet our waiters and tablemates and to let them know so they would not be waiting for us to show up. When we went back the second night, we had two new couples sitting there. We never ran into the two original couples, so we're not sure why they asked to be moved from our table. The two new couples were delightful. One was a British woman and her German husband. She was a guest entertainer (a cellist). The other couple were also British but had lived for decades in Virginia. They were in their late 70s. We were in our 40s at the time. It was one of the most fun groups we've had.

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

We have only sailed on one HAL cruise (cheapo one in December 2019 to fill some time before we got back from a 7 month road trip to family for Christmas).  We didn't have any issues with anyone giving us crappy looks (but we aren't dancers) but we did have several people ask if we were brothers or just friends or make some reference to where were our wives.  When we said we didn't have any or were married, we got "ah ha" looks. I don't recall them having any LGBTQ gatherings but I could be wrong.  

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On 8/11/2021 at 8:03 AM, Clay Clayton said:

We have only sailed on one HAL cruise (cheapo one in December 2019 to fill some time before we got back from a 7 month road trip to family for Christmas).  We didn't have any issues with anyone giving us crappy looks (but we aren't dancers) but we did have several people ask if we were brothers or just friends or make some reference to where were our wives.  When we said we didn't have any or were married, we got "ah ha" looks. I don't recall them having any LGBTQ gatherings but I could be wrong.  

We sail exclusively HAL, especially these days, and it usually depends on the ship and embarkation port, but any ship homeported in Seattle or San Diego will definitely have daily FOD's; while they aren't well attended, they do a good job of planning them.  They are held in an out of the way drinking spot for privacy and the timing is just prior to the main (late) dinner seating.  

 

As to the overall passenger base, you are spot on.  I'm never out on a cruise, but people can do the math (usually women) because of the absence of a wife/GF; then they go on to assume the friend I'm cruising with is a husband, but I'm single 🙂

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On 7/12/2021 at 6:05 PM, Puppower said:

Hello!

we are traveling on the MS Koningsdam in October and while we have sailed on HAL before, I have some questions. 

We are a married gay couple in our mid 30s. We love the laid back types of cruises and aren't really there for waterslides and nightclubs. We have only done a 1 night repositioning cruise out of Seattle and didn't really get a feel for the atmosphere.

My primary concern is that in older crowds we tend to have more crappy looks and comments while in younger crowds nobody really cares if they see two men dancing. We aren't a heavy PDA couple but I would like to be able to dance with my husband without some dude calling me a fag. I know each crowd will be different but I'd love to hear some personal experiences. I love cruising and I want to love HAL but this has been on my mind. 

 

Thanks for starting this thread - it's just what I was looking for.

My partner and I are on the verge of booking on HAL for the first time. We've sailed twice each on Princess, Norwegian and MSC. And we're thinking the overall vibe will be more like MSC or a little bit of Princess, not as action packed as NCL.

Quick question - is there a daily listing (printed or via the app) that details when/where the meetings are held along with other activities? Also curious - since this is 2021, are they actually still called Friends of Dorothy and not LGBTQ, etc.?!

THANKS!

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2 hours ago, markwfpb said:

 

Thanks for starting this thread - it's just what I was looking for.

My partner and I are on the verge of booking on HAL for the first time. We've sailed twice each on Princess, Norwegian and MSC. And we're thinking the overall vibe will be more like MSC or a little bit of Princess, not as action packed as NCL.

Quick question - is there a daily listing (printed or via the app) that details when/where the meetings are held along with other activities? Also curious - since this is 2021, are they actually still called Friends of Dorothy and not LGBTQ, etc.?!

THANKS!

It will be in the Daily Program...but don't remember what title they use....

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On this topic, I have to tell a story. We were on the Koningsdam still at embarkation port and I was up at the Sun Bar (deck 11) having a cigar. Tip: for cigar and cigarette smokers: normally there is no smoking whilst in port during refueling however, it is allowed at the Sun Bar during that time. Crew and passengers in the know were up there. Anyway, there was a couple who were doing a B2B and knew about this area. The husband started chatting me up, the usual where ya from, what do you do for a living (Americans 😛) and so on. Then he started with a complimentary political statement about then newly elected 45th president and was clearly trying to determine where my stance was politically. I didn't bite and put out my cigar. I was about to wish them a goodbye when he asked where was my wife (we wear matching wedding rings) not missing a beat I said "My husband is unpacking. He was so taken aback, I wish you could have seen his face, his wife then slugged him in the shoulder and stated "see honey you can't assume anything, I've told you before spouse is the correct term!" I winked at her and said have a nice cruise.  

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We haven't been on HAL recently (2014 - out of FLL) but it was listed as "FOD" back then...  Small group in a forward Lounge (can't remember name)  There were maybe 8 gentleman and we felt like maybe we weren't welcome so didn't stay.

 

In 2019, on Princess out of SF, it was listed as "LGBT".  It was a HUGE group and we met up every night!  We even had a dinner together on one of the formal nights!  We've stayed in touch with two couples and another Lesbian from that cruise!!!  We live/work in a very conservative, rural community and really miss "Community".  That group was so welcoming and we can't wait until our next cruise in January!  Be safe (as always!)  But have a great time!  It's YOUR vacation too!!!

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Posted (edited)

Last week we were on HAL’s 4th Alaska cruise since the restart and I did not sense anything negative. This was our first non-charter cruise on HAL (we have done 8 gay charters on HAL).  
 

They listed a LGBTQ+ and Friends meeting the first two nights.  
 

 

Edited by Boytjie
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  • 1 month later...

We sailed on HAL three times over the course of a decade and a half and have never had a problem with any of the other passengers we encountered. What I tire of is the photographer coming around the dining room table asking for me to get closer to my brother when its obvious we are not brothers and everyone at the table knows. The cabin stewards are smarter as, without asking, they already made one bed and not separated them. Anyway, being a member of the LGBTQ+ community is not too much of a problem even with the generally older demographics on HAL.

 

But I am not rallying around the HAL flag right now. Other unrelated issues I won't go into here.

 

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On 10/15/2021 at 3:36 PM, Bramcruiser said:

We sailed on HAL three times over the course of a decade and a half and have never had a problem with any of the other passengers we encountered. What I tire of is the photographer coming around the dining room table asking for me to get closer to my brother when its obvious we are not brothers and everyone at the table knows. The cabin stewards are smarter as, without asking, they already made one bed and not separated them. Anyway, being a member of the LGBTQ+ community is not too much of a problem even with the generally older demographics on HAL.

 

But I am not rallying around the HAL flag right now. Other unrelated issues I won't go into here.

 

🤣 @ "brother".  That's as bad as "friend" that I used to get. As to the HAL flag, I can read between the lines and completely agree after our cruise this summer, let's just say we're exploring other cruise lines.  The only draw for us is the nightly chamber music that no other line offers from what I've been told, so it's a tuff one, if it wasn't for that I'm sure we would have been long gone by now.

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22 minutes ago, atexsix said:

🤣 @ "brother".  That's as bad as "friend" that I used to get. As to the HAL flag, I can read between the lines and completely agree after our cruise this summer, let's just say we're exploring other cruise lines.  The only draw for us is the nightly chamber music that no other line offers from what I've been told, so it's a tuff one, if it wasn't for that I'm sure we would have been long gone by now.

Take a look at Viking. They typically have a classical duo (sometimes trio) that play everyday at various locations around the ship. More background music than a performance but still enjoyable.  

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4 minutes ago, Clay Clayton said:

Take a look at Viking. They typically have a classical duo (sometimes trio) that play everyday at various locations around the ship. More background music than a performance but still enjoyable.  

I'm so glad you mentioned that because I wanted to do just that, Viking has been highly recommended by a couple of other people I met on HAL.  

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My husband and I have sailed several times with HAL and have never had a problem.  On a longer Panama Canal cruise there was quite a large LGBT happy hour.  

To the original poster, we and another couple are booked on the Koningsdam for the Nov 14th sailing out of San Diego.  If you get a chance, come back and let us know how your trip went.  This cruise will actually be the exact same cruise as our very last one before Covid except a different ship.

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