BREAKING: Carnival Cruise Line Bans Drag On Upcoming Drag Cruise

Carnival Cruises is in hot water for reportedly telling passengers that drag would been banned on an upcoming drag cruise. An email was sent to ticket holders on Carnivial’s “Drag Stars at Sea” cruise, telling them that they wouldn’t be able to put on a wig and heels and kiki aboard the U.S.S. Glory. Only the professionals from RuPaul‘s Drag Race could. Y’see, there were other people on the boat—including children—so everyone would have to keep their pants on.


When asked, Carnival management acknowledged that gender illusion was verboten among passengers on the December 2 cruise, but said it wasn’t discrimination. It was part of their standard policy as a result of the war on terrorism.

A post on the Facebook page for Al & Chuck’s Travel, which organized the gay cruise, explains:

Dear Valued Guests and Friends,

We hope that this brief note finds you well. By now, we are sure that most of you traveling with us on the upcoming Drag Stars At Sea: Caribbean Adventure – Revenge of the Wench have received Carnival’s letter regarding their regulations concerning costumes and masks (under which traditional “DRAG” falls under).

We are sympathetic to your sentiments that you have expressed via email and social media. As a gay man who has been partnered for 25 years, I have suffered many forms of discrimination because I am part of the GLBT community. But 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.

Carnival’s “no costumes rule” is NOT meant to be an insult to the gay community. As a gay business, we would not have organized this cruise if they were prejudiced against gay people. This rule goes for both GAY and STRAIGHT passengers that travel on all Carnival cruises. It is in response to the post-911 world we live in. It is meant to protect passengers and guests – NOT to marginalize a few.Additionally, we know that transgendered members of our community will be aboard with us during this event. Please do not worry, Carnivals rule is not meant towards you. Your right to live your identity is always supported.Finally, Drag Stars At Sea is a cruise venue for you to meet the stars of RuPaul’s Drag Race UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL. Just as you would not go in costume (other than on Halloween) to a club to see them perform, neither should you on the GLORY. Again, our desire was always to bring this incredible talent together in one place for you to enjoy along with all the other benefits of the VALUE of a mixed guest cruise. We pointed out to you that a private charter (and they are excellent cruises) can be DOUBLE what you are paying for this experience. This is an opportunity for your favorite entertainers to shine for YOU! We will of course, still have our parties and events aboard (the rules of which are outlined in your travel package) for you to join in on the fun.

Ultimately, let’s use this opportunity to set an example so that all the world can see that the GLBT community can follow rules and regulations just like everyone else. Finally, I want to say from the bottom of my heart, we have done our absolute best in creating this event. We have tried to communicate effectively and bring you the best possible experience, which we believe would not be available to you any other way. At the end of the cruise, I hope you will agree with my sentiment humbly expressed here.

Chuck and I look forward to meeting you on board….we promise you the best time of your lives!

Al Ferguson

Carnival’s own forums are heating up with comments. One poster stated, “That is interesting. There were men in drag on our past Magic cruise and it wasn’t even a drag cruise.”

Has anyone been on an LGBT Carnival cruise? Have you seen passengers giving drag realness before? Share in the comments below.

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  • Charlie in Charge

    The war on terrorism? What? Were the 9-11 conspirators drag queens?

  • exdancer

    Really…. someone – or a couple of someones – at Carnival should be shown the door over this. Not only was this communication blatantly homophobic, it was phrased in the most ham-handed, condescending manner possible. The response from the cruise organizers wasn’t any better, frankly. They sound clueless, naive, and out of their depth.

    If I was booked on that cruise, I would be demanding a full refund immediately. And of course, there’s no way I will ever go near a Carnival cruise, absent an immediate retraction and some serious apologizing by someone with “CEO” next to their name.

    The cruise organizers have a lot to answer for, and it’s pretty much a safe bet that their business just tanked permanently. With just cause.

  • ScaryRussianHeather

    What a ridiculous excuse.

    Shame on Al & Chuck’s for waiting till the last moment to announce this. What terrorism? Aside from Phi Phi O’Hara, that is.

    Secondly, define drag.

    Meanwhile, Carmen’s passport is most likely male gender (unless she had her gender legally changed and didn’t tell us) so all the non trans gay men should just dress as they want and let Carnival and Al & Chuck pay all the settlements for legal discrimination. They can’t PROVE they aren’t identifying as women.

    I don’t even know if any fans WERE planning on dressing in drag but DUH, Carnival and Al & Chuck.

    And I GUARANTEE YOU that Raja had no intentions of dressing like a man the entire time, she wears women’s swimwear all the time even when out as a man on the beach.

  • LeNair Xavier

    Excuse me, but my time of birth is 2:57 AM….on March 31, 1971. Not 2:57 AM November 26, 2012!

    Who does Carnival think they’re kidding with this? And who does Al & Chuck Travel think they fooling by complying? Besides themselves, that is. Because in regards to Al & Chuck, I’ve always said that the follower of a fool is bigger fool than the original.

    Let me start by saying that although I know some drag queens, I am not a big fan of drag, but I know political b.s. when I hear it, and don’t tolerate it. This is a move to make sure the “drag superstars” are not upstaged on the cruise. Because let’s be real, how many times have we watched “RuPaul’s Drag Race”, seen their line-up, and knew of a local drag queen who could put those in RuPaul’s line up to shame just by walking in the room? QUITE OFTEN!

    So this tactic wreaks the fishiness of a dirty insecure woman who would try to make sure another woman doesn’t show up to the party with the same dress on, and possibly wear it better.

  • Jennifer

    i for one would REALLY like to know carnivals stance on transgendered passengers… are we not allowed to enjoy in the ships fun? should we be restricted to our cabins for fear of the OTHER guests small minds being offended by us? will we have to use the side door and servants only passageways as to not be seen by small children? will OUR own small children be seperated from us? dorothy dandridge called and wants yall to stop mimicing the niteclubs she worked for in the 50’s

  • jsancheznv

    So if I understand this article correctly the following are true:
    1-“Additionally, we know that transgendered members of our community will be aboard with us during this event. Please do not worry, Carnivals rule is not meant towards you. Your right to live your identity is always supported.”

    So if you are transgendered, say male to female, you CAN wear a wig, make-up, and clothing that reflects a gender that is opposite to your assigned sex at birth.


    2-“Carnival’s letter regarding their regulations concerning costumes and masks (under which traditional “DRAG” falls under)” presumable DENIES non-transgendered individuals the ability to wear clothing and articles that are inconsistent with their assigned sex and consistent (i.e presumed corresponding) gender identify because they do not identify as TRANSGENDER.


    3-“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.” However, it appears that Carnival being such an “ally” of the GLBT community does not bother to respond to HRC’s workplace equality survey that it would presumably respond to if it had favorable facts to report to the HRC regarding workplace equality if Carnival is in fact an “ally” of the GLBT community. See:

    4-Carnival claims this policy is “in response to the post-911 world we live in. It is meant to protect passengers and guests – NOT to marginalize a few.” Does Carnival think we really believe that? Why isn’t Carnival just honest about this issue and admit the truth: a) it is inappropriate, in it’s opinion, for kids to see men in drag (unless they are part of the compensated talent) and b) all Carnival really cares about is its bottom line.

  • jsancheznv


    re: Al & Chuck pay all the settlements for legal discrimination

    My understanding is that Carnival has a Florida choice of law provision in all its contracts. Sexual orientation and gender identity are not protected classes in Florida, so Carnival can legally discriminate if it so chooses.

  • WhyteRabbit

    **”Just as you would not go in costume (other than on Halloween) to a club to see them perform, neither should you on the GLORY.” — uhmmm.. what? by this sentence, they are equating drag with a costume. okay, no problem with that. it’s a little narrow-minded, but still not a problem. the problem is … uhmmm… really? you wouldn’t go in drag to a club to see a drag queen perform? what?
    **”Ultimately, let’s use this opportunity to set an example so that all the world can see that the GLBT community can follow rules and regulations just like everyone else.” — so does that mean that the first soccer mom we see in swimming trunks and a wife-beater we can request to have her removed from the deck? after all, in a black and white (m and f) world, those are solidly on the M side of things.
    ** “We have tried to communicate effectively and bring you the best possible experience, which we believe would not be available to you any other way.” — again… really? popping up this pile of horse-sh!t less than a week before the cruise is effective communication? betting no one and chuck n chuckles was a communication major.
    overall this is a complete waste of time. i personally think every member of the lgbt community should demand a refund, and the queens should show up to every show in boy clothes. i do think that would really be the best result. and i also think it would help us let “all the world … see that the GLBT community can follow rules.”

  • jsancheznv

    (Copy of text from Carnival’s letter to cruise guests)

    DECEMBER 2, 2012

    November 26, 2012

    Greetings Fun Seekers!

    We know you are looking forward to your cruise next month. We’re certainly looking forward to welcoming you and your group aboard the beautiful Carnival Glory.

    There are lots of special activities planned for your group so we are confident you are going to have a great cruise. However, in order to ensure a fun and memorable time for everyone, we want to take a few moments to make you aware of certain policies and conduct expectations so as to avoid any potential disappointment during your cruise.

    Carnival attracts a number of families with children and for this reason; we strive to present a a family friendly atmosphere. It is important 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.

    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.

    We’re sorry to say that any guest who violates our policies and/or whose behavior affects the comfort and enjoyment of other guests, will be disembarked at their own expense and no refund will be given.

    Thank you for your cooperation.

  • Dana

    We at Carnival would like to make sure we strictly enforce sex stereotypes. Reason? uh..uh…hmm..oh yea, 9/11.

  • Dana

    An “ally” to the LGBT community would not push “drag is offensive”. This infuriates me.

  • hyhybt

    There are lots of ill thought out, pointless policies that got put in place around the end of 2011, as tends to happen after any disaster. Rush to prevent a recurrence without thinking through what’s actually effective and practical… the trouble is that hardly ever does anybody with the power to make changes comb through and say “wow, THAT one’s stupid, let’s drop it.”

  • Dumdum

    Did Carnage Cruise tell the breeders that there would be a bunch o crazy queers on the boat? Having hedonistic Homos on the boat might cause a stir, but we really want your money so fork it over and follow our rules. If you do not. We will KEEP your money and kick your ass off the boat. And you idiots want to do this WHY??? Because Ru Paul, the biggest sell out of the century gets face time to say look at me, I am an ugly man, but with lots of make up and a fab frock, I am totally hot? Look I love Queens. This is one thing that those mo fos can never take from us. We teach them how to dress, where to live, what to eat and help them look good while doing it. Give me time and I can make ANY mouth breathing, knuckle dragging moron doable. It is wonderful that we queers have our own network selling us pimple cream, face lifts, hair replacement and boner pills just like everyone else. We are just like everyone else. Until we ask for equal rights. Bi**h pleeze!!! I got something you can suck, right now.

  • Spike

    I’d be more upset to find out that I had booked a cruise on that ghetto cruise line, Carnival.

  • kwylo

    I worked on a Cruise Ship for many years – not Carnival – but a lot of the crew did drag in the crew bar on a regular basis.

  • Dumdum

    @kwylo: Were you an under payed Asian or Hispanic who spoke no English? Oh that’s right you said that you did not work on Carnage Cruise.

  • Hilary

    I think that the issue is in the perception of “costume.” Gender non-conformity is not a costume. Based on the original letter sent to Carnival passengers about “drag queens”, I can only assume that there is a lack of any cultural education about LGBTIQ and specifically trans issues on the part of Carnival Cruises, which is sad because they claim to be an ally to the community. For those uneducated about trans issues, a person’s gender identity might be perceived as a so-called costume when it diverges from a person’s gender or sex assignment. Passengers specifically attending the cruise because of its drag-queen theme may have heralded the event as a safe space for gender diversity. The letter sent on Carnival’s behalf states clearly that ” gender illusion [is] verboten among passengers,” making a case that those not adhering to their biological sex assignment will be considered in violation of Carnival’s policy and possibly asked to leave. This was opportunity for a teachable moment. Our community should be taking the time to defend transgender people and to honor their contributions and validity. This could have been a great opportunity to inform Carnival and its passengers that those who don’t identify with their biological sex assignment in society’s traditional view are not “in costume” but are valid members of society in their current gender incarnation.

  • Nikkidane

    I just did a Carnival Cruise in Oct. (halloween). Although, I’m a post-op Trans woman, my friend is a crossdresser and we booked with a group of crossdressers and their spouses. We were treated respectfully by all in spite of the fact that several of the CDs did not pass well at all. I’m sure a few Bible thumpers from Tulsa had their panties in a bundle but no one seemed particularly offended.
    Based on my last experience, I suspect that gender variant expression would be tolerated as long as the person acts and dresses in a manner that is appropriate for the venue. I think Carnival needs to clarify their statement because it seems very vague as it is currently stated. It sounds as if a TS who’s had their ID changed to reflect their gender expression is cool. I think Crossdressers may have a problem and that’s where Carnival needs to be more specific. If they are going to consider cross dressing morally offensive for a family cruise, then I would have a problem with that. If they just want to insure that behavior and dress is appropriate, then I think that is fine.

  • Callum

    I am a gay man in my mid 60’s who has been out since I was about 16. I have lived in San Francisco, Sao Paulo and Rio, and also New York. I also have been fortunate to live on ranches in rural Oregon, Montana, and Kansas. At this point it’s time to call a cow a cow, and a homophobic one exactly that. The reason the travel agency is “going along” with Carnival’s demands is because of commission income and only commission income. The real reason for Carnival’s stance is simply homophobia and dragphobia on Carnival’s part. In the future I hope those who choose to travel and party by sea choose a small Norwegian, Danish, Italian or Greek freight or cruise line that is honestly gay friendly and also employs gay friendly ships crew. Do some research, they do exist! ( Back in the 1970’s I was on one cargo cruise where every cruise member except the Captain visited my stateroom. Yes, a number of their advances I carefully declined.) So, my nest advice is to avoid that foolish, and perhaps greedy travel agency and also avoid Carnival as if they were the carrier of the Plague.

  • Callum

    A quick interesting side note: The Norwegian Cruise Lines have on all their ships a quietly announced “FOD” meeting place. The location may vary and is published daily in their on-ship news paper. “FOD” stands for “Friends of Dorothy” a near 100 year old term for those that are Gay. The on-ship FOD meetings are held so that both passenger and crew member may meet and identify one another.

    Much more GLBT friendly than Carnival.

  • Dumdum

    @Callum: Thanks buddy. I have never been on a cruise as I am too poor. Should I ever get the chance before I die. I will take your advise.

  • Dionte

    I’m so sick of humanity.

  • illusio427

    They to fix this or they are going to lose customers again!!!

  • LancerLaw

    A couple things… the letter they sent says nothing about security, it clearly states not to dress in drag to offend families with children. THAT is not security and it is clearly an issue with people ‘behaving gay’ (stereo-typically).

    These travel agents are trying to play damage control on their payday, but know good and well Carnival is in the wrong here. Anyone who bought tickets to this cruise need to demand a full refund and we should boycott Carnival until this is made well.

    Second thing … I see it in the letter from the travel agent and in the comments (potentially even by transgender people), but the appropriate term is “transgender,” as opposed to “transgendered.” Transgendered implies it is something that has happened to them, when in fact it is simply an aspect of who they are as a person. Similarly, you refer to a person of colour (and not a coloured person). It makes me cringe when I hear someone put an -ed on the end of either of those words when referring to a person.

  • LancerLaw

    @Hilary: Well put!

  • jsancheznv

    Well folks it looks like the CEO at Carnival has done some soul searching and revised the content and message of the “URGENT NOTICE” disseminated by Carnival (see my posting No. 9) and replaced the same URGENT NOTICE with a new notice saying cruise goers are free to dress in whatever manner this wish without risk of being thrown overboard and receiving no refund. Get this: Carnival is now saying, “Given this misunderstanding, anyone on this cruise who wishes to cancel for any reason may do so and will receive a full refund of their cruise fare, as well as reimbursement for any non-refundable travel related expenses.” Quite a reversal…

  • LancerLaw

    @jsancheznv: Wow, I would almost say that response actually remedies the issue. While it was a bone-headed first letter, my guess is the person who sent it didn’t express the feelings of the CEO and the company or this educational moment worked. Either way, it’s a win.

  • ousooner1997

    Below is a letter from Gerry Cahill, Carnival Cruise Line’s President & CEO, to the guests sailing on the Carnival Glory December 2, 2012:

    “Within the last 24 hours, we became aware of a miscommunication between Carnival Cruise Lines and AlandChuck.travel, who have booked a large special interest group on the upcoming Carnival Glory cruise departing December 2, 2012.

    The group, “Drag Stars at
    Sea,” includes several performances by stars from Logo TV as part of a series of private events onboard. When the group was presented to us we were advised that only the performers would be dressed in drag during the private events. However, we are now aware that this was not clearly communicated to members of the group and therefore anyone who wishes to dress in drag may do so. Please keep in mind that our safety and security procedures require guests to present government-issued ID, and to be recognizably that person.

    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 offense we have caused.

    Given this misunderstanding, anyone on this cruise who wishes to cancel for any reason may do so and will receive a full refund of their cruise fare, as well as reimbursement for any non-refundable travel related expenses.

    We constantly strive to provide our guests with a fun and memorable vacation. We look forward to welcoming everyone onboard Carnival Glory and again want to apologize for the misunderstanding and for any offense we have caused.”

  • ousooner1997

    Sounds like Ru Paul or AlandChuck.travel didn’t want anyone to steal their lime light. Or is that just me?

  • jsancheznv

    @Lancerlaw Now that this controversy has unfolded and appears to be resolved, there are lingering questions that I would like answered. Please see my email below to Carnival’s CEO. If the cruise industry is behind the airline industry with regard to LGBT inclusiveness and equality, I think this is a good opportunity for Carnival and the cruise industry in general to tread new waters.

    Dear Mr. Cahill:

    I have read much about the dress code controversy regarding your upcoming cruise featuring female impersonators from LOGO TV and just read the statements you made wherein you stated, “we do not practice any form of discrimination against the LGBT or any other community.”

    While I laud your recent statements, I would like to know if Carnival has a written policy prohibiting discrimination in its employment practices on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and whether Carnival provides domestic partner benefits for its LGBT employees who are in committed relationships but unable to legally marry. And while we are on this topic, I would also like to know if Carnival honors same-sex marriages from jurisdictions where said marriages are legal. In the interest of saving you time, I did try to ascertain this information on my own by consulting the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) workplace equality index to see where Carnival rates with regard to LGBT equality, but it appears Carnival did not respond to HRC’s inquiry as HRC (apparently) has no data, or that Carnival did respond and has a 0 out of 100 rating. (See:http://asp.hrc.org/issues/workplace/organization_profile.asp?organization_id=43632&search_id=1&search_type=Quick). I also performed basic Google searches on this topic but did not receive any results indicative of Carnival’s policies.

    If Carnival in indeed an inclusive organization that puts its money where its mouth is, I would like to commend you for your work. If the contrary is true, I would like to suggest that you consider making Carnival an iconic brand with regard to LGBT inclusion in the same way American Airlines did many years ago when it led the way for the Airline industry to make LGBT inclusion in regards to policy and benefits standard in the airline industry.

    On a personal note, I would like to tell you that I have cruised on Carnival along with my family on prior occasions and had a fabulous and enjoyable time thanks, in part, to your vision, leadership, and the fine employees representing your company.

    Best regards,

    Jorge Sanchez

    cc: Human Rights Campaign

  • msfrost

    That was miscommunicatiion, they have since revoked that requirement.

  • Leo Jedi

    Read the second letter from Carnival. It looks like you can dress in drag, as long as you still look like your government issued ID!

  • Cody

    Why is every letter here quoted as being submitted on December 2nd, 2012? I’m reading this and responding on November 28th 2012. How can all of these letters be happening in the future??

  • Cody

    @Cody: Ignore this, you can’t delete, but they letters are referring to the departure date, and it was just poorly laid out in the posts.

  • jsancheznv

    @Cody Carnival’s original letter is dated November 26, 2012 and it references a cruise departure date of December 2, 2012.

  • southsam7

    Carnival SUCKS. The travel agent is a SHYSTER! I would not sail Carnival if I could help it. Their letter they sent out is a PR nightmare and is hard to believe they would send something so offensive on official letterhead. The travel agent is worse for endorsing Carnival’s letter!

    Carnival sucks, but for poor hygiene, rude guest services and nasty food. Now I have another reason NOT to sail Carnival.

  • jsancheznv

    Response from Carnival (post no. 30)

    Dear Mr. Sanchez:
    Thank you for your email to Gerry Cahill seeking additional information on Carnival’s practices with regard to anti-discrimination and domestic partner benefits. We appreciate your taking the time to write to us.
    Indeed, Carnival does have an established policy as it relates to anti-harassment and discrimination. We strive to maintain an atmosphere free of unlawful discrimination and harassment in the workplace based on race, color, sex, national origin, religion, disability, age marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression and/or any other protected category under the law. Such harassment and discrimination within our workplace is not tolerated. Additionally, we do offer same sex partner benefits and recognize same sex marriages in those states where it is legal.
    Carnival is proud to carry more than 4.5 million passengers a year and employ more than 40,000 individuals worldwide and we do not practice any form of discrimination aboard our ships or in the workplace.
    Thank you again for taking the time to write. I hope the above helps to answer your questions.

    Tony D. Dinkins
    Vice President, Corporate Human Resources
    305.599.2600 ext. 11215
    Carnival Cruise Lines | 3655 NW 87th Avenue | Miami, FL 33178 |

  • Prepuce

    Al Ferguson must be a Log Cabin Republican.

  • Karen

    Maybe RuPaul and Co. just didn’t want to be upstaged?

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