Gay Cruise To Muslim Country Canceled, Organizers Blame Gov’t Officials

Gay cruises have made headlines for everything from overindulgence and arrests to tragic loss of life. But the first a queer jaunt to a Muslim country has garnered attention for a different reason—it’s been canceled.

Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam was scheduled to stop in Casablanca on July 1 but organizers at RSVP Vacations, which organized the trip, told some 2,100 passengers that the Moroccan government had put the kibosh on the visit.

“Our port agent in Casablanca has advised us that authorities in Morocco have—despite previous confirmations—now denied our scheduled visit. For all of us, this is a very disappointing development. It was ultimately the decision by local authorities in Morocco that has necessitated us to adjust our plans.”

But Lahcen Haddad, Morocco’s Tourism Minister, said there was no official decision to deny the ship passage: “We don’t ban cruise ships here and we never ask our visitors about their sexual preferences,” he told Reuters, adding that the ship could still dock in Casablanca if RSVP wanted to. The cruise departed from Barcelona on Friday and will continue on its week-long tour through other European ports of call.

Morocco is considerably more secular than most Muslim nations, though the Justice and Development Party, which came to power in December, is “riding a regional wave of support for Islamist movements,” reports Reuters.

The JDP claims it will not impose Sharia law but the Moroccan penal code still deems same-sex relationships “unnatural” and punishable by up to three years in jail.

Vetting destinations for places with a perfect record on LGBT rights is hardly practical. But isn’t it time gay cruises—and all LGBT tourists and allies—refused to set foot in countries that declare homosexuality a crime?

NOTE: An earlier version of this story claimed the RSVP cruise was the first gay cruise to dock in a Muslim country. We regret the error.

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  • spooge bob

    next up, Death Cruise For Queery … all aboard!

  • Daez

    While one would think that a gay cruise would be a friendly and supportive environment across the board, it really is up to people that are going on the cruise to educate themselves about the countries they are going to before they book the cruise and to not support homophobic economies.

  • Wht?!

    Why in the world would any LGBT person want to go to a place that is hostile, sometimes deadly towards LGBT people?

    All Y’all have fun. I’ll stay right here where the homophobia is mostly verbal and through actions of denying marriage equality.

  • Hello

    I suspect this is a good thing and avoided an international incident. It’s irresponsible for the cruise line to take anyone to a hostile country. Maybe Morocco canceled it for safety reasons. It’s against the law there meaning it can be applied on the whims of the authorities. I personally wouldn’t have gotten off the boat anyway.

  • DouggSeven

    @Tiger: I think it’s cute you assume they have real journalists.

    Quick Queerty, Grindr is hosting a party is WeHo – better get on that!!! (I bet 5 people there started booking a trip with that very sentence)

  • Scott in NYC

    Why on Earth would a gay cruise even attempt a port in a country where homosexuality is punishable by prison for three years? Why would anyone pay to be a passenger on this?

    These countries get take on sharia law if that’s what they want (disgusting, as far as I’m concerned). The question for me is why gays from Western countries deem this a vacation spot.

  • Spike

    @DouggSeven: What, a Grinder party in Weho?!!? That’s breaking news!!! Queety, make sure you send a photog!

  • axon

    Morocco is, as you can guess, extremely hypocritical and hostile to women as well. If a girl gets raped and becomes pregnant, she will first be thrown out of her parents’ home, then have to give birth either in the street or at a facility where she is treated like shit, and finally be sentenced to jail for having had “unlawful sex”.

  • cazzazza

    Why does Atlantis & RSVP continue to visit and spend money in countries that discriminate against the LGBT community?

  • Curtis

    I was on an Atlantis Gay cruise in 2005 that went to Istanbul. Best day of the entire cruise. I think it is impractical and foolish to demand that Gay cruise companies and Gay individuals avoid traveling to countries with anti-Gay policies. How do you measure that? Do you have to have full marriage equality, or merely not punish Gay people by death? What’s the standard? Some countries have laws on the books that are rarely if ever enforced. What about the positive impact that our open presence in one of these countries has? Our own experience in the US proves that open out visible Gay people tend to move people to acceptance. When vendors and people in a country see happy out Gay people spending money and being openly gay it can melt their resistance.

  • fagburn

    It looks like there was no cancellation.

    Be interested to hear back when you check this story – that’s what journalists do, right?

  • Stuart

    I agree Scott.

  • Ste

    No big loss. Casablanca is, by far, the least interesting of all the Moroccan cities. Only thing really to see there is Hassan II Mosque. I, personally, would rather just skip Morocco if I couldn’t go to Marrakesh, Fez, the Atlas Mountains or the desert around Ouarzazate.

  • peter

    Ironically in the pre-Stonewall era, Morocco was a gay travel destination of choice.

  • EvonCook

    Muslim countries may make a big stink about being homophobic and have draconian laws on the books, but their male societies are some of the wildest, gayest and busiest. It is the same old routine of our military, our sports, our boy scouts, our clergy, whatever –these male societies that are so nervous about homosexuality exactly because they are usually ripe and raucous with underground male sex. So if you go abroad and are very dl and meet people you can have a wonderful, wild, very fulfilling time. But if you expect to go as flamboyant gay flames from a richer and first world nation which is seen as aggressive and abusive of these poorer or simpler nations, cultures and expectations are going to clash. When in Rome… but those hot islamic boys and sexy men are not to be missed! Some of their hammams or bath houses are far better than our gay baths. With the income disparity, sex can also warrant money exchange, but that should be done on an individual and careful basis.


    apparently — and i got this from fagburn so sue his ass instead — the king of morocco mohammed iv puts the “mo” into mohammed.
    god is great…but rod is better.

  • Danny

    It takes 4 witnesses to the act to be convicted for gay sex under Sharia law. The joke has always been that it is four so that you can still have a threesome with someone leftover to film it. Islamic hypocrisy even out does Christian hypocrisy. Governments that violate religious freedom by forcing religion onto people (which is an oxymoron since faith is no longer faith if it becomes a requirement) should be brought to an end.

  • Will L

    Yeah, why on earth would you even consider going there? Some folks seem to think that the world is one big theme park. Well, it ain’t and the danger is very real. Let’s all pass the hat and send that lovely couple that had sex on the balcony a while back. I bet they would LOVE the thrill and excitement.

  • dpatriss

    All gays should boycott visiting Morocco and Morocco goods and restaurants outside of Morocco.

  • Making up stuff is fun!

    @dpatriss: You know, I could go for a nice tajine right about now. Thank you, I was wondering what I should have for dinner!

  • Daez

    @Curtis: Not killing gay people is a start. Not sentencing them to jail is a continuation. You are insane if you think that happy and open gay tourist are going to have any affect on an anti-gay country. The reason that it works in America is because there is a long held belief in this country in freedom and liberty for all. There is a long standing belief in most Muslim countries that the Torah is the law of the land and anyone breaking it should be put to death. Huge difference in viewpoints.

  • Daez

    @Daez: KORAN … NOT Torah.

  • meyersmar

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  • Callum

    Holland America’s ship “Nieuw Amsterdam” is NOT represented by the captioned picture. The “Nieuw Amsterdam” is a modern, new cruise liner.

  • Houston Bill

    And this same company is taking its Gay consumers to Russia later on this month! My God, can Atlantis/RSVP have just one friggen cruise where someone doesn’t bring a mountain of drugs onto the boat, has a rash of overdoses, has someone jump overboard, has someone arrested for having public sex fifty feet from a crowded street, or runs into other issues related to Atlantis/RSVP’s irresponsible choices of ports of call?

    And while Turkey has problems, its nowhere near as bad as the FOUR anti-Gay countries RSVP/Atlantis has chosen to patronize this year alone (and Russia is coming up later this month).

    Guys, I hope I’m wrong, but I fear its’ only a matter of time before Atlantis/RSVP’s apparent disregard for their clients safety results in much worse problems than they’ve faced so far.

  • Bipolar Bear

    Surely there are enough nice places in the world to send a cruise liner that don’t have laws demanding that gays be thrown into the nearest woodchipper? These companies piss me off. “You’re here, you’re queer, where’s your credit card?” seems to be their operating motto.

  • fagburn

    @Bipolar Bear: Be hard to find a country more in thrall to gay tourists than Morocco, but carry on your right-wing Orientalism…

  • InscrutableTed

    @Scott in NYC: “Why on Earth would a gay cruise even attempt a port in a country where homosexuality is punishable by prison for three years? Why would anyone pay to be a passenger on this?”

    Until 2003, the United States of America was one of those countries.

  • Robert in Toronto

    Not one gay cent should go to a country that has prison as punishment for being queer. We are not going to “advance” the acceptance of queer culture stepping off a boat cosmo in hand, rainbow coloured beads around our necks and screaming – “Party,party,party!” It’s a vacation supposedly filled with good times, celebration, laughter, friends and maybe even making some new buds. RSVP should bring those good times and gay dollars only to those places that are happy to have us – I won’t even go to Jamaica where homophobia is ripe….I’m going to give them my hard earned money?…not in this lifetime.

    Ridiculous port of call RSVP!

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