Your Gay Travel Stories: Parties for Hot Guys Only, High on the High Seas, and Hot Tub Follies


Anecdotal evidence might suggest, for every enjoyable holiday spent aboard a gay cruise ship, there’s a death in the family. GLAAD board member Spencer Yu passed away last year during an Atlantis cruise, and a 37-year-old passenger aboard Atlantis’s enormous Liberty of the Seas ship was found dead in his cabin last month during a Cayman Islands jaunt. But just because you’re going to gay travel route doesn’t mean you’ll have a not-so-fantastic time. Well, not always. We asked for your stories, and you delivered.


Reader Mark (who Queerty readers might know as “Fitz”) sends in this tale of ageism and, uh, alleged rape:

14 or so years ago, my husband and I went on an Atlantis trip. Back then they didn’t have a boat. They rented “club med”s, and other places. we went to PLaya Blanca in Mexico. We went because we wanted to be around gay men, and just to join in a happy atmosphere of gay people having fun. Already in our 40’s at that point, we weren’t going for gang bangs or drugs. I’ve already sown most of my oats. Plus, we live in the SF area… gang bangs are easy to come by. Hell– we even have bars with back rooms if that is what you want.. but the idea appealed to us, having had so much fun up at Russian River, Palm Springs, and other gay tourist scenes. We went for fun, sun, friendliness, ANYWAY…

Not to re-hash everything, but here is the truth– and I would say this right in front of any public official, and I already said it in a letter to Atlantis 14 years ago, and I wrote a professional article about the trip which appeared in “the therapist” some 12 years ago. (trying to dig it up, can’t find it). . There were some wonderful people there. We made a few friends. the food was ok. But it was a party, and we weren’t invited. have you ever been at a party where you realize that you aren’t welcome? not a good feeling. The staff of Club Med were WONDERFUL, happy people.. intent on making us have a great time filled with activity and fun and joy. The staff of Atlantis, however, were a bunch of looksist “PnP” types. the kinds that make me hate young gay people. At one point, they even had a private party for all the 20-something hottys. now.. I am a grown up. I understand that a bunch of muscley, sexy, party guys are not wanting to fuck around with a 40’ish couple who bring books on vacations, like we were. That is really, really ok with me. What wasn’t ok with me was the non inclusive staff. The very unwelcome feel. At one point, we all looked around and realized that only us old people, and a few bears were there… the rest were at Atlantis’ invite-only party elsewhere.

Here is a fun story (which is what my article was about): we all sort of staked out places by the pool, and one guy sort of near us each day was this mega hotty named Ryan. Hot as hell. Mario lopez kind of look. Every day he wore another color of a tiny mesh cheesy g-string which showed off his great ass and big-seeming dick. At the time (shame shame) I was a smoker, so he and I became casually friendly bumming lights and smokes. So on the 3rd or 4th day, there was a “margarita walk”. having already picked up the vibe, my husband and I stayed poolside. The walk turned into a drunken orgy in the hills. Ryan got passed around and bred and skull fucked by a BUNCH of guys. How do I know this? Well.. someone taped it. And that night, they played the tape at the disco. I found Ryan in a crying heap near the disco, where he told me that he didn’t have any memory of what had gone down, and was humiliated.

The next day, at the pool side, guys would walk past and smile at Ryan, etc.. he was not happy… finally, he told me that he needed to be alone, and went to his room. The next day, he started complaining about being cold. (it was like 110), and then just got sicker and sicker and sicker. We walked him to his room, were my partner superficially examined him. He told him that it was probably the flu or mild food poisoning but he should go to the hospital for fluids and a more complete evaluation. Flu and acute seroconversion look exactly the same without blood work, so there is no way to know.. but I will bet my lunch money that this is the trip where Ryan got HIV. I wonder if he is still around to this day. I, (irrationally I know), feel so guilty for not trying to protect him in some way.

There was fun too. We went horse back riding. Archery. Made some friends. Danced a little. Mexico is gorgeous. The staff at Club med were wonderful. But the staff of Atlantis? Bad people. Bad, bad people.


Blair, meanwhile, dipped his toes into the waters of Palm Springs, and enjoyed every moment:

A mirage is a visual phenomenon that occurs most often in the desert or at sea: the wavering sight of something illusory, without substance or reality. What is it about these locales that lend themselves to fantastic visions, sometimes intangible or unexplainable? Perhaps the extreme isolation of the Pacific or the heat of the Sahara can explain these optical illusions. Like the exotic desert resorts, cruises and roach motels on beachfront property, at which many of us chose to spend our vacations, the blurry haze curling steadily from the ground has the ability to distort our ability to see and pulls us like an undertow away from reality.

When my friend and I arrived in Palm Springs, Calif., it was already dark. A warm breeze blew across the runway, and I could tell that I was going to like it there. A cab ushered us to our small hotel and as we exited the lobby, the courtyard and lighted pool reminded me so much of “Melrose Place” I could only begin to imagine what kind of drama would unfold there. But even my imagination was not quite large enough.

I have repeatedly written about our cavalier, college-induced attitudes toward sex and relationships, but no situation exemplifies our devolution to hedonism more so than two of the most overemphasized words in our vocabulary: spring break. A break not just from the rigors of school, internships, part-time jobs and other nefarious responsibilities, but perhaps from our sense of modesty, inhibitions and temperance. Two words that make sleazy old men salivate the world over and make co-eds “go wild” for a free tank top and a chance at late-night commercial fame.

Though Palm Springs seemed to have more retirees than frat boys and farmers’ daughters, it was every bit the escape I desired. Each day the thin pipe attached to the poolside palm trees spat a fine mist that coated the lounge chairs, cooling our half-naked bodies from the muscle of the unshielded desert sun. Each evening, our pregame mixed drinks and draft beers at the bar blurred the innumerable stars above, and the searing water of the hot tub diluted the chlorine odors and smudged the stains left in bed.

Stepping out of my room each morning, the bright sun and hazy mist seemed to displace and confuse the events of the previous night. How many pairs of legs were writhing, entwined between the sheets last night? Two, three, four? Depending on the evening any combination seemed dreamily possible. Bits of evidence always remained, but they were easy enough to ignore if desired. After all, after one has quenched his thirst in the desert, it isn’t long before he longs for another drink. The contentment one night provides does not necessarily continue to satisfy the next.

But the sun and mist asked no questions and provided no definite answers, only diversion. As the half-naked bodies moved lazily around the pool, it seemed like I was actually drifting closer to reality. Seeing couples, most twice my age, drinking and splashing around while I conservatively and soberly read my book, made my preconceived notions of adulthood seem if not fantastic, quite boring.

I assumed this was my last hurrah, my last semester of college and opportunity to run away and debauch myself guilt-free. This didn’t seem to be the case. Though decidedly more mature and financially stable, these fellow patrons had come to do just the same: escape and, for some, “go wild.” This was not so much my swan song as it was my stunning debut to the world of adult vacationing. It might have been more scandalous than some, and certainly more conservative than others, but these categories should not even apply to vacations.

In the ocean or the desert, it is easy to confuse illusion and reality. Vacations are designed to take us away from what we are used to, what we may be comfortable with and expose us to what we haven’t experienced before. Spring break may have been our first excuse to try something new or unruly, but this can be a model we follow for the rest of our lives. Seek out the edges of the world and see how far they push the limits of your character. If you never explore, you can never truly discover. Don’t be afraid of what you may uncover about yourself. After all, it may just be a mirage.


Reader “FunMe” just returned from a high seas Atlantis adventure, and lived to tell about it:

I just got back from first Atlantis gay cruise … the 2010 Caribbean Cruise. It was an amazing experience!

The majority of the people I met were nice, friendly and cool. I really loved the fact that there was a variety of men, young/old/middle-aged/etc. and great-looking bodies/hunks/college types/slim-skinny/overweight/average and more! This particular cruise was truly representative of our community. Why do I say that? Well, yes the majority of the people were in shape. I think the we gays tend to take care of ourselves than the rest of the straight population hence the majority of good bodies. But there were all types of shapes on this particular cruise.

I was friendly with everyone even those I was not attracted to. Maybe it was just me, but the positive energy I put came back to me 10 fold! Also, even those I did not meet, since I love to dance, I made sure to send out great smiles everywhere.

The only 1 person who was negative was this tall Venezuelan guy with grey hair. I thought he was good-looking, but when he refused to take his photo, I realize that was the one ass hole on the ship who ended up looking UGLY with his bad attitude. But it didn’t matter! He was in the minority – a minority of one! (By the way, most of the time he was alone and looking like “the loneliest man on earth”. LOL)

There is something to do for everyone. I for one love to dance, so I would end up falling asleep late. The few times I went to eat breakfast, it was seeing other folks who had had their proper 8-9 hours sleep ready for their breakfast at 8am. What’s that! 🙂

Yes, the majority of the people at the cruises like to dance at parties. The themes were amazing: tag night, disco, Diva music, Alice in Wonderland (fantastic costumes), and more. Eventually culminating with a wonderful WHITE PARTY. However, there were a lot of shows, casinos, movie theaters, games and other activities to participate in and enjoy.

I highly recommend this particular cruise. For me being from the West Coast beach area, it was perfect as I got to meet a lot of people from the East Coast, South America and Europe.

(Photo via)


And of course, there’s the “sex on the hot tub” story, this one from a reader who prefers to stay anonymous:

i worked on cruise ships for the past few years, and have seen atlantis cruises come and go. generally pretty tame (nothing you wouldn’t see in any club), as bedrooms are just a minute away. however, there are always a few cruisers who seem to take the “gay vacay” a bit too far.

on a cruise sailing out of rio (the ship was in rio for a few days for carnival), we were docked in the city for three nights. on the first night, just after people had boarded the ship, rumors began circulating about a medical emergency onboard. turns out, a solo traveler got a bit carried away in one of the indoor pools, and got caught “in the act” with one of the jets in the pool. medical teams had to get involved, he was rushed to the hospital, and the pool had to be drained, sanitized and cleaned (all this happened before the ship had even set sail)… he did however make it back onboard in time, and proceeded to cause hell for the rest of the 10 days onboard.

but as far as the overall cruises go: not everyone is as good looking as the ad’s would have you believe, the parties are no crazier than something you’d find in your city, and most people come with their significant other just looking for a relaxing vacation.

Thanks to everyone who sent in their stories!

Don't forget to share: