4,200 Lesbians Cruise to the Caribbean
By Diane Anderson-Minshall
The Advocate joined the Olivia women on the 40th Anniversary Southern Caribbean Cruise, a set of two cruises that went to Aruba, Curacao, and a private island in the Bahamas in January and February. More than 4,200 women were joined by 20 entertainers (from women's music legends Cris Williamson, Teresa Trull, and Meg Christian to comics Vickie Shaw, Kate Clinton, and Elvira Kurt) and a handful of powerful lesbian leaders including tennis legend Billie Jean King, DOMA plaintiff Edie Windsor, military pioneer Colonel Margarethe Cammermeyer, and, in a surprise appearance, former Army Colonel Tammy Smith, who was promoted to brigadier in late 2012, making her the first general officer to come out while serving, post "don't ask, don't tell."
"This is the biggest celebration Olivia has produced to date,"said Tisha Floratos, Olivia's vice president of travel, calling the cruise a "giant reunion, entertainment extravaganza and tropical vacation all rolled into one."
Edie Windsor (left) and Judy Dlugacz
Some women behind the scenes at Olivia.
Cara King took her partner, Maria Bertcci, on her maiden voyage. This was King's twelfth Olivia Cruise. The couple has already booked two more trips: Italy/Greece and Buenos Aires/Rio de Janeiro.
A group of cruisers feeds stingrays.
C.C. Carter's curvalicious ladies
Could they be any more dapper?
A group of gals gets down at the white party night.
Playing rubber ducky at the poolside
The women from Sisters at Sea strike a pose. Olivia's women of color program, Sisters at Sea, is among the company's most popular. There's a much-loved Solos program too, where unencumbered women can travel with other singletons.
Two women who traveled from Florida's lesbian village, Carefree Resort, to the Olivia Cruise, which took off in Ft. Lauderdale. Rosie Koch and Marilyn Shanahan were on their first Olivia cruise.
Smiles over beer.
Learning to ride during one of the excursions.
Rock on ladies!
Sharing a kiss over dinner
Audrey, Rhona, and Steph get wet in the Bahamas.
Comic Karen Williams (second from right) and friends are all smiles.
Stephanie, Olivia's copywriter, strikes a pose with friends on formal night.
Rocking the 'do and the oceanic scene.
Dressing up for '70s night. Feeling a flashback?
The crew of lesbian comics, including Gina Yashere, Lisa Koch, Michele Balan, Julie Goldman, and Vickie Shaw, and more.
The Advocate wasn't the only queer publication on board. Robin Lowey, founder of Epochalips, a multi-contributor blog for lesbians over 40, was there too. Some of the Epocholips contributors (which includes Meredith Baxter, Vicki Randle, Jewelle Gomez, Marga Gomez, and more) were also on board, including Kate Clinton. She's here with musician and producer Terri Lynn Delk from We Want The Music Company, producers of the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival.
Yoli Farnum and Mary Gay Hutcherson were among 70 lesbians from Carefree Resort who traveled together on the Olivia cruise, wearing matching "Carefree Cruisers" t-shirts. "We chartered the bus and it came in the community to pick us up at the clubhouse," says Hutherson. "Much of the community was out to see us off and there were women lining the streets waving goodbye, but someone had to stay home with all those pets. We stopped in the Everglades at a bus stop and the driver was heard calling his wife and saying, "You won't believe this but I am driving a bus load of lesbians and they are very nice and they have a beautiful community." When we got to the port and saw our ship with the rainbow flag flying a cheer went up!? Carefree Resort is an all-lesbian community of around 500 in the winter and around 150 year-round. "Totally cool place!" adds Hutcherson.
Comic Julie Goldman (center) gets sandwiched by two lovelies.
Two hotties toasting the nightlife.
All smiles on the beach.