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Exclusive | First Gay Cruise Part Two

Exclusive | First Gay Cruise Part Two

Never galloped up the gangplank of a gay cruise? Read on for everything you need to know to make sure your first gay cruise is shipshape.

Onboard dining continues to expand on most cruise ships, and you should be familiar with the various options. The primary dining rooms on most ships still have "main" and "late" seating options. Dinner is served in two shifts, and on many sailings you are assigned to one of them for the duration of your cruise. Most entertainment is also done in two shifts, with an early and late performance to match your dining option. Late dining tends to be more popular; it gives you more time to get back to the ship after shore excursions and leaves less downtime between eating and late-night activities, such as nightclub dancing. Main dining has its own advantages -- such as more time to enjoy cabaret acts and ship amenities between dinner and late-night parties -- or the option to eat, see the show, and be back in your cabin by 10:30 if you're an early-to-bed kind of guy or gal.

Service in the primary dining rooms is usually a (relatively) formal, sit-down affair, with menus, waiters, wine stewards, etc. Unless your ship offers "restaurant seating," you'll be assigned to one table and waiter for the duration of your trip. Most tables hold eight people. If there are people you want to eat with, go together to get your table assignment. Couples who choose tables for two usually have less fun, so if you're not with a group, take the chance. If you really don't like your assigned tablemates, speak to the maitre d' as soon as possible. (It's rude to change during your first dinner, but arrange to switch before you leave the dining room.) It is sometimes possible to switch your assignment on board, and since more people opt for late seating, it is easier to switch to main.

Seating assignments (main or late) really affect dinner only, since breakfast and lunch in the dining rooms are sparsely attended. Most ships also offer at least one alternate dining option, such as a casual buffet that you can eat at almost any hour of the day. In our experience, cruise food tends to be variable, with a couple of standout choices at each meal. If there's an appetizer, entr?e, or dessert you really like, don't be ashamed to ask for seconds. And if someone at your table is enjoying something you think you'd like better, go ahead and ask for a replacement. Your waiter will be happy to comply.

Clothes Make the Man
A number of theme events are often planned for the week, and you should get information in advance on what to expect. You can go whole hog on the theme-dressing routine, or completely ignore it. Go ahead and bring your leather and/or cowboy and/or motorcycle and/or drag and/or toga gear if you care to, but don't worry about it if that's too much effort (and remember, there's not a lot of closet space!).

Dress is very casual most of the time on ship, and at the ports of call. At night on some cruises, you will be expected to dress up a little (long pants and a collared shirt for men and something equally neat for women). Only a few passengers dress up beyond that. Some cruises still offer formal nights, and about half of the ship will really dress up on those nights. Bring a sweater or sweatshirt (it can be cool at night), a lightweight rain jacket, and plenty of shorts, swimsuits, T-shirts, and clean underwear! A backpack or fanny pack is useful for port visits.

Beauty Is As Beauty Does
The beauty salon offers numerous services, which you should book early if you're interested. We usually find these services to be uniformly mediocre and overpriced, but go ahead and indulge if you must.

The cruise industry would prefer you call it motion discomfort, and while it feels similar to that queasy feeling some people get in a car or on a plane, no other motion discomfort is quite as, well, discomforting as seasickness. That's the bad news. The good news is that it's not something most people have to worry about, if you take the right precautions. Motion discomfort is caused when the fluid in your inner ear and your eyes send conflicting messages to your brain about which way is up. Modern ships have stabilizers, which help minimize the pitching and rolling that can cause the problem in the first place. Sometimes just getting out on deck and watching the horizon will stave off impending sickness. Sea-Bands are elastic and plastic wristbands that use an acupressure point to prevent seasickness. You have to have them on before you start feeling ill for them to work, however. If you're prone to motion discomfort, you should consider medication as well. Over-the-counter medications Dramamine and Bonine both work reliably, although some Dramamine formulas cause drowsiness (which, if you're already sick, can sometimes be a blessed relief). The Scopolomine patch is back, after a three-year hiatus, but is still an option best left for those who know they will get sick, or who know they can tolerate it. The side effects can be significant and unpleasant.

Part One | Part Two | Part Three

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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