The bags have finally been unpacked, glitter now all over the house and I am starting to feel slightly more human again. Hundreds of new memories have been made with old friends and the start of many new ones. The hardest part is still finding glitter around my house! Yes, I have just completed my first LA Demence Gay Cruise. Branded ‘The Cruise’ by LA Demence.
The Cruise is one of many parties and events that LA Demence produce and organise, based in Brussels, they have been organising large scale parties and events for 30 years now. The Cruise that I have just completed was their 9th and biggest to date. Join me below as I take you through 7 TOP HIGHLIGHTS of The Cruise 2019 from 7 days of adventure on the high seas down the Adriatic and around the Greek Islands.
1) The Ship
This was the largest cruise that they have put on to date and it was chartered on a Royal Caribbean ship, The Rhapsody of the Seas. Whilst the Rhapsody of the Sea is not the newest or most recently revamped cruise ship, the space worked well for the parties and allowed you to keep bumping into new and old friends from around the ship. I guess the flipside could be you may run into that guy from last night you would rather not see! ?. However, for me, on a rival gay cruise, I did in January 2019, I found it impossible to stay in contact with new friends due to the size of the ship with 5200 people on it. The Rhapsody of the Seas can hold an impressive 2416 guests at full capacity and 765 international crew. The best thing about these gay catered cruises for me is the number of people from a number of different counties around the world, who can be themselves, for many, laws in their country make it illegal to even be gay! The last dance when you see all the flags from every country does send a chill down your spine.
Personally, I loved the layout of the ship. I was in a two-bedroom suite in the middle of the ship on deck 7. Right by the lifts (elevator for my American readers!) which gave me fantastic access to the parties by the pool on deck 9, and easy access to the all the restaurants on deck 5 and the Windjammer café on deck 9. To be fair I think whatever cabin you had, it would have been a very short walk, skip, jump or mince to any party or food outlet, that’s what I love about these midsized ships.Is it better to splash out more for a higher class suites, or stay in a basic interior stateroom? A better cabin maybe cheaper than you think and come with a heap more perks that could in fact make your whole cruise cheaper and a better experience depending on your needs.
2) Ships Itinerary & Ports of Call
Venice (Depart 17:00) Kotor 13:00 - 20:00 Corfu 09:00 - 16:00 Mykonos 13:00 - 02:00 Santorini 09:00 - 18:00 Katakolon 12:00 - 18:30 AT SEA Venice (arrival 06:45)
What I loved most about the ports that we called at, was the fact most of them were afternoon stops, giving us party-goers a little longer to party in the evenings! Well, early hours of the morning I guess! I didn’t get off at all the ports because I am very lucky to have Europe on my doorstep and I have already been to the likes of Corfu and Katakolon.
Coming into Kotor was amazing, the landscape on either side of the ship, as we anchored with the hot sun beaming down, it was definitely a sight not to miss, regardless of how bad the mornings hangover was, I was getting off the ship to explore Kotor.
The main port I think every gay man on that cruise ship wanted to visit was Mykonos, my friends and I didn’t leave the cruise ship till late-afternoon, but the ship was already looking a lot more quiet as tender boat after tender boat took more of us to explore the island. We had a massive 13 hours in Mykonos, that’s quite a long time for a cruise ship to dock. Mykonos has become, and rightfully so, a gay mecca for the LGBT+ community, with its long parties and beautiful beach bars. The whole small island is easy to access, with a stunning landscape all around. On my time off the ship my friends and I went down to the gay beach, relaxed from a night of heavy partying with some extraordinarily good beach food, music and drinks, topped off with a swim in the not so warm sea and chilling out on our sun loungers catching a few more rays of sunshine.
3) The Parties & Party Venues
If you have been on any gay cruise before you will know that you can leave the dinner jacket and trousers behind because these cruises are very different from any traditional cruise. If you have never been on a gay cruise, be prepared to see a lot of jockstraps, glitter and people not wearing a lot. You are going to see lots of bums and I mean a LOT, with different shapes and sizes and why not. This is our party!!!
Before the cruise and I mean an impressive few months before the cruise (other gay cruise operators only send that party-list 3-4 weeks before), you get sent out the themes for each party day/night and there are A LOT of them. Every party has a different theme and 90% of people get involved and dress up. It’s not mandatory, but even a little can go a long way. With some days having two different parties, that’s a lot of costumes to pack, make or buy beforehand. Luckily on these cruises, most people go for the ‘less is definitely more’ so you should not need to book any extra hold luggage for your flight out to meet the cruise.
Want to see what my friends and I dressed up as for each of the parties and for a breakdown of what we thought of each party on the 2019 cruise. See what my friends and I dressed up like. With regards to costumes sometimes you have to think outside the box to be different and my friends from America certainly like to be different. Check it out!
Sail-a-way Party, Venetian Carnival, Angels & Demons, Where Are You From?, Fetish, Neon, Disco, Uniforms, Ladies T-Dance, White Party and Goodbye T-Dance
The pool deck party venue was a brilliant size and fitted everyone in, a camera with a live stream was filming from the one end of the deck to the staterooms so you could see what was going on whilst getting ready and plan your arrival to how busy the deck was. Plenty of room for everyone, with the main stage and floor area, busy between 1 am and 4 am.
Don’t worry come 6 am the party does not stop there! After-hours is your next destination. After the first night, the after-hours (6 am – finish) was moved from deck 6 to deck 11, this was due to noise complaints from people in the cabins around deck 5 and 6. Whilst I can understand why they moved it due to the noise, it didn’t make sense still having the 24hour dark room, next to the now-empty dance venue which had moved up 5 decks to deck 11. After popping in there (for research reasons of course ?) it was very quiet during after-hours compared to being busy on the first night when the party was in full swing on deck 6.
4) The Shows
Between the partying and sunbathing, eating and socialising there are a range of LA Demence shows. This year there were 6 different acts placed around the ship to entertain you with a range of comedy, singing and dancing. Shows from La Diva (Belgium), Maman and Her Girls (Belgium), Lara Fullcamp (Belgium), Catherine d’Oex (Switzerland), Ivana (Belgium) and Dragtastic (UK).
I was lucky enough to catch up with Dragtastic after one of their shows backstage in their dressing room. It was Dragtastic’s first time on a gay cruise and on LA Demence. From an audience point of view, they went down a storm with an amazing performance in the Centrum. You could see people catching the show from a very packed deck 4 where the show was on, all the way up to deck 8. The whole Centrum was roaring with laughter.
5) Food & Drink
If you have been on a regular cruise I am sure you will agree the food is always of a high standard, if not they rectify it quite quickly. Well with this being on a Royal Caribbean ship I found the food to be amazing, with a wide choice for all dietary requirements. The dining rooms and cafés onboard work a little different from a regular Royal Caribbean Cruise, at least one food area is always open. Depending on the time of day, depends on which one, but you will never go hungry. From speaking to other cruisers who went last year they say the food has improved 100% and is of a much higher quality than previous years. Last year La Demence did not use Royal Caribbean.
As well as the dining already included in your cruise price, The Edelweiss Dining Room, Windjammer Café and Park Café, other restaurants including Izumi, Giovanni’s Table, Chop’s Grill and Chef’s Table could also be used for a cover charge. Room service was also available for a small charge.
I guess the downside to having a bigger, better ship with better food is always going to be the drink prices. Royal Caribbean doesn’t offer alcoholic drinks packages on their ‘charter cruises’ so the alcohol does have to be brought as per the menus. From seeing last years prices at €3 a glass of wine, I was paying $11 for the same size. Non-alcoholic drink packages are available which really do save you money and include virgin cocktails.. (who doesn’t love a virgin right!) I was ordering virgin Mudslide cocktails and then buying a vodka shot to add to it. Yep I’m cheap like that! Guests can bring 2 bottles of wine per stateroom onboard the ship with them.
6) The Staff
A lot of respect has to go out to the Royal Caribbean staff here. Some of the sights they see must be absolutely shocking to them, but I must hand it to them they are some of the friendliest cruise staff I have ever met. They get involved in the parties. Dancing around, asking questions and are so happy. A lot of them have even told me they prefer and love it when these types of charted cruises come on board, it gives them something different from the normal family cruises. Again the sights they must-see on the dance floor and around the ship would shock the soberest person! so when you go on your next one, remember to just say thank you and give them a lot of respect because for me they help to make these cruises so amazing.
One person I got to know very well and who was so friendly was a young lady who worked on the bars and beverages and in the concierge lounge. Every time she saw me she came over and gave me a huge hug and asked about my previous night of partying. One of the nights we got a few of our flashing lights, glitter and transformed her into a gay diva!
7) The Attitude & The People
The best way to end this I think would be on what I would consider the most important point. The attitude and the other people who attend the cruise. With over 2000 people there is going to be a mixture of personalities. You have to go on these cruises with an open friendly mind, leaving any attitude at the ships door. Stop and say hello to people you pass through the ships corridor, compliment people on their outfits and costumes. This is what I did and lots of people also did this to me and it’s the main reason I loved the cruise so much. I found the attitude of the majority of people on board to be very friendly and a fun-loving crowd.
Like with all advertisements, if you have never been on a gay cruise, seeing a group of men partying with six-packs and a body to die for on the marketing materials when the only gym you have seen in the past year, is the local lad down your street called Jim who is 2,700 feet away on Grindr. It can be scary and off-putting! BUT there are so many different body types from across the spectrum. Big to small, smooth to hairy, old to young, feminine to masculine and everything in between. I would say the marketing material used represents about 5% of the people on board. Don’t worry about your body you will fit in regardless of what you look like.
Fancy booking The La Demence Cruise 2020. Check out their website to see what, if any cabin are left.
I have no connection to LA Demence or ‘The Cruise’. During my cruise, I was a full paying customer on the cruise, with no incentive or reward given before, during or after the cruise. This post is based on my own honest experience that I experienced whilst on ‘The Cruise’ by LA Demence.
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