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Any thoughts? Looking at booking one and was wondering if any experience with them? Have done Pied Piper, Atlantis, RSVP in the past and wonder how you think Aquafest compares?

Edited by johhnnyt
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I am somewhat interested in some additional information on Aquafest as well, specifically their Halloween large group cruise. I saw they're booked on the EPIC this year and that's one heck of a ship! I am entertaining the thought of booking it but would love to hear first hand accounts! :)

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My partner and I are cruising with aquafest to alaska in august 2012. read some comments here and they seem positive.

 

I've read some good ones as well, but most seem to be from a while ago, so would appreciate hearing your comments after your August sailing

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  • 2 weeks later...
I am somewhat interested in some additional information on Aquafest as well, specifically their Halloween large group cruise. I saw they're booked on the EPIC this year and that's one heck of a ship! I am entertaining the thought of booking it but would love to hear first hand accounts! :)

 

Aquafest Halloween cruise 2011 out of New Orleans was a blast! There were quite a few of us who booked that cruise: near 600. That was a 1st timer for Aquafest bookings, I believe. It was never crowded nor overwhelming and cruisemates were friendly. Layout of the ship, perhaps? Costuming turnout for themed parties was excellent and the 'Halloween Ball' had fantastic costumed competitors onstage but no dance afterwards. :( I just couldn't believe the fantastic costumes. There were dance parties, themed ones where costumes were encouraged but not required. My cabinmate & I costumed for all but the very last one. Were were exhausted! LOL

It was a blast and I highly recommend. I am planning on booking for Holloween again in 2013. The onboard Aquafest hosts are attentive and personal. Entertainers A+.

We were treated great by ship staff and fellow passengers (Norwegian Spirit). Ship had recently been refurbished so it looked good and everything work fine in balcony cabin. Small balconies, though. Enough for a couple of sitting chairs & small round table.

Edited by mjmkjun
edited for spelling errors/grammer
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My partner and I are cruising with aquafest to alaska in august 2012. read some comments here and they seem positive.

 

So am I. My niece, Stephanie, and I are sharing an outside cabin. That ought to be interesting! LOL Just kidding. I am sure it'll work out swell.

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I've done five Aquafest Cruises (two Halloween, two Mardi Gras and an Alaska) and have to agree completely with MJMKJUM. The Aquafest gang does their best to make sure that each of their passengers are having as best of a time as they can.

 

I have nothing to say but good things about Aquafest Cruises.

 

In terms of other passengers on board, I've not heard anything negative about the composition of the group itself. The only negative thing I've ever heard was frustration in the fact that certain venues were closed at times to accommodate such a large group (400-500 passengers).

 

In short, if you choose to cruise with Aquafest, you will have to work hard to NOT to have a good time.

 

Good luck in your decision making process.

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What's the vibe like on the ship when you're a large group? Do other pax mind the big group or are your events held in areas where they wouldn't normally be (like the theater in the day time).

 

Vibe is good. Believe me, I would have picked up on it if it was otherwise. Cruise passengers, with rare exceptions, are out to make the best of their cruise/money invested within an allotment of time. PAX in general feel good and want to feel at ease. (Straight, gays and the confused.)

 

It's all private/reserved area for any Aquafest event. Specific wrist ban allows entry to Aquafest events. Strictly enforced. Go with a relaxed attitude as that is what you will encounter. The other passengers are not put-off by us. They've got better thiings to do. The cruiseline entertainments are going on in other venues, other bars, etc.

 

P.S. Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Edited by mjmkjun
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I went ahead and booked Aquafests' 15 night transatlantic for December on the Celebrity Silhouette. Price for a C2 cabin was about $800 less than if I had booked it directly with Celebrity, so it was a no brainer. 15 nights for about $2500 total for two people plus air

Edited by johhnnyt
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  • 3 months later...

Hi....My partner and I are thinking of an Aquafest trip.....Have a kind of odd question to the group.....have been on several Atlantis and RSVP and have a question about the costume parties. On a chartered ship it is not a big deal walking through the ship in your "costume" to get to the party from your cabin......how is this perceived with a group rather than a charter on a straight ship?

 

Thanks to all for any feedback!

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That Aqua Fest Asia product is what is piquing my interest these days. I've recently had the opportunity to take an extended time off from work in 2013 if I'm a good doobie and work a lot this year (ie cruise less) so I'm looking at the AquaFest Asia itinerary. I wonder if that's less party and more see? The single supplement is a killer though!! :eek:

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We have gone on two Aquafest cruises. 2009 Alaska cruise and the 2011 Halloween 10th anniversary cruise. They were both excellent and the staff goes out of their way to ensure everyone has an enjoyable time. We are planning on the 2013 Halloween cruise.

 

Tom Baker and his partner Marc are excellent hosts. The Alaska cruise was a much smaller group between 75-100. The Halloween cruise was their largest with a group size of over 500 and a large staff to help with the group. They also bring some of their own entertainment which has yet to disappoint us. I was surprised how well the very large group of gay men and women were received on the ship. Quite a few people we met who were not with the group were trying to find a way to attend our parties. A few may have succeeded but for the most part they are private and wristbands are checked at the entrances. Of course the best parties are the open bar parties, there were two on each cruise.

 

We are looking forward to joining the Aquafest group again, for Halloween 2013.

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I went ahead and booked Aquafests' 15 night transatlantic for December on the Celebrity Silhouette. Price for a C2 cabin was about $800 less than if I had booked it directly with Celebrity, so it was a no brainer. 15 nights for about $2500 total for two people plus air

 

I am also on the December Silhouette cruise. I wanted to mention a couple of things. First, it is true that Aquafest costs less than booking directly with Celebrity. But that is not a good comparison since nobody should pay the cruise line price just as they wouldn't pay rack rate at a hotel. The cost for my balcony cabin was the same as was quoted by Aquafest but my agency also included an onboard credit and free gratuities which made the cost considerably less. It is still great to book with a gay cruise agency but I wouldn't do it just on price alone.

Also, on the home page of Aquafest you will notice that they have two different kinds of cruises. One type is an "event cruise" which are held mostly on NCL ships and include entertainment, costume parties, etc. The other type is called "hosted group cruises". These are usually to locations farther away from the USA and are more for social contact than partying. That is what you will usually be offered on Celebrity cruises since they have a more subdued atmosphere than NCL. To Aquafest's credit, they are very clear to differentiate between the two types of cruise experiences. From all the comments I am sure that either type of cruise offers a good time and for anyone who is interested in meeting new friends these groups would seem to offer a very pleasant experience. I have sailed on five Atlantis cruises and now I am more interested in smaller groups rather than full ship charters so perhaps I will try Aquafest or Pied Piper in the future.

There is also a Gay Roll Call for the December Silhouette cruise on this website so that is another way to meet other gay cruisers but of course you will miss out on some of the events that Aquafest has scheduled.

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My partner and I cancelled the Atlantis Asia cruise and booked with Aquafest.

Three more days and less money!

Several of our friends booked as well, this is going to be fun!

We are doing the Med with Atlantis.:D

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I am also on the December Silhouette cruise. I wanted to mention a couple of things. First, it is true that Aquafest costs less than booking directly with Celebrity. But that is not a good comparison since nobody should pay the cruise line price just as they wouldn't pay rack rate at a hotel. The cost for my balcony cabin was the same as was quoted by Aquafest but my agency also included an onboard credit and free gratuities which made the cost considerably less. It is still great to book with a gay cruise agency but I wouldn't do it just on price alone.

Also, on the home page of Aquafest you will notice that they have two different kinds of cruises. One type is an "event cruise" which are held mostly on NCL ships and include entertainment, costume parties, etc. The other type is called "hosted group cruises". These are usually to locations farther away from the USA and are more for social contact than partying. That is what you will usually be offered on Celebrity cruises since they have a more subdued atmosphere than NCL. To Aquafest's credit, they are very clear to differentiate between the two types of cruise experiences. From all the comments I am sure that either type of cruise offers a good time and for anyone who is interested in meeting new friends these groups would seem to offer a very pleasant experience. I have sailed on five Atlantis cruises and now I am more interested in smaller groups rather than full ship charters so perhaps I will try Aquafest or Pied Piper in the future.

There is also a Gay Roll Call for the December Silhouette cruise on this website so that is another way to meet other gay cruisers but of course you will miss out on some of the events that Aquafest has scheduled.

Aquafest also offers some nice extras that appealed to me (just like pied piper does), they include

Private group shore excursions in selected Mediterranean ports-of-call

$50 per cabin onboard spending credit

Bottle of wine per stateroom

Private cocktail Party

Private group gatherings and socials

I think these group events appealed to me more than anything else, as over the years have made some great friends on these hosted gay group sailings. Last Pied Piper I was on we even had a gay marriage performed on board by the Captain. I really have enjoyed the intimacy of being part of a group, getting to at least know most of my fellow group members by name, as well as quite a few of the general passenger population.

That to me is the advantage, the cost saving is a secondary benefit. That's why to me it will be interesting to see how Aquafest compares to Pied Piper, in my experience a good onboard host can make a very good cruise, an exceptional one.

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My partner and I cancelled the Atlantis Asia cruise and booked with Aquafest.

Three more days and less money!

Several of our friends booked as well, this is going to be fun!

We are doing the Med with Atlantis.:D

 

I just hope to goodness Atlantis doesn't mess up the post-cruise options, especially to China (Beijing). What is being offered by AquaFest for a pre-cruise tour is about right for what I wanted to see in China. The itinerary offered by AquaFest is much better than Atlantis but I'm stuck with the dreaded single supplement so I can't justify the extra. If AquaFest started a roommate share program of sorts I'd definitely have booked with them. :(

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Interesting, we have friends who booked though AquaFest and so we looked at the cruise. The fare we got through our TA was several hundred less than the AF fare and was in a higher category of Aqua Class than what they got, plus the OB credit was more.

 

Just have to shop around

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I always go through a travel agent but the rates we get are pretty much as what's listed on the cruise lines' sites. Hmmm. Maybe I need to consider another avenue for booking!!!!!

 

Glad to see this question on Aquafest. I hadn't heard about them. That Asia trip in February looks mighty interesting!

Edited by Harry Cane
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Interesting, we have friends who booked though AquaFest and so we looked at the cruise. The fare we got through our TA was several hundred less than the AF fare and was in a higher category of Aqua Class than what they got, plus the OB credit was more.

 

Just have to shop around

 

Shopping around is right word. Have had some group cruise rates that were the same as Celebrity's, Some that were 500-700 PP less. Some travel agents are pretty good so are willing to cut their commission, can usually knock a few hundred PP with some OBC off their commission (typically 10-15% I read somewhere) as they'll make the money on hotels/air.

The challenge is shopping around, and not second guessing yourself, since inevitably someone else always finds a better deal than you got.

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  • 1 month later...
  • 5 months later...

December 1-16th Transatlantic 2012 on Silhouette was the first experience I had with Aquafest, here's my background and thoughts on it.

Have done about 12 normal mixed straight cruises, 10 Pied Piper Gay Group cruises, 2 Atlantis gay group charters, 1 RSVP Gay Group, and now 1 Aquafest

Aquafest was top notch above any of the others I've experienced in terms of service, responsiveness, attention to detail, and overall experience. Here are a couple of reasons why (at least in my opinion)

1. Service was personalized prior to and during the cruise, questions answered quickly, you always felt like you were being kept in the loop even prior to the cruise

2. Pre cruise package in Rome was outstanding. Hotel they suggested was superb, priced right and location was excellent. Guide was a doctor of Archeology, who literally seemed to know everything. I've been to Rome on three previous trips, but never learned as much as I did on this one

3. Aquafest shore excursions were very good. Only participated in one, but on a scale of 1-5, where 2 is the Celebrity tour, and 5 is a custom private tour, the Aquafest tour was a 4, and it was a lower price as the Celebrity tour, but much more personalized

4. Pre cruise niceties. I know of 6 people onboard that Aquafest arranged to get upgraded to a better cabin categories without the people even asking, and no cgarge whatsoever for upgrade, there might be more but I do know of at least 6.

5. Really enjoyed the extra special dining events onboard compared to other cruises I was on. Tom arranged optional discounted dinners at just about every specialty restaraunt onboard, with saving raging from 40-60% off the normal rates for us at Murano, Tuscan Grille, Qsine & Lawn Club Grill. Probably had 20-30 people participate in each one

6. Enjoyed the social events Aquafest arranged as well, from card games, movie nights, guest lectures, and evening get togethers before dinner. Nothing was mandatory, everything was optional, but great turnout for all

7. Loved Aquafest's attention to details. Had a couple instances where some members from the group needed special attention for problems or medical issues, and Tom went out of his way, to make sure every need was addressed promptly and thoroughly.

8. Was a great spirit to the group rather than it being clique'ey

If you haven't tried an Aquafest cruise, I would, it was a terrific experience. Tom and Marc were outstanding as hosts.

Edited by johhnnyt
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Aquafest sounds like fun.

Does anyone know what the average age would be on the Aquafest Group cruises?

 

We were on the PP Post Thanksgiving Cruise on the Allure and really enjoyed it.

The age profile of our fellow group passengers was however a tad older than us, but that was ok. We enjoyed being the man-candy onboard. ;)

 

Does Aquafest gater more of the party types than Pied Piper?

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