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Open letter to Carnival: step up your LGBT game, please


knagl
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We just got back from a week on the Carnival Magic. Overall had a great time, but Carnival really needs to step up its game when it comes to its LGBT gatherings.

 

Each night the gathering was scheduled at the Alchemy Bar, and each night there was a loud five-piece band performing on the stage right next to the bar. The band was very good, but the problem was twofold: the bar was full of people there to watch the band, and it was very difficult to hold down a conversation because of the music.

 

As there was nobody there to facilitate the group, it was a matter of looking at the folks at and near the bar and trying to figure out, "Are they gay?" "Are they here for the meetup?" I stepped outside my comfort zone and walked up to a couple who I was pretty sure was family and said hi, but we made small-talk for a minute or two and that was it.

 

In contrast, we had a previous cruise on Princess where the meetup was held in a quiet, out-of-the-way bar that had sofas and chairs that were conducive to a group sitting together and chatting. Additionally, the assistant Cruise Director was family and was there on the first night to welcome us and encourage us to mingle and get to know our fellow cruisers. He also was able to get a couple of bottles of chesp champagne for us and provided a complimentary glass for anyone interested. What a huge difference it made being in a quieter venue and with a minimal effort by the staff to help get us acquainted.

 

This was our second Carnival cruise, and while we had a good time (and eventually met some like-minded folks), it was the second one where the GLBT meetup was always scheduled at the Alchemy Bar during times that the bar was already full of other people. Do better Carnival, please.

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Carnival does seem to have a bit of trouble assigning appropriate venues for social gatherings. It’s not just LGBT, but all. Back in the days when I used to attend “singles” gatherings, they were most times held at any bar open to all, and you were left to your own devices to figure out who was a like minded single attending the meetup.
 

The also do the same with other type of gathering like Friends of Bill W. Whoever is in charge of scheduling these, must not even know what they are for. A close relative attends Bill W meeting regularly when he cruises, and he told me that one time it was held at the casino bar (😂) and another time it was held at the library, which would’ve been the perfect location, except for the fact that it was simultaneously hosting the Build-a-Bear Workshop with 20 screaming kids and their parents. 
 

But he knows the drill by now. To give Carnival credit where it’s due, both times that he complained about the venue selection, subsequent meetings during the same cruise were held at appropriate locations. 

Edited by Tapi
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  • 2 weeks later...

We just got back from a sailing on board the Celebrity Constellation and had a similar issue.  They didn't announce the LGBT gathering in the daily handout; we saw it posted on a bulletin board near the pursers desk.  One day they did announce it and it was for a GLBT lunch.  We met in an empty bar and then were escorted to the restaurant.  Of course not everyone arrives at the same time so we were lucky that one of the staff saw us looking around and walked us down to the lunch. It was only 2 couples in the end.  Of course, by the end of the cruise we had a nice group of gay friends, but we are surprised that Celebrity wasn't better at facilitating.  Norwegian does a much better job in that respect.

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  • 2 weeks later...

It's not just Carnival, like  Britthunt said, it was the same on Celebrity. On the Sunrise last September, they were held in the Alchemy Bar as well. We only went once, met one couple but that was it. We always have a great time and meet lots of people - but I've also seen where "family" is very selective with who they want to socialize with. We will be back on The Sunrise in May - I'm sure it will be the same. 

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  • 2 months later...

Yeah. We have not sealed them a lot, but we have discovered that they do their get together is in very strange locations… Like the piano bar on one of them… Kind of hard to talk when somebody is singing… We love piano bars but it’s very difficult to get to know some people but that’s going on We have not sealed them a lot, but we have discovered that they do their get together is in very strange locations… Like the piano bar on one of them… Kind of hard to talk when somebody is singing… We love piano bars but it’s very difficult to get to know some people when that’s going on  
Another trip, they were at 10 o’clock at night which most people are either doing something else or at a show etc.

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  • 9 months later...

We found this to be true on the breeze back in 2015… They had it in a piano bar and you want to talk to people but you don’t wanna be rude to the performer. The time was off to… They did at 10 PM when there’s a lot of other things going on the ship… I prefer the earlier ones at five or six like a happy hour

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  • 2 months later...

We have been on 7 different cruise lines and don't think any are where they need to be but Carnival was great to us in 2014 for our Wedding cruise when Royal Caribbean refused to treat our legal wedding as a wedding when we discussed it with them.

 

We were stressed in trying to plan a wedding on land with so much to consider when we thought of a cruise ship wedding.  Granted you have far fewer options but they take care of everything.  They recommended an officiant, took care of food, cake, incredible buffet just for our party.  So much less stress and yet we still had input if we wanted it.  I scripted the whole ceremony myself and we provided all the music on CDs for their DJ.

 

They treated us with respect, dignity and zealousness before during and afterwards.  We were celebrities the rest of the cruise.  Crew and passengers alike that we didn't know congratulated us all week even when we weren't wearing our tuxedos.  None of our 50 guests ended up sailing with us but we still got a lot of attention, all positive.

 

 

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A couple have mentioned having the meetups at the piano bar as a negative.  Certainly if it is while the performer is playing, it might be hard to hear but I have seen quite a few where it was between performances, particularly when it is early evening.  Also, it seems to be a venue where a lot of us seem to go naturally.  We have run into other couples by accident often at the piano bar.  Just a thought.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 5/1/2021 at 11:34 AM, seamus69 said:

They treated us with respect, dignity and zealousness before during and afterwards.

 

I realize it was a number of years ago now, but congratulations on your wedding.

 

To be clear, we have generally only had positive experiences with Carnival and I've never had the impression that they care one way or the other if you're gay, straight, bi, green with purple polka dots, etc. The staff has always been friendly and treated us well.

 

My only real beef, and the reason I started this thread over a year ago (and to be honest, forgot about it until I saw it again today) is that I think they could do a much better job facilitating the LGBTQ meetup versus just listing a time to meet at the Alchemy Bar and leaving everyone to their own devices. It wouldn't take a ton of effort or staff time to schedule the meeting in a slightly less busy area and, at least on the first night, have a staff member there to welcome folks and help break the ice for 20 minutes or so. 🤷‍♂️

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16 hours ago, knagl said:

 

I realize it was a number of years ago now, but congratulations on your wedding.

 

To be clear, we have generally only had positive experiences with Carnival and I've never had the impression that they care one way or the other if you're gay, straight, bi, green with purple polka dots, etc. The staff has always been friendly and treated us well.

 

My only real beef, and the reason I started this thread over a year ago (and to be honest, forgot about it until I saw it again today) is that I think they could do a much better job facilitating the LGBTQ meetup versus just listing a time to meet at the Alchemy Bar and leaving everyone to their own devices. It wouldn't take a ton of effort or staff time to schedule the meeting in a slightly less busy area and, at least on the first night, have a staff member there to welcome folks and help break the ice for 20 minutes or so. 🤷‍♂️

Holland America does the same thing, just sets a time and place each evening, I went once on my last cruise and when I walked in I didn't know if the two guys already there were there for the meeting or not.  Turned out they were but it was a bit awkward at first.  On another cruise, I saw two women there thinking they were a lesbian couple, turns out they were there for Friends of Bill W scheduled for the same place/time....again awkward and it being a smaller ship with fewer venues probably the reason for the double booking, but a host could have cleared that up.  Now I mostly stay away from them, they aren't well attended anyway on HAL.

 

Edit: I think I meet more guys in the gym or spa than at these meetups 😁

 

 

Edited by atexsix
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On 5/24/2021 at 2:35 AM, knagl said:

I realize it was a number of years ago now, but congratulations on your wedding.

 

Thank you!

 

On 5/24/2021 at 2:35 AM, knagl said:

My only real beef, and the reason I started this thread over a year ago (and to be honest, forgot about it until I saw it again today) is that I think they could do a much better job facilitating the LGBTQ meetup versus just listing a time to meet at the Alchemy Bar and leaving everyone to their own devices. It wouldn't take a ton of effort or staff time to schedule the meeting in a slightly less busy area and, at least on the first night, have a staff member there to welcome folks and help break the ice for 20 minutes or so. 🤷‍♂️

 

I agree.  All the lines could do better.

 

On 5/24/2021 at 6:40 PM, atexsix said:

Holland America does the same thing, just sets a time and place each evening, I went once on my last cruise and when I walked in I didn't know if the two guys already there were there for the meeting or not.  Turned out they were but it was a bit awkward at first.  On another cruise, I saw two women there thinking they were a lesbian couple, turns out they were there for Friends of Bill W scheduled for the same place/time....again awkward and it being a smaller ship with fewer venues probably the reason for the double booking, but a host could have cleared that up.  Now I mostly stay away from them, they aren't well attended anyway on HAL.

 

Edit: I think I meet more guys in the gym or spa than at these meetups 😁

 

If they could have a meet and greet in the gym and have drinks available, it would be perfect!

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Cunard is a Carnival Brand and they have, in my opinion done a very good job with Gatherings. They call it Friends of Dorothy/Rainbow pride, and they list it in the daily program. It is usually about 5 pm in a quiet section of the Commodore Club. I have generally found them to be well attended. Except for the Hamburg to Southampton leg of a Westbound t/a with many German's aboard. I suspect it is the term "Friends of Dorothy" that might have caused them to miss the meeting. 

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On 6/1/2021 at 11:53 AM, Bigmike911 said:

Cunard is a Carnival Brand and they have, in my opinion done a very good job with Gatherings. They call it Friends of Dorothy/Rainbow pride, and they list it in the daily program. It is usually about 5 pm in a quiet section of the Commodore Club. I have generally found them to be well attended. Except for the Hamburg to Southampton leg of a Westbound t/a with many German's aboard. I suspect it is the term "Friends of Dorothy" that might have caused them to miss the meeting. 

Some people don't like the moniker "friends of Dorothy" or don't really understand what it means, I think there was a thread on it some time ago, I like the sound of Rainbow Pride though.  HAL's programs list them as gay and lesbian, which worried me a bit in some of the less enlightened parts of the world, I was afraid it would attract curiosity seekers although it never did.  But they weren't well attended on any of my cruises with HAL even when there was a sizable younger gay crowd on board which brings us back to the host issue.  

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  • 3 weeks later...

We mostly cruise with HAL for the last decade or so and find they are not at all well attended. I usually stick my head in and look at a closed and empty bar. I did go to a singles and solos lunch once on HAL which was organized by the cruise staff, of course being HAL it was far more solos than singles and the average age of the group was about 55 and that was because I pulled it down about 20 points on my own.
 

The friends of Bill W meetings at a bar have always mystified me. Though I must say the image of a shared space meeting with a build a bear workshop gave me a chuckle. Terrible planning on someone’s part. 

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I like "Friends of Dorothy" has come out the closet on the cruise ships and is now mixed in with everyone else.  It is confusing and I've stopped attending because I couldn't differentiate between the group meetup and others at the bar.  

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  • 1 month later...

I've experienced similar issues on both Carnival cruises my partner and I were on. I distinctly remember the last one, in 2018 on Dream, and the meet up was held at Alchemy with no organization. We thought there was one other couple there, but by the time we had discussed with each other if they were a couple and there for the meet up so we could work up the nerve to approach them, they had already got their drinks and left. It was surprising, since the cruise director was family, so you'd think some more effort and thought would be put into the intentionality of the meetings. There is no real facilitation of the social connections or making friends in these special meet ups it seems. 
We are going to be on Horizon for the August 7 sailing, so I guess we'll see what the meet ups are like this time. 

 

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  • 6 months later...
  • 2 weeks later...

My best friend was just talking about.  He and his husband were with me on the Dream a few weeks ago and the meetup was in the Atrium Bar with lots of music playing.  He said not only was it loud it was a huge area with tons of people there so it would be awkward to try and approach people to visit.  

In the past we have experienced the same thing, I am very much and extrovert were most of my friends that I travel with are introverted so I was going up to people saying "hey, are you here for the meetup?  I'm not gay but my friends over there are so you can come sit with us if you want."  LOL

 

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I have had great success in the past talking to the Cruise Director to get these scheduled for better times and places. They are usually quite unaware how poorly they are scheduled.

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I was on the Panorama for 14 nights recently on B2B sailings and the F.O.D. gatherings were always at 9 pm at the Alchemy bar which is late in my opinion.  I think they should mix up the times and put them at happy hour (5 pm) at least on sea days.  I brought up the idea to guest services and there was no indication that they were going to make any effort to change the times.  The gatherings should ideally be hosted by a CCL representative which greatly helps bring people together at least on the first couple nights.  God knows there are a LOT of LGBT staff working on CCL ships to draw from.  Anyway, the gatherings fizzled quickly but I did see a gaggle of well- lubricated guys in their 30s and 40s (all looking quite coupled) hanging out together there in the evenings from time to time.  

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We have had the same issues when we’ve sailed with them. The gathering is usually at 10pm…too many other activities going on at that time. Plus, it is in the piano bar or some other places that make it very difficult to converse. 

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  • 1 month later...

I am going on a Carnival Cruise very shortly, not sure what to expect! On a RCL trip last August, the LGBT gathering was very quiet, I ended up not returning to them on that short voyage. Meanwhile, on my January NCL trip, Friends of Dorothy was a lifesaver! I'm sure I would have occupied myself just fine on my solo cruise, but the friends I made that first night really changed my cruise for the best. We often met up for dinners, shows, even the go-kart racing. I treasure that experience with them! 

On my CCL trip, it'll be a port intensive Alaskan cruise, so I'm not sure exactly how much I'll even be on the ship, but hoping to make a few new friends this time around too! It was reassuring to hear about potential shifting to different venues/times when requested as posted above, if the initial one isn't a good fit. 

 

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

On the Conquest in March the meetup was at Alchemy when the nightclub was starting up and the comedy club was getting ready for the next show so the lines were crowding the space nearby.

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  • 1 month later...
  • My last couple of Carnival sailings were the same thing: Alchemy Bar at inconvenient times. On my last cruise (HAL Konigsdam) they did a much better job, scheduling the first meeting at a relatively quiet bar with couches grouped for chatting. The group liked it so much we made it a nightly thing. I'm sailing on the Radiance on June 20, and will report back on the when/where...
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  • 2 weeks later...
On 1/26/2020 at 3:23 AM, knagl said:

We just got back from a week on the Carnival Magic. Overall had a great time, but Carnival really needs to step up its game when it comes to its LGBT gatherings.

 

Each night the gathering was scheduled at the Alchemy Bar, and each night there was a loud five-piece band performing on the stage right next to the bar. The band was very good, but the problem was twofold: the bar was full of people there to watch the band, and it was very difficult to hold down a conversation because of the music.

 

As there was nobody there to facilitate the group, it was a matter of looking at the folks at and near the bar and trying to figure out, "Are they gay?" "Are they here for the meetup?" I stepped outside my comfort zone and walked up to a couple who I was pretty sure was family and said hi, but we made small-talk for a minute or two and that was it.

 

In contrast, we had a previous cruise on Princess where the meetup was held in a quiet, out-of-the-way bar that had sofas and chairs that were conducive to a group sitting together and chatting. Additionally, the assistant Cruise Director was family and was there on the first night to welcome us and encourage us to mingle and get to know our fellow cruisers. He also was able to get a couple of bottles of chesp champagne for us and provided a complimentary glass for anyone interested. What a huge difference it made being in a quieter venue and with a minimal effort by the staff to help get us acquainted.

 

This was our second Carnival cruise, and while we had a good time (and eventually met some like-minded folks), it was the second one where the GLBT meetup was always scheduled at the Alchemy Bar during times that the bar was already full of other people. Do better Carnival, please.

Unless you are totally a Carnival only person, may I suggest you look into Celebrity.  My husband and I love Celebrity.  They always have a decent and sometimes even more decent turnout at LGBTQ+ gatherings.  We've made quite a few friends that we have stayed in contact with.  Not to mention that Celebrity is a really nice line.  Good luck!

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