The sad incident of a gay man jumping off Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas in the Bahamas and the truly shocking video now doing the rounds of sites like The Daily Mail Online has sparked a debate amongst cruisers as to whether cruise lines welcome gay and lesbian travellers.
The Brazilian passenger Bernardo Albaz is feared dead and his family’s lawyer Mike Winkleman has claimed that he plunged over the side because of anti-gay comments.
“Royal Caribbean has said from the get-go that this was a domestic dispute and a suicide and what I’ve come to learn is in fact almost the opposite of that. From the video I have seen, it’s very clear they were arguing about the anti-gay remarks that were being made against the couple,” said Mr Winkleman in a radio interview.
The Sheriff investigating the case says that Mr Albaz was video-taped threatening to jump before the incident when he went overboard.
But whatever the truth, the question remains: are cruise lines gay friendly.
When Cruise Passenger reported the story, it garnered mixed responses from fellow cruisers on social media. But most said cruise lines were welcoming.
Melissa Brooks, a loyal Royal Caribbean cruiser commented that she was surprised by what happened, “Every RCL cruise we have been on have treated all passengers alike so very surprised at this,” she said.
Another Royal Caribbean cruiser Vicki Gill commented, “I have cruised with Royal Caribbean & found the staff polite & respectful cannot imagine them saying or being disrespectful to a passenger but that’s not to say it didn’t happen.
“Hope it all works out for everyone involved a very sad event, I must say though it won’t stop me cruising with them we had an awesome cruise to NZ on the Radiance.”
Vicki McInnes commented on our Facebook page: “A couple were made to feel very unwelcome on one of our cruises, I only found out about it the day after we got home and i was talking to them.”
Royal Caribbean released a statement to 7News on Saturday that stated, “Our onboard security team responded to the guest’s stateroom after a neighbouring guest complained about a domestic dispute on the guest’s balcony. Our staff did not have a physical altercation with the guest and were unable to prevent his jumping from the stateroom balcony.”
That brings us to the growing market of gay men and lesbians who love to travel. A study done by US based Community Marketing Inc. in 2009 reports that gay men and lesbians collectively contribute an estimated US $63 billion in the US alone. Read the American gay travel statistics here
Miami based Anteros Cruises has announced cruises dedicated to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) travel community with sailings to Mediterranean and Caribbean in April 2017.
In a statement released by Anteros Cruises, the cruise line also welcomed LGBT community’s friends and families to join them on board. “Every aspect of the Anteros Cruises experience is designed with LGBT community members in mind. Our number one priority is making our guests feel comfortable, relaxed, and open, so they can be themselves while enjoying our luxury yacht-like cruise experience,” David Huang, director of Anteros Cruises, said in a release.
Will Royal Caribbean’s cruise economics be affected by this story? We don’t think so.
While many may not know this, many cruise lines hold special meetings so LGBT passengers can meet and mingle. They are called FOD (Friend of Dorothy) meetings – Dorothy is a reference to the Wizard of Oz’s famous character.
Today, you are more likely to find a LGBT meeting right there in the daily program, as FOD is really only recognised by older generation of gays and lesbians.