GEAR says this is the first time something like this is being offered to the trans community and calls organizer an innovator
Travel agent Jeff Land blocked cabins on a Royal Caribbean sailing in December for what he believes is the first trans cruise.
“This has been a dream of mine for so long,” Land said, “because it feels safe being with other trans people.”
Land identifies as transgender and prefers female pronouns.
“I’m hoping to book 40–50 people,” she said.
The cruise is on the Navigator of the Seas that leaves from Galveston on Dec. 14 for a week. Three ports of call on the trip include Honduras, Belize and Cozumel.
“In Belize, people should stay together, but it’s gay-friendly,” Land said. “Honduras and Cozumel are both very gay friendly.”
She chose that itinerary rather than another offered that includes Jamaica, which Land thought would be dangerous for trans travelers.
Land said the question asked most is whether the cruise will be safe. She said she avoided Carnival Cruise Lines because of an incident that happened two years ago, which she discussed with Royal Caribbean.
In 2012, Carnival Cruises booked a tour called “Drag Stars at Sea” in conjunction with gay TV station Logo.
About a month before sailing, the cruise line sent a letter to everyone participating, stating that although Logo performers would be entertaining in the main theater, “only the performers are permitted to dress in drag while in the theater.”
Guests who violated the policy would be removed from the ship at their own expense, and no refund would be issued.
The cruise line refused to answer at the time whether the policy applied only to dressing in drag or whether trans people were included in the policy.
Land said he discussed the issues with Royal Caribbean, and the cruise line wanted travelers to know they are welcome on board.
Land said passports shouldn’t be an issue either, even if the picture or name doesn’t match a person’s current presentation. To facilitate quick debarkation at ports of call, cruise ships issue an ID card that’s used instead of the passport for getting on and off the ship in port.
The Transportation Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security has developed and implemented policies appropriate for trans travelers, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality. Travel safety tips for a variety of groups, including the elderly, those with hearing loss or other disabilities, can be found on its website, TransEquality.org.
“In 1999, I would let the airline know ahead of time I was traveling,” Land said. “Now, they’re more accepting, and there are so many trans people who work for the airlines.”
Those policies, she said, also apply to cruise passengers.
GEAR coordinator Blair High said there are a lot of LGBT cruises, but this is the first time something like this is being offered specifically for the trans community.
“The great thing about it is no one else in the U.S. is doing anything like this,” High said. “You can go on vacation and just be free without worrying, is someone going to accost me.”
High thought a number of people would take advantage of the opportunity to go on a trip with someone there to make sure they are safe.
“Jeff is an innovator,” High said.
In addition to members of the trans community, Land said she has had inquiries from cross-dressers who would like to sail along with their noncross-dressing spouses. People from the LGB community are welcome as well.
Prices begin at $831 per person based on double occupancy. A $250 deposit is due by July 19. More information at TransgenderVacations.net.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 25, 2014.