Who Will Be The First Drag Queen Kicked Off The Carnival Glory?

Carnival Cruise Drag QueenThe America Blog published an article ("Carnival Cruises Bans 'Drag' on Drag Cruise") this evening about Carnival's bizarre decision to threaten to kick any of their guests who dress in drag off of the December 2nd cruise aboard the Carnival Glory cruise ship.

The particularly strange part of the story is that the sailing is a Drag Stars at Sea cruise!

The travel agency organizing the event promises "Drag Stars at Sea: The Largest Gathering in HISTORY! . . . This is the first event of its kind in the world."

Well, if Carnival goes through with its plan to manhandle drag queens down the gangway in their high heels into Caribbean ports of call, the cruise may well be the first and last event of its kind in the world.

The threats came in the form of a letter dated today sent by Carnival to the guests looking to board the Glory in Miami this weekend.  Now, this seems like a rather rude thing for Carnival to do.  Aren't the guests receiving the materially-altered conditions for the cruise a little bit late? After all, the prospective passengers have already packed their dresses and make-up for the trip, not to mention that they booked their now non-refundable cruise tickets months ago. 

The letter was signed by Carnival representative Vicki Ray who our law firm knows as the smiling face of the cruise industry at Congressional crime hearings over the last many years. Her letter starts out upbeat: "Greetings Fun Seekers!" (exclamation in original) but four paragraphs later the real purpose of the letter is revealed:

Carnival Cruise Drag Queen"These functions will be private and only the performers are permitted to dress in drag in the theater. Guests are not allowed to dress in drag for the performances or in public area at any time during the cruise."

Then comes the threat. Anyone violating the edict . . .  "will be disembarked at their own expense and no refunds given."  

Wow, that's some serious chutzpah! Take money from your guests for a drag queen cruise and tell them that, uh, they can't dress like a drag queen.

Can Carnival really enforce this ban as a practical matter?  There are 35 drag queen performers listed for the cruise, like Delta Work, Venus D Lite, and Phi Phi O'Hara (photos).  If someone in drag walks from his cabin to the theater will Carnival security really try to detain him? How can ship security distinguish the audience members in drag from the performers or, for that matter, attractive buxom women dressed up for the night?

How can the dozen or so Carnival security guards think they can possibly handle several hundred men (anyone remember the Stonewall riots of 1969 in New York City?) if they try and arrest everyone in drag who is on the cruise?

The duplicitous aspect of Carnival's conduct is that this cruise line has one of the worst reputations for permitting kids to run wild and drunks to disrupt the cruising experience of guests, all the while looking the other way when fights or sexual violence occurs.  Consider this video about a drunken brawl erupting during a Carnival cruise.  

Carnival Drag CruiseFor years, Carnival and their subsidiary cruise lines have hosted "cougar cruises," "swinger cruises" and "nude cruises" where men and women dress in provocative clothing or no clothing for that matter and engage in sexually promiscuous behavior in and around the cruise ship. What's the beef against drag queens walking around the cruise ship?  Just take a look at the sexually charged and semi-nude advertising for straight "swinger cruises" offered by other cruise lines.  

Is Carnival's intent really to protect children from seeing men dressed in women's clothing?  My kids laughed throughout Robin Williams' performance in Ms. Doubtfire and they somehow managed to survive The Birdcage with Nathan Lane.

America Blog has offered opinions about the basis for a lawsuit against Carnival if the cruise line proceeds with its threats. Although a lawyer, I offer no opinions here about that, except to say that there must be something unlawful about kicking a guest who has paid his full fare off a cruise for dressing in drag on a drag queen cruise.

Let's hope that Carnival comes to its senses.  If not, I'm afraid that next week I will be watching the ugly spectacle on a YouTube video which is eventually shown to a jury in a court of law.

Carnival President Gerry CahillNovember 27 2012 Update:  Under pressure, Carnival claims that there was just a "mistake" in communication, changes course and withdraws ban on dressing in drag.  According to Cruise Critic, the president of Carnival issued the following statement:

"When the group was presented to us we were advised that only the performers would be dressed in drag during the private events," Gerry Cahill, president and CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines, said in an e-mail to passengers booked on the December 2 sailing. "However, we are now aware that this was not clearly communicated to members of the group and therefore anyone who wishes to dress in drag may do so."

Smart move by Carnival, otherwise it would have faced a riot on the high seas. 

The Carnival statement continues:

"At Carnival, we are proud to carry more than 4.5 million guests every year and we welcome them all aboard. We do not practice any form of discrimination against the LGBT or any other community. We sincerely apologize for the miscommunication and for any unintended offense we have caused."

Cahill further stated that anyone booked on the cruise who wants to cancel "for any reason may do so and will receive a full refund of their cruise fare, as well as reimbursement for any non-refundable travel related expenses."

Carnival Letter - Vicki Rey

Who's covering this story?  

Daily Kos: Carnival Cruise Line Bans Drag On Their "Drag Stars At Sea" Cruise

Think Progress: Drag Cruise Refuses To Let Passengers Dress In Drag

America Blog (story # 1): Carnival Cruises Bans “Drag” on Drag Cruise

America Blog (story # 2): Carnival Ban on “Drag” During “Drag Cruise” is not Anti-Gay, it’s Cuz of 9/11

Huffington Post: AlandChuck.Travel: No Drag for Passengers on Drag at Sea Cruise?!   

Queerty: Carnival Cruise Line Bans Drag On Upcoming Drag Cruise

Village Voice: Carnival Bans Drag Patrons From Drag Cruise!

Miami New Times: Carnival Bans Drag Costumes from RuPaul's Drag Race Themed Cruise

USA Today: Carnival's Ban On Drag Costumes Sparks Controversy

Crushable (WTF Blog): Carnival Forbids People From Dressing In Drag On ‘Drag Stars At Sea’ Cruise

SFist: Carnival Cruises Forbids Drag Queens During Drag Cruise

NYMag: Carnival Bans Guests in Drag on RuPaul’s Cruise

Passport Magazine: Carnival Cruise Lines in Hot Water Over Drag Ban on a Drag Cruise!

Advocate: Drag Ban Creates Rough Sailing for Drag Star Cruise

Miami Herald: Carnival Apologizes and Says Cruise Passengers May Dress in Drag

 

 

Story credit: John Aravosis / America Blog

Photos: Al and Chuck Travel

Carnival letter: America Blog  ("Gay - A Great Nation Deserves A Great Debate")

Royal Caribbean Crewmember Sues John Travolta For Sexual Harassment

Fabian Zanzi - Royal Caribbean  - John Travolta - Sexual Harassment?This week there has been a whirlwind of media attention surrounding allegations by a masseur that John Travolta sexually harassed and assaulted him in Hollywood earlier this year.  TMZ posted the lawsuit on line. The lawsuit reads like a pornographic paperback.  Travolta denies the lurid allegations in what is being called the "massage lawsuit."    

A second masseur also came out with allegations of similar conduct by Travolta. 

Now, there's a third sexual harassment allegation (actually made before the first two) involving another similar lawsuit recently filed against Travolta - this time by a cruise line employee.

Chilean Fabian Zanzi (photo left via facebook), a former employee of Royal Caribbean Cruises, alleges that in May 2009 Travolta was cruising aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship as a guest.

As reported by ABC.es,  Zanzi was working as a manager on the unidentified Royal Caribbean cruise ship and was responsible for taking care of VIP's. Travolta "said he had something on his neck. I thought it was a fuzz. As I approached, he took off his white coat and was naked. He hugged me and asked me to do a massage."  Zanzi said that Travolta offered him $12,000 to have sex with him, but he refused. 

According to Zanzi, he reported the incident to his supervisors at Royal Caribbean who not only did not believe him but confined him to his cabin.  Royal Caribbean later fired him.

Zanzi originally told his story to Peru's 24 Hours. The allegations have been circulating in newspapers in South America.

I suppose it's only a matter of time before TMZ or another TV tabloid picks up on the John Travolta-harasses-cruise-employee lawsuit story.

I have heard rumors over the years about John Travolta sexually harassing crew aboard Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas cruise ship, although this is the first I have heard of a lawsuit filed by a crewmember.  

Travolta is one of my favorite actors.  He was great in Civil Action.  But I find these allegations quite, shall we say, travolting . . . 

You can hear Zanzi's allegation in the video below: 

 

 May 10, 2912 Update:

Perez Hilton, Huffington Post and a hundred other media outlets have picked up the story.  (It's strange to think of Perez Hilton linking to Cruise Law News).

Travolta's lawyer, Marty Singer, issued a statement that "this is just another ridiculous claim by someone hopping on the bandwagon to get his 15 minutes of fame with a story about something that supposedly happened over three years ago.”  Mr. Singer apparently does not realize that Zanzi made his allegations public before the two other allegations.

May 11, 2012 Update:

A reader of Cruise Law News brought to my attention that Travolta cruised with Royal Caribbean, on the Enchantment of the Seas, in June 2009, out of Miami.  He apparently did not finish the cruise and return with the cruise ship  to Miami.  Instead, he disembarked the ship in Belize and flew a jet back to the U.S.  

May 14, 2012 Update:

TMZ has a link to certain cruise line documents indicating that Travolta was on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship in June 2009.  

 

 

"Rouges & Vagabonds:" Gay Cruise Couple Fined, Insulted & Deported From Dominica

Dominica Senior Magistrate BaptisteIn a weird ending to a weird cruise story, two California men who were arrested on the Celebrity Summit cruise ship while it was docked in Dominica pleaded guilty to indecent exposure at a hearing yesterday and were then ridiculed by a local magistrate.

Yesterday we mentioned the bizarre circumstances surround the Atlantis Events cruise: Busted for Buggery: Controversy Surrounds Another Atlantis Gay Cruise.  

A newspaper in Dominica "DaVibes" described the incident as follows:

"Local taxi operators expressed outrage as they reportedly witnessed the defendants engaged in sexual activity on the balcony of the ship."  When the local police boarded the Celebrity cruise ship, one of the passengers responded “we were naked on our balcony but were not having sex.”

Today another newspaper in Dominica reports that the two men's lawyer in Dominica told the local magistrate at a 30 minute hearing yesterday that her clients were "remorseful" and  overcome by the beauty of the island:

"They were struck by the beautiful mountains, clear fresh air and had a few cocktails and having a few cocktails they found themselves in this indiscretion. They threw caution to the wind, they came here to have a good time and they did not mean to offend anyone” she told the court.

According to the newspaper, Chief Magistrate Baptiste (photo above left) denounced the men's  actions Dominica -Cruise Ship Passengers Arrestedas “an outrage” that was “morally wrong” in any country.  She described the men as “rogues and vagabonds.”  She fined them around $900. 

After the hearing, the local police drove the two men (photo right) to the airport to be flown out of the country.

Many Caribbean islands like Dominica, Jamaica and Barbados are openly hostile to gay travelers. Nonetheless, sex on a balcony at port seems like a good way to be arrested.  

However, the two men, Dennis Mayer and John Hart who have been partners for 17 years, deny that they were engaged in sex on the balcony.

They state that they were arrested by military police and placed in a small cell for 19 hours. They told the LA Times that "we were taunted all night long. They paraded us around like we were some oddity." They were led to a ATM at a bank to withdraw money for their fine as a crowd of residents watched. "I've never seen something like this," Mayer said. "I've never seen people chanting and protesting in the street. It was amazing."  

An AP article quotes Dominica Tourism Minister Ian Douglas as saying that tourists should abide by local laws regardless of their religious or sexual orientation, and that cruise ship officials should make passengers aware of these laws.

 

Photo credits:  

Magistrate Baptiste - Dominica News Online 

Cruise passenger - Carlisle Jno-Baptiste / AP 

Busted for Buggery: Controversy Follows Another Atlantis Gay Cruise

Another Atlantis gay cruise resulted in public controversy yesterday when police in Dominica arrested two passengers on the Celebrity Summit on suspicion of indecent exposure and “buggery” (sodomy).

Someone on the dock supposedly observed the passengers having sex on the cruise ship. The two arrested passengers were men in their 40's from California. Newspaper accounts suggest that if convicted, each one could be fined and face jail time up to 6 months.

The Celebrity cruise ship has been chartered by Atlantis Events, which specializes in gay travel.

Atlantis Events - Gay Cruise - Celebrity SilhouetteFive Atlantis cruise with Royal Caribbean / Celebrity Cruises have been plagued by arrests or deaths.

Last month, a young man went overboard from Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas cruise ship off of the coast of Mexico during an Atlantis cruise.

One year ago, a passenger, Steven Barry Krumholz, was busted for selling a large amount of drugs during a gay cruise on the Allure of the Seas.  

Two years ago, a young man died during a Royal Caribbean - Atlantis cruise aboard the Liberty of the Seas while it was in the Caymans.

Three years ago, a GLAAD board member died of an apparent drug overdose on Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas

This latest incident takes the controversial history of the Royal Caribbean - Atlantis relationship into the realm of the absurd.  With as many sexual assaults of women which occur on Royal Caribbean / Celebrity ships with no arrests or prosecutions during straight cruises, it is bizarre to think of passengers being arrested for engaging in consensual sex like this.  

 

Photo credit:  Alamy via Mail OnLine

Family of Overboard Passenger From Allure of the Seas Asks Public For Information

A blogger of international news at the Examiner, Edward Owens, published an interesting article today regarding the disappearance of a passenger from Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas cruise ship.  

You will recall that last week, Irish cruise passenger Kenneth John Gemmell went overboard from the balcony of his cabin on the eleventh deck of the Allure cruise ship.  The initial reports stated that he "fell," although the cruise line was quick to issue a statement that a review of the ship's closed circuit television cameras eventually indicated that the passenger "intentionally" went over the railing.

We reported on the incident on February 3rd and have been updating the story since then.

Did Royal Caribbean Send A Crewmember Home After The Incident?

Kenneth John Gemmell - Allure of the Seas - MissingMr. Owen's article contains a new twist, perhaps, to the incident.   Mr. Gemmell may have argued with a Royal Caribbean crewmember at some point before he went overboard.  The crewmember then allegedly left the vessel in Cozumel.  Mr. Owens writes:    

The family says that some information has already come their way. One party told them that Kenneth may have been arguing with a ship's crew member (perhaps a bartender) in one of the bars late Thursday night or early Friday morning. They were also told that the crew member, a man they understood was sharing a room with a Canadian citizen, left the ship in Cozumel. 

Is this gossip or accurate information?  If this is true, then the crewmember would have been removed from the cruise ship before the law enforcement authorities or representative of the flag state (Bahamas) boarded the cruise ship when it returned to port in Fort Lauderdale two days later.   If you know anything about this, please leave a comment below and contact the family.

Family Seeks Information

Mr. Gemmell's family is seeking answers to the circumstances surrounding their son's death.  The article states that they are issuing an appeal to anyone on board the ship who might have met their son during the cruise.  They especially wish to hear from the passenger who witnessed him going overboard. 

Anyone who has information about this tragedy is asked to email the family spokesperson at the following email address: michael@mhynes.com 

 

Story credit:  Examiner

Photo credit:  Kenneth John Gemmell - Anglo Celt newspaper

Passenger Overboard from Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas

Allure of the Seas OverboardThe AP is reporting that a Irish cruise ship passenger went overboard from the Allure of the Seas, which is the world's largest cruise ship cruise ship.

(Update: If you are searching for the overboard involving a twenty-one (21) year old woman from Bartlett Tennessee who disappeared on September 16, 2012 from the Allure, click here.)

Royal Caribbean states that another passenger allegedly saw the British passenger, age 30, go over the railing from his stateroom on the Allure.  The cruise line then apparently verified the overboard by viewing images from closed circuit television.  

The incident occurred as the cruise ship was heading to Cozumel.  Announcements were made around 6:45 AM.  The cruise ship then stopped off the coast of Mexico near Cozumel. and participated in a brief search.  The ship was to depart tonight at 8:00 PM tonight and was scheduled to be at sea tomorrow, with a return to Fort Lauderdale on Sunday.

There are rumors that the passenger may have left a suicide note and then stepped on a table and went overboard.

The last British citizen who disappeared in international waters near Mexico is Rebecca Coriam, a Disney cruise member employed as a youth counselor aboard the Disney Wonder.    

The last reported incident aboard the Allure of the Seas involved multiple rapes earlier last month

The cruise ship was under charter by Atlantis, which hosts parties for the gay and lesbian community.  The Allure had sailed from South Florida on January 29, 2012 to Labadee Haiti, Costa Maya Mexico, and then to Cozumel. 

In the past, the Atlantis - Royal Caribbean cruises have been marred by controversy, with drug overdoses, suicide, and a travel agent busted for selling drugs (arrested with 142 ecstasy pills, 3 grams of methamphetamine, ketamine and about $51,000 in cash).  You can read about these incidents below.

One year ago:  Passenger Busted for Selling Drugs on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas

Two years ago:  Another Death on a Royal Caribbean - Atlantis Cruise

Three years ago: GLAAD Board Member Dies Aboard Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas

And don't forget to read:  Is Royal Caribbean Ready for Medical Emergencies During the World's Largest Gay Cruise?

Does anyone know what happened on this latest Atlantis cruise party?

 

Allure of the Seas Atlantis Cruise

 

Photo credit:  Atlantis Events

Is Royal Caribbean Ready for Medical Emergencies During the World's Largest Gay Cruise?

Today, Royal Caribbean's newest mega-ship, the Allure of the Seas, sails from Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale on its first charter with 5,400 gay and lesbian passengers.  The cruise is sponsored by Atlantis Events which is billing the event as the "world's largest gay cruise."

The Allure will port in Nassau, St. Thomas and St. Maarten during the one week cruise.  This is the  20th anniversary for the Atlantis travel company which specializes in all-gay vacations.

Atlantis Gay Cruise - Allure of the Seas The Atlantis cruises have not been without controversy.  One year ago, a 37 year old passenger aboard Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas died during an Atlantis sponsored cruise.

In October 2009, we reported on the death of another passenger aboard a Royal Caribbean - Atlantis cruise.  Spencer Yu, an attorney for Warner Brothers and a board member of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation ("GLAAD"), died on the Mariner of the Seas. There is speculation that Mr. Yu, also a young man of  only 46 years, may have died of a drug overdose during the cruise.  After this ill fated cruise, passengers contacted our office complaining about the inexperience and confusion of the Royal Caribbean medical staff in responding to Mr. Yu's medical emergency.

Commenters on the gay community blogs Queerty and JoeMyGod bickered about the use of drugs during Atlantis sponsored events. 

Cruise ships are not the place to have a medical emergency, whether you are gay, lesbian, transgendered, or straight.  Cruise ships are often characterized by the questionable experience and training of the shipboard doctors and staff and the limited nature of the cruise ship's medical facilities. 

Is the Allure of the Seas, the largest and most technologically advanced cruise ship in the world, equipped to handle medical emergencies which occur during Atlantis parties?  Does Atlantis discuss the use of drugs and the foreseeable risk of a drug overdose with the cruise line to make certain that there are properly trained medical personnel to respond to emergencies?

January 11, 2011 Update:  Passenger Busted for Selling Drugs on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas - plus a half dozen drug overdoses.