Our Top 10 Highlights of the first gay cruise edition by Open Sea Cruises x Axel Hotels. Finally, it was time for our third European gay cruise gaycation around the Mediterranean Sea. The Spanish cruise operator Open Sea Cruises announced in March 2018 their long-term collaboration with the well-known Axel Hotels, a gay hotel chain featuring hetero-friendly accommodations, with the goal to organize a brand-new European gay cruise experience for the entire LGBT community with concerts, parties, onboard activities, offshore tours, and more. Starting from Barcelona, the route brought us to France and Spain, covering the Western part of the Mediterranean Sea. But what is special about the Pop Cruise by Open-Sea Cruises? Enjoy our 10 Highlights of the Gay Cruise by Open Sea Cruises X Axel and experience the best gay travel moments of the 2018 edition through a couple of men‘s eyes.
Definitely, the line-up of artists and singers including (Eurovision) stars like Conchita, Loreen, EleniFoureira, Icona Pop and the Vengaboys, the DJ sets of world-famous Diskjockeys including RuPaul, spectacular performances like the show of KAZAKY, cooking classes with The Bear-Naked Chef and pastry king Laurent, the voguing and twerking lessons by E Talon from London, Yoga lessons, gym classes, massage workshops, and, of course, pool and daily theme parties. Gaycation at its best!
Best of Open Sea Cruises X Axel 2018
With the Cruise line of choice, the Spanish cruise line Pullmantur and its cruise ship named ZENITH with 9 decks and a total capacity of 1774 passengers, we started from the port of Barcelona heading towards the French island Corsica, Toulon in South France, Palamós in northern Spain to end up for two nights at Ibiza. It most definitely did not get boring for the gay men, lesbian women and all the queer people of the diverse LGBT audience onboard! And don’t forget the magical Mediterranean sunsets from the ship. After such a success story, you can imagine that there will be a second Open Sea Gay Cruise edition already in planning for 2019. Will you join us?!
#1 Best view out of an Ocean Stateroom
Although we did not spend a lot of time in our cabin, we were super happy again that we decided to stay in an Ocean View Stateroom. Yes indeed, it is pricier, but to see the blue Mediterranean Sea through the window during the day, and the stars at night make a cruise experience just a little bit better. Especially during heavy sea, the view over the horizon can save you from driving the porcelain bus. Ship Ahoy! (Special thanks to Ryan for the photo)
#2 Pool, Theme & Costume Parties on Sea
The weather was warm and sunny, although it was already October. Especially during the summery afternoon hours, we enjoyed the refreshing (ice-cold) saltwater pool on the pool deck and a dip in the whirlpools on the backside of the ship. Combined with the pool parties, it was double fun! When the sun went down, and we all had dinner, the theater of the Zenith turned into a huge gay club for the daily theme and costume parties like the Welcome Party in Steampunk style, the Back to the 90ies party, the Sexy Cabaret and Fetish night, or the final Extravaganza Night with Sink The Pink. So don’t forget to bring costumes and accessories next year and work that dance floor!
#3 KAZAKY – Dance show on High heels
We never thought we would see them performing live on stage. The Ukrainian synthpop dance boyband KAZAKY turned the second night onboard the Gay Cruise by Open Sea Cruises into a spectacular dance event, on high heels of course! We couldn’t get enough of their hot dance moves which set the perfect tone for the cabaret-themed fetish party where everyone was invited to wear leather, rubber, sports, cabaret costumes, or whatever you feel sexy in…
Ow, and yes… Under the motto what happens on the cruise, stays on the cruise, Open Sea Cruises offered a dark lounge to get to know the new future boyfriend for the night or forever.
#4 RuPaul’s DJ Set on the Pool Deck
And then, there was the night of the White Party, where Drag Superstar RuPaul was supposed to play a DJ set. Honestly, we first doubted that he would make an appearance or if it would be just a short “hi” at the turntables. But boy, were we wrong! The cruise ship was on fire when RuPaul set his first step on the pool deck stage. The crowd went crazy when he started playing his favorite songs AND started to dance and perform! Our Highlight was definitely the moment when he literally started to “Sissy that walk” up and down the stage. What a night, what a show. Thank you RuPaul – You made our Cruise!
Video of RuPaul’s catwalk to “Sissy that Walk”:
Let’s sissy that walk @RuPaul! What a dance night with the #rupaul DJ set on @OpenSeaCruises in Ibiza! You really made our night with that walk! Can we get an Amen in here?#gaytravel #coupleofmen #dragrace #openseacruises 👬🌈💃❤️ pic.twitter.com/dM4Jpyx0Av— Couple of Men (@coupleofmen) October 4, 2018
#5 Meeting old friends & making new ones
For us, going on a gay cruise feels like going on a vacation with a huge LGBT family from all over the world. It was so great to meet our buddies and blogger friends Ryan & Andrei as well as Josh & Heath from Canada again! During our travels, we get to know numerous performers and artists as well. Among them: Eliad Cohen, the sexy muscles bear from Israel; the amazingly looking host of the cruise and passionate performer Priscilla Drag Queen of Mykonos; the owner of the Axel Hotels chain Juan Juliá, Berlin’s long-established Drag Queen Gloria Viagra; Tom Neuwirth alias Conchita; the handsome Mr. Gay Europe Enrique Doleschy; and, of course, Peter from the popular Dutch DJ duo The G-Team. We hope to see you all again very soon!
#6 Daytime Activities: Voguing & Cooking classes
Part of a cruise is free time at sea, obviously. While lesbian, queer, and gay travelers went offshore to explore the destinations Corsica, the Côte d’Azur, Northern Spain, and Ibiza during the day, LGBT travelers who did not want to go offshore could attend plenty of free activities on board the (gay) cruise ship Zenith. Our highlights of the cruise activities were definitely the Voguing dancing classes by the guys from E Talon in London, the cooking classes by The bear-naked chef from Los Angeles, and just relaxing at the sun deck with a spectacular view over the Mediterranean Sea. It does sound like real gaycation, doesn’t it?
#7 Offshore: One Day Trips in Spain & France
It is sometimes really hard to move your butt out of the comfortable cruise ship cabin beds after a night full of dancing. But let us tell you, it is worth it. By putting a little effort into planning your cruise schedule beforehand, it is possible to find a good balance between party nights and one-day trips. For this gay cruise adventure, we decided to explore Barcelona and Ibiza, two of our favorite destinations in Spain. We had the chance to explore Ibiza, even for two days. That gave us the chance to celebrate the season closing on Ibiza together with the local LGBT community and tourists from all over the world. The only thing you have to make sure of is to be back on time at the cruise ship check-in before you have to swim to the next destination!
#8 Eurovision Star Conchita Live at Sea
Another highlight was waiting for us during the Farewell Party on the very last evening. After seeing Conchita singing in Salzburg in May and at Life Ball in the Austrian Capital Vienna in June, we were really looking forward to hearing him sing a selection of his new album. We loved the “unplugged” version of these powerful songs and couldn’t resist singing along with “Rise Like a Phoenix”. For us, it was the perfect ending to a great week full of experiences with so many diverse and loveable people.
#9 Daily Wow-Factor: Best Mediterranean Sunsets
Sorry, guys, but we are hopelessly romantic. We simply love sunsets and the magical colors of the evening light. The advantage of being on board a cruise ship is to mostly have an unlimited and unrestricted view over the Mediterranean Sea at the moment when the sun goes down. Time for a gay kiss, a gay selfie, or a cozy dip into the whirlpool with no one less than Mister Gay Europe himself.
#10 Barcelona: Some extra gaycation days in the Sun
We love Barcelona. It was great to be back in the sun and to feel the Spanish temper and south European summer atmosphere. We always recommend two extra nights after a gay cruise to calm down and get your batteries up and running again after such a fun but busy party week before stepping back into reality. We recommend staying in one of the two Axel Gay Hotels (hetero-friendly) either in the Axel Hotel Barcelona & Spa or in the newest TWO Hotel Barcelona by Axel. The last time we visited the capital city of Catalonia, two years ago, and we cannot wait to be back again soon.
Summary of the first open sea cruise edition
Chapeau! The team from Open Sea Cruises did an impressive job organizing their first gay cruise ever. The line-up of DJs, artists, and dancers were incredible, although, it required good planning skills to not get in conflict with shows, parties, DJ sets, offshore day tours, and dinner plans (since you should be back in time not to miss anything). We also think that a sense of being “one big family” (which we have felt on other gay cruises) will develop with more editions and a more diverse and regular crowd, from teens to daddies. But although not everything worked out as planned and daily changes of the program have been part of the experience, the overall impression was a positive one, and we are glad and proud to be among the first people who were able to join the colorful LGBTQ+ cruise around the West Mediterranean Sea. We are looking forward to the second edition and are very certain that the feedback from us as well as from all the passengers will help to make the first Gay Cruise by Open Sea Cruises just the outstanding beginning of an exceptional vacation gay cruise series for the LGBTQ+ community and their friends. Ship Ahoy!
Good to know about Open Sea Cruises by Axel (Hotels)
You can already pre-register for the Open Sea Gay Cruise in 2019. By doing that, you will receive a 100 Euro voucher for your actual booking on open-sea.com. We probably will be on board as well and will publish a pre-cruise article with all you need to know about the second edition of the Open Sea Gay Cruise. PS: We do not know if RuPaul will celebrate a comeback on board the cruise, but we very much hope so! Fingers crossed!
Do you want to know and see more of us gay couple travel bloggers? Stay tuned on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook! See you around on a Gay Cruise, in Europe and on one of our next gay pride trips around the world!
Karl & Daan.
Please note: Our Open Sea Cruise Adventure was made possible in close collaboration with Open Sea Cruises and Axel Hotels. A special thanks for tips and support goes to our wonderful readers, followers, new and old friends from all over the world and South Africa. Nevertheless, our texts, photos, videos, and our opinion are our own, as always.