1. If you are going to do drugs make a chart. I don't actually do drugs and surprisingly, I never have. I drink plenty, which one man tried to tell me is much, much worse for you than the drugs he was taking, but his bizarre behavior all week did not convince me. Anyway, when I went into another guy's cabin, which he shared with three other men, I noticed his mirror was covered in writing. There were names and times in black marker. It was like that scene from A Beautiful Mind, only different. He explained if you are going to do drugs you have to be smart about it and keep a chart. He and his friends had outlined the last time they had each taken something, so they wouldn't overdose. I don't condemn or condone drug use by adults, but I say if you are going to do it, a chart sounds like the way to go.
2. Hot tubs are for cruising on a cruise. I love hot tubs. I always have. When Dustin and I went to Las Vegas in July of 2004, I got in a hot tub on the roof of our hotel in 100 degree weather, so a hot tub on a cruise ship is nothing. On both cruises, I have ventured into the hot tubs in daylight only to discover that the second you get in someone is bound to follow and make a move on you. On the first cruise, I was fondled by a very scary older man with no teeth and a pot-belly who got in and asked if I had a boyfriend. I immediately said yes. He thought this meant he could stick his foot up my swimsuit and into my crotch. I am normally extremely nice to the gay elderly, but he was just too much and I had to get out and leave. On this cruise I actually got hit on by a much more attractive and younger man who offered me a "hand massage." All I'm saying, is if you like hot tubs you have to put out or get out.
3. If you are in a relationship set your rules before getting on board and stick to them. Gay cruises are full of beautiful men. If you are in a relationship and extremely jealous if your boyfriend even looks at another guy, then this is not for you. When you board one of these ships you will be hit on by someone at some point. If you are in a relationship you need to know how to handle the situation. Do you say "hey man, no thanks, got a boyfriend" or do you say "do you like threesomes?" or do you say "where're your room? mine's occupied" or do you say "does that hand massage come with a dick massage"? Setting the rules on land will help, but there might still be some bumps along the way. Be patient with each other. I say, it's a gay cruise, let loose a little, but be smart and still leave with your boyfriend intact.
4. Just take off your shirt. Gay cruises are for many things, but shirts aren't one of them. If you are extremely self-conscious I understand, but I promise you that nearly everyone on that boat will see someone more attractive than them and someone less attractive than them. It is a given. On my most recent trip, I parted with my shirt more than I ever have and I felt good about it. I'm not one to strip down in the local club...oh wait...I have stripped in the local club, but not every weekend. Anyway, a gay cruise is your chance to be free and remember you won't see most of the guys ever again (or at least not until your next cruise).
5. Eat with other people at dinner. Dustin and I aren't good about doing this, but it is our goal for our next one. Dustin is always a little funny about it and prefers to eat with just me. I would agree with him in most cases, but on a gay cruise people are literally so nice and what you think might be an awkward dinner typically ends up being great. Just have a few cocktails first and you will be golden. Dinner is also the least sexual place on the ship, which makes for a chance to actually talk and meet people without (or with less) sexual expectations.
6. Actually go see the shows and performers. I know many people go on these cruises for the parties alone, and I understand, the parties are great, but so is all the other entertainment. Atlantis has done a great job of providing a place for many talented singers, comedians, and drag performers. Take some of your time and go see them, enjoy them, and even go up and talk to them. You are on a boat, which means they are trapped with you after they perform. It's nice to stop someone in the hall later and tell them how much you loved their show. It's all part of the experience.
7. And lastly, forget about everything outside the boat. The great thing about cruises is that they are isolating. Your cell phone doesn't work. You don't have a computer. You are just there with the person you came with and tons of other men. Enjoy that experience. Yes, I enjoy aspects of technology, but I also believe technology is ruining many of the ways we connect with each other. Think of it as a refresher on how to communicate without a device. Also, don't let the worries on land bother you for those seven days. Just sink into your gay world and enjoy the eye candy and whatever else you can find.
-Stephen (Gay Travel Guide to the Stars)