Here' is the letter allegedly from Carnival Cruise Lines:
|the source of this letter is unconfirmed|
Here is a statement from Al & Chuck Travel's Facebook page:
Dear Valued Guests and Friends,
We hope that this brief note finds you well.
By now, we are sure that most of you traveling with us on the upcoming Drag Stars At Sea: Caribbean Adventure - Revenge of the Wench have received Carnival's letter regarding their regulations concerning costumes and masks (under which traditional "DRAG" falls under).
We are sympathetic to your sentiments that you haveexpressed via email and social media. As a gay man who has been partnered for 25 years, I have suffered many forms of discriminations because I am part of the GLBT community. But please take note, Carnival's regulation is NOT an example of discrimination. Carnival is an ally of the GLBT community. Please understand that this cruise could not even be happening on the GLORY if Carnival was not an ally of our segment of society. When they say they are a "family friendly" cruise line they mean it in both the traditional and metaphorical sense of the phrase.
Carnival's "no costumes rule" is NOT meant to be an insult to the gay community. As a gay business, we would not have organized this cruise if they were prejudiced against gay people. This rule goes for both GAY and STRAIGHT passengers that travel on all Carnival cruises. It is in response to the post-911 world we live in. It is meant to protect passengers and guests - NOT to marginalize a few.Additionally, we know that transgendered members of our community will be aboard with us during this event. Please do not worry, Carnivals rule is not meant towards you. Your right to live your identity is always supported.Finally, Drag Stars At Sea is a cruise venue for you to meet the stars of RuPaul's Drag Race UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL. Just as you would not go in costume (other than on Halloween) to a club to see them perform, neither should you on the GLORY. Again, our desire was always to bring this incredible talent together in one place for you to enjoy along with all the other benefits of the VALUE of a mixed guest cruise. We pointed out to you that a private charter (and they are excellent cruises) can be DOUBLE what you are paying for this experience. This is an opportunity for your favorite entertainers to shine for YOU! We will of course, still have our parties and events aboard (the rules of which are outlined in your travel package) for you to join in on the fun.Ultimately, let's use this opportunity to set an example so that all the world can see that the GLBT community can follow rules and regulations just like everyone else. Finally, I want to say from the bottom of my heart, we have done our absolute best in creating this event. We have tried to communicate effectively and bring you the best possible experience, which we believe would not be available to you any other way. At the end of the cruise, I hope you will agree with my sentiment humbly expressed here.Chuck and I look forward to meeting you on board....we promise you the best time of your lives!Sincerely,Al Ferguson
Reactions to this statement have been extreme with many calling homophobia on the part of Carnival and Al & Chuck Travel.
Ru Paul Drag Race alumna and planned on-board talent Mimi Imfurst made no attempt to hide her disdain for both companies' statements. Here's an excerpt from a post on her Facebook wall:
Initially when this blew up yesterday- none of the drag race alumni attendees were speaking up publicly except for me.. ALandChuck called my manager asking me to stop expressing my outrage at the situation. They wanted me to shut up, so that things would simmer down. What they have failed to realize is that by defending Carnivals letter they compounded the situation by defending their homophobic, anti-drag letter. ALandChuck's letter did not do anything other than further demonize DRAG and Gay Men. The last paragraph of the letter is a LOT LIKE TELLING ROSA PARKS TO SHUT UP AND SIT WHERE THE WHITE MAN TELLS YOU. (just be thankful you're getting to ride the bus) I will not allow myself to be apart of this minstrel show any longer. Nor will I sit quietly, and hide in the closet in Ann Franks Attic.
Based off of the two letters here's what I learned about the upcoming "STONEWALL AT SEA"----
A) You didn't pay as much, so swallow the homophobia. All we could afford was language and policies dating back to 1969. EQUALITY IS EXPENSIVE.
B) Its not normal to get dressed up just for fun.
C) We're worried about Terrorists in Wigs, Lashes and High Heels. Yes, There might be a bomb in your tits.
In light of all the negative feedback they'd gotten, Carnival apologized via a posting from CEO Gerry Cahill on their Facebook page:
Within the last 24 hours, we became aware of a miscommunication between Carnival Cruise Lines and AlandChuck.travel, who have booked a large special interest group on the upcoming Carnival Glory cruise departing December 2, 2012.
The group, "Drag Stars at
Sea," includes several performances by stars from Logo TV as part of a series of private events onboard. When the group was presented to us we were advised that only the performers would be dressed in drag during the private events. 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. Please keep in mind that our safety and security procedures require guests to present government-issued ID, and to be recognizably that person.
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.
Given this misunderstanding, anyone on this cruise who wishes 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.
We constantly strive to provide our guests with a fun and memorable vacation. We look forward to welcoming everyone onboard Carnival Glory and again want to apologize for the misunderstanding and for any offense we have caused.
Al & Chuck Travel followed suit with their own apology on their Facebook page.
Dear Drag Stars At Sea Guest:
We want to continue to update you on the important discussions going on today relating to the letter sent to our Drag Stars guest from Carnival Cruise Line and our initial response. First we want to say we hear the feedback and take it very seriously. As we said, Al & Chuck are 25 year partners and have experienced first hand many of the issues that have been discussed today. They have been involved in every facet of the GLBT community. This year alone they participated with the President in the GLBT re-election summit, were table captains for the HRC National Dinner in Washington and financially support many of our communities most important charities. Even your Pillage & Plunder party in Ft Lauderdale is a fund raiser to support South Florida Summer Pride. Issues of equality are very important to them and our company. We are a unique company for our community and our staff include men & woman including gay, lesbian, and straight employees. We are proud to stand on our record for issues of community with any travel company in America.
Today, we have spent extensive time with Carnival to discuss our unique needs and we expect you will hear from them shortly. We continue to do our best and we are sure you can appreciate the unique challenges we are facing. We are confident these issues can be resolved to the satisfaction of all our guests.
Again, we apologize for any inconvenience or dismay this situation may have caused you or any of our guests. We hope you will stand by and give us a little more time to finish dotting all the “I’s” and crossing all the “T’s” with our travel partner. This cruise is going to be unique in all the world and a wonderful experience. Thank you in advance for your patience.
The Staff at ALandCHUCK.travel
Personally, I'm shocked an appalled that a gay travel agent would charter a cruise line with a "no costumes" clause. You've seen from my coverage of gay cruises (one with Atlantis on Royal Caribbean and one with La Demence on Croisières de France) that costume parties are a huge part of the experience.
On the other hand, both companies have apologized for offending passengers and are offering refunds and allowing passengers to dress in drag.
What do you think? Are the apologies adequate? Would you consider buying a vacation with these companies? Were the commenters overreacting? Leave you opinion in the comments section.