What My First Gay Cruise Was Like, Worth It — Atlantis Review + Photos

I was a bit overwhelmed by the cost, since I spent $3,000 on a shared room. The price didn’t even include booze.

We did pay extra for a balcony.

Gary Nunn

With over 4,000 passengers — the majority of them being queer men — this boarding on the Odyssey of the Seas was one of Europe’s biggest gay cruises.

odyssey of the sea ship

The ship was massive.

Gary Nunn


Within 48 hours of boarding, we had to get a negative COVID-19 test. I had an Italian breakfast while I nervously waited for my results.

an italian breakfast on a steel table

I waited almost a year to go on this cruise and I didn’t want to miss it.

Gary Nunn

I came prepared with my “business” cards, which are common on gay cruises. Many put their socials and room number on them to keep track of who they meet.

the writer's business card with his social media, photo, and room number

I got 100 printed, but probably only gave out about 30.

Gary Nunn

The first thing that stands out on all-gay cruises is the passengers’ cabin doors. On an ordinary cruise they’d look like this:

plain doors on a cruise

A basic cruise has plain doors.

Gary Nunn

On an all-gay cruise, they look more like this:

the writer posing next to his door with a rianbow curtain and photos

My cabinmate persuaded me to have pics put on our door, too.

Gary Nunn

A lot of passengers bought whiteboards for their doors. Some people used them to write uplifting messages.

white board on a cruise ship with you are amazing on it

The whiteboards were handy.

Gary Nunn

Others used their doors to flirt or tell large groups where individual friends would be at certain times.

ad door with a white board and photos and australian flag on a cruise

Our entire corridor was decorated with excited Aussies who were thrilled to be free after many months of border closures.

Gary Nunn

My own corridor left no guesses as to where my rambunctious group was from.

a decorated hallway on a cuirse with cheers signs and rainbows

We made sure to bring signs and flags.

Gary Nunn

Of the almost 4,000 passengers aboard there were many nations represented and a lot of people I met were from the US or Australia.

a hallway decorated with australian flags on a cruise

Our hallway was proud of our roots.

Gary Nunn

I think my Aussie contingent contained one of the few lesbian couples aboard — we didn’t meet many on the ship.

a lesbian aussie couple's door on the ship with rainbows and ducks

My friends made sure to decorate their door.

Gary Nunn

Our room was spacious and cleaned daily. It had a TV, lots of outlets, and an en suite.

cruise ship room with large bed, small couch and balcony

Our room had plenty of space for us.

Gary Nunn

My cabinmate appreciated the room’s ample drawer space—he used it to store his clothes and accessories for the ship’s many themed parties.

a drawer of rubber ducks and accessories

These were for the parts on board.

Gary Nunn

But I guess we did find a use for the balcony.

australian flag and inflatable kangaroo on a balcony

We kept ours decorated.

Gary Nunn

The ship was filled with rainbow, pride-inspired decorations to celebrate the LGBTQ guests.

a rainbow balloon arch

Colorful decorations were everywhere.

Gary Nunn

Even the food at the buffet was colorful.

staff member slicing an atlantis cake with rainbow layers

Some of the food had a rainbow theme.

Gary Nunn

The ship just kept impressing me. At one point, I saw a bar featuring robots that make cocktails.

machines making cocktails underneath alcohol bottles

The robot bar was awesome.

Gary Nunn

The buffet and main sit-down restaurant were included in our fare. Both had plenty of options so we didn’t spend extra on food at other onboard eateries.

restaurant with white tables on cruise ship

The dining room was massive.

Gary Nunn

The pool deck was huge and there was a covered solarium at the back, along with many hot tubs.

a crowded cruise deck

The hot tubs were popular.

Gary Nunn

The ship was so big that it wasn’t always easy for our big group to stick together, but we did get ready for the parties as a squad.

my friend and i on a cruise ship deck

This was one of our only daytime group shots on board

Gary Nunn

The parties are one of the most iconic parts of the sailing — there was a massive one basically every night and often after-parties that began around 5 am

the writer posing in front.  of amirror covered in party invites

There was no dress code on board for any of the bars.

Gary Nunn

The first party was the dog-tag tea dance, where the color of your dog tag indicated how single you were.

the writer and a friend wearing army-print hats and dog tags and sunglasses

My friends and I got ready together for the big parties in our rooms, which were next to each other.

Gary Nunn

Passengers went all out for themed parties. There were seven in 10 days, including a white party, neon party, and titans and tiaras party.

someone in a light up outfit and polar bears

The atmosphere at the parties was electric.

Gary Nunn

Each party had specialized decor, bespoke lasers and lighting, and matching music and performances.

a packed cruise deck filled with people at night

People really got into the themes with special costumes.

Gary Nunn

I’ve rarely witnessed an atmosphere more friendly or more fun. I went to many after-parties and missed out on some port time to recover the next morning.

a party with strobe lights and hanging pac man art

Sometimes getting ready was half the fun.

Gary Nunn

Every day, the Cruise Compass newsletter was delivered to our room to tell us what other activities and events were happening on board.

cruise compass newsletter paper

Sometimes these had tips about our destinations.

Gary Nunn

Even if you didn’t go to the parties, there were tons of nighttime activities to check out. I liked the drag shows, which included full live bands.

drag show on stage with purple stars

The drag shows had live music.

Gary Nunn

A showgirls spectacle had dozens of costume and set changes and Ginger Rogers-rivaling moves.

shwogirls with feathers in front of backdrop

The costumes were so cool.

Gary Nunn

There was also a full-scale production — “The Book” — that used dance, song, and interactive screens to tell a story about the works and rewards of reading fiction.

red, blue, and white-clothed performers

The visuals were amazing.

Gary Nunn

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