Atlantis cruises are specifically for the gay market and they are celebrating 25 years this year. My friends asked me to join them on the Barcelona to Athens cruise from 15 August to 25 August 2016 and I booked with little hesitation. My previous two posts outline our ship Celebrity Equinox and my Concierge Class Cabin on the cruise. Below are some of the highlights of an Atlantis cruise – it truly is a brilliant experience!
Cabin doors on board Atlantis cruises are often decorated to indicate who is inside. The decorations consist of items to indicate what country the people are from as well as photographs of the occupants.
The whiteboard is especially handy at sea if you lose your friends as they can write where to find them. The sky high price of an Internet package and no phone signal means this gets around that nicely. Quite a number of doors were decorated however I’m told that it’s much more common on Atlantis’ Caribbean cruises.
Atlantis is famous for the parties that are held on board. The outdoor pool on Celebrity Equinox is setup with club grade sound, a large video screen and lasers so the surrounding area becomes a dance floor. The four whirlpools double as podiums and that was usually where I was dancing as I like to have space to dance, plus I like to see everyone. Sure okay, I like to be seen also! Most of the parties have a theme and you are encouraged to dress to the theme. Each day you receive a Celebrity Today newsletter to your stateroom and it always came with an art card for that evening’s party.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Soaked T-Dance. This is dancing on deck in your swimmers and being hosed down from above with the ships hoses or people’s water pistols. It was silly and so much fun! There was Electric Blue with a sea theme and Parade of Nations where you wore something to indicate your country of origin. Other highlights are the Revival T-Dance with 70s music and costumes, the Dog Tag T-Dance wearing Army inspired outfits and Game of Empires which featured Roman Centurions and people in Togas.
The White Party on Atlantis is one of the biggest nights on the calendar and it did not disappoint. A lot of people dress for the parties in outfits ranging from simple to extremely elaborate and some people choose not to dress up at all. It is quite free in that regard.
An unexpectedly good party for me was the Classics party which played club classics from the 1980s through to today. I had a great time at that and took a little video to give you an idea of what an Atlantis party is like. There was no dress up theme so it’s very tame but I took video here as it was the only party where I was wearing clothing with pockets!
Music is provided by international DJs such as Wayne G, Mike Kelly, Rosabel, DJ Abel, and more. I went to every single party and loved every second of it!
A Word On Pricing
How much does an Atlantis cruise cost? All prices are per person. Interior staterooms were $1,799 to $1,949 and Ocean View staterooms were $1,999 and $2,099. Deluxe Balcony Staterooms ranged from $2,299 to $2,599 while Concierge Class was $2,699 to $2,799. Aqua Class was $2,899 to $2,999. Above that you have Suites ranging from $3,799 to $13,999! Prices include virtually all your food but virtually no drinks. The non-alcoholic drinks package was around $240 extra for the 10 nights. An alcohol drinks package is not offered on Atlantis cruises due to the fact gay people drink more than the value of them and they lose money!
Including the non-alcoholic drinks package, three or four tours, a little flutter in the Casino, a glass or two of wine at dinner, drinks in the bars and one visit to a paid restaurant I averaged around $200 per night over the 10 nights in addition to the headline prices above. This was pretty similar to those I was travelling with. You can do the maths so start saving now!
Entertainment on board is organised by Atlantis and there was a great variety of acts on board. Bruce Vilanch did a little comedy and a song. Broadway star Billy Porter did two shows, one of which I was urged to attend and was glad I did! Excellent! There was also an acrobatic show I caught some of called Air-Otic which was designed for Atlantis and performed by Farfadais. It was very intricately performed.
The strangest show I caught was called the Elysium Production Show featuring the Equinox Singers and Dancers. It was completely incomprehensible and I had no idea what to make of it. I left pleased with some of the performances but totally baffled as to what they were supposed to be doing.
A major highlight was the Dame Edna Experience starring Jonathan Hellyer with the audience giving standing ovation after standing ovation in the second show. He continued to add more songs and do more and ran way over time but it was such a fantastic experience. Outrageously funny and superior vocals so that was a wonderful show.
I didn’t catch the other people such as Drag Queen Sherry Vine, Nate Buccieri or Brian Nash in the Atlantis Piano Bar, or Kevin Smith Kirkwood doing a Whitney Houston tribute! There were other events such as a Lure of Leather party, Singles and Couples dinners in the restaurant, solo Comedians, the Atlantis Dating Game, Pool Games, Officers vs Guests Pool Volleyball, and much much more.
New Destinations Each Day
Each day the ship arrives in a new port. You have the choice of taking an organised shore excursion, doing your own thing in the city or remaining on board.
Shore excursions are organised by Celebrity Cruises and averaged around $100.00 per person for a day tour. Tours in Rome were over double this amount but the tours included quite a lot and turned out to be very good. There was a bus tour all around Monte Carlo that took you to all the sights with plenty of free time to explore. In Rome the tour took in Vatican City, the Forum, the Trevi Fountain and the Colosseum. Also included was a decent restaurant lunch so despite the price premium compared to other destinations it was worth it.
When docked in Naples we chose to see Sorrento and Pompeii. Sorrento was excellent visiting a local farm, seeing cheese making and trying their utterly delicious food. After lunch in town, you visit Pompeii which was just awesome! I have always wanted to go there and was delighted I finally had the opportunity to do so.
In Santorini you can book tours at the place where your tender leaves you. We paid around €15.00 to be taken on a launch to Oia and then we were transferred back to the port town of Thira by bus.
Atlantis created a delicious itinerary for this cruise and everyone was very happy with it.
Atlantis cruises offer something for everyone. The clientele seemed to be predominantly aged between 30 and 60 with a bunch below and above that. People ranged from the super rich to the everyday gay. The advertising on the Atlantis web page shows real guests but definitely the more gym buff and attractive types. They admit themselves that this is just marketing and the people on the cruise were of all shapes, sizes and ages. One of the great things is that everyone is on holidays so everyone is quite friendly. Anytime you entered a lift to go from deck to deck you were engaged in conversation by others. It was also easy to meet people when dancing as there was no attitude or anything like that.
A lot of thought went into the party themes as well as booking the various entertainers. There was literally something for everyone to do on board. You could do all the parties like I chose to do or you could enjoy drinks in the bars, see a show, watch performers or just get away from it all and soak in the view. The flexibility to make your holiday your own is one of the unexpected highlights of doing a cruise and doing it with 2,600 fellow gay people made it even more special.
I would do it all again in a heartbeat and I’d recommend it to anyone. Thanks for reading and if you have any comments or questions please let me know. I’ll leave you with a short video a sunset as we were cruising along to another port. Enjoy your day!