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R Family Vacations

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File:NCL Dawn at Kings Wharf.jpg

R Family Vacations is a LGBT vacation entertainment company mainly focused on providing luxury cruise ship trips with a focus on inclusive activities for children and providing entertainment and activities geared to couples including same-sex marriage ceremonies.


In 2003 Rosie O'Donnell and her partner Kelli Carpenter-O'Donnell partnered with travel entrepreneur Gregg Kaminsky to launch R Family Vacations catering to both gays and lesbians, "the very first all gay and lesbian family vacation packages" where "gays and lesbians can bring their kids, their friends, and their parents."[1] Although O'Donnell is not involved on a day-to-day basis, she does contribute to the creative aspects of "advertising and marketing materials" and initiated the idea for the company when she filled in as a last-minute replacement headliner on one of Kaminsky's Atlantis Events gay cruises and also came up with the name "R Family Vacations."[2] Kaminsky was previously a Vice President for Atlantis Events, the largest and most successful all-gay cruise company producing "all-gay vacations in Africa, Europe, Australia, the Caribbean, and Mexico" and his partner is also a business partner of O'Donnell's.[3]

Maiden voyage (2004)Edit


On July 11, 2004, the first cruise was held aboard Norwegian Cruise Lines's Norwegian Dawn with 1600 passengers[4] including 600 children.[5] By the third year, the cruise was selling out to a maximum capacity of 2,600 passengers. In addition to traditional entertainment and recreational activities, the company partnered with Provincetown’s Family Pride, a 25-year-old Washington, D.C.-based organization that advocates for GLBT families,[6] to host discussions on "adoption, insemination, surrogacy, and everything else that would be helpful to gay parenting.”[3] Metropolitan Community Church, the predominantly GLBT Christian denomination, had clergy on board to perform wedding ceremonies and conduct interfaith services and there was also discussion groups for kids and a panel discussion where teens could share their experiences of growing up with gay and lesbian parents.[6]


File:Ross Mathews July 2007.JPG

In January 2008, Pink Pea, a production company, announced that "Dottie", "the star of Dottie's Magic Pockets — the first children's program for kids in gay and lesbian families" will be part of the entertainment.[7] Dottie's Magic Pockets is "set in a lesbian household" and started airing in September 2007.[7] "Dottie", portrayed by actor Jen Plante, will appear on the cruise to the Mexican Riviera, March 15-22, 2008 and marks the first time the LGBT families and friends will be "entertained by the main character of a kids' show that is set in a lesbian household".[7] Also in 2008 a cruise to Canada and New England took place from July 13-20 with "gay-friendly" stops including Provincetown, Halifax and Bar Harbor.[8]

All Aboard: Rosie's Family CruiseEdit

File:NCL Dawn Kids Pool.jpg

A documentary film about the trip looked inside the lives of some of the 500 families that cruised from New York to the Bahamas. The documentary, All Aboard: Rosie's Family Cruise, debuted 6 April 2006 on HBO and is now available on DVD. The film was nominated for three Emmy Awards. Of the experience O'Donnell stated

"[w]e didn’t really realize the magic that was going to take place. People who had never met another gay family met other families and it was powerful."[5]

Faith-based homophobia in the CaribbeanEdit

See also: Societal attitudes toward homosexuality

In 2007 the annual cruise dropped Bermuda from its itinerary because another of the Norwegian Cruise Lines' all gay cruises was met by a hundred Christian "protesters chanting anti-gay slogans" in nearby Nassau, Bahamas[9][10] and the R Family cruise was targeted by an interfaith group of 80 churches called United By Faith[11] who were calling for the trip to be canceled or they would protest when the ship arrived. United By Faith's spokesman, Andre Curtis, is also chairman of Faith Based Tourism for Bermuda's Tourism Ministry as well as being responsible for running Premier Dr. Ewart Brown’s constituency committee in Warwick South Central, where Brown will be seeking re-election.[12] Although Brown, who is also the Minister of Tourism and Transport in Bermuda's Cabinet "dismissed requests" for the cruise to be canceled[13] R Families changed the itinerary to instead visit two stops in Florida and a private island. Kaminsky stated

"If we didn't have kids on board and there were protesters, we would go, but we did not want to expose kids to that hatred while they were on vacation."[14]

See alsoEdit


  1. Rosie and Kelly O'Donnell presents... R Family Vacations. Lesbian Alliance. Retrieved on 2007-11-24.
  2. Salvato, Ed. R Family Vacations plies uncharted gay waters. Planet Out. Retrieved on 2007-06-21.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Wieder, Judy (September 30, 2003), “R we ready for r family vacations?”, The Advocate, <>. Retrieved on 2007-11-24 
  4. Q and A with Rosie and Kelli on "All Aboard! Rosie's Family Cruise". Planet Out (2006). Retrieved on 2007-06-21.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Davis, Andrew (2005-01-12). Getting Away with R Family Vacations. Windy City Times. Retrieved on 2007-06-21.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Williams, Bradley David (May 2004). Families, Ahoy!. Out Smart Magazine. Retrieved on 2007-06-21.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Star of First Show for Kids in Gay and Lesbian Families Sets Sail on Rosie CruiseJan. 14 2008, Fox News.
  8. Lesbian-Friendly Cruises. Jane And Jane (March/April 2008). Retrieved on 2008-04-28.
  9. (via wayback machine as [ has expired) Bermuda cut from O'Donnell's gay cruise]. Associated Press via Yahoo News (April 17, 2007). Retrieved on 2007-06-21.
  10. O'Donnell's gay cruise to cancel Bermuda stop. Associated Press (April 17, 2007). Retrieved on 2008-03-02.
  11. Dale, Amanda S (April 18, 2007). United By Faith: ‘A victory for God’. The Royal Gazette. Retrieved on 2007-06-21.
  12. Jones, Glenn (March 31, 2007). Tourism fears over gay cruise stand-off. The Royal Gazette. Retrieved on 2007-06-21.
  13. Bourke, Amy (3 April, 2007). Rosie's gay cruise is backed by Bermuda's leader. Pinknews. Retrieved on 2007-06-21.
  14. Template:Cite magazine

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