I’ve met many people from the LGBTQ community while at sea and as I know of a great online site that is specifically for LGBTQ cruisers, I thought now would be a great time to introduce it to you and the brains behind it…
We’re Mark and Dale and we pilot the site MeetMeOnBoard.com, the only online community dedicated to LGBTQ cruise travel enthusiasts. The site is growing and currently has 15,000 members worldwide.
First of all, Yes, we know that the letters LGBTQ are confusing to some, and they do seem to keep changing! All that comes from our striving to be inclusive. But the operative word in the phrase “LGBTQ community” is indeed “community.
Our people have labored long and hard to gain some of the rights that others enjoy, and that has brought us together. For that reason, our ‘tribe’ always likes to connect with other gay “family members” when we travel.
We began cruising about 30 years ago, when many didn’t feel fully safe being fully “out” onboard. We knew other gay people were on board, but couldn’t always find them! Yes, some cruise lines began having what are now called LGBT cocktail hours, but often they were at inconvenient hours, or we’d get there to find the bar closed, in a terrible location, or surly service from staff.
We gradually began sailing more often and were fortunate enough to build up a wonderful memory bank of travel memories through the years.
Fast forward to 2008 when we found ourselves eagerly anticipating our first Baltic Cruise. We were tired of cruising for a week only to meet a wonderful gay couple at dinner on the very last night of the cruise! Where were those guys all week? We’d have a great evening, neglect to exchange contact information and never see them again.
Furthermore, we thought about getting one or two more gay couples together to hire a vehicle and private guide in St. Petersburg, wanting to maximize our experience and tailor it to our own needs. Mark searched online, thinking that surely there was a way to contact the other gay people sailing with us. In fact, there was nothing at all. This led to the formation of MeetMeOnBoard.
Our site is an online community of LGBTQ cruise travel enthusiasts, free to our members. We facilitate ways in which our members can connect and make friends before the cruise. Members who register with us and list the cruise they are taking are automatically linked with other members of the same sailing. Lasting friendships have developed from our site and many members make plans not only to meet on board, but to vacation together on subsequent cruises.
One interesting story will illustrate what the site is all about. Our friends Chris and Bill from the neighborhood here in Phoenix, Arizona had booked a European river cruise. Through MeetMeOnBoard.com They were connected with another couple, Darren and Stefan, who happened to live in Phoenix as well. They became online friends and had plans to meet onboard. As it turns out, Bill was taken to the hospital due to an emergency. Chris had sent out that information, and it turns out that Darren and Stefan were Bill’s first visitors in the hospital.
Luckily, most MeetMeOnBoard friendship are sealed over a cocktail in the ship’s bar rather than a hospital room.
We’ve cruised on ships large and small. We’ve sailed aboard beautifully designed ships and others that didn’t live up to our queer expectations. We’ve seen the sights, enjoyed amazing meals and had great times singing show tunes at the martini bar. Of all our cruise travel memories, what we value most are the friends made on board.