Metro Weekly

VACAYA wants to shake up the LGBTQ travel experience

Kristin Chenoweth will perform during the new travel company's inaugural cruise

VACAYA is premiering its service with a fully charted cruise to P-town on the newly refurbished Celebrity Summit — Photo: Celebrity Cruises

“There is no other company doing what we are doing,” says Randle Roper, CEO and co-founder of VACAYA.

VACAYA is a new vacation company designed for LGBTQ+ travelers. Believing that options for the community have been severely limited or niche for too long, Roper and a team of fellow tourism and travel industry veterans formed the company last year and are now launching their inaugural season with a selection of charted cruises and a resort experience.

“It is all about inclusion for us, and making sure that those slightly less recognized letters that make up our community that have sort of been on the outside for so long have a place on the inside finally,” says Roper.

Visitors to the company’s website will find VACAYA’s mission reflected in its marketing, with promotional language and images that are reflective of the diversity of the community. However, the real test for this ambitious new venture will start with its first scheduled cruise next month.

VACAYA is introducing itself to the community with a seven-night cruise aboard the recently refurbished Celebrity Summit, Aug. 11 to 18. It will leave from Cape Liberty, NJ, and make stops in St. John’s, Canada, Bar Harbor, MA, and Provincetown, MA.

The ship’s stop in Provincetown will coincide with the start of Carnival, a week-long LGBTQ festival. It will be a historic event as the only all-LGBTQ cruise to ever sail to the celebration, and the largest cruise ship to ever overnight at the popular summer destination.

The entertainment planned for the cruise is also breaking new ground with one of the most extensive lineups ever offered at sea.

To start, Broadway superstar Kristin Chenoweth will be officially introduced as VACAYA’s  “godmother” and perform onboard Celebrity Summit during the cruise’s launch party.

Also keeping with the company’s mission of inclusion, former Glee star and gender nonconforming gay man Alex Newell, America’s Got Talent contender and transgender male Brody Ray, and lesbian comedian Emma Willmann, are scheduled to perform along with more than a dozen others entertainers.

“There is definitely room for change in the LGBTQ cruise market,” said Mark den Hartog, a co-founder of MeetMeOnBoard.com, a social network platform serving LGBTQ cruise enthusiasts, who has been closely following VACAYA since its formation.

Den Hartog also reports that there has been a great deal of positive buzz about the inaugural VACAYA cruise among his members. On one of the website’s forums a member shared, “I’ve been on many cruises with family and friends and solo by myself but never any charter cruises before.[VACAYA] is my first, and looking forward to it.”

A limited number of staterooms are still available for booking on the P-town cruise. In addition, reservations are open for VACAYA’s all-inclusive Mexico resort experience, Oct. 27 to Nov. 2, 2019; 7- or 14-night Europe river cruise, starting Dec. 5, 2019; and Iceland cruise, Aug. 30 to Sept. 6, 2020.

Troy Petenbrink is Metro Weekly's contributing writer for food and travel. He can be reached at thegaytraveler@gmail.com.

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