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RSVP bannerIn Mid January I received a call from Scott Spar, Hotspots’ Central Florida Advertising and marketing Manager, asking me about RSVP Vacations. I told him what I knew about the company and he said lets go on their Southern Caribbean cruise in 3 weeks. Luckily there were still some cabins available. The trip was planned so last minute and there was so much to do before we left, it felt like I blinked and it was the night before we were leaving. As usual, I hadn’t packed yet and the stress level escalated. However adrenaline took over and before I knew it 5 hours had passed and everything was packed (everything = a ridiculous amount).

RSVP bannerIn Mid January I received a call from Scott Spar, Hotspots’ Central Florida Advertising and marketing Manager, asking me about RSVP Vacations. I told him what I knew about the company and he said lets go on their Southern Caribbean cruise in 3 weeks. Luckily there were still some cabins available. The trip was planned so last minute and there was so much to do before we left, it felt like I blinked and it was the night before we were leaving. As usual, I hadn’t packed yet and the stress level escalated. However adrenaline took over and before I knew it 5 hours had passed and everything was packed (everything = a ridiculous amount).

We woke up Saturday, had a late breakfast, ran some errands and at around 1 pm off to the ship we went.

On the way to the ship I reflected on how lucky we are to live in Florida and have so many ports that gay cruises embark from. Thinking about all the people from the north east that were struggling to get into Florida (some didn’t even make it) after the horrible weather conditions it made me feel very blessed to call Florida my home.

This year’s RSVP Caribbean Cruise was held on Holland America’s beautiful Eurodam. I have to say it was the fastest I was ever on a ship from check in. As we stepped on the ship, there was Gert Crawford greeting us with some of the other RSVP staff members. We found our room, which was really nice, and then we were off to explore the ship we went. Surprisingly the first thing we found was the Lido Restaurant (buffet – Imagine eating on a cruise). We ran right into our friends Terry DeCarlo (Broward House) and his hubby Bill Huelsman, as well as Roger Sprigle and his hubby Tim Thompson. After a late lunch they were all going back to their respective rooms but Scott and I toured the ship to find out where everything was. Afterwards we went back to the room to unpack since our suitcases had arrived. We freshened up before attending the first party of the week, the RSVP1“Hello My Name is….Bon Voyage Party.”This is the first opportunity to see the 1800 people we would be spending the week with and have a farewell to Fort Lauderdale Cocktail. After this party was over, we had just enough time to shower, change clothes and meet the gang for dinner. As we sat down to eat, we met another couple, that were friends with Terry and Bill. Their names were Reed and Devon. We all connected and basically were inseparable the entire vacation. After dinner it was show time with The Voice and American Idol Alumni, Frenchie Davis. This girl was blessed with a voice of power.

Day 2 was a sea day and we relaxed by the pool for a few hours watching the Pool Games which were hosted by RSVP’s new cruise director Brad. The highlight was a Gert alert where Gert Crawford re-enacted the swimming scene from Mommie Dearest complete with a Christina.. Afterwards it was off to the Mainstage Theater were Helen Holy (seriously the funniest drag character I have ever seen in my life) RSVP2was hosting the Church Lady Bonnet parade and contest. After laughing our way through the contest, it was time to head to the room to get ready for the Zoomanity T-dance where we all went dressed as jungle animals with Terry as our Trainer. This party was so much fun to get ready for and even more fun to be a part of.

After dinner we went to the Unmentionables Party, which having been brought up in a strict household I did not participate in. I mean I went, I just wasn’t wearing underwear (note from Editor: We call Scott Miss Prudence around the office). An hour into the party we wandered down to the Ocean Bar to hear solo guitarist Harley Wood. This guy is filled with such raw talent that I expect to hear big things from him in the future. After hearing his raspy/bluesy soothing voice I decided it was time to cuddle up to my pillow and go to bed (and no, I was not pretending to cuddle with Harley).

Day 3 was the second Sea day in a row and we decided we were just going to relax as the next 2 days would be busy, so we just vegged by the pool most of the day (hence my sunburn…ouch). After dinner we went to hear Well Strung, which we had been hearing was a not to be missed show. Well Strung was one of the highlights of the cruise as it is made up of 4 gay guys who play stringed instruments and combine both classical and modern music. Not only are they extremely talented musicians, they are incredibly endearing. Once the show ended, it was time to get ready for the Darker Shades of Grey (basically leather) party. This was definitely an interesting party….Enough said or for my Latin friends Y NA!

On Tuesday, we woke up and we were in the port of Curacao. After breakfast, we all went out shopping on the streets of Willemstad and bought lots of things to bring home to our family and friends. The highlight of the afternoon was visiting the oldest working synagogue in the Western Hemisphere, Mikve Israel Emanuel. The synagogue’s floor is made entirely of sand to symbolize the 40 years the Jews spent in the dessert. In addition, they have a museum showing some artifacts and pictures of the Jewish lifestyle going back hundreds of years. I felt truly blessed to see this small treasure in our vast world.

RSVP7After our amazing visit at the synagogue, we then went back to the ship to get ready for the nights festivities. It was Carnaval in Curacao and we went on the excursion with RSVP Vacations so we were in a grandstand area right in the center of the Carnaval; so close that I could touch the people in the parade. You see pictures and videos and imagine what it would be like; but it’s nothing compared to the visuals and sounds and the explosion of art you see in front of you. This was definitely the highlight of the cruise and a once in a lifetime opportunity that I am so happy I had the pleasure to experience! After getting back to the ship we all went up to top of the ship for the Carnivale Fireworks which we watched as the ship was pulling out of port. What a spectacular way to end one of the best days of my life!

On Wednesday we awoke to the beautiful port of Aruba. We had a nice afternoon just walking around town shopping with Reed and Devon as the other guys went snorkeling. After spending way too much money on some name brand items, we went back to the boat and got ready for the Caribbean Blue T-Dance and just as the name suggested everyone was in blue. The show on the main stage that night was from Holland America and was entitled Dream Park. This was one of their regular shows, but the cast spend a lot of time “Gaying” it up. It had to be one of the funniest things ever. The best part was how much fun the cast was having performing it. Later that night was the RSVP Costume Contest and some people went all out, but the clear winner was Chinese Fortune Cookie (look at pic).  When the contest was over we decided we needed a little more loving from Harley Wood (I promise that’s his real name) and off to the Crows Nest we went to end our evening with Mr. Wood (LOL).

RSVP3Thursday was a sea day filled with lots of activities. It started out by the pool with the “Always a Bridesmaid Swimsuit Contest hosted by Nelda Pickins which was shortly followed by Bingo with Sister Helen Holy. After Dinner (tonight was Lobster…yum) it was off to see Cashetta’s best of, which if you haven’t seen Cashetta perform, you are missing one of Florida’s finest entertainers. This was an amazing show which was followed by the “Glitter and Be Gay Party” that Scott and I really got into. We wore custom made outfit and lots of glitter make-up (check out pic with RSVP President Jeff). During the Glitter and Be Gay Party the ship also featured their Dessert Extravaganza buffet at the Lido pool. I cannot tell you how many desserts were on display; it was an amazing sight. Somehow, I resisted temptation (probably because I didn’t want to bust out of my outfit), but Scott Spar couldn’t say the same….LOL!

Oh my god, I blinked and it was the last day of the cruise. Friday was the day we spent on the Half Moon Cay, which is the island owned by the cruise line. The only thing to do there is relax on the beautiful white beaches (literally the sand is white), eat, drink and veg! Ah, to be in paradise and have not a care in the world! Once back on the boat, we got ready for the final party of the cruise, “The Saint, Retro T-Dance.” Think Scott and I with wings, it was so Angelic….LOL! After a late dinner where we celebrated Terry And Bills anniversary, we were heading to Carrie Fisher’s second show, RSVP5which, unless you are hiding under a rock, you know did not happen since she had a bi-polar breakdown on stage during the first show. I will however say later that night and the next morning she was very nice, posing for photo ops with anyone who asked. Since Miss Fisher did not go on for her second show, they brought in Amy and Freddy, which I was super happy about: I had heard so many good things about their show and had not had the chance to catch it. Well, now I know what people are talking about and why Amy and Freddy are RSVP rock stars: They are incredibly talented, super entertaining, and definitely a must see.  This show was immediately followed by Sister Helen Holy’s: The 701 Club (say this is a church lady’s voice: “Cause it’s a wee bit better than the 700 club”). I must say there was some great entertainment on this cruise, but comedienne Paul Williams character of Sister Helen Holy was my favorite by far. I am a sarcastic New Yorker and have seen many fabulous ad lib entertainers, but Helen Holy is on fire with the one liners from the moment she walks on the stage. Check his website out, I promise you won’t regret it: PaulJWilliams.com/about-sister-helen-holy/.

I could not end this feature without mentioning a wonderful lesbian couple who work on Holland America; Kat Hanold and Melissa Burkus. Scott and I met them a few days into the cruise, just days after they got engaged. It was nice getting to know this wonderful couple and we wish them the very best!

 

Despite all the events I mentioned, there were hundreds (literally) that I couldn’t get to as RSVP has events going on all day, every day for your entertainment pleasure. This was really the trip of a lifetime, but having said that I plan on going back next year for their Caribbean Cruise on a brand new ship, the MSC Divina. The cruise will sail out of Miami from Feb 15-22 and hit the ports of St Marteen, San Juan, and Great Stirrup Cay. This new ship is incredibly beautiful and will fit 3500 passengers (doubling this year’s cruise). The prices are extremely reasonable. For more information, go to RSVPVacations.com.

I would like to take a final moment to thank Jeff Gundvaldson and the entire RSVP staff for making our trip so incredibly wonderful and memorable.

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