Carnival Cruses on Tuesday issued an apology after it came under fire from gay passengers who were told they were forbidden from dressing in drag on an upcoming “drag cruise,” or face being kicked off the ship.
But the “apology” implies that those who choose to dress in drag, may do so only if they remain recognizable with their government issued identification.
The flap stems from an “urgent” email sent to passengers who booked the Dec. 2-9 cruise through Al and Chuck Travel, one of the nation’s largest gay-owned travel agencies. In the email Carnival warned passengers to “refrain from engaging in inappropriate conduct in public areas.”
Passengers who booked the cruise through “Al and Chuck” are scheduled to be entertained separately throughout the cruise by drag performers who’ve appeared on Logo TV’s RuPaul’s Drag Race.
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Al and Chuck Travel was quick to come to Carnival’s defense, posting on its Facebook page that “Carnival’s regulation is NOT an example of discrimination.”
“Carnival is an ally of the GLBT community,” wrote owner Al Ferguson. “When they say they are a ‘family friendly’ cruise line they mean it in both the traditional and metaphorical sense of the phrase.”
But on Tuesday, after gay passengers posted damning messages on Facebook and began demanding refunds, Carnival Cruses backed off its “no drag” policy. Carnival President and CEO Gerry Cahill issued this statement, in which he said passengers would be allowed to dress in drag — so long as they are recognizable by their i.d.:
The group, “Drag Stars at Sea,” includes several performances by stars from Logo TV as part of a series of private events onboard. When the group was presented to us we were advised that only the performers would be dressed in drag during the private events. However, we are now aware that this was not clearly communicated to members of the group and therefore anyone who wishes to dress in drag may do so.
Please keep in mind that our safety and security procedures require guests to present government-issued ID, and to be recognizably that person. (emphasis added)
Al and Chuck Travel have called this latest response by Carnival “a very positive announcement.”
“On behalf of everyone at ALandCHUCK.travel we would like to again express support for Carnival and we do not believe they intentionally meant any offense to our guests and are glad they have taken the extra steps for clarification,” Al and Chuck Travel said, in a Facebook post.
Carnival Corp. received a zero rating by the Human Rights Campaign in its most recent Corporate Equality Index.