A day in the life on a Vacaya gay cruise: From sunrise to the late-night after-party

Editor’s note: TPG’s Matt Moffitt sailed on a free trip provided by Vacaya. The opinions expressed below are entirely his and weren’t subject to review by the tour operator.

The sun lazily peeks through the curtains, signaling the start of another day aboard a Vacaya gay cruise. Given the plethora of activities available, what should you decide to do for the day (and into the night)?

In February 2023, I sailed with Vacaya on a one-week gay cruise out of Fort Lauderdale and through the Caribbean on board Celebrity Cruises‘ Celebrity Reflection cruise ship. This was the first gay cruise I’d been on, so I was curious about what activities would be available and how the schedule would differ from a more “traditional” cruise.

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If you’re heading on one of the larger Vacaya cruises soon, here is what you can expect from a typical day onboard. (Note that the more boutique cruises the tour operator offers have different schedules and much smaller groups and ships.)

8 am: Leisurely start to the morning

Rise and shine. You’ll begin your day with a stroll to the breakfast buffet, already busy with hundreds of (mostly gay male) passengers fueling up and chatting about the previous night’s happenings.


If you’re hungover and/or desiring some serenity, grab your plate and head to the outdoor deck at the back of the ship to enjoy fresh air and beautiful ocean views while you dine.

9 am: Onshore excursion if you’re in port

Vacaya’s port stops on Caribbean cruises tend to be back to back. Don’t overdo it — pick and choose which places you really want to explore and feel free to skip a port or two for more relaxation on the ship.


Once you are in port, it’s just like a regular cruise with traditional onshore excursions, such as snorkeling, ATV riding and walking tours. Or you may decide to explore on your own, just like I did when I visited the Cayman Islands National Museum, a short five-minute walk from the port in Grand Cayman.

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10 am: Pool day if you’re at sea

If the ship is sailing through open waters, get ready for a lively pool day. The pool deck is a vibrant hub of activity, with fellow passengers embracing the sun-soaked atmosphere. Finding an available deckchair might require a bit of patience, but it’s a good opportunity to strike up conversations with new people and make connections.


If you desire a self-care moment, now is a great time to head to the gym — surprisingly not crowded at any time I visited — or head to the spa or sauna for some blissful relaxation.

While most themed events occur in the evening, a small number of specialized activities, such as drag bingo, occur during the day. One activity that struck me as a great initiative was a makeup class aimed at trans and gender-non-conforming guests, part of the operator’s effort to increase inclusion on its cruises.

4 pm: Afternoon ‘V-Dance’

Afternoons are when the fun really gets started. On half of the days on a weeklong cruise, you’ll dress up for a “V-Dance,” a Vacaya spin on the traditional afternoon T-Dance, popular in gay vacation spots like Fire Island and Provincetown.


My favorite was the “She’s A Mess V-Dance” on the final day, when passengers donned one piece of every costume they’d worn during the week. It really was a fun mess; for instance, one passenger combined their leather harness from the underwear party with Cupid’s bow and arrow from the Valentine’s Day event and topped the look off with a fabulous wig for good measure!

6 pm: Dinner

Just like on a regular cruise, you’ll make your way to the dining area at your assigned time, where you can sit down to a meal in a traditional restaurant setting or, if you want to maximize your time, explore the buffet’s offerings.

The atmosphere at dinner is similar to what you’d find on a traditional cruise. One special inclusion I appreciated was a meetup for solo travelers every night at the bar outside the restaurant, after which we’d all dine together at a large group table.


If you can pry yourself away from the afternoon party, I would recommend the earlier 6 p.m. seating time rather than the later one. Dining early gives you time to check out a show and get ready for the rest of the night’s festivities.

7:30 pm: Queer-focused entertainment

Vacaya puts on a queer-themed show at the auditorium each night, including drag shows, Puppetry of the Penis and cabaret performances. There are usually two showings — at 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. — and I’d suggest lining up early to score a good seat.


After the show’s over, it’s time to head back to your cabin to prepare for the night’s festivities. You can pregame with your travel companions and new friends while you get dolled up for the evening’s party.

10:30 pm: Themed party

The night is still young, and it’s time to immerse yourself in the themed party of the evening. There is a party…Every. Single. Night. So be sure to pace yourself and hydrate well.

Whether it’s “The Locker Room” for a Superbowl-inspired extravaganza, an underwear party that celebrates body positivity or a Valentine’s Day-themed affair, each night offers a unique experience that caters to the diverse tastes and desires of the queer community.


The parties take place poolside, where laughter and joy mingle with the ocean breeze. Embrace the freedom to be your authentic self, surrounded by friends who accept and celebrate you for who you are.

1 am: After-party

As the night enters its final chapter, an interactive after-party awaits — if you are so inclined. The basketball court is set up as an intimate play space, complete with swings and inflatable sofas.

The rest of the night is up to you and when you’re ready, it’s time to retreat to your cozy cabin, recharge your body and spirit, and prepare to do it all again the next day.

If this sounds like an ideal way to cruise, Vacaya offers a trip tailored to queer travelers and their allies almost every month of the year to places as varied as Brazil, Italy, Africa and Antarctica.

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