LET’S be honest: after working nine to five every day, even Dolly Parton needs a holiday.

The prospect of travelling overseas to a sunny island retreat or exploring new cultures in a European country is enough to entice anyone. You can enjoy time abroad with a loved one, or fly solo and meet new people.FCBNM66625_Star-Observer-300x250

For members of the LGBTI community though, planning a relaxing trip isn’t as easy. They generally have to take extra precautions to ensure that their trip is gay-friendly and welcoming.

This is why luxury cruises have recently become the gay community’s vacation of choice.

Flight Centre marketing executive Dan Turner believes these cruises are perfect for LGBTI community members who are looking to get away and relax.

“They have a host of admirers and repeat cruisers who are drawn to their value, comfort, above-average food and drink offerings, friendly crew, spotless facilities and intriguing itineraries,” he says.

“As a gay traveller I do worry about possible negative reactions when travelling abroad, but on [cruises] the staff are friendly and helpful, and senior officers, including the captain, are very visible and accessible.

“All go out of their way to chat with passengers on their frequent walks through the ship and at shipboard events,” Turner adds.

“This seems to rub off on the passengers too, as I left the cruise with many new friends from around the world.”FCBNM66625_Star-Observer-300x2502

Celebrity Cruises, which were ranked in the top 20 large cruise ships in the world in Conde Nast Traveler’s 2014 Readers Poll, takes passengers around the globe from Europe to the US.

Celebrity Equinox takes passengers from Barcelona to Rome, Celebrity Solstice is the line’s Alaskan cruise, while Celebrity Eclipse travels around northern Europe.

The best thing for travellers on these cruises is that once the bookings have been made, most of the planning is done for them and everything they need is on the ship.

“This upscale cruise line gets very high marks among gay and lesbian passengers for its welcoming atmosphere and trendy, boutique-hotel-like décor, which is evident throughout the Solstice-class bars and nightclubs,” Turner says.

“Many gays love the mix of passengers on board. Gay and lesbian travellers congregate in the Martini bar or the rich, dark-panelled Michael’s Club and tend to enjoy the mix of traditional entertainment and innovative acrobatics shows performed in the evenings.”

These cruises are also popular for LGBTI people who wish to travel independently.

As all the destinations are mapped out, it makes it easy for singles to visit exotic places without getting lost, while meeting new people.FCBNM66625_Star-Observer-300x2503

Turner says cruises can be quite a romantic getaway, for couples and singles alike.

“You can wake up next to your long-time partner or short-term fling and realise, together, that you’ve woken up in a different and wonderful port,” he says.

“LGBTI luxury-seekers book Celebrity’s Concierge-Class suites to enjoy a menu of pillow choices, high-quality duvets, Frette bathrobes and other special amenities.”

For lovers of food, there is also plenty on offer.

“Foodies love the choice of more than 10 dining venues in the newer ships,” Turner says.

“The creative Qsine restaurant offers multicultural comfort food in unusual presentations.”

While there are many exciting and wonderful places to explore around the world, cruises allow passengers to sail to multiple countries, with the comfort of one accommodation site for the whole trip.

It can be daunting trying to book a vacation, particularly for members of the LGBTI community, but luxury cruises are the perfect way to go. And according to Turner, they’re already a hit among the community.

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CELEBRITY EQUINOX

What: Seven night western Mediterranean cruise Departs: July 30, 2016

Destinations: Barcelona – Valencia – Alicante – Valletta – Catania – Amalfi Coast (Salerno) – Rome (Civitavecchia)

Includes: $25USD on-board credit per cabin

Outside Cabin: from $2115pp

Balcony Cabin: from $2359pp

Deal number: 3760065

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CELEBRITY SOLSTICE

What: Seven night Alaska cruise Departs: June 17, 2016

Destinations: Seattle – Ketchikan – Tracy Arm Fjord scenic cruising – Juneau – Skagway – Victoria – Seattle

Includes: $25USD on-board credit per cabin

Outside Cabin: from $2079pp

Balcony Cabin: from $2369pp

Deal number: 3760066

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CELEBRITY ECLIPSE

What: 14 night northern Europe cruise Departs: June 5, 2016

Destinations: Southampton – Bruges (Zeebrugge) – Stockholm – Muuga (Tallinn) – St Petersburg – Warnemunde – Copenhagen – Southampton.

Includes: Bonus three days in St Petersburg, and $25USD on-board credit per cabin

Outside Cabin: from $3819pp

Balcony Cabin: from $4079pp

Deal number: 3760070

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Book an Oceanview cabin or above on a valid Celebrity Cruise and add one of these free perks:

Free classic beverage package for two

Free prepaid gratuities for two

Up to $150USD onboard credit per person

Unlimited internet onboard

You can either add one free perk at no extra cost; add two perks for an additional $20 per person per day; or add all four perks and upgrade to a Premium Beverage Package for an additional $60 per person per day. Terms and conditions apply.

BOOKINGS: Call 131 600 and quote the deal numbers to book one of these cruises.

For other holidays, visit flightcentre.com.au/holidays/gay-and-lesbian

© Star Observer 2017 | For the latest in lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans* and intersex (LGBTI) news in Australia, be sure to visit starobserver.com.au daily. You can also read our latest magazines or Join us on our Facebook page and Twitter feed.