JUST eight days ago I was stepping off a massive cruise liner in Genoa, northern Italy, after partying hard for 13 nights straight with a bunch RuPaul’s Drag Race (RPDR) queens and their fans.
My legs are still shaky and my smashed smartphone screen are pretty good indicators of what kind of time was had aboard the drag ship lollipop.
WHAT THE HELL IS A DRAG QUEEN CRUISE?
‘Drag Stars at Sea’ is a charter cruise group onboard a regular cruise ship but features RPDR alumni who perform shows throughout the length of the cruise.
The cruises are run by a Florida based travel agency called AlandChuck Travel and happen twice a year either in the Caribbean or Europe.
This year our group of about 200 people sailed on the MSC Opera from Genoa and stopped at ports in Greece, Malta, Cyprus and Italy.
The queens who kept us entertained for 13 days were Michelle Visage, Robbie Turner, Mimi Imfurst, Chi Chi DeVayne, Kennedy Davenport, Latrice Royale, Derrick Barry, Cynthia Lee Fontaine, Tempest DuJour and porn producer Chi Chi La Rue.
WHAT HAPPENS ON A DRAG QUEEN CRUISE?
Most nights – and/or afternoons if it was a day at sea- there would be a drag show. It would either be a main stage show where each queen performed two or three numbers or one queen would do a full headline show.
Depending on the queens they would either lip-synch, sing live, do comedy or in the case of Tempest DuJour, deliver an hour-long condescending lecture on the history of drag.
Standout performers for me were Robbie Turner and Latrice Royale.
When we weren’t catching fabulous performances we were partying hard in the ship’s nightclub called Byblos Discoteca… really, that’s what it was called.
Almost every night we had dress up parties with themes including; Gods and Monsters, Disney, Under the Sea and more. Let me tell you, the DSAS crew turned it out for these parties, dressing in outrageous drag and unbelievable costumes.
AND IF YOU’RE NOT WATCHING/DOING DRAG HOW DO YOU PASS THE TIME?
Usually on cruise ships you eat yourself stupid, but unless you ate in the formal dining room the food onboard the MSC Opera was so awful, that it was the first time I had a European holiday and didn’t put on weight.
Most people hung out by the pool or in the ‘gay soup’ spa drinking cocktails and hanging out with friends from near and far who were part of the DSAS group. There was general entertainment on the ship that was available to all guests, but I don’t think anyone in our group partook in it.
The ship stopped at nine amazing ports including; Athens, Rome, Sicily and Valletta, where you had the opportunity to get off the ship to explore the nearby towns or head off on organised tour excursions to various historical and tourist sites.
The reality is when we were not doing drag or in port, we were most likely sleeping because we were partying hard every night and then up early most mornings to go out into the ports.
CRUISING WITH DRAG QUEENS: YAY OR NAY?
This was my third DSAS cruise – yes, I’m addicted – and every year I say it’s the last one.
The reality about cruise holidays is that it’s not really travelling. You get no more than a few hours in each port, so you don’t really get to know a place very well. But if you have mobility issues, or are not confident travelling without a guide, or like me, were too lazy to organise a proper trip and just wanted an overseas holiday, then cruising is a good way to go.
However, I would only travel on a charter group like this, where the entertainment was designed specifically for our tastes. General cruising is the worst and is full of bogans. Even in Europe.
Which cruise ship company you’re on with DSAS makes a huge difference to your experience. Last year’s cruise on Royal Caribbean was definitely the best in terms of customer service, food and drink, entertainment and general experience.
Despite improving since my first cruise with them in 2015, AlandChuck can be a headache to deal with, website glitches and a lack of communication can be frustrating. However, since taking over coordinating the cruises in June this year, Braden Chapman (Mimi Imfurst) has done a stellar job in such a short space of time.
Even if all is not perfect with the cruise company and travel agent, the reason most of us keep coming back is not even necessarily for the queens but for each other.
The people who cruise on DSAS have formed strong bonds, we eagerly sign up every year to catch up with old friends and make new friends from around the world.
I swore that this recent cruise would have to be my last, there’s so much more of the world I need to see.
But they’ve just announced some of the queens who will be on next year’s Baltic cruise and it’s an amazing lineup.
DSAS I wish I knew how to quit you.