Snaps to you, drag queens. Looks like you will be allowed to dress in drag on your drag queen-themed cruise vacation after all.
On Monday, less than a week before Carnival's RuPaul's Drag Race-themed cruise was set to disembark from Mee-AH-mee, the cruise ship line sent out an "URGENT NOTICE" informing passengers that would not be permitted to dress in drag (outside their rooms), on the very expensive drag-themed vacation they had already booked and paid for.
"Greetings Fun Seekers!" the email began. And that is where the fun ended.
In the email, (reprinted in full below), a Carnival spokesman explained that guests in drag-wear would not be allowed on board the ship, because there would be minors (who have never seen Mrs. Doubtfire) present. Anyone dressed in drag in public, she explained, would be kicked off the ship without a refund. The 40 Ru Paul's Drag Race veterans aboard would be permitted to dress in drag only during private adults-only performances arranged by the "Caribbean Adventure: Revenge of the Wench" cruise directors.
Carnival attracts a number of families with children and for this reason; we strive to present a family friendly atmosphere. It is important to us that all guests are comfortable with every aspect of the cruise. Although we realize this group consists solely of adults, we nonetheless expect all guests to recognize that minors are onboard and, refrain from engaging in inappropriate conduct in public areas.
A founder of the travel company that organized the trip, ALandCHUCK.travel took to the company Facebook page to defend Carnival's decision, saying the no-drag policy was intended, not to "marginalize" gay men, but to combat terrorists.
Carnival's "no costumes rule" is NOT meant to be an insult to the gay community. As a gay business, we would not have organized this cruise if they were prejudiced against gay people. This rule goes for both GAY and STRAIGHT passengers that travel on all Carnival cruises. It is in response to the post-911 world we live in. It is meant to protect passengers and guests - NOT to marginalize a few.
The news went over about as well as a fun-time drag queen cruise without any drag queens on board. Carnival and ALandCHUCK.travel 's Facebook pages were inundated with comments, accusing the former of "bigotry" and the latter of "cowardice." Many people pointed out that Carnival does allow costumes to be worn in public on Halloween (with the caveat that no fake weapons are allowed).
Following the outcry, Carnival tripped all over its platform high heels to explain that it loves drag queens and the legal tender they use to pay for vacations aboard the high seas. In a letter posted on their Facebook page, the company blamed ALandCHUCK.travel's presentation for the mix up, saying they were advised that only performers would be dressed in drag during private events.
Carnival explained that, in light of the miscommunication, anyone wishing to dress in drag will be permitted to do so, as long as they carry (and resemble the picture in) their government-issed photo ID. In other words: kiss your fly drag make-up goodbye. The message does not make clear whether this modification to the drag rule applies to public areas as well as private events:
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.
At Carnival, we are proud to carry more than 4.5 million guests every year and we welcome them all aboard. We do not practice any form of discrimination against the LGBT or any other community. We sincerely apologize for the miscommunication and for any unintended offense we have caused.
Given this misunderstanding, anyone on this cruise who wishes to cancel for any reason may do so and will receive a full refund of their cruise fare, as well as reimbursement for any non-refundable travel related expenses.
So it looks like this is shaping up to be a totally stress-free vacation with no hurt feelings or accusations of bullying from either side.
Here's Carnival's initial email, sent to booked guests: