By Andrew Gans
29 Jun 2004
Founded by Rosie and Kelli O'Donnell and Gregg Kaminsky, r family vacations is now offering a seven-day, family-friendly cruise especially designed for the gay and lesbian community, though single and straight folk are equally welcomed.
In a statement, co-founder O'Donnell said, "It was over two years ago that we kicked around the idea of creating a cruise where all families are welcome and diversity is celebrated. We are so excited to sail out of New York City [and] begin a vacation you will never forget."
The adventure begins Sunday, July 11 at the New York piers when the Norwegian Dawn sets sail at 4 PM. Monday, July 12 will be spent at sea, and on Tuesday, July 13 the ship will dock at Port Canaveral, FL, which is located near such theme parks as Universal Studios, Disney World and Sea World. On July 14, cruisers can spend the day in Key West, Florida, before returning to the ship for its next destination, the Bahamas. On Thursday, July 15, the Norwegian Dawn will stop at the private island Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas, followed by the great shopping destination Nassau, the Bahamas, on July 16. The ship will then head back to New York City, docking Sunday, July 18 at 10 AM.
In addition to swimming pools, weight rooms and fine dining, the cruise will offer varied entertainment on board — a different event scheduled for each night of the trip. "Bollywood," described as Cirque du Soleil meets Bombay Dreams, kicks off the entertainment July 11. Featuring the Jean Ann Ryan Company, the evening will include an "incredibly athletic performance" featuring songs from the award-winning film "Moulin Rouge."
The "Schoolhouse Rock" cast will go it solo Tuesday, July 13 performing everyone's favorite "Schoolhouse Rock" tunes in a live stage show. Theatregoers can expect to hear such ditties as "Unpack Your Adjectives," "Do the Circulations," "Just a Bill," "Lolly, Lolly, Lolly" and "Conjunction Junction." A comedy showcase will also be presented July 13 featuring the talents of comedians Judy Gold, Bob Smith and Poppy Champlain.
Tony Award winner Christine Ebersole and Grammy Award-winning pianist Billy Stritch will team up for an evening of cabaret Wednesday, July 14. Ebersole and Stritch recently played an acclaimed run at Feinstein's at the Regency in Manhattan. Ebersole, who won her Tony for her performance in the hit revival of 42nd Street, will sing standards and tunes from the musical theatre.
Gospel-voiced Billy Porter, whose Broadway credits include Miss Saigon, Grease! and Smokey Joe's Cafe, will offer his own solo concert Thursday, July 15. Concertgoers can expect to hear tunes from Porter's new CD as well as old favorites.
"The View" co-host Joy Behar will bring her comedy routine to the cruise ship Friday, July 16. In addition to her work as a comedian and TV host, Behar is also the author of the Hyperion tome, "Joy Shtick: or What Is the Existential Vacuum and Does It Come with Attachments?"
The final evening of entertainment, Broadway Belters, will be hosted by Chatterbox creator Seth Rudetsky. Among the artists belting tunes will be Andrea Burns, Gavin Creel, Elaine Brier, Darius De Haas, Anika Larsen, Jason Little, Jose Llana, Julia Murney and Virginia Woodruff. Karen Munkel is the evening's stage manager.
About the r family founders: Emmy-winning talk-show host Rosie O'Donnell has appeared on Broadway in Grease! and Seussical and in such films as "A League of Their Own" and "The Flintstones"; she also co-produced the Broadway musical Taboo. A former Nickelodeon marketing executive, Kelli O'Donnell's responsibilities for that network included developing promotions and marketing materials targeted to children. The O'Donnells have four young children. A long-time worker in the gay and lesbian travel industry, Gregg Kaminsky has developed and produced all-gay trips throughout the world. He and partner Dan were featured on Bravo's "Gay Weddings" documentary series.
Playbill On-Line will also be part of the maiden voyage of r family vacations, bringing its readers stories about this premiere, performance-packed cruise.
There are still cabins available for those who wish to hop aboard this historic cruise. Call (866) 732-6822 for reservations. For more information, Click Here.