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Carnival Cruise Lines backs down in row over drag dress code

RuPaul’s Drag Race castCarnival Cruise Lines has had to back down on its policy regarding dress code in order to accommodate a drag-themed cruise, but not until after raising a controversy over the matter. Cast members from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and many more drag performers are due to sail on the Carnival Glory from Miami, Florida on 2 December for the Drag Stars at Sea: Caribbean Adventure – Revenge of the Wench Cruise. Drag costumes would be expected on such a themed cruise, but an ‘urgent notice’ from vice president of guest services Vicky Rey was sent to passengers on Monday to remind them of its ‘no costume’ policy.

In the notice, passengers were told that Carnival Cruise Lines attracts families with youngsters, which is why they endeavour to present an atmosphere friendly for families. It’s important all boarders are happy with everything about their cruises, and although they recognise that this group will only consist of adults, they expect all passengers to acknowledge that youths are on board, so engaging in unsuitable behaviour should be avoided in public areas.

Carnival also recognised that measures have been prepared for the main theatre to host drag performances featuring LOGO TV stars. It says these will be private events and that the entertainers are the only ones allowed to dress in costume during their performances. Guests aren’t permitted to dress in costume at all during the sailing. Anyone who violates this policy or makes other guests feel uncomfortable will be ejected from the cruise at their personal expense, without a refund.

The cruise was organised by Al and Chuck Travel and originally scheduled on a Norwegian cruise ship. Due to demand, the travel company had to reorganise the sailing with Carnival Cruise Lines. Due to the letter sent out to passengers, a row began to boil.

In response, Al and Chuck Travel owner and president Al Ferguson said that Carnival’s policy isn’t discriminatory. He explained that the ‘no costume’ regulation was a response to security procedures implemented after 11 September and is applied to both straight and gay guests who travel with the cruise line. It’s meant to protect everyone, and transgendered passengers still have the right to live their identity. He added that the travel company never would have organised the cruise with Carnival if they were prejudiced against gays.

To end the controversy, Carnival Cruise Lines president and chief executive Gerry Cahill said the letter was a miscommunication. In a letter, he explained that they were advised only the entertainers would be dressed in costume during functions. Now, however, they are aware this wasn’t clearly communicated to members of the group. Therefore, anyone wishing to dress in drag will be permitted to do so. Despite this, their safety and security policies still require passengers to present IDs issued by the government and be recognisable to staff.

He added that the cruise line welcomes everyone aboard, and anyone who desires to cancel their booking for any reason will be offered a full refund, including reimbursement for any travel-related costs that are non-refundable. They strive to provide fun and memorable holidays for their guests and look forward to welcoming everyone on the Carnival Glory. The line also apologises for the misunderstanding and any offence caused.

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