Celebrity Cruises has always been about opening up the world to its passengers, so it’s no surprise the company has a long history of supporting and celebrating the LGBTQ+ community. From its openly inclusive social gatherings to its company culture embracing diversity and acceptance, Celebrity has established itself as a go-to destination for people of all backgrounds and sexualities.
The cruise line has proudly embraced its status as an LGBTQ-friendly company. Last year around Valentine’s Day, Celebrity released a Sweethearts at Sea photo album on Facebook that prominently featured same-sex couples in its messaging. Celebrity went on to partner with the Miami Beach Gay Pride Festival, which it returns to this year as a presenting sponsor.
With Pride season kicking off in Miami, we spoke to Celebrity Cruises CMO Peter Giorgi about its community outreach, the unparalleled experiences and services it offers LGBTQ+ passengers, and their favorite stories of LGBTQ love at sea.
OUT: Tell us about Celebrity Cruises’ history of diversity, inclusion and support of the LGBTQ+ community. How did Celebrity Cruises get to where it is today and sponsoring Miami Beach Gay Pride in 2018?
Giorgi: Celebrity Cruises has a long and wonderful relationship with the LGBTQ+ community, and the importance of celebrating and promoting diversity and inclusion has never been greater, which is why we felt now was the perfect time to partner with and sponsor Miami Beach Gay Pride.
You have to take a stand to stand out, and I am proud to say Celebrity Cruises stands with the LGBTQ+ community.
The Sweethearts at Sea campaign and album that included LGBTQ couples was touching and inclusive. What types of experiences does Celebrity Cruises provide couples, both married and dating, on board Celebrity Cruises?
That campaign was incredibly touching for me.
When we were planning out Sweethearts at Sea, we never could have anticipated the outpouring of love and support we would get from our guests, and we definitely weren’t prepared for all of the amazing, inspiring stories couples shared with us on social media. We had couples who spoke about meeting on board our ships and now being married. We had couples who spoke about being together for decades and how much they’ve enjoyed sailing with us, and each story was just as beautiful and important as the last. I think that campaign really struck a chord with our guests and the message really resonated with them.
That being said, we don’t tailor any specific experiences to couples based on their orientation. We believe in true equality. And that’s why every couple, married or dating, LGBTQ+ or straight, can expect the same modern luxury experience no matter what.
What types of programming, packages and entertainment does Celebrity Cruises provide that may be of interest to the LGBTQ+ out traveler?
I think Celebrity has a lot to offer LGBTQ+ travelers. First, just an overall brilliant experience; we’re winning awards left and right — some even from LGBTQ+ publications — for everything from our dining to our accommodations to our world-opening itineraries. On top of that, we also host weekly parties every sailing that are specifically geared toward our LGBTQ+ guests.
Oh, and we also remain the only major American cruise line to offer legal same-sex marriages on board while at sea.
That's great! Can you share a story about some of the LGBTQ+ couples that wed at sea? Why was providing same-sex wedding ceremonies important to Celebrity Cruises?
This is a great story, actually. Our first same-sex couple to get legally married at sea was Francisco Vargas and Benjamin Gray. When we first found out that we’d be able to legally offer same-sex weddings at sea, we knew we had to make a big deal about our first one, and so we started searching for a couple. The search didn’t last long, because Francisco and Benjamin are actually part of our family — well, our extended family. Francisco works for one of our top sales partners, Cruise Planners, and is a longtime fan of Celebrity, so it just made sense. Together we are paving the way for couples around the world to know that their love and commitment is to be celebrated equally and that everyone is welcome on board a Celebrity cruise.
Benjamin Gray and Francisco Vargas share a kiss.
Celebrity Cruises has hosted same-sex ceremonies for a long time — mostly symbolic — though some were legal when hosted in a port of call where same-sex marriage was legally recognized. However, following a transformative vote in Malta — where a majority of the Celebrity Cruises fleet is registered — we’re now able to have same-sex marriages performed on board while at sea be recognized and be officiated by our own captains.
Celebrity Cruises sponsored Miami Pride in 2017, and in 2018 is a presenting sponsor. Why is Miami Beach Gay Pride 2018 important to Celebrity Cruises? What are some of your favorite memories and parts of celebrating Pride in Miami?
We’re so happy to be back as presenting sponsor of Miami Beach Gay Pride again this year. Last year was such a massive success, and we just genuinely had such an amazing time working with the Pride team and experiencing the festivities that we knew before the event even ended last year that we’d be back.
We are excited about 2018 Miami Beach Gay Pride! Tell us where and how the LGBTQ+ community can “get on board” with Celebrity Cruises during 2018 Miami Beach Gay Pride.
As a show of solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community, we’re encouraging everyone to express their support for equality, diversity and inclusion by using the hashtag #GetOnBoard on social media.
Continuing in the spirit of sailing toward new horizons, Celebrity Cruises will be a central part of Miami Beach Pride festivities. This year’s parade will feature a Celebrity Cruises float led by same-sex couple Francisco Vargas and Benjamin Gray carrying the Celebrity Cruises Banner, celebrating the first wedding aboard a Celebrity Cruises ship at sea. Keep an eye out for the couple in the “Portraits of Pride” video series that the cruise line will premiere after the parade.
Happy Pride, and be sure to Get On Board at CelebrityCruises.com!