As far as 2012 travel trends go, river cruising is right up there, so there's no surprise that the gays are all over it. And although it may be one of seven LGBT tour operators chartering groups aboard European riverboats this summer, newly founded Brand g is the only one that wants you to experience it for free. Contest time!
Launched just in time for Valentine's Day, as well as the heartening strides made for gay marriage in Washington State and the repeal of Prop 8 in California, the "Share The Love" contest is encouraging adventurers to share their same-sex love story, or for friends to nominate their favorite LGBT couples, for the chance to win two spots on its 10-day Danube River Cruise, which includes a 2-night stay in Prague and port calls in Nuremberg, the Bavarian forest, Salzburg, Linz, Melk, Vienna, Slovakia, and Budapest.
Brand g General Manager Charlie Rounds, one of the founding employees of RSVP Vacations back in the day, puts it this way: When I started in the gay travel industry 24 years ago, I met couples on our cruises who had been together for decades, but I never thought Id see the day that I could welcome legally married couples, or even honeymooners, on my vacation programs. Im pretty confident that on Valentines Day one year from now well be celebrating even more.
To enter, email email@example.com with your love story, or nominate your favorite couple, by March 1. Each week, the company will feature its favorite stories on its Facebook page, ultimately choosing the couple with the most touching and original love story on April 2. The cruise runs August 2130, 2012, aboard AMA Waterways' brand-new 164-passenger MS AmaCerto, featuring twin balconies, fine dining, heated sundeck, swimming pool with swim-up bar, fitness center, ship-wide Wi-Fi, and two wine bars. The pre-stay in Prague is at the Novotel Praha Wenceslas Square. All told, it's an almost-$6,000 prize package.
Even if you dont win, berths are still available starting at $2,646, a slight discount over AMA Waterways' mainstream cruise rates, priced from $2,799. The LGBT camaraderie, that's just a bonus. Round notes that, in keeping with the times, there's a greater mix of men and women on our trips, as well as straight friends and family members than one would see on, say, Atlantis's party boats. The average age of Brand g guests hovers around 48, significantly younger than the 60-plus demographic on mainstream European riverboat cruises. And while small-ship travel may be more conducive to quiet conversation and castle-watching, he notes that the ambience on gay cruises is anything but boring.
Additional departures for 2012 include land programs to Ireland (September 1623), Mexico (October 30November 4), and Argentina (2013 TBD), plus cruises along the Mekong and Rhone Rivers next year. For more information, visit www.brandgvacations.com or call 800-433-4303.
For more trip-planning advice, see our European River Cruises 101 guide.