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Set Sail for Central America

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Concierge Travel, the largest gay-owned and operated travel agency and tour operator in the state of Texas, today announced details on its first all-gay luxury sailing ship cruise to Costa Rica and Panama. The full ship charter cruise will sail on Star Clipper’s elegant Star Flyer clipper ship March 6-13, 2011.

Founded in Houston in 1997, Concierge Travel entered the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) market a few years later. In 2009, Concierge Travel expanded beyond its travel agent roots and began offering its own small ship cruise vacations – starting with a sold out Galapagos Islands cruise on Celebrity Xpedition – in response to a continuing demand in the market for intimate, small-ship experiences.

Today, Concierge Travel has grown its customized vacation offerings to include this once-in-a-lifetime sailing adventure in Costa Rica on the 170-passenger Star Flyer in March 2011, as well land trips in 2010 and 2011 to South Africa and Peru.

“We’ve gotten to know our gay and lesbian guests very well over the last 10 years,” said Kim Gustavsson, vice president of sales and marketing at Concierge Travel. “We’ve traveled with them and listened to the feedback along the way. More and more of them told us that they wanted more intimate, small-ship cruise options. So we’re very pleased to be able to bring them an unforgettable seven-night adventure on the luxurious Star Flyer.”

Concierge Travel’s newest full-ship charter cruise sails from Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica on March 6, 2011. After a relaxing day at sea, the ship docks in Isla de Coiba, Panama, where guests can explore virgin rainforests or dive among sea turtles, dolphins and manta rays. The cruise continues on to six more ports on Costa Rica’s sunny Pacific coast, with highlights ranging from archaeological ruins on Isla del Cano to powder white sand beaches and an astonishing array of wildlife in Quepos and nearby Manuel Antonio National Park.

Star Clipper’s 170-passenger Star Flyer is the world’s tallest sailing ship, with a mast that stands 226 feet tall. Yet, much smaller than the massive, floating hotel mega-ships that dominate the cruise industry, Star Flyer’s smaller size enables it to visit ports often untouched by larger cruise ships, while offering passengers the activities, amenities and atmosphere of a private yacht.

Star Flyer offers spacious accommodations and expansive teak decks with two swimming pools. The décor of Star Clipper and Star Flyer is reminiscent of the grand age of sailing, with antique prints and paintings and teak and gleaming mahogany rails.

“More and more gay and lesbian travelers are looking for relaxing, intimate and fun vacation options in the company of other like-minded individuals,” said Gustavsson. “Our new customized, charter vacations fill a needed niche in the market and give more travelers the special kind of vacation that they’re looking for.”

Staterooms on this Costa Rica and Panama adventure start at $2,275 (transfers, gratuities and port fees are additional). Rates are per person based on double occupancy and include all of Star Clipper’s deluxe accommodations and services in addition to Concierge Travel’s customized service, entertainment and activities.

Reservations for the Costa Rica and Panama cruise as well as any other Concierge Travel vacation can be made by contacting Concierge Travel directly at (877) 775-9616. For more detailed information, please visit their website at www.conciergetravel.cc.

Chase is the Founder and Creative Director of therepubliq.com, Host and Executive Producer of OutCast Austin, an award-winning LGBT weekly radio program on KOOP 91.7 FM in Austin. In 2011, he was named the Critics Pick for 'Most Gaybiquitous' in the Austin Chronicle's Best of Austin. In 2012, CultureMap Austin named him one of Austin's Top LGBT bloggers and he received the AGLCC's Chamber Award for Social Media Diva.

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RSVP Vacations Celebrates 30 Years With Alaska Cruise

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RSVP Vacations began the concept of the gay and lesbian cruise with one idea — to provide a safe, tailor-made vacation environment for gay men and lesbians. It went on to charter its first cruise ship in 1985, hosting their first all-gay cruise, “A Cruise To Remember,” aboard the Bermuda Star sailing out of New Orleans the next year.

Since then, over 100,000 guests have shared the RSVP experience on cruise and land vacations in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas. Ranging from 21 to 95, from Buenos Aires to Boston, single or coupled, RSVP has served the diverse and broad spectrum of the community.

This year, RSVP will celebrate their 30th anniversary with a cruise through Alaska aboard the Holland Americas‘s Westerdam, August 1-8, 2015. The cruise will feature an all-star lineup of entertainers to keep you entertained while onboard. Confirmed so far is Will & Grace’s Leslie Jordan, with many more to be announced later.

From the entertainers, including singers, comedians, drag performers, and Westerdam’s dazzling production shows to the t-dances and costume contests, to the ship’s world-class spa there will be more than plenty to keep you occupied and busy during your time aboard.

It all starts in Seattle, Washington. From there you sail to Alaska’s capital, Juneau, where you can explore the Mendenhall Glacier, one of the largest in North America, and the immense Juneau Icefields as well as the vast Tongass National Forest.

photo credit: RSVP Vacations

The ship then sails on to the highlight of the entire cruise, where you come face-to-face with the ten ever-calving tidewater glaciers of Glacier Bay, the largest UNESCO-protected biosphere in the world. The Westerdam is one of the few ships allowed on this route.

Then it’s on to historic Sitka, once the capital of Russian America and seat of the bishop of Kamchatka, it’s rich with Russian heritage, from the the onion domes of St. Michael’s Cathedral to performances by the New Archangel Dancers.

Next stop is the “The Salmon Capital of the World,” charming Ketchikan on the shores of the Tongass Narrows where you can floatplane through misty fjords, explore the world’s largest collection of totem poles, or watch the salmon run from the famed red Creek Bridge.

Before heading back to Seattle, the Westerdam stops in beautiful Victoria, Canada one of the oldest cities in the Pacific Northwest and the capital of British Columbia. You can explore the historic landmarks and the beautiful Butchart Gardens during the day and check out the nightlife after dark.

Fares start as low as $899 but considering that this is RSVP’s 30th Anniversary Alaska Cruise and based on current availability, it’s more than likely this cruise will sell out long before the ship sets sail.

More information about the cruise, including a full itinerary and an up-to-date list of entertainers is available on RSVP’s website at www.rsvpvacations.com.

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