Get ready for ‘nakation’ on clothing-optional cruises
Nude cruises are booming (but you do have to wear clothes in the dining rooms).
Northwest travel guides
Well, this certainly makes packing easier.
Sunscreen will be essential but clothing optional on a cruise that sets sail from Port Everglades in November. Up to 3,000 people will float through the Caribbean in their birthday suits for seven nights.
Want to soak up the sun in the buff? Want to dance topless in the disco? Go for it.
The cruise, organized by Bliss Management of Coral Springs, Fla., is part of a growing clothing-optional tourism industry — everything from cruises and organized tours to about 250 resorts and clubs, according to the American Association for Nude Recreation in Kissimmee.
Interest in “nakationing” has doubled since 2010, the association says. Cruises, in particular, are booming.
“Nudists attract nudists,” said Nancy Tiemann, president of Bare Necessities Tour & Travel Co. in Austin, Texas, who has arranged clothing-optional cruises for 25 years. “They’re laid back, friendly and unpretentious.”
That company’s signature event — The Big Nude Boat — sailed from Fort Lauderdale on Feb. 12 on the 2,170-passenger Celebrity Constellation.
“The only thing we change onboard is the dress code,” Tiemann said. Cruisers must wear clothes in the main dining room and specialty restaurants, but “anywhere else on the ship they can go without clothing when not in port.”
She has another nude cruise leaving Port Everglades on Feb. 6, again aboard the Constellation.
Tiemann is a former banker who left the corporate world in 1990 to start the business with her husband, Tom, an attorney. Since then, her company has arranged more than 65 full-ship charters, ranging from 148 people to 3,000.
Tiemann herself became a clothing-optional convert by accident decades ago after stumbling onto a nude beach in the Caribbean with her husband while in her 30s. Her first instinct was to leave, but the couple opted to try it out.
“It was such a freeing experience,” Tiemann said — more than going topless as she had before.
Others seem to share the feeling.
The number of nude cruises increased from one 500-passenger ship in 1992 to 45 cruises and 30,000 people in 2010, the American Association for Nude Recreation says. Thirty percent of those people are first-time nudist cruisers.
Clothing-optional tourism does $400 million to $450 million in business annually, the group says — more than double the amount in the early 1990s.
“We had a record year in 2014, and we’re growing,” said Donna Daniels, co-owner of Castaways Travel in The Woodlands, Texas, who has spent 31 years in the travel business.
Companies like Castaways and Bliss charter the boats from big cruise lines like Celebrity Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line and Holland America Line. The trips, for the most part, are like any other cruise, except for the attire.
“The people who do this are very confident people in high stress jobs, and they’re successful,” Daniels said. “They want to get so far away from everything and don’t even want the stress of clothes.”
Daniels lists bank CEOs and federal agents among her customers.
Tiemann said 70 percent of her customers return for another cruise, higher than the industry average of about 62 percent.
Today, she said, more people are finding the clothes-free experience to be a “stress reliever and equalizer,” as egos are checked at the door along with the clothing. “It’s much more than just taking our clothes off.”
That might be especially true on November’s Bliss Cruise.
The adults-only cruise is marketed to “swinger couples, nudists, voyeurs and exhibitionists,” according to its website, blisscruise.com.
Its nightly themed extravaganzas will include a Roman Orgy Toga Party and, in lieu of formal night, an AntiFormal and ABC (Anything But Clothes).
“Duct tape, Saran wrap, feathers ... get creative and come ready to play,” the website says.
The cruise, departing Nov. 29 aboard the Celebrity Silhouette, is geared toward “sexually-open and adventurous” people and will offer opportunities for partner swapping among consenting adults, a spokesman said.
But there are rules: Sexual activity is allowed only in designated areas such as cabins and “play rooms,” the website says. Nudity is allowed on four decks, but clothes are required in bars and restaurants, and you must wear a robe or cover-up in hallways and elevators.
Already, 80 percent of the cabins have been booked, with prices starting at $1,000 per person for an interior room. Organizers expect the ship to be sold out by May.
If you miss this cruise, don’t worry. Another Bliss Cruise is planned for Nov. 27 to Dec. 4, 2016, and two more are in the pipeline for the spring and fall of 2017.