Hi Bill and Tom,
I'm Henry, since none of our Travel Agents have jumped in yet, I thought I'd get things started for you. First, welcome to the boards
- we're a very friendly group here and, everyone is welcome. I'm one of the Board Hosts for our Gay Forums which are located here: https://cruisefreekforums.forumotion.com/gay-forums-f9/
We're still growing, so, our Gay following isn't all that large yet but, we're adding people slowly.
Secondly, our group cruises are open to everyone, we haven't attempted a Gay group cruise yet but, once we have enough members that will certainly be on our group cruise list.
Now, you mentioned you'd like to sail from NY in July or August - well, you've come to the right place! While the two cruises I am going to recommend are going to Canada and New England, I have a feeling you just might enjoy them.
The first is a short, 5 day cruise on Queen Mary 2 departing July 1, 2009. I'm recommending this sailing for a number of reasons, first it's shorter and it will give you an excellent opportunity to find out if cruising is for you without the commitment of a full week. Secondly, we have a wonder group of people sailing and, if you book by October 31, 2008 there is a very special deal going on that includes the pre-cruise package in Manhattan (which features one night at the Hyatt Grand Central, dinner and an evening performance of Spamalot) plus you'll receive on-board credit. The second reason is that you aren't going to be "alone" on QM2 - there is an agency called Pied Piper and they are gay cruise specialist. They will be sailing on QM2 on July 1, 2009 along with our group here on Cruise Freek Forums.
However, Cruise Freek Forums pricing is MUCH better; you will receive the pre-cruise package free (provided you book by October 31, 2008) and the Cruise Freeks group is having some very special on-board events such as a private viewing area on QM2 during the fireworks in Boston Harbor with cocktail service plus dinner at the on-board specialty restaurant (which would normally run an additional $30 per person).
To read more about QM2 for July 1, here's the link: https://cruisefreekforums.forumotion.com/Queen-Mary-2-4th-of-July-2009-h45.htm
and the travel agent for this sailing is Nina Van Harn (screen name AmbianceTravel on here) Nina's email is Nina@ambiancetc.com
The second cruise I am going to recommend is also to Canada and New England and it's a 7 night sailing. By the way both of the cruises I am mentioning are leave from Brooklyn. And this one is going to be on Princess Cruise Lines aboard Caribbean Princess which will be under going a face lift in January 2009 and having some special features added to her. Pricing is excellent for this sailing and the Cruise Freek's group is offering some special amenities that include $25 on-board credit, 1 bottle of wine, a photo voucher and a tote bag. The itinerary is very good and, if you'd like more information about it here is the link: https://cruisefreekforums.forumotion.com/Caribbean-Princess-August-29-2009-h109.htm
and the travel agent is Jeanie Beck (Screen name BeckTours on here) and Jeanie's email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Of course these are just two opportunities, and, I am mentioning them since they are both Cruise Freek Forum group cruises. If you're willing to fly, your choices are nearly limit-less.
You've taken the first step towards cruising which is doing research. As you continue to learn about cruise vacations, you're going to see that each cruise line has it's own unique personality and attracts certain demographics. Cunard, Princess and Celebrity and occassionally Royal Caribbean tend to be the most Gay Friendly cruise lines. At least that's been my own personal experience.
I recommend contacting a few of our TA's on here and getting brochures so you can get a better idea about each line. In the meantime, keep coming on here and asking questions and visiting the different forums - this will help you learn and help you determine which cruise line and ship is going to be best for you.
Cruising is a wonderful vacation and, it offers one of the best values in vacations today. From unpacking once to having evening entertainment to having meals included - it's really tough to beat.
The last bit of information I am going to offer you is to visit the CLIA (Cruise Line International Association) website: http://cruising.org/index2.cfm
This is the organization that oversees the Cruise Lines and Travel Agents and it offers a wealth of information.
So I see I've rambled on long enough, so, I will turn the floor over to our Travel Agents at this time.
Once again, welcome to the boards - we're glad you're here!