With the popularity of themed cruises, it seems like there is a voyage for every personality and interest. But even after cruising on most of the mainstream cruise lines, it never occurred to me that there existed a nude cruise. What surprised me most is that clothing-optional cruising has been around for decades.
After some initial research, it makes total sense given that according to the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR) nude recreation is approximately a $566-million-per-year industry.
Upon learning about the existence of nude cruising, I had a ton of questions. Do you ever get self-conscious being naked in front of strangers? What does the crew think about nude cruises? Are there a lot of people who want to cruise naked? Which ships do these cruises take place on?
Fortunately, the same people willing to walk naked among thousands of other naked strangers are not shy about answering a few questions. Here are 11 things you need to know about nude cruising.
Who Offers Nude Cruises?
Nudist cruises take place on many different cruise ships and cruise lines worldwide, though many tend to stick with destinations in warmer climates.
Cruise organizers book nude cruises as full charters. This means that a third party will book an entire ship and sell cabins to interested passengers. This way, you won’t ever need to worry about accidentally finding yourself on a nude cruise unless you book as part of the charter.
The largest and most popular nude cruise operator is Bare Necessities which operates the “big nude boat” cruise. Based out of Austin, Texas, the company was founded in 1990 and pioneered the industry of clothing-optional cruise vacations. They have worked with small ship lines such as Star Clippers and Paul Gauguin Cruises and large cruise lines like Carnival Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, and Holland America.
Who goes on nude cruises?
The demographic for nude cruises is surprisingly broad. According to the AANR, “members are active, college-educated individuals between the ages of 35-65 who enjoy outdoor recreation and activities such as swimming, tennis, volleyball, walking, and hiking.”
The majority of nude cruisers are repeat customers. Around 70% of guests have previously cruised with Bare Necessities on any sailing.
Are Kids Allowed On Board
Given the adult nature of clothing-optional cruises, it is no surprise that kids aren’t allowed on board. According to Sara, a frequent nude cruises, “It’s not that we hate kids. Passengers like us want to get away from the hassles and routine of parenting.”
It’s no surprise that nude cruises are also adult-only cruises.
Where Can Passengers Be Naked
Not all naked cruises are the same, but each has rules regarding where and when passengers can bear it all.
On Bare Necessities charters, you can go “all-nude” nearly everywhere around the ship. Once the vessel reaches international waters, an announcement will be made on its intercom to let guests know they can now be naked.
Similarly, as the ship nears a port, the captain will announce advising cruisers that clothing is required.
The formal dining room and specialty restaurants are the two significant exceptions to the “all-nude” allowance. Guests must wear clothing in these venues; however, clothing is still optional in the buffet and self-serve dining.
Guests are also required to wear clothing at the captain’s welcoming party, where formalwear is typically the choice of clothing. And while clothing is optional in the fitness centers and jogging track, most people prefer to wear clothes.
What About Naked Sitting
Yes, nude cruises often occur on the same ships used for regular sailings. If you discover that the vessel you’re about board just hosted a naked cruise, this should make you feel better: nude cruises must place a towel on anywhere they sit.
Cruise ships will keep an abundance of towels on hand to ensure nudists don’t make contact with the furniture.
It’s Not About Sex
Bare Necessities website makes it clear that their themed cruises are not for passengers looking to get busy. Their website states: “Social nudity is not a sexual activity, and we strive to dispel the misconception that it is anything but natural and beautiful.”
Many charter companies such as Bare Necessities have strict rules regarding contact, excessive genital jewelry, and “fetish wear.”
According to one traveler, “nudist cruising is about embracing people of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities, and sexual orientations.” Another added, “It’s not that we don’t have fun, but it’s not a sexually charged atmosphere.”
Unless it’s About Sex
Another cruise charter, Bliss Cruises, is often placed nude cruise genre; however, it markets itself as a “lifestyle cruise.” The couples-only charters create a sexually charged atmosphere for nudists and swingers alike.
You might be surprised to hear that Bliss is even more strict than regular nude cruises. While clothing-optional cruises like Bare Necessities allow nudity throughout most of the ship, Bliss restricts full nudity to the pool areas and open sundecks. Women, however, are permitted to go topless at the onboard nightclubs.
On a Bliss Cruise, there are sections of the ship where anything goes. According to Joe Giantonio, a Bliss Cruise Partner and owner of Topless Travel, “we have designated private play areas for people that are interested in indulging in intimate sexual contact with their partner.”
So if you are interested in a swingers cruise, Bliss Cruises is for you.
On regular, non-sex cruises, swingers will use secret messages such as an upside-down pineapple to announce their intentions to other swingers.
Cruise Lines are Cool With It
You may be surprised to hear that mainstream family-friendly cruise lines are eager to host nude cruise charters. Carnival Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and Holland America have hosted these charters aboard their cruise ships.
It took a few years before the cruise lines were open to the idea of adult-themed cruises, but once they saw the results, they became eager to host more events. Due to the nature of the theme, the organizers bring the cruise line a complete group of over 21 passengers who are ready to drink and gamble. This means money in the eyes of cruise lines.
But don’t worry, the adult-themed cruise organizers charter the entire cruise ship, so you don’t have to worry about accidentally stumbling upon the nudest section during your family vacation.
What About the Crew?
While the guests may roam free, the crew members do not. Crew members must remain clothed at all times.
Cruise lines have a diverse crew with individuals from countries around the world. Many crew members come from socially conservative countries, and cruise lines don’t bring in a separate staff for adult-themed voyages.
Instead, the cruise lines’ human resource departments train crew members in advance to respectfully deal with naked cruisers.
There is an Etiquette Passengers Follow
To ensure everyone can feel safe and comfortable, organizers impose stringent rules and codes of conduct that passengers must follow at all times.
The rules include no touching without consent, no pictures, and no sexual acts in public places. The organizers will also employ extra security personnel to ensure everyone feels safe while at sea.
What happens to passengers who violate the rules? Simple. Guests who break the rules will be booted off the ship at the next port of call. The zero-tolerance policy helps everyone feel safe so they can enjoy the experience.
An often followed unspoken rule is one your mother may have taught you: staring isn’t polite.
Are Shore Excursions Tailored to Nude Passengers?
Short answer: sometimes.
Cruise lines might offer special nude excursions in the Caribbean if the ship visits one of the cruise lines’ private islands. Lounging on the beach nude is also usually accepted.
Aside from private islands, the excursions are likely the same as those offered during regular sailings, and clothes are required.
They Are Very Welcoming Environments
Going on one of these cruises can be scary for a first-timer. But when you think about it, it’s no surprise that these adult-themed vacations are very welcoming environments.
As a long-time traveler, Joey explains, “it’s easy to be intimidated at the thought of baring all in front of total strangers. It’s like spring break for fortysomethings.”
In fact, many cruisers feel that the absence of a physical barrier like clothing leads to guests breaking through social barriers. By fostering an atmosphere of acceptance and positivity, guests often find themselves becoming more emotionally intimate and creating long-lasting connections.
What to Pack for a Nude Cruise
One great thing about going on a nude cruise is that it makes packing far less complicated. If there is one thing you cannot forget, it’s sunscreen. Remember, you’re going to be tanning more than your arms and back, so bring more than you think you’ll need.
You’ll also want to pack clothes for dinner, shore excursions, and formalwear if you plan to attend gala events, such as the captain’s cocktail party.
Themed parties and costume parties are common on these cruises. So you will want to find out ahead of time what themed parties are taking place so you can pack the appropriate costumes and body paint for theme nights.
You’ll want to pack a lanyard for your cabin card. You can get it hole punched at the service desk and wear it around your neck to make onboard purchases and get back into your cabin. Without pockets, a lanyard becomes essential.