Bahamas Apologizes to Gay Passengers
Los Angeles Times,
April 19, 1998
Times Mirror Square
Los Angeles, CA 90053
Fax 213-237-7679 or 213-237-5319
Times Staff and Wires
NASSAU, Bahamas--The government's tourism minister last week apologized
to passengers on a lesbian-chartered cruise ship that was met with more than 100
protesters, chanting and waving signs reading "No Gay Ships."
In January, the Cayman Islands sparked outrage among gay and civil rights groups when
it denied another gay-chartered ship's request to land, citing concerns that the
passengers wouldn't display "appropriate behavior." The Bahamian government
later welcomed the ship, unleashing a torrent of protest from religious groups.
The demonstrators in Nassau last week picketed the port as 750 passengers walked off
the Seabreeze I and boarded smaller boats headed for a nearby private island. The ship,
operated by Premier Cruise Lines and sailing from Miami, was chartered by Oakland-based
Olivia Cruises and Resorts.
At one point, protesters broke through police lines and briefly charged the ship, after
some crew had disembarked, according to Judy Werle, Olivia marketing director. "It
was kind of frightening," she said.
Nevertheless, she added: "I can't imagine this one incident changing any one of
our plans. This [region] is one of our most popular itineraries." Werle said that
Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, director general of the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, boarded
the ship to personally apologize to passengers.