Last Saturday I took part in an event that seem to be getting more popular here in Vancouver, particularly during summer, … party cruise.
The party cruise event, called “The Big Sexy Sunset Cruise,” was organized by Michel Nadeau and Tod Berezowski (MN Events) and Matt Santoro (Playground, Cubshack, Sanctuary). It took place aboard the Queen of Diamonds – a modern 135 foot vessel, with two large dining decks and a large sun deck, with a maximum capacity of 400.
Since this was my first party cruise I have nothing to compare the experience to, but in comparison to club events in Vancouver, I thought the turnout was very decent. I’m a party cruise virgin, you could say.
Tangent time: It’s an event that I’ve shied away for the longest time, well, any type of cruise that is. (pause) I have my reasons. But if you must know, it has something to do with “memory repression.” LOL I’ve taken way too many boat rides from my early childhood to early adulthood that the thought of riding a ship is no longer appealing. Kinda like, sunbathing, I’m “over it.” I remember watching people vomit on deck from sea sickness. I remember the discomfort, tragedies, the stench from the smell of engine exhaust and booze, the wind, and the sense of “confinement” below deck – not claustrophobia, it’s not like that. These are some of the things I would rather not relive. Then there’s food poisoning, thanks Disney for the reminder, and then of course there’s “Jaws” (1975), (flying) “Piranha II” (1981), “Open Water” (2010), “Deep Blue Sea” (1999), and “Titanic” (1997). Even though they’re just movies, the stories still have some level of truth. (pause) Okay, maybe not “Titanic.” Did you know sharks and people-eating creatures do live deep in the ocean and not just in the financial market? You might say “But these are not legitimate reasons!” Well, you tell that to Jack who drowned after his ship sank, and SHE didn’t even bother to offer to share the makeshift raft with him, that bitch, then you can tell me about “what is, and what isn’t real.” (pause) Exactly! But I digress …
Other than meeting Nicki Ravange, one of Vancouver’s very busy drag entertainer whom I haven’t seen in a while due to our crazy schedules, DJ Dreaddy, one of Vancouver’s prolific and sexy disc jockey, and meeting the event organizers, I had no expectations. I was just “praying” that we’ll come out of it alive, (pause) because of the … “reasons.”
I arrived an hour early before boarding time because I didn’t know exactly where the ship was moored. At $22 for four hours, street parking across BC Place stadium was pricey but convenient. There was free parking on Terminal Avenue, but I decided not to drag my heavy gear for half an hour and wonder around while looking for the place like a lost tourist, no thanks. I managed to find the place by asking just one person for directions, the nice parking entrance attendant at Edgewater Casino. When I arrived at the venue there was already a long line of people in front of a row of white tables, and people dressed in black … possibly frisking them. It turned out to be for another cruise, and I was the earliest guest it seemed. The MIB were kind enough to help me figure out which ship I am supposed to board and contacted the vessel’s Ship Director to receive me. I was given a quick tour of the vessel and a quick rundown of the “rules,” which I thought was very welcoming and informative. I thought the ship was nice, spacious, and well setup. I meet the event organizers, who were very warm and accommodating. The crew was busy putting up finishing touches on each deck, so I picked a spot where I could prep my gear and run some test shots.
After a while the event crew started to arrive. Another photographer arrived, Carmin, a friendly and very presentable fine young lady. We introduced ourselves, said our “Hi’s and Hello’s” and at one point assessed each others’ gear – as in camera. So far so good, people were very nice. Carmen and I where both briefed about the event, including a place where we can safe keep our gear – in the bowels of the ship. The room was tight and rough, but felt rather sexy. More on this later.
The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence arrived, a benefactor of the event, and they set themselves up at the vessel’s main entrance to welcome attendees and collect tickets. Soon the disc jockeys showed up, Adam Dreaddy, Karsten Sollors, and Arian Zarfan. The mood was already pretty great, despite the prospect of rain, but once the drag queens showed up … it went up a few notches. Drag queens Berlin Stiller and Nicki Ravange were to serve as Cruise Directors. It was great catching up with Nicki Ravange, and to finally gave her the Gia Gunn button I had Gia Gunn singed at Drag Con in Los Angeles. Nicki is a big Gia fan. While we were waiting for people to board the ship, I managed to do a quick photo session with her. I also was able to do a quick photo session with Berlin Stiller during the cruise, so check out for these photo sets soon.
I noticed some muscled men board the ship, and some wondered around shirtless, and I thought “this is nice.” Spices of life, I call them. Great to watch, but not for the swallow.
Around seven in the evening, which was still very much light, the ship cast off and set sail. We were finally moving! The air was cool, which was a great respite from the string of very warm days in the past weeks! The DJs were playing sick music on the sundeck and below deck. People wondered around, drinks in hand, took photos, enjoyed the view, and mingled.
It was a great experience to be able to see Vancouver in a different perspective. The Vancouver skyline looked a lot more fabulous on the water and with fewer tankers obstructing the view … even at night (pause) and the rain. Sure, I’ve taken the sea taxi from English Bay to Granville Island, but the ride is always very choppy and the ship is tiny. It’s fun but the sea sickness struggle is real. Boat rides are much more smoother and fun on bigger ships, provided the water is calm. And one can’t actually see the city skyline from False Creek.
A buffet was opened below deck. It looked tasty but I only had a tiny salad and a small piece of burrito. I have this rule about not eating while traveling, or while at events with the possibility of taking selfies – it’s a big “no.” But I humored the Chef’s invite and tried some. It was good, though I had to eat standing up because as soon as I sat down I started feeling nauseous. The fact that people where touching my midsection when they passed by was like being given a free massage. LOL (pause) There’s a point in your life when getting randomly felt up by strangers changes from being “sexual harassed” to a being “given a favor” … that would be “after college.”
Remember the muscled men I noticed earlier? Well, they turned out to be the event’s dancers. I thought they just like to show off their goods. Colin Marcus Jackson – Mr. RUFF Vancouver 2015, Shane Rooks, Anthony Azar and Lyle Chan took turns dancing on the sundeck platform. It felt like a gay Christmas and I’m the kid who got all the gifts because I was very nice the whole year, except the weekends. LOL
And did I mentioned we passed by a Pirate-themed cruise an hour into the cruise? Yes, there was one. It looked legit and the people were appropriately dressed, like in the movie “Pirates of the Caribbean” and not the “Sea Pirates of Somalia” … no.
After a couple of hours sailing away from Vancouver, the ship turned and slowly headed back. I had a blast mingling with THE party people, including a young deckhand named Anthony – he’s going to be a real seaman someday. (cough) Drag queen Miss Understood, of The Junction, was also at the event as a guest. It took me a while to figure out who she is out of drag. As I went below deck to put away my camera in preparation to disembark, the muscled men came in the small quarters to change and do whatever. I must say, it was a very tense moment … for me. LOL Ok, I’m exaggerating, but there was definitely a real struggle trying to keep my eyeballs and “words” in check. Who doesn’t like muscled men with great sense of humor anyway, right?
After this experience, I would definitely recommend people to try attend a party cruise when in Vancouver. It’s safe, fun, the view is fantastic, music is great, and most of all … it creates great memories. Getting complements and words of appreciation from strangers ain’t bad either. And as for the “repressed memories” … well, I think I’ll just have to keep replacing them with nice ones like this. Worse comes to worst, there are Pirate ships out in the open one can swim onto if the ship goes down, provided sharks won’t get you first. lol. I don’t think there are sharks in the Vancouver coast, they will need a passport and a clean record.
Disc jockeys, drag queens, burly men, booze, free food, and a boatload of seamen, you can’t go wrong with that! Done!
The Big Sexy Sunset Cruise Crew! Shane Rooks, Anthony Azar, Arian Zarfan, Matt Appleton, Adam Dreaddy, Berlin M Stiller, Colin Marcus Jackson, Tod Berezowski, Karsten Sollors, Michel Nadeau, Nicki Ravange and Carlyle Chan.