New lesbian travel company Sweet is venturing into as-yet-uncharted territory, with a luxury cruise/volun-tourism cruise planned to depart New Orleans in 2009. The company has teamed up with Norwegian Cruise Line as well as Hands On New Orleans, a non-profit dedicated to hurricane relief and rebuilding.
“We look to provide eco-friendly and fun vacations that make the world a better place,” explains Sweet’s founder Shannon Wentworth. She says that this large-scale inaugural cruise will offer an “alternative” for lesbians who might not feel comfortable in a classic, conservative hetero cruise environment. She also intends to provide a responsible way to go on a cruise — which many might concur is timely, considering the current cruise industry’s comparatively disconnected tourism practices.
“Lesbians are searching for more meaning. We’re working to preserve the places to which we travel, for future generations,” she says.
Thus far, Sweet is focused on building its cruise offerings. However in the long-term, the company will expand into other travel arenas and destinations. Already it spans the borders of “alternative lifestyles” travel and eco-tourism; Wentworth hopes to move into weddings as soon as same sex marriages are more widely recognized. Her first ideal destination would be the Riviera Maya. Already, she says many couples are planning to board in New Orleans for the inaugural cruise. Along with the appeal of celebrating amongstlike-minded souls, there’s the hope of bonding with communities along the journey. Wentworth explains:
“We’re seen as people doing things to help them, so residents come out do these projects with us. Once they meet us, they’re going to realize that we’re just people…It builds bridges of understanding.”
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Lena Katz lives on the Left Coast and writes about tropical islands, beach clubs and food, but her heart belongs to NYC.