CONCIERGE TRAVEL, THE LARGEST gay-owned and -operated travel agency and tour operator in the state of Texas, announced details on its first all-gay luxury sailing ship cruise to Costa Rica and Panama. The full ship charter cruise will sail on Star Clippers’ elegant Star Flyer clipper ship March 6–13, 2011.
Founded in Houston in 1997, Concierge Travel entered the LGBT market a few years later. In 2009, Concierge Travel expanded beyond its travel agent roots and began offering its own small-ship cruise vacations—starting with a sold-out Galapagos Islands cruise on Celebrity Xpedition—in response to increasing demand in the market for intimate, small-ship experiences. The company is also offering land trips in 2010 and 2011 to South Africa and Peru.
“We’ve gotten to know our gay and lesbian guests very well over the last 10 years,” said Kim Gustavsson, vice president of sales and marketing at Concierge Travel. “We’ve traveled with them and listened to the feedback along the way. More and more of them told us that they wanted more intimate, small-ship cruise options. So we’re very pleased to be able to bring them an unforgettable seven-night adventure on the luxurious Star Flyer.”
Concierge Travel’s newest full-ship charter cruise sails from Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica. The ship docks in Isla de Coiba, Panama, and continues on to six more ports on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast, with highlights ranging from archaeological ruins on Isla del Cano to powder white sand beaches and an astonishing array of wildlife in Quepos and nearby Manuel Antonio National Park.
Star Clipper’s 170-passenger Star Flyer is the world’s tallest sailing ship, with a mast that stands 226 feet tall. Being much smaller than the massive, floating hotel mega-ships that dominate the cruise industry, Star Flyer’s size enables it to visit ports often untouched by larger cruise ships, while offering passengers the activities, amenities, and atmosphere of a private yacht. Prices start at $2,275 for the Costa Rica and Panama adventure.
“More and more gay and lesbian travelers are looking for relaxing, intimate, and fun vacation options in the company of other like-minded individuals,” said Gustavsson. “Our new customized charter vacations fill a needed niche in the market, and give more travelers the special kind of vacation that they’re looking for.”
Concierge Travel was named Houston’s “Gayest & Greatest Travel Agency” by OutSmart readers in 2010, an honor it has received each year since 2002. It was also named “Best LGBT Cruise or Tour Company” in 2010. Info: conciergetravel.cc • 713/661-2117. — Nancy Ford