50 Years of Empowerment

Olivia Travel vacations offer connection and community.

Olivia Travel’s First Cruise

“Life as it should be.” That’s what Judy Dlugacz, the founder of Olivia Travel, calls the experience on an Olivia Travel cruise or resort vacation. If you’ve ever been on one, you’d find it near impossible to disagree. It’s like summer camp for lesbians and LGBTQ women who all want one thing: to feel happy and safe and free while being true to themselves and allowing others to do the same.

Judy Dlugacz, Olivia Travel’s founder (Photos courtesy)

Olivia is a travel company for lesbians and LGBTQ women. Over the years, they have curated over 300 trips for more than 350,000 women. They offer vacations on large cruise ships, small riverboats, and at resort destinations, as well as adventure travel. And they always charter the entire ship or book the entire resort or adventure trip to allow guests to feel safe and free.

Olivia Travel sprang from Olivia Records, a company founded on and by the strength of women. They are celebrating 50 awe-inspiring years in 2023.

Olivia Records was founded in 1973, a time when few female artists were being recorded. So a few women decided to produce their own music. Once the label took off, an idea sprang forth: instead of just recording these artists, why not feature them in concerts on cruise ships? And so began Olivia Travel in 1990. Dlugacz chartered two cruises to the Bahamas, the women got on board, and Olivia has been hitting the high seas and resort destinations ever since.

Earlier this year, Olivia offered two back-to-back anniversary cruises out of Fort Lauderdale, with stops in Turks and Caicos, St. Thomas, San Juan, Puerto Rico, and even the private Half Moon Cay island in the Bahamas.   

Olivia is known for its top-notch entertainment—everything from outstanding musicians and hilarious comedians to sheroes from all walks of life. The anniversary cruises included musical offerings from longtime favorites like Cris Williamson and original Olivia recording artists Linda Tillery, Teresa Trull, Barbara Higbie, June Millington, Deidre McCalla, Dianne Davidson, Lucie Blue Tremblay, and Tret Fure. Musicians Sweet Baby J’ai, Julie Wolf, Zoë Lewis, Alyson Palmer, Shelley Doty, Kofy Brown, and Katie Cash also performed, as did the dancers of the Sarah Bush Dance Project.

Olivia also offered comedy shows starring Karen Williams, Suzanne Westenhoefer, Elvira Kurt, Lisa Koch, Roxanna Ward, and Vickie Shaw; dance parties with DJ Citizen Jane, DJ Christie James, and DJ Rockaway; and special guests including Dr. Bonnie Morris and Irene Young. Olivia Records founding members Judy Dlugacz, Jenna Woodul, Ginny Berson, and Cris Williamson also made an appearance.

One of the stars who performed on both anniversary cruises was famed lesbian comedian and activist Dana Goldberg. She was recently in Houston for the Human Rights Campaign’s gala dinner, and served as the evening’s auctioneer while also dishing out a hearty helping of her fantabulously biting political comedy.

Goldberg has been performing on Olivia trips for about 15 years now. “There’s really something beautiful about being in a safe environment,” she notes. “If you’re on a ship, we have the entire ship. If you’re at a resort, we have the entire resort. There is a safeness and a family within that that money can’t buy. And it is specifically tailored so that you feel that way. You’re not going to get that anywhere else.

Judy Dlugacz, Olivia Travel’s founder (Photos courtesy)

“It’s also the totality of experience. It’s the entertainment. It’s the environment. It’s the energy of what it feels like to travel with 500 to 2,500 women and LGBTQ people. It is an experience that is priceless. And you won’t know until you go. So if there is anyone reading this and they’re like, ‘I’m not sure,’ give it a shot. Because almost every single person who has traveled with Olivia will never travel any other way.”

So what would Goldberg like to say to the Olivia team on their 50th anniversary? “Oh my God! Well, first of all, you don’t look a day over 49! I would love to just wish Olivia (and every single person who started this beautiful family) the happiest of anniversaries. They’ve changed millions of lives. So I thank you for changing mine. I thank you for the opportunity to continue to see the world and make people laugh and build friendships and grow as an artist and as a human being with such incredible energies and women around me. It’s been a blessing. And here’s to another 50 years!”

For more info, visit olivia.com.


Jenny Block

Jenny Block is a frequent contributor to a number of high-profile publications from New York Times to Huffington Post to Playboy and is the author of four books, including “Be That Unicorn: Find your Magic. Live your Truth. Share your Shine." She has appeared on a variety of television and radio programs from Nightline to BBC Radio to Great Day Houston and has performed and spoken at bookstores, events, conferences, and resorts in the US and Mexico, as well as on Holland America Cruise ships.
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