Johanna Jainchill
Johanna Jainchill

Insight logoA report last week that an Italian couple had sued a cruise line for allegedly not telling them that the vacation they purchased was a gay-themed cruise was on its face a real-life version of the 2002 Cuba Gooding Jr. movie "Boat Trip."

In the film, which did not do well and was critically panned, two straight men end up on a gay cruise. The men are so distraught at first that one of them fires a flare gun into the air, hoping to flag down a passing helicopter to rescue them.

The middle-aged Italian couple did not go so far. But according to a report in the London-based Daily Mail newspaper, they were "embarrassed after spotting people they knew, but had not realized were gay," on the Grimaldi Lines three-day sailing from Civitavecchia, Italy, to Barcelona, Spain. The couple apparently didn't realize the cruise was gay-themed until they left port.

The incident has prompted much Web chatter: debates over whether the couple was being homophobic, which the movie was also accused of being, and what responsibility the cruise line had to let the couple know what was going on.

But aside from those issues, it gives travel agents yet another opportunity to tout their value. Given the plethora of themed cruises out there, it may be more important than ever for agents to flex their ability to put the right person on the right cruise.

As one Travel Weekly reader wrote: "Homophobia is not the issue. As a travel agent it is important to 'qualify the client' and make sure that you offer the client the cruise that fits their personal interests. Clearly this couple's interests were not taken into consideration."

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