THE Lesbian Cruise - Holland America MS Westerdam on the Olivia Leadership and Equality Cruise.
By Jenny Block
Today was the first full day of the cruise and full is an understatement. One of the things that really makes Olivia stand out is its programming. I mean lots of cruises have lots of activities. But Olivia manages to fill the days – whether at sea or in port – with activities that nearly every one on board wants to do.
Take today for example, a day at sea. Things kicked off with a panel called Activism in Action: The Importance of Creating Your Own Future Through Political Participation. The panel was comprised of Representative Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Democratic National Committee Chair; Aditi Hardikar, Director of the LGBT Leadership Council at the Democratic National Committee; and Claire Lucas, a Senior Advisor for Public-Private Partnerships, USAID. The panel was moderated by Olivia President and Founder Judy Dlugacz.
Representative Wasserman-Schultz began with a moving speech about the importance of activism and voting and getting involved. Then the panelists chimed in on questions posed by both Dlugacz and the audience. The panel ended with a discussion about the lesbian round tables that have been held with First Lady Michelle Obama, Dlugacz, and lesbian donors (many of them ladies of Olivia) who give $10,000 for a seat at the table. We really are in the game these days and Dlugacz is a big part of why.
The afternoon was filled with Wet & Wacky pool games, a seminar on upcoming Olivia travel and a Performing Arts panel titled The Impact On Our Community: Past, Present, and Future with Meredith Baxter, Karen Williams, Amy Ray, Emily Saliers, and C.C. Carter with Dlugacz as moderator. The only problem with these Olivia trips and panels is that it makes it really, really hard to go back to real life afterwards.
The world is full of talented, brilliant, powerful women who go by all too unnoticed in the “real world.” I always leave these trips wanting to live in an “Olivia world” instead.
After freshening up, we made our way to the theater for the evening’s performer, comedienne Vickie Shaw. Prior to the show, the entire Olivia team was introduced and the new theme song was debuted. It’s great, by the way! Even catchier than before! Vickie Shaw had the entire audience rolling on the floor as she chided the ship and her family and even how tiny and cute Edie Windsor is. “I just want to put her on my hip and carry her around,” she joked. Nowhere else but on an Olivia cruise could you joke about burping such a prominent and incredible women like a baby over your shoulder and everyone loved it!
Dinner was next on the agenda and then it was on to an amazing live performance by Antigone Rising in Club O followed by dancing till past the midnight hour with DJ Christie James We made ourselves go to bed before it got too late though because tomorrow is our first port day – Grand Turk in Turks and Caicos. Cannot wait to hit what I hear are crystal clear waters on my catamaran and snorkel excursion!
I've been very lucky to have the chance to travel all around the world. I've ridden a camel in Israel; been swimming with rays and sharks in Bora Bora; gone ATVing in Curacao' and gotten my dive certification in St Kitts. I've watched the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets; talked to the most interesting people; stayed in the most outrageous places; and felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for every minute of it. I look forward to sharing all of my adventures with you, future and past, in hopes of inspiring you to take a leap or two of your own. I plan to take you on a virtual world tour and I hope you'll share your travel stories with me all along the way.