February 9, 2023
2023 Rewind: Atlantis Cruises Bans Gay Customers from Posting 'Explicit' Content While On Board
Kilian Melloy READ TIME: 3 MIN.
This piece is part of EDGE's 2023 Rewind series. We're reaching into our archives and sharing some of our favorite stories from the past year.
A new policy says gay travelers could find themselves high and dry without a refund if they post "explicit" sexual photos or videos online to social media (or even paid sites like Only Fans or Just For Fans) while on an Atlantis Events cruise.
Buzzfeed News reported that the "new policy was jointly created by Atlantis Events, which is one of the oldest and largest LGBTQ travel companies in the US, and Royal Caribbean, the second-largest cruise line company in the world, after adult videos filmed by passengers went viral in the past."
The outlet quoted a section from a handbook that customers on a recent Caribbean gay cruise aboard the Harmony of the Seas were supplied with: "Please do not post anything explicitly sexual on social media in a public forum or other online space. Any guest who posts or publishes an explicit and publicly visible photo or video will be asked to leave the ship with no refund."
"But the policy did not appear to have been included in an Atlantis pre-cruise guide that was sent to guests for a cruise in October 2022," Buzzfeed said.
"Rich Campbell, the founder and CEO of Atlantis Events, told BuzzFeed News that the policy was communicated to guests at the request of cruise ship companies," the outlet detailed.
"The cruise lines have asked me to include that and that's not such a strange request," Campbell stated. "They don't want their brand featured" in videos that show sexual activity.
In the past, Campbell said, Atlantis Events has "taken a one-off approach" to explicit content created aboard cruise ships and posted online. "If we see something like that then we contact the person who did it and say, 'Hey, please take that down,' and they usually do."
A Royal Caribbean International spokesperson explained the policy in a slightly different way, saying the cruise line and Atlantis Events "established this policy to protect the safety and privacy of all guests onboard."
"The spokesperson did not answer questions about when the policy was agreed to and whether it will be included in guidance for passengers on non-LGBTQ-focused cruises on Royal Caribbean ships," Buzzfeed noted.
"Atlantis competitor Vacaya is also set to take gay and bisexual guests on a Caribbean cruise that leaves on Feb. 12," the account went on to say, adding that guidelines posted online for that cruise "makes no mention of any social media content restrictions but notes cameras are not allowed to be used in certain public areas of the ship where nudity and sex are permitted."
Attorney Jim Walker, who specializes in maritime law, noted a central paradox to the new policy, pointing out that "Atlantis Events can use photos or video of guests however it sees fit but guests cannot post photos or videos of what actually happens on the cruise."
"Just For Fans founder Dominic Ford told BuzzFeed News he was aware that some users had warned each other of the policy," the article went on to say, but expressed the opinion that "Every brand has a right to protect its image," and said that even if content creators for Just for Fans were to create and post explicit content while aboard the ship, if they are "careful and smart about filming, they should be fine."
Or maybe not: Atlantis Events claims to have "a team of volunteers" monitoring every place online that explicit videos taken on a cruise might be posted.
Walker expressed doubt, calling such monitoring "difficult," and suggesting that the company might better use its resources to combat drug use on cruises instead of "trying to suppress videos and photos of public sex..."
Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.