TAMPA, Florida - A Carnival Cruise hit some rough water even before leaving port. The cruise line sparked on online uproar when it informed passengers of the "Drag Stars at Sea" cruise that they themselves could not dress in drag.
"Oh yes, people are not happy," said Tampa drag queen Alex Hernandez, who is scheduled to perform as Alisa Summers on the cruise. Hernandez says a ban on drag for passengers and threats of being thrown off the ship would make the whole cruise a drag.
"I know people probably spent so much money on costumes and hair for these parties and what now? They can't wear'em?"
Carnival says it sent the email because "we strive to present a family friendly atmosphere." But female impersonator Dammon Johnson wonders why the cruise line wasn't as considerate to the feelings of the gay community.
"I was rather insulted and appalled, because the cruise is being advertised as a drag cruise," said Johnson.
Hundreds of angry messages filled Al and Chuck Travel's Facebook page. The news story also gained steam Tuesday online and by mid-afternoon Carnival changed course.
The Cruise line issued the following statement:
"Within the last 24 hours, we became aware of a miscommunication between Carnival Cruise Lines and AlandChuck.travel, who have booked a large special interest group on the upcoming Carnival Glory cruise departing December 2, 2012.
"The group 'Drag Stars at Sea' includes several performances by stars from Logo TV as part of a series of private events onboard. When the group was presented to us we were advised that only the performers would be dressed in drag during the private events. However, we are now aware that this was not clearly communicated to members of the group and therefore anyone who wishes to dress in drag may do so. Please keep in mind that our safety and security procedures require guests to present government-issued ID, and to be recognizably that person.
"At Carnival, we are proud to carry more than 4.5 million guests every year and we welcome them all aboard. We do not practice any form of discrimination against the LGBT or any other community. We sincerely apologize for the miscommunication and for any unintended offense we have caused.
"Given this misunderstanding, anyone on this cruise who wishes to cancel for any reason may do so and will receive a full refund of their cruise fare, as well as reimbursement for any non-refundable travel related expenses.
"We constantly strive to provide our guests with a fun and memorable vacation. We look forward to welcoming everyone onboard Carnival Glory and again want to apologize for the misunderstanding and for any offense we have caused."
So what does Hernandez think? "Social media definitely put pressure on them," he says.
So, for now, Hernandez is looking forward to strutting on deck as Alisa, but he still thinks this drag misstep could continue to be a drag on business.
"I think there are going to be hard feelings for Carnival and for Al and Chuck, but then, such is life. We're going to go, have a good time and party," he says with a laugh.