The world‘s biggest lesbian travel company, Olivia, is preparing a cruise around Iceland next summer; the trip sold out as soon as the new destination was announced.
Olivia was founded in 1990 and organizes holidays for women to most corners of the world, from Antarctica to Scandinavia and now soon, Iceland. The cruise begins in Reykjavík on July 28th 2017 and goes anticlockwise around the country, ending in the capital again 8 days later.
“We’re pretty good at judging what our market wants and we’re constantly looking for places to go to. Sometimes we get requests and sometimes we lead the way. Iceland is such a hot destination now, as you probably are aware of, that it was time for us to organize a tour there,” says Judy Dlugacz, founder of Olivia.
“We’re very excited, this cruise immediately sold out as we announced it so there are almost 300 people coming sailing to you!” Judy encourages those who are interested to sign up for the waiting list as there’s usually a 15 percent cancellation rate so there’s still a chance of jumping aboard the Iceland adventure.
Olivia offers various types of trips and holidays for women, not only lesbians, and then also family holidays for LGBTI+ persons. Judy says that men are not forbidden from their female holidays, but that they’re so especially designed for women that this sort of travel would probably not suit or appeal to men. “It’s not that they’re not allowed, but it appeals to women more so it’s a rarity that men want to come too. But we do all sorts of amazing events, for gays and LGTB people too. But because there’s usually more events on offer for gay men and not lesbians, there’s more need for special women holidays.”
“We’re very excited, this cruise immediately sold out as we announced it so there are almost 300 people coming sailing to you!”
Judy initially co-founded Olivia Records, that specialised in female musicians, but changed the focus to women’s travel in 1990. “We’ve been doing this for over 25 years; we’ve taken well over 200,000 women all around the world, to Antarctica, the UK, Tahiti, Portugal, Sweden and now one of the last frontiers will be Iceland.”
And Judy stresses that the Iceland cruise is for all women, not only lesbians. “It’s just a women’s trip, they have the best of time as it’s a holiday designed from women’s point of view. Women like to see everything, they like excursions so we make sure to plan plenty of those for them. And they want to see entertainments from a woman’s perspective, so we bring a lot of female talent with us, world
renowned artists like Sarah McLachlan and Olivia Newton-John. We also bring with us public speakers and leaders in community to participate in events on our cruises. We’re trying very hard to get women from all over the world to come with us.”
According to Olivia’s website, entertainments on board the Iceland cruise haven’t been announced and indeed, when enquired, Judy says they’re still booking. “We would love to get some female Icelandic entertainers and performers, any sort of speakers and we often bring historians and experts on wild life with us. It makes such a difference if it’s a woman as well.”
Olivia was one of a kind when the company was founded, offering cruise, resort, adventure and riverboat vacations. The company always charters whole ships or buys out entire resorts to provide a safe space for women to be out and feel free. Judy says there aren’t that many travel companies that offer similar services. “They’ve come and gone; it’s such a big and complex operation that it takes a lot of time to grow and maintain the high standards.”
“We would love to get some female Icelandic entertainers and performers, any sort of speakers and we often bring historians and experts on wild life with us.”
But why do women need holidays that exclude men? “There’s nothing like being able to just be yourself on vacation, on your holiday. We don’t depend upon anybody, you’re so used to this in Iceland, but this is new for some of us, for women to take their power in that way. And it’s very empowering and inspiring; something just happens with women who travel together, it’s the happiest group I’ve ever seen!”
And Judy adds that on their travels, they’ve discovered something spectacular. “When only women come together to observe wildlife, something amazing happens. It must be the female energy or something but the animals come to us! Every time we go on a safari, we see all the big five, and for instance when we went to the Bahamas we saw thousands of dolphins come to us. National
Geographic has interest in this phenomenon and we’re encouraged to document this because it’s inexplicable. Animals simply come to us to interact with us, the way they don’t with other groups of people.”
So on a cruise ship full of women, are there at least any men allowed in the crew? “The crew is the crew; they love us and we love them. We work with the same cruise lines again and again and they know us by now; we’re so much fun and so appreciative of their service that they look forward to us coming for a cruise. When we first started, the cruise lines were very homophobic but now it’s all changed.”
The 8 day cruise around Iceland includes short stops in e.g. Heimaey island, Seyðisfjordur, Akureyri, Ísafjörður and Grundarfjörður. The vessel, ms Star Legend, has a capacity for 212 passengers who are accommodated in luxury rooms and have access to lounges, a club, casino and a library as well as a spa and a fitness centre. More information on the Iceland cruise can be found on Olivia’s website.