By Stephanie Papadakis
Attention Washington, D.C. area lesbians: If you are thinking about traveling any time in the next year, and you want to know where the lesbians will be, look no further than Olivia. Bringing entertainment for the last 40 years, Olivia will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2013 with its largest cruise and entertainment lineup to set sail yet: 4,200 women and over 20 entertainers on back-to-back cruises in the Southern Caribbean.
While Olivia was founded in 1973 as the groundbreaking women’s music label, today it is the premier lesbian travel company, taking women on cruise, resort, adventure and luxury vacations all over the world. Olivia always charters the entire cruise ship or buys out the entire resort, bringing in entertainment and activities geared towards the lesbian community. “Even if you are out all the time in the world, there’s nothing like being in the majority every minute of every day on your vacation,” said Judy Dlugacz, President and Founder of Olivia.
As a record company, Olivia sold over a million albums and as a travel company Olivia has taken over 150,000 women on more than 175 trips around the world. “From a 46-passenger expedition ship visiting the Galapagos to 2,100 women on a Caribbean cruise, from 300 lesbians on a riverboat in China to 1,000 women on the beach in Punta Cana, Olivia guests have been welcomed everywhere. We have given back to the communities we visit, raised awareness and changed hearts and minds about what it means to be a lesbian traveler,” said Jill Cruse, VP of Guest Experience.
Olivia’s first “concerts on a cruise” in 1990 were met with tremendous enthusiasm. “History has repeated itself—the first cruise ship we chartered sold out so quickly that we had to add a second sailing, and the same thing happened with our 30th, and now 40th, anniversary cruises. We are overwhelmed by the response to this latest milestone,” said Dlugacz. “It’s about celebrating our community and all we’ve experienced and accomplished together these past four decades.”
Women of every ethnicity, nationality, age, ability, relationship status and profession travel with Olivia for a once-in-a-lifetime experience — to have an all-woman, all-lesbian vacation. Special groups include a Solos/Singles program for women traveling alone, which offers an array of activities and opportunities to meet other singles, as well as Sisters at Sea/Sisters at Play, which celebrates diversity and offers women of color and their friends to participate in special activities and mixers.
Chartering the high seas from January 27–February 3, 2013 and again February 3–10, 2013, Olivia’s 40th Anniversary Cruises promise 2,100 women, over 20 entertainers, parties, dances, incredible excursions like swimming with dolphins, ATV rides, a singles/solos program and much more, all designed with the breadth and diversity of the Olivia community in mind. “This is the biggest celebration of our community that Olivia has produced to date. It will be a giant reunion, celebration, entertainment extravaganza and tropical vacation all rolled into one,” remarked Tisha Floratos, VP of Travel for Olivia.
Olivia just booked Billie Jean King, who, in 2013, will celebrate the 40th anniversary of her historic win against Bobby Riggs in the famed “Battle of the Sexes” match. King is a champion for social change and equality and is one of three women to be awarded with Olivia’s Lifetime Achievement award. “What could be better than celebrating two major historic anniversaries for women? In 1973, Billie Jean single-handedly changed the world of sports and women’s sense of self and Olivia built a women’s cultural movement and visibility for lesbians that had never existed before,” said Dlugacz.
Presenting over 20 recording artists, comedians and prominent DJs, Olivia boasts the greatest festival of talent ever to perform on one of its cruises. “We are thrilled to have a reunion performance of original Olivia recording artists Meg Christian and Cris Williamson, along with the biggest lineup we have ever had,” said Floratos. Kate Clinton, Vickie Shaw, Karen Williams, Suede, Marga Gomez, Lisa Koch, Roxanna Ward, Elvira Kurt, Michele Balan, Sweet Baby J’ai, Julie Goldman, Dianne Davidson, Barbara Higbie, Teresa Trull, Dana Goldberg, Gina Yashere, Julie Wolf, Zoe Lewis, Mimi Gonzalez, CC Carter and more will all be onboard to perform and celebrate.
For those unable to make it to the Caribbean, Olivia’s celebration continues by offering a 40th anniversary Punta Cana Music and Comedy Festival, May 11–18, 2013 and again May 18–25, 2013, at Club Med’s all-inclusive resort in the Dominican Republic. Each week, 1,100 women will enjoy swimming, snorkeling, kayaking and daytime and evening music, comedy, dance, and spoken word performances by Wanda Sykes, Cris Williamson, Vicci Martinez, Melissa Ferrick, Toshi Reagon, Vickie Shaw, Karen Williams, CC Carter and more.
Forty years is a major milestone for a lesbian company, and speaks to the deep bond between Olivia and its travelers, who are affectionately referred to as “The Olivia Family.” “It’s a bond unparalleled by any company, anywhere, and we will honor that connection with these four extraordinary vacations,” promised Dlugacz.