My Nude Cruise Experience on the Big Nude Boat
For eight days, Jordan and I sailed the Caribbean Sea on Bare Necessities’ 50th nude cruise. Yes, 50th! On the biggest boat they’ve ever chartered. Close to 3,000 nude passengers sailed with us from Ft. Lauderdale to Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama and back.
As you might have heard from our newsletter, we almost didn’t make it on the ship when blizzard Nemo came rolling into town and canceled thousands of flights the day before! But we got out of New York in the nick of time and onto the ship that first day.
We set sail late afternoon and once we were 3 miles out, the cruise director announced that we could get naked! There was some clapping and cheering as the nude cruise officially began.
When they said “Big Nude Boat,” they weren’t kidding. There were 10 or 11 levels. You could run into someone once and then not see them again for days. The weather was sunny and warm every day and most people spent the daytime on the upper outside decks, sunbathing or relaxing in one of the pools or hot tubs. On these decks, there were two outdoor pools, several hot tubs, and a giant water slide! There was also a basketball court and mini golf course. The spa had its own hot tub, sauna and steam room. My only issue was that with the exception of the spa’s indoor whirlpool, all the hot tubs were more like warm tubs, and I found them too cold for comfort at night. Other than that, a lovely ship.
Food and Drink
Food, glorious food! If any of you have ever been on a Carnival cruise before, you know how much food is available on these ships. At breakfast and lunch there were big buffets with a huge variety of cuisines. Ice cream and pizza were available all day long. At night you could dine fancier at one of the restaurants with even better food. There were vegetarian options every night, though vegans might find it a bit more challenging to eat. It was easy to indulge, but there was also no lack of healthier fare. I appreciated that there was a symbol signifying healthy options on the restaurant menus.
There were two bars one could sit at for drinks on the decks, or of course you could lounge in a chair and be waited on. Soda and alcoholic beverages cost extra. The alcoholic drinks were a bit pricey, but good. There were plenty of tables and chairs to sit and eat lunch or dinner outside as well.
*Before I left out this one part, because I didn’t want to sour the rest of the review, but I have to be honest with you all – I got food poisoning. I was violently ill the last day and a half of the cruise, along with 50+ other passengers. This isn’t totally uncommon on cruise trips. I wouldn’t let this keep you from taking a nude cruise, but it does happen.
Some of the entertainment was good, some of it was okay. On the days at sea there were some free classes on board such as meditation, photography, qi gong and more. Paid classes such as Zumba were inexpensive but had to be paid for in advance. I would’ve liked some free exercise classes and just a greater variety of classes and workshops. Actually I would’ve liked it if the ship were like one big naturist festival with a variety of workshops all day, every day. But for me this wasn’t quite a naturist cruise.
Every night there were multiple to shows with comedians, dancers, singers, and other entertainers. I didn’t go to many of these, but I did enjoy one of the song and dance shows with classic hits. They also screened several movies every night on the outside deck, which were fun to watch under the stars. Of course there was also the casino and bar and lounge areas with a variety of live music. (Now, I’m not condoning gambling, but one night I won $1,000 on The Golden Monkey! Pure luck, and I still advise against gambling there because most of the time these machines will eat your money ;))
There were a bunch of excursions to choose from at each port, organized by Carnival. You could also step off the boat and find your own adventure, but you have to be careful to make it back on the boat in time for departure. Each port had a shopping area, and my favorite was the market in Costa Rica. We went diving in Cozumel, took a walk through the rainforest in Costa Rica, and a tour of the Panama Canal. Diving was the only activity we did on our own. All the excursions were great experiences.
The majority of passengers were age 50+, though we still managed to get a small number of young naturists on board, yay! We were also a bit surprised by the lack of self-identified nudists and naturists. Some of the people we talked to even referred to naturist as “naturalist,” which you wouldn’t expect to hear so much in this environment. There were swingers, but that’s not much different than what you’d find at some clubs and resorts and you couldn’t tell by looking at them. People were generally very friendly, open and happy.
This was an adults-only cruise, so there were no children, and we’d wondered why that was the case. Then we heard Stephane’s interview with Bare Necessities president Nancy Tiemann on the Bare Oaks podcast. Nancy explained that they started out doing family-oriented trips in the beginning, but over time learned that most people preferred adults-only cruises. It doesn’t mean that these cruises are sexually driven or have an environment inappropriate for kids. It was simply people’s preference. This may be one of the reasons the cruisers are mostly an older crowd. Young parents and families will have a harder time finding the time, money and a short-term babysitter for their kids.
Nudity Onboard – Was everybody naked the whole time?
There were a few rules on board about nudity. Everyone had to be dressed while in port and in the sit-down restaurants, but the dress code was very casual. Otherwise, nudity ruled. The majority of people were naked. There were apparently a handful of people who remained fully dressed the whole time, but I didn’t notice them. Many walked around in bathrobes, which make a nice substitute for a towel and are comfy, especially indoors in air conditioning. The staff was dressed in uniform, which was required for them.
At night people dressed for dinner or put on costumes depending on that night’s theme. People get serious about theme costumes on these cruises, and it’s awesome! It really adds to the fun. Although Bare Necessities had a rule against wearing lingerie or “fetish-wear,” I still saw a lot of it. Yes, lingerie can be a costume, but it’s still lingerie. It made me think about what clothing should be considered inappropriate for nudist environments, but that’s a topic for another day. Next time I’m going to be more prepared and bring some accessories! On this cruise there was a moustache night, Mardi Gras, and Valentine’s Day themes to name a few.
So that was our trip! We thoroughly enjoyed our first nude cruise. To learn more about the history of Bare Necessities and where it’s going, click play below to listen to Stephane’s latest podcast episode.
About the Author (Author Profile)I'm Felicity Jones, author of Felicity's Blog and co-founder of Young Naturists America. I write about nudism and naturism in today's world along with issues like top-freedom and body acceptance, and various naked topics. Enjoy, and please leave a comment when you've got something to say! :)
I have experienced this same thing on many other cruises that I have been on. I have inquired before and the answer I got stated that it was a health concern. Just as you are asked to place a towel on your seating area when you are in the gym or at a pool area. They don't want bodily fluids in close proximity to their food containers. This is not just a Carnival imposed rule, it is the same rule on many other cruise lines and resorts that I have been to as well. Many resorts adhere to this same rule as well, so when I frequent these places instead of wearing a full outfit I usually just wear a Kilt and Bow tie and it doesn't cause a big stir especially when towel wraps are not allowed in dining areas or gender appropriate attire is required.
Why should there be clothing requirements on a "Nude" cruise? Wouldn't the normally prerequisite towel be enough for sitting down to dinner? It is, after all, a "Nude" cruise,,, we don't dress for dinner at home. I can understand being dressed while in port, but what about other organized indoor activities such as shows or dance clubs, etc.,,,were these also "clothing required"?
On the Big Nude Boat, you could go to the buffet restaurant naked, where you fill your plate yourself and then sit down. So I don't think it's a health concern, otherwise you'd have to dress there too. The health concern thing makes sense for the people handling the food, but not really for the people eating it. There might be some health regulations requiring that diners be dressed in restaurants at resorts, or on cruises, I don't know.
This was only in the main dinning area. Everywhere else was fine and many stayed nude at shows, bars casinos.I wouldn't pass up on one of these just because I need to dress for just one venue on a ship of this size.Another plus, unlike regular cruises Saunas, Steam Rooms and alike are Co-Ed. I can go have a sauna with my wife! There's a concept for a cruiseline.....
I think it's more of a Carnival-imposed rule. You could be naked in the buffet area for lunch or dinner, just not in the sit-down dining room with wait staff. So I guess that was a concession they made. I've encountered the same rule at naturist resorts - must dress for meals. Idk why either. But no, you didn't have to dress for any other activities on board.