The spirit of the annual HIV Cruise Retreat (also known as “the Poz Cruise” but not associated with POZ Magazine) can be summed up in one enlightening story.
Matthew had some bad luck as he boarded the ship for our 8-day tour of the Caribbean. His luggage didn’t make it. He literally had his carry-on bag (which included his meds, thank goodness) and the clothes on his back.
At the opening reception for our 250 cruisers, we made an announcement about Matthew’s plight. Instantly, clothing was crowd-sourced for Matthew, including everything from formal attire to swimsuits. Each night at dinner Matthew appeared in some new outfit pieced together from various contributions.
“Matthew,” I would ask him each day, in my best Joan Rivers voice, “I love your outfit. Who are you wearing?”
“Everyone,” he would reply with a sunny smile.
The HIV Cruise Retreat brought together people living with HIV and our loved ones (four different men brought their mothers) for fellowship and joy. It includes both men and women, gay and straight, with men very much in the majority. (Although, as you will see in the cruise video, that by no means suggests the straight passengers are bashful wallflowers. Their costume party appearance produced so many gasps that I do believe the ship shuddered a little.)
I am fully aware that the cruise, with prices beginning in the $650 range, is out of reach for many people living with HIV. As a volunteer host, it is something that I must save for every year. But I support anything that builds important community among people with HIV, and that includes vacations that have real value beyond the perks and the destinations.
For more information on the 2017 cruise, visit the cruise website or contact our fearless leader, Paul Stalbaum, at 954-566-3377 or via email at
Enjoy the video, and please be well.
This article previously appeared at Mark's own blog, My Fabulous Disease, here