MIAMI (CBS4) – Carnival Cruise Lines is apologizing to gay passengers booked for an upcoming cross-dressing voyage for telling them they could not dress in drag on the ship, according to CBS4 News partner The Miami Herald.

The Miami-based company came under fire in the gay and lesbian community when they told passengers who had booked to attend the Drag Stars at Sea that they must “refrain from engaging in inappropriate conduct in public areas” — or be kicked off the ship Glory. Carnival claimed the themed trip did not adhere to their “family friendly atmosphere”.

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The trip was coordinated by AlandChuck Travel, a gay-oriented company based in Sarasota. The company had booked about 1,000 passengers for the cruise.

But after a social media firestorm, the company is now backing off that statement, saying passengers can dress however they choose.

“Anyone who wishes to dress in drag may do so,” Carnival President and CEO Gerry Cahill wrote in a letter to passengers obtained by the paper.

Cahill went on to say that anyone who wishes to forego the trip will be given a full refund, including “reimbursement for any non-refundable travel related expenses.”

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The controversy began when AlandChuck received an email from the cruise line’s guest services department that stated:

“Carnival attracts a number of families with children and for this reason; we strive to present a family friendly atmosphere. It is important to us that all guests are comfortable with every aspect of the cruise. Although we realize this group consists solely of adults, we nonetheless expect all guests to recognize that minors are onboard and, refrain from engaging in inappropriate conduct in public areas,” Rey wrote. “Arrangements have been made for drag performances in the main theater featuring stars from LOGO TV. These functions will be private and only the performers are permitted to dress in drag while in the theater. Guests are not allowed to dress in drag for the performances or in public areas at any time during the cruise.”

The company’s stance ignited a firestorm on the AlandChuck’s Facebook page, with confirmed guests expressing concern over perceived bias, with some demanding refunds.

The Drag Stars at Sea cruise is set to depart PortMiami on Sunday, December 2, and tour the Caribbean before returning to Miami on December 9.

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