During one wander about the ship with a couple of gay journalist colleagues, we thought we spotted superstar British artist Damien Hirst and actor Michael Emerson, of TV series Lost and Person of Interest, sharing a romantic moment together. What in heck was going on here?
“We’re celebrating our 30th anniversary,” the Emerson lookalike told me, clarifying that his name is actually Stephen McGinn, a TV producer who lives in Manchester, England. His Hirst doppelganger partner (they had a civil union in 2008), Dr. Peter Mackereth, is a therapist who specializes in helping people quit smoking, and is also an artist working in pottery.
“You guys should totally take advantage of your resemblance to celebrities and get the best tables at restaurants,” I insisted. “Work it!”
They’re a delightful pair, and have vacationed on quite a few cruise lines over the years, including Celebrity X, Crystal, Windstar, and the luxe 400-person Seabourn to Russia. “We always wonder, ‘are we the only gays,’ and then we come across other couples the day before we leave.”
They selected Diamond Princess for this special occasion, “because of the destinations,” Peter added. “We’ve never gone back to the same ship, and this was one of the few that goes around Japan.”
Diamond Princess actively promotes itself as a “celebratory cruise,” and it appears to be a successful effort, as doors throughout the stateroom hallways were riddled with balloons and signage announcing anniversaries, birthdays, engagements, and more. McGinn and Mackereth were hardly the only LGBT folks on board, too, and they certainly didn’t have to wait till the end of the cruise to spot fellow gay couples. For one, there’s a daily 5 P.M. “LGBT Get Together” in one of the ship’s lounges.
I also found the overall demographic on board to be refreshingly diverse. Young families with children, cliques of twentysomething Asian friends (at least a couple of bachelor parties, I’d wager), and romantic couples both straight and gay.