Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2015-07-01
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


  WINDY CITY TIMES

Getting Away with R Family Vacations
by Andrew Davis
2005-01-12

facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email


Pictured Gregg Kaminsky and Kelli O'Donnell on last year's cruise . Rosie O'Donnell on the 2004 R Family cruise.

When people hear the term 'gay travel package,' they think of lots of skin, exotic locales—and even more skin. While this may be fine for some singles, it leaves gay couples and their ( extended ) families out in the cold.

Fortunately, R Family Vacations is here to fill the void. Started by Gregg Kaminsky and Kelli O'Donnell ( wife of celebrity Rosie O'Donnell ) , this travel company not only appeals to both gays and lesbians, but families as well—and that includes kids.

Kelli O'Donnell recently chatted with Windy City Times; the one-time Chicagoan discussed everything from going to the Bahamas to connecting with other gay families.

Windy City Times: How did the concept of R Family Vacations begin and how did it become a reality?

Kelli O'Donnell: My business partner, Gregg Kaminsky, used to work for Atlantis Vacations, a charter company that caters to gay men. About three or four years ago, the main talent for a cruise ended up cancelling. He called [ Rosie ] to ask if she knew anyone who could [ substitute ] and she said she would do it. So we went on the cruise and it was an amazing experience. Ro asked Gregg if anyone had done cruises for gay families; he said no but that he was interested. So after he left Atlantis, we sat down with a business plan and here we are.

WCT: So being family-friendly is what makes your company different from other businesses?

KOD: Actually, the main difference is that the passengers are about half men and half women. The next biggest difference is that there are lots of children on board; however, not every family brings kids. Sometimes it's just a gay man traveling with a lesbian best friend, for example. Other times, people just bring their parents. Yes, there's edgy entertainment—but there [ is ] also family-friendly [ fare ] .

WCT: So the entertainment is a mix of things.

KOD: Yes. Last time [ in R Family Vacation's maiden voyage ] , we left from New York City ( which is where we're leaving from this year as well ) . Basically, we put any unemployed Broadway actor in a taxicab; the performers took over the ship and put on a great opening number. We had a great comedy extravaganza; Joy Behar performed. The entertainment appeals to gay families; couples; and straight friends and family.

I had my whole family on board last year and everyone had fun. I brought my partner and kids, obviously—but I also brought my parents; siblings; and their spouses and kids. A family of eight might come with us—and there's only one couple in [ that bunch ] . About 15 percent of the people who traveled last year were straight friends and family members.

WCT: So as long as you're open-minded ...

KOD: ... and you like good Broadway, this cruise is for you. [ Laughs. ] It's definitely a gay cruise but it felt like such a great thing to bring my family on board and have them see that it's not always what they think it is.

WCT: Describe this year's trip. It's a one-week excursion, right?

KOD: Correct. We'll probably add another trip in 2006. This year's trip happens on July 10. We're leaving from New York City and going up to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Then, we're going down the Cape; we're going to Provincetown, Boston, and Martha's Vineyard—and then back to New York City.

WCT: What was last year's trip like?

KOD: You know what's interesting? We had all the pieces in place but we didn't really realize the magic that was going to take place. People who had never met another gay family met other families and it was powerful—not just for them, but for their kids as well. By the way, we had 600 kids on board.

WCT: Speaking of kids, what's their program like?

KOD: There's an amazing kids' program on board. Passengers can use it as much or as little as they want. You can check them in the morning and check them out at night if you want.

Also, there are 10 restaurants on board with all types of cuisines. We've arranged a schedule where parents can go to a buffet with kids, feed their children, check their children into the program, have a nice night out, get the kids later on that night, and put them to bed. So you can have a night out without the kids if you want.

WCT: And what parent doesn't want that on occasion?

KOD: Exactly. Trust me; I have four kids.

WCT: Regarding reservations, can people make them online?

KOD: No, you can't make cruise reservations online. However, you can call our office directly [ at ( 866 ) 732-6822 ] . There are only three of us here so you'll get to know everyone here.

WCT: What are the best and most difficult parts of running this business?

KOD: The best part is connecting to other gay families. I feel like I'm part of one of the best-known gay families in this country; like us, I feel that there are thousands of other [ similar ] families looking to connect.

The most challenging part is making sure that everyone's happy. The interesting thing is that last year we had only two complaints on our cruise—and that's incredible. I'm not so sure people are going to be easy on us this year. Another hard thing is finding the next right trip for our families. We're looking at possibly having a ski trip or a trip out to a dude ranch.

WCT: Any concluding thoughts?

KOD: I highly recommended coming on the cruise. Everyone has a ball and it'll be the experience of a lifetime.

Kelli O'Donnell and Gregg Kaminsky will appear at a mixer at La Tache Restaurant, 1475 W. Balmoral, on Sunday, Jan. 16 from 5-7 p.m. There will be complimentary food and drinks; giveaways; and lots of helpful information regarding this year's cruise. For more information about the event, call ( 773 ) 334-7168.

For more information about the company, visit www.rfamilyvacations.com . To make a reservation, call ( 866 ) 732-6822.

At A Glance:

Kelli O'Donnell

Favorite childhood memory: That would be coming up to New York City from Louisiana and seeing all the Broadway shows. Les Miserables sticks out in my mind.

Favorite Chicago neighborhood: Andersonville.

Favorite video game: Pac-Man, of course.

Choice—BMW or Corvette?: BMW.

Choice—Dogs or cats?: Oh, dogs. I'm allergic to cats.

Choice—Creativity or logic?: Definitely logic. I'm married to one of the most creative people I know. If one of us wasn't logical, I don't know we'd have a house! [ Laughs. ]


facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Nat'l Interfaith Service part of National LGBT 50th Anniversary Celebration 2015-07-03
Memorial planned for Chicago Dramatists' Russ Tutterow 2015-07-03
National politics debated during Philadelphia celebrations 2015-07-02
City of Chicago Salute LGBT veterans held at Daley Plaza 2015-07-02
DOJ supports transgender student's right to appropriate restroom 2015-07-02
Wreath laying honors gay pioneers in Philadelphia 2015-07-02
Dublin Pride has much to celebrate 2015-07-01
Stanley Cup makes the rounds in Boystown over Pride weekend; CGHA celebrates 2015-07-01
Katz named to State Bar Assoc'n Sexual Orientation, Gender ID Committee 2015-07-01
SmithAmundsen holds Pride event 2015-07-01
Brookfield Zoo marks Pride 2015-07-01
Astellas holds event with Clementis 2015-07-01
MUSIC ROUNDUP JC Brooks; Baathhaus; St. Lucia; Neon Trees 2015-07-01
Episcopalians OK same-sex marriage 2015-07-01
Dining news: Marriage-victory items; Fourth of July 2015-07-01
BOOK REVIEW Love Changes 1.0 2015-07-01
U.S. rep keynotes higher-education event 2015-07-01
ENTERTAINERS 'Drag Race' alum Ginger Minj takes 'Christ' on the road 2015-07-01
'Chefs' holds annual event in new spot; 'Starving' at Venue One 2015-07-01
DISH: SAVOR SideDoor 2015-07-01
Neverland Productions to change upcoming party's name after uproar 2015-07-01
Entertainment: Celebs react to marriage news; Jeremy Renner; Spider-Man 2015-07-01
World news: Ontario bans conversion therapy; Moscow; Mozambique 2015-07-01
National roundup: OPM praised; Hillary's video; marriage news 2015-07-01
One million at Pride '15 2015-07-01
Open To Thinking: The Future of Our Democracy 2015-07-01
Website answers questions about marriage 2015-07-01
Trans activist writes about Obama actions 2015-07-01
National LGBT 50th-anniv. event in Philly July 2-5 2015-07-01
Chapin Hall launches 'Voices of Youth Count' 2015-07-01
Forty years ago: Chicago's 1975 marriage protest 2015-07-01
In the Life: Ashley Perrin 2015-07-01
Legacy Walk welcoming Ugandan trans activist 2015-07-01
Global homophobia report released 2015-07-01
VIEWS A victory for and by our children 2015-07-01
SCOTTISH PLAY SCOTT Broadway 'losers' 2015-07-01
THEATER REVIEW Men on the Verge of a His-Panic Breakdown 2015-07-01
THEATER REVIEW A Work of Art 2015-07-01
THEATER REVIEW Moby Dick 2015-07-01
Spotlight, Critics' Picks 2015-07-01
 



Copyright © 2015 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.