Originally created 02/11/02

Passengers head for open seas au natural

You won't notice anything special about the 1,500 passengers boarding the Carnival Cruise Lines' Jubilee on Saturday in the Port of Tampa, Fla. Except maybe that they pack a little light.

But when the ship crosses into international waters, passengers will be free to wear - or, more important, not wear - whatever they choose.

Bare Necessities Tour and Travel of Austin, Texas, chartered the ship from Carnival for a nine-day nude Mardi Gras cruise.

Passengers paid between $895 and $3,300 each for the trip that includes visits to Key West, New Orleans on Fat Tuesday and Jamaica on the day after Valentine's Day, according to Nancy Tiemann, owner of Bare Necessities.

The company, which also sells nude beach resort vacations, has sponsored nude cruises since 1992. This is the third Bare Necessities cruise from Tampa, Tiemann said. Although the cruise market dried up immediately after Sept. 11, she said, this year's trip sold out a month ago.

"We're providing a luxury that was not before available on off-shore vacations: the luxury of (deciding) what not to wear," Tiemann said.

Tampa port officials don't treat the business any differently than other "specialty cruises" that cruise lines and tour operators offer for jazz buffs, golfers or sports team fans, said port spokeswoman Lori Rafer. Last year, a ship chartered for a convention of strip club owners and businesses that cater to them.

Tiemann said there is one place a dress code applies on the nude cruise: the ship's formal dining room. The issue is comfort more than propriety. Nude diners get cold, and it wouldn't be fair to crank up the heat and make waiters in tuxedos swelter, she said.


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