'Nakations' offer a respite from clothes and stress
By Cynthia Johnston
LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - When the Carnival Freedom sets sail from Florida next February for an eight-day cruise to Panama, it will offer the same amenities as any other Carnival cruise: three pools, a jogging track, a 1970s dance club and a cigar bar.
But there is one stark difference. Passengers on the white behemoth of a ship, which can carry 2,974 passengers, will enjoy those facilities naked.
The ship's expected nude sailing - the trip is 70 percent booked - underscores the vitality of the U.S. nude tourism industry, which the American Association for Nude Recreation says brings in around $440 million a year, up about 10 percent in the last decade.
"I think when we vacation, we would rather travel with like-minded people, whether nudists or jazz music lovers," said Nancy Tiemann, owner of the nude tourism company Bare Necessities, which is arranging the cruise. "It's not just about getting on a cruise ship and taking your clothes off."
Nude tourism isn't a new concept: Tiemann started booking cruises two decades ago with a ship of 600 people and the American Association for Nude Recreation celebrated its 80th anniversary last year.
But the industry has evolved, with resorts becoming more upscale, cruises getting larger, and judging from the turnout of vendors at the first nudist expo last week in Las Vegas, no shortage of tourism companies aiming to cater to those who would rather travel in the buff.
Smaller nude cruises have visited the Greek Islands, Croatia and the Italian and French Rivieras in addition to more conservative locales such as Egypt - though travelers were clothed when they toured the pyramids.
Nudists, who say they are not about forcing nudism on others, emphasize the nudist lifestyle is simply about enjoying oneself without the social or physical burden of clothing in a non-sexual, family-friendly environment of like-minded people. Continued...