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Naked Parties and Public Sex: I Went on a Cruise With 300 Swingers

I went on a swinger cruise...and I think I’ll do it again.

The DJ’s pumping dance music for the welcome reception on the pool deck. People are laughing and dancing. From afar, it doesn’t look out of the ordinary. But as you get closer, you’ll notice the topless swimmers lounging in the hot tub and the giant gourds and melons carved into phallic shapes at the appetizer table. This cruise is a swinger’s takeover cruise hosted by Luxury Lifestyle Vacations (LLV), one of the top vacation planners for those in the swinger lifestyle.

When I was invited to join one of the LLV ships to experience it firsthand, my curiosity wouldn’t let me say no. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first embarked. After all, my partner and I are monogamous. Would I enjoy it?

I had the opportunity to chat with all types of couples who had been swinging from four years to 40 years. When they found out we weren’t in the lifestyle, they were even more open about their experiences to help us understand their distinct culture, one filled with friendliness and fantasy. I couldn’t help but ask the question, “would I…?” with every couple we encountered. I even met a few couples who were also monogamous. They would join the rest as regulars—LLV says 75% of their clientele are return guests—because they loved the sex-positive vibes of the vacations.

And there were plenty of sex-positive vibes.

Throughout the week on the ship, I found the experience to be not only fun but educational. The ports-of-call were like any other cruise, but once back on the ship, guests could attend sessions for boudoir posing, speed dating, and hands-on workshops such as tantric genital massages and sacred squirting.

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Workshops were hosted by a number of experts: sexologists, medical doctors, tantric practitioners, and relationship coaches all came together to bring an educational and pleasurable experience to guests. On the luxury cruise ship, it was easy to shed the weight of everyday life and be more adventurous. I had never considered taking any kind of genital massage workshop, let alone a group workshop. I wasn’t sure what level of participation to expect or if the sessions were structured in a way that monogamous couples could participate. What I found was that the goals of these sessions were to strengthen the connection between partners, regardless of their relationship structure. Learning the basics of tantra, weaving together the physical and the spiritual, was eye-opening—as was being in a room filled with naked couples. While there were aspects that felt hot and steamy (how could it not?), the overarching theme was that of a sacred human connectedness.

Through those sessions, I realized how much more we had in common with the couples in the lifestyle. At the end of the day, sex at its core was something we were all familiar with. Lust, love, insecurity, and jealousy were feelings all of us had experienced. In monogamy, the sexual experience is isolated to just two people. In a way, it can get lonely. While my partner and I didn’t swing, being among swingers brought us closer because we felt less alone in our sexual relationship. Their openness encouraged our openness.


The days were explorational and educational; the nights were much more serious, as the erotic tension heightened to palpable energy. Themed dance parties such as “Venetian Masquerade,” “Fetish Night,” and “Animal Magnetism” allowed guests to show off their creativity and their sensuality with barely-there costumes. Being surrounded by people who embraced their sexuality was a refreshing environment in contrast to the all-too-familiar fear of harassment and judgment. If couples hit it off on the dance floor, the playroom was conveniently close. This was the only place where public sex was permitted. Supplied with lube, condoms, and mood lighting, couples could enjoy consent-based play on one of the many inflatable mattresses. Close by, LLV staff members stood as security in case anything happened.

Because the cruise was high-end, the crowd was generally older, well-off couples. I’ve seen the media proclaim plenty of older men to be sexy, but older women? It wasn’t until I saw them shaking their bare buns in lace bodysuits and risque costumes that I realized how lacking their representation is in the media. Watching them made me feel hopeful. These women didn’t let society dictate how sexual they could be, and they were a representation of aging with passion. They soothed the unspoken fear in me that there would be an inevitable slope, and my sexuality would dim, flickering in and out until it was finally smothered.

Our cruise was eight days, quite a long time to be in a fairly enclosed space with 300 people. By the end of my trip, I hadn’t spoken to everyone, but I recognized most faces. I understood why those monogamous couples felt drawn to the environment and how so many people said they made their closest friends on these trips. There was a sense of sexual liberation that I hadn’t known I was missing. Would I be back? Only time could tell, but I wouldn’t mind clearing my schedule for another week at sea with the swingers.