SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – A summer cruise for gay and lesbian families organized by Rosie O'Donnell has cut Bermuda from its planned itinerary because of possible protests by church groups in the British island territory.
O'Donnell's charter company said it would replace the Bermuda stop with two other ports of call in Florida. It will also stop at a private island in the Bahamas. The tour is scheduled to leave New York in July on a ship owned by Miami-based Norwegian Cruise Line.
The charter company, R Family Vacations, said on its Web site that it wanted to avoid the type of protests that greeted passengers when one of its cruises stopped in Nassau, Bahamas, in 2004.
In the statement, the company said Bermuda's prime minister had assured them they would be welcome as tourists and they had also received hundreds of supportive e-mails from people who live in the wealthy British enclave.
Still, organizers felt they could not be certain there would be no protesters greeting them upon arrival. "We feel that our cruise would be more enjoyable with an alternate itinerary to ports where we know we are welcome by everyone."
In 2004, about 100 protesters chanting anti-gay slogans met one of the company's cruises when it arrived in Nassau with about 1,150 passengers.
O'Donnell, 45, is a co-host on ABC's "The View."
R Family Vacations, with offices in Nyack, N.Y., was founded by Gregg Kaminsky and Kelli O'Donnell, partner of the talk-show host.
Kaminsky said in a phone interview Tuesday that he expects the cruise will be sold out with about 2,000 passengers.
"We have no hard feelings against Bermuda. It's just a few church groups," he said.