Carnival Says No to 'Cougar Cruise'

Young men, older women were heading to the ocean to find love.

ByABC News
September 16, 2009, 4:17 PM

Jan. 12, 2010 — -- It looks like there will be no more love on the high seas for cougars, or at least on Carnival cruises.

Last month, nearly 300 "cougars" -- older women who prefer young, virile men -- and their "cubs" sailed away on a three-night Mexican cruise out of California aboard the 2,052-passenger Carnival Elation. The event was promoted as the world's first cougar cruise.

"When people go on a cruise, all of their inhibitions go overboard. If you want to meet somebody of the opposite sex, this is the best way to do it," Rich Gosse, chairman of the Society of Single Professionals, which came up with the trip idea along with the Singles Travel Co. said at the time.

But now it appears that the cougars and cubs are going to need a new Love Boat.

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When the group tried to book another Carnival trip, the cruise company said no. Carnival said it didn't have any problems with the Cougar Cruise group but has chosen to discontinue such "theme" bookings.

But cougars and cubs fear not, the organizers have already scheduled two other cruises on different cruise lines. First on May 16, there will be a seven-night cruise to the Mexican Riviera on Royal Caribbean International's Mariner of the Seas. Then on Dec. 3 Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Sky will set sail on a three-night cruise to the Bahamas.

"Carnival has done a great deal to distance themselves from being considered Spring Break USA," Stewart Chiron, a Miami cruise expert and chief executive of, told ABC News. "They want a fun, family experience on board and this type of business and the negative attention that they got as a result of it was disruptive. They are not going to have any problem filling their cruise lines without this business."

Travel agents will often sell a block of rooms on a ship for a themed cruise. For instance, next month the Bellamy Brothers are hosting a 7-night country music Caribbean cruise. But that isn't likely to be as controversial.

The Rise of the Cougars

The term cougar has risen from relative obscurity at the turn of the century to become an accepted, though much parodied, lifestyle choice for many, described by as: "An older woman, typically early thirties to mid-forties, who has abandoned traditional rules of romantic engagement and taken as her mission the seduction of as many game young men as she can possibly handle."

"These cougar women tend to look younger and feel younger and have higher energy than most women their own age," Gosse said. "They just can't date men their own age. The men can't keep up with them. The men they date that are their own age: all they want to do is sit on a sofa and watch TV."

Enter the Cougar Cruise: three nights at sea with a stop in Mexico and maybe that chance and a December-May romance.

The entire cougar experience happened over just a quick weekend. The cruise left San Diego Friday afternoon, went to Ensenada, Mexico, and was back in California by 8 a.m. Monday morning.

Each night during the weekend there were coordinated cougar-cub singles events, dancing and plenty of drinks to go around. There's even a "singles social director" to ensure that this cruise does become a true "Love Boat," Mrs. Robinson-style.

"It's like they say in Las Vegas: What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Same thing on a cruise boat," Grosse said. "People don't have their bosses, their neighbors, their co-workers and their family looking over their shoulder. They can let the inner child out on a cruise."