interviews Mrs. Rosie O'Donnell

You may know Rosie O'Donnell as the daytime talk-show host and stand-up comedian, but Rosie and her wife Kelli are also the lesbian parents of four adopted kids. Together, the family took part in a moving journey that was turned into the 90-minute documentary called All Aboard! Rosie's Family Cruise.

Kelli and her business partner, Gregg Kaminsky, are the founders of R Family, a travel agency focused on setting up vacations for gay families. Feeling there was a lack of gay family-friendly vacation options, they decided to create their own--they chartered a cruise ship and started the first gay-oriented cruise vacation. HBO caught the outing on film and will begin airing All Aboard! Rosie's Family Cruise on Thursday, April 6, at 8 p.m. Watch a trailer for the show here. caught up with Kelli and asked her a few questions about the documentary. Tell me briefly what the show is about.

Kelli O'Donnell: We own a vacation charter company for gay families, and we chartered a cruise ship in 2004. It was our first year doing this, and HBO approached us and said, "Why don't we have a documentary crew come onboard and film the cruise?" So this was the first cruise you guys did?

Kelli O'Donnell: Yeah, we do other vacations as well but this was the first cruise. On the first cruise we had 1,600 people, last year we went to Canada and Nova Scotia with 2,200 people, this year our Alaska cruise is sold out at 2,600. Next year we're actually doing two cruises. That's a lot of growth in a short period of time. How did you come up with the idea for a gay-centric vacation company?

Kelli: As a prominent gay family, we're always searching for families to share the experience with. One year, we took a trip to Provincetown (the gay-friendly resort town in Massachusetts), and it was a really powerful experience for our kids and our family. We thought it would be nice to re-create the experience, and maybe we could make a floating utopia that would be great for families. Was it difficult to get people interested in the cruise?

Kelli: We were not sold out the first year; here we are, year three, and we're sold. That's pretty good for a new company. Is it open only to lesbian couples, or also to gay males and straight passengers?

Kelli: Our cruises are 50/50, men and women. The documentary only follows the original cruise, and focuses on the traditional idea of a family, with two gay parents and kids. On our other cruises it is more mixed--for example, we might have a family of eight, but there are only two gay people in the family and they just want to bring their parents. Do you see more gay vacation options now than you did in the past?

Kelli: Right now we're the only gay travel group to allow children to go on trips. In the future that might change, but currently we are the only company that caters to gay families. Was it all work, or was this also a fun vacation?

Kelli: [Laughs.] Well, this was my week to work, so I really couldn't relax too much. It was interesting to have the cameras on the first trip. Obviously when you start it's stressful--there are bound to be mistakes on any inaugural trip--and having the cameras there just added to the whole experience. When there were no cameras on this last trip, I thought, "Man, this is a piece of cake!" What do you hope will come out of this documentary?

Kelli: I hope that the people who might not want to watch this documentary are the people who end up watching it. It isn't preachy; it shows by example that gay families are nothing to be afraid of. It's a great story about love. There are no people swinging from the chandeliers, there is nothing weird happening. It's just about families and love. What do you think of the recent report that said US attitudes are softening toward gay marriage, when in the last presidential election it was such a big issue?

Kelli: I think the Republicans used it as a wedge issue. There has got to be way to approach the issue where it isn't so frightening to people. Look at the state of Massachusetts--it didn't fall down and collapse because of gay marriages. I got married and nothing bad happened to my parents' marriage, to my friends' marriages, to my neighbors' marriages. Hopefully, it will stop being so scary to people. Do you have any memorable moments you can share from the documentary, without spoiling any surprises?

Kelli: The most overwhelming moment was when Gregg and I walked onstage on the first night of the cruise and welcomed everyone. It was very emotional. We're a small company, only three people, so we had spoken to everyone who was on that cruise. It was big step for us--but also, it was big for them to come on that trip. Many of them had never been on a cruise, it was a lot of money, so it was a big occasion for us all. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to us.

Kelli: You're welcome, watch the show tomorrow night! I will!

All Aboard! Rosie's Family Cruise airs Thursday, April 6, at 8 p.m. on HBO.

Comments (5)
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It's a pity the interviewer didn't talk with some of the people who were kicked off of reservations they had made a year before with Norwegian Cruise Line because Kelli and Rosie O'Donnell's company chartered the ship involved. Many families have had group parties for which dozens of family members have re-arranged their lives in advance, getting vacation leave, arranging for air reservations in advance - all sorts of personal inconvenience which in some cases broke up family events involving very old people who might not be alive for the next opportunity. And for that, Rosie O'Donnell is being lionized.

Kelli, Rosie and their spokesperson offered the lame excuse that "this happens every time there's a charter, but now that Rosie's concerned they want to make it an issue." Well, that's like Hermann Goebbels saying "this happens every time Germany invades France, but now that Adolf Hitler's involved, people want to make a big deal of it." These people just don't get it - you don't cheat people and ruin their vacations to make a few bucks - it doesn't matter what you do in your spare time or who you do it with. Cardinal Spellman could have chartered that cruise and people would still have been up in arms about it... maybe even more so, because people maybe expect a clergyman to care about others who get hurt when he does business.

Rosie O'Donnell and her business associates, in my opinion, have come out of the closet as crooked, callous bums with no concern whatsoever for other people's feelings or happiness. They wanted to make some money, and here were these folks who made their reservations a year in advance standing in the way - and what does Rosie do? She has them booted out of their reservations at practically the last minute. Oh, she offered some of them the cabins they'd already reserved - but for hundreds of dollars more per cabin.

Hey, Rosie! This is NOT how you make friends and influence people. If I were one of the people whose cause you have espoused, I think I'd prefer another self-appointed savior. It seems to me that it would be hard to enjoy a vacation if I knew that someone else's vacation had been ruined specifically so I could have a good time.
No thank you! Rosie fired my sister.
Interesting ... Something new!
Well ok
awesome this show sounds cool....

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