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Bon Voyage: A Recap of the Poz Cruise and Adventure Bear 2016 Rendezvous

By Josh Middleton

July 14, 2016

The vastness and beauty of nature is something that has mystified mankind from the beginning of time. It's as if by seeing the wonders of the world, we see the beauty inside ourselves. Most recently, I experienced this feeling as the annual Poz Cruise joined forces with the Adventure Bears, a social group of gay and bear-friendly men. Together we explored the last frontier, the great state of Alaska. Although not the typical cruising location that you might have pictured, it was the trip of a lifetime and, for me, a time to rejuvenate.

While we might not have shared the same HIV status or sexuality, we all had a blast and found comfort in our supportive allies.

Together we laughed and bonded while creating and strengthening unforgettable life-long friendships. It all started in the rainy city of Seattle, Washington, which was the point of departure, the beginning of an adventure that was thoroughly enjoyed by all.

As the horn sounded and the ship set sail, the excitement could be felt throughout the Ruby Princess. It was, however, missing one face that those of us who have been on the Poz Cruise have enjoyed seeing more and more each year, our travel agent Paul Stalbaum from Cruise Designs Travel. Although unable to attend this year, he put us in good hands as Laz from the Adventure Bears led our group and kept everything organized throughout our journey.

On board, we enjoyed private cocktail parties, fun games of trivia, gourmet dinners and dance parties to shake off all the calories we were gaining from the delicious food onboard. Princess Cruises also had tons of activities to keep us more than occupied. These included whimsical musicals, magic shows by world-renowned magicians and singers with vocals that pleasantly entertained the group.

As we stopped at various locations throughout Alaska, it was evident that there is so much more of this beautiful country that remains to be seen. Whether ATV'ing through rainy and mountainous territory in Ketchikan, dog sledding with Iditarod past and future champions in Juneau, ocean rafting the beautiful fjord of Skagway or joining a serene whale watching tour along the coast of Victoria, BC, Canada, there was something for everyone.

Some even opted to take tours of the majestic glaciers that are well known throughout Alaska or a train ride through the lush rainforest of North America that yielded its beauty in a stunning display of greenery and wildlife.

It's a cruise that I look forward to every year because, as someone who spends much of my time doing HIV advocacy, I need a break from time to time. It's important to take a step back, take a deep breath and recharge, so I can come back even more energized than when I left. To have the opportunity to connect with others within the HIV community, as well as the LGBT community -- which as we know has been disproportionately affected by this virus -- is an amazing experience. Sometimes the best medicine in life is the joy we share in interacting with one another.

For future cruise information please visit for itineraries and rates. In October, we travel to the Eastern Caribbean, which will include Grand Turk, La Romana (Dominican Republic), Aruba and Curacao. Looking forward to 2017 when we join the Adventure Bears once again and travel the Mediterranean Sea.

I hope to see you aboard sometime; you won't regret it!

Related Stories

Five Things I Learned Aboard the Poz Cruise
Support on the High Seas: Aboard the 2013 HIV Cruise Retreat
Fantastic Voyage: How the HIV Cruise Retreat Transforms Lives
More HIV Activist Profiles and Personal Accounts

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Josh Middleton

Josh Middleton

Joshua, CEO of the California non-profit Pozitive Hope, Inc., was diagnosed with HIV at twenty-two and has been involved in advocacy ever since. Whether it be HIV, mental health, or LGBTQ rights, this self-identifying bisexual activist seeks to make a difference in the lives of each and every person possible. He is fluent in Spanish, a full-time college student currently pursuing his degree in Psychology with the hopes to one day be a Clinical Psychologist or Social Worker, and one day hopes to defy the odds once more by becoming a pilot. Your questions, opinions, letters and suggestions are welcome at pozitivehope1@
. Follow Josh on Twitter, "like" his videos on Youtube and check him out on Facebook. Visit his personal website,

Photo credit: Vincent Carrella

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