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    Olivia Timeline: From Grassroots to World’s Largest Lesbian Travel Company

    09.15.16 FINAL.small.Nikko_Page_17_Image_0005
    09.15.16 FINAL.small.Nikko_Page_17_Image_0002 09.15.16 FINAL.small.Nikko_Page_17_Image_0003 09.15.16 FINAL.small.Nikko_Page_17_Image_00041973:
    Singer songwriter Meg Christian discovers fellow musician Cris Williamson’s record in Washington, D.C. Deeply moved, she rallies 400 fans to attend a Williamson concert. Christian starts singing from the audience when Williamson forgets the words. The two became lifelong friends and recording partners. In a subsequent radio interview, after Christian discusses challenges with her record label, Williamson asks, “Well, why don’t you just start a women’s record company?” A group, which becomes the Olivia collective, meets two days later and decides to start a women’s record company. Judy Dlugacz and nine other women borrow $4,000 and form Olivia Records, a grassroots independent label featuring female musicians and employing female engineers and producers.


    1975: Meg Christian records the first album under the Olivia label, Meg Christian: I Know You Know. That same year, Cris Williamson’s recording The Changer and the Changed launches her to prominence as a female recording artist. The album is among the best-selling independent albums of all time.

     

    1977: Olivia produces a groundbreaking album called Lesbian Concentrate in response to Anita Bryant’s anti-homosexual campaign in Florida. It is the first anthology of music by lesbian recording artists.

     

    1982: For Olivia’s 10th anniversary, Williamson and Christian perform two sold-out shows for 5,600 women at Carnegie Hall. At the time, the concert is the largest single-grossing event since the hall’s creation in 1891.

     

    1983: Successful Olivia recording artist Meg Christian retires from women’s music. She does not play another public concert until August 2002, aboard an Olivia cruise.

     

    1983: Judy Dlugacz evolves as the sole remaining partner of Olivia as she celebrates her 30th birthday.

     

    1990: With the dream of producing concerts on the water, Judy Dlugacz puts down a $50,000 deposit to charter a cruise ship. She writes to Olivia fans announcing the trip, and more than 600 women sign up. Because the cruise sold out in just a few weeks, organizers added a second sailing to meet demand. Olivia Cruises & Resorts is born.

     

    2000: Olivia Cruises & Resorts celebrates its 10-year anniversary with more trips and entertainers than ever, and adds Australia as a destination.

     

    2000: All four major newspapers in Istanbul celebrate the arrival of the women of Olivia with front-page articles. The newspapers report that lesbians on an Olivia Cruise rescued the lagging Turkish economy by spending more than half a million dollars in three ports of call in just three days.

     

    2000: Olivia President Judy Dlugacz calls for the government of the Bahamas to make official statements condemning a group of anti-gay protesters who meet an Olivia Cruise in Nassau. The next day, the government holds a press conference asking Olivia and other gay and lesbian travelers to return to the island nation. The Bahamas’ Minister of Tourism comes aboard the ship to offer an official apology for the protesters’ actions.

     

    2001: Olivia receives a groundswell of support following the events of September 11. Olivia’s 30th anniversary cruise sells out within two months, and the company announces a second 1,250-person cruise to celebrate Olivia’s anniversary in January 2003. Anniversary trips are also scheduled for Scandinavia and Cancun.

     

    2002: For the first time since the Carnegie Hall concert, Meg Christian and Cris Williamson reunite on Olivia’s Scandinavia Cruise (August 14–22, 2002). More than 800 travelers are aboard to share in the magic.

     

    2003: A group of 1,250 lesbians help Olivia celebrate three decades of providing the best in women’s travel, entertainment and music with a 30th Anniversary Cancun Resort Celebration and a 30th Anniversary Eastern Caribbean Cruise Celebration.

     

    2003: Olivia announces a kids and family trip at Floridian Club Med Resort, becoming the industry’s first to offer a family vacation for lesbian and gay families.

     

    2004: Olivia’s new logo, brand identity and website are unveiled.

     

    2004: Olivia partners with Showtime to feature a special pre-premiere screening of the new series The L-Word. The show’s creator and members of the cast join Olivia guests aboard a Mexican Riviera cruise.

     

    2004: Olivia hosts a landmark wedding and honeymoon cruise with optional legal wedding ceremony in Boston. k.d. lang performs two special concerts.

     

    2005: Olivia brands its newest offering of niche upscale, off-the-beaten-path trips catering to smaller-scale guest capacities (47 to 600 guests) as Olivia’s Ultimate Escapes. Olivia now offers three diverse types of trips: cruises, resort vacations and ultimate escapes. Ultimate Escapes are 5–7 star cruises, land and adventure vacations to once-in-a-lifetime destinations like Africa, the Galapagos, Scandinavia & Russia and Tahiti.

     

    2005: Two-time Grammy winner Melissa Etheridge performs onboard Olivia’s Eastern Caribbean Cruise. Five-time Grammy winner Mary Chapin Carpenter performs onboard Olivia’s Alaska Discovery Cruise.

     

    2006: The 1,800 passengers on Olivia’s Grand Caribbean Cruise enjoy onboard entertainment by Whoopi Goldberg and tennis instruction from athletic great Martina Navratilova.

     

    2006: Olivia announces record annual revenues of $20 million and debuts an Olivia Visa rewards credit card. Founder Judy Dlugacz receives the 2006 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award.

     

    2007: The LGBT television network Logo films and airs Cruising the Caribbean with Olivia, a one-hour variety special.

     

    2007: Renowned celebrity chefs Elizabeth Falkner, Josie Smith-Malave and Tiffani Faison join Olivia’s Greek Isles Culinary Cruise in May.

     

    2008: Olivia’s 35th anniversary year kicks off with two Caribbean cruises, a Russian riverboat adventure and resort vacations in Cancun, Hawaii, the Mexican Riviera and Australia.

     

    2008: An onboard auction of items donated by celebrities, including Melissa Etheridge, Wynonna Judd, Indigo Girls, Billie Jean King and k.d. lang, raises funds for breast cancer, women’s health and research funding.

     

    2009: Olivia announces that recording artist Meg Christian and L-Word actor Leisha Hailey will help celebrate the 20-year anniversary of Olivia Travel by making guest appearances aboard the 2010 Western Caribbean cruise.

     

    2010: Guests on the 2010 Caribbean Sun and Mexican Riviera cruises enjoy private performances by newly out singer-songwriter Chely Wright and popular comedian Wanda Sykes, respectively.

     

    2010: Olivia partners with gay travel companies Atlantis Events and RSVP Cruises to form the American Red Cross LGBT Haiti Relief Fund. The LGBT community donates more than $250,000 through the fund to aid the earthquake-stricken Haitians.

     

    2011: Olivia’s 2011 Mexican Riviera cruise celebrates the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell by bestowing the Olivia Ovation Award (lifetime achievement) on Colonel Grethe Cammermeyer.

     

    2011: Judy Dlugacz is featured in Curve Magazine’s October “Powerful Women” issue.

     

    2012: Olivia announces a 2013 Southern Caribbean cruise to celebrate the company’s 40th anniversary. The trip, which is Olivia’s largest to date at 2,100 passengers, sells out quickly and a second celebratory cruise is added. The company also announces two Punta Cana resort trips in honor of the 40th anniversary, each accommodating 1,100 and representing Olivia’s biggest Music & Comedy Festivals to date.

     

    2012: Judy Dlugacz receives the prestigious Mautner Project Chair’s Award in acknowledgement of her contributions to lesbian and bisexual women’s health.

     

    2012: Olivia sponsors 63-year-old distance swimmer Diana Nyad’s impressive attempted swim from Cuba to Florida.

     

    2012: Judy Dlugacz is appointed to President Obama’s LGBT Leadership Council for his re-election campaign.

     

    2013: Olivia celebrates its 40th anniversary with back-to-back cruises, featuring a reunion concert from Meg Christian and Cris Williamson, sports icon, Billie Jean King, and performances from over 20 lesbian musicians and comediennes.

     

    2013: Guests enjoy a discussion from best-selling author and talk show host, Suze Orman, on the Buenos Aires to Rio de Janeiro Cruise.

    2013: Olivia continues its 40th anniversary celebration with back-to-back music and comedy festivals at Club Med’s Punta Cana Resort. Guests enjoy performances by Wanda Sykes, Suzanne Westenhoefer, Vicci Martinez, and Toshi Reagon.

     

    2013: Olivia closes 2013 with a special 40th anniversary Virgin Isles New Year’s Eve Cruise, celebrating five “sheroes” of our lifetime—Billie Jean King, Edie Windsor, Col. Grethe Cammermeyer, Cris Williamson, and Tammy Smith.

     

    2014: Olivia holds its first-ever Women’s Leadership Summit on board the Caribbean Equality & Leadership Cruise. Special guests include Edie Windsor, Col. Grethe Cammermeyer, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Meredith Baxter, Kate Kendell, Elizabeth Birch, Kris Perry & Sandy Stier, Karen Williams, and C.C. Carter. Guests enjoy a special performance from Indigo Girls.

     

    2014: Maya Angelou is the keynote speaker at the Women’s Leadership Summit, just four months before her death.

     

    2014: Olivia partners with the Nepal Youth Foundation (NYF), and raises over $150,000 to help save young Nepalese girls from the practice of Kamlari, the enslaving of young girls. An ongoing partnership is established.

     

    2014: Guests enjoy a special in-port performance from Bonnie Raitt on the Thanksgiving Caribbean Cruise.

     

    2015: Olivia celebrates its 25th anniversary as a travel company with 1,900 lesbians on its first-ever 12 day/11-night cruise to Australia and New Zealand. Olivia Newton-John kicks off the cruise with an in-port concert, and guests enjoy entertainment from Australian country music singer, Beccy Cole; New Zealand national treasures, The Topp Twins; and DJ Ruby Rose.

     

    2015: Judy Dlugacz is awarded the Hanns Ebensten Hall of Fame Award from the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA).

     

    2015: Judy Dlugacz wins the popular vote for 2015 San Francisco Pride Grand Marshal.

     

    2016: Olivia’s Pacific Coast Cruise aboard Holland America ms Zaandam makes first ever port of call visit to San Francisco.