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Jim Winsor's Out & About: Atlantis Cruises boycotting Russia

I've just returned from my weeklong Atlantis Cruise to Mexico, which was fabulous as always. I want to thank Benny Cartwright for filling in for me with this "Out & About" column while I was away!

Some significant news was announced while I was on board. During the VIP Alumni reception Tuesday night, Atlantis CEO Rich Campbell outlined the new cruises in store for 2014, including the return of the popular Baltic European cruise. This time, however, one port of call that had always been included in the past was pointedly excluded for the 2014 cruise: St. Petersburg, Russia.

Campbell said that while the people of St. Petersburg were always friendly and welcoming to us in the past, and that the immense cultural attractions made it an obvious port of call under normal circumstances for any Baltic cruise ... these were no longer normal circumstances. The hostile anti-gay attitude of the current Putin regime has made Russia an unacceptable destination for a gay cruise, and he expressed hope that the economic effect of the decision would in some small way help to bring about change in the current sad state of affairs there.

The crowd of veteran Atlantis cruisers at the reception responded to the announcement with cheers and applause.

This new Russia-avoiding six-country Baltic cruise will sail from Copenhagen on July 20, 2014, and include stops at Oslo, Gothenburg, Berlin (via Warnemunde), Tallinn and Helsinki before finally ending at Stockholm on July 27, just in time for that city’s Pride celebration.

Other big announcements included a new 10-day Spain, Italy and Monaco Mediterranean cruise, and, perhaps of most interest to those of us here on the West Coast, some exciting changes to the Mexican cruise for 2014. Next year's charter will be moving from Carnival ship to a Princess ship - a whole new cruise line for Atlantis and a big step up in quality and reputation.

The 2,600-passenger Golden Princess will set sail from Los Angeles, heading south to Manzanillo (a new port), an overnight in Puerto Vallarta and then Cabo San Lucas. Sail dates will be from Oct. 5-13, 2014 ... an eight-day cruise as opposed to the usual seven. So, I'm predicting next year's Mexico cruise will be even bigger and better.

Pre-Thanksgiving parties this week

Thanksgiving is next Thursday, and as such a lot of bars and clubs in the area will be hosting special pre-turkey-day festivities. Gobble, gobble!

Friday, Nov. 22

7 pm: The Facets Present the Thanksgiving Food Drive at Bamboo Lounge

Monday, Nov. 25

9 pm: Manic Monday Pre-Plucked Thanksgiving Party at the Brass Rail

Wednesday, Nov. 27

8 pm: Dreamgirls Thanksgiving Disney Show at Urban Mo's

9 pm: Club Papi Massive Pre-Thanksgiving Night Party at the Brass Rail

10 pm: Pre-Thanksgiving Wet at Bourbon Street

10 pm: The Night Before Thanksgiving at Numbers

10 pm: Gobble Gobble Party at Rich's

Havana Nights at #1 Fifth Avenue

#1 Fifth Avenue's popular Havana Nights event is back this Saturday night, featuring the high-energy salsa, cumbia, merengue, and Cuban music of Manny Cepeda and Orchestra. It is best to arrive early for this, as these nights on the back patio are usually packed. The fun starts at 8 pm!

Brandon's Birthday Bash at Babycakes

And on Sunday, Brandon Shawn Tate will be celebrating his birthday at Babycakes with a special fundraising event for the Center, Brandon’s Birthday Bash. In lieu of gifts, Brandon is asking for tax-deductible donations to The San Diego LGBT Community Center, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. The “suggested donation is $40, which is $1 donor for each year The Center has been around to support and strengthen our community.” Click here for tickets and/or to sign up for the host committee (which has already grown to over 18 people as of the time I am writing this).

Other fun stuff this week

Thursday, Nov. 21

9 pm: Club Flicker at Flicks

10 pm: SDPIX presents WET with Marshall Alexander at Bourbon Street

Friday, Nov. 22

6:30 pm: Glamour Girls at Lips

Saturday, Nov. 23

10 am: Original & World Famous Mexican Brunch at Baja Betty's

Sunday, Nov. 24

10 am: $10 Bottomless Mimosa Brunch at Pita Jungle

10 am: Sunday Brunch at Commonwealth San Diego

2 pm: Sunday Funday at Urban Mo's

3 pm: Sunday Funday at Uptown Tavern

Monday, Nov. 25

6 pm: Monday Night Football 50 Cent Wing Night at Hillcrest Brewing Company

Tuesday, Nov. 26

Noon: Taco Tuesday at Fiesta Cantina

Wednesday, Nov. 27

7:30 pm: Pictionary Night at #1 Fifth Ave.

Last week’s events

Check out SDPIX for all the new albums from last week, including photos from the FilmOut screening of the "The Ritz" last Wednesday, as well as Dirty Pop at Rich’s last Friday. Enjoy!