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Cruise for nudists changes ports

The spotlight of national television has turned away from Clearwater Beach, but Clearwater officials aren't glum. They didn't want the publicity of a nude cruise anyway _ especially one that may be featured on the tabloid-style show A Current Affair.

A cruise for nudists that was scheduled to leave from Clearwater Beach now is planned for the Europa Sun, the cruise ship based in Treasure Island, in John's Pass.

"I'm not sorry to lose their business," Clearwater Mayor Rita Garvey said.

Treasure Island Mayor Walter Stubbs is sorry to get it. "Frankly, I don't think that's the image we want to portray here in Treasure Island," Stubbs said. "It sounds like Sodom and Gomorrah to me." He said he would bring the matter up for discussion during a commission work session.

But Dave Cutting, co-owner of Dance Party Tours, has stressed there is nothing sexual about a cruise for nudists.

Cutting had planned the cruise for March 2 aboard a ship docked at the Clearwater Marina. But the captain got nervous after a St. Petersburg Times article reported that city officials opposed the plan, Cutting said.

So Cutting and partner James Lake now hope to schedule the cruise for March 14 aboard the Europa Sun. Jacques Pare, controller for Europa Cruise Line, confirmed Monday the company has discussed the cruise, although he said no contract has been signed. That's not unusual, because people who charter the ship often try to drum up sales before signing a contract, Pare said.

Cutting hopes to draw some customers from area nudist-oriented resorts such as Paradise Lakes in Land O'Lakes. Members of that condominium and hotel complex went on two previous cruises that Cutting helped organize. He also hopes to attract some new nudists. Passengers would disrobe after the ship is nine miles from the shore, he said.

If the ship leaves the dock, a crew from A Current Affair might be aboard to tape the event. Cutting doesn't think the cameras will prevent people from signing up.

"They'll know it will be (national) television," he said. "It's not going to show full nudity." He said he was told the television crew wouldn't aim cameras at people who don't want to appear on the show.