Cougars will prowl a special cruise

Finally, a cruise for Mrs. Robinson, the older woman in the movie The Graduate who seduced the much younger character played by Dustin Hoffman.

Much has changed since that film turned traditional relationships on their ear.

In fact, on Carnival Cruise Lines' three-night party cruise in December, the Mrs. Robinsons of the world - or cougars, as their single counterparts are called - aren't just welcomed, they're the centerpiece of the three-day sailing. Onboard, too, if all goes according to plan, will be lots of "cubs" - cougar lingo for men who date older women.

Rich Gosse, chairman of the Society of Single Professionals and innovator of the Cougar Cruise idea, has partnered with Ann Thomas, executive director of the Singles Travel Co., to launch the first Cougar Cruise, a new label for an age-old dilemma: older women looking for younger men.

Apparently there are plenty of Mrs. Robinsons out there, but, for the most part, they have been left in the cold by a society biased against older women, Gosse says.

"Supposedly, every American male is only attracted to nubile 20-year-olds found in the centerfolds of men's magazines," he adds. "The truth is that there are millions of American men who find older women attractive."

And, of course, vice versa.

The term for these hot-to-trot older women was codified by Valerie Gibson in her 2001 book, Cougar: A Guide for Older Women Dating Younger Men. According to Gibson, "a cougar is the new breed of single, older woman - confident, sophisticated, desirable and sexy. She knows exactly what she wants. What she doesn't want is children, cohabitation or commitment."

Gosse, happily married to a younger woman, concedes that cubs might once have been called gigolos. However, he says that today's cubs "frankly are more interested in sex than money." And the cougars are more like the foursome in Sex and the City than Mrs. Robinson.

Not since Demi Moore, now 46, hooked Ashton Kutcher, 19 years her junior, has cougar gone so mainstream. You can hardly keep pace with the rash of TV shows and films capitalizing on the notion.

Cougars even have won the coveted cover story in a recent Newsweek magazine proclaiming 2009 "The Year of the Cougar."

Cougars have their own convention, and 42-year-old Gloria Navarro recently was crowned the first Miss Cougar America.

As reigning feline, she will preside over the Cougar Cruise.

This cruise should rock, Gosse says. "If you can't make a connection on this cruise, you should take yourself directly to a monastery."

So, here's to you, Mrs. Robinson.


Day of the Cougar

Fares for the Dec. 4-7 cruise on Carnival's 2,000-passenger Elation, round-trip from San Diego, begin at $125 per person, plus government fees and port taxes. That includes cocktail parties and Cougar Cruise events. To avoid a singles supplement, the company will match you with a cabin mate.

More information

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