Cougar Cruise targets the older woman

Finally, a cruise for Mrs. Robinson, the older woman in the film "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 this December, the Mrs. Robinsons of the world – or cougars, as their single counterparts are called — aren’t just welcomed, they’re the centerpiece for 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 cougars out there, but, for the most part, they have been left in the cold by a society biased against older women, Gosse said. “Supposedly every American male is only attracted to nubile 20-year-olds found in the centerfolds of men’s magazines,” he added. “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.”

Happily married to a younger woman, Gosse conceded that, in politer company, contemporary cubs once might have been called gigolos. However, he believes 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.

Cougars have their own convention, and 42-year-old Gloria Navarro recently was crowned the first “Miss Cougar America.” She will preside over the Cougar Cruise.

Those who go on this cruise should expect to hook up, Gosse said, adding, “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.

The cruise aboard Carnival’s 2,000-passenger Elation runs Dec. 4-7 from San Diego to Ensenada, Mexico. Fares begin at $150 per person, plus government fees and port taxes. That includes cocktail parties and Cougar Cruise events. For those wishing to avoid the dreaded singles supplement, the company will match you with a cabin mate. For more information, call 1-888-286-8687 or visit