Maiden Voyage

Samantha Cabrera Friend

2018 - Ongoing

Mexico; United States

Come aboard a quinceañera cruise, where dozens of young Latina women will all celebrate their 15th birthdays together, along with hundreds of their closest friends and relatives.

Heavily unknown to most, the tradition of the quinceañera began in 1400s México as an Aztec rite of passage which deemed females turning 15 as ready for marriage. Traditionally, quince dresses were strictly white and modest, (similar to a wedding gown without the veil) symbolizing their purity and commitment to Catholic ideals. But as this rigid origin differs from the experience of most quinces we see today, it becomes clear that a number of unspoken and undocumented changes have occurred throughout centuries of growth in this tradition.

While quinces have withstood countless transformations through their assimilation to the US, perhaps the most unique, and arguably most American interpretation of this tradition can be found by entering the world of quinceañera cruises. Since the late ‘80s, some families have taken to the seas for these celebrations, pooling their coming-of-age celebrations into a single blowout event. Together they celebrate a mixed bag of ancestral customs and modern re-creations that have a cultured significance unlike any other Latin tradition.

Made over the course of a week within these fleeting communities, this work represents a small culmination of my extensive research conducted on the trailblazing path of the modern quinceañera and its vastly undocumented history.

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  • Quinceañera's pose for a group portrait in the cruise's final stop of Cozumel, MX

  • A group of quinceañeras in traditional dresses try their best to hold their pose.

  • Nicole poses for a paid protrait session in "Central Park" with one of Royal Caribbean's many on board photographers.

  • Katelyn Guzman poses for a portrait in "Central Park" before her quiceañera aboard the cruise.

  • Family of the quinceañera enjoy open bars at Happy Holiday's signurature opening party.

  • Lianet Zuaznabar takes a moment's rest during Happy Holiday's themed private party.

  • Quinceañera dresses remain protected, enveloped in plastic, while family members sit in on lengthly rehearsals.

  • Quinceañera in an "untraditional" dress poses beside an indoor garden.

  • A group of quinceañeras in modern dress colors break to help each other get back into final formation.

  • Quinceañera Nathaly Reyes and her mother Rozana Romero pose before the dinner, the day after their celebration.

  • Quinceañeras grouped by untraditional dress color, smile for a final group portrait amid the performance

  • Quinceañera Natalie Gonzalez and her mother Liudmila Sarmiento pose before the dinner, the day after their celebration.

  • Débora Castro smiles for the sea of cameras as she holds her solo pose center stage.

  • A surprise cake for the quinceañeras arrises from beneath the stage.

  • A quinceañera and her family unite with a multi course meal after the formal celebration.

  • Leanys Capote of Miami breaks from the energetic scene, looking into the mirrored pillars at the dinner table.

  • Extended family of the quinceañera enjoy their a post performance celebration on stage.

  • Group of quinceañeras sit together at main dining hall on board.

  • A quinceañera enjoys her time with fellow celebrants at the Great American Dining Hall on board.

  • Traditionally, quinceañeras have their mother or siblings arrange their hair, nails and makeup. There are not many opportunities to have them done on board.