PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -

It's a vacation a Palm Springs couple will always remember, but not for the reasons they planned.

Dennis Mayer and John Hart tell KESQ their problems started when their cruise ship pulled into a port-of-call they'll never return to.

"We went to a couple different islands, and when we arrived in Dominica, we walked out onto our balcony naked," John Hart said.

That's when he said their vacation ended.

"We actually got a phone call and asked if we could come down to guest relations, that the captain would like to speak with us," Hart said.

"I immediately asked them is this an investigation. Is there any reason we should believe we should need counsel or contact someone from the U.S. Embassy? The assistant captain told me he did not believe so," Dennis Mayer said.

Dominica officials told them if convicted of "buggery" -- a law similar to U.S. sodomy laws -- they could spend 14 years in prison.

"When we were getting ready to go into the cell, Dennis told me 'be prepared to fight and protect yourself.' It was scary. These people were calling us nasty names," Hart said.

"We sat on the cardboard because there were cockroaches and bugs and ants in there, and I don't know why but we thought maybe if we sat on those, the bugs wouldn't crawl on us, but eventually they did and we got bit by the bugs," Mayer said. "We plead to that indecent exposure charge, we apologized to the court, we paid our fine."

With their nightmare over, one question remains. Should a gay cruise ship dock at an island that considers gay activities illegal?

"I don't think so. I was never informed that any of my activities that I do as a gay man were illegal there," Mayer said.

"We also trust that Atlantis Events, which is a gay cruise company, would not take a ship of 2000 gay people to a port where we are hated," Hart added.

The couple returned to the states, thankful they only suffered emotional scars.

"It just goes to show that in this world, hatred and bigotry exist," Mayer added.

Now, back in the desert, Hart and Mayer have some advice for anyone thinking about a tropical vacation.

"The big message here is: do your research before you travel to foreign countries," Hart said.

The couple of seventeen years say they'll move forward, having learned what doesn't kill them makes them stronger.