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Cunard coming clean…er

Maybe there aren’t strange things happening at Cunard, but what’s been happening is “unusual” for sure.

A few weeks ago, Cunard floated the idea of changing the registration for one or all of its ships. This was to allow the fancy cruise line to sell “weddings on board” — which isn’t allowed on a British ship once it leaves port. Yesterday, it was confirmed that all three Cunard ships will be re-registered in Bermuda which, coincidentally, still flies the red ensign.

One cynic (or cruise pundit) — the esteemed Captain Greybeard of UK Mirror fame, aka John Honeywell — also floated the idea that this will enable Cunard to pay cheaper wages by avoiding English and European labor laws.

Now, here’s another…unusual…happening.

Cunard has an enrichment program, in which prestigious speakers are used to attract cruise passengers. On its website, there are no speakers listed beyond Christmas, yet Cunard is using it as a selling tool for cruises in 2012. The caveat that accompanies this reads:

“Enrichment details coming soon. A full schedule will be provided on board.”

So, just wondering…if you were motivated to go on a cruise because of a speaker’s program, would you book without knowing who the speaker is?

Disney Wonder
7 nights
December 4, 2011
Los Angeles (return): Mexican Riviera
Inside $699

Royal Brides, Grooms for Cunard?

As custodian of the most regal of all ships in the cruising community for 50 years or more, Cunard has always more or less played by its own rules. It is, after all, British and nobody tells the Brits they have to fall in line by doing this or doing that.

So when Cunard announced the other day that it may allow weddings on cruising’s royal family for the first time, the tendency was to think:

“Aw, isn’t that nice?”

Think again.

It’s all about the money.

To allow weddings to become a profit center, as they are for almost every other cruise line, Cunard has to re-register its ship(s). Under English law, weddings must be held in a publicly accessible place. Once the ship leaves the dock in Southampton, public accessibility ends.

Changing a ship’s registry to Bermuda, which flies a reasonable facsimile of the British flag, would enable Cunard to tap into the substantial wedding business. Right now, the idea of changing the registry to one or all three ships is being floated, to test the waters.

Or to find out, as our colleague Phil Reimer at Ports and Bows asks:

“Does Her Majesty know about this?”

Ships and Yachts for Honeymooners

Our wedding was so long ago it was before The Love Boat, so any thought there was of honeymooning on a cruise ship wasn’t one even the rich and famous entertained. All these years later, it’s just another marketing tool for cruise lines to offer the budding bride and groom. And if they’re really clever, like the people at SeaDream Yacht Club and CruiseOne, they’ll even come up with the opportunity to have somebody else pay for your honeymoon.

At SeaDream, where “it’s yachting, not sailing,” there’s a contest for couples getting married this summer. Ones with creative friends and family need apply. They’re the ones who will promote the bride and groom, as in why they should be the contest winners and go on a week-long, five-star cruise (oops, yacht trip) in the Greek Islands. Friends and family can promote their favorite wedding couple via email, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and personal blogs. They’re calling it a $20,000 honeymoon but, at today’s price for a euro, they’re selling passage on the SeaDream I for that week at less than $4,000, so there must be some upgrades, like the honeymoon suite for starters.

There’s not much about it on SeaDream’s website, but all the details are at an affiliated honeymoon website.

It’s open to honeymooners from everywhere, as long as the “promotions” are in by the end of July. Winners will be announced in early August. The ship sails — or yachts — on September 11 from Dubrovnik, Croatia.

At CruiseOne, there’s a “honeymoon cruise registry.” That means all those people who bring nice gifts for the new husband and wife can, instead, contribute to your cruise fund.

You set up the registry, pick the cruise, and your guests make contributions in increments of $25, after they’ve visited the website to see where you’re going, as “their guests.”

It all seems pretty straightforward…and one of us thinks it sure beats shopping!

Incidentally, is there still a Love Boat?

That’s it, we’re done.

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