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QUEENS Of Bermuda As Cunard Line Switches Registry

Posted on Wednesday, October 26, 2011 by

QUEEN MARY 2 seen leaving Los Angeles on March 8, 2006 will soon be leaving Southampton registry behind. Photo by Shawn J. Dake © 2006.

Cunard Line, that most British of institutions is no longer; British that is.  For the first time in history a Cunard “Queen” liner is not registered in the U.K., and very soon the entire Cunard fleet will switch their home ports from Southampton, England to Hamilton, Bermuda.  This marks the first time in the 171-year history of the company that this venerable line will have no ships registered in the U.K.  The QUEEN ELIZABETH was the first to make the shift on October 24th in Amsterdam during a short 5-day cruise.  The QUEEN VICTORIA followed later in the week with the QUEEN MARY 2 slated to make the change on December 1st.  Outwardly, the most significant change will be seen across the stern of each vessel where Southampton will be modified to read Hamilton.  At least there, Cunard will only have to remove the first four letters and the “P” and buy a new “I” and “L” to sandwich between the “M” and “T” to create the name of Hamilton.  Life rings and life boats will also have to be repainted.

QUEEN VICTORIA Photo © Shawn J. Dake 2008

The stated reason for this change is that Cunard Line wants to be able to offer weddings at sea, something that can not be done under the UK registry.  All of the ships of Princess Cruises and later P&O were switched to Bermudian registry for this reason.  Cunard on the other hand attracts a very different type of clientele, one that seems to have a limited interest in the wedding market.  If weddings do occur, they would not begin to be offered until after completion of the world cruises in April, 2012.  More realistically speaking, the move is in reaction to the recently implemented UK Equality Act which requires foreign European crew to receive the same wages as UK nationals.   The law took effect on August 1, 2011 and six weeks later Cunard became very interested in performing weddings onboard.    The Equality Act will be a costly change for owners of UK registered ships.  As many as 200 ships may relinquish the British flag rather than pay UK wages to foreign nationals aboard ship.  The departure of Cunard from the British registry leaves P&O Australia as the only operator of cruise ships registered in the UK.   The British publication, The Mirror, reports that Cunard aficionados are not happy with the line abandoning their British heritage.  In the past Cunard has operated several ships under the Norwegian and Bahamian flags, but always at least one ship has been registered in the UK since 1840.  Interestingly, the flag flying off the stern will not change.  As a British territory, Bermuda shares the same flag on their ships as their British counterparts.  Only the word SOUTHAMPTON will disappear from Cunard Line history and the sterns of their vessels.

A closeup view of the name and registry of the QUEEN MARY 2. Photo by Shawn J. Dake © 2009.

53 Responses to QUEENS Of Bermuda As Cunard Line Switches Registry

  1. Clive Harvey

    May 3, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    Kenneth, We are speaking somewhat at cross purposes here.
    I know that Swan Hellenic is not part of Carnival. I said that when I undertook my second Swan Hellenic cruise it was still owned by P&O, which itself was then a part of P&O. Thus, it was my one and only cruise aboard a Carnival-owned ship.
    My first two cruises with Swan Hellenic were aboard Minerva II formerly R Eight. Swan Hellenic under new ownership now operate the original (and yes, recently extensively, refitted) Minerva – and she sails without the suffix 2 or II.
    Yes, I can recall sailing on the Queen Elizabeth 2 trans-Atlantic in the 1980s. That is what I was talking about in my previous posting. However, I can assure you that we were not a mere handful of passengers with a full compliment of crew. The ship was pretty much full on our crossing. That was in 1983, by which time Cunard was under the ownership of Trafalgar House and Concord was then part of the Atlantic package offered.
    Yes, this was also a time when Cunard (Trafalgar House) bought up that very disparate collection of ships. Never was there such a mismatched fleet; Sagafjord and Cunard Countess??
    Cunard traded as much as they could on the Norwegian America reputation and had even hoped to operate both Sagafjord and Vistafjord with the NAL funnel colours but the Norwegians refused. So much for proud British traditions.
    I have to accept that at that time I sailed on the Queen Elizabeth 2 it was a pretty low point for Cunard and yes, it did get better after then. Even with my partner then working for Trafalgar House, and able to get staff discount, we never bothered to take advantage of that. Once was enough and now, while I’m pleased to see Cunard with a ‘proper’ fleet (rather than a mismatched one)I still have no desire to sail with them. The concept of a ship with 2,000-plus passengers holds no appeal to me at all. Give me Minerva any time, now that’s British!

  2. Kenneth Eden

    May 4, 2012 at 4:41 am

    Pity the person that is so jaded at the thought of multiple cruise products sailing independently of one another within the same band of corporate identity.

    I refer to the ships of NAL, prior to VISTAFJORD being renamed CORONIA, when the two NAL, and then renamed Cunard/NAC, retaining their original names, were delights to sail. I sailed on both NAC/NAL ships as they were originally built, pure Norwegian beauties, excemplifying the many wonderful attributes of Norway, and they were charming. I never sailed VISTA/CORONIA, I could not bear it.

    On the other hand, I sailed on these same ships when they were Cunarders, and they still had the pure simple pleasures that refelcted Norwegian heritage, with one major difference. They were beautifully rennovated, and were actually more beautiful inside, the crew was the same – in service, with many, many remaining on board from the NAL days. In fact, there are still crew members on the current Cunard Queens that served SAGA and VISTA well. Menu selections grew, quality was exceptional. The addition of a underused glass disco was not a pleasant sight, nor were newly added balconied suites, purely my opinion. These two divas had to compete with Royal Viking Line, and well, that line is gone, as well.

    How can anyone with a love of ships even compare the SAGAFJORD to CUNARD COUNTESS? They were not in the same ballpark, and catered to and sailed with a totally different demographic of passengers. That did not mean, as in my case, that I would not sail QE2, Cunard/Nac and the COUNTESS, I certainly did, found all delightful, and as different from one another as could possibly be.

  3. Clive Harvey

    May 5, 2012 at 8:06 am

    Ah, the lovely Vistafjord!! I sailed on her a couple of times when she was all-but brand new. Virtual perfection. I did visit her when she was with Cunard but I was deeply saddened to see the changes that had been made, particularly the weird scalloped cladding to the walls of her ballroom. Though I believe that was NAC’s doing rather than Cunard. I went aboard Sagafjord before she had the top deck additions, so was able to see her ‘as built’ and there’s no denying that she was utterly lovely. Curiously, I never saw her again until she was Saga Rose, never ever encountering her anywhere at all in her Cunard career.
    I sailed twice on her as Saga Rose and she was utterly lovely in every respect. I did see Vistafjord several times when she was with Cunard after my visit on board and I also saw her as Caronia. She certainly looked very handsome as such. However, I never sailed on her as a Cunard ship but I have taken one cruise on her as Saga Ruby and it was sheer delight.
    I too wonder why anyone would compare Sagafjord to Cunard Countess as they were so utterly different. That really was my point and it is such a pity that Mr Eden seems to purposely go out of his way to misunderstand or misinterpret each of my posts here.

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