Cunard confirms change of flag

//Cunard confirms change of flag


OUT goes Southampton from Cunard sterns, IN comes Hamilton

Confirmation today that for the first time in its 171-year history, no ships in the Cunard fleet will be registered in the UK. Instead of having the name of their home port, Southampton, emblazoned across the stern and on their lifeboats, Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth will carry the name of Hamilton, capital of Bermuda.
The islands are a British Overseas Territory, so the ships will continue to fly the Red Ensign – which Bermuda has also adopted as its national flag.
None of this, however, was stated in the official announcement of the change, which follows a leak to the Financial Times almost four weeks ago.
A three paragraph statement from Cunard simply referred to the fact that the ships would, for the first time, be able to offer weddings at sea.
President and Managing Director Peter Shanks said: “Most of our competitors have been developing increasingly popular and lucrative Weddings at Sea programmes, and these are now very big business in the cruise industry.”
British law does not allow ship-board weddings because in order to be legally-recognised, ceremonies must be held in a “publicly-accessible place.”
There is no doubt that Queen Mary 2 in particular will be a prestige venue – not quite Westminster Abbey, perhaps, but certainly up there with some of the grandest castles and stately homes. And a marriage ceremony in mid-Atlantic, performed by a uniformed and gold-braided captain on one of the ship’s regular crossings between Southampton and New York, will certainly make for a night to remember.
There remains a suspicion, however, that the weddings are a cover for deeper economic reasons for a change of flag, allowing Cunard to save on wage bills and registration fees. Sailing under a “flag of convenience” – as most ships do – allows the company to employ crew at cheaper wages and to avoid UK and European employment law.
The change of registration will take place after the ships’ world cruises in the first three months of 2012. A Cunard Weddings at Sea brochure will be issued in November, and couples will be able to book their cruises and their nuptials from December.

By | 2017-06-15T15:59:59+00:00 19 October 2011|Cruise News|6 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.


  1. Alex Groppe 20 October 2011 at 12:37 am - Reply

    I did not want to believe the rumors that Carnival would be registering Cunard ships in Bermuda.
    Being a loyal Cunarder – & a Platinum Member at that from America – and I’m only 42… with lots of years left according to my doctor, I have chosen to sail exclusively with Cunard because it has not been like every other line Today’s announcement has given me pause as to reconsider spending almost three times as much on an experience that will now be overpriced declasse. The day I see “Hamilton” on any Cunarder’s stern, I will just as soon sail on Royal Carribbean.
    I’m sure Carnival/Cunard is looking to attract a younger crowd by engaging in this change of registry – but to be honest, I don’t want to be on a wedding ship – Carnival has several lines that already do this. I suspect that what is truly at the root of all this is the calculated circumscription of British wage laws.
    In case Peter, Micky, et al…aren’t quite aware of it, there is a worldwide protest against corporate greed and avarice. Either way you look at it, this is both an unpalatable and incompetent decision, given the current state of affairs.

  2. Samantha cooper 20 October 2011 at 11:04 am - Reply

    so Cunard’s done it again taken the last good thing Southampton had first you take the beloved qe2 away and send it to Dubai,and that fell through which i have to say made me smile because it meant she was coming you take the rest of the queens so you can do weddings?what happened to good old days of cruising.
    but if u want to do weddings why don’t Cunard bring back qe2 to her home Southampton make it a tourist attraction and do weddings.then u get best of both worlds money coming in from people how come to see the best loved ship in the world as well as money from who want to get married on a ship.come on Cunard think about it do whats right.
    if u take your ships away and scrap the name Southampton from the queens,i think u may find Southampton will not turn out to see your ships come in,look back through the past town quay,Weston shore,hythe and cal shot was always leave Southampton one thing we are proud off the qe2 in her home port with the name on her stern that she has had for over 40 years

  3. alex 20 October 2011 at 5:52 pm - Reply

    We over at are disgusted by this as are most of our members. How very dare Micky, et al dare to take our ships away? They say that only 8 vessels have carried the Port “southampton” but the vast majority carried “liverpool”. Hardly the overseas territory that he we are being spun.
    Shame on you Cunard, shame on you.
    Loyal Cunard Passenger, Platinum level, age 31 with 2 young children, one of whom has already completed 6 sailings with the line, one yet to be introduced.

  4. Roger Lundy 21 October 2011 at 7:21 am - Reply

    I’m curious…will the QM2 lose its RMS designation because of this change? Thanks for your fantastic blog!

  5. Tom Fotheringham 21 October 2011 at 4:59 pm - Reply

    It has created lots of anger at CruiseCompare on our facebook page there have been over 40 comments not a great day in cruise history or a day to be British and proud. What next a outside water side ?

  6. Kevin Griffin 21 October 2011 at 8:50 pm - Reply

    You may not have seen the Bermudian press release yet John but the Queen Elizabeth goes under Bermudian flag on Monday, the Queen Victoria next Thursday and the Queen Mary 2 on Thursday December 1st. Your piece said April? Save the money now, right away.

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