Cunard Line are reportedly considering changing the registration of their fleet from Southampton to Bermuda or Malta in order to offer weddings at sea. If they follow through with this it will be the first time in Cunard's 171 year history that their ships will be registered outside of the United Kingdom.
Cruise wedding packages are lucrative business and due to UK law, ships registered here are only allowed to marry people at port, which isn't exactly as romantic as a wedding on the ocean waves. On ships registered in the Bahamas and Malta, such as sister lines, P&O Cruises and Princess Cruises, couples can marry at a ceremony officiated by the captain, whether the ship is at sea or in port.
Re-registering the ships would mean the cruise line, synonymous with British cruising, would have to fly the flags of either Malta or Bermuda and would no longer be emblazed with Southampton but with either Valletta or Hamilton. Though the cruise line would remain based in Southampton, how much would these changes make to the brand's identity?
In a statement provided to Cruise Critic, Peter Shanks, Cunard's President and Managing Director, said, "It's no secret that weddings at sea are now very big business. We know there is a pent-up demand, as we receive many enquiries, especially about marriages on transatlantic crossings which no other line can offer. However, this business is currently denied to us as our fleet is registered in the UK, and we have for some time been examining our options."
The options, as discussed by Shanks include a single ship registered in with Bermudan or Malta, to offer the at-sea wedding experience, or for Cunard to re-register the entire fleet, though he did go on to say: "I must stress that at present no decision has been made."
With wedding cruises being big money and becoming increasingly popular, this move by Cunard could make financial sense at the cost of breaking with 171 years of tradition. Would you rather get married mid-cruise, on a beautiful sea day, or in port, overlooking the cruise terminal, all for the sake of a flag?
Source: Sue Bryant Cruise Critic
Written by Stephen Adam