Monday, October 24, 2011

Cunard's Changing of Flag from UK to Bermuda - Almost The Last Vestige of British Marketing

There has been some rather emotional news on the Cunard front.   The company that owns the Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth cruise ships has changed its flag from United Kingdom to Bermuda.  This may sound like a royal slap at tradition, but it actually is not.

First, Cunard has a history of its ships being non-United Kingdom flagged.  In its history the fact is the vast majority of its ships have been flagged elsewhere.

Second, Cunard has been owned by Carnival Corp; not a British entity for going on 15 years...and most certainly not the Crown.  In the past four decades Cunard actually spent a good bit of its time and energy buying up other, non-British, cruise and shipping lines!  

Third, and more importantly, Cunard has been essentially based in California sharing services with Princess Cruises for years, even though it maintains a London office.  Before that it was paired and shared services with Seabourn Cruise Line in Miami, Florida. In fact, the design of its newest ships, the Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth, are based upon designs shared from another Carnival brand:  Holland America.

Fourth, and most relevant to me in this world of ever-increasing internationalism, there are only a very few aspects of the Cunard product (especially on the newest ships) that are even remotely British in style or culture.  Yes, there is the Red Lion Pub, tea service (though lagging of late), and certain menu offerings, but throughout most of the ship the product is very similar to, well and not surprisingly, a Princess cruise.

I know there is an undeniable loyalty that some have to a particular cruise line, but this is yet another example of why you should not be blindly led by marketing or history. 

If you like the Queen Mary 2, or are looking for a good alternative to flying due to fears or lots of luggage, by all means take a cruise on her.  If you really enjoy the manner in which the  Queens Grill delivers its product:  Enjoy.  But please, please, please, do not take a cruise based upon the flag the ship flies or the name on her bow.

Stiff upper lip!