Couple Cancels Cunard Cruise Over SSM Law

February 18, 2018

Jamison Firestone and his husband have cancelled their Cunard cruise, with Mr Firestone saying he does “not feel comfortable taking a cruise on a ship registered in a jurisdiction that does not accept my marriage.”

This follows after the assent of the Domestic Partnership Act, as cruise lines registered in Bermuda — Princess Cruises, Cunard, and P&O — also adhere to Bermuda law.

This was reported by Buzzfeed, who said Bermuda-registered Cunard Line “told a gay couple who had cancelled their trip in protest that they would not receive a refund on their deposit – and ignored calls to register the ship elsewhere and change its flag.”

“Since Bermuda introduced same-sex marriages in May 2017, the Queen Mary 2 has hosted gay weddings on board and, according to a company representative, Cunard employees are ‘proud to be strong supporters of the LGBT community,” the report said.

“But following the revocation of same-sex marriage, customer Jamison Firestone – who had booked a transatlantic crossing on the liner for him and his husband – emailed Cunard calling on it to register elsewhere and asking for his £600 deposit back.

“I simply do not feel comfortable taking a cruise on a ship registered in a jurisdiction that does not accept my marriage,” he wrote.

“But the company ignored his plea to re-flag and re-register the vessel in solidarity with the LGBT community and refused to give his money back.

“A Cunard employee told him via email that the company was unable to refund him ‘due solely to any personal opinion of the independent laws of Bermuda’ and because ‘a cancellation for this particular reason would not constitute a significant alteration to the package as booked’.

Mr Firestone, a human rights lawyer, told BuzzFeed News that in fact this did represent a significant alteration of what he booked.

‘That’s not what I signed up for. My romantic experience isn’t supposed to be sailing on some ship registered to a jurisdiction that has just decided that people like me shouldn’t be married,” Buzzfeed quoted him as saying.

“The total cost of the tickets was just under £4,000, but as well as cancelling the trip, he thought Cunard would understand the predicament facing him and his husband and also return the deposit.”

Jamison Firestone with his husband, photo via Buzzfeed


Buzzfeed reported that Mr Firestone has begun discussions with a range of international human rights lawyers, business leaders, and advocates for the LGBT community to “oppose Cunard’s stance and to try in turn to make clear to Bermuda that there are consequences to doing this in the 21st century”.

He also told BuzzFeed News he also holds British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson responsible for “not standing up to Bermuda.”

“Boris should be saying that not only is this a great step backwards for human rights, but as a member of the British Commonwealth this is unacceptable…and for you to go backwards is going to have consequences,” Mr Firestone told Buzzfeed.

Following the Bill being granted assent, British Minister Harriett Baldwin said, “We are obviously disappointed about the removal of same-sex marriage in Bermuda. Less than a year ago, same-sex couples had no legal recognition at all under Bermudian law.

“While the Act withdraws the entitlement for same-sex couples to marry, it replaces it with a provision for domestic partnerships for all couples, regardless of gender. The intent of the Act is to provide domestic partners with the same benefits as married couples, including provision for pensions, inheritance, healthcare, tax and immigration.

“After full and careful consideration of Bermuda’s constitutional and international obligations, the Secretary of State decided that in these circumstances, it would not be appropriate to use the power to block legislation, which can only be used where there is a legal or constitutional basis for doing so, and even then, only in exceptional circumstances.

“It is important to recognise that the regime for domestic partnerships implemented by Bermuda in its Domestic Partnership Act can also meet the European Court of Human Rights requirement for legal recognition of same-sex relationships.

“In engaging with the British overseas territories, we have to respect that they are separate, self-governing jurisdictions with their own democratically elected representatives and the right to self-government.”

Bernews asked Cunard for comment after assent was granted, and they said, “Having been delighted and wholly supportive of the Bermuda Government’s change in law last May, which allowed us to conduct same-sex marriages on board our ships, we are disappointed with this outcome.

“We will now be working closely with the Bermudian authorities to understand the legalities of Domestic Partnership Act 2017 and whether this is something we can offer our guests in the future.”

Last week lawyer Mark Pettingill — who represented Greg DeRoche and Winston Godwin in 2017 — filed a motion on behalf of a client challenging the constitutional aspects of the Domestic Partnership Act.

Mr Pettingill told Bernews that Roderick Ferguson, a Bermudian man living in the United States, filed this lawsuit because “the right to have a same-sex marriage has been taken away.”

The former Attorney-General maintained that as Bermuda created legislation that removes it, the Domestic Partnership Act is unconstitutional.

The Orginating Summons filed [PDF] is seeking an Order declaring that the “Domestic Partnership Act 2018, in so far as its effect is to reverse the decision in the case of Godwin & Deroche v The Registrar General, the Attorney General et al [2017] SC (Bda) 36 Civ, notwithstanding provisions of the Human Rights Act 1981, is void.”

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Comments (24)

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  1. Hmm says:

    But you’re already married so what changes by coming here on a cruise boat? Accepting your marriage and getting married here are two different things.

  2. Real Deal says:

    go bully some where else.

  3. Nana says:

    There are plenty other cruise destinations that you can travel to. We are not going to miss 2 people who have a problem with our rules.

    • Kevin says:

      just so you are clued in they weren’t coming here read the story , but to your mini statement you won’t miss 2 people that 2 will grow look ……
      2 + 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 in it will keep on going do you get or are just that thick
      we need tourists they don’t need to us.
      Get over it

    • no no no wait wait wait says:


      The issue here is not that this man booked a cruise to come here to Bermuda – he did not, the cruise was listed as transatlantic (but the Queen Mary 2 is not scheduled to stop in Bermuda this year).

      The issue is that the cruise liner he booked his cruise on – which is Cunard – is registered here. We have a large ship’s registry here – it doesn’t mean the ships go back and forth out of here, necessarily. Here is the definition (copied from Wikipedia):

      “Ship registration is the process by which a ship is documented and given the nationality of the country to which the ship has been documented. The nationality allows a ship to travel internationally as it is proof of ownership of the vessel. … The organization which actually registers the ship is known as its registry.”

      So it’s not a question of Mr Firestone simply choosing another destination, (as he wasn’t headed here in the first place,) it’s the fact that the ship itself is registered under the Bermuda flag.

      • clearasmud says:

        I doubt that the average cruise passengers checks to see where a ship is registered before deciding to take a cruise. I certainly don’t.

    • sandgrownan says:

      What about Bermudians who have a problem with “our rules”?

    • Mike Hind says:

      The only folks who have a problem with our rules are those that couldn’t accept the rightful ruling of the judge and had to use extraordinary measures to put baseless discrimination back into place.

  4. Jus' Askin' says:

    More Heterophobic actions :-(

    • Mike hind says:

      There’s no such thing. This pathetic, moronic tactic of yours isn’t going to catch on.

  5. Watchman says:

    My wife and I have cancelled travel plans before. We have switched hotels, flights, destinations and times. It has never made the news.

    Why…..cause we live our lives. We get on with our affairs without broadcasting every move and decision.

    Adults don’t really care if your married, or who you married. Adults get agitated when people make spectacles out of simple affairs.

    Maybe there is a hidden agenda. If you stay in the limelight and make enough noise, then maybe you’ll be compensated for your change of venue. Or the agenda wants to make enough noise to highlight a gay couples need to be seen. Like a parade..flaunting loudly for attention. Who knows……just keeps showing me that that isn’t a normal relationship. Like… Will two married gay men continue to be a spectacle? Move on already….geeeeze.

    • Mike Hind says:

      People very obviously DO care if someone is married and who they married.
      If the didn’t, they would have put forth this discriminatory, hateful legislation.

      If you don’t like the spectacle, then get on board the equality train.
      The pro-equality supporters were happy and were very quiet once the initial celebration of the ruling came in and they got on with their lives.

      The ones that made the spectacle are PM and their ilk, flaunting loudly for attention in order to push their agenda of baseless discrimination.

      That’s what this is about.
      People are being denied equality for absolutely no reason given – and if Im wrong, please offer some… heck… offer ONE – and here you are telling them to be quiet about it.

      People will NOT be quiet about it. We will keep fighting for equality.

      If you’re sick of the noise, how about helping us so we don’t have to make it any more?

  6. SoFar Bie says:

    bless their hearts oh who cares

    • therock says:

      “bless their hearts oh who cares”

      that’s what I said about the criminals who got themselves pepper sprayed. LOL

      • wahoo juice says:

        Yes we should reverse the law about blocking parliament that way we won’t get pepper sprayed no more!

  7. Wow says:

    Whatever!! Next!!!!

  8. Joe Bloggs says:

    More great advertising!

  9. Sky Miles says:

    Good, don’t go on a cruise that involves Bermuda if something that shallow affects you so deeply. I suggest you also not cruise or fly to Dubai, or the Emirates at all, nor to Egypt, nor to any of the other over 200 countries which deny same-sex marriage. Tah-tah for now!

    • Mike Hind says:

      you do get that the point is that we HAD Marriage Equality and it was taken away… the only time that’s happened, EVER… and not that we don’t have Marriage Equality, right?

      And… shallow?

      You think it’s shallow to care about whether people have equal rights under the law and aren’t baselessly discriminated against?


  10. therock says:

    “Good, don’t go on a cruise that involves Bermuda ”

    this should be a new ad campaign for Bermuda.

    We don’t need you here…we have IB and pink sand!

    The irony of the pink sand will be lost on most Bermudians. LOL

  11. northR says:

    “I suggest you also not cruise or fly to Dubai, or the Emirates at all, nor to Egypt,”

    ….because Bermuda is just like these backwards countries…where women are second class.

    LOL…you homophobes in Bermuda are hilarious.

  12. new day says:

    Man we dont give a s..t that you canceled a trip to Bermuda.

    Christ I just canceled my vacation, guess what it happens all the time.

  13. Jah says:

    Who cares? Makes no difference! Bunch of whiners and headline grabbers!