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THE ADMIRAL Eric Never Floundered


he seaborne career of this old salt dates back to a time when a leviathan that was to become an icon had just completed her maiden voyage to New York and was grabbing the world’s headlines. Queen Elizabeth 2 was very much a ship of her time, the democratic and modernist 1960s. It was both a paragon of the Cunard aesthetic and the triumph of a great tradition. It was also the last of a great lineage of transatlantic liners – or so this nouveau arrivé thought. More than 40 years later, the Admiral finds himself questioning what is still actually British about Cunard’s new ships. For more than 170 years, the line has sold itself as a quintessentially British experience but, as far as this ancient mariner is concerned, that continuum has been sullied by reflagging the fleet to Bermudan registry. The press releases might disguise this move by


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proclaiming that, for the first time, Cunard can offer guests the chance to be married on board, but this veil of spin hides what is surely a money-spinning move. Under a ‘flag of convenience,’ Cunard are not subject to UK and European employment law, thus saving wage bills and registration fees by employing crew at cheaper rates. Perhaps it is timely, then, that one of the most


respected names in Cunard’s recent history is bowing out after serving the company for 27 years.


INVALUABLE ASSET As Public Relations Manager, Eric Flounders has overseen it all – from the overly-ambitious refit of QE2 in 1994 when British tabloids were filled with stories of exploding toilets – to the supremely orchestrated christening ceremonies of Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth. As a former speech-writer in the House of Commons as well as Leader of Tower Hamlets Borough Council, Eric was an invaluable asset to Cunard at a time when the owners were changing faster than the climate. After these turbulent times, stability was secured in 1998 when Cunard was sold to the mighty Carnival Corporation. A proud Yorkshireman not afraid to speak his mind, Eric can be acerbic and appreciative in equal measure. He is a speech-writer second to none, as well as a font of company knowledge. What is without question is the masterly way he has guided Britain’s media and steered Cunard on a course few other cruise lines can equate. While Cunard ships will continue to fly the Red Ensign, the word ‘Hamilton’ emblazoned on their sterns in place of ‘Southampton’ encapsulates the sea-change in a company where economics seem to override heritage. As a friend of celebrities and authors, comedians and politicians, Eric will be sadly missed hosting his favourite table in the Princess Grills across the Seven Seas. I, too, will miss the frequent tannoy calls: “Will Eric Flounders please contact the Purser’s Office,” knowing that this self-effacing savant was being called upon to meet another writer seeking pearls of wisdom on the history of Cunard like a priest quarrying the Bible for his weekly sermon.


It’s Fun Ship Version Two


CARNIVAL CRUISES has unveiled an imaginative new programme of onboard enhancements and additions to their fleet under the title of Fun Ship 2.0. Under the 2.0 title, the company aims to dramatically


transform its ship-board style, with a multi-year effort to offer new dining choices, more exciting bars, lounges and entertainment options, including innovative partnerships and new branded spaces.


In the first phase alone, which extends through to the end of 2015, Carnival will invest more than $500million across its 23-ship fleet (with the new Carnival Breeze joining in the Mediterranean in summer 2012).


The first announced tie-ups are with entertainer George


Lopez, who will become Carnival’s creative director for comedy and enhance its comedy clubs; Food Network star Guy Fieri (above), who will develop a dining venue called Guy’s Burger Joint; leading video game manufacturer EA Sports to create the first EA Sports Bar at sea; and Hasbro for new larger-than-life game shows featuring iconic games and brands. Carnival is also working with leading production talent to create a high-energy musical showcase and pronounced celebrity song-master DJ Irie their Official DJ. Other unique branded rooms will be the RedFrog Rum Bar, BlueIguana Tequila Bar and three other fun themed bars and lounges, as well as a complimentary BlueIguana Cantina casual dining option. President and CEO Gerry Cahill explained: “Fun Ship 2.0 is the largest and most ambitious initiative our company has ever undertaken and it will serve to significantly transform the Carnival vacation experience for our guests. “Through breakthrough partnerships with some of today’s biggest talents and most popular entertainment brands, plus our own new branded experiences and on-board destina- tions, Carnival fans and those new to our cruises are destined for an incredible vacation experience.” Carnival Liberty (sailing year-round to the Caribbean from Miami) is the first ship to feature many of the new dining and bar venues, having just returned from a scheduled refurbish- ment while 14 others are scheduled to receive many of the enhancements through 2015.


MORE INFO: in the UK, call 0845 351 0556 or visit www.carnivalcruise.co.uk; in the US, call 1800 764 7419 or www.carnival.com.


12 WORLD OF CRUISING I Winter 2011-12


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