Carnival wins a challenge against Bermuda same-sex marriage ban

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A ban imposed against same-sex marriages on cruise ships registered in Bermuda is being lifted after a successful Carnival Corporation-backed legal challenge on the island

The Supreme Court in the British Overseas Territory yesterday upheld a constitutional challenge against the Domestic Partnership Act, allowing gay couples to once again be able to marry.

Chief justice Ian Kawaley, delivering his judgment, said the sections of the Act which revoked the right to same-sex marriage were invalid because they were inconsistent with provisions in the Constitution which give the right to freedom of conscience and creed.

It came after a court battle fought by gay Bermudians Rod Ferguson and Maryellen Jackson and the gay rights charity OutBermuda, with part funding by Carnival.

The ban, which came into force in February, meant P&O Cruises, Cunard and Princess Cruises ships registered in Bermuda were prevented from conducting same-sex marriages on board.

Carnival had faced calls for a boycott due to some of its ships being registered in Bermuda.

Carnival UK president Josh Weinstein said: “We are delighted that the supreme court of Bermuda has decided that same-sex marriage is legal in Bermuda and we congratulate OutBermuda on its hard-won challenge.

“As a result of the judgment, it will also now be legal for same-sex couples to marry onboard cruise ships registered in the country.

“As a company committed to equality, inclusion and diversity, we believe everyone deserves equal dignity and respect, and we are proud to have provided our support to OutBermuda’s efforts to champion marriage equality.

“We will now be working closely with the Bermudan authorities to understand when we will be able to resume marrying same-sex couples on board.”

The Domestic Partnership Act was passed by Bermuda’s parliament in December, reversing a supreme court ruling from May last year, which enabled gay couples to marry on the island.

The new legislation came into force on Friday, revoking the right of gay couples to marry and offering them – and heterosexual couples – the option of a legally-recognised civil union.

But chief justice Kawaley’s ruling will mean gay couples can wed once more and domestic partnerships will also be available.

The DPA meant Bermuda was the only country in the world to have allowed gay marriage and then revoked that right.

Ferguson then launched a crowdsourced civil case on the grounds that his constitutional rights had been breached.

Jackson and OutBermuda, with partial funding from Carnival Corporation, later filed a separate lawsuit and asked for it to be joined with Ferguson’s case.

However, the Bermuda government has an automatic right to appeal the ruling and it will not go into effect immediately.

The chief justice agreed to an application by solicitor-general Melvyn Douglas to stay the effect of the judgment for six weeks until it decides whether to appeal, meaning the current ban on same-sex marriage will remain in place, according to Bermuda’s Royal Gazette newspaper.

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Disney doing Bermuda cruises next year

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Disney Cruise Line fans will have two new ports to try in 2018, when the line has itineraries scheduled to call in Bermuda and Quebec City.

The Disney Magic will sail from New York in the fall of 2018 on five-day sailings that include two full days in Bermuda and six-day sailings that include three days in Bermuda.

Seven-day itineraries will depart both New York and Quebec City, with visits scheduled at Saguenay and Baie-Comeau.

From New York, the Disney Magic will also make seven-day round trips to Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island in the Bahamas, and Port Canaveral, where a one-day Walt Disney World Park Hopper ticket plus complimentary round-trip transportation between the ship and the theme parks is included.

Norwegian Dawn on schedule for next voyage

Norwegian Dawn

The Norwegian Dawn is structurally sound and will sail its next scheduled cruise from Boston on May 22, Norwegian Cruise Line said on Wednesday.

The Dawn ran aground on the sea bed near Bermuda after departing King’s Wharf on Tuesday. Norwegian Cruise Line said there was a temporary malfunction of the steering system.

Later on Tuesday, the ship was refloated to Heritage Wharf in Bermuda to be assessed by a team consisting of cruise line personnel; an independent dive team; and inspectors from the Dawn’s classification society, DNVGL.

“The team confirmed the structural integrity of the ship, and the technical issue which caused the steering malfunction was identified and corrected,” Norwegian said Wednesday on its Twitter account.

The ship is expected to depart Bermuda at 3 p.m. on Wednesday and resume sailing to Boston.

All guests on the current voyage will receive a credit of 15% of their cruise fare to use toward a future sailing.