Cruise lines have joined the boycott of Brunei after the tiny, oil-rich country introduced harsh laws against gay couples and adultery, making their relationships punishable by stoning to death.
Princess Cruises led the way, calling off two port visits.
“Princess Cruises is aware of the news stories circulating about the country of Brunei and the discriminatory views of the country leader towards the LGBTQ community,” the cruise line said in a statement.
“Although we have no calls to Brunei in 2019, we are looking at one itinerary in May 2020 and another in January 2021 that currently include a port call to Brunei, with the intention to make changes to those itineraries.
“At Princess Cruises we celebrate diversity and equality and would avoid any location where any guests are not treated with dignity and respect,” said a Princess Cruises’ spokesperson.
Sapphire Princess is scheduled to visit Brunei’s cruise port, Muara on 20 May 2020 while Diamond Princess is scheduled to visit Brunei on 1 January 2021. Both ships will now not be stopping at Brunei.
Carnival Corporation, the world’s largest cruise line strongly supports diversity and equality and shares the same view as Princess, which is part of the Carnival family. None of Carnival’s other brands is scheduled to visit Brunei.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Silversea Cruises have also cancelled all calls to Muara, Brunei.
RSSC’s Seven Seas Voyager which is scheduled to visit Brunei on 17 December this year and Seven Seas Explorer on 17 March 2021, will now not be stopping in Brunei.
Silversea’s Silver Spirit which is scheduled to visit Brunei on 30 December this year, will now be scrapped.
“At Regent Seven Seas Cruises the safety and well-being of our guests and crew is always our top priority. We closely monitor issues around the globe and if we have concerns, we will alter itineraries or shore excursion offerings accordingly. Given the recent information that has come to light, we’ve made the decision to cancel all future calls to Muara, Brunei,” the line said in a statement.
“We at Silversea Cruises prioritise the safety and welfare of our guests and crew above all else. Our team continuously monitors global affairs to ensure the well-being of those on board our ships. Due to recent developments, we have cancelled all scheduled calls to Muara, Brunei,” said a Silversea statement.
Star Clipper which makes regular calls to Brunei is also “looking at a possible alternative call during the itinerary, if Brunei doesn’t change it’s mind under international pressure,” the company said.
Star Clipper is scheduled to visit Brunei in May and October this year and in May and September next year.
With Princess leading the way, other cruise lines are expected to follow suit by skipping port calls at Brunei.
Next year, Viking Sun will visit on 29 February and 1 March and in 2021 Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity are scheduled to call on 17 and 23 February followed by Viking Sun on 4 March.
Brunei is led by the world’s richest man, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, whose personal wealth is estimated at $27.7 billion. Under his rule, he has introduced strict Sharia law, including death by stoning for gay sex and adultery, amputation of limbs for theft and public flogging for abortion.
The laws have been decried as “cruel and inhuman” by the United Nations.
Earlier this week, actor George Clooney called for a boycott of nine Brunei-owned hotels to condemn the new laws. The hotels which are located in in Britain, France, Italy and the United States include London’s exclusive Dorchester and Beverley Hills Hotel in Los Angeles.
“Every single time we stay at or take meetings at or dine at any of these nine hotels, we are putting money directly into the pockets of men who choose to stone and whip to death their own citizens for being gay or accused of adultery,” Mr Clooney said.
British veteran singer Elton John and a growling list of celebrities have also joined in condemning the new laws and supporting the boycott of the Brunei-owned hotels.