Royal Cruise Line's new Commanders' Club - the company's most recent attempt to achieve a better ratio between single men and women aboard ship - has been declared discriminatory by the New York State Division of Human Rights. It also may violate a Civil Rights Code in California, according to a spokesperson at the San Francisco Attorney General's office in San Francisco.
Designed to "lure more single men to cruising," according to the line, the Commanders' Club offers single men a 20 percent discount off selected RCL cruises, a $100 bar credit, $25 off their state rooms, free shore excursions, and free golf and tennis at selected ports. The club is open to all single men, for a lifetime membership fee of five dollars. As members, the men are "requested," but not required to dance and socialize with the single women aboard.
According to a spokesperson at the New York State Division of Human Rights, this promotion clearly denies women equal terms and privileges of public accommodations." The State Attorney General has prohibited RCL from marketing the Commanders' Club in New York.
Although the club has not been banned in any other state, a spokesperson from the Attorney General's office in San Francisco said that it "appears to violate the Unruh Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discounts on the basis of sex." The California State Supreme Court upheld this act in a recent case, Koire vs. Metro Car Wash, according to the spokesperson.
Richard Revnes, president of Royal Cruise Line does not believe that the Commanders' Club is discriminatory.
"We feel that this is a very good way to create a better cruise ambiance. If there are single women who want to agree to dance with other single women on the cruise, they can become members, too," Revnes said, adding that he would talk to any woman who has a complaint about this policy.
While Revnes said that the line's attorneys had looked into the discriminatory factor for several months before the policy was announced, another spokesman for the line said that this aspect had been overlooked.
The ratio of single men to women aboard cruise ships was getting worse and worse, and we felt we had to do something to create a better balance," he said.
When asked if the line considered whether or not the policy might violate any discrimination laws, or simply went ahead without investigation, he said, "more of the latter."