While most major companies are creating a wide berth between their brand and the humbled celebrity chef, one travel agency isn’t jumping ship quite yet — in fact, it’s getting ready to book reservations for fans who want to join Paula Deen on one.
Alice Travel, which handles cruises in which the celebrity sets sail with passengers, told ABC News that it will add a second cruise featuring Deen in July 2014. This will be the first time that there will be two Paula Deen cruises featured in one year. Phyllis Loverdi, the vice president of Alice Travel, told ABC News that the agency has noticed an uptick in interest: “People are calling and saying they want to support her, even people who have never been on a cruise before. They’re saying they definitely want to go.”
The first cruise, held on Celebrity Cruises’ Reflection, departs on Jan. 18 from Miami on a seven-night itinerary through the Caribbean. The second cruise is being planned for July on Royal Caribbean, though no dates have been formalized. Loverdi expects that about 1,000 people will join Deen for the cruises next year.
Cynthia Martinez, a spokeswoman for Royal Caribbean, emphasized that no formal business partnership with the cruise-ship operator has ever been reached with Deen. “She has sailed with our brands a couple of times, but as host of group cruises, and each time, the groups were booked through a specific travel agency, not through Royal Caribbean,” she told the Hollywood Reporter. The operator of the January cruise, Celebrity Cruises, emphasized the same sentiment.
Deen launched “Paula Deen Cuisine” cruises in 2009.