Canadian far-right media group Rebel Media won’t be sailing out of Miami for a week-long conference aboard a Norwegian cruise ship scheduled for November.
After pressure from an anti-racism advocacy group in the United Kingdom, Norwegian on Wednesday canceled the Nov. 12 sailing aboard the 1,646-passenger Norwegian Getaway. The ship was set to leave from PortMiami for a western Caribbean itinerary that included stops in Roatan, Honduras; Harvest Caye, Belize; Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico.
In a promotional video for the voyage, dubbed the “Rebel Cruise,” Canadian writer and co-founder of the magazine and website VICE, Gavin McInnes advertised the trip as a “week at sea with like-minded folks, hanging out, getting hammered, aye, smoking darts and talking about making Canada great again.” The event included panel discussions with Rebel personalities. (McInnes left VICE in 2008.)
UK-based HOPE not hate launched a campaign against the Rebel Cruise, asking for signatures on petitions to ask Norwegian to cancel the sailing. The group pointed to McInnes’ connections to the organizer of the Unite The Right Charlottesville demonstration, a white supremacist rally that turned violent Saturday when a car plowed into a group of counter-protesters, killing one person.
McInnes is a member of the Proud Boys, a far-right men’s organization, which counts among its new members Jason Kessler, who organized the Charlottesville rally. (McInnes distanced himself from the rally in advance of the demonstration).
“We believe Norwegian Cruise Line must take a stand against racism, homophobia, sexism, transphobia, and hatred of all kinds,” HOPE not hate’s petition read.
In the current climate, this is a valuable example that companies have the choice to act responsibly and to refuse to allow their platforms to be vehicles for the normalization and mainstreaming of bigotry.
HOPE not hate statement
The uproar around the cruise reached the ears of Norwegian management, which on Wednesday wrote in a statement to HOPE not hate that the Rebel Cruise “espoused views that are inconsistent with Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings core values. The company has therefore exercised its right to cancel this group’s reservation and provide a full refund.” The statement, posted on HOPE not hate’s website, was confirmed as accurate by the cruise line.
In celebrating Norwegian’s decision, HOPE not hate pointed to the Charlottesville protest and backlash over President Donald Trump’s response to the rally. Since the Charlottesville rally, several organizations have canceled speaking engagement by “alt-right” leaders, including the University of Florida. On Wednesday, the school said it would not allow “alt-right” leader Richard Spencer to speak on campus, citing “serious concerns for safety.”
“In the current climate, this is a valuable example that companies have the choice to act responsibly and to refuse to allow their platforms to be vehicles for the normalization and mainstreaming of bigotry,” HOPE not hate wrote in a statement.
We hope we can convince Norwegian to stop the blacklist, and change their mind, and let us have our cruise. Norwegian got this one wrong, it wasn’t fair, and they smeared our reputations too.
Ezra Levant, president of Rebel Media
But Ezra Levant, president of Rebel Media, denounced the claims that Rebel Media was an “alt-right” or neo-Nazi organization. “I also happen to be a proud Jew, by the way!” Levant wrote in an email to the Miami Herald. He said he received news Wednesday night through the site’s travel agency that the trip had been canceled.
”No warning, no explanation, nothing,” Levant said via email.
Now Rebel Media is setting up a petition of its own against Norwegian Cruise Line, asking the line to reverse its decision and “announce that they will not discriminate against conservatives on their cruise line.”
“We hope we can convince Norwegian to stop the blacklist, and change their mind, and let us have our cruise, as we have done so many years before on various cruise lines,” Levant wrote in an email. “Norwegian got this one wrong, it wasn’t fair, and they smeared our reputations too.”
Norwegian Cruise Line declined requests for comment.