Paula Deen Cruise Forges Full Steam Ahead
UPDATED: Royal Caribbean says it's booked two excursions on her eponymous trips for 2014.
Despite rough waters in the wake of Paula Deen's N-word scandal, the embattled celebrity chef's cruise line is poised to forge ahead with two trips booked for 2014.
A representative for the company told Fox News in a statement that the annual Paula Deen Cruise remains in popular demand, with an additional journey planned for next year because of "so many requests from Paula's fans in the past." Added the rep: "It's always an amazing time with Paula, her family and fans. If she goes – we go."
Later Tuesday, Cynthia Martinez, Royal Caribbean's director of global corporate communications, stated in an email to The Hollywood Reporter that the company "has never had a partnership or any formal association with Paula 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."
Meanwhile, other pieces of Deen's empire have begun to unravel since the 66-year-old culinary star admitted to having used the N-word during a deposition in a discrimination lawsuit brought by a former restaurant employee. Last week, the Food Network -- which housed her TV series for more than a decade -- said it would not renew her contract when it expires at the end of the month. Then, on Monday, she lost her endorsement deal with pork company Smithfield, which for many years has sold a ham with Deen’s name and face on it.
The status of her business relationships with companies that carry her cookware line and other products -- such as Target, Sears, Walmart and QVC -- remains up in the air. As for her bimonthly magazine, Cooking With Paula Deen, Hoffman Media remains mum on whether it will continue the publication and has maintained it does not condone "discrimination of any kind." And although Deen is set to release a new book, Paula Deen's New Testament: 250 Favorite Recipes, All Lightened Up, in mid-October, Random House says it's "closely monitoring the situation" surrounding the comfort-food icon.
On Tuesday, her sons Jamie and Bobby, who have their own Food Network show, Road Tasted, defended their mother in an interview with CNN. Said Bobby: "We were raised in a family of love and of faith and a house where God lived. Neither one of our parents ever taught us to be bigoted towards any other person for any reason. … Frankly, I'm disgusted by the whole thing because it began as extortion and it became character assassination."