Media Reports Blame "Fat Americans" for QM2 Furniture Breakage

December 14, 2004

A story in Britain's Sunday Times that claimed Cunard's Queen Mary 2 would be "fitted with reinforced furniture amid claims that overweight American passengers have broken some of the existing seats" is creating a brouhaha around the world.

The story, which appeared on December 5, quotes an unnamed Cunard spokesperson saying that "there are some problems with the chairs because some of our passengers are heavier than we imagined." Adding fuel to the proverbial fire was another report -- this one from Australia's Melbourne Herald Sun. In that story, an unnamed spokesperson, this one from Chantiers de l'Atlantique, the shipyard that built Queen Mary 2, claimed that "it's not an English problem, it's probably more American."


Gary Gerbino, a U.S.-based spokesman for Cunard Line, called the reports "quite silly" and says that "I don’t know that it [singling out hefty Americans as culprits for breaking furniture] was ever scientific." Gerbino says that the passenger breakdown onboard Queen Mary 2, so far, is that Americans represent 50 percent, United Kingdom residents 40 percent -- and 10 percent are "other."

Whether or not "fat" Americans -- of all the nationalities that sail on Queen Mary 2 -- are responsible for breaking chairs is not actually the point, writes Cruise Critic member Ernie Roller.

"Any furniture manufactured for a cruise ship needs to be built to industrial standards," he notes. "I haven't read about any Royal Caribbean, Carnival, or Princess ships being sent back to the shipyard for new furniture. This is just an excuse for either poor quality and workmanship or a poor choice of furniture designs."