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    Paula Deen Cruise popularity surges despite sponsors backing away. Surprised?


    Not everyone is turned off by chef Paula Deen's recently publicized admission that she has used racial slurs.

    Despite a backlash that involved her being fired from the Food Network, getting ditched by Smithfield Foods Inc. and potentially blacklisted by other one-time sponsors, interest in Deen's annual Paula Deen Cruise has been so great that its organizer has added an extra departure for 2014.

    A representative for the cruise organizer, Alice Travel, backed Deen in an interview with the FOX411 blog. "It’s always an amazing time with Paula, her family and fans. If she goes –- we go," said the rep.

    The Huffington Post reached out to Alice Travel representative Julie Goodman Cook, who revealed that about 500 people attend each cruise. "We are expecting that number to increase," she said. (Deen's first cruise with Alice Travel set sail in 2010. Prior to this, she used different agencies.)

    Next year's cruises with Deen include an eight-day voyage beginning Jan. 18 on Celebrity Reflection, Celebrity Cruises' newest ship. A summertime cruise -- recently added by Alice Travel to accomodate increased demand -- will take place on a Royal Caribbean vessel, either Oasis or Allure of the Seas.

    Deen is not associated with any cruise line, Goodman Cook noted. Alice Travel books rooms in a section of the ship, and Deen's events are inaccessible to other cruise patrons.

    Goodman Cook said previous Deen cruises have attracted a diverse bunch. "We have a group of gay people who go," she said. "There are people in their 90s that go. ... Black, white. I mean everything. Everyone enjoys it." A number of families have already signed up for the summer cruise, Goodman Cook said. In 2010, Paula Deen Cruises hosted a boy through the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

    Past onboard activities include cooking demos led by Deen and her family, photo sessions, pajama parties, cocktail parties and barbecues. Deen also participates in a summer camp-style event aptly called the "Deen family Olympics," which involves G-rated activities like balloon-popping and stringing yarn through teammates' shirts.

    Last year, the cruise price started at $1,440 per person for an inside cabin, based on double occupancy.

    Goodman Cook said that she had not spoken to Deen since the scandal, but had been in contact with Deen's bodyguard and assistant. They relayed that Deen hopes her Wednesday appearance on the "Today" show will help assuage some of the damage to her reputation.

    "Everyone is just keeping a positive outlook on the future," said Goodman Cook. "There will be better understanding about how things were taken out of context."

    The Paula Deen Cruise, though, doesn't have a perfect track record itself. In January, Deen's assistant, Brandon Branch, posted questionable Tweets about a trip that set sail Jan. 27. "This is a floating nursing home!!!!" Branch wrote.

    By Rachel Tepper, Huffington Post

    For more cruise news & articles go to http://www.cruisecrazies.com/index.html

    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more

    http://www.cruisecrazies.com

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    In this country it seems to me that if a person makes a mistake, even a big mistake and seems truly remorseful that eventually that person will be forgiven. Just don't do it again. I think in time she will be back.

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    This is something that happened years back from what I have read. I don't know anyone who has done or said something that they don't regret. While it's NEVER right to insult someone of another race, I don't believe that she is really a racist. I can't believe that her business companions are all dropping her. Whatever happened to forgiveness. She told the truth when asked, and asked for forgiveness...I will still support her, and I'm sure she will have many hugs on her cruises.

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    Actually there are issues recently too. I saw her speak off camera on a show she was taping ad she said if a certain black man on the set could not be seen if he stood next to the blackboard which was on the set. An African American woman is suing a restaurant she co-owes with her brother for racially charged behavior and she wanted to plan a wedding ala a plantation motif with all the servers being African-American.

    I do believe her apology is sincere and so do many others inc. Jesse Jackson. Just have to wait and see how this developers.

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