World Cup No Economic Fit for Carnival

ON BOARD THE CARNIVAL FREEDOM — The largest cruise line in the world isn't carrying the biggest sporting event in the world this year on stateroom television…and there's a good reason why.

Passengers on Carnival ships sailing in waters surrounding North America are not glued to the The World Cup, as most of the world is, because the cruise line didn't purchase the rights to broadcast the month-long event to determine soccer bragging rights until 2018.

If you can believes this…soccer's powerful governing world body (FIFA) charges more than $1 million for the privilege!

Okay, a million bucks isn't as hard to swallow for a cruise line that carries 4.5 million passengers per year as it is for working stiffs needing a mortgage. However, 97 per cent of Carnival's clientele is from the U.S., and there are those who believe many World CupAmericans don't know a soccer ball from a watermelon…or at least a water polo ball. On the Freedom, this "scorecard" in Curacao was one way for them to get World Cup updates.

In theory, Carnival would have spent more than $1 million for three per cent of its passengers over a one-month period. In theory, that's fewer than 12,000 people.

The theory, of course, falls apart because there are Americans who do follow football — as the world-wide game is known — and there are Americans who jump on the patriotic soccer bandwagon every four years just like they do the Olympic bandwagon.

There's almost more interest this time because the U.S. advanced beyond the preliminary round. And here's the real kicker…the demographic of the typical American is ever changing with the influx of immigrants, especially soccer-mad Spanish-speaking immigrants.

When the Freedom prepared to leave Fort Lauderdale last weekend, there was a delay because some of the thrusters had to be cleaned. The ship was two hours late leaving. As it happened, the U.S. was playing at exactly that time, the game was being carried on ESPN and ESPN was on the stateroom TVs. 

The cruise director announced the good fortune to the ship's soccer fans, who voiced their approvals. And at least once during the cruise, Carnival's satellite signal picked up a Miami station that was carrying the games, giving passengers another brief look at what they ordinarily wouldn't have seen.

This may be the last time Carnival can afford not to carry on World Cup.

Today at Phil Reimer's portsandbows.com: Weather worries different for rivers, oceans

Carnival Imagination
3 nights
August 7, 2014
Long Beach (return): Ensenada
Inside: $259
Cost per day: $86
www.carnival.com

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