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Carnival Goes To Bat For Texas Kids

Until Tuesday night, we’d never heard of Frisco. It was always just an abbreviation for San Francisco when both words didn’t fit in a headline or sound as cool in a conversation. 

On Tuesday, we discovered Frisco is in Texas, and that a young ballplayer named Joey Gallo drove down Highway 121 and went from being a Frisco RoughRider to a Texas Ranger, then promptly destroyed the Chicago White Sox, who enjoy unparallelled popularity in our household.

Joey from Frisco was not popular here.

Up the road in the Dallas suburb, he is popular…maybe as popular as Carnival, the cruise line — you were wondering where this was all going, weren’t you? Carnival has a working Frisco-1agreement with the RoughRiders — the Rangers’ farm team — in what is likely the only example of a minor-league sports team having a major-league cruise line as an official sponsor.

This week, the cruise line threw a party for kids from Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys & Girls Club and a handful of other organizations that give breaks to kids who need them. During a game between the RoughRiders and the Tulsa Drillers, the kids and the families took part in activities that included hitting softly tossed balls in an inflatable batter’s box, getting pictures taken with the players, making their own baseball cards, having Cracker Jack (and presumably peanuts, too) at the old ball game…even having a chance to win a free cruise.

All of it is part of being a good corporate citizen in Texas, where Carnival is king of the cruise lines. Besides winning the hearts of future cruisers, Carnival benefits by having one Frisco-2of its ship horns blasted every time a Frisco batter hits a home run, by having fireworks launched from a Carnival funnel and by having appropriate signage displayed at Dr. Pepper Ballpark.

It’s the second annual Carnival Kids Day in Frisco and the betting is there will be a third.

And why not?

No matter what the scoreboard says, everybody wins.

Now if Frisco would just take back Joey Gallo…

In the news…

• Complete makeover for both Azamara's ships (USA Today)
• Rudder damage forces Adventure Canada to cancel two cruises (Cruise Critic)
• Tornado caused Chinese cruise ship to capsize

Today at portsandbows.com: Celebrating Cunard's 175th

Carnival Legend
7 nights
September 8, 2015
Seattle (return): Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan, Vancouver
Inside: $679
Cost per day: $97

Carnival Heats Up Ice Bucket Challenge

You’ve heard, no doubt, about the Ice Bucket Challenge. How celebrities and non-celebrities are dunking themselves with buckets of ice to raise awareness — and money — to fight ALS, aka Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

It’s spreading much faster than the disease. That’s good.

The first cruise line to get involved is Carnival. It will surely not be the last. It started with a clever Carnival cruise director named Matt Mitcham. On the Breeze, he drenched himself with 150 gallons of icy water, then challenged other Carnival cruise Ice Bucket-Cahilldirectors to do the same thing. The “challenge” is to pour a bucket of ice water over your head, or make a donation to ALS within 24 hours.

Many do both.

Mitcham’s move went up and down the Carnival food chain. You had to know the most famous of cruise directors, John Heald, would be first in line. He was on the Miracle at the time, in Alaska. When it comes to Alaska, there’s ice…and there’s ice. Brave is the person who has an ice shower in the 49th state.

Heald did, of course. As did President and CEO Gerry Cahill, albeit in the temperate climate of  Miami, in front of company employees at Carnival headquarters. Celebrities connected to Carnival — comedian George Lopez, deejay DJ Irie, food guru Guy Fieri — are all complying.

This phenomenon is world-wide.

Ice Bucket-CrosbyCelebrity participants run from 27-year-old hockey superstar Sidney Crosby (somewhere under the blue box) to 86-year-old famous family matriarch Ethel Kennedy (86) — see video — and she challenged President Obama to get in line. Perhaps strangely, Obama opted only to make a donation. Perhaps the White House was short of towels.

And just last night former major league star Ken (Hawk) Harrelson, now a Chicago White Sox broadcaster and soon to be a member of the club, said this about the phenomenon:

“It’s unstoppable.”

The seed is believed to have been planted by Pete Frates. The Boston College star athlete was diagnosed with ALS more than two years ago. He first issued the challenge on social media. Today, he has been silenced and unable to swallow by the disease that made a famous major league ballplayer from 80 years ago even more famous in death.

Along the way, the idea picked up celebrities, and nothing makes an idea grow faster. In the last month, ice-bucketing has raised $2.3 million for the ALS Association. For this year, that figure has climbed to $15.6 million, compared to $1.8 million for the same period in 2013.  One of the 300,000 contributors this year is Carnival Cruise Lines, which added $100,000 to the pot. Besides the money, the campaign has delivered millions more in awareness.

Participants join the Ice Bucket List, giving a new twist to everybody’s Bucket List.

And beating ALS is on everyone’s.

Today at portsandbows.com: Cruise news, views and gossip…from the ships at sea

Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas
7 nights
September 21, 2014
Port Canaveral (return): Coco Cay, San Juan, St. Maarten
Inside: $399
Cost per day: $57

Batter Up for the Celebrity Sox

I love cruising. I love baseball. When Celebrity announced yesterday that it's now the "official cruise line of the Boston Red Sox", for me there was only one thing I didn't like about it.

Wrong Sox.

When I was a still a second-grader, my parents took me to Chicago (Palatine, Ill. actually) and introduced me to big-league baseball. It happened that the White Sox and not the Cubs were home that week, planting the seed for a lifelong attachment to a team that has won the World Series fewer times than Boston in the last century — which is to say one time.

But the Red Sox are the darlings of Fenway. There's something romantic about all things Boston but especially the Red Sox. Before they broke their 85-year curse for trading Babe Ruth to the Yankees, sympathy poured over the Red Sox and there were widespread celebrations when the jinx mercifully ended in 2004.

The next year, the "other Sox" ended their 88-year drought by winning the Series. Outside of Chicago, did anybody but me really care? Were there any distant celebrations beyond the champagne cork that popped on our patio?

So it figures that when Celebrity went looking for a "celebrity" big-league team, it would be the Red Sox, who by the way have won two World Series since 1918 yet still are more popular than teams far more successful. The new marketing arrangement 

between the two means a 2014 Red Sox Fan Cruise with former (unnamed) Boston players and announcer Joe Castiglione. The Silhouette leaves Fort Lauderdale on January 12 for a week in the Western Caribbean.

Not everybody will pay to be there. At four home games every month before then, Celebrity will give Fenway fans a chance to win a trip for two on the special cruise. Every time the Red Sox turn a double play at home this season — Boston's averaging one DP a game so far — one fan will get $200 off a Celebrity cruise. There will be special events with giveaways and appearances by Red Sox legends throughout the season, and it won't be hard to find a Celebrity sign at Fenway.

The timing of the announcement couldn't be better for the cruise line: The Red Sox have the best record in baseball and they have rabid fans from "Red Sox Nation" ready to line up for World Series.

But they still have the wrong Sox.

Carnival Glory
7 nights
September 28, 2013
 New York (return): Boston, Portland, Saint John, Halifax, Sydney
Inside: $369
Cost per day: $52

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