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Big Doin's In Big D On Sunday

Dallas StadiumIf you’re watching the Cowboys and the Giants from Texas on Sunday, there’s a couple of performers at the “palace in Dallas” (actually, Arlington) that you probably won’t see. Both of them have to do with cruising (actually, Carnival).

One is Rascal Flatts. The award-winning country band is doing a pre-game show. The Carnival connection is that next year Rascal Flatts will be doing shows as part of Carnival Live — dates and places still unknown.

The other is Guy Fieri. He’s also doing a pre-game show — well, sort of — but it’ll be out in the parking lot, where all good hamburger chefs belong when there’s a tail-gate party and they can sell some product. This Carnival connection here, of course, is that Señor Fieri’s burgers are consumed in great numbers on all 24 ships.

Carnival has hitched its wagon (they do a lot of that in Texas) to the Cowboys in the promotional department because that’s one of the synergies, as they say, that seems to work for cruise lines and football teams alike. In one form or another, each sells its product to the other’s customers, not all of whom overlap.

This isn’t entirely new.

Carnival already co-promotes with the New Orleans Saints (at least they and the Cowboys can never meet in the Super Bowl) and has a long association with the Miami Heat. Norwegian is the “official cruise line” of the Miami Dolphins, and has a working relationship with the New York Knicks. Celebrity has been tied to the New York Rangers. And last month, Princess announced it was becoming a proud sponsor of NFL teams in Seattle, Houston and San Francisco.

The difference this time is that Carnival is marketing in a big way with a team in Dallas, which is not a cruise port.

Then again, the Cowboys are “America’s team.”

Today at portsandbows.com: Some of the Oasis changes

Carnival Dream
7 nights
December 14, 2014
New Orleans (return): Key West, Freeport, Nassau
Inside: $329
Cost per day: $47

This Big Three In Serious Port Competition


Mention the "Big 3" in Florida and everybody will think you mean Lebron James, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade.

These days, it's not that automatic, and not just because James was making headlines with his Decision 2.0 as to where he'll be bouncing and swishing basketballs. In the cruise world, for example, the "Big 3" are Miami (the port not the Heat), Fort Lauderdale and Port Canaveral.

And not necessarily in that order.

Most cruisers think of Fort Lauderdale and Miami as the main ports of departure. Miami is the world's self-proclaimed busiest cruise port, and there often seems to be an armada of cruise ships at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale.

Port Canaveral (above) is making up ground, or water.

On any given Sunday, you can find as many as five cruise ships there — two Carnival, two Royal Caribbean and a Disney. The port is home to three ships from Disney (Disney World is just down the interstate in Orlando) and so does Carnival. New agreements are signed with Royal Caribbean and Norwegian.

Dredging is taking place to depend the channel and a new terminal is due to be completed in November, so that the biggest ships in cruising can be accommodate. Hello, Oasis of the Seas?

It's a fierce competition for the Florida cruise dollar…almost as fierce as the competition will be now that Lebron James is breaking up the other "Big 3."

Today at Phil Reimer's portsandbows.com: Theme cruise with stars of TCM

Caribbean Princess
7 nights
August 2, 2014
Fort Lauderdale (return): Princess CaysSt. ThomasSan JuanGrand Turk
Inside: $649
Cost per day: $92

Typhoon Haiyan Elicits Belated Response from Cruise Lines


All of us who've been on a major-market cruise ship have met and perhaps befriended somebody from the Philippines. Last Friday, Typhoon Haiyan wiped more than 1,800 Filipinos from the face of the earth and the death count is unquestionably going higher, ravaging extending families of many people who serve your meals, make your beds and do your laundry when you're on a cruise. 

How is the industry that employees thousands upon thousands of people from the Philippines reacting?


The typhoon hit on Friday. It was labelled as potentially the worst storm in the history of the world. It was evident that tragedy was imminent and that tragedy would be a modest word for what was about to unfold. The photo above was how it looked from the International Space Station.

It was three days — Monday — before most cruise lines took a public position on anything to do with Typhoon Haiyan. In some cases it was Tuesday. In other cases…still nothing. By then it was being referred to us "the end of the world" for some Filipinos.

Here is a sampling and how six dealt with it in press releases or on social media:

Norwegian — Almost immediately on Facebook, it issued a sympathetic statement about its Filipino employees and announced a fund would be set up, details to follow. That was later amended to an appeal for donations, from crew members and guests. There was no mention of a corporate financial contribution.

Cunard — Its latest press release announces that Cunard has been "recognized as top midsize ship cruise line."

Princess — The biggest news is that the cruise line has a new president and the Princess cruise to support veterans had just departed in time for Veterans Day.

Royal Caribbean — On Monday, noting that there are 12,800 Filipinos employed by Royal Caribbean and 60,000 on all 41 ships in affiliated cruise lines, pledged to match employee donations, dollar for dollar.

Disney — On Tuesday, having said nothing, it announced itineraries for 2014 and 2015.

Holland America — News of the week remains winning eight Readers Choice Awards at Conde Nast Traveler.

So, now you can be the judge of whether cruise lines have reacted appropriately.

This, of course, is something of a moving target. Late yesterday, for example, Carnival covered off its 11 brands — as well as the Miami Heat — by pledging a million dollars on behalf of all of them. Today, maybe another cruise line will do more, perhaps to one-up Carnival. In the end, that's good for the poor victims of the Philippines, even if it did get off to a slow start.

Ruby Princess
4 nights
January 9, 2014
Fort Lauderdale (return): Princess Cays
Inside: $229
Cost per day: $57


It's Official…Knicks Cruising Norwegian

Timing is, indeed, everything. On the day that the New York Knicks open the new NBA season, Norwegian trumpets the fact that it is now the "official cruise line" of the Knicks. Coincidence, or getting the biggest bang for your buck?

And the Knicks even co-operated, polishing off Milwaukee 90-83 in last night's season opener. No, Milwaukee doesn't have an official cruise line so that was clearly the difference…right?

imgres copyThis is the 40th anniversary of a once-storied NBA franchise that is coming off a division title at just the right time…for Norwegian, too. The cruise line is getting more firmly entrenched in the Big Apple with each passing year — probably starting with the arrival of the Breakaway, the "unofficial" cruise ship of New York City, early in 2013.

Yes, right about the time the Knicks were making headlines for the first time in two decades by ushering the mighty Boston Celtics from the playoffs.

Again, karma.

And just in case you think Norwegian's next new ship, the Getaway, is going to adopt an NBA team when it hunkers down in Miami…not going to happen.

The Heat is a team owned by Micky Arison…you know, the guy who also owns Carnival.

Royal Caribbean Adventure of the Seas
7 nights
January 19, 2014
San Juan (return): St. ThomasSt. KittsArubaCuracao
Inside: $579
Cost per day: $70

Three Times a Godmother

Unquestionably, there are people who envy or resent the Arison family. It comes with their territory. Wealthy beyond any normal person's means. Owners (or part-owners) of 11 cruise lines under the Carnival banner. Owners of the NBA's champions for the last two years. High up on the list of Miami's rich and famous.


So there is bound to be that same anti-Arison sentiment when — in New Orleans on November 17 — the family matriarch, Lin, becomes the Godmother of the Carnival Sunshine. She'll also become the only person to be Godmother of three ships — the previous iteration of the Sunshine (Carnival Destiny) and the Carnival Holiday being her other godchild ships.

To which we say…good for her!

Mrs. Arison's late husband, Ted, had an enormous cruising impact that affects all of us who go on ships today. He was part-owner of the cruise line that really introduced the affordable Caribbean cruise. It was called the Norwegian Line and Arison left it after six years to found Carnival, which became a corporation that also owns Holland America, Cunard, Princess, Costa and half a dozen smaller cruise lines.

He was a child of wealth and he parlayed it into greater wealth. His son Mickey became the face of Carnival, the world's 169th wealthiest person and the man who signs the paychecks for Lebron James. His mother has been mostly anonymous, except in Miami. There she is known as a philanthropist, especially for the arts, which she obviously loves. She has dedicated her life to advancement of the arts for young people and last year President Obama awarded her the National Medal.

With such people of privilege often comes a responsibility to help others. But it's not a given. If there were no wealthy people like this, who would step up to help others, in a myriad of ways. Mrs. Arison made doing so her responsibility.

When she wasn't giving "berth" to three ships.

White House photo by Chuck Kennedy

Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas
7 nights
October 6, 2013
Fort Lauderdale (return): Labadee, Falmouth, Cozumel
Inside: $749
Cost per day: $107

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