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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

Dark Clouds Looming After Sunshine

Go directly to Venice. Do not wait. Do not pass go. Do not miss the boat. And while this is directed at those of you who cruise, there's a good reason for it. Having driven as close as you can to Venice in a car, and arrived on a cruise ship, the latter is simply an awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping experience that no photos can do justice.

And it may soon end.

The battle between the environmentalists and the economists is getting legs. The most recent of them arrived Saturday morning, just as the Carnival Sunshine did. There are conflicting reports about what actually happened. Of course.

The environmentalist view:

The Sunshine was too close to shore. Some environmentalists think cruise ships are always too close to shore if they can be seen. On Saturday, they claim the Sunshine was within 20 meters (60 feet) of the fragile shoreline, right by St. Mark's Square. One report that fueled the argument was that a water taxi, of which there are dozens if not hundreds, was "squeezed" between the Sunshine and the shore. Waves from the city's principal lagoon causes flooding on smaller canals and the subsequent erosion is putting the city at risk.

Another report was that the cruise ship was manouvered that close as a "sail-by salute" to Carnival's major shareholder, Mickey Arison, whose 150-yacht was reportedly in the vicinity. yet another claimed that cruise ships owned by Carnival Corporation regularly do this sort of thing, because that's what the Costa Concordia captain did in 2012 in the industry's deadliest accident…and Carnival owns Costa.

The economist's view:

Local economists who in the past have saluted the cruise industry's financial impact on this unique city have been silent since Saturday. The other economic beneficiary is Carnival. Spokespeople have issued statements that the Sunshine was 70 to 72 meters (about 200 feet) from shore and that the coast guard, the local pilot association and Carnival's "black box" have confirmed the distance.

Carnival denies it allows such sail-bys, naturally, and that the Sunshine was fully compliant with navigational regulations, including the distance from shore. The cruise line is intent on refuting witness accounts.

The solution?

There isn't one, of course. The more incidents like this, true or unfounded, the more likely it is that one day large cruise ships will be denied access to Venice and more people will have less chance of seeing the jaw-dropping arrival at this beautiful port.

Go. Now. Before it's too late.

Carnival Inspiration
4 nights
September 23, 2013
Long Beach (return): Catalina IslandEnsenada
Inside: $279
Cost per day: $69

Twin Peaks of Carnival's Boss

Is there anything better in the heat than enjoying a nice breeze? Mickey Arison doesn't think there is, although his preceding connection is different than most.

Arison owns Carnival Corporation. Okay, he's the chairman and CEO, so he pretty much owns Carnival Cruise Lines.

He also owns the Miami Heat.

Even if you're not a basketball fan, you may have heard the Heat won the NBA Championship the other day. Simultaneously, Arison's other pride and joy, the Carnival Breeze, was sailing around the Mediterranean introducing people to the cruise line's newest (and 23rd) ship, launched just days before the NBA final series.

Passengers on the new ship were found cheering the Heat's victory while lounging on deck chairs in front of a huge TV screen.

In horse racing, Arison would be celebrating winning a Daily Double. In cruising, it's just…well, Heat and Breeze.

Norwegian Pearl
7 nights
September 9, 2012
Seattle (return): Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan, Victoria
Inside: $649
Cost per day: $92

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