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Anybody Ready for More Football?

Maybe it’s because a week after the Super Bowl, I’m already in football withdrawal…but after a little arm-twisting I convinced my better half (and I do mean better) that we should write about a cruise with a football theme today.

It leaves New York for England on May 8, and it’s a re-positioning cruise for Crystal. The Symphony (above) stops in Newfoundland and Iceland and Denmark and Norway before disembarkation in Dover.

Along the way — and the way lasts 16 days — three football legends and a referee (sorry, referees never attain legendary status) will be taking part in an “Ocean Views” panel discussion and “sharing inspiring personal stories.”

Two of the four are coaches:

• Don Shula (left), who spent almost all his Hall of Fame career in Miami and coached in three Super Bowls and won twice, with the Dolphins;

• Dick Vermeil (right), who also coached in three Super Bowls and won twice, with Philadelphia and Kansas City.

The other legend is Larry Csonka, half of the backfield that powered the Dolphins to a still-unprecedented 17-0 record in 1973 and, like the coaches, a Hall of Famer.

The referee is Jim Tunney, an icon among the men who wear striped shirts, and the only NFL referee ever to work in consecutive Super Bowls.

The four of them will have a captive audience as they cross the Atlantic, or maybe the audience will have the four of them captive. Says Bret Bullock, Crystal’s vice president of entertainment: “All travelers on board can glean powerful coaching and playing tips for whatever game they’re trying to win in life.”

Maybe, but for the football fan, it’s all about the stories.

Holland America Oosterdam
7 nights
March 10, 2012
San Diego (return): Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas
Inside $549

Cruising's Nautical Notebook

THE RIGHT PRICE…………….$1,799
November 7, 14; Miami to Barcelona, 15 nights, Celebrity Solstice.
Bonus: two nights at the end in Barcelona, plus one-way airfare back to Miami.
Contact: Online Vacation Center

All prices are per person based on double occupancy and available at time of posting.

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More evidence that cruising is growing arrived yesterday, when Carnival Cruise Lines released its second-quarter financials. The increase in sales was $247 million, or 8%.

It was accompanied by this statement from Carnival CEO Micky Arison: “Considering recent global economic concerns and other world events our advance bookings are holding up reasonably well and remain in line with our expectations. We believe this will lead to earnings growth in both the third and fourth quarters. The summer season, which is our strongest and most important quarter of the year, is shaping up particularly well.”

Besides its namesake cruise line, Carnival also owns Holland America, Cunard, Princess, Costa, Seabourn, P&O and Ocean Village. So if Carnival’s well-being is not a barometer of the state of the industry, what is?

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The attraction of celebrities continues to grow on cruise ships. Crossing our desk yesterday was a Royal Caribbean cruise on Freedom of the Seas next February with four NFL stars of the past, the biggest of them Leroy Kelley, the Hall of Fame running back from the Cleveland Browns.

Other retirees (as in pro football retirees, that is) on the ship are also enshrined in Canton: cornerback Lem Barney (Detroit), tight end Charlie Sanders (Detroit) and defensive end Elvin Bethea (Houston).

The cruise is a week long, tours the Caribbean, has rates starting at just under $1,200 per person and seems to include everything (like gratuities). Any profits go to a scholarship foundation in the name of Sanders, for two college scholarships a year. The Freedom of the Seas leaves Port Canaveral on February 13th.

Hmmm…just after the Super Bowl.

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That’s it, we’re done.

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