Kathy Ireland, Godmother of Carnival Freedom, Bob Dickinson, and Micky Arison of Carnival Corp.
Granted, most of you probably don't know Bob, but if you work in the cruise industry his reputation is as big as Bill Clinton's. Twenty years ago, a lot of people had the erroneous notion that cruises were stuffy affairs solely for the wealthy with high tea, wine lists, fois gras and tuxedos. Bob Dickinson and Carnival Cruise Lines were instrumental in changing that misimpression.
When Bob saw how the wrong ideas were holding people back from trying their first cruise, he coined the phrase "Fun Ships" for Carnival. He realized that Americans want vacations where they can forget the everyday and live a little fantasy. In fact, one of Carnival's earliest ships was named "Fantasy."
The idea was pivitol in Carnival's success. Kathie Lee belting out "If you could see me know" was the catch-phrase that captured America's imagination, cajoling cruise novices to give Carnival a try. No coincidence that yet another of Carnival's early ships was named "Imagination." In the early years it was mostly Floridians who cruised, but as they told more & more of their visitors from up north how great it was, well the rest is history.
At one point, Carnival acquired something of a "spring-break" reputation, even though the people coming on their ships were married couples, families and even seniors. So Bob came up with even more ideas on how to tailor the carnival philosophy; such as "women pick the vacation, but the men need to be convinced."
Today, Carnival is the cruise line that offers escape more than frivolity, with a focus on quality in food, entertainment and accommodations. Like so many things in cruising today, it is the one cruise line where more people say, "if we had only known it was like this, we would have started coming years ago."
As Bob puts it, "If you haven't been on Carnival cruise in the last five years, you haven't seen the new Carnival." but a good number of people who haven't tried it still perceive Carnival as the ships of neon, long public announcements, and wild cabin parties going into the wee hours.
That doesn't exactly sound like the formula for the most successful cruise line in the world, does it? No, and that isn't today's Carnival.
Yes, their cruises are just about the most affordable cruises available, but that doesn't mean they are cheap in what they deliver onboard. CruiseMates readers rate Carnival's food as the best in the "contemporary cruise lines" category. And the entertainment is arguably the best you will ever see on a cruise ship. The decor is still daring, but that doesn't mean it isn't appealing.
But why call them the "Fun Ships?" When you board one of today's Carnival ships the staff and the passengers will all be smiling and people will be buzzing with activity everywhere you go. You will find larger than expected, comfortable staterooms. And when you leave your cabin you become immersed in an environment that is sure to make you relax and forget your daily life.
Carnival puts more imagination into their decor than any other cruise line. Unlike many cookie cutter cruise lines who offer you the same exact design on every ship in the fleet, the decor of each Carnival ship is completely unique, each based on its own chosen theme. Designer Joe Farcus doesn't just try for elegance or class; he prefers adjectives like engrossing and imposing, immersing you in detail. One could spend an entire cruise just studying the decor of your ship, and if you don't like the one you are on, try another Carnival ship. Each one of them is completely different.
And there's more. Carnival Corp. virtually "owns" the cruise business (having made enough money to be able to acquire many other cruise brands). Being number one affords strategic advantages, making it possible for Carnival to "deliver" a cruise that pleases in every way that counts. It's a "fun ship" that delivers a great cruise at a fantastic price.
And most of all, let's not forget the staff. They are friendly, capable and engaging. Meals aren't just meals, they are events with singing and dancing waiters. Even bedtime comes with a different surprise every night; Carnival invented the towel pets you see in so many pictures in the CruiseMates photo galleries.
With Carnival you get professionalism with fun and relaxation at a great price. And that's a tough act to beat.
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Carnival Freedom, January 19, 2008.
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A 14-night transatlantic cruise.
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7 nights in the Eastern Caribbean.
Carnival Freedom, Thanksgiving, 2007.
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