Expect cruising logos, contests and sponsorships to appear within major league venues and during halftime shows as more lines continue to sign deals with professional sports teams.
Among the partnerships announced recently: Celebrity Cruises and the New York Rangers, along with Carnival Cruise Lines and the New Orleans Saints. Norwegian Cruise Line has entered into sports sponsorships in both homeports for its newest ships: the Knicks in Breakaway’s port of New York, and the Dolphins in Miami, where Getaway will debut in 2014.
Why are so many cruise lines wooing sports fans?
“We’ve seen a branding trend among cruise lines for a few years now,” said Cruise Critic Managing Editor Colleen McDaniel (a former sports editor and the staff’s resident expert for all things fitness). “Carnival has an association with Hasbro; Royal Caribbean has a partnership with Barbie; Norwegian has hooked up with Nintendo. These are brands people know and love. Sports partnerships are a natural extension of this.”
The agreements don’t necessarily mean you’ll see players on your ships, although Celebrity says it will sponsor its first Rangers Legends cruise in August 2014, with former Blueshirts Ron Duguay, Adam Graves, Ron Greschner and Stephane Matteau.
More often than not, the deals mean the cruise line buys advertising within stadiums so it can entice locals to think about taking an easy vacation from the homeport. In New Orleans for example, Carnival will be holding contests, giving away Saints merchandise and sponsoring the halftime show Sunday – the same day Sunshine has its naming ceremony at the port.
And Celebrity Cruise Line President Michael Bayley cited the prominence of Madison Square Garden — and the venue’s “loyal, passionate and affluent fans and family” as a driving force behind the Ranger deal.
The trend made us here at Cruise Critic think about what partnerships we’d really like to see onboard. Among our picks:
* Bumper cars with NASCAR superstar Jimmie Johnson on Royal Caribbean’s upcoming Quantum of the Seas.
* A Ping-Pong match with Roger Federer on Norwegian Jade.
* A three-point contest with the Miami Heat’s LeBron James on Carnival Breeze.
* Salsa-dance lessons with the New York Giants’ Victor Cruz on Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam.
* FlowRider sessions with surfing champ Kelly Slater.
Got any sports partnerships that you’d like to see? Tell us in the comments!