Cruise Ships Gather for Next Year's Super Bowl

February 2, 2004

Jacksonville, host for next year's Super Bowl XXXIX (that's #39 for the Roman numeral challenged), has lined up a bevy of cruise ships to serve as floating hotels throughout the days leading up the "big game." Radisson Seven Seas Navigator, Holland America's Volendam, Zaandam, and Zuiderdam, and Carnival Miracle will be docked at various locations starting around February 2; all will depart on post-Super Bowl Monday. Next year's Super Bowl game takes place on Sunday, February 6.

The bummer news is that the ships are, accommodation-wise, already spoken for (by Super Bowl sponsors) so ordinary ticket holders can not book the floating accommodations. Jacksonville's willingness to contract with cruise lines to serve as floating hotels was, according to a source at its convention and visitors' bureau, crucial in its success in wooing the games. That's because the National Football League (NFL) requires host cities to have at least 29,000 and Jacksonville's actual total was in the 28,000 range. The five ships, which cumulatively boost the total by 3,617 rooms, lifted the city over the minimum.

Still there is, potentially, good news for cruise aficionados (whether they're holding game tickets or not). Alana Warden, vice president for operations for Landry & Kling, the firm that is coordinating the cruise ship program, says that the possibility exists that restaurants onboard will be open to outsiders for lunch and dinner. Reservations -- and advance reservations -- will absolutely required. Warden says that the program, if feasible, will be announced much closer to the game date. 

Location-wise, just in case you are keeping tabs, Radisson Seven Seas Navigator snared the primo dock -- just outside the Adams Mark Hotel in the heart of downtown. Holland America's Zaandam and Volendam have been assigned space at the port of Talleyrand, about two miles away. Carnival Miracle and Holland America's Zuiderdam will be berthed at Blount Island, which lies 15 minutes east of Jacksonville.