Carnival Inaugurates Valor in Miami

December 18, 2004
Carnival Valor, the 20th ship in the Carnival Cruise Lines fleet, received its official open-armed welcome Friday night in Miami. NBC News' "Today" co-host Katie Couric served as godmother, and performed the traditional champagne-smash-against-bow (though she could have used an extra take -- it took two tries).

Couric was rewarded for her efforts with a bottle of wine, a plaque, an Italian necklace -- and presumably the offer of a free cruise on Carnival Valor. Carnival is also making a donation in Couric's name to The National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance, which Couric co-founded.

In her remarks, the NBC personality addressed the topics of "valor," bravery and philanthropy as she spoke about her husband Jay Monahan's battle with colon cancer (Monahan died from the disease five years ago). An interesting side note is that Joe Farcus, architect of the Carnival "ambience" whose most recent productions include Valor, successfully beat the disease several years ago.

One of the highlights of the evening was a performance of Speaking Hands, a Miami-based troupe of deaf children who use sign language and dance to provide a unique musical experience, kicked off the evening with "We are the World" and "The Star Spangled Banner."

Otherwise, the ceremony was surprisingly low-key -- guests appeared to number no more than 200. The pier-side event culminated in a cocktail reception onboard. There was also a party for Carnival employees, with the option of an overnight onboard. According to a Carnival spokeswoman, the line throws a gala for all employees every time a new ship comes into Miami (where Carnival's headquarters are based) -- and with the holidays approaching, the timing couldn't be better!

The 110,000-ton, 2,974-passenger Carnival Valor sets off on its first official voyage on Sunday. The ship, which will home port in Miami year-round, will sail seven-night alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries.