Slam Dunk! NBA Trophy to Tour with Carnival Corp.

June 27, 2006

The Miami Heat, recently crowned NBA champions, have decided to share the physical embodiment of their triumph with the rest of the world -- the cruising world, that is -- by sending their trophy on an international tour by sea with Carnival Corporation.

It's probably no coincidence that Miami-based Carnival Corp.'s Chairman and CEO Micky Arison is also the Miami Heat's managing general partner. Arison will actually accompany the trophy on the first part of the tour, which will cover three continents and 18,000 miles:

On June 25, the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy embarked on the first leg of its worldwide tour aboard Carnival Valor. The following day, the trophy departed on a trans-Atlantic flight to Italy, where it spent time aboard CostaSerena, CostaConcordia and Carnival Splendor, all under construction at the Fincantieri shipyard. (Carnival and Costa are both underneath the Carnival Corp. umbrella along with Holland America, Princess, Seabourn and others.)

CostaAllegra has the distinct honor of hosting the trophy next, as the gold-plated symbol of basketball greatness boards the ship in Hong Kong on June 30 for a two-day cruise heralding Carnival Corp.'s newest cruise venture, Costa Asia.

Following the Far East publicity appearance, the trophy heads back to Italy on July 4, where it will board CostaConcordia for a one-night celebratory cruise from Genoa to Rome. Andrea Bocelli (of "Time to Say Goodbye..." fame) will serenade the trophy during a special benefit concert, before supermodel Eva Herzigova, appointed godmother of CostaConcordia, joins the ship on July 7 for the official naming ceremony.

The O'Brien Championship Trophy will continue on to several more cruise ports (locations TBD), before returning to its permanent point of inertia at the American Airlines Arena in downtown Miami.

Although we can recall other publicity tours featuring trophies (hockey's Stanley Cup is well-traveled ... and certainly looks it), this is the first we've heard of a trophy tour by cruise ship.