Last night Carnival aired its new Super Bowl commercial with images of the sea and a voice-over by John F. Kennedy from a speech he gave at a dinner for the America’s Cup crew in 1962: 

“I really don’t know why it is that all of us are so committed to the sea, except I think it’s because in addition to the fact that the sea changes, and the light changes, and ships change, it’s because we all came from the sea. And it is an interesting biological fact that all of us have, in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And JFK Sailingwhen we go back to the sea – whether it is to sail or to watch it – we are going back from whence we came.”

Of course the speech had nothing whatsoever to do with cruising.  

The Kennedy family had a long standing tradition of sailing which reflected their competitive nature and love of racing small sailboats.

James Graham’s book, Victura: The Kennedys, a Sailboat, and the Sea discusses the family’s sailing tradition and how it grew to define the Kennedy legacy

"Over the years the images of the Kennedys at sea defined the family brand and gave birth to the Kennedy myth. Kennedys under sail were the picture of adventurousness, wholesomeness, vigor, and family. They commanded the elements and the political world. Jack Kennedy’s navy experience in World War II became an epic tale of seafaring heroism, retold throughout his political career. A 1953 Life cover photo of Jack and Jacqueline on the bow of Victura, along with their larger storyline, presented them as beautiful, privileged, sophisticated, glamorous, and destined for something great."

It is incongruous to associate President Kennedy and his family’s love of sailing their 25-foot little wooden gaff-rigged boat (the Victura) from Cap Code with the bunker-fuel burning, black-air belching, bilge-dumping massive ships cruising out of Miami.

If Democratic President JFK and his brother Bobby had survived the 1960’s, their interest in cruise ships likely would have been to regulate them, not unlike the way that Senator Rockefeller has done. 

There’s no indication that JFK ever sailed on a cruise ship. For that matter, a Kennedy would no more "sail" on one of today’s Carnival Cruise Line monsters than shop at Walmart.

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It seems like Carnival’s Super Bowl commercial wasn’t too original. Read WHEN YOUR ART FILM LOOKS JUST LIKE A SUPER BOWL COMMERCIAL.

Carnival Super Bowl Spot Obscures Cruise Lines’ Environmental Impact.

  • monique

    I was on a Carnival cruise Jan. 3rd – Jan. 8th and the ship’s director showed us 4 commercials to vote on and the one with the most votes would be aired during the SuperBowl. This commercial was not one of them. I wonder did Carnival get permission from the Kennedy’s estate to use his voice and likeness. I was also shocked to see this commercial.

  • Axel Krack

    Oh dear,
    it seems for me, that the persons of charge in this company lost all the respect for the history also for the historical quotes. There must be given an OK of the Kennedy family, otherwise they run into a serious problem.

    Whats comming next? Ghandi??? or Martin Luther King “I had a dream….” that sounds good for a slogan…


  • Margot Haliday Knight

    I respectfully disagree. While there may be problems to be solved in the cruise industry as there are with nearly EVERY corporation in America, I don’t feel that takes away from the sentiment of the commercial. A commercial that encourages reverence and respect for the sea can’t be all bad, especially if it prompts both the company and its customers to keep the ocean clean and beautiful. (And btw, Kennedy’s love of the sea was also formed by his years in the Navy on large ships, not just by sailing).
    I applaud your efforts to create more transparency and responsibility from the cruise lines but the commercial brilliantly spoke to why I cruise.

  • Roger F

    I am old enough to remember JFK and read of his love of sailing. Many people associate sailing with romantic adventure, but the likelihood of being able to actually do it is remote for most of us. Going on a cruise is as close as many of us will ever get to going to sea, and is much more suitable for our collective level of commitment and abilities. We get that going on a cruise is hardly akin to sailing like JFK’s family are often associated with, but it is a quite enjoyable endeavor in and of itself. The commercial and JFK’s speech were about his and our love of the sea in a general sense, not specifically about his love of racing small sailboats. Going on a cruise is enough seafaring adventure for lots of us.
    I cannot imagine Carnival not getting the permission you mentioned for such a high profile commercial, nor would I think Kennedy would have a problem with the tasteful way his speech was used to convey that love of the sea in the way Carnival did with their Super Bowl commercial.

  • Marianne

    In my view, anyone who lives and respects the sea would certainly not participate in as jim says black smoke belching, bilge dumping etc that had been reported with large cruise vessels. Hardly if you ever saw first hand the floatsam and jetsam covering remote beaches in the Bahamas. Styrofoam cups with ships names, plastic bottles and trays etc. you would think different .

  • Mike torre

    JFK was on a cruise ship, the SS United States, currently docked in Philadelphia.

  • catherine walker

    I think it is a great advert,im sure president kennedy
    would have been happy to put this speech to your companys advert,you got it just right he was a great president and yours is a great company,class all the way.