Ever since the Costa Concordia disaster, cruise lines have increasingly resorted to paying for press releases to try and convince the public to cruise.

The latest press release was by Carnival Cruise Line yesterday, announcing that the cruise line has partnered with the New Orleans Saints.

Carnival will be sponsoring some type of half-time promotion where a Saints fan will get a free cruise aboard the renovated Carnival Sunshine cruise ship, which sails on its inaugural voyage from New Carnival Cruise - New OrleansOrleans the following day.  

I’m not sure I understand this type of marketing. Carnival is  headquartered in the cruise-ship-capital-of-the-world Miami and is associated with the Miami Heat (owned by Carnival’s Micky Arison).

But Carnival is not the first Miami-based cruise line to associate itself with a sports team outside of Florida.

NCL just issued a press release announcing that it has partnered with the New York Knicks. I suppose that this makes sense because NCL’s Norwegian Breakaway is a New York City-inspired ship that sails year-round from the Big Apple. 

But why does New Orleans or the Saints want to associate themselves with Carnival, now asociated with poop cruises?  The days of being the losing "Aints," when the New Orleans fans wore bags over their heads, are over.  

Carnival has some lessons to learn from the Big Easy. New Orleans suffered from having the worst football team in the league decades ago. Howard Cosell even called the Saints a disgrace on Monday night football thirty years ago. And then New Orleans and the Saints had to endure the spectacle of the Superdome being trashed in Hurricane Katrina and people suffering miserably inside.  

But since then, New Orleans recovered and the Saints won a Super Bowl. The Superdome is a raucous, fun place to watch football. And the Saints are now considered an elite, well-run and winning program.

Let’s hope that Carnival’s partnership with the Saints brings the cruise line equal success.    


P.S. Don’t miss reading my article about favorite team, the Saints, and my favorite city, New Orleans: Oysters, Dixie Beer & My New Orleans Saints.

I moved to New Orleans in 1980 to attend law school at Tulane.  I lived in an apartment 10 blocks from campus in the bottom of a two story shotgun house on Freret Street in Uptown.  A witch lived Dixie Beerabove me and insisted that she hang bird feathers over the transom of my front door.

Yes, New Orleans was a weird place, full of restless souls. I loved it.  Every night there was lots of live music at Maple Street Bar, Tipitina’s, Snug Harbor and in the Quarter.  Studying was impossible, being a 21-year-old-student in a city which was an excuse for a 24-hour-party.

Talking about not studying, one of my best buddies was Mike Delesdernier, a LSU football guard, from Metairie.  Big Mike.  He was around 260 lbs and could outrun me for the first 30 yards. He came from a family of river boat pilots. A funny guy.  When he Achie Manning - Saintswas being sworn into the Louisiana Bar, a Federal District Judge asked him why went to law school rather than become a river pilot like his brothers.  His response – "afraid of the fog your Honor?"

Mike and I ate more oysters, crawfish and shrimp po-boys (dressed) and drank more Dixie beer than any 2 people in the history of the city.  Our favorite spot was Sid Mars by the 17th Street Canal.

Mike’s dad was the Commissioner of the Super Dome – clearly a job with the best perks in the city.  We had access to the Commissioner’s sky box, which was always full of lots of food, drinks, beauties, bookies, and infamous local politicians.

My first year in New Orleans, the Saints were 1 – 13.  The quarterback was a guy named Archie Manning.  Yep, Payton and Eli’s dad!  My kids still don’t believe me.  Some say Archie was the best quarterback to ever play in the NFL, but was cursed by having to play for the worse franchise in the league. 

The 1980 – 1981 season was brutal. Howard Cosell called the team a "disgrace" on Monday Night Football.  Half-way through the season, fans began wearing bags over their heads.  They called the team the "Aints."  

AintsMike and I watched a lot of losing games during my years there.  The franchise started in 1967.  It never had a winning season by the time I left in 1987 to come to Miami.     

When I arrived in Miami, the city was in love with Don Schula and Danny Marino.  The Miami Dolphins theme song played everywhere.  But I loved my Saints.  And I missed my oysters and Dixie beer with big Mike. 

So here we are 23 years later.  How things have changed.  Mike is married with three kids.  Sid Mars was destroyed, like my old house, by hurricane Katrina.  And my Saints are in the Super Bowl.

When people ask what I loved about New Orleans, the answer is always the same:

Oysters, Dixie Beer & my New Orleans Saints . . .