The Jacksonville Host Committee chose Landry & Kling to source cruise ship charters for Super Bowl 2005 because the city’s inventory of nearby hotel rooms fell short of NFL requirements. (6,000 people)
Ship selection was a complex process due to environmental and technical requirements, physical impediments for ships approaching the berthing points, unbundling of meal pricing and other modifications of ship service. Most challenging: however—how would Jacksonville accommodate 5 ships with only 1 passenger terminal?
“Using Five Cruise Ships as Super Bowl Hotels”
By Brendan M. Lynch, Meetings and Conventions Magazine
EVENT: The National Football League’s Super Bowl XXXIX, the New England Patriots vs. the Philadelphia Eagles, Feb. 6, 2005, at Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville, Fla.
PLANNER: Joyce Landry, president and CEO of Landry & Kling, Meetings at Sea, a Miami-based company specializing in planning business events on cruise ships. Landry has worked as a planner since co-founding the company in 1982.
CHALLENGE: Because Jacksonville was the smallest municipality ever to bid for the Super Bowl, the pitch for the mega-event hinged upon the idea of using cruise ships on the city’s St. Johns River to supplement the local hotel room inventory. “The host committee wanted to have the ships operate like floating hotels, so corporate sponsors could move ship to ship and have freedom and flexibility,” says Landry. “Also, they wanted to allow the general public and sponsors from other hotels to come on board and use the ships as a venue.
Once Jacksonville won the chance to host the big game, it was up to Landry & Kling to attend to all the details of arranging for the ships.
SOLUTION: First, Landry had to determine what size cruise ships could be accommodated on the river. “We had so many bridges and overhead electric wires, we had to limit the height of the boats. Then we had to make sure they fit the depth and length of the docking facility,” she says.
It took a full year to identify and contract five appropriate vessels: Three ships came from Holland America Line, and one each from Carnival and Radisson Seven Seas. Together, the ships offered 3,667 deluxe and luxury rooms, 35 bars, 25 entertainment venues, 15 restaurants and five spas. More than 50 corporate sponsors of the game held 60-plus events, all coordinated through Landry & Kling.
“You can imagine that, in this new world, there was a multilevel approach to security,” says Landry. “We had to satisfy federal and state agencies, plus the Coast Guard and the Jacksonville sheriff’s office.”
Another challenge: to make sure the cruise ships would have no negative environmental impact. The vessels were hooked up to city utilities for water and electricity, so there were zero emissions.
In the end, the creative plan worked well. “People see the teamwork that takes place on the field and often miss the teamwork that is off the field,” Landry says. “It’s invisible. That’s what we’re proudest of — the ability to pull it off seamlessly.”