By Brian Hayward, Ducks TV Analyst and Fan Cruise Participant
The inaugural Ducks-Honda Fan Cruise was an unqualified success. About 140 people (fans, team executives, Honda reps, and players Todd Marchant, Chris Pronger, and George Parros) set sail aboard Caribbean Cruise Lines’ Liberty of the Seas July 7th for a week of fun in the Caribbean. Simply put, the week easily exceeded my expectations and that seemed to be the prevailing sentiment from the many fans I spoke with.
We knew going into the voyage that Liberty of the Seas was the biggest cruise ship in the world. As a frame of reference, her captain pointed out to us that you could fit four Titanics inside this ship. It is an incredible 4 football fields long. The massive size made for a very smooth ride (despite 15 foot swells early on).
The ship stopped in three ports (San Juan Puerto Rico, St.Maarten, and Labadee, Haiti). St. Maarten was my favorite stop. My daughter had asked to go on the “Swim with the Dolphins” off-shore excursion at the neighboring island of Anguilla. Anguilla was a 45-minute ocean journey away from the cruise ship. Along with Ducks CMO Bob Wagner and his daughter Amanda, my family arrived at the ‘Dolphin’ facility and we spent about 40 minutes in the pool interacting with the dolphins (which was pretty cool), but the highlight had to be the hour spent on the adjacent beach following lunch. Simply put, it was the most beautiful, pristine beach I have ever seen in my life. The sand was pure white and of a very fine consistency (so white in fact that it was comfortable to walk barefoot on despite blazing sun). The water was crystal clear and was a perfect temperature. Anguilla was definitely impressive, and you and I might want to check out the Capjoluca resort on the island (our bus driver said it was rated the #1 resort in the Carribean; #2 in the entire world). For you golfers, Capjoluca also boasts a Greg Norman designed golf course, Consider this a scouting mission by me.
We had a number of exclusive, organized events for the Ducks fans in attendance. These included a Meet & Great (and autograph signing), a private skating party (yes, Liberty has its own skating rink) and a Q & A session with the players and team execs Brian Burke and Tim Ryan. And, of course, in addition to these more formal events, many fans had the chance to dine with the Ducks entourage and their families. There also was a fair bit of co-mingling at the Casino or at the ever-popular Hoof & Claw English pub.
Trust me, there was also plenty of celebration relating to the Stanley Cup. Our broadcast and entertainment departments had produced an eight-minute video that highlighted the team’s incredible run to its first ever Cup, and we aired it at a couple of the exclusive fan events. It was fun to watch not only the fans, but the players, react to this video. Quite honestly, it just never gets old re-living that experience.
I have only one question regarding the Fan Cruise…. Where are we going next year?