A recent announcement by Royal Caribbean International to eliminate the Sovereign of the Seas from its fleet later this year brought to mind the 1988 introduction of this legendary ship in the Port of Miami. Our agency was retained by RCI’s public relations department to enhance the inaugural media coverage.
Nothing that followed, neither christening nor maiden voyage, surpassed the poignancy of Sovereign’s first American landfall.
— John Maxtone-Graham
Recognizing the potential of what would be the world’s first mega-liner, with the client’s support we pulled out all stops including a 98-yacht escort, a headlining escort, a concert with free food and T-shirts, and the release of 3,000 helium balloons that provided an arrival canopy for the ship.These efforts paid off with more than 11,000 persons greeting the ship and the targeted media getting a newsworthy story, photos and television footage. Associated Press and other news services used several pictures and features, the “Miami Herald” front-paged the arrival and used a double-fold inside spread as well, while the “Today Show” and other worldwide media featured the ship’s arrival.
Noted maritime guru and author John Maxtone-Graham called the event the “most outstanding introduction of a cruise ship in history.”
In his 1992 book, “Crossing and Cruising,” Maxtone-Graham wrote:
Escorted by our welcoming yacht flotilla, heralded by tugs sending red, white and blue water plumes aloft, and buzzed by squadrons of news helicopters, the Sovereign of the Seas made her majestic way up Government Cut. Every railing was packed with cheering figures. Our whistle, mute since France, bellowed repeatedly as [Captain Tor] Strangeland, resplendent in tropical whites now, acknowledged salutes from all sides.
Those triple-blast whistles, ours and theirs, provided a non-stop accompaniment to our port entry. As we glided past each moored vessel, their whistled hail and Sovereign’s response lasted exactly as long as our hulls overlapped. The cumulative intensity of those whistled exchanges, the unceasing roar of helicopters, the cheers, and, indeed, our stately progression into the very heart of Miami were no less deafening than moving: one’s eyes filled. Nothing that followed, neither christening nor maiden voyage, surpassed the poignancy of Sovereign’s first American landfall.
More importantly, Royal Caribbean logged 5,310 bookings in the first week, largely as a result of the publicity, according to the company’s then publicity chief, Rich Steck.