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Over 500 cruise industry partners and top cruise executives joined the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) for an evening of dinner, dancing and philanthropy at our 10th Annual Gala Dinner Extravaganza. Held at the American Airlines Arena on March 18th, 2004, the venue played the perfect backdrop for socializing, enjoyment and unwinding from Seatrade week, while showcasing The FCCA Foundation for the Caribbean.

 

Celebrations began at six thirty in the evening with a cocktail reception on the East Plaza of the Arena, where all attendees enjoyed the beautiful panoramic views the Port of Miami and Biscayne Bay. This was an informal opportunity for mingling, visiting with industry friends and meeting new ones. Alberto Aliberti, Manager of Shore Excursions, Cunard Line comments; “It was a great social environment, where I was able to spend productive time with our travel partners and government officials.” During the cocktail reception, guests eagerly placed their bids on the 100 plus pieces of artwork in the silent auction. The artwork collection, which was sponsored by Park West Gallery featured masterpieces by world renowned artists Peter Max, Salvador Dali, Tarkay and many more.

 

Following the silent auction guests were escorted to center court of the Arena, where they were seated at small tables hosted by the cruise executive of their choice. The Arena was transformed from its’ typical sporting venue facade into an elegant ballroom ambience. “As a new member it was a most enjoyable experience to participate in the elegant and unique setting of the Gala Diner that was held at the American Airlines Arena. It was great to meet all of the members again after our wonderful cruise to the Bahamas,” said Annika Bratt, Director of Sales at Atlantida in Cozumel.

 

This intimate setting allowed for a free-flowing exchange of views and ideas amongst industry partners and top cruise executives while dining in a comfortable and social atmosphere. “Now that I am on the ‘other side of the fence,’ this particular event is an important opportunity to establish new contacts in the industry. I was particularly pleased that the music during dinner was soft enough to allow for easy conversation with others seated at the table. It was a very productive, and at the same time enjoyable evening,” Tom Anderson, President, Destination Florida.

 

Opening remarks were given during dinner by Howard Frank, Vice Chairman & COO, Carnival Corporation,
thanking the FCCA for its dedication to this worthy cause, as well as the industry partners for their continued support. Raising approximately $200,000 in funds, this year’s Gala will be the most significant annual contribution to The Foundation. Through its’ Foundation, the FCCA distributes these monies, along with other donations to a variety of worthy causes in the Caribbean. The FCCA Foundation for the Caribbean serves as a tangible vehicle for the cruise industry to participate in the effort to improve the lives of Caribbean citizens through its funding of humanitarian and social causes. Impacting the lives of thousands of Caribbean citizens by providing more than $2 million in funding to causes and charities throughout the region, The Foundation is shown as a proven success. “The Foundation’s good works provide an excellent mechanism for the cruise industry to show their commitment to its destination partners by assisting worthy causes in their destinations,” said Michele M. Paige, President, FCCA.

 

Later in the evening, awards presentations were given out along with further donations. Security Operations Committee Chairman, Stephen A. Nielsen, VP, Caribbean & Atlantic Shore Operations, Princess Cruises, presented educational scholarships of $2,500 to each of the first place winners of the 2004 Foundation’s Environmental Poster Competition. Both Ilena George, from Turks and Caicos, of the senior division, and Marlow Brown, from Jamaica, of the junior division, were there to receive their scholarships. Bill Panoff, President, PPI Group then presented an additional donation of $30,000 to the FCCA Foundation. This year’s event sponsors, The Port of Miami and the Miami Convention & Visitor’s Bureau were both honored at the end of the night.

 

The evening was topped off by the performance of The Dan Leslie Entertainers. They provided great musical entertainment for a variety of the guests’ tastes on the dance floor. Not only was the Gala a means for enjoyment and networking benefit found by all, the philanthropic success of the FCCA Foundation For The Caribbean left all attendees with a good feeling in their hearts at the end of the night. The Port of Philadelphia and Camden Director, Melissa Grimm reflected; “The Gala is business that makes you feel good. It supports the destinations that make much of the cruise industry viable while enhancing relationships in the industry in a non-business environment. It’s always much easier to do business with people you have spent time with someone socially and the Gala provides a forum for this.”

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