Say what you will, there aren't many fans as dedicated as those who root for the Alabama Crimson Tide. From the days of Paul "Bear" Bryant to the modern dynasty constructed by Nick Saban, Alabama football is closer to a religion than a sport. Few programs in the NCAA's modern era boast national championship credentials like the Crimson Tide, and few programs are close to catching the crimson and white.
In line with that Rammer Jammer spirit, the 2nd Annual Alabama Crimson Tide Cruise will set sail February 10-15, 2020. Awaiting fans on this five-day excursion are daily events, incredible night life, and stops in Cozumel and Yucatan, Mexico. Oh yeah, and some of the greatest Alabama Crimson Tide football players and personalities will be on the boat, too.
Crimson Tide Cruise
For the second year in a row, the Carnival Valor cruise ship plays host to the greatest tailgate party on The Seven Seas. After the success of the first cruise in 2019, Carnival Cruise Line, ASK4 Entertainment, and the University of Alabama are teaming up once again to bring back the ultimate Alabama football vacation.
FanBuzz got the chance to speak with several iconic Alabama personalities about their experience on last year's cruise, what they're most looking forward to when they set sail again in 2020, and why Alabama fans are perfectly suited for this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
What makes Alabama fans so special?
Eli Gold, "Voice of the Crimson Tide" since 1989 and play-by-play commentator for Alabama basketball: If it has to do with Alabama, the fans buy into it instantly. And when I mean buy, I don't mean necessarily financially buy into it, but emotionally buy into it. The Alabama fans are exceedingly loyal. They love their university. They love the players. So, I dare say when you talk to fans in Green Bay, they'll say the same thing about the Packers. You talk to fans elsewhere, they'll say the same thing about their team.
But from my standpoint and my view here, there are no fans like the Alabama fans.
Kerry Goode, former NFL player, coach and Alabama running back from 1983-87, established The Goode Foundation to support ALS patients and families: Playing and coaching in the NFL, you actually get an opportunity to see what other fans are like, talking with other players from other teams and schools, and you realize that Alabama fans are a unique group of people. They support you no matter where you are or where you go.
When I was coaching in New York, I popped into an Alabama Alumni Association game watching party, and we had a great time. Just little things like that, they're always supportive, even after you're long gone.
Goode was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease) in August 2015. Goode told me about travel assistant programs across Georgia and Alabama for patients to travel to and from doctor's appointments. In 2019, the foundation's focus is on "Kids of ALS," an often overlooked part of the ongoing fight, to get children into summer camps and outdoor trips to help ease the everyday burdens associated with the degenerative disease.
Andrew Zow, former UA quarterback (1998-2001) who graduated as the Tide's all-time leading passer, current head coach at Bessemer City High School: I think it's the closest [fans] feel with players. With the player-fan relationship, the players are so generous with their time and the things they do, and the fans are always welcoming regardless if you were a superstar down at Alabama, or if you have an A-Club ring on. If you say, 'Hey I was down there during this era,' they'll know the era, they'll know who you are. What makes them special is that they have Alabama football.
They truly love the game. They know the game. They truly care about what goes on down in Tuscaloosa.
Zow talked about the brotherhood and community that helped him become a man during his time in college, where he guided Alabama to the 1999 SEC Championship. Zow recognizes that Alabama spirit and camaraderie even more today when he gets the chance to participate in events like the Crimson Tide Cruise.
What was the first Crimson Tide Cruise like?
Gold: It was a regular cruise into which were injected 1,000 or 2,000 Alabama fans. But you know, there were Auburn fans and LSU fans; there were people from everywhere on the cruise because they had bought the cruise, you know like a family would.
Everybody had a great time. You know, the Alabama fans loved talking to the players. They loved hanging around with the players. They loved participating in the trivia contests. They loved the dinners. They love all the fan-oriented activities. Everybody had a wonderful time, they really did.
Zow: It's just a great atmosphere. The atmosphere is unbelievable. And then you also see some other people who root for other teams who are on the boat, but for the most part, it is loaded with Alabama folks.
We're talking Alabama ball. We got the trivia things going. We got these challenges that go on. Then you start seeing the competition between players come out in some of those things. We talk a little trash between the offense and defense. I am so excited about this cruise. I look forward to it. It is one of the best, best things I've ever been a part of.
Favorite moments from last year's cruise?
Gold: We had stuff at nine o'clock in the morning one morning for a Crimson Tide trivia contest. They packed the ballroom, where they do the night shows, and the place was packed with Alabama fans. We did nothing but have contests with 'Bama trivia and so on. We had pep rallies. While I was doing something else, people were playing shuffleboard with former players, and that cornhole game, and all sorts of stuff.
It was a wonderful opportunity for the fans to meet the players and to hang out. Of course, there were formal autograph sessions, which everybody participated in. It was supposed to go like two hours, and I think it went like four or four-and-a-half hours.
Gold and his wife won a version of the "Newlywed Game" that 1992 national champion Derrick Lassic and his wife, plus current Washington Redskins defensive lineman Jonathan Allen and his wife also participated in. Gold jokingly said that he and his wife represented the "older set" of couples, having been married 41 years at the time.
Zow: One night we were having dinner and one waiter gets beside [former All-American cornerback] Antonio Langham. He danced around this pole, and he was right behind Langham's head. Langham was so embarrassed and so caught off guard. Everybody at the table was just laughing with him.
The entire cruise was awesome, man. My wife and I never had so much fun on a vacation. To interact with the fans on a daily basis, there's [the players] having a great time with them, and they're telling us stories -- we're each sharing stories about our time at Alabama. Also seeing so many great players from over the years.
What are you looking forward to this year?
Gold: What's not to like? You're in a t-shirt or a golf shirt and a pair of shorts in the middle of the warmth in the middle of February!
Goode: Just some down time because I think my wife and I are busier now than we ever have been with the foundation's activities. That'll give us a moment to unwind and de-clutter our minds.
Favorite Alabama player in recent years?
Gold: Quinnen [Williams] was one, but another guy who I loved to watch who really had a magnificent backstory was Josh Jacobs. You know, he had a very, very difficult life and ended up being an outstanding runner for Alabama, and now, is one of the top, great rookie stories in the National Football League running wild for the Oakland Raiders. He's been wonderful to watch.
Goode: I always liked watching Eddie Lacy. I like his running style, a big bruiser. I like Josh [Jacobs] and his story. They all have their own little, different nuances about them. You have to appreciate them for what they are.
A running back by trade, Goode said that Alabama's high-powered passing attack behind Tua Tagovailoa is something that's taken him some getting used to. "You know, it's kind of growing on me," he laughed.
Zow: I really enjoy watching the wide receiver corps, but I'll tell you who's been special, and I've been anxious to see him on the field, is [outside linebacker Terrell Lewis]. Lewis, he is unbelievable. I remember in a spring game watching him return a fumble or an interception that he had gotten, and I was like 'Man, who's the running back? He's 6-5! There's no way a running back could be that big!'
He's a special story because I think that he's been injured over the past few years, but with the ability he has, he can affect the passer. To bounce back and go through some of the injuries he's been going through and watch how he's having a good year this year. Hoping he can keep turning it up as he gets back to form. He's a special player.
Crimson Tide Cruise 2020
Along with hundreds of crazy Crimson Tide fans, some of your favorite Alabama sports legends are going to set sail once again this year when the Carnival Valor leaves from New Orleans, Louisiana.
Here's the short list of former Alabama football players that'll be on the 2019 cruise:
- Jonathan Allen (2016 SEC DPOY, plays for Washington Redskins)
- Ryan Anderson (First-Team All-SEC, plays for Washington Redskins)
- Fernando Bryant (3x All-SEC, Super Bowl XLIII Champion)
- Kenyan Drake (2x National Champion, scored winning TD in 'Miracle in Miami')
- Robert Foster (2x National Champion, plays for Buffalo Bills)
- Josh Jacobs (2017 National Champion, plays for Oakland Raiders)
- Dont'a Hightower (2x National Champion, 3x Super Bowl Champion)
- Rashad Johnson (2x First-Team All-SEC)
- Martin Houston (1992 National Champion, host of "The Blitz")
- Joe Kines (long-time Alabama defensive coordinator)
- Eddie Lacy (3x National Champion, 2013 Pro Bowl selection)
- Derrick Lassic (1992 All-SEC, Super Bowl XXVIII champion)
- Antonio Langham (1993 Jim Thorpe Award winner)
- Tyrone Prothro (Famously for one of the greatest catches in CFB history)
- Irv Smith Jr. (2017 National Champion, plays for Minnesota Vikings)
- Siran Stacy (2x All-SEC, second-round NFL Draft pick)
- George Teague (2x All-SEC, famous for "The Strip")
- Prince Wimbley (1992 National Champion)
- Andrew Zow (1999 SEC Champion)
In addition to meeting these Alabama athletes, plus members of the Crimson Tide Spirit Squads and GameDay Favorites, the national championship-worthy vacation includes theme nights, live music, comedy shows, charity auctions, fundraisers, autograph sessions, photo opportunities, numerous dining options, and stops in Yucatan and Cozumel, Mexico.
The Western Caribbean island's dock is loaded with seafront shops and white sandy beaches, as well as opportunities to experience Mayan culture at the Ancient City of Tulum, an ATV jungle adventure, and you can swim with the dolphins!
Even better, a portion of all the proceeds will benefit Children's of Alabama Pediatric Hospital.
If you're a Bama fan and still haven't slipped away to book your ocean view stateroom, it's time you do just that. Click here to visit CrimsonTideCruise.com and get booked for this incredible vacation, but only if you're to celebrate the most decorated college football program this century.
Get ready for a lifetime of memories and a boat load of fun! (Yeah, I went there).
Roll Tide! Cruise Tide!
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