Carnival blimp arrives in South Florida

The Carnival AirShip at North Perry Airport in Pembroke Pines, Fla.
The Carnival AirShip at North Perry Airport in Pembroke Pines, Fla. Photo Credit: TW photo by Tom Stieghorst

PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. -- The Carnival AirShip arrived in South Florida this week ahead of introductory events for the Carnival Horizon, which is repositioning from New York for the winter.

The blimp, covered in a 300-pound decal that shows a cruise ship with #ChooseFun splashed across it, has been on a month-long tour since Aug. 31, hitting 15 cities.

It is being used to promote a shuffle of Carnival Cruise Line ships from old homeports to new ones and generally drum up attention for the brand, which has the most domestic homeports (18) of any cruise line.

The 128-foot helium filled blimp is being based at the North Perry Airport here, a general aviation field in this Fort Lauderdale suburb, for the duration of its stay in the area.  

Carnival AirShip takes flight

Takeoff is speedy for the Carnival AirShip, shown here lifting off on a promotional excursion from North Perry Airport in Pembroke Pines, Fla. TW video by Tom Stieghorst

Carnival took several media and trade executives on short excursions, traveling at an altitude of 1,000 feet from the airport to Hollywood Beach, and then turning south for a mile or two before returning to base.

The cupola of the blimp, which is being operated by AirSign Outdoor & Aerial Advertising, can carry a pilot and up to three passengers, but because of the weight of the message decal Carnival choose, it was limited to two.

On Sept. 20 it will appear above PortMiami as Carnival stages a basketball event aboard the Horizon with its chief fun officer Shaquille O'Neal and retired players from the Miami Heat basketball team.

Powered by twin 80-hp Rotax engines, the blimp can cruise at about 25 leisurely miles an hour as it maneuvers across the sky. Pedestrians who show proof of having seen the airship by posting photos to social media can win prizes such as a free cruise and trigger a Carnival donation to St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital.

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