Coming soon to a Carnival Cruise Line ship: A Shaquille O'Neal chicken restaurant
Basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal is bringing his new restaurant concept to the high seas.
Carnival Cruise Line president Christine Duffy tells USA TODAY the NBA Hall of Famer has signed a deal with the line to open one of his Big Chicken eateries on the Carnival Radiance in 2020. O'Neal already is the face of Carnival in new advertising where he's billed as the cruise giant's chief fun officer.
"When we started talking with Shaq, he told me that he was doing this Big Chicken restaurant concept that he always had wanted to do, and that he had all these great fried chicken recipes," Duffy says. "We said, 'we don't have a fried chicken place on our ships. We think this is something fun that our guests would really like.'"
O'Neal's first Big Chicken restaurant just opened in Las Vegas in late October and he plans more locations in Los Angeles and Atlanta. O'Neal recently documented the process of opening the first venue in an eight-episode Facebook Watch series called Big Chicken Shaq. Duffy says the Big Chicken planned for Radiance will offer a variety of fried chicken sandwiches, fries and other sides during the day, all free of charge. For breakfast, it'll serve chicken and egg biscuits among other options. It'll be located toward the back of the ship's Lido Dock near one of the Guy Fieri-themed Guy's Burger Joint outlets that are on all Carnival ships.
"People love the Guy's burgers. They can't get enough of that, and we think this is a great complement to that," Duffy says.
Duffy adds that Carnival brass and O'Neal saw humor in the idea of a chicken-focused eatery on a cruise ship.
"We had lots of laughs talking about Chicken of the Sea," she says, referencing the well-known canned seafood brand. "This is going to be our Chicken of the Sea, (but) no it is not tuna fish. It's chicken, big chicken, from Shaq."
The new Big Chicken eatery will be just one of nearly a dozen new food and drink venues opening on Radiance when it emerges in 2020 from what is billed as one of the biggest makeovers of a cruise ship ever. Dating to the early 2000s, the 2,758-passenger vessel currently was previously called Carnival Victory but will be renamed Radiance after the $200 million overhaul.
The Radiance makeover will also include the addition of more than 100 cabins and the revamping of existing cabins. Also in the plans is the addition of a new deck-top recreation area with a suspended ropes course, basketball court and miniature golf course. The ship also will get a new water park area with two massive slides. Duffy says the Big Chicken eatery planned for Radiance may be just the first of many across Carnival's 26-vessel fleet.
"Assuming it's successful, I think we'll see it on more ships," she says, adding that it'll depend on passenger feedback. "We think Big Chicken really will resonate with our guests."
By Gene Sloan, USA Today
Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more
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