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Jay Leno names Carnival Venezia in NYC festivities

Christine Duffy and Jay Leno sent sparks flying from a giant bottle of Aperol at Carnival Venezia's naming, With them on stage are Carnival Brand Ambassador John Heald and Capt. Claudio Cupisti
Late night talk show legend and comedian Jay Leno named Carnival Venezia in 'Fun Italian Style' festivities in New York.

Leno's grandfather, who immigrated from Italy and was processed at New York's Ellis Island, would be stunned by the ship, the godfather said.

His own first impression? 'It's a big boat: 14 stories. I thought it would be about five.' Leno said he was particularly impressed by the engine room.

Giant bottles

In Carnival Venezia's Teatro Rosso, Leno and Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy pulled the ribbon on a giant bottle of Aperol, sending sparks shooting into the air. With that, showgirls strutted onto the stage around them.

But first, Carnival Brand Ambassador John Heald presented the comedian with a giant yellow bottle of 'Jay Leno-cello,' a play on limoncello.

Leno's Italian heritage

Leno told the audience his grandfather used to carry a news clipping with a lawmaker complaining about the high rate of Italian immigration to the US: 'If they keep coming, in 50 years, we'll all be eating pizza.'

'Mission accomplished,' Leno quipped.

Flag Day

Duffy noted today is Flag Day in the US, adding that 'When I joined Carnival, I decided we are America's Cruise Line. We honor our military, our first responders, on every Carnival trip.' One addition to Venezia in its transformation for Carnival is the Heroes Tribute Bar.

Having Carnival Venezia in New York means 'great food and great entertainment will add up to great fun at a great value,' Duffy said.

$25,000 to Broadway Dreams

In recognition of the line's partnership the nonprofit Broadway Dreams, which provides young people of all socioeconomic backgrounds with performance training, life skills building and mentorship, Duffy presented founder and casting executive Annette Tanner with a $25,000 donation from Carnival.

Five new ships in 18 months

Carnival Venezia is among five ships joining the line in an 18-month stretch. This started last fall with Carnival Luminosa (like Venezia, a transfer from Costa Cruises); the second Excel-class Fun Ship Carnival Celebration, last November in Miami; later this year, third Excel Fun Ship Carnival Jubilee in Galveston; and a year from now, Carnival Firenze (Venezia's sister) in Long Beach, California


Duffy acknowledged a host of people who make the brand's success possible, including trade partners, EVP Lars Ljoen and SVP Ben Clement on her team, Carnival Venezia Capt. Claudio Cupisti and his senior officers and 1,400 crew, Chief Culinary Officer Emeril Legasse, chefs and restaurateurs Rudi Sodamin and Guy Fieri, Chief Fun Officer Shaquille O'Neal and Carnival Corp. CEO Josh Weinstein and Chairman Micky Arison.

Leno was scheduled to perform a comedy set on board after the christening dinner.