"Everyone goes to the head of the class": Carnival Cruise Lines and the Annihilation of Snobbery

Stephanie Kolberg

Founded in 1972 by Ted Arison, Carnival Cruise Lines was the first cruise line to offer all-inclusive, moderately-priced ocean travel vacations for a mass market.  Transforming the highbrow and expensive experience of leisure ocean travel into affordable vacations for the "everyman," Carnival sought to convince potential cruisers that its vacations would eschew elitism and status posturing, factors long-associated with luxury ocean liner travel.  Carnival's designers and promoters worked hard to send the message that class distinctions would melt away aboard a Carnival cruise, and dissolve amidst a blur of folksy good times and Fun Fun Fun.  Moving decisively away from the class system of ocean liners, Carnival crafted a brand which sneered in the face of pretention, and whose long-term spokesperson, Kathie Lee Gifford, oozed frenetic perkiness.  Carnival's message of mass-market opulence balked at the notion that abundance should be reserved for a privileged few, providing temporary access to an American Dream of plenty amidst increased economic polarization.