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Carnival Cruise Line's industry-first partnership with Alaska small businesses

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Onboard Media enables Carnival guests to shop local highlighting Alaska Small Business Development Center plus made in Alaska and Silver Hand programs.

MIAMI, FL – Onboard Media, a leading sales and marketing agency in global travel and part of the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton group, has partnered with the Alaska Small Business Development Center and its BuyAlaska program in a first-at-sea initiative. Aboard all Carnival Cruise Line ships visiting Alaska this season, Onboard Media will feature a diverse group of locally owned businesses through shopping materials guests receive during their voyage.

“With Alaska not having received cruise guests since 2019, it was so important to support local port towns and small businesses, aiding in their economic recovery. With this Onboard Media partnership, we can provide exponentially higher exposure for our members’ businesses and expedite their recovery,” says Jon Bittner, Executive Director of the Alaska Small Business Development Center (SBDC). Since its inception in 1986, the Alaska SBDC has provided resources, advice, and assistance that help small businesses grow by creating measurable economic impact. The statewide program is hosted by the University of Alaska Anchorage through the Business Enterprise Institute.

On customized port guides that cruise guests receive at every Alaska port, the BuyAlaska directory, accessible via QR code, will identify locally owned businesses. Originally launched in the mid-1990s, the BuyAlaska program was relaunched to better address the needs of Alaska’s small businesses. The BuyAlaska Business directory hosts more than 800 businesses as part of a statewide network advocating for Alaska small business support. Together they value community, collaboration, and prosperity. The goal is to show authentic Alaska to its 1 million plus annual visitors.

Jeffrey Meister, General Manager of Onboard Media, shared, “We are thrilled to be the first media company to partner with the SBDC on this important initiative to promote small businesses from the ports visited, as well as align with our partner Carnival Cruise Line’s mission to support the local communities visited as part of the cruise itinerary.”

Andres Villalever, Head of Retail for Carnival Cruise Line, added, “The partnership that Onboard Media developed with the SBDC very much aligns with Carnival’s values of supporting the local communities our ships visit as well as offering our guests a wonderful opportunity to bring home a truly unique item from their vacation.”

In addition to identifying local small businesses, Onboard Media is taking it one step further by partnering with the Made in Alaska and Silver Hand programs to help guests identify items made in Alaska by local craftspeople and native people. The Made in Alaska program’s mission is to promote products made, manufactured, or handcrafted in the state, produced by both Native and non-Native craftspeople. Program Manager Grace Beaujean stated, “We are excited about the opportunity to partner with Onboard Media and Carnival Cruise Line to educate visitors on the importance of authentic Alaska. We believe this will contribute to an outstanding guest experience and enable them to identify true Alaska keepsakes.” 

When guests see the Silver Hand seal, they will know that the artwork on which it appears was created by hand in Alaska by a Native artist. The Silver Hand seal may only be attached to original work that is produced in the state of Alaska by a full-time resident and member of a federally recognized Alaska Native tribe. “Being able to clearly and easily identify authentic Alaska Native arts and crafts is good for the artist and the cruise guest who is buying work that’s unique to Alaska, so we’re thrilled to be a part of this important initiative,” said Andrea Noble, Executive Director of the Alaska State Council on the Arts.

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