An End Run Around the Super Bowl Room Squeeze

Times Staff Writer

For six years, tour operator John Martin’s Super Bowl packages have been pretty routine--a hotel room for three nights and a ticket to the game. But this year, Martin has taken to the sea.

Unable to line up as many hotel rooms as he felt he needed in San Diego for the football championship this Sunday, Martin chartered the Azure Seas cruise ship and inaugurated Super Cruise to Super Bowl XXII.

“Every year it’s very difficult getting the hotel space and when I went to San Diego last year right after Super Bowl, it was impossible,” said Martin, owner of the Great Atlantic Travel and Tour Co. in Virginia Beach, Va.

“So, I thought, ‘Well, we’re in a port city, I’ll just bring my own hotel.’ ”


Martin’s Super Cruise liner sailed from San Pedro last night and will be in Ensenada today before heading back to San Diego for an 8 a.m. docking on Sunday. The three-day tour was sold out at 780 passengers and by Friday afternoon had a waiting list of 25.

“This is a very high risk profession,” Martin said, explaining that this Super Bowl project entailed a $500,000 investment on his part. “The thing about Super Bowl is that it’s unique as tours go. You don’t sell it until 14 days before the game, because people don’t know if their teams will be in the Super Bowl until then.

“About 500 will be going to the game,” Martin explained. “The rest, who are mostly from the Los Angeles area and just want to have a fun weekend, will stay aboard ship and watch the game on big-screen TV. There will be a brunch and all sorts of activities, football films and videos from previous Super Bowls.”

Martin’s cruise package, with a ticket to the game, sold for $1,285; the cruise alone, without a game ticket, cost $485-$685, depending on the type of cabin passengers chose.


Buoyed by the success of his first Super Bowl cruise, Martin is planning for next year when the Super Bowl is played in Miami. He has chartered smaller ships from the Sea Escape line and will offer one-day cruises on both Saturday and Sunday of Super Bowl weekend.