Star on Board: Shaquille O’Neal

Author: Sophie Chichester

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One of basketball’s all-time greats, Shaq is now Carnival Cruise Line’s CFO (that’s Chief Fun Officer)

NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal was announced as Carnival Cruise Line’s CFO last year and already he is injecting his playful, larger-than-life personality into the company. The basketball legend shares his happiest moments, greatest achievements and why cruising is fun for all.

Shaquille O'Neal Carnival Cruise Line
The basketball legend knows how to put the fun in CFO

How do you make sure the guests on a cruise are having a good time?

As Chief Fun Officer, my job is just like it sounds – I work with my team to put together fun times for the thousands of guests who sail the line each year. Carnival and I are on the same wavelength when it comes to fun – it makes this not even feel like a job at all! It’s a big responsibility but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

What has been the happiest moment in your life so far?

I’m living the happiest moments of my life right now because I’m getting to see my five children grow, enjoy life and succeed in what they’re doing. I’m so proud of who they are and who they continue to develop into – being a father has been the best part of my life.

Shaquille O'Neal Big Chicken
Shaq’s restaurant, Big Chicken, will debut on Carnival Radiance and Mardi Gras

Do you have any advice for achieving happiness?

Remember that it doesn’t matter how busy and crazy life feels, you’ve got to get outside of your own head sometimes. Life has unexpected twists and turns that will challenge you, but it’s meant to be enjoyed. I’d also recommend surrounding yourself with great people who inspire you, make you feel good about yourself and push you to keep improving. Once you find something that makes you happy, don’t let it go, and stay positive – a tough day is only temporary.

What is the best place you’ve ever travelled to?

Basketball and broadcasting have allowed me to travel the world and see some beautiful destinations, but my favourite place in the world for a holiday is the Bahamas. I love the beaches over there, and it’s a great place to relax.

Bahamas, Caribbean
Shaq loves to relax on a Bahamian beach

What is your favourite thing about cruising?

I recently travelled on Carnival Horizon and was totally blown away by it. I used to have it all wrong – I thought that cruising was only for old people. Now, I want to make sure everyone knows that cruising is one of the most fun vacations you can take, because there is something for every single member of
the family. Next year, I’m sure I’ll be saying that the best thing about a cruise is the first at-sea version of my restaurant, Big Chicken, which will debut on Carnival Radiance and Mardi Gras.

What is your ultimate travel must-have?

That would be my family, of course! If they’re not there to celebrate a break with me, it’s not really a vacation at all. But other than that, I would say a good pair of shoes. Whether they’re my deck shoes or flip-flops, I need something that gets me from A to B in comfort.

For more information on Carnival Cruises, visit