In The Shadow of Vesuvius

October 18, 2007 -

John Heald

Good Morning . . . it’s time for my favorite blog. . .the 5:30am rise and shine blog thingy as we start debarkation again. This time in 12 days I will be debarking guests for the last time before our vacationâ . . . .seems strange saying that. I will have time to wander down memory avenue later this week as we look back at the blog thingy . . . oh, by the way, we reached 802,000 visitors to the blog as of Monday . . anyway, our last cruise starts today.

Here are the demographics.


The largest of these groups are 88 Russians and 70 from Venezuela. We also have 180 from French Speaking Canada who are also listed as International guests so we can provide written information in Italian….French.

Here is an interesting fact. We have 157 back-to-back guests. This means we have 157 people who will sail on this 12-day Grand Med cruise and the 14-day Trans Atlantic crossing. That’s 26 days they will be here with us and we will make sure we pay them extra attention.

So, as this last cruise begins I sit here writing in between making announcements for guests to leave the vessel. I do so in the hope that the cruise will be uneventful and that all goes well. I have had trouble sleeping the last week or so. I have Alan on my mind as well as all the things that are needing to be done before we leave. Also, it didn’t help that I suggested to the guest in the Supper Club that he may have been sleeping with his Mother!

Some of you have asked about he plans for vacation… Here are the first few days.

October 28th – late night flight from Rome to London
October 29th – Visit Alan & Dad’s birthday dinner with the family at his favorite restaurant called ” The Citadel ” which is a restaurant that serves traditional British food.
October 30th – Visit Alan and take care of a few things.
October 31st – Fly to Miami for meetings with all of Carnival’s top executives to discuss the future. I feel very privileged to have been asked to attend this and I will of course report back to you all.
November 5th – Fly home – vacation begins and I can look after Mum and Dad and be there for Alan’s next major surgery on the 7th.

Heidi is not coming to America with me but instead will be home with Mum….I will not see her for three weeks. Thursdays will just not be the same.

Obviously, I will have my lap computer thingy with me in Miami and will send you a blog every night to let you know what is going on….more about that later this week.

One thing I am going to treat myself to is one of my Mum’s Full English Breakfasts. These are so unhealthy and I will allow myself just two. One on my dad’s birthday and one on Christmas Eve…it is tradition. Here is a photo of said breakfast.


Yesterday, James (Entertainment Staff) went with some of our Shore Excursion staff to look at the new tour we will be starting next year. The tour was one many bloggers had asked for …an Italian Cooking Experience. This one will take place at an old farm house near Sienna in Tuscany and involves cooking the traditional family way using an open fire and fresh ingredients found only in their gardens. Basically you pick what you want and then cook it. Here are some photos for you.

an Italian Cooking Experience

an Italian Cooking Experience

an Italian Cooking Experience

an Italian Cooking Experience

an Italian Cooking Experience

an Italian Cooking Experience

an Italian Cooking Experience

an Italian Cooking Experience

an Italian Cooking Experience

One last photo from the ship in Livorno and the Alps in the distance.

Livorno and the Alps

Today’s Joke of the Day

A farmer named Clyde had a car accident. In court, the trucking company’s fancy hot shot lawyer, was questioning Clyde. Didn’t you say, at the scene of the accident, I’m fine? asked the lawyer. Clyde responded, Well, I’ll tell you what happened. I had just loaded my favorite cow, Bessie, into the … I didn’t ask for any details.. the lawyer interrupted. Just answer the question, please. Did you, or did you not say, at the scene of the accident, “I’m fine.” Clyde said, “Well, I had just got Bessie into the trailer and I was driving down the road.” The lawyer interrupted again and said, “Your Honour, I am trying to establish the fact that, at the scene of the accident, this man told the Highway Patrolman on the scene that he was just fine. Now several weeks after the accident he is trying to sue my client. I believe he is a fraud. Please tell him to simply answer the question.”By this time, the Judge was fairly interested In Clyde’s answer and said to the lawyer, “I’d like to hear what he has to say about his favorite cow, Bessie.”

Clyde thanked the Judge and proceeded. “Well, as I was saying, I had just loaded Bessie, my favourite cow, into the trailer and was driving her down the highway when this huge semi-truck and trailer ran the stop sign and smacked my truck right in the side. I was thrown into one ditch and Bessie was thrown into the other. I was hurting, real bad and didn’t want to move. However, I could hear old Bessie moaning and groaning. I knew she was in terrible shape just by her groans. Shortly after the accident a Highway Patrolman came on the scene. He could hear Bessie moaning and groaning, so he went over to her. After he looked at her, and saw her fatal condition, he took out his gun and shot her between the eyes. Then the Patrolman came across the road, gun still in hand, looked at me, and said, “How are you feeling?” “Now tell me, what the hell would you say?”

Let’s do some Q and A. To skip the Q&A, click here.

LISA AND ELAINE – Yes of course. I promise that there will be daily photos slapped on the blog from the January 19th cruise. Hopefully on the next Bloggers Cruise you will be able to join us….I hope soon.
LFTTNSFCF – Glad you enjoyed the blog mate. The Montgomery’s were such special people. I wish you could have seen them for yourself….truly inspirational. As for Brooklyn….just a man who probably has a lonely life and just likes to complain….oh well they were perfect contrasts and one of the reasons why this job is so wonderful. See you soon mate.
BIG ED – I have to see a photo of that mural. I have a feeling that after the Bloggers Cruise your picture will be a sought after item. I foresee the front cover of GQ magazine or Hunting and Fishing. I am looking forward to seeing Southern Dreams today….see you soon as well mate.
JO MYERLY – wish you were here….nobody else is sympathetic about my finger. I am glad you were inspired by the story of the Montgomery’s and it was a perfect example that love does conquer all. I hope you are both well and we miss you here.
PEANUTS – Do I detect a touch of sarcasm in your sympathy towards my finger and the pain I suffered at the hands of that needle and thread. When I would cut myself or hurt myself at home my Mum would give me a treat, all I got from Heidi was a bollocking about the broken picture frame . things change. Thanks for saying such kind words though about your Carnival experiences and I hope that one day Mr. Brooklyn will realize that life really is too short to spend it looking for the bad things. OK, lets talk about the HEAT and the Pistons. What date is the game? Maybe I could do a live blog during the game itself. All the best and thanks for taking the time to write.
NAUTICAL BY NATURE – Hello and thanks for writing in. So, you are a crew member and that entitles you to a wonderful big hello from all the thousands of people who read this blog thingy every day. I found it incredible that someone would comment on your English speaking skills even though you are Canadian! Can you reveal your real name? If not, we will keep you as a mystery writer and call you Crew member A – you are Canadian after all. I know it is hard to hold back when people are demeaning to you but the fact that you smile and let it go shows your class and education as a person and a wonderful example of what Carnival crew are all about. Please keep writing and if you have any more stories to share we would love to hear them…cheers mate.
GREG BALDASARRI – Indeed, the word magical does best describe the Montgomery’s. They have had so many mountains to climb and have many more to do so as well but their love keeps them strong….it was so wonderful to see. Now, as for the lady who wanted an audience with the Pope, well I called her back and said we had tried but unfortunately he was busy opening a new Supermarket…no, seriously, I called and said that it was not possible.
She seemed a little put out by my answer though. I will keep you updated on Alan and as soon as there is any further news I will let you know. Thanks mate and all the best.
A CRUISE BY ANY OTHER NAME – You are correct, because we are at sea it really does not matter when we turn our clocks back for the TA cruise as long as when we arrive in Miami we are on local time. In the U.K. we say Savings time with an S….another one of our cultural differences. All bridge log entries are made on GMT time while here in Europe however in the Caribbean I am not sure…..let me check and I will let you know. I wish I had the time and intelligence to learn to fly…..I am very jealous of you and one day maybe I will try…….but I doubt it. Do you fly much….do you have a dream flight or destination….let us know? Cheers.
MYRA BUSHNELL – Sorry about making you cry with the story about the Montgomery’s…..I shared a few with you as I walked down the streets of Barcelona.
Sounds like your Halloween Horror nights was fun even if you were surrounded by thousands of teens. Let me know about the new Elizabeth movie, Heidi really wants to see it as she loves period dramas. I hate them with a passion and if I want to see a bunch of men dressed in fluffy shirts and pants wearing make up I can go to Amsterdam. I have often thought about going ashore in disguise but….what as? Even the dark glasses and my Miami Heat hat do not work. Maybe if I went ashore naked people would run away and I would be free. Perhaps not.
Thank you for all your kind words and I promise to shed some more light on the Bloggers Cruise very soon. All the best to you and the family.
DIANE – Thanks Diane. I just read the article in the St. Petersburgs Times on line addition and it was once again surreal to see my name in print. Thank you so much for letting me know about it and hopefully someone will send me a copy of the article soon. Thank you for the Happy Vacation wishes and we shall not lose touch I promise. Thanks for reading the blog thingy and all the best.
SHARON AND JEFF – Poor Jeff. It seems that Heidi, you and your Mum have a lot in common. I actually was relegated to the doghouse and as blood pumped from my finger my wife scolded me for breaking her $20 Ikea photo frame (I HATE Ikea by the way.)
It is Swedish hell. I can tell you that YES I will be the CD for your cruise and very soon I will start having a look at the tours for the Carnival Splendor and we can chat about what to do. I am sorry it took so long to answer your posting and uncross your toes and fingers….I will be there. Best to you Sharon, Jeff and your Mum.
DAVE AND BARB BUTLER – I have passed on your request to Dino and will get back to you shortly. Thanks for thinking of Alan and see you both very soon.
CATHERINE EBERT – Thanks so much for the words of congratulations and it was a true honour to win the award. It seems just yesterday when you were on board and I am not surprised you have taken Heidi’s side on the finger versus photo frame battle. Did you buy your new furniture from Ikea, I have I mentioned how much I hate that place…and they serve Herring…yuck. In the scheme of things 46 weeks is not too long and your next cruise will be here before you know it. Thanks for the wonderful posting and see you soon.
KATHIE – The difference between my injury with my finger and yours is you got Tea and Sympathy while I got a tongue lashing and a return trip to Ikea….I hate that place – once you are in you have to walk all the way around to get out.
Seriously, thanks for all the kind words and I truly hope the Montgomery’s live for many happy years together…nobody deserves it more.
MATT – thank you mate for the kind words. I really do try to make each blog true to life and sometimes with that formula comes the sad stories. You asked about a waiter called Roberto Dejesus who made your Carnival Triumph cruise so fantastic in 2000. He has just gone on vacation and was previously on the Carnival Victory. I suggest you drop him a line to the Carnival address and include his name on the heading – I am sure he will be so proud that you remember him.
Thanks again for all the kind words and hopefully I will hear from you soon.
DAVE W – thanks for saying that and that thought is seconded by me.
BRYAN – You asked if I tell the Jokes Of the Day on stage ? Nope…actually, I don’t tell any “joke, jokes.” The ones I am posting are just ones I really like that people send me all the time. I hope you are enjoying them mate and all the best.
CAPTAIN BILL – We all salute the wonderful work you do in the often unheralded United States Coast Guard. We all thank you for your wonderful service.
JENNIFER HAMMOND – And after reading your posting….Heidi says she really likes Danny…what’s going on here. I am glad you like the story of the Montgomery’s and we both send our best to you….let me know when Danny cuts his finger so I can show him no sympathy:)
ELAINE ROMANO – Welcome back from your Carnival Freedom cruise and I am so happy you had such a wonderful time. You asked for the name of the winery you went to during your tour in Tuscany. It is called Il Gatepado Estates. I will find the address for you if you require…let me know. I hope it will not be long before we see you walk up the gangway again and, until then, I send you and the family best regards.
LUIS – I hope to see you as well and anyone who has cruised 4 times with me deserves a drink on the house. Cheers.
WANMAN – Listening and watching the Montgomery’s was indeed a special moment and one that made my job that extra bit special. Thank you for thinking of them and Alan and hope you continue to enjoy the blog thingy.
CANUCK CRUISER – Just a quick note (I am sure I missed you) to say have a wonderful time in Winnipeg and thanks so much for saying how friendly the crew on the Carnival Liberty were and I have passed the comments to the ship’s management. Hope all is well and have a safe journey.
LV2CRUISE – Thank you for the kind words for my finger. I have shown Heidi your comments and how it shows the way to be sympathetic…she says “Am I boveered?” Thanks so much for thinking of Alan and the Montgomery’s….they are all special people and one of them is very ugly…and it’s not the Montgomery’s. My best to you and the family and I look forward to your next posting.
HEIDI & BETH & KEVIN – I am intrigued by Home Schooling. If this is not invading on your privacy would you mind letting me know how this works. How do you divide their education into subjects etc? Still, at least there are three of you to help out. Always great to hear from you and hope to see a posting slapped on from you soon.
SUSAN B – Your hug message has been passed along to Southern Dreams as requested and I managed to do it myself despite my throbbing finger….do I detect a hint of sarcasm in your sympathy for me? I am glad you enjoyed the blog and it is obvious that everyone enjoyed the story about the Montgomery’s and thank you for your kind words for them. I hope to have a medical update on Alan soon and thanks again for the kind words of support. Wishing you and the family all the best.
KIM – The photos of Mount Etna were indeed amazing and I am glad you enjoyed them. You did the right thing in touring Taormina during your recent cruise especially treating yourself to a cannoli. I trust this blog thingy will keep you going until your Carnival Splendor cruise and very soon I will start highlighting some of the incredible shore excursions we can look forward to. Until then, all the best.
KEVIN – I was surprised that Mr. Brooklyn was so angry and his hurtful comments about the crew were said with such venom that I actually felt sorry for them. Please have a word with Brent, your Cruise Director, who will have a surprise or two for you. Have fun and I hope you go for that interview, you seem to have the ocean in your blood. Heidi and I send you our very best. Have a wonderful cruise and write when you get back.
MR. LESLIE LEVI – It is great to hear that you will be sailing with us on the forthcoming Transatlantic Cruise. I know Todd will make sure he includes plenty of singles gatherings in the schedule. This is actually the fourth Europe to America Transatlantic Crossing that Carnival has carried out and this one will be wonderful, I am sure. There will be trivia’s, game shows, arts & craft lessons, bridge lessons, contests, big screen movies, dance lessons and the best shows you have ever seen plus much much more. We still have the show you mentioned featuring a tribute to New Orleans. This show is called The Big Easy and it will be one of the highlights. Maybe you can post your cabin number so we can invite you to the Bloggers party on the 28th. Hope to hear from you soon and all the best.
SHELEE – We welcome you back from your recent Carnival Sensation cruise and the wonderful words you wrote about the friendly crew and how clean the ship was have been passed to the management team on board. When you say, this was the best vacation you both have ever had, all of us at Carnival feel a wonderful sense of pride. I am sure you are excited for your next cruise around Hawaii to arrive and I hope you keep reading the blog thingy until then. All the best.
ASPIRENOW – I am sorry you laughed your bottom off…would you like some of mine? Come and cruise.
CAROL SCHOENBERGER – Hello Carol. How are you today? I hope you are alright and that there is a special place for the Montgomery’s. Nobody deserves it more. There is an endless supply of interesting characters on every cruise ship in the world every week. More proof of this will follow at the end of this blog. Thanks for mentioning Roberto and thank you for your continuing kindness.
CATMOMA04 – Thank you for continuing to pray for Alan. He certainly needs all the help he can get. As for Heidi needing a present, you will be happy to know I bought her a cup of coffee this morning. Always great to hear from you and I am glad you liked her pear. Cheers.
NICO.R – Thank you.
LINDA MOM OF DJ – Thanks for finding out who Alan is by reading past blogs. He is my best mate and even though he is pure ugliness, prevented me from ever having women talk to me every time we were together, he always will be. Maybe next time we have a Bloggers Cruise I will get to meet you and DJ. Our best to you both, thank you for everything.
RUTH JAMISON – How wonderful to hear that your granddaughter is playing soccer and please congratulate her on winning and also scoring 2 great goals. Maybe one day she will play for the national side. Thank you for thinking of Alan, you are a great friend. I have made some investigations and the housekeeping steward you are talking about is Felicia. I have shown her this blog and she is really happy that you remember her. She is from Croatia and one of our best. Thank you again Ruth and I am sure I will hear from you soon.
JOHN HUDSON AND PRISCILLA KONCZAL – Great to hear from you and I see we have a mutual friend in Kuki. I have asked Dino, our Maitre ‘D, to try his best to provide you with a table for two. We have added your name and cabin number to our Welcome Aboard party where it will be our pleasure to meet you.
JOHN FROM ARKANSAS – We are also looking forward to the Bloggers Cruise and a chance to meet you both. Hopefully, we can talk about the Red Socks and how they won the final of the baseball thingy. I am glad you are enjoying the blog, see you very soon.
TERESA AND PAUL B – It seems that a lot of people have shed a lot of tears over the story of the wonderful Montgomery’s. Wonderful people and truly happy, despite their difficulties and a complete contrast to Mr. Brooklyn. You will love meeting our crew and their diversity is one of the best things about a cruise experience. One day soon Heidi and I hope to visit Montana. See you there.
RIKKI BOYCE – Michelle was a wonderful kid and the letter from mom was rewarded with gifts galore. The TA cruise will be here soon and I look forward to shaking your hand and buying you a drink (or ten). See you then.
MARSHA BREEN – I just wanted to take the time to say thank you for reading the blog so faithfully. It is great to read your first posting and I hope there will be many more. I hope also you enjoy your cruise on the Carnival Miracle and one day we can cruise together. We send our best to you and your family.
M@&RT – Just wanted to say a quick hello, I miss seeing you on the front row and I shall keep an eye open for your Britney comment. Hope you and your beautiful lady are well, see you soon.
GINA – Thank you for appreciating the mixed emotions from the last blog. I hope you continue to enjoy reading the day to day life of Heidi and I and the good ship, Carnival Freedom. Thank you.
WOLI – Cheers!
MIGUEL – When someone says they appreciate the blog as you did, it makes all the extra hard work worthwhile. We miss you here, your friends always. J&H
ZSOLT JURAK – Of course I remember you and I am so disappointed that you did not get the DVD that I mailed to Hungary. Please can you resend your address and I will mail from the U.K. while on vacation. How is mum doing? Heidi and I think about her all the time. Please write soon and send her our kindest wishes.
DWA76 – I am sorry my Cowboys lost. Maybe if I had a Cowboys hat, they would do better. When I see your name, I always know, I am replying to a friend and my two fingers will enjoy slapping on a reply. Cheers mate.
SEWING NUT – Great to see a posting from you. It’s been a while. Stay away from pineapples and thank you so much for everything you said about Alan. We miss you here.
LEASA – I did ask Heidi to kiss my finger better but because I had broken her favorite photo frame, her reply involved her using her own finger. I am glad you have been sending me jokes, I have enjoyed them all, please keep them coming. Heidi and I send our best wishes to you and can’t wait to see you soon.
SHERYL PELTON – Heidi is so excited to hear that you have mailed the package to her. Hopefully they will get past Customs, the Police and the other agencies who are on the look out for dangerous greetings cards. We are doing another walk for breast cancer this cruise and we will of course send photos. Alan is, I am sure, so grateful for everyone’s kind words and as soon as he is better I know he will enjoy reading them. Thank you again and we really hope we see you again very soon.

That’s all for now and my finger is throbbing. I have to have the stitch out later this week and I am considering general anesthesia ..I will be brave though.

So, many of you will have noticed that on the blog called Fun – Reborn that we have 250 comments posted. This is because Carnival’s terrific interactive marketing team sent out an e-mail thingy to all past Carnival guests and a man called Bob….the result was that on Tuesday we had 100,000 slaps….100,000. That puts us at 900,000 slaps and we proudly welcome many brand new readers to the blog thingy. Tomorrow, Thursday, I will try and reply to many of the questions that were sent in so please bear with me. I hope that all the new readers will take the time to go back to read previous blogs and share in some of the laughter (and a hint of sadness) as I continue to do my best to provide a daily look at what happens here on this wonderful ship and within this great corporation. Welcome to you all and enjoy the blog thingies.

Back to today. We just sailed from Naples having left behind two guests from Russia. We waited as long as we could for them both but we had to leave. As I may have mentioned before, unlike the Caribbean we are going country to country rather than island to island and we have a tight schedule. The couple (the Dubrovinas) eventually arrived back to the vessel at 7:00pm, a full hour after we sailed. They will now take a train to Venice missing a full day at sea.

This, as you know is our last Grand Med cruise and as I mentioned the average age is much older. This means that everyone moves a little slower and information for some ….well, lets just say I need to be sympathetic and make sure I explain everything about tours, ports and provide general information….a little slower than usual as some guests are a tad confused. Nobody more so than this guest.

Guest: Mr %#@ Ref: 002714307A Owner: (FRCA) Francesca Catalano
Cabin: 7210 Booking#: Added-Changed: 10/16/07 – 10/17/07
7210 – Wanted to visit The Vatican

Mr %^&*&^% came to the desk to ask why the Cruise Director had not mentioned the tours to the Vatican at the afternoon talk. Purser explained that John will talk about Rome tours towards the end of the cruise. Guest said that he wanted to visit the Vatican tomorrow. Purser explained that we would be in Naples and that the Vatican was in Rome. Guest asked if they could take a taxi. Purser explained that it was hundreds of miles away and this was not possible. Guest left the desk saying that he was very unhappy. Purser informed the guest comments will be documented .

I will call the guest later tonight or tomorrow and have a chat with him about Rome tours so we can help him get to see the Vatican….unless someone has moved it to Ohio.

Heidi and I went ashore today for an hour to have a farewell lunch with our friend Adolfo who runs the tour operations in Naples. He took us to a wonderful restaurant where Heidi feasted on pizza and I had some fresh fish….it was very tasty. As we sat and ate the foreboding image of Vesuvius lay directly across the bay and I could not help but think of the devastation that an eruption could cause today as it had back in 79AD when it destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum. Let’s hope that Vesuvius stays dormant forever.

How lucky we are to have sat and enjoyed true Italian food in a wonderful port like Naples and done so with a view like that. I would have reached under the table and squeezed Heidi’s hand in a show of appreciation and love but that was not possible…because this morning I had woken her up with my own dangerous eruption and have been in the doghouse ever since.


Your Friends

John and Heidi

Hi, I’m John, and this is my blog. So please don’t mistake my opinions — or those of my dear friends, fans or commenters — for those of Carnival Cruise Line or Carnival Corporation. My apologies in advance for anything I may say that upsets you, but this disclaimer covers Carnival and puts the blame directly on me………….. bugger.