A New Orleans Fantasy

January 20, 2008 -

John Heald

Its 7:30am and even though I am typing this blog through squinting eyes after having just had 6 hours sleep I must say that yesterday, the first day of the Bloggers Cruise, went really well…………….I think.

So, good morning everyone from the Carnival Freedom as we head to Cozumel. The weather though looks to be a bit grey and overcast and little white horses are strutting their stuff atop of the waves ………….. ahhhhhhhhhh. I hope the weather gets better, I know so many people have come from cold and miserable weather hoping for some Caribbean sun……….fingers crossed then.

So, what happened yesterday? Well the fun started during embarkation and as I went down to the lobby bar about 2 pm for a coffee I was attacked by a hoard of screaming fans who were kissing me, hugging me, ripping at my clothes and trying to drag me back to their cabin …………..and that’s just Big Ed ! ……………….OK, I drifted off into the realms of fantasy then but it was quite extraordinary as dozens of people approached me, most wearing T-shirts advertising they had seen my thingy.

 After meeting some of my friends I returned to the cabin to prepare for boat drill. Now, I have to explain that when you have not spoken in public or performed for two months .well…..like anything else that you don’t do for a long time your first attempt may not be so good ……………. just ask Heidi.

This was the case for boat drill, when, for the first time in two months I spoke in public and used a microphone and of course I slipped over a few words…………the best being instead of saying “lifejackets are stored in the closet in your cabin.” I said ” Lifejackets are stored in the COLDEST in your cabin”…………………bugger.

Anyway, once boat drill was over I went straight to the Bloggers Welcome Party to meet everyone………….well, nearly everyone as due to some bad weather in Baltimore some guests did indeed miss the ship and are currently en route to join us in Cozumel tomorrow.

The complimentary drinks were ready, the snacks in place ready to nibbled at and we opened the doors. The music was playing as the Entertainment Staff welcomed each blogger to the lounge. I had decided not to stand at the door for two reasons. There are 6 entrances to the lounge and I was concerned that if I stood to welcome each Blogger the line would be too long and the party would be over before everyone got inside.

So, the doors opened at 5 pm and by 5:20pm we had over 500 people eating, drinking and meeting new friends. So, it was time for my entrance, James, one of the staff introduced me and I walked out on stage. Now, usually when a CD walks out for the first show of the cruise the audience will welcome them with polite applause, I call it “golf applause”………the same applause if a golfer misses a putt……..polite applause. However, there was no polite applause for me here………..they stood and they cheered as though I had just hit a hole in one at the Masters using a small mamster as a club………………it was overwhelming and so very kind and I will never forget that moment…………..I felt like I was George Hamilton.

At the party we had some fun, I introduced Roberto , Stephanie, Big Ed, Robert Schneider, Kuki and, of course, Heidi who also was greeted by the men as though Jessica Simpson had walked out on stage wearing nothing but a small fig leaf…………she told me afterwards that it was an  incredible feeling”…………it reminded her of Thursdays.

Then, after chatting about what fun events we had planned we officially announced the 2009 Bloggers Cruise.

This in the beginning was a difficult choice. We had spoken about the Carnival Inspiration and the Carnival Imagination, even the Carnival Spirit in Alaska. However, in the end, the choice was simple; we had a chance to celebrate rejuvenation, not only of a ship but of a port of call as well.

Therefore, it gives me huge and sincere pleasure to announce that the 2009 Bloggers Cruise will be on February 7 (please note this is a correction.  There was a typo, but the correct date is the 7th) sailing out of New Orleans aboard the Carnival Fantasy.

The Carnival Fantasy was the first ever ship of what became one of the most popular and successful class of ships ever when she was launched back in 1990. In fact, I had the pleasure of being a young, handsome and very sexy Social Host during the start up and eventually returned as a Cruise Director for two exciting years. The Carnival Fantasy as she will be known after her extensive dry dock and refit will be reborn with the addition of the Evolutions Of Fun. Including the water park and all the interior upgrades that we spent millions of dollars on………….the ship will be reborn.

Then there is New Orleans. It just seemed right to have the guests fly into and sail out of the Big Easy. The city needs all of our help and support and flying the Carnival flag (and the Bloggers flag………can I have a flag made please?) gives us a chance to celebrate.

I would also like to try and get as many people to fly in the day before the five-day cruise. I want to try and set something up with one of the organizations who are involved with the rebuilding. I think it would be marvelous if we could all get together and do something to help.

I know a few people will be disappointed that I choose this particular cruise because they do not like to fly and I apologize so sincerely for this. Hopefully you will find a way to get there and that you will understand.  A friend of mine summed this up best when he said “Sailing the NEW Carnival Fantasy and an opportunity to highlight the resurgence of New Orleans……….what could be better?”

So, very simply, book now, there is a special fare code and there will be lots of surprises, gifts, special shows and so much more. This cruise was organized at pace and we could have done some things better. However, the 2009 cruise will give me more time to make it even more special …………….. and I promise it will be. Will you be there with me?

One group of people I know will be there will my friends from the Bentley of Cruise Boards, The George Hamilton of Cruise Ship Information ……………my friends from Cruise Critic. I am sure one of their hosts like Randy will be putting together the biggest ever group for the 2009 Bloggers cruise. I also want to thank Cruise Critic and its editor and my friend Carolyn for allowing valuable space on their site to promote the blog and this cruise in particular. I am honoured to be associated with Cruise Critic and I hope that this relationship continues for a long time. I send my best regards to all the readers of this brilliant site……..even the one who recently posted that he found my “fake Robin Leach voice annoying and that I was the worst cruise director he had ever experienced”………I wish him champagne wishes and caviar dreams.

If you are reading this and have never visited I invite you to point to go to www.cruisecritic.com

This morning I completed my adventure talk for Cozumel, Grand Cayman and Jamaica. I have not done this particular talk for a long time, probably four years actually, and obviously I was a little concerned. However, once I started everything came back to me and before I knew it the words were flowing. However, after talking about the history and culture of Italy and Istanbul, etc., it did seem a little strange to be talking about snorkeling and beach tours again. Still, I think it went well. I am also used to having 1,500 people plus in the lounge for the European talks and was a little taken back when I discovered only 500 guests waiting for the information. This could also have been because of the movement of the ship. Even now at 2:30pm the ship is still moving and swaying as she ploughs throw the rougher than normal seas.

One thing I know will be popular is the world championship football games we are showing on the big screen. As I have mentioned before on a past blog my knowledge of American football is about the same as Paris Hilton’s knowledge of ….well…….anything. However, it appears that everyone onboard wants to watch the Giants, the San Diego something’s, the English patriots and the Green Bay Packers……………by the way, some of the names are great and images of the Giants, Patriots, Chargers conjure up huge hulks of men blessed with the strength of Hercules himself……………names that breed fear into their opponents. However………the Packers……………..what the heck is that? ………………Did they run of names?………..was it the only one left? I mean, it doesn’t have the same ferocity as the Giants, etc…………..who are you playing today……………….oh…….the Packers…….I mean that gives me images of my wife and my friend Emm who spend their entire life………..Packing…………..are they now playing for Green Bay. Anyway, the games are on and despite the weather I am sure many will be watching the game, munching on a hot dog and drinking a beer. I am hoping the Packers win………..they have the worst name and therefore are my tip to win the World Championship of Football Bowl thingy.

Actually, I was just thinking, I have never watched a whole Super Bowl game…………and I am off the ship on the day its being played. This means I shall find a place to watch it and cheer my wife and friend on as they and the other Packers win the game.

In 20 minutes I will be hosting another bloggers event………The Game Show and then it’s a quick change into the tuxedo and then formal photos with the bloggers in the lobby. Then we have two shows and late night drinks with Big Ed and the gang.

My biggest wish is for sunshine tomorrow in Cozumel…………..everyone deserves this after the weather we have today.

As I mentioned I have not been on stage for some time and as busy and as crazy as the last two days have been, as untidy as my office is with gifts from my blogging friends splattered all over the place, as tired as I am with so little sleep…………you know what………I realize once again how much I love my job and what a lucky man I am.

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.