“Oh, it’s the Cruise Director ….good………I have a complaint”……………….now, under most circumstances this would have been no problem, however this happened half an hour ago…………at 6:40 am.

Heidi and I have been staying in a guest cabin this week. We have been working out of the CD cabin but because Todd still has all his belongings in the bedroom section of the cabin we have been sleeping on deck 1. This morning, as we have each and every morning we awoke to the sound of the alarm on my raspberry thingy telling me it was 6 am. I have to say that this morning was really hard to get out of bed as I had another late night. Heidi had relegated me to the doghouse just because my bottom had decided to do an impression of a machine gun (blame the curry)……..so overall I was not in the best of moods.
So, at 6:40 am we opened the cabin door to head to the office and as we stepped into the corridor a couple exited from the cabin opposite.

I won’t even bother telling you what there complaint was……….ok………actually I will…………it’s just so trivial…………they were disappointed in the ice cream stations on board and the fact that we only have two flavors. I stood there …at 6:40 am……….after only 5 hours sleep…………listening as they told me that on Celebrity cruise lines you get 300,000 flavors and I stood there and listened as he told me most of them pointing out that pistachio and double something with a chip thingy were their favorites.

 Now, I have to admit that I had — as Ben and his wife Jerri went through the virtues of ice cream — drifted off to sleep a few times and I am sure they must have known that at that moment I couldn’t have cared less. I tried not to show it but I am sure this must have been the case. Anyway, once Ben and Jerri had stopped talking I apologized and said that they had an excellent point and that I would pass their comments along. They then walked off to breakfast to enjoy eggs, bacon and a dollop of vanilla ice cream.

I am telling you this only because I just wish they could have started the day with a good morning………..I mean ……….it’s not the Gettysburg Address ………..it’s just two words.

Anyway, after that encounter here I am sitting at the desk writing to you. The scene outside of my window though makes me smile. We are in the land of “no problem, Mon”…………….Jamaica. I have written that this colorful and vibrant island has had its critics but for every one critic there are hundreds of people who, like me, think of this place as a very special one. It looks like the sun is feeling “irie, Mon,” and is sending her golden rays that are as I write glistening off the deep blue sea.

This morning I will be attending the special tour we have organized. It is called “John’s Bloggers Jamaican Bash.” This is a special tour to a beautiful place called Dolphin Cove. It includes an all you can eat Jamaican buffet or jerk pork and chicken and other tasty local food. There will be an unlimited supply of drinks and also included is a 20-minute swim with the dolphins. Now, this bit has me worried. The tour is sold out…………..this means we have 755 people going…………….fantastic……….but those Dolphins are going to be exhausted by the end of the day and I am sure…………….let’s see.

They were indeed tired but fulfilled I am sure with having met so many fantastic Carnival Freedom guests. Good afternoon. I just returned from the Jamaican Beach Bash which was attended by 755 people. The location for this event was Dolphin Cove so called because it’s set in a cove and there are …………. ummmmmmm……………….dolphins there.

The day was blessed with hot Jamaican sunshine and Dolphin Cove itself was staffed by the sort of people that make Jamaica such a favorite of mine and many others. Their radiant smile showed that they were truly grateful that we the tourists had chosen their island and their location to spend our day. The guests were very happy as well. The reasons for this were that everyone got a complimentary dolphin swim, everyone could eat as much as they wanted ……….and the jerk chicken was indeed fantastic.

Many laid in the sun, went snorkeling, swam with the sharks ……….. yep …………..swam with the sharks, rented kayaks, played beach volleyball, explored the nature trail and so much more. The main reason however that everyone was walking around looking like they had just won the lottery probably had something to do with the unlimited rum punch. Many who had partaken in a vat or two of this evil mixture suddenly found me very attractive and as I walked around I was hugged, kissed, some even patted my bottom…………and that was the men. 

I welcomed everyone to the party on the microphone before turning the stage over to the great reggae band that had many people doing dances with great names like the “Cha Cha Slide and The Big Bamboo.” It is only after drinking a glass or 12 of the rum punch that some people suddenly thought they had some island vibes in them and it was hilarious to see people thinking thanks to the rum that they are brilliant dancers when in fact they are “cha cha”rring the wrong way and have as much rhythm as a deaf donkey…..it was very funny though.

I decided not show of my dancing skills and instead opted for a spot of relaxation in the shade which was short lived as I gave two interviews to the Jamaican Observer and the Jamaican Gleaner newspapers. We spoke about my passion for Jamaica and Carnival Cruise Lines and in particular the bloggers group. ……………he then looked at me and said in his best Jamaican accent…………”What’s a blog, Mon?”…………..It was nice to see that there in the island where nothing is ever hurried that the blog has yet to manifest itself in Jamaica.

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The guests were really getting into the swing of things but before long it was time to return to the ship and here I am now. Would you excuse me as I am about to organize the On Deck for the Cure walk so I will be right back.

It’s hot out there. It’s a hot day in Jamaica……..how hot is it?……………well I saw a squirrel holding his nuts with a potholder………that’s how hot.

What a sight, hundreds of people proudly wearing their T-shirts and wristbands showing that they had given their money to help the ongoing fight against breast cancer. There were many emotional moments some private and some very public. Included in the public category is Catherine Dodds who lost her 28-year-old daughter last summer. She told us all how she felt that her daughter was here with us now and thanked everyone for donating their time. She spoke of her love for her daughter and how right up to the last moment her positive and bright attitude was inspirational……….finishing, she looked up at the heavens and said……….I love you Catherine……………………everyone’s tears could have filled the swimming pool.

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Well, the thrusters are on and away we go. The week has gone by so quickly and today’s beach party will hold many happy memories I am sure.  I love Jamaica, I enjoy the people, the culture and everything that is so cool about this piece of paradise…………..however………..I am so upset…………..the final impression the guests have, was well….quite frankly………disgusting.

I understand that Jamaica has concerns with the availability to buy marijuana but my goodness, handling this problem the way they did this afternoon was unbelievable.

Guests return through the port building and everyone, that’s all 3,000 people have their bags manually searched……..not X-rayed but manually searched. The people who are doing this have some sort of security uniform on but my goodness they were so rude. They barked instructions such as “wait”…..”come” and some even just used hand gestures. The lines stretched out of the terminal and looped around the building. The building was hot and there were no signs ………none……….telling us why here in Jamaica and not at any other port was this being done.

However, this was not the worst of it. On the other side of the terminal were four young men dressed entirely in street clothes. They wore no uniform and no identification……….not even a lanyard with an ID on it. At random they approached the line choosing people to search. They wagged their fingers at them and or pulled them by the arm. Tim Gallagher, Heidi and I watched as one young man was chosen but questioned who this person was grabbing his arm…”Police” was the reply but yet no ID was shown. Then, another man was searched and this involved him having to open his shorts while the policeman checked inside his underwear to see if there was anything hidden in there.

Speaking to the guests in front and behind me they all said how awful this was and how it had spoiled their day.

If anyone from the Jamaican authorities is reading this I urge you to change this system. If you must do this, have signs placed around the terminal explaining why this is happening? The security personal can still check the bags but surely they can still do this in a polite and friendly way.

If you are going to search someone, introduce yourself as a police officer, have ID available and again do so in a professional and polite manner……………..and for goodness sake………..if you are going to search one of the cruise ship guests please do it behind a curtain or in another room.

Maybe the FCCA can help or maybe someone from Jamaica will read this and realize that this last impression of their beautiful land is the worst possible one.

Let’s finish on a positive note and show you some of the photos from today.

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I wish you could have been there………..today we start selling the 2009 Bloggers Cruise on the Carnival Fantasy onboard today. I will let you know how it goes . You of course can book through your travel agent or through Carnival.  Whatever you do…….just book. This one has been brilliant and next year ……….. well………….I have a feeling it will be incomparable.

Goodnight
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.