I had no intention of writing a blog today but after the experiences of this Friday I had to put them down on paper or in this case my lapdancer top thingy. First of all let me do something.

AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
There, that’s better…………..I had a good scream and apart from waking the entire 3rd floor of the hotel it helped a little.

Let’s go back to this afternoon. The CD conference finished today however most of the guys remained on board. Myself, Heidi, Goose and Ryan along with Director of Entertainment Kerry Stables and Cruise Staff Supervisor Chris Unstead had to leave the ship today to return to our vessels or the office. The ship was docked in Ocho Rios Jamaica and after saying goodbye to the lads and lasses Heidi and walked back to the cabin to collect our luggage. The first sign that today was not going to be a good one came as I was dragging our suitcases out of the cabin. Lets try and paint the picture. Firstly, as always we had over packed. I use the word we when in fact it should be the word Heidi but as I have been in the doghouse so much recently I thought I would share the blame…………..anyway the cases were heavy………..really heavy and if the ship’s anchor had broken we could have tied one of our cases to a bit of string, chucked it over the side and the ship would never have moved. So, there I was maneuvering these lumps of led out of the cabin when the door started closing behind me………….I reacted at the speed of light…………………ok, I reacted at the speed of a hippopotamus wearing lead slippers but it was quick enough to stick my hand out to stop the door swinging and the bugger closed on my hand and specifically my left index finger……………….and it hurt like hell. It was of those stabs of pain that is so painful you react in the most unusual way……………….and I did………………it hurt so much I started swearing………….very loudly……………in Italian……………waving my now bleeding finger up and down and for some obscure reason I found myself hopping up on down on one leg. So, lets recap…………my finger nail is crushed and the blood is gushing like something from the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan……………….I am waving my hand up and down in front of my face as though I have just let out the fart of the century …………..I am hopping up and down one leg …..still don’t know why……….and I have changed my name to Giovanni Healdo and am screaming obscenities in Italian to a cabin door. This situation became worse when the occupant of cabin 8215 came out to one look at the fat man bouncing up and down on one leg doing a Tony Soprano impression and he slammed the door shut and I heard the lock click…………………..he probably then called security and hid under the bed.

Fast forward another 15 minutes. Heidi has put a battle dressing on my throbbing index finger nail which looked like it had been in a blender. We then did what we should have done and asked for luggage assistance. We then met up with the rest of the folks who were flying with us and headed for the bus………………..it had been a bad start to the day and as I boarded the bus with my finger looking like something from a Tom and Jerry cartoon I was confident that things could only get better………………………….but………….of course…………..I was so so wrong.

The bus was a nice modern 18 seater with good air conditioning which considering it was 8000 degrees outside and I was dressed in sweat pants was a good thing. As I sat there as we drove through Ocho Rios all seemed well and mind was firmly set on the job ahead on the Carnival Freedom. However, once we were free of the town it became clear that our driver was possessed and the devil inside him had him believing he was Dale Ernhardt. The journey to Montego Bay airport is 1 hour and 30 minutes but Dale obviously had an appointment with Hale Berry as he was in a hurry. Now there are more holes in a Jamaican road than in a piece of Swiss cheese and all the bus looked ok from the outside underneath it was …well……….knackered as we say in Brit speak. The suspension was held together with a few toilet rolls and duck tape and the consequent ride was as comfortable as bouncing up and down on a cactus. Not only was it murder on your bottom but as the journey wore on it was obvious that Ryan the Cruise Director of the Carnival Glory was feeling a little worse for wear and soon enough he was decorating the inside of a plastic bag with a mixture of spaghetti carbonara and as always in these situations….carrot…..why is there always carrot. It wasn’t just Ryan………I looked across at Kerry and she looked as white as an albino in a snowstorm and even Heidi who has a Herculean stomach ( strong I mean. not big with lots of hair……….just wanted to clarify that ) was feeling a little squeamish. I am sure the others were as well and as Dale drove us along he was the only happy one onboard dreaming of Hale and his big bamboo……..tree.

By the time we arrived at Montego International Airport we all felt sick except Ryan who felt hungry and was trying to decide what to do with his bag of spaghetti and carrot……..eventually finding a garbage bin he walked over to it. Just as he was about to throw it away I told him Heidi wanted her plastic bag……..he tried to give it to her and that was us both in the you know where.

So, lets recap before we continue. My finger was really hurting and had swelled to the size of a pomegranate. After the bus ride my bottom felt like it had been on a 80 mile camel ride and I had been listening to Ryan deliver the good news to Heidi’s Nemun Marcus bag. Then…………..the fun really began.

We arrived at the American Airlines check in desk and presented ourselves and the two armored trucks disguised as suitcases………we knew they were heavy and even expected to pay excess baggage but nothing had prepared us for what we were charged. Let me start this bit by saying that as always I was polite and even cracked a joke or two but Miss I hate my job and I hate you was in no mood. I explained that we were crew members and that our entire lives were in those cases and even mentioned that most of the weight came from my wife’s underwear and make up but neither she or Heidi for that matter were amused……..she looked at me and I quote said ” You owe $108……….throw it away or pay.” Considering the state of my bottom, my finger, my stomach and now my wallet she was very lucky I didn’t turn green, become the Incredible Bulk and insert my suitcase in her…………………instead………..I sighed………..paid the money……..and waited for my boarding pass. Now at this point some of the more skeptical ones amongst you may be thinking that I have entered the realms of fantasy and may be writing a fairy tail. However, I promise and assure you that everything is true as witnessed by Heidi and my colleagues.

Back to the check in desk then……………having paid the $108 I was then handed our boarding passes and seating assignments. I did not look at the numbers then but they were to play a part in my day from Satan’s armpit as you will see.

Once everyone had checked in we walked to security and during my run in with Mrs. I hate my job and I hate you I had forgotten something……..something so terrible that I was about to feel the full force of the Jamaican authorities……………I went through security and they found…………..a bottle of………..water in my bag. The lady security guard looking at the TV screen began to motion others over to the screen as though she had discovered a Rocket Propelled grenade in my bag……….they all got very excited and asked me if this was my bag.

Now came the search and two people who were about 12 years old and on their way to a costume party dressed as a security officers searched my bag. They asked me where I had purchased the water. I told them ……” here, at the airport “………..Oh, by the way………….the brand of the bottle was called……..Wata…………yep Wata……….spelt as they pronounce it. Anyway, I was given a bollocking by the 12 year old but luckily it was nearly 3:00pm and she had to go home to have her nap and she let me go.

So, let’s recap. My finger is throbbing like a very small person has crawled inside and is now playing the tuba………my bottom is still numb ………I can still smell the Spaghetti that was hurled into the bag quicker than a bullet from a gun………the $100 I was going to spend on cigars has been donated to American Airlines and I received a bollocking from Pee daddy’s daughter for smuggling Wata out of Jamaica…………..surely the day could not get any worse…………stupid me.

Our flight was delayed………..for 45 minutes ……….this information was relayed to us by Bob Marley who had risen from the grave and was now speaking into the public address system which had the clarity of a tin of mud. We waited……………and then after what seemed like hours we were called to board at gate 17. So, we all stood up and went to gate 17……..however………….we got to gate 17 and as we all formed a line we saw the digital sign saying American Airlines flight 2340 to Fort Lauderdale…………actually as two of the letters were not working the sign said Fot Lauderale………..we were all going ‘ what and ummm ” when Bob realized he had made a mistake and told us he meant gate 19…………….mon.

Arriving at gate 19 we started to board. Our seat numbers were 37 a and 37 c. For those regular passengers of American Airlines you will have already realized that row 37 is…………..that’s right…………..the last row…………….by the toilet………………………I could not believe it. What the heck had I done to deserve a day like this and why was the check in lady treating me as if I had peed in her cornflakes.

So, lets recap. My finger hurt, my stomach was upset, my bottom was purple, my wallet was empty and now I had to sit next to something that smelled like France.

The plane took off…………no apology from the Captain during his short message that told us flying conditions were good and that flight time was going to be 1 hour 30 minutes. Then the head steward took the mic and doing his best Richard Simmonds impression told everyone that $5 would buy you a diet coke, to relax and oh yes………if you need a pee or too drop the kids off at the pool the bathroom is on the right just by row 37.

I closed my eyes, I was exhausted and as best as I could in my economy seat with the leg room that would have left a pixie with no legs feeling cramped I tried to sleep……….I must have gone straight to sleep because I was overcome with a terrible nightmare. In this nightmare I was in row 37 next to Paris ( the city not the girl ) when Captain America got on the PA system and told everyone that Miami Airport was closed and we had instead been diverted to a far away land called Fort Myers. I then realized that I was not dreaming and in fact it was all real……………..we were going to Fort Myers.

At this point I will refrain from humour and just say this. Why could the Captain not tell us why the airport was closed………was it bad weather………..or something more serious. In today’s uncertain world…………..you never know and these feelings were obviously felt by many others. I could see a man getting very irate with a cabin attendant as he demanded to know why…………..we knew nothing. Oh how American Airlines could learn from us at Carnival………you must keep your guests/passengers informed at all times, doing this will result in more understanding and so much less aggravation.

So, lets recap…………….finger,bottom,stomach,wallet,12 year old, row 37, toilet and now…………we were going to Fort Myers………..Heidi asked me where that was and all I knew was it was somewhere in Florida. We debated about what we should do, stay the night in a hotel, drive to Miami or fly the next morning but making that decision was not easy as we had no clue where it was…………….however………….that choice was about to be made for us by Captain America who proudly told us that Miami Airport was open again and even though we were on approach to Fort Myers we would be turning around and heading back to Miami which was now open……………………we waited…………………..nothing………….no apology…………no explanation………bugger all……………..why was Miami open again………..had someone found the key?

We were supposed to land at 4:45pm but with the delay and our brief vacation to the outskirts of Fort Myers we landed at 6:33pm. The landing approach was bumpy and for a minute I thought Dale the bus driver was upfront but it was also obvious why the airport had been closed. Once we landed Captain America had good news and bad news…………..the good news was that he had suddenly realized that his job was to look after his passengers and rather later than he should have he told us that an unexpected thunderstorm had shut the airport down to all traffic………………..unexpected…………how the heck are we going to stop aircraft flying into each other if the radar system can’t detect a thunderstorm. Surely the big black cloud the size of Texas we had just flown through was a clue.

The bad news then came…………due to the back log of aircraft we had no gate to go to and we would have to wait………..and we did…………..for another 35 minutes.

Eventually we were free and as I waited for every other passenger to debark the plane before me I wondered if Captain America would be there to say thank you and good bye…………….was he bollocks. By the time we walked off there was not even a flight attendant there to say the usual ” thank you”……..it was just us and the cleaning team who were waiting to board.

You know the airlines, not just American could learn so much about hospitality from the cruise lines………..it would make a difficult experience so much more pleasant.

Lets recap…………actually…………lets not………….by now you know.
However, the worst was yet to come. ……………Immigration.
I, like all visitors correctly have to have had to have my fingerprints checked…………..which finger…………of course………….my index finger………..so off came the plaster……………and I pressed my finger down on the pad…………..the pain increased to level 10 and I whinced in agony…………Officer Swarez didn’t care………….I left , thinking about giving him another finger and it wasn’t my index one either.

I wrote in November about how badly cruise ship crew are treated and I will not go through all of that again. However, we were at Immigration in the ” special room” for 2 hours…………….2 hours surrounded by other crew and people who needed to be checked again. I respect Immigration officials as I have said many times, they have such a difficult job keeping dangerous people out , but why………….why oh why must they be so rude………so uncaring to people who provide wonderful service to millions of Americans aboard various cruise lines every year…………….we understand we need to be checked………but…there has to be a better way………….more importantly there MUST be a more caring way…………….not for me but for people like Inga a young lady from Iceland who had been in the room 3 hours. She had flown from Iceland to London and London to Miami…………she is joining a ship today as a Purser………she was 24 years old………..she had been flying for 14 hours………..she had all her visas and paperwork…………….she had no idea why she was sitting there and when she had dared ask she was shouted at to sit down and wait…………………….why Miami…………..why?

Please, check us, we will wait……….as long as we need to………..but…………be kind………..tell these young people what is happening……………provide a welcome to America they will remember not one that makes you want to get on a plane, go home……………………and never come back.

By the time we had got through Immigration we had to look for our luggage. This had obviously been removed from the carousel due to our stay as the guests of Boarder patrol and had been dumped on the floor. Of course, we had no idea what carousel the luggage had been on so that was us wandering up and down the terminal looking for our bags……………it was at this point I saw a tear in Heidi’s eye. I held her hand and promised her we would never, ever fly into this airport ever again as crew and put her through this……………..she deserves so much more.

We found our luggage which judging by how the day had gone I had expected to be in Alaska by now. Thankful for small mercies we headed to the taxi rank………then the comedy of errors continued.

Usually in Miami the taxi drivers have two names……….they are always called Claude or Carlos and are Haitian or Hispanic. This is always fine as usually they know if they help lift the luggage into the car they will get an extra tip…………………did I get Claude the Haitian Shot Put champion……….nope…………did I get Carlos the Chilean Gold Medalist Weightlifter……………nope…………………….I got……………..Jemima………..from the Dominican Republic………she was 300 years old and hardly had the strength to open the trunk let alone lift the anchors into it…………….so that was me…………..packing the cases into the trunk one of which caught the end of my bad finger causing me to swear…………in English this time………..I used really bad words………….but it didn’t matter……………..I was in Miami…………….no bugger understood me.

So Jemima took us to the Intercontinental Hotel…………she tried to strike up a conversation but after a few minutes I think she realized it was futile and she went back to sucking loudly on a piece of candy.

We arrived at the hotel………..a porter helped with our bags…………the end was in sight………………..I went to the desk………………I have a reservation…………a few minutes of computer operation went by……………..then……………..Moises the front desk man said……………we show no reservation for you……………………..I fainted.

Actually, what really happened is Heidi saved the day…………when he said I had no reservation I was about to do something stupid………I was at my wits end and Heidi could tell………………she pushed me away and took over…………….luckily they had rooms…………she paid……………and saved Moises from a close encounter with my Dwayne Wade basketball shoe and me a night out in a Miami jail. I never shout, I never loose my temper but tonight……….well…….I had reached that point that we all have inside of us….some deeper than others.

So here I sit……….my sugar level was very very low so I just had a cheeseburger and fries from room service while Heidi had a club sandwich……..oh by the way………..guess what was on the menu…………Spaghetti Carbonara…………served on a plate not in a Nemun Marcus bag.

It is now 11:50pm………..I am exhausted and tomorrow will be a very busy day……………….Its time for a good nights sleep and wake up refreshed and ready for work. However my day of torture is not over…………..you won’t believe this………………Heidi has just immerged from the bathroom………….she has a magic stick in her hand………………..and she and the stick are smiling…………………….it’s a cruel world.

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.