It's Not a Dream

February 19, 2008 -

John Heald

It felt good……….land…………..I hadn’t touched it for days and here I was in Cozumel finally walking on terra firma. Good Morning everyone and sorry for the brief delay in my postings but yesterday (Sunday) is the busiest day of the cruise with so much going on that instead of writing last night I surrendered to the call of my bed. I then had big plans to write a blog this morning which turned into this afternoon which turned into this evening and here I am at 7:30pm just starting………..oops.

I awoke this morning to find bright sunshine pouring in through my window as we docked in Cozumel…………it was a beautiful day. Mexican builders have a reputation of not exactly being quick to finish a job however since I was here three weeks ago on the Bloggers cruise the repairs to the pier that was destroyed in the hurricane are moving along very quickly and obviously we have hired Las Speedy Gonzalez Builders to do the job. There is still a lot of work to be done and not just on the pier itself but to restore life to the fantastic area of Puerta Maya. For those of you who did not visit this terrific area it was full of shops and restaurants and made a striking first impression to Cozumel. This area certainly has a lot of work that is needed to bring it back to its former glory and I was told today by some Cozumelians that they believe September will be the magic month when Puerto Maya will return……….we all look forward to that day.

Today however we are docked at the International Pier which is the one just next to where the Puerto Maya pier is being repaired. This brought back many memories for me as, for years, the Holiday, Jubilee and Celebration would dock here and later the Ecstasy and Sensation as well. Once again, time away had resulted in many changes and where before there was a small shopping complex of maybe 6 or 7 shops there are now dozens and dozens of “Duty Free” stores, jewelry shops, silver emporiums and T Shirt stores where signs proclaim that “everything is nearly free.”

The most popular store however…………certainly to photograph and visit ……………is……………….the drug store. A huge sign outside it states that you can buy anything over the counter including Diet Pills, Antibiotics, Valium and even Viagra. This little drug store seemed to be doing great business and as I passed by I wondered exactly what our guests were buying. I saw one man coming out the shop looking very pleased with himself and I guessed that he and hopefully his wife would be happy with his purchase later tonight.

Passing by the old shops that have been there since the late eighties memories came flooding back. In those days the ships would stay until 2 am and after I had finished pretending to know about wine in the dining room, me and my friends would rush ashore, jump in a cab and pay $1 per person to go to a club called Neptunos where entrance was free to all the crew and Corona Beer was 50 cents a bottle. I have to admit those were wild days and, one day, remind me to tell you about them……….when Heidi isn’t anywhere near me.

Here I was again………..probably in the same taxi judging by the state of it. As I may have mentioned once or twice, I love all things cars and I like to think I know a bit about them however as I got into the ancient taxi I tried to work out exactly what make of car I was in. I mean, it had four doors………….four wheels……………and made a sort of a car noise but it was as though it had been made by a factory who was too embarrassed to put its badge on the vehicle………….it was…………….a car………….and a hell of an ugly one at that…………….I have seen better looking open sores than whatever this car was. I was about to ask the driver what this petrol-powered wheelbarrow was but my attention and my breath was taken away by the driver’s two front seat covers…………they were towels……………….Carnival Cruise Lines towels ………………. circa early nineties …………they were pale blue and although slightly faded the word “Carnival” proudly sat there waiting ……….. well…………..to be sat ……..on.

All thoughts of the soulless vehicle I was sitting in were lost as more memories of the times when these towels were around returned. There are guests who sometimes scoff at the fact that we charge $22 for non-returned towels but here in front of me was proof positive that we are right to do so. These towels were left in the back of Jose’s taxi many years ago by someone who had just drunk 12 Margaritas and was never going to remember who he was and what ship he was on let alone remember the towel that Jose’s bottom was now sitting on. It’s strange but today we still have the odd guest who may drink a barrel full of Margaritas and like our 1990’s friend won’t remember their name or cabin number but you can rest assured they will have that towel with them ……….clutching it as though it had been woven from pure gold …………….. determined never to have to pay that $22.

Anyway, I arrived at my destination, paid Jose his $6 plus a $1 tip, took one last fond look at the towels and went into a restaurant called Pancho’s Back Yard which is situated inside a huge shop selling all things Mexican called Las Cinco Soles which, as all you graduates of Spanish will know, means ………… made in China.

I have been coming to this restaurant for 20 years simply because it has the best guacamole on the island. I had not been there for 4 years…………..would it still have the best guacamole on the island……………..answer……………..oh yes. …………..the only problem was I could not believe how expensive everything had become……………..for the same price as a plate of guacamole you could buy two taxis and still have enough money left to buy two Carnival towels as seat covers.

I could go on about the price of the menu items but I won’t. I will tell you the food was excellent. I had something called “Sexy Fajitas” which I hoped meant that it would be served by a Senjorita in stockings and suspenders but was disappointed to find out that it meant that my shrimp had bits of cheese and bacon dumped over it. …………….anyway…………..it was excellent and again the memories came flooding back of the many times that me and my old ship mates had been there……………..I had other memories too of eating there with ……………..ummmm………………other …………… ummmm …………. people ………….but seeing as though after the drive-by blogging incident yesterday I have only just finished extracting bits of Heidi’s shoe from my bottom ……….I will refrain from talking about that any further.

Talking of Heidi she was having a great time. She had left earlier in the day as I had insisted she take some time off. We were in Cozumel with the Carnival Liberty and that meant she could see two of her best friends, Stephanie Meads and Beverley Mingerstanton. Stephanie, as many of you know, worked with me on the Carnival Liberty and Carnival Freedom inaugurals and is currently Assistant Cruise Director on the Carnival Liberty. Bev is an old friend and was one of our most successful Dance Captains. She delivered the Carnival Triumph and Carnival Glory with us and we are especially good friends with her as she lives just 15 minutes from us in the UK.

Joining us today were the Carnival Freedom’s Staff Captain Luigi Di Angelis and Chief Purser Margherita and my old friend and captain of the Carnival Liberty Marco Nogara, Captain with whom I shared many wonderful memories as we sailed the Med and, of course, into his home town of Venice.

I have to admit, it was so nice to take three hours off although I still had my trusty Raspberry by my side.

Here are some photos from today.

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Heidi & Stephanie

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Chief Purser Margherita, Beverley, Heidi, Captain Nogara, Stephanie, Staff Captain Luigi, and John

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Staff Captain Luigi, Captain Nogara, Stephanie, John, Beverley and Heidi

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Staff Captain Luigi, Chief Purser Margherita, Captain Nogara stephanie-beverley-and-heidi.jpg

Stephanie, Beverley and Heidi

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The Carnival Freedom docked in Cozumel

I have to get ready for the show now and tomorrow I promise to include more answers to your questions but time has run away from me. I have read some comments about a certain video that many of you have seen on boobtube.com …sorry….youtube.com.

This video allegedly contains an animated look at the new Carnival Dream………..and I am here to tell you…………nope………it does not.

This is not the Carnival Dream and is in fact one of the many representations conceived by our brilliant friends at Fincantieri for possible future ship designs. This animation was released without authorization and it’s a shame that someone is trying to say it is something it is not. It is not the Carnival Dream……………..However, I can assure you she will most definitely be incredible …………..you wait and see.

Oh, by the way if the person who posted the animation film on youtube is caught they will be in big trouble……if you hear screaming it means we know who did it and just like in the Godfather………. They will have woken up…………………. and found Fun Ship Freddy’s head in their bed.

Buenos Nachos

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.