An interview with Corrado the Builder

February 23, 2008 -

John Heald

I admit that like most men I am pretty pathetic when I am not feeling well ………….so today, that’s me pathetic then.

I have a cold…………a common cold and free with the snotty nose comes a headache and sore throat but most annoyingly……..sneezing attacks which when you are a public speaker is not good. The sniffles started yesterday and by this morning Niagara falls had moved into my nose, my head felt like I had been drinking Grey Goose with George Hamilton all night and somebody had lost their baseball which was now imbedded in the back of my throat……………..I was feeling pretty miserable.

I had the Department Head meeting followed by Debarkation Talk and Q and A, The Newly Wed Game, The Afternoon Show and later tonight I have to put a dam dress on and do my Dolly Parton impression ……… easy day then.

Anyway, I am not going to harp on about how bad I feel because Heidi told me “It’s just a cold ……………..and stop whining.”

So, I won’t mention how bad I feel again and just press on with today’s blog despite the fact that I feel like Elton John is holding one of his famous parties in my head and I am coughing up what seems to be alien poo…………..but I won’t mention it again.

Usually at this point of the week I give you my thoughts on how the week has gone. It’s been good overall. It has been a long time since I have sailed with so many children. In Europe we never really had more that 200 at a time but this cruise with it being Presidents thingy there were a lot. I therefore adjusted the program a little and overall, I think it went very well……….most people were very happy and I have had so many compliments about the friendly crew, the shows and the experience of a Carnival Freedom cruise…………………..everyone is happy ………………. well……………..nearly everyone.

From: FREEDOM PURSERS
Sent: Tuesday, February 12, 2008 9:47 PM
To: FREEDOM CRUISE DIRECTOR
Cc: FREEDOM PURSERS; FREEDOM CHIEF PURSER
Subject: ____- Birthday not mentioned

Hello, John
Just for you information please be advised that Mrs _______ stopped at the Purser’s desk and stated that she was offended that you mentioned everyone’s birthdays on your show but did not say anything about hers. I explained that guests write to you but she said it is because she is a minority on board as she is not American. The guest is from Quebec Canada and she would not understand that you will not say happy Birthday if she does not ask you. Please can you call the guest.
Thank you and Regards
Irina
Purser

I am not sure if I have mentioned it or not but I have a cold and therefore I am not going to comment on the above ………..well………comment. I did however call the guest who even after 10 minutes of me explaining that all the celebrations I mention are ones that guests tell me about in their letters. …………..anyway, after ten minutes of listening to tell me that I only looked after Americans I knew I was never going to win.

Therefore, I apologized for treating her like mierde and promised to make a big fuss of her at this afternoons show. I then said “when was your birthday?”………….to which she replied “February 15th”……the day before the cruise started……………………Sacrableu !……………sorry, that’s French………….she’s Canadian…………Sacrableu……eh?

HERE ARE TODAY’S LETTERS IN THEIR OWN WORDS
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HERE ARE TODAY’S RANDOM PHOTOS

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Asst. Housekeeping manager next to the cabin zone boxes

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Luggage tags ready for tomorrow

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Hector, the photo manager

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The shipyard in Genoa

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John Harshaw, Director of I/S, on board Carnival Splendor

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The shipyard in Genoa

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The Carnival Splendor

Right, let’s press on with some Q and A and answer as many as I can of those marked John Please Reply…………………………………………sorry for the pause, I just had a sneezing fit………did I mention I had a cold?

NANCY GLAISTER……………..Indeed I do remember Sing Live. These are a wonderful group of every day British men and Women who at the end of a hard days work get together to form one of the best choirs you will ever hear. We were privileged to have the full choir of 100 plus on the Carnival Liberty and what a brilliant concert they put on for the guests. I know they are all hoping to join us again on the Carnival Splendor and I hope it is indeed on the cruise that you are on Nancy. My Mum in fact was a songster in a similar choir and I know it gave her so much pleasure. Thanks Nancy and congratulations to Sing Live on their award.
CAROL SCHOENBERGER……………..Good question. Indeed, the British passenger who was not happy may have thought that I was too American. I certainly have a “strange” accent and have started to say garbage instead of rubbish………….schedule instead of schedule ……………and as I mentioned, A the other night I ate ribs, chicken wings, high fived, watched the Super bowl and what’s very worrying…………I have started to like…………….country music……………………..help. I am glad you enjoyed the Ocean Village interview and I have a feeling you will love today’s as well. Have a great weekend Carol.
DIVETRASH………………I had no idea about the demise of Sharper Image………….what a shame…………..I really did buy a nose hair picker plucker from there and it was absolutely useless. You asked about the Carnival Fantasy and the public rooms. Although a lot of the furniture, carpet and fittings will be replaced the basic usage of these areas will in fact remain the same. It seems you have fond memories of the vessel and I know having seen what amazing work has been carried out on the Carnival Imagination that you will be amazed too. I have also noticed that many people are very excited about the 2009 Bloggers Cruise already and I have to admit………….I am too, Thanks Laura and if there is a sock on the door I am sure Big Ed will look after you.
KATHY KROLL…………….I felt the same Kathy and your thoughts and those of everyone are truly appreciated. Thank you.
CARAVANPARK MANAGER……………While my intention was never to drag you away from our sisters at P & O and Princess I must admit to being rather chuffed (even though I have a cold………….did I mention I have a cold?) that you have just booked a cruise on the Carnival Liberty. While I am proudly as British as a Bentley………..oops……..they are German…………as British as Harrods………..bugger……………..owned by an Arab gentlemen…………….as British as the Queen…………Elton is British isn’t he………the British on vacation tend to fall into two categories. The ones who at 2 am will be found as part of a conga line crashing their way through a hotel lobby in Spain singing football songs and drinking as many local beers as they can before eventually taking some random person they have just met down to the beach for a romantic interlude and to catch a few diseases to take home as souvenirs. In the morning they will go looking for food refusing to eat anything that does not have “and chips” on the menu.
The other group are as you said the more reserved British people who drink tea with their little finger in the air, wear brown sandals’ and long black socks and are usually called Derek and Jean.
However, there is a new breed of British holiday makers immerging. Ones who love to have fun and experience new and exciting cultures and that’s why Ocean Village, P & O, Princess and Carnival are the most popular cruise lines for good old middle England. Of course if a spot of Earl Grey and creamed scones are what you look for on vacation then the liners of Cunard are there to explore………………see……………..Carnival Corporation has the whole of the UK’s needs covered……….how jolly super.
You will love the Carnival Liberty and I hope you will tell us all about it when you get back to the caravan park. My Dad loves caravanning by the way. Thanks for writing in and Heidi and I send our best to you.
VIKKI AND MATT TILL………………..Alan and I used to do our own version of cow tipping. We would sneak up on “courting couples ” who were “having rumpe bumpe” and rock their cars violently and run away…………….it was funny but also kind of sad as that was the nearest Alan and I ever got to Lovers Lane. Let me know the next time you go cow tipping, I would love to come along. Cheers.
JERI GREEN……………….That is fantastic news. See you next year mate.
GINA…………………what you asked is bubble and squeak. Well it is two things. It’s food and it is also part of the Cockney rhyming slang language. Let’s start with the food think. Here is my Mum’s recipe for Bubble and Squeak and let me tell you ….its fantastic.
Ingredients
1 large King Edward potato, peeled and chopped
100g/3½oz Savoy cabbage, thinly sliced
1 leek, sliced
a knob of butter
salt and pepper
freshly grated nutmeg
25g/1oz beef dripping, for frying
Method
1. Boil the potatoes until tender, drain and allow to get quite cold.
2. Steam the cabbage until tender and plunge in cold water.
3. Finely chop and crush the potatoes.
4. In a frying pan melt the butter and fry the leeks gently without browning until softened.
5. Drain the cabbage well and mix in the potatoes and leeks. Season with grated nutmeg and salt and pepper.
6. Take tablespoons of the mixture and shape into round cakes.
7. Fry them in hot beef dripping to a good crisp golden brown on both sides.

Cooking time is 30 minutes and Mum said something about temperatures when I called her but I started sneezing while she was telling me and the receiver filled with snot and I couldn’t hear her ……………..I have a cold…………..did I tell you?
Now, the Cockney rhyming slang was invented during World War 1 by prisoners of war and the word Bubble is used as such”He’s a Bubble” ……………Bubble…………………Bubble and Squeak …………… Greek ……………so there you go, you just had your first Cockney lesson. Oh, you asked if Bubble and Squeak really does Squeak………..well…………it does make a noise………..usually after my dad’s had a big plate of it and he lets out a Horse and Cart!
Cheers.
MARK TWAIN AND A HALF…………….Thanks for the hotel recommendation mate I am sure many bloggers will appreciate this. We (Carnival) need to get moving on the hotel information as I know many of you are asking for it…………I will push things along. I admit I was not a big fan of The Prisoner TV show preferring the Avengers and The Saint. I can see why you would love to sail Ocean Village and P & O and hopefully the dollar will bounce back and you can afford to do so soon. Thanks mate and as always our best to you and your other half.
PAUL F. PIETRANGELO……………..I think we all share your hopes that despite whatever problems they face the Government of the Cayman Islands build a pier. It can only enhance the island and instead of guests lining up to get ashore and even worse to put up with horrendous lines coming back they will walk on and off the ships ready to have the best time. I am glad you are OK after your scare and I also wanted you to know that your recommendation for grab handles in the bathrooms is being taken very seriously…………thanks for bringing it to our attention. Heidi and I send our continuing best wishes to you.
JIMMIE………….Book it Dano !
BRYAN……………I did get to see a bit of the Eclipse but missed the best part while preparing the show………..oh well………..there’s always the one in 2105……………I wonder what ship I will be on?
LUV CRUISIN………….You asked how many teens will be on the Carnival Freedom in April. I just checked in our system and at the moment it is showing 29 aged between 15 and 17. This will most probably go up a bit as cabins continue to sell. I am also disappointed I will not be your Cruise Director and hopefully the next time you walk up the gangway I will be here waiting for you. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you. Cheers.
CRUSINEAGLE……………..who will be the Cruise Director on the Carnival Imagination when you sail…………good question………and the answer is George (Jorge) Solano. George was born in Colombia. He was a stand up comedian and is currently wanted by the D.E.A………..Doing Everyone’s Act. Seriously though he is a very funny man and you are lucky that you will have him as your cruise director. Hopefully next time it will be my turn. Cheers.
KICKASKI…………….The first Baltic will truly be the inaugural. Every time a ship enters the ports for the first time it generates a lot of excitement and don’t be surprised if some of them pull out all the stops. Remember, apart from Amsterdam the Carnival Splendor will be calling at these ports for the very first time………….it will be special…………..I promise. It will also be extra special because you both will be with Heidi and I again…………now that’s special.
LAMBKNUCKLES……………….The most important part of your posting for me was when you said you didn’t care what others were wearing it would not stop you enjoying your dinner. That to me is the most important aspect………..who really cares what someone else has on…………not me. I must say that the reports from the dining rooms are that there have been no complaints at all from guests and less than maybe a dozen people have chosen not to dress elegantly. Thanks for your views which I share and keep them coming. Cheers.
KEVIN………………hello mate and I see you are concerned at the whereabouts of PA 007. You asked if Dr. No had thrown him to the sharks or maybe Jaws had given him one of his special hickies……….is that how you spell that?…………..we call them Love Bites by the way.
Well, PA 007 has been keeping a low profile as their cover was nearly blown……………..seriously it really was. PA’s boss (we will call her M as in the movies) was getting very suspicious so we decided that PA would put his secret spy identity away for a bit while M cools down. However, the return of PA 007 is imminent and soon he/she will start to gather information again for this Blog thingy to release first……….come on lets sing PA’S THEME TUNE…………..der de de de der. Der der der der der der der der der. Come in from the cold PA………….your fans miss you.
Heidi knows that you and others want a blog from her Kev and you will get one this week I promise. When PA does return can he borrow your Aston? Cheers mate.
DICK BOYD……………reveal yourself?
R J MOERTLE……………….You asked about the best place to eat Fish and Chips in Grand Cayman. Well, I asked some other British Staff and they all said……………”Murphy’s Bar.” This is an Irish pub with what they all say has the best Fish and Chips on the island. It will cost $4 per person in a cab…………..you must have the mushy peas with it. Save me a chip. Cheers.
MOCHAJOE………….Welcome home and I am so happy you had such a great time onboard the Carnival Freedom last week. I did see the photo and I will be sure to pass your comments onto the cast. Please keep reading the blog thingy and hopefully it will keep you going until the next time. Cheers mate.
LINDA MUM OF MY FRIEND DJ……………You asked about Brits and tipping and do they remove the pre-paid gratuities? No, they are fine with that but tipping in general is still not the norm at home. In fact, sometimes when I tip a waiter in a British restaurant I forget I am not on the ship or in North America………………..needless to say the waiter remembers you the next time you come for dinner. Eventually tipping like all American trends will become more popular. We always are a little slow to get them…………right now I hear something called skateboarding has become very popular. Please send my best to DJ and write soon.
MARK………………..Hello geezer………….as you luv the UK so much I fort I would make you an honorary Englishmen………..this means you are a great lover…if only for a few minutes at a time…………have no fashion sense…………..drink warm beer and think that David Beckham is a God amongst men…………….cheers geezer.
MELISSA……………How lucky you are. Your Cruise Director for your Conquest cruise will be the one and only Weeeeeeeee Jimmy. He is from Bonnie Scotland and was my assistant for three years…………he is hilarious, caring and rather ugly………….you will have the time of your life.

That’s enough for now…………………….Has anyone heard from JTODDINMAN recently by the way? Thanks as always for all your comments, they are all brilliant.

My nose is running faster than a Frenchman who has just been told he has to have a shower…………….did I mention I have a cold.

Time to get serious.

During the last 11 months I have been blogging about all sorts of things and through this thingy I have been privileged to meet people who perhaps I would never have had the opportunity to meet. These people are all dedicated to the industry we all love and it has been a huge honour to meet them all. However, the following is an interview with an Icon. Someone whose hand I shook during my visit to the Queen Victoria. He is a unique man who has the amazing ability to look back on his life and be comfortable in the knowledge that he has created vessels that will for many years give pleasure and joy to so many people. He is a man you naturally warm to, someone who could easily be your favorite Uncle.

Therefore, it gives me such wonderful pleasure to share a conversation with you all that I had with the Chairman of Fincantieri the world’s greatest builder of cruise vessels………………….Mr. Corrado Antonini.

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1. Fincantieri has an amazing history within the shipbuilding industry. For those many thousands of readers who may not be aware of how this came about, please can you tell us something about this great company and your role and personal history within it? It will also be interesting to know how your relationship with Carnival Corporation started.

Fincantieri, established in December 1959 as a state-owned holding company for shipbuilding, has brought together a rich heritage of people, skills, ships of the great majority of Italian shipyards, which had an outstanding and amazing track record.

Fincantieri and its shipyards have built over 7,000 naval and merchant ships in the course of over 200 years of history, several of which are still remembered today. The Italian Navy training Ship Amerigo Vespucci, a sailing vessel, built in 1931, that still today sails the seas with the new generations of Italian Navy Cadets, the old fantastic liners like Rex, Conte di Savoia, Oceania, Vulcania, enchanting floating palaces which combined the extreme luxury and comfort of the first class with the simple solutions for the emigrants; and after the second World War Michelangelo, Raffaello, Leonardo da Vinci, Cristoforo Colombo and so on, which set a new style in transatlantic sailing. After liners disappeared because of the new generations of high capacity airplanes, the experience accumulated both in naval and merchant sectors gave birth to a new class of passengers ships where Italian creativity combines with cutting edge technological knowhow.

In fact, our wealth of experience and knowhow accumulated over many decades of liner building has been transferred into a new kind of luxury ships which instead of transporting people from one point to another; offer to passengers a wonderful vacation at sea.

My personal involvement with Fincantieri started in 1974, after several years in the steel industry, and my principal task was to manage the merger of several cultures into one Company and the transition from the traditional productions to the new exciting high end products, such as cruise ships, on which the current success of Fincantieri relies upon.

This process required strong commitment by all those women and men (now over 9,000 in 8 yards) who work with us plus the wide network of high-class subcontractors (about 20,000 people) who are contributing to the realization of great products: it was tough but we made it.

As far as the start of my relation with Carnival is concerned, I can only say that when we wanted to enter the cruise market it was natural for us to look immediately at the biggest owners: Ted Arison and his son Micky. I remember my first visit to the Carnival Offices in Miami, in the second half of the 1980’s, as a complete newcomer, but with a long company tradition behind and a Mediterranean approach (at that time Carnival was building only in Northern Europe) which is a mixture of fantasy and flexibility. We wanted to tender for a project called Tiffany, a proposal which was both very original and highly sophisticated. The project never materialized but it disclosed us the doors for successfully bidding for the new ships of HAL, a brand which had just been acquired by Carnival.

Now after over $23 billion in orders, I would say that our relation goes beyond a normal supplier – customer approach and almost works like a sort of joint venture, if I may say so. Our first-class ships greatly contributed to the spectacular growth of Carnival Corporation, by far the biggest cruise operator, and Carnival was fundamental in making Fincantieri the number one cruise shipbuilder in the world.

And besides this extraordinary business relation and distinct from that, I am proud to say that over the years a wonderful friendship has developed between our families

2. Before we talk about the present and the future, can you tell us which vessels have been brought to life for Carnival Corporation so far?

So far Fincantieri has built eight ships for CCL: Destiny – the first ever 100,000 ton ship, Triumph, Victory, Conquest, Glory, Valor, Liberty, Freedom. We are currently completing Splendor and have started the construction of Dream and Magic, which at 130,000 tons are the biggest ships so far designed for Carnival, for a total – up to now – of eleven vessels for the brand. On the whole, the ships built for all the brands of Carnival Corporation (including, besides CCL, Holland America Line, Princess, P&O, Costa and Cunard) are 40 with further 14 in the pipeline.

3. The next question, I am sure if you answered in full, would take days to answer. However, the obvious question that our readers want to know is: “Once a deal has been reached with the owner, how does building begin?” “What are the first steps?”

After the agreement has been reached the documentation describing the configuration of the vessel is handed over to the Project Management team, which has contributed to the preparation of the contract and which follows the construction from beginning to delivery, in strict coordination with the Shipyard and the technical departments. At the same time the purchasing dept. chooses the contractors who will be in charge of supplying the various equipments/outfitting while the Shipyard starts cutting and welding the steel to build the shell.

The cruise shipbuilding process follows the “Lego” system, but the challenge is to assure the customization requested for cabins and public areas within this pattern, combining craftsmen and industrial approaches on a very tight schedule. Therefore, the key issue is a precise construction planning for yard and suppliers in a close networking logic.

4. Constructing the cabins is a very interesting process. What can you tell us about this?

The construction of cabins has evolved in time and has undergone radical changes. Today Fincantieri is benefitting from the introduction of prefabricated cabins in the building process. As opposed to the traditional construction foreseeing the assembly of the cabin components on board, cabins are now completely built – with the exception of few typologies – on land and are embarked with cranes on the deck where they are to be installed. All the plants and systems serving the cabins are prepared for such embarkation and only need to be activated when the cabins are on board. To give a very rough idea it is like putting drawers into a cupboard (but unfortunately it is not that simple)

5. Taking a vessel like the Carnival Splendor, what is the length of time of construction and how many people will be involved in the project?

The average time of construction of a Carnival vessel is 18 months. Of course if the ship is a prototype, or requires significant variations from the prototype, the lead-time may change. Carnival Dream and Magic, for instance, will have a gross tonnage of about 130,000 (as opposed to the 113.000 of Splendor) and will require around two years to be completed. I would underline that in any case the construction time of a cruise ship, i.e. a wonderful floating palace which sails the Seven Seas, is considerably shorter than that of buildings of similar size on land.
More or less 3,000 workers, including subcontractors, are involved in the construction process. Furthermore, about 600 technicians deal with the project.


6. Is there one moment in the building of a vessel that makes you more nervous than any other?

Obviously, people think of the “will it float? ” question but that aside, are there any areas of building a new ship that makes the construction team that little bit more nervous?

The cruise ship project is like a chess game where each move influences all the others and where there are tightly defined constraints for the very high concentration of systems to be integrated on board and the need to comply with strict safety regulations and client requirements.
So the life cycle of a newbuild, that’s to say from the negotiation with the client, the design and the production process, to the sea trials and the final commissioning, requires a fair mix of calm and self control together with a bit of anxiety in order to reach quality, timing and budget. Trying to describe my feeling and that of the whole construction team I prefer to say that building the ship produces a mix of deep emotions and legitimate pride.

7. Fincantieri has been responsible for many new innovations in the ship building industry. What are the ones that you are most proud of?

Fincantieri has developed a lot of innovations in the shipbuilding industry. Generally speaking we can distinguish three main areas of innovation for the cruise ships:

Hull : increase of size or berths capacity for ships of the same size (panamax size). The increase of the height and the massive introduction of cabins with balconies have increased the complexity of stability calculation and required the introduction of new sophisticated materials in terms of weight and appeal.

Technical plants : improvement of standards in order to fulfill more stringent anti-pollution regulations in terms of water, air, noise emissions together with new safety / security regulations.
Outfitting : new and appealing solutions for the passengers areas in order to maximize the entertainments on board.

Last but not least, we have to mention the many rationalizations and modernizations of the building process, in order to reduce lead-time (such as, for example, laser welding in robotized production lines).

8. Can you describe how you feel when a ship is completed and hand it to the owner and eventually she sails on her maiden voyage? Although you must be proud, do you also feel a little sad to say goodbye?

The hand-over ceremony brings together a mixture of feelings; it’s somehow similar to the wedding of a daughter; whom we have been growing with love and care and who now is leaving us. The difference is that the Fincantieri family of ships is very numerous, the bride has a lot of sisters, and many more weddings will follow.

9. What ships are currently under construction for the Carnival Corporation by Fincantieri and here is a difficult one……………out of all the ships you have created for us, do you have one that has been the most satisfying?

As explained above, we have three ships under construction for the Carnival Cruise Lines: Carnival Splendor in Genoa Shipyard, and Dream and Magic in Monfalcone. Other 11 ships, presently on order, will be built for the other brands of Carnival Corporation. All have been satisfying in their own particular way as, I am sure, Mr Arison himself may testify.

10. Italians make the best cars and now the best ships. They also make the best food and therefore let’s ask you for our ultimate Italian dream.

Please fill in the blanks:

1. You are driving from Monte Carlo to the Genoa shipyard. What car are you in and what music is playing on your cd player?

I am driving my powerful Alfa Romeo and I am listening to classic music.

2. You board the Carnival Splendor and host a dinner party. Please tell us your guest list, using the titles below and of course taking for granted that your charming and beautiful wife will be by your side.

Who is at your table?
– somebody from the world of film : Sophia Loren (a wonderful example of Italian appeal)
– somebody from the world of sports : Oscar Pistorius (I am intrigued by his courage and determination)
– somebody from the cruise industry (I love Italian food by the way, hint hint) : John Heald, of course (and you know why)
– somebody from history who you would like to have wonderful dinner conversation with : Queen Victoria (we just delivered a ship named after her)
– Finally, somebody to make you laugh. Woody Allen (whose humor is perhaps more appreciated in Europe)

Now, the menu. What’s for dinner?

Please chose your favourite Italian foods for your dinner guests to enjoy.

Since I am a Roman, I would offer an entirely Roman menu (my Finnish wife, a very expert cook herself, would certainly be able to advice the Chef in case of need)
– Starter : Bucatini “matriciana” style (it’s a kind of pierced spaghetti with a bacon, tomato sauce and goat cheese)
– Main course : Roasted baby lamb with fried whole artichokes
– Dessert : Tiramisu of course
Thank you so much sir and I know everyone of the thousands of daily readers were spellbound by your answers……………we are truly honored that you took the time to talk to us and I know you will see this from the many comments that will arrive on this blog…………….Thanks again and congratulations on all you have achieved and all you will……………..OH, by the way…………can I have a phone in my bathroom on the Splendor ………….I spend a lot of time in there and sometimes …….. well ………… you know…….grazi!

So, that’s it for tonight. Next post on Sunday evening. Now its off to put my Dolly Parton dress on…………….no doubt sneezing over my voluptuous breasts…………………….did I mention I have a cold?

ACHOOO
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.