Two Generations of Freedom

March 14, 2008 -

John Heald

For those of you who have looked at the Web cam this Thursday morning you will have seen it is one of those days that cruising dreams are made of. The sun is already sending down its warm rays to the young and old on deck wanting to embrace its warmth. The sea is as calm as a room full of Buddhist Monks and guests are slowly heading to breakfast with the only difficult choice being whether or not to have a second helping of pancakes.

The crew is already hard at work around the ship, greeting, serving and entertaining in their most friendly of ways and slowly the day is taking shape.

Good Morning, it’s 8:22am and I just returned from a little walk outside and I was struck by what I saw………..for two reasons.


Obviously I had not told anyone onboard about the tragedy of yesterday….why would I want to burden anyone with that? However, it seemed very surreal for me this morning watching guests splash in the pool while kids squeal in excitement as they have fun on the giant slide. ……………….life goes on …………it has to…………..it must……………yet as I said my good mornings and chatted to a few early risers it made me realize yet again how precious life is and how for one family who……unlike ones who will enjoy this perfect day at sea…………life will never be the same again.

It is not easy taking care of the everyday things that life throws at you after a day like yesterday but today that is exactly what I have to do. One such thing is meeting with a group of guests who asked me to come to one of their gatherings to host a Q and A session about life onboard etc. The group is made up of 45 men and ladies all of which have one love in their life………….cooking. This is a group of amateur chefs from Iowa who bought a small restaurant between them and spend their days running it.

The menu is different every week because a different couple is in charge of running it and cooking the weekly dishes. The restaurant which is simply called “What’s For Dinner” has been going for 5 years and they are all here to celebrate. The 40 friends have known each other for many years. Most are now retired and include a Fire Chief, a vice president of a University and also one couple who own a sanctuary for abused dogs and cats. Their love though is cooking and each week they create a new menu and from what they were telling me it has a huge local following.

I have to admit that I cannot cook. In the UK when I was at school cooking was taught only to girls while us boys were taught more manly things like woodwork, metal work or how to gut the wild boar you had just shot with a bow and arrow…………cooking was ……….well………….. a bit girly and back when I was in short pants at school the mere suggestion that you were interested in anything that went on in the kitchen meant that you were only one step away from liking ponies and Cher ……………and the obvious abuse that would follow.

Now of course the world of TV chefs is dominated by “the man” and although there are I am sure many a good women chefs on TV the only ones I can name are men. We have of course the quiet reserved Gordon Ramsey of Hell’s Kitchen fame whose ingredients often include Fu%^^&% Tomatoes and Sh^& mushrooms. You have the Naked Chef……..Jamie Oliver who seems to be eating more pies than cooking them these days and is at the moment cooking on a show with Oprah……….who by the way has no idea what he is saying half the time …………..she just nods her head and pretends to understand his cockney accent as he says things like “awight Oprah luv” and “fancy a bit of spotted dick?”

Then there are the American giants………….I really like Emeril and some other guy who from the south. Both cook everything with gallons of spice and it is no surprise that after a show where they cook Tabasco-flavored peppers sautéed on a bed of Tabasco with hot chili drizzled curry paste over a bed of chili that the first commercial is either for Gas X or antacid pills the size of the saucepan they just cooked the stuff in.

No, for me a successful nights cooking is getting exactly what you ordered from the fast food drive through and making it home before the game starts.

Why am I rambling on about this……….well………..I know some lines have a “celebrity chef” whose cooking is known by the majority of people who cruise on those ships. We have the incredible George Blanc whose additions to our menus and supper club have been amazing. However………….would you like to see a celebrity chef involved in what we do……….if so…………who……….any ideas? I am sure my mate Kevin the Chef will have some input as I hope will some of you as well.

Here are today’s random photos

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Lido, a beautiful day at sea

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The seaside theatre

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The symbol of Freedom

OK, let’s crack on with some answers and replies to your questions and comments.

Here we go.

LANCE…………………..Thank you for being so candid with us about your T-shirt design. You are absolutely correct about the copyright laws. I take full responsibility for putting your design on the blog; I just wanted to show everyone your great work. I hope I will get to see everything you have designed when I see you and the rest of the Evil Krewe in February. Thanks mate.

VICKI…………………….Have a safe trip. See you on Saturday.

PEANUTS……………….Thank you for thinking of the people who missed the ship. We have all done our best to make them feel extra special. Indeed, you really do meet the most fabulous people on a cruise ship. Hope all is well with you and Heidi and I send our best.

GREG B…………………Thanks mate for taking the time from your busy day to say hello. Hope all is well, talk to you soon. Cheers.

TAMMIE…………………It has been an interesting Spring Break week, although right now they have run out of money and are drinking water. Cheers Tammie.

CAROL SCHOENBERGER…..Alain and Melissa made my day and it is people like them and people like you that make my job such a great one. Thanks Carol, hope to hear from you again soon.

MIKE RICHARDSON…..Just wanted to wish you a safe journey here and if you promise not to mention the Olson twins video, maybe I will buy you a drink. Have a safe flight and drop me a note at the Information Desk when you arrive. Cheers.

A.K.HOLMES……………Yes indeed, I do need to promote the Big Band concerts more as they are very popular. I passed your comments on to our Musical Director who I am sure will enjoy the praise. Live music needs to be promoted and in the days of MP3 and Eye Pod we must remember, music should always be heard live. Thank you and I hope it won’t be long before we see you enjoy more live music with us. Cheers.

NED RIFKIN….The story of my Spring Breaker friend Beavis who was on stage with Marcus and I is actually a rare one. Usually the stage acts as a barrier to anybody who may have been drinking. However, I do remember one time when a young man named John, who is a wonderful chap, cruises with us regularly but unfortunately suffers from dual personalities once came on stage during the dancers performance of a French Can Can…..it wasn’t pretty and resulted in me having to lift him over my shoulder carrying him off the stage. Thank you for allowing me to share this story and I also hope Mr. Bell buggers off soon.

Cheers.

DIVETRASH……………..Hello Laura. I was talking about you last night with my friend Robert Schneider. I actually admitted that you know more about our piano bar players than I do. Although there may have been a little sarcasm in my reply, there was much more gratefulness for the support you have for these great entertainers. I will mention the piano bars in my announcements, however, when you have a player like Ron and as full as the bar is automatically, there is no need. Every seat is taken and short of hanging a few of you upside down from the ceiling, I am not quite sure how we would get any more in there. Thanks for being so much fun as always Laura and thank you again for all your support. Cheers.

CASANDRA……………..Thank you. Keeping my cool is not easy but in the case of Barbie it was just so funny. I am glad you are enjoying the blogs. Cheers.

BIG MIKE – CHIEF OF SECURITY…Thank you for wearing your Carnival Freedom shirt so proudly. I hope I get to have a photo of you wearing your Chief of Security shirt with me soon. The plane is on its way. Cheers.

THERESA………………….At this point, I cannot tell you who the Cruise Director on the Carnival Glory will be in September. I can tell you that the chap you mentioned, Ryan, is actually Canadian. I hope you and mum are excited about celebrating her special birthday and I want to say thank you for your get-well messages. Cheers.

FRANK AND CHRISTY CLARK…….Thank you for making your first-ever posting and it won’t be long before you are enjoying everything on the Carnival Pride. I hope you continue to read the blog thingy and thank you for the get-well messages. Cheers.

TOM C………………………Mr. Bell has lost his passport and therefore refuses to return where he will feel most at home….in Paris. So far, most of the Spring Breakers have been well behaved which is good news. I hope I will be the Cruise Director on your 2009 cruise but as you mentioned, it is a little too early to say for sure. Hope all is well and hope you continue to enjoy the blog.

MARK TWAIN AND A HALF…………..Hello mate. I can promise you that, without a doubt, we will be helping a charity the day before our New Orleans Carnival Fantasy Bloggers Cruise. As you will see from this blog, things are progressing nicely and I promise I will have more news soon. I was sorry to read about the incident near your hometown. It’s been a strange week. I am glad everything is well with you and I do hope we will see each other in February.

RICK AKA SEANCONNERYLOOKALIKE…….I am glad you enjoyed Outland, the movie and I hope I can convince Mrs. Connery to join us on the bloggers cruise. If there is anything I can do to help, please let me know. Thank you Sean.

PAUL F. PIETRANGELO…..Another beautiful posting which I thank you very much for. What a wonderful compliment you paid me and it should be me who should be happy to sound like you when I write as you are a true gentleman of the blog. I wish you much success with your writing and I promise one day, we will indeed get to shake hands. Thank you Paul and the very best from Heidi and I.

SOUTHERN DREAMS……………………I was so happy to hear via Stephanie your wonderful news. I wasn’t certain if you wanted this public knowledge so for now please know that we are both so delighted for you and Prince Charlie.

UNCLE DOUGH…………………………..Sounds like you had your own Spring Break experiences with your grandkids last year on the Carnival Fantasy. This cruise has been fun with very little incidents outside of the normal goings on of today’s average college kid. If I told you some of the things I did when I was at school…….well, it’s probably best I don’t. Thank you for your posting and I hope you and your grandchildren are well.

JAMES EMM……………………………..Thank you mate, I am glad you enjoyed it.

SEAN AND MELISSA MURPHY………It sounds like you two need some sun so if only in though, I am sending you a big load of it from here in the Caribbean to you in Mass. (couldn’t spell Massachusetts). You certainly brought a lot of sunshine to everyone else’s life last week. Yaba daba doooo!!!

GEORGINA FAIR………………………..You asked how far in advance we plan the activities. Mostly, 90% of what we do on a cruise-by-cruise basis is pretty much set. However, this will change when we look at the demographics, the time of year and also the average age of the guests. You asked about if we can, as a company, send guests Carnival Capers ahead of time. This may be a little difficult; however, certainly, you can find what is happening immediately when you board from the Carnival Capers which is placed in every stateroom before embarkation starts. I certainly do not want you to miss a thing and with Kara sounding so excited I suggest if you have any questions about events or activities you drop me a line here at the blog thingy. Until then, I remain at your service. See you soon.

IVANA……………………………………..Still doing the excursuses and hopefully they will help. Thank you for your kind thoughts. Cheers!

DWA76……………….I am glad that Spring Break comes once a year and I don’t blame you for ranting. My head is up and seeing your posting is also great medicine. Thanks David and all the best mate.

MARGE AND GEORGE RIBAS………And we look forward to seeing you both as well. It will be a great cruise. See you in July.

KATHIE (CAPARINO)………………….I was so sorry to read about your infection and I hope the antibiotics you are taking get you better quickly. Thank you for thinking of me even though you are suffering yourself. That really is the sign of a great friend. Please say hello to all your family and feel better soon.

LINDA MOM OF DJ………I will make sure that I add a list of the great karaoke hosts to the blog. For karaoke lovers like you I know they play a major part in your cruise experience. Please send my best to DJ and the rest of your family.

MAYLA……………………….Wow! You had a weight put in your eyelid to help you close your eye. I truly hope that doesn’t happen to me and if it does, I hope I have the strength that you obviously did that saw you through these difficult times. Your kindness is very welcome, especially as you have been where I have been and that’s on a date with Mr. Bell. Heidi sends her kindest regards to you.

LV2CRUISE……………..It must be strange living in a university time which empties out at Spring Break. I am sure many of them are here and I will be sending them back to you, complete with hangovers, very soon. Enjoy the peace and quite. Cheers.

NANNI…………It sounds like you had a lovely walk watching the ship sail from San Juan harbor. This week was our last time there for a bit and whenever we will return we will always think of you and your lovely family. Muchos Huggos!

MYRA BUSHNELL…………………….Well, I give you an update on Mr. Bell tomorrow but for now he seems to want to marry me. I am still doing the exercises and I hope they will start to show a positive effect soon. Thank you again for thinking of me Myra and please keep reading the blog thingy.

LUCAS………………………………….I asked Heidi for her recommendation and she suggests that you do not hire a car to drive in Amsterdam. It is very difficult with many one-way roads, with many areas reserved just for trams and bicycles. The public transportation system is excellent and taxis within the city are not expensive. As for a restaurant serving traditional Dutch food, Heidi promises, she hasn’t forgotten and will send you some within the next couple of days. Have fun and see you in July.

JOHN H……………………………….I did try to put Mr. Beavis in his place as gently as possible, however, the standing ovation from the audience probably shows it was something they all wanted to do. Hope all is well with you and I hope you enjoy today’s blog.

JANE……………………………………I am glad you enjoyed the story about Alain and Melissa. It really was so humbling to meet them both. Thank you for the best wishes and Heidi sends her kindest regards.

AHOYS……………You will be happy to know that Spring Break will be a distant memory when you cruise here in April. There may be some left over but the masses will have returned to their studies. Being the son of a School Master, I know that you deserve vacation more than most. I also promise that Todd and his staff will make sure you have a fantastic time. Wish I could be here with you. Have a wonderful cruise.

KATHY KROLL……………………..I am doing my excursuses, thanks for asking. Wow, Vegas certainly seems busy and I really must go one day. If for no other reason to see you and Paul. I wish I had a tape of my encounter with Beavis, maybe I should ask the guests if they have one. Hope you are both well. Cheers.

ANGELA…………………………….I am glad you enjoyed the photo of Sergey. I had no idea that your husband had passed away in Iraq. Seeing that Sergey, one of our dancers, looks like him must give you so many mixed emotions. Please accept all of our condolences and if there is anything at all I can do for you, please just e-mail me here on the blog. Maybe, if you feel like it, you can tell us more about your husband and what a wonderful, brave and loving father he was. This is a community of 1.7 million readers and if you ever feel like talking, we are all here for you. Thinking of you always.

SHELLY……………..How right you are, the bunch is quite big this week. Cheers.

SUSAN V………………….I am glad you enjoyed the blog and yes, Heidi enjoyed her shopping trip. However, Mr. Visa didn’t. I looked after Alain and Melissa with a special dinner at the Supper Club and tonight we are meeting for a little while as well. Thank you for your kind words and hope to hear from you soon.

KATHLEEN BUCKET LADY……….Just a quick note to say hello to you and your fellow bucket friend. We still talk about you all the time here.

KUKI…………………………………..Hello mate. Haven’t heard from you in a while. Hope things are OK. It certainly has been a week full of fun and emotion and meeting people like Alain and Melissa and of course our Spring Break friends has been a major part of it. I thought of you wearing your baggy pants and that brought a smile to my face and Heidi’s as well. A pajama party is a great idea and one of many that we must put into operation. The only problem is, my pajamas have no backside so this may not be the welcome aboard experience you and the CuiseMates would want to see. Al will be here with me next week and I wish you were too. Please send my best to all at www.cruisemates.com

ANN WILSON…………….It won’t be long before we see each other and hopefully I will be divorced from Mr. Bell. See you soon and thank you for the kind words.

CRUISING GRANDMA……………….Melissa and Alain are great people and thank you for sending them showers of blessings. I hope you are well grandma. My best to you and the family.

TRACEY…………………………………I certainly did not look upon your posting as a complaint. However, I did note what you said and agree with you totally, we can do better. I am glad you enjoyed the morning shows and who knows, maybe one day; I’ll be on your home television hosting a morning show. It’s a nice dream. Hope you are well Tracey. Cheers.

CRAIG……………….The Myofacial exercises should help and I will keep doing them until they do. If you are interested in a group booking of our tours I can put you in touch with the right person in our office. Let me know and I will be glad to help. As far as extra information on the tours, the website will be updated very soon following my trip to Europe. Thanks mate and I continue to be here for you. Cheers.

THE BEARS – BARB AND CARL…….You took the words right out of my mouth. The Youngs were indeed inspirational. Although I have not decided on who the entertainers will be for the 2009 Bloggers Cruise, certainly Marcus Anthony would be someone I would love to be there with us. Thank you for your continuing friendship. All the best.

JAKE SILVERBERG……Jake, do you mean this year of next year? Let me know.

DRIVER NC…………………………….I did do something very special for Alain and Melissa which I know they appreciated very much. However, it was a small gesture, compared to their kindness. You asked me how many cruises involves Spring Break. Honestly, I am not sure if it is 1 or 2 more. Certainly we have many children sailing next week for the Easter/Passover cruise. Thanks for the kind wishes and all the best to you Tony.

ANITA DUNHAM – POTTER……………I heard you ate some nice stone crabs yesterday in Miami. Please tell me you saved me some. Congratulations on your wonderful columns and send our best to the girls.

EVA…………….Reading my blog at midnight? Doesn’t that give you nightmares? Thank you for the kind words and best wishes to you and your family.

KEVIN……………………………………..It will be interesting to listen to your comments on the age of the celebrity chef. I am glad your Budweiser shares are doing well; I would think they are at an all time high during Spring Break. Always great to hear from you, hope you can cook me dinner one day soon. My best to you and the family.

SUSAN B………………………………….My eye is also held together with tape, so I guess we have a lot in common, including our fun outlook on life. Thanks for being such a great person and stop rattling. Cheers.

DALE EDWARDS……………………….I will indeed be on the Carnival Freedom, however, I will not be the Cruise Director for your Mediterranean cruise. I will be there to assist Todd, your brilliant Cruise Director; however, at least we will get to meet. You asked for a “meet and greet” location. I can arrange this, so let me know when you want to do this. Is this for Cruise Critic? Thanks Dale. I am looking forward to seeing you in May.

RUTH JAMISON…………………………Most of the Spring Breakers, although loud at times, have been well behaved and our Security and other service departments have done a wonderful job. I want to thank you for all your kind words for Angela. You are a very special person. Thank you for everything you do each and every day.

SHIRLEY CALES……………………..It seems, like Ruth, you have also taken the time to express your sympathies to Angela at the loss of her husband. Thank you on her behalf for being the kind person you are.

That’s all for today and as always thanks so much to each and every one of you for your time.

Let’s talk about New Orleans.

During the recent Seatrade Conference some of the Carnival folks have met with the port of New Orleans executives.

They were so excited about our plans to hold a pre-cruise charity event and are fully committed to helping us make this happen.

In the days ahead, planning will begin and the Carnival flag will proudly fly in the Big Easy.

I will give you more information very soon but it is going to be fantastic.

Meet Al and Pauline Gaylord from the wonderful sounding Crab Orchard, Kentucky……….population …….well as Al said in that wonderful Kentucky accent “there ain’t many of us.”

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Al and Pauline were with me in the marriage show today which as always brought it’s usual share of humour and fun but none more so than with this great couple who have been together for and amazing 66 years. They live the small town life with Al Gaylord having been mayor for 28 years before he retired. He also owns the town’s convenience store, the fishing lake and in his spare time bends over backwards to help the community in so many other ways.

Pauline is one of those people you usually only meet on TV……usually standing on the porch in he apron proclaiming to the family that there is ice cold lemonade and apple pie for those that want it.

Al was wearing a black jacket that proudly proclaimed he was a WWII veteran and when I asked him where he served he stood tall and proud and told all of us that he fought in France and in Africa. He then told us all that his unit has a yearly reunion and that 5 years ago there were 50 plus but this year ………… there were just nine who attended.

This couple was wonderful and, like a warm fire, the audience gathered around them to hear more stories of their love for each other and how Al Gaylord had fought for his country.

I had been sent an e-mail with a top ten list which one of the other cruise line presidents had read out during the Seatrade conference yesterday. The top ten was based on “reasons to go cruising” and contained many economical and financial reasons to do so………..it was an OK list.

However, as I watched the day take shape I realized that this……….this was the reason to go cruising………….everything that cruising is about was happening right here………service, choice, sun, food, relaxation all the words that you can think of were happening right in front of me. Presidents and CEOs may have rightful concerns about fuel, government legislation and other boardroom-level concerns. ………………I am but a humble Cruise Director but looking at 3,400 people here enjoying fun, sun, service and meeting people like Al Gaylord …………well if you ask me……………..the state of the industry………….at least here……………is bloody brilliant.

Tomorrow (Friday) marks the last day of another cruise. Once again, it has been very eventful with happiness and sadness both at the forefront.

In today’s blog, we mentioned Al Gaylord who, with his band of brothers protected our freedom. Then, we read of Angela, whose husband died in Iraq, protecting the same freedom Al had done many years ago. The Carnival Freedom contains the very word both were fighting for. I have been talking a lot about the Spring Breakers this week and I wondered if they realized that because of people like Al and Angela’s husband that they have the freedom to express themselves as they do………………..let us hope so.

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.