Traveling. The scourge of the modern age. It’s time-consuming and it’s irretrievably boring.

In the olden days, no one wasted their lives by traveling from A to B, because B was too far away. Now, though, people are quite happy to spend 10 hours in an aluminum tube, watching all their veins clog up and to breathe in the gaseous remains of other people’s lunch……………………….. just to get a tan.

When you are on a plane you are achieving nothing and you are not enjoying yourself, so you are wasting the most precious commodity you have: time.

If you’re middle-aged now you only have 200,000 hours left, and are you prepared to spend 20 of those being squashed next to a toilet brush salesman from Iowa ………………… Plus another 20 waiting to be squashed while someone airport security remove your shoes and confiscate your nail clippers.

This is why I love ships…………..they maybe slower than a 747 but you can never be bored, never squashed and if you do meet the toilet brush salesman from Iowa you can buy him a drink………….or not.

However, like flying their options on which class of sea travel you desire. Flying in the front of an aeroplane does not make the journey pass any more quickly but at least you don’t have to spend 10 hours with your face in someone’s armpit. The jump in price from economy to club is vast but there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s worth every penny.

So does this apply to a cruise experience, I wonder? Is it worth spending the extra few thousand dollars…………………the answer after what I saw today is a huge and gigantic, mammoth-sized YES.

This morning I was invited to see some mock ups of the suites that have been designed for the new Seabourn Odyssey. Now, when I say mock ups I don’t mean that someone doodled them on a bit of paper or even that they used computer generation technology.

No, when I say mock ups …………….I mean that they built the exact cabins to size with the exact fixtures and fittings in the middle of a workshop by the pier where the ship is being built…………………..It was quite extraordinary………………..it was Epcot.

The mock ups were for Mr. Arison and the Pam Conover, the president of Seabourn, and others to see where these cabins and suggest any changes before they are built onboard. And, considering the fact that these are without doubt some of the most expensive and grandest suites anywhere at sea it is understandable everyone wants to make sure they are the best they can be.

I snuck in ahead of the inspection and therefore here are some of the shots of the suites ………………..remember…………….these were built in the middle of a workshop and are not on the ship…………….oh……………and I think I am right in saying…………these are the first photos of the suites published…………………how brilliant is that?

 

We start with a view from the balcony

Cabin mock-ups


 

Then the day got even better.

As a cruise director I have been onboard ships in various states of undress but never have I been onboard a ship so early in her life. Today though I walked up the gangway of the Seabourn Odyssey and aboard and into the remarkable world of shipbuilding. Find out more about the ship here:

http://www.seabourn.com/YourYachts/Odyssey/

If I was to tell you that the two main pieces were built in the middle of a field in Croatia you would probably think that I had forgotten to take my medication ……………. well…………..it was.

The two pieces were constructed in a field and placed onto a huge transporter which then floated them onto a dry dock thing and then onto…………….hold on……………this is something that needs to be explained properly by someone who knows exactly how 6,500 tons eventually arrived in Genoa, Italy……………….I will therefore stop waffling and I promise in the next few days we will have someone explain this properly…………..it will be worth the wait I promise.

In a years time the first newbuilding for the Yachts of Seabourn since Carnival Corporation took over will be ready. Today I was honored to have a look around and, although in the earliest of stages, I could already imagine the grand spiral staircase, the opulent dining room and the other features that will make this ship so unique.

Here is a first look at the Seabourn Odyssey.


The Grand Dining Room – a view of the Captain’s table

 


Will it be expensive?………….Yep………..Will it be worth the money? ………….. Well ………….the styling, the polished wood, the finest marble……… It will be like one of those stunning blue and white yachts that back up to the harbour wall in St Tropez except even the owners of these gorgeous palaces at sea will be looking on in awe as the Odyssey arrives.

This will be the Rolls Royce Phantom of ships. Step through the door of your suite and wade through an acre of thick pile carpet while your Steward or Stewardess pours the Dom Moet Crystal Krug with lashings of caviar.

Let’s be honest, most of us will not be able to afford a cruise on this most special ship.

As I walked around the mock cabins and as I wandered the steel decks I knew that this would probably be the only time I would get to be here.

I will cherish this day for a long time………… I loved the sensation that I was aboard something special, something unique………….I was aboard something that was designed to be……………….. “The most luxurious ship in the world.”

Five hundred years ago the world was a gloomy and miserable place. You had Kings and Queens chopping your head off every five minutes, your kids had the plague and you couldn’t buy a banana anywhere.

Today we are healthier and we’re much, much richer but in a survey in today’s Times only 36% of those questioned said they were “very happy” despite their Mercedes and their wife’s magnificent new breasts.

And today Bill Gates says that he is fed up with being the richest man in the world because “there’s nothing good that comes out of that.”

You may find this surprising. I mean, the Bill Gates foundation is the world’s biggest philanthropic organization with an endowment of $29.1 billion. So the man can go to sleep at night knowing his money is bringing health and hope to those less fortunate than himself. ………………….which is every other bugger in the world.

His generosity has not meant that he has been forced to live in a shack in the middle of the woods, hunt for rabbit and poo in a bucket. He lives in 60,000-square-foot, $100m house that is dug into the side of a mountain.

Inside, his shower curtain is made from the foreskin of a whale, the swimming pool is 60-foot-long stocked with real mermaids and there are 52 miles of cabling, some of which is used to view the leaves change colour.

So, I am thinking, what’s his problem? His mermaids are happy. His leaves are happy. And since his staff has their own sauna and indoor pool, you can be assured they’re happy too. Yet, the man at the centre of all this said today that he is not.

I’m not surprised at all. First of all, he has to get up in the morning and realise that he “certainly is no Johnny Depp” And deep down, he’s still a computer geek, which means he has the personality of a block of cheese.

It must be hard for the uber rich.  It’s almost as though they can’t be bothered to be interesting or memorable because what’s the point?

Most of us try to light up a room for two reasons: either to meet women or it might make us richer. Money and rumpy-pumpy are the engines powering everything we do. But if you’ve got more than a billion in the bank, chances are you can bounce around on top of whatever Russian model takes your fancy from now until the end of time. You don’t need to be funny, or passionate. You just need to yawn, give her something made from diamonds and enjoy the night.

However, the last two days I have been around lots of very rich and powerful men who all look anything but bored and miserable. I stood yesterday and today on the outskirts of Micky Arison who you could see still had the passion and the love of the cruise industry pulsating through his veins.

His family continue to give so much to those less fortunate as I wrote in a blog a few months ago (“The Christmas Spirit”) yet with his passion getting stronger every day he still has something worth getting up for in the morning…………….Bill should be so lucky

More in a moment but first the news.

The crew started moving onboard today and by the end of the weekend the majority will be in place. Heidi and I move on Saturday and quite honestly …………I cannot wait. I need to get unpacked and settled and be close to my colleagues. Heidi and I finished the Carnival Capers for the two- and three-day cruises and just now finished the eight-day as well. Tomorrow we start on the 12-day schedules.

Meanwhile the arrangements for the naming ceremony are in full swing. I will reveal details next week but what I can tell you is that our Godmother Myleene Klass seems very excited about this honor she has been bestowed.

Have a look at this segment from Hello Magazine.

http://www.hellomagazine.com/celebrities-news-in-pics/08-06-2008/48233/

So, back to the boring life of the trillionaires who have no reason talking, or listening, to other men because you’re already much richer than they are and all they want is some of your money. And you can’t be bothered with any of them or their constant groveling because a 15-foot supermodel has just walked into the room and you’re thinking of buying her a Caribbean Island.

It gets worse. There are two ways of getting rich. Either you make the money yourself, or you inherit it. Neither will make you happy.

The fact of the matter is this. It’s very hard to be friends with someone from a different income bracket. They want to go on vacation to Orlando. You want to go to space. You watch Gordon Ramsey on television. They had him round to cook for a private dinner party. And you paid him so much he agreed to serve the food himself………. while dressed as nun.

See what I mean? Well, now put yourself in Bill Gates’ shoes. He’s the richest man in the world. That means he can’t be friends with anyone.

The rest of us should just cheer up. ……………it could be worse………….you could be Bill

I leave you with one last photo

The Grand Celebration prepares to depart from Genoa

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.