I just want to say………I am straight. I am so straight you could grow blackberrys up me. If you put oil in my bellybutton you could use me as a spirit level.

Now, don’t get me wrong……….I am in no way shape or form homophobic either. If I found a man in my bath, I wouldn’t jump on the toilet seat and call in a desperate panic for Heidi to come and deal with the huge, hairy thing. Now let me explain why I wrote that.

OK, before I continue I want to make sure the entire world knows (especially my Mum) that I am not “family,” as the letter states, and I was totally paranoid as to what I had said or done to make this nice man think I am.

To me that particular ummmm….thingy…….is a far and distant place of which I know nothing. I have never been to a gay bar. Oh, don’t get me wrong………….I have no illusions that gay men want to worship at the temple of my body, trust me……….I know that………not on drugs, not for money, not remotely. I know that I am not God’s gift to gay men. I am not God’s gift to women, either. In fact, I am not God’s gift to anyone, except perhaps Colonel Sanders.

And so it was that wondering why Mr Paul Williams would think of me as someone who was a mate of old Dorothy’s ……….So I gave him a call.

After the usual pleasantries I asked him straight…….pardon the pun…………..”What makes you think I am gay?”……………there was a slight pause………….then he said……….”Aren’t you?”………”No, I am married,” I replied…………..”to a girl”………….”no to Bob,” I wanted to reply but I said, “Yes, she works onboard”………”I am so sorry,” he said ……….. ”It’s just I watched you on TV this morning and I thought you were gay.”

I nearly fainted.

In 21 years at sea, I have never had anyone think that — or if they did they have never asked me. I don’t like the Village People, I don’t have a burning desire to collect Lladro or sing show tunes in the shower.

I was about to explain all of this when suddenly Paul started to giggle and then laugh ……I suddenly realised this was a joke and someone was having fun at my butch expense.

That someone was George Solano, my cruise director friend from the Carnival Destiny……….he had met Paul and his partner, Alan, on a recent Carnival Imagination cruise and as payback for the many tricks I played on him.

So last night I met Paul and Alan and their friends Cliff and Nicholas and we all had a drink in the cigar bar. ………….and what fabulous people.

They are from a place called Belfair in Washington State where Paul is a music teacher and that’s where he met Alan. Anyway, I have arranged a Friends of Dorothy Meeting for the next sea day and…….as an honorary family member…….I shall be going along to toast all my new
friends…………by the way, they showed me photos of Washington State and it looks stunning.

Thanks then to Paul and Alan who are reading this I am sure as they are both bloggers and will be joining us on the 2009 bloggers cruise………..I can’t wait.

So, why did George Solano arrange this little surprise? Well, if the truth be told, I was a little cruel to him back in the day when he was a fly-on entertainer doing his or someone else’s stand up comedy show. George is a very, very, very funny man and I miss the days when we worked together………….he may not, though. He are my top three jokes I played on George during his shows when I was CD and he was the headliner act. ………I would set these up during the bingo game before the show.

3. George’s mentions that he has a body like a god…….”Buddah“……….so I had primed the audience that when he said the word “Buddah“ they should all hold both hands up in the air and start chanting….so he said the magic word and 1,000 people all started chanting………..the look on his face was priceless.

2. Then there was the time that I had told the audience that after George’s first joke that they should all stand up and start to walk out, as if they had already made their minds up that George was not funny. So out he goes…tells his first joke…….and 1,000 people all stood up …………and walked out. The look on his face was priceless.

1. However, the pinnacle of my series of fun and games with George was something that went much further than I had thought……..oops.

George refers to the game show The Price is Right in his show and uses the catch phrase “Come On Down“ ……so, I had primed the audience that when he said those famous words that the female members of the audience would come running onto the stage and give him a hug. Well, I had expected a dozen or so ladies to do this but when he said “Come on Down,” at least 100 ladies rushed the stage. They all tried to hug him and one lady — who had obviously been enjoying the delights of our bar department — ripped his shirt open popping off every button leaving George’s torso exposed and it took 2 or 3 minutes to clear the stage. The look on his face was priceless…..the look on my face was ……… oh bugger.

Like the professional he is, though, George carried on and as usual received the ovation of the crowd.

He always promised to get even with me and even though it has taken many years……….I guess he did.

Let’s pause for some photos from Livorno and the fabulous entertainment technician team, dancers and musical director having fun in Pisa.

I am still so annoyed at myself about my Naples error………Heidi says it’s an easy mistake to make especially since I have been going for five months without a day off………..but to me…..there is no excuse…….I told them the weather forecast in Florida instead of Italy ………..if I had one more brain cell I would be an amoeba. I have been battling with myself and Heidi over the subject of me telling the guests ………..or not. …………..and as I write this I still don’t know if I should or not………bugger.

You know, I just realized that I have not yet said Good morning….Good morning, or in this case, good evening, from one of the most beautiful places in the world …..Dubrovnik, Croatia. I know many of you had the pleasure of exploring its medieval old town with its ramparts providing spectacular views…………..like this.

And here is todays “In Their Own Words” letters:

The weather was stunning again today with 70 degrees of sunshine. Of course, I have stayed away from verbally giving weather forecasts and have decided to cut and slap the actual report from the internet into the Capers…….I feel such an idiot for making such a rookie mistake.

And so we leave Dubrovnik and head now for Venice, where on Sunday I will leave the ship very early to go and visit the Carnival Dream. I will be taking the camera, of course, and the video thingy as well so you can all share my first look at our leviathan.

So, as we are talking about the Carnival Dream I would like to announce who will have the proud privilege of being her cruise director.

Now, I could have just told you his name but instead I wanted him to explain just how thrilled and honored he is to be the cruise director of this illustrious vessel……………so ladies and gentlemen, please give a huge welcome to the cruise director of the Carnival Dream……………..Mr. Todd Wittmer.

1. So, you are going to be the Cruise Director of the Carnival Dream our largest vessel to date…………how do you feel?

For once, I am speechless (which is actually a Dream for all those that know me). So many thoughts running through my head, I wouldn’t know where to begin. I am just glad I have some time to let the news settle and really appreciate the significance of this amazing opportunity.

To sum it up in the only way I can at the moment is the analogy of a quarterback knowing that he is getting an opportunity to play in the Super Bowl…….sorry John – I meant to say a goalkeeper knowing he is about to play in the World Cup final.

2. What are you most looking forward to?

The Carnival Dream will begin a new era of “Fun Ship” cruising. I have seen the press releases and ship’s layout and, without a doubt, this ship will be amazing. I personally am excited to help develop and utilize a new concept in entertainment called The Piazza which will be a combination of an indoor/outdoor café and live music venue. The opportunities for activities, music and overall entertainment will be endless. The new open-air promenade encircling the ship on Deck 5 will be special, as well, giving even the most seasoned Carnival guest the feeling and excitement of their first “Fun Ship” cruise. I look forward to creating an atmosphere of energy, enjoyment and FUN from morning until night for all of our guests. This ship will truly have something special and unique to offer for everyone onboard, both guests and team members. A Dream comes true!

3. This is going to be a hard question to answer…….especially as I know you hate blowing your own trumpet. But, why do you think you were chosen, what are your strengths that makes you an industry leader………don’t be shy……blow that trumpet.

I think what makes me continually strive to be one of the best is that I try to not take anything for granted…..meaning never being too comfortable or confident – there are 22 ships in Carnival Cruise Lines’ fleet with the best cruise directors in the industry, all more than worthy of this opportunity. I allow the friendly competition we as cruise directors have for the ships we are on and the passions we share for our jobs help me to keep pushing myself to improve. I love trying new things, accepting new challenges and learning from successes, as well as obstacles! I didn’t grow up with the idea of being an entertainer, which helps me to put myself in the position of our guests and get equally excited for each memory they experience. Most importantly, at the end of the day, we are all people! Guests, officers, staff and crew — we all have a vital part to play in our experiences together, none more important than the other. If you truly love what you do — and you love who you are around — then there is a feeling inside and a magic no one can take away from you. Sure, sometimes we get tired or down, may take a comment the wrong way or just don’t feel like getting out of bed, but we all go through that. Just recognizing that in someone else — and doing your best to let them know that it is OK — makes all the difference in the world. People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care. Life is way to short and we all want to join in the celebration as much as possible – I just have a way to make people know they are invited to that celebration and it wouldn’t be the same without them. I also like having as many celebrations each cruise as possible. The people that work for Carnival Cruise Lines have made me into the person I am today and for that — I owe them everything! Thank you!

4. Who would your Dream Godmother be for the Carnival Dream?

Angelina Jolie (I know that’s what you would have wanted!)

5. I will be there to blog on the inaugural cruise. I would like a suite, chocolate-covered strawberries, dinner with the captain, Mr. Arison and Winston Churchill. I want the ship moved to the left and I want you to personally unpack my suitcase and do my laundry. Can you arrange this?

Hmmmm, let me think? The ship is called the Carnival Dream not the Carnival Magic – that actually comes out in 2011 …… although I will have your strawberries and sugar-free jellybeans ready for you ….. Dinner I can do, however, I only have enough pull to get you a seat with me at the kiddies table (hot dogs and chicken wings)! Actually, now that you mention it, can you get me a seat at your table with the captain and Mr. Arison? I will have to respectfully say no to unpacking your suitcase and doing your laundry as I will be completely committed to and focused on the other 3,645 guests.

However, I should actually do it since I have known you for years and after reading your countless blogs — and hearing of your endless adventures — your suitcase probably holds more secrets and answers than the Di Vinci Code. P.S. Winston Churchill will always be with us and here are some of my favorite quotes:

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.

A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.

Bessie Braddock: “Sir, you are drunk.”

Churchill: “Madam, you are ugly. In the morning, I shall be sober.”

Nancy Astor: “Sir, if you were my husband, I would give you poison.”

Churchill: “If I were your husband I would take it.”

A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.

If you are going to go through hell, keep going.

You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.

The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.

I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the ordeal of meeting me is another matter.

The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end; there it is.

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.

To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.

Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.

Everyone has his day and some days last longer than others.

Thank you John – and thank you to Carnival Cruise Lines for this wonderful Opportunity!

Please join me in congratulating Todd. I know he will do a wonderful job and I hope all of you have booked your dream vacation……….Bloggers 2010………….Carnival Dream ……………… maybe. Well done mate, I am very, very proud of you.

As I write Heidi is drinking something from a very unusual bottle. I asked her what it was and she replied, “Vitamin Water.”………………….. “Oh,” I said. So, had to admit I had no idea what Vitamin Water was…………so I asked Heidi to explain. Apparently it’s water with added zest, energy, beauty, goodness, orgasms, intelligence, integrity, celebrity, stardust and immortality. Vitamin Water is according to my wife……….. the big thing.

Coca-Cola has just bought Vitamin Water for millions of dollars. And, they’re the people who knew that Tab Clear was going to be the next big thing and, of course, who said the New Coke was going to revolutionize the soft drinks world…………problem was ……… it tasted like rat urine.

Electric cars have been the next big thing at least three times and so was a rock climbing wall on a cruise ship……………….I have never seen anyone using either of them.

OK, off to the show………I will be right back.

Here I am…………..and I did it.

Just before I went to the show and, between the dinner sittings, I made an announcement apologizing that I had given information to the guests…………..for Naples……………..you know……….the one in Florida. I said sorry to those guests who had gone ashore in raincoats looking like they had been filming an episode of The Deadliest Catch. I said sorry to those who had to walk around Pompeii wearing fleece-lined coats in 80 degree temperatures and I said sorry to those who arrived on the sun-kissed island of Capri ……… holding an umbrella.

I have not heard any direct feedback but that’s probably because after the show I came straight back to my cabin.

A couple of weeks ago I had to apologize to Captain Rude for saying President Eisenhower sat down with Churchill and Stalin when it was of course President Truman. And that made the munchkin very mad. But, you know what, it didn’t bother me. …………. this is different.

I’m overwhelmed with a new emotion. Guilt: deep, tail-between-the-legs, nose-crinkling, hide-under-the-bed-and-call-out-for-mummy embarrassment and, as I go to the second show, my walk around afterwards and tomorrow when I greet 1,000 people at the past guest party……………….I will feel like people are looking at me knowing I had not checked my facts and that I gave them wrong information……..it will be the same as if I am standing at the door with a telltale wet patch on the front of my trousers.

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.