Honestly, you would think you are in the Caribbean heading for the Virgin Islands. But we are not ………we are heading to Marmaris, Turkey, and with 80 degrees of sunshine and tanzanite blue water it certainly could be the Caribbean Sea. It’s been a long time since I have seen a totally perfect day like this and if we were carrying anyone under the age of 70, I am sure the water slide and splash parks would be very popular. As it is though many are playing bridge, trivia and, of course, bingo………because that’s the law.

The Lido roof is open, the bands are playing and this afternoon there was the very strange site of my Asian friends from Canada………dancing………..or should I say………ballroom dancing on the Lido ………..in shorts, T-shirts and swimwear. Whereas the duo on Lido usually get requests for Jimmy Buffet, country and light pop music, today they were inundated with requests for “standards” that gave people the chance to foxtrot and the other stuff.

So, good morning from our first day at sea as we head to Marmaris. This morning I held my travel talk for Maramaris, Izmir and Istanbul which is one of the most challenging talks full of historical information. I cover the religious and historical side of Istanbul as well as the architectural wonders of The Blue Mosque which is the only mosque in Istanbul with six minarets…..that’s why it’s called the Royal Mosque or the Mosque of the Sultans.

Then there is the Hagia Sofia which during the Crusades was, of course, a mighty cathedral and then during the Byzantine wars it was converted to a mosque……….just by moving the altar to face Mecca.

Of course, and as always, the place every one wants to visit in Istanbul is the Grand Bazaar and our tours involving this journey to shopping paradise are selling very well.

In Izmir, we have 2,000 guests booked to see one of the Seven Wonders of the World …..Ephesus and, like riding a bike, the information that I gave game flooding back even though it’s been eight months or so since I spoke about these incomparable places.

Marmaris on the other hand…………well …………my talk was crap. I have never been there and the only information I have is what is written in the guest tour descriptions. I hate that. I hate feeling like I am not giving enough information or being able to add those personal touches you can when you have actually been to the place you are talking about. Oh well, hopefully I didn’t say anything that was wrong ………….we shall see.

OK, let’s chat about our Russian friend from yesterday. You know the one in the penthouse ………..the one who wanted lobster every night and personal massage service in his cabin. Well, I have a feeling that Mr. Snobov had a little too much vodka last night as you will see from the security report…………Da?

Guest Mr______________found sleeping on the couch by the deck 3 lobby

Asst. Stateroom Stewardess _________ came to Security office informed that there was a male individual sleeping on the couch by the deck 3 lobby mid ship portside. Immediately checked the area, found a male guest _________ sleeping on the couch. Tried to wake him up several times but he was unable to get up. After a few minutes Mr_______ woke up and started shouting in Russian. Guest was escorted to his cabin with the help of security guard _______ and security guard________

There he was, shouting again and today we will have a meeting with the guest and explain to him that abusive behavior to the staff will not be tolerated whether he is staying in the penthouse or a hammock. I will leave Duncan the hotel director to do this though as I am sure that Mr. Snobov knows “people” and I for one need a vacation ……… but not in Siberia.

I feel like I am picking on the Russians but really I am not. I was just about to send today’s thingy to Stephanie to slap on but I had to add this late addition. I just got back from the first elegant night captain’s party and I wanted to show you two contrasting sides to the words “elegant.”

First……..we have the Red Hat Ladies. We have a group of 98 all from Canada who are part of an international organization of ladies aged 50 and over who …….. well …….. celebrate life. We are honored to have them onboard. Here are a few photos of how they looked tonight

Then, we have a carbon copy of two voyages ago. I was standing with the captain and two men stood next to us, they were not exactly dressed appropriately and they laughing and talking very loudly. I asked them if they wouldn’t mind moving to the other side so the captain could shake hands with the guests in line……..they ignored me. Then, I asked them a little more firmly and this time they moved but only after spouting off a lot of Russian which probably translated into how they would like to perform medical experiments on my scrotum.

Anyway, they moved and they spent the next 20 minutes leaning over the balcony and sneering at me and the captain.

See you in Siberia.

Well, as promised here are the photos taken by brilliant blogger Dave of the Queen Elizabeth’s farewell tour of the place where she was born……..Clyde, Scotland. To accompany these great photos here is a very special interview with Cunard’s President, Ms. Carol Marlow who reminisces about this great vessel and looks to the future.

Here are her wonderful words.

1. The Queen Elizabeth 2 is on her farewell voyage. Can you tell us what that involves and where her last journeys will take her?

She is currently on the first of her Farewell Voyages – this one is around the UK – this is her final ‘Lap of Honour’ round her homeland. I was lucky enough to be on the first few days. We called at Cobh in Ireland – the place where all the great liners used to call when they crossed the Atlantic to North America. Crowds came out to see her leave. Then last Friday, Liverpool – home of Cunard for 128 years – where she had a fabulous welcome with Liverpudlians lining the Mersey as she arrived and a fabulous firework display when she left. We also invited all our guests on board to a Celebration Concert in Liverpool’s magnificent Anglican cathedral. It was a wonderful affair with everyone singing Rule Britannia and waving Union Jacks – there wasn’t a dry eye in the house! She then went on to Belfast, for a maiden call, and a fly past by the Red Arrows, then on to the place of her birth – Greenock, where the crowds were out to see her once again and she had an escort of a naval frigate HMS Manchester – very emotional. . Then she calls at South Queens ferry tomorrow for her last ever call in Scotland – the land of her birth and then on for a final call in Newcastle. After that, she arrives back in Southampton on 10 Oct and leaves that same day for her final transatlantic crossings in tandem with Queen Mary 2 arriving and departing New York on 16 Oct for an emotional final call. Then she has one more Mediterranean voyage before her final voyage to Dubai.

2. I have had bloggers write and say they saw the ship visit the Clyde one last time. That must have been very emotional. Can you describe what happened?

In more detail from Richard Curtis our Head of Marketing, who was there on QE2 for her call at Greenock…..

Sailing towards the approach of the Clyde on a beautiful autumn morning we were first greeted by type 42 frigate HMS Manchester who made a graceful sweep around us and the followed closely behind, occasionally speeding up and drawing level. Over the next hour she was joined by more and more boats, every one packed full with admirers of QE2’s beauty and grace and to cheer and wave their best wishes.

As we got closer to Greenock the flotilla swelled further to several hundreds and included craft of every shape and size including speed boats, pleasure cruisers, yachts, jet skis and several Scottish Isles ferries specially chartered for the day.

On the banks of the Clyde every conceivable space was taken by rapturous admirers franticly waving and cheering.

Finally at 12 noon as we approached her berth QE2 sounded her whistle and was answered by a cacophony of every conceivable pitch.

Such a special moment that sent many thousand shivers down the spines of all fortunate enough to be there, and which will always be remembered as one of those very special and unique Cunard moments.

3. The Queen Elizabeth 2 has carried many famous people around the world. Can you remind us of a few of them?

QE2 has had many famous visitors – a list a mile long! From HM The Queen, Prince Philip and Prince Charles – who was her first ever ‘guest’ when he sailed on her down the Clyde from the shipyard to the outfitting dock, to Nelson Mandela, President Bush, President Carter, Charles Aznavour, Gracie Fields, Elton John, Dame Vera Lynn, Bob Hope, Dame Beryl Bainbridge, James Cagney, Petula Clark, Dame Judi Dench, Kris Kristofferson, Sir Peter Ustinov, Twiggy, Buzz Aldrin, J Paul Getty Junior, Christopher Reeve, Tony Curtis….the list goes on and on…

4. For those who don’t know, can you tell us what the future holds for this great ship?

QE2 is going out to Dubai in November where she will be a first class hotel ship and exhibition centre, for future generations to admire A new chapter in her glorious life!

5. We are not only saying goodbye to a great ship but also to a record holder. Can you tell us some of the remarkable facts about the life of this great ship?

Yes she is our longest serving Cunarder ever – and we have had over 225 ships over the years! She has traveled over 5.6 million nautical miles, carried over 2.5 million guests, done 25 world cruises and over 800 transatlantic crossings – and as well as all that she is the most famous ocean liner in the world and the best loved ship in the world!

6. Carol, you must be quite emotional yourself. What are you own personal memories of the Queen Elizabeth 2?

I have certainly come to love this great ship over my four short years with Cunard. She has such character and those who work on board her as hosts to all our guests do a wonderful job – they are Cunard. I recall joining her one year in Mumbaian sailing to Dubai and having the pleasure of hosting our Full World Cruisers at a spectacular World Cruise Dinner in Dubai – little did we know then that this would be her future home. Then there was the 40th Anniversary voyage around the UK – a voyage that I will always remember as nothing short of incredible – welcoming crowds wherever we went a fabulous atmosphere on board as usual, with surprises each day for our guests and fireworks galore! Then I remember climbing down the pilot’s ladder to disembark the ship off Rhodes, as it was too windy to operate a normal tender operation – and I had a plane to catch! Not something to be widely recommended! Then my first-ever QE2 World Cruise Dinner in Barcelona with Russell Watson singing, and another in Auckland…. And then of course 2 incredible visits to Sydney – meeting up with Queen Mary 2 and dancing round Fort Dennison with Queen Victoria – nothing short of awesome! So yes, memories, I have a few…..

7. I know Her Majesty the Queen came to say goodbye. That must have been an incomparable moment. What was it like?

Her Majesty’s Visit was wonderful. She was delightful, talking to so many officers and crew on a tour of the ship, and then she kindly unveiled a magnificent picture of QE2 painted by Robert Lloyd. We then had a lunch for her with 300 guests which was fascinating. She has some interesting stories to tell herself!

8. The name Queen Elizabeth is not leaving forever though, because next year she will be born again when the new Queen Elizabeth is delivered. This is going to be a remarkable ship and although it is some months away, could you tell us a little something about her?

Queen Elizabeth will be a wonderful ship – she will be a sister ship to Queen Victoria but with some differences, which will give her a personality of her own, but she will still be very ‘Cunard’. For now, though, she must be shrouded in mystery, and we will reveal her next year….

9. It is not only the passengers who are saying goodbye but the crew as well. Have any of them come to say their farewells?

We have hosted several functions on board over the last few years where we have invited back our previous captains, including the visit from Her Majesty this year, and so it was wonderful then to see so many of them. I am sure that our officers and crew will say their own farewells in different ways, but for all of us that have been associated with this great ship the good news is that we can go and visit her when she is in Dubai, so she isn’t disappearing forever. I’m sure we will have meetings of the Queens in the years to come, when we sail Queen Victoria or Queen Elizabeth past to visit her!

10. Are you taking any mementos from the ship…….not you personally Carol, although if you are, could I have a chair from the smoking room? No, seriously, what artifacts are you removing from the ship to put in the Cunard museum?

Her artifacts and memorabilia are going with her to Dubai. This is because we wouldn’t want QE2 to be without them – or she wouldn’t be QE2 so all go with her to Dubai. What am I taking? My memories and many photos.

A big thank you to Carol. I know how busy she is and for the head of the world’s greatest ocean liner company to take the time to write for our humble blog is very, very special and we say a big thank you to her.

Also, a big thank you goes to blogger Dave who has shared with us the perfect set of photos that not only show off the ship but show the hundreds of people who came to say goodbye. Thanks Dave so very much.

Here’s my Queen……..Sara Palin………..I mean Heidi.

Hello everybody! It’s Heidi here. (Yes, I changed the font and the size) :)) )
First of all, I am speechless. I am speechless after reading all the comments on the blog after John announced that we are going to be a Mum and Dad. After reading all the comments I had to take the time and write back to all of you.

Thank you SO MUCH for all the lovely words, offers to make the baby presents and best wishes. It’s quite amazing to read such sweet words from people, some of who I have never met. WOW!

I am feeling great in the morning and not so great in the afternoon and evening. It’s hard to get used to becoming tired quickly if you are used to being on the go all the time. I now have to listen to my body and stop when I need to, which takes a bit of adjusting, but with nine days to go on board, it is time to count down.

My colleagues look at me funny when I am eating dinner. I have no idea what’s wrong with beetroot on a bagel or toast with butter and brown sugar?!? I like it at the moment and I don’t like onions anymore.

My favorite potato chip is (was) Caramelized Onion Sensations …. mmmmmm … For the Brits who are reading this, I am sure you agree with me. The Sensations crisps are heavenly with all kind of “different” flavors. A friend on board would buy me a bag when she saw them ashore and did so the other day. I opened the bag and almost used the bag for ….well, I don’t need to explain.

I gave them to John to enjoy. Then, the next morning, I opened the cupboard to get some cereal out — and he must have left the bag open, put it back, and closed the door. I can still smell it now. Disgusting! So, no onions or even the smell of onions for me at the moment.

So, nine days left on board, nine days left in my Carnival career. I started in November 1996 and how time flies.

At the moment, there is nothing more I want to do then get home and have all the space in the world around me.

Although we have a bigger cabin than most, it’s still not like home. Being tired doesn’t really go together with this job either so the timing is perfect.

It will be strange not to work as I have worked since I was 13 while I was still at school, no weekend or vacation went by without a job and pocket money. Luckily I have enough things to do around the house and my Mum is coming over for a few weeks which will be great.

Here you have it – Heidi will be jobless, with a growing bump and all the time in the world to have coffee mornings (decaf tea for me) with friends, not having to check my watch all day anymore ………..not bad actually!

So John jets off to the U.S.A. soon and I will miss him terribly but a month will fly by, I am sure.

I am really proud of him and his new adventures will keep him busy which is great.

I will keep you up to date from home once in a while to let you know how I am doing. Until then, I wish everyone all the very best and thank you once again for all the nice things you have sent, written or told me in person over the years.

One last thing……….the thingy is due on May 15………..my Dad’s birthday.

Your friend,
Heidi & ?

OK, thanks Heidi and I second everything she said………except the bit about her being speechless………it will never happen.

Well, I guess I need to mention the credit crunch and meltdown Monday as it was being called. Stocks were falling quicker than Paris Hilton’s underwear and, as I watched my own little portfolio of shares tumble, I was surprised that in the middle of all this mayhem CNN International showed a report by a man with a beard who said “sales of organic food around the world had dropped 25% in the last 6 months.”………………

“I wonder why,” I thought.

People are worried about bills, their house is worthless, food costs more than gold, and filling your car with gas costs more than your car is worth — so it should be of no surprise to the man with beard that people aren’t spending hundreds of dollars on a shriveled up mushroom just so Peter the polar bear has a bigger piece of ice to play on.

Right now we need to be worried about people having jobs and being afford the basics of life. Food, water, heating, gas and cruises. We can worry about the Lesser Spotted Mongolian Bog Pig next year once the credit crunch thingy has buggered off.

I have to admit that I am not the sharpest tool in the box but I really don’t understand this whole thing. ………….let me explain.

I have no idea why falling house prices are such a bad thing. If you stay living there why does that matter? If you decide to move to another house then, yes, you will get less for your house — but doesn’t that mean you will also pay less for the one you are moving into? Then, if you don’t have a house at all…… they’re cheaper……….this should mean that it’s easier for first time buyers to get one?

Except, the banks are not lending you money which won’t happen until confidence returns which, in turn, won’t happen until prices rise again and then none of us will be able to afford it.

So, I guess we are all buggered.

My advice of a few days ago still stands…………….spend your money on a cruise, have fun and ignore the skeptics…………that’s my economic advice to you……………which some may say is like putting lipstick on a pig……………pointless.

Your friends
John, Heidi and thingy

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.