The First Blog From My New Laptop Dancer Thingy

October 22, 2008 -

News From Steph

Many people imagine when they rent a car in America that they’ll be thumping down Ocean Drive under a blazing sky in a throbbing Corvette or an evocative Mustang. Yum yum, they think. Freedom. Sunshine. A & W Root Beer. A Supermodel by your side dressed in a skimpy top and tight blue jeans. The American dream…

Sadly, however, most tourists end up with what I have been given to drive, which is almost certainly the worst car in the entire world. I won’t actually name the car in case any of you own one but considering I am paying $30 a day for something that can only be described as ………..well………….I can’t describe it.

The trunk is bigger than the store room area on the Carnival Splendor. However, the drawback of driving a car with this huge space on the back is that it doesn’t look very good. No. That doesn’t cover it. It makes you feel sick. It’s hysterically awful. Anyone thinking of drawing up a list of the ugliest cars ever made will be forced to put this one at the top. I have seen more attractive pimples.
And of course, being a rental car, it came with a warped disc brake and steering that was so out of whack it kept making a beeline for Montana. But the worst thing was the overwhelming sense from everything you touched that it had been built by someone who was being deliberately stupid or who was four years old. Life inside that much plastic gave me some idea of what it might be like to be Michael Jackson.

Sorry to start of with a moan and a very good afternoon to you. It’s been a whirlwind two days full of meetings, jet lag, more meetings, conference calls and, because of the jet lag, trips to the bathroom at 3 am in the morning.

So, where to start. How about with a big hello from Heidi who visited the doctor for her first check up today back in the UK. Obviously I could not be with her, which I was very upset about but all is well and she will have her first scan next week. Again, I will be on the Carnival Fantasy and I truly hope she knows how bad I feel about not being with her……………….and how much I miss my wife.

I am typing this blog on my new Carnival Lap Top Dancer computer. After signing more pieces of paper than when I bought my house, I had a lesson from a very handsome computerist called Pierre. ………..and yes……..he had a beard. Pierre took me through a world of strange and wonderful new words like “fob” and “logging on” and “control alt delete” and…………….I fell asleep. However, here I am feeling very proud of myself that I have managed to connect to the Intercontinental Hotel’s web thingy and it only cost’s $9.99 for 24 hours of thingy……….which by the way is the value of my rental crap …….. sorry ………car.

Anyway, how about the hotel? There are big glass electric doors in which a man called Jose will say hello to you, lots of plants and plenty of TV pornography in the room………..allegedly. But last night when I returned from having dinner with my mate Roger Blum I felt like I had entered the twilight zone. The first clue that I had entered the weirdest place in the world came as I headed for my room and passed a middle-aged nun working on her laptop in the lobby.

Now, maybe I thought this isn’t actually that weird……..maybe nun’s do log onto the web …….maybe God has a page on Facebook. However, things got even weirder when walking towards me came Shrek and a woman in a princessey type of costume. I then saw a notice outside of the conference room that explained that it wasn’t a real Nun on www. getintohehabbit.com.

It turned out that a company called Neighbors Removal had taken over one of the “function suites” for its annual party, and to break the ice, had insisted that the entire staff doll themselves up in hilarious costumes. As I stood waiting for an elevator I stood next to the Lone Ranger who had told Tonto to bugger off and was obviously heading up to his room for some rumpy pumpy with Hiawatha.

And that I thought was that until 2:34 am when I was awoken from a deep jet-lagged educed sleep by the ringing of an alarm. At first I thought it was my wake up call, then I sat up straight with the thought that the ship was on fire and I would be needed on the bridge. Then I realized that I was in a hotel and this must be a fire alarm.

It’s strange because I actually waited a few minutes for an announcement telling us what to do. Then as I regained my senses I realized that I was in a hotel. There was no PA system and there was no announcement coming…………and if by some miracle there was one…………..I was in Miami………and it might just be in Spanish.

So, I put on my t-shirt and trousers and gathering my passport and wallet I walked to the elevators. However, being someone who works in an environment of total safety awareness I took the stairs………….not the elevator.

And so there we were at 2:45am standing in the hotel lobby in our dressing gowns and our underpants watching staff and the arriving fire crew doing their best despite a gang of vomiting Smurfs and a Hiawatha whose hair had been perfect when standing outside the elevator but after a few hours of “Hi Ho Silver,” she looked like she had been pulled through a hedge backwards.

Then, we were told to go back to our rooms. At least that’s what I think someone said because after lots of Abler Spanyol everyone started to leave. There was no apology……….no explanation and as I rode back up to my room in the elevator with Darth Vader………….I gave silent thanks to the crew of our ships who are trained so brilliantly for situations like this one. There has been no letter, no apology, no explanation. There was no fire and probably the alarm was set off by one of the costume people……….my money is on the nun.

So, I am a little tired but too tired to tell you the news…………and there is lots of it.

Let’s start by saying thank you to the good people of Houston, Texas who have been so gracious with their hospitality toward our guests and crew. However, it is time to say goodbye but also time to say Welcome Home to the Port Of Galveston.

CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES RETURNS TO GALVESTON NOVEMBER 1

Carnival Ecstasy to Resume Four- and Five-Day Service Nov. 1; Carnival Conquest to Begin Seven-Day Cruises Nov. 2

MIAMI (October 22, 2008 ) – Carnival Cruise Lines, the Port of Galveston’s only year-round cruise operator, announced today that it will resume service from the Texas port on November 1, 2008 following a temporary seize in cruise operations due to Hurricane Ike last month.

The 2,052-passenger Carnival Ecstasy will resume year-round four- and five-day cruises from Galveston with a five-day voyage departing on Saturday, Nov. 1. The 2,974-passenger Carnival Conquest will begin year-round seven-day service from Galveston Sunday, Nov. 2.

Up until that time, the ships will continue to operate round-trip from the Port of Houston’s Bayport Cruise Terminal where they were shifted temporarily following Hurricane Ike. The Carnival Ecstasy cruises on October 23 and October 27; and the Carnival Conquest cruise on October 26 will operate round-trip from Houston.

“We are extremely pleased to be resuming service from the Port of Galveston and extend our congratulations and appreciation to the port and the Galveston community as a whole for enabling us to return so quickly,” said Gerry Cahill, Carnival’s president and CEO.

“We would also like to express our gratitude to the Port of Houston for their tremendous efforts in accommodating our ships and being such exceptional partners. Their support enabled these ships to remain Texas based while Galveston worked through its recovery process,” Cahill noted.

Carnival launched the first year-round cruise program from Galveston in 2000 and has expanded its presence dramatically over the past eight years. With the return of its two year-round ships, Carnival Ecstasy and Carnival Conquest, the line expects to carry an estimated 350,000 guests annually from Galveston.

According to Steve Cernak, director of the Port of Galveston, “We took a hit however we rapidly rebounded. We had our first cargo ship in nine days after the storm. Now, six weeks after Hurricane Ike, we are fully operational. The Port, as well as all of Galveston Island, is excited to welcome home both Carnival Ecstasy and Carnival Conquest.

Carnival Ecstasy’s four- and five-day cruise schedule encompasses four-day voyages departing Thursdays to Cozumel, Mexico, and five-day cruises departing Mondays and Saturdays to Cozumel and Progreso, Mexico. Carnival Conquest’s seven-day western Caribbean cruise program includes week-long voyages departing every Sunday to Montego Bay, Jamaica; Cozumel; and George Town, Grand Cayman as well as a new 2009 itinerary option that visits Key West, Freeport and Nassau.

Carnival Ecstasy and Carnival Conquest are part of Carnival Cruise Lines’ 22-vessel fleet which operates three- to 18-day voyages to The Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexican Riviera, Alaska, Hawaii, the Panama Canal, Canada, New England, Bermuda, Europe and South America. The line currently has two new ships scheduled for delivery between now and 2011.
For additional information and reservations, contact any travel agent, call 1-800-CARNIVAL or visit carnival.com.

It’s great to be going back and I am sure the sight of the most famous smokestack in the world will have hearts and minds rejoicing. It’s been a struggle for many and for some it continues to be so. However, normality is returning and Carnival is so pleased to be able to dock its ships there once more.

Now, yesterday you will have seen a video which was taken after our meeting about the coming event in Dallas. I will be hosting an event which will feature a Guinness World Record attempt…………….throwing the largest cruise director off a high rise building in downtown Dallas………………….sorry…………….that should have read The World’s Largest Beach Ball…………………same thing.

We shall have a pre-record attempt party featuring live music, free food, t-shirt giveaways, free food, the unveiling of the new Fun Booth, free food, contests for complimentary cruises, free food and oh yes……….free food. Some of you have been asking if you can come and of course it would be an honor to see you. I am going to host a Bloggers coffee that morning and if you would like to come please let Stephanie know by posting a comment by tomorrow (Thursday) at noon. It will be great to see you and I am honored that you are making the effort. I will let you know the details on Philadelphia soon.

Now, if you cannot attend because you have some feeble excuse like you live in California or Thorpe Bay in the UK or you want to watch Despicable Housewives on TV, then never fear. There will be live “steaming” or is it “streaming?” video thingies on the blog so please stop by. Stephanie ……………….can you explain what they need to do please.

Hi Everyone,

It’s really simple, just stop by the blog at Noon (central time, 1 pm EST) and click on the link that says: “Live Blog Coverage” (it will be the first post you see on the blog). You can also watch on Carnival’s main website by visiting: www.carnival.com/funcrowd. If you stop by that site before Sunday you can also sign up for an email reminder. If you have any questions just submit a question marked “Stephanie Please Reply” and I’ll respond as soon as I can.

See you Sunday!
Stephanie

Now, we are also unveiling something very special called “Give Fun Back.” ……………..what’s that…………….well, let me explain all about this noble cause.  This is a special program for our friends in New Orleans. Various radio stations in the City will be promoting something called “Give Back Fun”. This contest will allow people that live in and around New Orleans to nominate someone worthy of a free cruise aboard the Carnival Fantasy. Carnival is giving away 5 cruises – these cruises are unique because guests (with up to 3 of their friends) will be staying in our penthouse suites. Just listen to your local radio stations or check out their websites for details. The contest ends in November, so if you can’t find the details just let us know by submitting a question/comment on the blog.

That’s brilliant………..and I look forward to telling you all about the winners, etc soon.

So, here is my schedule one more time for the next few days.

THURSDAY – ECONOMY CLASS FLIGHT TO DALLAS
FRIDAY – BLOGGING, RADIO INTERVIEWS AND ANSWERING YOUR COMMENTS
SATURDAY – MEETINGS, REHEARSALS, BLOGGING ETC
SUNDAY – THE BIG EVENT
MONDAY – ECONOMY CLASS FLIGHT TO JOIN CARNIVAL FANTASY.

So, there you go. A very busy few days and ones I am looking forward to a lot.

This morning I attended a 2009 Bloggers Cruise meeting. I was shown the complimentary gifts you will all be receiving including one that made me cringe…………..it’s unbelievable and very humbling sitting around a table talking about all these people who want to cruise with me. Now, we also arranged the following activities.

WELCOME ABOARD COCKTAIL PARTY
DAILY INTIMATE TEA AND JOHN SESSIONS
Q AND A SESSIONS
BLOGGERS TALENT SHOW
COOKING DEMO WITH CELEB CHEF KEVIN
MARDI GRAS PARTY
PRIVATE EXCURSION TO A PRIVATE ISLAND IN COZUMEL (CLOTHING OPTIONAL)
FAREWELL PARTY
And much more.

As for dinner…………..well, this was a tough one…………early………….or late. In the end we went with the 6 pm sitting in the forward dining room. We are going to pretty much have this one to ourselves and it looks like we will have everyone sitting with their friends and co-bloggers. I will also host a table every night and will have a raffle drawing to see who is unlucky enough to have to sit next to me while I chomp on a steak. I am sure some of you will want to sit with “your group” and we will arrange this as well……………details will follow.

I also will have the best entertainment to complement, the brilliant shows already in place onboard. …………….more of that next week when I report live from the Carnival Fantasy and her Evolutions of Fun.

It’s not too late to join us.

Let’s stop by and see what’s happening in Jaime’s world.

October 21, 2008

Dear John,

Another day, another early tour morning for us here on the newest Fun Ship! Today we were docked in Izmir, Turkey and my goal of the day was to see Ephesus. It would be an absolute shame to come all this way and not see one of the Seven Wonders of the World. I had requested to join the guest tour to Ephesus, but apparently there are too many VIP’s cruising this week in order to accommodate my request. Fortunately, tenacity is my middle name (which is weird because I am German), so there was no way I would let a full tour stand in my way. Plus, I figured that writing a “Dear John” letter about going back to bed and my adventures doing laundry would not be too exciting. One of the pursers told me that a taxi ride to Ephesus would cost approximately 120 Euros, so I spoke with Owen and Lauren, two of my colleagues, to see if they wanted to share a cab ride, because who knew when we would be back. The plans were already in the making, but I had to focus on tours before I could accomplish my daily plan.
Yesterday when we left Marmaris, we departed about an hour late thanks to two gentlemen who lost their tour group in Rhodes. As a result, we pulled into port 30 minutes behind schedule. With nearly 2000 guests going on tours this morning, this meant a full lounge, a line for tours that wrapped around the dining room, and several frustrated guests. Once we finally arrived and started disembarking guests, everything ran smoothly. Stephanie, our ACD, did a fantastic job of managing the lounge this morning. Once tour distribution was finished, I was finally able to breathe a sigh of relief, and focus on getting to Ephesus. On a last minute whim, I asked our shore excursion manager over the radio if there was any room on any of the tour buses. He told me to rush down to the gangway, and this was my first glimmer of hope to get into the city!
I changed out of my Domino’s Pizza uniform in a hurry and ran down the crew stairs, off the ship, and down what seemed like the longest pier in Carnival history! I struggled to find where the tour buses were lined up, and when I finally arrived at the buses, I saw the last bus pulling away to uncover the shore ex manager’s position. He shook his head and apologized, I took a deep breath, but I could feel my face filled with disappointment. Then all of a sudden, the tour operators walked over to the shore ex manager to talk to him. Then, he turned me to and said “Jaime, there is an empty bus right there, go inside and you will meet the other Carnival buses at Ephesus.” I was elated, to say the least. The bus included the five tour operations staff, the staff chief engineer’s family, and me. I was sweaty, slightly starving but certainly content. Even better than having a private bus, I was able to speak with the tour operation staff about life in Turkey, I have already learned about the history of the country from other tours that I joined last week, but these guys shared stories about growing up and their personal life experiences, which if you remember, I appreciate even more.
Once I arrived at Ephesus (yippee!!) my new friends introduced me to the person in charge at the historic location, and he told me to join any of the tour groups. I chose to stick around with sticker Red #4, because they seemed like a fun crowd, and I recognized many of the guests from the ship. I could not have made a better choice. Umit, our guide, was charismatic, and extremely knowledgeable. He taught us all about the different types of columns in Ephesus, how the snake because the symbol of medicine, the temple built in 118 AD and much, much more. I had a wonderful time exploring these ancient ruins, and I was even more proud that I had achieved the goal I set out for the day. At the end of the tour, I decided I couldn’t return home without my souvenir book, postcards, fresh pomegranate juice, and figs to share with the bus… Ya know, I still think it is weird that I have trouble saving money =)! Also, it turned out I got my nap in after all. Umit let me sleep on his shoulder on the trip back to the ship.
Tonight is filled with bingo accounting and more crew activity planning. We will be in Istanbul tomorrow so I am sure some stories on the bazaar will follow.

I love reading all of your comments. I can’t wait to sail with you soon!


Different types of columns at Ephesus


The Landscape of Izmir


The wonderful Turkish tour operations staff


The Ruins


The Ruins


The Temple


The Theater

::smiles::
Jaime =)

I am sure the fire alarm prank was alcohol-induced and as I continue my look back at my younger years I want to talk about the perils of drinking. When I was 16 I had something my other mates didn’t…………….it was called Bum Fluff. This is the wispy growth of hair that sits on your chin and made you think you look like Clint Eastwood………………when in fact you looked like an idiot. Anyway, this was the first thing that helped me be able to purchase alcohol but it wasn’t enough…………..you needed fake I.D.

For this I went to a guy who was very well known in the area. He looked like Donald Pleasance’s character “The Forger” from the Great Escape ………….. Except his forgeries were total and utter crap. Anyway, my bum fluff and fake ID was enough to fool Mr. Patel who ran the local “off license” or liquor store and me and mates discovered the world of drinking cheap Carlsberg “special brew” beer and industrial strength cider………….called Woodpecker………………which is probably what it was made from.

Now, I am going to tell you a story that my sister enjoys telling everyone at parties and family gatherings and I have decided to share it with you…………my friends. It involves the two bastions of teenage life……………drinking………….and trying to impress girls.

My mate Alan and I had gone to a party at someone’s house whose parents were on a Carnival cruise…………….well……………..actually I have no idea where they were but to add a touch of romance to the tale lets pretend that they were on the Mardi Gras sailing to Nassau. Anyway, the party was held at the home of the some “posh” friends who lived in a big house. So, trying to upgrade my position and in the expectation that there would be posh girls there I brought a bottle of red wine with me…………….which I decided to drink myself from the bottle thinking it would impress the girls.

I think I was the life and soul of the party for about 20 minutes but then things started to get a little………..fuzzy. I remember feeling very hot…………telling everyone I loved them………and then as the record ” you spin me round like a record right round” was playing I started to spin as well…………and then even in my drunk state I knew I was about to empty the contents of my stomach over Mr. and Mrs. Posh’s new shag pile carpet.

Somehow I managed to make it to the toilet and stayed there with my head buried into the porcelain throne for some time……………..my evening was not going well and things were only going to get worse. Alan had decided it was best I went home and had called my Dad to come and get me. He helped me out to the curb which is where some minutes later my dad found me. He pulled up in his brand new car. It was a red Rover and the first brand new car we had ever had ………….it was his pride and joy. My Dad never shouts and screams and I remember he helped me into the front seat and we set off for home. This is when the really bad thing happened.

The motion of the car was not good for me or my stomach which was floating in a bubbling cordon of cheap Spanish wine. I started to retch. I remember my Dad urging me to wind the window down but it was too late. ……………………..and I projectile vomited all over the dashboard of my Dad’s new car………….my Dad somehow carried on driving………….even though his left arm was now a strange orange color. He started to retch as well but somehow he got his exploding son home. The memories of what happened after that are somewhat hazy.

However, I do remember the next day very well. I walked gingerly downstairs aware that the house smelt strongly of bleach. I hobbled downstairs and saw Mum and then looked at Dad remembering what I had done in his brand new car. I said ………….”sorry “……………..and because I have the best Dad in the world……………he forgave me.

My Mum and my sister were not so forgiving, though. For the next few weeks nobody could sit in the front passenger seat of the car because of the smell of sick. The seat was permanently stained in a V – shape where my legs had been and weeks later…………Dad was still finding bits of dried pasta and diced carrot clinging to the dashboard.

I said that day I would never drink again…….that of course was bollocks. However, not long after I found love for the first time. I will tell you about that tomorrow.

Goodnight
Your Friends
John, Heidi and the 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.