Peter Says Goodbye

November 12, 2008 -

John Heald

Bugger… this Facespace thingy has gotten out of control. Stephanie called me yesterday and told me that I have 1,000 friends and hundreds of requests from people who wanted to be my friend and needed a hug. My friend list is increasingly weird – Julian Fennel, for instance. The last time I saw Mr Fennel he was in junior school when we were eight years old……..I hated him because he got to kiss Sally Poole and here he is 30-something years later wanting to be my mate.

Then there is an ex-girlfriend whose name had better stay anonymous. We met on the Carnival Fantasy in 1990 and dated for some time. I told her to bugger off when I found her stealing $200 from my wallet and found out that she was having rumpy pumpy with the Staff Chief Engineer behind my back………..on her back…………………she now wants to be my friend……………I have said yes but only if she pays back the $200.

Anyway, there were many, many outstanding comments awaiting me so I decided to go and find somewhere to answer them. I could have worked in the office but there is a constant stream of people wanting to chat. I just can’t concentrate on writing a blog or replies without complete and utter silence………no music……no TV……..no conversation …………….just the sound of the keyboard………….and the occasional fart.

I could have worked in my hotel room but that is getting smaller each and every day. I have been there for one month now and I am beginning to find it so very claustrophobic. …..and so, feeling very, very brave I decided to go to South Beach….sit at a café …………. and write.

As with most urban environments, there is plenty to do, and on South Beach, there are more than the average city. The first problem was that even before I had opened my laptopdancer computer I knew that coming here might have been a mistake ………………… there were bosoms and bottoms everywhere as the young and beautiful minced on by. There were girls dressed in tight shorts and tighter T-shirts either accompanied by a girl dressed in similar fashion or by a ……………… ummmmmmm ……………….. man ……………. who was dressed in Guucivalentinopradachannel ………….some of these, ummmm, men made Richard Simmons look like Arnold Schwarzenegger………………………..and there was me …………. sweatpants, Miami Heat T-shirt………and hemorrhoids………………I felt really out of place.

Never mind……………I thought I have 1,000 plus friends on Facespace so bugger them.

And so I opened up my laptopdancer thingy and then realized I had forgotten the wireless card thingy. This Harry Potter designed card allows me to hit the internet thingy anywhere ……………..even the toilet…………I know this because I wrote most of yesterday’s blog while reliving myself of Emperor Chicken, Satay Beef and white rice. However…………I had left this magic card in the hotel.

Then I remembered a trick a computer man with a beard had taught me about how you could do something called “piggybacking” …………this word could also be used when describing the ex-girlfriend I referred to earlier.

So, I did what I was taught and that’s when my problem started.

My laptop showed that I was in range of seven different signals. I tried two and they needed passwords but the third one didn’t and allowed me to go online. I started responding to my Facespace page when a very angry Cuban chap stormed up to me and accused me of “stealing his internet.”

It turned out that he was the owner of the cafe on the other side of the road that charged patrons three dollars for Internet access. This man was getting quite hysterical and I found it difficult to stop laughing. I explained to him that I was sitting in a public place and I didn’t even know whose connection it was that I was using. Not that it mattered — if you don’t want someone to use your signal then make sure that they need to use a password.

Mr. Cuban went crazy and said that I was a criminal and that he was off to get the police. I laughed and told him that I’d be delighted if he did. He stormed off screaming and swearing in Spanish……….now as soon as he buggered off I did the same. I might have been full of bravado to his face but the thought of Don Johnson and his friends taking me to jail had me in a cab and back at the hotel immediately.

I thought that this story was so amusing that I’ve been telling everyone about it and about how ridiculous the guy was…… and, in fact, apparently I was wrong……………with many of my colleagues agreeing that it should be a criminal offense to use someone else’s Internet access

I was absolutely stunned – the practice of this “dark art” has saved me many a time when I’ve been trying to pick up my e-mails or send off an article away from home.

I love scouring an area trying to find an open link to send in my blogs. I suppose that it’s the closest I’ll ever get to be a member of the British Secret Service. I get my “equipment” ready – a fully charged laptopdancer computer, a Diet Coke and my emergency ration of hemorrhoid cream……make sure my car is fully fueled and the mission is ready to begin.

Then I get in and cruise around, stopping the car every five minutes or so to see if I can get a non-password-enabled signal while trying not to look too much like a stalker. It’s incredibly satisfying, harms nobody and allows you to read my musings wherever I am in the world. What could be better?

In most big cities, if you’re really organized, you can subscribe to some company, pay a monthly fee, and then pop into places like Starbucks to get online. But why bother when you can do it for free and not bother anybody?

Besides, sometimes I just don’t want a Cappo-Grande-Skinny-Maciatto. I only want to get online for two minutes and send an e-mail while drinking a cup of monkey tea.

I tend to rate hotels by whether they charge for the Internet or not. I had this problem at the posh hotel in Dallas where they charged a fortune for Wi-Fi access.

However after making the Cafe Cubano owner mad and considering he may have returned with his two friends Senor Smitho and Westeno…………..I think that nay have been my last piggybacking session.

There are just two more Dear John letters from Jaime…………here is today’s.

November 11, 2008

Dear John,

Feeling the thrusters going off at 6 am had never been more appeasing and anticipated than after five long sea days. This noise that usually brings on a moan of irritation instead resulted in cheers of excitement. To wake up, look out of the porthole and see LAND for the first time in what seemed like forever was truly an incredible feeling. I rushed off the ship first thing so that I was able to enjoy being in port for as long as possible. As I made my way off the gangway I bumped into one of our friendly Carnival Splendor pursers, after apologizing for running into her, she invited me to join her and her team at the Orient Bay, Bikini Beach. Luckily, I WAS indeed wearing a bikini, later I learned later this article of clothing was not in the wardrobe of many of the other visitors of the beach.

It was such a nice change to be back in the Caribbean with American style school buses, and radio stations. Even the toilets were a nice treat, as long as there was not a 1 Euro charge to use them! Today happened to be a holiday in St. Maarten so even though many shops were closed, the taxi drivers were still working hard to accommodate all of the tourists.

Making it to the beach was an adventure within itself; the road was narrow, long and quite windy. Traffic lined the one way streets connecting the port to the beach because of this holiday. Luckily, the drive around the coastline was certainly not a waste of time. Guests that have visited St. Maarten before informed me that the island has been significantly improved over the past few years. To be more specific, the houses were cleaned up, the beach was full of white sand and the water was the most beautiful shades of aqua-ey, turquoise-y, greenish blue.

Once we made our way to the French side of the island, lying on the beach and hearing the sounds of the waves in the background was the most relaxing sound I could possibly imagine. The track that I have on my iPod of “songs from the ocean” definitely does not compare. The pursers staff had decided they wanted to go jet skiing so I had the opportunity to tag along. All I can tell you is that I have never driven a jet ski, and I have not ridden one since the age of 13, and I think I swallowed more saltwater than a beluga whale. This salty combination along with the texture of the salt grinding in my teeth was probably the most perfect part of the day. My sore legs and back will help me remember this wonderful experience for days to come.

On the drive back to the ship there were barbeques and streamers everywhere and all of this celebration led to even more traffic. Being back on board the entertainment staff headed up to the Pinnacle Supper Club, for me it was the second time this cruise. After spending time in a bathing suit all day, I realize I can not make this into too much of a habit, but the food is so incredible that it was worth it =). Two more sea days before we return to the States with big smiles, open arms and inexpensive cell phone reception!

See you soon!
Jaime =)

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The beautiful Island of St. Maarteen, right near the pier

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The drive to the beach

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The drive to the beach

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The gorges beach, sand and water with the purser’s team!

See you soon! Jaime =)

Now, as promised here is Carnival UK’s Chief Commercial Officer our great friend Peter Shanks to tell us about a very special day and a very special……………………….goodbye.

Farewell QE2 – How Special Was That ?

John

It was a day beyond all days and – as your official UK Reporter – I wanted to share it with you and your many Carnival Bloggers. Awesome is a word one does not use too often – but this was more that awesome.

Of course you will know that the day did not start exactly as I had envisaged. On her way into Southampton QE2 in strong winds gently nudged a mudbank and came to a halt. It was a rising tide, we had tugs alongside, suffered no damage and the ship was shortly back on track. Although we were only 60 minutes late alongside – the media around the world had started the day off with “QE2 runs aground”. When asked later on National TV as to what had happened, I simply said that it turns out QE2 is more attached to Southampton than we thought.

So – next up was preparing to welcome HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. He duly arrived and came onboard just as it turned 1100. Being the 11th of November and Armistice Day – we therefore started with a 2 minute silence. To do this in the presence of HRH in front of the famous ‘Falklands Corner’ on deck 2 was very moving indeed. As we stood there, two historic aircraft flew over the ship and dropped a million red poppies over the ship. Given that it was the 90th anniversary of the end of World War One – this was a very special tribute and carried out in true Cunard style.

HRH then continued round the ship meeting as many of our current and past crew as he could ,including past Captains. On arriving in the Queens Room we asked HRH on our behalf to present a specially commissioned painting of QE2 to the Mayor of Southampton. We had first shown this to his wife ( or I should say Her Majesty the Queen) when she came to bid farewell in June of this year. Clever strategy – why invite them together when you can get two wonderful events. Even better – HRH decided he would say a few words. Marvellous I thought – the time had come for one of his much loved personal insights. The picture was of QE2 in the Solent weaving her way amongst a flotilla of yachts. HRH is a keen sailor and went on to mention that many times he had to take action as this wonderful liner had him in her sights. If that was not bad enough, he went on to say , Cunard have only gone and built two even bigger liners to get in the way of my yacht. There we go – mission accomplished. My objective throughout the QE2 farewell celebrations has been to promote the fact that although QE2 is moving on we have two other fabulous liners and Queen Elizabeth on the way – and here we were with HRH endorsing the story himself. He went on to say that his one regret was that he had not had the chance to cross the transatlantic on a Cunard Liner. Now we are about to launch some fabulous Wave offers for QM2 transatlantics and I will make sure that HRH gets a personal mailing !

Now I have not mentioned the heroes of the piece yet – the Cunard crew. They set about serving lunch for HRH and 70 guests in the famous Princess Grill. They served immaculate smoked salmon, beef wellington and coffee. We only had 55 minutes for lunch before being out on deck for a very special fly-past. The Cunard team delivered – infact they did it with time to spare and nobody felt rushed. It was a beautiful lunch and our famous White Star Service was very much in evidence.

So out we all went onto the upper decks. We were expecting a Harrier Jump Jet from the Royal Air Force at 1340. Now for those of you who may not know what a Harrier is – it is a vertical take off fighter aircraft. They came into service at the same time as QE2 in 1967 – and played a major part in the Falklands War alongside QE2. So at exactly 1340 the jet whistled in. It stopped dead in it’s tracks just 500 feet opposite the funnel. It hovered, bowed it’s nose in respect, turned and then screamed off into the distance at full speed. Unbelievable, one iconic engineering feat paying tribute to another.

We bid farewell to HRH, it had been our pleasure to have him on the ship and he made the day very special indeed – especially for all those amongst our crew that he was able to meet.

Let me now fast forward to 1830, with all guests embarked for the final voyage of QE2 .No normal voyage – this is the one that sold out in 36 minutes at full brochure price. We had already made the front pages and lead story on the TV bulletins with our mudbank incident. But now the media interest for the departure was at fever pitch. Our President Carol Marlow was hosting a special event in the upper level of the QE2 Terminal. I had volunteered to be the co-presenter on the 60 minute live BBC coverage of the departure. The water was full with hundreds of small boats, tens of thousands of local people lined every inch of water, helicopters were in the air the ship was ready to go and the fireworks were primed.

My strategy for co-presenting the live BC broadcast soon became apparent to all. No mater what I was asked I was going to refer to the future of Cunard , the wonderful Queen Mary 2 , Queen Victoria and of course Queen Elizabeth. The wonders of live television – as I have learnt from watching the more astute politicians, you can say exactly what it is you want to say no matter what the question. After all ,why let the facts get in the way of a good story.

Well I sort of achieved my objective , but I have to be honest and say that the evening was of course about a very special lady – the QE2 – and rightly so.
Like all good ladies, having been fashionably late in the morning – she left on time to the second. The presenter asked me afterwards , as we stood at the bow , how was I so confident to say live on TV that the ropes would definitely be let go in two minutes and she would come of the berth in four minutes. I told her it was just the confidence I had in the crew – the real answer being the blackberry messages I was secretly glancing at every few minutes.

As to what happened next –pictures say it better than words. QE2 slipped of the berth lit up by flash bulbs from ship and shore and sound drowned out by the band. She moved slowly down to salute the many thousands of local people escorted by hundreds of boats. Just at that moment we relayed a message in person from the Captain to giant screens ashore. He finished his few words with ‘ she will never return to Southampton again………………’. Then – the mighty QE2 whistle sounded, everybody cried (except me because I used to play rugby) and the fireworks then lit up the sky.

As the fireworks finished you could just pick up the sound of thousands of people with ‘Three Cheers for QE2 – hip hip , hip hip, hip hip ‘. And then the QE2 slipped through the dark and off to the next chapter of her life in Dubai.

All of us who work with Cunard are so very privileged to be part of such a special brand. The one word that binds us all together is ‘ proud’ . This was an event of which we can all be proud and an event that hopefully will persuade more and more customers around the world to come and share in the pride of the Cunard brand.

We are Cunard !

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Peter, I know how busy you are and to take the time to share this with our thousands of readers is just brilliant of you. The past has sailed away in the shape of the Queen Elizabeth 2 and the future is already here with the Queen Mary 2, the Queen Victoria and of course……………………………the new Queen Elizabeth. I hope Peter will continue to share his Cunard adventures with all of us. For more photos please visit www.cunard.com.

I would like as many of you to vote as possible on this fascinating subject.

It will be interesting to see the results. I certainly think choice is the way to go and this blog thingy is a great tool to see what you prefer.

I see many of you enjoyed the video yesterday and I promise many more in the future. Remember, on Friday I will be going home………………….to the Carnival Splendor to welcome her back to Miami. I will be taking the video flip thingy with me.

We are still working on the details for the next 2009 Bloggers Cruise on the Carnival Dream and hope to announce this very soon. However, yesterday I saw the gifts we will be giving each and every blogger during the Bloggers Carnival Fantasy cruise on Feb 7…….and I have to say…….they are brilliant. I can’t wait for you to see them. ……………one is ………….well…………….very unique. Are you coming?

Here is a message from Heidi which I have cut and pasted thingy.

Hello Everyone.

I wanted to say a big thank you for the lovely messages you have been writing to me on the blog. Yesterday I went for a scan. I really wished John could have been with me but I know he has a job to do and he shouldn’t feel bad. He will not listen to me though so maybe you can tell him. My Mum came with me and it was nice to have her by my side. The pictures of the Thingy made me so happy. I saw the Thingy’s feet and head and it was dancing around having fun. I am 14 weeks pregnant and the thingy will arrive on May 15 which was my Dad’s birthday. He is watching over me.

I really miss John and can’t wait to see have him home. I will even forgive him if he leaves his underwear on the bathroom floor and I have those big forceps that Big Ed gave me on the Bloggers Cruise to pick them up.

I hope you all saw our PO Box address and I promise to reply to all the letters and cards which I have already received.

Thank you for being such wonderful friends
Lots of love
Heidi
x

What can I say……………….Normally I like to ease you into the workday morning in the same way that you might pour a pint of cream onto a Lionel Ritchie love song? But today, I’m afraid; I think the cream has turned sour.

If you’re five years old a year is a fifth of your whole life, which is why it seems to go on and on for an eternity. But if you’re 43, a year is a 43rd of your life, which is why it passes like winter’s day in Finland. When you’re 43, time passes quite literally much faster than when you’re five.

When you’re 75 time is hurtling by at such a rate that driving your small car is like plunging through a tear in the space-time continuum (sorry, Star Trek thingy reference.) The throttle pedal is a hyperspace button.

This is why old people drive so slowly; because 12 mph to someone from a retirement community in Florida is like 1,000 mph to a teenager.

When you sit behind them at a stop sign wondering why on earth they won’t pull out, it’s because the approaching truck that, to you, is moving at 14 mph is coming at them like the Starship Enterprise on warp factor 10.

I have to admit that I did not have much patience with the Cadillac that, from behind, was apparently being driven by four wisps of white hair and two pairs of knuckles. I had to hold my temper with this one, especially when it stopped at a set of green lights. What are they all doing, these old people? I thought they only ever went out on a Saturday, taking their nose hair to the mall, and then crawling home again.

Of course, it’s not hard to work out what’s happened. Old people are now damn fitter than they used to be. Elderly people are no longer content with a hardboiled egg and a nice view of some flowers and trees. They want to get down to the Home Depot for paint and three bags of cement. Others go to the gun range to test fire their Magnum 45. Some of them even want to keep on touring with their rock ’n roll bands. And that’s fine.

Except, of course, that while they may be physically capable of working on This Old House …………asking a punk who tried to steal their purse if they “feel lucky” and singing I Can’t Get No Satisfaction, there’s no getting around the pace-of-life problem when they get into the car.

It was while I was sitting behind the pair of knuckles at the green light I realized that it would not be long before I was one of them……………I realized that I had more years behind me than in front of me.

I know I should tell these feelings to bugger off ……………. But, the feeling old thing has been on my mind ……………….especially with a Thingy on the way. ………………….I hope the Thingy will make me feel young again.

Thanks for listening
Your friend
John

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.