It’s winter which means people with beards are packing their fur lined underpants and are going skiing.

I hate skiing. I never understand why people ski down a slope to a bar and then go on a lift so they can ski down the same slope again.

That’s like walking to the pub on a Sunday, then going home and walking to the pub again… Madness. I ski to a bar and then go inside for a drink. That’s if I liked skiing at all. The only part of a skiing holiday I like very much are he crystal skies, the jagged mountains that pin-sharp air and all those pretty girls in tight spandex ski pants.

The bit I don’t like about skiing is the chance that you may die or at least break one of your legs. It would be cheaper for you to book a cruise……..during which you stay in one of the ship’s deep freezers and once a day I will come in and beat you about the legs with a baseball bat….that’s the same as going skiing but much better value for money.

Others who, like me, hate the snow are heading to warmer weather and, in many cases, are heading to Africa to see animals and their poo.

I’ve never been on a safari although it is on my “to do” list just behind swimming with sharks and burying myself in the sand with just my arse sticking out and a big sign next to me saying “park your bike here.”

Nope, like skiing safaris are not for me. Quite apart from the threat of being eaten, you have to sleep in a tent.

Now camping is fine if you are nine years old, or if you are stuck on a mountain and your fingers are falling off, but I view it in the same way that I view barbecues. What’s the point? Why eat food covered in ash when you have a cooker? Why sleep on the floor and crap in a hole if you have a house, with running water and a bed? Because you want to get close to nature? Fine. Go to a zoo. I asked some friends of mine recently why they thought this kind of vacation was so fantastic.

Regular bloggers Neville and Josephine Bentley just returned from two weeks of no TV, no raspberry service and when I met them for dinner last night…….quite honestly……they smelt a little of elephant poo.

Neville made out that camping with in deepest Africa was as far removed from boy scouting as Judge Judy is from Angelina Jolie. He told me the tents have polished wooden floors, and flushing toilets, and beds, and lots of luxury items likes plates, knives and forks and even a coffee machine. ………ok……well, I can see that maybe Neville and Josephine maybe did not have to poo in a bucket but what about the animals.

Now, the thing about animals is that they’re on television all the time. And we’re always asked to bask in the wonders of their magnificence. Or their cuteness. Or their ferocity.

The commentators, with the exception of David Attenborough, always give them character from a human standpoint. We can’t navigate by magnetic lines, and because pigeons can, we’re supposed to think that pigeons are somehow more clever than us. When plainly they’re not. Or they wouldn’t fly into windows quite so much and they would learn to crap only on vegetarians.

Dolphins, we’re told, have a huge intelligence. Wrong. Because if a dolphin really is “intelligent,” what does that make Paris Hilton? Animals can do no wrong. Princess Josephine took great pleasure in telling me that during their safari they found a half-eaten zebra, and after just five minutes poking around, trying to find something interesting about it, the guide told them that it had been killed only hours ago by lions.

Now, who needs to sit by a Carnival pool on Lido followed by dinner at the supper club and seeing a fantastic show when you can explore the innards of a zebra that has just had its day ruined by Leo and company?

See? You don’t get that kind of info on Animal Planet. They’re always too busy talking about bloody lions. Having spent an hour looking at a pride doing bugger all, I’ve decided are the single most boring creatures you’ll find anywhere except RCI cruise directors of course.

They don’t do anything………. ever. I’ve decided are the single most boring creatures you’ll find anywhere outside a bus shelter in Leicester. They don’t do anything. Ever.

As regular bloggers some of you will know, I don’t go for all the bollocks about the magnificence of the animal kingdom. To me, beasts of the field have always fallen into one of three categories: cute, delicious or useless. But now, having seen Neville and Josephine’s holiday safari videos, I’ve discovered there are other categories as well: smelly, vindictive and, most surprising of all, unbelievably funny.

I’ve never really thought about the noise a hippopotamus might make. I suppose if I’d had to come up with an answer or be shot, I’d have imagined it’d be a fierce roar, something befitting the mammal that kills more humans than any other. But it isn’t. It is, in fact, the stupidest sound on earth and as Neville, Josephine and Heidi sat watching the video giving off lots of “oohhhs and ahhhhs,” I just sat their thinking how wrong I had been about what sound a hippo makes.

It starts as though it is attempting to hawk two thousand gallons of phlegm from deep inside its lungs (a bit like a Turkish carpet dealer) and then finishes with something that sounds like the Judge Judy after smoking 200 Marlboros in one day……I could not stop laughing which, of course, put me straight into the doghouse.

Then the video turned to an animal called an impala, which is a sort of deery thing. Neville had filmed the guide who had spotted one heading toward the lions. “Oh no,” he said in a hushed whisper. “He’s going to be eaten.” “Good,” I thought. That’s exactly what I’d do to a deer if it walked right past my kitchen window. Shoot it and put it in the fridge. But no. The useless lions just sat there and let it stroll right on by. I’ve seen faster moving 90-year-old passengers with walking frames.

Finally as the video came to an end, I was treated to five minutes of film about hyenas. You hear a lot about hyenas on nature programs; that their poo is white from all the calcium in the bones they eat, that they have the strongest jaws of any animal, that they have front-wheel drive. But so far as I know, no television naturalist has ever pointed at this biblically ugly dog-cat thingy and said: “Have you ever, honestly, seen anything as ugly as that?”

Josephine told me about how one morning while she was sitting outside her tent enjoying a breakfast of Kellogg’s Hyena Flakes that a leopard walked past the camp just 50 feet away…..and she was so excited to tell me this as though it were George Clooney walking past the camp…….naked…….being chased by a giraffe…….also naked.

Ahhhhhhh yes……….that’s exactly how I want to spend my vacation……..having a battle with a huge bloody leopard. So, let’s analyze the contestants. In the jungle corner we have a big cat, more than 100 pounds of streamlined muscle, one of the fastest animals on God’s earth and one of the most efficient killers. And in the tent corner, we have a fat 44-year-old diabetic in his underpants.

Nope……I think I will stick to sailing the Seven Seas safe in the knowledge that I won’t be killed in an avalanche, eaten by lions or treading in some hippopotamus poo.

Now, have you seen the www.carnival.com/dream page? Well, if you have not please stop by and see the new renderings that now accompany Joe Farcus’s interview which can be found there. These renderings show again just how spectacular our new ship will be.

Here are some brilliant slides from a recent Carnival Dream presentation I saw for you to enjoy as well.

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You know how people say “book quickly because space is limited” and you think to yourself……what a load of bollocks………well, you probably would not use the word bollocks but instead use garbage or such like…….well……in this case when I say you had better book the Carnival Dream quickly because space is limited I really do mean it……..she is proving to be brilliantly popular.

Don’t forget that on December 3 we will hold a Bloggers Cruise onboard and more details will filter through about this soon. Talking of bloggers cruises…..don’t forget that yesterday we posted information on the Cozumel exclusive tour we will be offering. In case you missed it, here’s Stephanie to post the information again….remember only 350 can go.

Hi Everyone,

Apologies but the excursion is not yet listed online. We’re working on adding it and it should be added by tomorrow. There was some confusion on the exact excursion because there are similar tours listed on carnival.com. Please note that the blogger’s cruise excursion will be labeled “JUAN’S MEXICAN FIESTA”. If you book any other Play Mia excursion you will not be part of the blogger’s cruise excursion. My apologies again that it’s not listed, but rest assured that we should have enough space for everyone. If you have any questions just submit a comment and mark it ATTN: STEPHANIE and I will do my best to respond asap.

And just as a recap our blogger’s excursion is $69 and will include food, drink, transportation, activities and a private beach area.

Thanks and see you soon!
Stephanie

Now, over at www.bestblogsatsea.com we say welcome back to James Cusick who has been on vacation. Here is a quick hello from him. “I am looking forward with great anticipation to the days ahead as we sail the globe and the opportunity for me to share special moments and funny stories with you.”

Thanks James…….yes the lucky sod is preparing for a world cruise which was supposed to start today but……..as you will read on his blog things got off to a strange start. I hope all of you will stop by his blog to see where in the world he and the ship’s passengers are and if you have time drop him a hello on his comment section and can someone also say a big hello mate from me. Enjoy a cruise around the world with James.

And now some sad news from our friends at the brilliant Eurodam Blog

“This will be our last post on Eurodam News Blog. On Monday, Jan. 5, 2009, we are launching a new Holland America Blog at http://www.hollandamericablog.com. Eurodam News Blog’s content will be rolled into the new site, which includes a blog for every ship in the fleet as well as some special features like Captain Albert Schoonderbeek’s popular blog. Until the file transfer is completed, Eurodam News Blog will be available as an online archive. The Eurodam News Blog was the first of its kind in the cruise industry — the first time a cruise line had provided a glimpse behind the scenes into the construction and operation of a new cruise ship — and was one of the very first blogs created by any cruise line. Over the past 18 months, we have learned a lot and we’ve made a lot of friends through managing the site. We hope our friends will visit us at the new Holland America Blog and continue to contribute to the creation of our online community. Our blogging team — myself, Julie and Janet — wish to express our sincere thanks to all of our contributors, Eurodam’s officers and crew, the ship aficionados and Holland America fans who visit regularly, and the many guests who have played a role in making this Web site such an interesting place to visit. We couldn’t have done it without you.”

Well, it will be sad to say goodbye to a blog that has had over one million hits and which, in my opinion, has been truly brilliant from start to finish. The good news is, of course, that we now get to read blogs from all of the HAL ships on their new website www.hollandamericablog.com ….which, if they are anything like the Eurodam blog was…….then we are in for many special treats.

Later in the week I will highlight Cunard’s blog as well as the World of Costa…..as for Princess…….ummm…….well…….it’s coming……soon….ish.

Now…….I don’t know about you but I never had that talk from my Mum and Dad about “the birds and the bees” and learned everything I know from magazines. I don’t think therefore that I could ever have this talk with our Thingy in much the same way that if I am ever at my parents house watching TV and two or more people start having rumpy pumpy……I bugger off to the kitchen to make a cup of tea red with embarrassment.

Heidi, of course, being Dutch is slightly more liberal on the subject.

“Do you believe that a stork swooped down and left you on your parent’s doorstep one morning?” she said……….adding……..”Well I’m sorry to break it to you: your parents had rumpy pumpy. And they possibly had it more than once, perhaps even for recreational purposes.”…..and I threw up………….into her new pair of Ugg Boots.
Heidi has never really understood our peculiarly prudish “No Sex, we’re British” stance. She and her fellow Hollanders just think……hey………If we didn’t have sex, we would simply have ceased to exist. We just don’t talk about it……….the Dutch do.

The Brits can moan to our heart’s content about the weather, the price of petrol, the cost of Spotted Dick – all things, when you think about it, that are far less interesting than rumpy pumpy. But broach the subject of the very reason for our being and…….our fingers are stuck firmly in our ears.

And here is all the good it has done us: we are the proud owners of a generation of young people who don’t just lead the league table of teenage pregnancy rates – they have lapped everybody else, even the French who given the chance would make rumpy pumpy an Olympic sport……….even wanting a synchronized rumpy pumpy event in the pool.

In bed last night I told Heidi that she will therefore have to be the one who talks to our Thingy about rumpy pumpy……..I just don’t think I can bring myself to do it……if only I was Dutch ……..or French…….or George Hamilton.

The last few days John Cleese has been in the car with me. I did the driving, he did the directions. “Enter the roundabout,” he’d say. “Take the third exit.” That sort of thing. And then, somewhere near home, he said this: “I have laid it on the line to you time and time again and if you don’t make a U Turn I am going to give you a damn good thrashing.”

This is of course part of the Sat Nav (GPS) novelty downloads my mate Danny got me for Christmas. You can download into the system celebrity voices including John Cleese and words can not describe how it is to have Basil Fawlty tell you to turn left in 200 yards.

Then……..there is Sat-Nag, in which the woman with the familiarly bossy, impatient voice, or someone who sounds a lot like her, addresses you in the manner of your wife in the car. “In 50 meters, you are going to shut your window, because I am freezing.” And: “I know you’re a man, but it’s been 45 minutes, why don’t you admit you’re lost?” And: “If you fart again, I am going to get out and catch the bus.”

There are about 50 instructions along these lines. My favorite is this: “In 200 metres, I am going to insist you stop the car, then I will get out, slamming the door behind me, walk away and wait for you to come and apologize….. even though you haven’t got the faintest idea what the matter is.” ………all of these instructions are as my male bloggers will confirm…………based on a true story.

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.