Today, the guests on the Carnival Fantasy, like most of North America and indeed most of the world will sit down to watch the Super Bowl which features the Arizona Cardigans against the Pittsburgh Peelers. The Super Bowl is not quite the right event to mark the birth of a newer, humbler and saner America. Here’s what I know about the game.

American football has always been the Republican Party at play. It celebrates might and size. The Super Bowl is a multiple orgasm of showbiz and commerce, and the MVP — Most Valuable Player thingy — traditionally goes to Disneyland……when he should, of course, go on a Carnival cruise.

It will attract more viewers than President Obama’s inauguration, spark more heated debate than the war in Iraq and practically bring the country to a standstill. But it will pass with barely a murmur in the UK where American Football is still widely seen as a bunch of over-padded men throwing a rugby ball in the wrong direction and stopping every 30 seconds for a snack……….and that’s a shame because there are many reasons to watch this game… then for my British Bloggers are reasons you should watch the game

1. As much a part of Super Bowl as the game itself, the national anthem is a treasured moment in the pre-match build-up. This year someone famous called Jennifer something will be warbling the Star Spangled Banner and as the entire stadium grabs their left breast I will be as well…….if not my breast then I will grab the breast of whoever is sitting next to me.

2. The event has become a showcase for high concept advertising, with everything from movie premieres to David Beckham’s stateside debut featured during 30-second slices of advertiser heaven. Some people even tune in just to watch the adverts. It costs a fortune and despite the credit crunch I am sure there will be many companies that have paid many famous people millions of dollars to advertise their soft drinks etc. My favorite last year was Shaquille O Neal riding a tiny horse and the pigeon one for ummmmm…..can’t remember what company it was for but I remember a lot of pigeon’s pooing on cars.

3. Since the now infamous nipple-gate saga involving Janet Jackson and Justin Trousersnake, the half-time show has seemed a little tame, but the Super Bowl attracts only the finest performers with greats such as U2, Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones etc. This year its time to get your denim on, get out your cigarette lighter and prepare to slow clap your hands as Bruce Springsteen reminds us how old we are.

4. I am told it takes a lot of skill to be a cheerleader and these noble artisans should be held in high regard. Still, if you’re admiring their graceful twirls and applauding the brilliant choreography, then you’re probably not in their target audience and you may be better off watching Dancing with the Stars or going to a Cher concert.

5. Unlike proper football or “soccccccer” as it’s pronounced here there is little or no chance of having your head kicked in by a supporter of the other team. You’ll never meet a nicer bunch of supporters than American Football fans. Light-hearted, passionate and knowledgeable, most games don’t have home or away stands; instead the fans mingle, inevitably arguing like school children before reconciling over a chest bump and a cold Bud.

6. The winning team will win a trophy and I am sure a huge amount of money. The economy will also benefit as sales of beer, hot dogs, beer, guacamole, beer, flat screen TVs, beer, Pepcid, beer, Zantac, and beer go through the roof. However, the main prize in all American sports is…………the championship ring. To mark your success at the Super Bowl, The World Series of Baseball or the NBA (let’s go Heat) you’re going to need some bling. More specifically some diamond-encrusted white gold bling personalized with your name or number. That should keep up your retirement home payments when you auction it on eBay in later life.

7. Americans love their stats. Most interceptions, most yards rushed, longest inner-leg measurement. OK, I made that last one up……. but those tuning in on Sunday will probably need a math degree to decipher broadcasters’ cryptic presentations. The game itself is simple…’s called football although only one of the 300 players in each team can use their ummmm…….feet. The idea is for the big players to knock the small ones over and try and get the quarterbacker fired…….or sacked as its known here. The quarterbacker passes the ball to a running backer or wide catcher who then has to run with the ball into an area known as the M zone. It is then the law that the player who reaches the M zone must do an impression of either a Michael Jackson dance routine or go down on his knees and say a prayer

8. The uniforms are brilliant. OK the shoulder pads are a bit eighties and the players may look like they are wearing one of Joan Collins dresses from that program Dysentery ……. but the ladies seem to like them as do the men who are not watching the cheerleaders. Yes, yes, we can all tune in and say how they’re big girl’s blouses and how in England we do it without padding. Of course in England we prefer to have a cauliflower ears and broken noses in rugby…….. a problem unheard of among American sportsmen… I guess its us who are the idiots then and its why no rugby player is having rumpy pumpy with Jennifer Simpson like football star and rib restaurant owner Tony Roma.

So my British friends enjoy the game but unfortunately you won’t get to see the commercials and most importantly you will have to endure the British commentators who know less about the game than I do. You won’t get to hear Al Michaels say “Kurt Warner the one time supermarket shelf stacker steps out of the shotgun. It’s a pump fake, the defense come at him with a full on blitz ………..Warner looks up sees Larry Fitzgerald is open the throw…………what a catch …….a shimmy move and Fitzgerald is free……he might go all the way………….he does……………TOUCHDOWN CARDINALS!

Nope……….the BBC commentators will no doubt be the ones who usually describe cricket.

“It’s a beautiful day here in Tampa, Florida unlike the snow we have had here in the UK as the ummmm….quarterback seems to be doing a funny dance with his left leg and now he has the ball and oh I say it’s a jolly good throw to the tall one who is running very fast toward the pirate ship which was built in 1996 modeled after a 18th century Spanish design…….oh now the tall one is doing a funny dance so I think he has just scored a goal………….spiffing play old chap.”

Enjoy the game

Now, I usually take Sunday’s off but there is a lot to do so I thought I would give you a quick Sunday blog plus I needed to answer these outstanding questions.

Timmer Asked

Dear John, (Please reply when you have time)
Thank you for your wonderful blogs. I have been browsing them for the past month or so and found a lot of good information with plenty of humor. I have never gone on a cruise before but am planning a cruise for my wife and I in February 2010. It will be an early anniversary present for us (5 years) and a 1st anniversary present for our two traveling companions. I saw in a question from Catrin regarding Easter Sunday and any special services you may or may not be providing. My question is this: Since we are planning our cruise for over the Valentines holiday in 2010 , does Carnival do special events or anything special for this holiday? Thank you for your wonderful blogs and your great sense of humor.
Sincerely ,
Tim McKinney

John Says:
Hello Tim
Firstly I send you and your family a warm welcome to the blog and how wonderful that you are planning a Valentine’s Day cruise. The ships will indeed have many a romantic activity planned including a very special dinner. Maybe you could upgrade that experience by choosing a ship that has one of our award-winning supper clubs. A dinner there followed by a romantic walk under the stars would truly make for a wonderful experience. I am here should you need any more information and I hope you continue to enjoy the blogs.

Ed Milan Asked:

John please reply
Hello Ed
We can organize this for you. Please let me know what time and I will talk to the ship. It sounds like you will have a great group to enjoy the Carnival Miracle with.
The 18th a sea day around 10 or 11 AM if possible. Best to Heidi and thingy kudos to Steph also
Thank You

John Says:

Hello Ed
I will advise the ship accordingly
Have a wonderful cruise

Melissa (please reply) Asked:
I just got started reading your blog, but my parents have been cruising with Carnival for years. 2010 will be their platinum cruise and my husband, myself and my kids are booked with them in 2010 on the Dream for our 3rd and the kids first. But what I wanted to ask you is this , I was exploring the blog yesterday and found your list of the CD’s on the different ships and see that you are on the Valor now (if I am reading everything correctly) and are supposed to be there till some time in March or April. Well I called and told my Mom this because she and my step-dad are booked on the Valor for the Feb 8th Eastern Caribbean, she was so excited to cruise with you again (she has been on one or two ships with you before). Unfortunately then I discovered that sailing is the one where you will be at the ‘bloggers’ cruise in New Orleans. I wondered if it would be possible for you to have a note or something delivered to her cabin (# booking # , Darlene K) from you. She would really get a kick out of it if it is possible. Thanks so much and keep the info on the Dream coming.

John Says:

Hello Melissa
I am glad you have started reading the blog thing and thanks so much for sending a comment to me. I will be honored to send your Mum and Stepdad a little something to mark their special occasion. I am sorry I cannot be with them but hopefully we will be together on the Carnival Dream or another of the Fun Ships. Please keep reading the blog thingy and send my best to all the family.

Tracy Asked:

Hi john do u have the cruise director schedule for nov? do u know who will be the cd on the splendor in nov? I hope everyone is good.

John Says:

Hello Tracy
I will post the new schedule next week but I can tell you that Goose will be the CD and he…………is brilliant. Thanks Tracy and I send my best wishes to you and the family

Lisa Asked:

John, can you please comment on this:
We are having a discussion on Cruise Critic about what “Carnival should do away with”. One poster suggested Carnival do away with ports, and just cruise for 7 days with no destination. I have always wanted to suggest the opposite to Carnival. How about 2 or 3 ports with overnight stays, instead of the very small amount of time currently spent at each one? I love to explore ports, but always feel so rushed and wished we could spend more time at each. Multiple sea days have me restless and bored, and while I attend the activities, they can become redundant after 2 days.
I have done many land vacations just so we could explore the ports we have previously visited on a cruise. In fact, we have not done a Hawaii cruise with Carnival because of the MANY days at sea.
I would definitely cruise more often if port days were 1 1/2 to 2 days instead of 7 hours!
Anyway, those are my thoughts today as I sit in my living room watching the snow come down (it’s a whopping 10 degrees here). ICK! I NEED A CRUISE!!!
As for Bingo, we play once per cruise, as the cards are rather expensive. I just hope Carnival doesn’t go to the electronic handheld Bingo game thingy like NCL…
Thanks again,
Lisa in the cold, cold winter of the Midwest.

John Says:

Hello Lisa
Thanks so much for taking the time to write. This is a very interesting question that you and your friends on Cruise Critic have raised. I honestly don’t think there is a correct answer to this one. During my 20 years at sea I have spoken to many guests who love to have multiple ports in the itinerary and then I have met the same number of passengers who can’t be bothered with the ports and never go ashore. I just checked for example our stay in Cozumel yesterday here on the Carnival Fantasy.…..and the security report showed that 356 guests never went ashore at all. I also know of many guests who love the longer cruises because of the days at sea and then those who like you mentioned that they don’t like extensive periods with no ports of call. So, knowing this Carnival has a wide and varied selection of cruises ranging from 3, 4, 5, 7, and 8-day cruises and longer ones like the Carnival Splendor’s current South American voyage. There are 44 days of cruising of which 30 something are at sea……….and we have approximately 1,500 guests who are onboard the entire 51 days.

As for night ports…….well, these are OK – and believe me we love having you on board at night with all our fun activities and shows – but many of the ports don’t really offer anything of a nightlife apart from drinking and eating……all of which you can do aboard ship. Think about some of the ports you have been to and what they could offer you at night. Outside of Cozumel and its late night shopping there are few places I can think of in the Caribbean worthy of an overnight stay…..let me know what my friends at Cruise Critic have to say about this please.

I can tell you that Carnival more than any other cruise line is in a position to adapt to the needs and wishes of you the guest………………….let’s see what exciting new things are around the corner. My best wishes to you and your family

Maribeth Kring Asked:

John, Please Reply
Why aren’t any of the bloggers cruises or inaugural cruises during the summer months when the kids aren’t in school? My daughter reads the blog with me all the time and would so love to go on one or the other but school doesn’t allow it?

John Says:
Hello Maribeth
You know, you are the first person to suggest this and it’s something I absolutely should have thought of and for that I sincerely apologize. I will make sure that we take this into consideration when planning the next one. Please can you send a big hello to your daughter from me…………”hello”…………..and I hope we can all meet soon

RonRN Asked:

Dear John (please reply)
There are still no excursions listed for Isla Roatan on my 2-22 Legend cruise. There are quite a few excursions missing from the other ports as well. I had heard new contracts were pending. Is this just an online thing or will excursions offered by Carnival be limited? I think the blog ate my comment on Bingo last night, I’ll repost if it doesn’t show up later. All the best to Heidi and the Thingy.
Ron (cruisin’ in ‘09, my economic stimulis plan) RN

John Says:

Hello Ron
I will have an answer to this for you on Monday and will make sure I write straight back to you when I have it. I am not sure as to why these excursions are not showing but I will check for you.

OK, that’s all for now and I will answer more questions on Tuesday so please, if you need my help I remain at your service.

I did want to address another topic of discussion that I have recently been made aware of on one of the cruise boards. A guest had been on a cruise and was refused service by one of our bartenders because he was allegedly “intoxicated.”…..this made the guest very mad indeed.

Now when I was in the bar department back in the 80’s we would serve absolutely anyone, even if they’ve crawled to the bar on their hands and knees. This was the same on all the cruise lines……you would never hear of anyone being refused service.

However………..suddenly and correctly things changed.

Yes, there is alcoholism in the world and, yes, its effects on people are catastrophic. I know this only too well, sadly having lost a friend and colleague to the disease a few years ago. But that is not the reason we at Carnival stopped serving people who have had too much to drink. The reason we do this is of course safety………theirs and the other guests.

I read that this guest threatened the bartender with physical violence during this dispute and because of this he will never sail Carnival again……the politically correct reply to that is “that’s a shame, please come back” but as this is my blog I can say what I like and having threatened a crew member with physical harm my honest answer to him never sailing again is………..”Good, bugger off.”

This is a rare occurrence but its one I wanted to address ……..what’s your opinion?

Let’s get back to the Carnival Fantasy

One of the areas we haven’t had chance to highlight is the Spa Carnival facility which has also undergone a massive and luxurious upgrade.

Here are some photos of the new Carnival Fantasy spa.







Well, here we are spending the day at sea. The day is a little overcast I am sorry to say but there the atmosphere on the ship is brilliant and many guests I have spoken to are having a great time.
I wonder how things are going on the Carnival Splendor which yesterday left for her South American adventure. During the voyage we will be blessed to have first hand reports of this fantastic voyage from our great friend Jaime. Here she is to set the scene with the first of her Dear John letters

January 31st, 2009

Dear John,

A new year, THE new ship, a new adventure, In order to get to the ship to begin the South America run with the Carnival Splendor, my travels must begin the day before en route to Los Angeles Airport with a final destination of Ft. Lauderdale! In order to get to the airport on time, my fastidious father finds it necessary to wake up at the crack of 6:00am for my 10:40 flight! We left he house at 6:45am, and yes I understand it usually takes an hour to get there, and it is “LA traffic” but utilizing the carpool lane or the 405 we managed to make it there by 7:30am… I wonder where I get my obsessive compulsiveness from!?

Next mission, try to manipulate my way into not paying a million dollars for my excess luggage. Now, every time I join another ship I end up taking out some articles out of my luggage, but for some reason I just can’t figure out how to sign onto the ship with less than 16 pairs of shoes! Between the formal nights, day wear, gym shoes… and now that Carnival does not allow us to wear flip flops – for our personal safety of course, we just have to deal with the fact that the clogs from Berlin weigh significantly more than the flip flops from France! Turned out I paid $90 for my luggage: With one bag weighing in at 70lbs, and the other weighing 54.3 (good ol’ Pedro let that one slide under the radar), I paid the $50 overweight fee in addition to the $15 American Airlines now charges for the first bag and $25 for the second bag! Rats!

After my 3+ hours of exploring at the airport… I boarded that lovely 757 and unlike our friend John, had a largely uneventful flight! The first leg of the trip I was able to catch up on the book that I was attempting to read during my five-day “mini vacation,” and took a much needed nap after the pre-dawn wake up call! The second leg of the trip was a little more interesting; the highlight was being surrounded by guests that were going to be sailing with me on the Splendor. They had all types of questions and shared in my excitement about visiting South America.

Since I was blessed enough to be able to take part in the Splendor Inaugural sailing, I have met a lot of the office personnel from Carnival that work out of Miami. Therefore, my good friend Erik Hatfield greeted me at the airport and escorted me over to the Holiday Inn Sunset where I would reside for the evening. In the car, we caught up on what is going on in the office, my adventures taking over as cruise director on the Pride this past holiday season, as well as new diet plans and family matters. We discussed the upcoming inaugural of the Carnival Dream, and how I doubted I would be joining him in Genoa this year because I had not ever met the cruise director Todd Wittmer (it gets better don’t worry).

We arrived at the hotel, and being the fortunate individual that I often am, the lady at the front desk was kind enough to upgrade “us” to a suite. I informed Erik he would not be staying.. But I would still enjoy the big bed, couch, big screen TV for myself! After getting settled in, I had instructions to meet the nurse in the lobby of the hotel at 9:30pm, because every crewmember needs a yellow fever shot ten days prior to visiting Brazil.

Once she hadn’t shown up by 10:30pm and I had called every hotel in the greater Ft. Lauderdale area in pursuit of “a nurse from Carnival”…. Erik and I altered our original plans of going out to eat and took a seat at the bar of the hotel for a quick bite.

Sitting at the bar was none other than the aforementioned Carnival Dream cruise director, Mr. Todd Wittmer. Small world. He was returning from vacation and scheduled to sign on the Carnival Freedom the proceeding day. Who knows what will happen now, the possibilities are endless =).

Eventually, around 11:45pm nurse Carol arrived. Erik and Todd held my hand for moral support while she administered the shot. And now I am safe to admit I will not be bringing yellow fever back to the United States!!!

SO after a long day of traveling, and some much needed rest and relaxation, I now I sit in the hotel lobby, waiting for the taxi to take me to the ship. I am nervous, excited, and eager to embark on my 49-day journey all the way around South America and end up…exactly where I began… in Long Beach, California. It is certainly going to be a challenge to have 2,200 of the 3,500 Splendor guests sailing with us for the full journey. Lots of new ports, challenges questions, activities the list goes on and on. As crewmembers, we are used to doing the similar itineraries and entertainment schedules week after week. This time we will have fresh, new exciting forms of stimulation that will be consistently presented to our guests. Whatever happens, I am ready to take on the challenge – of course I have a fully detailed binder explaining each of the ports to act as my guide. I look forward to keeping you posted along the way!

All the best,
Your Friend,

A great start Jaime and we are all excited that you are taking your valuable time to keep us informed ………….we are very grateful.

I know the guests will enjoy the game here as Big Tex and Andy the Hotel Director have arranged big screen coverage of the game as well as all the food and trimmings that go with it.

Tomorrow I have two videos to show you featuring Cruise Director Big Tex and hotel director Andy Brown.

I was thinking that maybe people’s expectations of the ship are that as its one of our oldest it may not be as exciting as one of our newer vessels……maybe even I had that feeling a wee bit before I arrived. But we are all wrong …….the Carnival Fantasy has exceed our expectations and if anyone from Mobile, Alabama, is reading this………you are going to be very very happy indeed …..because the Carnival Fantasy is coming to town y’all.

Of course, the Carnival Imagination and Carnival Inspiration have received the same upgrades as the Carnival Fantasy in fact I will within the next 48 hours make sure I post a list of all the Fantasy class ships and what upgrades they have received…………don’t let me forget. I can tell you that Carnival Fantasy, Carnival Imagination and Carnival Inspiration are complete with all the EOF upgrades and remember the Carnival Sensation is in dry dock as we speak and will be ready to sail soon.

So, to sum up let me say this. I know many of us look at the big ships of today first when we choose our cruise vacation but we must not forget the ships of yesterday like the Carnival Fantasy especially with the upgrades that Evolutions of Fun have provided.

Doing so is like saying no to Slum Dog Millionaire and awarding the Oscar to Police Academy 9. So I send a message to all of you that think the Fantasy class of ships is like Marlon Brando. Way past its sell-by date, fat and possibly a bit wet in the underpants department. But you would be wrong because the Fantasy class of ships are like Jack Nicholson ………….. Ice-cool and loads of fun.

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.