A Fruit Punch Memory

April 21, 2009 -

News From Steph

Isn’t every kid supposed to have that fireside talk with their Dad about the time you first start noticing that the opposite sex don’t smell?……..Well……..I never had that chat. Now I’m 44 and it’s too late for me, but I’m worried that before I know it I am going to have that chat with our Thingy.

So, I thought I would test my speech here on the blog to see what you all think. So …… here we go and I have chosen to do this as if I was talking to a male thingy just because I would find this just a little easier than if the Thingy is a girl…….besides the fact that if any man touches my daughter before she is 55 years old I shall give their genitals the good news with a cattle prod.

Anyway……….here we go.

“Son, I was meaning, er, to talk to you, if you have a minute. It’s about women. As you may have noticed, they’re different from us. There’s no easy way to tell you this, son – but women don’t like spending money on gadgets.

“As you know from our last little chat, your Mummy and Daddy laid down next to each other a few years ago (for three minutes) and, nine months later, a stork dropped you down the chimney. Well, one day it will be your turn to receive a visit from the stork.

And if you haven’t indulged your enjoyment of gadgets by then, mark my words, my son, you never will. I’m glad we had this little chat.”

There……………what did you think?

I am forced to do this because I was told today in no uncertain terms that any money we spend from now on will be for the Thingy……and I can kiss my 50-inch plasma goodbye.

I wasted my early years trying to get a proper job and trying to date proper girls when, if I’d been given the chat, I would have been happily accumulating gadgets in a studio apartment.

I did manage to buy plasma a few years ago but it wasn’t a Bang & Olufsen because I naively assumed I would be able to get one when I was a little older and a lot richer. I acquired a lap top dancer computer but not the one with the massive screen. I got Raspberry/Blackberry but not one with a built-in video player and cappuccino machine. I never bought a remote-control helicopter or surround-sound cinema or a universal remote control or a Blue Ray DVD player thingy.

By saying “I do” to a beautiful yet tearful girl in a big white dress in Amsterdam, I, like all men before me, kissed goodbye to my chances of acquiring new gadgets until death do us part. I will never know whether beheading a zombie on PlayStation 3 is more enjoyable than doing so on an Xbox 360. They are both banned. Neither will I experience the crystal clarity of high-definition television unless an accident befalls the TV we’ve got.

“There’s nothing wrong with the one we’ve got,” is Heidi’s motto, unless we’re talking about dresses or handbags and now you can add strollers to the list. It will get worse when that bloody stork arrives. Suddenly I will find myself on a showroom forecourt trying to decide which family salon would be least embarrassing, then being informed that the most embarrassing one has the best safety record and having to drive that one home. You are allowed to buy gadgets but they are pushchairs, baby seats and …… breast pumps.

Then, the second the Thingy will start to move on its own no doubt the gadgets I do have will be covered in baby vomit.

Please, unmarried and unthingied men, take my word for it………… enjoy your gadgets while you still can.

Time for today’s questions that have been marked “John, please reply”

missingthesmokefreeparadise Asked:
Upgrades – we’ve had more than a few. Carnival has upgraded us twice to a Cat 12 suite on the Paradise and we have also gotten upgrades on other cruises – all because of the fact that we are willing to accept TBA as our cabin assignment.
But the best story I have about upgrades relates to our fourth cruise on the (now defunct) Smokefree Paradise. We had made our own flight reservations and arrived at the airport to discover we were #3&#4 on the waiting list – the airline had oversold the flight.
Anyway, we waited patiently and finally, the agent called for “MTSFP party of two, please come to the desk”. I went up and we were give our tickets – seats 2D and 2F.
When I got back to the Mrs. and informed her of our seat assignments, she expressed displeasure “because we weren’t sitting together.” I responded with glee “there is no E in First Class.”
We got to board with the Elite and were enjoying the amenities that we were given – one of the stewardesses asked where we were going, so I said, quite tongue in cheek, “on our second honeymoon.” It was a lie, because we never really had a first honeymoon.
Before we deplaned, the stewardess gave us a bottle of champagne to celebrate “our second honeymoon”. Since we knew we weren’t supposed to take alcoholic beverages on board, I was forced to drink it that night in our hotel room.
To make things even better, we arrived at the Ft Lauderdale airport the next morning to take the shuttle down to Miami. Because we were TBA, the Carnival representative gave us our cabin assignment. We had booked a Cat 6C, but were assigned to a wonderful Cat 12 suite – our first experience in a suite.
Upgrades are wonderful and they do help to make the experience better, but, as I have always stated, these issues do not make the cruise experience. You make the cruise experience.
Anyway, I really don’t have anything for you to respond to – except for my idea for a name for Thingy. If it is a boy, I think you should name him WOULDYOULIKETOBE – think of the benefit to him when he gets older. He can introduce himself and ask the pretty ladies “would you like to be Heald” at the same time
John R

John Says:
Hello Just John
I am glad you posted this because a little later on in the blog you will find me on bended knee apologizing about this very subject.
I loved your story and its proof positive that these little things we do try and get a little bit more for our vacation dollar sometimes work. I hope that if you and Mrs MTSFP ever do have a second honeymoon I get to be the cruise director…….loved the name for the Thingy and best to Mrs Justcausingtrouble.

Dave Asked:
Hi John! Please reply. First I’d like to say that I really enjoy reading your blog. It’s one of the few I read on a regular basis.
Also, as a Platinum cruiser, I want to add my support for another past guest level. A black Elite level at 25 cruises seems popular on other websites, and I like the sound of that.
But now for my question. I know it might be a long shot, but has Carnival considered, or are they considering for the future, to sail out of Philadelphia? With NYC, and now Baltimore, I realize the chances aren’t too great that Philadelphia will become a home port for Carnival, but it would be so convenient for us. I know a couple other lines have sailed out of Philly before, so it’s not totally out of the question. Is there any chance of this happening?
Thanks again, John!

John Says:
Hello Dave
Thanks for the compliments and I am so glad you enjoy reading the blog thingy. I suggested the black elite level a few weeks ago. I know American Express gives people who are tanned and don’t have beards these no limit cards and I think in today’s climate loyalty is everything and so a black elite Carnival card would be brilliant. I will be talking with Jim Berra, our chief marketing officer, about this and other thoughts that bloggers have had regarding our loyalty program soon. Jim was responsible for one of the hotel industry’s most successful loyalty programs and I know he is very keen to take Carnival’s to the top, as well. So, watch this space.
As far as Philadelphia as a homeport is concerned………well never say never. You are correct that we have ships from NYC and Baltimore so we are pretty close but we are looking at new home ports all the time as we continue to try and bring the ships closer to you. So again, let’s see what the future holds.
Thanks again for the kind words and hope you continue to enjoy the blog thingy

Sheryl Asked:
Hi John,
I will be cruising out of Baltimore on the Carnival Pride in August. I was told that it takes quite a while to get into international waters. Can you tell me when the casino and shops will open, if that is the case? Also, when returning, will everything close up early the night before disembarkation?

John Says:

Hello Sheryl
What a wonderful question and one I can’t answer today. I have never sailed out of Baltimore except back in 1989 when we were there with the Carnivale in dry dock… wow that was a long time ago. Anyway, let me get the answer for you and I shall post it as soon as I do
Best wishes

Elaine Asked:
OK John PLEASE REPLY… I was going to hold out bothering you and wasn’t going to ask any more questions until one week before our upcoming June 13th Liberty “Surprise 80th Birthday Cruise for Poppy” and after Thingy was born BUT… One thing has been bothering me since my March 29th cruise and now this upgrade thing has me thinking…
You know we love Carnival and everything about it (so much so that we have our 18th and my parent’s 23rd cruise booked) but you knew that already!!!) But I have to tell you that we were Platinum when the program started and not one of us has ever been offered an upgrade. I also have to say that there are posts on Cruise Critic where passengers who have never sailed before, are not Platinum etc have gotten the “Upgrade Fairy” phone call… More often than not, I see very few Platinum Members posting that they received the “Upgrade Fairy” call. I also know that most of our cruises were full but not all of them!!! I always ask the Room Steward if he has any “available/open” balcony cabins. Granted, most of the time we do book an inside “cheap” cabin, but after so many cruise, you would have thought we would have been asked at least one time… But, it’s ok because we’re fine as long as we’re on a cruise!!!
NOW, this might really open up a can of worms and if you don’t want to address it, it’s ok…. BUT… for our March 29th cruise out of the Port of Miami I had to sit for 50 minutes in the terminal waiting for Doug to park the car. What I observed really really upset me. The VIP line is supposed to be for Platinum Guests and Suite Passengers. Why do guests with wheelchairs also get to use this line? Now let me tell you why I am asking. My father-in-law is in a wheelchair and has cruised with us a couple of times but did not/would not get on the VIP line. He said he is no different than anyone who can stand; he just sits and waits his turn. Aside from that opinion, what I witnessed really annoyed me so much that I have now decided to address it. Again, while waiting for Doug, I witnessed the VIP line being extremely long. I saw lots of guests in wheelchairs on the line. Upon looking further, I noticed guests WALKING (one of them actually had a race with her grandson) to the rear of the terminal right behind the ladies bathroom where there were wheelchairs lined up. They/she literally sat themselves down in the wheelchair, called out to their family members, and then proceeded to get on the VIP Line!!! So, by the time Doug arrived, the VIP line was about 30 – 40 passengers deep… (Mainly family members with one of them in a wheelchair). Please explain this to me and the reason why anyone other than Platinum/Suite passengers get to be on the VIP line? I have the upmost respect for anyone with any type of “handicap” (besides my father-in-law) both of my parents have each had double knee replacement surgery, but I can’t help but being angry at these other passengers using a wheelchair to get into the VIP line…
Thanks so much for your wonderful, informative and extremely entertaining posts. (and letting us vent once in a while). I truly look forward to reading your blog each day.
Again, my best to you, Heidi and thingy (who will soon have a name!!!)…

John Says:

Hello Elaine
You are never bothering me and I am glad that you decided to get these points across to me so. The upgrade question is one that still hits a nerve with some people and I can understand why. I know that while many Platinum cruisers will tell you that they have received upgrades some will indeed not have been so lucky. Now, I just spoke again to those in charge at Carnival about this and our vice president in this area reminded me that upgrades are not just for Platinum guests but are also offered to high producing travel agents (agents who send a lot of business to Carnival) and to a few guests who may have paid a lot of money say for a cat 11 and are upgraded to a cat 12.
Now, I know that there are many other stories about people who do not fit into these categories who have had a call from the wonderfully named “Upgrade Fairy” and I guess when you consider the many thousands of people that our ships carry each week it’s impossible to say where the upgrades are all going. I was also reminded though that on the whole our ships sail full with every cabin taken so again upgrades may not be as common as people may think.
However……..saying all of that………do I think that people like you who have sailed on 20-plus cruises should be first on the list for an upgrade………absolutely? As I just said to Dave in the posting above, we at Carnival know how important your loyalty is and I promise you that I am on your side and I will do everything I can to make sure that we continue to improve in this area. I will write more about this soon.
I am not sure how to reply about the situation you observed in Miami except to say that we will look into this question and get an answer for you. I will address this with the head of our embarkation team, Milicent Martin, immediately and I thank you for bringing it to my attention.
Don’t forget to remind me a week before you sail and please know I am here if you should need me further
Best wishes to you and the family

John Anthony Asked:
Greetings John!
Please Reply
I am seeking a little bit of clarification regarding the policies of the supper clubs. I realize that the supper clubs are not an “all you care to eat” arrangement.
I am a little concerned because I read on the boards that some folks were only allowed to order one appetizer. I was thinking that one would be able to order a “traditional appetizer” such as escargot as well as a soup even though the appetizers and soups are all listed as starters.
Not surprisingly slightly different information appears in various Carnival web pages:
from http://www.carnival.com/cms/fun/obx/dining/formal.aspx
For the charge of $30 per person, you can take in the atmosphere and enjoy the amazing culinary creations of our chefs. It is sure to be one of the most memorable meals you’ll ever have.

from an email I received:
The reservation fee is $30 per guest, per entree.
from the reservation form (http://www.carnival.com/CMS/Static_Templates/MyReservation/supper_club.aspx):
The $30 fee includes an appetizer, entrées, desert and the wait staffs’ gratuity; additional gratuities are optional and may be extended in cash or to the guest’s Sail & Sign Account, at the guest’s discretion.
So, what’s the policy? The info from the reservation form seems to indicate that you can order multiple entrées and the “desert” will certainly be arid. Also, I wonder why they are referring to something known as appetizers as there is not a heading of appetizers on the menu.
I would just like to be able to order escargot and lobster bisque, as well as one entree and dessert.
Can you order more than one starter and more than one dessert?
Thanks for your help!

John Says:
Hello John
Thanks for allowing me a chance to clarify this as I am sorry to say that some of the posts that I have been seeing on the boards are not correct. This is what is included with your meal in our Supper Clubs
PRICE – $30………………YEP……………$30

This does include the minimum gratuity for the servers but you may tip extra if you think they deserve.
There you go. That’s what’s included and I am sorry if any of our online information (such as the appetizers) is misleading. I will have this corrected. As for the boards …….. well……..maybe they did not realize that this was so and therefore we maybe need to do a better a job communicating this tableside.
There is no doubt about it though……..our supper clubs remain an iconic experience.
Thanks again and bon appetite.

msqpon – Jo Myerly Asked:

Hi John, Dave and I are doing the December 3 Bloggers cruise on the Dream. We are thinking of doing the November 15 Bloggers cruise as well. I know you usually have special tours for bloggers on these cruises. Are you planning some this time too? Any ideas which ports?

John Says:
Hello Jo
You know, I am embarrassed to say that as of yet I have given this bugger all consideration and you have though inspired me to do so. Stephanie will be arranging a conference call next week for all of us involved starting planning the dining, tours, shows, gifts and events for both cruises and no decisions will be made until we have everybody’s thoughts as well. So, thanks for the kick up the bottom and we shall get right on this…………….it’s going to be here before we know it
Best you and Dave

Nancy Asked:
Hi John, (please reply)
Thank you for replying to my comments about our cruise on the Valor. You mentioned that you had forwarded the letter to Carnival and wanted to know about follow-up. Actually, a Martha, from Carnival attempted to get in touch with me, however, for some reason my email or name is associated with the telephone number for my daughter’s friend who travelled with us. Katie gave me the phone number for Martha. I called and left messages for Martha but haven’t heard back from her yet.
I read about your exercise dilemma. I have actually worked out on a power plate. It is absolutely amazing. I had a session with a personal trainer who uses this piece of equipment. In 30 minutes I had a work-out similar to working out for and hour. I wish I had one. The only problem is you have to have a place that can withstand the heavy duty pulsating that the machine does. (No crazy ideas with that idea!)
Hope all is well with Heidi and Thingy! I am sure you are all getting excited.
Thanks for your help and concern,

John Says:
Hello Nancy
Thanks for the follow up. I checked and Nancy was looking to get in touch with you. I hope by now she has done so please would you let me know so I know you are being helped. Thanks for the exercise machine information and I will be talking more about this at the end of today’s blog.
Best wishes

Cheri Bolchoz Asked:
Please Reply!!
Not sure if you got the email I sent you with the copy of eSeaview I sent you.
Wanted to thank you again for the bottle of wine & basket of fruit on our last trip on Carnival Fascination. We had a blast, even though it was over powered with spring breakers. There was 1200 guest that were under the age of 18 on board.
We are cruising again on Carnival Fascination on July 2nd 2009. My birthday is July 4th. I will be 50
We are in Nassau on the 4th.
Does Carnival do anything special for the 4th of July??
Also would like to get in touch with Josh. He was the Assistant CD on the Freedom. I heard that he might have is own ship now.
Hope all is well with Heidi & Thingy
Love to all
Cheri & Michael

John Says:
Hello Cheri
No need to thank me – it was the least I could do after the kindness you showed Heidi and I. The Fourth of July is a great time to be onboard and yes there always big celebrations and a wonderful atmosphere. Unfortunately the only thing missing are the fireworks which as you can imagine are not allowed to be used onboard. Now is the Josh you are referring to known as Big Sexy? If it is he is currently onboard the Carnival Miracle serving as cruise director following Malcolm Burn having to leave suddenly………more on him in a moment. Please send me the message for Josh and I will send it along to him. I am so glad you had fun on the ship and I did not see the Esaview……can you send again please?
My best to you and the family

Mark Asked:
Please Reply
John, carnival.com has many ways to pay for our cruise; however, from the information I have received from my PVP and the FAQ on the web page, there is no way to pay through PC Banking. For those that don’t know, this is where you can log into your bank. You sign into your account and make a payment directly to your payee of choice from your account of choice.
I would prefer to do this than paying by Credit Card. I like the debit card idea, but the Canadian Debit Card system is different that the US system. Our Debit Card is tied to our chequing (checking) or Savings account and I believe it does not work on Carnival.com.
Perhaps, I have it all wrong, can you please let me know if any of the options I described are possible? And if not available, why not? I am really hopeful. Someone told my wife that another cruise line does allow PC Banking so I’d imagine that this is doable. Thanks John! You and Heidi must be very excited…wishing you both joy, health and happiness.

John Says:
Hello Mark
You have educated me today so thank you for that. I was not aware that we did not do this and it seems that maybe we should. So, I have sent this up the line and I will let you know what they say. I am sure as you mentioned it is something that we could easily set up. I will get back to you soon.
Meanwhile please send your money payable to John S Heald at Barclays Bank…….my account number is 0.

That’s all for today and as always at this point of the blog I thank you for all your comments and remain at your service should you need me.

I want to take a moment to apologize about a blog I wrote last week which among other topics covered upgrades and how Carnival is sometimes able to pass these to certain guests. Well, after the serious explanation of how Platinum guests and those that may have paid a higher price for the cost of the cruise are usually the first to be considered should an upgrade arrive I also had a bit of fun with some of the things we hear at the guest relations desk. I then went on to talk about some of the ways people try and get an upgrade on the airlines.

It seems that this upset one blogger who was one of the people who had originally asked how upgrades are given. He or she felt that that I had been flippant in suggesting that they were trying to get something for nothing. I have written a personal apology to this blogger but just in case anyone else out there thought the same please know that as always I was just having fun and certainly wasn’t trying to allude to anything else ………………once again my apologies.

OK, let’s move on.

I mentioned Malcolm who remains in ICU. His mother wrote me a long e-mail yesterday and there has been some improvement. This was a sudden and serious situation but she tells me Malcolm is being brave and how much she appreciates your kind words here on the blog. If any of you would like to send a personal message to Malcolm and his Mum please title your post FOR MALCOLM and I will make sure she sees them………. many thanks in advance and please keep him in your thoughts and prayers.

Chris Prideaux is home as I mentioned but he has a long road of convalescence ahead of him so please continue to think of Chris.

Now, it seems people continue to Twitter and now our friends at Princess seem to have become Twits as well as you are about to see.

Golden Princess Enters Drydock for Dramatic Makeover; Transformation Chronicled Daily With Twitter Updates

Online Photo Journal Features Exclusive Behind-the-Scenes Look at Princess’ Most Extensive Ship Remodel to Date

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (April 21, 2009) – As Golden Princess begins the most extensive makeover ever undertaken by the company, Princess Cruises is inviting cruise fans to follow the progress through Twitter updates that will showcase a daily photo journal of the ship’s transformation. A first for Princess, the online posts will chronicle the dramatic changes throughout the ship during its nearly three-week drydock at Victoria Shipyards in British Columbia.

The journal has launched at princess.com/goldendrydock and will run through May 5, when the ship sets sail again with its new features, including a new piazza-style atrium, an adults-only Sanctuary, a Movies Under the Stars poolside movie screen, a new Crown Grill steak and seafood restaurant, and a variety of other enhancements.

Twitter users will receive a daily “tweet” about the latest construction progress after they follow an easy sign up process and elect to follow Princess at http://twitter.com/PrincessCruises.

“We know there’s a great deal of interest in a ship transformation such as this, so we’re inviting cruise enthusiasts to get a unique glimpse of the ship’s progress through this drydock,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. “None of our other vessels have ever had this many new features added in a single drydock, so our online journal will offer a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the amount of work required for such a huge undertaking.”

The amenities being added during the drydock are the Princess signature features already aboard the line’s newest ships, Crown Princess, Emerald Princess and Ruby Princess. Many have also been introduced aboard on Caribbean Princess, Star Princess and Grand Princess during earlier drydock periods.

When Golden Princess emerges from drydock, its atrium will feature a new Piazza with an inviting street café atmosphere featuring roving entertainers and two new dining options. The International Café will serve up specialty coffees, fresh baked cookies, pastries, panini sandwiches and tapas. Vines, a wine bar, will offer a selection of more than 30 wines by the glass, plus a selection of seafood, artisan meats and cheeses, and a wine shop where passengers can purchase their favorite bottle.

A new restaurant, the Crown Grill, will offer an open kitchen where passengers can enjoy watching as chefs prepare chops, steaks and seafood, including live lobsters.
And adult passengers looking to get away from it all will be able to relax in the tranquility of The Sanctuary, Princess’ signature retreat featuring plush padded lounge chairs and the services of dedicated Serenity Stewards. Visitors to this exclusive space can enjoy refreshing beverages and light snacks, or receive a massage in one of two private cabanas.

Above one of the ship’s pools, Movies Under the Stars will debut onboard with a state-of-the-art Times Square-style LED screen, offering evening movies and a variety of daytime programming. The 300- square-foot screen offers passengers a movie experience comparable to the best shoreside movie theater. In addition to family cinema and first run hits, Movies Under the Stars also features major sporting events, concerts and other can’t-miss programming – up to 50 different offerings per week.

As part of the renovation, Golden Princess will also be fitted with seven new window suites with ocean-view picture windows, and a relocated casino on deck 7, bringing it into the ship’s central entertainment area. In addition, 10 new balcony suites and two ocean view cabins will be added in the aft of the ship, replacing the former video arcade. Other changes include new locations for the sports court, a new Limelight boutique, new shore excursions and Captain’s Circle desks, new Internet café and library, and the addition of new gym equipment in the fitness center.

Additional information about Princess Cruises is available through a professional travel agent, by calling 1-800-PRINCESS, or by visiting the company’s website at www.princess.com.

That is great news for the many fans of Princess and for all of us here who love to go behind the scenes and see just what happens in these spectacular shipyards. So, start Twittering everyone and check in when you can as the Golden Princess shines even more brightly………….oh God that was so corny…….I can’t believe I wrote that ……….. what a load of bollocks. Let’s try again. So, make sure you check in on the Golden Princess Twitter page and watch this ship be rejuvenated…….there, much better…………shine brightly my arse.

People who live in hurricane zones are I am sure anxious to see what this year will bring and let’s hope we don’t get to far down the alphabet and that any winds that do head toward land will be no more dangerous than my bottom after eating a can of beans.

However, we as a company need to be prepared and we need to keep our reservations open and our guest services flowing should our HQ in Miami be affected by adverse weather or other emergencies. And so, with that in mind I thought you might like to see this.

“As part of Carnival’s comprehensive emergency preparedness plan, the company last week trained nearly 400 employees on various reservations and IT technology housed within a Mobile Recovery Unit situated adjacent to its Miami headquarters.” Read full article here

That’s good to know but lets us all hope that we will never need to put this practice into actual use.

I was talking about cruising yesterday with my mate Alan who continues to be ugly and to be healthy. Actually, we were not talking about the cruising we all love but cruising of a different kind. I don’t even know if this translates but let me explain. Cruises were an interesting way to meet girls. This sounds so stupid now, but we used to take Alan’s Ford Capri and just drive round and round on the seafront here in my hometown……….we used to call it “cruisin.”

Funny isn’t it that we just remembered that was the word we used. Anyway, we would drive around and say “Hi girls, wanna get in?” And when they did they would they would get in………take a good look at us……….and run away. I don’t know what we thought we were trying to accomplish, but at least we got some girls to almost get in our car.

Did you have “cruisin” in North America? Did you cruise? I would love to hear about it.
Well, these days it seems the blog is rather popular having been written about in the Sun Sentinel Newspaper, spoken about by Gerry Cahill in front of the five families and of course written about online in various publications by esteemed writers such as Gene Sloan and Anita Dunham Potter. I wanted to share one with you now because most importantly it talks about you. It was written by the incomparable Carolyn Spencer Brown for a British newspaper. She was talking about cruise ship blogs and this is what she had to say about ours.

“There’s one cruise-related blog I think is a definite must-read every day, it’s, hands down, one that’s written by Carnival Cruise Lines’ John Heald. A Brit who’s the fleet’s senior cruise director, his blog was launched as a corporate endeavor but his warmth, passion, eye for the offbeat, and unorthodox but absolutely entertaining writing style has made him a superstar in the blogging world.

And it doesn’t matter if you’re a Carnival fan or not – it’s fun, there’s great information in there. What makes it stand out beyond that is the fact that John’s readers are as active about sharing comments and responses as he is – and there’s always a lively conversation going on there.

In fact, he’s developed such a loyal following that he actually hosts bloggers’ cruises for his fans on Carnival (he’s done three now!) which in essence takes the concept off the Internet and personalizes it onboard.”

That’s just wonderful and she is absolutely correct you the readers being active in your comments. As I have said many times here that is so important and long may it continue? Oh by the way, I just did a radio interview with a Baltimore morning show on WWMX.

They are so excited about the Carnival Baltimore event and just in case you have been living in a cave and don’t know what I am talking about here is Stephanie once again to tell you all about the big day and to remind you about the Bloggers Breakfast hosted by our Chief Marketing Officer Jim Berra.

Hi Everyone,
Hope everyone is excited for Saturday! We have fun activities planned for everyone. The blogger’s breakfast starts at 9:30 am and I’ve emailed information to everyone that’s rsvped. For more information and a map of the event visit: www.carnival.com/funcity.
Don’t forget to send us pictures from the event!

Once again I am awash with guilt that I cannot be there with you but with the Thingy imminent I am sure you understand.

Oh, by the way. I was doing the interview with the morning show hosts and this is how the interview started



Somebody mentioned the other day on the blog in jest that because we no longer serve the fruit punch due to the fact that it leaves awful stains on the carpeting that “he should bring his own packets of punch with him.” That made me smile. He wouldn’t be the first to do that. Obviously we all know that the industry does not allow people to bring their own alcohol (aside from a bottle of wine or champagne for a special occasion) with them yet we do allow sodas and other beverages.

Now the most popular of course is for people to bring their own cans of Pepsi products with them. They have obviously done their research and they know that Carnival serves Coke and its family of drinks. However, it was as I read the comment about the fruit punch that something stirred in the back of my mind…………..I could see someone with a huge can of powdered milk but for the life of me I could not remember where this memory was coming from……….then just this morning……..I remembered ……. yep …………..Fred and Ginger back on the good ship Carnival Splendor. Now, this may be before your time here on the blog thingy and with apologies for being repetitive but I have to tell those who came late to the blog about my adventure with Fred and Ginger

Guest: Mr________ Ref: 002803189A
Cabin: ____ Booking#: ________ Added-Changed: 08/20/08 – 08/20/08
Mr__________ called the Pursers Office from his cabin to say that he had just attended the cruise director’s talk about Berlin. Guest said he was disappointed that the cruise director did not talk more about America’s history with Germany as many guests have German relatives. Guest said he wanted to talk to cruise director and would wait all day in his cabin until he called. Purser explained that the cruise director was very busy but the message would be passed for him to contact guest. Called CD at 2:05pm who stated would call guest.

I did. My travel talks are not historical talks. I certainly try and give as many facts as I can about each site we visit but with limited time and the fact that I am as intelligent as a root vegetable this is not always enough and occasionally I get comments about not mentioning the tours but that I should be talking more about the history…..maybe they are right.

This guest was a little different though because he firstly he refused to talk on the phone and second he told me “I hope you speak clearer in person than you do on stage.” ….. oh joy.

And so we met 15 minutes later in the lobby, found a quiet corner and sat down. I knew I was in trouble straight away……..firstly ……..he had a beard …………… secondly ……….he was wearing open toe sandals with long knee high black socks …………….. thirdly …….. he produced a piece of A4 paper with writing on both sides ………… double sided bugger.

However, what astounded me was that at his feet was a suitcase made out of something that looked like old carpet………….what the $#@!

He was joined by his wife who I shall only mention now because she sat with us the whole 55 minutes and never once said a word …. not one……..she just sat there looking at her husband as though she was either too scared to talk or because she had been married for so long to a man with open toe sandals, knee high socks and a beard that she had lost the will to communicate.

They were from a place called “Cokeburg,” Pennsylvania …….. population … 1,000. I know this because the first thing that was produced from the carpet sided suitcase was a map, showing where his town was and I listened to him tell me how small town USA was the safest place to live. I tried to look interested but I seemed to be stuck in time and I am sure I saw his beard grow in front of my eyes.

Eventually, we got down to business. This was his first cruise and he had decided to tour Germany today without taking a tour and if you thought the beginning of this story was bizarre………well as the saying goes “you ain’t seen nothing yet.”

For the sake of the story lets call our small town couple Fred and Ginger…….only because he looked like a Fred and you can guess what color hair his wife had ………. yep……..she was blonde ……….kidding.

OK, before I continue this is one of those moments where I have to promise that the following is the truth……the whole truth and nothing but the truth………….in fact if I was sitting on the other end of the cyber thingy I would probably say “what a load of bollocks.”…………

But, you can’t make stuff like this up. So, Fred started by telling me how disappointed he was that I did not talk about the history of Germany from 1940 to the present day and in particular Germany’s close ties with the USA. I wanted to say that it was difficult enough to cram 14 different bits of information on getting ashore, passport control, how to go ashore on your own, currency and 14 different excursions into 45 minutes without 68 years of history…………..

However, before I could say a word he then consulted his fact sheet……bugger. He told me that 25% of Americans come from German stock telling me that upon gaining independence from the murderous British Empire that there was thought given to having German as the official language. At this point I had two choices ……..beat him to death with his suitcase or try some humor……I went with choice number two and said that I could see that Americans and Germans had a lot in common because both countries like Mr, Bean and Baywatch………he looked at me, paused and without even attempting a smile he moved on.

Next, came his plan. He had organized a car rental and intended to drive to Berlin because he had ancestors there…his great grandfather no less…………and could I show him the way on the map………….to Berlin……….at this point I thought he was joking and I was about to laugh when I suddenly realized he was serious……….he wanted me to show him on the map how to drive from Warnemunde to Berlin ………. Me. …………. someone who can’t even find the space between the two sides of the toilet lid.

Now again, I had two choices, I could have bluffed my way through it and hoped he and Ginger didn’t end up in Austria or just say that I had no bloody clue. I went with the second option………and when I said that I had never driven to Berlin he looked at me as though I had just told him I had discovered his wife in bed with Bill Clinton ………… “But, you’re the cruise director,” was his reply……….again, I could have said “Yes, I am the cruise director not a human GPS system”…………..but I didn’t, I apologized and arranged for him to meet Heidi tomorrow on the pier who would speak to the German tour operator who would show them how to get there……..he didn’t exactly jump for joy but I could tell he was OK with that.

He then spoke again in detail about his ancestors and how Germany is so similar to America. It was as he continued to talk I noticed a big jar of powder in his carpet bag………….I asked,


How I did not just end up on the floor rolling around laughing in hysterics is a bloody miracle………not only had he carried a huge jar of powdered milk from Cokeburgsville but he had combined both mad cow and foot and mouth disease together making it mad foot and cow mouth disease.

So, I said there was nothing to worry about and shook his hand and walked away …………I really wanted to laugh but I didn’t because I suddenly thought who the couple had reminded me off……the two people from the Wicker Man movie……….or was it a painting? ……standing there holding a pitchfork…………except the pitchfork had been replaced by a carpet sided suitcase and a large jar of powdered milk.

There you go, a trip back in time and a memory awoken by all the talk of fruit punch. One day I will go to Cokesburg, Pennsylvania……………….but I am taking my own milk.

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.