Silver Cross…..With A Swine Flu Update

April 28, 2009 -

John Heald

I will explain why in just a moment but this morning I had to empty our car of all the crap that has built up over the last few weeks I have been home. I love my car even though it may have led to the early demise of Peter the Polar Bear and what I love about it the most is not its V8 engine or the voice activated blueteeth telephone thingy ……. nope ………. it’s the cup holder.

Think about it. Your car, technically, might have tires made of wale scrotum and treble wishbone suspension with pick-up points made of caviar and frankincense. But when you’ve an open can of Diet Coke balanced precariously on the center console you’re not going to explore the outer edges of the handling envelope. Or it will fall over. Heidi and I always used to rent a big American SUV when we would drive from Miami to Orlando on vacation and we always used to be amazed how the deep cup holders managed to handle even the Big Gulp thingy I bought at the Citgo station…………….you see, British cars never had them……until now. Finally we have cup holders………….and I love them.

Anyway, as I said, I had to empty my car yesterday and simply could not believe how much stuff came out of it. Endless CDs that had been given up for lost years ago. A pair of socks (how?), a high-visibility safety vest, a shoeshine kit and enough loose change to fill the tank with gas twice over. There was also what used to be a digital camera until I went a bit mad driving ’round some country roads last week. Now it’s some wires.

Why was I doing this? Well, of course, it was because of the Thingy who according to Heidi cannot enter this world unless we have a clean and debris-free car. So, that was me this morning sterilizing the Range Rover and then…….I had to practice fitting the car seat.

Once upon a time children would enjoy cramming sardine-like into the back seat of the family car. Curling up in the footwell or lying flat across crunched-up friends added to the fun and games. The loser would usually end up in the middle. Now of course things have changed and the law dictates that kids aged one day to 19 years old have to be in a car or booster seat. Now, our Thingy’s car seat is part of our Silver Cross Stroller which cost nearly as much as the bloody Range Rover.

You know, when I was a kid I had a rickety old thing in which you felt every bump and is probably the reason I have hemorrhoids today. However my Thingy has a modern child seat that has a range of fashionable features including fabrics that are breathable to prevent the Thingy’s back getting too hot, hoods to protect his or her eyes from the glare of the sun, extra padding to reduce rubbing on the backs of knees and ankles and an microscopic sensor that sends out a piercing alarm to tell Mum and Dad the little bugger has just shit itself.

Then there is the taking the car seat off the stroller and fitting it into the car. All I can say about this is “what a load of bollocks” and who ever invented this system should come over here and tell me just why they had to make this operation so bloody complicated. Hooks and buttons and bollocks and lots of swearing later I managed to get the seat off the stroller and into the car. “Did you read the instructions?” I hear you cry………well yes I did. I paid £400 for this contraption and the instructions were written by someone who had only just themselves gotten out of a stroller.

However, while reading the instructions I came across this little gem in that says ………….. and I quote “Communing with nature is something adults strive to do by walking your baby through a park, along a seashore, etc. Babies allowed to observe nature in this way somehow innately develop a love of the natural world to counteract today’s pressures.”

So, the makers of the Silver Cross Stroller have not only made a form of transportation more complicated than the Space Shuttle but judging by that statement they are sandal wearing men vegetablists with beards. My Thingy will be sitting in the car, rocking out to Deep Purple and playing with the old pair of socks I deliberately left in the car just to piss Heidi off……………Communing with nature my arse.

I know that swine flu is all over the news these days so I just wanted to provide Carnival’s latest statement regarding this matter. . Three of our ships – the Holiday, Carnival Inspiration and Carnival Elation – did not call in Mexico today and we are keeping a very close eye on this situation.

It goes without saying that the safety and well being of our guests and crew are our top priority – nothing else even comes close. As the statement references below, there will be an additional update and as soon as we hear anything we’ll be sure to pass it along.

There are currently no reported cases of swine influenza on Carnival ships or in any of the ports that we visit in Mexico. We are consulting closely with public health officials and government agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Department of Homeland Security to monitor the situation.

Carnival enforces the highest of standards for cleaning and sanitation on all of our ships to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. We have well trained medical staff and expansive reporting capabilities on board. Working with U.S. public health officials in the CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program, we have extensive practices and procedures that are effective in mitigating illness aboard our ships.

We do not anticipate that our guests’ cruise experience will be impacted by this type of illness.

We are aware that the CDC has recently issued a Travel Health Warning which recommends the postponement of non-essential travel to Mexico. We are currently reviewing the implications of this new development and will provide an update on our plans by 5:00 p.m. today. This information will be available on our website at

For further information on swine influenza, visit the CDC’s web site at

OK, time to answer today’s questions that were marked for my reply………… we go.

debra ward Asked:

I have a cruise booked on the princess emerald. I am having a hard time finding out if it has a retractable dome over one of the pools. 3 calls by travel agent to princess says yes. My cabin mate has called 2 times and they said no. the latest from princess was

OK, again from Princess (Tonya) the Calypso Reef and Pool is covered by a retractable dome cover. That is located on Lido deck 15.

Can you please find out for me? We have a 28 days transatlantic cruise booked.


John Says:

Hello Debra

How wonderful that you are cruising on one of my favorite ships, the Emerald Princess. The ship does indeed have a retractable doom over the Calypso Reef and Neptune’s Pool which is used as and when needed. I am sorry that the information was a little sketchy from Princess and therefore I am glad to be here to help. Have a wonderful cruise and if you have any other questions or concerns please let me know. I have cruised on the Emerald Princess and if I do not know the answer then I shall find someone who does for you.

Best wishes


Linda Harry Asked:

Please Reply


On our last cruise, my 15 year old daughter wanted desperately to find and buy a Fun Ship Freddie keychain. Can you believe they didn’t have one at all? Not in the gift shop, and not at Camp Carnival. What? No Fun ship Freddie keychain? Maybe you could make a suggestion to carry them? She envisioned a small (1 or 2 inch) plastic Freddie.

Thanks for the pics of the Dream. My family has been “Dreamin’” and waiting for our booked Dream cruise to get here – April 2010!!

Good luck with the new Thingy! 🙂

John Says:

Hello Linda

No Fun Ship Freddy key chain?……….You are absolutely right. You would think that our gift shops would have as much Freddy memorabilia as possible. I am so sorry that we didn’t and I have now submitted your suggestion to our revenue partners who run our gift shops onboard. I hope you see one soon. Thanks for the great suggestion and next time you sail please let me know so I can send your daughter a little something for the great idea

My best to you and all the family


Juan & Maria Santana Asked:

please Reply…..Hello John!

We have been trying to get a list of the Past Guests’ Benefits but we haven’t found it on the Carnival web page ( So, a few days ago we e-mailed the request to (that’s the contact address that shows on the Carnival web page). We haven’t received an answer yet and we are wondering if there is another way of getting the info. Please advice. Thank you!

Tomorrow we are sailing on the Liberty and you wouldn’t believe how excited we are… its crazy… We always get this way when we are ready to sail on the “Fun for all & all for fun ships!”

Regards to Heidi & good luck on the delivery! God bless you all!

Your friends from Miami Beach

John Says:

Hello Juan and Maria

You are by now probably already onboard the Carnival Liberty so I will wait for you to disembark before I send you the answer to your question. Just wanted to confirm that you are talking about Platinum benefits?

You know, I have never heard of before. I wonder who answers the questions………maybe Stephanie knows? Has anyone else used this service and have you received a reply? Please let me know

Hope you both had a fantastic cruise and please write when you get back



Debbie Asked:

John Please Reply

Hi John,

My daughters and I are sailing on the Miracle on May 8th celebrating my daughter’s 18th birthday. My older daughter just finished her 1st year of culinary school. I am wondering if you can arrange a tour of the galley for her. She would so enjoy the experience. We all love cruising and none of us have been to the eastern Caribbean yet so are looking forward to it all. My booking number is —- and cabin is Category 4A #—-. Good luck with the Thingy. Enjoy it because before you know it they will be grown and gone.


John Says:

Hello Debbie

How wonderful for you to be able to celebrate your daughters special coming of age with a family cruise on the Carnival Miracle. I will contact the maitre d on the ship to contact you when you are onboard and I am sure they will give your daughter a fascinating insight to the world she is about to enter.

Have a great trip and lets us know how it goes

Best Wishes


Catherine 25 Asked:

A male friend has won a free cruise and wants me to go with him as he is currently without a partner. Although I initially said yes, I am feeling increasingly uneasy about this because we will have to share hotel rooms etc. The cruise is now only three weeks away – should I be honest and voice my concerns or just think of a good excuse not to go (any ideas?!). I have cruised with you and some girl friends on the Carnival Triumph and I think you are the nicest person I have ever met. Please give me your advice.


John Says:

Hello Catherine

Thanks for taking the time to write. I can see that you are a little stressed about this so I hope I can help. First of all you should stop dithering at once, and let your friend know, Yes or No, at once. Today. Otherwise it is unfair to him. But before you do that let me just say that you will be sharing a cabin and as big as our stateroom are I can imagine they may become very small very quickly if you find yourself feeling uncomfortable being “you” around him.

It may also put immense pressure on your friendship if by chance he goes on the ship expecting anything more than friendship. So, take all of this into consideration and if you can overcome the fact that you will be living in close conditions together and if you are OK with this then the next and immediate step is to sit down with him and be honest. Explain the boundaries, explain the rules and if you detect the slightest bit of indifference then you must say no. If you trust him then say yes and you can both enjoy a brilliant (and free) cruise together…………as friends.

I hope this helps

Best Wishes



missingthesmokefreeparadise Asked:

John – please reply

Is the Carnival Dream under construction or is it being rebuilt after a Pearl Harbor attack?

Honestly, it looks wonderful, but it is kind of alarming to see some of the photos – the fourth picture looks like the captain beached the ship to keep it from sinking.

As for your comment about needing a width limit on the slides, the answer is yes. I love the slides, but I find myself not sliding in the manner I would like. I blame it entirely on the quality of the cuisine on Carnival ships.


John Says:

Hello Jon

I am glad you enjoyed the Carnival Dream photos and I wish I could take you to see the shipyard close up. Sometimes it does look like something out of a war film or a science fiction movie but the way the ships are built and in the time they are built still amazes me after all these years. I still get that Christmas Day as a young kid feeling when I walk into a yard and I hope I get to experience many more new ship builds.

See you on the waterslide………… tandem.

Best to you and Mrs MTSFP



Susan V Asked:

Hi John, Heidi & Thingy:

Please take the weekend off and enjoy your wife and try and relax! You have a lot ahead of you and enjoy the time with Heidi, while it’s still just the two of you!

We are very proud of your dieting. There are some of us out there that could follow your example. It’s very hard to lose the weight, but it sure comes on very quickly!

John, please reply when you have time…

We are sailing on the Glory 9/5 and will be doing the western itinerary this cruise. We will be stopping in Cozumel and I remember you talking about a great Mexican restaurant to eat at. Would you remind us which on it is? I know you raved about it and want to try it while we are there.

I also would like to know if there is any way to request a comedian. We had the most fantastic comic on the Celebration by the name of Kim Harrison and wondered if there is a possibility we would get to see her again? She was fantastic and also a very nice lady to chat with! If you have any pull, we would love to have her on the Glory with us!

I know you mentioned that Ryan Fitzgerald would be the CD later in September and I was wondering if he was on the 9/5 cruise. We had him last year while on the Valor (while Chris Jefferson whom I really wanted as our CD, but was on vacation). I enjoyed Ryan, but really wanted someone either we haven’t cruised with before or you can always hop over to the Glory for a change of pace, PLEASE!!!!

Thank you for being you and giving me something to look forward to reading after working all day at Publix, where of course, shopping is a pleasure, sorry, I had to throw that in there.

Enjoy your blog free weekend!

John Says:

Hello Susan V

I had a nice weekend although still felt very guilty about not writing two days in a row. I was happy though for Stephanie and Vance who have not had a weekend off since I started blogging. It seems strange writing about Cozumel with all this flu stuff that this is in the news. Cozumel remains one of my favorite ports. I recommend Pancho’s Backyard which has two locations. One is downtown in a store called Cinco Soles and they also have one on the pier at Puerto Maya as well. Personally……I think they serve the best guacamole on the island.

Ryan is scheduled to be the CD and I am not surprised you enjoyed him so much as he does a wonderful job. I love Publix and thank you for the kind words about the blog which I hope will continue to give you joy for a long time to come

Best wishes


Joko Joan Asked:

Hi John: (Please answer if you have time):

Last year when we booked the Sept. 12th ‘09 cruise on the Glory, we were told that it was expected that the outside movie would probably be in place by September. Do you know if this has happened or will happen?

John Says:

Hello Joko Joan

Hello Joko. The good news is that this will indeed be in place so get ready to enjoy the Seaside Theatre experience. If you have any other questions before you sail please would you let me know?



Adam W Asked:

Dear John,

Please Reply:

I have a quick logistical question for you. I see on the Baltimore sailings that the ship leaves Baltimore, then calls in Port Canaveral before going to the Bahamas. This is not a violation of the dreaded “Jones Act”? Is it because of the other International ports in between? I am just curious as I know this comes up a lot in Hawaiian sailings. If this is the case, why doesn’t the Spirit sail from L.A. then have a “quickie stop” in Ensenada before heading to Hawaii? Time issues?

Thanks for all you do John!



John Says:

Hello Adam

You are indeed correct Adam. The Jones Act/Passenger Services Act does not apply to the Carnival Pride as the ship does indeed call at a foreign port, in this case the Bahamas before returning to Baltimore. As for the Carnival Spirit you are indeed correct again. There are exceptions to the Jones Act when it comes to the Hawaiian Islands plus it if full speed ahead to get there thus no time for that quick stop. I hope you enjoyed Bubba’s blog from the Carnival Spirit and if you have any more questions or comments please let me know and even though you booed the Heat (we lost last night – bugger) I will be here to answer them as best I can.



Bill (Zydecocruiser) Asked:

John, Please reply

Hello Bill

Thanks for the updates on Chris and Malcolm. Please keep them coming.

Also thanks for the Dream pictures – Elizabeth and I will be on the Oct 15 and 27 sailings and really looking forward to it – especially Naples! (And Rome and Venice and Sicily and…). Some pictures of the Cove balconies would be wonderful!

Before that, we will be on the May 27th Carnival Spirit sailing. I have read of a “special” menu for Alaska cruises, so…

{* finally here comes a question he is thinking *}

what is “special” about the Alaska menus????

And I have another one for PA007. June, 2011 is a popular date being tossed about for the debut of Carnival Magic, yet I have read from one “official” source that is now May, 2011. When is Carnival Magic supposed to launch?



I forgot to ask.

I couldn’t tell from the Carnival Dream pictures if any of the pools have a retractable roof… So… Will any of the pools have a retractable roof on Carnival Dream?

John Says:

Hello Bill

Chris and Malcolm continue to improve and hopefully Malcolm will be allowed home soon. I have no news on Laura (Divetrash) but I am sure Big Ed and his krewe will let us all know how she is doing as soon as possible.

I will be on the Carnival Dream on June 1 and of course I will take photos of the cove balconies along with all the other new and exciting features you will be enjoying during your Carnival Dream voyage.

I have no idea about the special “Alaskan Menus” but of course I will find out straight away for you.

As far as the Carnival Magic is concerned I will ask PA 007 to investigate. I heard that she is due in June. I promise to let you know as soon as our super spy can find out the exact date.

I will be back to you soon on Alaska

Best to you and Liza


Nancy Asked:

Hi John (please reply)

I want to congratulate you on your diet and working to control your diabetes. I too am diabetic and used to be on both Actos and Metformin. I am now off of both meds and control my diabetes with both diet and exercise. I too have had times when my sugar dropped so low that I almost passed out and too high when I got the shakes. So, I applaud you in your efforts. I know you will be successful.

In regards to trying to be someone your not – the CD on the Valor in March definitely seemed to be trying to be you!!!! Now – this did not work! There is only one of you and we are glad we have sailed with you!!!

You had asked me to give you an update on Carnival contacting me. I did get to speak with Martha. She was very nice and seemed to take my comments seriously. She said that there would be others from Carnival contacting me. I had my surgery on my wrist today. The doctor said I did a great job messing up my hand and wrist. He said I will probably have to have a second surgery in a few months. I am typing totally left handed right now LOL!!!

I hope all is well with Heidi and Thingy. If Thingy presents him/her self on 5/2 it will be on our 28th Anniversary and if on 5/6 my Mom’s bday! Looking forward to seeing pics of the beautiful bundle of joy. You will make a great father!!

Thanks for this blog – I really enjoy reading it everyday. We look forward to the time when we can take another cruise! It’s been 4 weeks since leaving the Valor and I wish I was going again!

Take care,


John Says:

Hello Nancy

Thanks for the brilliant words which coming from a diabetic who has controlled their sugar level through diets alone are so inspirational. I will continue on my path to a healthier life. I was sorry to hear that your experience of Charlie. Trying to be someone else is an easy trap to fall into especially when you first start out as a CD…….I know I tried to be Gary Hunter and fell flat on my bottom.

I hope your wrist mends soon and please be careful to injure it further. If you have not heard back from Carnival by the end of the week please would you let me know?

Thank you again for all your kindness

Best Wishes


That’s all for today and I am sure you all know that if you need my help to please mark your comments with a “please reply” at the top. I wanted to thanks all of you for your help and support to me as I continue to eat like a rabbit. The weight is coming off and my sugar levels are well in control and I am so grateful to you for allowing me to write about this here on your blog thingy.

I want to say a quick hello to someone who works so hard at our Carnival HQ. Her name is Beatrix and it is her voice who greets you when you call. Beatrix is our telephone operator and an avid fan of the blog. She has worked for us for quite some time yet she has never had the chance to actually take a cruise……..until now. Beatrix and her husband and her children aged 5 and 2 will be sailing on the Carnival Destiny and I just wanted to wish her a wonderful time. She is one of the many unsung heroes at Carnival whose work will never be in the spotlight……well… you are Beatrix. Thank you for all you do and have a great time.

Now its time to check in and see what is happening in the world of our great friend Chris “Bubba “Roberts the CD of the beautiful Carnival Spirit.

April 25, 2009

Greetings from Honolulu.

We are at the half way point of our annual reposition cruises to get the Carnival Spirit up to Alaska. The first Hawaiian cruise went pretty well in my opinion. There were some challenges along the way just like any cruise, and what makes it more challenging is that you only do it once a year, so you have to take good notes to remind yourself, okay that didn’t work and don’t do that again next year.

The first challenge which the ship did very well with was our embarkation process as we start the cruise in Ensenada, Mexico…..why? A thing which I am sure you have read about many times on the blog…the Jones Act/Passenger Services Act. You see if all of our “cargo” joins in a foreign port, then when they disembark in the U.S. ports we have not violated the Jones Act.

So what we do is pull into San Diego very early in the morning on our last Mexican cruise and try to complete debarkation and the loading of stores as quickly as possible. We were able to do this by 11am. So we let go the lines and hauled but down to Ensenada. The trip takes about 4 hours. So we were able to start embarkation around 3 pm. It’s a really long travel day for most guests as they fly into San Diego, go to the terminal….where there is no ship….check in, and board a bus for the 2 hour drive across the boarder and down to Ensenada. That first night is like a ghost town on board because everyone is usually so tired from the travel day.

The second challenge was the weather during the crossing. The first couple of days were a little bumpy. Not rough, but enough to notice. Plus we didn’t find the sun till almost half way through the 3rd sea day. In case you didn’t know it’s a 5 day trip across the Pacific to get there. Myself, the entertainment team & the whole crew of the Spirit did a great job in keeping folks entertained even though there was no sun for most of the trip.

So the last two days of the crossing we had great weather and everyone was out soaking it up. We had some great shows and the audiences were fantastic. Our new productions shows went over very well. It’s so nice to have brand new shows.

We got to the islands a little ahead of schedule and were able to see the plums of smoke coming off the water where the lava was flowing into the sea. We hung out there until night time where we could get views of the red glow coming down the mountains.

Our itinerary after the crossing was…..

Hilo, Hawaii – 8am – 6pm

Kahului, Maui – 8am – 10:30pm

Lahaina, Maui – 8am – 6pm

Kona, Hawaii – 8am – 5pm

Nawiliwili, Kauai – 9am – 6pm

Honolulu, Oahu – 8am – overnight the next day people disembark.

For the most part our days in port went really well. There were some delays with tendering in both Kona & Lahaina. Lahaina is usually slow as there is a small channel where the tenders come in an out and the marina is busy. So there is basically like a traffic cop (harbor control) who says which boats can come in and when they can leave. Kona, the weather was not the best for tendering so it was slow loading the boats as they were moving a bit when tide up to the ship. It’s best to take your time when boarding a tender in those types of conditions so people don’t get hurt. People seemed pretty understanding about the delays as I explained them to them.

So now we have started our next cruise where we will do the island in reverse. Everyone will embark in Honolulu, but disembark in Vancouver, so there again, no violation of the Jones Act.

This cruise is always the more challenging one, as the guests come on board and we do the ports right away and finish with the sea days. So they don’t really get a chance to bond with us until later in the cruise. Plus a lot of folks look at the last 5 days at sea as waiting to get off the ship. But I always tell them, it’s the vacation from their vacation. First you run around the islands for a week, and then you have five days to rest and relax and enjoy the facilities on board. Another challenge on this cruise is also the weather, because we will leave the warmth and head north where it is not ideal for sun bathing. We’ll have about 2 days worth of sunbathing weather, but then we’ll focus more games and stuff indoors.

It’s is a very international sailing this cruise. We have over 300 Aussies, 600+ Canadians and over 100 Germans, plus a scattering of many other nationalities. I have my entertainment team working on a few activities specifically aimed for these large groups. I believe a lot of them will also be doing our first Alaskan cruise as well.

Speaking of Alaska….I can’t wait to get back up there. This apparently is the last season of the North and Southbound itineraries as next year we will be doing a round trip cruise from Seattle. I must say, that all though it’s great that we are offering a round trip product from Seattle, I am sad that we will not be offering this itinerary next year as I really enjoyed it. I think Sitka and Whittier/Anchorage are great places. But hopefully maybe someday we will offer both the round trip from Seattle as well as the north and southbound cruises. I am afraid though that will be after my time.

Just before returning to the Spirit, myself and the shore excursion team did our annual fam trip to check out what’s new and different. One of the cool new tours in Juneau this year is Whale Watching & Orca Point Lodge. Whale watching is one of the most popular things to do in Alaska, and this will also combine visiting a beautiful lodge on a private island where they will have an Alaskan salmon dinner waiting for you and other cool things to get involved in. Apparently Juneau, Ketchikan & Sitka all had record snow falls this year, but things area already starting to warm up and that snow is beginning to melt. I have attached some pics of our trip…


A view from the beach at Orca Point Lodge in Juneau.


This is Orca Point Lodge. It’s a beautiful room with a view.


I guess this is why they call it Orca Point.


Flying out to the Misty Fjords in a Float Plane just outside of Ketchikan. The plane was a De Havilland Beaver.


Getting to land in the Misty Fjords and stepping out onto the float is something you won’t want to miss.


One of the many totems you will find in Ketchikan.


The whole team for the season – L2R: Peter, Ross, Paul, Roland, Kat, Me, & Vaughn


I hope we have lots of days like this one during the 2009 season.

Well in 11 more days we’ll be in Vancouver and start the 2009 season. Can’t wait. Got lots on my list to do this year that I didn’t get a chance to do last year. Plus everyday is an adventure in Alaska as you never know what Mother Nature might have in store for you. So if you are coming up this year, I look forward to seeing you.

Mahalo & Aloha,


Thanks mate for the brilliant update. I know we are losing you this year as you take your retirement and I am sure we will get to read one or two more Bubba Blogs before that day comes. Thanks mate and I am sure our readers will add their thanks and best wishes as well.

Hawaii sounds incredible and I am seriously thinking of doing some Alaskan cruising next years as CD. I wonder if that’s possible.

Well, the reports from Baltimore are that the event was just fantastic. I want to thank Stephanie Meads, Josh Big Sexy and, of course, our Chief Marketing Officer Jim Berra for stepping in for me at the Bloggers Breakfast and congratulate Jim and his team for developing this magnificent event. I hear the entertainment arranged by Roger Blum was just sensational and featured Fun Force, dancing and events led by Stephanie and Josh and a concert by one of our finest entertainers Motown Star Marcus Anthony. Here are a selection of photos I thought you may enjoy.











What a day and I have a feeling that in the future you may see Carnival bring our special kind of fun to a city near you. Congratulations to everyone involved and thanks to everyone that came to experience Fun For All.

Back in 2005 some friends of ours had rumpy pumpy and made twins, and a month or so later the husband called us over the Christmas holidays and said. “Come along tomorrow afternoon, we’re having a party for the babies,” “From about two o’clock onwards. Lots of people coming. We’ll have slides.”

Slides? Heidi and I were stricken with horror. Slides of the birth, did he mean? A sort of PowerPoint presentation of highlights from the labor ward? If there even was a labor ward; maybe the twins were delivered at home in a paddling pool on the kitchen floor? I pictured organic elderberry wine and placenta paté on wholemeal crackers in their darkened sitting room, while the proud dad clicked on his cursor and trilled: “Now, look closely, in this one you can just see the crown of Sophie’s head.”

We didn’t go.

And so this reminder was part of the conversation Heidi and I had last night when we discussed if indeed I was going to video the Thingy’s arrival. I still don’t believe I know anybody who has filmed their baby’s birth or, if I do, they’ve kept it to themselves. Aside from the fact that it’s just one of those occasions when you really have to be there, I can’t imagine any woman agreeing to be filmed in such circumstances. Pictures afterwards, great. Soft-focus shots of tired but happy mum, damp hair on her forehead and rosy cherub snuggled against the crisp, white lace of a fresh gown, wonderful. But not the bit that reminds you of the opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan or the inside of a hippopotamus’s mouth………….. bugger that.

At the very least, she is not going to be looking her best. She will be in pain, with her legs in the air looking like the letter “Y.” Her face will be red and sweaty, quite possibly screaming obscenities you never knew you knew. Does that sound like something you’d want to review over a cup of coffee with the in-laws? Then there’s the risk of complications, medical emergencies. Giving birth is a tense, painful, serious business, not a photo call, and you’d rather not tempt fate. If a man in the delivery room has any purpose, which is debatable anyway, it’s to help, reassure and offer his hand to be squeezed, not to stick a camera in Heidi’s face and ask if she is ready for a close-up.

My mates who are all Dads have told me that they came away from witnessing their child’s birth humbled, moved and in awe. The majority of chaps, given the choice, would rather wait outside with a box of cigars and a cell phone to call the grandmothers.

Heidi has made it known that if any photos of her “pushing” appears on the blog she will thrust a pacifier savagely in my bottom.

But I have to be nice today because it’s Heidi’s birthday. Secretly I think she was hoping the Thingy would decide to join us today but so far it is happy and content to stay where it is probably because he or she had seen my attempt at fitting its car seat.

I bought Heidi a pair of boots for her birthday. Now, that sounds sort of sexy doesn’t it? But these are not pre rumpy pumpy boots but a thing called Uggs. These synthetic fur-lined boots are the most popular brand of designer boot in the world……or so I am told by people who understand why they are so expensive. They are mega-comfortable say the fashion experts and everyone thinks they are the very best……except of course Sally the Sheep who is now mincing around the outback in Australia wondering why some Aussie sod stole her coat.

Anyway……….Uggs it was and we spent the morning receiving phone calls and opening her mail. Heidi also received a birthday wish from Princess Cruises President Alan Buckelew. Now this was of course a standard e-mail that is sent to everyone who has sailed with Princess but I thought it was a wonderful touch and definitely makes you think ……mmmmm…… he was so no nice to remember me ……. maybe I will remember them next time I decide to book a vacation ……….. well done Princess.

Just before Chris Prideaux (who is doing much better) went into hospital we were talking about working with our friends in marketing to have the cruise directors of each ship record a phone message and a week or so before you sail, the CD of the ship will call and you will here a personal message from them stating how they are looking forward to meeting you and how much fun they can look forward to. It is little personal touches of service like this which really do make a difference and I hope we can do more of this soon.

So, its been a tough day what with swine flu and the Thingy’s car seat plus just after the photo of Heidi and was taken we returned to the car to find we had a parking ticket. We had out stayed our welcome by 10 minutes. Getting a parking ticket catapults you back to your childhood. It is one of the few experiences of getting a good bollocking that adult life has to offer. And your reaction to this slapped wrist tells you a lot about how grown up you really are. It’s a wake-up call: an opportunity to check in with your inner man ………………at least that’s what Heidi told me………………………inner man, my arse.

It’s not even that difficult to pay a parking fine any more. Once upon a time you had to find your chequebook, find a ballpoint, find a ballpoint that actually worked, write a cheque, find an envelope, leave the envelope on the hall shelf for a week to “remind you” to buy a stamp, before finally getting it in the post just too late to avoid an additional fine. Now you can pay online or speak to a 15 year old Polish lady at the courts.

My other favourite thing about traffic regulations is the phrase PARKING VIOLATION. I’m a little surprised that leaving my car without a valid ticket for 10 minutes amounts to VIOLATING, which I now picture as a hysterical vegetarian lady who was trying to park her Toyota Prius in my parking space. “Officer, that’s him! That’s the fat bastard who VIOLATED me!”

So, I am going to sit back, turn off CNN’s Wolf Blister and the Swine Flu situation room and watch a movie with my wife. I suggest you do the same. Do something that makes you happy and smile and laugh because I think we all need to. Think of me naked………….think of me naked with a rose between my teeth…………think of me naked except I am wearing a pair of Uggs…………….think of me naked playing twister with Fun Ship Freddy.

Life is good and as always the fun continues onboard and here on the blog thingy.



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.