Wednesday May, 13 and no sign of the Thingy. Heidi is calm……….where as I am available for the remake of One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Heidi has a little pain “downstairs” and spends most of her day sitting on her birthing ball but apart from that she is …….well…….just Heidi. Her back is aching a bit though and that means yours truly has to massage her.

Now, some readers of this blog thingy will no doubt know from older postings that me and massages are not great friends……….I tried one remember when I had Bells Palsy and that resulted in pure and utter embarrassment as the Spa Carnival lady pressed down on my back so hard I farted ……..very loudly ……….and had to spend the rest of the contract putting up with giggles and farting noises made by staff members from every department whenever they saw me.

The first person ever to give me a massage was a ummmm…….”man” back when we had male massage therapists onboard. I went because I was young……I was the cruise director ………..and it was a cool thing to do. I hated it very much, and after an hour ended up more rigid than the table on which I was lying.

Many years later, I gave it another try. This time, I was attended to by a German crew member who looked a bit like a woman, except she had claws. And what’s more, she had very obviously learned everything she knew about massages from the “Das Man Est Bastards” book of massage. I emerged from the experience in great pain and vowed never to go near a massage parlor again.

However, a few years later, I was in Thailand on vacation with Heidi and, as we all know, what you get there is a nudge-nudge, wink-wink massage. There’s a lot of baby oil and pretty soon, the only evidence that you’re in the room is one leg sticking out from a writhing tangle of Lucy Lui lookalikes. This, I figured, would be extremely enjoyable, and so I was very keen to give it bash. I was, in fact, very keen to give it several bashes.

The first attempt didn’t go well. I was presented with an old woman who looked like Lucy Lui’s great grandmother.

She began by rubbing gravel into the soles of my feet, and, at one point, I swear to God she actually tried to pull my toes off.

I was beginning to think things couldn’t get any worse. But they did. She was rubbing oil into my legs – I think it was from Exxon – and with each deft upward stroke, she always managed to stop just before she reached anything interesting. I was marvelling at this ability when suddenly she started coming up my legs, doing that karate chop thing. And this time, she got it slightly wrong. Instead of stopping, she went for one last slice and slammed the side of her bony little hand into my left testicle.

The next day, I was offered a head massage, which sounded appealing. I thought it might help uncross my eyes, but all I got for $30, was a woman sticking her fingers in my nostrils. It was odd. I have seen Debbie Does Dallas and at no point did Debbie pick anyone’s’ nose.

Plainly, then, massage is something that everyone in the world likes, apart from me. A bit like Seinfeld and Friends.

Our spa treatments though are quite extraordinary onboard from the hot stones massage to the one the rich and famous all have called “The Four Hands Massage” which is where two ladies massage you ……it’s heaven……….allegedly.

I just can’t do it…….I mean the Steiner spa’s we have onboard are the most professional and best trained at sea for sure but I just can’t be mostly naked in front of them on the basis that although the therapist might be able to hold out for five minutes, anyone asked to look at my unclothed body for a period of time will eventually vomit.

Unfortunately, as I said just now the last time I had a massage and before I had a chance to fully descend into a lower state of consciousness, I was gripped with a devastating need to break wind. I know that to let go is considered polite in Belgium and Arkansas. But it is not in the Cloud Nine Spa. And so, for nearly 50 minutes, I had to lie there, in insufferable agony………..until I could not hold out any longer and my life onboard was never the same again.

Lets answer some questions…………here we go.

Oh, just before I do I want to mention the cruise director schedule. I do have the new schedule here which Chris Prideaux has almost finished. You will be happy to know that he is well enough to work part time from home and so the schedule is mostly complete. I cannot post it yet though as there are some last-minute changes that need to be done. However, for the most part I should be able to tell you who will be the CD on your cruise up until December 2009 but I do not have anything yet for 2010.

So, if you need to know I should be able to help………remember though please that occasionally we do need to make last minute changes.

OK……now ………..here we go with today’s questions.

Rosemary Williams Asked:
JOHN PLEASE REPLY: I now better understand about the CD schedule and thanks for explaining it to me. I spent my birthday on the Glory with Butch last year and wanted to do the same again this year and after reading some more of the blog comments it seems that he is moving to the Liberty? I want to take the sept 5th voyage on the Liberty and was wondering if Butch will be there then.

John Says:
Hello Rosemary
That’s perfect timing considering what I have just written about the cruise directors. I have been so proud of Butch this past year. He worked with me for some time and I always new he would be a star. It was difficult to let him go but now I sit here like a proud big brother. Anyway, Butch will not be joining the Carnival Liberty until September 9. The cruise director until then will be Kevin Noonan. He is one of our new chaps but received glowing reports from many of the bloggers. I hope this helps and if you have any other questions I will be here to answer them.
Best wishes
John

Juan & Maria Santana Asked:

John, please reply….
John, a few blogs ago you asked us that you wanted to know more about the wonderful picnic at Half Moon Cay. Pls. keep in mind that we needed tenders to get off/on…Well, the ever hard-working crew (this includes cooks, servers, etc.) were up early a.m. to bring ashore all the food/drinks for the thousands of us! There is a pavilion (roofed, but open all around) where there are grills where they cook & serve the hamburgers/cheeseburgers/chicken/hotdogs. There are tables with salads, vegetables, & desserts. There is a smaller place where they have the self-service machines for ice tea, lemonade, etc. There are enough eating areas with picnic tables/benches, all covered, so the guests don’t have to be eating under the sun/rain, etc. They started serving lunch early, maybe even before 12 noon. Everything was delicious!
There are clean bathrooms/changing rooms for the guests…. that’s very important.
There are cabins that you can rent to spend the day, and there is a big above ground wooden terrace type bar facing the ocean with lounge chairs… Everybody wants to be in that place! It even has a name: “I wish I can stay here forever!” By the way, the famous Men’s Hairy Chest Competition took place in front of this terrace type bar… the competitors came down the steps one by one and mingling with the female judges that were waiting to touch them & check the merchandise! You can get a copy of the video taken by the Carnival photographers so you can see how much fun everybody had.
There were several tours, water sports and several other things that you could do all day long, but believe us, the very best was swimming in that magnificent beach… clean turquoise water and white sand!
Ah, if anybody felt like praying/thanking God for that paradise… there was a small wooden chapel surrounded by flowers…facing the beach!
Well, I hope this wets your appetite as well as Heidi’s, so you can beg your bosses to send you on a CD mission to that paradise called Half Moon Cay! (Don’t forget to take Baby Heald too!)
The Santanas of Miami Beach

John Says:
Hello Juan and Maria
Thanks for the information on the food and service provided by the ship’s crew during your stay at Half Moon Cay. It is a big operation to tender the personnel, equipment and food ashore to get this done. None of the provisions come from the island and all the food and beverage items are provided by the ship. It’s quite an experience for the crew, especially the bar staff who spend the day barefoot walking the beach serving ice cold beers and freshly made cocktails. They all do a wonderful job so thanks again for mentioning them.

I hope the photos I posted of Half Moon Cay a few days ago reminded you of your superb day there and I for one cannot wait to spend more time there. It is truly paradise.
Thanks for the great posting and my best wishes to you both
John

Debbie Asked:
John, Please reply:
Thank you for your response to my earlier post on my comments on the Carnival Freedom. Your responses explain a lot about what we saw. We did have an exceptional time on the Freedom and would recommend Carnival and especially the Freedom and its eight-day Eastern itinerary. Our room steward Delia not only told us to return to Carnival but told us she hoped we would stay in one of her rooms again. This meant a lot to us. We ran into one of the ships photographers on deck our last day who offered to take our photo on our camera for us and gave us some tips on taking photos. My husband ran into one of the band members on deck one morning and had a very nice conversation with him. We found the crew on this ship to be extremely nice and plan to sail on the Freedom again.

John Says:
Hello Debbie
No need to thank me, that’s what I am here for and I shall remain so should you need anything. Thank you for the wonderful comments on the crew of the Carnival Freedom. I will make sure Delia gets to see your kind words and also make sure the hotel director sees them as well. I am excited to be spending six weeks or so onboard the Carnival Freedom in the summer. She has always been one of my favorite ships. I hope it is not too long before you walk up the gangway of another Carnival fun ship.
My best to you and the family
John

Frank & Bridie Asked:
Hi John Please reply
Thanks for replying,
If your not on board the dream for our cruise we at least hope to meet you ashore for lunch or something on a Saturday Seeing we live 15 minutes from the port we also shop at the same mall that all the carnival employees go to on Saturdays. Frank promises that he will defuse his head first or put duct tape around it. Oh how do we send you photos if we want too?
We Hope to meet you soon,
Big Fans as Always,
Frank and Bridie

John Says:

Hello Frank and Bridie
I am still hoping that we will see each other. I will now my dates for the Carnival Dream today so hopefully by the end of this blog I will be able to post them……….see you soon with or without duct tape
Best wishes to you both
John

Bill Heck Asked:
Dear John:
Please Reply:
There is a blog by a fellow called Jeff who is on the 2008 Rotterdam World Voyage who has been posting some wonderful pictures and limited commentary about each day. The wildlife pictures in Africa are exceptional.
Why I mention this is because he has been on at least two engine room tours of the Rotterdam’s private parts and has posted pictures of same. Apparently this may be a violation of Maritime Law. Hmmmmm.
Other folks on the same world voyage have posted on cruise critic about their tour of the engine room.
I would settle for a nice little talk in one of the lounges with a slideshow and one of the officers from the engineering side of your business. I understand the engine room is hot and loud, and umbrella drinks are not handy.
Not long now Buckaroo, quell your desires, not long and you will be doing your duty. Keep the faith.
What was that about a closet and a key?
Best wishes to the Healds!
your friend
Bill Heck

John Says:
Hello Bill
I have been trying to find this chap’s blog but to no avail. Can you kindly send me the link please? I was surprised to see that they were allowing guests to see the engine room over there on the Rotterdam. I really can’t comment on how or why they are doing that but I can say that your idea of a presentation and Q & A session by the captain and chief engineer moderated by the CD would be a fantastic addition to the cruise. I will talk with someone about this and let’s see if we cannot put your idea into practice. I know it may not happen on all ships as some captains and chief engineers are more comfortable on the microphone and in front of an audience than others ……….but I know some who will relish the chance. The captain who is setting the pace for this is Captain Scala who is currently the master of the Carnival Destiny. He already holds a regular Q & A and maybe we can use slides and film as you suggested.
Certainly it is an idea worthy of looking seriously at and thanks again mate for letting me know.
Thanks also for the kind words and my best to you and the family
John

FLIP FLOP CRUISE QUEEN Asked:
John, PLEASE REPLY,
Heidi is right–rumpy pumpy can bring on the start of labor–it is totally safe as long as her bag of water has not broken. Another thing that can start it is a good case of diarrhea; hence years ago some doctors would prescribe a dose of castor oil–yuck! So, put your rocket to work and see if anything happens–it can’t hurt to try. Another thing that can start labor is nipple stimulation–either you or Heidi can do the stimulating.
PREVIOUSLY YOU HAD STATED THAT YOU WERE GOING TO BE ON THE DREAM SAILING FOR THE TRANS-ATLANTIC CROSSING ON 10/27, BUT LOOKING AT THE SCHEDULE YOU POSTED A COUPLE DAYS AGO, I DIDN’T SEE THAT LISTED. ARE YOU NO LONGER GOING TO BE ON BOARD? That is the sailing when we are honouring police, firemen, doctors, nurses, paramedics, emt’s, and their family and friends. We are hoping the schedule you posted is wrong and that you will actually be there with us. Please let us know.
Thanks,
Sheryl

John Says:
Hello Sheryl
Well, rumpy pumpy is now the last thing on Heidi’s mind as I think she is now getting very uncomfortable. Anyway, you asked about the trans-Atlantic crossing and although I will not be on the entire voyage I do intend to join in Bermuda and sail into New York. That way I can help honor your amazing group of heroes.
Please let me know if you need any help in organizing anything special for the group
Best wishes to you and the family
John

CruizininVA Asked:
Hi John! Please reply – only if you have the time. My question is silly and frivolous and I know you have more important things to worry about right now!
My husband lives for trivia games onboard and always manages to win one of the infamous gold plastic ships on a stick. We have one from each ship we’ve sailed except our first cruise and it’s become his mission to win one from each ship. But I’ve read several trip reviews lately on various sites that say Carnival isn’t giving out ships on a stick any more for trivia games and just the little medals with no ship name?!? Please say it ain’t so!!! We sail this Sunday, 5/17 on the Pride and I will need to break the news to my husband gently if this is the case.
In any case, we can’t wait to be onboard. My friends and family think I’m nuts for all the cruises we’ve taken in the past few years, but stepping onboard a Carnival ship feels like coming home and once the ship sails I am completely at peace out there on the sea. It’s great medicine for the soul.
The thingy will get here when it wants to so try and rest until then and get over your man-flu! If Heidi holds out until Saturday the thingy can share a birthday with me. Blessings to all three of you and can’t wait to hear whether it is a boy or girl. I was lucky enough to witness the birth of my nephew a few years ago and it was the most amazing thing I’ve ever experienced. Hopefully it will be the same for you.

John Says:

Hello CruizininVA
It’s great to read that the trivia games our entertainment staff host onboard are popular. Usually these events are attended by a small selection of guests yet they are not just about the questions and answers. They are in fact a wonderful way to meet your fellow guests and get to know the staff member hosting the event. I promise that despite what you have read we still give the solid gold plastic trophies away on every ship at most events. We also have the medallions which we use if we are waiting for a supply of trophies.
However, we know how popular the trophies are and even though we may make fun of them they are only given to people who take part or win a contest or activity. I am copying Jaime, the assistant cruise director, on this and therefore am going to send your husband a trivia question just for him. He must give his answer directly to Jaime and if he gets it right………..she will give him a trophy
Here is the question
Which is the name of Jaime’s previous boyfriend
A. PIETRO
B DIEGO
C KIRK
D LAWRENCE
E DUNCAN
F ROBERT
G KEN
H GUSTAV
I ALL OF THE ABOVE

“I” will give you a clue.
Have fun onboard and thanks for the kind words for Heidi and I.
Please send us the review of your cruise when you get home
Best Wishes
John

kjunea Asked:

Dear John, Heidi, and Thingy, (please respond if you get a chance!)
Thank you so much for the wonderful pictures of Half Moon Cay! It is so great that you put them in the blog today, because we leave on the Liberty on May 23, cabins — and —!! Our first stop is HMC and my job, since I have chosen to accept it, is to get in line the minute we get on the ship and get a cabana! Which brings up a question: Why can’t you book the cabanas on Carnival, but you can on Holland America? It seems like it would be a simple thing to put it on the website.
Also, my mother-in-law is travelling on her first cruise, at the age of 70-something (I’ll never tell!) and it would be great if you could do a little something special for her. Her name is Judina Stevens and she is in —. I’ve sent her chocolate covered strawberries already, so that will score me good daughter-in-law points, I hope. Personally, I just want to finish this school year with my lovely 8th graders on May 21st, get on a plane on May 22nd for Miami, and then get on the Liberty May 23rd and hopefully, by 12:30 pm; I’ll have a cabana rented and a Fun ship special in my hand! After taking care of 160 8th graders all year, winning Teacher of the Year at my school, and having 2 kids win a National Award this week, I think I deserve a vacation! I wish you lots of luck with your adventure, whenever thingy makes his/her appearance this week!
June Stevens (ps… My cabin is —, just in case…)

John Says:
Hello June
It seems you are very excited about your forthcoming Carnival Liberty cruise and I am so glad I posted the photos of Half Moon Cay just to whet your appetite a bit more. You ask a very good question. Why can’t you book the cabanas on line? I don’t know the answer but I can find out for sure. I am positive there must be a reason though so let me make some enquires for you. Just to make sure visit the shore excursion manager once onboard. His or her desk is on deck 3 in the main lobby and they will open at noon.
It seems like you have a lot to celebrate and as the so of a teacher I send you special congratulations on winning your teaching award. I will be happy to send Mum something and please write a review when you get home so we can read all about your experiences onboard and your beautiful day at Half Moon Cay.
Have a brilliant time and my best to you and all your family
John

Ellen Hansen Asked:
Dear John (Please reply),
Have been enjoying your blog so much and thingy will be here when he/she is ready!
A question, bur first a bit of info. My daughter Robyn and I (Carnival virgins, but not cruise virgins…our first was in 1993, a high school graduation gift for Robyn on the Regal Dumpstress, er Empress, and we’ve since been on RCL, Norwegian, HAL, Disney and [be still my heart] the Radisson Seven Seas Navigator) are taking my granddaughter, Ella, who is just 2 years old, on the June 7th sailing of the Triumph, (Booking number — room —), her first cruise. We’re waitlisted for the earlier dinner seating, which we would really like to obtain. Second seating is currently her bedtime, and while her jammies are cute, not proper attire for the dining room! Would you be able to stick out your neck and pull some strings (too many metaphore thingies) and see if we can get a table for 2, with highchair? This way people can admire Ella from afar, and we can make a quick getaway, if necessary. (She’s 2 and VERY good at it.)
Can hardly wait until we hear the news about Thingy, and then I’ll know which color yarn to bring with me for my cruise knitting project! I wouldn’t dream of sailing without a project.
Be calm, my friend, and please give Heidi all our best wishes.

John Says:
Hello Ellen
I am glad you have been enjoying the blog and I hope you do so for a long time to come. I am so happy that you are going to take a Carnival cruise. I promise that we will all do our best to make this your best ever voyage and make your beating heart even more excited than your time on the Seven Seas thingy.
I will be happy to request your early sitting for you and I am sure the wonderful Maitre D on board will make sure your time in the dining room is some of the most fun you have ever had. Please send us your review when you get home and my very best wishes to you all
John

Sandra Asked:
John,
I was onboard the Carnival Ecstasy at the time the swine flu panic was at a peak. I understand that there had to be a port change due to the severity of the illness. What I did not understand was that we were led to believe for 3 days that we would be making a stop somewhere only to be told at the end of the week, “sorry, we’re heading home”. Why could we have not gone to Jamaica, Grand Cayman, or some other nearby port? Our captain was not heard from after day 2 of the 5 day cruise. He was a no show at both captain’s parties and all updates were given by the cd. This cruise was number 7 for me and I can honestly say had I been a first timer, I would never sail with Carnival again. This entire situation was handled about as unprofessionally as I have seen, not to mention the obvious “dishonesty” shown midweek. I visited with passengers who called Carnival on Monday before they boarded and were guaranteed that there would be a port change and the ship would be stopping somewhere. The final blow came when we arrived back at Galveston and the local newspaper reported that the ship had to head home early due to an ill passenger. More deception!! There was indeed an ill passenger, but that passenger could have been airlifted off the ship earlier in the week if she was critical at that time. Why take a chance of traveling 20 miles per hour to rush someone to the hospital? By the way, what an insult to our intelligence to “graciously refund our port fees”. HA! Come on Carnival, own up to blowing it and make it right by offering a deeply discounted cruise for those interested in giving it another try.

John Says:
Hello Sandra
Obviously I can see you’re upset and for that I certainly apologize. All the cruise lines do print in the ticket information that the itinerary is subject to change and unfortunately the sudden restrictions due to H1N1 virus. The situation affected all Mexican ports and every cruise line was trying to find alternative ports of call. I am once again sorry that on this occasion we were unable to find one during your cruise.
I was not onboard and certainly at the time of writing this I do not have all the facts. I can say this though. Having spent 20 years at sea and having been involved in many medical emergencies I can promise you that a medical evacuation by helicopter is not always possible. Apart from the availability of an aircraft and the distance from land, the physical act of the airlift may in fact be far too strenuous for the guest who needs medical attention. I can assure you also that these choices are made by the ship’s doctors and the life of the sick guest must come before anything else and that includes reaching the ports of call on time or at all. I am sure that if it was a member of your family whose life depended on such actions that you would agree. So, with this regard I promise you there was no dishonesty only correct decisions that had to be made in order to hopefully save a life ……nothing else is more important.
John

That’s all for now.

Calm down John………slow deep breaths……think of happy things………hold on………I just need to pop over to www.latvianwomeningstrings.com………..back in a minute.

THAT’S BETTER

Sorry for the rant and I remain here to answer your questions. And these include the ones that maybe include something that we as a company did not do as well as we might have and I promise to answer them respectfully.

I would like to welcome a new blogger to our bestblogsatsea.com family. His name is Justin Cohen and he is far too good looking. Anyway, he is currently serving onboard P&O’s
Also while you are looking at www.bestblogsatsea.com, please check out the families blogs which include the latest photos from the sea trials of the uber luxurious Seabourn Odyssey. I must say it’s great to see Captain Albert’s blog back. He is the captain of Holland America Line’s Prinsendam. For those of you who love the technical and operational sides of cruising than the captain’s blog should be something you will totally enjoy. Here is the direct link to his blog……….
www.hollandamericablog.com/captain-alberts-blog/

During the past weeks I have done quite a lot of interviews on radio, for magazines and for TV. Here is one I did on the Carnival Splendor in LA for a channel called California Life. It’s short and sweet but I thought you may like to see it. The direct link…
www.californialifehd.com

Oh, by the way………..for those of you who know my long time friend and Assistant Cruise Director Stephanie, you will be glad to know that she is being given a chance to cover the Carnival Destiny as cruise director. She starts in 10 days time and I wish her all the best as I am sure will those that know her.

Heidi is as I said calm about the late arrival of the Thingy. Unfortunately she is feeling very big, very tired and very grumpy especially with me and I’ve tempted fate more than once today. Judging by her moods, if I’m not careful, I could end up unable to father any further children…

There are times when I think I am prepared for this and then there are times when I am in a state of sheer and utter panic. Two weeks ago we had a tour of the hospital.

This is just to make sure that you know where you are going when you arrive and what to expect once there. As we entered the labor ward we could smell toast and were reliably informed by the midwife that a baby must have just been born. I knew babies are supposed to have a unique smell but I didn’t know it was of toast!

The first thing we noticed was that the labor ward was boiling hot – as you walked in it was like getting out of an air conditioned car in the middle of the desert, and it felt like all the air was being sucked out of your lungs. The hospital was air-conditioned said the nurse leading us around but the temperature had to be just right for the newborns. I looked at her and said “How is the air being delivered. Do you have an asthmatic hamster in the room blowing down a straw?”…….she was not amused and neither was Heidi.

There were four other couples with us and we were shown around the various rooms and equipment that would come into play during the labor and birth. I actually felt quite comforted by the apparent efficiency of how things get done and all the machinery available to monitor every stage…of course it made me equally as terrified. The one bonus was seeing the other men in the group looking like spare parts; there was a palpable air of male panic and every now and then the smell of fear usually coming from one of our bottoms.

Upon arrival at the birthing pool room, there was suddenly a loud piercing cry of a newborn child. Instantly the expression on every face changed. The midwife continued talking but I swear that no-one was listening to a word she was saying. It was like when the teacher spoke to Charlie Brown in the Peanuts cartoon…Mwah mwah mwah mwah.
Most of the questions and comments came from the men. Questions ranged from “do you have to pay for car parking?” to “maternity towels – wings or no wings?” I know …why would you ask a question like that? The women on the other hand just seemed to sit there and absorb it all. Perhaps they were stunned into silence.

It was a really informative couple of hours, and I came away with an understanding of what Heidi will go through, what to watch out for and how I will need to support her. Suddenly I realized how much things were going to change – I also had a renewed spark of excitement on meeting my new child.

The men did get lots of advice which was great. Gems included what not to say (“does it hurt?”) and that while it was a marathon event for her, for you it would be large amounts of boredom punctuated with small sections of high stress.

Stress my arse……..stress is the captain telling you that you are going to miss Grand Cayman because the sea is too rough to tender……stress is doing the adventure talk for St. Petersburg for the first time……..stress is writing a blog……..in your underpants ……. staring at a blank screen because you can’t think of bugger all to say. I can handle stress.

This is a whole new level. My wife will be spread eagled on a bed as strange men and women look up her lady garden while she screams in agony blaming me for the pain and telling the entire medical staff what a bastard I am and how she always has to wash the skid marks out of my underwear…….that’s stress………..and as much as I cannot wait to hold the Thingy in my arms……I don’t mind admitting………..I am absolutely terrified.

Goodnight
Your friends
John, Heidi and the Thingy

Hi, I’m John, and this is my blog. So please don’t mistake my opinions — or those of my dear friends, fans or commenters — for those of Carnival Cruise Line or Carnival Corporation. My apologies in advance for anything I may say that upsets you, but this disclaimer covers Carnival and puts the blame directly on me………….. bugger.