Tigers, Cougars and Zip Lines

December 10, 2009 -

John Heald

Just before I start today’s blog and because it is my blog I feel the need to respond to something. I see that our missing the port of San Juan yesterday has caused quite a stir on the Cruise Critic boards and I wanted to reply to one of the posted thingies:

Cruisngator says “Blah, blah, blah, blah. More of the same from Mr. “Hot Air.” Why didn’t he just say that “we screwed up?”

Well, actually mate………I did say that. It was our fault…………plain………and simple.

The end
Best wishes
John “Hot Air“ Heald

Anyway, because of this the mood onboard was at first ………….a little grumpy. And so I decided to help out and co-host a live show at 11am with Todd the CD. It was a lot of fun and I like to think that I helped to lift the mood from grumpy to understanding. I certainly got lots of comments afterward and while many guests told me that I was “funny” …… one or two made comments about one particular guest who had called in live on the show. We shall call the guest “Bonnie” because that is her name and apart from telling me that she had cruised with me before she also proudly told the whole ship that she was 77 and married to a man of just 50 years of age. Yep………..Bonnie is the original Cougar……albeit one who uses a walker to help stalk her prey.

Bonnie told us they have been married for 25 years which means she was 52 when she married Eddie………and Eddie would have been 25…………………shock and horror!

I say these words because later, after the show, Todd and I were talking to some guests who told us how “ridiculous it was to have someone of two different ages be together …….he must have married her for money.” OK, maybe that is a possibility but that’s not what I detected in her voice when we spoke on the phone…………I detected love……….true love.

Some people do have problems with “age gap love” and I have first-hand experience of this. I was on the Fascination having just returned from falling in love with Heidi. I was 30 years old. I remember sitting at the Captain’s table along with our VIP guests. This particular Captain had the conversational abilities of a washing machine and so by dessert I had run out of things to talk about so I mentioned Heidi was my girlfriend. One of the two women at the table asked me what my girlfriend did for a living.

When I said, “She’s a student,” dark clouds seemed to gather. “What, so she went back into education, did she?” one of the women asked. I decided to head straight for the eye of the storm. “She’s 21,” I said…… If I’d added “and I occasionally like to have her tickle my thingy with a feather duster”………………… I don’t think it could have made the atmosphere much worse.

Now, we have nearly 9 years between us and I don’t think that this is excessive but I will never forget what this lady guest said to me………she said……………….“What can you possibly find to talk to her about?” I really wanted to pick up the dessert spoon and insert it up her nostril …….. but instead remember saying “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”…………..when that didn’t get a laugh I told the table that I picked Heidi because of her beauty and intelligence and not her age. She looked at me as though I was Woody Allen.

I guess though it is much more acceptable today than in past years, I mean………look at this cougar thing. When I was 20 and a 40 year old lady had rumpy pumpy with me I would have had to either leave $50 on the night stand or…….she would have been blind or drunk or probably both. Regardless, she would have been a laughing stock and labeled as a “slapper” (www.urbandictionary.com) but today………….in these modern times…………the slapper has become a Cougar and having rumpy pumpy with someone many years younger than you is as fashionable as a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes. Cougars will get ………..at worse…………..a patronizing smile rather than the cold hostility reserved for men who date much younger women ………………………Cougar………….my arse.

Time for today’s questions………….here we go.

Vegas Mike Asked:
Please respond when you get a chance

Hello Mr. john just wanted to say hi and again thank you for your continued effort onboard and online. I had a quick question that intrigued me and thought I would ask you about it. with the recent launching of a to be unnamed gigantic rival ship do you think you will ever go on it? Either in a working capacity or on a vacation? Do you feel like you do what you do and don’t want to see what others are up to, or do you like to see what the competition is all about? Or does carnival have super spies who report back to you? I ask because I’m kinda conflicted, in August my mother and I were with you on the freedom and we had the most amazing time, and we are now ready to book our next cruise and I’m tempted to see what else is out there but we had such joy with carnival. I know this puts you in a difficult spot of course you want repeat customers on carnival but you seem like a straight shooter and are always brutally honest. Besides the obvious things such as size of ship and destinations are there real differences between the other lines that I should see or are you all for the most part the same? I’m looking forward to your answer and Kye is as cute as ever seeya vegas mike…

John Says:
Hello Vegas Mike

Thanks for the posting Mike and the gigantic rival ship you speak about is of course the Oasis of the Seas who was docked with us in St Thomas on Tuesday. You asked if I would ever sail on her and honestly the answer is no. Not because I would not be intrigued to see what the ship is like and how they operate but because I honestly don’t believe it would do me any good. Let me explain.

I don’t need to sail on their ship to make the Carnival product better. When I am a CD I know what I have to work with and cruising on RCI will not make our product any better.

You asked makes Carnival better and I guess having never seen their product I am not in a position to answer this so let me concentrate instead on what makes the Carnival product the best.

I am confident when I say that I guarantee that the Carnival’s food is superb…………and so is the brilliant and fun service that we are renowned for. But mostly it’s the affordability ………the value for money……….which is in my humble opinion…………..unbeatable!

Oh yes…………..one other reason I won’t be sailing on a RCI ship……………..after everything I have written about them………….I think I would be bound and gagged……….tied to the top of the climbing wall and left their for the vultures to pick at my thingy. Still………..no big deal …………… no other bugger uses the climbing wall anyway.

Thanks for the kind words and best to you and the family.
John

TIM Asked:
John, Please reply.

My past e-mails to you never went through. Hope this does. Sorry I was unable to talk to you on the Dream on November 13, but I was very ill and needed to get off the ship. I do hope you liked the patch honoring firefighters from the World Trade Center I gave you. Sorry we didn’t get to talk. I am a big fan and never miss your blog thingy. I hope to meet you in the future. We will be on the Miracle in May 2010, I know you won’t. Keep up the great work. Hope you get to go home soon.
Tim………..

John Says:
Hello Tim

I hope you have seen my response to your posting a few weeks ago. I had asked how you are now as you left the ship in such a hurry saying you were not feeling well. Are you OK now, please let me know? The patch you gave me is a prized possession and I was so humbles when you gave it to me and the words you spoke when you did. Thanks for the kind words and if there is anything I can do before you sail on the Carnival Miracle please let me know. Best wishes to you and the family
John

Stacey Asked:
John (Please reply)

Leaving Thursday (in 2 days) for our trip and awaiting a reply to a post a sent in 3 weeks ago. Getting kind of anxious.

So sad we’ll be missing you on the Glory (you’ll be gone by Sunday, won’t you?). We’re so excited!

Thanks for posting today. I’ve been going through withdrawals.

Safe travels and smooth sailing,
Stacey

John Says:
Hello Stacey

You are now onboard and I already know that you have seen my reply to all your requests. This is therefore just a note to say that I hope you had a brilliant cruise.
Best wishes
John

Alexandra Asked:
Pls Reply

John, Oh you make me laugh! We are in the Dream Jan 9! We can’t wait! I have a question about the behind the Fun tour. What day does it happen? How many people can do the tour? Do they offer more than one tour?

John Says:
Hello Alexandra

The Behind the Fun tour was so popular here this cruise that three departures, which is the maximum we are allowed, were sold out by the end of the second day. Please try and book this on the day you board the ship at the Shore Excursion Desk.

Have a brilliant cruise.
Best wishes
John

Doug Asked:
John (Please Reply)

I don’t know how you do it. Just reading about your schedule wears me out. Thank you so much for the Blog. It has been a lot of fun following the Carnival Dream and feeling a part of things even from home. The photos today were amazing! I look forward to your writings every day; thanks for all the laughs.

If you have time I was wondering if you could check on something for me. I will be sailing with ten other family members on the Carnival Ecstasy on December 17. Three of us are past guests, for two this will be their first Carnival Cruise, and for the other six, their first time Cruising. Our Travel Agent said the bookings were cross referenced so we would be at the same table for dinner. With the dining room being one of the highlights of the trip, would it be possible to check with the Ship to see if we will be seated together? We have the 6:00 seating.

Thanks John! This will be our first family cruise and we can’t wait. I appreciate your time and all you do for us Carnival Fans.

Best wishes to you, Heidi and Kye.
Doug

John Says:
Hello Doug

I am glad you have been enjoying the blog thingy and I see that you are all excited about your cruise on the Carnival Ecstasy. I have e-mailed the Maitre D to ask him to help you with your seating arrangements. I am sure he will be able to help you. Have a wonderful cruise.
Best wishes to all
John

LadyJag (Laura) Asked:
Dear John, (Please reply)

Thanks for another great blog! I enjoyed the clip of Will Marfori as well as the beautiful photos of the Carnival Dream, which I can’t wait to board in May.

I am probably going to make a lot of high-strung CC members angry for this, but I need to ask a favor of you once again:

Would you please pass along my words of thanks and kudos to the Carnival management folks so that I can properly recognize Laura Adams of the Carnival Guest Care department for great customer service (not to mention a brilliant first name! LOL!)?

At the end of September, I signed onto the Carnival web site and sent an online inquiry about the Currents magazine. Since I sailed on the fabulous Carnival Glory in May and saw that other past guests already received their Fall copy, I was wondering why I was excluded from the distribution.

Laura responded via email in very timely manner and told me not to worry, that I should be receiving a copy any day. Two weeks went by (October had begun), and my edition of Currents never arrived, so I inquired again.

Again, Laura responded almost immediately, apologized for the delay I experienced, and let me know that she requested a copy to be sent to me that should arrive in 7-12 business days.

Well, my life got really busy and I didn’t give it any more thought until a week ago (mid November) when I remembered that I STILL had not seen any sign of the magazine.

So I contacted Laura again via email, let her know my copy never arrived and that I was pretty sure the fall edition was out of circulation already, so if she would just make sure I was on the distribution list for the next edition in January, then I would be more than satisfied.

As usual, Laura’s response was very speedy. She apologized again, told me that she made sure I was set up for the next edition in January, and then mailed me her own copy of the Fall edition, which arrived just 2-3 days after I received her email.

Now, it may seem like I’m making a big deal out of something as petty as a quarterly magazine, and I can assure you that I didn’t lose any sleep from such a minor oversight. However, I do believe in giving credit where credit is due, and it’s that little bit of extra effort that impresses me about the Carnival customer service that I received.

Laura could have easily told me “gee, sorry. That edition must be out of print. You’ll probably get the next one next year.” Or I could have received a simple corporate fill-in-the-blank type cyborg form letter in response, like “Dear Guest, Thank you for contacting Carnival. We’re sorry you experienced issues with [Currents magazine didn’t arrive]. We have notified the appropriate department to work on improving the situation. We look forward to serving you in the future. Sincerely, Carnival Guest Care”

But I didn’t. Instead, I got real responses from a real person in less time than it’s taking me to write this long drawn-out comment.

So, if possible, would you please make sure Laura gets her “at-a-girl”? I do appreciate the time and effort she took to rectify my problem, even if it was over something as small as a piece of media mail.

John Says:
Hello Laura

Please don’t worry about the one or two Cruise Critic members who don’t like me helping people as I enjoy doing this very much. It’s great Laura that you have taken the time to thank someone who probably never gets the spotlight on her ……………until now. I will make sure that she and her supervisor gets to read this and I know that she will be absolutely thrilled. Thank you again for your kindness and if you need my help I will always be here.
Best wishes
John

Mike & Loretta Brown Asked:
John or Stephanie,

You do not have to reply or even post this to this blog but can you make sure they get it on the ship. Thanks!

Hi Todd,
I just wanted to send you a note to say that we had a wonderful cruise on the Dream with you and the Dream Team from November 15th to November 23, 2009. The ship is wonderful and as is its crew. There were just a couple of things that I wanted to bring to your attention on the ship to possibly make it better for future cruises.

First was the tour in Nassau. We took the Highlights of Nassau and Pirates Museum tour. The area where the tours were meeting was on the dock. When we were finally able to locate the tour on the pier, there was a bus there only for the handicapped, but they would not let the passengers in wheel chair on the handicapped bus. They, the folks in the wheel chairs, along with all the other passengers were required to walk from the ship to an area by Starbucks where we were then broken up into groups and put on taxis. There was no coordination to this at all and to have people who were able to walk be allowed on the handicapped bus and ride to the front and the truly handicapped people in wheel chairs have to be wheeled out was a complete farce. The people who were pushing two of the wheel chairs were just a step or two in appearance from being in a wheel chair too, but they made it work for the friend or loved one. Also, there was nothing in the description of this tour did it say that your return to the ship would be on your own, but the only way the driver would take those not going to the museum back to the ship was for them to agree to pay him (tip him) for the ride. It was taxi #300.

The second was the pasta bar experience we had today. We when there at about 1:00 p.m. We were able to quickly order our food and were told by a blonde hostess in the first or order station that the wait was approximately 20 to 25 minutes. About 45 minutes later the same lady came to the table with my wife’s food, but nothing for me. She told me she would be right back with mine. After another 20 minutes and still no food and after asking three waiters, to include the first young lady, she came to the table with an order sheet to reorder my food. Now we are talking an hour and 5 minutes by now and my wife had finished with her meal. The hostess said there would only be a short wait for my food once she ordered it, again. We left the dining room. Many, many people who came in after us were served before either I or my wife was and my wife’s food was not hot when it was served and mine never arrival. We were told the orders were made in the order they were received.

Also, with the Bloggers Group meeting on the first day, we were not notified of the meeting with John nor given any information of the meeting location or time, even though the reason for us to take this cruise was initially for the Bloggers Cruise, which we were left out of. We got into the terminal at 10:30 hours but due to a disastrous embarkation on the ship at 2:15 p.m. and checked with Guest Services and were told that they could not give out that meeting location. We were never able to interact with any of the other Bloggers on the ship.

Thanks for a wonderful cruise other than those things stated above. The ship is beautiful and the crew is brilliant. The comedy club is brilliant with Al Ernst and Happy Cole had us rolling on the floor laughing.

Mike & Loretta Brown
Cabin 1276

John Says:
Hello Mike and Loretta

Thanks for the posting and sorry it has taken me so long to reply to you. I wanted to comment firstly on the pasta bar because I know that in the beginning we had some definite concerns as is normal when you do anything for the first time. I sincerely apologize for this and I can assure you that after operating this venue for a few voyages now we now have the service at the Pasta Bar at a level that we should. I am so sorry that it wasn’t what you experienced.

I have passed your thoughts on the Nassau tour to Todd and more importantly to our Shore Excursion Department in Miami as its obvious we have to make some changes there. What a shame that people with walking challenges were treated this way and that’s just not good enough…………we will make changes here I promise.

I know more than anything how unpleasant the embarkation experience in New York was that cruise. No excuses………it was awful and the buck stops with us at Carnival and because of this mess you missed the bloggers cocktail party. Once again…………I send you my sincere apologies.

However, I was glad to see that you enjoyed the entertainment and the crew and Happy Cole is as you said someone who will have you in tears of laughter. Thank you again for the review which has been sent to all who need to read it.

Best wishes to you both
John

Elizabeth Asked:
Please reply…

If all the Cruise Directors were at the conference who was directing cruises? Surely the ships didn’t remain docked? Or sail w/o a CD?

John Says:
Hello Elizabeth

Sorry for the late reply to this question but the answer is that while all the Cruise Directors were at the CD conference the Acting and Assistant Cruise Directors were in the big chair bringing fun to all the guests. It’s actually a great way for us to see which of the new people are ready to move on…………..or not. Overall I heard mostly wonderful reports of those who were the CD and in some cases I heard that the acting CD’s achieved higher guest comment card ratings than some of our more seasoned CD’s. Hope that answers your question and if you have any more please let me know
Best wishes
John

Mary Asked:
Please reply

Feel so lucky to have found your blog. Your comments reflect your wonderful personality, and I’m sure the admiration of those who post here. I found the Carnival recipe for the delicious cinnamon pumpkin yam cheddar pot pie, which I recently enjoyed on my cruise with the Carnival Spirit. The recipe is portioned for a large crowd, 100 servings. Is there any way you could as one of the chefs to post the recipe on this site for 6-8 people? It would be great for a dinner party. Keep up the good work, and please pass my compliments along to the chef on the Carnival Spirit, Mr. V.
Thanks again,
Mary

John Says:
Hello Mary

Thanks so much for those kind words and as requested here is your recipe for Pumpkin Yam Pot Pie.

Portions 10
Ingredients:
Pumpkin can 10 oz
Onion chopped 3 oz
Onion sliced 2 oz
Geri (pickled ginger) 2 tspoon
Garlic chopped 2 oz
Butternut Squash 8 oz
Yam 8 oz
Vegetable oil 2 tspoon
Leeks 3 oz
Cherry tomatoes 2 ea
Brie cheese 2 oz
Cheddar cheese 2 oz
Mozzarella gated 2oz
Scallions 1 oz
Chives 1 oz
Basil 1 oz
Short Crust pastry 4 oz
Polenta 4 oz
Rosemary 1 oz
Cinnamon powder ½ tsppon
Butter 4 oz
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

For 10 Pumpkin pot pies
Short crust pastry:
H&R Flour—————-14 oz
Cake shortening———-5 oz
Butter unsalted———–2 tspoon
Salt————————t tspoon
Ice cold water————-500 ml

GARNISH
Red pepper reduction 1 tspoon
Bottled pearl onion 1 ea
Watercress 10 sprig
Green peas 8 oz

Method For pumpkin mixture:
• Roast pumpkin puree in the oven with rosemary.
• Heat a Pan with oil sauté garlic and leeks add heavy cream and make a leek fondue and add the roasted pumpkin puree and cook season with salt pepper and spice with cinnamon powder.
• Whip egg white and fold in the pumpkin mixture once it is cold.
• Arrange the fluffy mixture of the pumpkin on the bottom of the Oval bowl.

For Squash and yam mixture:
• Roast yam with skin and deskin and cut in to dices.
• Cut Squash in dices.
• Heat oil in pan sauté onion garlic add the butternut squash and sauté add heavy cream and cook the squash.
• Add the yam cook, add half cut cherry tomatoes and sprinkle some cut scallions and flavor with basil, chives.
• Thicken the mixture by folding in brie, cheddar and grated mozzarella cheese.
• Pickle the thinly sliced onion in gari juice {pickled ginger juice} and add them in the yam n butternut squash mixture.
• Adjust seasoning.
• Arrange in the oval bowl over the pumpkin mixture.

For the puff:
• Cut the pastry into size that can fit the oval bowl.
• Place the pastry sheet over the square bowl and tuck the edges.
• Eggs wash the pastry. Take another sheet and cut strips of 1cm each.
• Arrange these strips over the tucked sheet of the oval bowl to form a trellis impression, egg wash the puff and keep in the fridge. There should be 12 strips per portion, 6×6
• Bake in the oven in batches serve hot as close to service.

For the Polenta:
• Make the polenta with chicken stock, cheese, butter and parsley.
• Set on a sheet tray chill and then cut into triangles as shown in the picture. Warm in the oven as required.

Presentation and garnish:
• Place the baked square bowl on the topmost corner of the plate.
• Brush the red pepper reduction on the plate.
• Arrange triangles of polenta on the plate.
• Sprinkle with sautéed peas and pearl onion and garnish with watercress & parsley sprigs.

Procedure:
• Sift flour,add in the shortening and butter.
• Mix at slow speed till the butter and shortening break down well.
• Add in the salt and mix.
• Add the water gradually till medium stiff dough is formed.
• Mix well at medium speed till smooth dough is formed.
• Sheet out to 2 mm thickness. Place a few sheets in the refrigerator for lattice cut.
• Arrange all oval dishes on a work table and roll out the dough on the dishes.
• Press along the edges and cut to cover making sure the dough stays a little over the rim.
• Apply egg wash and arrange thinly cut strips for the lattice (6×6 crisscrosses).
• Again apply egg wash and bake at 325F for 20-25 minutes till golden brown.

I am glad you found the blog and enjoy the pie.
Best wishes
John

Kathy Roxo Asked:
Hi John (PLEASE REPLY),

This tribute blog absolutely touched my heart, as a long time reader of your blog, I have seen and read many things on your blog and I always find comfort in knowing that you share the good, the bad, and the ugly with us every day!

I usually do not post comments as I know how many you get John, and I know how busy you are and I would rather you spend your time using your Raspberry to talk to Heidi and Kye then to read my rantings and ravings but today I have a favor to ask.

On January 2nd, 2010, my family and I will be boarding the Carnival Freedom for our 5th cruise together, all totaled, between the 6 of us we have taken over 30 Carnival Cruises and our loyalty to Carnival runs through and through 🙂

This will be our second time on the Carnival Freedom and the last time we sailed on the Freedom, we had the best cruise director ever and that was you John, of all our cruises you were by far the best, we loved all your shows and especially loved how you kept the entire ship informed of what was going on at all times! It was the most amazing cruise ever and you were a HUGE part of that!

The favor that I have to ask is this. Of all the cruises we have been on, we always seem to get stuck in the back of our dining room, surrounded by LOTS of families with young children and honestly servers who are less than enthusiastic about entertaining and serving and simply go through the motions – this is the only thing that has ever disappointed us about our cruises (the food is always wonderful and we certainly could not complain about that). We can never see what is going on in the main area of the dining room and therefore feel like we miss a crucial part of our dining experience and that is the entertainment, I do not think we have ever been at a table where we could see the “Maitre D” so we always deem him “the mystery man of the dining room!”

I was wondering if you could help us get a table in the center of all the dining room action that way we can experience what it is like to be truly entertained during our delicious dinners on the ship. The one thing that we have always been happy with is that we are always seated at a table of 6 with nobody who does not belong to our party and for that I am thankful and hope that this year we can have it all – a table for 6 at the center of all the action!

We sail on January 2, 2010 on the Carnival Freedom from Ft. Lauderdale, that is if we can find our ship somewhere behind the blinding view of the “Mall of the Seas!!!

John, I appreciate anything and everything you do, not just for us and in order to further enhance our dining experience, but for everyone you help out through this blog – you are truly someone I look up to, admire, and respect for a job well done – even if it is done mostly in your underwear!

Thank you for everything John and take care of yourself and that beautiful family of yours!

Sincerely, (and NOT in my underwear – not a pretty sight 🙂
Kathy Roxo 🙂

John Says:
Hello Kathy

Thank you for your loyal support to Carnival Cruise Lines and of course it would be a pleasure to help you with your dining request. I have sent your details to my friends on the Carnival Freedom and they will do their best to make sure you get the table you desire. I hope that one day soon we get to sail together again and if there is anything else you need please let me know.

Have a brilliant cruise.
Best wishes
John

Kathy M. Asked:
Dear John, Please reply.

I know that you are three weeks behind, but could you please give us an update on the Captain of the Splendor who had the heart attack on 11/27/09. I have been keeping him and his family in my prayers, but some of us on Cruise Critic would like to know how he is doing.
Give my love to Heidi and Little Kye.
From your #1 Bloggy Thingy Fan
Kathy M.

John Says:
Hello Kathy M

Thanks for your concern as always. Captain Rassello is doing fine. Fortunately, he did not have a heart attack but was hospitalized for a short spell. He is now enjoying his scheduled vacation at home it Italy and is expected to assume command of another Carnival ship early next year. Thanks again for asking about him.
Best wishes
John

That’s all for today and there will be more questions answered tomorrow. Please remember to mark your comments for my reply if you need anything.

Let’s do the news.

We start of by saying congratulations to P & O Australia whose new ship Pacific Jewel arrived into Sydney Harbor yesterday. The Aussies love their ships so as usual the ship was greeted with much enthusiasm and excitement. Here is a photo of the arrival and I wish the ship a “bonza” life Down Under.

Talking of P&O it seems that the news that their fleet will receive a smaller ship the Adonia in 2011 has excited the cruising public. Have a look at Carol Marlow’s blog and click on the comment section and read what they have to say.

Oh yes, also there you will find a wonderful photo of Carnival UK’s new HQ. I have not had chance to visit the building yet but I guess I should as one day …….when David Dingle retires …………..my huge corner office will be located there.

Seriously, it’s a stunning building and I hope to visit it soon…………here is the link thingy:

http://www.jamescusick.co.uk/

……………………..still think they need to change the name of that blog to:

www.pandoblog.com

There is a great panorama video taken from the Niew Amesterdam’s funnel deck. It gives an amazing view of the shipyard and you can control the video and view with your mouse thingy……….have a look at:

http://www.hollandamericablog.com/

And I wanted to answer this comment today as well from Alistair Leigh.

Alistair Asked:

John, I do enjoy your blog but the Tiger Woods jokes you posted were cruel. Tiger is the greatest golfer the world has ever seen and he needs our respect and understanding not our ridicule. I suggest you stick to writing about the cruise industry.
Thanks and I hope to keep enjoying reading your blog.
Alistair Leigh
Buffalo, New York

John Says:
Hello Alistair

First of all Alistair my apologies for upsetting you. Although that is never my intention and I hate it when that happens. My blog thingy has evolved I guess to not just being about the cruise industry and I have tended to write about what’s in my mind more and of course that has included the whole Tiger Woods thingy.

I think we should remember that the vast majority of Tiger’s fan base is men who care much more about golf than about the women in their own lives…………Heidi would kill me if I buggered off to play golf every weekend. However, maybe it’s time for me and everyone else to move on and remember that he is as you said……..the world’s greatest golfer. Hopefully me and the world can remember his amazing swing……..not his swinging.

I hope you continue to enjoy the blog and once again my apologies.
Best wishes
John

Well, here the news is that we are in Grand Turk and once again the weather is fantastic. There is though still some chatter about us missing the port of San Juan yesterday and while most guests are just expressing their disappointment one or two guests are coming up with their own conspiracy theories. I received one such theory in a letter from a Platinum guest who addressed her concerns to me and the Captain and even though I am not the ship’s CD I decided that I should talk to her. Her theory was that we were treating her and the other guests “like idiots” because Carnival had never planned to call at San Juan and that this was just a ploy to get them to spend money in the casino and bars, etc.

This is not the first time I have heard this comment as it is one that anytime we miss a port that usually comes up. I find it best on these occasions to do more listening than talking and that’s how it was with this guest. Obviously it is ridiculous to suggest that we never intended to dock in San Juan but I think she just wanted someone to pour her frustration out on and so I sat there and listened……….and hopefully she felt better and understood that her theory was not correct. Apart from that, as I said, most guests were very understanding and many told me that after three days in port that they ended up enjoying the day at sea.

I mentioned yesterday that our missing the port of San Juan meant that Big Ed’s Evil Krewe could not deliver the school supplies they had brought to give another blogger Nani who lives in San Juan and teaches at a school there. Supplies are hard to come by and the generosity of the group to buy much needed supplies was amazing and of course everyone…………especially Nani ……….was very disappointed when they discovered that the call had been canceled. And so, we have multiple boxes of supplies here and my thanks to the ship and a man called Terry who is our VP of shipping and ummmm stuff who is arranging to have the boxes off loaded in Port Canaveral on Saturday……………shipped down to the Carnival Liberty and placed onboard. Next week the ship will call at San Juan and Nani will bring a big truck to collect the boxes ………. oh and I am buying her dinner onboard, as well.

Talking of Big Ed’s group………they threw me a party yesterday. For those of you not familiar with Big Ed and his wife Pat and their Evil Krewe let me go back to 2007. When I first started the blog thingy it was vastly different to what it is now. First of all I didn’t write every day and certainly not in my underpants. However, right from the start I had a core group of readers which included a character called Big Ed, Well, as time went on Big Ed became a character within the blog thingy itself and he launched his own blog…………

http://ekonefe.wordpress.com/

…………..and from that arose a community and a family of friends who love life, Carnival and each other.

At the party I was presented with gifts including a pair of new camel hair lined underpants to wear while I blog……a whole selection of things dedicated to my bottom purchased from “Farts Are Us”……….a special Evil Krewe T shirt……..and something for Kye which I can only describe as one of the most touching things anyone has ever done for me and my family. This group of people are indeed family and I am proud to be part of that as well.

Here is a photo of Big Ed………..the leader of the Evil Krewe.

Oh yes…………..and have a look at the cake they had the Chef make……………..it’s extraordinary and its dedicated to me and my sense of humour (spelt correctly).

This morning we are in Grand Turk and the ship is empty. We arrived three hours earlier than scheduled following our missed port yesterday. At 9 am the Captain held a bloggers only Q&A which was very kind of him and I think everyone enjoyed the chance to ask him about his life and ship operations.

Last night I hosted Cigars Under The Stars on the port side of the Lanai. It was well attended with about 30 cigar smokers and bloggers who just wanted to come and enjoy the beautiful Caribbean air and good conversation. We spoke about cigars and then it turned into a general Q&A session as I answered loads of questions and encouraged lively discussion about the Carnival product and life at sea. It was a great event and one I think I will continue when I return as CD next year.

Yesterday………the bloggers received a John Heald Thingy pen and tonight they will all receive a John Heald bobble head……………….poor sods.

I truly hope you have been enjoying all the great photos this week and here are some more this time themed around some of the ports of call we have visited………………….have a look at these.

One of our most popular Shore Excursions in many of the Caribbean ports is Zip Lining. Mico Cascais, our vice president of tour operations has added these brilliant tours which can be found in places like Cozumel, Ocho Rios, Costa Rica and other locations including Antigua. A steel cable is strung from one post to another on a gentle descent. A handle or cradle attached to a pulley wheel is hung from the cable.

From the higher post to the lower, the zipwirer flies through the air for the full length of the cable. As there is more chance of me dancing a naked tango with Judge Judy than me ever Zip Lining I asked Peter the Hair to describe the feeling…….here is his report.

“It’s is a great feeling, like a high-speed cable-car run, except that you are the cable-car. Wearing a crash helmet and togged up in the sort of harness you stand at the top end of the zip wire while an assistant checks the fastenings, and then slides the pulley-wheel into place on the cable by your head. Then you drop your weight on to the cradling, push off, lift your legs, and – whee! – the warm wind rushes at your face as you accelerate, the wheel and wires singing at a rising pitch as the speed increases to about 65km/h (40mph).As this happens, the ground drops away beneath you and soon you’re skimming the tops of the trees, your T-shirt is billowing in the wind. But the sun is warm, and as you follow the cable to its destination you can see the finishing post, with a big soft sack to crash into if you fail to brake.”

And here is a video of our Camera man Peter the Hair, his future wife Amy and our Director of Carnival.com………….enjoying a zip line experience in Antigua.

You too can experience this ultimate thrill. Contact your Shore Excursion Manager when you are onboard or you might want to pre book online as they are some of our most popular tours and always sell out. If you have any questions or need help booking please let me know.

Tomorrow’s blog will feature a re-cap of your Carnival Dream, more great photos, a link to my top ten favorite reviews of the ship …………….oh and yes…………..an unforgettable video.

It seems that the Yachts of Seabourn will have some pretty stiff competition next year when my fellow Brit Mr. Richard Branson launches his ultra luxury cruise package. Unlike the Seabourn Odyssey which will call at exotic ports all over the world Branson’s ship will take people ………. to space………..wow!

Did you see the unveiling of his ship this week……..extraordinary and it seems the rich and tanned are clamoring to buy a ticket. Paris Hilton, George Hamilton, Sigourney Weaver and seemingly the rest of the world are all excited at the thought of climbing aboard Richard Branson’s spaceship………… me………I couldn’t give a bugger about it. It’s not just the $200,000 price tag ……although admittedly this is a bit of a barrier. For a start, I think it might be a massive disappointment. The folk at Virgin Galactic clearly know this, because the package you get when you sign up for a flight includes three days of being brainwashed into believing how brilliant your adventure is going to be.

You will be “approaching sensory overload, and the more that can be simulated beforehand the better the real thing will be,” it says in black and white on its website, which sounds a bit like telling someone climbing a wall on a cruise ship is the best thing in the world when in fact ………. it’s stupefyingly dull.

I know space will be a disappointment because this is the Google Earth generation. And because you won’t be able to zoom in, do a flyover, or use that ruler tool thingy to see how much bigger your garden is than your neighbor’s. What you’re actually going to see is some cloud and be lectured by a spaceman with a beard about global warming and greenhouse gasses.

What Branson is selling is actually a $200,000 cruise to nowhere. I hope the Cruise Director of the Galatic has lots of activities planned because I know from experience that cruises to nowhere are tough. There will be no sun, no great shows………and zero chance of a rumpy pumpy with a travel agent.

Goodnight
Your friend
John

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.