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Old January 20th, 2008, 01:54 AM
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Default Bloggers Cruise..Virtual Cruise Report from the Freedom

Blogger’s Cruise – Day 1 – Jan. 19
For those who weren’t cruising along with us on the Holland America Zuiderdam Virtual Cruise last week…. We disembarked the Zuiderdam this morning, rented a vehicle large enough for the population of a small country to fit in the luggage for four of us, and drove from Ft. Lauderdale to Miami to board the Carnival Freedom.

We decided to stop along the way at the Rascal House in Miami for a deli lunch, and arrived at the pier shortly after 1 P.M. Back in November we’d boarded the Freedom for our CruiseMates Thanksgiving cruise and the embarkation was quick, painless, and seamless. Arriving today the terminal seemed scene was much more crowded, and appeared slightly chaotic, even in the VIP check in lounge for suite and Platinum level Carnival repeaters.

We came to learn that the computers were down so much of the process was being done manually by the check in agents.

In the VIP lounge, to add to the problems, there was a travel agent who had come into the lounge and loudly insisted that the dozen or so clients with him be allowed to complete their check in process in the VIP lounge even though they were not eligible for this benefit. The VIP Lounge staff gave in, rather than create a scene, but doing so forced those who were eligible for the expedited check in process to wait.

While the agent surely thought he was providing a service to his clients, I’d have just as surely liked to get his name and contact info, so we could have a chat at a later date about his etiquette. I was pretty relaxed, having just completed a cruise, so was in no real rush, but some people who had indeed booked suites and were watching what was going on in the lounge were getting fairly perturbed with this individual.

Shortly after 2 P.M. we were crossing the gangway, and having our pictures imbedded in our Sail & Sign card. We’ve just sailed this ship in November, so there were no startling surprises once onboard. Her interior still struck us as odd as when we first saw it. Friends with us, who have never sailed Carnival before, described the décor as like an “Italian Whore House?… though I think it highly unlikely they’ve ever seen one of those either. Later, I also overheard other strangers describing the ship as beautiful… though I don’t know how many buckets of beer they’d already consumed. Kidding aside, I think different people will indeed look at the décor differently.

Once we made our way to the pool deck there was definitely a high energy party atmosphere. The ship is carrying over 3000 passengers this week, and almost one third of the total are signed up a part of John Heald’s Bloggers Group. For those of us who are part of the “Blogger’s Group? there are quite a number of special events planned, as well as a variety of gifts that John and Carnival have put together.

The Bloggers events were kicked off today immediately after the muster drill, with a cocktail party in the Victorian Theater.

As we entered the theater Stephanie, a member of John’s Cruise Staff (who I spent a day working with when I did a “day on the job article? in 2006) informed us there were reserved seats for us at the front. It was unnecessary, but I was honored by John’s thoughtfulness, but we do go back quite a number of years. I think I personally have publicly announced to the world six times that John is retiring.

Thankfully for Carnival cruisers and for Carnival John has changed his mind each time. And the Blog John started writing last March has not only informed and entertained his fans, it seems to have also rejuvenated John, giving an already energetic person renewed energy.

There was no doubt that the people in this crowd are John Heald fans! He was greeted by a standing ovation.


As John spoke to all the “bloggers? gathered he introduced some friends from the audience, and I was surprised and honored when he introduced me to the crowd, and spoke about CruiseMates and our friendship. I haven’t been asked to stand in front of a crowd this size since the police executed a warrant and arrested me for being in the United State illegally in 1999. (Just kidding!!).

When all the “bloggers? got to their cabins earlier today they found great looking beach bags, with I Love John’s Thingy emblazoned on them. During the get together this afternoon he talked about other gifts the bloggers would be receiving as the cruise went on. Of course each announcement was greeted with enthusiastic response from the crowd.

Perhaps the most enthusiasm occurred when John announced that a decision had been made for another Bloggers Group Cruise for 2009. It will sail on Feb. 9, 2009, from New Orleans on the then totally refurbished and updated Carnival Fantasy. My reaction was “BRILLIANT?. As John went on to explain the reasons this ship and embarkation were chosen, it all made great sense.

The cruise will demonstrate John’s enthusiasm for promoting Carnival, and also demonstrate the great humanity that those of us who know him know makes up so much of his personality.

He is formulating fabulous plans for a pre-cruise event where passengers will combine fun and donating some working time to assist in building housing in a city that still needs help.

In the next few days I’ll be supplying much more detail about all of the plans. Being the outstanding professional journalist I am, I of course, didn’t have my note pad with me to make certain I was accurate. But I will bring back ALL the facts soon.

I’m not sure I am to report this, because it’s not fact, and not yet set in stone, but John did hint to me later in private, that if things work out, Elton John MAY be performing during the 2009 John Heald Blogger’s Group Cruise. For now it’s a rumor, but keep your eyes peeled.

You can be assured that when I return home we’ll begin working on putting together a CruiseMates Group Cruise for this cruise. I’ve felt for some time that we needed to do a group cruise out of New Orleans, to do our small part for the city. This will be a great chance to do it, while helping a great cause.

An interesting tidbit from John for all of you who are booked for the CruiseMates 3 C’s Transatlantic Group Cruise on this ship in April…. John had earlier announced that he wouldn’t be the CD for that sailing. John confirms he won’t be the CD on that sailing, but he and Heidi will be onboard with us! And John and I have agreed that we’re going to get together to plan some special happenings for the CruiseMates gang.

It’s nearly 2 A.M. and it’s been a long but very exciting day. I apologize in advance for any late night typos and grammatical errors I have made, but I’m too tired to edit.
Tomorrow, after some sleep, I should be back to my normal elegant writing style.
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Old January 20th, 2008, 04:06 AM
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Fantastic write-up Kuki.

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Old January 20th, 2008, 10:25 AM
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Sounds like a fun time Kuki! Just wondered though.....if Elton John actually performs live on the upcoming Fantasy Bloggers cruise out of New Orleans, will he be singing "Rocket Man" live in your cabin every time you turn on the TV?
If you don't know what I'm talking about, has anyone ever sailed the Legend?

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Old January 20th, 2008, 10:31 AM
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Kuki---Short Question. If John will not be the CD on the 3ccc Transatlantic cruise in April WHO will be the CD if you know?
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Old January 20th, 2008, 08:26 PM
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Sounds like you are having lots of fun. I'm looking forward to meeting John on the transatlantic.

By the way......HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!! You sure know how to celebrate.

Phyll
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Old January 20th, 2008, 08:59 PM
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Default Blogger's Cruise . . Virtual Cruise Report from the Freedom

Kuki, please tell your travel companion how much Keith and I enjoyed his comment about the Freedom's decor. Keith just cracked up when I told him that, because that's the exact comment I made about the Liberty!

Judy
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Old January 21st, 2008, 01:25 AM
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Blogger’s Cruise – Day 2 – at sea
Before going on with today’s report, we have to backtrack to yesterday morning, as we were disembarking from the Zuiderdam in Ft. Lauderdale. It’s an episode I call….
It Goes To Shoe What Can Happen

We have one couple from home traveling with us on these back to back cruises. They aren’t first time cruisers, though this is the first time they are cruising with me and Mrs. Kuki. On Zuiderdam their balcony cabin was adjacent to ours, and we had opened the balcony dividers to share the space. Yesterday, we met on the balconies for coffees, and our male friend reported that he had packed all of his shoes in the luggage he’d put out last night.

This was certainly not “the end of the world?, as he could get his shoes as soon as he retrieved his luggage inside the terminal building. However, I could tell he felt kind of silly making this small mistake, so we of course proceeded to use every shoe joke and pun we could think of to taunt him until he retrieved his shoes.

I told him he’d have no problem at all until he got to U.S. Immigration, and then the Immigration Officer would only look at him and his bare feet and say: “Are you going to straight home to Appalachia??, and he could respond… Shoe enough Officer.

I then tried to assure him no one would even notice that he was barefoot. Just before we left the ship one of the events staff onboard noticed, and said… “packed your shoes huh?? Don’t feel bad she said, another person just ahead did the same thing. My friend said: see he wasn’t the only one. But I told him, don’t believe her, she was just trying to make you feel better! For shoe you were the only one that dumb.

Sorry to digress. Now it’s back to today’s story.

Beginning last night and continuing on this morning, and into the day, the seas have been a bit on the rough side, and there are a lot of folks walking sideways down the hallways. John has been on the public address system several times asking guests to hold on to the hand rails when using the stairways. I’ve heard of several passengers stopping by guest relations to get some sea sickness tablets, including the wife of my friend, Shoeless Joe.

Aside from rough seas, it’s also been cloudy with showers all day. There were several indoor activities scheduled including a cooking demonstration this morning at the Sun Viking Supper Club. This event has become so popular reservations to attend are necessary. Throughout the day there were other activities, including the standard Blackjack Tournament, Bingo, art auction preview, gaming lessons, etc.

At 3 P.M. today, and again at 6 the NFL Playoff games were broadcast on the outside large screen, Seaside Theater on Deck 9. Even with brisk, cool weather, a surprisingly large number of passengers showed up to cheer on their favorite teams. If the weather had cooperated no doubt the entire pool deck would have been raucous. The indoor Player’s Sports Bar, on Deck 5, was packed with football enthusiasts as well.

Even with the football game as competition, I was surprised to see how John and Heidi’s Game Show at 3:30 P.M. in the Victoriana Lounge drew crowds anyway. Even the country line dance lessons being held in the 70’s Disco Club had a large number of people participating.

Mrs. Kuki and I also took the time to deliver the cabin door magnets and name tags we’d made to all the cabins in our CruiseMates group. We haven’t met them all yet, but we’ll be working on correcting that in the next few days. By the way, the cabin doors are this ship are not magnetic, but the walls next to them, where the cabin numbers hang are magnetic.

Tonight is our first formal night, and the Captain’s Welcome Aboard Reception. During one of John’s announcements he stated that there were 12 cabins, 21 passengers onboard whose luggage the airlines managed to lose on route to the ship. He made a point of publicly announcing that they should come to dinner tonight regardless of how they were dressed. So, I thought I’d seize on the opportunity to go to dinner tonight in a bathrobe and tie.

My afternoon nap accidentally extended through the timing for the Captain’s cocktail party. Now that means I’m in full cruise relaxation mode. I did shower and dress for dinner, and tonight’s meal was very good, and as is our dining room service.

While in the dining room tonight I checked on the whereabouts of the diner tables some of the CruiseMates gang who I haven’t met yet. I got the information, and went to visit them. Didn’t have to go far because they were at a large table right next to where we’re seated.

Mrs. Kuki apparently let the cat out of the bag; today is my 58th birthday, and Ken, the Maitre D wished me a Happy Birthday over the rooms public address system. The acknowledgment was very kind, but it is sort of odd for me to be treated as a “somebody?.

Then of course all the staff and passengers at nearby tables gathered ‘round and sang Happy Brisday Two Shoes, and presented me with a birthday cake. I blew out the candles, and made a wish. I wished that next time they’d spell Koki right on the cake.

The post dinner show in the theater tonight was one of Carnival’s production numbers; The Big Easy. As bad a judge as I am of all things musical or rhythmic I did go to the show tonight. The costuming was terrific, and Mrs. Kuki tells me the entertainers talent excelled as well.

I snuck out of the show just a bit before it was over to spend a bit of time in the casino before heading to the cabin to write tonight’s report. The casino staff are going out of their way to be nice and friendly and helpful. I believe Carnival’s Ocean Players Club got my memo about better follow up with OPC members coming back to their ships. At any rate, the staff are very pleasant, and it makes spending time in the casino much more fun.
Tomorrow we dock in Cozumel at 8 A.M. I’m booked to go golfing at the Cozumel Country Club with the ship’s excursion, then will meet up with Mrs. Kuki later for a likely visit to Carlos & Charlies and Margaritaville.
As I passed a cool weather day this afternoon talking to my travel companions who are first time Carnival cruisers, and were with us last week on Zuiderdam (and who have previously sailed Princess and RCI), I found it quite interesting that after only a couple of days they are saying they are enjoying Carnival the most. It will be interesting to see what their thoughts are as the cruise continues.
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Old January 21st, 2008, 02:42 AM
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Hi Kuki.

Enjoying your live posts a lot. Sounds like your having a great time! Wish we were there with you.

If you get a chance, can you please try to check if a waiter named Roberto Dejesus works on this ship (or if the headwaiter possibly knows what ship he is on). He was once our waiter, and we would love to see/have him again.

Have a great cruise, and enjoy the moment!
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Old January 21st, 2008, 05:32 PM
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Happy Birthday to You (cha cha cha)
Happy Birthday to You (cha cha cha)
Happy Birthday you ole cruiser...
Happy Birthday to You (cha cha cha)

I know it was a good one. Thanks for the live posts. Hope the rest of the cruise is equally as wonderful.
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Old January 21st, 2008, 05:43 PM
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Glad you are having a great time . wish I was there!!!
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Old January 21st, 2008, 06:21 PM
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I am so happy to hear of a 2009 bloggers cruise. My wife and I will surely be on that ship sailing out of the Big Easy.
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Old January 21st, 2008, 09:11 PM
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Hi Kuki, great review of the Freedom with John. I was wondering if I could ask you to find out when "Music Boardwalk" will be on the Freedom?
I can't seem to get an answer from anyone. They were suppose start in December but Carnival keeps chaniging dates. I would appreicate any info. They are a great Cover Band and would like to cruise with them and Ron Pass if possible. Thanks for your help in this. Mary49
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Old January 21st, 2008, 09:45 PM
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HI There
I am not surprise that your friends like Carnival. After cruising every line except Celebrity, the only one I would repeat would be Carnival.
Absolutely the best food, entertainment and the beds, OOOOHHHHH!!!!
I wanted to bring one home with me. We actually slept until 11am one morning. Absolutely unheard of, we are always up by 7am at home.

That's where my cruising dollar is going

JennC
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Old January 22nd, 2008, 01:37 AM
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Bloggers Cruise – Day 3- Cozumel – Jan. 21

The seas remained quite choppy throughout the evening and night. We were told a weather system has been following us south, and the ship has been bounced around a bit. No doubt some passengers have been feeling the effects, but many others were just taking it in stride. Just before retiring to the cabin last night, around 1 A.M., I poked my head into the disco, piano bar, and several other lounges, and they were all quite busy, with people singing, dancing and having a great time. This is where Carnival separates itself from some of its competitors; it’s night life.

When we awoke this morning tied up at the International Pier in Cozumel the skies were cloudy and dark. Rain was falling, and it appeared to be socked in for the day. As mentioned earlier, I had the ship’s golf excursion booked, and showed up at the appointed spot hoping I’d be told to go back to bed. The golf pro onboard allowed everyone who had booked to vote on whether we’d take our chances that the weather would improve and head for the golf course, or we could cancel and get full refunds. After some brief discussions we cancelled and returned to our cabins.
For information purposes, I have played the golf course in Cozumel before, and it’s a surprisingly nice golf course. If you are a golfer, and have the opportunity to play here, you won’t regret spending the $155.

All of the water going ship’s excursions were cancelled today due to high winds and weather. Aside from the disappointed passengers, I can’t imagine what the total dollar values lost to the local economy today is, as well as revenue to Carnival.

The rain let up for a short time around Noon so we headed into the town of San Miguel ($6 per taxi from the pier) to simply stroll around, with no desire to purchase anything this time around. By 1:30 the rain was picking up, and it was either go into one of the many bars in town, or head back to the ship. We chose the latter.

The island of Cozumel has a population of 80,000 people and 109,000 taxis. The price to get from one taxi to the next is nothing, so if you were to walk from one taxi to the next you could see the entire island free.

With a couple of bad days of weather I think it’s likely the Freedom’s food budget has been eaten out of business. With down time due to weather I think a lot of people have become like me; eating machines.

Even when I’m still feeling full from breakfast, I automatically get in line as soon as there’s an indication that the lunch buffet is about to open. And while I’m eating lunch I’m already thinking about what I’m going to have for a snack later in the day to tide me over until dinner, and what flavor pizza I’m going to take back to the cabin for a slice before going to sleep.

Breakfast and lunch from the buffet is the norm for us, rather than going to the dining room. In the first few days of the cruise I have noticed that in both the indoor and pool-side buffet dining areas trays, soiled dishes and cutlery are sitting on table tops much too long before being cleared. Too often you can see passengers clearing their own tables to have a clean table to sit and eat.

The buffet lines are quite well organized, and the way they are divided, in sections, I haven’t found long wait times at any of the various stations. Breakfasts are rather standard breakfast fares, but lunch selections are quite varied.

The Freedom has made several changes to its buffet station selections. The small Chinese food window on the starboard side has been changed to offer Mexican dishes. The Chinese menu was felt to be too similar to the Mongolian Grill section of the buffet, so has simply been included there.

The station pool-side amidships now serves a Tandoor (Indian) menu. Along with the International and traditional American buffet lines, where selections change daily, and the Deli window, there is a significant variety of foods offered.

The Carnival Liberty, Freedom’s sister, was sitting next to us at the pier today. Their exteriors are identical, making you feel you’re seeing double walking down the pier to return to the ship.

I tried to log on for internet service today, and oddly, in my cabin I was picking up the Liberty’s Wi-Fi signal. I couldn’t log on to my account through their service because part of the log in information is your name and cabin number. I’m assuming picking up the Liberty’s internet instead of that of the Freedom must just be a glitch caused by my cabin location on the ship. The Liberty left at 6 P.M. (Freedom is in port until 10 P.M.) and “Voila? my internet connection was back.

Even with today’s visit to Cozumel being a literal washout for many passengers tonight even at dinner there’s a very positive energy amongst everyone.
It continued after dinner when I popped into the middle of the Battle of the Sexes game that John & Heidi were running.


The crowd was having a BLAST, and very involved. The highlight had to be a “guest? in the audience- “apparently? a trucker from Georgia talking about the Waffle House, and hashbrown potatoes. The schtick is hard to put into words, and highly likely a bit of a set up, but the “guest? was so good the audience was rollicking, and Heidi was laughing so hard tears were running down her face.
The game was followed by a comedy/juggler, Goronwy Thom, who was also very entertaining. And from the showroom everyone headed up on deck for a big deck party…. And finally a beautiful evening, with a bright full moon.
Tomorrow morning there’s a Q & A session for all the Bloggers with John, Heidi, as well as Roberto and Stephanie (who are assisting with the technical side of Johns Blog). Rumor has it that this Q & A will be broadcast live on John’s Blog.
http://johnhealdsblog.com
It should be very interesting because tomorrow is also John’s birthday. No doubt there’ll be some antics in celebration of the event.
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Old January 22nd, 2008, 02:41 AM
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There's a correction on the date of the 2009 Bloggers Cruise. It departs Feb.7, not 9, on the Carnival Fantasy.

We do have group space blocked, and the prices and package will be posted very shortly.

Get your credit cards ready to book.It's going to be a WILD ONE!
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Old January 22nd, 2008, 08:49 AM
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As I'm reading your blog Kuki, I am getting more and more excited about leaving on my own cruise in just 4 days! Can't wait for some good ol' Carnival fun!

donna
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Old January 22nd, 2008, 10:09 AM
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A note to those reading here... you may want to read the article I wrote, which went up on the home page yesterday...comparing Carnival to Celebrity.
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Old January 22nd, 2008, 02:28 PM
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Thanks for the reviews each day, I look forward to reading them
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Old January 22nd, 2008, 03:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kuki
A note to those reading here... you may want to read the article I wrote, which went up on the home page yesterday...comparing Carnival to Celebrity.
Thanks Kuki,
I really enjoy your reports and will now read the comparison between Carnival and Celebrity.
Can we count on a head to head comparison between HAL and Carnival? Ya know, besides the upkeep that needs to be done and staff quality.
Stuff like cabin size and amenities, casino lay out, etc.
Wife and I are quite happy with HAL but want to try another line just cuz.
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Old January 22nd, 2008, 04:02 PM
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Blogger’s Cruise – Day 4 – Jan. 23
The typical Caribbean day that so many expect when booking a cruise finally arrived today. We woke up to sunny skies, and calm seas, and temperatures rising into the 80s.

From early in the morning it was apparent the cooped up masses of passengers were out to work on their tans, and take in all the fun and sun they could manage.


Late last night I had run into the Hotel Manager and he asked my opinion on how everything is going. I gave my opinion… fine service, fine food, etc. Then I also mentioned that I noticed the tables not being cleared and cleaned as quickly as they should be in the buffet areas.

This morning on deck, there had been a 360 turn around on that comment. I watched as tables were cleared and ready for new passengers within minutes, and plates cleared almost as soon as people finished eating. I couldn’t tell if they had added more staff to the area, or had simply redirected the energy of those working the area, but it certainly removed the issue from my mind.

At 11 A.M. John and Heidi hosted a Q & A session for all the bloggers. It was an opportunity for all the bloggers to spend more direct and intimate time with the two of them.


John’s “Blog Thingy? has grown into much more than just a site to read for cruise information.

Over time it’s become a community, where the reader’s have got to know each other, and share their personalities, and with this first ever Bloggers Cruise, have got to meet in person.

That is the amazing thing about the Internet; for in the early years not many sites gave much thought to the social aspects of their cruise sites, and how they can bring people together and become Internet neighborhoods, and grow into villages.

When I was first asked to join CruiseMates staff 9 years ago, that vision of an internet community growing, and including neighbors from around the world was sparked my acceptance to become part of the CruiseMates team.

We built our CruiseMates Group Cruise Program to assist us with that purpose. Shopping for the best deals that would draw people together, and we unlike some sites, we continue to offer them to keep building that community, rather than profit from the sale of the cabins…. Because we don’t!
So, I’m delighted with the success of John’s Blog, and seeing it to evolve into an expanding community.

At this morning’s Q & A session, there was one of John’s youngest fans, 9 yr. old Katy, wanting a hug from John. He of course obliged this lovely little girl.

I was so happy taking this picture, because I had met her parents years before on a ship thanks to CruiseMates. Back then we were to meet on one cruise, but they had to cancel because they had been working on adopting a baby from Russia. The adoption process was arduous, and it took some time to fall into place, but we did finally get to meet Mark, Amanda, and then 2 year old Katy on a ship. Seeing this beautiful child today on this cruise was a truly heart-warming moment.
The bloggers talked about and enjoyed expounding on some of the quips from the last 250 blogs, and seemed to be soaking up every fun moment and story the hour allowed.

We returned to the theater later in the afternoon to attend John’s Newly Wed game. He is the master of the stage, and without doubt the most entertaining CD I’ve sailed with.
To be continued…..
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Old January 22nd, 2008, 06:38 PM
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Keep the updates coming Kuki,,,I am enjoying every word.
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Old January 22nd, 2008, 08:13 PM
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Great reports Kuki.

Tho I will not go into details, I have seen an Italian whore house and the Freedom is not quite that bad!!!

I'm pretty sure the tease of EJ being on the next Bloggers cruise is going to cause a sellout very quickly. Hopefully we will be one of the lucky ones. Since we missed out on meeting John on the Turkey cruise I do hope he will be on the Feb 09 cruise, as a pax or CD.

Did you ever get a new suit jacket? You mentioned how the one you packed for yourself had shrunk during the flight to Florida.

Phil & Liz
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Old January 23rd, 2008, 12:29 AM
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Blogger’s Cruise – Day 4 – Jan 22

The above is a picture of Katy (Katlyn), with parents Amanda and Mark. She was still talking about her bear hug from John. Just a wonderful family!

John celebrated his 43rd birthday today. 21 of those years have been spent with Carnival Cruise Lines. No doubt they know they have the best Cruise Director in the industry, but I felt we should put in print with an EXCLAMATION MARK or two!!!!!!!

I believe the key to John’s “act? is his complete package of amazing wit, sly humor, quick mind, his desire to do the best job, combined with his humanity. In some cases humanity is a difficult word to fully comprehend, but in John it’s simple to understand, it’s worn on his sleeve, and is obviously the core of his soul. To me it is his humanity that sets the path for him in everything he does. He is the epitome of a good person! And I’m proud to be able to count him as friend.

In my view, like me, when I found Mrs. Kuki I believe I found the person who made me a complete human being; I believe John has found that person in Heidi. Not many people can imagine being with their spouse 24/7 – at work and play. Carry that to a life together at sea, and it’s a much more difficult task than most of us would want to take on. Fact is, despite the difficulties of the situation, when you see John and Heidi together you see their love for each other in their eyes… even when doing something innocuous like running an onboard game show.

Gosh that was pretty serious stuff… think I might cry.

Tonight at dinner the Maitre D Ken sang a couple of songs. He really does have quite the voice. During one song some of the wait staff, in the central area of the dining room, dance on the top of the bussing stations. Our table is in this section, and our lovely waitress Nanka is one of the performers. She’s a lovely young woman, with a great smile. OK, I have a crush on her. But why not, she’s lovely, she supplies me with great service, and she is always smiling. I did clear a section on our table for her to repeat her performance directly in front of me, but sadly she declined.




I seem to recall in the past that the singing and dancing waiters were an almost nightly occurrence in Carnival dining rooms. This seems to have been cut back to just a couple of times during the cruise, and I like it. And it’s easier to enjoy it when it’s not done every night. It also appears that the dining room guests are no longer divided into teams identified by color, and cheering for god knows what during dinners. This too is a good thing.
Tonight the mystery of the “trucker? from the Battle of the Sexes game was solved. It was indeed a set up “act?, who turned out to be comedian Al Ernst… who began tonight’s shown in character with another exchange with John. Quite hilarious!

There is a group of press onboard from several outlets, escorted by Tim Gallagher, Vice President of Public Relations for Carnival. We’ve all been dining together, and tomorrow Roger Blum, the person in charge of hiring Carnival entertainment is joining the ship, so we may hear some interesting tidbits.

Tomorrow evening they’re planning some sort of special dinner for us using the area of the Lido buffet on Deck 10, where fish and chips and some sea food specials are served at lunch. The area is normally closed in the evening, but I understand they’re going to be preparing some special dishes to test out on the press. If I don’t make it back to report tomorrow, you’ll know they won’t be appearing on the menu anytime soon.

For the Blogger’s, on Friday there’s a Q & A session with the press scheduled, and I’ve been asked to join that panel. Let’s hope the bloggers have a sense of humor, or I may be booed of the stage. Stay tuned here to see how that turns out.
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Old January 23rd, 2008, 12:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil&Liz
Great reports Kuki.

Tho I will not go into details, I have seen an Italian whore house and the Freedom is not quite that bad!!!

I'm pretty sure the tease of EJ being on the next Bloggers cruise is going to cause a sellout very quickly. Hopefully we will be one of the lucky ones. Since we missed out on meeting John on the Turkey cruise I do hope he will be on the Feb 09 cruise, as a pax or CD.

Did you ever get a new suit jacket? You mentioned how the one you packed for yourself had shrunk during the flight to Florida.

Phil & Liz
Phil & Liz...
On the decor, as I stated in my daily reports from the Thanksgiving cruise, though I'm not in love the total decor, there's some rooms that I think are terrific. And just as then, I'm so busy enjoying the ship, that my mind seems to block out the parts I don't care for.

As for the 2009 Blogger's Cruise, we've already secured group space, and should have the package up soon and available for booking. By next week you should be able to get your deposits down.

THE SUIT ... It didnt shrink. I just brought the wrong suit; one of my used to fit, now slightly snug suits. Just one formal night left to suck up my gut to get through
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Old January 23rd, 2008, 01:07 AM
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Okay Kuki I got a question for you, with the Bloggers 2009 cruise being scheduled for the newly updated Carnival Fantacy, is there any hope of them making any balcony cabins while in dry dock, or is the ship going to remain all ocean views and interior rooms with a handful of suites?
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Old January 23rd, 2008, 11:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kuki
I seem to recall in the past that the singing and dancing waiters were an almost nightly occurrence in Carnival dining rooms. This seems to have been cut back to just a couple of times during the cruise, and I like it. And it’s easier to enjoy it when it’s not done every night. It also appears that the dining room guests are no longer divided into teams identified by color, and cheering for god knows what during dinners. This too is a good thing.
This is an improvement-IMHO-as well.
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Old January 23rd, 2008, 02:11 PM
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Blogger’s Cruise – Grand Cayman – Jan. 23 - Half Day report

First off.. You can NOW book for the CruiseMates Group joining the 2009 John Heald Blogger Cruise. Here’s all the info….
http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/.../Heald2009.cfm

Today’s port of call for the Freedom is Grand Cayman. Grand Cayman is a very expensive port because of its buoyant economy. We’ve visited GC many times, and Sting Ray City well could be the best excursion in the Western Caribbean.
However, admittedly, after numerous visits, to us it has become a “been there, done that island? so Mrs. Kuki and I stayed onboard the ship. Since Mrs. Kuki had no desire to stay in bed with me all day, and cater to my every desire (it has been so long I forget who ties who up), we went up on deck to enjoy a nearly empty ship.

On our way to breakfast Mrs. Kuki placed her bag on a sun lounger/chaise just in case one of the 8 people still onboard wanted that particular spot. After breakfast she returned to her spot for some “techno reading?. Modern technology perfectly suited to cruising. She’d downloaded numerous books to her Nano Ipod, and reads by listening…so still free to use her eyes for people watching. A key benefit to the Ipod’s ear pieces are they shut out the sound of her snoring so it doesn’t interfere with her reading.

I took advantage of a nearly empty ship to wander about a bit, and take some pictures of public areas while they were unoccupied.

I’ve spoken of my thoughts on the imperfect décor of the ship earlier, however the Havana Bar, on Deck 4 aft, is my favorite bar/lounge at sea. It is the most authentic and comfortable bar, and evenings a jazz trio performs here. For those who don’t object to the sometimes strong odor of cigars, the Havana Bar is a little slice of Havana.






I’d have no problem filling my entire family room with its high back leather arm chairs that literally surround you in comfort when you sit in them. If Carnival would like my home address for shipping I’ll gladly provide it.

Along the Promenade on Deck 5, there’s the surcharge coffee station, along with elaborate desserts for purchase. If you’re so missing the chance to spend $62 each day at Starbucks, this is the place to visit. I’ve really never grasped the thought process of people willing paying more for their coffee than they are for heating their homes.

Also on Deck 5, in the evening, there’s a Sushi Bar. The Sushi is free, and the place is very popular for pre-dinner visits. I am not a fan of Sushi, but here’s a little known fact-- it was relatives of mine who first invented Sushi. Two of my cousins wanted to open a fish restaurant but didn’t have enough money to buy an oven.

The 70’s Disco is also located on Deck 5 Promenade. With all the talk of the over the top design work on the Freedom, by Joe Farcus, the disco is actually quite understated. It’s a great dance venue.

I think I’d best go up top now. I believe I may have missed a meal. I’ll be back to visit with you here again later tonight… if I survive the guinea pig dinner.

In the meantime I want you to know I certainly welcome any of your comments and questions.
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Old January 23rd, 2008, 02:30 PM
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Great blogg, and great pictures! you are starting to change my opinion of carnival.
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Old January 23rd, 2008, 04:06 PM
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Hi Kuki,

I'm really enjoying your live posts. Sounds like you (and everyone else) are really enjoying the Fredom.

Just a few questions as we may be cruising either the Liberty or Fredom soon...

- Does the big screen take away from the poolside entertainment? RCCL really scaled back from the live pool reggae band, and we are hoping that Carnival has not done the same (and that the TV does not take away from the band and other live entertainment). How is the band, and do they play often?

- If you get a chance, when you speak to the headwaiter or Maitre'd... maybe you can ask if a waiter named Roberto Dejesus is aboard the Freedom. If not, I don't know if that have a way of checking if he is aboard the Liberty... we had him years ago and know he is still with Carnival... we would love to sail with him again.

Thanks for taking the time to report live from the ship. Enjoy the rest of the cruise!
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Old January 23rd, 2008, 08:16 PM
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Hi Kuki,
If you are reading this then I guess the dinner was not so bad !

Can you shed any more light on the possibility of EJ being on the 2009 cruise ? Or have you been taken out of the loop for letting the cat outta the bag?

With prices like the ones offered in the 09 cruise we may even go Cat 12 suite just for the heck of it.

Phil & Liz
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