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Kuki February 6th, 2009 03:16 PM

Daily LIVE Virtual Cruise Reports- Blog2NOLA
Denise Thornton the founder of Beacon of Hope Foundation in New Orleans.

There are many volunteer organizations in New Orleans; all doing good work, trying to help New Orleans recover from the destination of Katrina.

Carnival chose The Beacon of Hope to have those of us going on the Blog2NOLA cruise who wanted to at least show our small token of support, while we were in the city, before boarding the Carnival Fantasy tomorrow.

Here's some pictures from the cruisers helping to clean and repaint a park in the Lakeview area.
That last one was Mrs. Kuki pole dancing
John Heald presenting a check from Carnival to Beacon of Hope
The Volunteers.. BRAVO!!

More pictures in the photo galleries

Marc February 6th, 2009 04:21 PM

Kuki, looks like a productive day!!!

I first looked for your post under your blog. Are you going to be posting to the blog, to the Carnival Forum, or to the Chit Chat Forum?

Have fun!!!

Trip February 6th, 2009 04:35 PM

Bless all of you helpful Cruisemates! I bet you ended your day glowing:)

Phyllbo February 6th, 2009 04:54 PM

Thanks for posting the pictures Kuki. Warms the heart to see you all out there helping out. GREAT JOB!!!!!!!


Kuki February 6th, 2009 06:13 PM


Originally Posted by Marc
Kuki, looks like a productive day!!!

I first looked for your post under your blog. Are you going to be posting to the blog, to the Carnival Forum, or to the Chit Chat Forum?

Have fun!!!


We'll see what time allows. Paul will also be on this sailing, so between everyone you should get kept up with the goings on.

There's a cocktail party for the volunteers, starting in 20 minutes, at La Maison St. Charles... but Mrs. Kuki and I needed to catch up on some sleep after yesterday, and an early morning today. We're going to skp
the cocktail reception, and head to dinner a bit later with a bunch of the CruiseMates gang.... reservations at Mulates.... which is closer to where we're staying than La Maison.

Cruznut2 February 6th, 2009 07:40 PM

CruiseMates Are Amazing People. Great Job.


VTJen February 6th, 2009 09:29 PM

I applaud you mates! Thanks for giving back!

Kuki February 8th, 2009 02:18 PM

CruiseMates Pre-Cruise Dinner in NOLA - Mulates
We had made reservations in advance for some of the CruiseMates gang to meet for dinner (and perhaps a few drinks) at Mulates. It's on Julia across the street from RiverWalk.

Mrs. Kuki and I are staying at Harrah's, which is just a few blocks from Mulates, so we passed on the cocktail reception for those who volunteered with Beacon of Hope today... because it was being held at Maison St. Charles, which was about a 20- 25 minute walk each way, and we were feeling a bit lazy.

The CruiseMates who did attend said the reception was really well done.

At 7 PM the cruisemates began gathering at Mulates, and we had a GREAT time.... and here's some pictures of the group to prove it :)
Beenie-- with the family (mom, kids, hubby and dad)
Beenie's sister, and Ready2gonow (Darlene hiding, and her hubby Don standing) with April and husband Mike in the background.
Mel, Tommy and "the kids"
Crazysis, Patty, TC in foreground
LindaG and Guerry, Frank, Snoozeman
Liz&Phil, Carole & Travelmike, Scurvy Dog and Kay hiding, and Mrs.Kuki
Readytogonow (Darlene) IS :)
TC and Bill Weissorn (who is a Cajun & Zydeco dance instructor) and BOY could he dance. He took quite a number of the cruisemates ladies for a spin on the dance floor. Bill dances with them, then gives each one his business card.

After dinner a bunch were headed to Cafe du Monde for coffee and bignets, of course!! But I must be getting old!! After another long day, we just came back to the hotel to repack, and get to sleep. I'm trying to have some gas in the tank when the other 100 cruisemates join us tomorrow :)

This cruise is off to ONE HECK of a start... and we haven't even boarded yet!

Kuki February 8th, 2009 02:21 PM

Day 1 on the ship- Blog2NOLA
Mrs. Kuki and I were the first to board this morning, as soon as the ship was cleared, as were having to get up to Lido Deck to set the Hospitality Desk. I was surprised to see passengers still leaving the ship at 10:30 AM.
This may be something common, and relevant to, shorter cruises. I think many people on this itinerary likely choose the self disembark… which I mentioned earlier… I think actually succeeds in slowing down the disembarkation process. It’s probably an easier Disembark procedure to run for Carnival, just letting people lose to get off the ship when they want, but I think it also leaves the process disorganized.
We got on the ship before what appeared to be 4 wedding parties. I tried to choose a new bride from the group, but they each just sent me back to Mrs. Kuki.

At any rate we did get the hospitality desk prepared and then open, and spent the remainder of the afternoon greeting boarding cruisemates. Well, Mrs. Kuki, LindaG, and Snoozeman, and Gary did most of the “manning”, while I drifted about.

By 5 PM John Heald’s Wecome Aboard cocktail party began, and apparently the drinks seemed to be flowing liberally, for sure! Heidi had prepared a video for the Blogger's group and it was really touching.

Poor John obviously misses here.

John called an audible (wonder if the Brit knows what an audible is? ) from the set up that had been announced for dining; and chose to make the Bloggers Dining Room open seating. This caused some issues, and a rush for the dining room tables, as people tried to find tables to sit with their friends, and families,…. Or at least in the same generally area.
We have a meeting with John and the Maitre d tomorrow morning, to see if we can’t collectively come up with a better working plan. So, with John, Me, Big Ed, and Mach we may have to order out for a brain to sort it out, but I know it will be improved. After dinner, there was just a short time to go back to the cabin and get changed into jammies for the CruiseMates PJ Party in the Piano Bar, at 10:30.
I wanted to plan it for the first night to give the cruise a good kick off, and get people to meet. Everyone seemed to have a great time, and we got to see some interesting “versions” of PJs. Being the first night of the cruise, we did pretty good with PJ participation, so that was nice. And John came to judge the Best PJ contest. He somehow didn’t quite catch on, as he gave the 1st price to RayB and Helen who weren’t even in Pajamas…. So maybe he didn’t understand the rules . LOL
There’s a sampling of pictures of Day 1 in the CruiseMates photo galleries.

Cocktails flowed pretty freely. There was a hiccup in the dining plans when John called an "audible" (football reference), but w're all meeting in the morning to discuss a better option for the arrangements. By tomorow evening I think everyone in the group should be enjoying "smooth sailing"

Kuki February 9th, 2009 02:12 AM

Day at Sea on the Blogger's Cruise
Blog2NOLA – Day 2
Last night Mrs. Kuki and I went to sleep shortly after the Pajama Party… but at least we were already dressed for it. I do finally feel like my body (and mind - what there is of it) have caught up, after the lovely (beat the heck out you) flying to get to the cruise, and a couple of lively days in New Orleans.
This morning John Heald held (say that 5 times quickly) a Q&A session for everyone in the Blogger’s group at 9 A.M. I’d estimate about half the group showed up, which was quite impressive considering the amount of alcohol I saw consumed last night. Included in the discussions were questions ranging from improving Carnival’s passenger program, to Carnival’s air/sea program, to what type of hemorrhoid cream John uses, to talk about Heidi and the coming “thingy” (baby).
We took the opportunity to present a gift for Heidi and “the thingy” from myself and the Blog2NOLA cruisemates. The original plan had to been have those who wanted to bring individual gifts, but that would have presented shipping problems, so instead we presented Heidi with 400 lbs. (not John… English currency). Frankly, in the many years I’ve known John, I think this was the first time I’ve even seen him speechless. I do think he is so very excited about the upcoming birth of their first child, that he gets emotional any time he thinks about it. And no doubt he misses being home with Heidi, even now, though he’s returning to home to Britain at the end of March to be with Heidi, and await the birth.
The rest of the morning and early afternoon were spent with everyone doing whatever it is they like to do on a ship. John is doing afternoon tea on each of the sea days, with 2 tea times each in day. It’s set up to allow for smaller groups so that John gets the chance to actually mingle with people in each group. CruiseMates Tea Time with John was today at 2 PM, and about 4 dozen cruisemates attended, drank tea and nibbled cookies and cakes, and finger sandwiches, acting just like grown-ups.
This evening, with a lot of help from the Maitre d, his staff, John, and the other group leaders, we managed to reseat each of the groups, within the Blogger’s group, in sections of the dining room close to others in their group. It did take a bit of effort, but by the end of dinner, most everyone seemed happy. At least I hope so.
Tonight was the ship’s Mardi Gras Parade and Pub Crawl, which started in the Piano Bar and made its way around the ship. I only saw the beginning of it, but it did appear to draw quite a crowd. That was followed up at midnight by the late night comedy R rated comedy show of Lewis Nixon, who did a great show. Lewis is very well known to past Carnival passengers, and they turned out in a big way to see him perform, despite a likely early morning wake up for anyone doing tours tomorrow in our first port of call, Progreso, Mexico.
I apologize for not including pictures today, but things were so busy, I simply ran out time to upload them to the photo galleries. This is one of the “things” about a 5 day cruise; everyone is trying to jam seven or eight days of fun into 5 days! It’s a high energy chore, for an “old guy” like me. I’m trying to keep up!

Luanne Russo February 9th, 2009 09:45 AM

Loving your review, Kuki Thanks

Paul Motter February 9th, 2009 10:46 AM

I am also on this sailing and had the pleasure of dining with John Heald and Kuki last night. What I haven't told our fellow CruiseMates yet is that I was in a pretty serious car accident just about one month ago today. I broke four ribs (including the floating ones right side) had a collapsed lung and a head laceration.

Most of the pain now is just in my ribs, but I still get energy depleted pretty quickly. I am going to bed at 9:00 each night and taking naps. This has stopped me from doing the charity work, etc. sadly. New Orlaens as a city looks pretty good from what I could see however. The French Quarter was as thriving as ever.

Still - the cruise is fun and John is a riot. Lots of talk about his thingy (most of you know what I mean).

I will write more and have pictures when I get back. Take care.

Marc February 9th, 2009 12:40 PM

Paul, sorry to hear about your injuries. A cruise sounds like a great way to recouperate. I strongly recommend scotch to help you through the pain from the broken ribs.

Elaine515 February 9th, 2009 02:48 PM

Kuki and/or Paul,

I need a favor from one of you... I will be on the Valor March 29 and want to know if its true about John being our CD. If it is, I need you guys (Kuki should have no problem pulling this one off and I don't know Paul!!!)... can you secretly without being too obvious, find out what John would really like that I can bring him on my cruise like perhaps a bottle of wine that he can't find, a book he can't get etc...

Thanks guys...

And Kuki, your writing is truly amazing and I always look forward to reading what you write. You really have a gift when it comes to making us feel like we're right there alongside you and having the time of our lives... Thanx so much for all you do for all of us that can't be there with you... One day we will again cruise with you and Mrs Kuki...

jojob February 9th, 2009 07:28 PM

Kuki and Paul,
Thanks for the updates. It sounds like everyone is having a good time. Paul, we are sorry to hear about your car accident. Take this time to rest and relax. Cruising can be as busy or relaxed as you want it to be. I know it is hard when you are on duty.


Kuki February 9th, 2009 11:52 PM

Feb. 9 - Progeso, Mexico - Port of Call
Feb. 9 – Port of Call – Progreso, Mexico
Today was our first, of two ports of call; Progreso, Mexico. I haven’t been to Progreso for several years, and though we didn’t book any excursion, our intent was to take the shuttle down the long pier, and into town, and simply wander, with a stop on the beach. None of that happened for Mrs. Kuki and I, but I know most of the CruiseMates gang went ashore. Now, I imagine you’re wondering what happened to Mrs. Kuki and I, that we didn’t go ashore… or maybe you don’t care, and aren’t asking yourselves that.
Last night we had dinner with CruiseMate’s Editor in Chief, Paul Motter, his lovely wife Lou Ann, John Heald, comedians Al Ernest, and Lewis Nixon, and Carnival’s Director of Entertainment Chris Prideaux. We had a great time, and during dinner, somehow the conversation turned to Al Ernst suggesting I do some stand-up comedy during one of his shows on this cruise. For some strange reason Lewis and Chris thought it was a good idea. Too much wine maybe? Of course I thought they were just kidding, but the conversation went on, with them telling me what a good idea it was.
As some of you know, for the past several years I’ve done a series of “days on the job” articles for CruiseMates from various ships. There were no such plans in place for this cruise, but as I told Chris, Lewis, and Al, the idea of writing an article was intriguing to me, though the idea of getting on stage, and doing a stand-up comedy act made my knees shake, and my cheeks squeeze.
The discussion ended with a “homework assignment for me”; to go and write a “stand-up act”, and we’d meet today to discuss it further. I went back to our cabin, and thought about it, to see if I could come up with anything that might be funny to anyone but me. I came up with a few ideas this morning, but was still pretty leery of willingly making a fool of myself.
The four of us got together today, and I ran some of what I’ve come up by them for input. They had me just read it to them, and I was humbled when I actually got some laughs from professionals, who I think are very funny men. I was given some ideas on what to use, and how to keep the stories succinct. I’m putting the basic ideas together, and it appears that I’ll be participating in Al’s late night show on the last night of the cruise, the day after tomorrow. I suppose the good news is all the passengers will be disembarking the next day, so I won’t have to see them again if I totally bomb. We’ll see if I survive the stage fright, and go through with this “plan”, or hide in my cabin until everyone on the ship disembarks the next day.
Tonight was the CruiseMates Pirate… er Private Cocktail party, which we’d dubbed the Arrrrgh uably Best Cocktail Party. The CruiseMates gang came through with amazing creativity, imagination and spirit, and took the “pirate theme” to unexpected heights. I think everyone had a ball!
I have some fabulous pictures of the creative pirate costumes that these folks put together.
The cutest pirate EVER
More photos in galleries
At 10 PM tonight was the Passenger talent show, and Beenie and her mom performed a SUPERB Blues number... Kansas City.

VTJen February 10th, 2009 08:19 AM

Thanks for doing such a good job in giving us the highlights of your cruise.
I am so trying not to be jealous of all ya'll.

Will no go check out the rest of the pictures in the gallery.

Trip February 10th, 2009 08:27 AM

Paul, so sorry to hear off your injuries, but glad to know you are mendng l on the sea. The pictures are wonderful, and it's so obvious to see the Cruisemayte spirit, and the fun being had by all!

Kukala, after all my years of calling you Shecky, now you will have really earned the nickname!!! Knock em dead!!!

Travelnut February 10th, 2009 11:03 PM

Paul sorry to hear about your accident,,,hope things are on the mend,,,

Kuki,,,love the pix,,,but need some names on those pix of the pirates please,,, LOL :roll: :wink:

I know you are all having a great time,,,I'm so jealous LOL

Kuki February 11th, 2009 01:39 AM

Packing a week's worth of FUN into 5 days.
Packing a week or more's worth of fun into a 5 day cruise is almost too much for these "old" bones. I used to be able to keep up this kind of pace with vigor when I was in my 20s. Now, with one year left to hit my 6th decade, I honestly can't keep up.

As I'd posted all along on our message boards, once this Blog2NOLA cruise actually got underway, it would turn into a GREAT time, and I don't think anyone can deny that's exactly what happened.

A few minor bumps along the way, getting settled in, have been wiped out by more and more fun events.

The day started off with "Juan's (John's in case anyone didn't get it) Mexican Fiesta at Playa Mia Beach.... and all incluse beach club. Though I've been to Cozumel many times, this was our first time there, and it is a terrific facility; clean, big beach, good buffet food, more free flowing liquor, and all the water toys.

LOTS of sunshine today, which gets you tired after being out a time, and then tonight was packed with activities!

Dinner, a show with Manuel Zuniga, introduced as the "world's fastest juggler" put on quite a juggling demonstration, and he was followed by Al Ernst... one of my all time favorite comedians.... on or off a ship. Simply a Brilliant show tonight!!

A hour later there was a special Blogger's Event, with Al once again, this time, also "playing" with John and Lewis Nixon the other brilliant comedian on the cruise with us. It was a special show, not only because the stories were incredibly funny, but one could see the warm and honest relationships these guys have developed working with each other on the ships for all these years.

There's no time to post pictures, or write much more today. Suffice it to say it was a GREAT day in Cozumel, a great evening on the ship, and some very special feelings were shared by everyone on the Blogger's Cruise. I am WIPED out of energy.

I'll get to sleep in some, but tomorrow is the last day of the cruise for many (though we're staying on for the appropriately named "Rehab Cruise" the following cruise, I think tomorrow's pace will be topper. Everyone is going to want to participate in everything!

And I have some practice time booked with Al and Lewis, to work out the details for my being opening act for Al Ernst. Carnival's 344th funniest comic... but my all time favorite.

Elaine515 February 11th, 2009 09:38 AM


Maybe Carnival will sign you to a contract and you can be the headline Comedian on my upcoming March 29th Valor sailing!!!

Can everyone just imagine that? John as CD and Kuki as Comedian... damn I'm laughing now just thinking about that duo!!!!

Glad to hear you're having a great cruise, although I knew you would, you always do. Also really glad to hear that you're enjoying a CARNIVAL cruise...

Did you come up with a gift for John yet???? Thnx...

susierphillips February 11th, 2009 10:45 AM

Paul, Hope you feel better soon. I broke 4 ribs a few years ago and slept in a chair for a month. So sorry for you.
Otherwise, Kuki, I love your posts!

Kuki February 12th, 2009 04:43 PM

This morning a bunch of very tired, and sorry to leave Blog2NOLA cruisemates, disembarked the ship.
Some of the group are staying onboard for the Rehab cruise.... and boy are we glad we're amongst them!!

It was an action packed 5 nights, that no doubt wore everyone out with a continuous party.

I did get up the courage to do a bit of standup comedy, opening for Al Ernst at the late night show, last night. A couple of stumbles, but A LOT of fun, and the crowd didn't BOO me off the stage.

I think there's going to video floating around soon.

After getting our new sail& spend cards this morning, a bunch of us did head down to Cafe du Monde for coffee and bignets, and it was so worth dragging our tired derriers down there!!!

More when I get some to add some additonal stories.

Kuki February 13th, 2009 01:23 AM

The picture is Al Ernest, myself, and Lewis Nixon celebrating after "my show".
And the next is Snoozeman enjoying Cafe du Monde with us today.

Last night the Blogger’s cruise wound up, and what a party it was! Everyone had truly crammed at least a week of camaraderie and fun from a 7 day cruise into 5 days. The cruise was so much fun that there were people yesterday trying to book cabins to stay on with us for the “Rehab” cruise, but the ship was sold out.
We were joyous about not having to disembark yet, and go for a ride for another 4 days. But, I have to be honest that we’ll miss the people who went home today. Though I do have to admit I need the rest.
It was particularly “interesting” the last couple of days, trying to fit in all the Blogger’s activities, while spending time with Al Ernst and Lewis Nixon, trying to learn about comedy, and writing “my act”. And I have to seriously thank them, and everyone on the Blogger’s Cruise, and particularly the CruiseMates group for being so supportive, coming to the late show instead of packing. It was seriously scary coming out on stage to a packed house of 700 or 800 people, instead of the 100 or so I expected to show up at a late show on the last night of a cruise. You’ll all certainly be a big part of my story when I write the article of my “Day on the Job” as a Carnival comedian, playing the main showroom.
After coffee and beignets at Café Du Monde, we returned to the ship, and there were new people excitedly exploring the ship, and new people occupying the cabins of many of the CruiseMates gang whose company we so enjoyed. This week’s passenger demographic is noticeably different. It’s a weekend cruise (Thursday to Monday), and it’s over Valentine’s Day. The passenger demographic is younger, with many more kids than during the just ended cruise. The ship seemed very lively tonight. The casino is busier, and the bars are hopping. I talked about people “giving her” on a 5 day cruise, so you can imagine that everyone boarding for a 4 day cruise arrives ready to “put the pedal to the metal”.
The Maitre ‘d very helpfully had rearranged the dining assignments for the CruiseMates remaining on for this cruise, and it’s really nice for me to spend dinners with some of the gang that I didn’t get to visit with as much as I’d have liked to the previous week.
Perhaps over the next 4 days, when I have some time I’ll come online, and share my reflections of the cruise. Hopefully, returning cruisers will add their experiences of the cruise, to tell the story of this cruise through their eyes.

Hoping you'll all come along with Mrs. Kuki and I, beginning on Feb. 18, when we "switch gears", for what we can expect to be quite a different experience on Silver Sea Cruise Lines, Silver Shadow; on one of the most high end, and luxurious cruise lines in the world.

lhp February 14th, 2009 09:59 AM


So nice to get to meet everyone....

especially Beenie and her daughter (who we have plans to "cruise down the Mississippi with) and Snoozeman (who isn't a snoozer at all...he is a HOOT!!)

Sadly I did not hear your stand up routine...but David and DJ did and said you ROCKED!!!

Paul: It was great to talk with you. So sorry to hear about your accident. I do hope that you heal quickly and properly.

You know it has been a GREAT cruise when you have to come home to rest.

Linda (Mom of DJ)

lhp February 14th, 2009 12:58 PM

I have just discovered that we are going to have to go back to the Fantasy AGAIN....

apparently there is one small square inch that Bill (zydecocruiser) failed to get a picture of !!!!!!

If you have never visited his home is a MUST DO!!!!

msblackjack February 14th, 2009 07:18 PM

I did check out the pictures all along... and that was my thought LOL
great contribution to the bloggers group

Kuki February 16th, 2009 04:06 PM

Mrs. Kuki and I disembarked the Fantasy today, after a ton of fun on the 4 day "Rehab" cruise. Great group of "rehabbers"!

During the rehab cruise, a member of the CC group who also stayed on the ship, told me that their group didn't receive the amenities of the Champagne and chocolate covered strawberries they were promised. Though it had been advertised, onboard they were told their group didn't have enough amenity points for those things which were advertised.

At least you Blog2NOLA folks got what we promised! LOL LOL

We're staying in New Orleans for 2 nights, so we weren't in a rush to leave, as we figured we wouldn't be able to check into the hotel.

About 9 AM we got antsy, so decided to disembark (though we could have used priority disembark). We headed down when they were calling #s 10, 11 and 12. As we got to the embarkation area they held the group in the lobby for about 25 minutes... no idea why. Then the process moved very slowly from there, almost an hour total.

It took longer to disembark the vessel than it did at embarkation. No idea why they were calling people's #s to disembark, when they couldn't.

Of course we couldn't get our hotel room that early, but we left our bags, and headed to "qaurter", had an excellent "brunch" at Mothers. When we left the line was out the door.

Now we're checked in and resting before heading out to see a couple of Mardi Gras parades.

On Wed. we fly (hope AA doesn't see my video) to Antigua to board the Silvesea Silver Shadow for 17 nights. I'll be writing daily reports for CruiseMates.... so hope you come cruise along with us!

It was TERRIFIC meeting everyone!!!

Marc February 16th, 2009 04:29 PM

Kuki, what are amenity points? How do you earn them? Is there a table? When using them, is there a table (e.g., X points for each chocolate covered strawberry)? Are amenity points only associated with large groups or do they also apply to smaller groups and individuals?

Kuki February 16th, 2009 09:24 PM


Originally Posted by Marc
Kuki, what are amenity points? How do you earn them? Is there a table? When using them, is there a table (e.g., X points for each chocolate covered strawberry)? Are amenity points only associated with large groups or do they also apply to smaller groups and individuals?


Many of the cruise lines offer "amenity points" to groups on different sailings. The number of points varies depending on the sailing. I imagine more points on those sailings where they may not expect big demand.

Then, there's a menu of amenities to choose from, each valued at a certain number of points; such things as shipboard credits, photo credits, cocktail parties, champagne, wine, chocolate covered strawberries etc.

For CruiseMate's group, we normally discuss which amenities to choose for the package with the agent.... though one prerequiste is always a cocktail party.... as it gives the group the opportunity to meet and socialize.

I can't say for sure whether the line you love, Regent, offers points for groups, but I'd imagine they at least offer shipboard credits. Even though they're presently offering free excursions (make that cost included), that didn't use to be the case, and if the economy recovers, won't likely be the case in the future.

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