15 August 2007

Carnival Cruise Director's blog

I mentioned John Heald's blog a couple of days ago, and its rapid growth in the blogosphere...

Carnival have issued a press release with some more detail...

MIAMI (August 9, 2007) – The on-line “blog” written by Carnival Freedom Senior Cruise Director John Heald, which offers lighthearted stories and amusing anecdotes of shipboard life, has reached a new milestone with more than half a million visitors since its debut in March.

Originally created as part of the micro-site developed for the launch of the Carnival Freedom (www.carnival.com/freedom), the blog has been making a steady climb, attracting 25,000 visitors in its first 10 days and reaching the 300,000 mark in June. Heald’s blog consistently ranks among the top 100 among the nearly 1.3 million blogs hosted by Wordpress, a leading blog-hosting service.

“I was astonished when we reached 25,000 visitors, amazed when we hit 100,000, shocked when the figure reached 250,000, but 500,000 – well, I am completely ‘gobsmacked,’ which is a quaint old English colloquialism for ‘I have no words,’” Heald said. “All I can say is thank you to all the readers who take their valuable time each day to read the blog thingy. I will keep typing as long as my two fingers allow,” he added.

Through his blog, Heald shares with readers his personal stories and photos about life aboard the Carnival Freedom with wife Heidi, as well as entertaining and heartwarming encounters with guests and crewmembers he comes in contact with on a daily basis.

The blog’s increasingly popular question-and-answer section has quickly become a fan favorite. In it, Heald personally answers questions about the Carnival vacation experience, provides information and recommendations on various cruise-related topics, and offers personal travel tips on things to do while in port.

The blog’s popularity has led to the “John Heald Bloggers Cruise,” a seven-day western Caribbean voyage aboard the Carnival Freedom Jan. 19, 2008.

It has also spawned a series of T-shirts and polo shirts which are available on-line via www.carnivalfuntees.com, a specialized Web site that enables consumers to create custom-designed Carnival-inspired shirts.

Three different shirt styles are available. “I Love John’s Blog Thingy” and “I’ve Seen John’s Blog Thingy” are modeled after Heald’s own moniker for his blog, and “Official Member - Heidi’s Fan Club,” a tribute to Heald’s wife, who is the Carnival Freedom’s assistant cruise director and occasional blog contributor.

The “John Heald Bloggers Cruise” will operate round-trip from Miami January 19-26, 2008, visiting three of Heald’s favorite ports of call: Ocho Rios, Jamaica; George Town, Grand Cayman; and Cozumel, Mexico.

During the cruise, Heald will host a number of special events, including a Welcome Aboard Reception, trivia contests, and question-and-answer sessions, and participants will receive memorabilia such a limited edition calendar featuring Heald’s top 12 entries, a custom-designed “Bloggers Cruise” T-shirt and more.

Carnival is currently accepting reservations for the “Bloggers Cruise,” with prices starting at $599 per person, based on double occupancy. Special rates for third and fourth guests sailing in the same stateroom are also available.

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