Carnival cruise director John Heald was pretty excited yesterday – not because he is about to return to work on the Carnival Dream after his Christmas and New Year break at home in Essex, but because he was able to reveal ahead of today’s official announcement that the line’s newest ship will be sailing the Mediterranean in 2011.
The company’s withdrawal from Europe was a hot topic when CEO Gerry Cahill faced the Press at the launch of Dream in New York last November.
Now, on his blog, Heald has leaked the news that Carnival Magic will be based in Barcelona when it enters service next year and will be sailing seven-night, nine-night and 12-night cruises to Monte Carlo, Rome, Naples, Messina, Palma, Marseilles, Venice and Dubrovnik.
The 130,000-ton vessel will carry more than 4,000 passengers and is a twin sister to the Dream. It is currently under construction in Fincantieri’s Monfalcone shipyard near Trieste, in Italy, alongside P&O’s Azura and Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth.
It’s too early to say how keen Carnival’s American customers will be to return to Europe – many of them wonder why they have to get a passport to cruise the Caribbean, and they might have panic attacks at the thought of suicide bombers on the streets of Sorrento.
So there might well be plenty of room for British passengers to jump on a plane for the short trip to Barcelona, and experience some of that Carnival Magic.
While on the subject of John’s blog, I hope he won’t mind if I pass on a charming snippet from his latest entry.
Louise, from Arizona, wrote to John to tell him she was about to start her honeymoon on the Carnival Dream, after meeting her husband on another of the line’s ships.
In her letter, Louise said:

“I was a 30-something single average looking gal from Phoenix. Dating just wasn’t my thing. I kept bumping into the same men at the same parties and church functions. I just thought marriage was never going to be an option for me.
“In October 2008 my friend and I booked a last-minute cruise on the Valor. That’s where I met Jim. We first bumped into each other at the Captain’s formal evening. Delta Airlines had left me luggageless, and I was dressed very strangely, especially for a formal night. I was in high spirits, though — how could you not be on a ship sailing the Caribbean Sea, dancing and having fun?
“When Jim’s head appeared out of nowhere next to me at the wine bar, my stomach lurched, my heart beat heavy and fast, it was as if I had tunnel vision. I was, for the very first time in my 37 years, sick with love.
“We started talking and it was as natural as could be. Jim was in the United States Army was serving on his second tour in Afghanistan during which he received the tragic news that his wife had died of a sudden and unexpected brain haemorrhage.
“As we talked he looked sad and dare I say as lonely as I had felt many times in my life. He was on the boat with his brother and sister-in-law celebrating their honeymoon. We sat and we talked and I knew that this might be something special when he suggested that we both miss dinner and eat together at the Lido cafe. We spent the next five days locked into a vacation romance and when we said our goodbyes I felt as sad as I could ever remember.
“We had promised to stay in touch and sure enough we e-mailed and called each other every day. Jim was now based in South Carolina and it was hard for him to get away from the base. Being a teacher I was able to have more vacation time and weekends off so I spent lots of time and money flying to see Jim as many times as I could.
“One afternoon, I was teaching my 6th grade class when suddenly and without warning, in walked Jim in full dress uniform. He apologised to the class and then knelt down on bended knee and asked me to marry him.
“We were married on Christmas Eve and now live together in South Carolina where I start a teaching job in the spring. We are celebrating our honeymoon on the Dream and we are both so excited. Carnival helped us meet and fall in love and it is fitting that we should spend our honeymoon cruise on a Carnival boat as well.”

If you don’t mind me saying, John, that’s another wonderful example of the Carnival Magic. Thanks for sharing Louise and Jim’s story.