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Woncha take me on a sea cruise

Greetings from the warm, balmy tropics.


So, how’s the weather in Piedmont North Carolina? It’s pretty chilly here in Bimini and Grand Turk, only in the 70s. But it is February, after all.


Ginny and I boarded the Carnival Freedom on Saturday, Feb. 3, headed for Grand Turk and then Bimini. It’s our 10th cruise, if you count our back-to-back cruises last September as two.


When we leave the Freedom on Thursday, Feb. 8, we’ll have been on the high seas a total of 53 days. Just 22 more days and we’ll move from Gold to Platinum, which will give us more benefits with Carnival. Diamond is the ultimate but it requires 200 days.


I wrote about plans for our first cruise in May 2013, which you can read below:


Livin’ on the wild side

I’m either adventurous, foolhardy or just plain crazy.


When I tell people, their faces betray looks that are a combination of shock and pity.


A year ago the same news would have evoked expressions of happiness and jealousy. “You’ll have a great time. Wish I could go.”


But the world is different now. When Triumph turned to tragedy, nothing was going to be the same again.

Yes, Ginny and I are going on a cruise next week. And I’m not talking about motoring down Sunset Avenue.

We’ll be on one of those big ships that dwarf the Pacific Princess, known by TV audiences during the ‘70s and ’80s as The Love Boat. 

And that’s not all. Our cruise will be on a Carnival ship — the Fantasy, to be exact.

Carnival is the company whose bad luck this year rivals that of Ford Motor Co. in the late ’50s when they rolled out the Edsel. The Edsel was such a sales disaster that the name has become synonymous with marketing calamities.

Carnival’s Edsel was the Triumph, one of their large cruise ships that lost power in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico back in February. Text messages and videos from passengers revealed that overflowing toilets had pushed most of them on the top decks to ride out the misadventure.

Then in April, there were reports that the Carnival Ecstasy had a power outage, but only for what officials said lasted just 12 minutes. 

Meanwhile, back at the Penkava home, there were thoughts of canceling the cruise on the Carnival Fantasy, one of the older members of the fleet. Our daughter Michelle had booked us passage in December for a May cruise.


It was to be a Tar Heel Fantasy, with UNC legends Woody Durham, Phil Ford and Dan McCauley on board to rub shoulders with fans. But when those fans started opting out of anything having to do with Carnival, the legends part of the deal had to be quietly canceled.

Ginny and I could have dropped out as well, but since it was going to be our first cruise, we decided to throw caution to the trade winds, batten down the hatches and ride out any storm that might present itself.

I like to say I’m being adventurous, but I’ll have to admit I’ve looked at all the possibilities.


For instance, the Triumph dropped dead in the water in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. That’s quite a distance from any port.


Our Fantasy cruise, however, is to the Bahamas and, as I told Ginny, we shouldn’t be more than a day from any port, even with a tug pulling us, in the event that our ship loses power.


But if we’re hijacked by pirates, run aground on a sandbar or collide with an iceberg (not likely in May, although …), it’s every landlubber for him or herself.

In the event of unexpected difficulties on board, I’m devising some emergency plans. These have yet to be approved by Carnival Cruise Lines but I think I can get them through once I find the right connections.


In the event that Fantasy were to lose power on the open seas, for instance, as a precautionary measure I intend to carry on board a flashlight, meals-ready-to-eat, flint-and-steel and a port-a-john. As long as security officials find no reason to believe my portable toilet is carrying weapons of mass destruction, illegal drugs or some sort of mist that puts everybody to sleep while perpetrators steal their valuables, I think I’m OK with that.


Actually, I’m surprised that cruise ships don’t have lines of port-a-johns on deck, right next to the lifeboats.


'Cause you never know when you gotta go, especially during a power outage in the middle of the ocean.


Larry Penkava is a writer for Randolph Hub. Contact: 336-302-2189, larrypenkava@gmail.com.