You can tell that vacationing folks are having fun when you hear the laughter, the kind of warm guffaws that follow John Heald like a soundtrack.
Heald is a former cruise director for Carnival. He has become a celebrity throughout the cruise line by establishing a web site and blogging his personal thoughts, with great humor, about his life at sea.
Since he began in March 2007, Heald's blog has attracted 4 million hits. That's a high-powered blog. Now, Carnival sells John Heald "blogging cruises," turning away additional customers because Heald, right, wants no more than 400 devoted followers at a time. More than 400, he says, and he can't give everyone the personal touch.
Heald's touch is that of a revered talk show host. But the advantage of a blog is that the audience can talk back. And they do. The impact of Heald's blog is far beyond the life of John Heald and his wife Heidi, who is now pregnant for the first time at home in England. Readers respond -- congratulating and commiserating with each other -- as a community of Healdsmen and Healdswomen continues to grow. Heidi's pregnancy is a big hit, and a shower of community gifts and advice will follow.
It turns out that the 400 John Heald bloggers on this Carnival Fantasy cruise to Mexico have plenty of opinions about cruising, Carnival ships, and life experiences, but most of these passengers do not operate their own blogs. Instead, they use John Heald as their access to the Internet world, expressing their opinions as comments on his blog.
When they meet, they can't seem to get enough of John's banter, which teeter-totters between warm and devilish. This morning, at a question and answer session, Heald told his followers about his blog: "I get it up every morning," to a chorus of ahhhs, which led to more banter and more discussion about his wife's pregnancy.
There is an earthiness about Heald's words.
"Each morning, when I sit there in my underpants writing my blog, I know you are out there," he said.
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Molyneaux is editor of TravelMavens.net. CLICK for articles on cruising, golf, Florida, Europe, adventure and travel gear and gadgets.