I JUST WON MY OSCAR

While watching the Oscars and on my laptop I saw this acticle from the Houston Chronicle. You would think I just won an Oscar the way I feel. 

dance.jpg 

Feb. 22, 2008, 2:40PM
Bloggers strengthen bonds, combine fun with good deeds

Feb. 22, 2008, 2:40PM
Bloggers strengthen bonds, combine fun with good deeds

 

Big Ed — namesake of Big Ed’s Evil Bloggers — gazed upon hundreds of passengers gathered in the Carnival Freedom’s main showroom on the final afternoon of a weeklong Caribbean cruise.

“We started as bloggers, went from there to being friends, and now we’re family,” he said. “This week has been everything I hoped for and more.”

Big Ed — real name Ed Konefe, from Allen Park, Mich. — is arguably the most notorious participant on an increasingly popular blog maintained by Carnival Cruise Lines senior cruise director John Heald.

“Big Ed was the first person to post,” Heald says. “And he hasn’t stopped since.”

You may recall my writing last summer about the blog, a cruise-industry first just beginning to gain attention at the time. Less than year after Heald initiated the project, it has generated more than 1.5 million views.

Heald muses about life at sea, blending his keen wit with insightful advice and industry gossip gleaned, he quipped, through his relationship with a blogger known only as PA007. Heald’s remarks, posted almost on a daily basis, are followed by as many as 50 or 60 comments from faithful readers — some directed at Heald and others interacting with fellow bloggers.

The endeavor can tickle the funny bone and tug at the heart, and that same pattern fit the inaugural John Heald Bloggers Cruise last month.

Emergency warning

As the moniker implies — and I can get away with saying this — Big Ed is, well, big. So is Heald. And after they joined to lead a raucous line-dancing exercise in the showroom, Heald said, “The captain called the emergency line. He told me that something was making the ship list. I then realized that this was happening because Big Ed and I were moving on the stage from left to right at the same time.”

Moments later, Heald and Big Ed were misty-eyed at the announcement that bloggers on this cruise raised almost $8,000 for breast-cancer research.

“We’ve had fun, but some of our regular posters have been through a lot of misfortune during the past year,” Heald said. “We’ve had four or five bereavements, and members of the blog are quick to comfort one another. This sense of community is the blog’s most important asset.”

Konefe helped convince Heald that frequent bloggers — known online as Southern Dreams, Mark Twain and a Half, Peanuts, Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane and other aliases — had developed such a bond through postings that they would relish sharing life experiences on a cruise.

Almost 800 bloggers, or about 25 percent of the Freedom’s passengers, signed up to sail as a group from Miami to Cozumel, Mexico; George Town, Grand Cayman; and Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Only a handful had met before. Only about 20 percent had traveled on ships with Heald, a Carnival cruise director since 1990.

Hundreds more back on shore — Sheriff Coltrane included — connected to the fun via the Internet.

Blogger-only activities

Exclusive blogger activities, all free of charge, included three parties, two Q&As and an all-day “beach bash” in Jamaica where Heald and Big Ed managed to forget a vow to don their skimpiest thong swim trunks.

Konefe, a retired businessman who sails frequently with his wife, Pat, recruited about 80 participants. “I have a blog, too, and I started a roll call to get people together,” he said. Konefe’s contingent displayed “Big Ed’s Evil Bloggers” posters on their stateroom doors.

Though Konefe sailed previously on ships where Heald was cruise director, the two had never met. By midweek, Big Ed and Pat were surprising Heald with a gala birthday party.

The Evil Bloggers included Texans Mary and Travis Hicks from Garland. “We’d booked a cruise to Europe last summer, and I was doing some online research and came across John’s blog,” Mary Hicks said. “I first started communicating with John, then I saw Big Ed’s blog. We hadn’t planned another cruise so soon, and we wouldn’t be here today without Big Ed.”

As the Bloggers Cruise approached, she said, “I was getting 200 to 300 e-mails a day from others in Big Ed’s group. I had to open a separate e-mail address. We had never met any of these people, but Big Ed is right; this is a family.”

A second Bloggers Cruise is scheduled for February 2009 aboard the New Orleans-based Carnival Fantasy. Konefe already is calling the roll, and as of last week his Evil Bloggers had committed to 22 cabins (and, no, he’s not a travel agent). Carnival has booked scores more participants.

Heald and Big Ed promise lots more fun. But they urge participants to arrive early because, Heald said, “We’re organizing some volunteer efforts before the cruise to help New Orleans in its (post-Katrina) recovery efforts.”

It’s a sense of community.

Link to the article; http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/travel/shattuck/5562223.html

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22 Comments

Filed under bloggers cruise, Cruising, OPEN LETTERS, Oscar, TRAVEL

22 responses to “I JUST WON MY OSCAR

  1. snoozeman

    Super, Congratulations Ed.

    Living n Texas, I subscribe to his column, but saw it here first.

  2. Kim

    What a great article! Congratulations Big Ed!!

  3. Tom and Jane

    Congratulations Ed !!

  4. retirementman

    ” AGAIN, CONGRATULATIONS. ”
    You are now famous and that is where you rightly belong. Way to go my friend.

    Paul F. Pietrangelo

  5. This is Great!
    CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!

    I wish the next was on the Inspiration! but we will see….. maybe….. it is just a long drive from Florida, and I have 4 ports soooo close by…… the Fantasy is 9 hours away……… hmmmm…….. so what is planned for the next one? …… not like I am the one driving o;)

    Heidi-Beth

  6. Lauren

    Absolutely fantastic Ed! Just goes to show what one person can accompolish 🙂

  7. Mark Twain and a Half

    Hey Big Ed,

    Congrats on the HC article! Wow!

    I can’t believe even I got a mention!

    See ya in the Big Easy!

  8. ejeeeeeeeeeeee!!! 🙂 🙂
    You deserve this friend!!! Remember when we saw each ( how lucky I was) I told you the famous Big Ed?? Now you really are!
    Love you
    Princess Nanni proud member of your evil crew

  9. Linda Hernacki

    Congrats Big Ed! The article was great! You are truly an inspiration to all us bloggers! Keep up the good work! Linda

  10. CAROLYN AND DON

    Way to go Big Ed!
    Don and Carolyn

  11. Jetskier

    Way to go Big Ed. At least you were in the travel section of the paper and not the police blotter. 🙂

    We will be joining y’alls on the Feb 7th cruise.
    David & Michelle
    Room TBA
    B2B undecided

    Dave

  12. Kathie

    Nice to read this article. Just checking in. Still a bit under the weather and far behind on blogs and the crew. My love to all.

    Kap

  13. jetskier

    Also we are trying to get John to pressure the powers to be to FINALLY get a ship pin for the Fantasy. The ship has been doing 5 day cruises for over a year and a half now and no pins. The ship used to have them in 2001.

    Dave

  14. Catmama044

    CONGRATULATIONS Big Ed!!! Wow, you are really starting to hit the “big time”. Savor every moment, as you are so deserving!

  15. Mark

    Kudos Big Ed and congrats on your star status……. Not only will you get hugs from various bloggers….but now people on Bloggers 2 will come up and request your autograph.

  16. Big Ed, How do I add my name to the Bloggers List going on the cruise 2009? I seem to have missed something? Jeri

    __________________________

    If your talking about John Bloggers list it is on the right side just under SEARCH on his blog. IF you talking about joining My Evil Crew go to my Roll Call post and leave your info that is needed.

    BIG ED

  17. Deby

    Congratulations Ed- I wish I could join the Evil Crew next year- darn tax season gets in the way. But I will be there in spirit. deby

  18. Inez

    Congratulations ED-you know I love ya!! Well deserved..

  19. Linda Hernacki

    Hi Ed, Can you tell me if Laurie is still working for Carnival? I have emailed her twice in the past week and have not heard back from her. Maybe she is on vacation? Let me know if you know anything. Linda

  20. Linda (Mom of DJ)

    WOW…way to go!!!!

  21. Uncle Doug

    Great article, I live in the Houston area but must of missed this. I seldom get a hard copy paper but do read online everyday.

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