The Cruise Report

      43 Comments on The Cruise Report

As I sit here writing, my house is gently rocking on the waves.  At least that’s how it feels, which is what a week on a cruise ship will do to you.  I once worked a five-week standup comedy gig on a Norwegian Cruise Lines ship, and when I walked ashore, I wanted to get back on the ship so the sidewalk would stop swaying under my feet.

Anyway, it’s good to be home.  The cruise was a blast (more on that shortly) and Chareva and I certainly enjoyed taking a break from parenthood and hanging out with other adults, but I really miss the girls when I’m gone for more than a few days – which is the reason I stopped doing comedy on cruise ships in the first place.  (When you call home and find out your daughter has been crying and asking when Daddy’s coming back, it sort of takes the fun out of the job.)

Before I get to the cruise report, I want to give a shout-out and a big thanks to The Older Brother for once again taking over the Fat Head chair while I was gone.  I enjoyed reading his posts and your comments.  He turns 56 on Thursday, so wish him a good one and 56 more.

The Sixth Annual Low-Carb Cruise festivities began on Saturday night with the pre-cruise dinner and roast at the Doubletree hotel in Houston.  This was Chareva’s third low-carb cruise and my fourth, so running into so many people we’ve gotten to know over the years felt very much like a class reunion.  I also enjoyed meeting people I “know” (Dr. Jay Wortman, Jonathan Bailor, Rocky Angelucci) but have never previously met in person.

I haven’t checked the audio and video on the roast yet.  If all is well, I’ll upload it later.  This year’s group was significantly smaller than last year’s, so there was less of that comedy-club-crowd energy in the room, but it was still fun.

We set sail on Sunday, which means we met our dinner-table companions for the week that night.  The gentleman in the upper left and the woman in the lower right are a married couple from Finland.  The cruise was a total surprise to her.  She only knew they were visiting New York City (which they did) until they boarded a plane for Houston instead of heading home.

He developed an interest in diet when he was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and was told nothing could be done about it besides taking medication.  Guess what?  He doesn’t take medication now.  He avoids grains and eats plenty of meat, eggs, seafood, butter and vegetables.  (Amy Dungan and her family were also at our table, but ate at the buffet on several nights because the kids – not surprisingly – weren’t especially interested in having dinner with a bunch of us old fogies.)

I have no idea what Chareva was saying to amuse our friend from Finland in this picture.  She may have been describing how she plans to kill her first chicken.

Monday and Tuesday were at-sea days, so that’s when we attended lectures by the speakers.  All the speeches were recorded and will be available online later, so I won’t bother trying to describe them.  The only disappointment was that Robb Wolf had to cancel because his mother became very ill shortly before the cruise.

I enjoyed the lectures as always, but the real appeal of the low-carb cruise for me is the socializing.

The extremely tall man on the left in the picture above is Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt from Sweden.  If you don’t already read his Diet Doctor blog, you should.  To the right is Dr. Jay Wortman, the driving force behind the excellent documentary My Big Fat Diet. The adorable child with the huge blue eyes is Dr. Wortman’s daughter Isabel, who quickly became a celebrity on the cruise.  She’s articulate, extremely bright, and perhaps the most even-tempered three-year-old I’ve ever met.  She happily sat through all the lectures and the two-hour dinners with adults … never complained, never whined, just kept herself amused the whole time.  Dr. Wortman attributes her good nature to a high-fat /whole foods diet, and I’m sure that figures into it, but I suspect the fact that he’s a patient and doting father plays a part as well.

The happy couple above is Jonathan Bailor, author of The Smarter Science of Slim, and his lovely wife Angela.  Based on our email exchanges, I already suspected Jonathan is blessed with a great sense of humor, and I was right.  He’s quick-witted and fun to be around.

As on previous cruises, our group mostly hung around the piano bar at night.

Now, when you hear “piano bar,” you probably imagine a nice, quiet place to enjoy a drink and some conversation, right?  Nope.  Someone at Carnival seems to believe that if you’re not in your room, you want to be subjected to loud music.  Every single bar on the Carnival Magic has a loud guitar player, loud piano player, a DJ, or a band.  We all crowded into an area of the piano bar that extends out into the hallway, as far from the (not especially talented) piano player/singer as we could get, only to find that Carnival also had speakers in the ceiling above us – just to make sure we wouldn’t miss Hotel California played on a piano.

I went to the bar and explained that we were all sitting way over there specifically to avoid the noise.  I had to talk to two different people, but finally got them to shut off the speakers above us.  That meant we could talk without actually yelling into each other’s ears. Fortunately, we’ll be on a different ship next year – perhaps one run by a cruise director with the good sense to provide at least one lounge where people can talk without shouting at each other.

On Wednesday, we docked at an island off the coast of Honduras and attended a wedding.  Yup, a wedding.  On last year’s cruise, two of our British friends, Chris and Ailsa, became engaged.  (She was genuinely shocked when he popped the question at dinner.)  They were officially married in a civil ceremony in England just before this year’s cruise, but had the “celebration wedding” on Wednesday at a beach resort.

I’m sure you recognize the guy with Chareva in the photo above.  Since last year’s cruise, Jimmy has lost close to 80 pounds while putting on 16 pounds of muscle, which means he’s dropped nearly 100 pounds of fat.  He looks like a new man.

After the wedding brunch, a large group of us went zip-lining in the jungle.  That’s the bride and groom in the second picture below with Chareva and me, about to have an interesting wedding day.

If you’ve never been zip-lining, here’s how it works:  the guides strap you into gear that looks like it belongs in a bondage flick.  Then you hike up to a platform suspended high above the jungle.  Then the guides clip the bondage gear onto cables above your head.  Then you ignore every instinct for self-preservation bred into you by millions of years of evolution and jump off the platform.  Then you trust the bondage gear to hold your weight while you slide ridiculously fast down the cable to another platform that’s suspended from a tree by cables and sways when you stand on it.  This is, you understand, intended to be fun.

I’m afraid of heights but went zip-lining anyway because Chareva told me I was going zip-lining anyway.  I wasn’t actually afraid I’d fall and die.  People go zip-lining all the time and live to tell about it.  I was mostly concerned that I’d go zipping off a platform and end up treating the rest of the wedding party to my third Scream Like A Girl incident.  (You can read about my first two Scream Like A Girl incidents here.)

My nerves were jumping and my palms were sweating, but I knew I couldn’t back out when I saw this:  Mary-Clare, who happens to be sixty-seven years old, went zipping out there with no apparent fear.  (She zipped solo a few times before the guides decided to start accompanying her.)

We zipped down 12 lines altogether, and I actually started to enjoy myself after the first four.  That’s because it took me four trips down the lines to figure out how to stop turning in the air and ending up zipping backwards.  There I am, afraid of heights to begin with, sailing high above the jungle at what feels like 60 mph, facing the platform I just left, having no idea where the next platform is or when I’m scheduled to collide with it, just hoping and trusting that the guide responsible for catching me isn’t about to make what baseball scorers call “an unforced error” … or merely thinking to himself, “I wonder what would happen if I let one of these funny-looking foreigners crash into the tree?”

On Thursday, the ship was docked at Belize City.  I’ve seen it before and had no desire to see it again, so we stayed on the ship and mostly hung around with other low-carb cruisers.  On Friday, Chareva and I wandered into Cozumel, where she bought souvenirs for the girls while I pretended to be interested in the souvenirs she bought for the girls.  (I’m not an enthusiastic shopper, to put it mildly.)

Jimmy Moore and I continued our cruise tradition of singing Elvira in the karaoke bar one night, and on another night we added Margaritaville to our repertoire.  That was pretty much it for karaoke.  The Carnival Magic, unlike other ships we’ve been on, tends to have karaoke at odd times – like during dinner.

Saturday was another at-sea day.  Robb Wolf was scheduled to speak, but since he had to cancel, we had two Q&A sessions with the speakers instead of one.  As always, I was impressed by the both the questions and the answers.  People in this group read a lot, listen to a lot of podcasts, and ask sophisticated questions.

Before the last night’s dinner, there was a cocktail party for our group.  The pictures below are from the party.

The woman with Chareva and me above is Laurie Rosen, one of the friends we look forward to seeing every year, even though she says “aboot” instead of “about.”  (Those wacky Canadians all seem to do that.)

The gentleman with me above is Rocky Angelucci, author of the excellent book Don’t Die Early.

That’s me with Dr. Jay Wortman, Dr. Dwight Lundell, and some goofball behind us.

For the record, the hat wasn’t my idea.

The woman farthest to the right is Dietitian Cassie, one of the speakers for the week, and probably one of the few dietitians in the country who tells her clients to skip the grains and eat plenty of good quality fat.

After the party, we had our last dinner on board, then headed up to the piano bar for a last evening hanging out with old and new friends.  Speaking of which, one new friend deserves special mention — because by the end of the week, we’d concluded she may be Chareva’s separated-at-birth, long-lost sister.

Denise Cripps (both pictures above) and Chareva were born three days apart.  They’re both bright, pretty, dark-curly-haired, talented women who had the good sense to marry old guys they met while working temp jobs.  (Both old guys also couldn’t believe their luck and were therefore slow to pick up on hints of romantic interest.)  They’ve both worked as substitute teachers.  They have the same laugh.  They share many of the same interests.  As they were sitting together in the piano bar one night, chatting like BFFs, Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt looked at them and said, “You two are like …uh … not triplets.  The other word.”


“Yes, twins.”

Denise was also responsible for the perhaps the best line of the cruise.  I’m a night-owl and Chareva isn’t, so on some nights she went to sleep while I continued socializing with our fellow cruisers.  Denise and I ended up leaving the piano bar together late one night and walked to the elevators, where we ran into a handful of people from our group.  They told us they were on their way to some other late-night activity.

“Well, we’re heading off to bed,” Denise answered.

And just as it struck me how that reply could be interpreted, she whirled around and said, “Not together!”

Good times.

Hope to see you all on next year’s cruise.


43 thoughts on “The Cruise Report

  1. PJ

    Oh my goodness! You and Chareva are gorgeous! Jimmy looks amazing! As time goes by everyone just gets better and better looking! How can anyone look at everyone in these pictures and not believe lc/hf is the healthiest diet on earth? Everyone just glows with health.

    Thanks so much for the pictures and the (pending) lectures!

  2. Sam

    Low-fat hysteria has no limits it seems.

    UN encourages people to eat insects because insects have lowfat, excrete more greenhouse gases and switching to insect foods can thus fight global warming effectively.

    UN recommends that people try red ants, bees, caterpillars, crickets, grasshoppers, locusts wasps and certain types of water beetles (instead of “artery clogging, global warming saturated fats”)

    They even hint at factory farming for insects and say that factory farming insects will need 10 times less resources than factory farming animals.

    As if I needed any more reason not to trust anything the U.N. says.

    However, I would encourage U.N. officials to try eating wasps, preferably in their raw, uncooked state.

  3. Tammy

    Tom – As always thanks for posting about the trip – it looks like it was a blast. I love the picture of you & Chareva (the kind of formal one) you guys look great and clean up nicely !! LOL

    Thank you.

  4. Pussyfoot

    Does Carnival adjust their food offerings for more low carb options for a low carb cruise or is it the same as any other?

    They don’t do anything special for us — we’re one group out of thousands of passengers — but they don’t need to. There’s such a variety of food on board, you can easily eat low-carb at every meal.

  5. Galina L.

    Jimmy looks really skinny!

    It’s quite a change. I saw him in November, when he’d already lost a lot of weight, but I was still surprised when I saw him in person on Saturday.

  6. Anne

    Thanks for the cruise report. Was sorry to have missed it. Hope to get there next year. Jimmy looks amazing!

  7. Ailsa Marshall

    Love this, thank you so much for being a part of our celebration ceremony! Love you guys

    Love you guys too, Ailsa. We were delighted to be included in your wedding celebration.

  8. gager

    Can’t find a quiet bar for a drink here in St. Louis either and when I complain I feel sure I just grew another head. (The way they look at me.)
    Chereva wears a shirt that says Wheat is ####. What is it?

    That’s her Wheat Is Murder t-shirt. We produced a bunch of those and sold them. We’re down to small, 2XL and 3XL in our inventory.

    A woman not in our group approached Chareva and asked why wheat is murder. So we gave her a quick tutorial and suggested she read “Wheat Belly.”

    1. Merlin

      Shoot, I was waiting ’til I get down to a medium so I could order a Wheat is Murder t-shirt!

      I’m still steadily dropping the weight – down 40 pounds as of this morning.

      Congratulations. Forty pounds down is a major accomplishment.

    2. Kristin

      I’m a lucky one who got a medium sized Wheat is Murder shirt and it was also a celebration for me to finally fit back into a medium t-shirt again. I live in the Portland Oregon area known for its militant veganism and have joked that I can’t wear it in the city and expect to get out alive. But to be fair we also have some major meat-based restaurants now such as “The People’s Pig”, Laurelhurst Market”, and “Ox”. It is easy to get clean pasture-raised local meat all over the city. So I suppose I can we just have a lot of folks who care about what goes into their bodies, one way or another.

      I’ve also had a number of folks ask about the t-shirt and the funniest reaction was someone who said “bleedin’ low carb nutcases.” Thanks, I’ll take that as a compliment.

      Bleedin’ low-carb nutcases? Guilty as charged.

    3. Rae

      Aw, I should have gotten a Wheat Is Murder shirt in my size when I had the chance!

      Well, you could buy a 2XL and wear it as a big, floppy dress.

  9. Cyborcat

    “Jimmy Moore and I continued our cruise tradition of singing Elvira in the karaoke bar one night, and on another night we added Margaritaville to our repertoire.”

    Forget the lectures, I want to see a video of THAT!

    There were several smart phones pointed at us, so perhaps a video will show up online.

  10. Suzie_B

    Whenever I wear my “Wheat Is Murder” shirt, I get the response, “Oh, you must have Celiacs Disease!” No, I don’t! I love the T-shirt, wish it was in more colors.

    Once sales on shirt slowed down, we elected not to invest in another big order.

    1. Jeanne

      You might want to consider Cafe Press. That way people can buy your designs on all kinds of products, and it’s all print to order, no overhead.

      We looked into Cafe Press, but didn’t like their rather high cost per item.

  11. Marilyn

    Just one word: “Envy.”

    Everybody’s so gorgeous. And Jimmy Moore! Just look at him!!!

    Jimmy looks terrific. He’s the leanest he’s been in the years I’ve known him, with more muscle to boot. For someone who once weighed 400 pounds to get down to his current size, it’s amazing.

  12. Galina L.

    Maybe with Hollandaise Sauce even insects are not that bad and not so low in fat. I don’t plan to try it yet.

    I’d eat bugs if I were starving, but I have no desire to try them just for the heck of it.

  13. Amy Dungan

    It was a great cruise! As always, we enjoyed spending time with you guys and next year we will be at that table, regardless of what the kids are doing or what is going on. 😉 Looking forward to seeing you all again very soon!

    Come on down some weekend.

  14. Björn Isaksen

    Did you knew that podophyllum (podophyllotoxin) in some medicin against

    some cancer stays in some part in tha bile and cause diabetes ,neuropathy,

    high pulse,löw blood pressure and severe adrenal failure etc,

    Med Dr B.H Isaksen

    No, I didn’t know that.

  15. Dr Jay Wortman

    Hi Tom,

    Thanks for the kind words about me and my beautiful little girl. It was a great pleasure to meet you and Chareva in person (although I felt I already knew you from Fat Head and your blog). Issy and I had a great time on the cruise and I hope to be able to do it again in the future. I look forward to seeing the roast on YouTube so my wife can enjoy your hilarious comedy.


    Thank you, Jay. We enjoyed meeting you that adorable daughter of yours as well. I’m organizing my pictures and will send you the others I have of you and/or Issy.

  16. DebbieC.

    I’m glad the cruise went well. I certainly enjoyed the three I went on but just didn’t feel I could keep affording to go! And yeah, I sure longed for some quiet spaces to hang out and talk – which the Carnival ships seem so short on!

    Maybe we’ll see you next year, Debbie.

  17. desmond

    Glad you got to meet Jonathan Bailor. You two are my (dietary) heroes! Did not see any pix of his podcast sidekick, Carrie Brown, so I presume she did not make the cruise.

    Just heard your “bonus” podcast on his SSoS page. 2 Thumbs Up!

    She wasn’t aboard as far as I know. I’m sure Jonathan would have introduced her.

  18. Peggy Holloway

    I so want to go on the cruise someday, but Ken is not “into” cruises. But, my consolation prize was that when we were in Denver last week, Gary Taubes was giving a free lecture at the Medical Center. My son, who also considers Gary to be “a God,” happily picked us up at 8:00 am downtown and drove us to the lecture. It was so awesome to hear Gary in person and speak to him after the lecture. Thanks to Dr. Jeffrey Gerber for posting the announcement on his blog.

    That’s quite a consolation prize.

  19. Bill C.

    I’m looking forward to going to a vegan convention wearing my “Wheat is Murder” t-shirt. So far I’ve worn it to a couple steak houses and got strange looks but nothing like the looks I suspect I’d get at a vegan convention.

    Careful, you could end up with a non-dairy cream pie in your face.

  20. Marilyn

    @Sam: I read somewhere once that everyone swallows a number of insects in their sleep. I’ll have to let that suffice for me!

    But didn’t John the Baptist eat locusts and wild honey. Maybe that’s the new “healthy” food — suitably low fat, high carb.

    1. Cyborcat

      That statistic is about spiders and is actually totally bogus–someone literally made it up to see how many people would blindly believe a made-up statistic … apparently it works pretty well.

      Too lazy to link to the article, but it’s on there.

  21. Cassie

    Great recap, Tom! I’m glad I was present for Denise’s hilarious best line of the cruise! And thanks for the words… I’m glad I can be one of the few dietitians promoting more fat and less grains! 🙂

    All we need are several thousand more dietitians with your understanding of which foods are actually good for us, then we’ll turn around the health of American population.

    1. Denise

      I’m so glad you were there to catch my comment “live” too, Cassie 🙂 Adds even more fun to the great memories. And keep up your crusade to educate the world on the benefits of HFLC, Girl! We’re all little soldiers out there pounding the drum. Someday the message will get through. I BELIEVE! XO!

  22. Outi Ylonen

    Thanks, Tom, for the report and photos! I enjoyed so much to be with you all! It’s ever so lovely to meet people all over the world and get to know each other. And it’s really good that you also wrote down the names of the guys in those pictures.

    So we’re back in Finland trying to work in spite of jet lag, with the help of bulletproof coffee. Hope we can meet again.

    If anyone of you ever comes to Finland, please, make a contact.

    I hope you’re getting over the sunburn.

      1. Karen Scribner

        Push aspirin that day and the next when you get sunburnt. It will prevent the pain and you will not peel. (From a report in a medical journal in the late 1990s.)

  23. Rocky Angelucci

    Thanks for posting the pictures, Tom! It was a great cruise and I’m glad I finally got to meet you and Chareva in person!

    It was great to meet you in person as well, Rocky. I have a couple of pictures of your daughter playing with Isabel. I’ll send them to you.

  24. Bret

    Sounds AWESOME!! (especially the zip-lining!) I’m so disappointed I had to attend a work training seminar during the cruise. Next year for sure.

    And tell Jimmy to stop getting so thin, before he disappears!

    I’m more worried that he’ll start kicking my butt in disc golf.

  25. Alain

    I am happy for Jimmy moore!!An idea what he did to lose so much weight?

    Absolutely. He learned about nutritional ketosis from Dr. Jeff Volek after last year’s cruise, bought a ketone meter, and adjusted his diet to stay in ketosis. For Jimmy, that meant less protein, more fat. He wrote several posts about his ketosis experiment on his blog.

  26. Kathy from Maine

    Dagnabbit! Missed the cruise again this year. For about 6 months after last year’s cruise, I was thinking seriously about going this year, and then kind of forgot about it. Good thing, it turns out, as I came down with my first case of bronchitis since I was 6 years old. I rarely catch colds (thanks to good LC eating), so this one threw me for a loop. I was out of commission starting on May 4, and still feeling the lingering effects.

    Next year.

    See you next year, then.

  27. Ralph, Cleethorpes, UK

    These before and after photographs are always a bit sus. LOL. How about a cruise around Cleethorpes boating lake next year; I might be able to stretch to that? 😉

    I have no idea where the cruise is going next year. I go for the socializing.

  28. Evolver

    Thank you for the report and great pictures! I’ve always wanted to go to the cruise but since I’m overweight and would be traveling alone I guess I’m somewhat afraid of being lonely amongst people who all seem to know each other already. I guess I feel intimidated by it all and wish I could get some courage to just go!

    Naww, it’s a friendly group with new people every year. If anyone wouldn’t judge you for being overweight, it’s the people who attend the cruises. Many of them have been there and some still are.


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