August 5, 2007 -
Good morning, and when I say morning, it really is, as it is 5:43am and I am going to be writing this blog as we start debarkation. Overall, it has been a great cruise and although I have met my normal share of characters, I would say that everything has gone very smoothly. I did receive
one comment from a guest who said he was going to write to the blog about the tender service in Dubrovnik and that he should have been allowed off earlier but I will address that when and if the guests posts a comment. I awoke this morning at 3:30am from the noise of the thrusters pushing us alongside the pier. Even though we do not start debarkation until 6:00am we need to be alongside at 4:00am to start unloading luggage – all ten thousand pieces.
So, here I sit, waiting for the kettle to boil so I can make my morning cup of tea and I will be making the first announcement in a few minutes to start the process. I often wonder (never having taken a cruise as a passenger) what guests must think when they hear my voice at 6:00am???? I am sure those still in bed greet my announcements with varied levels of happiness and I am glad I am not there to hear them in person.It’s funny though, I always try and talk in a very low and soothing voice this early in the morning and as guests rise and shine the last thing they want to hear is a happy and over exuberant voice…..can you tell its 5:47am? I am rambling and waffling a lot this morning. I had better start talking about something specific.
We are starting to have a big turnover of management now with everyone going on vacation. We have a new housekeeping manager, a new food and beverage manager, a new hotel director and new officers on the bridge. This is always an interesting time as the managers place their own style on the operation of the ship. Change is always good with fresh new ideas but I will miss the old crew who have been here since the ship was born with me back in February. Just think, it will be my turn soon…only 4 months and a bit to go.
Oh yes, last night I was walking down to see the Gavin Ahern Jazz Trio who are also leaving today, to say thanks and goodbye. As I walked into the lounge the guys were already packing up their equipment. I had my back to the drummer Christian and was talking to Gavin when Christian accidentally dropped his large cymbal right behind me. Now, I cannot describe the noise a cymbal makes when it is dropped from head height bit I don’t mind telling you I almost succumbed to an involuntary bowel movement!!!..Again, I am waffling so here are some photos of ROME AND THE VATICAN which will be the highlight of what so far is a boring blog.
Here are today’s letters from the IN THEIR OWN WORDS SECTION:
It is Q and A time…here we go….please excuse any typos as my eyes are barely open and my two typing fingers feel like lumps of lead this morning so I may spall thangs pong and af eye doo pleuse fourgave mi.
MEDCRUISER – MANUEL – You said “You slay me ” – ???..is that a good thing? I am never sure with some of these hip words. Yesterday someone said “I was a pisser” and I was very offended until they explained that being a pisser is a good thing so I hope being a slayer is as well. You mentioned the WEBCAM lens was dirty and needed cleaning. Please have a check this morning because I personally went up there, climbed up a ladder with a bucket of hot soapy water and cleaned the lens….Ok, I didn’t but someone did and they both should be ok now. Please confirm and thanks for letting me know. Your message of admiration has indeed been passed to Diana, the photographer, and I can understand why you do because she is so helpful and a lovely person. I shall await your report on the web cams and hope all is well mate.
LINDA HERNACKI – I hope you like the t-shirts and I hope you also like the weekend blog which I just posted. I may even get this one finished in time to post another. I have forgotten what a weekend feels like as each day feels pretty much the same. I certainly miss the weekends, just reading my newspapers and watching sports. I hope Mike likes his t-shirt and I look forward to seeing you and him wearing them one day soon. You are correct that we are always ready to help in an emergency as was the case when we received a distress call on our way into Barcelona. It is the law of the ocean that you must help those in need and Carnival ships are always ready should these situations ever happen. In this case the story had a happy ending as those people were found but they were very lucky. Sometimes we forget how dangerous the oceans can be. Hope you had a great weekend and my best to Mike.
SEWING NUT – Yes, your cruise is just 2 weeks away and I can see from your posting that you are very excited. You asked about the mini golf course and if you need to make a booking. The answer is no, you just show up when you are ready to play. There is never a line and it is open from 9:00am – 10:00pm every day so there are lots of chances to have a round. You also asked about restaurants in Rome. Rather than recommend one I will recommend an area where there are lots of ones to choose from. The area is called Via Veneto and has everything form small cafes to 5 star hotels and restaurants…..you will find something there for sure. Have a safe flight and see you very soon.
RIKKI BOYCE – Not quite sure that we will be offering any lap dancing classes as you received on your last trans-Atlantic cruise….what ship was that? Anyway, you will not be disappointed as we have arts and craft lessons, dance instructors, guest lecturers, digital photography classes and, yes, as requested, there will be a big Halloween party as well. There will be of course many
activities on the seven sea days coming back so you will not be bored, that is for certain. Lap dancing??.Mmmmmmmmm…something to think about, please tell me more.
LUV CRUISIN – I am so glad you liked the interview with Alan who by the way should be getting on a plane shortly to fly over here to start his cruise. We were very “naughty” growing up but he is a great mate. I will keep you informed as to what he gets up to this cruise, I am sure I will have lots to tell. I know it is hard to match up my answers to the questions in this section sometimes. I really do try to place a hint as to what the question was in my answer but sometimes I forget. It was much easier when I had a few to answer but when I have 50 plus each blog it gets harder. Anyway, I will renew my efforts and try harder. Glad you are laughing at the blog and that’s something that makes me happy.
TAMMIE – You mentioned how great Alaska was (see Luv Cruising, I am trying:) and it is something that Heidi and I must do one day. Shawn is a wonderful lady and a very talented Cruise Director who I know loves what she does. Come and try Europe sometime, you may not see a whale but you will see some amazing sites. Thanks for reading the blog thingy and I hope you will continue to do so.
GREY KITT N – Thank you for your kind words by asking if there are any treats the crew may like for guests to bring them when they cruise. You know what, as I think I mentioned way back in another blog, it is the small things that can mean so much. If therefore you would like to say thank you at the end of the cruise with something apart from the gratuities you have left, may I suggest something from home. By this, I mean something denoting where you are from, such as a key ring or maybe a t-shirt. Having something like that means a lot to the crew and many thanks for asking, you are very kind. For me, nothing says thank you like an Aston Martin or a bag of sugar free jelly beans — it is the gift that keeps on giving. Please let me know if you have any other questions and all the best to you and your family.
CARRIE – If only that were possible!
GIRLDOC – I have decided to add a morning meet for singles. You mentioned this was something that you would enjoy so let me see how it goes and I will let you know. I see you are still trying to get the Poet Laureate to sail, how’s that going Doc?
DWA76 – I really am glad that you and many others are enjoying the CD interviews and there is another heading your way in a few minutes. Glad also to see you enjoyed the photos although standing next to a big stall serving nothing but candy was very hard. My sugar level went up just by looking at it. Hope all is well mate.
PAUL F. PIETRANGELO – Thank you for the congratulations, Paul, I really am very grateful Sir. I look forward to your postings as well, Paul, and together we make a great team.
FRANK C – You are welcome Frank. I am very proud to have reached 500,000 slaps and I appreciate your kind words of congratulations. See you very soon and please let me know if you need anything. Have a safe flight here and leave me a note when you arrive.
CAROL SCHOENBERGER – Thank you Carol for the kind words of congratulations and I know that you have been a supporter of the blog thingy since we started 5 months ago. Do not worry about Mrs. Barsby, the story has a happy ending and I will reveal all in a moment. Hope all is well and again thank you for everything ESPECIALLY SAYING I DESERVE AN ASTON MARTIN…..funny how my caps button and bold button got accidentally pressed then.
GREG BALDASARRI – Greg, I have a feeling that when you take your upcoming cruise on the Carnival Conquest you will no doubt get a few looks of “why is he wearing a t-shirt saying he has seen John’s thingy.” In fact, in Texas (the Conquest’s homeport) walking around with that t-shirt could get you locked up.
Please say hello to Mark the Cruise Director, he is a great friend and please tell him he owes me $20. Have you booked a Supper Club reservation yet? Please let me know if you would like me to do so for you. Thank you for buying the t-shirts and I hope to hear from you soon.
HEIDI – BETH AND KEVIN – Thank you for the support, it means a lot to know that all three of you are such fans of the blog thingy. The kids corner is very popular and I shall keep it going while the counts are high. Yep, Alan and I really did get into some mischief and I will share more stories with you as the blog continues and I hope all three of you enjoy them. Heidi sends her best by the way to Heidi but not to Beth, she prefers Heidi as does Heidi.
KEVIN – Thanks mate, I hope you will still be reading if and when we reach 1 million slaps. Maybe by then I will have driven an Aston Martin.
THE BEARS, CARL AND BARB – Thank you my cute and cuddly bears. I am so grateful to you for all that you do for me and the blog. Heidi and I send you our best regards.
LOIS GROWATOSTIE – Yes, I agree, let’s celebrate and take a cruise…..l spelt your name correctly this time:)
KAREN TESSIER – Thank you for your kind words and I am very proud to have reached the 500,000 mark. You will be here very soon and I look forward to saying “welcome on board.” You mentioned I should do an interview for the Travel Channel, if you know anyone there put a good word in for me. See you in two weeks and please let me know if you need anything.
DWA76 – Thank you David, you are too kind. If we do ever reach one million then we must celebrate. It is thanks to people like you that the million mark may actually be reachable. Thanks again mate.
MILLIE S – Please do not worry about the tour time for the Exclusive View of the Vatican. The ship will wait until the tour returns before we sail. The official departure time is 7:00pm but as I said, we will of course wait until all the tours return. It is an amazing trip and one you really must do if you possibly can. I checked and you have been confirmed on the tour and you will get confirmation very soon so no need to worry. I will be here should you need any other help.
SHERYL PELTON – Your Supper Club reservation has been confirmed for 7;30pm on the night we sail from Venice, please post your cabin number when you can……try the sushi platter.
You said there are 700 of you sailing from California. Is this a personal group or business group? Please do tell me more and I am here for you should you need more help.
JOKO JOAN – Congratulations on booking 50 days on the Carnival Splendor and hearing one of the reasons you did so was to sail with me again makes me feel very humble. I am sure I will be there with you and I am in discussion with Chris Prideaux and Roger Blum and I will confirm this shortly. Meanwhile, you will have a fantastic time on the Carnival Legend and I look forward to hearing all about it when you return. Please pass on my regards to Bubba and you will love his Blues Brothers routine.
NED RIFKEN – Thanks mate for the kind words. I am not surprised you speak so highly of Shawn, she is a wonderful person with a heart the size of Texas. I wish you continued success with your shows which I hear are going very well and I truly hope we get to work together soon. Thanks mate.
LISA K – I forwarded your kind words to Shawn and I know she will be thrilled to read them I am sure. Shawn is a great CD and a great friend and I am sure you must have many happy memories of your times with her and I am sure she will also remember your flotation devices!
Thank you for your nice words about the blog and I hope you will continue to read it. Thanks again, I know this will make Shawn’s day.
MTSFPBLFTTNSFCF……can you tell its early in the morning? I abbreviated you today. I am sorry that I mentioned that your wife needed an Italian purse to go with her Italian shoes. Please do not doubt our friendship it’s just that if I have to suffer the hell that is shopping for handbags….then so do you. That’s what friends are for….be thankful I did not mention matching belts….yet.
KHANH – Your Supper Club reservation has been reserved as requested….try the crab cakes.
I will see you in October and please let me know if you need anything else.
BILL – ZYDECOCRUISER – As soon as you get confirmation please let me know your cabin number. If not, can you send me your full name. Hope to hear from you soon. My dad had fish and chips again the other night and I thought of you when he told me…there we go, food again!
PHARMACY 2007 – You asked if you should book your tours for the cruise of the 17th. May I suggest that as it is just 12 days away that you wait until you are on board. Please come along to my travel talks and hopefully I can point you in the right direction and after the talk you can ask me any questions you may have. So, see you in 12 days and have a safe flight.
MATT EDMUNDS – Hello mate. I did notice that, as you said, one of the kids’ photos had me walking the plank. I love doing this kids corner and I will keep posting the best of the drawings and letters for you all to enjoy. You also asked when my interview with NBC Miami Channel 6 will be aired. I am not sure but I will make sure that I tell you in advance so you can make sure you are tuned to channel 7!
I still love your cruise clock showing how many days, hours, minutes and seconds until your next cruise….that is real dedication. All the best mate and see you soon.
JO MYERLY – You asked when you should eat at the Supper Club. Out of the days you gave me I think the second sea day will be the best. Please let me know and I will make the booking for you as it the most popular evening in the Supper Club. Just send me your cabin number and reservation time and I will be happy to make the booking for you. See you soon Jo and best to Dave.
MRS MTSFP – maybe we should have a contest to name the next Supper Club on the Carnival Magic….what do you think?
STEVE GARROD – Your website looks awesome mate. How are things over at Holland America? Please pass on my best to everyone and maybe I should do an interview with your President.
FRANK C – Yipeeeeeeee, your tickets arrived although I think you and your wife may be suffering from PPS – Premature Packing Syndrome.See you soon mate and let me know once you are here by leaving a note at the information desk.
DAVE – Thanks mate, I am really glad you are enjoying the blog thingy so much. I also hope that you and Dad sail here soon and we can indeed get your dad involved in all the singles fun. Please keep reading the blog thingy.
ALLIE DONNEGAN – Good Irish name. I enjoyed our fun time on the Morning Show together and thank you for posting your review. As I am writing this blog I am calling off the colour tags so probably you are on your way home by now. I truly hope you had a wonderful cruise and please let me know that you have arrived safe and sound. My best to you and the family and it was an honour to have you here with us.
SOUTHERNDREAMS – there is cake but it’s sugar free.
MRS MTSFP – Thanks for the poem of congratulations…on behalf of my two very tired and I think slightly smaller fingers.
MARY AND MOE – Thank you for asking if I will be the Cruise Director on the Carnival Splendor’s South American trip. I am in the process of discussing this with Chris and Roger in the office but I think it is safe to say that I will be there. I will confirm this shortly Mary. Thank you for mentioning Heidi and, you are correct, I could never have gotten this far without her….how lucky I am.
See you in Argentina.
JENNIFER HAMMOND – You say you have cruised with me 4 times and that makes me feel very special. Thank you for your kind words and I look forward to number five with you on the Carnival Splendor.
DEBBIE IN LOUISIANA – Happy Anniversary and I hope the Chocolate Melting Warming Cake makes it an extra special day for you. Congratulations and best wishes from us both.
AND THAT’S WHERE TIME HAS BEATEN ME….MORE QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS ANSWERED, I PROMISE, IN THE NEXT BLOG LATER TODAY OR TOMORROW…starting with Dave, Famiglia, Bausch and of course BIG ED.
Well, we are just finishing debarkation and it is 9:03am. This means we disembarked 3400 people in 3 hours and a few minutes I must admit that’s not bad. I also have to admit that I am a little apprehensive about today’s cruise because of the HIGH number of non-English speaking guests we have sailing. It always makes me feel very inadequate when I know some people have no clue what I am saying and I truly wish I could speak more languages.
Also, we have a big group of French people sailing and I must behave…no French jokes….I promise.
Let’s get on with today’s guest interview.
Here then is Chris Jefferson who is the Cruise Director of the Carnival Valor. Chris is a very talented Cruise Director and you will not find anyone more dedicated to making sure his ship is the best in the fleet and that the guests of the Carnival Valor have the best time. Always cool under pressure, Chris has risen through the ranks and is now one of our best. Here he is and I hope you enjoy his interview.
1. Please can you tell us about your career with Carnival so far. How did you start and when?
I have now been with CCL 8 years. I started on the baby Tropicale (an amazing ship) in 1999. My first position held was as a dancer/singer and it didn’t take me long to realize I wanted to be a CD. I hung up the dancing shoes and worked my way from host to CD in 3 years. I cannot believe that I have now been a CD for almost 4 years. It’s crazy! It’s gone so fast – but it has been a good laugh!
2. What ship are you currently on and what is it’s itinerary?
I am currently on the Carnival Valor. A great ship. Great entertainment. Great shows. Great crew. Great décor. Did I stress enough that this is a great ship! We do Eastern and Western Caribbean Itineraries. Eastern: Nassau, St. Thomas, St. Maarten. Western: Grand Cayman, Isla Roatan, Belize, Costa Maya.
3.Please can you pick two excursions from each port and tell us why you recommend them so much?
Nassau: Discover Atlantis Tour – the hotel is amazing, a must see!
Thriller Boat to Blackbeard Cay – a wild ride!
St Thomas: Discover Scuba – this is where I did my diving course. The guides and staff are just brilliant.
5 Star St John & Trunk Bay – simply a stunning beach!
St Maarten: America’s Cup Regatta – a great fun opportunity to race in actual yachts used in the Americas cup race. Cool!
Golden Eagle Catamaran – Excellent service and staff
Grand Cayman: Any Stingray tour – you have to encounter Stingrays – you just have to.
Atlantis Submarine – want to see the underwater world and stay dry? This one’s for you.
Isla Roatan: Pirates, Birds & Monkeys – Easy, fun, relaxing, interesting.
Any Diving & Snorkel Tours – You have the opportunity here to dive/snorkel at the world’s 2nd largest reef.
Belize: Cave Tubing – Very popular and a great way to spend the day.
Lost World Canopy – the location is like something out of the Jurassic Park Movie.
Again any Diving & Snorkel Tours – You have the opportunity here to dive/snorkel at the world’s 2nd largest reef.
Costa Maya: Dune Buggy Adventure: fun and upbeat.
Dolphin Swim. Just like the Stingrays, if you have the option to encounter these amazing creatures, then do!
4.What are your favorite activities or events that you host and why?
I really think my favorite activity to host is the Welcome Show. And I do look at this like an activity as well as a show. This is where the scene can be set for the entire cruise. When I have the opportunity to make people feel utterly at home and to have some fun. I do often come off stage from this show feeling utterly exhausted but also exhilarated and excited about the week ahead.
5. Fill in the blank please….People should sail on the Carnival Valor because…..
Even though its one of the larger ships we still have a real family feeling here, I think that’s why I like it so much. All our crew just get on really well and that atmosphere translates to our guests. The ship has a good vibe about it.
6. What do you enjoy most about being a Cruise Director?
The challenge that every new day brings. Each day/cruise is never the same and I am constantly learning as I go along.
7. Share your favorite story with us that involve our guests and your job?
Through the years there have been so many great guests and so many great stories, but the most recent one has been while working with the Susan G. Komen foundation. I ‘host’ and attend the Walk every cruise, and without going into too much detail, last cruise I met a lovely family and the mum who is losing her fight to cancer. I don’t want to go into detail as the story is pretty
heartbreaking, but from the hour we spent talking (and I admit a few tears were shed in the process) I can say that this lady was one of the most positive and inspirational ladies I have ever met. Her 2 eldest boys (aged 7 & 9) have vowed to become doctors and fight cancer. Her youngest (aged 2) will surely do the same. The whole situation, and meeting her entire family of brothers and sisters who were also cruising, was both wonderful and upsetting to be a part
So, the positive side of the story – Carnival teaming up with this Foundation is a wonderful thing. Let’s keep it going and raise money to fight cancer. And after meeting this family I quit smoking,,, I haven’t had one for 7 days now.
8. List your three favorite ports you have visited?
Puerto Vallarta (because of the restaurants – amazing!); Isla Roatan (because of the beaches and scenery); Portland, Maine (amazing Lobster!)
9. Name three ports you would really like to see that you have never been to?
Of Course Hawaii & Alaska – doesn’t everyone? I would also like to go Bora Bora.. But alas none of our CCL ships sail there!
10. Finally, if you could introduce on stage any star, alive or not who would it be and why?
STING (from The Police) – the man is just talented, cool and a super star.
Thanks Chris and congratulations on all you have achieved. I am sure many bloggers will now look forward to their Carnival Valor cruise knowing you are there to make sure they have the best vacation ever.
So, back to Mrs. Barsby. Heidi met with her today and made sure she was on the last bus. Her departing words to Heidi were “you need to be more organized .” No thank you or goodbye…..just that. As I mentioned yesterday, I never have and never will make fun of anyone who is suffering from anything and as she left and Heidi told me how mean she had been to her this morning, I could not help remembering that her daughter had said she and her father refused to travel with her….it maybe a nasty thing to think, but I can see why. Anyway, she is on her way home. I tipped the guide on the bus myself to walk her to the check-in desk with her trolley and luggage and then to security…after that she should arrive in Pittsburgh this evening….I hope.
It seems strange to me that so many people are buying t-shirts with my name on it. I am so humbled by this and a little embarrassed. The humbling is because people I have never met are now wearing a statement that they know me, they like me and they have seen my thingy.
I am embarrassed because….well….I haven’t seen my thingy in years….hopefully the diet will help.
John and Heidi