May 7, 2016 -
Good morning from Greece and the port of Piraeus. It is 9 am and here I sit in the Ocean Plaza, in a toga, writing to you on what is a hot and sunny day. Already we have 75 percent of the ship ashore, most on tours and those who have booked excursions will be feeling very thankful they booked one because at 8am this morning, a general strike was called by the Greek transportation unions and that meant no metro, no trains and very, very limited public buses. Yep, those guests who thought they would get the metro were really buggeredopolos.
These strikes are nothing unusual in Greece and, indeed, in other European countries too and it is a great advert for guests sailing in Europe to book an excursion in every port because scrambling around trying to find something to do last minute makes for a stressful day. Anyway, we are trying to accommodate as many of the guests who are on last minute tours as we can but with 3,000 heading to the Acropolis, etc., spaces are indeed limited.
So, what else is happening? Right now, the Greek immigration officials are stamping passports. Now you may remember that because when the Carnival Vista went to a non-European port of call (Cleveland, Ohio), we had to collect all guest passports. While most guests understood why there were, as I explained yesterday, there were a few who did not understand. The guest services desk had some guests who really did not like this and I, of course, had the lady from Chicago who has written an e-mail to her Congress person and when home will gather her friends she plays bridge with on a Friday night and invades Greece for daring to take her passport.
On a serious note, I do understand why handing over your passport is upsetting to some, I get that. But to blame Carnival as this lady and a few others did and to say they should be exempt because they are of one particular nationality is simply bonkers. And from our side, I can say that we hate it too because to collect, safely store and then, tonight, after we sail from Greece, return close to 4,000 passports, is a mammoth task and bravo to Mirel, the guest services manager, and his team for doing all this and much more. Hopefully, the guests will enjoy having a Greek stamp on their passport although I wonder if the Inspector Constipatedonos will actually stamp all of them, we will see.
Guests are loving this ship and we had absolutely glorious weather for our sea day yesterday. The outdoors spaces that the ship has to offer were all utilised and that was great to see. I know these days it’s all about fairground attractions, rides and bells and whistles and your Carnival Vista has her fair share of those, of course. But what she also has is deck after deck of outdoor spaces and very, very comfortable chairs to sit and enjoy the sound of the sea, especially on deck 5 outside …………..well……..everywhere and the guests love that, it seems. I will be posting more on how this works soon but I do encourage any of you sailing here to download the HUB app before you sail. Anyway, I will post an update on how all of this works in the days ahead.
Right, I have to get out of my toga and into a suit as I am hosting 100 Greek press and officials this morning in a plaque exchange ceremony and luncheon. But before I do, I want to talk again about my favourite guests on the ship this cruise….yep……..the Russians. Walking out of the gym yesterday, I saw one of the fitness instructors laughing out loud and, when I asked him what was happening, he shared the latest Russian tradition with me. I have mentioned how some were naked in the sauna and it appears they also like to use the hairdryers in the changing rooms on their dangly bits. So now we are contemplating putting a sign on the changing room wall stating that hairdryers should not be used to dry….ummm…. “down below.” And considering the amount of hot air that comes from a hairdryer, I am sure it won’t be too long before Sergei reports to the ship’s medical center with burn marks on his undercarriage. But then, again, thinking about it, maybe my Russian friends are on to something here. It sounds the most hygienic drying method for men to dry their danglyov bitsov and I am sure many ladies/partners would rather their husbands use a hairdryer. Especially if they have to share a towel.
Cheers and wywh.