Turkish Delight

March 19, 2007 -

John Heald

Istanbul or Constantinople, as it used to be known, was our port of call today.

I woke at 7:30 am and after running three miles on the treadmill and doing my daily 100 sit ups, I decided it was time for my normal breakfast of 1/2 a grapefruit and some bran flakes.

OK, so I entered the realm of fantasy there for a moment. Let’s start again.

I woke at 7:30am and after walking to the computer to check my e mails, I ran a bath and contemplated whether or not to have sausage with my eggs and bacon.

By 8:45 am I was on the bridge. There are some special moments in the cruising world and many of them are made when a ship enters port for the first time. Until today, my top three were:

  1. Venice – there is nothing like it in the world as ancient beauty meets modern fantasia
  2. New York – on the Carnival Destiny in 1996, sailing past the Twin Towers. No other words are needed to describe why!
  3. Amsterdam – my wife’s home and memories of a personal nature

And now there is another to add to my list:

Istanbul — Picture the scene. 50-plus small boats following us down the Bospherous which made for a navigating headache for the Captain. Turning to port, we sailed past the mosques and palaces just as the call to prayer sounded by the Imams. This is something you all have to experience for yourself as I just am not talented enough to explain the exhilaration this gives your senses.

We arrived about 15 minutes behind schedule, again due to the busy traffic, and then began the challenging task of debarking 2,000 guests on organized tours. The team of shore excursion staff and the cruise staff do a wonderful job with this and I truly am blessed to work alongside each and every one of them.

Within 1 hour and 15 minutes 2,000 plus guests were ashore…….fantastic.

I spent the next hour doing paper work. Why do we call it paper work these days as it is all computer based?! Anyway, I did that what I dislike most about my job and then Heidi and I set off with our fabulous tour operator Karen. Karen is the managing director of Seasong which runs our tours in both Turkish ports. The tours they offer are simply the best and her guides are truly the most educated and passionate I have met.

Now, you might think this next bit is false propaganda but I promise and assure you that it is not. At the time of writing ( 11:02 pm ) we have had just a single complaint about a tour today – and that’s out of 2,000 people!

I can hear thousands of you saying, “What was the complaint?” Well, it was a valid comment about a guest who felt very claustrophobic in the Grand Bazaar. I will have to make sure I mention this during my next port talk as the bazaar can get very crowded but is still part of my must see list. Thank you Karen and thank your guides for allowing our guests to experience the best of Turkish hospitality and to share with them your beautiful and exciting city.

We had a lunch of Turkish Kebab – mmmmmmmmmmmmmm – and then it was back on board.

Being a cruise director, you never know what is waiting for you. I returned to find a message telling me that the entertainer who was due to fly to the ship to entertain that night would not be arriving. He, like thousands of others, was stranded in New York due to the bad weather which was affecting much of the Eastern Seaboard. I then made plans with my staff to change the program for the evening around.

So, another day is over. I want to again apologize that time does not allow me to answer all the individual questions you may post but rest assured I will meet with each and every one of you when you cruise.

Please, though, keep posting your comments. I read each and every one of them and hope more people continue to post their remarks. As of tonight we are a group of 41,000 and I am hoping for 50,000 readers. If I reach this goal our President, Mr Bob Dickinson, has promised to buy me a brand new Moped 🙂

Oh, I misunderstood. Apparently, he has promised to buy me a brand new Mop Head 🙁

On that bombshell, I will say goodnight to you all in blog land, and see you all in the morning.

Hi, I’m John, and this is my blog. So please don’t mistake my opinions — or those of my dear friends, fans or commenters — for those of Carnival Cruise Line or Carnival Corporation. My apologies in advance for anything I may say that upsets you, but this disclaimer covers Carnival and puts the blame directly on me………….. bugger.