Can You Hear Me Now…I Doubt It

May 20, 2007 -

John Heald

Good Morning Everyone:

Let’s start with the now commonplace apology for the weekend lapse of blog thingys, which again I will make up for with multiple blog thingies during the week. Today, I am writing from a very busy port of Piraeus where three “mega” ships are all docked side by side. I am sure the Athens Acropolis will be very busy and there isn’t even a live sacrifice there today.

I want to start today by talking about pickpockets.  European ports are full of them and they are clever little buggers. I have heard a lot of stories from guests since we started sailing in Europe about how they have fallen victim to these artful dodgers. The most common way people get caught is through the “decoy ” system which usually involves two people — one as a distraction and one actually doing the “picking.” One story I have heard of a few times from our guests has involved the Metro system in Rome. This happened to a Mr. and Mrs. Martin who are blog readers. I asked if I could add their experience to today’s blog for which they have agreed.

David (Martin) and his wife, Anne, were on the Metro system in Rome and were getting off at their stop. As they disembarked there was the usual THRONG of people getting on and off. As David got off a another man embarking spilled soda all down the front of David’s shirt. The man boarded the Metro, leaving David dripping wet. Seeing David’s soaked state, a lady in her 60s came over and apologized for her rude countrymen. As she said her apologies, she had taken out a large wad of tissue from her handbag and started to dry David’s shirt. Thinking nothing more of this, David said thanks and he and Anne continued on their way. A few minutes later, David tried to buy a new T-shirt and only then did he realize that his wallet had been stolen. Putting two and two together David realized while the lovely Italian lady had been cleaning his shirt, she had “dipped her hand” into his inside pocket and taken his wallet.

This sort of crime is certainly not exclusive to Rome and I have heard of guests having similar incidents in Barcelona, Athens and Naples. I am sure this happens in other major cities throughout the world.  My advice is be on your guard and carry your money as safely as possible. You always think it will never happen to you………I know…………….I said the same……………until it did…………………..and that story will unfold after today’s Q&A.

I want to start by thanking everyone who answered the question as to which cruise director had made a difference to their cruise. I guess now I think about it that may have come across as a form of gathering self praise and that certainly was never my intention. I was trying to see which of my colleagues industry wide had made their cruise that extra bit special. Your comments are as always gratefully received. OK, on we go.

NANETTEALI – Buenos dearse mi amigo . Como estad osted. Grassyarse for the nice comments and thanks so much for reminding me to mention two of the guys who were both excellent cruise directors.  Bob “Hi Gang” Hamill and the Unbelievable Mr. Eddie Capone. While I have no idea where Bob is these days, Eddie is still the Godfather of Comedy and working on all of our ships as a guest entertainer. I know your daughter is in love with RCI’s Richard Spacey but hopefully she will find a tiny place in her heart for me. You asked what months I was on the Holiday in 1990 and the answer is…..I haven’t a clue. I just remember it being a fantastic ship and for me, a young 24-year–old cruise director, it was a brilliant experience. See you soon……..asta la yugo.
MAYLEE – Josh Riffe was the name of the cruise director you had onboard the Carnival Valor. He left us last year and is living in California and we miss him a lot. Have a safe flight and see you in June.
DOUGNEWMAN – As always I bow to your expertise. You are correct it was indeed the Norwegian Jewel and not Dream that was in with us during our calls in Izmir and in Istanbul. Today in Athens we have a Princess and a Crystal ship but I cannot see which ones and unfortunately I do not have time to go ashore and see but I am sure you know anyway. I am still very much hoping to meet you soon as I know we have a lot of stories to swap over a good NY hot dog.
MISSINGTHESMOKE FREEPARADISE – It does seem if there is a delay in the comments being stuck on or posted or whatever the correct term is, I will see what I can do to get that corrected. Your comments about cruise directors making a difference were great to read. For some cruises, the cruise director makes no difference but for many, a good cruise director can turn a good cruise into an excellent one. I am happy to hear that this is what you have found. Thanks for kind words and I must admit that I am really looking forward to my long vacation of one-and-one-half days. Write soon mate.
JAMES EMM – I was indeed the cruise director on the Carnival Glory during its inaugural season and I am happy to hear I was able to provide you with a fun and laughter filled cruise. I am still dreaming of my Aston Martin although my dreams are interspersed with moments of Angelina Jolie and a large can of whipped cream but do not tell Heidi. I have been out of the dog house for a record breaking five days and I am going for a full week. Thanks for reading the blog thingy and remember, VOTE ANGELINA JOLIE FOR GODMOTHER OF THE CARNIVAL SPLENDOR…….I have a spare room at my house she can stay in.
BIG ED – I have been told by Heidi that I would a “very bad person” if I was to e mail you the photo of this lady who showed the entire ship her………..support ! I think she truly had no idea what she was doing and was in a state of mind that can only be described as “oblivious.”  Now, on the more serious note of Mrs. Big Ed flying across the pond to join the Carnival Splendor then I think we need to get your wife as “oblivious” as this lady then we should be OK. Hopefully, her oblivion will not involve disrobing and performing a very disturbing Greek dance. Now, as a special treat for you and other meat lovers, here is a photo for your collection of the supper club’s incomparable porterhouse steak.
The Porterhouse Steak from the Supper Club
BLES1045 – What can I say except your comment has left a smile as large as that steak on my face. Thanks 🙂
(RUTH) JOYCE CAMERON – As I think I have mentioned on this blog thingy a few times, there are few people in this world who deserve vacations more than teachers. So, as you grade those last papers, think about Venice and sitting in that gondola, exploring the streets of Taormina and seeing the awesome beauty of Pisa and Florence. I am in mourning as Angelina Jolie leaves Cannes before we get there and that chance meeting that could have changed both our lives for ever will never happen. This is why we all have to vote for her to be the Godmother of the Carnival Splendor. Most importantly, I want you to get ready for the best vacation you have ever had. See you very soon.
JEFF STEVENSON – Jeff, mate, first of congratulations on two great shows and the subsequent standing ovations. I am so sorry I could not meet you in person but I was “laid up in a bed of sickness,” as my Mum says. I am looking forward to your return so we can meet in persona and the guests truly enjoyed your comedy and I cannot wait to see it for myself. Cheers.
KICIASKI – Linda, there are very few things that get my blood boiling but the comment you heard about Carnival is one of those things. Ignorance is bliss they say, and here is a prime case of this. How can anyone say such things about a cruise line they have never even tried….back in a minute, I need a cold shower. OK, I am back and much cooler. I want to thank you so much for your comment about service on our ships. We do indeed pride ourselves on friendly and hospitable service. There is an old saying “treat others how you wish to be treated” and that applies to our ship’s crew. I encourage guests to talk to them get to know them and you will discover that every crew member has their own stories to tell and I am sure these experiences will further enhance your cruise experience. I send my best to you and George and to the person who made such disparaging remarks about the cruise line I love, I send a pair of my underwear !
DON IN KENTUCKY – Glad the Sushi news made Mrs. Don in Kentucky happy. I do not think me and Mr. Sushi are going to be friends for sometime.  IN FACT, after my illness anything that swims or has gills will not be on the menu.
Good question about the acts. They are called “fly-on acts,” because they fly onto one ship, do a show and then fly out of the next port to do a show on another ship. It’s a hard life of flying and living out of a suitcase and I salute them all….even the jugglers. Glad you are enjoying the blog thingy .
BOB MEANS – Bob, next time I am in cyber space I will see if I can see any of your comments floating by. I am so grateful for your kind comments about me and I am also very humbled by them as well. I know you will have a great time on the Carnival Pride. Your cruise director will be Jeff Bronson from Ohio. Let me know when you return what the highlights were. Bon Voyage mate and I am sorry that I cannot be there with you.
JTODDINMAN – Thanks for your comments and of course this blog is open for any discussion including the mention of other lines. I am sorry you did not enjoy the FREESTYLE concept of dining. I am not sure how it works but I do think that having the same waiter for the entire cruise can make a big difference to the cruise experience. I am thrilled that you will be on the Carnival Splendor and I look forward to seeing you there. I am also very happy to see that you enjoyed the Conquest cruise director and I have passed your comment to him. Please keep reading the blog thingy.
KATHY B – You are correct in your praise of Todd Wittmer. He is one of our very best ever cruise directors and, as you can see from your Hurricane Dennis experience, he is extremely calm under pressure. Todd will be taking over the Carnival Freedom next year when I leave to go to the Carnival Splendor. I know that he is very excited to host a ship in Europe. I am honoured that mine is the first blog you have posted a comment on and like you, I hope we get to cruise with each other soon. Enjoy your vacations aboard The Carnival Victory and the Carnival Valor and please keep reading this blog thingy.
KERSPLOTT – And now the sad news. Michael and Jeni Mullane have left us as of April this year. Michael was a first class cruise director. He and jeni have decided to start a new life together on land. 421 days and counting !
LINADA – I see you are learning a little Italian before your cruise in June. It makes me very happy when I see a whole family having the time to spend 12 days together on one of our ships.  I promise to do my best to keep you laughing the whole time. See you in June. Arriva Dertchie.
KIM GALLAGHER – I will make a reservation for you. Please confirm it in writing to me when you arrive. Just drop a note off at the pursers’ information desk with your cabin number and I will make sure the best table is ready and waiting for you at our Supper Club.
TIM AND PAM – YIPEEEEEEEEEE. Great news but telling your employer to &^%$ their job so you can come on the Bloggers Cruise, well I have no words. Just make sure you and Pam get here safe and sound so I can thank you
Properly………..this must be a first………someone quits their job so they can take a cruise………………a blog first I am sure. See you soon and I do feel a little guilty.
CAROL – You are correct, her loss. If a person (as mentioned above) cannot speak from experience he/she has no right to pass an opinion to a would be passenger. Thank you again for your loyalty.  Without people like you we never have gone from one ship to 22 and many more to come.
LINDA – By the time you read this you will have returned from the Carnival Glory. I know you had a great time. Let me know what the highlights were and Heidi and I will see you soon.

CONGRATULATIONS, AS OF SATURDAY MORNING THIS SIMPLE BLOG THINGY HAS RECEIVED 251,000 PUNCHES – thank you all.
Have you seen the latest contest about naming the Carnival Splendor’s spa? Here it is and I want a blog writer to win this so get your thinking caps on. I would like to help but apart from that being insider trading I am not really the man to help as the only time I found the Spa was when I thought they were serving food. It is certainly going to be an awesome spa though and we need a name…so over to you. 

I am thinking “ANGELINA’S”……………. What a great name.

It’s now 2 pm on Sunday and everyone is ashore exploring Athens. The weather forecast looked gloomy predicting thunderstorms but so far they have held off and the sun is shining and it is very humid. Tonight, Heidi and I will dine at the supper club for just the second time in four months. I am taking her tonight early so I do not miss the shows and we will probably just have time for main course but it will be a nice break for us both.

I want to return the pickpocketing subject that I started out with and again mention the fact that you always think that it can’t happen to you…..as I said I thought that too ………………until Barcelona, last year.

Heidi and I were sitting in an outside café on La Rambla, which is the main thoroughfare in the center of Barcelona. All was well with the world, the sun was shining, guests were happy, I had not been living with my four-legged friends for a few days, and was in Heidi’s good books.

As we sat and ate our tapas, out of nowhere arrived two young girls who were in their late teens/early twenties. Both were wearing headscarf’s and one held a baby who could not have been more than six months old. They were at our table before we knew it and the one with the baby just literally threw the youngster at Heidi who was now holding a screaming baby. I got up and told the girl to take the baby back, she in turn held her hand out for money. I told her to “go away.” The girl took the baby and they both walked off. Now this happened in the space of 10 seconds or less. After a few seconds the waiter came over and asked us if we still had our bags, Heidi checked and she did and only then did I notice that my mobile phone was missing. It had left it (as many of us do) on the table and it was nowhere to be seen. I realized immediately what happened and that the girls had taken it by using a poor innocent baby as the distraction.  I then did something I have not done in years………I ran………..yep………. RAN after them.

As I was running, Heidi saw a police officer nearby and ran over to tell him what had happened. He also gave chase behind me. I caught up with the girls and grabbed the one without the baby. She tried to pull away from me and was swearing in what I think was Romanian. Whatever the language, it had something to do with me being part of a mans genital region that she apparently was going set on fire!  Whatever. Me and this girl were never going to be exchanging Christmas cards and as I held her in a vice like grip the police officer and a colleague had reached the scene and had the other girl. After a few seconds of swearing and spitting, the girl I had hold of was searched by one of the policemen. Sure enough, there inside the girl’s underclothes was my precious phone and one other phone, as well. Her underwear had suddenly become Nokia’s headquarters and I doubt the reception would have been very good down there. I thanked the police officers and as I left I found myself giving the girl with the baby a 10-euro note and told her it was for the baby…………..It seemed like the right thing to do.

Two last things about this story.

1. The phone was very precious to me as it had all my numbers in it, family photos and my PA’s number. The phone however received a very deep cleaning once I got back to the ship.

2. I did not want to pass this piece of the story on but Heidi insists. As I was running after the girls, Heidi was laughing hysterically, not just because I was running although that was a sight to see, it was because as I sprinted toward the girls……..MY SHORTS FELL DOWN TO MY ANKLES

Thanks for your time.

Your Friends

John and Heidi

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.