Memorial Day

May 28, 2007 -

John Heald

Hello everyone and thank goodness the sun is shining in Venice today as we entered the port. All the guests were outside watching us sail in and as many people onboard who were taking photos there were just as many in St. Marks Square taking photos of this gorgeous lady sailing to her berth.
We were privileged to have the Chief Venice Pilot onboard today, Capt. Mingari. He was telling me that all day yesterday it had rained very hard in Venice and that today the sun was shining because Carnival was here.

We have just docked and I am about to start disembarking the guests so I will be back soon.

OK, I am back……sorry I was gone for such a long time. Everyone is ashore either on tours or on their way to the Vappereto Station called Piazza La Roma. I thought you would like to read the information I place in the Carnival Capers regarding how to use the public transportation system.
Walking distance between Marittima Cruise Terminal and downtown (St. Mark’s area) is about one hour.
From Marittima to Piazzale Roma (the closest place where regular water buses are available), will take 35 minutes. If you do not want to walk, shuttle buses are available for five euros per person, round trip. (NO COINS ACCEPTED)
Shuttle buses run every 15 minutes. From 10 pm – Midnight they run every 30 minutes.
Last departure from Piazzale Roma to Marittima Cruise Terminal at Midnight.
VAPARETTO (WATER BUS). Panoramic Line (via Grand Canal) # 1, 82, N,
Six euros one way.  Water taxi from Marittima Cruise Terminal to downtown
 (St. Mark’s area) between Euro 70.00 and Euro 80.00 per water taxi, depending on the number of passengers. Please note, water taxis are not readily available at Marittima, they must be called on +39 041 5222 303
Please note: the “Vaporetto” runs every 20 minutes during the day.
Between midnight and 5:00am, the “N” vaporetto” runs every hour on the hour.
REMINDER: YOU MUST PURCHASE A TICKET FOR THE VAPORETTO
BEFORE BOARDING.
The last bit about buying a ticket before boarding is very important because if you board without a ticket, and an inspector calls, you will receive a hefty fine.
So, Heidi and I will be hopefully going out tonight but we shall have to see how the day goes. Right now she is on the pier organizing tours and shuttle buses.
We also have 200 technicians joining the vessel today to work onboard while we are in Venice. These technicians are from the Fincantiari Shipyard where the Carnival Freedom was born are here to carry out checks and repairs to the vessel. These little last minute touches are part of our warranty. Yep, just like a car or a washing machine, the ship has a warranty with the shipyard. It’s a one year 10,000 miles warranty and includes a free oil change and new windshield wipers.
I went to bed last night thinking of Rick in his wheelchair, his face beaming as he enjoyed the live music. I had spent the previous 30 minutes pi%^ed
Off with life because of the lady who accused me of being prejudiced towards Chinese people because I would not reserve seats for her group. This morning I awoke feeling guilty. Rick had every right to be mad at the world. He wasn’t — and therefore neither should I.
I sent him some jazz CD’s and a CD player for their cabin this morning…………and I had Chinese for lunch!

Let’s do some Q&A.

SONGBIRD – Firstly, it is interesting that so many people who work within the industry itself have started to read this blog thingy as here with you Songbird as you used to work for Celebrity. I see from your comments that you used to hear negative comments about Carnival Cruise Lines but after sailing on the Ecstasy you discovered the truth. I have expressed this before in a previous blog thingy that everyone is entitled to an opinion but at least base that opinion on fact or personal experience. I am glad therefore that you have joined the blogging community and I hopefully will get to meet you one day soon.
MARK MUNRO – Thank you for your kind comments about your cruise and I am very happy that you and your wife had a wonderful time. I understand your point that the younger people felt a little isolated. The average age on your cruise was 61 and in fact there were only 179 guests under age 30. You are correct when you say that the dance club was very quiet and it certainly does liven up when the staff arrive. I will add, as you suggested, some early evening 90’s music in the dance club and I will study the karaoke schedule to see if we can keep that open longer. Therefore, when you cruise next year I think you may see a difference however that difference is assured in the Caribbean when our nightclubs are buzzing until 3 am or later. Please let me know any specific extras you would suggest and I hope I see you and Mrs. Munro very soon.
SOUTHERNDREAMS – How is Podunk? Hasn’t the world become a smaller place thanks to blog thingies like this one? Here I am in Venice and there you are in Podunk. Your statement that your family cruised on the Carnival Liberty and they were aged from 11 – 69 is proof that Carnival and cruising itself is suitable for any age and Sarah needs to understand this. I will be working to make this happen. Thanks for your comments as always and my best to Prince Charles.
NEW TEXAN FRAN – Hello Fran, let me answer your questions.
The Club O2 states that it is for 15-17. How strict is that age policy? Will my 14 1/2 yr old be able to go in with my 17 yr old?
We do have to be strict on this policy but I am sure as your son/daughter is nearly 15 so I think we may be able to accommodate them. However, most of the kids who attend Club O2 may be a little old for your 14-year-old and therefore they may be happier in the 12 – 14 program run by Camp Carnival. Have a look at the activities run by both programs when you get here and see what you think is best for your 14-year-old. Personally, I think he/she will enjoy the Camp carnival program more.
2. How safe will they be on their own on the ship? If they stay together will they be OK? Any areas they should avoid?
The answer to this question is simple. The ship is the safest vacation environment there is. There are no areas to avoid and if you are content to leave them to their own devices then you should be content to be content.if you know what I mean.
3. Are there curfews for underage minors?
NO……………JUST FOR ME FROM MY WIFE
4. Are they allowed to get on/off the ship on their own?
Yep, however once ashore that may be a different story. I do suggest that you stay together ashore and take a safe and fun family tour. If you need suggestions on which tours to take, please let me know. I hope these answers have been useful to you and if there is anything I can do further please let me know.
CARLOS – I love the name Carlos, that’s what you call a Spanish-speaking man who has had his automobile stolen. Sorry, couldn’t resist that one. I think Sarah the British travel agent has no clue about today’s cruise industry and her mental image of shuffleboard and blankets are antiquated and so far from reality as shown by your good selves as you are both very young (33 and 41) and you will be cruising in August. I am sure I can help my fellow countrymen see that cruising is the way to go regardless of age.
As to your question about downloading photos onto CD’s onboard we can indeed provide that service from our Photo Gallery. I look forward to seeing you in August and please keep reading the blog.
CAROL SCHOENBERGER – I think I may just forward this blog to the agency where the young Sarah works. It would certainly be an eye opener for her to see what cruising is really all about. I have never seen a UK commercial similar to the ones used in Canada and the United States. We have a very small team in the UK and they are brilliant ladies and gents and I will now dedicate any spare time I have when I am back home to help them spread the Carnival word. Hope today’s blog finds you well Carol and I will see you very soon.
JO MYERLY – How right you are. One of the things I love about America is that there is no antiquated class system as there are in some other places in the world including the UK. On Carnival you may find a man who has saved up for a year to take a cruise whose job is driving a truck from one end of the country to another. On the same cruise on the same ship is a man who owns the largest trucking company in America and is a millionaire. They are both dressed the same, look the same. Carnival Cruise Lines prides itself on providing a relaxed and fun atmosphere, which is applicable to all ages and all walks of life. Many thanks also for your kind words, I am sorry I was away for so long but I am back now.
DAVID FROM BARBADOS – First of all, it’s not fair. People who live in paradise should not be able to take a cruise to even more paradise, you are indeed a lucky man. What amazing comments from your two mega cool grand daughters who both state that CRUISING IS THE BEST HOLIDAY. I think we should employ them to be Carnival spokespeople (is that one word or two)? You are indeed correct. Perceptions are indeed funny things and all I can do is let this blog thingy be a vessel to promote the joy and fun of taking a cruise………………especially to Barbados. I always wanted to stay at Sandy Lane. I read a column in my newspaper written by the incomparable and eternally grumpy movie director Michael Winner who after complaining about every hotel and restaurant the world over always says how wonderful Sandy Lane is.
Hope to see you on your next cruise, come and see me on the bloggers cruise in January. Cheers until then.
FRANCO AND LYNN, MISSINGTHESMOKEFREEPARADISE, VICKI AND MATT TILL, I & Ms MOM, CARL HARMON, SUSAN B, DEBRAH , HEHN, WENDY, FANGCLAW – Thank you for prayers for young Maddy who at the time of writing has not been found. The world can be a wicked place and each day I turn on the news and hope that she has been found. Until she has, please join me and the millions of other people in having continued positive thoughts for her safe return. I thank you all for your support and allowing me to use this blog for such an important purpose.
KAREN MC – Is that like MC Hammer…………..Heidi is always saying the words to one of his songs when she gets mad at me “YOU CAN’T TOUCH THIS)! Anyway, yes you have hairdryers and yes you have bathrobes in your cabins. We also have laundry facilities and we charge $4,15 for a BIG bag of laundry. I will also wash underwear and socks for a small fee (food).
Now, relax and before you know it you will be here and having the time of your life. See you soon.
PAULETTE’S MUM – Thank Mum for your comments. I see you to have experienced the difficulty of getting a Carnival brochure from a UK travel agent. I will see what we can do about this. I know many Brits are loyal to P&O Cruises and that’s understandable as they are a wonderful line with stunning ships and excellent service but I would like to see my fellow countrymen given a choice. Poor Sarah the agent, I am starting to feel guilty and I truly hope I have not gotten her into trouble.
One thing, I did not understand your comment that says  “nice ports but could do without the – “they’re letting ordinary people on now!” from your P & O cruise. Can you elaborate on this? Send my best to your girls and thanks for reading the blog.
BOB AND SANDY – Welcome back from your Carnival Glory cruise. It sounds like you and Mike the Handyman had a great time. I was sorry to hear about the ship getting into Nassau later than scheduled but sometimes as in this case Mother Nature takes control. Please tell Mike not to worry about the light bulbs. There are lots for him to change here including the one in my bathroom.
I am happy to hear that you enjoyed Wee Jimmy and how wonderful that you were there to enjoy his promotion. I am very proud of the young man and I think he will grow into the best cruise director in the fleet very soon. Now, as for the Funnel Hat it looks like Mike needs some compensation for his funnel hat design and I will provide that with champagne, strawberries and fun when I see you very soon.
ESSEXMAN – Yep, there is no doubt that getting a brochure (as you discovered) is not easy in the UK and I know I have to help improve this situation and I will…………promise. How’s the weather back home today for bank holiday Monday?  Hope to hear from you soon.
BARB’S SISTER – You are right, right. Right, lets talk about the right way and the right time to catch your flight home. Right, you need to wake up at 5 am, go up to Deck 9 and use the service line on the right side of the ship and have a right good breakfast. Then, right at 6 am you will disembark the ship turning right inside the terminal (not left but right) and we will get you right on the right bust to get you right to the airport getting there right on time. Anything else you need, you will write – right? 🙂
CROWN GOLFER – I wish I was down your local pub right now as I could do with a Ploughman’s Lunch ………………Cheese, bread, pickle and an apple. I am so happy to hear that you and the family will be here with us and Heidi and I will look forward to spending some time with you.  Do you need any advice on excursions, etc.? If not, please keep reading the blog thingy anyway and I will see you all very soon. Have a pint for me.
BOB MEANS………….Hope you have a great cruise and send my best to the Captain and crew of the Carnival Pride.
KATHY KROLL – I am deflated. I cannot understand how you did not get the book and champagne I sent you. Please can you e-mail me your mailing address ASAP so I can mail it to you. I am glad you loved the ship and the ports of call. I have addressed your concerns with my staff  (Sean has since left by the way) and you are correct that disembarking 2,000 people at one time is not an easy process but I think overall we do a good job. You are correct also with regard to Ephesus. There were more people there than ever before with two big ships in Izmir and another two in Kusadasi another Turkish port. It does get very warm there and I always advise guests drink as much water as they can but, as you said, the rewards of the lines and heat are these amazing once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
It was great that Heidi and I got to spend some time with the Mello Yellow Group. The unfortunate thing is that as much as we would both love to spend more time with each and every blogger we meet onboard, the job still has to get done. That’s why, I am looking forward so much to the Bloggers Cruise in January. I will see you on the Carnival Splendor and I hope you send me your address…………I wonder who got your book?
SUSAN – I can see a pattern forming here as you appear also to be finding it difficult to get a Carnival brochure in the UK. I did once do an interview for Sky Travel Shop and I would be happy to help the British Team in anyway I can. Thank you also for your heartfelt words about Madeleine, I know everyone is thinking of her and her family. Have a cup of tea for me and hope to see you soon.
ROBERT.J. COLONNA – hello Bob and Sandy and thanks for brightening my day with your gracious comments. It’s been a long time since we have sailed together, 1998 seems so far away. I know you will have a fun time on the Carnival Liberty and Todd the Cruise Director will really impress you. I am glad you have discovered the blog thingy and even if we don’t get to cruise with each other we can at least stay in touch over the electronic fence. Hope to see you soon and most importantly thanks again for the kind words.
CINDY – Thanks you for writing and I am glad to hear that you and the family are getting ready for a fantastic Carnival Freedom cruise. Now, you asked about tours and I can see you have already bought two brilliant ones for Venice and Dubrovnik. Based on your families’ demographics I would like to give you these suggestions fro tours in the other ports.
NAPLES – POMPEII
This is a must see for you and the girls. You can combine this with a trip to Sorrento or the Amalfi coast if you wish but Pompeii is something you will never forget.
MESSINA…………..TAROMINA ON YOUR OWN
This is a one-hour guided tour followed by six hours of free time in the most beautiful Sicilian town. Great shopping, a stunning Greek Theatre to explore and lost of beautiful walks.
BARCELONA…………….BARCELONA BY BIKE
A fun and fresh way to explore Barcelona.
CANNES………………MONACO AND MONTE CARLO ON YOUR OWN TOUR
The same structure as Taromina On Your Own. I think it would be a real shame to come all this way and not see this amazing one of a kind country, the second smallest country in the world.
LIVORNO……………..PISA
You and the girls have to see The Leaning Tower Of Pisa and you can add Florence to this if you want as well.
Have a think about these suggestions and don’t rush into buying them. Remember, once onboard come to the travel talks and you can listen to what I have to say and then if you have any questions you can see me after the talk.
MICHELLE – How great to get a blog comment thing from someone from my home town and someone who will be having a glass of wine opposite where I live, that’s a small world for you. I remember trying to wake your son up that morning and I hope we can have as much fun this time when we meet each other in August and yes I will be here for you. Give my best to Southend and have a crumpet for me.

That’s the end of today’s Q & A

And, now it’s raining in Venice….AGAIN. I just had to cancel the evening gondola tours and I now have 400 very disappointed people. I am going to host some extra activities and add some more live music but hopefully people will still go and explore St. Marks at night, its only light rain so I think some people will still explore, I hope so.

NOW, LOOK WHAT I GOT TODAY

Kathy Ireland’s Letter

Thank you Kathy. I will treasure this letter, it’s my first personal letter from a famous person …unless you include………this one.

Dear John
I have heard that you want me to be the Godmother of the Carnival Splendor.
I accept on the condition that you be my personal escort and guide.
I will make sure Brad has a movie to shoot or something, so we are “not disturbed “
Love and kisses
Angelina

Today is Memorial Day and I would like to pay tribute to all the men and women who have and continue to protect our freedom through service to their countries. To bring this closer to read this:

Lisa & Paul
May 26th, 2007 at 8:19 pm

Hi John & Heidi,
Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy reading your blog. We were on the 12-day cruise from April 7 to 19 – my husband was on leave from Iraq and I met up with him in Rome. We so enjoyed our time with you all. My husband wrote to you and also told you about our son Matt who is in Iraq as well and you were so generous to send us champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries. Yum! Alas, hubby and son are both back in Iraq and I’m here in NY keeping the home fires burning.
Reading this blog brings such special memories for me – I didn’t realize the same Heidi in the mornings getting us out on the tours is your lovely wife! You’re a great couple. We also loved Gary and Sean – great guys and a lot of fun!
Thanks so much and we look forward to sailing with you again!

LISA – I AM SURE THAT MANY OF THE THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE WHO READ THIS BLOG DAILY WILL WANT TO PASS ON THEIR SUPPORT TO YOU AND YOUR BRAVE HUSBAND AND SON WHOM I CAN ONLY IMAGINE HOW MUCH YOU MISS.
THIS BLOG IS DEDICATED TO YOU

Goodnight
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.