No Mah Jong, That's Just Wrong

June 1, 2007 -

John Heald

Oh, no…………………..I am in so much trouble. ……………..I couldn’t find a mah jong game anywhere in Messina today and now I am about to face the wrath of the Chinese dragon. Heidi and I looked everywhere in Messina and when I asked in a shop, I got a Sicilian look that said, “go away or wake up tomorrow very close to the head of a horse”……….So I did.

Now, I have to call my new best friend and tell her the bad news. I can only think that she will think even worse of me. I am going to call her now as I know she has late sitting dinner and I should catch her in the cabin, it is 7 pm…………here goes…………first, let me put my brown pants on…………….wish me luck.

Ok, I’m back. You know, this blog contains many stories and many day-to-day happenings all of which are true and I have to continue that trend when I report the call did not go well. 

Oh boy, is that one grumpy lady. I received another torrent of abuse in English/Chinese and a few other languages for good measure. I offered her a choice of games, cards, etc. but nope……’s mah jong or nothing. Then, just as I thought she had exhausted herself, she found her second wind and then told me that the food at the Chinese station on board is not real Chinese food. I then made the mistake of asking the difference and that was another golden mistake on my part.  Ten minutes after I had hung up the phone I was exhausted…………..and…………………..very hungry! I could just eat a big plate of Chinese food right now.

Anyway, tonight, I am sending her a bottle of wine at dinner and also a birthday cake. Ken and the waiters will sing happy birthday to her – but it’s not her birthday, In fact, I see from the manifest her birthday was in February, but I thought I would cover myself in case she says I forgot her birthday this year. Hopefully, this will confuse her and let me off the hook for a few hours as she digs into a lovely piece of chocolate cake…………..then again……..knowing my luck, she is probably allergic to chocolate.

Just sailed past Stromboli and here are a few photos taken by Heidi and also some of the sunset.

Pictures from Stromboli Pictures from Stromboli

OK, let’s get back to business and start up today’s Q & A, sponsored by ASTON MARTIN AND THE NEW DB9 AND VANQUISH MODELS – DRIVEN BY ALL GOOD CRUISE DIRECTORS………..except me  🙁

Firstly, I just received a message from my PA who is currently hard at work in his corner cubicle. The answer is for Carlynn who asked about the name of the new P&O ship. She will be called VENTURA and she will debut in the spring of 2009. Thanks to my PA for the kind assistance, I am glad they’re so cooperative and never tell me to bug off.

MIKE M – I hope you get to read this before sailing with me on Wednesday for your Grand Med cruise.  So let me quickly answer your questions before you leave.
1. Suit or tux………………My answer to this is based on what I have seen these past few years. More men seem to be wearing business suits rather than a tuxes or dinner jackets. Now, a man in a tux always looks good (says Heidi) but the fact of the matter is most men seem to prefer suits. The choice is yours and you will not look out of place in either ….you say potato, etc.
2. I am sure you are concerned about bringing your five-year-old onboard and I also know the extra challenges you face as I my godson is also autistic. I also know that your son will have the most wonderful time and we will all be here to offer any assistance that is needed. We do rent strollers and the charge is $25 for the whole 12 days.  I personally would not bring yours, it’s one less thing to worry about, just rent one here. You are correct when you say Pompeii is not stroller friendly and Venice is a little tricky with the bridges. Everywhere else is no problem and I suggest we chat onboard if you have any questions relating to specific tours etc. We will be proud to welcome you all onboard and please do not worry about a thing, because every little things going to be alright. Don’t worry, about a ting mon……..sorry, slipped away again. Have a safe trip and see you soon.
IVANA – Thank you for enjoying the blog so much and I will let you know when we can get the book published. Congratulations on getting married and for choosing a Carnival cruise on the Carnival Valor to take you to St. Thomas. What a wonderful combination. You asked about some “inside” information on what to do during this special time. May I suggest you book the supper club for your wedding night? This will be the perfect end to what I know will be the perfect day for you. I do not know what time your wedding is but may I suggest after the wedding you go to Sapphire Beach. It is the most beautiful beach in St. Thomas and very peaceful and I think a quiet walk on the beach afterwards may be very nice. If you want to do something more exciting in the afternoon, may I suggest the Atlantis Submarine. How many people can say they spent their wedding day 100 feet below the Caribbean Sea? Anyway, apart from that, just enjoy your special day. And if you need any advice on the wedding night, I am your man!
DORTHE CALIMBAS – What a wonderful posting. I am not sure where you read the rude crew comment but let’s chat about this for a little bit. If you buy a barrel of 100 apples chances are there will be one bad one. The same is true for any company that employs 33,000 oceangoing crewmembers as we do. There is going to be the odd crewmember who does not meet expectations and then it is our job to train them further. We do this with constant onboard hospitality classes hosted by our dedicated trainers who make sure that they are indeed ready to be Carnival team members.  I really enjoyed reading your story about the crewmember who brought your luggage. That handshake you gave him I know made his day. I encourage you all to chat with the crew, find out about the, their country and their experiences and this will further enhance your cruise. I am interested as to what bloggers think about this. Heidi and I send you our best and hope to see you soon.
ROBERT SCHNEIDER – .hello mate. This is Robert, folks, who has sailed with me approximately 30 times. We are good friends and he and Suzanne his wife are very special people. Hope the weather is better that when you posted your comment, things here are better with a beautiful sunny day in Messina. My best to you and Suzanne and the dog.
INGRID Z – HALLELUJAH (my Dad’s favorite word) indeed. Happy to hear your passport has made it and you will soon be on your way here. The temperatures have been up and down this cruise with a cold day in Venice and Dubrovnik but 80 degrees here today in Messina. Hopefully, the weather will be a little more consistent next cruise. If you have any concerns about walking, please let me know by leaving a note at the pursers’ information desk when you get here. Do this anyway just to say hello – don’t forget your cabin number. Thank you for your help with the mahjong game. I am sure you and your graduate will have better things to do then teach others how to play. I wish you were here now and I had a board or whatever you need so that I could make my best friend happy. See you both soon.
LANCE AND ILDA – What a fantastic review of the Carnival Miracle, it sounds like you had such a wonderful cruise. I have forwarded your comments to all concerned onboard and the directors in the office. I was particularly proud when you mentioned the shows. We, as a company are leaders in Ocean Going Entertainment and your comments prove that this statement continues to be true. I have said many times that I will never use this blog thingy to criticize another cruise line, however, I do agree that I can think of a thousand other things I want to do on a cruise before I want to climb a rock wall. If I really wanted to do that I would go, well, ……………rock climbing. I mean that with no disrespect to our friends over there, they have an amazing product but I do in this instance agree with you.  So, kudos to the Carnival Miracle team and to you for your brilliant review. Please keep reading the blog thingy and I hope your next carnival cruise is as enjoyable as this one.
MEHYDER – Glad you liked the photos and I am working hard to persuade Carnival to help me with the book. I hope to sell this in the gift shops and online etc. It certainly would be a proud day for me. Hope you are well and thanks again for your continued reading of the blog thingy.
LOANSHUB – I think it’s a little of all three. Are you enjoying it?
LINDA JAHOSKY – Your cruise may feel a long time away so hopefully, in just a small way, this blog thingy will allow you to see what is going on before you. I, too, hope I see you when you finally take that well deserved vacation. Please keep reading.
SHEREE – Mon Sheree Amor.  Although lovely I think the Olsen Twins are just below Richard Simmons as my choice of godmother for the Carnival Splendor. It has to be Angelina. Let me answer your post cruise tour question. I think it may be best to go to the Vatican Museum on your own first thing in the morning. This way you will be sure to make your 3:15 pm tour. What time do you arrive and how long do you have to do this? Send me your schedule please so I can analyze this further. As for spa volunteers to demonstrate treatments, we do this sometimes so I suggest you call 1199 as soon as you board and offer Madison’s services.
Thanks for your so kind words about Heidi and I; we both look forward to seeing you soon.
GREG – Only six more days to Thursday. Good, I am exhausted.
DENISE AND GARO – I love meeting first-time cruisers. The looks on your faces when you see and experience what you are about to will be priceless. Keep checking the web cam and reading the blog and I promise those priceless moments will be ones to cherish forever. See you both in August.
CAPT.CHUCK – Thanks Captain for the detailed information on mahjong which at least I know how to spell now. I have indeed ordered 6 sets but unfortunately this will not save me from the Tasmanian Devil that is Mrs ???. I can’t mention her name as if by some chance she was to read this I am sure I would be on the wrong end of a large pointed stick.
THAIS AND FABIAN – The Grand Istanbul tour will be available when you get onboard and we also have a new one which will include all the sites you want to see. Here is Heidi and some Dutch.
DAVID FROM BARBADOS – By now I am a mah jong expert and ready to play in the world championships. I wish I did have a board or whatever so I could play Mrs. ??? And beat her……………at the game………not actually beat her………….well …….! Thank you for your Sandy Lane story; it appears that some people really do believe that we can control weather. Overall, it’s been a great cruise but, as you pointed out, there are certainly some “characters” here on this cruise. I am going to have my photo with my new best friend and post this soon. It will be a cover photo, let’s see if I can get it done. See you soon and my best to you all in Barbados.
JTODDINMAN – I think it is Chinese Year of the Dog and I am Puppy Chow. Now, back to more serious matters. How right you are, Carnival does indeed offer many styles of dining and with the additions of supper clubs on many of our ships, plus the recently upgraded Lido food choices we really do have the best of both worlds. Thank you for pointing that out and it will be interesting to read others comments. Thanks again and hope you keep reading the blog.
HOTLANTA – Let’s get to the most important thing first Heidi has now told me that she has gone from Starburst (which she still loves) to her new favorite which is licorice or gummy bears and sour worms…………yuck!  Now, on to shopping. There are great shops all over Europe but I think for jewelry your first shop to visit will be our onboard shops. They have a new and HUGE selection of diamonds and jewelry so have a look there. As for gold, well the Italian gold shops by the Ponte Veccia bridge in Florence are excellent and gold is still sold by the gram and at great prices. To answer your question about art, if you do purchase art from onboard at our auctions they will ship it home. However, if you purchase it ashore, you will have to mail this from the post offices in Europe (there is a large one at Rome Airport). With regard to getting your tax back you are correct that you will need to show your receipts, please. So, see you very soon and thanks for the sugar-free chocolate and the Aston Martin you are bringing me.
LES – We have now indeed added an announcement in Chinese not to save seats at the start of each show. It is frustrating and it’s my fault this was not handled better. I apologize and we are now on the right road. Thanks mate.
BOB FLYNN – Congratulations on becoming a Platinum member. You will love the benefits and I am sure you will never cruise on any other line now you have reached this special goal. I am sorry but the Platinum benefits are just for the folks in the same cabin as you but rest assured boarding is quick here and debarkation is even quicker. I look forward to meeting all of you soon and if you need anything while you are here, please let me know.
KATHLEEN A – hello Kathleen from Canada, eh? I think we have found our belly dancers but if your Canadian friends want to audition I will be happy to have a look.

I am going to leave this blog at that today so I can get it posted before the weekend.

I will write much more tomorrow and Sunday.

Until then, I wish you all a happy weekend and I am off to face the Great Wall of China.

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.