Good Morning from a beautiful and sunny Dubrovnik, Croatia.

I can’t help thinking what a transformation has occurred here.

Tourists disembarking the ships ready to explore this fairy tale town that less than 20 years ago was being pounded by artillery and tanks from the hills above. Thousands lost their lives and thousands more lost their homes.
UNESCO found that, of the 824 buildings in the Old Town, 563 had been hit by projectiles in 1991 and 1992. In 1993, the Institute for the Rehabilitation of Dubrovnik , in conjunction with UNESCO, estimated the total cost for restoring public and private buildings; religious buildings; streets, squares, and fountains; and ramparts, gates, and bridges at 9,657,578 US dollars. By the end of 1999, over 7 million US dollars had been spent on restoration.

It is however the people that make this place so brilliant. They are, for obvious reasons, so happy to see the big ships arrive into their port and also they are proud to show all of us their stunning coastline and old town and the Croatian Tourist Board’s slogan “The Mediterranean As It Used To Be ” becomes reality.

Carnival Freedom in Dubrovnik Carnival Freedom in Dubrovnik

Ok, the guests are ashore. 1800 on tour and the rest using the somewhat slow shuttle service and local taxis. We had five buses today running the 5 mile round trip between the ship and town. There were some lines and the staff were encouraging guests to take taxis. Europe is so different from Caribbean cruising in the sense that towns, attractions and archeological sites are not as accessible as on small Caribbean islands and more transportation is needed and the distances to be traveled are much further.
Traveling in Europe does require some patience, however, the rewards are at the end of the wait and the drive. I will however be working on improving the shuttle services with the tourism board of Croatia later today.

I also received a few negative letters from guests concerning the vaporetto system in Venice. It seems, this cruise that they were extra busy and the wait time was much longer than usual. Again, I truly wish I could control this but obviously I cannot. Venice is a town that depends 100% on water bus and water taxi service and when 9000 cruise ship guests visit on top of hotel guests and the locals, all of whom use the service, there is going to be lines and slower service. Guests on tour have transportation to and from the ship included but probably each and every guest will at some time be using the public transportation service and therefore I repeat my kind request that visitors come onboard prepared to be patient. Venice is the third most popular tourist attraction in Europe after the Vatican and London and is visited by thousands and thousands of tourists each day, especially this time of the year……………………please bring a big bag of patience with you……………….it’s worth it, I promise.

I was talking to a Mr. Nick Izod this morning on the pier (another blogger) and he was telling me about his last cruise that went to The Turks and Caicos and its capital, Grand Turk. Nick was raving about this port and how unspoiled it was, the beaches, the water, in fact, the whole package. It seems to be the “hot property ” of the Caribbean at the moment and if you are looking for a new addition to your cruise destinations, this seems to be it. Carnival Corporation has two ships visiting there now, The Carnival Triumph and the ship Nick Izod sailed on, the Crown Princess.
I have not been, have if any of you have, let me know what you thought.

While we are talking about destinations, what is your fantasy cruise? If you could sail anywhere on a Carnival ship that we do not go to yet, where would you like that destination to be.

I had better crack on with some Q and A.

Let me start by replying to DOUG NEWMAN regarding the sale of the Marco Polo ship by NCL. He was asking who it had been sold to. Here is the reply from my PA and Cruise Line Private Investigator however this information has yet to be confirmed, so for now it’s just between me and 334,000 people so…………sssshhhhhhhhhhh.
The ship has been purchased by Global Maritime at a price of $30m with a bareboat charter back to Spring 08 at a charter rate of $10k per day
I know little about GM except that they are a successor company to First Line and are owned by a large Greek ship operator
The vessel is to be chartered to Transocean for five-and-a-half years.
They were also working on a charter to Phoenix Reissen.
ANN – After reading your sign posting thing, I am more certain than ever that we will be successful in getting AJ to be the Godmother of the CS ( using abbreviations to save my fingers ) ( hold on, I had to type more letters to explain that I was using abbreviations than if I had actually typed Carnival Splendor…you idiot John ). Anyway, I have no problem in meeting her through Brad but I am sure he is the jealous type and will not want me to get close to AJ in case she tries to make Original Sinn 2 with me.
I have been reading a lot about her charity work and she obviously is wearing her heart on her sleeve and I have the utmost respect and admiration for what she is trying to achieve. Together, I think AJ and Carnival can help her quest.
399 days and counting, isn’t it time for another party? Hope to hear from you soon.
TERI910 – Thank you for the Spanish lesson and I have indeed added the Spanish word for brake to my list along with other important ones like Sperm of the Devil which in Spanish is El Eggo De Diablo.
I hope for you and many others that Carnival continues its foray into Europe and specifically for you, the Baltic. For me personally, I do not think I could ever go back to the Caribbean on a long term basis. It’s not that I do not miss it but I do not want to be that far away from my family for long periods of time. In Europe, I am never far from home and that is of great comfort to me. Next year, Heidi will stay at home and will not be working on the ship anymore. She deserves a “normal ” life and being in Europe will allow me to see her whenever I want especially as we cruise out of the UK and to Amsterdam.
Somebody has to look after my Aston Martin, clean it every day and make sure it is looked after. As long as she is careful when she parks her Fiat Uno next to it, I won’t mind.
So, if I get any 2009 news I will of course let you know. Always good to hear from you and take care.
ROB FROM HULK HOGEN AND MEGAN 2 – I am still recovering from my ride so please tell Megan thank you for her concern. It was very interesting reading your comments about Europe. This is the third season I have been here and now I see so many ships from virtually every line docking alongside us. The dollar is very weak as you said ( I should know as I am paid in dollars and 1 dollar = bugger all pounds ) but it is so great to see so many people from the U.S and Canada booking long haul trips to come out here despite the dollar.
We are also seeing a lot of people from Australasia and, along with Europeans themselves, it seems that the article is correct that: the time to book is now.” For the first time, next year, Carnival will have 2 ships in Europe, the Carnival Freedom and the Carnival Splendor, along with the corporation’s other lines Princess, Costa, Aida, P&O, Seabourn ,Costa and Holland America.
Thanks for the article mate and I wish you and Megan 2 all the best.
SOUTHERNDREAMS – Watching leaves grow on trees, sounds fun. Can you video it for me please or have Prince Charles do it for you. Hope things get a little less exciting, you must be exhausted.
BILL ( ZYDECOCRUISER) – I just saw the photo of BP and AJ’s house, it looks beautiful. The only thing missing is a photo of you outside with a placard saying “Call John.” I meant to ask you by the way, Zydeco Music. It is something I have never really listed to. If I, or other bloggers were to start, whom would you recommend?
Hope all is well and look forward to seeing your next posting and a photo of you camped out outside the mansion.
SPYROS – I think your comments on dining room dress code are what most people would think is acceptable. On formal night and no shorts and T-shirts etc on the other nights but a relaxed and casual dress code acceptable. This may not be what Carnival executives agree with but it certainly seems to be what the majority of the guests want. Having dinner at the same table with the same waiter every night also seems to be more popular than the other style of dining based on the feedback I have received both on this blog and from the many guests I talk to each and every week. I am sure the folks at HQ are reading everybody’s thoughts and comments and as this blog gets more and more readers I am sure they appreciate reading first hand what everyone is thinking. Thanks again and please keep reading.
VJROMANO1 – Thank you for your posting voicing concerns with your booking. I understand from it that your 79-year-old mother has become less mobile since the booking and may now need wheelchair assistance and a special needs cabin. I would like you to forward me your booking number and names of your party so that I can see if there is anyway in which we can help you. Please get this to me ASAP. ( Roberto – please look out for this ).
As for the tours, that is the last thing you need to worry about now. When you get onboard, let’s chat about what Mum can and can’t do so I can give you up to date advice about what’s best for her. Look forward to receiving your information. All the best and send my best to Mum.
ROBERT – You are correct, the beautiful Kathie Lee Gifford was the godmother. I have no idea when you first cruised with me. I am guessing the Sensation in 1993? Let me know mate.
CAPTAIN CHUCK – The first and most important thing I want to say about your comments is “Can You Save Me A Pork Chop.” I love pork chops, I really do and so does my Dad. He could eat pork chops every day if he could and I guess I grew up with that as part of my staple diet ( or non-diet as the case may be ).
I understand your comments also about folks who miss the ship. While it is an uncommon event in the Caribbean it is something that happens a lot in Europe with transatlantic flights etc. I see from your story that the service provided by the cruise line that you did not want to mention was less than satisfactory when this happened to your parents and that is a real shame. Carnival has in the distant pass had some concerns with this but now we have a professional network of staff and agencies who are there to assist when these unfortunate incidents occur. Still, that other line’s loss is our gain as I see from your comments that you are now truly a dedicated CCL cruiser and we will strive to make sure we continue to improve in all guest service areas.
Thanks again Captain and I like my Chops well done.
JOHN – I don’t want to make the same mistakes as BP mate, what do you suggest ?
MATT AND VIKKI TILL – I am so sorry but how was I to expect a 4-year-old cruised on the QE2. How lucky you were, when I was 4 we went camping in Bogner Regis and my dad got chased by a dog and it rained so much that we had to move into a friend’s Caravan. I apologize because I thought that you were in your 4o’s or something when you cruise back then. Now I feel silly.
I also guess by your reference to a Periscope that you were on submarines, can you tell us more? I have so much admiration for submariners, you (they) are indeed a special breed.
I am sorry that I will not be with you for your New Year’s Eve cruise. Todd (the CD) will provide you with a lot of fun and while it is not necessary to bring him gifts I can tell you he loves needle point and knitting so anything “pattern”-wise will be the perfect gift.
Your comments on dress code are interesting and well taken. I think we all agree that there should on cruises of every length be at least one formal night and that a certain eticat, eticate, eti……………smart/casual dress code should apply. This will allow for a happy medium and is certainly the policy we try our best to ask guests to comply with on board.
The only exception to this is here in Europe. With so many people missing luggage we do allow them to be casual on formal night so they to can enjoy the evening.
I am sure you will enjoy your cruise on the Carnival Freedom as much if not more than the one you took on the Imagination. Thaks again and my best to Vikki.
TAZMAN – I am glad you slapped your comments on again mate as I really had not seen them before because I would have remembered a story about a 6 year old helping the waiters with their work on the Queen Mary.
Although I do not have the final figures as to how many children and teens will be sailing on your July 12th cruise, I do expect there to be quite a few, probably around 300 all told. This cruise we have already seen an increase in the number of families and by the height of the summer I am sure it will be more. This means your family and your friends’ boys will have a great time. May I suggest they go straight to Club O2 which is designed for teens age 15 – 17 and you will probably see them only for dinner and family excursions.
I look forward to meeting you too and the wide-angle lens is ready and waiting. If you need any further information before you sail I will be here. See you soon.
JO MYERLY – You are welcome Jo. Answering questions has become this blog’s first order of business and I am happy to help wherever I can. I was sorry though to hear that you have given up on going to Formal Night parties because you say you cannot get a seat and that no non-alcoholic drinks are served. If this is true (and I am sure from your experience it is) then we must improve immediately and I will forward your comments onto some at HQ in food and beverage to make sure the entire fleet sees where improvements need to be done, especially with the drink situation.
I do hope that we never completely do away with formal nights, I think we should have one if for no other reason then that it allows many people the chance to really “dress up,” especially when most restaurants and clubs and even work environments are more relaxed toward dress. I am interested though, even though you do not go to the formal party, do you still go to the dining room that night? I hope so, it would be a real shame if you did not. I will make sure here that no- alcoholic drinks are always available and I shall await your next posting with great interest. My best regards to you and the family.
PAM – Congratulations on joining me and many others on the bloggers cruise. I am glad Heidi is not here, even the mention of the four legged things would send her running for the hills. You asked about Heidi’s favorite colour. Well, she likes blue, but sometimes she prefers me to wear the red ones with the flap at the back and occasionally, especially on Thursdays, she likes me to wear black ones with the go faster stripes down the side.
As for candy, she loves starburst and M and M’s but considering you are from Australia that would be W Ws.
I am really excited you are sailing in January and I will do my best to make sure it’s the best time ever and no spiders. Please keep reading the blog thingy.
BOB MEANS – I want to start with the credit you are waiting for with regard to the transfers you did not use because of missing the ship. I am upset that you have heard nothing since APRIL and that is not good enough. I am sure there is a simple explanation because our Guest Relations Department is the BEST in the business. I am pausing now to forward your comments to the director of the department.
Ok, I just forwarded this to her and I will let you know ASAP what is happening as we must sort this out and my apologies for the delay.
Sounds like you had a great cruise on the Carnival Pride and now you have done ten, which means you have Platinum status so congratulations. I am pleased you ran into Jeff and Becca. They are both wonderful people and Becca did a great job in the shipyard looking after the cast while Heidi and I were setting up the ports etc.
Although I have no news or dates regarding future cruises to Australia and South America, I am sure that these are locations that are being considered even if not for a few years. The world is Carnival’s oyster after all. Have you considered sailing Alaska? You may have already done this but if not I think it is worth considering. Anyway, I am keeping both ears to the ground and I will update you as soon as anything comes my way.
Thank you also for the AJ link. I am going to send a request, I have a feeling we are getting somewhere with this. My best to you and Emily and I will work hard to get your concern sorted.
MARK – I hope this comment reaches you before you fly to Rome so I can wish you and Shelly a safe flight. Please leave me a note when you get here at the Information Desk. See you soon.
THE JOHNSTON4 – I see the kids love seeing the photos of where they are going and the ship so here is a special one just for them. Thanks for the kind words and I am, as you say, very dedicated to making this blog thingy the best because I know it can help so many cruisers.
Here you go kids.
Carnival Freedom in Dubrovnik
ESSEXMAN – sorry, I must have put the wrong photo of my mate Alan Adkins, here is the correct one.
Correct photo of Alan Adkins
Thanks Bill. I have been to the Chelmsford ground myself and remember the days of watching Graham Gooch and company. Thank you also for your nice words about the blog. I do as many as I can but it is not possible to do one every day just from the sheer amount of questions I answer. See you soon mate.
CLAIR – It is appropriate that I finish today’s Q and A with your comment that BECAUSE OF THIS BLOG YOU HAVE BEEN INSPIRED TO RETURN TO CARNIVAL AFTER CRUISING WITH OTHER LINES………………….I WISH YOU COULD SEE THE SMILE ON MY FACE.

So, you are off on a cruise on the Carnival Liberty and you asked about tours. I am going to lead you in the right direction and because of your comment I intend to make sure you have the best time ever. Can you tell me a little something about you and the folks you are sailing with and what you like to do, active tours, sightseeing, beach etc. Once I get this information I will start working on the best package for you. Hope to hear from you soon and thanks for making a tired man happy.

That is the end of today’s Q and A. I will answer all the comments from yesterday’s blog as soon as I can.

Just spoke to Heidi. She is having some quality time at home and that is good to hear. She gives so much to the job when she is onboard and as I mentioned above, it’s time for her to become a home maker and hopefully a Mum as well. Anyway, she will be here in 4 days so not long now.

I have been having fun at my friend Alan’s expense. He will be joining us on the Bloggers Cruise and I am sure he will be anxious to share stories with you about our teenage years. Just in case he does and for some weird reason you want to hear them, I thought I would share one of many with you now.

Alan and I were staying at a bed and breakfast in the heart of England having visited a theme park called Alton Towers. It was a typical English B and B with our room looking like something straight out of a Laura Ashley catalogue. We had a great day on the rides etc and were sitting down to dinner provided by the landlady a Mrs. Bridges……..strange that I remember her name!
Anyway, we were 19 and both had been brought up to be polite and we had certainly been that way since staying at The Wild Duck Bed and Breakfast. Mrs. Bridges took a bit of a shine to us and we were enjoying our stay. So, that night during dinner Alan asked Mrs. Bridges where the “local nightlife was on a Saturday night .” She looked at us and said she would write down the name of the pub and directions. As we drove it seemed strange that she would send us to a place quite far away but we trusted her and looked forward to spending the evening talking and …well….getting to know the locals. We arrived at the pub, a non-descript place called The Queen’s Head. We heard loud music coming from inside, the car park was full and we were quite excited and in we walked……………………………and………………we knew we were in the wrong place.
Have you ever seen one of those old cowboy movies where the villain walks in and everyone stops what they are doing and looks at him……………That is how we felt as 50 pairs of eyes, male eyes……all male eyes turned and looked at us. Some were dancing together cheek to cheek, and I mean the lower cheek to cheek. Alan and I stopped in the door way. It did not take Sherlock Holmes to deduce that Mrs. Bridges had thought that, as we were sharing the same room, and because we were so polite, that we were….well…………more than friends and therefore needful of a night out with others of our persuasion.
Now, the cool thing to do would to have smiled, turned around and run away, but something told me that this may offend Dorothy and her 49 friends so I walked to the bar and ordered two drinks. A person…………….who……..I kid you not was wearing leather shorts and a t-shirt that, I remember to this day, said “I can’t even think straight .” So, the drinks came and then as the men started to smile at us I shouted to the barman that I had left my wallet in the car and I would be back in a minute. Alan just stared as he saw me disappear into the car park leaving him to pay for the drinks.
I waited for Alan and eventually he followed calling me all the names under the sun. As we drove away, I told Alan to stop and I pointed to the large sign that we had not seen as we drove in. We had read the name but not looked at the picture. It was called the Queens Head but this head although wearing a crown and holding a mite, had red lip stick and a huge mustache.
The sad thing about this was we were so nice and polite that the following morning at breakfast when Mrs. Bridges asked if we “Had a nice time last night” we both nodded and at the same time said “Yes, thank you.”

That was twenty years ago and today we would have thought nothing of it and when we look back we laugh at how naive we were.
Funny though, Alan goes back to the Duck Inn every year and there is now a photo of him behind the bar at the Queens Head.

What does that story have to do with cruising…………….nothing at all but I just wanted to share the odd story of my life before cruising and the great friendship I have shared with Alan, whom, you will all meet on the Bloggers Cruise. He now saves lives as a Coast Guard officer and I am very proud of him as are all his friends at the Queens Head Pub.

Showtime once again and a day at sea tomorrow.

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.