Elizabeth, Mary, Victoria and Carol

June 25, 2007 -

John Heald

Good morning from Athens which has broken the record for temperatures this season with a huge 100 degrees F / 39 C. I hope everyone has listened to my advice and prepared themselves for the heat as I can only imagine how hot it is on the Acropolis.I have had a friend and colleague sailing this cruise. His name is Todd Wittmer and he will be the cruise director on the Carnival Freedom next year once I leave to go to the Carnival Splendor.

He has been on all the tours in all the ports and like me and everyone else who comes to these ports he has been struck by just how different European cruising is.

Todd will be returning to the Carnival Liberty next week and I am certain that he will do a fantastic job. His only problem is that he is not as good looking as me and therefore I know a lot of the ladies (and one or two men) will be disappointed that I am not still on board.

Last night we had a fantastic young (20-year-old) magician named Paul Dabek and he really impressed me and the audience who really gave him a huge ovation. After the show I was told by one of the backstage managers there was a man waiting at the front of the stage to see me. Approaching the man I knew straight away that he was not happy about something and my instincts were right.

Now this is a difficult one to explain and I am going to have to be real careful. Let me start by saying again that this is just one person’s opinion that I am sharing with you and the reason I am is because I want this blog to be (as I have said before) not just about the great and the good but also to report what guests are not happy with.

This guest was not happy. He told me that he thought the show was very unsuitable for his 12-year-old daughter. I was surprised by this as the show contained no bad language or innuendos, not even a “showgirl” costume. The problem was that he thought some of the “magic was celebrating Satan.” Now, this took me by surprise however it was not the first time I had heard this as a similar event had taken place on the Carnival Glory a few years ago concerning the magic show.

That experience led me to believe that this gentleman was of the same religious group as the man I had met on the Carnival Glory so I asked him and confirmed my thinking was correct.

I immediately apologized for any offence caused and stated that none of the magic was real and indeed it was just as it says in the Capers, an Illusion. He said that his daughter had been traumatized by the “girl having swords in her” and that this should never be allowed on a cruise ship. So, I apologized again and then we sat down and I went through all the remaining shows to make sure that there was not going to be anything that he would also consider unsuitable. Unfortunately he had already decided not to bring his family to any of our review shows as he had the Caper heading that said there would be “show girl ” costuming. We shook hands and he left.

Now, here is the difficult bit. I cannot mention the religious persuasion of this guest and I cannot criticize his beliefs and convictions, they are his choice and he is entitled to them. However, it was a shame to hear that unlike the 300 children and teens that are sailing this week that have enjoyed the shows including the magic show, one 12-year-old will not be given the chance to see them.

Time for the answers to the last blog’s (Sultans of Istanbul) anagrams.





Here are today’s:




Here is a follow up from yesterday’s blog:

Starting with a request from a blogger for a tour in Barbados that does not involve enclosed coaches.

Here is the fantastic “4×4 Safari & Paradise Beach” tour which I understand is one of the most popular tours in Barbados.

Here is the fantastic “4×4 Safari & Paradise Beach” tour which I understand is one of the most popular tours in Barbados. Here is the fantastic “4×4 Safari & Paradise Beach” tour which I understand is one of the most popular tours in Barbados.

It certainly looks a lot of fun.

Here we go with a few questions answered. These are not from the Young Sultans blog, which I will do tomorrow.

R-D-C-ette Debbie – Thank you for your comments about free style dining, which you seem a big fan of.
I don’t know if you have read previous blogs where many people sent in their comments and it does seem that people either love it or hate it.
I think it is safe to say that Carnival will remain with its present system which has proved and continues to prove so very popular.
I hope the next Carnival cruise you take, you get a chance to try the Supper Club, because after that I think you will say, you have eaten the best food at sea.
However, disappointingly, they don’t serve baked beans.
Bye for now and carry on camping.
Essexman – You are a real man for smoking a Bolivar cigar as they truly are a very strong and fully bodied example of Cuba’s best.
Can you imagine anchoring (is that a word) the Carnival Splendor off Southend pier? I can just picture asking 3,000 Americans and Canadians to eat a plate of Cockles……….these are sea chitlins. Heidi and I send our best and next time we are home, I will buy you a Rossi’s ice cream.
Hotcopfan – Are you getting married to a hot cop? I see that you are getting married during your Carnival Freedom cruise in April 2008, in the port of St. Thomas. You asked about U.S. Customs, however, you only proceed through a customs check upon your return to Miami. Why did you ask this, are you considering smuggling something in your mother-in-law’s suitcase? You may exit the ship as early as you wish, as there are no customs or immigration checks as the ship is coming directly from another U.S. territory, San Juan, Puerto Rico. I truly hope, I am the cruise director for this special occasion, and I am sure it will be a special day for you and your hot cop. Please let me know if I can be of any further help and if your husband-to-be needs any advice on what to do on his honeymoon night, I will ask my PA 007.
Kencantrell – I am glad that you are enjoying the blog so much and with regards to your question about debarking in Rome one day early, I can tell you this is not a problem. Just let us know and we will make all the arrangements. You mentioned you are going to catch a “military hob” out of Naples. May I ask what this means and where you are going? Thanks for reading the blog thingy and hope to hear from you soon.
Bill zydecocruiser – Thank you for your help with this, Bill. The web cams are a great asset and we can only improve on their abilities which Roger Blum, I know, is working hard on. Very interesting that you mention that there is no Fish & Chips on the Carnival Splendor. I know the Supper Club is in a different position, however, I am not sure exactly where. The Carnival Splendor will be the second of this class, the first one being built for Costa. I am not sure which one or where the Supper Club is located, so I will kindly ask my PA 007 to answer this.
Don’t worry, I am sure you will have your fried oysters, I love them too, especially on Thursday nights.
Sherriff Rosco P. Coltrane – Congratulations mate, on your promotion. We are all very proud of you. I am glad you are transferring to the day shift and please be careful. Your friend always, Boss Hog.
Linda Hernacki – Hello Linda, Thursdays, Mondays and Saturdays are going fine, although, now I am wearing boxers it’s one reason to take them off, which makes me very happy. Hope you and Mike are well.
Stix132 – Now I believe, you are truly addicted to the blog if you are watching me on the big screen from half way around the world via the web cam.
I guess all I can do is to continue to feed your addiction and the only cure is for you to cruise with me soon. Maybe you should cruise for Thanksgiving and you can go Cold Turkey.
Mrs.missingthesmokefreeparadise – Pisa is fantastic but is not non-smoking. 🙂 The Pisa and winery tour is new and is proving to be so popular and always sells out. However, it does not include the tower entrance and the climb of the 400+ steps. What you can do is take the Pisa with Tower entrance tour in the morning and then the Wines of Tuscany tour in the afternoon.
With regards to the Private Vatican tour, this is not always available and depends totally on permission from the Vatican itself. I did check and it is not available on 10/29/07. FYI, the Vatican IS non-smoking.
Hope you and Mr. MTSFPBLFTTNSFCF are well and enjoying the blog. It’s always great to hear from you both.

That’s the end of the Q & A for today. A longer one will be posted soon.

Now, I would like to introduce you to a very special and esteemed guest blogger.

Ladies and gentleman, would you please give a very warm welcome to a lady who has reached the top of her profession and is taking her valuable time to chat with us.


1. Carol, could you tell us something about your career in the Cruise Ship industry and how you reached the esteemed position you find yourself in today?

I started in the travel – tour operating sector, then hotels, and documentary film making – subject matters cultural or geographical. I joined the cruise industry in 1997 as MD of Swan Hellenic, a niche, upscale cultural cruise line owned then by our group. Then, after spells with P+O Cruises and Princess Cruises, I arrived with Cunard and am also now Chair of the UK Passenger Shipping Association.

2. Before we talk about the past let’s chat about the exciting future with the launch of the Queen Victoria. Please can you tell us about the ship and what you think she will offer to the Cunard brand?

Queen Victoria will be a truly classic Cunarder, and I suspect will go down in the history books as one of the finest vessels to wear that distinctive ‘black’ and red livery. Elegance and grandeur, traditional ocean liner interior, with double and triple height spaces, the legendary Cunard Grills experience (the finest accommodation and dining at sea) enhanced still further with a beautiful al fresco dining courtyard, the first theatre at sea with West End style private boxes, and a wonderful 2 deck library with 6000 books, connected with a stylish spiral staircase…you know it was Cunard that placed the first ever library on a ship? Bothnia in 1874… Sorry I’m getting carried away here..but Queen Victoria will be very Cunard and very special.

3. Will the Queen Victoria sail the same routes as her predecessor?

Her maiden voyage will be a new itinerary for Cunard – Christmas Markets voyage to northern Europe. It sold out in a matter of hours! She also undertakes her first world voyage in her first year… You know it was Cunard that ‘invented’ world cruising in 1922…Cunard’s Laconia was the first ship to take passengers all around the world for pleasure…She’ll then offer ex Southampton, England voyages to the Baltic, fjords and the Mediterranean, before heading down to the Med in August for some ‘liner’ voyages between Rome/Barcelona/Venice with some fascinating way ports in between.

4. Now to the pending sale and retirement of the QE2. I saw your interview on Sky News and you were dignified and professional as you always are however I am sure there must have been a touch of sadness hidden behind your calm exterior. The QE2 is one of those rare things that always made me proud to be British. What do you think it is about this ship (even with all the launches of giant vessels every year) that continues to make the QE2 the most famous ship in the world?

QE2. Well, what can I say… She is an iconic ship – a legend in her own lifetime Launched in 1967 when it was said by the analysts that ocean liner travel was dead and she would be mothballed in 6 months because all would fly instead .. Well how wrong they were – she’s still here and the pride of the airline industry Concorde, is not. She has carried over 2.5 million people and traveled over 5.5 million nautical miles. She has just undertaken her 25th world circumnavigation and has played host to royalty, celebrities, politicians and luminaries. And she still draws crowds of well wishers everywhere she goes. On board she is steeped in stories of the past, played out for all her guests to see through pictures, historic memorabilia and of course her wonderful officers and crew, many of whom have been with the ship for years. So, yes it was certainly a poignant day last Monday, but we all knew it would come one day and I and my colleagues take great comfort in knowing that she and her history will be preserved for future generations in such a first rate way. And I can always pop over and see her if I get lonely!

5. What are the plans to say goodbye to her. Is there a last special crossing or pier side event that will allow her many loyal customers to say goodbye?

We will certainly say goodbye to her in a fitting way. We have planned 4 special voyages – a Round Britain, so she can visit all those ports of her home country to say farewell, a pair of final transatlantics, to be taken in tandem with Queen Mary 2 as an escort of honour, so she can bid farewell to her North American friends and New York, her American home and then of course her final voyage – Southampton to Dubai which will be like no other! Our farewell from Southampton for her will be extraordinary, you can rest assured.

6. The QM2 will now take up the mantle of being “arguably the most famous cruise ship in operation.” She is a magnificent vessel and you must be so proud of her and the facilities onboard. Please can you tell us about your THREE favorite features on the ship and why you think that a Queen Mary 2 cruise is such an amazing experience.

And on to our wonderful flagship, Queen Mary 2. I love traveling on this ship. She has an ambiance all her own, and having now taken several transatlantic cruises can safely say there is nothing quite like it – that feeling of voyaging across the open ocean, as our forefathers did so many years ago, and yet having all the luxuries you would expect in the 21st century – it really is magnificent. So what 3 features would I highlight from the ship? Well, the Queen’s Room ballroom has to be one, when she’s all decked up for our Royal Ascot Ball. It’s a stunning sight – and then when you add to that all our guests dressed in their finery for the ball I am transported back in time to those days of the Golden Age of ocean travel in the 20s and 30s – wonderful! Then I would have to mention the Britannia restaurant – a double height restaurant designed in the style of the old transatlantic liners – enter down the curved staircase into that room and you feel a million dollars! And you are greeted by the sight of a huge tapestry showing a Cunard liner leaving port ready for a voyage with streamers and celebrations – a colourful tribute to what ocean travel is all about. And for number 3 I would pick enjoying the show in the planetarium – the only one at sea. It’s fascinating to me to see up into the stars and to do that whilst on board this glorious liner is something else.

7. If you could host a dinner table on the last transatlantic cruise of the QE2 and you could invite 4 guests from the past or living who would they be and why?

My dinner table. Ok so one of my guests has to be Sir Samuel Cunard. I am fascinated to know why that extraordinary man, so successful with his various different businesses, decided to tender for the risky venture of operating the first scheduled steamship service across the Atlantic to carry the mail, when he was already in his 50s and when by rights he should have been retiring in his native Nova Scotia to enjoy the fruits of his labours. He also had a real social conscience, active in his local area to help the poor and was therefore highly regarded at home so why take on this venture, move to UK and disrupt what was a very successful life? I’d love to ask him that and then be able to tell him just how successful his venture had been 168 years later, and arrange to show him round Queen Mary 2- our latest flagship to show him that his first ship Britannia would fit into the Queen’s Room! Second guest would be Charles Dickens who travelled on Britannia in 1842 and described his cabin as ‘a preposterous box’ and the salon as ‘a hearse with windows.’ I would invite him up to our Queens Grill accommodation on QE2 and for a show in the Grand Lounge and then see what his comments were after enjoying some afternoon tea served by our waiters in their white gloves! Third guest would be Sir Winston Churchill who sailed with Cunard during the war to visit President Roosevelt several times and said that Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth shortened the 2nd World War by a year by acting as troop carriers taking 15000 American GIs at a time over to Europe on their high speed dashes (they were able to travel faster than the U boats send out to destroy them). My last guest would be Helen Mirren to see if she enjoyed ‘living like a Queen’ on board!

8. During the christening and dedication of the Queen Mary 2 you had the privilege of meeting Queen Elizabeth. Can you tell us about that experience and………………….did you practice your curtsey in front of a mirror before meeting her?

Well my predecessor Pam Conover was President when Queen Mary 2 was christened, although I was lucky enough to attend. However, I did meet HRH The Queen on another occasion up at Buckingham Palace when yes I did attempt a curtsy which I think turned out ok as I’m fairly short so didn’t have far to go!

Carol, we are all privileged to have read your comments and thoughts and as we reach 400,000 readers I know this blog will become one of the most popular. We all wish you continued success and I am sure there are many reading this who are thinking now about sailing on what surely is, a totally incomparable experience. Thanks again……………………………………..by the way, does a Cunard cruise director get a complimentary Aston Martin?

So, that is one of many guest blogs that will be featured over the coming weeks. I hope you enjoy them. I have to run to the show now but just before I go…………………….

I had a chat with Anita Dunham-Potter yesterday. You may remember her from the brilliant piece she wrote about this blog thingy on the MSNBC web site. She and her two beautiful daughters are sailing this cruise and are having a fantastic time. Well, she has been a massive supporter of the Angelina Jolie Project and look what she brought me.

A gift from Anita Dunham-Potter

A huge thank you for this Anita. I want to hang this at home in our living room. Heidi suggests using it as a dart board.

Good Night

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.