From Russia With Love

June 27, 2007 -

John Heald

Good Morning Everyone.Today we are in Katakolon and the temperature has cooled down since yesterday in Athens. It’s only 98 degrees today compared to 102 yesterday in Athens. Here is a quick photo from the bow of the ship of the tiny village of Katakolon.

Katakolon, Greece

Last night, I spoke to a lot of people who said the heat was unbearable on the Acropolis, some were adamant that we should have canceled the tour and given refunds. There are times when you just can’t win — it’s too cold, it’s raining and now it’s too hot. Sorry to grumble but it can be a little frustrating as I really can’t control the weather.

However, all of our ports continue to be so popular and 99.9% of the people tell us that they think that cruising through Europe has been one of the very best vacations they have ever had. One of the things I continue to point out is that just how busy these top tourist sites are and to expect large amounts of people. That aside, the feeling of exploring the Vatican, following the Walk Of Life at Ephesus, seeing the incomparable Segada De la Familia in Barcelona, witnessing how time stood still at Pompeii and so much more make these European voyages an historic and unforgettable experience.

OK, let me introduce you to a very important part of the Carnival team. Among his many responsibilities he is responsible for deciding the itineraries of the vessels from a marketing point of view. Where should we send the ships is, of course, so vital, so I thought we should have a chat with my good friend and Vice President of Strategic Marketing and Planning, Mr. Terry Thornton.

Terry Thorton

1. Terry, please can you tell us about your career in the industry and what your in your current position you are responsible for?

I started in the cruise business in 1977…yes, 30 years ago. I’ve worked with several different cruise lines including the startups of two new small ship lines (Sea Goddess and Windstar). I’ve been with Carnival now about 20 years working in the Marketing Department. Currently, I work with the Strategic Marketing and Revenue Management teams. In addition, the entire Sales and Marketing teams work closely together to help make Carnival the most successful company in the industry.

2. You have one of the most important decisions to make within the company as you decide where our ships go. I know being as humble as you are that you will say it also has a lot to do with others as well but ultimately, can you tell us how and why you decide which ports a ship will call at.

There are two very important things to consider in selecting ports of call. It is very helpful if the ports have established a strong consumer appeal (high marquis value). In addition, ports must deliver a wide variety of interesting excursions and activities for our guests…and all within a safe and secure environment

3. Some guests have been asking about Aruba and why we no longer call there. Could you explain the complexities of reaching this beautiful port of call?

We made the very difficult decision to stop visiting Aruba at the beginning of 2007. Aruba is a very good port of call and our guests enjoyed the experience. Unfortunately, Aruba is located at the southernmost part of the Caribbean. For our 7-day cruises, it is only reachable on our ship that sails from San Juan (Carnival Destiny). We decided to replace Aruba on this itinerary to offer some new ports that offer our guests some new Southern Caribbean options. We try to refresh these itineraries every so often to give our guests new port to visit. In addition, this change resulted in a significant fuel savings.

4. The 386,000 readers have been raving about Grand Turk. Why was this an undiscovered port for so long and what is it about this port that has made it so popular.

Grand Turk did not have any significant facilities for tourism until Carnival Corporation & plc assisted the local government with this new development. The port and all the nearby facilities were custom built for cruise guests. It features beautiful beaches, a huge swimming pool. A Margaritaville bar and a wide range of excursions. In addition, the pier is very close to all the activities making it very convenient for guests to explore.

5. Can you tell us your three favorite ports in the Caribbean and why and the three ports that we do not call at around the world that would be on your own personal wish list.

My personal favorite Caribbean ports are too many to list just three. I really love the region and all it has offer. I’m also excited about the potential for the region to provide even more appealing excursions, activities and other new features as we work together with the destinations to meet the needs of our Carnival guests.

In term of a future personal wish list, I would love to have a Carnival ship visit the South Pacific, Australia and New Zealand. While not on our schedule at the moment, you never know where we may go a few years down the road. These are very exciting times at Carnival. Our highly successful Europe cruises are proof positive that the Carnival guests are ready for these great new cruising opportunities…Fun Ship style.

Thank you Terry. Maybe we can do a follow up with Terry later next month so bloggers can ask some specific questions. Hold them for now Ladies and Gents and I will ask for them in a few weeks time.

The answers for yesterdays Q & A are.

CARNIVAL SPIRIT

FINCANTIERI

ORIANA

Here are today’s anagrams

RACLO WARMOL

KINDROBVU

SHATCY FO NOUSEBAR

And on we go with the Q & A for today.

ROBERT – Glad you liked the photo of me and Fatima the Belly Dancer, boy did she have some moves but, strangely enough there was only one person in the photo with a belly and it wasn’t here. As the Carnival Splendor gets closer I will be happy to help all of you out with suggestions on what do before, during and after your cruise. No diet root beer yet but I understand as bringing anything in liquid form on a plane is virtually impossible. Strange that Europeans have not embraced root beer yet. Send my best to Suzaan and hope to hear from you soon mate.
BRYAN – To be “I am Glad’s” from me. Firstly that you had a great Carnival Glory cruise and enjoyed Wee Jimmy the CD and my friend and secondly because you have discovered this blog thingy, even if by accident. I will be hoping that you continue to read this site and if there is anything I can do for you, please let me know.
MRS MTSFP – Are you suggesting that I make spelling and grammatical errors? See, I remembered the question mark. I think the answer is that when I get this recording device I will record a voice file that can be slapped onto the web thing plus some poor sod in the office will type it out and present it on screen as it is now. That way, we get the best of both worlds and I can post more blog thingies and my fingers will start to get some feeling back in them.
The articles that Heidi threw away were incinerated by a team wearing hazmat suits although one pair burst into flames all on its own.
Write soon and my best to Mr. MTSFPBLFTTNSFCF.
JO MYERLY – I know tendering can be a pain but Cannes actually according to our guest surveys, Cannes is our third most popular port on the Grand Med run after Venice and Dubrovnik. I understand that most people prefer written postings as to vocal ones so as mentioned I will offer both starting soon. I just need to find away that enables me to post more and also saves me some wear and tare on the fingers. I am happy that you could open the one with the Belly Dancer, she reminded me of Angelina. Hope all is well in your world. What program are you watching on TV while reading this blog?
STORMIN NORMAN – I did indeed pass on your regards to Duncan and the many crew around the fleet who have had the unique privilege of having you onboard. What we did for those kids was a small act of kindness but it was one of the most rewarding things I have ever been part of. It is always great to hear from you my friend and I hope to do so more often. Aussie, Aussie, Aussie.
VICKI – George the Greek as mentioned is one of the most famous characters in the fleet; there is nobody like him. Sorry, I made you cry with the story of the children from Istanbul………don’t tell anyone but I cried to.
I have tried the low-carb rolls and they are good, however, for me, its all or nothing. If I can’t have real bread then its nothing and if I can’t have an Aston Martin then I may never drive a car again. Thanks Vicki and see you soon.
CAROL SCHOENBERGER – It’s OK, you can mention the word bagel, even though reading about it is as close as I can get to one at the moment. You are correct with the Dame Judi Dench anagram; did you work out the others? As stated above I will indeed continue in written form as I know many people cannot have audio on at work. Therefore tell Simon Legree (your boss) he has nothing to worry about…..except maybe ………………his last name. OK, get back to work and look out for a top ten list soon. All the best Carol.
SHARON423 – Congratulations on getting your tickets for your Carnival Freedom cruise. You asked about a 10 am flight and if you would make the airport in time. The answer is no…..you will have to walk home. Kidding…………………this is a common flight home and we have many guests who take this. You will depart the ship at 6:30 am, be at the airport at 7:30 am and have plenty of time to spare. I look forward therefore to meeting you onboard and if there is anything else you need beforehand, please let me know.
NANETTEALI – Please tell your son a big hello from me and next time he sails he can “hang out ” with me. Give my regards to beautiful Puerto Rico. I miss………let me switch to Spanish…………………………..Mi misso mucho El San Juan Hotelo para el besto foodo in Puerto Rico O.Especiallyo el Negro Beano Soupo.mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, Heidi abler my bottomo is much smellio afterwardso, though…………………..O. Adios mi amigo.
KEVIN – Thanks for the photos mate and just for that I will show reruns the whole crossing of all your favorite shows……….and we can have a coffee and chat about boxers……the shorts that is……….not Tyson and friends.
ADIAS.ANGEL – You requested both audio and visual blogs so that is what we will provide. Roberto and Frank from the office are sending me the tools for this and as soon as I receive it will start to slap on both. Regardless, I hope you continue to enjoy the blog thingy and hope to hear from you soon.
DAVID – I am glad you booked the tours you did as they are some of our very best. You also asked about Naples and if you can walk their on your own. The answer is yes. Naples town center is a few blocks from the ship. The reason we start the tours early as you mentioned is that the best that this area has to offer is not Naples itself (with respect) it is Sorrento, Pompeii and Capri. These places are much further away and you need to take a tour from the ship or privately organized by yourself before hand. There will be taxis but they are not guides and you really should have a guide with you. Now, if you are jet lagged, remember we have an afternoon tour to Pompeii as well as a full tour of Naples both of which will allow you to have some extra time in bed. Hope this helps and if you need anything else I am here for you.
JO WADE – I read your techniques for dealing with stress, in fact I read them twice and have just woken up from a 20-minute nap which was induced by your beautiful words. Usually, when someone has a complaint that is unfounded I just picture them naked. However, I will now try your technique and just fall asleep in the middle of listening to them. Thank you for taking the time to write and I am now picturing myself lying on a beach, there is nobody else around, its just me……………… a full rack of barbecue spare ribs, an extra large helping of curried baked beans and Angelina Jolie gently fanning me with a pair of my boxer shorts and in the distance, I can just see my Aston Martin Vanquish, its black paint shinning in the sunlight and slowly I open my eyes to caress Angelina’s soft skin and then………………I open them and standing there is a 4 foot tall Chinese woman screaming at me and as I run down the beach she is throwing Mahjong bricks at me and my car …………..WAKE UP …ITS JUST A DREAM………………. I think I will stick to picturing people naked.
SHARON R – I need to have a serious chat with your soccer mad daughter about David Beckham. He is a great footballer but who needs David when she can play football with me. Tell her we will have a kick about together on the ship. A lot of people mistake me for David anyway.
I am glad you liked the cooking demonstrations on Disney Cruise Lines and you will be glad to know we have them here as well. They are held in our Supper Club and are a fantastic view behind the scenes of what happens once we order from the menu. I know you will enjoy it. We also have a wine tasting and a galley tour as well so I think we have all the things you seem to enjoy. My best to you and tell your daughter I can bend it like Beckham.
DEB ROWE – Bon Appetite, let us know what you order and how it was.
LOO LOO – Noticed I spelt Lu Lu the English way there. You shall have your podcast. I have no idea how that works but Roberto does and is working on this as we speak. I have never been called “deliciously funny” before……….what flavor am I? Enjoy your walks and bike rides and I hope you also enjoy the continuing blog stories.
KATHY KROLL – know that there were books in the cabin but I had sent you a special edition of the book and had signed the inside for you as had Heidi. We will do so again and somehow we will make sure you get it. I know airfare to London is expensive. Try also calling Carnival and if you want you can try a cheaper hub like Amsterdam, Frankfurt etc and then get a Easy Jet or Ryan Air flight (very cheap) to London……….just a thought. Keep me informed and I am here as always to lend assistance where I can.
A CRUISE BY ANY OTHER NAME – I want to thank you for this comment you posted.
I am slowly reading the blog from the beginning and I do enjoy it. Your enthusiasm has actually made me consider a Carnival cruise where I never had before. You certainly make me want to visit the Med and all its treasures.
I have read a lot of comments like this over the last few months and hearing that my simple words have helped people decide to take a cruise and especially a Carnival cruise whereas before they would not have done, well, lets just say my smile is from ear to ear.
So thank you and I will keep blogging in written form and I hope that when you do decide to take a Carnival cruise you will allow me to assist in deciding what is best for you. Keep in touch and thanks so much.
LEASA – Thank you for your thoughts and prayers for the kids from Istanbul. I have been thinking about them a lot. We are also doing the same for some children in Dubrovnik next cruise. Hopefully, I can take some photos of these children for all to see. I am investigating Anthony’s whereabouts for you and if I am successful I will let you know. Making an audio blog should be easy and then a very much quicker typist. I use two fingers so you can imagine how long this takes. We will provide a written copy so bloggers can choose. Thanks again for your beautiful words.
STACY – Mummy, do not worry, I will make sure you have a written blog so that you can keep eyes and ears on your soon to be three year old as well. Roberto, any idea as to why some folks cant enlarge the photos?
Please keep reading and watching!
JANFRWA – Welcome home Janet and I am happy to hear you had such a great cruise. I agreed with you in a previous blog when I said that the only thing I would change on this incredible run of ports would be to add a sea day at the end of the cruise, it certainly would help guests unwind (is that a real word)?
I know we are going to be doing some pod casting very soon and as mentioned there will always be written copy as well as I want to make sure everyone is happy.
My regards to you and Roscoe P Coltrane and hope you cruise again very, very soon.
HEIDI – BETH – How thoughtful of you to think of the school in Belize by bringing clothes for the children at the Church School. This make you a special envoy, just like my Dad and I am certain that your kind gifts will be greeted with thanks and big smiles. The words you posted were beautiful and I thank you for sharing them with us all. Let us know what happens and Heidi and I send you our best.
PAUL F. PIETRANGELO – It is good to know that you are OK with me posting your very personal and beautifully written comments, we all wish you continued health and happiness. You ask, can I belly dance……………..well, if that means when I dance does my belly move, the answer is definitely yes!
Cheers mate and write soon please.
IVANA – Hello Mrs. Susanek ………..to be. Your wedding day will soon be here and how brilliant that your wedding night will be sent sailing the Caribbean Sea from St.Thomas to St. Maarten. The seas will be calm but if the ship is rocking, we will know why. I will keep writing the blog as you requested but something tells me as the wedding day approaches you may be too busy to read it. As for your hometown of Prague, I have never been but my mate Alan and I intend to go later this year for a few nights away. What should we see? Hope you and Mr. Susanek are both well and hope to hear from you soon.
LINDA HERNACKI – Heidi is here and promises to blog again soon. Thank you also for your kind comments and I am sure you and Mike the mechanic will be Counting down the days until November. There are still plenty of bulbs to be changed. See you then.
I&MsMOM – May I thank you as well for your kind words of gratitude. Those children had the time of their lives. I wish you could have been here to see it.
BIG ED For you I will blog in Video, Audio, VHS, Betamax, 8 Track, Dolby, MP3, Eye Pod, or carrier pigeon. The problem with the photos has been noted and Roberto is working to improve the. …well, something or other………anyway, it’s going to be better. If Mrs. Big Ed says I am just like you then I am in good company and the Three Amigos, you me and Alan are made from the same mold……although ours is a bigger mold. Come on the Bloggers Cruise and I will have the belly dancer (Fatima) perform a private dance in your cabin (while Mrs. Big Ed is entertained by Alan). What do you think?
JOHN FROM MOUNT HOLLY – How are you mate? Congratulations, you got all three anagrams correct. Did you try today’s yet? When I met you and Leona onboard I was struck by how close you were and it was obvious that you relationship was very special as is mine with Heidi, so yes, we have a lot in common. I have two days to rest and then it will be Thursday again and lets see if the boxers have worked their magic. We send our best to you both and wish you were here.
J – JOHN – I am not sure you needed to change your name; you can never have enough John’s on a ship. Now I feel silly hearing how hot it is in Arizona………….is it a dry or humid heat? I am not surprised not too many Brits visit, Mad Dogs an Englishman Who Goes Out In The Midday Sun…..Noel Coward.
CONGRATULATIONS ON BOOKING THE CARNIVAL SPLENDOR.
Heidi and I are very excited that you have done this and I hope she will still be onboard to meet up with you again. I certainly will be and I promise you it will be a cruise to remember. Please let me know as and when you need the advice you mentioned and until then please keep reading the blog.
ESSEXMAN – Thanks mate, I appreciate your kind words about the children. I used to go to a care home with my Mum, Dad and Sister every Tuesday in the summer school holidays and it was always very rewarding as we helped entertain the old folks there. Have you had any flooding there, I hear it’s been pretty bad?
MATT AND VIKKI – Mat, you should start your own blog as you have some great stories. I will hire you as a Maitre D and Vicki as Heidi’s PA which would basically mean they go shopping together. You have made my day by saying I am of average build, although a visit to the Optician may well be needed. Hope you are both doing well and please keep sending in the comments.
LUV CRUISIN – Personally, I would do a jeep tour on Cozumel and save the Dolphin Swim (it is a proper swim) fro Dolphin Cove in Jamaica. These are two amazing tours and I think you and your daughter will enjoy some exciting and memorable times together. Not long now and you will find yourself swimming with these amazing creatures, there is nothing like it. Afterwards, you can go to Dunn’s River falls.
Just to get you in the mood:
Pictures from Jamaica
Pictures from Jamaica
Pictures from Jamaica
BIG ED – looking at the photo you have posted of me from 1992, I ask myself where the years have gone. I now have grey hair and that shirt I was wearing wouldn’t fit around my ankle. Oh, well, there may be snow on the roof but there is fire in the furnace……………………well at least on Thursdays.
Thanks BIG ED.
Mrs. Big Ed, do you have any photos of Big Ed before he was Big Ed when he was Little Ed or even Baby Ed?
BOB HICKLY – Now that is very strange. I just quoted Noel Coward’s same passage a few minutes ago and here you are quoting the same one. Cue the spooky music. I will continue writing the blogs mate and posting when I can audio versions as well as I want everyone to be happy. I have considered a book and hopefully at the end of the year we can put the best of these blogs into book forma long with some new additions. Thanks also for your very kind words and I hope you enjoy your retirement even when you are doing as your wife tells you. Enjoy reading the blogs and hope you will post more comments soon.
KAREN TESSIER – It sounds like a great photo you have as your starting thing picture thing….I don’t know the official wording for it. It makes us all at Carnival feel good to know that people appreciate what we do and I promise you more wonderful memories when you cruise in August.
SEWING NUT – Reading it is then. It seems that the overwhelming choice is to continue with written blogs so as the Beatles said “Let It Be.” Glad to hear you have caught up with the blogs and thanks for slapping on a comment…we missed you.
BOB MEANS – And you are wonderful for being so kind with your words mate. It was an honour (spelt correctly) to have the kids onboard and we hope to do the same in Croatia next week. All the best from Heidi and I.
GIRLDOC – Happy to hear that the information I sent you on Barbados was helpful and I know you will enjoy that tour, it is a fun way to see a beautiful island. It’s my pleasure to provide the blogs and I am thrilled that you find them so entertaining.
BIG ED – As requested, here is a photo of me receiving the photo of AJ and me on the morning show.
a photo of me receiving the photo of AJ and me on the morning show
SCOTT – Thanks for the input as to why some photos appear better than others. Roberto has noted this and we should not have any more difficulties. I miss working alongside Weeeee Jimmy as we really played off each other well and he is a great friend. What can I do to persuade you to join me on the bloggers cruise?
TAZMAN – Your answers are correct mate……..well done. Did you get today’s. you mentioned your driver will be picking you up at 9:30am, which is fine. You will be the last group to leave so its perfect timing. See you soon and let me know if you need anything else before your cruise starts. Cheers until then.
LFTTNSMFCF – Now I am not sure if you are being serious about wearing a surgical mask when visiting Europe because of the smoke but if you are I should point out that like the U.S. smoking in public places is forbidden in Italy and France so you will have no problems there. Heidi is asking for a mask for herself but that has nothing to do with the smoke but is with regards to my no carb diet.
Glad I could help Mrs. MTSFP and see you in October.
LISA AND ELAINE – Thank you for your comments and yep, you are right you have to realize that if 3,000 people are having a great time there is always going to be one who will find something that they feel should be better or different. That was certainly the case with the magic show and the fact that the guest was disturbed by it due to his religious beliefs which of course I respect fully. Now, as for Ocho Rios, don’t worry about walking. There are magnificent tours that involve just a little or none and we can chat about them closer to the bloggers cruise. T-shirts are being made as we speak. All the best and I look forward to seeing you in January.
SHARON R – The Barcelona Neu Camp tour is amazing and your football (soccer) mad daughter will be in heaven as she walks through the dressing rooms, the trophy room and on to the pitch where the likes of Ronaldinhio, Eto, Messi, Henri etc have trod. The tour also has a complete overview of Barcelona itself so everybody should be happy. Thank you for the diet advice. I am being very careful what I eat as subitol is starting to have an effect on me…..I will not go into more details. Give my regards to your daughter and tell her Steven Gerrard from Liverpool is the best player in the world.

That’s it for today’s Q and A………………………………………..more tomorrow.

Yesterday evening I sat with Todd (cruise director I mentioned in yesterday’s blog) in the cigar bar and we chatted about these amazing ports and some of the things he had seen while on the tours. During the conversation we were also listening to the Gavin Ahern Jazz Trio who are simply brilliant. Anyway, a guest approached me and without saying hello, good evening or sorry to interrupt you sat down in the chair opposite and started to talk.

Now, you have to remember that in my job there is no such thing as a day off. My social and working life are one in the same and as soon as I am in a public area I am on duty. I stopped therefore my conversation with Todd and listened to the guest. The first thing that was obvious was he was very, very drunk. I knew this because he was speaking English but it was coming out as Klingon.

I truly had no idea what he was talking about and then it dawned on me as it did Todd. This man was Russian, who was drunk, who was trying to speak English and instead sounded like a cassette tape that was being played on ” very slow mode “. I asked him if he was ok and his response was………to reach over and kiss me ………….he would not stop trying to hug and kiss me. I looked for Todd for help but he was to busy laughing. The man was so loud now that the band had stopped and the whole room was watching………..I stood up to leave and he followed me………he did………he followed me……..his big arms open wide to give me my next taste of Russian Love.

By now, the bartender (Thanks, Alex) had called security and as I waited for them to arrive I continued to play kiss chase with this man. Then when I thought it couldn’t get any worse I hear music…………from Gavin and the trio…………and they are now playing the Theme From Benny Hill…………..you know, the music when he is chasing or being chased by girls………..which would have been fine except I wasn’t being chased by pretty girls in stockings and nurses uniforms…………..I was being chased by Ivor Drunkagallonofvodkaov .

As I ran to the other side of the room he suddenly lost interest in me and then started trying to hug a very good looking lady who was sitting with a group of people and she was not happy and told him to go away in perfect English, but Ivor was oblivious that his ambition to share his love with fellow passengers and me was unwanted. I became a bit concerned when the man the lady that Ivor was now trying to kiss stood up and put himself between Ivor and the lady. So, once again, I gave all to the job and shouted from across the room in what Todd describes as a ” very feminine voice ” oh, oh, oh …………come and get me.”

Seeing my Richard Simmons impression Ivor returned his attention to me and with his arms open wide he started toward me again.

Then, just as I thought he would try and grab me by the Kremlins, security turned up. Ivor recognized that his fun was over and allowed himself to be escorted away from the bar and toward our conference room that is just around the corner from the cigar bar. I called our Russian-speaking purser Christine who when I described what had happened knew exactly what guest I was talking about and his cabin number. He was escorted to his cabin and told by Christine to remain there, which he did as there were no other reports or sightings of an Ivor throughout the night.

Sitting on the other side of this blog, I am sure there are skeptics among you who (and understandably so) are thinking some of these stories are made up…………………….they are not……….really………….you can’t make stuff like this up. I wish you could have seen the whole thing………..Benny Hill would have been proud.

And anyway, I would never kiss a man

I would never kiss a man

Well…………..maybe just once

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.