Good Morning from Izmir, Turkey. Heidi and I have just finished disembarking 2,005 guests on tours and the rest of the guests are slowly disembarking the ship to explore on their own. We actually sold out of every tour for Ephesus as there is obviously a limit to the number of buses we can have here in this part of Turkey. Anyway, it is now 10:58am and as I have an hour before a meeting with the tour operator I thought I would relax a little by starting the next blog.It’s a hot one again with a temperature expected of 101 degrees so again the advice was water, sun cream and sun hats. Most of the tours include free bottled water and I asked the operator today to have all the guides continue to make sure they get the guests to drink lots of water especially at Ephesus where it gets even hotter.

I have taken a lot of supper club bookings for the Carnival Freedom via the blog and am very happy to do. However, if you are sailing on another Carnival ship and you wish to have me make a booking for you in the supper club I am also happy to do so as it will guarantee your preferred time and date to eat. Talking of the supper club, I am going tomorrow night with Heidi before I M.C. the show as it is the anniversary of the day we met. Heidi reminded me of this yesterday in a way only women can and the overtones in her voice suggested that I had better do something to celebrate the fact or else. I thought about taking her out for lunch in Istanbul but then I realized that may also involve the scenario of having to go shopping in the Grand Bazaar afterwards. That place is OK the first time you experience it but after that, it is hell on earth as people from everywhere shove carpets, bags, jewelry and other tempting purchases in my wife’s face. Heidi speaks six languages fluently but unfortunately she hasn’t learnt to say NO in Turkish and the result of this is me being broke and having to carry loads of bags back to the ship like a damn camel. Therefore, the tactician in me decided to be all romantic and offer Heidi dinner in the supper club which has put me well up in the pecking order of romantic studs when the real reason was of course its cheaper and more enjoyable than walking around the Grand Bazaar spending money on stuff that will spend the rest of its life hibernating like a bear…….. in the back of a cupboard………………whose a clever boy then?

Talking about the Grand Bazaar, here a few facts for you about this incomparable nest of vipers. Heidi is going to type this while I make go to my meeting

The Grand Bazaar (Kapalicarsi in Turkish) is one of the oldest and largest covered markets in the world. It was built of wood after the Conquest of Istanbul around an old Byzantine building which became the part of Old Bedesten (Old Bazaar) today, and got bigger and larger throughout the centuries with the addition of new sections and inns. The Bazaar initially consisted of two warehouses only, known as Inner Bedesten and Sandal Bedesten. Later on open streets were covered with doomed roofs, and separate buildings connected to each other. Today it covers an area of approximately 31,000 square meters with its over 3,000 shops (some even say 4,000), 17 inns (Han), 61 streets, over 20,0000 employees, four fountains, 10 wells, two mosques, several cafes and restaurants, change offices, a police station, and 22 gates. It resembles a giant labyrinth and can be a little complicated for the first-time visitor, but after a couple of visits there you can familiarize with it because streets are arranged almost on a grid plan, and shops tend to group themselves according to the type of goods they sell. I love shopping here as there are true bargains to be found. I know John hates it and I think its hilarious watching him huffing and puffing outside a shop waiting for me…..I love my camel. Back to John when he gets back.

Heidi

OK – I am back.

Here is the lucky winner of the NAME THE SPA CONTEST……………..SORRY BIG ED AND OTHERS

‘CLOUD 9 SPA’ SELECTED FROM MORE THAN 24,000 ENTRIES AS NAME FOR LUXURIOUS HEALTH CLUB ON NEW CARNIVAL SPLENDOR

Expansive 21,000-Square-Foot Facility to Offer Host of Innovations, Including Line’s First Spa Staterooms and Suites, Thalassotherapy Pool, Thermal Suite

MIAMI (July 16, 2007) – “Cloud 9 Spa” has been selected as the name for the luxurious 21,000-square-foot health and fitness facility aboard Carnival Cruise Lines’ new 113,300-ton Carnival Splendor, which is scheduled to launch the line’s first Northern Europe cruise program July 13, 2008.

The name was submitted by Gregg Harper of Aurora, Colo., as part of Carnival’s “Name Our Most Spectacular Spa” contest that attracted more than 24,000 entries.

For his creativity in naming the elaborate new facility, Harper will receive a complimentary cruise for two in one of Carnival Splendor’s exclusive spa suites, as well as complimentary spa services throughout the entire voyage.

“Carnival Splendor’s spa promises to be the most elaborate and luxurious at sea and the name ‘Cloud 9 Spa’ truly embodies the feeling of pampering, relaxation and rejuvenation that guests will experience within this spacious and modern facility,” said Christine Arnholt, Carnival’s vice president of marketing services.

Spanning the forward portion of two full decks with large picture windows providing panoramic views of the sea, Carnival Splendor’s “Cloud 9 Spa” will offer a host of innovations, including 68 exclusive spa staterooms and suites – a first for the line – accessible by a private elevator.

Also featured will be a soothing Thalassotherapy Pool covered by a glass dome and featuring heated ionized water and pulsating water jets, along with an elaborate Thermal Suite comprised of four climate-controlled rooms with varying degrees of warmth and coolness.

Guests who book the spacious spa staterooms and suites adjacent to the “Cloud 9 Spa” will receive a number of exclusive amenities and privileges, including unlimited access to the spa and its facilities, priority spa appointments with pre-cruise concierge consultation, use of special “Cloud 9 Spa” logo items such as bathrobes, towels and slippers during the cruise, and complimentary fitness classes. Custom-designed “Cloud 9 Spa” in-stateroom amenity items, as well as personal fitness bands and yoga mats, are also available for use during the cruise.

Seventeen private treatment rooms, including two VIP facilities just for couples, will serve as the venue for “Cloud 9 Spa’s” sophisticated and elaborate menu of soothing and exotic Asian, Middle Eastern, and European-style therapies. A post-treatment area where guests can relax on Asian-inspired beds amidst magnificent sea views will also be featured.

Rounding out the stunning facility will be a full gymnasium with expansive workout areas featuring the latest Lifecycle exercise equipment, including treadmills and weight training, stair climbing and rowing machines. A beauty salon with complete hair and nail services, a men’s barber/grooming area, teeth-whitening venues, and special areas for manicures and pedicures will also be featured.

Carnival Splendor will also offer a wide range of health-conscious dining options, including an extensive salad bar and 24-hour frozen yogurt in the Lido restaurant and gourmet-style selections in the main dining rooms that are lower in calories, fat, cholesterol, and sodium.

Representing a new class of vessel for the line, Carnival Splendor is scheduled to debut from London (Dover) July 13, 2008, with a schedule of 12-day Northern Europe cruises – a first for the line. The ship will then sail on 12-day cruises to the Mediterranean and Greek Isles through October followed by a trans-Atlantic crossing from Rome (Civitavecchia) to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., positioning the vessel for a series of seven-day Caribbean voyages.

Carnival Splendor will then embark on a new series of 14- to 18-day South America cruises before redeploying to Long Beach, Calif., for year-round seven-day Mexican Riviera voyages, continuing the expansion of the line’s West Coast operations.

Reservations are currently being accepted for Carnival Splendor’s various European, Caribbean, South American and Mexican Riviera departures.

For additional information and reservations, contact any travel agent, call 1-800-CARNIVAL or visit carnival.com.

And now, lets move on to some photos.

1. TWO PHOTOS OF THE ACROPOLIS AT LINDOS

TWO PHOTOS OF THE ACROPOLIS AT LINDOS

TWO PHOTOS OF THE ACROPOLIS AT LINDOS

2. THE KNIGHTS OF SAINT JOHN BUILT THESE WALLS THAT SURROUND RHODES, GREECE

2. THE KNIGHTS OF SAINT JOHN BUILT THESE WALLS THAT SURROUND RHODES, GREECE

3. LYNDOS AND THE VIEW FROM ABOVE THE VILLAGE

LYNDOS AND THE VIEW FROM ABOVE THE VILLAGE

LYNDOS AND THE VIEW FROM ABOVE THE VILLAGE

4. FISH AND CHIPS – THE SHOP, MY DAD AND THE PRODUCT, THE PRODUCT ON A PLATE (NOTE THE MUSHY PEAS) AND MY DAD EATING THEM.

FISH AND CHIPS - THE SHOP, MY DAD AND THE PRODUCT, THE PRODUCT ON A PLATE (NOTE THE MUSHY PEAS) AND MY DAD EATING THEM.

FISH AND CHIPS - THE SHOP, MY DAD AND THE PRODUCT, THE PRODUCT ON A PLATE (NOTE THE MUSHY PEAS) AND MY DAD EATING THEM.

FISH AND CHIPS - THE SHOP, MY DAD AND THE PRODUCT, THE PRODUCT ON A PLATE (NOTE THE MUSHY PEAS) AND MY DAD EATING THEM.

FISH AND CHIPS - THE SHOP, MY DAD AND THE PRODUCT, THE PRODUCT ON A PLATE (NOTE THE MUSHY PEAS) AND MY DAD EATING THEM.

Here is today’s “In Their Own Words” section.

In Their Own Words
In Their Own Words

In Their Own Words

In Their Own Words
In Their Own Words

Not too many Q & As today as I appear to have caught up over the weekend.

BIG ED (who else) – Mr. Cahill said he would consider sailing for a few days on the Bloggers Cruise if you and Mrs. Big Ed do as well.
We are going to Jamaica, Cayman and Cozumel
On the Bloggers cruise together, it’s going to be so swell
Big Ed’s not coming though and that really is too bad
I even offered to wash his draws, good grief I must be mad.
So please come Big Ed and bring your lovely wife along
And if you decide to say you will
I will dance for her in a thong
FRANK AND LYNDA HESTER – Welcome home to you both and thank you for checking out this humble blog. Also, a big thank you for the kind words about the ship, the staff and the shows. However, this swapping of seats seems to be something I have yet to get under control as it happened to you in Tuscany. I have since added this protocol to my travel talk and information as it seems to be something that this season I need to make clear.
As for Dubrovnik and the shuttle bus situation. I wish I could say that it has and will improve but that would not be the truth. The fact is that we are not allowed to put any of our staff to work there as per the countries laws. The shuttle buses are controlled and run by the local authorities and it is indeed badly organized. The problem is that there is little or no parking areas for today’s modern fleet of buses in a town that was built in the 15th century. I am sorry to say that the infrastructure can not handle the number of buses needed. Therefore, as we are not able to control them ourselves and not permitted to make any changes I am now advising guests to take a taxi back to the ship. It is a few Euros more expensive but if there are three or four people in a cab the cost is actually cheaper than the shuttle bus.
The problem is that I want everyone to see the beautiful town of Dubrovnik; it’s just a shame that getting there is not as easy as in other ports. On another note I have passed on your thanks and best wishes to Deepak and Greage in the dining room and of course also to Ken. I hope now you will become regular readers of the blog and wherever your next cruise takes you I hope if you need advice or need a smile you will know where to come. My best to you and the family.
ROSA HERNANDEZ – I wish I could have come home with you. Where is home? Anyway, thank you so much for the wonderful comments about your recent cruise on the Carnival Freedom. What was your favorite port? Please write soon.
HOTCOPFAN I have to admit the only reason I knew about Amway was because they chartered one of our ships a few years ago. It was an “interesting” cruise but I got lots of free soap…………….on a rope. Please pass on my best to your “cool” fiancé, is he the HOT COP? In April, I should be back here on the Carnival Freedom for one or two Caribbean cruises before going back across the pond to Europe although as yet nothing is confirmed. Are you considering a cruise in April? If so, please let me know if I can help in anyway.
KAYLOR – Welcome home Kaylor and thank you also for your exceptional words regarding the cruise last week. It’s funny, I was just talking to Frank and Lynda above about the beauty of Dubrovnik and that even with the transportation concerns we have there that the reward is so great once you arrive. If your husband does decide to move to Dubrovnik then let me know and Heidi and I will be over for lunch every time we call there. I just read the article you sent from the Dispatch and now I am famous in Columbia.
MAURO MOSCARDINO – Most of the ports are easily accessible except Cannes where, if you want to go to Monte Carlo, you will either need to take a tour or the train as taxis are very expensive. May I advise that you come to the travel talks onboard that I host and listen to the choice of tours and then the options of doing things on your own and decide then. October is quieter and tours are basically unlimited so you can decide once here. I think October is a beautiful time to cruise so I hope you are excited, it’s going to be a lot of fun. Let me know if there are specific tours or sights you are interested in and I will assist as best I can.
NANETTEALI – I read your posting three times to make sure I was not dreaming and you were indeed talking about me. Oh, my goodness you really have made me blush with pride at your heartfelt words of gratitude. I can only reply by saying thank you for writing them and I just showed Heidi and she says my head will not fit through the door tonight. Thank you so very much and as always you and your family are in our thoughts mi amigo para siempre.
DEBRA HEHN – Now beaches, that’s better than snorkeling, at least I can give you some choices. The nicest beaches without a doubt on the Grand Med run are in Cannes. You can walk to them from the pier and there is a small cover charge of 10 euros. They are beautiful sandy beaches and much better than the volcanic sand that you find in Italy. The only other beach worth seeing is in Messina which is a short taxi ride away (about 10 euros each way). Please remember that in Europe all the beaches are clothing optional so you may see things that you may have never seen before……………I used to go every week but I stopped…………..seen one you’ve seen them both. See you in August and let me know if you need anything else.
TOM AND JANE – did you miss me?
RUTH JAMISON – Great news and another big smile on my face as another friend books the Carnival Splendor’s inaugural cruise. I do not know too many details just yet but I know it will be a fabulous event and will I am sure be a cruise that will stay in the memory forever. If there is anything you need from me before please let me know and please keep reading the blog thingy.
BILL – ZYDECOCRUISER – Yes mate, the Internet was having problems with the worp coil which resulted in a break down of the bridge rectifiers that are coupled to the klingon moon tracus and I had to beam out or be eaten by Big Ed’s underwear which had morphed into a Godzilla like creature.
I am back now though.

GREAT NEWS……………..WE JUST BROKE 450,000 SLAPS IN UNDER 5 MONTHS…………NOW SERIOUSLY, CAN SOMEONE TELL ME IS THAT GOOD? IS THAT ABOVE NORMAL FOR A BLOG? I AM NOT LOOKING FOR PRAISE BUT JUST WANTED TO GET A SENSE OF REALITY FROM YOU OUT THERE…..PLEASE LET ME KNOW.

Here is today’s interview. I thought we would change the pace a bit and let two young people talk about being married and living onboard and working together.

Ladies and gents here are Andy and Sue

Andy and Sue

Andy and Sue

Where and when did you first meet and how long have you been a couple

We met on the Tropicale in August, 1998. Sue was a cashier and I was a casino supervisor. We didn’t get together on that ship however. We ended up meeting again on the Fascination in Dec 2000 which is when we started seeing one another.

What are the best things about working together on a cruise ship?

Andy – The best things are getting to see all the places we’ve been, together.

Sue – We have been to so many places and done so many amazing things together, we will have some great stories for our kids.

What are the worst things about working together on a cruise ship

Andy – The worst thing is living in such close quarters can lead to disagreements and frustrations sometimes.

Sue – Yeah Cabins are small – we don’t get enough space from each other.

Tell us about your job Andy as a Casino Host. What does this involve?

As Casino Host my job is to advertise and promote all aspects of the Ocean Players Club and Casino on board. I run all the tournaments held in the Casino, advice and help guests use our “Cash Out” system (cashless gaming on slots) as well as look after our players whilst gambling in our Casino. Also guests can email the Casino Host on any Carnival ship prior to their cruise should they have any queries, and as a Casino Host I will keep in touch with guests so they can let me know when they will cruise next so we can notify the Host on the guests next ship.

Sue, you are the Head Cashier what your daily responsibilities are.

I hold the main bank for the casino, so I have a lot of responsibility – all the money from the casino channels through me, and I take care of it! I do all the accounting side of business in the casino – I am in charge of the running and smooth operation of the casino cash desk, and the four cashiers who work there. Also the manager Gareth thinks I am his secretary (he he)!

What are your plans for the future?

Andy — We are actually planning on leaving the Fun Ships after this contract and settling down in Edinburgh, Scotland in our new apartment where we hope to start a family. We have a few job offers on the table at this time but have yet to decide which ones to accept.

Sue — I hope to start a family as soon as possible, this is the main reason we are leaving.

As you look back, what has been the best memory you have had together while working for Carnival

Andy — We have many memories, I think mine has to be meeting all the good friends from all over the world over the years as well as getting married on the beach in Hawaii.

Sue – where do I start? From ice climbing on the Juneau ice field in Alaska, to sky diving over the north shores of Hawaii – to scuba diving in the Caribbean – to name a few – oh yeah I did do something else in Hawaii! It will come to me!

Do you think relationships onboard a ship are different to those on land?

Andy — Definitely, living on a ship in a relationship can be more intense as you live together, work together and play together, every couple needs time apart.

Sue — I think life is easier on the ships, as you have no responsibilities, apart from work. It is a lot more intense as you are together all the time.

Sue, what is Andy’s most annoying habit

Which one?! Andy is always hyper active – so if I want to relax and he doesn’t, we don’t!

And finally, why do you think Carnival Cruise Lines is the World’s Most Popular Cruise Line.

Andy — I honestly believe that you will struggle to find a better “value for money” vacation anywhere in the world!

Sue — To hit the nail on the head my family (2 adults and 2 children) came out for their first cruise on the Liberty last year, said it was five-star treatment, they could not believe the value for money you get here. They went home and booked the Freedom for this year. I know where I will be going on my vacations from now on. Also I think Carnival has something for every age group – they are the FUN SHIPS – we have had a great time working here. Thank you Carnival.

So, there you go and as Heidi and I always say, if your love can survive life onboard it can survive most anything.

Just a quick follow up with the story about the ladies who were upset about the fur shop in Rhodes yesterday. They did indeed come and make a complaint saying that they were mistreated by the local authorities and that they should have the right to protest against the fur trade. I have not spoken to the ladies myself yet but will do so tomorrow night and will make sure I am wearing nothing with hair on it. I will let you know what happens.

Heidi and I had a cup of coffee in between the Repeat Guest party with two guests who have sailed with me many times. In fact, they only book a ship I am on so we have become great friends over the years. Their names are Mr. and Mrs. Schiller and Ian Schiller is a pilot for Southwest Airlines. We talked about the first cruise he remembers me from which is the Holiday back in 1991 and we were reminiscing about some of the activities that I used to host back then like:

PILLOW FIGHTING
THE BEER DRINKING CONTEST
THE WET T SHIRT CONTEST (FOR MEN AND WOMEN)
THE MALE NIGHTGOWN CONTEST

I have to say I do not miss any of them (well maybe the wet shirt contest) no really I don’t and it is amazing to think that they were the core elements of what we used to do. The pillow-fighting contest was held on Lido deck and involved various couples sitting on a big slippery pole bashing the heck out of each other on a pole. The winner was the one to stay on the pole while the looser went crashing head first onto a mat that was about as supportive as one of my socks. I wonder why we decided to stop this event. As we reminisced we also spoke about the shows, the food and how really unrecognizable today’s Carnival really is compared to 20 years ago. As I approach my 20-year anniversary I would like to share some stories from the old days every now and then if that’s OK with you.

So, back on the Fantasy in 1992 I remember one of the biggest mistakes I ever made as a cruise director. I had only been in the job a very short time and I must admit I was a bit “cocky” as we say back in the U.K. Anyway, I was in the middle of my travel and shopping talk Nassau, which I did before the ship sailed from Miami and was in full flow about the tours and what to see and where to go doing my usual information dissected with various off the cuff remarks and as the talk went on I realized that there were very few laughs coming from the audience. This puzzled me greatly and then I mentioned about the casino that Carnival used to own in Nassau called Crystal Palace. We used to send guests there during our overnight stay and they would gamble and see the show. The show featured “topless dancers” in a showgirl scenario as well as a big magic and illusion act called Dirk Arthur.

Anyway, I made my usual reference to the show saying don’t worry about the topless dancers because “you have seen one you have seen them both” and then en masse………meaning at the same time……..75% of the lounge stood up and left………they walked out together shaking their heads and muttering words of disgust. I finished my talk in record time and went back to the cabin dumb struck by what I had seen. I called the Chief Purser Mico Cascais and told him what had happened and he said “didn’t you read your memo, we have 1,000 Jehovah Witnesses on board?”…………………………..oops. Well I felt an idiot and indeed I had not read the memo which in the days before e-mail came in written form in a big brown envelope which was sitting on my desk.

I spent the rest of the four day cruise apologizing and making sure I kept my stage time whiter than white but they never forgave me………I don’t think they enjoyed the Male Nightgown Contest too much either.

By the way, just before I go, here is a joke that Captain Schiller shared with me, it is his favorite airline joke.

A plane was taking off from Kennedy Airport. After it reached a comfortable cruising altitude, the captain made an announcement over the intercom: “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. Welcome to Flight Number 293, nonstop from New York to Los Angeles. The weather ahead is good and, therefore, we should have a smooth and uneventful flight. Now sit back and relax. OH, MY GOD!” Silence followed, and after a few minutes, the captain came back on the intercom and said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, I am so sorry if I scared you earlier. While I was talking to you, the Flight Attendant accidentally spilled a cup of hot coffee in my lap. You should see the front of my pants!” A passenger in Coach yelled: “That’s nothing. You should see the back of mine!”

Until 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.