Good Morning from Izmir, TurkeyIt is now 11 am and it has been a very busy morning so far. We arrived into port where after yesterday’s call at Rhodes where we shared the town with six other ships, it was strange to see us being the only ship in the harbour (spelt correctly) today.

While Heidi was disembarking the guests on their tours to Ephesus, I was on the bridge at 9:30 am ready for a very important drill. This cruise we have a Safety and Environmental Audit and Inspection being carried out by Lloyds Of London. These gentlemen are here to make sure we are all meeting and exceeding the high standards of safety that they require. These inspectors check everything from top to bottom and are very thorough. This morning, we held a full muster drill for the crew only starting with a mock fire where our specially trained fire squads simulated fighting back the flames while other squads cooled the surrounding areas. Then, pretending that the fire was out of control, the order was given to sound the general Emergency Alarm and at that time the crew all proceed to their emergency stations.

Following this, the Lloyds inspectors want to see the operation of preparing and lowering the lifeboats as well as testing the crew to make sure every one of us knows what to do should a real emergency arise. I am happy to say that everything went well and I am sure everyone reading this will appreciate and find comfort in the knowledge that the crew passed the inspection with flying colours (spelt correctly).

Lloyds of London have inspectors based all over the world and are the best at what they do. They are part of the famous Lloyds Insurance Company whose headquarters in the heart of London. I used to work in the old building or “Room” as it was called. Nowadays, there is a brand new building, modern, shiny and in my opinion…..ugly. Anyway, as an 18-year-old, I ran a round the room getting things signed and sitting with the underwriters. It was like going back to the days of Dickens, you had to wear three-piece suits, the underwriters still wrote with quill pens and if you went to the wrong school (like me) then the chances of you progressing were limited.

I remember broking some TLO insurance for cruise ships………TLO, stands for Total Loss Only and I wish I could remember the names of the ships that I used to ask the underwriters to insure…………..maybe it was one of the old Carnival ships, I just can’t remember. I do remember my Director used to give me the tough jobs including getting the underwriters to sign a line (insurance) on tankers and cargo ships who were sailing in the Gulf. Now remember, this was during the Iran and Iraq war when they were knocking the stuffing out of each other…..needless to say, it was never easy to get the underwriters to insure anything in that area and I used to leave the room having been rejected nearly as much at work as Alan and I were by girls.

So …………….I quit and here I am working with Lloyds Inspectors…………………it’s a funny old world.

What else, well the International guests seem to be settling in. I asked someone to find out what Costa does for their many International (should that word have a capital I?) Anyway, I wanted to find out what they did and that meant I needed to unleash someone who could find out the recipe they use on the wonderful ships of Costa.

Who could find this information out…………………well there was really only one person for the job.

Some say that this person has the power to make themselves invisible and that they have one red eye and one green eye, all we know is that they are called PA 007 and here is what they have discovered.

John, They structure their entertainment differently as their customers are mostly Italian, French, and Spanish. Everything is done in five languages (Italian is the first language) including the Cruise Director’s very short intro even the Captain’s talk in his cocktail party. The main shows focus on music, acts are visual (no comedians) they have jugglers or magic shows etc. There is a lot of focus on themed parties and dancing. The cruise staff are high energy and are called “animators” — they create and energize the parties. All this works well with most nationalities but not so well with Middle Americans – Latin Americans love it. That’s what I heard from a colleague at Costa and I hope this helps.

I really enjoyed my Train Spotting conference. I am very excited because I am going bowling tonight and then to Taco Bell afterwards, should be a great night. Congratulations on getting to 500,000 recorded hits on the Blog.

PA007 at your service.

Here are today’s Photos of Ephesus as taken by one of the Dancers, Richard…………..thanks mate

1. Looking down on the Grand Library

1. Looking down on the Grand Library

2. The spot where St. Paul The Apostle Preached His letters To the Corinthians

2. The spot where St. Paul The Apostle Preached His letters To the Corinthians

3. The Entrance to the Emperor’s Baths.

3. The Entrance to the Emperor’s Baths.

4. The Amphitheatre

4. The Amphitheatre

Here the letters from today’s IN THEIR OWN WORDS SECTION.

Starting with this comment that was sent to me via the Purser’s office
6266 Gil Calvo (From Spain) – – To much and loud music
The following comment card was received:
Too much music and so high. This is not a fun ship, is a crazy ship. Music is ok but half an hour or one hour. Not always. SILENCE PLEASE!
OK, SSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHH, I AM WHISPERING………………….HERE ARE THE REST OF THE LETTERS SLAPPED ON VERY QUIETLY

IN THEIR OWN WORDS

IN THEIR OWN WORDS
IN THEIR OWN WORDS

IN THEIR OWN WORDS

IN THEIR OWN WORDS

OH, BY THE WAY, HERE IS THE PRESS RELEASE ABOUT OUR 500,000 HITS……………..BRILLIANTLY WRITTEN BY OUR PR DEPARTMENT

Now, about today’s Q and A…………on my desk I have 98 comments to answer and that’s not including the ones from yesterday’s blog thingy. Therefore, with your kind permission I am going to answer the ones that have a direct question if that is OK with you. I will get back to answering everyone’s comments again tomorrow I promise but as time is short today with shows, past guest parties and the continuing safety drills and inspections, I will just answer certain ones today.

I want to start thought by saying thank you to each and every one of you who took the time to congratulate me on my 20-year anniversary yesterday. Your sincere words meant that yesterday was a special day for me. I would love to reply to each and every one of you but time does not allow for this today so please except this group thank you from Heidi and I.

Some people asked if I really was getting an Aston Martin as I mentioned in the blog. ………NO, that was wishful thinking on my part. I belive though that in the weeks or months to come I will receive a beautiful pin with a diamond on it which I shall wear with pride……………….but if they get me an Aston, well that’s fine as well 🙂

Anyway, here are some of your questions answered.

GREG BALSASARRI – Just wanted to make sure Greg that when you mentioned dining you meant the regular dining room and not the Supper Club. Please let me know. Thanks mate.
BIG ED – I know we have joked over the past few months and had lots of fun doing it but on a serious note, I know it took a lot for you and Mrs. Big Ed to change your cruise plans and for that I will be forever grateful. You are right though, this will be an unforgettable cruise and over the next few weeks we can discuss the plans for this great adventure. Thanks again mate, you will not regret it.
LINDA HERNACKI – Hello Linda. You asked about plans for a second bloggers cruise. There will indeed be one and soon, not yet, but soon I will be taking a poll on when and where people like you would like that to be. For now, I will say have a great day and my best as always to you and my mate Mike.
CAROL SCHOENBERGER – Hello carol, you asked me what ship I used to work in the bar department on. Well, it was Holiday, Jubilee, Celebration and The Carnivale. In fact, have a look at the end of the blog and you will see what was what back then. I am sure our paths crossed and I hope they will again.
RICHARD D – I wanted to drop you a line because I remember when you and the family had to leave the ship suddenly in Greece and I always wondered how you all were. I hope everything is OK now and Heidi and I send our best to you and your family. Bedankt and Doooeeee.
LUV CRUISIN – Hello, I see you are having problems matching the answers to the questions in these sessions. It is really hard for me and I do try to kind of repeat the question when I can. However, your idea to mention which blog I am answering questions from is a good idea and one I shall try and adopt starting tomorrow. I wish I could do so now but I have such a pile on my desk I have no idea myself. Let’s see if this helps. All the best and thanks for the great idea.
ROCHELLE – You asked for photos of crew areas and indeed there are some I will take for you and slap on the blog. Look out for these very soon and thanks for catching up on the blogs. All the best and please keep reading the blog thingy.
BRYAN – Your question is about how I plan the Welcome aboard show…………well, I really don’t. I have three or four versions in my pocket and after 5 minutes of being on stage I pretty much know what version I am going to use. This week for example I went with the shorter show as I new I had a lot of people who may have not understood the verbal humour I was performing and instead switched to making the guests the stars. I was lucky with the people I picked and as always if the guest smiles and looks you in the eye when you are choosing volunteers then usually they will be fun on stage. Apart from that, I just take whatever is thrown at me and see what happens. Hope that answers your question and hopefully soon you will be seeing the show for yourself. Thanks mate.
DAYLE WITH A Y – I see that you say you never posted before so I wanted to say thank you to you for reading the blog since the beginning. I hope you will slap on a question when you need anything as I am here for you. Cheers mate.
EVA B – when I find myself in times of trouble mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom Eva B……………sorry, I have been listening to the Fab Four’s music tonight and your name prompted me to start singing the song. Anyway, you asked if I would be on the Carnival Splendor for its South America cruise. At this time I still do not know and I am waiting for Roger Blum and Chris Prideaux to give me the word……………but, I think so. Regardless, I see that you have booked the Brazilian portion of the cruise and that is going to be a cruise to remember forever regardless if I am there or not so congratulations. Thanks for reading the blog and maybe………….I will see you in Rio.
MELISSASNEU – Thanks for the most wonderful words about the blog thingy. I see you are taking a cruise with me in September so let me answer your questions.
1. Can You take Your Own Suitcase Off……………Yes, if you would like you can keep your bags inside your cabin and leave the vessel anytime from 6 am – 9 am.
2. What Time Do I Need To Be Off The Ship………….as mentioned above, last call is usually at 9 am. Hope this helps in making your plans so please let me know if I can help further. See you in September and all the best.
GODWIN SULTANA AND IRENE VELLA – First of all I am glad to hear that you had such a wonderful time last week onboard but I am very sad lo learn you lost a bag on the way back. I checked with the front desk and they have a record of the tour operator finding a bag on Blue 27 so that could be yours. You need to call our Miami Office – Guest Relations on 305 – 599 – 2600 and describe the bag so you can claim it. Hopefully, it will be yours especially as it contains all your photos. Please let me know how you get on and let me know if I can be of any further help. Mr Sultana, I hope I have raisen your hopes…………raisen…………a little Sultana humour there:) Look forward to hearing from you.
SEWING NUT – thank you for slapping on the latest information on dress codes in the Vatican, I found that very useful. I will see you soon and as I say to all Bloggers, please leave me a note when you arrive so I can call and say hello. Have a safe flight and see you soon.
LINDA THE MOUSE – Heidi will honour your request and slap on a new blog very soon. However, like most celebrations, birthdays, anniversaries etc, there is little time to celebrate as there is work to be done. Last night we really did not celebrate at all but reading all the special mentions from my friends in blog land have really made me feel special……….I will write more about that in a minute. So, look forward to another blog by Heidi soon and many thanks as always for your kind words.
SHARON AND JEFF – Ahhhhhhhhhh, the memories, some of which I will be writing about in a moment. You asked if I will be on the Splendor, just in case you did not read my posting above here it is again for you. At this time I still do not know and I am waiting for Roger Blum and Chris Prideaux to give me the word……………but, I think so. Regardless, I see that you have booked the Brazilian portion of the cruise and that is going to be a cruise to remember forever regardless if I am there or not so congratulations. Thanks for reading the blog and maybe………….I will see you in Rio. So Sharon and Jeff, I hope we get to have some Brazilian fun together………….Heidi just laughed because she is reading over my shoulder and just told me that apparently a Brazilian…….well…………….you know………..anyway, I had better stop now as I could end up in the dog house………..that was a close shave 🙂
TERRI 910 – Hello Terri, how are you. You asked me an interesting question. Do I ever reflect on where my life has taken me? Normally the answer to this would be “no.” I am not really a deep thinker and usually I tend to live for the day and tomorrow and not the past. However, one cannot help reflecting on what has happened to me in the last 20 years and more recently since March and the birth of our baby blog. All I can say is that I am very lucky and maybe when I stop working for Carnival on board ships then I will have time to reflect. One thing is for certain, when I look back in the past, I think, what the hell was I wearing?? All the best to you and Larry.
DEB ROWE – Congratulations on getting your tickets and very soon you will be walking up the gangway. Do you need any other questions answered before you sail? You asked if they have green tea with mint on board. Yes, we do, this tea is available for you at the Viennese Café. Look forward to seeing you in a couple of weeks. Have a safe journey.
LYNN AND MIKE SAGARA – I had to respond to your comment as I remember meeting you and your family like it was yesterday. You asked if you could attach a photo to the blog message. I have asked Roberto to answer this for me as basically I haven’t a Scooby Doo. Thank you for the wonderful memories and my sincere best wishes to you and your family.
WILL – I just noticed that I celebrated my 20th anniversary with your parents yesterday. Therefore, I wanted to pause and wish them many more happy years together. All the best.
LAUREN – Thank you for mentioning Gordon Ramsey’s restaurant. Try the risotto. I love the risotto reference. I actually have a very good friend who is considered the world’s expert in risotto and she enjoys giving her opinion to the chef on each recipe. Hopefully in the winter they will join us so we can take them to dinner at his restaurant in London. Just wanted to say thank you for everything you wrote.
CAROL SCHOENBERGER – What a fantastic posting and sorry that you were getting teary – eyed and you mentioned PMS, which in my house stands for Permanent …….. That’s me, back living with the dogs. Cheers Carol, all the best.
EWAGMA – It won’t be long before we are all together on the Carnival Splendor. You asked if we will get to see the inaugural ceremony. Certainly, if I have anything to do with it, you will. When we did this on the Carnival Legend, the ceremony was on the pier and all the guests were able to look over the side of the ship and watch. In my opinion, guests who have chosen the sail on the inaugural cruise deserve to be part of this special occasion. You also asked if I would be commenting on Shore Excursions. Indeed I will. I will be traveling to all the ports in the first week of April and directly after that I will be posting my comments. I will also give daily brief updates using my new RASBERRY E-MAIL MACHINE, which Roger Blum is sending me soon. See you in 300 and something days…
THAIS & FABIAN – Hartelijk dank voor de lieve woorden vanuit Nederland. Het allerbeste voor jullie en de hele familie!
PATRICIA – I had to reply to you. I saw the words I HAVE NEVER SAILED ON CARNIVAL. Now, I see you love the blog, so what can I do to persuade you to come and see us and experience a Fun Ship cruise? Let me be your guide.
JOHN AND SUSAN IN FRISCO – How kind for you to mention sugar-free candy. It’s very nice of you to offer and any kind will do as my jet pack needs constant refueling. All the best to you both.

I feel very guilty not answering all 100+ comments. Please forgive me as I know I normally answer every single one but the next few days I am going to be very busy here and I did not want too long to go by without posting another blog. I must say, however, that I read each and every comment. So many of you have reminded me just why I enjoy my job so very much and I promise you I will continue to be here for each and every one of you. Thank you for your thoughts, congratulations and heartfelt words which I have just finished reading. On the next blog I will return to answer each and every comment but for now please accept this communal Thank You which is said from the bottom of my heart and on behalf of Heidi.

Here is today’s interview featuring a wonderful Cruise Director from Liverpool. He has been with us for a long time and is someone I have always looked up to. He has a brilliant voice and is a marvelous entertainer. Here is my mate Lenny Halliday.

Lenny Halliday

1. Please can you tell us about your career with Carnival so far? How did you start and when? Originally, I came out on ships in 1982 as a singer/guitarist on a little ship called the Scotia Prince in Portland Maine. Then a chance encounter in Miami with entertainment manager, Arthur Ashton, (a fellow Liverpudlian, and a performer in the Beatles era) saw me work briefly with Paquet Cruises and a month on the Mardi Gras with the legendary Gary Hunter, before returning to the Scotia Prince as Cruise Director just one year later. After 8 years sailing out of Portland Maine, my wife and I decided to get some sunshine again in Miami and Carnival were the team to play for. Also, coming from Liverpool, it seemed inevitable that I would be in the entertainment business. Worked on 19 of the Fun ships so far and looking forward to more to come.

2. What ship are you currently on and what is its itinerary? Right now I’m on the Celebration out of Jacksonville, then over to the Miracle in September out of NY, and the Triumph for Christmas out of Miami. You get around a bit doing this gig! The Celebration sails out of Jacksonville, to the Bahamas and Key West, four and 5-day cruises.

3.Please can you pick two excursions from each port and tell us why you recommend them so much? In Key West, the Catamaran Snorkel Tour, as this is the only way to see the only living coral reef around the mainland USA. One of the six walking tours, such as the Pub Crawl or Tastes of KW. For Nassau the trip over to Atlantis resort with its massive outdoor aquarium, is great for the whole family, and it looks as though the resort will be opening up its beach facilities to our guests very soon. This has only been available to their own Atlantis guests until now. Kayaking is the fastest growing water sport in the world right now, and is a great day for all family members to bond. Swimming with the Dolphins.

4.What are your favorite activities or events that you host and why? The Talent shows, in their various forms around the fleet, have always been a favorite, as it not only gives you the opportunity of making several of our guests into stars, but it is different every cruise, for obvious reasons. All the live stuff that we do, whether walk-about interviews or quizzes live on TV. Again it gives us the chance to go one on one with our guests, rather than addressing them from the confinements of a stage.

5. Fill in the blank please……………..People should sail on the Celebration because It’s the best vacation in the world, with the friendliest service staff you’ll ever encounter

6. What do you enjoy most about being a Cruise Director? Providing, watching and being involved in the fun that we provide our guests, with a young enthusiastic staff. It keeps you young, and on your toes. The challenges are different every day. Variety is the spice and all that. Also, reading John’s blog, and touching base with the other (younger!!) Cruise Directors.

7. Share your favorite story with us that involve our guests and your job? Over 17 years there are soooo many, but the guests who we all see, coming back time and time again, and often because you are the Cruise Director, is always a big thrill. However, the most unlikely occurrence was meeting a fellow cruise director for the first time, (Greg Kneale – now retired from CCL) in 1996, and finding out that his father was my father’s best man in 1950. They had since lost contact, but after a few phone calls, they are both now reunited army buddies, who keep in touch with each other regularly.

8. List your three favorite ports you have visited? Barbados, Maui, Skagway. There’s variety for you!

9. Name three ports you would really like to see that you have never been to? Barcelona (been there but not as a CD), Venice (Been there too but not on a ship) and Sydney (not been there at all, but I have relatives “Darn Onder.”)

10. Finally, if you could introduce on stage any star, alive or not who would it be and why? Paul McCartney or John Lennon. Just to share the stage, play some guitar and vocals with them, as without their inspiration to the kids of Liverpool in the 1960s, I probably would not be here right now. By the way, give peace a chance!

Just before I finish talking about the past, I thought I would share these photos with you. These are rated R for ridiculously dressed, and what the heck was that gold watch?

Me as an Asst. bar Manager on the Jubilee – 1988

Me as an Asst. bar Manager on the Holiday - 1988

Me, Captain Spisa, My sister Suzanne and her husband Paul

Me, Captain Spisa, My sister Suzanne and her husband Paul

Me, Captain Catugno and his family in 1992 on the Fantasy

Me, Captain Catugno and his family in 1992 on the Fantasy

Me and my favorite entertainer Michael Andrew from the Ecstasy in 1993 or 1994 or 1995

Me and my favorite entertainer Michael Andrew  from the Ecstasy in 1993 or 1994 or 1995

To finish, I want to tell you about our trip to Newfoundland as I see we have some people from there. This took place on the transatlantic crossing on board the Carnival Leg-end. We were on our way to St. John’s and were due to arrive at 9 am in the morning. Unfortunately at 6 pm the night before our arrival I was informed that we had a very sick guest who we needed to get ashore as quick as possible. Captain Cupisti who is a wonderful man, took the ship to full speed and informed me that we would be arriving at 11 pm that evening. As usual, I went down to the infirmary and visited with the family of the guest. They were very worried but I promised them that all would be well and we continued on to Newfoundland. At 10:30 pm I went to the bridge for our arrival and to this day, we have never experienced an arrival like this one. It was cold, foggy and damp as we sailed between the two large rock formations that can be found at the entrance to St. John’s. They have a name but at this time I can’t remember. They are full of puffins and sea birds and are quite a sight.

However, this was not the reason the entrance was so memorable. Back in 2003 when we visited on the Leg End a ship at this size had never called there before. As we sailed in through the fog we began to see the headlights of hundreds and hundreds of cars and trucks and as we sailed toward the pier we saw that it was lined with literally a thousand people. Word had gotten out through the local television station and local radio that we were coming in that evening. It seemed that the entire town was there to welcome us. They were cheering, applauding and even singing. Through all of this, the first thing we had to do was disembark our poor guest who needed attention. As he was taken off in a stretcher an amazing thing happened. We could hear the singing of Amazing Grace….it was quite extraordinary.

The guests were waiving and people on the pier were singing and shouting and some were doing the strangest thing I’d ever seen. They were cooking out of the back of their trucks on small BBQ’s; I have never seen this before. The next day the Captain, Hotel Director Shahnaz and I were guests of honor at a huge parade given on the pier. It was a traditional Canadian parade with musketeers and soldiers who reenacted the wars of independence. After this, I had to give a speech and was given the key to the city which sits proudly in my Dad’s office back home. It was a great parade, we were there for 2 hours and I really appreciated the honor. ……actually, all I wanted to do was eat a Tim Horton’s doughnut and go to bed.

It is one of my many treasured memories and I have many more which I look forward to sharing with you. Maybe not for another 20 years but certainly a while longer.

Thank you again for making this a very special day for me and Heidi and as always we wish you and all your loved ones continued happiness.

Good Night.

Your friends,

John & 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.