Holland, America, and Turkey

August 11, 2007 -

John Heald

Good Evening from Istanbul…………………what a day.

Let me start off with yesterday though first and a bit of a problem that occurred involving our in cabin entertainment system, the one that supplies all the movies and TV channels to the cabin. Let me explain what happened. The matrix which supplies the audio feed to …………………..the thing blew up.

Things resulted in the TV channels having full picture but no sound. This lasted for about 8 hours until our engineers repaired the thing that blew up and all was restored to full working order. Now, this happened at 11:00am and by 7:00pm it was repaired. Most of that time people were ashore in Izmir, Turkey and out of the 3488 guests we have onboard we received no complaints that the movies and TV channels had no audio……………………OH, except one………..this one.

Sent: Thursday, August 09, 2007 4:50PM
Subject: 6380 – Angry at no sound on the TV

Mr. ____________ called the Information Desk and started shouting before purser could say hello. He wanted to know why the TV was not working with sound. Purser explained that the ship was having difficulties but it should be better soon. Guest shouted that this was very bad and he demanded money compensation. Purser explained that this was not possible and guest demanded to speak to Cruise Director.

John, please can you call the guest when you have time as he insisted on speaking to you.

So, this morning I met with the guest as he refused to speak to me over the phone. I am not going to bore you with the details but needless to say he was vet upset that he could not watch the news because the ” markets were crashing ” and he needed to check and listen to avoid loosing thousands of dollars. I did explain that MSNBC had a ticker tape running at the bottom but it was hard to get a word in………….he got angry and threw all his toys out of his pram ( that’s an English expression ).

I said I would not bore you with the details but I guess I just did………………..oh well. I asked him what would make him happy and he said ” 1 days refund of the cruise”.

Let us never speak of this again.

So, back to today. I finished the last of the Lloyds Inspections this morning as we were audited about our pyrotechnics procedures. Do you remember that awful incident in Seattle Washington a few years ago. There was a rock concert during which pyrotechnics were used. Unfortunately, this caused a drastic fire, there was allegedly only one exit and this resulted in 9o something people were trapped and tragically lost their lives.

Here, we have strict guidelines on the handling, storage and preparation of these fire work devices as well as a whole specific procedure in evacuating the lounge of 1500 people should there be a fire caused by one of these during our main shows.

These procedures are part of the SMS manual. SMS stands for Safety Management System and one day I will go into further detail about this. However, this morning all went well and the department received a 100% pass on our inspection. This was due to the brilliant team of Technicians I have here and a big thank you to Mr. Eric Hatfield who has put these procedures into place to make sure the Carnival Fleet is at the top of the tree when it comes to Entertainment safety. Thanks Eric.

After the inspection, Heidi and I went out with Alan Adkins and family on a quick trip around Istanbul. It was a great day except ………..well, I will tell you about that later.

Here are some photos from today.

1. The head Of Medusa. This can be found in the underground cistern in Istanbul. It is said that Medusa was taken to Constantinople and buried upside down so she could not use her powers to turn you into stone……………this is a place you really must visit.

1. The head Of Medusa. This can be found in the underground cistern in Istanbul. It is said that Medusa was taken to Constantinople and buried upside down so she could not use her powers to turn you into stone……………this is a place you really must visit.

2. A beautiful shot of the Blue Mosque

2. A beautiful shot of the Blue Mosque

3. The Grand Bazaar

3. The Grand Bazaar

4.Alan Adkins’s Lunch – a traditional Turkish Shish Kebab

4.Alan Adkins’s Lunch - a traditional Turkish Shish Kebab

5. Alan Adkins’s Eating His Lunch – his head has been cut off because some of you may be eating.

5. Alan Adkins’s Eating His Lunch - his head has been cut off because some of you may be eating.





The last one refers to a young man who is sight impaired and I arranged a reserved front row seat for him at each show………..his smile during the shows lights up the room.

It is Q and A time now so here we go AND LET’S START WITH THIS GREAT NEWS.

John Friedman
John and Heidi – the GOOD NEWS is that all tests came out negative for cancer. Please give my thanks to all those who sent positive thoughts, prayers and feelings for my situation. I knew there were prayer chains around the world for me, but to think they were also at sea is great. So, even though my breathing is not good, it looks like I will get to meet you on or after August 29th, and I am looking forward to that. Your blog has helped me stay focused, positive, and hopeful through some stressful times, and I thank you, even thought I know at some times it must be a burden to get it out with all your other responsibilities. I cannot end without at least mentioning that while yesterday was joyous for me, there were thousands who waited for the same results, and did not get good news, and their lives are now quite despondent. We need to keep them in our prayers, for they have a difficult path to follow. Mary and I are looking forward to meeting you and Heidi and enjoying the trip of a lifetime. Thanks again for everything.

Hello Mr. Friedman……that is wonderful news and I am sure all of us here send you our congratulations and best wishes for continued health and happiness. You are correct, many people may not be as fortunate as you but tonight we are all happy to have shared your joyous news. See you both very soon.


BIG ED – I just goggled Monk and actually I think that maybe a good match for PA007, however, I think you may need to look more toward someone a bit more less ” obvious “. The real PA 007 is quite, until provoked and they have the cunning of a Tiger hunting their prey, the sleekness of a Cheetah sprinting towards its goal, the camouflage skills of a Chameleon and when PA007 wants to, they can be as meek and as mild as a Sloth.
Congratulations on all the comments that fellow bloggers are making about you sailing in January. They are all very happy for you and of course so am I mate.
LINDA HERNACKI – yep, that was me 14 years ago, handsome and slim devil was I not? You also mentioned the Grey Hair. You know, this is a strange thing because neither Mum or Dad have grey hair but me, I look a snowy Owl in the winter. Honestly, one morning after delivering the Carnival Destiny which was a tough start up, I woke up and that was me forever the Grey man. I was going to colour my hair but Heidi will not let me……….she says it makes me look like Richard Gere……..JOY.
I know how badly you want Heidi and I to be here for you when you sail and I promise I will do my best to make sure I am here if possible. I want to meet you and Mike and thank you for your support of the blog and because you are my friends.
JO MYERLY – You are welcome. I know that you will love both Sorrento and the Amalfi coast. See you soon.
IVANA – Thank you for the kind wishes for last night (Thursday ). Unfortunately I was interrupted in the middle of my performance by a call from PA007 with some information and hearing PA’s voice deflated the situation. Anyway, talking of PA007 I had a good grin at your choice of something called UGLY BETTY to play the part in the movie. You are the first person to think PA 007 may be a lady, you may be correct………or not………….I will have to Google this Ugly Betty person and see if there is any resemblance. Thanks for the posting and as always thank you for reading the blog thingy.
DEBY – Hello, I remember the Clear Channel group very well and they were a lot of fun. Thank you for the kind words regarding my 20 years and I am not sure if I can make it another 20 but certainly I still love the job so I will keep going for as long as I can………………or Heidi lets me. Thanks again Deby and all the best.
THE BEARS – CARL AND BARB – hello you two Teddies, how are you? I am glad you liked the interview with Wee Jimmy. He writes just like he talks and he has all the talent in the world and could be the best ever. I am sure he will love his bear and give him a big hug from us both but do not lift up his kilt, you may get a shock………even if it’s a small one. My best to you both.
RUS AND NINA FRANKLIN – You sound like you really enjoyed your time with Wee Jimmy on the Elation. As I said above, he has all the right attributes to make him a fantastic CD and in time the best ever. Can you send the note he wrote to Roberto and he will send it to me and I thank you for doing so. I cannot believe he is wearing braces ( suspenders ) like me. People used to call him mini me, but as you saw there is nothing MINI about him now. He is a great friend it makes me feel like a proud father when I here how much you enjoyed his antics. I am glad you had such a great time and next time you cruise we will be altogether on the bloggers cruise……..I can’t wait.
LOIS GREATSCOTTSKI – Thank you for your kind words about potty training Sammy the Dog. Before using the toilet he was doing it on the Poop Deck. I love making new names up for you.
HEIDI – BETH AND KEVIN + 7 – Glad to hear you loved the photo of Wee Jimmy and I, it brings back some great memories. That was taken during our trip to Glasgow on the Carnival Leg End. I am glad you like Kids Corner. It really is a new favorite of mine and I have received 67 pictures so far this cruise and they are all on display at Camp Carnival…………..every one gets a prize. Talking of kids, I send my best to your seven and also to Beth and Kevin………….thanks for everything.
BIG ED – I have done as you requested and its in the big grey file.
LISA AND ELAINE – I think the Mississippi heat has effected your eyesight and given you blurred vision as you described me as handsome 14 years ago and handsome now………I think an eye test is overdue. I said thank you to Heidi on your behalf for the great photos, she loves her purse and now wants a matching red one…….deep joy. You asked about bloggers sitting with other bloggers at dinner and indeed this is definitely something that we will be able to work out. I will at least make sure that everyone is in the same dining room and Big Ed is in his favorite booth. Our best to you both, hope you are enjoying the blog thingy.
ROBIN D – Thank you for reading the blog so much. Please don’t worry about not being able to join us on the bloggers cruise, there will be another one, I am sure. I am glad you enjoyed Wee Jimmy and I am very proud that he is now a Cruise Director. I am glad the cruise feeling is with you when I write this blog, that makes is worth while. The last time Heidi and I were in Boston we had such a wonderful time and I remember eating at a restaurant called Legal Seafood. It was amazing.
All the best and see you soon.
JOHN STEERS – Thank you for your kind words concerning my 20 years. Some of those years were spent working with you in Port Canaveral and I am sure you must be very proud to say you protected the public for 20 years as a police officer. All the best mate and my regards to everybody at P.C.
LFTTNSFCF – Hello Mate. It’s good to see that you are enjoying the interviews with the other Cruise Directors. There are many more to come next week.
I take no offence in your comment that the Cruise Director is not the primary factor in your cruise experience. Indeed, it should not be. However, we Cruise Directors do know that we can set a special tone that hopefully will allow the guests to feel at home. This feeling will then enhance the ability to make friends with strangers and this, as you said, is what you enjoy most about taking a cruise. The fact that you enjoy all the staff and crew is a testament to your endearing personality and I know the crew appreciate it. So, see you in 81 days and as always I wish you much happiness.
NICO R – Having read what you are interested in doing, I think the best thing for you will be to send in your C.V. (resume) to the following person at this address.
David Steedman, Director of Pursers
Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival Place
3655 NW 87 Avenue
Miami, Florida
I think the Pursers Information Desk maybe the best start for you and I wish you all the best and much success.
Please remember, the minimum age requirement is 18 and maybe you can discuss with David your career opportunities. On another note, I appreciate your time in acknowledging the and I agree the tipping system used by the other cruise line you mentioned does not seem a fair one. I look forward to hearing from you in the days ahead.
SOUTHERN DREAMS – You speak for everybody when you say you are happy and excited that Big Ed is sailing on the bloggers cruise, I am too.
I can’t wait to see Heidi was his drawers. :)) I guess I am the only person who has never seen an episode of MONK and will try and do so on vacation.
Hope things are well with you and the Prince and see you soon.
NANETTEALI – Please never feel guilty. I wish I could hear from you 10 times a day. Your comments are always appreciated and I can see what you mean about Olivia’s drawing, it was a wonderful interpretation of her art. How are you all in San Juan? Feels like such a long time ago that you were all here with us. Heidi and I miss you lots. I am pretty certain the picture is from ’93, but those days of the early 90’s are one big blur, so maybe you are right, it may be from ’92. Buenos tardez mia am ego.
KEVIN – Yes, pizza classes, I think it’s a brilliant idea and I have already addressed this with Food & Beverage. Do you know who you spoke to regarding your interview? Please let me know as I will chase this up for you. I think you will be a massive asset to what we do here on board. So, let me know or e-mail it to Roberto Castro and let me see what’s up. I wish you all the best even though you have an Aston Martin and I don’t.
BILL ZYDECO CRUISER – Here we go with the food again. It’s hours till dinner time and your first words Fish & Chips and my stomach sounds like Mount Etna. You asked about the inaugural cruise of the Carnival Splendor. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, the details of this event are not available yet. However, as and when they are I will let everyone know and hopefully we will be able to involve the guests who are on the inaugural cruise experience with us. Back to the Fish & Chips, I think you should have cod, a large portion of chips, mushy peas and a large Wally.
Now, you probably don’t know what a Wally is, so Dad, please go to the fish shop and take a photo of you and your Wally for the thousands of American, Canadian and bloggers from all over the world, who have never seen a Wally. Talking about food, Mum please can you make some Spotted Dick and send me photos of my Dad’s Wally and his Spotted Dick.
Ok Bill, let’s stand by for more information and thank you for another fantastic hunger craving posting.
Oh, by the way Bill, I just saw your photo of the Aston Martin with the steering wheel on the right side. Personally, I don’t care, if the steering wheel is on the left, the right or even if it doesn’t have one at all. I just hope that my reward is waiting for me……..one month’s hire of my dream machine….
The reality is, I will be driving my usual Nissan Micra and I will need a shoe horn to get in and out.
PAUL F. PIETRANGELO – And a very good evening to you Paul. I just read that you have send me a card wishing me congratulations for my 20 years.
You are too kind. Don’t worry about the Italians, they have been the only small group of people who have not been happy that most of the entertainment, fun and activities are in English. I have worked very hard, along with the team on board, to include everybody this cruise and so far it seems to be working. I am glad you enjoyed the interview with Wee Jimmy and to answer your question, I never did and never will wear a kilt. My legs are definitely not built for that, they are more suitable holding up an oil rig. The photos of me all those years ago were taken way before I met Heidi and in future blogs I will slap on a few photos from when we first met. You are correct, Heidi and I do love children and thank you so much as always for all your beautiful words.
GRACE – We will see you on the 17th and just wanted to wish you a safe flight.
NANCY D – Hello Nancy. I see that you have been reading the blog – thingy from the start and have finally slapped on a posting.
How wonderful to see that your first posting is to say thank you and congratulations to me. What you said in this posting has meant a lot to me and I can’t wait to see you on the Carnival Splendor. Sincerely and with kind regards.
BRYAN – I feel like a proud dad, when I read comments like yours about Wee Jimmy. One of the biggest problems when young Cruise Directors are first promoted is that they forget where they came from. By this I mean, they forget why they were promoted and stop doing all the fun things that got them to this position.
This can never be said about Wee Jimmy. Look forward to receiving your letter and good luck moving in to your University dorm. I am sure this will be the best time of your life. Cheers mate.
LISA WIGGS – I am glad you enjoyed the photos of Sammy The Dog. You asked if we can post photos of all the animals available in the Build the Buddy activity. Heidi will be taken care of this in the next few days.
This is not an activity just for children. Anybody can participate. I want to build a bear that has his own jet pack and makes noises from his bottom, Heidi won’t let me, Look out for those photos very soon. Bye for now.
CINDY56 – Cindy, I see you are another fan of Wee Jimmy and also Mark Price and Chris Jefferson. These three Cruise Directors are shiny examples of what a Cruise Director is all about. Thank you for your kind words towards Heidi and I which we will return to you and look forward to the next time you slap something on the blog thingy.
CAROL SCHOENBERGER – I remembered your poor, sad, abused and tormented computer in my thoughts. Hopefully you have not subjected any further liquid punishment towards it. I am glad to hear you are enjoying the Kids Corner section of the blog. We place all the pictures in the library for all guests to enjoy.
Thank you also for mentioning you enjoyed the photo of Roberto Castro, who does so much to support this humble blog.
You asked me if I remember who my Assistant Cruise Directors were in 1992. Honestly, I don’t. I think it may have been Graham Seymour, who is now a very successful Cruise Director with a cruise line that rhymes’ with “moil “….and Larry Galutzo, who has recently retired from his CD position her at Carnival. If you do have a photo, it would be great to see. Wishing you a great day and as always Carol, thank you for everything.
BIG ED – I spoke to Alan and he promised me, he would post a photo of himself in the bloggers album. For now, he wants to be the “grey” man, which is probably the best thing, considering he is so ugly.
KICIASKI – Yes, that was your Aston Martin that Sammy was driving. It sits on top of my desk and sometimes I gaze at it for hours. Heidi thinks I am really sad.
You asked about the fire that was heading towards Dubrovnik, Croatia. This was a very serious fire which at one point looked like it could burn through the old town of Dubrovnik. Fortunately, the fire is now out and we should be ok to call there as normal next cruise. However, it was sad to hear the fire was apparently started on purpose, which is the last thing Croatia needs at this time.
Following your 24 days on board, I feel like I should name the front row after you ” The George and Linda Stand “. Wish you were there now.
VICKI – many thanks for your kind words. I would not change these last 20 years for anything. I am very excited to see that you send me some jelly beans and Heidi is already preparing the cabin with extra sound proofing and extra large bottles of OUST. I will let you know when they arrive, although I expect you will hear the sounds to show that they have indeed arrived. You are very kind and I really say a big thank you to you for the jelly beans, but Heidi does not…
ERIC RTHAYER – Congratulations on booking your Platinum cruise for January on the Carnival Valor. Enjoy all of the perks that comes with being a member of the shiny card club. You mentioned also, you are considering a ‘back to back’ cruise on the new Carnival Imagination. I say ‘new’ because when you do cruise you will not recognize it since your last cruise on her in 1996. If you go back to the previous blog you will see some of the additions which will make sure that the Fantasy Class continues to be the most successful class of cruise ships. Thank you for reminding me of the name of the Lido restaurant. I have not been on the Carnival Imagination for many years, the ship will always hold special memories for me. I got engaged on that ship, I fell in love on that ship, then I met Heidi………..kidding! Oops, too late……………….that’s me in the house of the dogs. All the best Eric.
MILLIE S – You asked how many formal nights we will have on the transatlantic. As people are traveling by plane and this means limited luggage, I have decided there will be just 2 formal night. What do you think? Is this enough? What do other TA cruisers think?
I really am looking forward to meeting you Millie and looking forward to your advise.
RUTH JIMISON – I am glad you are enjoying the photos and Heidi and I will miss Sammy the Dog when he is flown back to his owner from Rome.
I am glad you enjoyed the interview with Wee Jimmy I will pass on your congratulations to him. All the best Ruth, hope you are well.
LAUREN – Well spotted. Yes, that was an ugly tie and pre Heidi. Now, Heidi has an influence on anything I wear, from my socks to my underwear. In some ways, I miss the days when I can wear a green tie with a red shirt.
LAUREN ROSENBERG – It’s great to hear that you will be sailing on the September 22nd cruise, on what will be your first ever cruise. Let me answer you question for you. Personally, I believe you should wait until you are on board, before you book any tours. For experienced cruisers the online service gives people the chance to book ahead of time as they tend to know what they want. However, for you, I suggest you come to my Travel Talks before each port so you know the choices, what’s right for you and I can answer any questions you may have. Please don’t worry about the Highlights of Istanbul, this will still be available when you come on board. You asked about Travelers Cheques in Europe. They can be exchanged on board and 99% of vendors in Italy and Greece will accept Travelers Cheques. In Turkey, you will get much better deals using cash. If you have an ATM card this is the best way to withdraw Euros.
This can be done in any of the Italian and Greek ports. There is plenty of time before you cruise, so please keep sending in your questions, should you have any.
PEANUTS – Wow, I can’t honestly say, I have ever heard of eating fresh perch before. It sounds very tempting and thank you for the invitations and maybe one day Heidi and I will be eating perch on the porch with you. Thank you for ordering t-shirts and I love your new name Peanuts.
Did you hear about the 2 peanuts walking into a bar? One was assaulted. All the best to you and your husband.
BIG ED – The reason you have so many hits on your site has nothing to do with me but is all to do with your dedication and sense of fun, which is contagious.
Congratulations mate!
KEVIN – Same to you mate. It’s people like you who make this blog that extra bit special.
CARL HARMON – Heidi and I just had a good laugh when we read your cast list for the bloggers movie. Especially Eddy Murphy playing the part of PA 007.
I know PA 007, who is helping at the family hot dog stand in Miami, will be laughing when they read this. Thanks to you and the bears.
LINDA HERNACKI – Thank you for voting for me Linda, it is a true honor to be nominated for the Seatrade Insider Awards. I am sure there are many more worthy winners than me unless the prize is an Aston Martin, in which case I should win, I deserve it :)) I can then take Mike for a drive.
THE CHADS – I am glad you enjoyed you enjoyed the interview with my buddy Wee Jimmy. You mentioned Heidi’s photo of the Carnival Freedom with the flowers in front of it. You mentioned it’s worth the price of her new bag…….so that’s worth hundreds of dollars is it?…….for a bag?…….I just don’t understand why we can’t use plastic bags with Carnival written on it. It begins with a C like the bag she has……..and if it breaks I have 3000 spare ones on board, women and handbags, I just don’t understand.
JAMES EMM – I am glad you are changing your flight, it makes a lot of sense and will allow for a more relaxing debarkation. Have a safe flight.
TERRI AND DANIELLE – You are correct, Wee Jimmy and I had a lot of fun on the Carnival Leg-end together. I remember standing him on the front of the ship as we sailed towards Iceland and having him re-inact the scene from the T movie where he shouted “I’m the king of the world”, while I poured buckets of freezing cold water of him. This was all captured live on the Morning Show. I had so much fun working with him and I miss those days. Hope you are both well and hope to have some more fun with you soon.
VICKI AND MATT TILL – I am no good at blowing my own trumpet, but yes, you are correct, thank goodness for Roberto.
CINDY BRUCE – And what a perfect way to finish today’s Q & A. You mentioned that this blog thingy makes you all feel like you are talking to and reading about friends. That to me is worth nearly as much as an Aston Martin…………………….but not quite. Thank you Cindy, for those special words.

That’s the end of today’s Q & A.
I want to thank all of you for taking the time to vote for me for this Seatrade Insider award. I am very humbled by the nomination and win or not ( probably not ) I want to thank you just for thinking of me.

I also have some sad news………….get the tissues ready as I am sorry to announce that I have given up………I am a beaten man and can continue no longer and although it pains me to say it, say it I must……………..I have given up the fight to have AJ as the Godmother of the Splendor. She has not replied to my communications and as I sit here, weeping like a big girl, I know in my heart that we were never meant to be………she has forsaken me for that Brad thing and I therefore sit here today knowing that we will never be together. I will never know what it would have felt like to feel her standing next to me on the stage, her hand gently brushing mine as I pass her the microphone, her soft lips pouting gently as she says ” thank you John ” pausing just that little bit longer as her lusting eyes look at me with that knowing look that says she wants me…………………………..I will never be the same again and she will never know what it is like to be the proud Godmother of a ship belonging to the World’s Most Popular Cruise Line………………..I am beaten…………………………………OH, well, never mind lets move on………….Angelina who.

So, I move now to Catherine Zeta Jones, or do I ? I just had a conversation with PA 007 and PA had a brainwave, a huge massive earth shattering brain wave……and unusually for PA 007 it was not about bowling, train spotting or Star Trek……………it was about a Godmother other than she who will no longer be spoken of in this blog and CZT………….it’s brilliant, topical and she would be an awesome GM……………..and it is……………………………can’t tell you………not yet………..it’s top secret and as it came from PA 007 who is just ………well an normal office employee, I have to be careful and make sure that PA gets the credit. I am therefore going to tell Roger Blum so he can discuss this with the other VP’s and then with Mr. Cahill……………………….stand by.

And now, today’s interview. It is a one of the very best I have ever done and that is thanks to the answers which you will see have been written with flair, passion and show a true love for what this man does. What does he do…………oh, did I not mention that, well he is The President & Chief Executive Officer Of Holland America Line, the one and only Mr. Stein Kruse


1. Can you tell us about your life so far within the cruise industry from the start until where you are now. I also understand you worked in Japan. Please tell us about your journey so far.

I was born in Oslo, Norway and after completing my compulsory military service I wanted to study abroad and ended up attending university in the US. In 1982 I was recruited as a Management Trainee and joined a venerable old passenger ship company, Norwegian America Line. Not that I knew very much about the cruise industry, but I guess they thought the idea of a U.S. educated Norwegian working and learning the many different areas of the cruise business was a good one. I worked onboard their two cruise ships Sagafjord and Vistafjord and in their offices in Oslo, New York and Hamburg. Generally I did what young management trainees are supposed to do – learned the ropes from the bottom up.

As consolidation began to take place in the cruise industry, NAL was acquired by Cunard Line and I worked for Cunard Line in New York until I got a call from an old friend who wanted me to join a fledgling start up cruise line – Sea Goddess Cruises. This company was promptly snatched up by, yes, you guessed it, Cunard Line, and I found myself right back in New York. Fortunately the Cunard Line management must have liked me because, rather than “punish” me for having left, they promoted me and made me Assistant Vice President in charge of Passenger Services. Wanderlust again called in 1989 when I joined another start up cruise company, Seven Seas Cruise Line and moved from New York to Singapore with my New Orleans born girlfriend, soon-to-be wife, Linda, and assumed the role as Senior Vice President, Operations.

The company was jointly owned by a wealthy Japanese investor and a large Japanese shipping company, Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha – (“K” Line) – you’ve probably seen their red and white containers in various ports you’ve visited around the world? Their idea was to develop western style cruising for the Japanese vacationers, but their original business plan had some challenges with it, and after shuttling between Singapore and Japan for a year or so and pointing this out, they made me President of the company and challenged me to fix the problems I had identified. We relocated the company to San Francisco, then a year or so later merged with another small, Florida-based, fledgling cruise line – Diamond Cruise. The company was controlled by a group of Finnish investors and the Carlson Group out of Minneapolis and was headed up by a friend of mine, Mark Conroy. We named the new entity Radisson Seven Seas Cruises; today it’s a well known luxury cruise brand – Regent Seven Seas.

The Japanese owners had by now decided they wanted to exit the cruise industry and asked me to arrange for a sale of their investment in Radisson Seven Seas, which I did. Realizing that I had engineered myself out of a job through this effort, “K” Line asked me to attend the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School and when I re-emerged in the business world I was named “K” Line’s North American Chief Financial Officer, a job I held until Holland America Line called one day and suggested I should consider returning to the cruise industry. I moved to Seattle with my wife Linda and my two children, Victoria and Alexander, to become Senior Vice President, Fleet Operations for Holland America Line and Windstar Cruises. That was in 1999, and in 2003 I was named President and Chief Operating Officer and in 2004 I succeeded the legendary Kirk Lanterman as Chief Executive of Holland America Line. How’s that for a “brief” recap of the past 25 years?

2. You must be very proud to be the President of one of the most recognized names in the cruising world and before we talk about specifics, what is it that makes Holland America so special.

I am indeed very proud of the position I hold, and I really think Holland America Line is a very special company. But it is the one asset type we don’t place on our balance sheet that is the main reason for our company’s longevity, and success – our human assets. A company doesn’t stay around for 130+ years by accident. The 15,000 men and women who work for Holland America Line are truly what make this company so special. I always say, ‘it’s not just about doing things right, it’s about doing the right things.’ This translates into every facet of our business and certainly to the 700,000+ guests who sail with us each year. And, this is one of the many reasons we enjoy the highest repeat rate in the cruise industry.

3. The HAL ships are spread out all over the world. Can you tell us what is the shortest and the longest cruise you offer?

In 2008 we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of our first world cruise which we originated in 1958. And, on Jan 4, 2008, our 1,380-guest flagship, ms Amsterdam sails on a 114-day voyage featuring 39 ports in 29 countries on six continents. The itinerary comprises a true circumnavigation of the globe, cruising nearly 36,000 nautical miles round-trip from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., through the Panama Canal to the South Pacific, New Zealand, Far East, India, Arabia, Mediterranean, Black Sea and North Africa before crossing the Atlantic via Bermuda to return to North America.

Typically our shortest cruises are Pacific Northwest coastal cruises as we reposition to and from Alaska. And, in 2008 we are offering a 3-day cruise on our new Eurodam round trip from New York. So from 3 to 114 days – quite an amazing array of cruise choices.

4. Do you know how many different ports your ships cover in a year?
In 2007 we will visit 314 ports of call in 97 different countries, territories or dependencies. In 2008 we will visit 328 ports of call in 113 countries, territories or dependencies. We truly cover the world.

5. I have heard a lot from guests who have sailed here with me who have raved about your ” Signature of Excellence ” program. Please can you tell us all about what appears to be something very special?

Back in 2003 we took a close and very focused look at all facets of our company and determined that as markets and customers were changing, so must we change. Signature of Excellence began in 2004 as a very innovative $225 million initiative, investing into our product, our services and our brand. And, although the ‘initiative’ was very successful – creating new and distinctive spaces on board and enhancing the overall guest experience – it has become much bigger than that initial effort, and has today become in a way our brand promise. In fact, our company mission now reflects this pursuit of excellence. It is ‘through excellence that we create once in a lifetime experiences, every time.’

6. I have also read that you are starting an open seating dinning plan at dinner. What do you believe are the benefits of this service?

We tested our program, As You Wish dining extensively and received very positive responses from our guests. The benefits are around choice. As You Wish dining is an innovative program that allows guests to choose from the best of both worlds – either traditional pre-set seating and dining times, or a completely flexible dining schedule. One level of the two-tiered restaurant will offer a flexible/open dining service from 5:15 to 9 p.m. daily, and the other will host two seatings; a traditional early and main seating.

7. Holland America has a rich tradition all over the world and obviously in Holland itself. The ships are named from provinces in the Netherlands, which one do guests have the hardest time pronouncing?

That’s a toss up between Zuiderdam and Oosterdam! At the office we have a couple of sayings that help. Zuider is “Zider”, like apple cider. And, we pronounce Ooster ‘oaster’ like toaster, not ‘ooster’ like rooster!

8. Now, I am very excited to hear about the Eurodam which will be a new member of your family. What are the major features of the ship? I also understand that you are starting a blog of your own all about the concept and which will offer updates on the building of the vessel. Please tell us more.

The Eurodam will be delivered to us in June 2008, and she will be a gorgeous ship. While it follows our developed style of evolution rather than revolution it will have many new features – new stateroom designs and categories, new restaurants and dining venues, exciting and elegant shopping and more. I encourage all of your readers as soon as they’re done reading your blog for the day to visit www.eurodamnews.com to learn all about the Eurodam and see it as it is being created!

9. I hear that you cruised on the Carnival Valor. What were your impressions of a Carnival Cruise and did you have fun?

Did I ever! I sailed on Carnival Valor late last year. What a great ship and what a super product. I was impressed with the layout of the ship – it was so easy to get around despite it being a big ship. The food and service was excellent and I loved the entertainment. And people really had fun. It was truly fabulous to see the brand promise of Carnival being delivered in the product and service. Keep up the good work!

10. I know that you are proudly from the country of Norway. So, for those of us who have never been or would like to know more, please can you put your Norwegian Tourist Guide Hat on and answer these questions.

A. What are the three most beautiful and important places to visit in Oslo.
You have to see the Vigeland Park, the Holmenkollen Ski Jump and the Viking Ship Museum. The Vigeland Sculpture Park is absolutely unique. Gustav Vigeland was a Norwegian artist who dedicated his life’s work to creating a city park unlike any other in the world. His “The Little Angry Boy” and “The Monolith” are world class sculptures and you can just walk up and touch them. The Holmenkollen Ski Jump is amazing, and what great views. Our former King Olav, the present King’s father, actually jumped in Holmenkollen. King Olav was a great athlete in his youth. And the Viking Ship Museum takes you back a thousand years to the days when the Norwegian Vikings roamed and pillaged their way around the world in long, wooden boats.

B. I imagine taking a cruise to the Fjords must be very special, does Holland America offer such a cruise and if so why does everyone say it is so amazing.

It’s simply stunning. You can sail for hours into some of the deepest and longest waterways in the world, and then at the end find picturesque villages, waterfalls and scenic beauty untouched by modern development. I have taken friends and my American relatives into some of these fjords and the universal reaction is one of awe.

C. Please let us know one Norwegian food delicacy we should try.
We’re not exactly known for our food delicacies but when in Rome……, I mean when in Norway, do as the Norwegians, and try the multiple ways herring is presented. And if the herring doesn’t completely agree with you, chase it with some Norwegian Aquavit, but go easy on the stuff – it’s like firewater!

11. Finally, fill-in the blanks please.
T.R. Pearson’s amazing book “Seaworthy”; about William Willis’ solo sailings on rafts across the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. What stories!

“Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End”. I took my two kids – I think I had the most fun!
Yes please.
Red Wine, although I don’t turn down a cold beer on a hot day!
What’s Ice Hockey?

I think I’d want to have some real cruise industry insiders for this dinner. I’d ask Warren Titus, former President of Royal Viking Line and the first President of Seabourn Cruise Line to join. He’s over 90 years old now but is still going strong. He’s had an incredible life and is one of my mentors. I’d love to be able to have Micky and his dad Ted Arison together. Although Ted passed away several years ago I’d love to be able to see these two incredibly successful and visionary guys together discussing how far our industry has come, and what tomorrow’s Carnival Corporation will look like. And to ensure we had some really good red-wine served us we should have Bob Dickinson, the long time President of Carnival Cruise Line and another icon of the modern cruise industry attending and acting as sommelier

I would love to see Bob serving the wine and I guess also I will be doing the washing up at that dinner………oh well.

I think all of us agree that that interview was written by someone who truly loves what they do and I am sure that after reading it there will be many of you who will want to pick up the phone and try the Holland America Experience for yourself.

Thank you Sir, I will be forever grateful for your time and wish you happiness, success and lots of herring.

OK, finally, here is something I am embarrassed to tell you. Today, in Istanbul I had one of the worst experiences of my life and it is all Alan Adkins fault. He wanted to go for a Turkish Bath and somehow he caught me at weak moment and persuaded me to go with him………………..what a huge, degrading mistake.

I will just tell you this, I have never been beaten, slapped and spanked like this in my life. I thought I would have a man do this but the baths we went to …………oh know……….its John……….lets bring out Fatima………..and with respect…………the name fit. She was a cross between a Sumo Wrestler and Bulldog who had eaten for days. She poured buckets of soapy, slimy water over me and then brought out a broom…yes a broom……….and started scrubbing me down like a bloody elephant at the zoo………..the water was tepid at first then came the freezing cold water and if I was indeed an elephant’s, thanks to the cold water I was one without a trunk .

Then she threw me ( yep she literally picked me up like a sack of feathers ) onto a marble slab and then got this hose pipe thing and started shoving it in places that are usually EXIT ONLY. Then its scrub, wash, soap, slap, and smack for the next 20 minutes. After the beating, she started giving me some kind of massage on my neck and as those two hands mauled me like a hungry wilder beast I started to cry…………I said “stop, it hurts “………….but the beast just smiled and kept going. From across the room I heard Alan crying like a baby and through my pain that was the only thing that kept me going……….he was in as much pain as me.

Finally, after 45 minutes of which can only be described as ” humiliating ” I dressed and as I left Fatima held out her huge King Kong like hand for a tip. I really wanted to shove the TIP of the brush she had used somewhere…….but instead and in fear of another pasting I gave her 10 euros and ran away………….very fast.

Alan and I are clean, cleaner than we have ever been before. We both said we would never speak of this subject again but I had to share this with you in case any of you are thinking of taking a Turkish Bath. Maybe there are different types, but for me I would rather be stuck in an elevator for 24 hours with Mrs. Mahjong than ever go through this again.

One more thing, tonight, as I walked backstage some of the water from the hose that had been placed up. well you know where, decided to come out and I had to go back to the cabin and change………..Fatima it seemed, would be with me for some time to come.


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.