A Love of Boats

August 19, 2007 -

John Heald

The kettle is on, it’s 7:39am and so begins a busy day at sea. I thought I would start a blog this morning but I am sure I will not finish it until after midnight. Today is the busiest day of the cruise by far each and every time………….hold on….the kettle is boiling………………………………OK, here I am……..ahhhh tea, the best drink of the day. I have to have mine strong, that means I leave the bag in the cup for a good three – four minutes and then I press the spoon against the side of the cup with the bag between so all the flavour comes out. Heidi on the other hand, dunks her bag in for less than 10 seconds……ucchhhhhh.

Anyway, back to today and here is my day.

9:30am – 10:30am – Morning Show
10:30am – 11:00am – Quick meeting with a guest who has asked for something special this cruise – back to that in a moment
11:00am – 11:45am – Port Information Talk for Venice, Dubrovnik and Messina
11:45am – 12:30pm – Q and A session
12:30pm – 1:00pm – Lunch
1:00pm – 2:00pm – Prepare Carnival Capers and various paperwork
2:00pm – 2:30pm – Department head meeting
2:30pm – 3:30pm – Host game Show
3:30pm – 5:00pm – Paper Work – maybe time for blogging
5:00pm – 6:00pm – Formal party
6:00pm – 7:00pm – maybe time for blogging
7:00pm – 8:00pm – Formal party
8:00pm – 8:30pm – Dinner
8:30pm – 9:30pm – The Big Easy Show
9:30pm – 10:30pm – Blogging
10:30pm – 11:30pm – The Big Easy Show
11:30pm – 12:30am – Walk the lounges – maybe 20 minutes in the cigar bar 🙂
12:30am – finish blog and bedtime

Now, that of course is the plan which as sure as I can’t fit in a size small will probably include some of the above but you never know what is waiting for you round the corner……………let us see. OK, the guest who wants something special. That would be Mr. Keith Fahy who has yet again proved that even after 20 years there are something you have not been asked to do.

There is no delicate way of saying this so I will just say that Keith has brought his brother on the ship with him………….in an urn. Yep, he asked permission to scatter his brother’s ashes at sea.

Keith, approached the Purser’s Desk yesterday and asked if something could be arranged and the Purser’s called me…………because I am in charge of Entertainment!

Now, of course I am more than willing to help with this request however it is not as easy as it seems. First of all, there are environmental concerns, you just can’t throw something overboard, even Keith’s brother Wendell. Also, I have to make sure that this is done properly and I mean by that we are facing downwind, etc. Anyway, I am meeting with Keith this morning and I will try and help him arrange this service and make it as special as we can.

You know, ever since I started writing this blog, I worry every night that I will have nothing to write about the next day…………..silly me.

Right, time for the Morning Show so see you later.

OK, I am back and just finished my travel talk, Q and A and now I have a few minutes before the department head meeting. I met with Mr. Fahy and will fill you in with the details shortly (I did mention I would be writing about this on my blog and he has no problem with this) but before I rush off again I wanted to slap on today’s photos.

1. Here is the Carnival Freedom at night in Venice

1. Here is the Carnival Freedom at night in Venice

2. Here is one from the Chic Dining Room

2. Here is one from the Chic Dining Room

3. Here is one of the escalators connecting the Chic Dining Room with the galley

3. Here is one of the escalators connecting the Chic Dining Room with the galley

Here now is the photo of me taken way back in 1994 on the Sensation…………..check out the computer……………don’t I look good in white?

Here now is the photo of me taken way back in 1994 on the Sensation…………..check out the computer……………don’t I look good in white?

And here the letters for today for the “In Their Own Words” section:

1. Loving letter from a guest

1. Loving letter from a guest

2. Another one re American T.V.

2. Another one re American T.V.

3. Bloggers celebrating their anniversary on board the Carnival Freedom

3. Bloggers celebrating their anniversary on board the Carnival Freedom

Let’s start with today’s Q and A which are taken from the blog featuring the last few questions from the blog featuring the Carnival Destiny and as many as I can from the one featuring the Carnival Pride.

AGAIN, I NEED YOUR KIND PERMISSION IN JUST ANSWERING THOSE QUESTIONS THAT NEED ANSWERS TODAY ONLY. I HAVE SO MANY AND I HAVE SUCH A BUSY DAY AND AS YOU WILL SEE I HAVE A REALLY SPECIAL INTERVIEW GUEST TODAY AND I NEED TO MAKE SURE IT IS POSTED ASAP.

I PROMISE THAT NEXT WEEK I WILL ONCE AGAIN ANSWERED EVERY COMMENT AND QUESTION…………THESE FORMAL SEA DAYS ALLOW ME VERY LITTLE TIME TO POST A BLOG……MANY THANKS FOR YOUR UNDERSTANDING.

Thank you for asking how to send e-mails to me via Roberto. I actually only do this if you want to send me something personal that you do not want printed on the blog thingy but would like an answer to…..maybe you have a comment etc. All you need do is start your posting PERSONAL – NOT FOR THE BLOG ……….Roberto will then forward it to me and I will get back to you ASAP. Great news that you enjoyed wee Jimmy so much, he is a real treasure. Wishing you all the best.
MATT AND VIKKI TILL – How are you both? It feels like I have not spoken to you in ages. You asked about the parking in Miami before taking a cruise. I have not been there so here is the link thingy to give you all the latest details. http://www.co.miami-dade.fl.us/portofmiami/directions.asp. Seems a bit expensive to me, – let me check on parking alternatives and get back to you. Hope all is well and Heidi and I send you our best regards.
NICO – I am chasing up your lost item and will report back very soon mate.
JAROBB – Mate, thank you for the kind words and thank you most sincerely for booking the Bloggers Cruise. You asked how your travel agent can register you as a Blogger? Well, later this week a registration form will appear as if by magic on this site and you will then need to fill in a few details and hey presto…….you will be an official blogger and entitled to all the benefits that will make this cruise so special. Look out for this very soon and again, many thanks for booking the cruise, I am very thankful.
TOM AND JANE – You asked if I have ever been in a hurricane on one of the ships. The answer is no. Thanks to the modern satellite equipment onboard and the various technologies that allow us to stay one huge step ahead of its path you will never see a Carnival ship put in that situation. I remember the cruise you are talking about when it was very rough and we followed the cargo ship into Barcelona. I remember posting a picture of it on the blog. I hope by now you have read yesterday’s blog where I went into some details involved in repositioning the ships. The current hurricane has impacted many of our ships, which again I listed yesterday and I will keep you informed as to what is happening. On a lighter note, knowing your friends are huge RCI fans who enjoyed our Carnival Freedom cruise in Europe so much, makes me very happy. Please thank them for me and hearing that they thought I was the best Cruise Director they had ever seen………………………well, let’s just say, I am a happy man tonight. I cannot believe it costs $2,000 to rent an Aston Martin for 24 hours. I guess my dream is even further away tonight. Oh well. All the best to you both and please keep reading the blog.
KAY DUCKWORTH – Good news, I will see you in May.
CINDY – I am ever so sorry to tell you that we do not keep back copies of photos taken during the cruise. I wish I could wave a magic wand and have the airlines find your luggage which contain all your photos. If there is anything else you think I can do for you please let me know. I feel so bad for you.
BRYAN – Regarding the joke I played on Alan. Well, let’s just say he is planning revenge which I am sure will involve much discomfort for me. However, nothing can compare to the feeling of a plastic pipe being rammed up your ^%$# by a 400 pound gorilla. I still owe Alan and will let you know what I plan later. Thanks mate.
NANETTE – I just had to say, thank you so much for your beautiful words which really touched me. I wish I could write in perfect Spanish, but for now I will stick to English and just say thanks.
JIMNI – Thank you for giving me the information I needed to find my dad his railway model. I will researching this after I have posted this blog. You asked me how I broke my nose, I actually tripped backstage over the foot of a prop and landed on the floor hitting my nose on the base of the scenery. The worst part is, Heidi says “It has improved my facial features.” Thanks again and I will let you know if I am successful in getting my dad his Big Boy.
NANCY D – If you are serious about working on board the ships of Carnival, please let me know and I will try and help you. I look forward to hearing from you and maybe you will be lucky and get to work on the ship with me.
DAVE AND BARB – Thank you so much for slapping on your posting. You are right, sometimes its best not to comment any further on some of the things people say. To answer your question, my dad likes working models of trains and has always wanted a Big Boy, so I will be researching on the Internet thing. See you in October. My best to David.
LINDA HERNACKI – Hello Linda. You asked how my diet is going and I must say, pretty well. I know those jelly beans have a lot of calories but I do like them and they are my only special treat. I did not have the potato with the lamb chops as I am still on my no-carb diet. The only treat I need is when I finally shake hands with you and Mike. See you soon.
RICK D – It’s so strange having you post comments while you are here on board the ship. I just spoke to you on the phone and of course I have to tell everyone about my Welcome Aboard Talk. I obviously had leaned on something dirty as when I walked out on stage I could hear Heidi calling my name in such a way, that I realised already, I was in the doghouse. I had no idea why as I had only been on stage for a few minutes. She pointed to my jacket, which was full of grease all over the front. The filthy look I got translated into “I can’t believe you can’t dress yourself before coming on stage.” So, the talk stopped, Heidi ran up to get me another jacket, I stripped off on stage, the talk continued and that was me in the house of dogs. ………I was only released this morning. Rick, have a wonderful cruise and I will talk to you tomorrow.
LFTTNSFCF – I did indeed arrange Halloween to fall on a sea day. Am I good or what? All that’s missing is your spectacular costume. See you soon.
RB GATES – You mentioned that the couple who complained to me in the Supper Club probably planned to get a free meal from the start………you may be right. My problem is, I always think that people would never do things like this, but of course you could be right. You asked a very good question. Do we track behaviour like this? The answer, absolutely. Consistent complainers are documented so that, if similar complaints happen on future cruises we know that maybe these comments are not justified and are made in the hope of receiving compensation of some sort. Now, this list of guest names is very small. Although, I did add the name of Mr. and Mrs. Angry to the list. Thank you again for your wonderful comments and I will keep writing the blog as you requested.
LEASA – You asked who the CD will be on the Carnival Liberty in February. I don’t know, let me find out by asking CHRIS PRIDEAUX ……….. Chris? I will get right back to you Leasa, I hope you enjoyed the blog.

That’s going to have to be it for today. As normal, a huge wave of guilt has swept over me and this is because I have not had time tonight to reply to every comment. Please accept my apologies again and normal service will be resumed tomorrow. If for some reason I have not answered your question. Please resend it, just in case it has been lost in cyber space.

Now, just before our very special guest interview, some of you had asked for my mum’s wonderful recipe for cheese scones. This is a typical English cake and the good thing is, they are sugar free. Here is a photo of what they should look like and the recipe thereafter.

Scones

CHEESE SCONES

1lb SR flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3oz butter
8oz grated cheese
1/2 pint milk

Rub flour and butter together, add salt and grated cheese.
Gradually stir in milk and knead into a dough and shape into scones.
Place in hot oven and cook approx 12 mins.

Today, I am proud to present an interview with a very special gentleman. As you will see, the President and CEO of Princess Cruises has taken the time from running one of the most loved cruise lines in the business, to talk to this humble blog.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I proudly present Mr. Alan B. Buckelew.

Mr. Alan B. Buckelew

1. Please can you tell us about you career in the industry so far and where does your love of the sea come from?

I grew up in Long Beach California, so I enjoyed regular trips to the beach to swim, surf, fish and to go sailing – hence my love of the sea. I attended UCLA where I received a BA in History and Communications. Before I graduated, I enlisted in the Army during the Vietnam War and served in a reconnaissance platoon. After two years I returned to UCLA and shortly after receiving my MBA from UCLA I got my start in cruising at Sitmar Cruises. Within a year the company sent me to Australia to centralize their reservations and accounting operations. I spent a little over a year on that assignment before returning to Los Angeles. I was fortunate to lead Sitmar’s automation program and developed a life-long interest in Information Technology. Even today, I remain very involved in Princess’ automation efforts.

At both Sitmar and Princess I have had the opportunity to run all of the commercial departments as well as the service departments, such as HR, IT and Finance. I have been a senior executive for over 20 years, but I find the challenges of the cruise industry thoroughly invigorating; thus everyday brings new opportunities. With just over 30 years of industry experience I have had the pleasure of watching our industry grow from very humble origins to its current worldwide stature.

2. Princess has become a truly world wide cruise line, with not only world cruises, but ships based in Europe, Asia and Australia. How different is the onboard experience on Princess ships based in these different regions.

One of the hallmarks of the Princess brand is that whatever ship you’re on and whatever destination you’re visiting throughout the world, the onboard product you’ll experience will be distinctly Princess. We don’t make big changes to our product based on destination, but there are small exceptions such as local menu items offered in the dining room like fresh salmon or halibut in Alaska, or local entertainment brought aboard in various ports. For example, this summer as our passengers visit ports in Italy, they’re being treated to performance by a fantastic Italian tenor. But the other main features of a Princess ship, — the service, the main lounge production shows and our culinary product remain constant. And that’s important to us so our passengers will always feel at home onboard..

3.Princess recently inaugurated two very different ships – the 3100 passenger Emerald Princess and the 670 passenger Royal Princess. How different are the itineraries and onboard experience on these two new ships?

The fact we introduced these two ships virtually simultaneously in April says a lot about the Princess brand, and about our commitment to offering our passengers a choice to design their perfect vacation.. Princess is a line that carries a lot of experienced travelers and we know that a part of this loyal group likes smaller ships. So now we have three of these intimately-sized ships in our fleet, which really offer boutique versions of the Princess experience such as alternative dining and lots of staterooms with balconies.

On the other hand Emerald is one of our largest, most amenity-filled ships featuring all the bells and whistles like our Movies Under the Stars giant outdoor TV screen, The Sanctuary private adults-only area, a fabulous spa and a great piazza-style atrium surrounded by dining venues and street-style entertainment .This ship offers our classic Mediterranean itinerary, while the smaller Royal Princess offers more “off-the-beaten path” itineraries that appeal especially to experienced cruisers – places like Ravenna, Italy; Split, Croatia; Kotor, Montenegro; and Canakkale (Troy), Turkey – all UNESCO World Heritage sites. Our diverse fleet of ship sizes enables us to offer something to appeal to nearly everyone.

4. Stein Kruse just told us about “As You Wish Dining” that is being introduced on Holland America. Princess has had “Personal Choice Dining” for many years. Is it basically the same concept? What percentage of guests choose traditional dining, and what percentage choose “Personal Choice”?

We introduced our Personal Choice Dining, or now as its known, “Anytime Dining,” in 2000, after much planning and test trials, because we understood back then that travelers’ tastes were changing, and we wanted to keep up with how people really wanted to dine on vacation. Today more than ever, people don’t want to be told that they have to eat at a certain time or in a certain place so it’s been a great success for us. It was the first time a cruise line had offered its passengers both a choice of the traditional, fixed dining and table dinner seating, plus gave them the option to dine anytime and anywhere they wished. Now it’s evolved to about 2/3 of our passengers dining “Anytime,” while the remaining third wishes to dine the traditional way, with the same dining time, dinner companions and dining steward throughout the cruise.

5. I even hear you offer private dinners on cabin balconies. If I was to choose this option during my upcoming free cruise on the Emerald Princess next year, what would you recommend I have for dinner.

This is one of the really fun ways to dine on our ships. You leave your cabin during the cocktail hour and relax in one of our lounges, and when you return back to your stateroom your balcony is fully set with linen and china, and our attentive dining stewards are there to serve you each course. The menu features lobster or filet mignon – or you can do both! We also serve a balcony breakfast in Glacier Bay which is truly amazing in such an awesome setting.

6. How much of a tie does the old Love Boat still have with today’s modern fleet and do any of the original characters still cruise on the ships?

No matter that we haven’t used the Love Boat officially in our marketing materials for years, we are forever associated with this iconic symbol of the cruise industry – and this is fantastic! Love Boat put cruising and Princess on the map and we know that it still has fun associations for many people.

You probably know that Gavin MacLeod, or the show’s “Captain Stubing,” is still our ambassador after all these years. Last year we celebrated 20 years together, and it’s always amazing to watch Gavin at a public appearance and see how he is still deluged by admiring fans. And Gavin’s TV daughter “Vickie,” real life actress Jill Whelen, got married onboard Caribbean Princess during the 2004 inaugural and christened the ship all in the same evening. So these Love Boat ties remain strong.

7. Is there anywhere that a Princess ship is not sailing that you would want to add to your vast list of destinations. Until this year I would have said the Holy Land, but in 2007 we returned that destination and my family and I took advantage of this opportunity and had an incredible time. Which demonstrates one of the most potent aspects of the cruise industry – we can re-position our ships on an annual basis.

We cruise to all seven continents, but that being said, we’re always striving to come up with new places for our passengers to visit.

8. What is your favorite area of the ship (say the Emerald) to just sit, relax and really enjoy everything that’s good about cruising?

My working day doesn’t leave as much time for personal reading as I would like, so one of my favorite pastimes onboard is to relax on my balcony and catch up on my reading. I have never lost interest in reading history, so my backlog of reading material is always expanding. But when I don’t have my nose in a book, I enjoy sitting in the piazza-style atrium watching the various entertainers and enjoying some tea and a baked goodie from the International Café. It’s also a great spot to people watch.

9. OK, personal stuff now……………CHOOSE YOUR FAVORITES AND FILL IN THE BLANKS PLEASE

BEER, WINE OR SPIRITS Wine; usually red, however I do enjoy a 20 year-old single malt scotch (neat) once in a while.

STEAK OR FISH Steak at home, Fish when eating out

COFFEE OR TEA Coffee in the morning and Tea in the afternoon.

THE LAST BOOK I READ COVER TO COVER WAS…I finished two books a few weeks back, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and the Harvard Business Review on Brand Management

FAVORITE MOVIE The Third Man

IF I COULD LISTEN TO JUST ONE ALBUM FOR EVER IT WOULD BE

Alfred Brendel playing Beethoven’s piano Concerto’s No. 1 and 2 (Chicago Symphony Orchestra)

10. If you were invisible for one day and you could spend your day in one of these locations which one would you choose and why.

THE WHITEHOUSE SITUATION ROOM

BUCKINGHAM PALACE

THE CHAIRMAN OF RCI’S OFFICE

The Whitehouse Situation room. I am not a follower of British royalty so Buckingham Palace doesn’t hold much interest for me, and I am confident that I would enjoy my day at the White House much more than at a competitor’s office – no offense Richard!

———————-

Thank you so much Alan for giving us the chance to see what has and will continue to make Princess Cruises such an outstanding vacation choice for so many people. Bloggers, please may I kindly ask that you show your appreciation to Alan in your comments to follow. I know many of our readers are Princess Cruises fans and I have a feeling after reading this interview there may now be a few more. Thanks again Alan and we wish you continued success.

Not to be morbid but I have to finish this blog with some more information about the gentleman who wanted his brother’s ashes scattered at sea. I have asked permission from him to mention this on the blog and he is more than happy for me to do so. His brother’s name was Wendell and he loved cruising. He had cruised 20 times including seven with Carnival and last year with me on the Carnival Liberty. Tragically, he passed away in May of this year following a long battle with cancer. His last request was to have his ashes scattered from this ship as he was supposed to be here with his wife, brother and other family members. After a long chat with his brother Keith today, we have arranged to do this and I will make this a very special ceremony. As I explained to him though, this is more complicated these days then you would think. There are protocols and parameters involved and here they are.

The ceremony must be performed beyond 12 nm from land and any restricted areas noted on nautical charts and notices to mariners.

At the ceremony date, the Environmental Officer will confirm with the Bridge when the ship is in an area approved for discharge.

The Environmental Officer and/or a Security Officer shall prepare the ceremony area to ensure that the ceremony is conducted in a respectful manner and ensure that a space is cleared for this occasion.

At least one of the two shall be present during the burial.

When conducting the ceremony take into consideration the wind direction to ensure that ashes are blown to the sea and not back onto the ship.

Ashes and flowers may be dispersed but not plastic materials such as plastic ribbons, plastic flowers, plastic urns, balloons, etc.

The ceremony will be logged in the Bridge Log with the date, time, latitude, longitude and family surname.

Should the family desire any additional considerations, the Environmental Officer should contact the ship’s assigned Environmental Superintendent for clarification of any guest request.

So, obviously, this is something that I will have to plan carefully and we have decided to do this on the sea day between Venice and Messina at sunset. This will be a very special service and I hope everything will go well. I have not met the wife yet and I know it will be a very sad moment for her and therefore I will do everything I can to make it very special and private ceremony from one of the crew decks.

I will be thinking of Wendell, his wife and family tonight.

I have been thinking where I would like my ashes scattered. After a lot of thought I would like mine thrown out of the window of an Aston Martin Vanquish S, which is doing 150 miles an hour and driven by my wife Heidi. I am not making light of the subject but it makes you think……….

Finally, it seems humor is not appropriate tonight because Hurricane Dean is about to wreak havoc on the beautiful island of Jamaica. It is one of my favorite places and is also a place that has very weak defenses and I am dreading the damage that Dean could cause. By the time this blog is posted we will know how bad it was and I just hope that my next blog begins with the words “Good news for Jamaica”………but I doubt it as it looks like a direct hit is on the cards.

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.