Freed…ummmmm

January 19, 2008 -

John Heald

The alarm sounded at 5:30am this morning and as I scrambled to turn it off, forcing myself not to roll over and return to the dream I was having about a Bentley, George Hamilton, Uma Thurman and a bucket of soapy water. Then the starfish next to me awoke and the day began with the usual conversation of who is using the shower first and who therefore gets the extra time in bed. Obviously that decision was never going to be made by me so I was instructed that I had 15 minutes to shower and get dressed thus allowing Heidi a full 45 minutes of the allotted hour.

So, that was me, in the shower, the curtain sticking to my back like some overweight and naked superhero’s cape…………Blog Man.

As I dressed and then sat waiting for Heidi to do whatever takes her 45 minutes to do I began to slowly prepare myself for becoming a fully fledged Cruise Director again.

As I was thinking about what was going to happen I was told that Her Royal Highness was now ready and could be seen in public and off we went…………………….to Immigration.

Now, remember I have not been here ( Miami ) for four years and the last time I was here we were still using the old terminal and the amazing structure that I was about to visit was just being dreamt up…………………and it is amazing. Huge public areas, fantastic amenities, a very large area for Immigration checks and proper airport carousels for luggage collection upon debarking the ship. It looks and feels fabulous and now we have an embarkation area that compliments the onboard experience.

Anyway, we passed through Immigration very quickly with the only concern being that the escalator was having a maintenance check performed on it and that was me climbing 45 steps ( yes I counted ) and by the time I got to the top my breathing sounded like a Swedish poorly made pornographic movie………………not that I have ever watched a Swedish poorly made pornographic movie……that’s just how I imagine a Swedish poorly made pornographic movie would sound…………lots of heavy breathing and panting and lots of………………let’s just leave this alone now shall we.

After Immigration it was time to move cabin. Todd left at 6:30am so Heidi and I with the help of our Cabin Steward Ketut moved Heidi’s three suitcases and my one hefty bag to the Cruise Director’s cabin which was being cleaned by a small army of helpers.

I then left Heidi to unpack and went to look at the new debarkation process. Gone are the old colour ( spelt correctly ) tags as now we have a Zone Debarkation system which from what I saw today is a huge, massive, gigantic improvement. Before I sing it’s praises however lets just say it would have been impossible to make it any worse. The old system was dreadful, actually embarrassing and one of the reasons I stopped standing on the gangway to say goodbye to everyone……………I would only have done this if I had been allowed to wear Kevlar body armor and have Hulk Hogan, Mike Tyson and the 101st Airborne Division as my personal security detail. Obviously, we were under a lot of constraints which I will not bother going into because that is in the past. The present however, well that looks very bright indeed. The new zone system is very simple. You state room steward will hand you a tag with a number on it. Those numbers start at 1 ( what a shocker ) and go up to thirty something. This is done completely at random and one of the benefits of this is that you now know approximately what time you will leave the vessel. Gone are the days where you have no idea what colour tag is going to be called and what time therefore you will be off the ship.

Here is how it is going today.

7:00am…………..guests with all their luggage leave on our self assist program
7:40am…………..we began with Tag number 1 which are our Platinum guests.
7:55am………..we began with regular debarkation calling tag number three

As I sit here and type this blog thingy it is 9:05am and we are up to tag number 26 which means we only have 7 numbers to go which means……………..by 9:45am we will have everyone ashore.

This is a huge improvement and means that once again I can stand proudly on the gangway saying a fond farewell to the guests, shake some hands and hopefully get the odd kiss as well.

Here are some photos of the new terminal and our morning view of Miami.

Photos of Miami

Photos of Miami

Photos of Miami

At noon today Roberto and Stephanie from the office will join us to help at the hospitality desk for the Bloggers. All is ready and my only concern is the other 2000 guests who have no idea about the blog. I have arranged a lot of private activities just for the Bloggers but I have to make sure that I do not alienate the rest of the ship. I am sure this will be ok but it is something that I will have to work hard at regardless.

I am sure some of you may have heard the news that one of Carnival’s long standing employees Vicki Freed suddenly left us on Friday to join another cruise line. This was a sudden departure and one that took all of us by surprise. Vicki was very close to the Travel Agent community, many of which read this blog and are wondering I am sure what will happen now.

Although I am not involved of course in forthcoming decisions as to who will take her place, I can tell you that Carnival’s dedicated and award winning sales force will be there for you all and in the weeks ahead you will learn the name of the person who will continue Carnival’s wonderful and everlasting relationship with our travel partners.

I know Vicki spent a lot of time on the road meeting and addressing all the agents………………maybe I can do this………….that would be fun…………I would love to visit all the agents and spread the Carnival word……………as long as you feed me that is. Actually, maybe that is something I should consider…………I could become a marketing ambassador…………that’s it……….my new position…………..Senior Cruise Director and Vice President of Travel Agent Relations…………so, if there are any agents reading this…………..invite me along………….let me tell you why Carnival has been and always will be ……….the best.

Anyway, it’s goodbye to Vicki after 29 years of service and I am sure she will succeed in her new venture……………we wish her well…………..I wonder though………………..how she will feel………….as she sits in her new office at the Port Of Miami…………..and looks out of her window and sees the Carnival Ships………………………..she had better keep a box of tissues on her desk………..I think she will need them.

OK, time to go…………..I will post multiple blogs this next seven days and Roberto and Stephanie will be slapping them on here from the ship. I will do my best to make you all feel like you are here with us and on Sunday I will tell you all how you can be in 2009.

Cheers

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.