The best of British

February 21, 2008 -

John Heald

I stood on the bridge this morning in Grand Cayman watching 12,000 cruise ship passengers being ferried ashore like an occupying force, armed to the teeth with sun cream and credit cards………….tenders were waiting for another tender to leave …………..I looked out at the gleaming buildings housing banking establishments from all over the world……….you could smell the money…………and it took all of my self control not to go out on deck, grab a bull horn and shout “Please, spend some of the money the ships bring you every day and build a bloody pier!”

But, I didn’t of course and continued with the smooth operation of getting guests ashore. We started at 7:30 am and by 10:11 am we had 3,000 guests ashore………….not bad………..but it could have been so much easier if we could dock……………….I know right now someone is reading this and saying…………”stop whining John” …………. ok………..I have stopped…………but honestly you would think they …….. ok……… sorry…………this time I have really stopped……………for now.

We have been joined in Grand Cayman by the gorgeous Costa Fortuna which is, of course, the same class of ship as the Carnival Freedom………they are identical except the smoke stack is different of course and the Costa Fortuna has more pasta.

It’s great to have a family member with us but strangely we are the only ones as there is no Holland America and no Princess or any of the other sisters for that matter. Instead we have various other ships I can’t be bothered to waste my typing fingers on telling you about.

As you know, Grand Cayman is a British dependant and still has a lot of very British attributes. The cars drive on the correct side of the road, the post is sent through the Royal Mail and there is a British Pub serving national treasures such as Fish and Chips, Bubble and Squeak, Steak and Kidney Pudding ……….but alas………..there isn’t a Spotted Dick insight. Like everything in Grand Cayman these treats are quite expensive but for a Brit away from home they are worth every penny.

Unfortunately this Brit will not be sampling any of the above as I remain onboard blogging and preparing the action plan following our Cruise Director Conference. It’s strange though how a blog can suddenly, out of the blue, take on a theme ……………. and today’s theme is………..being British.

I have met many Brits on the Carnival ships recently and they absolutely love it………………I mean……………..really love it. Before I talk about why, lets play …………..spot the British tourist………………………………… Well, that’s easy.

Firstly find a red-faced man who looks like he has stuck his head in a Microwave ……………he’s a sunburn Brit.

Then, find some one looking up the word “tipping “in a dictionary…………..he’s British.

Look for someone who has just been served a steak covered in freshly picked Baboon Boogers with a side of Yak scrotum but refuses to complain to the waiter …………….. yep………………..British.

So many British people are now sailing with Carnival. They love the food, the zany colours of our interior, the spectacular entertainment and because the US Dollar is weaker than non-alcoholic beer to the Pound, they have money left over to buy a nose hair remover and other gadgets from Sharper Image.

People love the British tourist. We are polite, sunburnt, non-tipping, non-complaining tourists and nobody loves us more than the Americans. Now I know the following does not apply to any of my friends reading this blog but there are some people who still think of us in a fairy stereotypical way. We all wear Bowler hats to work…………that’s if we can get to work with all that fog…………it rains every day (that maybe true) and that at 3:00pm every day the entire nation stops to have a cup of tea and eat cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off. If only that were true and it wasn’t in fact a country where binge drinking is a national sport, David and Victoria Beckham are worshipped as Gods and where parts of our cities are only safe to walk around at night if you have hired a Tank.

Also, it seems that some still think of my beloved country as being rather small …………. it is not uncommon then for a cruise ship guest from North America who hears someone is from the UK and who has a relative from there to say……………..” I hear y”all from Britain………..do you know Bob?”

We will return to the British theme later, but first here are a few random photos for you to enjoy.

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Late breaking photo………….shot of the Eclipse last night taken by crew member Kevin Larson

Let’s open up the mailbag and answer some of your questions.

BIG ED………………It sounds to me as though I may be swimming with the fish ………….let’s hope there are chips as well mate……….Don Bigo Edo.

SOUTHERNDREAMS……………….have a wonderful time on the Carnival Fascination. Tell Charlie no drinking and driving. Have fun as you always do.

ROB…………………I will be happy to do something special for your folks. Please can you leave me a nice letter on the first day at the Information Desk? Write something nice about how they are the best parents in the world and how you are sorry for their grey hair. I will read this out on my Morning show on Sunday and can send them a little surprise. Looking forward to meeting you all…………………….get ready for a great cruise.

SUSAN B…………..You asked when Heidi will write another blog………..it has indeed been a long time so I will mention this to her and I am sure you will hear from her soon. You mentioned that she may like to tell me off in the blog…………I am sure there will be no “may” about……….she will. I hope you are well and I am happy to hear you are still enjoying the blog thingy.

BILL ZYDECOCRUISER………………I just saw the new Platinum Gift which I had no idea about………….It’s a thermos ………….and it looks great. Thanks for the update and I also enjoyed all your Carnival Pride photos……………but why were there none of any food? Always great to hear from you and hope to again very soon.

JO MYERLY…………Hope you are sleeping better Jo and what better to send you to the land of nod than reading my musings. Anyway, your question about tours going into London is an excellent question. The answer is yes and also the answer is I don’t know. I can tell you that we are finalizing the tour program as we speak and what tours there will be to London I am uncertain of at this time. However, many people will I am sure be taking back to back cruises so the answer is Yes we will indeed be able to offer you tours. The London Eye is superb………….I hate heights and have not done this particular attraction myself but my family and friends who have told me it was amazing. London is a fabulous city and as soon as we put everything together I will be happy to be your guide. As always, our best to you both.

DAVID MORAN……………As you will see in a moment I will proudly be flying the Ocean Village flag with an interview given by the Managing Director of Ocean Village. I am very happy you gave me a nudge in this direction and will be making sure that at regular intervals we check in with them. You asked about the 2009 cruises in Europe for Carnival. The Carnival Freedom will be sailing the Grand Med and the Greece/Turkey itineraries while the Carnival Liberty will sail through the Baltic and Med. May I suggest you contact Carnival’s London office on http://www.carnivalcruise.co.uk/. They have a special on the Carnival Liberty…………….check this out.

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How about that for service mate! Enjoy the interview and I hope to see you next year.

RAY CZENSZAK…………….How brilliant that after 5 years you may have finally decided to get married……………..and on a Carnival ship. If this is what you want to do we can arrange everything through a special package? If you want to do this let me know personally and will hook you up with our fantastic wedding coordinator who will arrange everything…………except the Honeymoon night! Let me know and hopefully I can be onboard and enjoy your special day with you.

MONICA AND AL……………..I think I responded to your question yesterday but just in case I didn’t…………the Carnival Triumph will indeed be getting a Big Screen on the Lido deck and this will happen during her dry dock period at the end of this year. Hope this helps and sorry for the delay in answering.

EASTTEXANS 2……………..I am very happy to welcome you to my humble blog and even happier to learn that you have booked the 2009 Bloggers cruise. I am very proud to be hosting this event and especially proud that it will be onboard the Carnival Fantasy. You mentioned the dining room and your dislike of the booths. Well, you will be happy to know that the dining rooms will be completely refitted and redesigned and many (not all) of the booths will be replaced. I will be happy to help you with dining assignments nearer the time and this time I hope we can all eat at one sitting. However, the way this cruise is selling this may not be possible! Anyway, welcome again and please let me know if I can help with anything further.

NANNI………………Yes, see you soon para uno mucho hugo.

AJ……………..Hello AJ and we miss you to. Have you booked the 2009 Bloggers cruise? You asked about my cabin. Well, dependant on the class of ship the cruise director cabin is usually on deck 5 or deck 9. We do have a nice cabin but regardless of how nice it is it will get very small very quickly once you have moved in for a few months. Maybe soon I will take a few photos for you. Hope to see you soon and my best to you and the family.

LARRY AND JERI……………Thanks for the kind words of support and sorry I forgot your names. It seems that yes, you do love the Carnival Liberty as you have sailed on her so much and of course I now remember our conversation on the Carnival Imagination. How can I forget that? You were celebrating your 51st wedding anniversary and I remember thinking to myself that I hope Heidi and I are so lucky. It was great to meet you and I wish you another wonderful cruise with all your family on the Carnival Legend in May………….wish I was there with you.

PAULMEDIK…………….hello Paul. Well let’s start with an apology that I will be not be with you in April here on the Carnival Freedom. I will be in Europe but you will be very happy indeed when I tell you the CD will be Todd Wittmer…………….our very best CD. You then are on the carnival liberty in June and you asked who the CD will be and the answer is Karl with a K…………another brilliant young man and very very funny.

By now I am sure you have read in my past blog thingies that the video currently playing on You Tube is not the Carnival Dream. I know you and the boys are very excited about this ship as am I and unfortunately I know nothing yet as to what Carnival has in store for us. Maybe, just maybe I can find out a few secrets about the ship through PA 007 and when I do I will of course share them with you. It will be a wonderful vessel and anytime we introduce a new class of ship you can bet it will be very, very special. I hope this helps and please send my best to the boys and all the family.

RUTH JAMISON………………Thanks Ruth for your constant support. I didn’t mention the K Mart thing to start a contest on whose the best etc……….ok…………..I did ……. but seriously, thanks for all the kind words on why you love Carnival. Now, let’s answer your questions. You asked about the naming ceremony and when it is. Well, at this stage I think it will be before the 3-day cruise however this is not certain. I have just asked someone to clarify this and I will confirm to you ASAP. Regardless of if it is or not the Inaugural cruise is indeed the first 12 day. This will be the first cruise out of Dover and will be treated as very special. How far is London from Dover……………well, its about 80 miles and depending on traffic it should take around 2 hours to get there. However, you will first have to navigate something called the M25 which on paper is a Freeway (motorway) however in reality it’s a parking lot. I am collecting all the information on hotels and transfers and will be posting this information shortly. I hope this helps and I will indeed be posting lots of photos from my trip to wet your appetite. Our best to you both and see you soon.

A CRUISE BY ANY OTHER NAME…………..Great to hear from you. The Platinum benefits are being re-examined and as I just found out myself there is already a new gift in the thermos thingy. Certainly a choice would be good and I am in contact with the folks who manage this program and will indeed pass this suggestion along. You all deserve the best for your loyalty to us. Cheers.

ANN WILSON…………….I see that you have some questions about the Carnival Splendor’s shore excursions. I will be sending a comprehensive report from my trip to set all the excursions up in April so please stand by for that. We are indeed close to the centers of Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Helsinki but further away in Tallinn and Warnemunde. Heidi will be sending a special blog on Amsterdam soon. There are places I love but something tells me we will not be sending our guests there. I will be happy to be your guide and I send my best regards to you and your sister.

GREG BALDASARRI……………I cannot understand why another cruise lines CD should feel it necessary to go on stage and slam another line………….it’s silly ……..as all it does it gives us free advertising and as you stated puts everyone’s backs up on the boards. You asked about the new terminology for Formal night as Elegant Night. This is indeed a trial here and while we still encourage people to dress in a formal style we do allow someone to wear a smart pair of pants and a short sleeved shirt. Now, we have tried this here and informed the guests and maybe less than 50 chose not to wear formal/elegant clothing. Formal is an outdated word but I still think we should give the guests one chance to dress in a way that maybe during their regular lives they don’t have a chance to do so. Thanks mate for all you do.

PEANUTS……………….It is indeed my intention to host a before cruise function before we sail on the Bloggers cruise, something that will give something back to help New Orleans. It may be difficult for you to get involved as you will have to look after your beautiful child however I am sure you can come along and support us. The planning is in the early stages and as soon as I know more I will make sure everyone is aware of what they can do to take part. I heard New Orleans did a wonderful job hosting the All Star game and I am really excited to be doing something for this great city. Thanks Peanuts and my best to you all.

KICKASKI…………..hello my friends. I am glad to hear from you. I did in fact interview Ken some time ago and if you search in the archives you will come across a super chat with my mate and the best maitre d’ at sea. You asked for my thoughts on taking your passport of the ship. Well, although we as a vessel do not require you to there are some ports particularly in Europe that do require to see photo identification. Remember this can be a drivers license as well and if you have one of those I would leave the passport in the safe and take that instead. It’s much easier to replace a lost license than a lost passport. I hope this helps and it will be great to see you, my friends, again soon.

CARAVANPARKMANAGER……………………Thanks mate. I have no intention of selling the SUV and if the world suddenly plunges into desert conditions …….. remember……….its my fault for driving a proper car. Are you a Brit and do you run a caravan park? Hope to hear from you soon.

GACRUISER……………..Just a quick note to say welcome home. I hope you had a brilliant cruise and I am glad we made you laugh. Welcome to the blog thingy and I hope it gives you continued laughs. Cheers.

That’s it for now as in 30 minutes it’s Showtime. I will continue with more Q and A stuff tomorrow. Thanks as always to everyone for the comments………..they are so fun to read.

Now, back to all things British. You will have read that recently I was given a gentle kick in the jacksie (bottom) for not mentioning our sister Ocean Village which has rapidly become a major force in the industry especially for Brits who don’t like cruising ……………. that sounds strange doesn’t it……….well, let me explain ……………..actually let Nick Lighton the Managing Director of Ocean Village explain.

1. There has been lots of interest on the blog about Ocean Village Cruise Line. What can you tell us about its history and where it is today?

Ocean Village launched in 2003 as ‘the cruise for people who don’t do cruises’, designed for 35-55 year old Brits who felt cruising was not their style or was something they would only consider when they retired.

Informality is what makes Ocean Village tick – it’s a dressed-down, laid-back, free-spirited sort of holiday where people make their own agendas rather than have one imposed upon them.

Today, the brand has two ships, the original Ocean Village ship and Ocean Village Two which was named in April 2007. Itineraries are destination-rich, so passengers can look forward to waking up somewhere new nearly every day rather than experiencing long days at sea. The line has one of the widest ranging ‘Action Ashore’ programmes in the industry offering high-octane trips such as canyonning, river rafting, cave tubing and zip wire rides as well as more laid-back options such as swimming with dolphins, local cookery classes and designer shopping trips. Travel agent research reported this year rated Ocean Village the best cruise line in the UK for younger cruisers, first timers, families, laid-back informal style, and freedom to do what you want. Value for money also ranked very high. 7 nights in the Med starts from £599 per person including flights.

2. Who sails on Ocean Village?

Average age in the summer is 44 – more than 10 years below the UK cruising average – and over 50% will never have taken a cruise before. Ocean Village is all about attitude – it’s for people of working age with forward-looking, younger mindsets who want a holiday on their terms. It’s cruising without the clichés, sailing without the ceremony, for the younger section of middle England that didn’t realise cruise holidays could be like this.

3. How would you describe the atmosphere onboard and what are some of the highlights of the vessel.

The atmosphere is laid-back and easy-going. The are no formal dress codes on board, no set dining times and no fixed seating plans. With buffet-style dining right around the clock passengers don’t feel bound by a timetable of meal times; there’s always something available so no one needs to rush. In the evenings, there are waiter service options for a small extra charge – either dining poolside under the stars on Mediterranean themed menus, or pushing the boat out at celebrity TV chef James Martin’s highly acclaimed on-board Bistro. Entertainment is modern and upfront with alternative comedy, tribute bands, contemporary circus acts and an aerial deck laser show that is unlike anything else in the industry. The original Ocean Village ship also has a dedicated cinema.

Both ships offer ocean view gyms but Ocean Village Two really puts the ‘aaah’ back into spa with the largest spa afloat, relative to the ship’s size. The 14,000 sq ft two-storey complex features 9 treatment rooms with floor to ceiling ocean views plus a separate sauna and steam room zone with Swedish, herbal and hammam options, plus a darkened meditation or ‘womb room’ with four hanging basket chairs for totally chilling out!

Ocean Village Two also features private balconies in nearly a quarter of all cabins.

4. Can you tell us where the ships sail from and to?

The ships sail in the western and eastern Med each summer (from Palma and Heraklion) and the Caribbean in the winter (from Barbados and Aruba) on one or two week itineraries. There is also a third option of staying a week ashore at a hotel in Palma, Heraklion or Barbados before taking a second week on board ship. This is particularly popular with cruise virgins who are testing the water for the first time and don’t want to ‘risk’ a whole holiday on board. Interestingly, many of these people go on to rebook with us – but for a full 14-night cruise the next time! All holidays are fly-cruises and include flights from the UK.

Itineraries for summer 08:

Ocean Village

Heraklion – Dubrovnik – Corfu – Cephalonia – Katakolon (for Olympia)- Athens – Heraklion

Heraklion – Limassol (Cyprus) – Rhodes – Ephesus – Mykonos – Santorini – Heraklion

Ocean Village Two

Palma – Tunis – Rome – Genoa – Monte Carlo – Barcelona – Palma

Palma – Tunis – Naples – Florence/Pisa – St Raphael – Ajaccio (Corsica) – Palma

Itineraries for Winter 08/9

Ocean Village

Barbados – St Kitts – St Maarten – Guadeloupe – St Lucia – Dominica – Barbados

Barbados – Tortola – St Barts – Antigua – Martinique – Grenada – Barbados

Ocean Village Two Barbados – St Vincent – Dominica – Mayreau – Isla Margarita – Curacao – Aruba Aruba – Bonaire – Caracas – Grenada – St Lucia – Tobago – Barbados

5. What “typical” British traits can be found onboard?

Dining is British oriented with British favourites including a carvery in the Waterfront restaurant. Celebrity chef James Martin champions good British dining with a Mediterranean twist e.g. crab and lobster risotto with Thai spices, seared fillet of beef, halibut with mussels, roast rack of lamb, with orange and Grand Marnier crème brulee or baked chocolate mousse to follow.

The entertainment is emphatically British in character, most notably in the stand-up comedy (delivered in the Connexions bar, not the Marquee theatre) with acts coming straight off the UK comedy circuit and specialising in British irony. Quizzes have a quirky British theme. There is bitter beer on tap (as well as the recently relaunched national favourite – cider).The entertainment and shore ex staff are British and the overall feel on board is laid-back British – announcements are kept to a minimum, music is from the UK back catalogue and the ships hum along with an upbeat optimism. The kids centre features story time with a ‘live’ appearance by the UK’s best-loved children’s TV character – Bagpuss. National and international football and rugby games feature prominently on the plasma screen TVs on board, while the Action Ashore programme includes visits to legendary cricket venues in Antigua and Europe’s largest football stadium in Barcelona. Mountain biking is becoming increasingly popular in the UK and a fleet of mountain bikes is carried on board both ships to make exploring easy right from the gangway.

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Thanks Nick. Ocean Village sounds like they have found a huge gaping hole in the market and with Carnival Corporation’s help, they have filled it with a very successful product. We wish our sister happy and successful times ahead and if you want a taste of how Brits really are on holiday and get rid of that very stiff upper lip, take off the bowler hat and let our hair down…………..take an Ocean Village cruise……….it really is unique and looks like so much fun.

As I mentioned at the top of this thingy today’s blog seemed to take on a natural British theme…………..here is another reason why.

Guest: Mr _________ Ref: __________Owner: __________
Cabin: _______ Booking#: _______Added-Changed: 10/17/07 – 02/19/08

2466 – Wants to speak to Cruise Director

Mr __________ (British guest) came to desk stating he wants to speak with John. Purser asked what he was concerned with and he replied he was not happy and wanted John. Purser informed guest that she would pass the message. E-mail sent.

Charged to CD.

So, I received this yesterday and this afternoon once the guest had returned from Grand Cayman I spoke with him. What is he unhappy with………..everything…………….and nothing. He was very nice to start with but as the conversation continued he began to get a bit uptight and I had to use my special powers to calm him down.

Basically, he is everything opposite to the normal British person who I have met during my years of working here. I could list the things he mentioned but really I won’t bother as he wasn’t really complaining because after I calmed him down he admitted…………. “it’s just not my cup of tea.”………………..and then he said……………….”I am a loyal P & O fan and I think I just miss their way of doing things. ”

Well, I told him this was fine and that its part of the family and if that is what he likes than there is no need to worry. He did admit that his kids were having a brilliant time at Camp Carnival and because they were British and spoke differently to the other kids everyone wanted to be their friends.

Anyway, as I was about to leave he said something that made me laugh to myself. He said “I am British through and through and I guess I just prefer P & O.”

This of course is fine as P & O are part of the family and I want him to be happy and that’s why it is so wonderful that we have within the Carnival Corporation something for everyone. I will say this though………….and this is a personal thing……………I love mixing with other cultures on vacation………….If I was American I would think sailing on P & O or Ocean Village would be absolutely brilliant and if I was British I think (like the thousands who do sail with us) it would be so much fun to sail with our American cousins.

One thing is for certain, I am very proud to be British but with regard to what that guest said about being British through and through ……well……I couldn’t help thinking he is probably driving in a German car to an Irish pub for a Dutch beer, then traveling home, grabbing an Indian Curry or a Turkish Kebab on the way, to go home and sit on Swedish furniture and watch American shows on a Japanese TV.

TTFN

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.