Easter No Sun Day

March 24, 2008 -

John Heald

Heidi woke yesterday with a huge smile on her face. I looked at her and thought to myself that the reason she looked so happy must be the nearness of me and the fact that she had realised that I was a stud……………………………….but my hopes of a bit of morning rumpy pumpy were squashed quicker than an elephant sitting on a hamster when she said “Come on let’s get dressed…………we are going shopping.”………………………………….Bugger.

So, off we went on the 30-minute ride to Aventura Shopping Mall. ………………….. well…………………….I say 30 minutes but considering my Saturn rent a car is slower than a turtle wearing concrete Reeboks I knew the journey would be considerably longer.

At the time a day of shopping and driving the ugliest, slowest car in the world was all I had to worry about but Murphy and his law it seemed was as happy to visit me on land as he was at sea.

The first sign that the bugger was hovering over me was when when as we were walking to the car I realised I had forgotten to take my Diabetic pill. Now, Heidi I must admit is very good at reminding me but this morning in her abundant happiness she had also forgotten…………………..so that was me walking all the way back to the room leaving Heidi in the car.

I took my 500 mg of Glucophage and as I walked through the lobby Murphy had decided to team up with Mother Nature and the two of them were now throwing gallons of water down upon me. When it rains in Miami it really rains and today it was torrential. I stood waiting in the lobby for it to stop or for Heidi to realise that I would get soaked and for her to drive the car around to the entrance and get me. After 5 minutes the rain fell and my chariot did not arrive. I now had two choices, get soaked or get in the doghouse for keeping Heidi waiting…………..I was buggered either way.

So, I sprinted to the car……………..OK………………….I walked quickly to the car and by the time I reached it I was well and truly soaked. Now, there are some people who should never enter a wet t-shirt contest. Rosanne Barr, Judge Judy, Barbara Walters, Margaret Thatcher and me. ……………….but that’s exactly what I had done and I was now cold, soaked and you could use my nipples as a coat rack.

I sat there in the car, my t shirt clinging to me, water dripping of me ………………… “Why didn’t you come and get me,” I said using my “hurt I need you to feel like crap” voice………………”How could I?” said my wife……………..”You’ve got the £$%^& key”…………………I felt in my water logged pocket…………………..I did have the key……………….so I was now soaked and in the dog house yet again.

The journey was dreadful as the rain came down dribbling conditions were dreadful and as the big SUV’s and Trucks ate up the weather like a good Timberland mountain shoe there I was in my flip-flop of a Saturn.

Still, Heidi was happy. We were going shopping. You know by know that I hate shopping and you know that I would rather bury myself upside down in the sand with just my bottom sticking out with a sign next to me saying “park your bike here” than go through the living hell of walking round a mall.

We arrived at Aventura and prepared for the sprint to the entrance. The first thing I noticed was that parking was easy…………….usually there is the 30 minute drive around the lot looking for a space but not today. Oh well, thought I, that’s a good thing at least………………….we sprinted (well Heidi did) to the entrance with me again entering that T Shirt contest…………….and then I saw the reason parking was easy…………………the mall…………………..was closed……………………..only the restaurants were open…………………not a single shop was open…………….and as I looked at Heidi I knew that this was my fault.

It was Easter Sunday and I had thought just for a moment that maybe it may be closed but Miami being a town of so many different religions and cultures I thought that it surely would be open.

So there I stood, soaked, my nipples begging to have a coat hung on them and next to me, my wife ready to pounce like a praying mantis and propel me into the doghouse …………………….and she did and here I am still there now.

So, it is Monday morning. I have meetings all day in the office. I read from your comments that many of you are curious about the meeting I had on Saturday. I was teasing you and maybe I should not have done that but I promise as soon as I can I will let you know………………..maybe tomorrow.

Again, I feel so guilty I am not answering comments but starting from the 31st I will promise faithfully to do so………………..remember anything urgent you know what to do.

So, talking of tomorrow………………well, at noon a taxi will pick us up. I was going to take the Saturn but I want to get there on time and with the trunk the size of a kangaroos pouch we are taking a taxi. At approx. 1pm we will join the Emerald Princess for our 5-day cruise.

Before the cruise starts I want to set the scene. It certainly will be fun and we are both very excited to be given this opportunity. Now, obviously I work for Carnival Cruise Lines but I also work for the Carnival Corporation and Princess is a very important part of that. I was wondering how to best describe what is going to happen and how I am going to write about my experiences.

One thing I am not going to do is compare. You certainly won’t be reading that Carnival’s food is better than Princess or the Princess is better than Carnival’s or that I am a better Cruise Director than the one on the Emerald Princess, although I am……….kidding.

Let’s put it this way. Imagine yourself gentlemen locked in a very small room with just your mother and your wife as company. You are hooked up to a polygraph machine and you are asked the question: “Who is the better cook or who do you love the most?”………you get the point. Those questions are ones you never wish to face and I am certainly not going to put myself in that position. The fact is that Princess is without doubt one of the leading cruise lines in the world and I for one am excited to see why.

Hopefully, at the end of these 5 days we will all have experienced this cruise together and maybe some of you, after reading my blog thingies, will want to jump on board and experience the Emerald Princess for yourself…….so, I will talk to you tomorrow, the first of daily reports and photographs.

Please keep the comments coming and most importantly, please don’t have nightmares about me taking part in a wet t-shirt contest. Time for me to get myself out of the doghouse, see you on board the Emerald……………………or maybe one day on T.V. 🙂

To get you in the mood, it is my pleasure to introduce an interview with the Captain of the Emerald Princess, Captain Giorgio Pomata, who will also introduce his amazing team of Senior Officers.

Captain Giorgio Pomata, Master Emerald Princess

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1. Captain, I am sure you have had a wonderful journey which has led you to be the Master of the Emerald Princess. Please can you tell us about your life at sea.

I was born in the small town of Carloforte on the Island of San Pietro. Growing up on an island in the middle of Mediterranean Sea, I had dreamed of going to sea since being a child.

Shortly after I graduated from Nautical School in 1972, I joined the Italian Navy where I served for 2 years, primarily with the Italian Coast Guard. My Merchant Navy career began as a Junior Officer on board tankers between the years 1975 and 1978, and in 1978 I joined Sitmar Cruises. 

Since joining Sitmar, I served on board all the Sitmar ships and, following the merger with Princess Cruises, I continued to serve in the position of Safety Officer on board Crown, Regal, Fair and the original Star Princess.

My first senior appointment was in January 1992, when I served as Staff Captain on board the original Crown Princess. Since then I have served as Captain on board Sun Princess, Dawn Princess, Royal Princess, Ocean Princess, Star Princess, Grand Princess, Island Princess, Coral Princess and now the Emerald Princess.

2. Can you tell us about the ship’s journey so far . Where and when was she built and can you tell us a few facts and figures about this beautiful vessel?

During her 1st year she has completed a Mediterranean 12 day Cruise Season and about to complete a 10 day Caribbean Season prior to returning to the Med in April this year.

She has visited some Magnificent Ports in both the Mediterranean and Caribbean including Monte Carlo, Athens, Rome, Dubrovnik, Rhodes, Istanbul, Venice, Antigua, Aruba, St. Thomas, Barbados, Grenada to name just few!

BUILDERS: Fincantieri Cantieri Navali (Italiani (Hull 6131) Monfalcone, Trieste, Italy
KEEL LAID: 7th April 2005

DELIVERED: 30th March 2007

MAXIMUM PAX CAPACITY: 3573

MAXIMUM CREW CAPACITY: 1227

GROSS TONNAGE: 113,561

LENGTH OVERALL: 288.61mtr

3. You must have seen many changes during your time at sea. When you look at all the modern instruments and navigational aids which have made your job easier?

I feel very lucky to have experienced both the traditional methods of fixing the ships position with Sextants and to have served through the technological advances which give us the constant accuracy which we enjoy today.

In the sextant days, it was a great feeling of achievement, after taking the stars at daybreak and spending the next hour or so deep in mathematical formulas to confirm the ships position within a couple of miles of the estimated position!

This kind of accuracy always raises an eyebrow when I discuss days gone by with the Cadets onboard who still have to practice the traditional methods, but have been introduced directly into today’s complex Bridge systems.

Although the traditional days were enjoyable, and have provided me with a great understanding on the theories which the new systems are based, as a Captain on a ship the size of Emerald Princess I cannot over emphasize the reassurance I gain by having numerous screens constantly confirming our exact position within meters.

I still have a sextant at home, but you’ll be pleased to know I keep it on my sailboat for a hobby!

4. I am sure you have navigated cruise vessels all over the world. Is there one port that when you bring the ship there gives you a special feeling?

There is no specific Port that gives me a particular feeling. However all the Ports that I’ve been to, have given me something different and special.

5. You must be so proud to be Master of this amazing vessel. What is it about her that makes her so popular from the guest point of view?

First of all this is the newest Princess Vessel. Apart from being a beautiful vessel, she also offers numerous innovative facilities for the passengers to enjoy during their time on board, from the excitement and ‘buzz’ of the Piazza to the peace and serenity of the Sanctuary.

6. The Captain’s position on a Princess ship requires a lot of social time with the guests. Do you enjoy this aspect and who are some of the more memorable people you have met?

I enjoy being around and meeting the passengers that I have met on previous cruises and also those who are travelling on a Princess Ship for the first time. In my position as a Captain, I have the privilege to meet a great number of guests on board. All of them are memorable to me.

7. How if at all do you find time to relax while onboard?

As the Master of this ship, I’m quite busy, as my daily tasks and duties take up a lot of time. However when it is possible I try to do some exercise. Reading books and watching TV helps me to relax.

8. I am sure you have an amazing team working alongside you. As I will be sailing with you soon can you introduce us to your senior officers please.

We have a fantastic team on board, and I’m proud to introduce you to my Senior Officers, starting from:

Staff Captain Tim Stringer

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Chief Technical Officer Rosario Segreto

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Passenger Services Director Martin Ford

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Cruise Director James Lay

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Senior Doctor Sally Melville

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Executive Chef Michelle Cozzoli

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Maitre D’ Generoso Mazzone

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Staff Engineer Officer Carlo Pastorino

Senior Electro Technical Officer William Clark

1st Purser Admin Deidre Doyle

1st Purser F&B Tim Ellis

9. Working at sea myself I know that everyone misses home. Are there any particular things outside of your family that you miss or indeed miss doing during your time away.

Sailing my own sailboat.

10. OK, as is tradition here on the blog thingy, please can you fill in the blanks. The scenario is that you are hosting a Captain’s Table on the Emerald Princess and you get to choose your guests and menu.

The food should include all your own personal favorites as it is after all your table.

APPETIZER: A tempting starter of “Frutti di Mare” fruits of the sea; even better if includes one of the favorite seaside flavors of Italy, the “Ricci di Mare” or Sea Urchins. These are considered a bit of a delicacy for the amount of effort it takes to collect them.  

SOUP: “Ribollita alla Toscana”, a baked vegetable minestrone with black cabbage stew and layers of grilled Tuscan bread slices. This is a great Italian soup you can eat year-round; piping hot during the cold winter season or al fresco lukewarm during the summer

FISH COURSE OR PASTA COURSE: “Spaghetti alla Bottarga” Why choose between the two if you can have them both in a single course? This is a true Sardinian Pasta dish combined with a mouthwatering sauce made with small cherry tomatoes and a Mediterranean delicacy of shaved cured grey mullet roe

MAIN COURSE: “Filetti d’Orata al Cartoccio” A succulent fresh catch of the day cooked in parchment paper with a blend of shellfish, clams, mussels, olive oil, garlic and fresh herbs

DESSERT: “Molten Dutch Chocolate Fudge Obsession” a Rich and Warm dessert with a Soft Center of melted Double Chocolate Ice Cream. This is one of the many scrumptious selection of divine dessert offered at the “Crown Grill” my favorite restaurant aboard the Emerald Princess

SOMEONE FROM THE WORLD OF SPORT: The Italian Skipper Giovanni Soldini, who won few Single Handed Trans-Atlantic Race.

SOMEONE TO MAKE YOU LAUGH: Jerry Lewis

SOMEONE FROM THE CRUISE INDUSTRY: Gavin MacLeod who I have met on several occasions.

SOMEONE TO INGAUGE YOU IN WONDERFUL CONVERSATION: Piero Angela, who is a Journalist, Scientific Popularizer. His scientific programs have been on the air Italian TV for about 2o years.

A FAMOUS ACTOR: A famous Italian Comic Actor TOTO’ and Christian De Sica

A BEAUTIFUL LADY: The Beautiful Italian Actress Monica Bellucci and Maria Grazia Cucinotta

Good night.

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.