A Slice of Piazza

March 28, 2008 -

John Heald

The alarm on my raspberry went off this morning at 6:45 am…………………….bugger.

The Emerald Princess arrived in St. Thomas today and because we previously went to the Bahamas and were now in U.S. territory all 3,400 of us have to line up and show our passports………..more about that in a moment.

Getting out of bed was not easy this morning due to the fact that once again I had eaten too much last night which I will chat about later in this thingy.

 I was suffering and my stomach felt like that scene from the movie Alien and I was certain that any minute now my stomach would burst open and a creature that looks like Judge Judy would burst out………..

I couldn’t get out of bed and thought I might have to hire the Budweiser Clydesdale horses to drag me out. However, a few quick kicks from Heidi accompanied by a few explicit words and that was me on my way to Immigration.

I have heard nothing but wonderful comments from the passengers here but this morning the complainers were out in force and my favorite two comments were as follows.

The first came in an elevator as Heidi went from deck 12 to deck 6………….I know I should have walked but me and Judge Judy didn’t have the energy. In the elevator an elderly husband and wife had this conversation:

Husband ……….“Why couldn’t they do this last night instead of waking us all up?

Wife………….“I know, we never did this in Alaska and in Las Vegas.”

Vegas???? That was a good one…………..but not as good as this one.

Heidi and I were now standing in line. I must say it was very organized within each guest receiving a paper with a bar code similar to that found on supermarket goods which is scanned to show you have attended. As we drew nearer to the Immigration Inspectors raised voices could be heard and we saw a man screaming……..yep………screaming at a young lady Purser……………….this was the conversation.

Mr. Moody Blues………………..“Why have you woken the entire ship up at 7:30am for this?”

Purser……………“It’s a requirement of Customs and Border Protection”

Mr. Moody Blues………….“Well, I am a U.S. citizen and this is f%^*(&^ crazy”

Purser…………..“Please don’t swear Sir and I apologize that you are not happy, may I suggest you speak to the officer about your misgivings.”

Mr. Moody Blues………..“I will.”

Purser………“Please have your Passport in your hand”

Mr.Moody Blues………….“Passport?”

Purser………….“Yes sir, you need your passport or proof of citizenship”

Mr. Moody Blues…………“This is beep, beep, beep, beep……………..and he walked away still swearing to get his Passport”

The best bit however was that as he walked away myself and the Purser and all the other guests all saw something blue sticking out the back pocket of his pants……………….it was his Passport……………the Purser was about to tell him but I looked at her and shook my head and went ………. sssshhhh …………….she smiled ………….and welcomed the next guest to Immigration.

Immigration took 15 minutes from start to finish and although it is a pain to have to get up this early it’s part of life these days and the Emerald’s crew handled it professionally and as is to be expected now………..in a very friendly way.

This week the ship is sailing with nearly 900 children of all ages…………….but…………….you would never know it. This is of course thanks to a brilliant kids activity program. Heidi met with the Youth Activities Coordinator, Joy Bolin, who has been with Princess Cruise Lines for 18 years in this position.

Here is her report.

Hello Blog Friends, It has been a while, I know……but my husband tends to be glued behind our laptop all the time and unless I purchase my own. There is not much time for me to write to you all. I thought it would be best to do this myself though. Having started my career with Carnival in 1996 as a Camp Carnival staff member, I am still very interested in any kids program, at sea or in hotels.

Here on the Emerald Princess, they have divided the age groups as follows:

The Princess Pelicans – ages 3 to 7

Shockwaves – ages 8 to 12

Remix – ages 13 to 17

Divided in 3 different rooms, Joy showed me all the great toys from the climbing maze to the PS2s & 3s to the Foosball and Air Hockey tables, they have it all.

While I was taking some photos the little ones were playing “Who is missing?” a game where the children sit in a circle, then close their eyes and one of them leaves the circle and for the rest to guess who is missing. A great way to get to know the names of the friends they make during the cruise.

The ratio for the Pelicans and Shockwaves is one staff member to 10 children. So, depending on the season of the year the amount of staff members vary.

Next door, you could hardly talk to each other due to a few “Tweens” playing air hockey, a great game where they can let loose of a lot of energy.

Next door to Shockwaves in Remix, the teens were playing Guitar Hero and others were just “hanging” like teens do best, but the cool thing was…..they were hanging in great big leather sofas……….wow, how spoiled they are.

The photos will show you the different rooms. I met the staff of all the rooms and they were all as friendly and outgoing as can be which made me miss my Camp Carnival years………..maybe I should go back and get John another assistant…….but maybe not….nobody else will be able to put up with his bottom.

I was very impressed with the fantastic facilities and the energy of all the staff. Happy children mean happy parents and that’s what they have here on the Emerald Princess.

I will pass you back to John now but I wanted to say Thank You to everyone who have said they like my new hairstyle and for all your nice comments. I will try to write more often I promise.

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The Pelican’s Playroom

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The Pelican’s Playroom

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The Pelican’s Playroom

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Jo and her staff

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Shockwaves

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Remix

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Remix

So, last night we dined at the Crown Grille the second of the Emerald’s private dining areas. This one specializes in Steaks, Seafood and Lobster. The price of a meal is $25 with an extra $9 if you order the fresh lobster………..$9 for a fresh 1 – 2 pound lobster …………that is unbelievable……………..and I do mean fresh…………..the Lobsters are alive and swimming around in a tank ………………..it does not get any fresher than that.

The service was again friendly and the menu had us both spoiled for choice. Eventually we ordered the following:

Heidi Ordered:

Beef Carpaccio with fresh Spinach

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9 oz Fillet Mignon with mushrooms, asparagus and freshly made mashed potatoes

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I ordered

Scallops and foie gras

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Sterling Silver Beef Chop with onions and spiced mushrooms

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Once again the food was incredible. I always order my meat well done….I know chefs hate this but the last thing I want is to cut open a piece of meat that looks to find a scene from the Texas Chain Saw Massacre on my plate. On the other hand Heidi likes her meat waved in front of a candle……I think she’s a vampire.

For desert Heidi ordered the sample plate which is a taste of every single dessert…………Chocolate Decadence Pudding, Caramel and Coconut Cheesecake, Three Layered Strawberry Gateau, Dutch Apple and Fruit Cobbler (she liked that one) and two others I can’t remember…….I had a coffee 🙁

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The restaurant was very busy and the passengers I heard were raving about the food and the service …………..everyone was happy and content and having the time of their lives………….well…………..everyone accept the Lobsters.

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The chef’s

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Seafood delight

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Lobsters on a cruise next to their not so lucky friends

After dinner we went and looked at the 50’s and 60’s party in Club Fusion, The brilliant live band in the Wheelhouse and other events and shows including a “Vegas Headliner” in the main theatre and a comedian/juggler in the mid – ship lounge.

Once again James the CD had scheduled everything perfectly………..he may be ugly but he is a brilliant CD.

Talking of brilliant I must again repeat myself about the friendliness of the crew. This, as I said before comes from the top and there were shining examples of that yesterday and today. Firstly, there was Alan the Passenger Services Director who I witnessed just walking around the Piazza just shaking hands and chatting to people.

Then this morning there was the same thing only this time the effervescent and simply superb Maitre’D Generoso and our Captain just walking around the Horizon Restaurant shaking hands and simply being friendly. What a great example to the rest of the crew this is and I salute all the Senior Management here on the Emerald for practicing themselves what they obviously preach to their crew.

Please allow me to step away from the cruise for a moment and chat about other things.

Firstly, I will be working immediately I return home on the 2009 Bloggers pre-cruise package. I know a lot of you are waiting for news on this and I promise you will have all you need to know very soon.

PA 007 has sent me some more of the secret artist’s renderings of the Carnival Splendor which I will share with you on Monday.

Finally, I want to say thank you for all the comments. I know I have not been replying to them this week but I have read each and everyone and have answered privately any that are marked urgent. This week we went flying past the 1.8 million mark and I therefore say a huge and continuing thank you to the thousands of you who read my thingy each and every day.

Back on board the Emerald Princess I am sitting here in my favorite spot on the ship The Piazza, Most people are ashore in St.Thomas but Heidi and I have decided that since we have been here a billion times we will relax onboard.

It is amazing what you hear and see here in the Piazza. I am sitting here typing and was disturbed by a clicking sound coming from behind me…………….and was met by the beautiful sight of a lady who looked exactly like Joan Rivers. She had her feet up on a chair and was clipping her toenails.

Then, in front of me at the International Cafe is a man who has taken full advantage that the pastries are free by asking for one of everything.

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The stilt walkers in the Piazza

That’s what the Piazza is all about…………and I love it.

One last thing from last night and our dinner at the Crown Grill. Next to us was a round table of seven people including a couple who had got married on the vessel and the both the bride and groom were dressed in their wedding attire. Things seemed to be going well until just as Heidi and I were served our main course the husband ………..passed out ……………his head fell forward and landed on the lobster he was eating.

Immediately the waiter and restaurant manager came running over and I think they were ready to call in a medical emergency ………..however the wife had the right medicine which came in the form of a glass of San Pellegrino which she threw over him immediately waking him from his slumber. The waiter asked if he needed a doctor but his wife answered with “No, he’s just drunk” and with that she picked up her purse and walked away leaving what looked like both sets of parents, a maid of honour and a very drunk husband with bits of Lobster in his hair and mayonnaise on his chin.

His wife never returned………..one lady who I guess was the Bride’s mother left immediately and eventually the others all left except Lobster man and the man who was I think his Dad……….they remained silent and had little to say. The food remained uneaten …………… Heidi whispered how sorry she felt for the wife……………I said I felt sorrier for the Lobster who had died for nothing except to be used as some sort of hair gel.

It’s been another brilliant day on the Emerald Princess and one of the great testaments I can give is the line yesterday and the Future Cruise Desk where people were booking another Princess cruise………….I may very well join them.

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.