I am one of those people who have no idea about electricity and how things work………..if you want a battle of wits on this subject you should note that I am unarmed.

What I do know is that when you don’t have any it’s a real bugger. That’s what happened last night……..we had a power cut. These used to happen a lot back in the 70’s and 80’s and I remember my Mum putting out the candles and it being quite the adventure. Back in those days all you lost was the lights, heating and TV and as I said it was fun. I remember also my Dad telling us a story using just a deck of cards and it really never bothered anyone.

Today however it is a bit different and last night the power went out and I lost my TV, lighting, coffee machine, DVD player and my raspberry which was charging. Of course we had no candles in the house and that was me………..sitting in the dark with absolutely nothing to do, no cup of coffee or tea and an uncharged raspberry. To make matters worse Heidi was in the shower and she was not happy immediately blaming me for this thinking I was playing a trick on her.

I pointed out that indeed it was me and that I had also managed to play the trick on the surrounding houses as well and ……….I pointed out that I was in the middle of my favorite program “The Bill” which I was trying to catch up on. So, there we sat with nothing to do …….in pitch darkness. Heidi made matters worse by suggesting this was “romantic” but considering I was jet lagged, thirsty and now totally bored I felt as romantic as a hemorrhoid.

Eventually we decided to go to bed……..we were both tired and even though it was only 9 pm off we went. I think my head touched the pillow by 9:05 pm and by 9:06 pm I was asleep. However, my luck continued when at 11:35pm the power came back on and of course the TV downstairs exploded into life and all the lights came on as I had forgotten to turn the switches off…….this woke sleeping beauty and of course you all know where I am now.

Let’s do the news.

First of all I want to say thank you to all 8,000 of you who read the blog yesterday and for all your comments about how you intend to read the blog even though I may not be onboard at the moment. You have no idea what that means to me.

Then, I would like to show you two more amazing renditions of the Carnival Splendor ………have a look.

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Atrium

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Promenade

I don’t know about you but that whets my appetite more than a huge plate of Spotted Dick served by Jessica Simpson in an Aston Martin.

Then, I was asked by one of our blogging family to advertise this wonderful cause which if you are in the area and you can support it would be great.

Jeanne’s LI2DAY Breast Cancer Walk fundraiser ComedyEvent at the Atlantis Marine world in Riverhead Long Island this Sunday April 6th at 6pm. All funds raised will help women with Breast Cancer that reside on Long Island with their needs while battling breast cancer, such as: sending someone to cook for the families or drive the women to treatment. For more information visit: LI2DAY.ORG.

Now, the Carnival Splendor is just one of many new ships being born this year. You already know about the Eurodam through the great blog they have about the building and preparation of this vessel………..the link is at the side of this page by the way. We also have the much awaited Ventura from P & O and I was truly hoping that I would be able to go to the naming ceremony. However, I will be in the middle of my European trip to prepare for Carnival Splendor’s Baltic season and remembering that I am a CD first and a blog person second I decided that I needed to do the European trip…………and yes…………I will be blogging everyday providing the hotels I am staying at have Internet service.

Anyway, I am going to ask Carnival’s boss at Carnival U.K. my friend David Dingle to send me some photos of her as soon as she arrives in Southampton………from what I understand she is amazing.

I think that our friends at Costa have a new ship ready this year and I am sure PA 007 will check out the name and when she is expected etc and let me know. Then, at the end of the year there is the sister to the Emerald Princess the Ruby Princess and I for one have no intention of missing the naming ceremony of that one.

Finally, there is a new ship for Aida our German Schwester (sister) and for me and with no disrespect to any of our other schwesters the one with the most beautiful name……………..Aida Bella………zehr schon is it not?

I will make sure we slap on photos of all these ships and continue with some behind the scenes photos of all of them starting with Ventura ……….I hope to vast her in May though and also I want to take you all for one last look at the Queen Elizabeth 2 while docked in Southampton.

It seems that we have an itinerary change for the Carnival Splendor’s 8 day cruise to Dover. We will be docking in Monte Carlo/Monaco now instead of tendering into Cannes. This will be better for everyone I believe and we will still offer a brilliant excursion program to Cannes, St.Tropez, Provence and St.Raphael…….we also have a special “Spot George Hamilton on the beach tour”……….I love that one. Now, I also wanted to share with you some amazing photos from Holland America’s Amsterdam which was docked in Istanbul, Turkey. The ship’s passengers were joined by the companies President Stein Kruse and many other VIP’s including the American and Dutch Ambassadors for this special event held in the oldest Cistern in the city built in 330 AD. I have visited this astonishing place which is said to be the place where Medusa is buried……….upside down no less.

Anyway, I thought you might enjoy having a look at these photos.

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I must visit a Holland America ship……..I have never done so………….Mr. Kruse?

Now, I would like you to meet Chris Roberts. Chris is the Cruise Director who will be spearheading the Carnival Spirit’s Alaska season this year. He is on a familiarization trip himself in Alaska and I thought it may be nice to have him write a blog about his experiences. So, without further waffling from me …………here’s Bubba.

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THE ALASKA FAM 2008
 
Well they say that morning comes quickly and it comes even earlier when your vacation comes to and end and you have to travel back to work from where you are.  The alarm clock was off at 3:07am (I always like to set my alarm for some odd time, it’s something I have done for a long time, gives you that illusion of having a few extra minutes of snooze time).  I had to get up that early to be on the road by 4am to get to the airport on time for my 6am flight. Even though the vacation was over, I was still excited as today I was not headed to a ship, but to work on a  familiarization trip, I was headed WEST. to Alaska. Well west, then north.  I will explain in a bit….
 
First allow me to introduce myself.  My name is Chris Roberts and I am a cruise director for Carnival Cruise Lines.  I have been with company since 1994 and have been a CD since about 1999.  All though I am not the senior CD, I am up there with some of the guys who have been around for while.  Most of the cruise directors I had worked for have long left the company, with the exception of Mr. Heald, who I had the pleasure of being his ACD towards the end of 1999. 

In fact John was the last CD I had ever had to work for before my promotion.  They say when we worked together that I was John’s younger brother as we are both men of stature.  John likes to call me Bubba; because he thinks I am from the south, but I am not really…not the real south…I am from Florida.  Tampa to be specific.  He thinks I eat at the waffle house, I drive a truck, and date my cousin, but that’s not really true.  My cousin broke up with me. 🙂 

The bubba thing actually started backstage on the Triumph where John and I were having a conversation…about what I cannot remember, but I said to him…”allright bubba calm down.”  or something like that calling him bubba.  He says to me…”BUBBA?”and told him that where I am from it was a term of endearment, and since then he has played the old switcharoo and now I am called Bubba by John.
 
I have mostly worked the western Caribbean through my career and most of those ships have been in Tampa, as I live across the street from the port, but last year I was presented with the opportunity to become CD of the Carnival Spirit for the Alaska season and I jumped at the opportunity.  I have been to Alaska before in my time on ships, but the other times were more like small samples as I was there a very short time. just a few weeks at a time.  But this was a chance to do a whole season and also visit the incredible Hawaiian Islands as well.
 
Carnival is great for keeping CD’s up to date on the local ports that they travel to.  I know John has probably mentioned the fam trips in the past where they send you into the port, you tour facilities, meet port authorities & tour operators.  You really get a feel for the lay of the land.  So that way when you are there providing information to your guests in travel talks, you can truly speak from the heart as you know your ports backwards and forwards.  It is an invaluable experience for what we do and I am so glad that carnival invests the time and money into setting these trips up.

So today I am on my way to anchorage Alaska.  However since I am going to the ship right after the 2 week fam trip, I didn’t want to have to fly with everything I need for my contract, suits, dress shoes, ties, working day wear, etc.  I just wanted to go with a bag with the items I will need for the trip….being that the low temperature in Anchorage today is 19 degrees Fahrenheit, and I am Florida boy, I will need about 18 layers of clothes to make it through the trip.  I have only seen snow twice before…once it snowed in Tampa in 1977.  It lasted 10 minutes…it shut everything down.  In Florida we don’t know how to drive in ice.

And another time I saw snow was just last year when I visited Europe for the first time. 

So I got a bag with winter wear, a bag with suits, and a bag with some misc. crap.  Plus my normal carry on bag.  So to avoid having to take all of that with me, I am actually flying to San Diego, California to meet up with the Carnival Spirit.  San Diego is it’s home port when it is not doing the Alaska season.  I will drop off the two bags I don’t  need for Alaska, then go back to the airport, then fly to anchorage.
 

For a travel day this intense, I was keeping my fingers crossed that all  the planets would aline and I would make all my flights, and my bags would make it too.  The day started very well as I got to the Tampa Airport around 5am, not a long line at check in. Paid $80 to check the extra bag.  2 50lbs is not really enough for a CD to bring all they need. Used to be 70lbs years ago, but those days are gone.
 

Got through security no problem.  The Tampa airport is one of the nicest airports to get through.  I know I am from there, but I have been through a lot of them in my 15 years at sea.  You can usually go from curbside to gate in about 15 – 20 minutes.
 
My flight to San Diego was through Atlanta as I was on Delta.  And all things Delta go through Atlanta.  The plane was enormous.  I was honestly excited as this was the 1st plane I have ever flown on that had direct TV.  So I break out my head phones…turn on my personal TV, and realize, there’s nothing on direct TV at 6am.  So there I am, watching Ron popeil sell some new knives.  It was still pretty cool.
 
Got to Atlanta, my next plane was much smaller but also had the direct TV thing, and games and everything.  They even have a plane wide trivia competition….next thing you know they will be playing BINGO in the sky.
 
4 and half hours later I have arrived at San Diego. and so did all my bags!  Do the happy dance at the baggage carousel and grab a cab.  The port is only a stones throw away from the airport. It was an $11 cab fare to get there.

Went through security and boarded through the crew gangway.  Shawn Bussey, the current CD of the Spirit had put me on the visitors list so I could get on board.  Found a locker backstage and met up with my good friend Natcha Audette, who is the backstage floor manager who let me into the locker and I dropped off my 2 bags.  Spent a little while catching up with Natcha and decided that I would go back to the airport.  The company scheduled me on a 6:30pm flight to Seattle, and then I had a 11:30pm flight from Seattle to anchorage.  I was scheduled to arrive in anchorage at 2am (Alaska time, one hour behind Pacific).  So I was hoping to get on an earlier flight.  Got to the airport again at 1:30pm and my flight at 6:30pm was already delayed.  Which is never a good sign. I was flying Alaska Airlines, which I am a huge fan of. don’t know what  it is about them, but I just seem to like them.  They put me on stand by for a 3:30pm flight, but told me it was not likely I would make it. And they were right, went back to the desk after I didn’t make it, then they put me on standby for a 5pm flight.  Didn’t make that either. The next flight is my actual schedule flight which now has an eta of 10pm.  So I won’t be making my connection to Anchorage. 

Went back up to the desk to discuss my options,  they now have me on stand by for an 8:30pm flight which I am “high on the list” they say and there is 4 seats  open.  So it does look like I will get to Seattle to spend the night.   Maybe I can go see the space needle.  I doubt it.  I am already having to keep my eyelids open with toothpicks.  I am soooooo tired, but am not one of those people who can sleep on airplanes or at airports.  I think though, by the time I do get to Seattle, this could change about me.
 
Well delays aside, it has been a good day.  It was nice to see my future home in the Spirit….the Spirit class vessels are some of my favorites in the fleet.  In fact my last two ships have been spirit class.  It was nice to see an old friend.  I always travel with the attitude, let the winds take me to where they will.  Besides, having all of this time has given me a chance to write my first attempt at being a guest blogger for my good friend john.  I look forward to bringing you actual update to the adventures that await me in the great outdoors of Alaska.
 
Hopefully my next update will actually be from Alaska, and that I am not still in San Diego.
 
Thanks for the opportunity to be a part of the thingy….
 
Chris

Thanks Bubba. I know many of you have and will cruise to Alaska on the Carnival Spirit or another of the Corporations fleet so this is a great insight to this last frontier………….oh and by the way not only is Bubba a great CD he does eat at the waffle house all the time………….he drives a truck with a rifle in the back and nearly married his own cousin. Tune in tomorrow for part 2.

This morning I drove Heidi to Stanstead Airport for her flight to Amsterdam where she will spend two days with her Mum. I collect her again on Thursday and we fly to Copenhagen to start our European trip with the Shore Excursion team.

Although flying home is something Heidi loves to do and her Mum appreciates so much but I also know it makes her sad. For years when Heidi and I flew to Amsterdam her Dad would be there to meet her……….now, when she reaches the arrival hall and her Dad is not there …..Well you know. Heidi’s dad was a proud hard working man who passed away at the age of just 61 a few days after retiring…………we both miss him very much.

Once I returned home I called Virgin Airways to see if my suitcase had appeared…………and to get to actually speak to a human being I had to go through a call center.

I hate call centers……….I hate the fact that you have to be told that for training and quality purposes the discussion about my missing suitcase may be recorded……….then you are given a menu which requires you to have a degree in rocket science to understand……….this being London you are given a choice of four languages to choose from……..Arabic, Japanese, Mongolian and oh yes…….press seven if you want in English. Then……….you get put on hold and told that all operators are assisting other callers.

Now………firstly……..the words “all operators” conjures up a huge room full of computers and dozens hard working intelligent people……… it is of course probably just Howard and Bob…….sitting in a small room at the airport with post it notes stuck on the wall telling them whose luggage has more frequent flier miles than the owner.

Then, “assisting other customers”…….well actually that made me feel better that there was some other poor sod with no underwear. While you are waiting for Bob and Howard you get put on hold and listen to a 6 year old playing Beethoven’s 5th on a piano…………………help.

Eventually, I got through to a human…….a lady in fact called Jasmine……………she started by asking me for my name and reference number……….I explained that I had obeyed the robot who had answered the phone and already keyed in that along with the flight number as requested…………Jasmine was unmoved and unsympathetic and asked for it again…….and as soon as I had given the last number of the reference she said “Please hold” ………and that was me humming Eine Kleine Nacht Musik with the kid on the piano.

You know, I was just thinking………..I wonder if Carnival would allow me to record a little thingy for when people call reservations……….I could have a little fun and maybe mention the blog thingy……..I wonder?

After what seemed like hours but was just 4 minutes Jasmine returned and without apologizing for making me wait and suffer one of the world’s greatest composers music being slaughtered she told me that they had “no further information” and the bag was “probably still in Barbados.”

I knew this as there was no flight tonight but what I needed to hear was that it was confirmed that miss Samsonite would be flying to reunite with me tomorrow………….I even tried a bit of humor but Jasmine had heard it all before and in closing reminded me that I could check the status of my luggage on line…………..or translated……..please don’t bother me again……..use the computer.

So, there you have it……..I await my suitcases return. Hopefully Jasmine will continue to investigate and if she gets my suitcase back to me I shall send her a gift for being so helpful……….a pair of my underwear from the suitcase…… which by then will probably be able to walk there on their own accord.

Goodnight
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.