Pause for Thought

April 18, 2008 -

John Heald

In Russia it was cold, in Tallinn it was freezing but this morning, here in the Dutch countryside it is truly Antarctic………..How can I describe how cold it is?……Well, its -2 degrees but the wind is really strong and that makes it feel even colder. I am wearing my windbreaker and I can assure you its breaking bugger all. How cold is it?……..Well let’s just say that when I went to the bathroom just now it took longer than usual as a certain part of me had decided to return to the cave and hibernate.

It’s a shame it’s so cold because the film I am making for the guests doesn’t show the true beauty of the places we have visited this morning. These include Zaanse Schans which is Windmill country. There are dozens of these beautiful old mills and on tour guests can visit the mills, a traditional cheese factory and farm. Watching the sails of these mills move in the wind is simply awesome and even if the wind had not been as strong as it was today the sails would still have turned due to the Indonesian curry I had for dinner last night.

We have just finished a tour of two gorgeous Dutch fishing villages called Maken and Volendam. They are as Dutch as the windmills and thrive on fishing and tourism. In Maken the residents open their front doors to the tourists and expect visitors just to pop in for a cup of coffee……it is totally unique. The harbour of these two villages is full of fishing boats that jockey for position with the many private sailboats.

Water is a way of life in Holland remembering that it is many meters below sea level. In 1953 the country was devastated by floods from the North Sea which killed hundreds of people. Now the country is protected by huge dykes built to protect the country. It was a massive project especially as Holland is one of the flattest countries in the world.

If I was to take three buckets of sand and put it in a pile I would have created the largest hill in Holland.  We are now on our way to Edam where they make…………Phillips TVs……….oh yes……..and cheese.

As I have a few minutes I wanted to ask your permission to pass on my comments on a subject that I have seen doing the rounds on the Cruise Critic and Cruise Mates boards.

This subject is a few days old now but I wanted to add my humble opinion to the subject……remember this is my opinion and not necessarily Carnival Cruise Lines.

The subject I am referring to is the case of the missed port on the Carnival Conquest. If you are not aware of this let me fill you in. The ship was heading for Jamaica when a crewmember was taken seriously ill and the ship had to turn around, rendezvous with United States Coast Guard who collected the crewmember who was immediately taken to hospital to receive life-saving medical treatment.

Unfortunately, the ship was unable to make port the following day due to the detour and,  guests were each provided a $25 shipboard credit, which is Carnival’s policy should an unforeseen emergency occur.

Whereas the majority of guests were understanding and enjoyed to the full a relaxing sea day one gentlemen …….scratch that……he certainly was not a gentlemen……so let’s say one man decided to start a petition and demand money for missing a port. This man was eventually disembarked by the ship’s command for reasons we will discuss in a minute.

I want to comment firstly on some of the comments I have read that say that more money should have been given especially because it was a crewmember.

These comments, quite frankly, make me mad. …….and I would like to ask these few people just how much money is a human life worth…….$50?………$100?…….How much?………and to suggest that because it was a crewmember whose life was saved the refund should be higher than if it were a passenger makes me feel sick.

There were some comments that the Captain could have gotten the crewmember off quicker and that they could have dispatched a helicopter from Grand Cayman. Having helped organize many of these rescue operations myself I can tell you that the captain does not decide…….you go where the US Coast Guard tells you to go. The Captain then navigates to the designated rendezvous to meet the helicopter or cutter provided by the brilliant men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Now, the main reason I am taking the time to write all of this here on my raspberry is because of a conversation I had last night with my great friend and the cruise director of the Carnival Conquest Ralph “Wee Jimmy” Valente. He told me that he is still traumatized by the way this one man and a few others treated him and some of the other crew, particularly with the language the man used and the physical posturing — not just toward him but too many members of staff, including females.

I know it’s upsetting to miss a port of call however I simply ask this question. If it was a member of your family whose life was being saved by the ship’s medical staff, the captain and crew and the brave men and women of the Coast Guard……..How would you feel?………..Thankful and grateful that they had saved your life I am sure.

So, thank you to the 3,000 understanding passengers who understood and whose first thought was not for money but for the preservation of human life.

I have a disclaimer on my blog thingy which means the opinions expressed in this blog are mine and mine alone. This means I can say this. Should that guest been disembarked by the ship’s command?………..Yes………..and from what I was told he said and the threats he made I hope he never walks up one of our gangways again…………..and if he does I hope he gets seasick and lockjaw at the same time.

We are off to see the de Keukenhof…..the national flower show………..that’s so me!

John and Heidi

PS – I hope someone posts this on CC and CM

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.