Eurodam….And Dam Cellular Phones

May 27, 2008 -

John Heald

Some years ago people with egg-shaped heads realised that they should buy a product that had the rest of us laughing when we heard what they had spent their money on ………. they had paid billions of dollars…………..for air…………………….good old fresh air.

Now, Mr Cingular, Mrs. Vodaphone and Miss T-Mobile are selling it back to us in the shape of third generation (3G) mobile phones that allow you to check prices on the New York stock exchange, e-mail naked girls in Amsterdam (allegedly), watch the BBC news and remind you that next Wednesday is your wife’s birthday. In essence, if you buy one of these phones, you are getting a Filofax, a television, a cinema, a portal to the Internet, a computer, a video camera, a camera, a calculator, a Walkman music player thingy, and a photograph album . ………………Great, but is it necessary?

Now, I have to say I would be lost without my Raspberry thingy although I truly use only a few of its functions………..namely the on and off switch. I know how to read and send emails but that’s it. Heidi tells me there is a diary and other stuff I should be using but I have never figured out how to do so.

My Raspberry is a very old model that is provided by Carnival but it does what I need it to do. However, my mobile phone apparently has the ability to do video calling which has Heidi and my friends very excited as apparently theirs does to …………… so …………….. they now want face-to-face video calls…………………..good grief!

I read in the news a few weeks ago that only 23% who actually have a phone that allows you to do this actually use this function and I can understand why………….Video calls never caught on because we all use the phone primarily for lying and it is much harder to tell the odd white lie when you’re being watched.
Can’t talk right now I am in a meeting…………………that’s hard to say when you are on a video call and clearly can be seen chomping on a Quarter Pounder with cheese watching the Miami Heat beat the Pistons on your big screen TV.

Of course I love you………………….hard to say when you can be seen saying those words to your wife from the comfort of your girlfriend’s bed.

Also, most of the time peoples voices are so distorted on a mobile phone that they sound like they are talking with their head buried between Pamela Anderson’s thingies so you can imagine the quality of a video call…………………..personally I think the Mobile Phone companies are running before they can walk.
When Ted Arison bought the Mardi Gras, he did not sit around chatting with his son Micky wondering how they could whack a huge twister water slide on deck, or strap a giant TV to the deck to watch movies and events…… they honed it and refined the product as they went along. Only now, 35 years down the line, are we seeing these and so many more additions to the brilliant facilities on board………we walked………and then we ran………into a permanent first place in the industry.

This is obviously not happening with mobiles. Last year, I bought my wife an LG Shining Something Or Other for about $1m. It turned out to be a fantastic personal organizer and calculator but for speaking to other people, she might as well have used a stick of celery. So, this morning I complained………….something which I admit I am not very good at but this time I was annoyed enough to do so………………or so I thought.

“Ah, yes,” said the man in the shop, when I complained. “That particular model isn’t very good.”……………..isn’t very good? For the past 12 months, she’s rung me up, we’ve said “What?” at the top of our voices a lot and then when she’s inadvertently moved more than three feet away from a base station.
He then offered me a free leather carrying case for Heidi’s phone……….this got me upset…………..again…………something that does not happen very often………………..a leather carrying case………………how would that help me hear my wife when she moves more than 100 feet away from me………..the phone would still be crap except it would be crap encased in leather.

I said no………………..I then showed him the very important speakerphone system. This is vital because in the UK it is illegal to use your phone while driving and if caught you are fined and beaten on the buttocks with a cactus………………….Seriously, it is a very good law and one that should be and is enforced.

Anyway, having a hands-free device is vital. I should mention that my car has a black tooth thingy which supposedly links your phone to the car stereo but unless you have a degree from CAL TECH there is no way it will ever work.

So, I showed Mr. Can You Hear Me Now the speaker system that is so quiet you wouldn’t hear a herd of drunken elephants jumping out of a plane with fire crackers in their bottoms, let alone hearing a pin drop.
I was getting worked up now and tried to explain to Mr. Can You Hear Me Now what I wanted.

What I want from a cooker is the ability to cook food…………ok……for my wife to cook food. What I want from a pen is for ink to come out of the end and what I want from a phone is the ability to speak with someone else without them thinking it’s Stephen Hawking on the other end.

I want it to be a Southwest Airlines phone. I don’t want it to stop working every time Heidi goes anywhere outside of a city or a town. We live in the countryside of Essex not the bloody Amazon.
Well, in the end Mr. Can You Hear Me Now told me there was little I could do. I had bought the Milli Vinilli of phones….it looks good……. but live …………it does bugger all.

And so, I am in the doghouse. I left the phone shop not with a replacement phone for free but having spent loads of money on a new phone for Heidi……………….the sod had talked me into buying a new phone and give him a piece of my mind………..instead I gave him a piece of plastic called Visa and in return Heidi has a new Samsung………………..bugger.

Well, it’s getting close now and on Thursday morning Heidi and I will board our Sleazy Jet flight to Naples. We will spend three days there seeing some wonderful friends and attending a wedding dinner before boarding a train to Genoa on June 2.

I see some of you are anxious for information on the Godmother and I can assure you so am I………………….So, I promise as soon as the choice has been made you will read about it right here on the blog thingy.

Meanwhile, have a look at these photos of part of the Lido Deck area. Remember, this is a new class of ship for Carnival and follows on from the gorgeous Costa Concordia.

The mid-ship pool area is very different and is covered by a retractable doom. This will be superb during inclement weather and when it rains, we will close the roof and you will still be able to enjoy movies and events without scurrying for cover.

As you will see, the colours (spelt correctly) are vibrant and bold and will be exactly what we want them to be…………..a talking point. These exuberant colour schemes once again make Carnival ships unique and I can’t wait to see the ship. Meanwhile, for those who won’t get to see the Carnival Splendor for a while we will have a personal tour of our brilliant flagship with her interior designer Joe Farcus coming up really soon……………..what an honour.

As I mentioned a few days ago before the Carnival Splendor comes another super addition to the ever-growing fleet of Carnival Corporation ships……………..Holland America’s Eurodam. Two months ago I know we all enjoyed an interview with her Captain. Well, as she is just a few weeks away from her first voyage I thought we would catch up with Captain Jeroen van Donselaar to see how the ship and her crew are progressing.

1. Captain, we read your wonderful interview a few weeks ago and I thought we could check in on you and see how you are. Can you tell us how at what stage of readiness the ship is at?

Hello John, well I have been at the Yard a month now and progress has been amazing! Most public areas are 99% finished, in fact loading of loose furniture like chairs is well underway. This week we had a visit of Mr. Arison who was visibly impressed and congratulated the yard on the progress.

2. What are your priorities at the moment as Captain of the vessel?

At the moment, I am heavily involved with voyage planning. This means checking the tracks but also contacting the various agents in the ports that we will be visiting to obtain berthing information for instance. I am familiar with most ports, there are however a few new ones for me, such as Edinburgh.

Other than that I am working on various inaugural events with our PR department. The 5th and final ship’s staff officer; our environmental Officer Hans Crijnen has joined us this week so the management team is complete and we are very busy getting ready to move on board. This is a major logistical operation to move everyone from hotels and apartments into their cabins on board! 

3. As the ship gets ever nearer to delivery what do you think will be the highlights onboard for the excited guests?

I personally am very excited about the very contemporary yet elegant design of the ship, areas such as the Pinnacle wine bar and the Lido are absolutely stunning. I think the new PanAsian restaurant Tamarind will be a big hit too with our guests.

4. You will be meeting the Dutch Queen who will be the Godmother of the vessel. Are you nervous about this great honour and have you been told of any specific protocols for when you meet her?

No, looking ahead to this event does not make me nervous, I know that it has been organized very well and we have a lot of resources in place to make sure that everything will go smoothly and that it will be an enjoyable day for all!

Yes, I have been briefed on protocol, the biggest no-no would be to have ones cell phone go off….My only concern would be the rather unpredictable Dutch weather! Let’s hope for sunny skies!

5. Holland America has an incomparable tradition of excellence. What are the main factors for this do you think?

Well we have been at it for 135 years, the key to our success in my opinion is our crew, our Indonesian and Filipino crew with a mix of international is a truly winning combination.

6. Finally, as you navigate the ship away from the pierside what thoughts will you have and is there someone you dedicate your very successful career to?

This moment, of course, is rapidly approaching. We are moving onboard on May 31, the ship will be handed over to HAL on June 16 and our departure is on June 20. I feel extremely privileged that I was asked to be the first captain of the new Signature class Eurodam. Fincantieri and their partners have done an amazing job in turning this ship out to be what I believe is the most beautiful ship the company has ever had.

I am also very grateful to my parents who made it possible for me to nautical college now almost 25 years ago. I am looking forward to showing them “my ship” in Rotterdam!

Thank you Captain once again for taking your valuable time to write to all of us and we wish you and the ship’s company all the best. Remember, you can continue to share in the Eurodam’s adventures by clicking onto the link thingy at the side of this blog or go to http://www.eurodamnews.com/

Can I take the time to say thank you to everyone who sent me notes of congratulations about the Miami Herald article…………..I remain very humbled by the whole thing.

I am also very excited to report that we now have 400 guests booked on the Bloggers Cruise next February…………….I have so much to tell you all about what I have planned once onboard and will find the time to do very soon.

I continue to answer each and every question marked URGENT – STEPHANIE PLEASE HAVE JOHN REPLY and will continue to do so within 48 hours of you slapping on the question. Please keep the comments coming…………they are the lifeblood of this blog.

So, the packing starts tonight which means I am once again banned from the surrounding area and Heidi will be more dangerous than a Giant King Cobra with toothache.

So, it’s off to Europe we will go. Having just been to seven different European countries and having visited many more I thought I would give you my guide to European should you ever.

Sweden……………….I love the Swedes and it is surely a country that God made just after realizing that Belgium was not a good day at the office…………….and so he created Sweden and some of the most beautiful scenery you will ever see……………and…………the women………….well…………….let’s just say there is no word for ugly in Swedish.

For some reason you do not see many Swedish people on Carnival ships as they tend to sail on Costa and Princess, however when they have sailed………….they are brilliant, especially for bar revenue………………….I have never seen people drink more than the Swedes……..except maybe their neighbours the Finnish…………………it’s unbelievable.

I may have mentioned this before and while the Russians that stay in Russia are some of the most friendly and grateful people in the world the Russians that cruise are an entirely different breed. A Viking called Thor from Sweden may vomit on you and that’s nasty. But a Russian would happily garnish your dinner with a dash of polonium. And that’s so much worse………………and I guess because for so many years they had to obey the rules or be shot in the head…………..now…………..they say “Pissov” to the rules of today.

It’s entirely unfair that some people are born ugly or inherit a stupid last name or French ……however to be born Italian and male is to win the first prize in the lottery of life and it is Italian males that are my favorite people to sit and watch on a cruise. Many years ago I watched a very funny movie called “I Love You to Death” starring Kevin Kline as your a typical Italian man. …………rent the movie if you can…………

These men can be found right now in Naples, Tuscany and Sicily………their bare chests festooned with more gold than Fort Knox and making no secret that they are looking at your wife’s bottom…..this is as it is on the ships as well……….and they bring a wonderful Mediterranean flair to any vessel…………..I really must sail with Costa sometime.

As you know, me and the chaps from Paris are not exactly on each others Christmas Card list……………however…………….as much as I have concerns with the country’s inhabitants there is no doubting how beautiful France is. We don’t see many French onboard………and I wonder if that is why……………their own country is so stunning that they don’t seem to do foreign holidays, and with good reason. Does God leave heaven every August and take a vacation in hell? ………………….nope…………………and that’s why you never really see them anywhere except France……………why go anywhere else?

Just before I go I want to finish with more country. This country provides the world’s greatest engineers and their organizational skills are incomparable and again, I love having them onboard. However, I do remember a story from 2002 onboard the Carnival Legend. We were sailing out of the UK and heading on the same Baltic cruise the Carnival Splendor will undertake in July.

I will never forget the travel talk when I said something to a guest who had interrupted my talk. I thought what I said had been funny (can’t remember what it was) but obviously this guest didn’t think it was at all amusing.

Trying to cover his and my embarrassment I said “Where would we all be without a sense of humour….?” A voice from the back of the theatre shouted …………“Germany.”

They may not show a sense of humour while in their own country but my colleagues tell me that the moment they walk up the gangway of an AIDA ship things change and that an AIDA cruise is ……………..simply wunderbar and the people party and have fun like no other.

That is why I am so excited to visit an AIDA ship next week in Naples……………and as always I am going to take you all with me for the ride.

Time to go and get shouted at for not telling Heidi what I want to be packed. She, like me needs some sun and hopefully Italy will have George Hamilton and I in our Speedos soaking up the rays.
Here in the UK it’s raining, cold and miserable. I just heard on the BBC news that this April was the coldest on record…..because said Professor Norman Pittard ……..of global warming!

On that note:

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.