Here we are in Monte Carlo. For the first ever time a Carnival Cruise Lines vessel sits among the rich and tanned’s playboy palaces known as Super Yachts. These are normally the center of the tourists’ attention but today all eyes are on the Carnival Splendor. 

However, there are some enormous buggers in the harbor including one called Octopus which looks like something a James Bond villain would be planning to conquer the world from.

Obviously, living on a yacht like that must be an extraordinary experience and some time ago I nearly ended up experiencing this for myself.

We all know the form at charity auctions. You have a few glasses of wine and then you spend an hour or so trying desperately to not buy a flying lesson or a book signed by David Beckham…………which was probably forged anyway,

I especially know the form because recently I was the auctioneer at a charity event to raise funds for the Lupus foundation during a cruise hosted by The Backstreet Gang singing group. The evening went brilliantly, mainly because two hands kept shooting out of the crowd buying just about everything, no matter how high the price.

With that experience so fresh in my mind I should have known better than to stick my hand up at an auction while I was home held to raise money for the charity Save The Children. I was invited by my friend Danny. It was a black-tie event and it was nearly a very tragic evening. 

The lot was a week on a 140-foot-long super yacht in the south of France. It has two speedboats slung over the back, 2 jet skis, 12 cabins, a crew of 8 (including a Chef) and the bar stools coated in whale foreskin. 

Ordinarily, seven days on this ocean-going champagne and caviar palace would cost (and I will put the prices in US dollars) $35,000, Bidding started at $5,000. Or rather it didn’t. Nobody put their hand up………………….so I did.

Now, I should point out that I didn’t have $5,000 to spend………and I have no idea what came over me………I just looked on as my hand shot in the air. It was holding a sign with my bidding number 58 on it and I started waving it about like a second grader asking teacher if he could go take a pee.

“At last,” he exclaimed, in an excitable, auctioneery way, “a bid of $5,000 from Number 58. Now. Who’ll give me $6,000?” The room, I noted with quiet satisfaction, was stuffed with several hundred extremely blonde women and an equal number of bronzed men who, I figured, would want to show their friends just how rich they’d become in recent years.

A minute passed and still no hands had gone up. The auctioneer was giving it his all, gyrating and twitching as though he’d become attached to the mains, but nothing.

Then the awful truth began to dawn. The women were blonde because they were hairdressers, not jet setting supermodels. And the men were brown because they work all day in the open air……….. on construction sites. Nobody was going to top my bid. …..and Heidi while getting a week on a yacht would have to go without the new cooker and freezer I had promised her………….and I would be a dead man.

I began to feel sick………I tried to tell myself that I just donated $5,000 to a worthy cause to protect children but at the same time my head was spinning from the obvious rain of terror that Heidi would bestow upon me….oh……and the fact that I had about $150 dollars in my wallet.

Going once……………I imagined the frying pan flying through the air towards my head

Going twice…………Maybe I could do a runner…….but I had given them my name and address when I signed on to bid……….someone had better get me a bucket because….

“I have a bid of $6,000 from number 23”……….I was saved. A wave of relief and joy flooded over me at the same time the auctioneer said “number 58…do I hear $7,000 “

All eyes, turned to me………..I tried to look calm and deep in thought. Everyone was probably thinking that I was seriously considering the offer when in actual fact I was considering shoving the auctioneer’s microphone down his throat.

I shook my head and sighed hoping he would bugger off and leave me alone.

He did.

It was over.

I had been stupid and nearly paid the price. I remember afterwards thinking that it wouldn’t have been too bad………a week on a yacht with the crew serving my every whim……..but that thought was short lived when Danny showed me some of the small print in the catalogue about what the price didn’t include.

Fuel for instance. And on a boat of this type you don’t measure consumption in terms of miles per gallon or even gallons per mile. Oh no. When you are topping up a vessel like this, you have to think of the diesel fuel in terms of tons. And then there are the mooring fees, which, in a port like Monte Carlo, will be hundreds and hundreds of dollars a night.

“So,” I said to myself, “even if I could afford to get the boat to Monaco, and I can’t, I wouldn’t be able to afford to park it there.”

Yes, and that’s just the start of it, because other things that weren’t included were drinks, food and, crucially, a tip for the crew, which is normally 10% of the charter fee. Great. I was facing a week on a boat, not eating, not drinking and not moving. Just recovering from the fact I’d had to walk to the south of France because I couldn’t afford the price of the airline ticket to get home.

It’s not until you put 3,000 paying guests onboard that you know what works, what does not work and what you should have thought of before they walked up the gangway.

So far our biggest concerns are these.

The WaterWorks floor is too slippery and we need to buy mats that will stop the kids smashing into the bulkhead at 50 miles an hour when they come down the slide. These mats should be here tomorrow and this will make it a safe and fun play area. Until we do the area stays closed.

The indoor music system…….that’s the one in the corridors and public areas are not functioning as it should with certain areas needing to be adjusted.

Apart from this everything is going very well indeed. We have 3,290 guests onboard with mostly guests from the United States and the following from around the world.

Argentina  
Australia  26
Azerbaijan 3
Bahamas  
Belgium 33
Belorussia  
Bermuda  
Brazil  9
Canada 290
Czech Republic  
Chile 2
China 4
Colombia  
Costa Rica  
Cuba  
Cyprus 14
Denmark 19
Dominican Republic 8
Finland 2
France 9
Germany  86
Guatemala  
Guyana  
Hong Kong  2
Iceland  
India  
Iran  
Ireland  
Israel  
Italy  24
Korea  
Malaysia 1
Malta  
Mexico 9
Netherlands  10
Netherlands Ant   
Peru  
Philippines 8
Poland  
Portugal   
Puerto Rico  5
Russia 67
Slovenia  
South Africa 8
Spain  
Sweden 2
Switzerland 4
Taiwan  
Thailand 1
Trinidad and Tobago  
Turkey  13
UK 401
Ukraine  
Venezuela   
TOTAL PASSENGERS 1160

 

So far, the mood is excellent. I had fun at the show last night and today everyone had fun ashore in Monaco. ………this included two of our Entertainment staff Jamie and Lauren who went to St.Paul De Vance……….here are their photos

 

 

The marina on the drive to St. Paul de Vence:

Welcome to St. Paul de Vence!
Welcome to St. Paul de Vence!
Jaime and Lauren posing in a very old alleyway!

Jaime and Lauren posing in a very old alleyway!

The graveyard where Chagall the artist is buried:

The only picture of the ship we could get from the moving bus!

The only picture of the ship we could get from the moving bus!

 

 

Some side streets of the 14th century village:

 

 

Today, I hosted what we call a first call plaque presentation. This is were people with medals on their chests and diamonds on their fingers sit and drink champagne and say nice things about having the Carnival Splendor in port. I then make a speech that no bugger understands as they all speak Italian or French then the Captain and dignitaries exchange plaques and we all hug.

I have one of these in every port…………so that means.

Barcelona, Lisbon, Le Havre (note to self: bring air freshener,) Dover, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Tallin, St. Petersburg and Warnemunde………..bugger.

Here then is the first wonderful guest comment received on the Carnival Splendor. I can’t tell you who the award goes to but she is indeed………..a worthy winner.

Owner:  __________ 
Cabin: ____ Booking#: _______ Added-Changed:
07/02/08 – 07/03/08

_____ -Unhappy with Tour

[7/3/2008 5:39:03 PM EMAK]
Mrs. ________ came to the Purser’s Desk and reported to Purser that she wanted to speak to someone about the tour she took today. Mrs. ________ said that she was upset because she had been told by the person on stage that the tour would take her to Monte Carlo and Morocco and they only did the Monte Carlo part of the tour.

Purser apologized and explained that the tour did not go to Morocco but to Monaco. Guest told Purser that this was misleading and she wanted a refund for not going to Morocco. Information passed to Shore Excursion Manager and Cruise Director who will talk to guest.

Ahhh yes……..the Monte Carlo and Morocco tour …..easily done if you replace the Volvo coach with a Boeing 747.

I called the guest and explained that Morocco was hundreds of miles away and in a different continent and time zone but she insisted I had said Morocco during my presentation. I then realized that this was going to be a no win situation and I apologized for not being clear and we will send her a little gift tonight at dinner. 

Before I hung up I asked her what she was doing in Barcelona tomorrow and she said …….. Barcelona…….I thought we were going to St. Petersburg?

How the heck did this lady get to Italy?

 

It’s been difficult going straight from day one into two port days. Tonight we have the show Vroom with the cast so I will not have any stage time. I feel a little disconnected from the guests and we are experiencing problems with the TV system now and the welcome aboard show has not been playing today which I have to admit makes me a little mad. It’s nobody’s fault……..well…….I guess its someone’s but I know people are working hard to fix it………I just don’t like not having that medium available to guests………….hopefully it will be working soon.

 

I am going to admit that the last few days I have been a bit…….well………………grumpy. I guess it’s because I want and demand everything to be perfect ……..not for me but for the guests. Most of what we are offering is but the little things ……….well………….to me they are big things and I guess I think they should have been tested and checked before we took guests onboard. However, I look at the smiling faces as I walk around and realize that mostly…………it’s just me.

 

Well today………..I refuse to be grumpy. The TV system may be showing my travel talk with no sound but as I write, the sky is a vivid blue and the sun is glistening through my window.

My blog is still the most read in the industry, people laughed at the show last night and I am married to a beautiful woman.
In fact, I’m so cheerful I would like to wish even the world’s most lunatic environmentalists a nice day. I’d extend that also to the Health and Safety Executive, the woman who threw an egg at my car last year, the passenger who called me “the sperm of the devil,” all politicians, and yes………even the French.

Not RCI, though………..a blogger who is onboard here this cruise told me that a few months a go the Cruise Director of the Something of the Seas had called Carnival “a cruise line that carried the same sort of people you would meet in a everything is a dollar store “…………….so, my good mood does not extend to him…………he can bugger off and I hope he gets a massive boil on his arse.

 

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.