It’s 7:08 am and we are heading into Helsinki, Finland. Good Morning and while Heidi prepares herself to dispatch 1500 people on tour by spending 7 hours doing her hair I have just finished reading the news online. I always start my mornings by clicking onto the CNN, BBC and SKY news internet sites and seeing whats happened in the world while I have been asleep dreaming of Jessica Simpson and a swimming pool filled with whipped cream.

This morning the news really made me mad.

Let’s start with my old favorite topic The Alvironment……….. According to President Gore Global warming’s coming, and even if he stands on the beach waving his Toyota Prius at the advancing heat wave, it won’t make bugger all difference… But don’t worry, because I have a plan. The biggest threat we face, according to the Mr. Gore’s interview on CNN, is rising sea levels.

Plainly, then, there is too much water in the world, so why don’t we just call NASA and ask it to take some of it into space? Space is only 75 miles from the surface of the Earth, so why not make a giant hosepipe, dip one end in the sea and take the other end out into the void, where, of course, there is a vacuum. That means the water will be sucked up the pipe without the need for any energy-absorbing pump……..and that suggestion should have just won me a Nobel Prize which I will sell it on E Bay and buy 5 Polar Bear killing Range Rovers.

So, reading this had already put me in a bad mood and then I opened the incident report and through the sound of Heidi’s turbo charged hair dryer I read this:

Guest: Mrs ______ Ref: 002801272A Owner: (LEES) Judith Lerato Sefako
Cabin: _____Booking#: _______ Added-Changed: 07/17/08 – 07/18/08

6299 – Unhappy with the German Beer Party

Mr. and Mrs._______ Came to the desk to say that they were angry and upset about the German beer party held on Lido Deck. They said the party was a celebration of Germany and for them as people of the Jewish religion it was very bad. Mrs ________ was crying and her husband was shouting that he wanted a public apology from the Cruise Director.

Guests left the desk and Purser promised Cruise Director would call.

So, I did. ……………and before I got to even discuss the incident I was told off by Mr. _________ that I had woken him up……….it was 8:55am. I apologized and said I wanted to make sure that I had spoken to them before they went ashore today. The guests were indeed very angry at me and even though I tried to tell them that the German music the band played was in fact celebrating beer, life, partying and more beer……………but they would not listen. The husband shouted that his grandparents had …………..well………….you know……………I can’t even write the words. I wanted to argue with him, I wanted to tell him that out of 3,300 passengers only he had complained……….I wanted to tell him that I had been stopped a hundred times by guests saying how much they loved the bier fest and the band…………..

I wanted to tell him to stop shouting at me……………………..I wanted to ……………….but I didn’t. How could I……………..how could I say these things when he never got to meet his grandparents………………how could I do anything but apologize……………..so in the end……………that’s what I did.

So, that was me angry, upset and second guessing myself if indeed the German bier fest was such a good idea……………and it was only 9:30am…………..bugger.

Let’s change the subject then………………and talk about cigars.

Some of you may know that the cigar bar on the Carnival Glory has been changed to non smoking and cigar lovers now puff on their Cuban delights in the Sports Bar. This has received mixed emotion I hear. The cigar was designed to be smoked from the comfort of a big leather chair while listening to the soft sultry music of live jazz musicians. It certainly was not designed to sit and smoke while watching Bulgarian Women’s Basketball on ESPN 9.

However, on the other hand why should people who do not smoke not be able to enjoy the jazz music as well as walking through the lounge to get to the Internet café ……………the design of this on the Conquest class was not one of our finest moments.

This is a trial and from what I am told the Carnival Glory is receiving more complaints from the cigar smokers that their lounge has been lost. It’s obvious where my personal loyalties are on this one; however as someone involved in guest service I also see the big picture. So, over to you………….what are your thoughts?

Helsinki then today and another day of not going ashore. We had another plaque ceremony today and while it was not as boring as the one in Denmark it certainly wasn’t what you would call exciting. The highlight was a wooden boat which was presented to the Captain by the Pilot Association………and with respect………it looked like it had been made by Jari Lipmanen………….aged 7.

While I was suffering this and Heidi was finishing tour dispatch two of the staff went on one of the tours. Here are a few photos of beautiful Helsinki.

Now, let’s have a read of some letters in today’s In Their Own Words Section
(click on the letters to make them larger)

Just going back to Germany for a second ……….I hope you enjoyed the videos of our time there and you may have seen the people on the pier saying goodbye to the vessel. Well, we were trumped by the French………………and you know I hate that. However, there is no disguising how the people of Cherbourg welcomed the Queen Mary 2 from her trans- Atlantic voyage as these photos will show……………………..proof positive that Cunard really does rule the waves……………….maybe someone had told the people of Cherbourg there would be free cheese for everyone who came to the quayside.

During the next few days I will be highlighting some of the great Carnival crew who work alongside me here on the Splendor. I will post short interview written in their own words and I hope you all enjoy them. Here is the first………..an interview with Casino Manager Garaeth Miller whose nickname here onboard is “Arthur Daley.”

NAME Gareth Millar

DEPARTMENT AND POSITION Casino – Casino Manager

HOW LONG HAVE YOU WORKED FOR CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES
9 ½ years

WHAT DOES YOUR JOB INVOLVE
Overseeing the entire casino operation.

WHERE ARE YOU FROM
England

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB
Travel and the friends I have made.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR FAMILY BACK HOME
Mum, dad, both retired, one older sister.

WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST ABOUT BEING IN YOUR HOME COUNTRY APART FROM FAMILY
Watching football (real football) + having a pint with my mates in the pub. Miss the rugby too!

FAVORITE THINGS

MOVIE – The original star wars movies, everyone my age loves them I think!

MUSIC – Oasis – a massive fan!

FOOD – Has to be bangers – that’s sausages to everyone else.

IF YOU COULD MEET ANY FAMOUS PERSON IN THE WORLD WHO WOULD IT BE
A night out with the rolling stones. Me and Mick Jagger, now that’s a party.

IF YOU HAD TO DO ANOTHER JOB ON THE SHIP WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO AND WHY
I think something in entertainment, those guys get to do something they love and show everyone their talent, plus they get the most time off!

The most time off……………..cheeky git

And so it’s off to St.Petersburg we go. The guests will marvel at the wonders of the Hermitage, be breathless at the ornate splendor of Catherine’s Palace and gasp as the 150 fountains dance in the grounds of the Peterhof. It will be two days they will never forget but little do they know that dealing with the bureaucracy and ever changing rules and regulations of the government there is enough to drive a man to drink.

We knew about everyone needing a passport……………..we knew about everyone needing a photo copy of the passport……………..we took care of this yesterday…………and were then told that everyone’s photo copy had to be stamped…………..with the Carnival Splendor stamp…………..and each time a guest failed to meet these requirements the ship could be fined. Now, this in itself is ridiculous………….why does a photo copy that will be used for Mr. Bollockov the Immigration Officer to doodle on while he waits for his next victim need a stamp that says ” Carnival Splendor.”……………..I mean, it’s not like they are going to have to guess where Mr. and Mrs. Johnson from New York came from…………”Da, did youov comeov the bigove shipov orov did youov walkov from New Yorkov.”

This new rule has caused us to re think at the last minute our tour distribution. Originally, the guests were going to be given there bus sticker as they entered the main theatre but due to the popularity of one of the tours and this new stamp thingy I have had to change the procedure to avoid guests standing in line………..twice.

Here is the letter that was sent to all the 1,200 guests on the Grand Tour which is the 2 day tour that visits everything that this stunning city and beyond has to offer.

Well, we shall see how it goes and what delights the Russian authorities have in store. The Captain is also having difficulties from his side………gangways, garbage disposal, rules and regulations that would make your head spin. The biggest challenge will be though Immigration and how many officers they send to inspect the 3,300 guests. Priority will be given to the guests who have purchased a Carnival Tour and then a little later Immigration will see the guests on private tours………my biggest fear for them is that they have the correct paper work showing they have a visa to get by the men and women with the frying pans on their head…………………..I will let you know how it goes tomorrow.

One thing is for certain………..there will be a line for the Immigration inspection and there will be bugger all I can do about it. I spoke to our agent about this and he told me that to Russian people standing in a line is a national pastime.

NOW, I thought that it was us Brits and the Americans who liked to stand in line but compared with the Russians, we know nothing. They spent 70 years queuing for a loaf of bread and they know every trick in the book. I saw this first hand during the horrendous lines I stood in at Immigration and Customs at St.Petersburg Airport. Time and time again I’d blink, and that would be it………….Mr. Quehooperov who had been behind me would be in front of me in a nanosecond.

And I decided not to cough discreetly and tap him on the shoulder, since the shoulder in question was probably covered in some sort of Special Forces tattoos. A man being torn in half by two bears. A dagger in a head………….. that sort of thing………………….every where I looked I saw big men with even bigger friends………were they KGB…………were they Mafia………….or had I watched too many movies.

And that’s why I chose not to laugh at their swimming trunks when large groups of Russians cruised last year on the Carnival Freedom. However, I will now so I don’t mind telling you they were hilarious. Like Speedos but without the style, usually red or blue and purposely 2 sizes smaller than needed.

Still, they were better dressed than their wives. Elsewhere in the world the thong bathing suit is the preserve of George Hamilton or size 0 Supermodels. In Russia it is also worn by people who are eight tons or 80 years old.

Now I’m told that there are some extremely beautiful Russian girls. But obviously they’re all on the Internet, because the ones who cruised last year looked like they had been drinking botox and vodka and then forced to run a 100 yard sprint in a 90 yard gym.

Except one, who was like nothing on earth. Let’s start with her breasts, which were not vast. Vast is too small a word to convey the scale. When her boyfriend, who had a tattoo of a Siberian Tiger munching on a man’s head on his huge forearm, chose them from the catalogue, he’d probably been tempted by the ones marked “massive.” But in the end he’d gone for the top of the range. The ones known in medical circles as: “Oh, my God .”

The area underneath them had its own micro-climate where you could grow organic vegetables
The first thing I noticed though were her lips, which were so full of collagen she looked like one of those Brazilian rain forest people who have eaten a saucer.

So, I wonder what tomorrow will bring…………………you will know as soon as I do. One thing is for sure……………the reward of going through all the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune thrown at the guests by the authorities the reward…………….will be a visit to one of the most draw droppingly stunning and incomparable cities………………..in the world.

Before I go, I wanted to show you this comment card from the Carnival Fantasy. Big Tex just sent me this and I want to leave the last words to him and one very special lady.

Hey John-

I received the attached comment card from a guest. I thought it was fantastic. We’re even using it in a Corporate Training Program here on the Fantasy. When I read it to the entertainment staff they burst into applause. I just thought I’d forward it on to you as I thought it would be a nice addition to the blog. I got permission from the lady who wrote it to share it with you.

I hope you’re well and enjoying Europe.

Talk to you soon,

Tex

Goodnightov
Yourov Friendsov
John Buggerov 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.