The View

July 25, 2008 -

John Heald

Good Morning ……it’s 6:08 am and as I look out of my window I see the white cliffs of Dover, a ferry returning from Calais, France and standing on the pier are at least 50 people ……..and they are all knitting…………..or as some people call it………..fishing.

As I look out at these men and yes….they are all men……I wonder if they don’t like their wives any more and would rather spend six hours playing with maggots standing in the pouring rain. And I wonder why they just don’t go to the supermarket and just buy a fish.

I once had a go at knitting myself. Me and my friend Carl Buck decided it would be fun. The first thing after we bought our rods was to get some bait.

The man in the shop said that the best way to catch fish where I live is to use feathers. Righty-ho. So I should shoot a seagull and use its plumage to catch the fish? Great. And wrong. Feathers, actually, are little strips of tinfoil, each of which hides a hook.

So I bought a packet, tied them to the line and flicked them into the sea. Where they became attached to bits of rock and seaweed. I would pull and tug and yank until the line broke, so then I went back to the shop and bought some more.

Soon this became a routine. Get up. Go to bait shop. Buy feathers. Throw them into the sea. Lose them. Go back to the bait shop. Eventually, however, I met a man with a beard who said I’d be better off with live bait and a float.

This involves a lot of tying things to other things, but soon, I made my cast and watched as all the knots I’d tied came undone and everything just sank. Then I went back to the bait shop again.
Honestly, it would have been easier and cheaper to have thrown my wallet into the sea every morning. The shopkeeper said that in 30 years, he’d never known anyone lose so much equipment. And that was before the whole reel thingy came off on one vigorous cast and was lost as well. ………….bugger

This, then, was a typical day. Get up. Walk to sea. Undo knots. Come home…………..eat fish fingers from the supermarket.

Luckily, there were many local fishing experts in sandals and with beards on hand to explain what I was doing wrong, which apparently according the local beards was everything……….. Standing in the wrong place, making too much noise, casting incorrectly and wearing the wrong underpants
Eventually, one bloke told me to try spinners, which are shiny pieces of metal with hooks on the end. You toss them into the sea, reel them back, toss them into the sea, undo some knots, reel them back. And so on. Until you die.

Eventually after about 20 years standing in one place slowly getting frostbite surrounded by men with beards and smoking pipes I caught a fish.

I’m aware, of course, that most anglers free whatever they catch but this isn’t as easy as it may sound, technically or morally. Especially when the hook has gone right through the fish’s left eye.

It seemed wrong somehow to pull it out of the sea, blind it and then throw it back again. Life for a blind fish can’t be that easy.

So I hit it over the head and ate it with some chips.

So, debarkation has started and I have just returned from the gangway. It’s now 8:15 am and everyone seems to have a wonderful time and as I said my goodbyes there was a mixture of handshakes, hugs and one or two grumbles about the gangway yesterday in Amsterdam….but the smiles and hearty goodbyes tell me the cruise was a success. But as always I am still moody about yesterday in Amsterdam and the lines in St. Petersburg ……….and if I am honest I am probably thinking about this too much…………it’s just that I want everything to be perfect for the guests…………. all the time.

There are few people who are utterly contented with their life, their houses, their cars and the places they choose to go on vacation…………they are a rare breed indeed. Once, I thought I’d found the “perfect car.” I was driving through an beautiful part of the UK called Cornwall in my friends Ferrari 355…..you know, the one Magnum P.I. used to drive………….it was the most glorious summer evening, I remember saying to myself………..“I think I’m experiencing motoring perfection here.”

So I came home, got a bank loan and bought one and quickly found that actually it had seats that were as comfortable as sitting on a barb wire, my feet were too big to use the clutch without stepping on the accelerator and when I wanted to have it serviced it cost 1 billion dollars………I had bought a second hand Italian piece of mierde…………..and when I old it after just 6 months…………the car was valued at 3900 pounds less than I had paid for it……….bugger.

Perfect? ………….well I thought it was but it was nothing more than a rung in the ladder for the search of perfection.

I’m never quite content and I always feel I should have done more to make everyone’s cruise vacation ………well…………perfect. Heidi says I worry too much and always uses the same thing to remind me of this affliction.

You see, the view from the back of our house is wonderful………. Faultless in every way except that away off on the far distant horizon there’s an electricity pylon. And that’s all I see when I look out of the window. Everyone else sees the glorious countryside that makes Britain so beautiful…………..me…….. I see the pylon.
Oh well.

So, on with the day and time for a bio featuring a man whose responsibility is vast. The position of Chief Engineer is as equal to that of the Captain however while often the Captain is up front and at the center of attention the Chief Engineer is often working down in the depths of the engine room and therefore they are often the unsung heroes on any vessel.

Here is our very talented Chief Engineer whose talents I am proud to trumpet. We have been friends for years and I have watched through the ranks and here he is as Chief Engineer of the flagship. We have lots in common and maybe things we don’t agree with as you will see from his answer to who he would most like to meet in the world …………….so ladies and gentlemen it gives me great pride to welcome our Chief Tony.

NAME Antonio Colotti

DEPARTMENT AND POSITION Chief Engineer, Engine Department

HOW LONG HAVE YOU WORKED FOR CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES

23 years. First sign-on on TSS FESTIVALE on July 27th 1985

WHAT DOES YOUR JOB INVOLVE

When our guests make me this question I use to answer that me and my department are in charge for ….everything which lights up, moves and makes noise on board a ship. It is a very simple explanation but really gives the idea….we are responsible for the maintenance and repair of 99% of the technical system of the ship, the only exception is the entertainment light and sound system where we share a 50/50 responsibility.

This includes Power Plant and Main Propulsion, Air Conditioning, Electrical Distribution, Sanitary system, Galley equipment, Spa, Pools and Safety system, etc..etc..
Beside all this, my job involves taking care of all the 72 members of the Engine department both on a professional and a personal level. All operational and private issues of each of them become my issues as well and I do my best to help to solve them. Only an happy and bonded department can achieve great results. Somebody said that a group is as strong as his weakest member and we always try to get stronger together.

WHERE ARE YOU FROM

I am from LERICI, a small village on the North-West coast of Italy, in the Gulf of La Spezia, close to Genoa.

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB

That every day is never like the one before. In the engineering field on board ships there is really a wide range of different issues to attend, things to learn and solutions to be found. Our minds are constantly stimulated to give a fast solution to the latest emergency
or problem, a little like in the E.R. of a busy Hospital.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR FAMILY BACK HOME

I come from a huge family. My Grandmother had 4 sisters and 5 brothers, my mother has 4 sisters and 1 brother, you can imagine how many Uncles, Aunties and cousins I have.
I have only one brother and he is an Engineering Officer as well but he is smarter than me….. he quit ships 15 years ago.
I also have a beautiful wife and three kids, they are 15, 11 and… 2 months. Yes…I am back to handle dirty pampers and milk bottles and guess what….I love it.

WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST ABOUT BEING IN YOUR HOME COUNTRY APART FROM FAMILY

Being a Seaman since ever, it makes a lot of sense that I miss mostly…..taking care of the land around my house. Yes, I am kind of tired of water and I love the peace and relaxation of a day spent working around trees and stone walls when the time is given by the sun position in the sky.

FAVORITE THINGS

MOVIE “BLADE RUNNER”, “BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S” (yes… I am
a romantic also)

MUSIC All music, it really just depends on my mood. I think that
every occasion has the perfect music to go along.

FOOD it is like to ask to a fish if he likes water….I love EVERY kind
of food but my best, best, best…is RAVIOLI, as my
Grandmother used to make them.

IF YOU COULD MEET ANY FAMOUS PERSON IN THE WORLD WHO WOULD IT BE

Alive……Al Gore, I have a green soul and I was really impressed by his movie on the greenhouse effects.

Not alive….. My father. He was famous…at least among his family and
friends. I really would like to talk to him one more time…

IF YOU HAD TO DO ANOTHER JOB ON THE SHIP WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO AND WHY

What a question….the CRUISE DIRECTOR, of course. To be able to say always what I really think, with a smile on my face and have everyone to laugh thinking that I am joking……

HERE ARE A FEW RANDOM PHOTOS


Ship’s Compass


White Cliffs of Dover


Dover Castle


Dover Castle


Port of Dover


Splendor Bridge


Map of the Port of Dover


Flags of all our ports of call on the bridge


Port entrance

Well, I just got back from my welcome aboard talk and we seem to have a nice mix of people ……………….lots of British, lots of Spanish speaking and a much older crowd than last cruise. The words “old people” and “cruises” used to be mentioned in the same sentence like eggs and bacon, Romeo and Juliet and the French and running away…………it was a stereotype that thanks to Ted Arison and his son Micky has once and for all been thrown where it belongs…………. in the trash can.
Yes, we still have older people onboard but these are a new generation of older people.

Old people are now a damn sight fitter than they used to be in the days of Glenn Miller and I Love Lucy. My Dad is 70 million years old but there’s not a hint of incontinence yet. He spends hours in the garden and when Mum lets him he will spend days on end in the “doghouse” which is his workshop were he will build world class furniture …………….. if I am as fit and as coherent as my role model father is than I will be one lucky man.

Elderly people, then, are no longer content with a hardboiled egg and a nice view of some trees. They want to get down to the local DIY superstore for paint and a large hammer. On cruises it’s the same thing………….the days of sitting on deck wrapped in a blanket, reading Jane Austin and sipping cups of warm coco before going to bed at 7 pm have been replaced.

Now, they are on deck, sunbathing………….some still wearing bikinis and g strings ………….. the Jane Austin book has been replaced by the Karma Sutra and no longer do they want to hear In the Mood but want to twist and shag to the sounds of the Beatles and Motown. Yep, cruising for seniors has come a long way and on brands like Carnival, Holland America, Costa, Princess, P&O and Seabourn, AIDA and Cunard we really do have something for everyone of retirement years and beyond.

Well, it’s now 6:18 pm and we are still here in Dover. We should have sailed an hour ago but there was an accident on the M25 which is known as the biggest parking lot in the UK………it’s supposed to be a freeway but after one accident everything comes to a stop and there is more movement in the bottom of a constipated Hippopotamus than on the M25.

So, we have 5 buses containing 40 guests on each plus a truck full of luggage ……………. so, here we sit, waiting for the traffic jam to be over and the guests to arrive. I hate traffic jams, not because its frustrating and often at the end of the jam you have no idea why it just took you three years to go seven miles but because you know that when you are in a jam you are always going to be stuck next to the man who will be poking deep into his nose. I have been in traffic jams in the UK, Italy and Hong Kong but the worst jam was on I-95 in Miami. The traffic did not crawl. It did not move at all. The only way you could match what it might be like to be stationary for so long is to be dead.

Anyway, the truck and the passengers arrived and by 7:35 pm we were underway. The Captain said he will do his best to get us into port in Copenhagen on time. I am sure the guests who were on the buses are very happy and thankful to the Captain for waiting as are the people whose luggage arrived on the truck. Unfortunately the ship then sailed right in the middle of the show……………………remember I put the show in between dinner seatings at 7:45 pm. This meant that many people didn’t come and instead went to see the ship leave………………bugger………………but who can blame them.

It was a good show and hopefully everyone will see it on the TV………….Heidi says not to worry and that I shouldn’t worry about this or the late departure …….but. While everyone else says everything is fine and their view is one of happy guests……….all I can see………….. is that bloody pylon.

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.