The European Union

July 27, 2008 -

John Heald

Here we are in Copenhagen Denmark where today, out of absolutely nowhere the Danes have announced that they own the North Pole, and just in case anyone gets any fancy ideas that they don’t, they’re embarking on a series of surveys which will prove it.

Over the next few years they will spend $23 million demonstrating that the top of the world is connected by a vast underwater mountain range to Greenland, which is one of Denmark’s dependencies along with, er . . . the Faroe Islands and, um . . . Iceland. Oh no, hang on a minute. They lost that.
So why, you may be wondering, after two centuries of sitting in a sauna have the Danes suddenly decided to get themselves an empire? Well, they reckon that thanks to global warming the ice cap will soon melt, allowing man to access a subterranean lake full of black gold. Brilliant. Denmark becomes Europe’s Saudi Arabia and everyone in Copenhagen will have drive a Bentley and call themselves J.R Ewingsven.

Anyway, for now, the North Pole seems a long way a way as the temperature here was 86 degrees and by far the hottest day of the year so far in Europe …………this according to Lovely Lisa my favorite weather presenter. Unfortunately my plans to go ashore have been squashed by a head cold.

I will not go into details but I can tell you my head feels like Keith Moon has smoked an entire palm tree and is currently giving drum lessons to Ozzy Osbourne.

My nose is full of alien slime and a few moments ago I just sneezed over Heidi’s cherished house plant ……….which now looks like a Christmas tree complete with lots of shiny tinsel. I am not going to talk anymore about my cold……….last time I felt like this I got bugger all sympathy from Heidi who says I am a big baby, etc etc and then just as I started to feel better Monsieur Bells Palsy moved in for 5 weeks…………I will be buggered if that’s happening again………….so, positive thinking………….I am not ill………….there, I fell better already.

My goodness, the tours are popular this voyage………every single one today in Copenhagen is sold out so as I sit here and write Heidi and her troops are disembarking 1600 people on tour. Everyone else either has private tours or is walking into town to visit Tivoli Gardens or see the Little Mermaid…………….or have taken our horse riding tour. We have these in Copenhagen and in Finland we have a visit to a horse farm and a ride in a two person carriage thingy …………… horses ……….mmmmm………..have to be careful here.

I want to live an easy life, and have decided to steer clear of certain issues. Laying into Al Gore is right out………and so probably is the touchy subject of horses. I certainly don’t want to upset the many horsearists who read the blog but I guess I just cannot understand people’s total and undying passion for these things.

Horse ownership…………….. You can’t own one half-heartedly. Every morning you must go and clear huge piles of poo from the stables, and then you must spend the afternoon combing it and plaiting its tail and feeding it sugar lumps. And then each night, as you get into bed, each bruise and aching joint serves as a painful reminder to the fact that even though you were treating it like a princess it gave you a swift kick in the kneecap as a thank you. Horses take over your life as completely as hemorrhoids. You can think of nothing else.

However, these, like all the tours are proving very popular and I truly think the excursion program we have is one of the best we have ever offered.

The guests this week are great and last night even though we put the clocks forward one hour the ship was buzzing late into the night. Both shows were packed and both audiences gave the cast of the show we call The Beat huge standing ovations. Afterwards as I walked around I met people from the States, Canada, the UK, Spain, Argentina, South Africa and even a couple from Dubai.

All the comments have been wonderful and with the exception of a cabin that is right under the Promenade Duo and can hear their music, I had nothing but smiles and compliments……………and that makes me feel good. …………..Oh, by the way, the couple with the noise concerns is being looked after with a possible cabin switch.

Also, I wanted to tell you that this cruise we have 177 Platinum guests onboard …………that means 177 people who have cruised 10 times or more with Carnival. This is a normal figure on most of our ships each and every cruise…………….what a tremendous advert for Carnival that is. Have you got your Platinum card yet?

HERE ARE TODAY’S LETTERS…………….IN THEIR OWN WORDS.

Now, because of my cold I was not able to get off the vessel today and I forgot to ask the staff to take some photos. So, I am afraid I had to scramble around and take some just now at the past guest reception. So, with your forgiveness instead of Copenhagen shots here are some of the band, the techs and the guests.

Yesterday, I was talking about Carnival Corporation vessels spanning the globe taking passengers to exotic and rare destinations. With that in mind I thought I may share one or two with you over the next few days. Let’s start with a ship I visited recently in Portofino, Italy……..the Pacific Princess. She is a beautiful vessel reminiscent of a 5-star country inn and look at this upcoming cruise itinerary.

Venice, Italy
Split
At Sea
At Sea
Alexandria, Egypt
Port Said (Cairo/Giza), Egypt
Jerusalem (Ashdod), Israel
Nazareth/Galilee (Haifa), Israel
At Sea
Kusadasi (Ephesus), Turkey
Patmos, Greece
Santorini, Greece
Athens (Piraeus), Greece

Now that sounds pretty amazing doesn’t it?………Egypt, Jerusalem and onto to Turkey and Greece…….what a spectacular run.

Then, to the other side of the world we go to sail on Holland America’s Volendam which is offering this simply stunning voyage……….oh how I can see myself blogging on this trip.

Auckland, New Zealand;
Sydney, Australia;
Whitsunday Island, Australia;
Cairns, Australia;
Ribbon Reef Region;
Far North and Torres Strait; Darwin, Australia;
Slawi Bay, Komodo, Indonesia;
Padang Bai, Bali, Indonesia; S
Emarang, Indonesia;
Singapore

That’s a 19 day cruise leaving from New Zealand and all I can say to that is………..wow!
There you go, just two examples of how Carnival Corporation is spanning the world and that the cruising world is your oyster. I will feature a few more exciting destinations soon……PA 007 is looking at some of the more exotic for me and will let me know.

The ship cannot sail without her Captain and of course one other man or woman must also be onboard before the vessel can leave the dock………the Doctor………..so, I thought we should highlight one of our Carnival Splendor Physicians………..my friend Dr.Jason Wolfe,

NAME
Dr Jason Wolfe


DEPARTMENT AND POSITION

Senior Physician (Medical Department)

HOW LONG HAVE YOU WORKED FOR CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES

6 Years

WHAT DOES YOUR JOB INVOLVE

Routine & emergency medical care for all the guests and crew on the ship.

WHERE ARE YOU FROM
London, England

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB
I love the autonomy, and that I take full responsibility for medical care from beginning to end. I need to have skills in many different fields in medicine… Sometimes pre-hospital care, sometimes emergency medicine, sometimes orthopedics, sometimes surgery, sometimes anesthesiology, sometimes ENT, sometimes cardiology, sometimes pediatrics, sometimes gynecology, and sometimes even psychiatry. I love the variety of cases, and that anything can happen.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR FAMILY BACK HOME

A small family, mostly also in London.

WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST ABOUT BEING IN YOUR HOME COUNTRY (APART FROM FAMILY)
Walking to the shops, or the local park. Fast internet access.

FAVORITE THINGS
Traveling, Motorbiking, Climbing, Scuba Diving.

MOVIE
The Importance of Being Earnest

MUSIC
Classical

FOOD
A fresh salad sandwich in a granary roll

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

IF YOU HAD TO DO ANOTHER JOB ON THE SHIP WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO AND WHY
Quartermaster – I get to drive the ship, but none of the responsibility.

Thanks Doc and thanks for all you and your team do here onboard and your colleagues who perform life saving procedures everyday on ships around the world.

They say money makes the world go round ……….well, after just one and a bit 12 day Baltic cruises money has me in a spin and trying to explain to guests what country takes what currency. During the Meditteanean voyages this is easy because everyone has the Euro as their selected currency………..even Dubrovnik which although they have their local Kuna all the shops wanted and took Euros………..but on this voyage……….it’s a little harder to explain. One person really does not understand.

Guest: Mrs _______ Ref: 002801872A Owner: (YOKO) Yoshimi Okubo
Cabin: _______ Booking#: _________ Added-Changed: 07/26/08 – 07/27/08

_________ – WILL NOT ACCEPT U.S. DOLLARS

Mrs ________ came to the pursers desk and said that she had just attended the travel talk and was angry because she was told that nobody accepted U.S. Dollars in the ports. Purser confirmed this to be correct and guest got very angry saying that everyone took United States money on her last cruise to Italy. Guest said that all she had was US Dollars and if she changed them to Euros she would lose money on the exchange rate. Guest said that Carnival had misled her as passengers should have been told this before they left for the ship. Guest said she would not leave the desk until she had spoken to the Cruise Director who she said had given wrong information about the money…

So, I met with the guest and explained.

DENMARK. – DENMARK – LOCAL CURRENCY – KRONER WILL NOT EXCEPT U S DOLLARS BUT SOME SHOPS WILL TAKE EUROS

WARNEMUNDE / BERLIN – GERMANY – LOCAL CURRENCY – EURO – WILL NOT EXCEPT U.S. DOLLARS OR ANY OTHER CURRENCY

HELSINKI, FINLAND – LOCAL CURRENCY – EURO – WILL NOT EXCEPT U.S. DOLLARS OR ANY OTHER CURRENCY

ST.PETERSBURG, RUSSIA – LOCAL CURRENCY – RUBEL – WILL EXCEPT ANYTHING, EURO, DOLLAR, STERLING ALTHOUGH THEY PREFER EUROS

TALLIN, ESTONIA – LOCAL CURRENCY – KOON – WILL EXCEPT EUROS BUT NOT U.S. DOLLARS

AMSTERDAM, HOLLAND – LOCAL CURRENCY – EURO – WILL NOT EXCEPT U.S. DOLLARS OR ANY OTHER CURRENCY

LONDON ENGLAND – LOCAL CURRENCY – POUND STERLING WILL NOT EXCEPT ANY OTHER CURRENCY EXCEPT AT AIRPORTS WHERE THEY WILL TAKE EUROS

So you can see, it is a little complicated but as clear as I tried to make this the guest seemed totally frustrated that the information she had received from her Travel Agent was correct and that I was wrong……………everyone should and must take U.S. Dollars…………….boy oh boy was she mad at me.

And then there is this one.

Guest: Mr _____ Ref: 002801875A Owner: (YOKO) Yoshimi Okubo
Cabin: _______ Booking#: ______ Added-Changed: 07/26/08 – 07/27/08

___ – UNHAPPY WITH LINES/UNHAPPY WITH COLLECTING PASSPORT/UNHAPPY WITH US PLUG

Mr ———–came up to the pursers desk very upset as he had to wait in line. Mr. ———– stated that he had UK plug however there was no way he could use it in the cabin as he has a laptop with UK plug. Mr. ———- stated that if it was an hotel, he just needed to contact housekeeping to deliver to his room but now he was not able to use it. Purser apologized and advised that unfortunately we did not have UK sockets or adaptors but they did have them for sale in the gift shops. Guest said that he was a Doctor and should not have to pay for an adaptor.

Mr. ________ stated that he wanted to speak with someone in charge of everything. Purser advised that purser would pass on his comments to the office manager however at the moment we could only offer an extension cord if it would work for his laptop. Purser showed an extension cord but it was not what he wanted. Mr. ——– was not happy with all the situation and repeated again over and over again and stated that he wanted to speak with manager. Purser advised again that all his comments would be documented to the relevant departments as well as office manager. Mr. _______ left swearing and shouting about the plug…

Now, I should once again remind you that these cases are isolated and whereas a few guests may expect the world to revolve around them, 99% of guests know what to expect and come prepared.

Two similar points of view…………..both expecting too much…………but when we talk about plug sockets………..maybe something should be done.

If I was President and Prime Minister In Chief of the World I would before thinking about standardizing one currency “The Bugger”……..I would standardize how to get electricity out of the bloody wall.

In the old days I used to travel on vacation or business with a nail file and some nose hair clippers but now we need to charge the batteries for our mobile phones, blackberrys, raspberries, computers, Eye Pods all of which need a vast array of plugs and adaptors……..so much so that you need an extra suitcase just for these. Then of course the 14-year-old girl behind the EasyJet checkout desk asks if you have any electrical appliances in there……….is she having a laugh.

This has meant that when I travel I need more and more suitcase room. I remember the days when I would travel with just a carry on and had developed a routine where one pair of underpants would last me five days. You wear them the proper way round for the first two days. On day three wear them back to front. Day 4 and 5 you wear them inside out.

But of course its the socket in the wall that makes you want to eat your own hair in a fit of madness and frustration as I discovered during the Baltic FAM trip a few months ago……………..I checked what I would need before I started my trip and honestly I had so many wires I looked like a roadie for a Rolling Stones Concert. Europe could learn from America where every state has the same socket …………… now that’s sensible.

Oh, and while we are at it, why can’t hotel elevators be the same all over the world…………why can’t they all have a button that says “G”……….that’s the ground floor, that’s where the reception is and that’s where you know to get off. However, some have ” 1″, some have ” L ” some have ” R ” …………and by the time you have figured out what button to press you have ridden the elevator up and down for an hour before finally ending up in the boiler room.

Europe though as our cruise ship passengers are learning is certainly not united and while many have adopted the Monopoly looking Euro as the currency they remain defiant that they will not take the best bits of other countries and adopt their polices for themselves.

For example………Germany, the U.K., Finland etc all have strict Customs officers standing to meet you when you land or dock…….I would like to see these countries adopt the Italian system……….i.e………no system at all…………everyone just walks through while Officer Rocco fixes is hair and looks at bottoms.

Toilets…….ahh the winners here are the efficient Germans. Never wanting to waste anything they have two buttons on the toilet. One for a regular pee or a pre dinner poo and a second button which sends down a Niagara style gush of water guaranteed to remove even the most stubborn Richard the Third…rhyming slang.

Finally, there should be a European and Universal whipping boy to be the butt of everyone’s jokes. The Brits have the Irish, The Irish have the Brits, The Swedish have the Norwegians, The Dutch have the Belgians and the Germans have the Austrians……………well, it would be nice if we all had one currency and one socket in the wall and it would be a stronger European Union ………. if we all made fun of the French.

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.