What a beautiful day. The Baltic early morning haze gave way to a fresh and breezy day with temperatures just reaching 70 degrees. The ship kicked off its shoes, sat back and smiled a giant smile at thoughts of those friends and family back home around the world at work, school and not on a cruise.

There was, however, a fly in the blueness of it all. Normally when the sun puts his hat on, someone on the weather forecast will tell us precisely how long we can spend outside without catching cancer. …………….which is understandable.

This week, however, the weather forecasters and news reporters have come up with a new idea. They started this in Beijing for the Olympic coverage and suddenly on CNN and BBC and SKY they are warning us that the warm weather across the world may cause smog which may lead to breathing difficulties and now we are given “Air Quality Reports.” Now I understand that this may be useful if you are running the marathon in Beijing but do we really need to know this in everyday life?
This morning on SKY weather report the Lovely Lisa warned the UK that the air quality was a little lower than normal and to be careful if going outside.

I mean. What kind of sad, friendless person peels back his curtains on a sunny day and thinks: “Oh no, there may be smog, I had better stay in”? Well, matey, whoever you are, just because you spend all weekend in the darkest corner of your mother’s attic, downloading photographs of naked ladies, doesn’t mean we have to as well. So get back to your internet and leave us alone.

This kind of thing doesn’t happen in America. And in the land of the free and the brave you aren’t warned on the radio to stay indoors whenever it stops raining. What you get there is: “It’s a beautiful morning in the Bay Area. We’re expecting highs in the upper twenties. Here’s The Beach Boys.”

What you get in the UK is: “It’s a beautiful morning in the southeast. We’re expecting thousands of people to choke to death. Stay indoors. Here’s some Chanting Monks.”

Anyway, the air is totally free of smog here in the crisp and fresh just out of the washing machine Baltic. Guests seem very relaxed so far and the report from the purser’s office seems to be much lighter than usual although I will be sharing one with you later.

Once again you have to feel so very sorry for the 48 guests who have no luggage including 21 of those all from the same British Airways flight from Toronto to London. As always, our Pursers are working hard to recover these. You have to wonder though ………is the fault of technology or is it the fault of someone with the brain capacity of a frog and just can’t be bothered to check that 21 suitcases go on the right plane ………… anyway, regardless I hope they get their belongings soon.

Now, the passport situation seems to have been resolved and anyone who may have been a little tempestuous about handing their passports over seem to have calmed down and after some careful explanation all seems to be well. There are one or two people who seem a little upset about the itinerary changed but considering we have 3,300 onboard and only four have expressed some concern………well…………that’s not bad.

Tonight we will be reading through last week’s comment cards. The ratings from last cruise came back today. We have discussed comment cards before here on the blog thingy and I think I have also mentioned that the ratings and results can, if need be, be manipulated by the Cruise Director………….and to be honest, they normally are.

We ……..and I include myself in this…………..do tend to use certain wording that can persuade guests to give a rating that maybe they may not have done otherwise. I have also said before that our rating system of Opportunity for Improvement………..Met My Expectations………….Exceeded My Expectations…………are somewhat difficult to understand. I mean………last cruise we had 1,700 past guests…………that means 1,700 came back again to Carnival because they knew what to expect…………they knew the food would be awesome………….the entertainment outstanding…………and the staff superbly friendly……….so………..why would that exceed their expectations?…………..they new they would have a great time and they did.

Anyway, when you start a new vessel it is important that you get the honest feedback from the guests, so the last two cruises instead of dropping to my knees and begging for an exceeded rating I have simply said, “Here is your comment card…….please give me your honest opinions.” And they did. And obviously the rating was not as high as normal …… probably 10 points or so lower……..but……………its an honest rating and after years of manipulating them its quite refreshing to be able to just to say “tell me what you think.”

The most important rating though is the percentage of people who say they had enjoyed their cruise and last week out of 1,255 cards returned ………….96.8% said they enjoyed their cruise and would come again and…………would recommend Carnival to a friend ………………….job done!

I will continue to ask for honest opinions and I hope that Carnival returns to a simplified version of the card giving rating options such as Excellent, Good and Poor…………what do you think?…………..comments please……………and oh yes………….what do other companies do…………….what do other Cruise Directors say?

Here are a few photos of the town of Dover, U.K.

And is a lovely drawing from a junior cruiser and a letter requesting help with a marital dispute.

Have you seen the latest photos from Bill Zydecocruiser of the Carnival Splendor ………. honestly they are fabulous…………have a look

http://www.zydecocruiser.com/splendor/splendor.htm

Well, there a few bloggers sailing again and a special hello to Ray McTeague who brought me a cigar and who is reading the blog via the Internet cafe. …………thanks Ray and I hope you enjoyed the gift I sent you in return. Its great to have you here and congratulations on your Carnival Platinum membership……….see you soon.

Hello also to all the bloggers who have joined me this week…………..I hope to meet each and every one of you.

OK, talking of blogging lets talk about the bloggers cruise. In the last few days we have achieved the following.

1. We have chosen the complimentary and exclusive gifts that each of you will receive. I am not telling you what they are but one of them is outrageous and quite honestly I have no idea why anyone would want one………..but I am assured by a few people we tested it on that you will. Anyway, I hope you enjoy them.

2. Lets talk about the pre cruise activities…………….here is Stephanie to give you an update on hotels and the pre cruise activities. STEPHANIE OVER TO YOU.

Hi Everyone,
Right now I’m giggling at the thought of some of the things we have planned for the Blogger’s Cruise and wish I could share a lot of the details, but then what fun would that be? In the meantime here is information on the pre-cruise festivities.

We turned in the registration form for the New Orleans charity and are awaiting their okay before we make a formal announcement. Remember, we’re a rather large group, so the coordination is taking a little more time than usual. But I can tell you that they are a local organization in New Orleans that started from true need after Hurricane Katrina. We are really excited about working with them and hope to tell you all the details soon.

And, after a hard day of helping the community we’ll be having a get together at our group hotel. We’re working on making it easy for everyone and are coordinating travel from the airport, hotel, charity event and port- plus planning a great shindig. So as soon as the package is all ready we’ll let you know all the details. We have people from Carnival’s Air Sea, Public Relations, Marketing, Shore Excursion, Volunteer/Community, Groups, Purchasing and Entertainment department all working hard on making this year’s blogger’s cruise even better than the first, so be sure to check the blog for updates.

See in you in February!

Stephanie

Thanks Steph…………that sounds wonderful. I want you all to know that Steph has been working so very hard on this and honestly…………getting a charity in New Orleans to accept our offer of help was harder than you would think……….in fact at one point I nearly gave up…………….however, as you can Stephanie didn’t and it looks like we are going to have a heck of a fun time and be able to do what we wanted to from the start………..help the people of New Orleans rebuild.

Now, as I mentioned, I will not be the CD but I will be hosting private activities for all the Bloggers including.

DINNERS
TEA TIMES
Q AND A’S
THE MALE NIGHTGOWN CONTEST
COOKING WITH JOHN AND KEVIN
Oh and…………………….A SURPRISE!

There will be bloggers only Capers and most importantly the chance to renew friendships and make new ones.

ARE YOU COMING?

OK, time for the comment of the day.

Guest:Mrs——— Ref: 002802390A
Cabin: ____ Booking#: 5SN927 Added-Changed: 08/06/08 – 08/06/08

_____ – NEGATIVE COMMENT ABOUT CARNIVAL CAPERS

Mrs_________ came to the desk to say that she was unhappy with the Carnival Capers. Guest stated that the information on the Capers said that the dress code was Cruise Casual which she said means nothing to her and she has spoken to many others who agree. Guest states that on Cunard and Silversea cruises a full explanation of the dress code is given. Guest also stated that the Carnival Caper was of poor quality and had no port information included or maps. Guest also said that the other guests onboard were of a lower standard than she was use to and did not dress well around the ship. Purser apologized and offered to explain the dress code but guest walked away from the desk. Comment e-mailed to Cruise director for follow up…cc: Hotel Director and Chief Purser

So, let’s start with the comment about the Carnival Capers. Maybe its not bright and shiny like Cunard’s or Silversea but then our cruise prices are a little different and there will be port information in the Carnival Caper when we actually……..ummmm……..get to a port…………we are at sea and the nearest port is the bottle in the cigar bar.

As for dress codes………….well………..excluding the fact that the words Cruise Casual are pretty self explanatory and ignoring the fact that 3,300 other guests understood I called the guest and explained……….she still said that the words were pointless and that a full description should be given on what guests can and cannot wear. She is right, that’s why we have a flyer in the cabin describing this….but she wanted it in the Caper. I apologized. She also told me that she felt the guests on the ship were dressed “in a cheap and ugly way” today……………………….back to that in a moment.

I can understand a little of how this guest is feeling as I hate getting party invitations with dress codes included and anyone who feels they need to tell their guests how to dress is nuts. To me, including a dress code implies that you are a control freak or you are very worried that the people you have invited will turn up wearing an all in one leather suit with the arse cut out. When Heidi and I are home we receive a lot of invitations for dinner parties and social gatherings and if they include a “suit and tie” dress code, they will have more chance of winning the lottery and waking up to find their wife is not the one the went to bed with the night before who had been savagely beaten with the ugly stick but is in fact Catherine Zeta Jones……………….my best mate Alan sent 40th birthday party invitations with a dress code that said “formal” on it and that was me…………..sweat pants and a T-shirt…………….he couldn’t say anything……………most people bought him socks and soap for his birthday………….I got him a cruise.

Anyway, I shall do as my new friend suggests and add more information on what to wear and what not to wear in the Capers…………oh and hers will be printed on pure gold …….. just like Cunard’s.

I was surprised and somewhat defensive when Mr S. Nob said that all the other guests were “cheap and ugly.” I wonder how she will react on formal night when not everyone is dripping in designer dresses and Brioni hand made Italian suits……………my tuxedo was designed by Omar the Tent Maker and my shirt and shoes will be by that well-known designer J.C. Penney.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder ……..this is the case in cars, paintings, sofas, clothes and of course people.

And animals. If I told you the Brown Spotted Dung Beatle – the ugliest creature ever to walk the earth – was in danger of extinction, you’d be happy. If, on the other hand, I showed you a picture of some cute little tiger cub that was about to be dismembered by a person from China who wanted its bones to make his penis bigger, you’d be on the first plane to Beijing.

I am sure this is not the last we will hear from Mrs. S.Nob………………….tune in tomorrow for the next thrilling episode.

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.