The Return of Bubba

August 10, 2008 -

John Heald

Patience………lots and lots of patience……………that’s what you need here in Russia this morning as the authorities check every passport and tour ticket. I disembarked the guests on private tours first this morning because last week it took the average guest 30 minutes to get through Russian Immigration. This morning, it’s the same. You see, the Carnival Tour ticket serves as a visa but privately booked tours are checked much more carefully to make sure that indeed the tour operator is reputable and that guests are not just hoping to have Sergei the cab driver take them to town.

I actually feel sorry for these guests as while the guests on tours go quickly through the line on the other side takes much longer………..I wish there was something we could do but all I can do is to prepare everyone and remind them that the reward for a bit of patience is touring one of the most impressive cities in the world.

One couple are not getting off the ship today………………here’s why.

Guest: —————Ref: 002802658A
Cabin: 1—– Booking#: _________ Added-Changed: 08/09/08 – 08/09/08


Guest called asked to speak to Cruise Director. Purser asked if she could help and Mr._________ said he and his wife would not be disembarking on their tours in St.Petersburg as there was a war going on in Russia. Guest asked for full refunds of his tours and wanted to speak to the Captain or John. Purser told Mr._______ that she would pass on his comments. E mail sent to Cruise Director

I called the guests and did all I could to explain that the distance between where we were and where the fighting was taken place was more than the distance between New York and Miami and was in a very specific area. Mr._____ would not change his mind and felt that Carnival should not be in Russia under the current climate. So, he and his wife will be staying onboard……….and they will have the ship to themselves……….its 12:22 pm and we have only 388 guests onboard……….most of them will be on an afternoon tour. It makes me sad to think that this couple have traveled all the way from Washington State and now will not see the best port of call on the itinerary…………….what a shame.

While I feel sorry for these guests I am having to bite my tongue when it comes to dealing with Mrs. S. Nob who made another full frontal attack last night as you are will now see.

Guest: —————-Ref: 002802698A
Cabin: ————Added-Changed: 08/09/08 – 08/10/08


Mrs. __________ came to the desk wanting to speak to the Maitre D or the Hotel Director. Mrs._______ said that she had told her state room steward that she wanted dinner on her balcony served tomorrow night while in St. Petersburg. Guest said that she had wanted food from the Pinnacle Steak house served but the cabin steward had said that this would not be possible. Purser checked with Maitre D Ken who confirmed that this would not be possible but that he would send food from the dining room. Guest then started shouting demanding to speak to the Captain and raising her voice saying she was a VIP .Guest then said she wanted dinner at 8 pm and to send the menu to her cabin. Chief purser will follow up and Maitre D will contact as well.

And, to meet her expectations tonight, she will be served dinner on her balcony with a beautiful view of the containers stacked up in the shipyard. It’s dirty and smelly but never the less I hope she enjoys her balcony dinner……….. and hopefully every mouthful of her food will contain a fly the size of Jeff Goldblum.

Here are today’s letters for the In Their Own Words Section.

Thanks so much for all the great comments you are posting. I hope you all enjoyed the interview with the Captain of the Seabourn Legend and I thank him again for taking his valuable time to do this. Remember if you have any questions or need an immediate reply please let me know by adding the words “John, Please reply, urgent” to your posting and I will reply immediately.

I would like to take the time to welcome all the new readers many of which joined us having cruised last voyage here on the Carnival Splendor. I read all your comments and I thank you so much for cruising with us and hope you will stop by as often as you can here on my thingy.

Well, it’s raining now and thank goodness it’s just started when everyone who wanted to get off the ship is off. If this rain had fallen 45 minutes earlier many people would now be touring St. Petersburg with very wet clothes. I am going to meet with the tour operator now so while I am away from my desk I would like to leave you in the company of an old friend. …………’s Chris “Bubba” Roberts, Cruise Director of the Carnival Spirit.

August 5, 2008

Greetings to all out there in the blogging world. My apologies for not writing more, but it is difficult to maintain the time for both being a cruise director and the commitment for writing something fresh and interesting all of the time. Again I say my hats off to John for his ability to create each and every day.

I am motivated to write tonight as we are pulling into our debarkation port of Whittier at the end of another Northbound Alaskan cruise. Last night I received word of my grandfather passing away unexpectedly. It is the 2nd time in the last 6 weeks that this has happened to me. My grandmother on the other side of family passed at the beginning of July. When that happened I did decide to leave the ship and return home for the week to support my mother and family.

When I received word about my grandfather, everyone in the family was telling me that I did not need to come, but I was not too sure. I felt that I needed to go, but decided to sleep on it. In the morning I went about my normal business of being a cruise director. Senior management meeting, debarkation talk, questions and answers and more. Took a few moments in the afternoon to call my mother and father, after speaking with them both decided that they were right and that I would not come home.

Feeling sad during the day I spent the afternoon to myself. I had asked one of the hosts to cover my Newlywed Game for me as I just didn’t feel up to doing it. I didn’t really tell anyone about my loss, other than my ACD who I was on the phone with when I got the e-mail from home and of course my fiancé Julie who was also with me at the time. I spent some time on my balcony watching us sail through college fjord. Today was one of those post card Alaska days as we sailed by the beautiful mountains and incredible glaciers. I decided that I would grab my camera and go and take some photos of Harvard Glacier from the bridge as it was such a nice day. I figured it would be a good distraction for me to get it out of my mind.

So I arrive on the bridge to find Captain Marchetti, our naturalist Michelle, the Alaskan pilot and the other bridge staff enjoying a beautiful day. We watch as the ice bergs and sea otters passed by the ship. Captain Marchetti is one of my favorite captains to work with as I think he has an incredible sense of humor. He makes me laugh with his own language that only he and people who know him understand. So immediately coming to bridge I felt better as he had me laughing within minutes of coming to the bridge.

The captain was tending to his garden. He has plant pots surrounding the whole port side bridge wing. He tells me he’s trying to grow a salad that he can eat. I am not sure when he’s planning on eating this salad, but I think it should be ready sometime next season. He’s growing all sorts of tomatoes, peppers, chives and more. We shoot the bull for a while as I snap some pictures, talk about the weather and other regular ship gossip.

He asks me a few questions about my camera and then also asked me if I could send him some of the pictures that I had taken from the bridge. I of course said I would and in a bold moved said to him….”it’s such a nice day out, you should let me take the rescue boat out and I can take some picture for you of the ship with the glacier in the background.” I expected him to laugh and say whatever….his response….call the staff captain…and then he gives me the big smile.

So I respond the captain, “I’m not going to call the staff captain and tell him to give me a rescue boat.” We go back and forth over this for about 30 seconds, then the captain tells the quartermaster to call the staff captain. Which of course he does, and the quartermaster tells the staff captain, that the master wants him on the bridge. Less than a minute later the staff captain is on the bridge and the captain points at me and says “he would like something.”

Here I explain to the staff captain that I jokingly said I would like to take the rescue boat out to take some pictures of the ship and the glacier and that I was sorry to trouble him to call him away from his work for such a thing. The staff captain looks out the window and says…”Okay, let’s go.” Call the photo manager and meet me at the tender embarkation in 15 minutes.”

I ran off the bridge, grabbed my hat and jacket and headed down to the tender embarkation and met the photo manager. A few minutes later the rescue pulls up to the side of the ship with the staff captain, safety officer and one of the quartermasters. We jump on and head out.

What an amazing experience. As we moved around the ship and could truly appreciate the size of the glaciers in comparison to the Spirit, I realized that even though sometimes this job has you far from family that you wish you could be with, but that there are experiences here that would be impossible if you were to stay at home. I guess that’s the ying and yang of working at sea. My grandfather had the opportunity to sail with me a few times in my career, he must of have been smiling down on me today to see me have such an opportunity come my way.

On the rescue boat, me, our safety officer Antonio, Staff Captain Adriano and one of our quartermasters.

The lesson learned from the whole experience, if you don’t ask, you’ll never get. This whole thing rates right up there in my top ten cruise ship experiences.

Thanks again for letting me stop by. Just a few more weeks left up here in a Alaska and then we’ll be heading back to Hawaii!

Chris aka “Bubba”

Chris, all of us send you our heartfelt sympathies for the loss of both your Grandparents. For all of us at sea, leaving loved ones at home is the greatest hardship we have to endure and not being there when someone is promoted to glory………well…………lets just say I know how you feel mate………..I went through the same thing with Granddad Don back in 1994…………….we are all thinking of you mate.

On a happier note I want to congratulate you Bubba on a brilliant advertisement for the Carnival Spirit and an incredible advertisement for Alaska. I don’t know about you but seeing those photos and reading Bubba’s adventures makes me want to fly there right now and get on the Carnival Spirit and see the last frontier for myself.

Bubba will be receiving a visit next week when a Blogger who lives in Alaska will be visiting the ship for the day to deliver Bubba a gift. I am not going to tell you what it is but Bubba………………….please send us a photo. Please join me in thanking him for a great blog…………………cheers mate.

This morning I called Alan my mate who told me two things. Firstly, he had met one of his ex girlfriends called Sally while out shopping…….not such a big deal you might think and neither was the fact that Alan didn’t recognize her……..however that is probably because Sally has had a sex change operation and is now called Barry……………..if I had been a girl and dated Alan then I too would have done everything I could to rid myself of that memory.

Anyway, after ripping him to bits about the fact that his only ever girlfriend is now a bearded carpenter called Barry I also discovered that Alan’s sons class is on a school trip…… the Olympics!……………he’s 12 years old…………..and he’s watching the Olympics ……….in China………on a school trip.

The trips run by my school, back in the 1970s, weren’t remotely exotic. Once we were taken to a Museum in London with just a Penguin biscuit for lunch (Google that), but this was an exception. Mostly, they’d load us onto an old bus, which would then be driven by a chain-smoking retired person to the countryside where we’d be made to walk five miles through a swamp to look at the birds…namely Kestrels, Hawks and Blue Tits. …………I mostly had eyes for Julie Kilworth’s ……umm…….Kestrels.

Today, things seem rather different. Kids in small school are already talking about whether they want to go deep sea fishing in the Maldives or skiing in Colorado. Or maybe both. “Oh please, Dad. Porsche and Beyonsay are going, so why can’t I?” …………… of 12 these days have more air miles than Condeliza Rice.

And big school, of course, is much, much worse. School magazines in the olden days — i.e. the 1980s — used to show photographs of well-scrubbed boys and girls at their desks learning Latin. Now, school magazines look like brochures for Cunard.

They’re full of boys and girls building water distribution units in Chad and environmental viewing platforms in the jungles of Costa Rica. I’m not sure this is a good idea because if a child has tackled the Zambezi, rescued 14 Peruvian tribes from Burger King and colonized Mars by the time they’re 18, what’s left?

Mostly, when I was young, we went on holiday to Devon

So when I reached adulthood I went traveling and I guess………..I still am.

As a result when I am eventually at home I now sigh and mince around with shoulders like a bent coat hanger if I even have to go out the door to the supermarket.

I have a horrible feeling that my kids are going to leave school not prepared for the world…….. but sick of it.

Obviously they will be far too tired for any further education. Instead, they’ll come home from their exams having done much too much, much too young. This will mean they’ll spend the next 10 years of their lives eating burgers and drinking beer while shooting zombies on the PlayStation.

One last note, do you remember the lady whose mother was tragically killed? Well, I mentioned her a few blogs ago and as you may remember Susan is traveling on her own and is as you can imagine feeling pretty down. Well, yesterday, at the morning show I had mentioned (without any details) that we had a lady who was on her own and if there was anyone else of a similar age to give me a call.

Well, I had 11 different people get in touch with me and in the end I managed to put 5 of them (all single older ladies) together at dinner and changed their tours around so they could all be together today and tomorrow in St. Petersburg. I had given Susan my direct phone number in case she needed something……….and she just called me…………crying a little……….but this time they were tears of happiness and gratitude that she had made new friends, toured St. Petersburg with them and said a prayer for Mum in the Church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood……………she was happy………………..and so therefore …………. am I.

Your friends
John, Heidi and Susan

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.