Well, she has complained about the service, the entertainment, my jokes, the guests, the guests having too much fun and laughing and finally this morning she complained because unlike other lines we were not going to pack her suitcases for her.

And so, finally she ordered a meeting with Ken and myself and the wonderful Mrs. S. Nob informed me that I was “lower class” and “could never be a Cruise Director with her beloved Silversea Cruise or Cunard Line “………this was , she told me due to my “sexist humor” and “scruffy looks.”………….finally……..before strutting off like a constipated peacock she referred to the Maitre D Ken and I as………

I disagreed, saying I preferred to be called working class, but Mrs. S. Nob had no intention of listening and had already buggered off. ………..I just had to laugh while Ken just shook his head.

I am not going to talk about this lady anymore and I have come to the conclusion that nothing I or Ken does will make this lady happy. Instead, we will stand aside, doff our working class caps and say goodbye to a sad lady who probably has a million dollars in the bank but bugger all friends to share it with…………….she was annoying ……. spiteful and an unadulterated snob…………but,……………..I feel sorry for her…………….I really do.

Good Morning………and what a beautiful day at sea and no wonder everyone is relaxed, happy and enjoying the day. It’s 65 degrees, there is not a cloud in the sky. Guests are shopping, gambling, listening to music and enjoy all that a Carnival fun day at sea has to offer. I have just finished the Debarkation talk and the Amsterdam talk as well as a 45 minute Q&A……………more on that in a moment. So, I had informed the guests that we would enter the lock at Ijmuiden at about 7:30 am which would put us alongside on schedule at 10 am. That was at 11 am………then I got this e mail.

Sent: Saturday, August 16, 2008 12:37 PM
To: Distlist Splendor
Subject: FW: AMSTERDAM ETA/ETD – August 17, 2008

Good afternoon, To all concerned. Be informed that our ETA at Amsterdam Pilot Station has been anticipated to 03 a.m. due to traffic congestion in the Lock. We will be alongside at around 07:30 a.m. Please, adjust your working schedule accordingly. Thank you, Captain Giorgio Pagano.

So, this meant an announcement from me to all the guests plus myself and the shore excursion manager attempting to re-arrange all the tours to leave earlier thus leaving guests with free time in the afternoon………….not easy on a Sunday. However, it’s extra time in port so that should be good for everyone.

As I mentioned, after the debarkation / Amsterdam talk I held the Q & A session as always. Just a reminder first that this involves Heidi and another staff member wandering the lounge with a microphone so that guests can ask questions. This way everyone hears the question and answer as so many times most questions are the same so this means the guests don’t have to wait in line?

So, today’s Q&A began as usual with the normal questions about debarkation etc and always going well until a lady in an electric scooter asked her question. Except, it wasn’t a question………..it was a statement that she was terribly angry at me and at Carnival. You see, she could not do any of the tours that she had wanted and the fact that so many of the attractions were not wheelchair friendly had her shouting at me and then crying her eyes out………all in front of 200 or so other guests.

Well, she is right of course. There are cobbled streets, stairs, uneven pathways and big steps inside places like the Hermitage. We have buses in most ports with electric lifts and panoramic excursions which do not involve going inside the museums and palaces etc …………… but that is not what this lady had wanted to do.

I felt so sorry for her………she was so upset and there was nothing I could do. She felt Carnival or her travel agent should have told her that most places in the Baltic simply are not wheelchair friendly and yes most have uneven surfaces and steps to negotiate…………..if she had asked me before coming………….and looking at her condition ………. I would have been honest and told her that the Baltic ……….indeed Europe…………may not be the right itinerary for her.

We have wheelchair accessible buses and tours for guests with walking difficulties but unlike the North America places like Russia do not have the same standards. She was also angry that the airline had charged her for two seats on the plane and felt that she had been discriminated ever since she left home.

All I could do was apologize and wish her well. ……………….if anyone has any questions or concerns about the accessibility of all our European ports of call to guests in wheel chairs……….please let me know by writing a comment marked ” John, urgent, please reply.”

I have met many bloggers this cruise and I want to say hello to each and every one of them. It was an honour (spelt correctly) having you onboard. Can I though mention just one by name? Her name is Penny Kitson. Penny is from Canada………..she lives in a remote part of Nova Scotia and there is no internet connection at home. Her husband is “logger” and when she says she lives in the middle of nowhere……….she really does.

To use the internet she has to drive 45 miles to a place called Sydney, Nova Scotia where there is internet access. She does this three times a week when she does her shopping. She has not posted before but promises to do so when they get home and I ask you all to say hello to her when she does…………we get to meet a real like Mrs. Lumberjack and I thank her for the effort she has to make in order to stay in touch with us all. …………Thanks Penny……………….I can’t help thinking about that Monty Python song…………”I’m a lumberjack and I’m OK, I sleep all night and I work all day”……….I ……….well you will have to Google the rest.

Let’s have a look at some photos of the Palaces of Zeeland Tour in Denmark.

Frederiksborg Castle

Kronborg Castle

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

Now, continuing with our guest interviews with our wonderful Cruise Directors we pay a visit to Ryan on the Carnival Valor. Here he is

1. Can you tell us which ship you currently are on and when you are due to leave.

I’m currently on the Carnival Valor until September 14th at which point I will had the reigns back over to Chris Jefferson. On the 14th I’ll walk next door to the Triumph and take over as CD when the ship returns from Dry Dock…which is the 5th or 6th of October, I think. Something I should probably figure out relatively soon. I should be there until the beginning of next year.

2. Carnival Cruise Directors come from very diverse backgrounds. Some have entertainment experience, some, like me have none. Can you tell us about your background and how you ended up with the best job in the world.

I knew from my first day on ships that I wanted to be a CD. It’s not exactly the job your high school guidance counselor tells you about. I’ve been a musician all my life, majored in Music Engineering and Music Business in college and played the Saxophone when I first came to ships. But when I saw the effect that the CD had on a full room of people I knew it was something I wanted to do. I can honestly say Matt Ross’ hat game changed my life…kinda weird, eh?

3. Before we talk about some of your favorite parts of the job, lets talk about the areas behind the scenes……….the things guests never see. Tell us about what a Cruise Director does when he or she is not on the stage but keeps you just as busy.

The majority of our jobs are executed off the stage and mostly behind the scenes. We’re running a department just like anyone else and we have a responsibility to those people as well as our guests. Safety is a top priority and as a Senior Officer onboard we play an intricate in inspections, planning, and prevention as well. The Carnival Capers and more specifically the activities schedule are always a fun challenge each week to tweak and adjust places that might need it.

4. A Cruise Director is happiest when performing or being with guests. Can you tell us two activities or events that you would call your signature items…………events that make you stand out from the crowd

Wow, favorite two events? My favorite each week is definitely the Family Fun Hop. This is when the Carnival Colors Competition really heats up and the energy is unbelievable. My other favorite isn’t really one I host but each week we have a musical entertainer perform; usually Marcus Anthony or Ron Joseph and it gives me a chance to be in the band again which is great fun.

5. What has been your most challenging moment as Cruise Director so far

There have been challenges and growing pains along the way. It’s something to expect when being a bit younger than most of the guests and even staff expect in the position. My mind quickly goes back to a day on the Spirit however, sailing back from Manzanillo to San Diego. We had a false man overboard which can be quite scary. We conducted a search and through the interviews with the crew member that allegedly sighted it found that it was highly unlikely it was an accurate account. The Coast Guard cleared us but also required a full visual head count of all souls onboard…in the middle of dinner…on formal night. Not an easy thing to smooth over to both guests and crew but we had to do it. I think 92 minutes was our finish time but it was like watching water evaporate, felt like forever.

6. And, your most rewarding

Same as above probably. Anyone of the many challenges is by definition rewarding as long as you can survive it…and so far I have!

7. On your current ship can you tell us about your itinerary and can you recommend one must do excursion from each port of call

This itinerary is great, both east and west and both a traditional and non-traditional order of ports.
East – Nassau – Historical Harbor Cruise to the Atlantis Resort. The underwater dig and enormous aquarium are amazing. Not to mention if you have the time to hit the water park they’ve got a slide that goes through a shark tank!
St Thomas – Paradise Point for sure, beautiful views. Also, anything that goes to St John’s.
St Maarten – I’ll go for Explorer Island Cruise (can you tell I like boats?). This has the longest stay at the marina in downtown Marigot. Really feels like you’re in France.
West – Grand Cayman – Stingrays! Even though they don’t let you feed them anymore it’s still worth heading out there.
Roatan – Gumbalinda Park, Monkey’s, Bird’s; they’ve got it all…and none of them are caged it so you’re right there with them.
Belize – My favorite is the Canopy Zip Line Tour. My Mom actually joined me on this not long ago and had a great time. Don’t let the description make you think it’s only for the youngsters!
Cozumel – Make it a beach day. Playa Mia Beach is the best and has something for everyone…including open bar and buffet!

8. Why, in your opinion is Carnival…………..the world’s most popular cruise line

Easy, Ted Arison. The founder of the company is like the Steve Jobs of the cruising industry. He got it from the very beginning, knew exactly what people were going to want and stuck to that for years. The idea of creating a bond between all people onboard and doing it through fun is what the company was built on and what still, to this day, makes Carnival the best cruise line in the world. Bigger ships and better technology will never replace the 5 minute conversation you have with the bar waiter as he hands off his drink to you near the pool. Ted knew that and made sure we did too.

9. Is there a ship in the fleet you would love to be Cruise Director of that you have yet to be so and what port of call would you like to visit that you have not so far in your career

What ship? Whatever one John just left! The cabin’s in tip top shape, the ship runs like a charm, the flat screen TV is nearly 45 inches, the hot tub in the bedroom is nice and warm, and the room service guys are already trained for the nightly delivery! I’ve never been to Puerto Vallarta though, I think that sounds nice.

10. Every CD has a story to tell from their time onboard. What’s your most recent funny, sad or inspirational story you can share with us

This week, no joke, just this week onboard. The guy is still here! I bring him up for the welcome aboard show. Probably 5′ 3″, round, hair and beard like Santa Claus and talks like he’s from Arkansas. So, I asked him where he was from and he said, Arkansas.
Traveling with anyone special?
My Step Sister.
Are you married?
To Whom?
My Step Sister.
Who else are you traveling with (by now I’ve picked up the twang)?
Her family.
Isn’t her family also your family though?
Pause for thought…Yep.

Turns out he married his wife 10 years ago and their parents started hanging out and just got married last year…which makes them step brother and sister. Hilarious!

11. Finally………….pick a Cruise Director table ……………..you are hosting a table at dinner onboard the carnival Dream………what’s for dinner………..and who do you invite.

First off, my dinner is in the Supper Club. Starter is the escargot, followed by the leafy spinach salad and I’ll choose the Surf & Turf for the main. The pumpkin ravioli is great. The Dessert will be the chocolate tarte.
Cruise Industry: Micky Arison, of course. First off, I just read a book about him and the beginning of the cruise industry which was very intriguing and he’s the most important person in the industry.
Someone to make me laugh: My first thought is Dane Cook but let’s keep the chemistry of the table in mind. I’ll go with Robin Williams.
Actress: Scarlet Johansen
Actor: Edward Norton
Musician: Whoa, this one’s not fair. There’s a million out there I’d like to take. Jazz? Branford Marsalis. Mainstream? Bono. Pop? Justin Timberlake. Classical? Ok, I’ll stop there.
Historical Figure: Joe DiMaggio

Thanks Ryan………great interview and anyone who has Ryan as their CD will be assured of a wonderful time. He is someone who truly loves what he does and I know having him as your CD will really enhance your cruise vacation.

To adopt a child in the UK these days you need to prove yourself worthy to a 21-year-old social worker with a chunk of ironmongery in her eyebrow and the temperament and personality of something that floats on its back at the bottom of a pond. ……….I know this for a fact.
And don’t think things get any easier if you give up the idea of adopting a child and try, instead, to adopt a dog.

Many of you wrote comments urging Heidi not to spend trillions of pounds on a pedigree puppy with a name like Henry Windsor Smythe the third but instead buy one that has been rescued with a name like……..Dog……..or K9.

The Dog Sanctuary near where we live has 275 animals in its care at any one time so you might think they’d be only too glad to offload some of the poor creatures to anyone with a heart and a garden. Not a bit of it.

First they will send you a form asking what dog experience you have (saying that you liked Lassie movies when you were 7 years old apparently is not good enough), who’ll take care of the creatures while you’re away, what sort of house you live in, what will you feed it and is it something you have seriously considered.

If they like the look of what you’re offering, you’ll be visited by the area welfare officer who’ll make sure you are not Korean and just looking for dinner. And then you’ll be expected to spend a familiarization day at the sanctuary where experts will make sure your are suitable to become a dogist.

Finished? Oh crikey no. Although they don’t make you pay for the dog they will want to ensure you have the necessary funds to run one. It’s 500 pounds a year apparently for a German Shepherd ……….that’s the dog breed I mean — not some guy called Hans from the hills outside of Munich with a long beard and lots of sheep…….you know what I mean?……..500 pounds……….what the hell is that based on……..Porterhouse steak for breakfast and a Versace basket?

And then after our conversation came something out of the blue. The dog sanctuary asked if we would consider adopting…………a donkey…………..I had called to rescue Fido from the big sleep …….. had spent three dogs worth on the cell phone bill and now I was being asked to sponsor a bloody donkey.

Now, before I had time to tell the lady on the phone who for sure was wearing sandals, socks and a Laura Ashley long flowery skirt to bugger off, Heidi was shouting into the Nokia which had been on speaker phone……..yes, I love donkeys…….how can we help?

It turns out that for a one time activation fee of 100 pounds plus a 15 pound per month foster fee we can save a donkey’s life. We get to name the animal and bring the family to visit whenever we want ………… and said Mrs. Flowery Dress………..we get to ride the donkey whenever we want………….this made me laugh because I am sure she would not have said that if she had a video phone ………. me ………. on a donkey………….now that’s cruelty to animals. I have a tendency to squash things………….for example…………I once, as a joke, tried on a pair of Heidi’s high heel shoes which after thirty seconds of my big bottom in them became flip flops.

It all seems like a hell of a palaver and what’s the point? Since the invention of four-wheel drive, donkeys must surely be the biggest waste of space on the planet. You can’t fling them from the top of a tower (unless you’re Spanish), you can’t eat them (unless you’re French) and whoever heard of a hunter-killer attack donkey? If you want an unusual guard dog, get a goose.

So, to sum up our experience…………we have applied to adopt a dog……….Mrs. Flowery Dress has asked for references ………. ummmm…………I was going to tell her about the blog but didn’t think this appropriate. Also, she is going to “match us” with a dog……….we have given her all our details and once MI5 and the CIA have cleared us we should get the dog thingy in October.

However……….until then and much to my bewilderment, Heidi has adopted a donkey………..it’s an ugly bugger …………and they wanted me to name it ……….I was going to call it Alan…….but it’s a female……….so……………Heidi and I now are the proud foster parents of a 4 year old donkey……………her name is Mrs. S. Nob.

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.