Mosquitos and Mobile

August 17, 2008 -

John Heald

I just sat down to write today’s blog and on the news was the story of little Yang Peiyi, aged seven, who sang at the Olympic opening ceremony so beautifully, but was not allowed to be seen because the government considered her “too ugly,” and so the more cosmetically agreeable Lin Miako mimed in her place. What a repulsive state it is.

So, got that off my chest…………..and a very good morning to you from a very cold Amsterdam. The sun is trying to come out but it’s having to fight through a thick wooly blanket of cloud and it’s more windy than me and my Dad after eating a humongous plate of Brussels sprouts. It’s only 61 degrees today………….in the heart of summer.

The captain, as promised, had the ship alongside at 7:30 am and there are three big vessels here today with us including the Rappingsody of the Seas and a NCL ship………..I have no idea which one as the name on the bow has been cruelly graffitied over by a hippy who has just come out of one of Amsterdam’s famous coffee houses…….I think it says Norwegian Yawn.

I had to listen to a very upset lady this morning………you may remember her letter yesterday about not being able to go to the Anne Frank house. I had tried to get one extra ticket for her from the tour operator but as I thought, it was impossible. Anyway, I told her that she should get off the vessel as early as possible and explained how to get there on her own. It’s quite close to the ship ………maybe 30 minutes walk…………or 8 euros in a taxi…………..or 2 euros on the tram.

The lines at the Anne Frank House are usually quite long and it can take up to 1 hour before you get to go in. The reason for this is it’s not a big place and they only allow a certain amount of guests in at a time. anyway, things were going well and the guest was taking in all the information ………………….it was when she found out that Carnival wouldn’t be paying for her transportation that she started threatening us with an association in New York……………in the end………..I told her to take a taxi…………get a receipt………..and that I would pay for her fare. ……………………oh well.

On a much happier note the guests this week have been fantastic and the comments about how friendly the crew is ……………well, they are countless. I have to say this is…………..I and mean this most sincerely…………..is the friendliest crew I have worked with for some time…………….they all shine and the guests are all talking about it. And, Europe is not the most cruise ship crew friendly place either. In the Caribbean, virtually every port has what is called a crew center………..you may have seen them in places like St. Thomas, Cozumel or Barbados. These centers are a place fro crew to relax, meet friends from other ships, enjoy ethnic food and most importantly enjoy cheap internet, phone calls and be able to send money home. In Europe, with the exception of Dubrovnik, Croatia ………there are none at all.

This means that the crew has to create their own places to find these luxuries. Carnival does wonders for them onboard with the cheapest internet and phone calls possible……….but, we still have to route these through a satellite and that is expensive. I hope that ports like Dover, Rome, Barcelona and Amsterdam see the value of opening centers like this for their crew……………actually, it would probably be worth Carnival Corporation franchising these centers throughout the world…………it would be something that would make a friendly crew even happier.

One thing has become apparent these last three voyages and its something I really feel I need to pass along. The internet service for guests and crew in the Baltic is at times slow and while in St. Petersburg and Estonia it is really bad. Guests obviously find this frustrating and so much so that I now pre-warn them of this in the Carnival Capers. The problem is of course with the satellite and I checked with the Internet manager who told me he was just on the Eurodam and that it was the same problem there as well.

I then made the mistake of asking him why……………….20 minutes later he was still telling me while I stood there deciding which of the four pens he had in his top pocket to stab him in the eye with. ……………..Well, the answer is apparently the satellite has a low power something or other over Russia……..that much is obvious as the internet is slow I don’t think the satellite has enough power to pull a greased stick out of a pig’s bottom. Anyway………I will let the guests know so the internet cafe does not become the ” what the $#^&* ^&%$# internet is so %$#@in*&6 slow ” cafe.

Our ship’s doctor Jason Wolfe is a bit of a astromonai………astomonolog………….he likes looking at the stars. He also has a huge lens on his huge camera and last night he took of his rubber gloves and rushed outside to take these awesome photos.

Hi John,

Did you catch the lunar eclipse last night?
I took some photos which you might like to use 🙂 It took about 2 hours (on and off) to get the sequence, and a lot of shivering.

Jason

Dr Jason Wolfe
(MB, BS, MRCS)
Senior Ship’s Physician
M/S Carnival Splendor

Thanks Doc for shivering the night away for these great photos…………we all enjoyed them and thank you for sharing them with us.

Now, let’s talk about Bubba and blogger Susan Lott. I had arranged for blogger Susan to visit the Carnival Spirit in her home town of Juneau.

Here is Bubba’s report and look what she bought him………….thanks Susan and thanks Bubba.

Hey john,

Met with Susan today from the blog. She was very excited to come on board as she had never been on board a ship as a visitor before. We went down to the coffee bar and I bought her a coffee and we talked about all sorts. From the cruises she’s been on to the ones she will soon take. We talked about my past and future as a cruise director and social host. We talked about Alaska, Juneau and the weather. We talked about hockey. She gave me grief about wearing a maple leafs jersey during my blogs of the fam trip. Told her I collected jeserys. That particular Jersey was a gift as it had my last name on the back because the leafs had a guy named Roberts on the team. We also discussed the Blog and my contributions. She particularly enjoyed my description of the Juneau International Airport. She thought I was pretty accurate in my accounts. And of course we talked about you…. It was a very nice chat and in the end she presented me with T-shirt in the attached picture. It is from a place called the Southeast Waffle Company. I guess it’s the closest thing to the Waffle House as I can get.

Hope you are well.

Chris

Talking of cruise directors……………here is the next of the interviews, this time with Malcolm Burn.

1. Can you tell us which ship you currently are on and when you are due to leave.
Currently on the Carnival Victory Sailing out of New York. Soon to sail down to Charleston & Norfolk. After a special cruise from Miami to Southern Caribbean after to San Juan for 7 day cruises to Southern Caribbean on the Victory.

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.

A starving actor auditioning for extra parts and looking to make it to the big screen. Worked within entertainment most of my professional life. Then became a head hunter and worked as a Senior Executive Recruiter for 5 years, then joining Carnival in 2000.

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.

Most of my time is managing the department, implementing new safety procedures, Carnival Capers, Preparing all the new capers for the new runs. The Victory has a total of 63 capers to update at various times, Announcements, and Shipboard Meetings.

Also rescheduling events and activities along with shows to accommodate private functions.

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

I love to perform my silent film skit. Pantomime is my favorite. Leaving the Imagination to the guests. Also just being silly on stage, I enjoy just making people laugh.

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

I feel Managing entertainers is the most challenging along with keeping ion top of all the new procedures and policies handed down by the main office.

6. And, your most rewarding

When guests rave about what a great time they had, how funny they think I am. Taking photos, and actually staying in touch with cruises I sail with over and over. Reading Cruise Critic.com and reading the great things the guests write about, especially on my ship.

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

Miami Eastern –
San Juan – Bioluminescence Bay Kayak Tour – This is a tour not to be missed. The water has these bioluminescent organisms you have never seen before. One of the most interesting tours I have been on.
Night Horseback Adventure – Horseback riding at night is a completely different experience, and then the campfire and all is a great way to escape. It’s as if I was out camping for the night.
St. Maarten – Americas Cup Regatta – One of the best tours I have ever taken, you just jump in and start racing actual 12-meter race boats.
Rhino Rider – It’s very cool to jump into the 10-foot boats and head through the harbor to view luxury Yachts, then after an isolated lagoon to swim and snorkel.
St. Thomas – Coral World – Amazing to see so much marine life up close.
Sea Blaster – The best and fastest speedboat I have ever been on, with lots of partying. Woo Hoo!
Miami Western –
Costa Maya – Kohunlich Mayan Ruins – What can I say! Ruins are the best to see.
Off Road Jeep – Great way to have an adventure for the day, I love jeep tours, especially with time to relax on the beach with activities.
Grand Cayman – Sea Trek Helmet Dive – The best way to have an adventure under water without being certified, lots of fish and coral.
Stingray City – I love swimming with the Stingrays, I never thought I would have the chance to swim with stingrays.
Ocho Rios – Chukka Cove Canopy Tour – I used to love sliding on the clothes line in New York, but this is awesome, being so high in the trees. The last one is especially the best, from the mountaintop, to the bottom of the valley!
Dolphin – This is one of the best tours, all celebrities have stopped at this location to swim with these Dolphins! It’s the best, an experience I will never forget.
Charleston – Norfolk Run
Nassau – Catamaran Snorkel – I love to sea as much marine life as I can.
Discover Atlantis – This is the grandest hotel I have ever seen in my life. No wonder it’s the biggest rave around the world.
Freeport – Jeep Adventure – What can I say, I love jeep tours. It’s fewer crowds, and it’s like renting your own car with a guide provided to see the Island.
Freeport Island tour – This was very informative, and really enjoyed it. I really wanted to go out on the Dolphin tour, but it’s always sold out. So I ventured around the Island instead.
New York Run –
Saint John – Saint John Highlights – You see everything Saint John has to over, and the amazing reversing tides.
Costal Kayak & Lobster Bake – Love adventure, and love Lobster. Great exercise to
Halifax – Back Road Hummer Adventure – One of the coolest tours I have been on. This tour is VERY exclusive and takes you to some great sites. I also have never seen what a Hummer could really do until now.
Peggy’s Cove – A great experience to really get out and see fishing villages, and lighthouses.
Horseback Adventure – Awesome tours, love riding.
Boston – Highlights – If you are ever unsure at what tour to take, highlight tours cover everything. It’s the best way to see Boston in the amount of time you have, especially when you want to venture out on your own after.
Historic Salem & Witch Museum – What can I say, I love to hear about the dark past side too!
Portland – Mt. Washington & The Cog Railway – This is a cool tour, I really enjoyed the great views on this tour.
Portland Highlights & Victoria Mansion – Great history and lots to see.

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

I think we are a breed of our own. We are allowed to be free and original with our work. From what I am told other cruise lines have Cruise Directors are a “Plastic or Fake”, and guests have said we are real, and we enjoy what we do! That’s what our guests love, and the our Entertainment, the Atmosphere, along with the hard working staff & Crew onboard our ships. Guests always mention how friendly and funny we are.

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

I would say the ships out of Europe & Alaska. As I feel the Victory does
so many runs there is no need for any other ship.
Soon We head down to Miami to sail to
Miami
at sea
Grand Turk
La Romana
Tortola
St Kitts
St Maarten
and
San Juan
St Thomas
Dominica
Barbados
St. Lucia
Antigua
St Kitts

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

Just the past few cruises I have had some guests arriving onboard screaming and going crazy to be happy that they were back onboard the Victory that they returned hoping that I was still here onboard. That was the best feeling ever, and never thought I could touch people like that!.

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.

APPETISER Lobster Bisque, Beef Carpaccio

MAIN COURSE Charred Chicken or Chicken Flagra

DESERT Pumpkin Pie / Apple Pie/ or Chocolate Éclair

SOMEONE FROM THE CRUISE INDUSTRY Troy Linton CD, who I worked with on many ships and began my path towards CD.

SOMEONE TO MAKE YOU LAUGH OUT LOUD There are so many people but probably you John

YOUR FAVORITE ACTRESS Faye Dunaway

YOUR FAVORITE ACTOR Heath Ledger, Ryan Philippe,

YOUR FAVORITE MUSICIAN Justin Timberlake, John Mayer

AND SOMEONE FROM HISTORY YOU WISHED YOU HAD MET [VICTORY CRUISE DIRECTOR] Charlie Chaplin

Thanks Malcolm and congratulations on all you have done and will do. I know so many people who have told me how much they enjoy you…………..well done mate.

I have been reading all your comments this morning and as always I thank you for taking the time to write as you do. I will be sending you a photo of Mrs. S. Nob our adopted donkey this week and on a more serious note……….thank you for your continuing support. The blog averages 220,000 hits per month and at this rate we will be at 3 million total hits by October…………..as long as you want me to keep writing……….I will.

In January 2009 the carnival Splendor will begin a glorious and remarkable journey from Florida to California. Here is the route.

Ft Lauderdale, FL; EMBARKATION
Fun Day at Sea;
Fun Day at Sea;
Dominica;
Barbados;
Fun Day at Sea;
Fun Day at Sea;
Crossing the Equator;
Fortaleza, Brazil;
Fun Day at Sea;
Recife, Brazil;
Fun Day at Sea;
Salvador, Brazil;
Fun Day at Sea;
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil;
Fun Day at Sea;
Fun Day at Sea;
Buenos Aires, Argentina – DEBARK AND EMBARK OF NEW GUESTS
Buenos Aires, Argentina;
Buenos Aires, Argentina;
Montevideo, Uruguay;
Fun Day at Sea;
Puerto Madryn, Argentina;
Fun Day at Sea;
Cape Horn Scenic Cruising;
Ushuaia, Argentina;
Punta Arenas, Chile;
Strait of Magellan;
Chilean Fjords Scenic Cruising;
Puerto Montt, Chile;
Fun Day at Sea;
Fun Day at Sea; Santiago (Valparaiso), Chile – DEBARK AND EMBARK OF GUESTS
South America: Santiago (Valparaiso), Chile;
Fun Day at Sea;
Fun Day at Sea;
Arica, Chile; Fun Day at Sea;
Lima (Callao), Peru; Fun Day at Sea;
Quito (Manta), Ecuador; Crossing the Equator;
Fun Day at Sea;
Fun Day at Sea; Acapulco, Mexico;
Fun Day at Sea; Puerto Vallarta, Mexico;
Fun Day at Sea; Fun Day at Sea;
Los Angeles (Long Beach), CA;
Fun Day at Sea; San Francisco, CA

WOW!

Well, I know many of you have booked part passage on this trip of a lifetime and some lucky buggers have booked the entire voyage ………..that’s amazing. So, it is with great pleasure that I announce that the chosen cruise director for this voyage of discovery will be………….Gustav Neumann…………or as he is known “Goose.”

Congratulations to Goose……………I think he is a perfect choice especially as he speaks fluent Spanish coming as he does from Colombia which will be very helpful when he is arrested for being too good looking and forced to spend the night in a Uruguayan jail. Now, it would have been nice if I had the interview with Goose ready to go but it seems that “El Gooseo” is too busy doing his hair but I will post one with him soon and he can tell you how excited he is to host all of you on this amazing cruise.

Goose will be sailing with me on the trans-Atlantic back to Florida so I will be helping him plan the events, giving him any advice he may need as well as shaving his face off with a cheese grater …………..handsome git.

Seriously though, I congratulate him on being chosen for Carnival’s first-ever voyage of this kind and although he does not know it yet…………….he will sending regular reports for the blog.

Now, as to the excursions……..well in a few weeks time the Shore Excursion staff and Goose will be heading to South America for four weeks of familiarization and I will be asking these experts to send us lots of reports and advice on what excursions are best for you…………………I wish I was going.

Now, one of the questions I was asked to reply to on the blog was this one.

Bruce C
Hi John, please reply:
My wife and I are booked on the Carnival Splendor South American voyage from Argentina to San Francisco. I am unable to find out from your Carnival Web site any information on what inoculations Carnival recommends we have. My doctor has recommended Malaria and Yellow Fever and I would have thought Carnival would have had some information on this. I called the Miami number and spoke to a lady in reservations who said she had no idea. We just discovered your blog which we are both instant fans of and we wondered if you could help.
Bruce and Noreen Clayton

Well, Bruce, good question……………here is my take

Underneath the iPod, and behind the suit of civilization, we can think of nothing more painful or humiliating frankly, than being devoured by something that has no remorse. We can watch a million people being shot, stabbed and blown up and we won’t turn a hair. But we all remember how we felt as Robert Shaw disappeared into the Great white’s mouth in Jaws……………….yep, you should have got a bigger boat.

This isn’t something that only happens in Hollywood and South Africa, either. The Mediterranean is full of great whites, which often eat humans despite the risk to their health from digesting uncooked red meat. And now, according to the internet, the peril will soon be on all our doorsteps. Except for one small thing. The thing that’s going to eat us goes “nnnnnnnn” instead of “grrrrrrrrrr,” because it’s a mosquito.

When I was reading about this Yellow Fever thingy I began to delve into the world of this tiny killer. Over time mosquitoes have killed more people than all war and all car accidents put together. They are the deadliest creature known to man, and the species lining up to invade the world carries enough disease and pestilence in its tiny stinging thingies to lay waste to vast swathes of the population. Hospitals won’t be able to cope. Corpses will be piled high in the streets. And your house could fall in value by as much as 40%!

I even read on the holiest of holy sites “Wikipedia ” that these Mossies are invading Europe.

Apparently the mosquito has arrived in Europe in old tires that have been sent for recycling from Asia, and is able to survive because of the mild weather. That’s great news for the Greenists who can now blame cars, and global warming in one go.

And it gets better because among the smorgasbord of terror carried in the mozzie’s bum hole is dengue fever, the West Nile virus, which causes vomiting, headaches, fever, neck stiffness, a rash, stupor, coma, paralysis, disorientation and blindness. …………of course many of these cases are not reported because even though men have all these symptoms they refuse to admit anything’s wrong and refuse to see the Doctor.

According to one internet site I read, Anyone who’s bitten by a mosquito this summer is urged to catch the insect and send it directly to a hospital which judging by the symptoms I just mentioned, most people will not be able to do this because their fingers will have swollen to the size of Tom’s when Jerry the mouse drops a bowling bowl on them and with disorientation setting in it’s hard to catch a mosquito when you think you are a table lamp

In which case your family are urged to paint a white cross on your front door and wait for the plague wagon to come along with a knawled old man shouting “bring out your dead.”

So, having read this Bruce you may want to take my advice or better still………..speak to your own Doctor and meanwhile I will get some relevant information added to the Carnival website.

There are rumors………….lots of rumors……………in Mobile Alabama…………………no, it’s not the one about the opening of a new Taco Bell…………it’s something to do with the cruise industry and more specifically with Carnival Cruise Lines.

HERE IS WHAT THE PRESS IS SAYING.

Two ships? A bigger ship? Since the birth of cruising in Mobile in 2004, those questions have been the subjects of speculation by cruise proponents. On Monday, they should get an answer, as Carnival Cruise Lines and the city have set an afternoon news briefing to make “a major cruise industry announcement.”

Mayor Sam Jones said late Friday he has not been briefed, but he thinks Carnival will replace the Mobile-based Holiday with a larger ship.

Steve Cape, co-owner of Springdale Travel, said Friday that he knew changes were imminent when Miami-based Carnival in mid-July halted orders for new 2009 brochures for the Holiday.

I can’t tell you what it is ……..but I can give the proud people of Mobile, Alabama a clue. We love cruising out of Mobile and in the fall of 2009 your FANTASY of having a bigger ship…………will come true……….y’all.

Oh, and I have a feeling on Tuesday the people of New Orleans may be quite happy as well.

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.