Das Blog

September 2, 2008 -

John Heald

Today we are in Warnemunde, Deutschland, so today’s blog will have a totally Deutsche feel to it………….I hope that is gut mit jou. Das sun has been shining but it is still quite cold, however, compared to last voyage es is ein beautiful day. This is our last trip to Deutschland zo let’s have a chat about Warnemunde, Berlin und das people.

Over the past year ich have made fun of das Germans because when they are on das Carnival boot there are no sun beds left by 9 am as they have all been reserved with the German guests who put towels, suntan oil, goats and BMWs on them. As Monty Python pointed out years ago, they took das sun beds and barged into the queues. And if you weren’t at the buffet spot on seven, Fritz had eaten all das sausages.

I made fun of the fact that Germans cannot say words like “squirrel, squid and squiggly.”

I also suggested that German people have no sense of humor but Hans does at least find some things funny — people falling over on banana skins and Benny Hill, for instance. I also made fun of the fact that David (Das Hoffmeister) Hasselhoff is worshiped as Das Rock God. In fact, I had a good time at their expense. You zee, unlike the French and the British who would rather eat the boogers out of Gérard Depardieu’s nose than be nice to each other, Das Germans and das British have fun at each others expense………but we like each other.

However, and I hate to admit this, I have had to stop making fun of Hansel and Gretel because quite simply…………Warnemunde and Berlin have been the guests’……….and mine…favorite ports of das Baltic cruize. I have also discovered that das Englanders and Nord Amerikaner are just as bad for saving sun beds and Das World Champion Gold Medal winners at pushing into lines are my friends from Asia.

So, its time for me to admit that I have been a dumbkopf (stupid head) and therefore please allow me to sing the praises of my German freundins.

For example. When was das last time you heard ein politicians talking so very obviously from the heart? Fueled by passion rather than a need to keep on the right side of his party’s PR machine? I will never forget how Joschka Fischer laid into Tony Blair and Donald Rumsfeld, slicing through their nonsense with a very simple and very effective “I don’t believe you” when his Blairness said that Saddam had a billion weapons of das massen destruction.

Lets talk about the best movie ever made, Das Boot, and Haydn, Handel, Brahms, Beethoven and Bach, contact lenses, das globe, das printing press, X-rays, das telescope and Levi Strauss; das chemistry lessons would have been a lot less fun were it not for the Bunsen burner. Let’s face it: if a German train grazed a wall, lightly injuring a handful of people on board, they’d tow it away, replace the damaged track and have the network up and running by morning. Also, when their roads are coated with a thin veneer of snow, they send out a fleet of snowplows. The notion that you might be stuck on an autobahn for 10 hours because of inclement weather is…………. das bollocks.
My Range Rover – that’s German and so is the new Mini, the Bentley Continental GT, the new Rolls-Royce, the new Bugatti, the new Lamborghini and all new Chryslers. The entire Spanish car industry is German and by this time next year I bet they’ll have Ferrari, Hummer, and Cadillac and ….well every das bugger car in das industry.

And I will tell you what………..das Germans know a thing or two about building cruise ships, as well.

Last year Heidi and I got to visit the AIDADiva and I said then that she was something very, very special. Well, she now has a schwester in AIDABella and today, Ich und Das Carnival Splendor Hotel Direktor Herr Duncan Puttock……got to go onboard.

We were met at the gangway by AIDA’s Vice President of Guest Services Michael Rohr and AIDABella’s Club Schiff Direktor Jorge Muller ……..das apologies to Jorge, there is supposed to be das umlaut thingy above das U but I have bugger all on das computer hier………..in fact, for this next few paragraphs, let me switch from my fluent German to English.

OK, let’s get on with the tour and I will start by saying this. I love the AIDA ships, I love their uber-modern designs and the way everything just flows……….I imagine Bill Gates house looks just like this inside. There are no doors to enter lounges and guest areas; one just leads naturally to the other.

The color schemes are fresh, rustic and earthy and as you would expect being German, everything had been thought out down to the smallest detail.

For example, every public bathroom is different……every one……each with a new way to make peeing more enjoyable, some even have TV screens over the urinal.

The Theatrium which, as you may remember replaces the normal theatre, seen on most cruise vessels is even more stunning that AIDADiva’s. It sits right in the middle of the vessel and guests can walk through, sit and watch one of the nightly shows and …….if it’s not their cup of tea……….or beer ………… leave ………. without disturbing anyone………there are no doors, it’s just …………..
Well ……… there and makes utter and total sense. Having no doors means that all the show’s rehearsals are open to the public, as is the broadcast studio and many other areas usually marked “crew only.”…………and I think that’s just brilliant.

At the top of the Theatrium are huge rotund seats that you can stretch out on like a bed on a private plane. You can start the night off by watching the amazing hire wire trapeze act and when that’s finished swivel the chair around, face the ocean, plug in your headphones and watch a movie.

The spa is huge and again those earthy colors have you feeling relaxed even before you take off your clothes for that massage. As you know, I am not a massage type of guy but the AIDABella Spa does have a private suite with a bath thingy next to the window. That dolphin and whale song music was playing and as tired as I am I could easily imagine myself in there and how relaxed I would be…………. It would be like lying in a vat of baby oil, dreaming I could fly.

Sometime’s it’s the simple things in life that are the best and nobody does simplicity better than AIDA.

The first example are there two smoking bars………..they are both………..inside /outside bars………This means that you can smoke indoors without having anyone come up to you and beat you over the head with a cucumber because you are smoking. …………there are no doors……….the smoke just goes outside hurting nobody except the odd seagull who instead of looking for a piece of bread is now on 20 Marlboro Lights a day.

Seriously though, the Anytime Bar is so simple. Most of the room is indoors with a disco and nightly entertainment while the rest of the room has…yep you guessed it………..no doors so passengers have the choice…………all the other bars and lounges are non-smoking…………and everyone is happy…………….it’s so simple………..yet……….as far as I know ………AIDA are the only ones doing this.

There are other simple things as well. Internet in the cabins ……….just like the Hyatt Marriott Intercontinental Plaza thingy Hotel……….a keyboard that’s linked to the TV.

They have dartboards and pool tables and oh yes………..the absolutely brilliant 4D theatre. For a small fee, you are given a pair of 1950’s glasses and sit in big leather chairs and watch a series of 4D movies and cartoons. The chairs move up and down, side to side and when one of the characters gets eaten by a giant rat………..so do you and when that rat belches our hero out of his mouth jets of steam and water sprinkle lightly down on you from above………..honestly it is amazing ………..and so simple.

German’s love their food and, as you may remember, they love this “club ship”- buffet style dining at the pizza, Italian, and Asian, Swedish or multi-choice buffet areas. Beer and wine is included as are soft drinks and the food is top quality. Sometimes the word “buffet” can disguise the fact that the food may not be as high a quality as in a regular dining room but not here……….not on AIDA.

I wish the blog thingy came with “smell-a-thingy” so you could have enjoyed the sights and smells of the Market Buffet. It really does smell like a market…the fruits blending with the hanging meats and the smoked fish that blend with the two dozen types of fresh tea that guests shovel into a bag and dunk into tea pots. This…and I mean this with the greatest respect…has to be the best buffet at sea.

AIDA also has a premium contemporary restaurant and steakhouse, both with sumptuous menus and inviting chairs. Oh, talking of chairs…………yes, here I go again about chairs………..at the stern of the ship there is a room with huge, deep sofas that say come and rest your buttocks on me………..well……….I mean the chairs don’t say that and there’s no sign that says in German “kommen und reston das buttocks on mich”………but that is what you will want to do.

Guess, as well, what music and entertainment they have put there while you are relaxing and reading your Mercedes manual?………………Bugger all…………….less is more and there is no music, no distraction………just you, a big sofa bed, your book and the sea………….just as it should be.
Germans love to be outside and the AIDABella has many areas to eat, drink and be merry in the open air. Their Lido deck has a huge stage where the cruise industry’s most famous parties are held. These include stage shows from the performers, costume parties and a massive laser light show. I really have to see this one day as everyone I know who has seen it says it is quite remarkable.

There are many other areas of the ship I could write about, the bar by the tender station, the huge florist shop, the AIDA bar shaped like a star, the gymnasium, the fact that you can rent bicycles on board to take ashore. This now has been complemented with a bunch of Segway thingies so you can….ummm….Segway around the ports of call.

You see the problem is I cannot tell you how good this ship is……….just like I couldn’t when I explored the Queen Mary 2. I just don’t have the vocabulary. I just end up stammering and dribbling and talking wide-eyed nonsense as though I have just seen Claudia Schiffer naked………on a Segway.

The other problem is this. None of you will ever sail AIDA…….and why would you? It’s a German ship designed for German people with everything written and spoken in German and you see that’s a real shame. It means that you won’t get to see what is quite possibly one of the best designed, most simplistically brilliant cruise vessels I have ever seen………and one that I wish we could translate into …….. well ……….English.

In other words apart from a Bentley Continental what I want for Christmas ………. is an AIDA ship, a big pot of white paint …………I just need to change the word AIDA to Carnival……….Bella.

Here are some photos for you to enjoy and my thanks to everyone from AIDA who took their valuable time on embarkation day to show Duncan and I around.


John and AidaBella Cruise Director Kurc.
One is beautiful, one is not.


Contemporary restaurant on AIDABElla


Steakhouse on AIDABella


AIDA Segway


AIDA’s Lido Deck and Paddle Pool


The Germans Love Their Outdoor Spaces


One of the pool areas


Das TV in das peepee kamer


The Anytime Bar


Duncan and the Splendor


The Italian Section of the Buffet


The Theatrium


The Theatrium


A different kind of pool


The Top Level of the Theatrium


Spinning Bikes


The Spa’s Rest and Relaxation Area


Spa Suite


Spa Suite Waterbed


Sauna


The AIDA Bar


Just a great place to relax


The Asian Buffet


Mmmmmmmm


The Market Garden


The Meat Market


Das Club Schiff Direktor Jorg


From left to right: Club Schiff Direktor Jorg, Hotel Director Duncan, AIDA Vice President Michael Rohr, Ich, Captain Przemyslaw and Cruise Director Kurc


AIDA Balcony Cabin


In cabin internet


Suite desk and sitting area


A Great View from AIDA’s stern

So, why is Warnemunde das favorite port?………..Notice I am back to fluent German again by the way. Well, das town itself is just a bratwurst’s throw away from the ship and the mixture of busy ferry port, charming fishing village and beach resort, make it so very popular and totally idyllic. We have some charming tours by land, sea, pferd (horse) and fuss (feet) …….riechen fuss is smelly feet by the way. Included in these tours is a fascinating look behind the scenes at how it used to be in old East Germany.

Warnemunde is also the gateway to Berlin and our private zuggen (trains) to the city is the perfect way to explore a place that has seen sadness, despair and unrivaled joy all in our lifetime. How can you come all this way and not see the Brandenburg Gate, the Babelplatz, the Holocaust Memorial, the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie and if you want a real life-changing event……the Sachenhausen Concentration Camp.

However, it’s not just the places you visit it’s the guides and again with respect…………the guides we use in Berlin are the best I have ever seen ….anywhere. Maybe it’s because they all have their own stories to tell of the times when the wall stood between them and a free life and when in the 1940’s they lived their darkest hours. The guide that took me round Sachenhausen will be a lady whose face and memories will be forever etched on my soul.

Berlin should be on everyone’s Das Bucket List and if you haven’t already ………. you must see it……….maybe with me on das Carnival Liberty next year……………I can even show you das Hotel where Herr Michael Jackson held das baby over Das balcony of das Hotel Avalon……das silly bugger.

However, the main reason it’s my favorite port of call is quite simply…………….the people. This port, more than any other, has shown us hospitality that you just do not see anymore. We have had fireworks and beer gardens and every time we have left hundreds of locals have lined the promenade shouting and waving ………… Tonight they have a farewell firework display for us. Nobody else has done anything like this……..everywhere else it’s just another day and just another cruise ship.

So please allow me to say this to the people of Warnemunde. Your kindness has been amazing and your excitement at seeing a Carnival ship in your hometown has been plain for all to see. On behalf of the thousands of passengers and crew who have enjoyed your hospitality and words of welcome and your passionate farewells we say…………a grossen Danke Schon.

Guten Nacht
Ihren Freunden
Johann und Heidi

PS

Stop by in a few hours to watch my latest video with a very special guest.

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.