Good Morning everyone.

Guest: Mr ———-Ref: 002803772A
Cabin: ____ Booking#: _______ Added-Changed: 09/02/08 – 09/02/08

____ – DID NOT LIKE VISIT WARNEMUNDE HORSE CARRIAGE

Mr. and Mrs. ______ attended the desk and stated that the tour they were on was terrible. Mrs. _____ stated that they were on the Visit Warnemunde & a Farmer by Horse & Carriage and it was absolutely dreadful. His wife is scared of horses and the tour was to a farm by a carriage and there were other horses at the farm. Guest said that the tour had not been explained properly by the Cruise Director. Mr ______ also said that the food offered was too basic and he had expected more than sausages and beer as his wife is vegetarian and does not drink. Guest said that he had gone to the Shore Excursion Desk for a full refund but it was closed. Purser said that his comments would be passed to the Shore Excursion Manager and the Cruise Director. Guest said he would be back at 9 am for his refund. Purser tried to explain that the details would be passed on but guest walked away from desk as the Purser was talking. Tasked to Shore Ex Manager and E-mail sent to Cruise Director.

OK, lets examine this one………starting with the description that is written in the guests excursion booklet.

Visit Warnemünde & A Farmer by Horse and Carriage

(Approximately 3½ hours) Enjoy a ride in a horse and carriage through Warnemünde and the surrounding countryside, stopping at a traditional farmhouse to enjoy some local fare. You will be picked up from the quayside in a horse drawn carriage and taken through the enchanting old countryside of Warnemünde. Sit back and enjoy the ride through Mecklenburg’s countryside while your escort chats with you about life in this region. See century old buildings, thatched roof farmhouses and ancient barns as you meander through the countryside and small villages. After your 1-1½ hour carriage ride, you will visit one of the last remaining original horse farms in the area. Here, you can “stretch your legs” and refresh yourself with a glass of sparkling wine, beer or soft drink and a traditional German snack, a Bratwurst. While enjoying your snack, you can also watch a presentation on the art of thatched roofing. The tradition of thatching has been around for generations, easily visible in many houses in this region. After your visit, you’ll return to your ship by motor coach with your guide, riding through the typical eastern bloc living quarters of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern with an orientation drive through Warnemünde. Note: Guests must be able to climb on/off the coach and carriage without assistance; therefore, we do not recommend this excursion for guests with walking difficulties. The order of this tour may vary. Minimum age to consume alcoholic drinks is 21 years.

First of all I sympathize with anyone who does not like horses………I don’t like them either…………….donkeys yes………..horses, no.

However, why was it a surprise that there were horses there? This tour does exactly what it says on the tin: “Visit Warnemunde by Horse and Carriage.”…………Did they expect that this title actually meant that you would see Warnemunde by Hot Air Balloon? As for the food………..ummm……..well, I did explain that the snack…………it’s not lunch……. would be sausage and a beer, or a glass of sparkling wine or a soft drink?…………Being a vegatablist did she think we would serve her a potato or a sprout?

So, having explained the tour and shown a picture of the horse and carriage and the horse farm and explained that the snack was German sausage…………he gives it to his vegetarian wife who passes out at the mere mention of the word horse on the tour…………..and it’s my fault…..well, I must be punished then and so I have beaten myself on my bottom with coat hanger and am now sitting on the naughty cruise director step.

I do understand the fact that she does not like horses……neither do I and here’s why.

When I was 15, Alan and I really liked two girls that worked at the local stables on a Saturday morning. So, we went and hung around and finally got to talk to them. They are asked us if we could ride and Alan, being the total and utter git that he is, told them I was an expert.

Well, to cut a long story short lets just say that I disproved the theory that when you fall off a horse you should get straight back on again. Because having done that I promptly fell off a second time……and broke my wrist.

Anyway, Razvan, the shore excursion manager, and I spoke to the guest and explained that the tour was exactly as advertised and that we were unable to refund him any money. We showed him the description and asked him to look a the video of my talk playing on Channel 7 to see that regarding the Warnemunde By Horse and Carriage Tour I did, in fact, mention that they would be traveling by ummmmm…….horse and carriage rather than on a goat and carriage.

The guest left saying that he would be writing to Carnival and bizarrely he also said he would be writing to Carnival’s owner who he said he was great friends with. I would have been troubled by this had the guest not referred to Carnival’s owner and great friend as………… “Mr. Arnisen”……who as we all know is Micky Arison’s Danish cousin.

The weather remains nice and the sun is peeping through the Baltic clouds as we speak so we may be able to open the roof very soon. I just returned from my St. Petersburg talk and explained for the last time – for quite awhile – about the various immigration procedures. The talk went really well and I spent 30 minutes afterwards hosting the Q & A………I felt quite good about everything………….until

I was summoned by Captain Rude.

Let’s recap. He wanted him and is wife invited to the captain’s table and loads of anniversary fuss outside of what we normally do. I had already explained to the guest that the captain’s table was booked by guests previously invited by the Miami office. So, there I was, standing in front of the stage, the dancers starting their rehearsal for the show, with a 4-foot, 10-inch man waving his finger in my face.

Honestly, the man was small and as he vented his frustration at me and told me why RCI was a better cruise line and why the cruise director on the Anniversary of the Seas was better than me………I know it was cruel……….but all I could help thinking was “I wonder where his six friends were……He is definitely grumpy, so where was Dopey and the others?”

I have never believed in “small man syndrome,” but I honestly think he may be suffering from it. I tried to calm him down by inviting him to have a seat which surely must have been better for him as right now all he had was a view of my belly button.

So, I invited him to sit and he took this gesture as the opening salvo in a full-on war. He now raised his voice telling me he would sit when he wanted to sit………..my goodness, this man was angry.

When I eventually managed to talk I explained that we would be sending a cake to the table tonight and that I had the captain sign a photo of the ship. These offers were met with a strange noise that sounded something like “paaagghh” and again off we went, back to his favorite subject — how much better every other cruise director was than me and that “tonight at the captain’s party, I will be having words with the captain.”

I desperately tried to get him off that subject and trying to change tactics. I said, “I understand you were an airline captain?”………”Yes,” he said, “I was a captain for Delta for 26 years and we knew about service.”……..”OK,” I thought………..”But how the hell did you see over the control pan and were you on a booster seat.”

So, eventually, he left………..truly believing that he should be having dinner with the captain and that I had personally ruined his celebration. I will deliver the cake tonight and hope that he and his wife have a wonderful anniversary regardless…………now if only I can stop singing “It’s a Small World.”

One person who was very grateful was Candice whose video you saw yesterday. I arranged for her to get a new passport yesterday in Berlin and tomorrow night she will be off to the supper club. She has been stopped by many guests wishing her well and her fears that people would feel that she was clumsy have, I hoped, disappeared as everyone tells her how happy they are that she is safe and well.

As for the man who complained about having to stand in line while she was rescued……….well……….I spoke to him today on the phone and actually he seemed to have calmed down a bit and, even though he huffed and puffed a bit, he was actually OK by the end of the conversation and wished Candice well.

Let’s have a look at today’s photos taken by Jaime yesterday who went on a tour of Berlin with her Mum and dad who are sailing with her this cruise.


Berlin Museum


Parliament Building

I also want to say a huge thank you to Joe and Dave Myerly who brought with them some wonderful gifts for Heidi and I, including some Angelina Jolie DVDs.

I may not have an Aston Martin but I now have an Aston Martin book, a watch, and a hat as brought for me by Lorraine and her lovely Mum, Susan………..I shall wear it with pride.

These gifts are so wonderful and I am again humbled that people should think of Heidi and I like this and after my run in with Captain Rude…well…..let’s just say it feels good.
And that’s exactly what these letters make me.

Well, we all breathed a Hummer-sized sigh of relief when Hurricane Bastard…..I mean Gustav….decided not to vent lots furry on New Orleans. However, I see there was still some loss of life and much damage to other areas and we all hope that the people who were displaced can return home soon.

However, there are still concerns….as you will see from the latest news.

TROPICAL WEATHER UPDATE
SEPTEMBER 3, 2008 – 10:30 AM

STATUS: We continue to monitor the situation with an update on Hurricane Hanna affecting the Carnival Triumph, which now be forced to cancel her scheduled call to Grand Turk on Friday. We will extend our stay in San Juan on Thursday until 6:00 PM.

We are closely monitoring the progress of Hurricanes Gustav and Hanna. All of Carnival’s ships will continue to operate at a safe distance from this storm at all times. Our number one priority is the safety of our guests and crew.

We have made some itinerary changes for several departures this week in order to provide our guests with an enjoyable shore experience, while operating the ships in the safest and most comfortable conditions possible. These are listed below:

Carnival Ecstasy Thur., 8/28 departure from Galveston: The ship will visit Progreso, Yucatan (Sat). This ship will return to Galveston on Wednesday, September 3 as the Port of Galveston is closed due to Hurricane Gustav

Carnival Ecstasy Wed., 9/3 departure from Galveston: The ship will sail on a 3 Day Cruise-To-Nowhere, due to the delayed return of the cruise of Thurs., 8/28.

Carnival Fantasy Thur., 8/28 departure from Mobile: The ship will visit Progreso, Yucatan (Sat). This ship will return to Mobile on Wednesday, September 3 as the Port of Mobile is closed due to Hurricane Gustav

Carnival Fantasy Wed., 9/3 departure from Mobile: The ship will sail on a 4 Day Cruise visiting Cozumel (Fri) and returning Sun., 9/7, due to the delayed return of the cruise of Thurs., 8/28.

Carnival Miracle Fri., 8/29 departure from New York: The ship will change her itinerary to visit the ports of call: Port Canaveral (Mon), Nassau (Tue) and Freeport (Wed). Due to strong winds in the southern Bahamas, the ship will cancel her call to Nassau (Tue) and call on Freeport instead. The ship will visit Newport, Rhode Island on Friday from 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Carnival Inspiration Sat., 8/30 departure from Tampa: The ship will visit Cozumel (Tue)

Carnival Glory Sat., 8/30 departure from Pt. Canaveral: The ship will cancel her call to Nassau (Sun) and visit the scheduled ports of call: St. Thomas (Tue), St. Maarten (Wed)

Carnival Liberty Sat., 8/30 departure from Miami: The ship will visit the ports of call in reverse order Ocho Rios (Mon), Grand Cayman (Tue), Cozumel (Thur)

Carnival Conquest Sun. 8/31 departure from Galveston: The ship will cancel her call to Montego Bay (Wed) and visit Progreso, Yucatan (Tue), Cozumel (Wed), and Grand Cayman (Thur)

Carnival Sensation Sun. 8/31 departure from Port Canaveral: The ship will shorten her call to Nassau (Tue) to 5:00 PM instead of staying overnight until Wednesday 6:00 AM

Carnival Triumph Sun. 8/31 departure from Miami: The ship will cancel her call to Half Moon Cay (Mon) and visit the scheduled ports of call of St. Thomas (Wed), San Juan (Thur) and Grand Turk (Fri). The ship will cancel her scheduled Friday call to Grand Turk.

Carnival Legend Sun. 8/31 departure from Tampa: The ship will cancel her call to Grand Cayman (Tue) and visit Key West (Mon) and then call on the scheduled ports of call of Cozumel (Wed), Belize (Thur) and Isla Roatan (Fri)

FUTURE CRUISES FOR WEEK STARTING MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 1, 2008:

Carnival Fantasy: Mon. 9/1 departure from Mobile: We will be forced to change the five-day Carnival Fantasy cruise scheduled to depart on Monday, September 1, 2008 to a four-day cruise departing on Wednesday, September 3, 2008 returning on Sunday, September 7, 2008. The four-day cruise will depart from Mobile at 4:00 PM on Wednesday and visit Cozumel on Friday (arrive 8:00 AM; depart 5:00 PM).

Guests that sail on the new four-day cruise will receive a 25% refund of the cruise fare paid. In addition, guests will receive a 25% discount of a future three- to five-day Carnival Cruise departing prior to December 15, 2009. This discount applies to the cruise fare only. Please understand this offer is non-transferable.

If guests elect to cancel the cruise, we ask that guests contact us right away to cancel the booking. Guests will receive a full refund and refunds will be processed in less than two weeks.

Carnival Ecstasy: Mon. 9/1 departure from Galveston: We will be forced to change the five-day Carnival Ecstasy cruise scheduled to depart on Monday, September 1, 2008 to a three-day Cruise-To-Nowhere departing on Wednesday, September 3, 2008 returning on Saturday, September 6, 2008. The new three-day cruise will depart from Galveston at 4:00 PM on Wednesday.

Guests that sail on the new three-day cruise will receive a 50% refund of the cruise fare paid. In addition, guests will receive a 50% discount of a future three- to five-day Carnival Cruise departing prior to December 15, 2009. This discount applies to the cruise fare only. Please understand this offer is non-transferable.

If guests elect to cancel the cruise, we ask that guests contact us right away to cancel the booking. Guests will receive a full refund and refunds will be processed in less than two weeks.

We are looking forward to welcoming our guests aboard all of the Carnival “Fun Ships”. The officers, staff and crew on each of our ships are dedicated to delivering a great cruise vacation experience.

So, lots of changes and lots of work for everyone. I have spent the a lot of time answering comments and questions so if you have any that you think I can answer, please let me know.

Here is one of those young cruise directors who is up to his neck in changes. His name is Brent and he is to good looking and needs someone to smack him in the face with a chair leg. Unfortunately, he is also a great cruise director and very popular with everyone who meets him. So, here is the Boy Band Cruise Director Brent Timberlake.

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

Carnival Miracle, here until Sept 22 then I take a short vacation, then back Oct 18.

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?

Funny enough, I graduated with an engineering degree and work in that field for three years after school. Finally after three very long stressful years, I decided to give a try at something away from the 9 -5 type of job. I did a short holiday fill in as youth staff and that was it. After seeing the role of a social onboard, I was like “That’s what I want to do.” Eight years later, I’m still here loving it.

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.

Paper work, meetings and more meetings. For everything guests see in front of the house, there are hours spent behind the scenes making sure things run as smooth as they do. It’s a total team effort from all the crew.

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?

For me it’s when I get to talk to the guests on stage, be it at the Welcome Aboard show or the guest talent show — I love it. You meet so many different people and, of course, so many very different personalities. Getting to talk to these people always makes for a laugh and to this day it still amazes me what people will say in front of thousands of people! The jokes that fall into your lap — it’s great.

5. What has been your most challenging moment as cruise director so far?

Sometimes you just have those contracts where for months on end everything seems to go wrong. Bad weather, technical problems, port changes, you name it. It all seems to happen and it feels like you just can’t catch a break. And all this seems to happen when you really feel like your needed at home most by your family. It’s very hard to not be at home at certain times which every crewmember feels at one point or another.

6. And, your most rewarding

To be honest it was when my Mom came and cruised with me for the first time. You can only explain so much what a cruise director does but if you’ve never cruised, it is a very hard thing to explain. When she finally came on her cruise, she was so happy and proud. The crew treated her as like they do for everyone — just like royalty – the sort of attention she is just not used to be getting everyday. I’ve never seen her so happy. It was great to see.

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

Eight-day cruise from NY to San Juan, St Thomas and Grand Turk. For tours, I would suggest the following San Juan – head to the Bacardi Factory; St Thomas — anything over at St John; and Grand Turk – anything that evolves getting into the water.

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

That’s easy. Relax and be yourself and we’ll take care of the rest.

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?

The Carnival Spirit – I would love to see the Glaciers!

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

Alright, at the sandwich deli. While waiting in line for her sandwich, a guest saw the fruit/vegetable display. Now this was real food but sprayed down and all shiny for display – you know what I’m talking about. She took a full carrot and began eating it. The whole line stopped and stared in amazement as she ate the whole thing. Mind you nobody said anything, including myself. Just when we thought she was done she went back again and took a pepper which stuck to the other sprayed-down fruit which did slow her down one bit as she also ate the whole thing. Well, stunned was an understatement.

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?

APPETIZER
Sushi Platter, I can thank the supper club for getting me hooked on those

MAIN COURSE
A big piece of steak

DESERT
Ice cream with a crazy amount of chocolate syrup

SOMEONE FROM THE CRUISE INDUSTRY
John, I’m yet to have a meal with you that something interesting doesn’t happen. The “Butch-throwing-a-fake-tantrum-in-the-mess-at-you” story comes to mind a great performance.

SOMEONE TO MAKE YOU LAUGH OUT LOUD
Will Ferrell. Sorry but he makes me crack up?

YOUR FAVORITE ACTRESS
Hmmm….Eva Mendes can you guess why

YOUR FAVORITE ACTOR
Well, I just saw Heath Ledger in the new Batman flick. Kind of eerie — he was creepy good

YOUR FAVORITE MUSICIAN
Jack Johnson

AND SOMEONE FROM HISTORY YOU WISHED YOU HAD MET
Genghis Khan – you got to admit he would be interesting

Thanks, Brent, and my bloggers are very loyal so if you see someone walking towards you with a chair leg……run……..oh, and thanks for all the great work you do.

I just want to pop back to the subject of complaining. I have said many times on this blog thingy that most of the complaints we receive are justified. However, there are a group of people who not only think they will get something just for saying “I’m not happy” but there is also a group of people who cruise expecting the cruise lines to say “YES” to everything.

But let’s just imagine for a moment that we would say yes. Let’s imagine that we lived in a world where a handful of people could have something altered or banned by saying in a letter: “I don’t like this very much and I want it stopped.” There is a very high profile case at the moment in the UK where the GAP clothing company has outraged Muslim leaders. A poster billboard thingy showing four young ladies in underwear and pajamas has been removed from sites near mosques………not outside them but within a five-mile radius.

It’s jolly easy to get all mad about this. There will be those who will say that if Muslims don’t want their children to see pictures of girls in their underwear they should have stayed in Uzbekistan. And doubtless those of a Daily Mail persuasion will point out that if a British person moves to France and complains about the local cafe serving horse burgers, he’ll be told to bugger off.

GAP, of course, maintains that it’s difficult to advertise underwear without actually showing it. Although it could take a leaf out of my book and have someone wear their thong on the outside of their trousers…..which I do every Thursday night in the privacy of my own cabin.

Imagine then if we could write to any organization and that organization had to say “yes” to any demand we made.

I could write to the airlines and demand that for the price we pay we deserve more than one peanut.

And after a second letter, all French tourists arriving at Heathrow would be turned away.

I’m struggling to think of anything which would be permitted in a world where nothing was allowed to cause offense to anyone…….everything would have to go…….. Cruise ships with loads of graffiti down the side, cruise ships that are bigger than three shopping malls, and vegetables that look like men’s thingies.

You probably think this is silly but I’m afraid it’s not. When you go to the cinema these days you’re given a synopsis of the movie before the MGM lion has roared.

“This film contains scenes of flashing lights and strong language, and there’s a bit of mild violence when the zombie’s head falls off. Oh, and there’s some semi-nudity when we see Richard Gere wearing stockings. Turn off your cell phones, don’t talk….oh… and this film may contain nuts.”

Still, not everyone listens and acts on complaints.

Happily, our great leaders are still a beacon of hope in this sanitized world. Three million people complained, in person, about their plans to invade Iraq but they paid not the slightest bit of attention. Maybe the cruise industry should all take a leaf out of their book.

But of course we can’t and we never will……….. Which is why I just personally delivered a chocolate cake to Captain Rude and his charming wife…….she really was and could not say thank you enough.

Unfortunately, Captain Rude could not manage to get the word out, I think at one point he tried but it just came out as “thawwwww ” and he went back to being short………….tempered by telling me that on RCI the captain had also sent him a bottle of wine……………so, I bought him a bottle of dessert wine and ………… much to his surprise, I opened the cork and served it to him, as well.

He nodded………didn’t say thank you……just nodded………and after making sure his tray table was up and his seat belt was securely tightened I left Captain

Short………..sorry……….Rude……………and his embarrassed looking wife to enjoy their dessert wine and cake.

I just read that back…….and now I feel guilty again for writing it. Yes, a tiny percentage will complain about anything and demand everything but they are as I said the minority. And, where would we be if we didn’t have people like Captain Short ……….. sorry ……….. Rude………..the world would be a boring one and this blog would only be about what I had for lunch.

So, no more short jokes, and no more concerns……….a complaint is a gift, that’s what I say. I just feel bad for Captain Rude………he seems to be angry at the world and that everyone owes him something …….. He must have a permanent headache ………although…………that may have come from years of banging his head on coffee tables.

Goodnight
Your friends
John and Heidi and Captain Short……sorry…..Rude.

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.