Good Morning and let’s start today with the weather forecast.

Guest: Mr _________ Ref: 002809577A
Cabin: _______ Booking#: __________ Added-Changed: 09/04/08 – 09/04/08

NOT HAPPY WITH THE WEATHER
Mr. and Mrs. ————- came to the purser desk saying how disappointed they were with the weather. Mr———- said that they had been on the Carnival Freedom last year and it had been very warm. Guests mentioned that it was too cold to sit outside and that they could not get a suntan. Purser explained that this was the normal temperature in the Baltic but guest became annoyed and raised his voice saying a Carnival person in Miami had said that it would be very hot. Guest also said that he was bored on sea days as he didn’t like the activities as all he wanted to do was get sun. Guest said that on other cruise lines they had sun beds and solariums. Purser checked with the spa but was told we do not have them onboard. Guest got very upset and started to use bad language at which point he left the desk. Mrs._____ apologized to purser for his behavior and said that Carnival should warn passengers before coming onboard that the weather is cold. Purser said she would pass their comments to the cruise director and guest left. Apology letter sent and e-mail to cruise director and hotel director.

You know, every morning I go through a routine. I wake up, stretch, scratch, leave my G- string on the bathroom floor, shower and then worry about what I am going to write in today’s blog. I stress about sitting in front of Mr. Dell with nothing to say except:

Good Morning
Nothing Happened
Good Night

But, the wonderful world of cruising never lets me down and, like a small child on Christmas day, I open the daily Incident Report and my “Dear John” letters which never let me down and allow me to fill the screen.

The first thing I want to mention about this comment is why the heck has the purser tasked this to me?……….Am I Al Roker or the Lovely Lisa? And, then, of course, why is it a surprise that the weather here in the Baltic is cold? I mean, don’t they know the famous phrase which are used all over the world? ……………..“Don’t go outside, it’s Baltic out there.” How can they expect that the weather will be the same in Russia as it is in Spain?………..Do they live in cave? Nope, they actually live in Canada and I think I understand why they are so upset.

We all want a vacation once in a while – which is normal — and all we want from our holiday is a bit of sunshine. It’s not much to ask — a bit of skin cancer to go with your pina colada. I’m long past the age when I care two buggers about a tan. In the past I’d stake myself out on a sun bed and lie there blinking the sweat out of my eyes and rubbing baby oil into my secret gentleman’s areas.

This would make me look rich and prove to my friends back home that I actually worked on a cruise ship in the Caribbean and that my job was important enough that I could give myself ample time to worship the sun. But by age 35, all this had changed and I realized that when people who were sunbathing near me talked about “sun block” that they were actually talking about umm…..me ..blocking the sun. I also stopped because most of my hard-earned brownness would be left in a series of unpleasant flakes on the homeward-bound airplane seat.

So I’d arrive back at Heathrow with one completely see-through layer of skin straining to stop my internal organs splashing all over the immigration officers. And I’d be in screaming agony because I always, always, always forgot to put sun cream on the top of my feet. So they looked like giant salamis.

That’s why I gave up sunbathing. Now, when Heidi and I go to a beach I hide under a hat, a tree and a roof.

And this is why Mr and Mrs. Coppertone were so angry – they don’t want to go vacation and return whiter than Vanilla Ice and have no proof that they had been on a cruise. Also…………sunshine lifts your world and your spirits and makes you feel good.

Awhile back some scientist with a beard, who wanted some money, came up with the concept of seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. Some say it’s idiotic, suggesting that people get depressed if they don’t see the sun for long periods ….. mmmm …….well, in the winter Finland has three hours of sunshine a day and has the highest rate of suicide in Europe.

Today, we are in St. Petersburg shipyard……….one of the ugliest places on earth. And yet today………in the sunshine, it can be one of the most beautiful.

My office window here overlooks the Baltic Sea, which, for most of the year, like me, is a big wobbly grey thing. On a sunny day, however, like today, it’s a shimmering, glinting, dazzling, inviting navy blue mass of possibilities. It makes me want to run about in the fields naked with a chain of flowers round my neck singing Carpenters’ songs.

So, as I mentioned it’s a beautiful day ………..but not one to sunbathe in as its only 60 degrees. I should also mention at this point that Mr. and Mrs. Coppertone are very lucky on two counts. Firstly, as you will know the previous days here have been colder, wetter and somewhat miserable.

Secondly, the last place on God’s earth you want to be in hot temperatures is the Hermitage museum. It is one of the wonders of the world but with no air conditioning and 10,000 visitors a day ………it’s as hot as a Peter the Polar Bear in a sauna wearing his sister Polly as a coat.

It should also be mentioned that regardless of what Baltic weather we endure, the chances of us having to miss a port because of a hurricane are pretty slim. That, of course, is not the case in the Caribbean. I have been in contact with many of the CD’s around the fleet and they all have stories to tell. And most of them are in unison. Missed ports and changed itineraries have been met with some disappointment but with huge dollops of understanding. However, it appears that each ship has that one or two people who are …… quite frankly…………..barking mad.

I am sure that you will hear reports on these situations on the various internet sites. You will read about a man on the Miracle who stood on a chair in the lobby trying to get other guests to join him in protest that one of the ports had been canceled. You may read about how, on another ship, security had to be called to stop one guest using threatening behavior toward a 24-year-old purser when she said that she could not take the guest to the bridge so he could confront the captain.

These stories are common place not only on Carnival but on RCI, NCL, Princess, Holland America…………right now…….on every ship that is affected by Mother Nature’s anger there are people who do not and will not understand that the cruise lines make these changes to avoid DEATH!………….Right now on every cruise line, 99% of the people are understanding and, although disappointed, prefer LIFE over sailing through 150 mph winds and 30-foot seas just so they can go snorkeling.

And, if you are angry, if you are upset, why oh why do these people take their frustration out on a 24-year-old purser? Do they honestly think that she can change anything? The decisions to change or cancel ports are taken by very smart people on land and by the captain who will never put the ship in danger.

And, as for the tiny group of passengers who get abusive and use verbal or physical violence……….well………we as staff should have the right to tell them to bugger off and if that doesn’t work……..we should be able to give them the good news with a can of mace.

But of course, they don’t. Our wonderful staff apologize, take the verbal tongue lashings and apologize again……….that’s why cruise ships once again are so much better than hotels and resorts…………and that’s why the industry should be proud of the young men and women who right now………..as I write………..are doing their very best under very difficult conditions to give the guests the best cruise vacation they have ever had …………. I salute them all.

Oh, by the way, if you want to see which website the ship uses to pass on information to guests about the Hurricanes path, etc…..here it is www.stormpulse.com/fullscreen/current

Sorry to vent by the way, and thanks for listening.

OK, let’s talk politics ……….or……………lets not. I read your comments and I appreciate them all very much. I have decided not to hold a vote thingy during the crossing. I will show the election results that night but that’s it…..that’s all…..and again…..thanks so much for your advice.

Well, we are as I said in sunny St. Petersburg. Tomorrow, I will write a little on the port and what the highlights have been. Today, Heidi took her Mum to the Hermitage. Here are her beautiful photos.


Heidi’s mum (left) and Auntie Aartje in awe


A Russian Aston Martin

Let me just show you a comment card which was sent to me by the hotel director on the Carnival Spirit. It shows yet a gain the huge heart that beats inside Chris “Bubba” Roberts …..cruise director of the Carnival Spirit.

The guests this week are wonderful and the results from last weeks comment cards are the best yet with our highest hospitality rating yet and with 99% of the 3,200 guests saying they had enjoyed their cruise…..once again, congratulations to the ship’s company.

And now…………………it’s time for an………………..oops………….and a bugger.

Guest: Mr ________Ref: 002803875A
Cabin: _____Booking#: ______Added-Changed: 09/04/08 – 09/04/08

WRONG INFORMATION GIVEN BY CRUISE DIRECTOR

Mr _________ came to the desk wanting to speak to the cruise director. Purser asked if she could help. Guest said that he was a history professor and that the cruise director had said in his information meeting a wrong fact about Germany. Purser asked the guest what the information was and Mr______ replied that he would only speak to John. Mr________ seemed very upset and purser assured guest that his comments would be passed along and that the cruise director would contact him. Guest said he would wait in the lobby until the cruise director came down. Purser said that it was very late (10:45 pm) and that the cruise director would call him tomorrow. Guest said he insisted that he see the cruise director now. Purser called cruise director who was backstage for the show. Cruise director said he could not leave but if the guest wanted to wait that he would see him afterwards. Mr. _______ said he would wait. NOTE: This is the seventh entry in the incident report from this guest. Cruise director tasked.

Any guesses who this is?………..yep…………my old mate, Captain Rude.

Well, let’s start with what I said wrong…………and indeed …………after checking the video of the talk …………I did indeed make a mistake. I was talking about one of our excursions to Potsdamer which is the beautiful mansion house where Churchill, Stalin and Truman met after WWII to discuss the division of Germany…………but unfortunately, I said it was where Churchill, Stalin and Eisenhower met ………..and that has really upset the captain.

When I get a letter from a blogger or a note from a guest saying I’ve made a factual error my first reaction is rage. Then righteous indignation. And then, when my blood has cooled down a bit, I’m overwhelmed with a new emotion. Guilt: deep, tail-between-the- legs, nose-crinkling, hide-under-the-furniture embarrassment.

Every week I come here with my tail feathers sticking up and proud. And it’s a bit of a bubble burster when someone points out that I haven’t checked my facts. That’s like strutting around with a tell-tale wet patch on the front of your trousers.

Mistakes are a strange phenomenon. If a news presenter makes a mistake while on camera he’ll get a $200 check from one of those blooper shows. However, if a doctor inadvertently makes a mistake while in the operating theatre, trust me on this, Dick Clark won’t barge through the door with a clipboard and invite us to watch the “hilarious” clip again in slow motion.

Cruise directors make mistakes. We all do — we say things that we wish we hadn’t, and we say something funny that 2,000 people will think is hilarious and one person will think is the most disgusting, perverted, outrageous group of words ever muttered by mankind. This person will write to the company’s president demanding you be fired before being tied to a smokestack and flogged with a wet towel.

This is the case with the captain. I apologized to the guest and asked him if he had enjoyed visiting the place where this historic meeting took place…………..and you know what?…….He didn’t even go on that tour. So, I made the mistake ……..3,021 people heard it…..189 people went on the tour….and the one person who complained didn’t even go.

So, there I stood……….in the lobby at 11:50 pm which with the clocks going forward meant it was nearly 1 am, looking down on a man who was so upset by my mistake. I knew, of course, that his anger had nothing to do with the fact that I had named the wrong American president. It was because I had not invited he and his wife to the captain’s table as they had been on……..well, you know.

I stood there and took the beating, fair one…….after all, I had made a mistake. He then though changed direction and started questioning my education and then he said ………….

“To be a cruise director on other lines you need to be educated, I guess. Carnival is the only line you can work for. I guess your parents didn’t send you to a good school.”

It was as my blood began to boil that I remembered the conversations I recently had with other cruise directors around the fleet who were facing similar situations — and much worse I might add — from guests who were unhappy because of hurricane-forced changes. So, instead of coming back with a retort of any kind, I took a breath, remembered that the guest is always right, apologized again and wished him a very good night.

So, rather than post a cruise director’s individual bio today, I want to salute all my colleagues whose passion, fun and ability to turn a negative into a Hummer-sized positive makes them…………………. the best in the industry.

One last thing………….obviously I cannot tell you Captain Rude’s last name. I can tell you though and because it’s my blog that his first name is a good Scottish one ……………… Angus……………the “G,” though…………is silent.

Goodnight
Your friends
John, Heidi and all the Carnival Cruise Director

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.