Elegant Night……For Some

September 13, 2008 -

John Heald

Good Morning.

Guest: Mrs. _______ Ref: 002804156A
Cabin: _____Booking#: _________ Added-Changed: 09/12/08 – 09/12/08

ALLERGIC TO FEATHERS

Mrs. __________ called the information desk and informed purser that she was allergic to feathers, she told purser that she would not be able to sleep using the linen provided in her stateroom. Purser informed that housekeeping would be notified to further assist by providing blankets but guest said she was also allergic to wool and polyester. Guest said that on other cruise lines they had provided her with silk sheets and blankets. Purser checked with housekeeping but we do not have this onboard. Purser explained this to the guest who started to cry. Purser took guest away from the desk. Mrs._______ said that she would have to go and buy silk sheets in port but she expected Carnival to pay for them. Purser said she would speak to the chief purser and would contact the guest.

We shall see what we can do for her, however, I doubt we will be paying for silk sheets and blankets. I have no idea how much they cost but, I doubt they are cheap. Still, we are checking with our ship’s agent in Spain to see what can be done.

It really is “one of those cruises” and I went to bed last night hoping Murphy would bugger off but he is still very much here. It’s strange, but in the Baltic where just the word conjures up cold angry seas, we had mostly calm, pond-like conditions. But here we are cruising from France into the Mediterranean and the sea looks like Neptune has given it a good stir with an egg whisk.

Since last night the ship has been pitching and rolling into the swells. As I write, it is improving a bit but there are still angry-looking white horses mincing from wave to wave. As always, when this happens I feel so sorry for the older people who may already have walking challenges…………this certainly does not make it any easier for them.

The ship has been very quiet all morning and even my adventure talk for Vigo, Spain; Lisbon, Portugal; and Malaga, Spain, was poorly attended. I normally have 1,500-plus for these live talks but today I only had 600. This has lots to do with the movement of the ship and also the hang over from trans-Atlantic flights into a full day exploring Paris. Still, everyone seems to be having fun and the atmosphere around the ship seems good so far.

Yesterday I mentioned the Russian guests and they have been a lot of fun, as well. The casino manager is walking around with a smile as large as Sergei Loadsofmoneyov’s bank account, as our big group of Moscovites has been camped out in the casino from the moment we sailed. Honestly, I have never seen so much cash. Nobody has credit cards and the roulette tables are rouletting, the blackjack tables are blackjacking, and the crap tables are also doing well. Still, it comes with a price as you will see now.

Guest: UNKNOWN GUEST Ref: 0020904122A
Cabin: ____ Booking#: _______ Added-Changed: 09/12/08 – 09/13/08

REFUSED TO PUT OUT CIGARETTE
Russian guest was in the line for the Pursers desk and other guests were complaining that she was smoking. Purser went to the line and asked the guest to stop smoking. Guest said she did not understand and kept saying “Russian.” Purser again pointed to cigarette but guest continued to smoke. Purser asked again and this time another guest who was behind her started to shout at her. Guest then started to shout back in Russian and left the line still smoking. No further action.

The Russians have money……….lots of money…..and we are happy to have them here. However, rules mean nothing to them onboard and it is a challenge for us to try to pleasantly have them understand those rules. It’s hard as well for a five-foot-nothing staff member to tell an ex-Spetnaz commando, complete with a tattooed forehead, not to smoke his cigar in the lobby.

It’s all very well saying that the Soviet empire has crumbled but have you not seen Fatal Attraction? You thought Glenn Close was dead, you relaxed and then, whoa, she reared up out of the bath with that big spiky knife…from what I’ve seen…the Bear has awoken.

Let’s have a look at some photos taken by the ever-wandering Jaime on her tour of Paris. To get the full effect of these photos, may I suggest you hold a piece of very old moldy cheese under your nose or ask a marathon runner if you can borrow one of his socks?

Thanks Jaime. By the way, I stated in yesterday’s blog that the photos were taken by Dr. Jason Wolf……….they were not………..they were taken by Dr. Jason Wolfe. Sorry, Doc, and please can we have more photos?

And here are today’s letters

Now, in an effort to try new things we started crutchiting (spelt correctly) classes today. We bought loads of ummmmm……stuff….and the lovely Lauren hosted the first of three complimentary classes. She had mentioned that she is an expert crutcherter (spelt correctly) so I asked to hold a class. Here are some photos of class one which, as you will see, was attended by 30 guests.

Well done, Lauren

The ship is still moving a little more than normal, so, in consultation with the Dance Captain Claire, I have decided to change the shows from The Beat to Fiesta Latina. The Beat set piece is huge with lots of stairs ……and with the casts safety in mind in was any easy choice to make.

Now, tomorrow we will be in Vigo, Spain. Vigo is a beautiful port dependent on fishing and tourism. Let’s have a look at the tours we offer there. The following is a pasted copy of the cheat sheet notes I use in my talk……..now you can see what I was talking about just a few hours ago.

1. SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA FULL DAY – 8 1/2 HRS – 2 MEN

1 1/2 hour drive to Santiago de Compostela
– Panoramic drive through the city
– Inside visit of famous cathedral at PLAZA DEL OBRADOIRO
– Roman, Baroque and Gothic, all combined

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE CATHEDRAL
– Guides will show you the silver urn, containing the ashes of the Apostle, Saint James the Greater.
– ancient door of the cathedral, Portico de la Gloria – finest creation of the 12th century European Maestro MATEO.

– TREE OF JESUS
– At the base of the central pillar
– has been touched by so many hands over the centuries that finger-shaped indentations have been worn into the stone.

LUNCH AT the Parador Hostal de los Reyes Catolicos – luxurious hostel built in 1499 by the Catholic Monarchs to attend to the Pilgrims.

2. SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA WITH APPETIZERS – 5 HRS – 2 MEN

1 1/2 hour drive to Santiago de Compostela
– Panoramic drive through the city
– Guided tour of old town (20 min)

– Enjoy some APPETIZERS & BEVERAGES at the historic parador before Cathedral visit

– Inside visit of famous cathedral at PLAZA DEL OBRADOIRO
– Roman, Baroque and Gothic, all combined

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE CATHEDRAL
– Guides will show you the silver urn, containing the ashes of the Apostle, Saint James the Greater.
– ancient door of the cathedral, Portico de la Gloria – finest creation of the 12th century European Maestro MATEO.

– TREE OF JESUS – at the base of the central pillar
– has been touched by so many hands over the centuries that finger-shaped indentations have been worn into the stone.

3. HALF DAY SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA – 5HRS – 2 MEN

1 1/2 hour drive to Santiago de Compostela
– Panoramic drive through the city
– Inside visit of famous cathedral at PLAZA DEL OBRADOIRO
– Roman, Baroque and Gothic, all combined

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE CATHEDRAL
– Guides will show you the silver urn, containing the ashes of the Apostle, Saint James the Greater.
– ancient door of the cathedral, Portico de la Gloria – finest creation of the 12th century European Maestro MATEO.

– TREE OF JESUS – at the base of the central pillar
– has been touched by so many hands over the centuries that finger-shaped indentations have been worn into the stone.

– Guided tour of old town

4. PONTEVEDRA, AROSA & VIGO – 8 HRS – 3 MEN

– First a PANORAMIC TOUR OF VIGO

– STOPS AT:
– Archeological site of Monte del Castro (splendid panoramic views of countryside)
– Mirador de la Guia (view over RIA estuary and nearby Ices Islands

– TO CAMBADOS – on Arosa Estuary
– visit wine cellar
– Figueroa Palace & 16th century San Benito Church

– STOP AT:
– La Toja for LUNCH

– TO COMBARRO
-picturesque, now National Heritage Town
– Very narrow streets
– Group of cottages & seaside house

– SHORT STOP AT the Poio Monastery (17th century)

5. VIGO COASTAL & SCENIC DRIVE – 4 HRS – 1 MAN

– Vigo: – important Spanish port for centuries
– Major fishing and industrial center in Galicia.

– Short drive through Vigo to the Mirador de la Guia (panoramic view over RIA estuary)
– scenic coastal drive to island of La Toja, cross bridge to reach island (famous for its medical waters)
– visit the Gran Hotel La Toja for complimentary beverage and some FREE TIME
– 1 hour journey back to Vigo

6. SIGHTSEEING VIGO & BAYONA – 4 HRS – 3 MEN

– Panoramic drive through Vigo
– 20 minute walk UPHILL to Fortaleza Monte Boi = defensive fortress – now national parador.
– walk though village of Bayona, admire architecture and visit the 13th century Romanesque Gothic style – church of Santa Maria.
– visit PORT where Columbus’ “La Pinta” arrived in March 1493 – bringing the first news of the existence of a New World on the other side of the ocean.
– A REPLICA OF LA PINTA RESIDES HERE YEAR ROUND.

7. THE BORDER COUNTRY – 5 HRS – 2 MEN

– 1 hour motor coach drive through scenic Galician countryside
– beautiful scenery of Santa Tecla Mountains & River Mino (border between Spain and Portugal)
– visit typical Galician house with chapel
– Drive to Valenca do Minho (fortress walls) on hilltop in Portugal

FREE TIME FOR SHOPPING (POTTERY AND HANDICRAFTS)

– back to Vigo

EASY SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA – 6 HRS – 2 MEN (wheelchair friendly)

– Santiago de Compastela’s Cathedral = MAIN SITE FOR CHRISTIAN PILGRIMAGE since middle ages.
– 1 1/2 hour drive to Santiago de Compostela
– Panoramic drive through the city
– Inside visit of famous cathedral at PLAZA DEL OBRADOIRO
– Roman, Baroque and Gothic, all combined

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE CATHEDRAL
– Guides will show you the silver urn, containing the ashes of the Apostle, Saint James the Greater.
– ancient door of the cathedral, Portico de la Gloria – finest creation of the 12th century European Maestro MATEO.

– Guided tour of old town

* Modest dress inside the cathedral
* During mass – no photography
* Coach parking area to main square = 20 minutes each way
* have big breakfast before tour

As you can see, the main attraction outside of Vigo itself is Santiago De Compostela. Santiago de Compostela (also Saint James of Compostela) is the capital of the autonomous community of Galicia and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located in the northwest region of Spain in the Province of A Coruña, it was the “European City of Culture” for the year 2000.

The city’s cathedral is the destination today, as it has been throughout history, of the important 9th century medieval pilgrimage route, the Way of St. James. The 1,000-year-old pilgrimage to the shrine of St. James in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is known in English as the Way of St. James and in Galician as the Camiño de Santiago.

Over 100,000 pilgrims travel to the city each year from points all over Europe and other parts of the world. And now they will be coming from the Carnival Splendor as over 1,000 people have booked the tour.

I am looking forward to seeing this part of the world but it looks like that may not be possible. I have a plaque exchange ceremony at noon……which, being on Spain, will mean they will arrive next Friday and, if they do show up, I have to host a lunch for the mayor and dignitaries. I should be wearing my shorts and getting off the vessel for the first time in 18 days but…………..I can’t………….and that is a grande Las Buggeres.

Off to the captain’s elegant night party round one back soon.

Here I am and let me share a few of the characters I met.

Let’s start with Harry Rubenstein…………here he is.

Harry had a photo with me as you can see. He is dressed in his dapper suit and doesn’t he look dapper? Well, you and I might think so, but his wife Rachael certainly does not. She refused to leave the cabin saying she was too embarrassed. So, I called her in the cabin and said that Harry looked great and that the captain and I had taken a photo with him.

Now, I would like to say that upon hearing my dulcet tones she said, “OK, I will be there in a moment to share this special night with the man I love.” …. but …………. ummmm …………she said “Well, I don’t care what you think.”……..and slammed the phone down. ……………bugger.

I told Harry that I had probably not helped the situation and his reply……..I mean his exact reply was……….”We have been married for 43 years, she was miserable when I met her and she is miserable now.”………and with that he shook my hand and minced off to get a drink.

I felt awful and I have just arranged for a fruit basket a note of apology to be sent to the cabin………….”She was miserable when I met her and she is miserable now.” ………………. priceless.

Next up is Paul who you will see here in this photo.

Paul is a blog reader and third-time cruiser with Carnival and two of those have been with me. His last cruise was on the Carnival Triumph with me in 1999 which he had shared with his wife Katherine ………..who was working in the World Trader Center and lost her life in the attacks of September 11.

Paul told me that this was his first vacation since that terrible day and that this year, instead of attending the memorial service, he would come on vacation. So, along with his brother and sister-in-law, here he is. There was a smile on his face and a tear in his eye. We had our photo taken and when I introduced him to the captain, those tears multiplied. I will do everything in my power to make sure that while he is onboard ……..that smile ………….never leaves his face.

Finally, we finish back in Mother Russia. Remember, it’s formal/elegant night. Everyone ……and I mean everyone …..was dressed as required and looked great….except these two.

You could see the look of displeasure on the other guests faces as I they came to meet the captain and I. They were lying on the couch playing cards……shoes off………right in front of the captain.

Eventually, I could take it no more so I took the photo and then asked them to please move to another area. Now, I estimate they were in their early twenties and at first they just stared at me before the man grunted “Russia.”

So, I pointed at my JC Penny tuxedo and said “formal tonight”……..the man looked at the lady and grunted something in Russian……..she then grunted back, looked at me and ……… laughed.

Now, either she was saying “Oh look Ivan, there is that pleasant young man who made us laugh at the show last night. I think we should move as he is indicating that we are not dressed properly for the occasion,” Or more likely she was thinking “Bigger fatov bastardov, I moveov forov niet Britishov Pigov.”

So, I asked again, very nicely, but they completely ignored me and kept playing cards. Now, I had two options here. Either call security, or just ignore them. Calling security would have just caused a commotion and disturbed the other guests, so I simply said one of only two Russian words I know which is “sbasiba”……..which means “thank you” ……. and I carried on introducing people to the captain. Chief Purser Lui came over and told me this was the lady who had been smoking in the line at purser’s office………….suddenly it all became clear.

Arguing with them was as pointless as a snooze button on a smoke alarm……… but I was really mad at the way Nora Titov had spoken to me and……. in front of the captain. The rest of the Russian guests I met tonight were all charming and wonderful — we even had one Russian guest present a pin to the Captain. Honestly, I am not being disrespectful ….we want Russian guests onboard but whether they are from Moscow or Mississippi ……we certainly don’t want guests like Ivan and Nora Titov.

It’s now 7:15 pm and I am just off to the 7:30 pm party. I just called Stephanie, my assistant cruise director, to see if they are still there and………….yep………..they are indeed. But, I will leave them in peace, partly, as I said, because I don’t see the point of making a public example of them.

Of course, I have to be sympathetic. They probably spent most of their childhood surviving on one potato a week and trying not to be sent to Siberia. So who can blame them for suddenly finding money and arriving on the ship with a devil-may-care attitude, Versace sunglasses and extraordinarily tight Speedos?

The only problem is that they all look so sinister with their pasty complexions and their Special Forces tattoos. You get the impression when they look at you that they’re imagining what you would look like with no head. So I will allow them to sit and play cards which will make sure that I don’t end up being stabbed with the poisonous tip of an umbrella or having a dash of polonium sprinkled in my cappuccino.

Goodnight
Your friends
John, Heidi and Ivan and Nora Titov

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.