Good Morning everyone from Lisbon, Portugal, where we have had our fourth day in a row of uninterrupted sunshine. However, it’s not with Portugal’s capital that we start but with Russia’s capital, Moscow.

From: SPLENDOR PURSERS
Sent: Sunday, September 14, 2008 4:21 PM
To: SPLENDOR CRUISE DIRECTOR; SPLENDOR ASSISTANT CRUISE DIRECTOR
Cc: SPLENDOR PURSERS; SPLENDOR CHIEF PURSER; SPLENDOR HOTEL DIRECTOR
Subject: FELT DISCRIMINATED BY SINGER

Good afternoon John,

Please see the following comments and verify with ____ what kind of song he’s singing, because I receive this comment second time already. I thought it’s just a misunderstanding and one-time joke, but looks like we should sort it out.

FELT DISCRIMINATED BY SINGER

Mr and Mrs. ________ came to the purser’s office and advised that last night when they entered one of the bars the performer sang a song because they were Russian guests and started to sing some unfamiliar for them song that all other guests started to laugh and point fingers at them. ______ did not find it funny and, on the contrary rude, and unacceptable and he did not expect such humiliating behavior from either crew or guests. Purser apologized and advised that she would document it and pass to cruise director for review, because there should be some explanation for this song. Mr ________ thanked purser and left. E-mail sent to cruise director advising.

Your kind cooperation is greatly appreciated.

Regards, Evengiya

Well, this was a strange one. What song had one of our bands sang that had upset this guest and his Russian friends so much? So, I asked ………….and when I found out………I was as mad as I have been for a long time………….the song that had been performed …….. was Michael Bolton’s “Georgia.”

Now, while the curly-haired crooner was talking about the great Southern state, the performer’s intention was to do a parody on the song and refer to Georgia as the independent Russian state in the Crocuses. It was the scene of last month’s intense fighting and, some would say, the launch pad for another possible Cold War.

So, it was time to put my diplomatic hat on and sort this problem out. First of all, I had a meeting with the performer(s) who were responsible for this. I obviously have no intention of telling you the name of the person – or persons. But I can tell you that they are a valuable asset to Carnival and provide brilliant entertainment for thousands of our guests. They were also one of the first names on my wish list when we were putting the Carnival Splendor’s entertainment list together. You may recognize them this cruise if you were here because my shoe is hanging out of their bottom. I really was mad.

I explained that while it may have a funny side to people outside of Russia…..to them ……… it was a war……a war in which Russians died…….hundreds of them ……….and regardless of which side was right or wrong……it was a blood curdling, terrifying few weeks in which most of the people who died were civilians.

And to give the performers their due………they saw their transgression immediately and without me having to ask they sent me an immediate apology letter.

Here it is.

TO: John Heald, Cruise Director, Carnival Splendor
FROM: ____________
DATE: September 14, 2008
SUBJ: Letter of Apology

John, I am writing to apologize for the severe lack of judgment I exercised last evening. Specifically, I am referring to my singing “Georgia on My Mind” and saying it was for the Russian guests in the room. While at first it seemed an easy way to elicit a laugh from some guests in the room, in reality, it demonstrated a gross disregard for the feelings of our Russian friends. Moreover, it showed a serious lack of appreciation for the seriousness of the political conflict between the Russian and Georgian nations, and a lack of respect for the victims and survivors of the violence that took place in that border region.

I am deeply ashamed. I hope most sincerely that our Russian guests, and all others who may have been offended by my crass and thoughtless joke, understand that I meant no harm or ill will, and will accept this explanation and heartfelt apology.

If there is anything else I can do to make up for this, please let me know.

As you can see, those words were written from the heart and I know that the performer(s) are genuinely upset and full of remorse.

So, the next step was to get the letter translated into Russian. You see, although the person who made the complaint to the purser’s office speaks very little English, they certainly understood the word “Georgia” and so we needed to make amends. For this I solicited the help of our Russian………actually, I should say Ukrainian…. purser …… Evengiya. Here is the translated version.

Я пишу, чтобы извиниться за недоразумение, которое произошло прошлым вечером в Пиано Баре, а именно: я имею в виду мою песню “Georgia On My Mind” и то, что я сказал, что эта песня исполняется специально для русских гостей. Я хотел пошутить и, тем самым, развеселить гостей, а на самом деле это обернулось полным пренебрежением и неуважением к росиянам. Более того, это показало непонимание серьезности политического конфликта между российской и грузинской сторонами, а также недостатком уважения к жертвам и выжившим в конфликте произошедшем в этом регионе. Мне очень стыдно. Я очень надеюсь, что наши русские гости, а также те, кого затронула моя неудачная шутка, поймут, что я не хотел никого обидеть и примут мои искренние извинения.

And so it was with this letter in hand that Evengiya I met with the Russian guests and all I can say is that I hope that Presidents Bush and Putin can resolve their difficulties as quickly as we did. The guests …….although still upset………were perfectly charming and appreciated the letter. They felt discriminated and Mr. ____ put it totally into perspective when he said in Russian “war is never funny.” We shook hands and the diplomatic mission had been a success.

So, good morning once again and today, as I mentioned earlier, we are in Lisbon. My plan had been to get off the vessel, have a walk and enjoy some sardines at one of the waterside cafes…….. But as plans go ………this one was crap.

I haven’t been off the ship since Warnemunde which was ……..actually I have no idea but it was a long time ago. You see, we have this cruise which is an inaugural………..then we have one Grand Med cruise………….and then we have two Greece and Turkey cruises….. followed by the trans-Atlantic crossing.

So, obviously there are schedules to prepare and Capers to design — not just for me but for everyone. Other departments such as F&B schedule meal times, food orders and staff schedules around when I decide to have shows, deck parties and activities, which nights I designate as “elegant nights,” etc.

And these are things that just cannot be done a few days before. Also, the principle fact in all of this is that Heidi leaves at the end of October and I need her help……….without her I am as useful as bar of soap in a Parisian bathroom. …..I have promised Heidi that we will disembark the ship in Cannes…….her favorite port.

However, Jaime and Lauren from our entertainment staff did have some time off and here are a few photos of beautiful Lisbon.


A stone commemorating the centennial of the Port of Lisbon


The good ol’ downtown trolley station!


The main square where the shuttle bus dropped us off


Street vendors selling handmade paintings of the Lisbon skyline


The first ever elevator in Portugal, I believe!


Here are the “Pasteis de Nata” or traditional Portuguese custard cream pastries, aka Heaven in a Tart. Yum!


Random side streets, an old church and a funicular tram.


The most beautiful picture ever!

Here a few letters from today’s In Their Own Words section

Now it’s time to say huge congratulations to Captain Marco Nogara and the crew of the Carnival Liberty. Let’s turn things over to our friend Vance Gulliksen from our illustrious public relations department who wrote this special report.

At a reception Saturday aboard the Carnival Liberty in Miami, Captain Marco Nogara and the vessel’s crew were presented with the U.S. Coast Guard’s Meritorious Public Service Award by Rear Admiral Steve Branham for rescuing 44 Haitian migrants from a boat that was sinking off the coast of Cuba on Aug. 22.

The award recognized the Carnival Liberty’s officers, staff and crew for not only rescuing the migrants but also for their humanitarian efforts in providing food, water and medical care to the individuals, who were adrift at sea for 15 days.

In addition to the search and rescue efforts, the Carnival Liberty conducted an assessment of the Haitian vessel that resulted in the seizure of more than 25 pounds of marijuana which was turned over to law enforcement officials.

I know Captain Nogara very well and I am sure he is being very humble about the whole thing. However, I can also tell you that he has a heart the size of the ship and we are all proud of him and the ship’s team.

OK, it’s 3 pm and instead of planning the future cruises or taking a walk outside, I have to conduct a safety inspection. Last month, I wrote about the health and safety initiative and how men with beards had decided that the Carnival cruise directors should give up time they should be entertaining guests and lead a safety inspection of the ship four times a month.

Now, I understand why. Carnival should be and is committed to providing the safest environment possible for our guests and crew. My point is that I am not the right person for this — and neither are my fellow cruise directors. We can and do play an important part. For example, I am now telling guests to please be careful when walking across the open decks because there may be water from people who have just come out of the pools or Jacuzzis………sorry……..whirlpools………..sorry…………bubble pool thingies.

I also inform the guests to watch their step and hold the handrail when descending the stairs in case there is a sudden movement of the vessel. These and similar announcements are things we cruise directors should be doing…………we really can make a difference.

However, should we be walking around the ship for hours every month leading a team to see if we are operating safe practices?……….Well, probably not but that’s what I am off to do. While I support this initiative 100 percent, I worry about the day when I will be forced to wear a high visibility jacket, safety goggles and kneepads……..just to host the Welcome Aboard Show.

I want to thank you for all the kind words you sent to Anna and Roy. I will print the blog out and give them a copy this evening and I know they will treasure the comments forever. I also want to say thank you to the two bloggers who posted their thanks to the crew of the Carnival Conquest. I have passed this on to them and I know they will be so proud. Yes……..there will be people who will complain and say we could have done more but they are a tiny minority. The overall picture clearly states that as they sailed through the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, the ship’s company showed just why Carnival is the Most Popular and Compassionate Cruise Line…….in the world.
Carnival Conquest has sailed today with 380 guests who will enjoy shows, activities and events as they return to Houston.

What I can get excited about is a visit to the Carnival Dream. I have been offered this chance next voyage during our overnight stay in Venice. It will be my first chance to see our largest vessel ever and, although I will not be her cruise director, I am just as anxious to see her. I will be announcing the Dream’s cruise director in the near feature. Hopefully someone will take pity on me and let me sail on the inaugural and write about her.

For a long time men and women standing on a box outside a shopping mall have been telling us the end of the world is nigh. However, the planet has managed to survive communism, asteroids, fascism, hemorrhoids, two world wars, the Cuban missile crisis, SARS, global warming, bird flu, mad cow, terrorism, the end of Friends, nuclear war, tsunamis, and hurricanes.

However, it looks like we are about to wiped out by two brothers called Lemman and some old lady called Fannie Mae. I have no idea what a Fannie is. Apparently it’s not a bank or a mortgage lender it’s a ………thingy. Anyway, the bottom line according to people like Alan Greenspam, we must not buy anything and instead hide under our beds until we hear the all-clear signal.

This means companies can’t sell anything, which means they can’t employ anyone, which means everyone will fail to pay their mortgages, which will increase the likelihood of another bank going bust. However, what if we all wake up tomorrow and say “there is no credit crunch” and all go out and book a cruise.

Travel agents will make money. Retailers will make money, as your wife will need 13 new outfits for a three-day cruise. The airlines will make money, the cruise lines will have to buy food and provisions — and you won’t need to sell your house because you will win loads of money at bingo or in the ship’s casino.

See………everyone wins…………Oh by the way, I also have a cure for global warming that is guaranteed to bring the temperature down a few degrees………….tomorrow at 5 pm GMT everyone in the world… leaves there refrigerator door open for 10 minutes

Good Night
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.