It's Raining Refunds

September 25, 2008 -

John Heald

Bugger!


Well, she is correct. I did say they were expecting rain, both verbally and in the Carnival Capers, because that’s what www.weather.com told me.

Good morning by the way from the straits of Messina where as I write it is ……guess what………….raining.

This morning after my travel talk I met with Mrs. Weather Girl. Now, normally, people who complain about things like this have a bark a thousand times worse than their bite ……….not this lady……………..who was so mad at me I think she would have……….bit me………..if she could.

The conversation started by her telling me that I gave false information in order to sell raincoats at the gift shop…………”That’s not true but thanks for the idea,” I said, hoping laughter would break the ice………….it didn’t…………and she gave me a look as though she wanted to rip my head off with her bare hands and fashion it into a decorative fruit bowl.

“I want a refund,” she snarled, and “I want it now”…..this was getting ugly and a small crowd of seven or eight people had gathered to watch as she boomed her demands out loud.

I stood there thinking……………does this happen to Willard Scott or Lovely Lisa? ………………Do they say it’s going to be raining and when it isn’t be threatened with castration by a lady with hands the size of melons?………probably not. You see, weather reports in the past were crap — works of fiction that may as well have been written by J.K. Rowling. And now they aren’t. We are told that a heat wave will end on Tuesday, and it will. We were told that Wednesday will be muggy and thundery and it will be.

It is not just 24-hour predictions, either. Now you are told with alarming accuracy what the weather will be like in two or even three days’ time………….so how come that www.weather.com got it so wrong? Maybe I should listen to the old farmers who say you can tell when rain is coming because the cows are lying down. Not so. According to various Web sites, cows lie down because they are tired.

Anyway, none of this was going to help me with the Weather Girl and I will continue this story a little later in the blog.

So, good morning from a day at sea. It’s been raining and a bit grey for most of the day but, once again, the retractable roof has been a godsend and everyone is in really great spirits. I had a fun welcome aboard show including a lady called Melissa who was on stage and told me her husband was in the casino and refused to come to the show.

So, seeing as though his wife of 36 years was on stage and wanted her husband’s support, I asked one of the entertainment staff members to go to the casino. Using their internal paging system, I had her husband Evander paged to come to the showroom ………………… because he had won $1,000 in a raffle…………..about five minutes later in walks Evander looking excited at the prospect of loads of cash coming his way…………

I met him at the bottom of the stairs leading up to the stage. I then asked him why he was here………….he replied, “To claim my money.” Now, at this point I should mention that there are 1,600 people in the showroom………he is just 15 feet from the six people sitting on stage…………one of them is his wife…………and he has not noticed her yet.

The audience is now laughing hysterically and when I said, “Do you recognize anyone on the stage?”…………and he said, “No “………..people were crying with laughter. I said, “Look again”………….and he did………….and then came one of those moments where you wish you hadn’t had been holding the microphone directly in front of a guest ………because Evander did look again and said, “Shit, that’s my honey.”

It took at least two minutes before I could talk not only because the audience’s laughter is raising the theatre roof but I was laughing as hard as any of them.

I mean………..everyone was laughing ………..everyone…………except one very muscular lady wearing a brand new raincoat.

Lets pause now and look at some great photos taken by our Club O2 Director Jessen in Napoli yesterday………as you can see……it wasn’t raining.


Naples


Naples


Naples view of Mount Vesuvius


The Egg Castle

And now, here are some letters written to me by some of our honeymoon couples onboard.

In 1996, I had the honor of delivering the Carnival Destiny and she has always been one of my favorite ships. Well, she is coming home to Miami after many successful years sailing out of a place I miss very much…..San Juan.

Here is the latest Carnival Destiny news.

CARNIVAL DESTINY LAUNCHES NEW FOUR- AND FIVE-DAY CRUISE SCHEDULE FROM MIAMI SATURDAY, SEPT. 27

Largest Cruise Ship to Offer Short Cruise Program Year-Round

MIAMI (September 25, 2008 ) – When the 2,642-passenger Carnival Destiny begins a new schedule of four- and five-day cruises from Miami on Saturday, Sept. 27, it will not only provide consumers with an exciting new “Fun Ship” vacation option but will also be the largest ship to be deployed year-round on short cruise itineraries.

Additionally, the Carnival Destiny offers nearly 500 balcony staterooms and suites – the most of any ship operating a year-round short-cruise program – providing consumers with unprecedented variety in their accommodation choices.

Carnival Destiny’s deployment to Miami will also further solidify Carnival’s position as the short-cruise leader, with 29 such options from 12 U.S. homeports – the most in cruising. In total, Carnival’s ships will operate nearly 850 departures of five days or less in length with roughly half of its 22-vessel fleet offering short cruise itineraries.

On its new Miami-based schedule, Carnival Destiny departs Thursdays on four-day cruises to Key West, Fla., and Cozumel, Mexico; Mondays on five-day cruises to Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos Islands; and Half Moon Cay, a private Bahamian island; and Saturdays on five-day voyages to George Town, Grand Cayman; and Ocho Rios, Jamaica..

In addition to providing a convenient and affordable vacation option, Carnival Destiny offers a host of on-board amenities, including some new features that were installed during a recent two-week dry dock. These include Carnival’s Seaside Theatre, a massive 270-square-foot outdoor LED screen on Lido Deck displaying movies, concerts, sporting events and other programming, along with an expansive new “Circle C” facility catering to the 12- to 14-year-old age group.

Located on Sun Deck 12, “Circle C” features a high-tech sound and lighting system, plasma-screen TVs displaying movies and music videos, a touch-screen jukebox, and gaming pods with the latest video games and consoles. A variety of cosmetic enhancements such as new carpeting, wall coverings and tile work, were also completed.

“Short cruises fit in perfectly with today’s lifestyles, offering an unmatched combination of value, convenience and fun. The Carnival Destiny’s four- and five-day schedule from Miami takes this concept to another level, providing consumers with a wide range of on-board choices along with attractive itineraries featuring the Caribbean’s most popular destinations,” said Ruben Rodriguez, Carnival executive vice president of marketing and guest experience.

Continued Expansion of Short Cruise Market

The deployment of the Carnival Destiny to Miami is one of several enhancements to the line’s short cruise programs.

This past weekend, the 2,052-passenger Carnival Fascination began year-round four- and five-day cruises from Jacksonville, Fla., becoming the newest and largest ship to sail from that port on a year-round basis. The 2,052-passenger Carnival Imagination, which offers such features as a water park and adults-only area – all part of the “Evolutions of Fun” product enhancement initiative – began a new three- and four-day schedule from Miami last week, as well.

Next year, Carnival will dramatically expand capacity on its short cruise programs from Mobile, Ala., and New Orleans, when the 2,052-passenger Carnival Fantasy and the 2,758-passenger Carnival Triumph, respectively, launch new programs from those ports in November 2009.

A Spectacular ‘Fun Ship’

Carnival Destiny — the world’s first 100,000-plus-ton cruise ship — offers a host of resort-style facilities and features: 18 lounges and bars, including a 1,400-seat theater featuring lavish production revues, a 14,500-square-foot health and wellness center, a jogging track, an Internet café, ship-wide Wi-Fi access and cell phone service.

Dining options include two two-level main dining rooms with extensive menus and wine lists, a 1,200-seat poolside eatery with a 24-hour pizzeria, a patisserie serving specialty coffees and sweets, and complimentary 24-hour room service.

In addition to the new “Circle C” facility for 12- to 14-year-olds, Carnival Destiny offers numerous other family friendly features, including a children’s program, “Camp Carnival,” catering to kids ages two to 11, and “Club O2,” the line’s award-winning teen program for 15- to 17-year olds.

Carnival Destiny also offers a variety of accommodation categories, including a wide range of balcony staterooms and suites. All staterooms feature the Carnival Comfort Bed sleep system with plush mattresses, luxurious duvets and high quality linens and pillows.

That’s great news and for those people who have always wanted a Destiny-class ship to conduct shorter cruises……..well……….Carnival listened…………..again.

Now, it is with great pleasure that I welcome back to the blog our old mate Chris “Bubba” Roberts who has finished another hugely successful Alaska season on the Carnival Spirit. Here he is with the latest news.

The fall 2008 reposition begins

Greetings to all out there in the blogging world. It’s September 24 and the Carnival Spirit is docked in the port of Vancouver one last time as we wrap up our final Alaska cruise and get ready for our first of two Hawaiian cruises.

The work already started for me weeks ago in getting Capers and scheduling done. Even though we sail these cruises twice a year, the itineraries are never quite in the same order. Plus, you usually never have the same management personnel from year to year….by that I mean the spa, gift shop, casino, etc….they always want to completely redo everything, so each time we do a Hawaiian voyage, it’s like starting a Caper from scratch.

In fact I will be making changes to the Capers right up to the last minute of when it goes to print. Some cruise directors do not like producing Capers because of the behind-the- scenes work. I really enjoy doing them, as one you pretty much have the Caper memorized by the time it’s gone to print, and secondly, I do actually enjoy desktop publishing. If only the people who advertise in the Capers could get the ads back to you in a timely fashion.

It’s not only the Capers and scheduling that started before this Hawaiian voyage….we actually already have guests on board from our last Alaska cruise who are doing the Hawaii cruise, as well. It’s about 220 of them. They call it the “fire and ice” cruise. It’s a pretty cool idea if you can take 19 days off to do both itineraries. Out of the 220 people, two are from England, two are from Canada, four are from the USA and the rest are Australian.

Yesterday, on our final sea day, I hosted a reception for all of them in our Versailles Lounge with complimentary cocktails and snacks to thank them for doing both cruises and to explain how the transition works from one cruise to the next. The majority of these guests think they have booked a 19-day cruise, but the reality is that they have booked two cruises, one seven-day and one 12-day. I explained to them that some of the activities and entertainment will be repeated from the previous cruise, but that we would also have a whole lot of new things, as well.

I explained to them about clearing through immigration in Vancouver and how to enjoy their last day on land before our five days at sea. Also gave them a few sneak peeks at some of the cool shore excursions that are going on in Hawaii and introduced them to the shore excursion manager who were going to help them get a jumpstart on their bookings.

Afterwards there were very few questions…they all seemed to enjoy their Alaskan voyage and were ready for Hawaii. They all especially seemed to enjoy the FREE drinks as by the end of the cocktail party they were quite a few dancing to the background music.

This morning debark went really well….the process is actually pretty fast here in Vancouver as the terminal in Vancouver is one of the nicest I have ever seen. We started just after 7:30 am and were done by 9:45 am. About 110 of the 220 back-to-backers decided to stay on board for the day. While there was the down time between the cruises, our engine team went up and opened our pool dome for the first time in months. We keep it closed for the Alaska season, but in preparation for getting to warmer weather in a few days, we opened it now. It’s safer to open and close the dome when we are not moving and since we will be on the move for a while, we figured lets go ahead and get it opened now.

Today we will have a few new sign-ons join us. For Hawaii, we have a naturalist come on board, as well….except we call him “the ambassador of aloha!” His name is Dirk. He will be coming on for the two Hawaii cruises to host lectures about Hawaiian wildlife and culture. Dirk is a professional naturalist. He has worked for many cruise lines all over the world. In fact, he will also be the naturalist for the Carnival Splendor when it does its South America repositioning cruises. I look forward to meeting him.

Our itinerary for this Hawaii cruise is:

Sept. 24 – Vancouver – sailing at 5 pm
Sept. 25 – 29 – FUN days at sea
Sept. 30 – Nawiliwili, Kauai at 8 am till 6 pm
Oct. 1 – Kahului, Maui at 8 am staying overnight
Oct. 2 – Kahului, Maui sailing at 6 pm
Oct. 3 – Hilo, Hawaii at 8 am till 6 pm
Oct. 4 – Kona, Hawaii at 8 am till 6 pm
Oct. 5 – Honolulu, Oahu at 8 am staying overnight
Oct. 6 – Honolulu, Oahu is debarkation for this voyage.

Our crew and I are all very excited about getting to Hawaii. The season this year in Alaska has been cold and we – more so than previous years. So we are all looking forward to some warm weather and sunshine. Hopefully we will be able to find some. I am looking forward to trying some new things entertainment-wise once we get there, but for now I have a very busy five days to keep everyone amused. Boat drill starts in just about an hour and then the welcome aboard show tonight. We’ll keep you posted on how the journey is going and I hope to have some cool pictures for you once we arrive in Hawaii.

All the best
Chris “Bubba “Roberts

Thanks Chris………we all look forward to receiving an update on your adventures as much as you are looking forward to smothered, covered and chunked grits from the Waffle House. Have fun and once again, thanks for taking the time to write mate.

OK, back to Mrs. Weather Girl. When we left the story Mrs. Weather Girl wanted a refund for her raincoat, wanted me fired and not necessarily in that order. So, there I was, standing in the lobby being bollocked by Hulk Hogan …..in a dress…………and I needed to take care of this situation as honestly………she was screaming at me.

So, I asked her to give me an hour to speak to a few people and I arranged to meet her at 3 pm. This was a lie. I didn’t need to speak to anyone….I needed to change my underwear ……that was one big woman with two big hands and she wanted to use them ……… on me.

So, after changing into a new pair, I called the gift shop manager to see if she had, in fact, sold many raincoats as the Mrs. Weather Girl had suggested in her letter………………she sold five……………five! She also told me that she could not give a refund.

Apparently………..and get this…………the lady had been into the shops after sailing from Naples demanding a refund. She could not give her one because she had taken the labels of and…………there was a stain on the front!

Now, I had at this point, pretty much decided that as scared of those huge Hummer-sized hands as I was that under the circumstances I was not going to give her a refund. So, I went back to the cabin and started to prepare a letter that would start with an apology and then in the middle a copy of the www.weather.com report showing heavy rain.

And then, everything changed……………….I ended up giving her a refund. I paid for it myself ………… I had to………..because when I opened the weather page………….it showed the weather in Naples……………….Florida…………….what a complete and utter total overweight, hemorrhoid-suffering, hairy-eared idiot I really am.

Nope, that is not a joke……….not made up…………..I actually gave the weather forecast for Naples, Florida.

For 3,000 years man has been trying to explain the reason we have bad moods. Now, my utter stupidity has, hopefully, come up with a way to make them go away.

By the way, I didn’t dare tell Mrs. Weather girl that I had given her the weather in Florida. If you’d asked the Greek playwright Aeschylus how he thought he would go to meet his maker, I bet you any money he wouldn’t have said: “Good question. And I think it almost certain that what will happen is this: I shall be out for a walk and an eagle will drop a tortoise on my head.”

We spend the first part of our lives imagining that we will not die at all, and the second part hoping that we will slip into the darkness of eternity, aged about 109, while fast asleep. I hate the idea that later I might sit on the suction pump in my swimming pool and have my intestinal tract pulled clean out of my bottom. That happened to someone in America last year. Someone who’d woken up that morning imagining that it was going to be just another normal day.

I have no idea who I will leave this mortal coil………but I do know that had I told Mrs. Weather Girl my mistake ……..I would be sitting on my cloud……. playing my harp and saying……..”bugger.”

Goodnight
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.