October 5, 2008 -

News From Steph

And so it is with a heavy heart and a heavy stomach thanks to the huge Chicken Curry I had for dinner last night that I start my last cruise on the Carnival Splendor and I will reminisce about this later.

However, there is still much work to be done and let’s start by telling you about an unfortunate incident last night.

Firstly, we had a show. Normally, on the last night of the 12-day cruise onboard the Carnival Freedom and Carnival Splendor we do not have a full show. This is because obviously everyone is very tired and the ship is very quiet by 10:00am. However we run a full schedule of activities and music.

Anyway, last night was a little different as we did in fact have a performer to provide a show. This was the juggler /comedian who was due to board the vessel in Cannes but as we missed the port obviously he couldn’t. Anyway, I wanted the guests to see Steve Rawlings as he is absolutely brilliant. So, I arranged for him to join the ship yesterday in Livorno.

Now we have to talk about a guest who had sailed with me on the Carnival Freedom where one of the entertainers had missed the ship, this time due to a flight cancellation. …………and if I remember correctly I actually wrote about this in a blog thingy last year. Well, I remember the guest very well because he felt that as the entertainer missed the ship and we had to fill the gap with audience participation in the form of the Talent Show that he and his fellow guests should receive monitory compensation. Well……………..guess who the entertainer was…………..yep ………Steve Rawlings…………..and when I announced that it happened again this man went totally and utterly ballistic. I explained………….as I had on the Carnival Freedom that the entertainers do not live on the ship and that they ……….like us all……….are dependent on the airlines and if they miss their flight or it is canceled……………..well, they can’t get here. I also explained that audience participation is sometimes the only way to fill the gap when this happens along with movies and activities etc. Well, he was not having any of that and has said that he will be writing a letter of complaint as he did last time about this situation.

Anyway, last night I held the show at 7:30pm, which is in between the two dinner sittings. The lounge was half full which after a day in Florence and Pisa was better than I could have expected. I really hoped that Mr. Noshow was in the audience…………I really wanted him to see this great performer.

Well, he wasn’t because this morning just after I started debarkation he came to the Information Desk wanting to speak to me. I did………….he went to the Supper Club and missed the show………and wanted to know why I didn’t put the show on at 10:45pm as normal. I explained that we only had half a lounge at 7:30pm………..maybe 500 people and that if I had done a show at 10:45pm there would have been nobody there. Well, of he went on his rampage and apparently I now owe him 2 days refund of his cruise………..that’s for the two nights he didn’t see a show. My apology was not accepted and I encouraged him to talk to our Guest Relations Department and I am sure he will.

I have learnt one thing though and that we should have a show on the last night of the cruise and now we have gone from the four dinner seating’s to just two there is that magic window at 7:30pm where we can hold a show. It would be futile to hold one as normal at 10:45pm as the performer would be entertaining empty seats………but having an entertainer by default perform on the last night has shown it can be done and I will be asking for this to be included on the Carnival Liberty next year.

On a lighter note I had a photo taken last night with two young brothers from Australia………Callum and James. They are aged 12 and 14 and have decided that they want to be cruise Directors when they grow up. They have been to every show and event and I even let them come and watch the morning show live. As I was taking my photo they both were laughing and joking and telling me jokes and reenacting the bedtime story……….it was very funny. I then spoke to their Mum who told me that the first few days of the cruise had been difficult because there were not many others of their age…………we only had 20 kids or so onboard. Mum then said that they started to come to the shows and activities and laughed and laughed and how wonderful it was to see. That’s because they lost their Dad to cancer last year…………he was only 44 years old.

There are times when words just won’t be enough so I just held her hand, gave her a hug and told Callum and James a joke about elephant poo.

It also had me thinking that I am going to be a Dad to a thingy at 44 years old………… I too old?
While I think about that lets have a look at some photos of the place where we are going tomorrow …………Messina.

And some more letters

So, we start another cruise and this time it’s our first one to Greece and Turkey, which means more new schedules, and Capers. This is also a cruise where we have a changed itinerary. This is because it was not possible to call at Naples due to heavy traffic and we would have had to tender guests ashore and from a long distance away. So, we decided to move Naples down the itinerary…………replacing it with Messina, Sicily and then calling at Naples a little later in the cruise. The problem now though is that we have had to cancel Katakolon, Greece although I am sure that given the choice guests would prefer Naples and the area to Katakolon. Anyway, I will explain all of this afternoon at my Welcome Aboard Talk. Here is the new itinerary.

Now, lets see who is sailing. We have 3037 guests onboard all of which are from the United States except the following.

As you can see we have lots of guests from Australia again and the UK as well as lots of Canadians and a big groupo de Venezuela. ………..and only 23 Russians, which is not good for Bathrobe sales.
Right. Time to say a huge congratulations to our friends at Holland America whose site just passed one million hits………..that’s just fantastic. I think the reason it is so popular is that it started life while the ship was under construction and people have been able to follow the ship’s life right from the start. It is also constantly updated and the commentary is varied and well written………..the photos are brilliant as well. So, congratulations to Holland America and the Eurodam for this wonderful site that everyone who loves cursing should visit.

Lets see what Chris “Bubba” Roberts is up to now on the Carnival Spirit.

The Hawaii Reposition – Maui Day 1 & Day 2

Sailing from Nawiliwili we headed east and then to the south to go to Kahului. Had a nice evening with the comedy of Merl Hobbs for the show.

We arrived in Kahului early in the morning. This port is very industrial. So there is not much right where we dock, but I will take docking in a place like this, over tendering into a port. The other port in Maui is Lahaina which has a bit more near where the ship pulls in, but does not have a pier so you have to tender. By docking in Kahului, you can walk ashore and then take a cab over to Lahaina if you wanted to.

Today was a “normal” day for me a Julie. We only had plans to take care of a few shopping needs & to have a nice day together. In the early afternoon we walked out of the port area to a small mall area called the Maui Mall. In it there is a tiny Thai restaurant where loads of the crew go. We had a very nice lunch and then checked out the movie theater to see what was playing as we were hoping to go to the movies later that night.

From lunch we jumped on a shuttle over to the Kmart. We needed to pick up some things for being in Hawaii & Mexico, plus we needed to fill up our snack cupboard. While we were in the Kmart, I had guests coming up to me left, right & center….”they let you off the ship….you shop at Kmart….why aren’t you back on board…”etc..etc…My question to them is, you are on vacation, why are you at Kmart?

After our shopping outing, came back to the ship as Julie had to work at 3:30pm. A little while after she went to work, she called me in the cabin asking me about the 2nd formal night schedule. I told her that the 2nd formal night was supposed to be on Hilo evening. She said that the caper for our 2nd day in Maui says that it’s supposed to be formal night. Sure enough I open the caper for tomorrow, and it’s written twice….small print…but there.

So I send an e-mail to everyone who it might effect and see what I will need to do…let the 2nd maui day be formal, or keep it as Hilo. How this came to be, was originally we were supposed to have it on maui, but I wanted to change it to hilo because of the show. The maui night we have a hypnotist, and on Hilo night we have the Singing with the Big Band, which is one of our production shows.

Julie finished work around 8:30pm and when she came home we went off the ship to catch a movie. Kirk, my ACD, hosted the show for me that night so that I could have a “date night.” We had a nice evening together…it’s wonderful to have a chance to go out in the evening together. We just don’t have that kind of opportunities working on the ship.

The next day I was up early as I was going to go on the Wonders of Haleakala Tour. I checked my e-mail to see if anyone responded to my e-mail about the formal night. There was no response. That was to be expected since we were overnight and I am sure most have not checked their e-mail as of yet. Julie called me from the purser desk asking about the formal night again and what we were going to do. Seems that all week at the desk they had been telling everyone that the 2nd formal was the 2nd maui day. I called the spa, and they too had been booked up for the 2nd maui. So rather than rearrange everything, decided to keep the mistake, and have the formal night be as it is in the caper. I called the photo manager to let him know of the change….he wasn’t too thrilled but agreed to do the change. So in the end, it all worked out.

By the time I finished sorting out the formal night scheduling I ran off the ship to find I had missed the tour by a matter of minutes. I was disappointed but will be able to do the tour on our next call. Tomorrow we are in Hilo and I am going on the “land of frozen fire” tour.

Last night some of our staff went on the Maui Luau…here’s some pics….

Julie & I on our walk in Nawiliwili

I hope that tomorrow will be less eventful, and that I will be able to get out and enjoy the tour. From what I have seen of the photos from my travel talk, it looks pretty cool. Will check back in again afterwards.

How nice to see that Mr. and Mrs. Bubba had a ” date night ” and as he said finding down time to spend with your partner is never easy on a ship. I am glad they did though……….surprised he didn’t take her to a Waffle House.

More from Bubba tomorrow.

Well, Mr. ABCNBCCBSFOX is no doubt happy his vacation is over and tomorrow he will be home encamped in front of his TV. Lets see what the other guests are like so here I go off to the travel talk.

I will leave you looking at my friend and Senior Hotel Director Dennis Dearborn whose favorite pastime………well……….one of them …………is fishing. Here he is with a catch from the shores of Alaska.

OK, I am back. Well, I can tell you that the majority of the 800 plus Canadians are Chinese Canadians and I can also tell you the audience were very, very tired and understandably so after long flights.
Tomorrow I will post a video from the talk today, which will feature the guests I interviewed at the talk.

On tomorrow’s video you see an old friend of mine………..John, from New York. John is a Platinum Member and travels with his “companion” who is here to look after him but history tells me that I will be doing most of the looking after. John is blind in one eye and has very little sight in his other and has other issues as well. He is a really lovely man but does tend to get very excited and I need to keep a close watch on him. You see, he likes to touch ladies hair……….not in a sinister way but more in as a compliment. Now, while some ladies find this ok and can handle the situation many find it very uncomfortable. John also loves to take photos and will probably everyone’s photos onboard. However, there is one big concern and that is John likes to walk onto the stage and will do so during all the shows. This is particularly dangerous during the production shows with the orchestra pit down……….John being blind well; it’s an accident waiting to happen. And of course it’s dangerous to the other performers as well. So, at each show I will have to either sit with him or have a staff member do so. I have spoken to his “companion” who honestly doesn’t seem to….well…… Anyway, we will do the caring and make sure John has a great time. I am sure I will have more to report on his antics later in the cruise.

This will be the last blog I write on a debarkation morning on the Carnival Splendor… ever. I can’t believe that it’s been six months already although when I looked in the mirror this morning naked and saw Jabba the Hut looking back at me……….well I knew it was maybe time for those four days at home…….and more dieting……and have my hair dyed……..and to trim the national park which was growing out of my nose………and my ears……….and never……..ever…….to eat curry before going to bed ever again.

There have been other warning signs that I am indeed getting old. I don’t recognize any of the music played on the radio, I have started making weird “old man” noises when I get up from sitting down………..why am I doing that………..I stand up and hear myself go” umphhhhhh “…….what’s that all about?

I am, however, still on my first marriage, haven’t actually lost too much hair yet, I still get excited when I see a Bentley Continental GTC or an Aston Martin although it is a worry that I get more excited about the cars then I do looking at ladies bottoms ………..bugger………….still I’m fit enough not to need a stair lift – so things aren’t all bad.

Someone really annoying told me that when you turned 40 you had to take a really hard look at your life and if you hadn’t got your act together, now was the time. When you get to 50, he said, if you still hadn’t got your act together it’s too late. So I’ve started writing a sort of five-year plan.

Personally I’m determined to get my act together. First I want loads of money by the time I’m 50. It’s not that I think money will automatically make me happy but, in the words of Woody Allen, “Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons”.

I’m going to make this huge amount of money by either moving to the States and turning the blog into a TV series, remain in the UK and become President of Carnival Universal which will be our new brand selling cruises to the Moon, Mars and Uranus or selling those photos I’ve got of Brad Pitt having rumpy pumpy with Judge Judy in a Hot Tub. I need to think about the options, so I’ll let you know what I decide.

I guess I am actually middle-aged so I’m also due a midlife crisis. This normally involves dressing like a teenager so for the Welcome aboard travel talk today I shall be wearing my trousers below my underpants.

The last option is to have an affair with a younger lady but the half a tube of super glue in the refrigerator tells me not to do that and besides……..I am very tired so if I did get ” excited ” I would probably just lean on it.

I don’t actually mind getting old at all… honest. It’s just the comfy middle-aged part that worries me. When I get properly old, I’ll love it – I can urinate at bus stops, refuse to pay for anything, and shout random abuse at strangers to whom I take a mild dislike.

You just can’t do that sort of thing at 43, sadly. There’s still too much at stake.

I’m joking – I’ve got quite a good feeling about my next 10 years, everything’s going to be fine… it’s only the halfway point of my life with no going back, time’s winged chariot, the inexorable approach of death…bugger……. maybe I’m not as OK as I thought.

All I want is to be able to do exactly what I want. But with a thingy on the way that might not be possible and in the years ahead I will have to find the energy from somewhere to play soccer with the thingy and go to the park with the thingy and………oh I hope it’s a girl……….playing with dolls and colouring in pictures of elephants……………… sounds like heaven.

Your friends
John, Heidi and the thingy.

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.