Turkey…..For Lunch

October 10, 2008 -

John Heald

I was so mad this morning. During the night we had a guest taken very ill and the infirmary staff spent the entire evening saving that person’s life. So, this morning we arrived into Istanbul and, after a difficult maneuver by the captain to get the ship alongside between the Grand Princess and a cargo vessel, we obviously needed to clear the Deck 0 lobby so we could take the guest from the infirmary off the gangway to the waiting ambulance…….we were supposed to be alongside at 9 am and we actually arrived at 9:20 am.

So, I had staff asking the guests to clear the area. They refused. They were on a private tour and that was more important. I then made an announcement over the PA system and eventually and, with the help of the security guards, the 50-plus guests moved. Not before handing out abuse to the staff…….

I would love to tell you who these guests were but I am sure this would lead to accusations from a few reading this that I was being stereotypical ……….so, I will just say that I hope the guest makes a full recovery and I hope the bus on which these 50 very rude people are touring on today gets a flat tire, the air conditioning isn’t working and that they get back to the ship just as its pulling away.

I wish I could tell you some of the words they used this morning toward the staff……..I wish I could tell you how they pushed and shoved and how one poor dancer, whose job it was to hand out the Turkish landing cards, was reduced to tears by their actions………oh …….and it wasn’t the Russians. She was trying to explain that we needed to move guests so we could take a guest on a stretcher off the ship — and not only did he pretend he didn’t speak English and started to shout, but he actually shoved her out of the way …………that’s a tiny slip of a thing dancer being shoved out of the way by a guest who refused to allow space to take our sick friend to hospital.

Security took care of the situation and it’s a shame they did so with their usual care and consideration…………they should have used a cattle prod.

More importantly, I again want to sing the praises of our medical staff for saving a man’s life last night. I have no idea how the guest is at the moment but I do know that he was given a fighting chance by Dr. Jason Wolfe and his staff. I shall make sure the guests on board know this tonight
I will let you know how the guest is doing ……………….we will be thinking of him tonight.

So, good Morning from Istanbul

Did you know it’s illegal to wear a fez in here? Weird, but true. True and understandable. The fez is possibly the stupidest item of clothing ever invented. You couldn’t take seriously anything that was said by someone wearing a fez. The Turks realized that they were famous for only two things: beating people on the soles of the feet and wearing silly hats. So they banned the hats. Now they’ve got rid of the fez, the Turks are famous for beating people on the soles of the feet and marrying the 14-year-old daughters of tourists.

The food in Istanbul is very good. Sugar-rush pastries which are of course strictly off limits to a diabetic like me …….. bugger.

I passed a butcher’s window in which were hanging the still-connected lungs, heart and liver of three sheep. My favorite thing to eat was a soft bun stuffed with the chopped intestines of whatever animal happened to be walking by the restaurant…….. It’s known by tourists as a Kebab and you will never ever see a local eating one.

I love the local coffee houses, where the air is full of the sweet scent of coconut and apple dispensed from the water bongs that are being smoked. They say you can read your fortune in your coffee cup and having drunk the coffee, I can understand that — there’s half a centimeter of sediment at the bottom of the cup and my future said I had better find a toilet pretty quickly. …………stick to the tea…………it’s called Chi……….and its sweet and refreshing and drunk out of cute little glasses which Heidi insisted we buy 12 of ………I know they will never see the light of day destined like my soap on a rope collection to spend their life in our crap cupboard.

Guests always ask me what is the top site to see……..mmmmm……..that’s a tough one with the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia all jockeying for first place.

But, as I say in my travel talk, if you’ve got time for only one sight, make it Topkapi Palace. Nerve center of the Ottoman empire, it was home to the most entertaining rulers in history. There’s been more scheming, sex and violence on this spot than anywhere else on earth………..except maybe Paris Hilton’s bedroom.

The sheer showy excess of the sultans of bling makes Brad and Angelina look like Benedictine monks. In the treasury, gasp at the colossal jeweled pendants, 100 kg gold candlesticks and diamond-encrusted chain mail before seeing the pick of the lot, the Topkapi dagger. With its three immense emeralds, it’s the 1740 equivalent of a gold-plated AK 47.

Our tours include a wonderful lunch at a cafe housed in the royal Mecidiye pavilion, with stunning views over the Sea of Marmara to Asia………and in case you have tried the coffee…….a great view of the toilets.

There’s no law saying you’ve got to go to the Grand Bazaar, the world’s oldest shopping center but, of course, everyone does. There are 4,000 shops connected by alleyways and after passing the first few dozen shops, you will discover that they all sell the same thing. Carpets, fake bags, carpets, fake watches, carpets, fake sunglasses, carpets and oh yes ….. carpets. At least they are honest and will have huge signs outside their stalls saying “genuine fakes.”

It’s no wonder then that Istanbul is one of the most popular ports of call for Carnival guests in Europe. East meets west………the best of both worlds.

Unless you are this chap.

Guest: Mr ________ Ref: 002975279A
Cabin: _________ Booking#: ________ Added-Changed: 10/08/08 – 10/09/08


Mr. ________ came to the desk very upset saying that he does not think it is safe for American passengers to get off the ship in Turkey. Guest said that he was surprised and angry that the captain and cruise director had not warned them that if they were American that they may be in danger. Purser assured Mr______ that they were in no danger and that Carnival always has safety in mind. Guest said that he wanted to speak to the captain or cruise director now and he would wait by the phone in his cabin. Guest left the desk before Purser could explain further. Purser called cruise director who was at the show. Phone was answered by ACD Heidi who said she would pass the message to CD.

I called the guest, who, for some reason, felt that being American, he would be targeted by the people of Istanbul. I tried to explain to him that the only danger he faced was getting his pocket picked in the Grand Bazaar or if he ate a dodgy Kebab…….but he didn’t want to know.

This was the same gentlemen who had commented yesterday that he thought we were going to Venice. I think he has some personal issues so I decided to change tactics and just talk to him and, after 20-something minutes, I had failed…………..he was not going to get off the ship…………..and there was nothing I could say to make him change his mind. In his view Istanbul was a place that wanted to cause him harm and, therefore, he will be one of very few who will not get to experience the delights of this very friendly city who welcome tourists from all over the world 365 days a year………………..what a shame.

OK, let’s change the mood now with some photos of Maramaris and Ephesus taken by our Production Singer Lawrence. Here they are.

I have had so many letters this week that I haven’t had time to post any. Here are two though I just read this morning.

And for the first time since I went to the Carnival Dream two weeks ago………….I actually got off the vessel. ………even though I have to complete the crossing schedules, continue with the staff appraisals, blog and host shows…………..Heidi made me disembark.

We went to lunch with the best tour operator in Europe. ……….Seasong’s owner Karen Fedorko-Sefer. We went to a place called Orient Café, which has freshly made Kebab……….so fresh, in fact, that I think I heard my plate go ….baa baa…..my apologies to blogger and friend Lambknuckles.

Anyway, the Cafe has seating outside and although we had a shower this morning the sun came out and it was nice to get some fresh air. So, there I was munching on my sheep and, obviously, many guests recognized me. Some waved, some ignored me, some came over to say “hello” and say what a great time they were having – and one came over and was very lucky to leave without a piece of pita bread hanging from his bottom.

OK, I have said this before and I expect and enjoy it………….I am the cruise director on and off the ship. Most guests though will say “excuse me” or “sorry to bother” …………not this one. He walked over and even though I had just taken a big mouthful of sheep he said “Why don’t you have a bridge instructor?”

As he said this he had the nerve to sit down in the one empty chair at our table and started talking about how Cunard had bridge instructors and how dreadful the decor on the ship was………….Oh, he was British by the way.

Swallowing the piece of sheep and nearly choking as I did so, I apologized and explained that we did not have one and that the decor was fun and friendly and………he then started …………..and no………I am not making this up………he started telling me a joke……..a long joke about a British pilot captured in WWII.

As he was telling the story, I did my best not to look pissed off at that the fact that my sheep was getting cold and when the punch line came I laughed as best I could. There was then a moment of embarrassing silence…………..and then he stood up telling me as he did so that I could learn a lot from Cunard…………….and he buggered off leaving me with a cold sheep on my plate and an overwhelming desire to change my nationality.

I am glad he is a Cunard fan……..so am I………..but it takes a lot of you know what to just sit down without being invited and without a word of apology for the introduction give me a huge bollocking………………..they say Brits are polite and never complain……….I don’t think Mr. Bridge got the memo.

Anyway, the rest of the guests were wonderful and Karen sat there grinning from ear to ear as they told her what a beautiful country she lived in and how amazing the places are. Karen is from New Jersey……….she left a top post as the Senior Vice President of Abercrombie and Kent after meeting her future husband on a plane …………. and now runs the top tour operation company in Europe.

Well, here I am back onboard and I am watching another day of carnage in the stock markets which are dropping faster than an elephant wearing concrete boots jumping off a cliff. Apparently we’re all bankrupt, our houses will soon be repossessed, and that if we wish to survive, we must rear our children to be kind, bright, hardworking and, above all, tasty.

Apparently this is not the fault of the world’s bankers, who according to an interview currently on CNBC do a marvelous job making lots of very beautiful television commercials and keeping Mercedes, Prada and Rolex in business. Put hundreds of men in a high-rise building from 6 am to 7 pm, Monday to Friday, with a working day that starts with someone clanging a huge bell, to play what is, essentially, billion-dollar poker, and what do you get? A whole heap of credit poo.

Talking of poo……………what’s the difference between a pigeon and a banker?…….a pigeon can still put a deposit on a Ferrari.

I was talking to someone at Carnival just now and it was wonderful to hear that people are still booking cruises and why not? We only live once and with the doom and gloom of the crunching credit thingy, we all need something to look forward to and what better than a vacation? So, book now. Everyone who does, gets free laughter and rejuvenation.

As seems to be commonplace now at this stage of my daily thingy I have to comment on the pregnancy and Heidi’s health. Well, she had a good day today and spent most of it contributing to Vodafone stocks by calling all her friends back in Holland and the UK to talk about babies. I know who she is talking to because she uses their names……………let me explain. If Heidi and her friend Nadia go out, they call each other …….Heidi and Nadia. If I go out with my mates Alan and Danny, we will affectionately refer to each other as Fat Bastard, King Ugly and Cheap Git.

Also, since the announcement of the thingy living in Heidi’s tummy the number of creams, lotions, vitamins and creams has risen from 236 to 450. Honestly…….I can only identify three of them.
Toothpaste, deodorant and the one that women use to take make up off. I have four in my side of the bathroom — deodorant, shaving cream, eye drops and my industrial tube of extra strength hemorrhoid cream.

Anyway, today I forgot Heidi was pregnant. She was packing boxes ready for our departure and was struggling to move one out of the way so she could start on the next one. I didn’t really notice as I was busy writing to you…..Heidi looked at me and said nothing……I apologized and she ignored me…..I felt remorse for about five seconds ….. then moved on…………there’s no use in two people remembering the same thing forever.

Oh well, time to go back to the e-mails and delete the hundreds I get a day that say that
if I don’t send this email to at least 144,000 people in the next 70 minutes at 5 pm this afternoon fleas from 12 camels will infest my back, causing me to grow a hairy hump.

What a load of bollocks.

Oh, one thing that is true………….. A lengthy study has discovered that people who secretly dream of Judge Judy wearing only a G-String……. or me…….. dressed as a Roman Gladiator ……always read their emails while holding the mouse.

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.