Con te partirò……..Time To Say Goodbye

October 15, 2008 -

John Heald

I love the Russians and I love their devil-may-care attitude and the last few days have been so busy that I haven’t had time to mention some of their exploits here. We only have 30 something comrades sailing but they have probably provided the vessel with 30% of the onboard revenue.

The Robusto Cigar Bar this cruise has been adopted by Sergei and his mates, and we have been quick to adapt to their tastes.

What’s very strange is that three chaps have brought their own bottled water ……….. whether they bought it from one of the ports of call or from a sevenov-elenenov in Moscow I have no idea, but there they were yesterday………sitting on the table…………… phallic-shaped bottles of Voss mineral water.


I have no idea how much this water costs them but I am sure their hard earned (or possibly in the Russian case, embezzled) money has spent a fortune on what after you take away the fancy label and crystal bottle is just……………..water. Why do we let them do this?……………..Here’s why.

Fancy a bottle of Dom Pérignon for breakfast? The Russians do: a snip at $200 and just the thing to go with your Sereuga caviar ($70). By rights, we should take the water away from them but when they buy a bottle of Grey Goose Vodka rather than a glass it’s pretty hard to justify. And, it’s pretty hard for a five-foot-nothing Indonesian bar waitress to ask three ex-KGB operatives with axes tattooed on their heads not to drink the water.

You can also tell the women are from Russian before they even say “nostrovia.”

They are dressed in gold-lamé dresses, diamond-studded flip-flops and gold jewelry, as if being stuck in some weird Russian version of “The Sopranos.” Huge hulking men who never wear a shirt plod about the ship, followed by their girlfriends in sunglasses.

But, this cruise each and every one of them have been friendly and this morning as I went to Lido for a late breakfast I was inundated with photo requests………..well…………I had four ………….and each group that had a photo taken…………were all dressed in the ship’s bathrobes………..it’s the law.

St. Petersburg was a huge highlight for me this season and having the Russians onboard has been just as memorable.

Well, it’s been a very busy day…………..I knew it would be………….but I didn’t know the day would start with a haircut. Last night just as I was putting on my Miami Heat pajamas, Heidi told me she had booked an appointment at the spa from me to have a haircut. I asked Heidi if she thought I was five years old — which was the last time someone told me I was going to have a haircut, but this was met with a stony silence. Therefore, I knew that this morning I would be losing some stuff off my head.

I am not a fan of haircuts………….I don’t like the fuss and I don’t like having to chat with someone young enough to be my daughter about how good Madonna looks for someone who is 80 years old and will she get divorced from Guy Madonna and marry some baseball player called Alex.

I also hate the way they put “product” in my hair. I am sorry but anyone of the male species who puts “product” in their hair is as manly as a pair of Richard Simmons spangle-covered shorts.
There are many signs of middle age: hair growing out of your ears, a waistband that will not stop expanding no matter what you eat, and an increasing bewilderment at the noises made by today’s musicians. All of these things made me feel even older today as a pretty young 19-year-old Hairthingy called Helen shaved my head.

Helen is from the UK and her Mum she said reads the blog………………so………… hello Mum, you should be proud of Helen, she cut my hair well………..didn’t use “product” and she said how much she misses you. I am sure you miss her as well and you must be very excited about her getting married to Nuri, a Turkish waiter, and I am sure you will be able to see her when she moves to Istanbul………….oh bugger………was that supposed to be a secret?……………Sorry.

Did you see that choosing a cruise on the Carnival Sensation just got even better?

NINETY-EIGHT BALCONIES TO BE ADDED TO CARNIVAL SENSATION’S STATEROOMS DURING SCHEDULED DRY DOCK IN JANUARY 2009

New Balcony Staterooms Latest Addition to Carnival’s Popular ‘Evolutions of Fun’ Product Enhancement Initiative

MIAMI (October 15, 2008 ) – Carnival Cruise Lines will add balconies to 98 existing staterooms aboard the 2,052-passenger Carnival Sensation during a 35-day scheduled dry dock taking place in January 2009.

Ocean view staterooms will be retrofitted with new balconies that will extend from the ship and measure approximately 230 square feet. Twenty-four of the new balcony staterooms will be located mid-ship on both the port and starboard sides and 12 will be located near the stern, while the other 62 will be located within the aft section of the ship, with several of these cabins featuring extended balconies.

Additionally, a number of the Carnival Sensation’s suites will be modified to feature larger, extended balconies to create a more spacious area from which to enjoy panoramic sea views.

The stateroom modifications are just one aspect of the ship’s extensive multi-million-dollar renovation, all part of the line’s wide-ranging “Evolutions of Fun” product enhancement initiative. Carnival Sensation’s “extreme makeover” will also include a previously announced Carnival WaterWorks aqua park, Serenity adults-only area, and a redesigned tropical-themed main pool area.

Additionally, all staterooms will be completely refurbished, as well as virtually all dining, dancing and entertainment venues. Guest corridors will be renovated and a new “Circle C” facility catering to 12- to 14-year olds will be added, as well.

“These new stateroom modifications represent a significant investment in our product and, when combined with the many other ‘Evolutions of Fun’ amenities, add exciting new features and choices to an already spectacular ‘Fun Ship,’” said Ruben Rodriguez, Carnival’s executive vice president of marketing and guest experience. Carnival Sensation currently operates year-round three- and four-day Bahamas cruises from Port Canaveral, Fla. On this route, three-day cruises depart Thursdays and call at Nassau while four-day voyages depart Sundays and visit both Nassau and Freeport.

The 70,000-ton SuperLiner is part of the line’s 22-vessel “Fun Ship” fleet which operates three- to 18-day voyages to The Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexican Riviera, Alaska, Hawaii, the Panama Canal, Canada, New England, Bermuda, Europe and South America. The line currently has two ships scheduled for delivery between now and 2011.

Carnival Sensation’s new and extended balcony staterooms will be open for reservations October 24, 2008.

For additional information and reservations, contact any travel agent, call 1-800-CARNIVAL or visit carnival.com.

So, good afternoon and here I sit with my new haircut. Heidi is finishing the packing and I am trying to just sit here and ignore the hell that is the combination of my wife and a Samsonite. We are in Livorno, Italy, today and there was a bit of a polava this morning during tour distribution at 7 am. Apparently, the police had caught some illegal immigrants who had been hiding on a cargo ship docked in front of us and had tried to make an escape………….this meant that they closed the pier for 40 minutes, which in turn meant the tour buses couldn’t get to us. Luckily we are here until 7 pm so we are able to adjust. I explained the problem to the guests and, surprisingly, we received no comments.

I was talking to the staff captain about this today and he told me it is a huge problem in Italy with the Albanian Mafia charging huge amounts of money to bring immigrants into Italy. What are the Italian police doing to stop them (the Albanian mafia, that is)? Well, I had a good look around, and, so far as I can tell, the most important thing they have done so far is to buy themselves some really cool sunglasses.

Apart from that the day has been quiet with everyone ashore enjoying the wonders of Tuscany, Florence and the tower in Pisa. I have to admit that this blog is hard to write. It’s my last one from the Carnival Splendor and I must admit I feel quite emotional ………….. which is very unlike me because the last time I was emotional was when I heard that five Aston Martin DBS cars were written off during the making of the new Bond movie.

Before I talk about what’s happened, let’s talk about what will happen starting with some great news. I think it’s safe to say that we all love knowing what is happening on the Carnival Splendor. Therefore, I am proud to announce that entertainment staff member Jaime has agreed to send me a daily “dear John” letter telling all of us what’s happening on the ship’s last Mediterranean cruise and during the crossing.

Before I continue, let’s find out a little more about Jaime.

I originally came to work on a cruise ship because I wanted an opportunity to travel and meet people from around the world. I knew that becoming a social host would help me conquer these goals. I had sailed as a guest on the Carnival Elation with Cruise Director Jorge Solano and on the Conquest, I completed four years of college at Michigan State University, and I was ready to pay back my college loans while having the experience of a lifetime. Within these past twelve months working for Carnival, I have visited more exiting ports of call and met more interesting people than I would have ever imagined. After just one year with the company I would have never dreamed that I would be able to tell my friends back home all about Paris, Naples, Berlin, Amsterdam and Rome. In the middle of my first contract, John and Heidi came on board the Carnival Imagination for some sort of conference. It must have been a combination of my knee high red socks that I wore at deck party and my super over organized information packed binder that compelled them to invite me to be on the inaugural host team of the Carnival Splendor. Whatever it was that forced them to me to sit me down in their cabin and ask me to join them to venture throughout Europe, I am eternally grateful for! So the question exists, have my goals been achieved? Is my Carnival career complete? The answer is clearly NO WAY. I love every day of being a part of the Carnival Family and between my crewmembers smiling faces, visiting these amazing ports of call and meeting the most unique guests that I could imagine, who knows how long my addiction to cruising will last?
Working with John and Heidi these past few months has been nothing short of wonderful. Even with all of his responsibilities in the office and on board the ship John always finds time to make each and every crewmember know they are special and an asset to the team. I look forward to being able to share with you my daily experiences on board the Splendor, I am just a little nervous that my mom and dad are going to know exactly how much trouble I get myself into while I am thousands of miles away =)!

All the best,
Jaime
Entertainment Staff

So, wonderful news …………during my daily blogs I will include Jaime’s Carnival Splendor updates and I know you and I will enjoy them.

And so tomorrow is my last day on the Carnival Splendor for a while. I shall really miss it all when I’m home, although I long to see my Mum and Dad.

I’m going to find a lot of things really tricky to adjust to and, of course, atop the list will be not having Heidi.

My fear is, of course, that as I am off the ship you will find no reason to read the blog thingy. As the blog grew last year I wanted it to become like an all-areas backstage pass into the world of being a cruise director. Now though the ship part is over for a while ………….so what will I be writing about?

Well, let’s start by me showing you my schedule for the next few weeks…………here it is.

Depart London – Monday, 10/20 (arrives in MIA @ 2:20 pm) oh bugger – a 9 hour flight

Depart Miami to ??? – Thursday, 10/23 (afternoon flight) can’t tell you why just yet

Depart ???? to New Orleans – Monday, 10/27 – boarding FA sailing on Carnival Fantasy

Depart Cozumel to ???? – Thursday, 10/30 can’t tell you why yet

Depart ???? to Miami – Monday, 11/3 meeting, sailing on 2 day Ruby Princess and 5 day Carnival Destiny and special function on the Carnival Splendor

Depart Miami to Boston – Sunday, 11/16 (PM) Trying out as shortstop fro the Red Sox – and a surprise

Depart Boston to Miami – Monday, 11/17 (arrives in MIA @ 9:05 pm) more meetings, including Bloggers cruise

Depart Miami to London Wednesday, 11/19 (PM flight) another 9 hour flight but this time to see Heidi and the Thingy

As you can see, I have loads of flights coming up and for those of you new to the blog thingy I look forward to flying about as much as I would look forward to a lap dance from Judge Judy.

However, aside from that I am very excited to have been asked to take part in ….. well …something I can’t tell you about just yet. However, let me promise you all something. I will blog each and every day during my journey around America as well as during my voyages on Carnival Destiny, Carnival Fantasy and the Ruby Princess.

There may be the odd occasion (like tomorrow) that you will have to forgive me for some Raspberry written blogs but I will keep writing. There will be special guest interviews and lots of videos. So, there will be daily blogs ……we have been averaging 50,000 readers a week these past months and I totally understand if some of you bugger off and look for other thingies to read.

This will be especially true when I find that all I have to write about is what I had for breakfast……….however, I hope as many of you will still stick around and read as often as you can.
I will also make a promise to answer all of your requests to “please reply.” If you need help on future cruises or have any questions or need any advice, I will help you — I promise. However, because of my travel scheduled I won’t be able to do so until Oct. 20th.

I must pause and say thank you to the captain, officers, staff and crew of the Carnival Splendor whose dedication and passion have insured a brilliant vacation for thousands of people from all over the world. I know I highlight the whimsical and the sometimes outrageous complaints but these represent a tiny fraction of our guests, most of have walked off the gangway with fantastic memories of the St, Petersburg, Berlin, Amsterdam, Venice, Istanbul, and so much more.

Talking of which………..here’s one for the road.

Guest: __________ Ref: 002805485A Owner: (SLSHEXMGR) Splendor Shore Excursion Manager
Cabin: _______ Booking#: ________ Added-Changed: 10/14/08 – 10/14/08

DID NOT LIKE LUNCH ON THE TOUR

Mrs. ________ came to the desk together with Mrs. _______ of cabin _____ to leave a comment about Sorrento and Amalfi Coast Tour. Mrs. Pye said that the lunch only Italian food which neither of the guests like. Mrs._______ said that they didn’t eat pasta or lasagna and when they had asked for other items they were refused. Guest also stated that they did not have Diet Sprite which is what they drink. Mrs. _________ could not advise purser of the bus number or color. Reassigned to shore ex.

Nothing has disappointed – the Carnival Splendor was everything that I hoped she would be… and more. It’s where my Thingy was conceived during three minutes of rumpy pumpy…….and I hope you will join me for the next series of adventures as the Blog thingy continues.

I will be back, treading the stage on ships in the future and hopefully, God willing, back here in
Europe next year on the Carnival Liberty.

It has been a joy, an honor and a privilege and I wouldn’t have swapped this experience for anything……………..except an Aston Martin DBS……………… and an instant cure for hemorrhoids.
See you tomorrow

Goodnight
Your friends
John and 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.