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November 8, 2008 -

News From Steph

So there I was ………….last night……………at the Dolphin Mall……………in the DVD store. I had chosen three movies to help me through another lonely night in the hotel. It was going to be me………A Bond Classic “Moonraker”……………a new movie called “The Happening”……………Tom Clancy’s “Clear and Present Danger”…………..all accompanied by lashings of room service.

But there was a problem. The bill came to $61…………….and I only had $55………………..and hadn’t brought any credit cards with me.
This happens to me a lot, mainly because everything costs about three times more than I was expecting. A bottle of Diet Coke, for instance. I stand in the checkout queue thinking: “That cannot possibly cost more than $1.50” So I prepare $1.50, and then I have to look unfazed and casual when the girl demands $2.00……………….plus tax.

$2.00 plus tax. For a plastic bottle of coke. How can this be? I thought they’d stopped using cocaine as one of the ingredients. So what have they replaced it with? Platinum? Myrrh? It’s the same story with chewing gum, which cannot, even in the wildest wet dream of Mr Wrigley, possibly cost the consumer more than 50 cents a packet. Applying Heald’s law, I stand in line with $1 and then find out the damn stuff is $3 a go.

 And nicotine patches. In the adverts they say these will help you stop smoking. Damn right. At $45 for a box of seven you won’t be able to afford cigarettes as well.


Which is the whole point I suppose. Because taking up smoking again is exactly what the nicotine patch industry wants us to do.

 Plumbers are surprising, too, especially now they prefer to be called heating engineers and especially if their name is Joe. Heidi had to call a plumber and yes, that is the correct way to spell it) because we had a leaking pump thingy at the back of the thingy that washes my underpants and water was flooding all over the kitchen floor.

The chap turns up in overalls, whips a bit of copper from his Bob the Builder tool box and slots in a new one. So, including the time it took to drive here and the time it takes to drive back, plus the cost of two inches of wire, that’s £30 maximum, times three. Call it a round hundred.

 Nope. …………………..£300. ……………………why………………because Heidi called the “Emergency Line” and asked for “immediate service”………………what a load of bollocks. That’s $700 she just had to pay to Mr Joeski Plumberski who has since retired ………..moved back to Poland and opened a lap dancing club.

In fact, I’ve just taken a few moments to think of anything — cushions, electrical goods, holidays, stationery, bank charges — that costs less than you might reasonably expect.

 These new cheap flights sound promising. “Fly to Vegas for $80,” scream the adverts. But reserve a seat they will charge you $200. And when you ask why, you are told it’s because you didn’t think to book before you were born. 

Newspapers are good value, though. At a guess I’d say that the Sunday New York Times one contains a million words, which works out at 0.00020 cents per word. And that makes the words supercalafradgerlisticexpealidostious and antidisestablishmentarianism………………….. the bargain of the century.
 Books are brilliant, too. You pay less for a novel than you do for a cinema ticket yet it lasts for days. And a Big Mac McMeal with McFries and a McCoke for $2 is fairly brilliant too. Especially when, as I mentioned above, we know, the drink part costs $2.00.

Anyway, back to the mall and my movie dilemma. Now here…………..I have to be careful. Realising I didn’t have enough money I said to the young lady behind the register ” I forgot my money and I won’t buy this one (putting the movie The Happening to one side) and I will just take these two……………………..she looked at me as though she had been asked to split an atom or explain the composition and chemical breakdown of Wilder Beast poo.
“abler Espanyol ” she said.
“No ” I replied.

She then gave me a look that basically said, “You don’t speak Spanish………….where the hell are you from thicko.”

She then looked over at a chap only a few years older than her and she said “Capasor sotyrfet yhjrwgd jugetdlk hbretgdsihtydsnshco…….cornjou “……….or at least that’s how it sounded to me and I am sure it meant “Hey Miguel…….this fat bastard cant speak Spanish and I have no idea what he wants.”

Anyway………Miguel came over and helped me…………..in English and I left …………..feeling an idiot for not having enough money…………….and slightly bewildered that a young lady of 19 or 20 years old…….living and working in America did not speak English…………………the really cynical side of me thought at first maybe she refused to……………….but that’s surely not the case. I mean this was a huge EFY mega store ……………full of locals and tourists………………was speaking English not a condition of her employment?………………..obviously not. Maybe I am being unreasonable………..maybe learning English is difficult for her…………….it’s just that………….well…………….we are in America………………..maybe she just got here and learning a new language is very difficult.

As you know, it is impossible to speak French because everything over there has a sex. Pens. Doughnuts. Sofas. Condoms even. Everything is either a boy or a girl and they snigger when you get it wrong. 

I’m told, however, that English is even harder to learn because although we recognized many years ago that tables are essentially asexual and invented the word “it,” there are several million alternatives for every object, subject or emotion. 

This makes life very difficult for those to whom English is a second language. George Bush, for instance……………………….kidding.

Anyway…………..having spent these last three weeks here in Miami it seems that if I wish to live and walk amongst the locals I need to learn Spanish……………certainly that’s true if I wish to buy more DVD’s.

OK, let’s do the news and firstly………………….my travel plans have changed yet again. I was supposed to go to the Carnival Destiny joining the ship in Grand Cayman on Tuesday……………but Hurricane Palomo………Palomino………….Penis…………..whatever it’s called has buggered up those plans. The Carnival Destiny won’t be calling at Grand Cayman now because their island is in the direct path of the storm……………………we will be thinking of them and the poor people of Cuba who also look like they are about to be battered yet again. Now, the ship is calling at Ocho Rios but this means I would have to fly to Montego Bay and as I write that does not seem possible.

Why not join the ship today in Miami I here you cry?

Good question.

Well, that’s because by the time you read this blog thingy I will have been on a plane and headed for a secret destination. Yep………….I have the joys of another flight this afternoon…………..returning Sunday night back to Miami thus missing the Carnival Destiny.

Now, I hope you have realized that I tell you everything here on the blog thingy……………no stone of my life is left unturned and I try and tell you everything. However, I can’t tell you where I will be until tomorrow morning. So…………..have a look at the blog thingy tomorrow morning and it will reveal my location. Now……………before the conspiracy theories start let me assure you I am not joining the Moonies………..I have not left Carnival to go work as a climbing wall attendant on the Something of the Seas………………..and I am not traveling to Alaska to go shoot mooses with Mrs. Palin.

I have been asked by…………….well…………people not to say where I am going……………but I will tell you tomorrow at 9:00am…………………..you know I would………….if I could…………..but I can’t. Tune in tomorrow to find out why.

OK, here is Jaime’s latest Dear John letter including a special look at the medical department………………..our continuing thanks to Jaime.

(picture of FunShip Freddie is below)

Dear John,

Making accommodations for each guest is the key to a good vacation. The morning began with a special talent show rehearsal for my friend Carmen. Carmen is a five-time Special Olympics champion and needs a bit of time getting used to our Carnival Splendor stage before her big performance in two days time. After watching her jazz routine and her rhythmic gymnastics set, I am sure the final show will be nothing short of awesome.

So guests do not lose track of what is going on in the real world, not the reality TV show, but the actual world, we have been providing a newspaper to keep them up to date on the latest stories. This paper covers everything from President Bush congratulating Obama, to a man in Dallas who was arrested for stealing 130 panties from Victoria’s Secret. All of these controversial issues are extremely relevant, even while they’re enjoying a great vacation.

All day today, the infirmary was providing flu vaccinations to prevent any crew members from suffering from this uncomfortable illness. I was able to ask our Senior Ship’s Physician, Dr. Jason Wolfe a few questions about how his department handles the medical side of things during this trans-Atlantic journey. You may remember seeing his fantastic pictures earlier in our European cruising season.

Here is the interview:

What does your team do to prepare for the crossing?
We try to order in extra medications, especially meds for coughs and colds. The guest population on transatlantic cruises is usually a little bit older and more frail, and there is usually a higher than usual demand for these medicines.

In general, before we start the five-day crossing, if we know about people who have serious medical problems who are getting worse we will get them checked out in the local hospital, and, if necessary, we will request that the hospital keep the patient for further evaluation and treatment. It doesn’t make sense to have very ill guests on-board, when we are thousands of miles from the nearest land, and when helicopter debark is impossible. Past experience tells us that the crossings are usually very busy for the medical department. We normally have two doctors and four nurses on this class of ship. For the crossings however, we usually get an extra nurse, to make the complement up to five. When we do the South American repositioning in January, we will also have two doctors and five nurses.

Does having five days at sea change your daily schedule?
No. Everything is the same.

What is the best way to prevent illness?
A healthy diet, exercise and sufficient rest. For prevention of infectious diseases, avoiding contact with other sick people and scrupulous frequent washing of hands is also extremely important.

What would you do if there is a medical emergency in the middle of the Atlantic?
We would attempt to stabilize the patient as best we can. The medical center is well stocked with hundreds of modern medicines, X-ray facilities, a minor operating theatre, and an intensive care. We can treat almost any medical condition but only up to a certain level. If someone has a heart attack, we can give the clot dissolving drugs, but we can’t do angioplasties or bypass. If someone has an acute appendicitis, then we can give intravenous fluids and antibiotics, but we can’t perform surgery to remove their appendix. Anything can happen when we are out at sea, and it is important that we can deal with anything which comes through our doors. For this reason, the doctors and nurses who work here are chosen with backgrounds in emergency medicine and intensive care, although general nursing skills and an experience with general practice is also highly valued. There is no possibility of diverting or airlifting in the middle of the Atlantic, so as they say, ‘the buck stops here’.

Anything else you want to include…??
The doctors and nurses on the ship come from a very diverse background, but a common theme is that we all like to help people and see the world. Being a ship’s doctor or nurse is an excellent way of achieving both of these goals.


Dr Jason Wolfe
(MB, BS, MRCS)
Senior Ship’s Physician
M/S Carnival Splendor

Thank you Jason, and all of the infirmary staff for keeping us safe on this journey. You can count on more up close and personal interviews to come..

img_8532
The Carnival Splendor infirmary nurses administering flu shots, with the help of Freddy.

img_8538
The Carnival Splendor Infirmary

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The Atlantic Ocean Sunset (thanks to AV guy Alex!!)

Have a great day =)
Jaime

Now, a few weeks ago i was asked what was involved when a ship enters port with regard to Immigration etc…………….or to speak in ship terms……………………..”clearing the vessel.” To explain this I asked my dear friend and Chief Purser of the Carnival Splendor Lui Toro (he’s Irish) so here is his explanation.

chief_purser_luis_toro

First of all, way before we get to a particular port, there are some reports/paper work that needs to be sent to the Authorities of that particular country.
I will give one example

Clearing the vessel in St Petersburg, Russia.

Before Arrival Day

After we’ve embarked all of our Guests at our home port of Dover, England.
I had to send the same reports to our Ship’s Agent in St Petersburg who would then pass all the information to the Russian Customs and Immigration authorities.
These reports will include,
A full Guest List
A full crew list
Nationality reports for Guest and Crew on board
List of all visitors wanting to come on board the vessel while in Russia.

Arrival Day:

Chief Purser goes down to the gangway to meet & greet the Agents and the Immigration/Customs Authorities
After boarding the vessel, we would all go to a lounge where we had all the paper work including the Ship’s Documents ready for inspection.
Paper work is divided into different piles for the different officials who board.
When the officials are confident all is in order they give the clearance for the gangways to be open to guests and crew wishing to go ashore for the day.
Then we call the Bridge to log the time and the Cruise Director to make the clearance announcement.

I hope this helps

Lui ;-))

Grasyarse mate and see you soon.

Now, talking of Chief Purser’s, please say hello to James Cusick.

“Hello, I am the Executive Purser of P&O Cruises ARCADIA and have been since the ship came into service in 2005. I joined the Company in 1983 and fell in love with the sea. My first ship was Sea Princess which became Victoria. Then followed various ships, Canberra, Oriana, Aurora, and Oceana to name a few. I have served in all the Purser roles, Administration, Food & Beverage, Accommodation, Tours and Front Office. I have traveled the globe experiencing exciting cruising areas from Sydney to New York, Rio de Janeiro to Hong Kong, Cape Town to Shanghai, Venice to …………..! I have met so many interesting people and made so many friends over this time. Every day is different and I look forward to sharing my experiences in this blog.”

It’s always great to welcome a family member to the world of blogging. I would ask you all pop over to his home page and have a look at his life at sea. There are great photos and a daily look at what it’s like to live and work on board the ship’s of P&O. Could some of you leave a comment………………just to say hi.

It’s a great blog and I hope many of you will be regular visitors…………….here is his thingy………………….http://www.jamescusick.co.uk/

Oh, I may have a special “celebrity” interview coming up very soon.

Now, just before I pack yet again…………….I want to talk about cellular phones.

Yesterday, while at El Dolphino Mallo I saw an amazing sight……………..someone spoke English………………kidding……………….i saw someone using a cell phone………….and if she could have only been 7 or 8 years old. She was sitting on one of the bench things with the old men who had given up trying to keep up with their wives who were looking for a bargain or two at Spaceys, J.C. Pennyo and Needless Markup.

I watched her rattle off (in Spanish) all the news to a friend who was probably on a cell phone somewhere as well……………………..is it me or is 7 or 8 years old too young for someone to have a cell phone……………my……………..how times have changed.

When I was a nipper, a telephone was a sacred instrument; you had to dial it by actually dialing a dial; the contraption was off limits and you never really got to have a go on it unless the grown-ups were out, and you could tip-toe softly and phone the operator and say rude words to her like “Knickers” or in a very grown up voice order a taxi for the rude people across the road who had refused to give me by soccer ball back when I accidentally kicked it through their kitchen window.

It never occurred to me, that one day little kids would be wandering around with gizmos smaller than Mars bars that could transmit and receive music, text, film, photos, voice telephony and the latest news from Wall Street.

Now, I see the reasons why. Your children can be reached wherever they are; they can phone you if they are in trouble or if you have inexplicably forgotten to pick them up from a birthday party. You can send them text messages from Philadelphia when they are in England, reminding them to do their piano practice. However, we have all heard and seen men with beards tell us that the gamma rays that live in Mr.Nokia can really do a lot of damage to the kids brains and the public was left in no doubt that it was now the opinion of some scientists that in some cases there was some risk that some use of the cell phone could turn the average kid’s brain into something like mac n cheese.

So what are we supposed to do now? ………………….will our Thingy have a cell phone…………..is it dangerous……………and is 3 years old too young to get him his first Motorola Razor?

There is so much for a Father to think about.

It may be that the new data from Dr.Beardy is bollocks. So before we all take a sledgehammer to our children’s cell phones, let us calculate the risks. Which is more scarey? The tiny chance that cell phones turn kiddies’ brains to something with the same substance as a soggy bowl of Rice Crispies? Or the chance that without them they could one day get into serious trouble and have no way of calling for help?

I know which one worries me more.

This being a father thing is going to turn my hair grey……………………………………………er.

OK, off we go to Miami Airport for another Spanish lesson and to fly to…………………………….?

Oh, by the way…………………………..please take the time to read yesterday’s Ruby Princess blog……………….It was a brilliant day.

See you tomorrow at 9:00am.

Goodnight
Your friend
John

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.