Do You Have a Reservation?

November 13, 2008 -

John Heald

I love food………………I really do. Last night I ate at what some would describe as a “fancy restaurant” and I will explain the point to all this in a moment…………………. But first let me tell you what was on the menu. I started with seared duck foie gras with – wait for it, a roast banana and some banana puree. Strangely, the combination tasted like a Zippo firelighter.

I then walked over to the carving counter where I asked the young man to cut me a piece “from the end “of the joint of beef…………………let me explain why. I hate any redness in my meat and while Heidi is happy to have her steak waved in front of a candle for a few minutes and call it cooked……………………….well I have to have mine burnt.

I know there are foodists out there who will tell me that this takes away the taste but they can……..with respect………………bugger off. I do not want my plate to look like the first 15 minutes of Saving Private Ryan………….eating should not be a blood sport. Unfortunately the well-done piece I had requested was, in fact, the opposite and I am sure as stabbed my knife and fork into it I heard it moo.

Some therefore may say that I should consider becoming a vegan? ………. Short of French kissing Judge Judy, I can think of nothing I’d like less. Eating a plate of food that contains no animal product of any kind makes me ummmm…… a yak.

I respect vegetarianists ………..really I do…………but eating only vegetables is like deciding to talk using only consonants. You need vowels or in this case ……. steak.

Of course there are certain weeds I like very much. Cauliflower and peas particularly. But these are an accompaniment to food, useful only for filling up the plate and absorbing the sauce. The idea of eating only a cauliflower, without even so much as a cheese sauce is unfathomable.

There are wider implications, too. Let us imagine that the world decided today to abandon its appetite for sausages, prime rib and roast lamb. The fields would be full of millions of cows, sheep and pigs…………..and unless we introduce a yearly case of mad cow and foot and mouth – or reintroduce wolves and lions to the fields of Texas – then surely, just as in Planet of the Apes, the bovine creatures of the planet would eventually take over the world and rule us all.

Largely, cows eat grass and silage, and as we’ve seen, this is melting the ice caps and killing us all. So they need a new foodstuff: something that is rich in iron, calcium and natural goodness. Plainly, they can’t eat meat so here’s an idea to chew on. Why don’t we feed them vegetarians?

So, I guess I should explain about my food venting this morning. …………………..and the answer is very simple. The food served on a Carnival ship is as good as it gets ……………. and that’s a fact. Now, you are probably sitting there reading this thingy saying “Well, of course, he is going to say that………..he lives and breathes Carnival.”

OK…………..that’s true…………but last night I heard those words from someone who has eaten at all the top restaurants on land and at sea……………….all over the world.

It was while I was at the carving station at the restaurant last night that I met a chap who as we waited for the meat to be carved asked me what a Brit was doing in Miami. I told him I worked for Carnival Cruise Lines and he then told me that he thought our line was brilliant and then he said “Carnival’s food is as good as it gets.” We chatted for about five minutes while my plate of blood got cold………….but that didn’t matter.

I could tell this chap was a well-traveled bloke from the cut of his suit and the beautiful gold timepiece on his wrist. He told me he owned a sporting goods chain selling shirts, shoes, etc. and that his business had taken him to the best restaurants and that he had cruised on all the major cruise lines…..and that Carnival did food ….. the best. ….. wow.

As I returned to my table I could not stop thinking about what he had said. I remember the days when gourmet food and Carnival were not words you usually heard together in conversation……….but thanks to people like Natko Nincevic and Cyrus Marfatia who are the architects of the brilliant food that you can all enjoy fleetwide………we have come a long way and now are receiving the praise and adulation that they deserve….they should be very proud…………what do you think?

Well, there are only two more Dear John letters to enjoy from Jaime. We will be thanking her next time but for now lets see what is happening on the Carnival Splendor.

November 12, 2008

Dear John,

With one more sea day to go the crew, I feel like the comraderie on board amongst guests and crew is at an ultimate high. After spending 16 days with all of the guests and 28 days with many of them who did back-to-back cruises, you begin to feel as though they are part of the family and they belong on the ship. This helps me to look forward to South America where we will have more than 1.500 guests for the entire 49-day trip around the cape.

In preparation for the South America run, Goose organized a meeting where all of the guests that would be sailing on the Splendor for that itinerary so they could all meet and contribute ideas to what they would like to see during that cruise. They guests contributed excellent suggestions and we also started an email group so that we could all keep in touch with one another and count down for that amazing itinerary.

This afternoon, we had an environmental training about customs regulations and how it is a finable offense to bring any sort of food into the U.S.A. Sounds like a great diet plan if you ask me! The purpose of this is to avoid disease, unwanted pests, etc. The video also expressed that US customs will accept no international trash in the country…. Fortunately they let John in anyway. The officials can fine up to $2,000 for each piece of fruit brought on land if they catch it. We do have some pretty good grapes on board, but I would much rather invest my money in a root canal or something worthwhile rather than a handful of raisins.

After the training I was able to talk to our Food & Beverage manager Francis about how his position and how his department faces the transatlantic journey. Here is what I learned from him:

What do you do on board?
“I have different areas under my command my department encompasses provisions, restaurant service, culinary arts, back house galley stewards and bar. Coordination of all these departments and their small operations is one of my primary goals and work. Each department has a different department head. Each department head gives the F&B manager updates in regard to any complaints and then he coordinates with them and finds a solution for them and use hotel director and office if necessary.”

Does the menu selection change because of the five consecutive sea days?
“Both the dining room and the Lido deck provide different menu selections and extensive variety because of 16-day transatlantic voyage. We are able to keep all of the food fresh with our storage areas on board.”

What types of facilities do we have on board to preserve the food?
“Provisions are stored in a big walk-in cooler and freezer in the storeroom area. Storeroom reports to F&B on a daily basis for inventory an where we stand in regard to provisions, if anything is running short then we order it and purchase it as needed.”

Is it very tough for the dining room staff having all of these sea days in a row?
“It is a definitely a challenge, but the hour back everyday helps compensates for all of the hours they put in.”

Thank you Francis for sharing!

Later this evening we have a brand new activity called The Quest and our highly anticipated crew talent show. This gives us a chance to see all the crazy hidden talents that our crew members have. Secretly, we are just recruiting for new members of the entertainment department =). For example, our current Karaoke host Melvin used to work in the photo department, and now he is working toward becoming a production singer. Our good friend John the cruise director informs guests that he at one time was an aerobics instructor. Tonight I plan to show my co-workers how I can make a train whistle noise with my hands, maybe then I will be next in line for becoming an engineer!

We will be in Ft. Lauderdale before long… 2 days away from being home!!!

Behind the scenes with F and B. This is how the waiters get from level 3 to 4 in the dining room while carrying all those trays!

The chefs that cook your dinner in the galley!

Goose hosting our newest FunShip activity “The Quest”…just wait until you see this one!
Have a good day =)
Thank you again,

Now, one of our youngest bloggers is Mr. Jake Silverberg. He has started his own blog and he has been with us since the beginning of the thingy. Anyway, Jake wrote to me mentioning that one day he wants to be a cruise ship captain and with that in mind I asked him to send me 10 questions which I promised I would send to one of our captains. And therefore, here are the questions which were chosen by Jake and that I asked my friend Captain D’Aita, master of the Carnival Freedom, to answer.

1. When, and how did your career start?

I started this career as soon as I graduated from Maritime Academy in 1982,I then joined Italian Navy as Lieutenant Navigator on a war ship. When I finished my period of service in the Navy in 1984 , I joined as 3rd Navigator Officer a tanker ship, after several contracts on tankers I applied to join Carnival Cruise Lines where on the 5th of Nov.1985
I was hired as Deck Cadet on T.S.S. “Carnivale” since then I have been working for Carnival and at the end of 1999 I was promoted to Captain.

2.Whts your favorite part of your job?

Indeed the navigation and the maneuvers represents one of the most enjoyable parts of this job, but I think that hospitality and interaction towards our Guests and Crew is vital to make this job a privileged one.

3.What propulsion unit is in your opinion most efficient for maneuvering.

This class of ships I am presently on board(Conquest class) are quite efficient from the maneuvering point of view(the ship is equipped with 3 Bow and 3 Stern thrusters + 2 rudders and 2 fixed pitch propellers. However I am convinced that azipods propulsion vessels are the most flexible maneuvering ones(During my career I commanded also Spirit Class and Fantasy class vessels equipped with such propulsion).

4.What skills are required for becoming Master.

Experience, motivation, flexibility, capacity, maturity and Knowledge.

5.What safety factor does the captain play?

The Captain’s one is the ultimate decision on board, therefore also regarding Safety the whole responsibility lays on his shoulders. We are directly responsible to maintain an high safety standard at all times towards the Company and shore authorities.

6.If you could navigate a Fun ship into anywhere in the world where would it be, and what ship?

Since I have already been in Mediterranean, I would like to navigate a fun ship in Asia and South America because both places represent for me the cradle of civilization. Regarding the ship I would like it to be the “Carnival Freedom”.

7.What rolls do your officers play in terms of navigating?

Our job is a team work therefore all my Officers are part of this organization, in terms of navigating they are all very important to make sure that a vessel like this navigate safely around the world at all times. They could be compared to the airplane pilots from the Navigation standpoint, basically when I am not on the bridge they’re in command of propulsion and navigation systems.

8.How has the controls, and tools revolutionized over the course of your years on the sea?

Today technology has reached a very high level also on ships, therefore we have a lot of instruments/aids that 20 years ago were not available (i.e. electronic charts system, integrated navigation, Differential GPs, Fire detection systems etc).

9.Whats you opinion of the trickiest waters to navigate in?

Mississippi River and Alaska waters for matters related to traffic and weather conditions.

10.What honor is it to sound the FUN SHIP horns as captain?

I am very proud to cover such position in this prestigious Company, and I have faced lot of experiences that made my career very interesting. To be a Captain of such beautiful ships it represent the ambition of each sailor.

OK, time for some video footage.

I take my little flip thingy video camera with me everywhere and it’s got quite embarrassing. I went to the basketball game last night (the Heat lost a valiant game against The Portland Giants) and spotted the ginger head of Boris Becker. Like a trained hunter, I had the camera out and sneaked behind his entourage to fire off a couple of shots before I could even think. It’s probably a capital offense but it was quite fun. I hoped that he might pop into a closet somewhere and I would have some footage for Entertainment Tonight and Rumpy Pumpy Weekly…………..but to no avail.

In all seriousness I could never be one of those paparazzi buggers who drive round and round 4×4 waiting to spot hapless celebrities doing something newsworthy. What people like him are really after is to catch a Winona Ryder shoplifting moment or Russell Crowe throwing a telephone at a mere mortal, Naomi Campbell having a diva moment or Michael Jackson dressing his kids’ like extras from the movie Outbreak. What they actually get is something mundane like Simon Cowell eating a bagel.

Anyway, I did have the camera with me this morning and passed it to Tom who works with Stephanie in Internet Strategic Computer Website Technology Programming Blog Support……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..sorry, I fell asleep there.

Anyway, Tom and Stephanie (whom without there would be no blog thingy) came with me to look at the world of reservations. Anyway, without further waffle…………… are today’s video’s from the world of reservations………… and guest assistance

There are many unsung heroes at Carnival and I will be featuring as many as I can during the next few months.

Tomorrow I will let you know about some future plans of our blog thingy and…..what I will be doing next year.

I will also include more video of the ticket process. We saw who works there, what they do and how the tickets are actually printed………using a big bugger machine.…….and we get a look at the huge computers that store all the information and run all the personal computers both here in the office and across the fleet. Look out for those videos tomorrow.

In closing I want to just say this. Spending an hour watching the news is like being trapped in a room with assorted members of a suicide cult. If the pundits are to be believed, the skies of Wall Street will shortly be dark with falling bankers, and then for the rest of us it’s back to the 1930s.

Yet ……… goes on. The restaurant I was in last night was packed. The basketball game at AmericanAirlines Arena had 15,000 people enjoying the entertainment Mr Wade and Mr. Quinn provided………..some had paid $5 for a seat some had paid much much more. Afterwards the taxi drivers had a line of punters waiting for transport and as I approached the hotel three coach loads of guests had arrived ready to check in …………………life goes on and so must fun.

This has been my theme of the week and I won’t mention it again. But, one last time let me say that value for money you simply cannot beat a Carnival cruise……….the best food, the most exciting entertainment and friendly service and, most importantly, it all comes with a massive dollop of fun.

Oh, and one more thing. Here are the result of our poll thingy about the dining.

Your Friend

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.