The Italian Job

June 7, 2009 -

John Heald

It’s time for another ” John hates flying” moan and whine. You know, I used to believe that flying on a budget airline like Ryan Air was the good Lord’s way of deterring everyone but the most determined traveller from ever setting foot on a plane. Those who have not been affected en route by thrombosis or poisoned by what the airlines refers to as “food,” emerge at the end looking and feeling like the unlikely offspring of Judge Judy and Borat.

It was clearly a deterrent because the airlines made sure that you knew just how bad it was by comparing it with something infinitely more agreeable: nice class, like in the American Airlines commercials……………….soft sheets, fine wines, exotic nuts and a good chance of sitting next to James Gandolfini. Of course on airlines like Ryan Air, Easy Jet and the North American equivalents you are more likely to be sharing a seat row with a stag party on their way to a restaurant called Steak and Tits, in Amsterdam.

My flight from Genoa to London Stansted only cost £19.50 I was still charged £10 to put a bag in the hold and because my bag weighed 2 kg over the 15kg allowance………I had to pay a 40 euro (where the hell is the euro sign on this computer) plus an extra 10 euros to use Carnival’s Visa card to pay for it. I was also told that the giant Toblerone I had purchased from the airport’s own duty free represented an extra piece of hand luggage for which I was told I would have to pay another 40 euros………I refused and the toblerone is as we speak being surgically removed from Miss Ryan’s bottom.

They also charge for food on board and for a “priority” boarding pass, which gives lucky holders the opportunity to take part in a “priority” scramble for seats, which presumably through sheer spite ……………are unallocated. And because low-cost airlines pride themselves on quick turnarounds by staff motivated solely by the prospect of an upgrade to an adult airline, their aircraft are as clean as my bottom after wearing the same underwear for the last five days.

Even the Ryan Air pilots are budget………..this morning our pilot introduced himself simply as……………… Tim.
And when did air hostesses become so ugly and male domintaed? In the past every bloke lusted after them and dreamt of some mile high rumpy pumpy. Hostesses reeked of glamour rather than the tuna wrap they try and sell you. ……………mine today had an arse like a championship pumpkin and all the others were men.

The lady next to me (who was Italian) asked for a virgin bloody mary……….I clearly heard the term virgin………..her English was perfect……..yet the male flight attendant gave her one with Vodka. My Italian neighbour realised this after tasting it and asked for a replacement……….the flight attendant said he could not replace it and she would have to pay for another one. …………..and he said so with a sneer …………………unbelievable. The Italian lady ………….being Italian started to argue with the flight attendant who just…………..walked away……….leaving the Italian lady and myself dumb struck by her sheer rudeness.

As I sat back in my plastic chair and ate my 5 euro sandwich, I closed my eyes and dreamt of how it must be for the rich and tanned who can fly on their private jets. Check-in time is one minute before the scheduled departure. Or one hour afterwards, if you can’t be bothered to get up. It doesn’t really matter because all you have to do is show your passport to a man with a beard and on you get. Someone loads your luggage for you and you can take a hefty bag or 38 pieces of luggage and 27 extra large Toblerones…………….and nobody will say anything at all. You will sit on board in a big swivelly seat, wondering whether to have your champagne with a swan in it followed by a 5 star dinner served by a topless Latvian flight attendant.

Well, at least we landed safely and here I am back home and as much as the last few days have been absolutely thrilling I have of course missed my two girls. Strange isn’t it……..I mean the last five days I have been showing everyone photos on my raspberry of Kye………even if they wanted to see them or not and each and every night before I went to bed I would look at the photos again myself…………………what a big soft soppy sod I am.

Being away from Kye was well……….weird because suddenly I was free of the responsibility of keeping her entertained and playing my part in the nightly battle to convince her that going to sleep is a good thing………..for all three of us. Weird, too, because it made it abundantly clear just how much that little bugger has etched herself onto my soul. I was away for 5 days but I missed her like crazy.

Yep, I missed not sleeping in a room that constantly smells of poo and being woken up at four in the morning by her mighty Hummer sized lungs, and finding dribbles of puke down my best shirt. Actually, I didn’t miss any of that, but I did miss her, in all her magnificent Kye-ness.

And I thought, as I set off for the Carnival Dream, that it would be like a week away before she was born, and that I’d be overwhelmed with a sense of freedom and irresponsibility and smoke loads of cigars and flirt with Anita Dunham Potter from MSNBC. Instead, I didn’t smoke any cigars and bored Anita and the rest of the press group from Travel Weekly and Seatrade Insider with stories of Kye eating, or pooing, or being generally adorable.

My friends the Bentley’s who were there were probably a bit secretly pleased when I’d gone, and thought I had a great time, I was quite pleased when I got home. At the moment, five nights away from my family (and ‘my family’ still seems a pretty weird concept) wasn’t easy so I can imagine that 7 weeks will be . ………………..astonishingly hard.

Anyway, before we get into the Costa naming ceremony and the Carnival Dream stuff I had better plough on with answering 15 of the 40 plus questions I have in my in box. …………….here we go.

Lane
 Asked:
Hi John! (PLEASE REPLY)
I know you’ve probably said this a million times, but what are the exact dates and ships of your schedule for the rest of 2009? My family wants to book a cruise with you soon!
Thanks so much!
-Lane

John Says:

Hello Lane
I am always humbled when people state that they want to spend their valuable vacation time with me as their Cruise Director onboard a Carnival fun ship. Here as requested are my dates for the rest of this year.
JUNE 20TH – AUGUST 28TH – CARNIVAL FREEDOM AS CRUISE DIRECTOR
SEPTEMBER 15TH – SEPTEMBER 19TH – CARNIVAL DREAM – FOR HAND OVER CEREMONY
OCTOBER 1ST – NOVEMBER 11TH – CARNIVAL LEGEND – AS CRUISE DIRECTOR
I then host two bloggers cruises in November and December on-board the Carnival Dream.
I hope that you and your family can find time to join me and I will do my best to make sure you have the best vacation ever.
Best wishes to you all
John


David Reynolds
 Asked:

Please Reply
Dear John:
I have been reading you blog since day one. I find it both informative and entertaining it.
I hate to ask this of you, however, Carnival does not provide any other option to make such a request prior to sailing. My wife and I are leaving for our 14th cruise aboard the Liberty on July 4. My daughter and her husband will be sailing with us. We have selected early dining and would like to request a table for four. While we have enjoyed meeting many wonderful people at dinner over our past sailings, this time around, we would like to devote dinner to family time.
My booking number is —- and my son-in-law’s, Brandon C, booking number is —–.
I truly appreciate your help on this. Keep those great blogs coming!!
David

John Says:

Hello David
I am very glad that you have been enjoying the blog and if you find it both fun and informative as you said then I am very happy indeed. I realsie that there are times when family time is so very important and therefore I will do my very best to make sure you wish for a table of four is granted. Please let me know upon your return all about your cruise and I wish you all a fantastic time.
Best wishes
John

ivanhoe76 Asked:

John PLEASE REPLY:
I cannot wait for your reports & pics from Dream. My Med cruise is just 4 months away! Yipee! We have purchased some excursions thru Carnival and I have one question:
While we will be docked in Venice overnight on 10/7, is there a curfew – time set to be back on ship? Or can we come back at any time of the night? Thank you! Have a great time in Italy )

John Says:

Hello Ivana
I hope you enjoyed the photos of the Carnival Dream I posted last week and there will be more coming next week which will be accompanied by lots of details about what you can expect onboard. There is no curfew whilst docked in Venice and you can return to the ship at your leisure. However, i should point out the the Vaporettos ( water buses ) that run every ten minutes or so from St.Marks Square stop doing so at midnight. Then they run every hour on the hour . If you have any other Venice information or excursion questions that need answering please let me know and I will be happy to help.
Not long now. Best wishes to you all
John


Amy
 Asked:

Please reply,
I apologize if this is a duplicate, I know that I at least thought about getting online to ask for your help, but I can not find my post. I must be losing my mind because of all of the excitement getting ready for our cruise in a few days.
We would really like to have a table for 4 for dinner. We have loved all of our past table mates, but this is the 1st time we are taking both girls on a cruise and we would love some family time.
Thank you so much for sharing Kye with us, she is beautiful.
Amy Hopmann
Carnival Freedom – June 6, 2009
rooms

John Says:

Hello Amy
Hopefully by now you are onboard and enjoying the hospitality of the Carnival Freedom’s brillinat crew. Please let me know all about it when you get home.
Best wishes
John

msqpon – Jo Myerly
 Asked:

Hi John, I thought of another question about the Dream. One of my favorite things about the Splendor is the photo machine they have onboard. We put all our cruises from the last couple of years on memory cards. Then while we were onboard the Splendor we used the photo machine to make up albums for each cruise. We put seven photos on each side of the page. It worked out really well. I have albums for each cruise. Is the Dream going to have that kind of photo machine on board?
Thanks for checking. Can’t wait for more photos of the Dream.
Jo and Dave

John Says:

Hello Jo and Dave
I am glad you mentioned our new photo enhancements that you discovered on the Carnival Splendor. The good news is that this will also be a feature on the Carnival Dream along with some other unique photo developments…………pardon the pun……………which I will be telling you about later this week. This digital machine will also be rolled out fleet wide as it is proving to be very, very popular.
Hope you are both well and hope to see you soon
John

Toni O’Bryan
 Asked:

John
(PLEASE RESPOND)
Who will be the CD on the Inspiration on June 15th. Thanks.
Hello Toni
The Cruise Director for your Carnival Inspiration cruise on June 15th will be Skippy Lyons from Australia. I know you will really enjoy his enetrtainment.
Have a great cruise
Best wishes
John

Jim
 Asked:

If your household were a “movie marquee”, it’d read the following for the next 20 years-plus:
Starring–Kye
Also Starring–Heidi
And Featuring–John
[The “And Featuring” would be the smallest letters possible]
Now that I’ve done everything [yeah, sure] possible to “inflate your ego”, PLEASE RESPOND to someone who wonders exactly when an updated CD list will be available. Especially for the 11/11 “Spirit”.
Thank you.

John Says:

Hello Jim
How right you are. I used to be the star of the show but since Kye came into our world I definatley now have a supporting role and am lucky to make the credits. Still………she is my star!
OK, I will hopefully be publishing the full CD schedule very soon. There are just one or two holes to fill and once we have sorted out who fills those gaps then I will post it. I can definitely tell you that the CD for your Carnival Spirit cruise will be Stuart Dunn. For those who have just sailed on the Carnival Elation I am sure they will tell you about his endless energy and why he is considered very much to be one of our top Cruise Directors.
Please let me know what you think after the cruise.
Thanks for the kind words and best wishes to you and the family
John


Linda Asked:

John,
Please reply.
I am curious about storms when out at sea. I was always told you should get off of a lake if a storm comes. What happens when you are on the ocean? How does the ship protect itself and passengers from lightning strikes?
Also, I want you to know that we are really enjoying the pictures of the Dream. My son is so excited to try out the new slides in April next year. They do look like fun!
Thanks so much for all your hard work!
Linda

John Says:
Hello Linda
I know storms are very much in peoples minds as we approach the hurricane season. I guess that when you are on a lake the advice you mentioned is good advice but for cruise ships it is rather different. The most important thing to remember is that the ship has constant knowledge about where the bad weather is located and where it is heading. This comes directly to the Captain through the ships own satellites as well as information gleened from the National Hurricane Center in Miami. This information allows the Captain to send the ship in the other direction allowing therefore for the the ship , her guests and crew to remain safe. Therefore, the safest place for a cruise ship to be during a hurricane is at sea……………heading away from the storm to calmer waters. Now, this may lead to a change of itinerary and cancellation of a port of call but all of this is done as I said to keep the ship safe.The ship is also protected against lightning strikes in much the same way as planes and tall buildings. You really have nothing to worry about I promise.
I will have more Carnival Dream photos this coming week for your son to get excited about.
Please let me know if you have any further questions
John

michael Asked:

john please reply
you were speaking of the holiday today, and i was wondering, when a carnival ship such as the holiday leaves the carnival fleet what happens to the terrific crew members, officers, and engineers serving on that ship?
do they get the option to stay with carnival, and transfer to a different ship? do they automatically transfer with the ship to the new line? no choice
i guess it sounds nasty but they transfer like the ships property? i say this because obviously a ship needs experienced people to operate, and sail her, such as engineers and officers.
and with the way the economy is what happens to the wonderful crew members i have onboard over the years.
thanks
mike white

John Says:

Hello Mike
Thanks for asking this question as it is a very good one indeed. All the crew from the Captain on down currently serving onboard the Holiday will all transfer to another Carnival ship once the Holiday retires from funship service later this year. When she becomes the Grand Holiday part of Iberocruceros her Captain and crew will take over the running of the vessel . Our engineers and hotel staff will remain onboard for a handover period but after that they will join another Carnival ship. It is important to note that even under the difficult economic conditions we are all currently experiencing that Carnival continues to invest in her shipboard crew who remain the most iconic part of a cruise. I hope this answers your question and if you have another please let me know.
Best wishes
John

Andre
 Asked:

Hi John, please reply….
It’ll be 22 years in Feb. since Canada hosted the Olympic Games. Vancouver is the host this winter, and we are scheduled on the Carnival Freedom in mid-Feb. for a wedding.
My question is the following….
With all the nationalities on board, will the Olympics be shown regularly on the giant lido screen, or in the sports bar, staterooms, etc. etc.?
Thanks.
And yes, you should start watching hockey if you think basketball is a fast sport.

John Says:

Hello Andre
I am sure everyone in Canada and particularly everyone in Vancouver is so very excited about the winter Olympic games next year. I cant help but think whenever I hear the words “ Winter Olympics “ of the British chap Eddie “ The Eagle Edwards a short sighted amateur ski jumper who thrilled and enchanted us with his dedication to the cause of launching off a ski jump and landing on his arse. ………….he was a bit like Erik “the Eel” Moussambani, from Equatorial Guinea, in the 100 metre freestyle swimming at the 2000 Olympic Games, thrashing around like a demented windmill before coming home to raucous applause…………….. more than a minute behind the winner. Anyway, I digress and I should therefore tell you that yes……………the Winter Olympics will be shown onboard …………mainly in the sports bar and on guest TV’s and occasionally and when the schedule of live music, games and movies permitt on the big screen as well. Lots to look forward to then and I wish you a wonderful cruise and Vancouver a brilliant winter Olympics.
Best wishes
John


John Asked:

Hi John, (Please reply)
I have read posts on the cruise websites about what a beating the Purser’s receive from some unhappy campers. I thought to myself what a tough job that would be. They must feel that they have a bullseye on their forehead!
Last year, when I cruised on the Legend, I hand carried a large box of handmade chocolates from a local chocolatier (darned hard to do considering I was driving from Richmond, VA to Tampa, FL in the middle of summer and I managed not to deliver a box that looked like a norovirus attack) to present to the Pursers for all they do.
While waiting to board I noticed the Hotel Director, Guna Chellam (another under appreciated position) standing at the entrance, monitoring embarkation. I introduced myself and asked him to give these chocolates to the Pursers and thank them for doing a hard, sometimes thankless job and to let them know that I appreciated what they do. He seemed genuinely touched and thanked me for my kindness. I went back to my family and was waiting to embark when Mr Chellam came up and told me to grab my stuff and follow him. He took us through security and right on the ship so I could hand them to the Purser directly. She was also very appreciative and seemed touched as well. I wish I could remember her name. I do remember she was very pretty, from France and didn’t stink.
I’m leaving on the Glory in August and would like to do the same thing and need your help. I thought I would do the Chocolates again for the Purser (and staff) and I was thinking I would bring some gourmet Virginia peanuts for the Hotel Director. Virginia is famous for peanuts and ham and I don’t know whole a side of pork would be received. With my luck the Hotel Director would have some unknown peanut allergy and the cruise would be canceled because I killed the Hotel Director. Could you, without giving up the surprise, find out if he likes peanuts? If not, can you recommend something to bring?
Thanks for all you and the wonderful people at Carnival do to make our vacation the best ever.
John

John Says:

Hello John O
What a fantastic post and thank you so very much for highlighting our Pursers or Guest Service Officers as they are now known. They are indeed the front line and while the vast majority of our wonderful guests they talk to 24 hours a day are civil and pleasant they do now and then meet guests who are the exact opposite. The Guest Service Officer then has to remain calm under fire and treat the complaint as a gift…………………which they certainly do. I know Guna very well and I can imagine how he was so thankful for the kind gift you presented to him and his Guest Service team.
I checked with a friend of the Carnival Glory’s HD and he certainly does not have a nut allergy and I know how grateful he will be for those delicious Virginian nuts as will the Guest Service Officers for their chocolates.
Thank you for allowing me the chance to highlight these great group of young people and please can you remind me a few days before you sail that you intend to present these gifts to them.
Best wishes to you and the family
John

Alex G.
 Asked:

Hi John,
Please reply whenever you can…
First of all, I’m glad to hear that Kye and Heidi are doing great! Also, Happy Belated Birthday to your mother! Hope she had a great birthday and I wish her all the best!
I will be sailing on the Triumph this Sunday, June 7th and wanted to know who the CD is going to be as I didn’t see June’s CD schedule posted yet. Also, what would you suggest as far as activities go for St. John, Canada? I’ve met up with the group I’m traveling with a few times and we are still clueless on what to do when we get there. I greatly appreciate it.
I know this couple who recently sailed on the Imagination for their very first cruise and I hate to hear the fact that they did not enjoy it not one bit. They’re the only people I know that do not like cruising at all as everyone else I know who has been on a cruise told me that they love it. They said that a lot of guests were very “wild” and that the food wasn’t so good… and with the Evolutions of Fun upgrade that the Imagination got, I would think that they would have been amazed as I would have been.
I love Carnival and have enjoyed each and every cruise that I have been on. I guess their expectations were too high. They told me that an employee told them to try a luxury cruise line when they went to make a complaint. They kinda did this to themselves though, going on their first cruise with a negative attitude thinking that they won’t like it.
The wife told me that she wouldn’t mind doing another cruise perhaps on a newer, bigger ship, but the husband is really “hard-headed” and thinks all cruises are like the one that they experienced last month and he will never sail on any cruise line again…
I’m just as disappointed as you might be reading this, and I wish there was something I could’ve done to make their cruise enjoyable after all the research I have done for them. I’m like the cruise expert in my family… However, I won’t let this negative review affect my upcoming cruise next week as this will be my fifth cruise since 2002.
I can’t wait to see the photos of the Dream and how she is coming along! Have a safe trip to Italy! Thanks for the daily laughs as usual. Until next time my friend.
Cheers,
Alex G.

John Says:

Hello Alex
Thanks for the kind words for Kye who as I type has just in fact started crying…………its feeding time. While Heidi takes care of that I can tell you that your Cruise today will be led by George Solano who will be your CD. I am so very sorry that I have been late answering this e mail but last weeks travels have put me behind in answering your questions.
By the time you read this I hope that someone from our Shore Excursion department has contacted you and you have chated about the best excursions for you and your family in beautiful St.John. Please don’t worry about the couple who did not enjoy their cruise. This happens now and then and as much as cruising is the only kind of vacation for millions of people each and every year there are a few who try it……….and don’t like it.
Right now I just want to make sure you have a brilliant time and please will you once again accept my apologies for the lateness of my reply.
Please write when you get home
Best wishes
John

karen
 Asked:

Please reply– if possible
Husband and I are boarding the Splendor June 14th. This cruise makes us VIP status. I have been looking forward to the new status– shorter lines have been promised. I am just really curious what other perks come with the VIP card.
I love the blog and your pics of your daughter. Being a grandmother of 6, I love grandchildren. Much more fun than kids.
Hope to sail one day with you as CD.
All my best to your family.

John Says:

Hello Karen
You must be very excited on becoming Platinum members when you board the Carnival Splendor next week. Along with priority embarkation, debarkation and tender service you have complimentary laundry service and…………….you know what……………..I am not going to tell you the rest and will leave you with a few surprises to look forward to. I hope you have a wonderful time and I hope you will let me know all about it when you get home.
My best wishes to you and all the family
John

Mark
 Asked:

John Please Reply
Thanks John, Carnival Dream is a beautiful beautiful ship.
I will be interesting to see how the cove balconies work out. I wonder how high will the seas have to be before the bulkheads be ordered to be closed?
I am glad that Carnival and the ship architects planned this piece out, because I could imagine in high seas someone would want to experience high seas on their balcony when of course it would not be a good idea. Kinda like those folks that think a Muster drill is an option!
Ciao John!

John Says:

Hello Mark
I am glad you have been enjoying the photos of the Carnival Dream and I have many more to share with you this coming week.
I spoke to the shipyard chaps about the Cove balconies and asked the same question you did about how rough the seas would have to be before a crew member has to close the weather proof door. He told me that he doubted that under normal sea conditions that this would be necessary however it would be at the discretion of the Captain. I guess we shall see what happens but one thing is for sure……………they really are wonderful state rooms that offer a fantastic view.
I will include more photos of these and other Carnival Dream cabins next week
Best wishes to all
John

Kathy Asked:

John, (Please reply)
My husband and I just returned from a wonderful cruise on the Valor. The ship was beautiful, the food was fantastic, and the service was superb. Big Tex is an exceptional cruise director. I have not had the privilege of cruising with you as CD but of my 6 cruises, he was definitely the best. Our cabin steward was amazing as was the waiter, Mariano, in the cigar bar. Gladdie and Anna, our wait staff at late seating in the Washington were very attentive. I filled out the comment card with exceeded my expectations as it truly did. I also made sure that I mentioned the staff members by name that went out of their way to provide service. My husband personally wants to thank Carnival for caring enough to provide non alcoholic beer as medication prevents him from drinking alcohol. Also, the VIP check in in Miami was unbelievably efficient. From the time we dropped our bags at the curb, we were on the ship within 15 minutes.
Kathy & Robert Phillips
San Antonio, TX

John Says:

Hello Kathy
What a great review on your cruise and it sounds like the Carnival Valor team did an outstanding job. I was particularly excited to learn of your high praise of Big Tex the Cruise Director. I am a great admirer of his and I will make sure that he sees your words of commendation as will his bosses in our Miami head office. Your posting will also go to the ship’s Hotel Director my old friend Dave Dryer who will be so happy I know to read about the food, the dining room team as well as your your State Room Steward. Please pass on my best to your husband and thank you so very much for taking the time to write. I hope one day we get to sail together.
Best wishes
John

That’s all for today. I realise I am way behind but I promise I will get caught up by the end of this week so please be as patient as you can and I will get to your question soon I promise. Please keep the comments coming and I will be here ready to answer any that are marked “ John Please reply “ as quickly as possible.

Well…………………..where to start with my adventures of last week. It should of course be the Carnival Dream but I have so much to tell you about her that I have decided to break this down into sections. This means that starting tomorrow I will be posting photos and descriptions of this incomparable Carnival ship and will tell you why everyone at Carnival is so very excited about our new flagship. I also have some videos featuring chats with the Carnival Dream’s Cruise Director Todd Wittmer and we chat with Vice President Roger Blum about the brilliant entertainment he is planning to feature. So tomorrow we start making your Dreams come true.

So for now let’s talk Italian and start by immediately congratulating Costa Cruise Lines on two remarkable vessels………………the Costa Pacifica…………….and the Costa Luminosa. Of course one of the best things about visiting these two bella ships was that they were both full of Italians. I realise that it’s bollocks to generalise about tens of millions of people but, by and large, Italians are wonderful people. Even the Carabinieri are friendly, not at all like the CRS in Paris who are just plain rude and smell of sweaty socks.

Plus, of course, about one Italian in three is drop-dead gorgeous — and the other two are totally acceptable. And that’s just the men…………………..If I lived there, I’d definitely investigate bisexuality…………kidding. As I walked around the two ships on the evening of the naming ceremonies I wondered if Pier Foschi, the President and CEO of Costa Cruise Lines, had instructed his staff not to invite any ugly people for the event. I then caught sight of myself in the reflection of the elevator doors and realised that if that was the case I would have been watching from the pier.

Certainly I was dragging the average down, not only in terms of looks but style. I felt like a tramp in my suit and tie (I hadn’t read the black tie bit on the invitation) while everyone else had Armani and Versace and Prada and Valentino tuxedos on……………..and I bet their underwear was designer as well.

The Costa Pacifica which by the way is the same class as the Carnival Splendor is a magnificent ship and one that shows just how many hats the industries top architect Joe Farcus has. For Carnival he wears his fun hat that allows him to blend a mixture of colours and designs that have never been mixed before and have you smiling the moment you see them…………….you just can’t help it. On the Costa Pacifica Joe had his Italian designer hat on and this allowed him to create a ship that oozes Italian class. The Pacifica has a musical theme in all the public lounges and everywhere you look there are deep ruby red musical notes and clefs and artwork that puts a song in your heart.

Music also is cleverly scheduled around the ship all the time…………morning, noon and night and the Cruise Director Jaques Ferrari (if that’s his real name then my name is John Studmuffin) had cleverly chosen a rotation of music that featured a modern classical supermode looking violin quartet, a Cuban band that brought out the Italians love of dance that packed the dance floor as well as a brilliant Beatles tribute band and many other live musicians. It was without doubt some of the best music I had ever heard on a ship.

Music guided you home as well. I am not sure if you managed to read my Costa mini blogs but one of my favorite little touches was how each deck had different music playing gently through the corridor speakers. This was your music and if you were not sure you were on the right deck then all you had to do was listen and let the music guide you home. And to make sure you never forgot which music was yours, when you opened your deck plan the same music would come wafting out………………like one of those novelty birthday cards…………………brilliant.

The Costa Pacifica also has features that any Cruise Director would love to have that include a music studio where guests can record awful renditions of Summer Nights and take a copy home to torture friends and families with ………………Italians love this….especially the men……… and a chance for them to stand in this fantastic studio in their blue suits and brown shoes and become a rock star is one they all seem to want to take. It is tremendous as is the job of the ship’s Music Majestro who is on hand to give passengers vocal, guitar, drum and piano lessons thus once again showing that music is the common denominator on the ship. There is also a Formula 1 racing car simulator and as I watched the line form to have a go in this state of the art attraction I wondered if we should investigate a similar NASCAR ride for our Carnival ships……………….mmmmmm……………..something to think about.

Like the Carnival Splendor the Costa Pacifica has a retractable dome covering the lido deck which for some strange reason was closed on the day I arrived even though it was very hot outside. I loved the pools as they had wonderful blue and yellow designs on the bottom which gave them a warm inviting jump into me now feeling.

Anyway…………here are some random photos taken with my cheap as chips camera of the Costa Pacifica.

DSC03565-Dancers rehearsing
Dancers rehearsing

DSC03566-Main Lounge
Main Lounge

DSC03567-Main Lounge
Main Lounge

DSC03572-Samsara Restaurant serving Spa Menu
Samsara restaurant serving spa menu

DSC03573-Samsara Restaurant serving Spa Menu
Samsara restaurant serving spa menu

DSC03574-Forward Restaurant called My Way
Forward restaurant called my way

DSC03576-Kids Club
Kids Club

DSC03578-Kids Splash Pool
Kids splash pool

DSC03579-Kids Splash Pool
Kids splash pool

DSC03584-Slide on Lido Deck
Slide on lido deck

DSC03588-Spa Pool
Spa pool

DSC03589-Relaxation Deck
Relaxation deck

DSC03590-Relaxation Deck

DSC03593-F1 Simulator
Simulator

DSC03594-The Italian flag on the stern
The Italian flag on the stern

DSC03595-The Italian flag on the stern
The Italian flag on the stern

DSC03596-Lido Restaurant - table set up
Lido restaurant table set-up

DSC03598-Lido Main Pool
Lido main pool

DSC03599-Lido Main Pool
Lido main pool

DSC03600-Lido Main Pool
Lido main pool

DSC03602-The Costa Vespa
The Costa Vespa

DSC03603-The Lobby
The Lobby

DSC03604-The Lobby
The Lobby

DSC03610-

DSC03612-The music theme is everywhere
The music theme is everywhere

DSC03613-The Aft Dining Room
The Aft Dining Room

DSC03616-The Aft Dining Room
The Aft Dining Room

The Costa Pacifica is a truly beautiful ship on a grand scale but she has a sister who if Brad Pitt came to call would be the one having rumpy pumpy with him………….and her name is the Costa Luminosa.

It is amazing how our different sister lines can use the space of the same class of vessel so differently. Holland America and Cunard have been given this class before and both use them to suit their own product as of course do Costa. If you want a ship that feels totally European then the ship you are looking to cruise on is the Costa Luminosa.

If you want a ship that sails to the Mediterranean and you want that feeling of European culture and service that you experience ashore to continue once back on board…………then the ship you want to spend your European adventure on is the Costa Luminosa. She is simply stunning. I am afraid I am not a good enough writer to tell you how visually stunning this ship is but I will tell you she is a must see………………really…………………..she is a must see. It is a ship that has everything from a roller skating track to a 4 D cinema /simulator ride featuring a 13 minute movie complete with sound, light and movement effects all in brilliantly realistic 4 D……………….although you do look a complete idiot in the Costa coloured plastic glasses you won’t care because it’s that good.

From a Playstation Lounge to the Grand Bar this ship has something special. Don’t ask me what……….you will have to read the professional travel writers columns for that. All I can tell you is that having visited many ships in recent months the Costa Luminosa is now in my top three best non Carnival ships.

Both Costa ships carry mostly Europeans including Italians of course as well as Spanish, French (monsiuer cabin steward…wata iss dis strange white blok in mon bathroom?”…………Cabin Steward “That is soap sir.” ) British and North American guests as well. I met a lovely couple from California who were sailing on the Luminosa who read the blog and recognized me. They told me they loved the atmosphere that sailing with so many Europeans and cultures created and as seasoned cruisers they also said as I did………………the Luminosa is a ship at the top of the industry tree.

Anyway, rather than me waffle on here are some photos of the Costa Luminosa.

DSC03621-he Lobby's Iconic Statue
The lobby’s iconic statue

DSC03622-the Lobby's Iconic Statue

DSC03624- the cigar bar
The Cigar Bar

DSC03625-The Grand Bar
The Grand Bar

DSC03626-Beautiful and Sexy art work made of copper
Beautiful and sexy art work made of copper

DSC03627-John and Carnival's President and CEO Gerry Cahill in the 4-D Theatre
John and Carnival’s President and CEO Gerry Cahill in the 4-D Theatre

DSC03628-The Theatre
The theatre

DSC03632-The Chocolate fountain at the Chocolate Bar
The Chocolate fountain at the Chocolate Bar

DSC03634-The Lobby scene
The lobby scene

DSC03635-The Dining Room
The dining room

DSC03636-Lido Aft
Lido Aft

DSC03638-Lido Aft
Lido Aft

DSC03639-Main Pool
Main pool

DSC03640-Main Pool
Main pool

DSC03643-Spa villa jacuzzi
Spa Villa jacuzzi

DSC03645-Costa Pacifica, taken from the Spa on the Costa Luminosa
Costa Pacifica, taken from the Spa on the Costa Luminosa

DSC03647-Golf Simulator
Golf Simulator

DSC03649-F1 Simulator
F1 simulator

DSC03653-Costa Luminosa
The Costa Luminosa

DSC03654-Costa Luminosa
The Costa Luminosa

DSC03655-Costa Luminosa
The Costa Luminosa

DSC03656-Italian Air Force fly over Costa Ships
Italian Air Force fly over Costa ships

Can you imagine the pressure Costa Cruise Lines are under each and every day on each and every one of their ships to produce the best food at sea? I mean…………..they are an Italian cruise line and every passenger who walks up the gangway must be thinking even before they have tasted their first forkful of pasta that they are going to be experiencing the finest food at sea. And they won’t be disappointed. The food was gorgeous and the pasta (yes I had a taste ………but just a taste) was biblical and the best I had ever eaten ………………..ever.

I hope you saw the naming ceremony on the internet. I heard there were a few technical glitches in the beginning but hopefully you saw some of it. You know, each time I see a naming ceremony I see the bar being raised again and again to new heights and Costa raised it even further on Friday night. Gone are the days when a beautiful lady would simply say “ name this Ship“ and cut a piece of string sending a bottle of Dom Perignon crashing against the bow before going to one of the ships lounges to drink a few more bottles of the same with the cruise lines executives…………………those days have well and truly buggered off.

On Friday we had a huge stage, seating for 3000, international singing sensations, an orchestra, dancers performing 100 feet in the air suspended on a giant white lobster which hung perilously from a giant crane. We had the Itallian Minister of Tourism who being Italian looked like she had stepped off the front page of Vogue……………….only in Italy………………..the British Minister of Tourism looks like she stepped off the front cover of Manure Monthly………………………I am sure Italian President Silvio Berlusconi conducted the interviews for this position himself and pumped her for ideas.

The ceremony started one hour late because …………..well……………..we were in Italy and its the law…………..but it was worth the wait and when the two godmothers finally cut the cord and the bottles smashed and the streamers and confetti poured down I had the sense yet again how lucky I was to be there and how the hell were we going to top this for the Carnival Dream?

One last thing about my two days onboard with Costa……………..the crew. I want to tell you from experience that these pre launch mini cruises and visits are tremendously hard work for the crew. However, each one of them that I met…………..and as always I took the time to talk to as many as I could……..all spoke of their pride at being part of their ship’s new life. Each crewmember, regardless of rank along with every Costa shoreside employee all wear a small Costa lapel pin. This I was told by the devilishly handsome (or so Heidi says but I have always questioned her eyesight) President Gianni Onorato that this was so each Costa employee had a sense of belonging to a very special team……………..and Gianni……………that truly showed in your crew whom I all congratulate on being some of the friendliest I have ever encountered. Bravo.

Here are a few photos of the naming ceremony.

DSC03659-Naming Ceremony

DSC03660-Naming Ceremony

DSC03661-Naming Ceremony

DSC03662-Naming Ceremony

DSC03663-Naming Ceremony

DSC03664-Naming Ceremony

DSC03665-Naming Ceremony

DSC03666-Naming Ceremony

DSC03667-Naming Ceremony

DSC03669-Naming Ceremony

DSC03671-Naming Ceremony

Soccer, opera, Ferrari, engineering, Catholicism, gelato ice cream and rumpy pumpy are some of the favourite things to your everyday Italian. Well, judging by the media response and the thousands of people who came to watch the ceremony and judging also by the comments I heard…………….Costa Cruise Lines is part of that favourite list as well……………….as it is mine. Thank you Costa for a wonderful two days.

It will be nice to get back to normal. Tomorrow as I said I have my first Carnival Dream report, more questions to answer and we have a Dear John letter from Jaime as well.

To finish with today though I want to mention Micky Arison. I never get the chance to speak to him as he is as you would expect constantly surrounded by his entourage. I often wonder how he must feel on occasions like this.

You know, back when Carnival Cruise Lines purchased Costa, Holland America, Princess and Cunard all of us heard and read reports how Carnival would ruin these brands and make them this and that and other such bollocks. There is no doubt now though that his investment of time and money has allowed all of these companies to thrive and prosper while still keeping their own special identities. ………………..I wonder also if he must think of his father Ted Arison and how proud he would have been to see how far he has taken his company. Carnival is indeed a wonderfully international corporation and one of the things that makes our company so unique and special to Micky and all of us is how on Friday we were Italian………………..very Italian.
However the evening that HRH Queen Elizabeth named the Queen Mary 2 no company could be more uniquely British or the day AIDAdiva stopped in Hamburg………..yep……..you got it-German. Last year when Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands named Eurodam in Rotterdam we couldn’t be more Dutch. 
Our brands have heritage and history-so important to so many, from immigrants they took to America or Australia, to the soldiers we took to Europe and the Falklands.

I am so proud to be a part of this heritage and a small tiny part of the company’s history and I look
forward to sharing more of our past, present and brilliantly exciting future here on my blog thingy.

Goodnight
Your friends
John, Heidi and Kye

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.

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