Hup Holland Hup…Go Holland Go

July 8, 2010 -

John Heald

Great food, amazing friendly service and total relaxation are the things that the girls and I completely forgot about the moment we stepped into Venice Airport. Like most airports in Italy, Venice is totally unorganized and staffed by people who quite frankly are downright rude. Where else in the world would you approach a check in desk to find a 20 something blowing bubbles and an attitude that was so very rude it was actually funny. He might as well have had a sign above his head that read “Look, I hate my job, I hate you so just give me your f**king passport. Don’t talk to me, don’t ask me any questions. Just stand there, say nothing and then sod off so I can get back to Mama.” Like most Italian men the check in chapo will probably live at home with his mother until he is 60. That’s because he probably spends all his money on suits, having his hair done three times a week, coffee and condoms rather than mortgages.

Maybe I am being unfair and in fact the check in chapo was so rude because he doesn’t live at home with Mama but is married. Maybe his bad attitude comes because he knows with absolute certainty, he will come home from working at the airport one day in the future to find that the gorgeous young woman he married will one day be waddling up the street in a black sack and whose once firm breasts are now leaving drag marks along the side walk.

Anyway, after the encounter with the Rocco Rudo we went through Italian security which unlike American airports that are staffed by people with iron on badges are staffed by Kevlar wearing soldiers that are armed to the teeth with 9mm pistols and Heckler and Koch MP5 machine guns. I am sure had they found a cigar cutter in my carry on that I would have immediately been shot in the face. Still, I doubt that they would have found it as most of the officers seemed more concerned with their hair and that their pants were tight enough to show the passengers their Italian sausage and two meatballs.

By the time we reached the gate we were tired and the three days spent on the Nieuw Amsterdam were fading quickly. They disappeared all together when Easy Jet told us that the flight would be delayed for an hour and 15 minutes. When I say they told us I mean that the word delayed was put up on the sign thing. There was no explanation and no actual estimated time that we would be leaving…….in the end as I said it was an hour and 15 minutes before the girls and I boarded our low cost, low budget, no thrills, no service Easy Jet flight.

You know, I was actually really concerned about our journey home because it wasn’t until we actually took off that I was sure that we would actually be on a plane. You see, I had to pay so many extras, for luggage, boarding, taxes and to check in on line………….  that I was worried that nothing had ever specifically mentioned a flight. ………….”bugger” I thought………….maybe I hadn’t paid for that particular option?

And for those bloggers who are thinking “Oh no, here goes that stupid that idiot moaning on about his flight again,” would be absolutely correct because …………here I go.

Most of you reading this will never have flown Easy Jet which is the elephant’s scrotum or Ryanair that is the little beetle thing that lives in the elephant’s scrotum. These airlines make Southwest look like the Concorde. Eventually it was time to board and I was pretty sure that I’d paid for priority boarding. Remember, there are no seat assignments but I had paid (well ……… Carnival had paid) an extra $20 for us to board first.

It soon became apparent that the problem with traveling with Kye (apart from the obvious) is that you are immediately ineligible for any of the seats worth priority boarding for. You can’t get the front row ones by the door with great legroom as you need to be over 18 to “control” the emergency exit. This is the same with the two rows in the middle of the plane. They have about three inches more legroom as payment for manning another exit.

During my previous trips to the various Italian shipyards I had always grabbed one of these seats but that also had me nervous. The stewardess leans over and takes precisely 10 seconds to train you in evacuating the aircraft should we survive a crash. This honour is normally given to the dubious looking solo travelers who clearly have no personal attachments and will be the first to bolt back to their selfish lives leaving the rest of the passengers to burn.

This time I was pleased to see that there was a nice looking couple in charge of our nearest exit. They looked reliable and I smiled at them to try to establish a bond that would make them really look after me if the plane was to crash because the pilot was surfing instead of flying the bloody plane.

Then the flight attendant approached them and tried to give them the 10 second briefing.  They didn’t speak a word of English and clearly thought she was asking for yet more money. She eventually asked them: “Do you speak English?” To which they looked totally baffled.

She gave up and pointed to the emergency cartoon pasted to the back of the seat in front of them and gave them a thumbs-up. They gave her a half-hearted thumbs-up back and she was off.  She needed to make sure the plane was too hot and that her big pile of scratch lottery tickets were ready to sell………….she wasn’t going to waste too much time on safety.

I sat with my knees squeezed up to my face my book perched on top as another crew member asked me whether I would like to pay £8 for a microwaved tub of processed food-related products. I declined, but had to buy Kye a cheese sandwich because the pilot had not turned off the seatbelt sign which would have allowed me to get the food Heidi had packed out of the overhead locker. So while my daughter wriggled and ate a few nibbles of the world’s most expensive bread I sat there wondering something. OK, I except the prices and even the rudeness of the staff…………you get what you pay for in life after all. But can someone tell me just why they can’t assign seats and how not doing so saves them money?

When finally we landed in London, an incredibly annoying trumpet blared out over the loudspeaker. It was followed by a used car sales voice shouting about how discount was available from some car rental place.

I wasn’t listening, I was already struggling to get my precisely measured and weighed bag down and worrying about whether I’d paid for the optional stairs to get off the plane………. or whether we had to jump.

Time for today’s questions………………away we go.

Good Time Gal Asked:

There is a poll being taken on Cruise Critic’s members only boards that is discussing if people are ok with asking you for favors such as table requests and free gifts.

You need to see that some of the most important CC members like your blog and the help you give some don’t.

I asked you for a table for 2 on the Triumph which I got so I certainly don’t mind you doing what you do.

Thought you should know.

John Says:
Hello Good Time Gal

I know you only posted this a few days ago but I moved this to the front of the Q and A because it seems that this is a current poll and I just wanted to say thanks to whoever started it. I will also say I haven’t opened the link as while I respect everyone’s opinion the results of the poll will not affect my decision in anyway and I will continue to do my best to help as many people as I can.

My best wishes to you and all who post on Cruise Critic.

Georgie T Asked:
Please reply


Can you tell me if the Conquest has adopted the new muster drill procedures? Prior to this time, handicapped folks gathered behind the forward elevators so they would not be trampled by the masses. Is this still the procedure or are guests sent to different gathering places on the ship as they are on the Ecstasy?

John Says:
Hello Georgie T

I think we have made some vast improvements in this regard as there was a time where guests in wheelchairs had some challenges during the drill. Now each ship has a special needs team who will meet those who need guests who need assistance in a specific location and bring them to the muster station once everyone is assembled. It is also important to note that for the Destiny, Conquest, Spirit and Splendor class ships once the drill is over we will remove guests in wheelchairs first. Once they have cleared the area we remove one side of the ship at a time to avoid crowding on the stairs.

Sometimes it takes comments from those who are in wheelchairs that help us continue to improve. So Georgie, if you or any other guest experiences challenges with our safety procedures it is vital that you either tell an officer while you are on the ship or if you are more comfortable telling me here on the blog I will act upon it immediately for you. Only this way will we continue to make sure we offer the most comfortable environment for you.

Best wishes

Jeanette Asked:
John, reply if you wish…

Yes, you can spot a Canadian on a ship (usually between December and April) because most of us are ghostly white because it is dark when we get up and dark when we leave work!!!! In the case of the Arctic, it’s dark damn near all day for six months……

I work in a office (over several floors and buildings) of around 150 people, and perhaps 5-7% of those have been on a cruise and most of the others have been to Vegas, Mexico, and A hell of a lot have gone to Disney in California and Florida (and gee, guess what, there is a port damn close to Orlando and Anaheim!).

It is true, to get to our sun spots we have to fly a fair distance. It is usually an 8-10 hour connecting flight for me to get to Miami or FLL… It is only 3.5 hours to fly to LA., but that doesn’t mean we don’t go….we do go in droves to escape the cold.

Carnival needs to advertise on Canadian television networks, much like they do in the US. I get the US stations and can see the commercials, but on many others have them and see them? I walk past a travel agency going to and from work and I have seen promotional material from HAL, Princess, RCI, Norwegian in their window, but never anything from Carnival….Perhaps a little more promotions at the TA level would get more Canucks baring our ghostly white bodies on the ships and coming home beet red, but they had a good time despite the pain of a 2nd degree sunburn and an excuse to take an extra day off work……

BC4–I know it will be fun *BG*…….

PS: where is Alex K? which ship is he on, or is he back from holidays cuz he isn’t on the Liberty right now….ya, you know I’ll be asking to be in his dining room if he is on the Liberty in September…d***, those eastern block men are hot…..*BG*…

John Says:
Hello Jeanette

You know I was just on the Nieuw Amsterdam and I met a big group of Canadians who were having the most fantastic time. I hear a lot that Carnival doesn’t have the biggest advertising program in Canada and I wanted you and all my Canadian friends to know that we have a new top man in Canada. His name is Justin French.

I will be sure to let him see your comments and maybe I can ask him to answer a few questions here on the blog thingy. Bloggers Cruise 4 will be the best yet and I will have to give this lots of serious thought during the next couple of months. Alex K the Maitre D is still on vacation and is due on the Carnival Liberty in August. I am still much better looking than he is but if you want to be in his dining room please let me know. Best wishes to you and everyone in what I hope is now a sunny Canada.


Alex Piovano Asked:
Hi John, Please Reply,

I will be on the Dream on 7/31 with my Parents, Wife and 8yo and 9mo daughters. We usually cruise together and my daughter has been on several cruises. This will be out first cruise with an infant… This is going to be a new experience but it will be my 8yo’s 9th Bday and a month before our anniversary so we are hoping to have a good time. I am hoping you can help me with a question. We were trying to decide if we need to bring our Stroller or rent one on board. I have gotten lots of Feed back on various blogs about the various different strollers on different ships. With a 9mo a stroller is a little mobile city carrying various needs but also becomes a bed changing station etc… I have been unsuccessful so far to find out what kind of stroller they have for rent on the Dream… Any information you can offer will be greatly appreciated.


John Says:
Hello Alex

If you had asked me this question a year ago I would have gone “ummmm……..ummmmm ” but since I am a Dad and since Kye has now cruised twice I feel I am able to give you my personal thoughts on this.

First of all I know for sure that you will have a brilliant time on your Carnival Dream as she is the perfect place on which to spend a family vacation. As for the stroller….well personally I would bring your own. There is obviously a comfort for your daughter in having her own stroller and with all the traveling and new and exciting things she will experience I think having her own home on wheels will be beneficial. Certainly that’s what we did with Kye. The ones they have on the ship are probably far more basic than the Mercedes your daughter is used to driving and so once again my suggestion is for you to bring your own. By the way, we had a captain who worked for many years with us called Captain Piovano………….any relation? I hope you have a fantastic time and I hope to hear all about it when you get home.

Best wishes to you all

Betty Mayfield Asked:
Dear John – Please reply

I have a few questions about the Chefs Table and the Behind the Fun Tour on the Carnival Freedom and Carnival Dream. I will travel with my 3 daughters on the 28 August Carnival Freedom cruise and would like to know what days the behind the fun tour is offered. Also is the Chef’s Table offered every night or just select nights? Is it offered during main dining or late dining? The girls and I are counting down the days to be on the ship and visit Cozumel again and Costa Rica and Panama for the first time.

I will also be on the Carnival Dream 18 September sailing with a group from work. I have the same questions about what days and times the Chef’s Table and Behind the Fun are offered. The kids are not happy my first Platnium cruise will be without them but they will get to enjoy the benefits with me on our New Year’s Eve cruise.

As for the menu, we love the food. The Thai chicken starter would make a great entree. My daughters ask for crab legs one night and to never take away the steak, lobster, melting cake or shrimp cocktail.

Thank you we enjoy the blog
Betty Mayfield

John Says:
Hello Betty Mayfield

I will be talking about the Chef’s Table in a moment but you really should think seriously about taking this brilliant option during your upcoming Carnival Freedom cruise. It will be offered twice during the cruise as scheduled by the chef. It is usually on the third and fifth days of a seven day cruise however this changes from ship to ship.

The Behind the Fun excursion will be held on the last day of the cruise and again I cannot recommend this brilliant experience enough. I see you will be off on your Carnival Dream as well and once again the Chef’s Table will most likely be on the Monday and Wednesday and the Behind the Fun tour will be on the last day of the cruise.

I am so happy to hear that you enjoy the food so much and you will see some exciting additions coming up soon. Many congratulations on these next two cruises which will lead you to that shiny Platinum card.

Have a great time.

Best wishes

Debra Kopecky Asked:
John – Please Reply

You asked me to respond back and tell you which ship we will be travelling on in September. We will be cruising on the Conquest. We will be leaving Galveston on Sept. 12th. Please tell me which excursions we should take in Jamaica and could you also tell me which night would be best to reserve a table in the steakhouse? It is our 10 year anniversary and I want to make it the best one yet to come! Thanks so much for your help!

John Says:
Hello Debra Kopecky

Right then, the fantastic Carnival Conquest………….let’s have a look at your itinerary.

Sunday, Sep 12 GALVESTON, TX 4:00pm



Wednesday, Sep 15 MONTEGO BAY, JAMAICA 9:00am 6:00pm

Thursday, Sep 16 GRAND CAYMAN 7:30am-4:00pm – ELEGANT

Friday, Sep 17 COZUMEL, MEXICO 10:00am 6:00pm

Saturday, Sep 18 FUN DAY AT SEA

Sunday, Sep 19 GALVESTON, TX 8:00am

I added the elegant nights and my recommendation on when to eat at the steakhouse. It’s difficult to know what excursion to recommend for Jamaica without knowing more about you and what you like to do. If you are somewhat active I would definitely recommend that you take the excursion down to Ocho Rios and have fun at Mystic Mountain and the bobsled ride followed by the climb of the amazing Dunn’s River Falls.

If seeing the beautiful countryside and nature of Jamaica is more your thing then the river rafting tour is both tranquil and somewhat romantic. A more exhilarating way of getting down the river is to take the river tubing excursion and of course there is a brilliant snorkel and catamaran tour which concludes at Margaritaville. So have a think about those top recommendations and if you have a follow up question please let me know.

Best wishes to you all

Rebecca Asked:

I am a faithful blog reader, but this is the first time that I have posted. I used to read Cruise Critic every morning with my coffee, but I decided to start reading your blog not only because it was entertaining, but because you have always provided factual information earlier than any other site. Well, you dropped the ball this time, John, so I sit here in tears that I won’t be able to cruise the Med with my family on the Carnival Magic. You see, I am the only single person in our family, and I missed the news that Carnival was raising the single supplement from 150% to 200% on 1A cabins. Now the extra several hundred dollars, not to mention the feeling that Carnival is now “punishing” me for being single, will likely prevent me from going. I certainly don’t want to impose on any of the couples in my family to share a room on this trip of a lifetime. But what I really would like your comment on, is WHY DIDN’T YOU WARN US THAT THIS CHANGE WAS GOING TO OCCUR? As I look back at the CC boards, I see that I would have had a couple days notice to put a deposit on the cruise before the policy change if I had been following the boards. We were waiting for my brother to get a significant bonus at work this month before our family booked, but I would have put a deposit for my cabin if I knew the change was coming. But because I read your blog only now, I missed out on the opportunity. I am really disappointed in you, John, for not at least mentioning this significant change in policy in your blog. Thank you for your time.

John Says:
Hello Rebecca

This is a very difficult one to answer because I hate to see that you are so disappointed and hate to see you upset at me. The simple answer is that I didn’t know. Carnival is a huge company with many different departments and sometimes I don’t get told about what’s happening. Sometimes a Personal Vacation Planner will know and will tell a client and that client will post it on the CC boards. Much of the time the information on the boards is correct although some of the time the information is outrageously wrong.

On this occasion I didn’t write about it because nobody had told me but I have answered this question several times in the blog. Obviously I try my best to keep everyone informed as much as I can with what’s happening and I sincerely apologize that my not writing about this has upset you so. I hope you are able to find a way to join me on your Carnival Magic cruise and if you have a follow up to this I hope you will let me know.

Best wishes

Kelly Asked:
Hello John! (Please reply if you wish),

Please accept my sincerest apology. Last week, after returning from our Carnival Dream cruise, I emailed you some pretty snarky comments about Todd, the Cruise Director. Our cruise experience wasn’t the best, and unfortunately, Todd’s curt responses to my husband felt like a hit below the belt. However, after being home for a couple of weeks, our perceptions have changed a bit. Yes, we had some difficulties with our room (someone had vomited over the bed, onto the sofa on a prior cruise), and there other odds-and-ends kinds of things that frustrated us at the time. Now that we’ve been home and have had the chance to reflect on our experiences, our perceptions have changed. While in one of the ship’s gift shops, I looked at my husband and said, “I don’t want ANYthing with the word ‘Dream’ on it!”

But last night, out of the blue, my husband said, “I want to be back on the Dream!” I said, “ME TOO, LET’S GO!”

Again, please accept my sincerest apologies for my snarky comments. We have been loyal to Carnival for 10 years, have purchased cruises for our parents, have purchased cruises for our sons as wedding gifts, and will be purchasing 2 more cruises this summer as 2 of our children received graduate degrees.


John Says:
Hello Kelly

No apologies needed. You have every right to express your comments and thoughts and the most important thing is that you had a great time and that you and your husband want more Carnival fun. I hope you will let me know what ship you book and hope you continue to read the blog thingy.

Best wishes to you both

Barry McConnell Asked:
John, Please reply

More and more people have learned the benefit of low carb eating. I find that although I can have plenty of protein in the entree, the sides are very heavily biased towards starches (e.g. rice, potatoes, pasta, etc). I would like to see more nutrient rich vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, asparagus, guacamole, etc. offered as a-la cart selections with the entrees. More sugar free desserts would be nice as well, especially using Splenda or Stevia rather than chemical monsters like Nutrasweet. Delicious cakes can be made using coconut milk and almond or coconut flour rather than wheat. Custards can be dressed up in a myriad of ways that are delicious and low carb. I’d be happy to supply some recipes if any of your chefs would be interested in trying them out.

Wishing you the best in your battle with diabetes. I am now free of mine thanks to the low carb eating style.

John Says:
Hello Barry McConnell

Not eating carbs is so difficult because I love bread and I love chips and fries and not eating these items has been a tough. But it has really helped both my weight and my sugar levels and may I congratulate you on your success and I wish you continuing great health.

Carnival has more sugar-free deserts than Holland America which I found surprising but we really do, although their sugar-free lemon mousse was superb. I am on a mission to get both the variety and the quality improved on our ships and I have I persuaded the beards to have a daily selection available at lunchtime on lido which you should now be available on all the ships. I am also talking to Chef Beard about having a daily special available at the coffee shops as well. I will let you know more about that soon.

I agree so much about the vegetables though and here we certainly lack. On Holland America they have a vegetable skewer which contains onions, zucchini, carrot and tomatoes which is available with dinner. It’s a great idea for those who have to ignore the potato options. Thanks for the great ideas and I am on a mission to improve the menu and to continue my low carb diet.

Best wishes

Maurene (yes spelled that way) Asked:
Hello John (please reply)

I want to start out by saying thank you for posting about the Carnival Spirit. When we got off the Carnival Liberty, we almost immediately booked a room on the Spirit so we can see Alaska.

It is something we have wanted to do, but when we were first looking (for our honey moon) the prices were about $3000 a person. Outrageous! Now we have 3 of us going for less than that! A great deal.

You had a letter today about the behind the scenes tour, I know you wont get around to this until 3 or 4 weeks form now, but I just want to say about the behind the fun scenes tour, and the experience we had. I myself did not go on, but my husband went and had a great time.

It is a nearly 4 hour tour where you get to see all the inner workings of the ship. They went to the bridge, the galley, the crew’s galley, the engine control room (I believe, as they weren’t allowed in the actual engine room) then afterwards we received delicious treats form the galley thanking him for visiting (good thing he doesn’t like chocolate covered strawberries) He also got a bag with a behind the scenes hat, and a bracelet and other fun stuff. He received photos from the bridge and at the front of the ship. Best part, I got rid of him for 4 hours so I could PACK! lol

We tried to book it as soon as we got on board but the excursion desk wasn’t open. I don’t know if this is the case all the time, but if it is, people should know that there is no need to rush to get on board to book it. We had VIP boarding so were among the first to get on board but it didn’t matter.

That is what I had to say, a second hand knowledge of the adventure that is the behind the scenes fun tour. All I know is that my Hubby enjoyed it and I know others will too.

Keep up the good work on the blog thingy and enjoy your time with Kye and even Heidi!! lol

Maurene Czyczyro

John Says:
Hello Maurene(yes spelled that way)

I wanted to say a big thank you for that great report on the Behind the Fun tour. I know that most of have taken this will be nodding their heads in agreement and there will be those who are going to be taking this in the future who will now be very excited about doing so. Thanks again and if you need to get rid of your husband for a few hours when you cruise the Carnival Spirit, please let me know and I will arrange for him to do the washing up.

Best wishes to you both

That’s all for today and as always a big thank you for all the comments and ship reviews.

Well, here I am, back to normal, sitting here at 9:20am in my underpants writing to all of you. I had a wonderful time on the Nieuw Amsterdam and although it was busy I was able to spend a few hours every day with the girls. We splashed in the pool and ate breakfast, lunch and dinner together on Lido Deck where I have to say the food was truly superb. Anyway, talking of food let’s have a chat about one of the newest dining choices on the Carnival ships in recent times ………the Chef’s Table. For those of you who may not know what this is all about let me explain.

This brilliant experience includes an exquisite multi-course dinner hosted by one of the line’s master chefs along with a private cocktail reception and a personalized tour of the galley.

With Chef’s Table, a select group of 12 guests enjoy cocktails and hors d’ouevres hosted by the ship’s chef de cuisine. The chef then takes the group on a personalized tour to see the galley in operation, providing participants with a unique perspective on Carnival’s extensive food and beverage operations.

The evening concludes with a sumptuous full-service dinner with delicious appetizers, entrees and desserts created by the line’s master chefs. Depending on the vessel, the meal takes place in non-traditional dining venues throughout the ship – the galley, library, conference centre, etc.

Yep, it’s an experience that everyone who has experienced it has told me was the highlight of their cruise. Let’s have a look at a sample menu and a few photos.

Well it has been so popular that we continue to put the Chef’s Table experience on more and more ships. Here are the latest dates for you to drool over.

Carnival Freedom 7/17/10

Carnival Legend 7/25/10

Carnival Conquest 8/4/10

Carnival Glory 8/9/10

Carnival Miracle 8/19/10

Carnival Valor should be added by the start of September and I will confirm that soon. Now, I would like to offer my help with reserving a table. This was a big decision for me to take because it actually will add a bit of work onto my schedule but because some of you have asked and because of the massive popularity that the Chef’s Table has, I decided to give my bloggers the first chance to reserve a place at the table. This is what I would ask.

1. In the Reply Section please write “CHEF’S TABLE RESERVATION NEEDED”

2. I will then need you to tell me the ship, the sailing date and your full name and state room number.

3. Please make sure your e mail address is included

4. Please give me as much prior notice as possible before sailing

One of the 344 Stephanies will send me the requests on Mondays and on Fridays and I will then send them to the ship. Your requests won’t be posted on the blog as they will include your e-mail address so please don’t place any other comments or questions in this posting which will also make it simple for me to read.  Now, once the ships have received this request they will e mail a confirmation that will read like this.

Dear Tim and Diane,

Thank you for booking the Chef’s Table.

Your reservation request for 7 Guests is confirmed.

Should your plans change, please keep us advised at E MAIL ADDRESS WILL BE INCLUDED HERE FOR THE SPECIFIC SHIP

We look forward to serving you!

Your Steakhouse Hostess

Little Ed

Carnival Dream

Tomorrow we will be talking about …………amongst other things……….the Carnival Inspiration.

It looks like the people of Miami should start deciding where to build the statues of Pat Riley and Micky Arison. They vowed to fight tooth and nail to keep Dwyane Wade in Miami and they have done so and he has been joined by Chris Bosh who I am told is a dazzling star of the basketball court. If the passion Micky Arison has for basketball is anything like the passion he has for your cruise industry I am not surprised he has won this battle and kept Mr. Wade in Heat.

I am sure D Wade wants to see the team make strides forward, he wants to see that alongside players of his quality there will be other players of that quality being joining the team and hence the signing of Mr Bosh (does he have a nickname by the way?) and there are rumours that maybe …….just maybe……LeBron James will be in Heat by the end of tonight……and that would be biblical news indeed.

I think therefore that this is the perfect time to announce that next year I will be a free agent and all interested parties should contact Stephanie my agent.

And talking of sports……….after dozens and dozens of games the world cup final will be played on Sunday between Spain and of course Heidi’s Holland. While my English team did their Lassie impression and went home weeks ago, Holland has marched all the way to the finals. Will they beat Spain? Well, it will be tough but one thing is for sure they will have the support of most of the British people.

You see, us Brits think that the Dutch people are exactly like us. This is partly because we both don’t care for the Germans very much, partly because both countries hate the French and partly because there’s no language barrier. From Heidi’s Mum’s generation on down everyone in Holland speaks English……it is quite extraordinary.

However being married to a Dutch person I think the similarities end there and in my opinion we are as alike as LeBron James and Danny DeVito.

Let me give you one example. We all like to be comfortable. But they have to be comfortable in public. It’s why they never draw their curtains at night. Heidi has adopted this policy here and often I have heard screams from our neighbours Mr and Mrs Booth as they get a close up of me and my underpants.  Dutch people are candle sodding crazy. All their restaurants, even cafes on the beach, have candles. They have a word for this, “gezellig,” which has no direct translation but means something like: “Look at me. See how content and happy I am.”

You see this in their paintings. Elsewhere in the world, people came up with sunsets and flowers and miserable French girls. In the Netherlands, it’s always half a dozen candlelit blokes looking like they just saw Megan Fox’s bottom I know this because during my first trip to Amsterdam with Heidi she made me go to the Rijks Museum to see the Dutch’s masters’ greatest works. I pretended to enjoy myself when all I really wanted to do was to go to the Red Light District and buy my mate Alan a big pink plastic penis for his birthday.

I met lots of Dutch officers on the Niew Amsterdam and they were true professionals and so, so proud that the ship they were on carried the name of their countries most famous city. The Nieuw Amsterdam does indeed carry the name but I bet it easier for the ship to navigate her way around Europe then it is to drive a car in the city. There’s no point having a car in Amsterdam, partly because the streets are full of water and because trams are everywhere and getting stuck in a tram line will result in you having a very, very bad day.

There’s also bugger all point walking anywhere. First, there’s the cycle lane to be negotiated, and then there’s the tiny bit where the cars go, and then you’re into the central reservation, which is a tangle of tram tracks. And don’t think the oncoming tram will miss you if you stay clear of the rails, because sometimes it’ll be a bus disguised as a tram and it will go where it bloody well wants.

I think this must be why the Dutch have a love affair with the bike and why the Dutch are such cycling fanatics. They still haven’t forgiven the Germans for stealing their bikes during the mass retreat in 1944. This is why they wanted to be playing Germany in the World Cup Final on Sunday so the fans could shout “Can we have our bikes back?”

Anyway, I will be cheering for Holland on Sunday and hopefully they will overcome the donkey throwing Spanish pretty boys. I hope they do…….I really want them to win……..not because I love the Dutch but because I love rumpy pumpy and Heidi promised that if the Dutch win ………. I may get some.

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.