If He Builds It…They Will Come

April 26, 2011 -

John Heald

All men are created equal so said some wise man who probably had a beard, wore sandals and meditated while sitting on a spike…………unfortunately he was talking bollocks.

You could give me the same ingredients that our Executive Chef Peter uses and put me in the same kitchen with the same equipment, and even though we have exactly the same number of hands, fingers and thingies ……. I can absolutely guarantee that I’d end up with a plate full of crap that even a hamster that hasn’t eaten in 12 days would turn his little furry nose up at.

Cooking is like painting. I know this because I used to try at school. I would have a brush and some eyes but everything I tried to transpose onto paper ended up looking like a big vomit inducing ugly blob. In fact, thinking about it…….I saw the future because when I was 9 years old …………….I painted the Norwegian Epic.

And, as Heidi will tell you it’s the same story with DIY. My Dad can create an Edwardian cabinet out of two bits of wood and a rusty nail while anytime I have attempted to build anything it ends up broken and on the floor. All men are created equal………….oh no they are not.

Ambition is no substitute for talent. A point I have been proving all day with my new printer. It arrived in my office today delivered by John, our Carnival Magic I/S Manager. He asked “Do you want me to show you how it works?” Being a man, I said no……after all ………we are all created equal So he left me with my shiny new printer……. It’s an HP thingy …………. and it doesn’t sodding well work.

I know this because I have been trying to print something for the last three hours and if I had the strength and if I had a window that would open I would chuck it out and let it rot at the bottom of the Monfalcone harbor.

I wanted to print a photo Kye and Heidi that I took during my trip home 3 days ago. I selected a picture on the computer, hit print and it came out sideways on an upright piece of paper. So I turned the paper round and tried again. And then again. And then again. And then I had run out of photo paper and had to beg the store room for more which got be a bollocking from Pedro the manager because he told me photo print paper costs more than an hour with a Latvian hooker…

Eventually, though, out came a beautiful photo of my girls except it’s not lovely. It looks good on the camera and it looks good on the screen but when it’s printed it looks like it’s they are both auditioning for The Exorcist. Their red eyes matched only by their red faces. They look like they have just been marinated in a barrel of Ketchup.

All attempts to correct the redness of our faces resulted in more and more red blotches appearing and much more swearing until eventually I called John the I/S Manager and told him his printer was crap and to come down and bring me a new one. He didn’t. He came down without a new printer and made the piece of crap one work………in less than 30 seconds……………the bastard.

It turns out the procedure is simple. You tell the printer what sort of paper you’re using and how big it is. Then you give the information to the computer. Then you say whether you want “landscape” or “portrait,” then you choose the quality level you’re after, then you fix the red eyes, remove the blemishes, have a look at the preview and then, after just 55 minutes or so, out pops the finished product. Which is still crap. Really and truly, I’m not a bad photographer. Some of the pictures I’ve got back from Walgreens over the years have not been bad at all. But the stuff that’s poured from my printer looks like it was taken by from inside my own arse.

And there you have it. I have the tools. I have the basic ability. But I lack that certain something, which means I cannot produce the sort of top quality digital pictures you get from a professional …….all men are not created equal………….which is why God created Radu ……… and here are his latest photos and as usual…………….they are absolutely brilliant.

And let’s have some Q and A shall we.

Janet Palaski Asked:
John, please reply URGENT.

I am on the May 22nd voyage of the Magic ship and I understand you will be the Entertainment Director. If this is correct I need you to arrange dance instruction as they have on Holland America Line of which we are VIP passengers. I will be traveling with my friend Vicky Fernley and we are both older single ladies and need dance partners. I was told by my travel agent that this was something I should contact you about. I need you to understand how DISSAPOINTED we will be if this does not happen.

John Says:
Hello Janet Palaski

I hope both you and your friend Vicky are looking forward to your cruise with us here on your Carnival Magic. I am though going to disappoint you by saying that unlike our friends at Holland America, we don’t have dance hosts I am afraid. There will though be lots of chances to dance to wonderful live and hopefully a handsome man will sweep you onto the dance floor. I know you will have a brilliant time and I will see you both soon.

Best wishes

SYohY Asked:
Dear John, Please reply…

Just wondering what happened to Captain Casula. We were with him on the Glory and he was a wonderful gentleman who sat and had coffee one morning with my wife and I. Can you tell me what ship he is on please? I am a pilot for United and love your humor and your blog is my first read of the day.
Thank you mate

John Says:
Hello SYohY

Thanks so much for the kind words and I am so glad you enjoy the blog so much. Captain Casula is indeed a wonderful gentleman who I have spent many fun contracts with. He retired last year and is helping us in the office with some special projects. I will make sure he sees your kind words. Thanks so much and fly safe Simon.

Best wishes

Carnival Platinum Cruiser Asked:

Pathetic. Your reply about the Fountain Soda Card in today’s blog was pathetic. WHY can’t you serve pop for free like RCI does. You can if you want but you don’t. If it’s served like the dining places-it’s just a cylinder of syrup mixed with carbonated water. Has to be cheaper than milk or the Hot Chocolate???? WHY can’t it be included as a free item?????

John Says:
Hello Carnival Platinum Cruiser

I saw this question a few days ago but needed to get some facts before I replied. As I am behind quite a bit in my replies I am not sure exactly what reply in what blog you are referring to but I will do my best to reply. First of all in days gone by we did indeed use the fountain soda guns but these days we pour straight from the cans. I decided to check with a bar manager in one of our Spirit Class ships……not one of the bigger ships like the Carnival Magic……..but one of our smaller ships. So I wrote to the bar manager on the Carnival Legend who told me that on their last seven-day cruise they served 2,680 cans of Coke and 3,384 of Diet Coke. Remember we already serve tea, coffee, water, lemonade and ice tea complimentary which most hotels and resorts charge for. So, I guess the simple answer is that in order to allow Carnival to keep their prices the most affordable in the industry we must look at the bottom line when we can. Thank you for your continuing support and as a Platinum Guest and please let me know if you have any other questions.

Best wishes

Marivonne Asked:

Hey John… I am sending you the review of my cruise on the Triumph, Dec 6 2010. I think the original one got lost, I have not seen it. Here it goes…

Dear John (please reply)
I just came back from cruising on the Carnival Triumph and I am very happy for the service I received. We had such a blast, as you know, we were a group of 30+ people (carnival daily chatters), we had planned this cruise for more than a year and it was a total success.

The food was very good in general, there were more hits than misses, overall, I was pleased. The cabins were always kept spotless, and our cabin steward Yaman and his assistant made sure we were well taken care of. Our dining room waiter Alexander and his assistant Leo were
OUTSTANDING! Always called us by our names and was always offering something else if he noticed I didn’t ate what he had brought me. I ended up giving him a champagne bottle and he was a happy camper. I enjoyed the R rated comedy show, HILARIOUS. One of the things I
enjoyed the most was Karaoke, specially the hostess Kristy Smith. OMG… she was AMAZING… and kept the group motivated. When there were no more people willing to sing, she got up there on stage and sang… and SHE CAN SING like an angel. We ended up becoming great friends.

John… I would really like to thank you for sending my friend a bottle of champagne for his birthday; I REALLY appreciate it from the bottom of my heart. I also wanted you to know that Kevin Noonan was brilliant, as you said he was. I spoke with him several times and even
Took pictures with him. He knew who I was before I met him cause he asked one of my people who Mari was 🙂 . He is a very cool guy and I hope to cruise with him again, as well as with you, of course.

Our embarkation was a BREEZE.. The process to enter to the waiting area took about 10 mins tops, then we waited in the room but since we were such a big group, all excited, we were having our own party. By noon we were eating at the Lido deck. Debarkation was also very quick,
Originally we were in group #17 but someone in my group had debarkation # 1, so we were out and on the road by 9am, no lines, no rush, no push…I was amazed. I got two vouchers for future cruises, so we will cruise Carnival again and again and again. I have one suggestion though… how about putting the weather channel in the cabin TV’s? People would like to know what temperature to expect when they come back home.


John Says:
Hello Marivonne

I am so glad I got to see this great review and thank you so much for taking the time to write it. I am going to make sure that everyone you mentioned gets to see that they made such a difference to your cruise. It’s also wonderful to read that the programs like name recognition are alive and well on the ship. I truly appreciate your kind words and support of our blog thingy and Facebook page and I hope you will let me know if there is anything I can do for you before you sail with us again.

Best wishes

Tim (911 patch guy) Asked:
John, (please reply)

Please don’t stop the humour (spelled correctly) you do so well. Do we stop living every time something happens in this world? No we don’t. I kind of understand what Oliver is saying. My question to him is, did what happened, directly affect you personally? John, you came to the site at World Trade and I’m sure it affected you, that’s why the patch means so much to you and I. This past weekend we got a full moon that was supposed to cause devastation throughout the world, it didn’t happen. The world is supposed to end next year 2012. Do we stop living life and enjoying ourselves whenever possible? NO!!

So, continue on my friend. Until we meet again.

John Says:
Hello Tim

Every time I see your name I remember our chance meeting on deck 9 before you were taken ill. Thanks so much for your kind words of support and I promise to do my best to keep the blog going and to attempt to make you and others smile. I also hope that one day we will sail together.

Best wishes to you and your family

Frank J Asked:
John- (Table request reply needed)

This is an unusual table request. Being close to 400 pounds I cannot fit in a booth and I need you to please make sure that without fail I am not assigned one during my cruise. It would be like trying to stuff a Big Mac in a Tic Tac box. As a very fat person yourself I am sure you understand. Here are my details

CABIN 2323

Johns Says:
Hello Frank J

Wonderful visual with the Tic Tac box. I will certainly ask the Maitre d to assist you with this and I will make sure you are comfortable.

Best wishes and have a great cruise

Leo Asked:

I wanted to add my opinions about smoking. I have taken three cruises, twice with NCL and once with Carnival. While NCL seem to have some kind understanding for smokers it appears with the new policies that you have been talking about, your cruise line could not care less about us. I am tired of being treated like a second class citizen because I smoke cigarettes and the garbage spouted by non smoking readers of your blog seem to have justified this turn around. Your ship Paradise failed because it was non smoking yet you do not seem to have learnt from past failures. This is why I won’t be sailing on the Magic or any Carnival ship if you continue the way you are going by alienating smokers who have rights as well and non smokers are for the best part miserable do gooders whose lives are spent complaining about what others do.

Johns Says:
Hello Leo

The smoking issue within the industry and within the modern world is a subject that continues to raise the hackles and spout forth honest opinions. I remember a posting a few weeks ago here on the blog that actually said the same as you except it was the other way round with Carnival getting praise for its consideration to both non-smokers and smokers alike while another line were mentioned as having few places where smoking was allowed. It seems though that you disagree and not being familiar with NCL’s policies on smoking I wondered if you could enlighten me as to what they do and not allow. I would find this most useful.

Here on the Carnival Magic the casino is mostly non-smoking although a section has been reserved for people to play and smoke while they do so. There are 2 other lounges where smoking is allowed — the back area of the piano bar and the dance club and of course the port side of the fabulous Lanai which allows for outdoor smoking.

I have said this many times before here on the blog thingy and I make no apologies for repeating myself yet again…..finding a happy medium that makes smokers and non-smokers happy is never easy but at Carnival. I think we do a pretty good job in doing so. I will say this though that as a cigar smoker and even with The Lanai smoking area……I miss the big leather chairs and air conditioned comforts of the cigar bars.

One thing I must say is that your last statement about the non smokers “whose lives are spent complaining” is a bit silly because your post proves that smokers complain as well.

Best wishes

Joe Hartson Asked:
Hi John, Please reply

This year, after reading your blog my girlfriend and I decided to book a Carnival cruise. We had both cruised on other lines and this will be our first Carnival fun cruise. We are both so excited. I intend proposing to my girlfriend and I wondered if you could arrange a table for 2 for us please. We are on the Valor on May 29th and will be in cabin 1439. We are both teachers so couldn’t afford a balcony cabin.
Thanks so much for being such a special person.

Johns Says:
Hello Joe Hartson

I am very pleased to read that you enjoy the blog and that it has encouraged you to book a cruise and what an honour that you will be proposing on a Carnival ship. I will ask the maitre d to help you with your table request. As the son of a teacher I know how hard you work and I wish the teachers of the world were paid more money. Have a brilliant cruise……….and good luck.

Best wishes

Joey Pujol Asked:
John please reply

As promised on Facebook, I want to share my review of my 3/13 sailing on the Carnival Pride. First off I want to thank you for arranging our table for 4 and the champagne, ship on stick, and lovely letter from Kirk & Jaime (which I didn’t even ask for, so double thanks!). Which leads me to the cruise directors. This is my third cruise in the past 2 years, the previous on the Inspiration Mar 2010 and Destiny Sep 2010, and to be honest with you I couldn’t tell you what the cruise directors even looked like as we never saw them, and on the Destiny he was quite annoying as it seemed he was on the loudspeaker every 5 minutes. I hate to criticize, but it was the truth. Kirk and Jaime were AWESOME, their morning show was hilarious every morning, they were always around the ship talking to people and involved in the events. Jaime is great and I see no reason why she shouldn’t be a full fledged cruise director and not an assistant, but from I understand they are a duo/couple correct? They definitely stick out from our past cruises, and we would love to cruise with them again. We did the steakhouse which was delicious and well worth the money, but what was really amazing was the chef’s table. Anyone who hasn’t done this, it is a must. The food was AMAZING, be sure to skip lunch before doing this, there is a lot of food lol. I couldn’t believe how clean the kitchen was, it was unreal. Our waiter Julian (who I wrote about on facebook) was great, and just a wonderful person. When we thanked the maitre’d Manuel Costa for the table, he had also told us about when you worked under him as his wine steward or something of the sort. The punchliner was definitely one of our favorite things to do every night, Al Ernst was hilarious, and even more so was Seth Buchwald. They may have been two of the funniest comedians we have ever seen live. Our other favorite part of the cruise was the serenity lounge. The hammocks and cabanas were awesome, and was our favorite spot to spend in the sun every single day on the cruise. Our next cruise planned is the imagination is august, and we can’t wait. Carnival is great, and the best value in vacations… I can’t even think of one negative in our 3 cruises so far, and your crew and staff is definitely a huge asset, they are the hardest working and most friendly people on the face of the planet!

P.S: Since you can’t mention how ugly the Epic is anymore, I would just like to add a coworker just got off the ugly ship yesterday and had told me she had a really bad time, and wished she booked another Carnival cruise instead. She mentioned having to pay extra for everything, and how bad the food was. The fact that you never have to pay extra besides drinks, and the FREE food all around the ship is amazing, speaks a lot about the value and quality of a Carnival cruise…

Johns Says:
Hello Joey Pujol

Another great review and thank you for taking the time to share this with us. What a wonderful testament that sums up all that’s brilliant about a Carnival cruise. Everyone you mentioned will love seeing this and their name in print and your kind words about Jaime were well said and very true indeed. Her time is coming. I am so glad you had fun and I am here ready to help for when you cruise again. Best wishes to you all

See2Sea Asked:

I just read a book called Cruise Confidential which gives an account of life onboard. Now that’s a book you should model your blog on and then maybe you would get more readers. Have you read it and if not you should. This guy is a proper writer and tells the truth about carnival.

Johns Says:
Hello See2Sea

Cruise Confidential is indeed a true account of what happens on Carnival ships in the same was as it is true that I will be on the front cover of May’s edition of Playgirl Magazine, naked, with a red ribbon tied around my thingy, holding a sign saying Cruise Confidential My Arse.

Best wishes

So, what’s happening………..well things have moved up a gear with the delivery one day away. There are still 200 or so workmen…..bugger…….work people…… onboard and more supplies arrive each and every day. Today for example we received all the coffee tables for the cabins and also joining us today will be the coffee machines which then have to be serviced and installed by a company called Scharf from Austria. Anyone who has had a coffee from one of our coffee shops onboard will know that this is some of the best coffee in the world. Interestingly enough the chap who is here to oversee the installation of the program is one of the company’s directors and an ex Carnival Employee. His name is Stefan Bollenberger who spent 11 years onboard including five as F&B Manager he makes a great cup of coffee. I know RCI has a Starbucks on the Craparapacino of the Seas but I think the coffee we have here is just as good.

Yesterday, 14 huge trucks arriving with supplies as diverse as trashcans to uniforms. The operation is continuous and now we have 1,362 crew onboard the ship and all are doing a brilliant job. The most important article arriving today is my office chair. I cannot wait to sit on this big soft leather piece of luxury as for the past week or so I have been sitting on a Calvyn……….one of the Entertainment Staff…………..although Calvyn has not complained.

Before we get to my love of meetings, here’s Vance to tell you about the wonderful shows, including the unbelievable illusions show, that will be on your Carnival Magic.

Carnival Magic To Feature Exhilarating Entertainment Lineup

Heidi and Kye arrive tomorrow and luckily I reminded her to bring a pair of suspenders with her …….my suspenders……not hers………although that would be nice. I had forgotten them you see and last night I had to do some official photos with the captain etc and to my horror I realized I didn’t have my suspenders with me. So in a panic I went into Monfalcone and I tried three different shops and it seems it would be easier to buy anything else in the entire world then a pair of sodding suspenders. You may be thinking “Buy a belt you fat bastard”……good thinking …… the only problem is that belts here in La Dolce Vita that is Italy are only made for men with the same waist size as an anorexic hamster I actually asked one lady in a shop for one that would cover a 48-inch waist and she laughed and moved her hand up and down ………I laughed …… moved one finger up and down…….and buggered off……….rude cow.

But that’s fashion for you. One of my staff members Ryan wears underpants with some fashion name on it. I know this because he had bent down to pick up some boxes in my office to reveal his underpants were designed by Dolce and Gabanna. I refuse to pay $50 for one pair just because it has some Italian wording on it. And just as the belts are all small in Italy so are the underpants. This is of course so the Italian man’s thingy looks the size of a zucchini when really it’s no bigger than a baby carrot.

I am so sorry that this blog is more ramble than substance. In my defense its 6:20am and I have to write now because now that the 2,047 vice presidents are here onboard their Carnival Magic the ship is in meeting mode and the disease that has affected the Miami office of being in a meeting, planning a meeting in a meeting or having a follow up meeting to the meeting they had three months ago has arrived on the ship. I had one last night with people from Operations, Accounting, Guest Product Service, Marketing, Sales and Marketing, Marketing and Garden, Slim Relations, Health and Shipboard Solutions all of whom hours waving their hands about wanting to be seen and heard more than the person next to them.

I have to tell you…..I hate meetings and we seem to live in a world where they are called just for the sake of it.

Meetings are where good ideas get watered down and bad ideas are forced along because no one ever has the courage to stand up and say: Listen, I am not knocking my colleagues and beards in the office because they are all brilliant and have helped make this ship the best we have ever produced. Yes……..the Carnival Magic really is that good. But bugger me………these people can talk and during our 2 hour meeting yesterday it took all of my self control not to stand up and shout “What the bloody hell are we doing here?” ……….let’s shut up talking and just do it.

But we didn’t just do it and so we have another meeting tomorrow. One of the subjects will be how best to help you return the VAT we have to charge you to your bank accounts. You see, on any of the cruises that does not go to Dubrovnik, Croatia we have to add 18% VAT (value added tax) to items in the Gift Shop, Photo, Cherry On Top and Spa. This is because when we don’t go to Dubrovnik it means we haven’t left the European Union and that means the 18% tax law applies. Now it’s not included on drinks and food but anything you purchase from onboard or ashore has this tax already added in the price. But, for those who live in non European Union countries, Americans, Canadians, Australians, Bollockistan etc can claim a chunk of it back and we are going to help our guests do this. I would explain more but I can’t because we have to have another meeting about it today and unless I stab myself through the heart with my Carnival pen out of sheer boredom………………I will tell you how this works soon.

Well there won’t be a blog tomorrow because we have the handover ceremony and lots more. I will though be joined by Peter the Hair, one Stephanie and Eric and Everett The Beards so there will be full video coverage here on the blog tomorrow. Plus, there will be constant video updates over the next few days. I apologise that there won’t be written blogs until Friday but I will each and every day promise to be on Facebook for you. But please do check back here for video updates galore.

So tomorrow we take delivery of your Carnival Magic. First of all Gerry Cahill hands the Chairman of Fincantieri Mr Corrado Antonini an envelope full of cash and like they do in the Sopranos he will place in his inside pocket and go for a Cannoli.

No.….seriously, Gerry signs the papers accepting the ship and then there is a flag change ceremony that is both moving and meaningful. Once again the brilliant people here at Fincantieri have made you a brilliant vacation home. What they do here is nothing short of amazing and as we head to the Mediterranean and talk becomes of Red Frogs and Cucinas and grumpy guests, it’s easy to forget that men and women built this ship. And it’s fitting that the day before Carnival takes ownership of their new vessel that we talk to the man who for most of his life has been at the helm of not just Fincantieri but at the helm of the shipbuilding industry. He is brilliant, passionate and having met him on quite a few occasions, I can tell you that is a true gentleman of the sea. He is a unique man who has the amazing ability to look back on his life and be comfortable in the knowledge that he has created vessels that will for many years give pleasure and joy to so many people. He is a man you naturally warm to, someone who could easily be your favorite Uncle.
Therefore, it gives me such wonderful pleasure to share a conversation with you all that I had with the chairman of Fincantieri, the world’s greatest builder of cruise vessels……. Mr. Corrado Antonini.

Lets meet then the Chairman of Fincantieri Mr. Corrado Antonini

Fincantieri has an amazing history within the shipbuilding industry. For those many thousands of readers who may not be aware of how this came about, please can you tell us something about this great company and your role and personal history within it? It will also be interesting to know how your relationship with Carnival Corporation started. Fincantieri, established in December 1959 as a state-owned holding company for shipbuilding, has brought together a rich heritage of people, skills, ships of the great majority of Italian shipyards, which had an outstanding and amazing track record.

Fincantieri and its shipyards have built over 7,000 naval and merchant ships in the course of over 200 years of history, several of which are still remembered today. The Italian Navy training ship Amerigo Vespucci, a sailing vessel, built in 1931, that still today sails the seas with the new generations of Italian Navy Cadets, the old fantastic liners like Rex, Conte di Savoia, Oceania, Vulcania, enchanting floating palaces which combined the extreme luxury and comfort of the first class with the simple solutions for the emigrants; and after the second World War Michelangelo, Raffaello, Leonardo da Vinci, Cristoforo Colombo and so on, which set a new style in transatlantic sailing. After liners disappeared because of the new generations of high capacity airplanes, the experience accumulated both in naval and merchant sectors gave birth to a new class of passengers ships where Italian creativity combines with cutting edge technological knowhow. In fact, our wealth of experience and knowhow accumulated over many decades of liner building has been transferred into a new kind of luxury ships which instead of transporting people from one point to another; offer to passengers a wonderful vacation at sea.

My personal involvement with Fincantieri started in 1974, after several years in the steel industry, and my principal task was to manage the merger of several cultures into one company and the transition from the traditional productions to the new exciting high end products, such as cruise ships, on which the current success of Fincantieri relies upon.

This process required strong commitment by all those women and men (now over 9,000 in 8 yards) who work with us plus the wide network of high-class subcontractors (about 20,000 people) who are contributing to the realization of great products: it was tough but we made it.

As far as the start of my relation with Carnival is concerned, I can only say that when we wanted to enter the cruise market it was natural for us to look immediately at the biggest owners: Ted Arison and his son Micky. I remember my first visit to the Carnival offices in Miami, in the second half of the 1980’s, as a complete newcomer, but with a long company tradition behind and a Mediterranean approach (at that time Carnival was building only in Northern Europe) which is a mixture of fantasy and flexibility. We wanted to tender for a project called Tiffany, a proposal which was both very original and highly sophisticated. The project never materialized but it disclosed us the doors for successfully bidding for the new ships of HAL, a brand which had just been acquired by Carnival.

Now after over $23 billion in orders, I would say that our relation goes beyond a normal supplier – customer approach and almost works like a sort of joint venture, if I may say so. Our first-class ships greatly contributed to the spectacular growth of Carnival Corporation & plc, by far the biggest cruise operator, and Carnival was fundamental in making Fincantieri the number one cruise shipbuilder in the world. And besides this extraordinary business relation and distinct from that, I am proud to say that over the years a wonderful friendship has developed between our families.

Before we talk about the present and the future, can you tell us which vessels have been brought to life for Carnival Cruise Line so far? So far Fincantieri has built eight ships for Carnival Cruise Lines: Carnival Destiny – the first ever 100,000 ton ship, Carnival Triumph, Carnival Victory, Carnival Conquest, Carnival Glory, Carnival Valor, Carnival Liberty, Carnival Freedom, Carnival Splendor and Carnival Dream. We are currently completing Carnival Magic and have started the construction of Carnival Breeze. which at 130,000 tons are the biggest ships so far designed.

The next question, I am sure if you answered in full, would take days to answer. However, the obvious question that our readers want to know is: “Once a deal has been reached with the owner, how does building begin?” “What are the first steps?” After the agreement has been reached the documentation describing the configuration of the vessel is handed over to the Project Management team, which has contributed to the preparation of the contract and which follows the construction from beginning to delivery, in strict coordination with the shipyard and the technical departments. At the same time the purchasing department chooses the contractors who will be in charge of supplying the various equipments/outfitting while the shipyard starts cutting and welding the steel to build the shell.

The cruise shipbuilding process follows the “Lego” system, but the challenge is to assure the customization requested for cabins and public areas within this pattern, combining craftsmen and industrial approaches on a very tight schedule. Therefore, the key issue is a precise construction planning for yard and suppliers in a close networking logic.

Constructing the cabins is a very interesting process. What can you tell us about this? The construction of cabins has evolved in time and has undergone radical changes. Today Fincantieri is benefitting from the introduction of prefabricated cabins in the building process. As opposed to the traditional construction foreseeing the assembly of the cabin components on board, cabins are now completely built – with the exception of few typologies – on land and are embarked with cranes on the deck where they are to be installed. All the plants and systems serving the cabins are prepared for such embarkation and only need to be activated when the cabins are on board. To give a very rough idea it is like putting drawers into a cupboard (but unfortunately it is not that simple).

Taking a vessel like the Carnival Magic, what is the length of time of construction and how many people will be involved in the project? The average time of construction of a Carnival vessel is 18 months. Of course if the ship is a prototype, or requires significant variations from the prototype, the lead-time may change. Carnival Dream, Carnival Magic and Carnival Breeze, for instance, will have a gross tonnage of about 130,000 and will require around two years to be completed. I would underline that in any case the construction time of a cruise ship, i.e. a wonderful floating palace which sails the Seven Seas, is considerably shorter than that of buildings of similar size on land. More or less 3,000 workers, including subcontractors, are involved in the construction process. Furthermore, about 600 technicians deal with the project.

Is there one moment in the building of a vessel that makes you more nervous than any other? Obviously, people think of the “will it float?” question but that aside, are there any areas of building a new ship that makes the construction team that little bit more nervous? The cruise ship project is like a chess game where each move influences all the others and where there are tightly defined constraints for the very high concentration of systems to be integrated on board and the need to comply with strict safety regulations and client requirements. So the life cycle of a new build, that’s to say from the negotiation with the client, the design and the production process, to the sea trials and the final commissioning, requires a fair mix of calm and self control together with a bit of anxiety in order to reach quality, timing and budget. Trying to describe my feeling and that of the whole construction team I prefer to say that building the ship produces a mix of deep emotions and legitimate pride.

Fincantieri has been responsible for many new innovations in the ship building industry. What are the ones that you are most proud of? Fincantieri has developed a lot of innovations in the shipbuilding industry. Generally speaking we can distinguish three main areas of innovation for the cruise ships:
Hull: increase of size or berths capacity for ships of the same size (panamax size). The increase of the height and the massive introduction of cabins with balconies have increased the complexity of stability calculation and required the introduction of new sophisticated materials in terms of weight and appeal.
Technical plants: improvement of standards in order to fulfill more stringent anti-pollution regulations in terms of water, air, noise emissions together with new safety/security regulations.

Outfitting: new and appealing solutions for the passengers areas in order to maximize the entertainments on board.

Last but not least, we have to mention the many rationalizations and modernizations of the building process, in order to reduce lead-time (such as, for example, laser welding in robotized production lines).
Can you describe how you feel when a ship is completed and hand it to the owner and eventually she sails on her maiden voyage? Although you must be proud, do you also feel a little sad to say goodbye? The hand-over ceremony brings together a mixture of feelings; it’s somehow similar to the wedding of a daughter; whom we have been growing with love and care and who now is leaving us. The difference is that the Fincantieri family of ships is very numerous, the bride has a lot of sisters, and many more weddings will follow.

Italians make the best cars and now the best ships. They also make the best food and therefore let’s ask you for our ultimate Italian dream. Please fill in the blanks:

1. You are driving from Monte Carlo to the Genoa shipyard. What car are you in and what music is playing on your cd player?
I am driving my powerful Alfa Romeo and I am listening to classical music.

2. You board the Carnival Splendor and host a dinner party. Please tell us your guest list, using the titles below and of course taking for granted that your charming and beautiful wife will be by your side.
Who is at your table?
– somebody from the world of film: Sophia Loren (a wonderful example of Italian appeal)
– somebody from the world of sports: Oscar Pistorius (I am intrigued by his courage and determination)
– somebody from the cruise industry: (I love Italian food by the way, hint hint): John Heald, of course (and you know why)
– somebody from history who you would like to have wonderful dinner conversation with: Queen Victoria (we delivered a ship named after her)
– Finally, somebody to make you laugh: Woody Allen (whose humor is perhaps more appreciated in Europe)
Now, the menu. What’s for dinner? Please chose your favourite Italian foods for your dinner guests to enjoy.
Since I am a Roman, I would offer an entirely Roman menu (my Finnish wife, a very expert cook herself, would certainly be able to advice the Chef in case of need)
– Starter: Bucatini “matriciana” style (it’s a kind of pierced spaghetti with a bacon, tomato sauce and goat cheese)
– Main course: Roasted baby lamb with fried whole artichokes
– Dessert: Tiramisu of course

Thank you so much sir and I know everyone of the thousands of daily readers was spellbound by your answers. We are truly honoured that you took the time to talk to us and I know you will see this from the many comments that will arrive on this blog. Thanks again and congratulations on all you have achieved and all you will……..Oh, by the way……on the Carnival Breeze ……can I have a Jacuzzi, a balcony, two toilet paper holders (one is not enough) and if you can sir, please can you not put mirrors on my cabin bedroom ceiling. I slept naked last night on top of the bed and when I awoke, I looked up and thought I was being attacked by a nude sky diver.

Seriously sir and on behalf of all of us at Carnival Cruise Lines and each and every guest who will sail on the Carnival Magic, thank you and everyone who built this brilliant vessel.

You know me, I don’t like to get all “corporatey” and yet I have to tell you this. Carnival Magic is our best ship yet. Yes, there will be teething problems, my experience tells me that it would be ridiculous to think otherwise. But this ship and her new features ticks all the right boxes. It’s fun, it’s cool, it is exquisitely made and when you’ve finished your cruise around the Med or the Caribbean and are back on dry land you can look back and think to yourself “That is the most fun I have ever had.”

One more day and she will be ours………have you booked yet?

See you on video tomorrow.

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.