ITALY IN 3D

April 9, 2012 -

John Heald

For reasons that I don’t need to mention, the words Italy or Italians have these past few months been mentioned mostly with heads bowed so it is important I think that we talk about this beautiful country in happy tones once again and remind ourselves about this incomparable….and I really mean……incomparable country and the people who live there.

Let’s start by stating that I realise that one person’s desire is another person’s bleeding hemorrhoid. For some, perfection is Rolex watch or Megan Fox’s bottom and eating a Guy’s Burger at sunset on the Carnival Breeze while sailing past the island of Capri. For others, it’s Vegas or skiing or climbing a wall.

There is, however, one thing that I think everyone who has been there will agree on and that is surely the most beautiful country on God’s green earth is Italy. Nearly all my favourite ports of call I have ever been to during my time at sea are in Italy. Venice, Sorrento, Naples, Rome and, of course, Florence, Tuscany and one I have only ever seen on TV but a place I must visit one day ……….Lake Como.

Even the town of Monfalcone, where I was last week visiting the Carnival Breeze, is simply lovely, especially a place called La Rocca which is owned by an Italian-Canadian. It’s a place where you can sit outside in the evening, even in early April, and enjoy the most amazing food including Gnocchi Ragu accompanied by local cheese and meets for starters. Chef Grazziano’s food was the most fantastic I’d ever put in my mouth. I sat on the Piazza with Carnival’s Director of New Ship Stuff Boris Ripyourknickersov or whatever his name is and watched the dazzlingly beautiful women and even more dazzlingly beautiful men walk past in red pants and yellow shirts. It was such a wonderful night I found myself wishing I was with Heidi…….or Calvyn.

I think it’s true to say that every guest who I have sailed with in the Mediterranean has, following their excursions, said that they now harbored a dream that one day they will have a house in Tuscany, where they will sit under the Tuscan sun eating cheese and prosciutto they have bought in the local market that morning. We all want to be Italian. They’re everything I am not. And they’re everything I want to be. Stylish, expressive able to wear red pants with yellow shirts and from what the ladies tell me, unlike myself, they are all are blessed with a very large gentleman’s sausage. Nobody ever says, “I wish I was British or American” or indeed has a secret wish to be French unless they are dribbling and wearing a strait jacket when they say it. I have said before and I will say it again, despite what has been written these past few months, being born an Italian man is like winning the lottery of life.

However, even Italy is not perfect because there are indeed problems. There are stray dogs that live in every town and village that wake you up in the wee hours of the morning. Then you have the women who are stunningly beautiful until they reach the age of 40 when they all start wearing black and most will suddenly have a face like a bag of potatoes. But during my trip to Monfalcone and the wonderful Fincantieri shipyard last week, I realised that there was another imperfection with the most beautiful country in the world…….the music. I know this because I rented a Fiat something which included luxuries like a radio. Now I love radio, I don’t play CD’s or plug in my eyepod but I listen to the radio. Usually it’s a classic rock station or talk radio and whether I have been in Miami or New York, Barcelona or my home town of Southend On Sea I have always managed to find something to listen to….but not in Italy. Yes, there were loads of stations but like a vegan at our steakhouses you don’t want any of it.

The stations all have names like Popstar and XFM Hit 100 but they all play what a twenty something told me is called Euro pop. I would rather listen to a cat being thrown against an electric fence than Euro pop….it is simply music hell. I heard one tune on the Fiat’s radio that was so bad, I felt compelled to find the person who’d written it and cut his ears off. How can a country that has given the world so much art and literature and some of the greatest cruise ships in the world think it is acceptable to drive along listening to vomit inducing Euro pop? The hosts are awful, as well. There is always a man and a woman who spend 20 minutes telling each other to sod off and after some more arguing they then play a piece of music that sounds like the screams a woman would make if she were to see me naked with a pink bow tied around my thingy.

It’s bad enough when these artists sing a song you don’t know but when they sing a song you do know it’s beyond dreadful. Italian is the language of love and when you are having rumpy pumpy it is a huge aphrodisiac but when you hear a pop song you know being sung in Italian it is blood curdling. I heard a cover version of Abba which I hate in its pure Swedish form but hearing “Give me give me a man after midnight, “As dammi dammi un uomo dopo la mezzanotte.” …….. oh FFS! And just when it couldn’t be any worse, an Italian pop star decided to sing a Lady Ga Ga song, the only one I know. It’s called Poker Face or when sang in Italian it’s “faccia da poker, po po po facia da poker.”

Yep, Italy is the most gorgeous country in the world with some of the most wonderful people whose talents are building your Carnival Breeze yet apart from the operatic and classical world and the theme from The Godfather they have the worst music in the world. I am heading back to Italy on May 1 and will be renting a car there again but there is more chance of Harry Potter World opening in North Korea then there is in me turning the car radio on ever again. I will instead listen to the more musical sounds of my own farts and Calvyn’s “oohs and ahhs” when he listens to his favorite Cher album. But that aside, Italy is the most wonderful country and should be on your cruising wish list.

Time for today’s Q and A….off we go but not before an apology about the delay in my replying to these questions and more on that later.

William Rose asked:
Good Morning John,

My wife and I are planning our 40th anniversary cruise for the Carnival Breeze in November/December 2012. We have very much enjoyed sailing with you in the past and were wondering how long you will be CD, after she arrives stateside?

Thank you.

Bill & Judy Rose

John says:
Hello Bill and Judy Rose,

Thanks for asking this question and I will be staying on the Carnival Breeze until after the first cruise in Miami and returning to the ship in January. I am not sure if this means we will sail together but I am honoured that you asked and I promise regardless if I am onboard that you will have a brilliant time. Please let me know if there is I can do anything for you.

Best wishes to you both.

John

Joyce Kashelney asked:
Hi John!

My husband and I will be on the Carnival Magic in the penthouse. I know when we booked a suite on Crystal that the butler unpacked our cases for us and while I am aware that Carnival offers no butler service but wondered if the cabin boy will unpack for us. This is our first Carnival experience and we would not normally consider your line but we are treating our two grandkids to the cruise so as we live in Houston we decided to give you a try. The other question I have is will we have a way to communicate with them when they are not with us? Crystal and Silversea provide this and I am hoping Carnival do too. I have been unable to get a straight answer from your help desk and was advised to contact you.

John says:
Hello Joyce Kashelney,

I am very happy that you have decided to cruise with your grandchildren on the wonderful Carnival Magic and I am positive that you will all have a brilliant time. I am afraid that the state room steward will not unpack for you but we do indeed provide an internal ship’s telephone so that your grandchildren can contact you when they need to. I do not know what age they are but I do recommend that they and you attend the orientation meeting on embarkation day so that you can find out more about our children’s programs. I hope I have not written this after the event and that your cruise is forthcoming. Have a brilliant time.

Best wishes to all.

John

J.S. Tyler asked:

Having seen the cuts that Carnival continues to make it came as no surprise when I read that Carnival is doing away with turndown service starting this summer. I have this on very good authority from a husband and wife who are two most experienced cruisers and Tom has never yet been wrong in any of his postings. I am giving you one chance to say this is not true but considering this is the second time I have posted this with not reply received I have realized that this is true and that will for me and many others be the last straw.

John says:
Hello J.S Tyler,

I have no idea who Tom is but in this case he is right….in the same way I am right by stating that you would like to examine the inside of my underpants through a microscope and then wear them as a face mask….in other words, “Tom” is wrong……..we are not discontinuing the turndown service. Best wishes to you and the mysterious Tom.

John

Jim Meyers asked:
John,

We sailed on the Carnival Inspiration which departed from Long Beach on 12/19/2011. We had our daughter, son-in-law, Ana, two grandchildren with us. First, I would like to thank you for the strawberries and ships on a stick for the grandchildren. Our family was served by team Leader Guillermo Arzi and Retno Sulandari. They did an awesome job of serving us. By the second meal, they had all our names down and our preferences noted. When asked for their opinions on the food, both were knowledgeable of the food on the menu and not only made recommendations but explained their reasons for their selections. This was our daughter’s first sailing and the son-in-laws first on Carnival. They are already talking about a Carnival cruise next December. Guillermo and Retno are great employees who exemplify Carnival’s commitment to excellence.

John says:
Hello Jim Myers,

Thanks so much for this wonderful review and I am so glad that this first impression for your daughter and family was so brilliant that they are thinking about cruising again. I have sent your comments to the ship and thanks once again for sending me this and if there is anything I can do for you all please let me know.

Best wishes.

John

Frank Mann asked:
Hi John,

Love the Blog and I do get your humor. My wife and I are just off the Carnival Inspiration 12/26-12/30. We had a wonderful cruise. I must however point out a couple of things that could have been better. First there was a noticeable odor that smelled like sewage by the forward elevator bay throughout the cruise, and while it was not overwhelming it was unpleasant while passing through. Second there were stall locks in the deck 8 atrium ladies rest room that were broken the whole cruise. I did not find this out until we were debarking when my wife came out upset that someone opened the door. I told her that had she told me earlier I would have told Guest Services and I’m sure it would have been fixed. But it does seem to me that the stall locks is something that whoever is cleaning the restroom could easily check.

As I said we had a wonderful cruise, the entertainment and staff were great. I will not talk about Slavisa our waiter, or Max our room steward, not because they don’t deserve the praise but I wish to recognise a group that goes without recognition. I wake up at 4:30 even on vacation my internal clock says get up. So by 5 AM I am walking the ship to get coffee, (note to beards: hurry up with decision to upgrade coffee), at that time of the morning I get to see the crew cleaning the glass, polishing the brass railings, vacuuming the rugs, prepping the buffet, in summary all of the worker bees who tirelessly do their thing preparing the ship for the day’s activities. As I passed them they would greet me saying “Good morning sir how is everything?” Please express our appreciation to the Carnival Inspiration team for doing a brilliant job without getting the glory. It is all of the behind the scenes people that make the cruise what it is.

Thank you to all of them for all they do.

John says:

Hello Frank Mann,

Thank you for this and let’s start with the two negatives. I am sure there was a fault somewhere which resulted in the bad odor. This is something that I have not read before on this ship and I am so very sorry that this happened during your cruise and like the locks on the bathroom stalls which there is no excuse for, they will be addressed I promise. You are so kind to acknowledge those we never see and your description of the work that the crew does while most are asleep was perfect. I am glad you had fun and I hope that despite these two negatives you mentioned that we will see you again.

Best wishes.

John


Piet Neiskins asked:

Hello John,

I found your blog while searching Carnival cruises and I have read everything you have written since and I love your humor and it helped me decide between going with Carnival and not with another line. My wife and I are from Vancouver, Canada, and have today booked our first cruise on your Carnival Miracle ship and I wanted to ask about my hobby which is amateur radio. I belong to the Radio Amateurs of Canada and I called them about if I could bring my equipment on the ship and it was suggested that I contact Carnival. We are very excited about our cruise and I will be even happier if you can confirm John that I am able to bring my radio on the ship.

John says:
Hello Piet Neiskins,

Thanks for those very kind words and I am honoured by them and hope you continue to enjoy the blog. I’ll have to check on this question and get back to you but I’m sure this cruise will be fun and I hope it’s the first of many.

Best wishes.

John

Anna R asked:

What is the biggest wave you have ever seen?

John says:
Hello Anna R,

Our ships, of course, have sophisticated weather-tracking and monitoring equipment that makes sure we can see where all the bad weather is and where the rough seas are so we can stay away from them. But sometimes the weather can become bad unexpectedly and the biggest wave I have seen was on the Carnival Triumph. We were sailing from New York to Halifax in Canada. A hurricane called B***h…. sorry……. Mitch…..had been there a day or so before and had made the seas quite rough. I was standing on the bridge with Captain Rassello when we saw a large wave came up as high as the bridge which is on deck 8. But everyone was safe and well and weather like this is a very rare thing indeed.

Best wishes.

John

Judy De Marco asked:

I am a smoker that still enjoys lighting up a cigarette in a smoking area without wasting valuable cruise time going to three different decks, walking half the ship to find a small area to smoke in. I am sick and tired of the bleeding heart liberals who cried so much that Carnival has pushed us to go to other lines or land based vacations. I am taking a cruise on the Carnival Splendor in June and will report back to you if or not you will ever see me on a Carnival ship again based on my experience as a smoker which I think will not be a good one. So where can I smoke on the Splendor.

John says:
Hello Judy De Marco,

I have said a few times here on the blog and many times on Facebook that the smoking subject is one that will fuel divided opinions and somehow Carnival has to do their best to make sure that the opinions of both nonsmokers and smokers are represented onboard. The world is changing as it relates to smoking. I was in Italy last week and like most of Western Europe smoking is taboo in all bars and restaurants. I know that there are fewer places onboard our ships to smoke but there are still places where you can sit, have a cocktail and enjoy a cigarette and on the Carnival Splendor that includes one of the deck 5 aft lounges and the nightclub, part of the casino and casino bar and you can, if you have one, smoke on your balcony. There will always be those who want the entire ship to be smoke free and there will be those who want more places onboard to smoke. And in between is Carnival Cruise Lines trying to make everyone happy. Our smoking rules are similar if not more accommodating than most other cruise lines and I hope that you will base your vacation on the service, food, fun and value for money rather than where you can smoke. I wish you a brilliant cruise.

Best wishes.

John

That’s all for today. At this time I have 500 plus questions waiting for me in my inbox here on the blog thingy and as we approach 14 million views coupled with the 24,500 like thingies on Facebook it has become obvious that I am unable to keep up to date with the questions I am asked here. However, help is on the way thanks to the amazing superhero duo of Mischelle and Mary. These two wonder women have now been assigned to help me here and will be plugging through the questions and answering ones that don’t need my specific answers such as table requests and frequently asked questions. I will continue to answer questions myself here on the blog and of course the 100 plus a day I answer on Facebook but having Mischelle and Mary help me here will prove a massive asset I am sure and I thank them so very much for all they are going to be doing.

Did you see the brilliant blog by our man in London and Cunard’s President Peter Shanks? I posted on Facebook but in case you missed it I wanted to post it again here. It deals with the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic but from a very different angle and it’s something you really should read. There is much on the TV here in the UK about the Titanic with a huge miniseries in the form of Downtown Abbey at sea to the James Cameron special that airs tonight. I do urge to read about the unsung hero of this terrible tragedy as brilliantly written by Peter Shanks. Here it is.

In the next few blogs, I will be updating my colleagues’ bios as we highlight the brilliant group of cruise directors who provide so much fun for you. We start with our longest serving and someone I look up to…..the incomparable Steve Cassel.

I was hired with CCL in 1986 as a juggler. I had been a professional juggler for 11 years prior. I did seven TV commercials, three of them that aired nationally, including Doublemint Gum, Dr. Pepper and Doritos. I worked in Las Vegas, Wendover, Utah, and Jackpot and Reno, Nevada in production revue shows. I was cast in ‘Soiree’ at the Princess Casino in Freeport, Grand Bahama, a show choreographed and directed by Jerry Jackson. I worked alongside Lance Burton for two years at a nightclub in downtown Hollywood, Calif. I was a theater major and Music minor in college, attending Long Beach City & State colleges. My first Carnival ship was the Tropicale out of San Pedro, Calif. I’ve worked through the growth and development at CCL to Fantasy class, Destiny, Spirit, Conquest and Dream Class. I play fiddle in the Xtreme Country show, and end the talent show with an acoustic violin piece- the First Movement of Winter from Vivaldi’s ‘The Four Seasons.’ I enjoy working as cruise director immensely; it gives me a chance to interface with guests on a daily basis, provide stage shows on a professional level, and to organize and implement the Fun through myself and my staff.

Here I am and here is my dog:

Thanks, Steve, and I am sure many here agree with me that your unique style of entertainment and your amazing talent is something that I truly enjoy. Cheers mate.

It’s great to be back here in my underpants writing a blog to you and after a week in Italy its great also to be back with the girls before I fly to Italy on the 29th April to prepare what is going to be our best ship yet……yep, the Carnival Breeze is that good and there will be video and photos from my trip in the next few days both here and on Facebook. Anyway, it’s been a busy time and I am thankful for the long Easter weekend away from the computer. But I am back now and I am straight back into work mode although that isn’t such a good thing. Let me explain.

Last night I was up in my office when the phone rang. It was my sister Suzanne who was mentioning that today was a bank holiday Monday and that she and the family were thinking of coming over to see Heidi, Kye and myself. Now while she was telling me all about this and her plans that I realise I was writing e-mails throughout the conversation. Clickety click clack, I went while making vague sounds of feigned interest such as “mmm, mmm, sounds great” when she could have just told me she had the worst brother in the world and that she had discovered that when she was 14 it was me that covered her David Soul album in honey and gave it to our dog Ringo to play with. Now after thinking about it I realised I do the same sometimes when I am on the phone to Heidi and worse even when I am on a ship or in Miami or Italy and I am listening to Kye tell me about Peppa Pig’s latest adventures I do the same……….what a complete and utter bastard I am. I am no better than one of today’s teenagers whose distracted glaze says “If I don’t read that text which probably says something really important like “Brad kissed me 2night LOL x’ I might actually die.”

It’s the way of the world and I see it all the time on the ships. I see younger guests, usually in their late teens who get so frustrated by ambling older passengers who block the line at the buffet slowing them down on their way to the Mongolian wok, Some probably imagine they are evil sea monsters in a computer game which they could zap with a harpoon because “They’ve got all day to get their lunch whereas I need go to back on Lido deck in the sun looking at the babes, OK?” I cannot judge them though for I occasionally get annoyed at people who hold the elevator doors open while they finish a conversation with a friend and those people who always ask for a printed balance at the ATM and then study it for 30 minutes before deciding if they should withdraw $10 or not. Anyway, today, Monday April 9, 2012, I made a promise to myself that I would never talk to family or friends while using anything with a keyboard ever again. I used to think I was just multi-tasking….I wasn’t……..I was just being rude.

OK, that’s all for now except to say that I can’t wait to show you our new ship, the Carnival Breeze, and I hope all the video footage we shot will be available in the next couple of days. One of the areas everyone seems excited about is the Thrill Theatre which offers a truly immersive experience. This means that as well as amazing 3D films you will also have special effects designed to thrill the senses. I have to admit that I have never been a fan of 3D movies. This is because the films that were shot in 3D were usually crap and had titles like Godzilla vs. Megasorearse in 3D. And I hated the fact that in order to enjoy it I had to wear a pair of plastic glasses that made me look like a 70’s version of Elton John.

However, things have not changed and now you can buy a 3D television for home use. The programs and films shot in 3D is growing with films like Avatar and Titanic all be re done for the 3D experience. And for our Thrill Theatre, the glasses look and feel much more like ordinary sunglasses. So, has 3D’s time finally come? Hollywood’s biggest players are convinced it has it seems and people like Spielberg and Bruckheimer are hugging a technology once written off as being as gimmicky as Smell-O-Vision. I spoke to the beard who is responsible for our Thrill Theatre on the Carnival Breeze and as he said on an interview I will publish soon: “I believe 3D is the most exciting change since the industry went from black and white to colour (spelt correctly).” Indeed, it seems he his right and I will let you know what films we will show as soon as I can. I am off now to ask Uncle Google if there are any Latvian Rumpy Pumpy movies in 3D ……….actually………..let’s make that 4D shall we……..or even better ……….. 44 double D.

Goodnight.

Your friend,

John

Hi, I’m John, and this is my blog. So please don’t mistake my opinions — or those of my dear friends, fans or commenters — for those of Carnival Cruise Line or Carnival Corporation. My apologies in advance for anything I may say that upsets you, but this disclaimer covers Carnival and puts the blame directly on me………….. bugger.

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