SNORKELING IN VENICE, POCKETS PICKED IN ROME

April 24, 2013 -

John Heald

 Let’s start today with one of our most popular excursions in the Mediterranean, in April ………. snorkeling!

 

From: LEGEND GUEST SERVICES

Sent: Tuesday, April 23, 2013 5:14 PM

To: LEGEND CRUISE DIRECTOR

Cc: LEGEND ASSISTANT CRUISE DIRECTOR; LEGEND GUEST SERVICES MANAGER; LEGEND SHORE EXCURSION MANAGER; LEGEND GUEST SERVICES SUPERVISOR; LEGEND GUEST SERVICES

Subject: CABIN **** – NO SNORKEL TOUR

 

Good evening John,

Please be advised Mr. and Mrs. ———— from ——— wanted to talk to you about not having any snorkel tours in the ports. They have read the tour description sheet and attended your talk and want to speak to you about their disappointment. Kindly assist.

Thank you and kind regards,

Guest Services Associate, Carnival Legend

 

And they are correct, of course, we don’t have any snorkel tours in any other ports and while I can understand that this may be disappointing for them as they are avid snorkel people, I did not expect them to be so bitter about this when I spoke to them. I don’t mean to sound patronizing but did they choose a Med cruise to see Nemo and his mates and ignore such wonders as Tuscany, Pompeii, the Vatican and St. Marks Square? Well, apparently, the answer to my question is yes because they were really upset and indeed had traveled all the way from Indiana with their own snorkel, mask and fins. I have asked our agent in Olbia and in Dubrovnik to see if they can recommend anywhere for them to go on their own and hopefully they will be able to help.

 

I have never understood the joys of snorkeling even though thousands of you will be shaking your heads and disagreeing with me and certainly our snorkel tours in the Caribbean are our most popular, as is the snorkel tour in the Sistine Chapel.  Personally, I just don’t see the fascination with swimming, let along swimming in the sea. God decided when he made the earth that he would put most of the nasty creatures underwater could not breathe under water so that’s where he put the nasty stuff and kept the cuddly stuff, koala bears, panda bears and Latvians, etc. on dry land. Plus, what happens if you accidentally swim in to a flock of jellyfish? You will feel like you are on fire and as you swim back to shore screaming in agony and once you lay on the sand screaming “aghhhhhhhhhhhhhhm,” a Frenchman wearing Speedos will urinate on you because it is supposed to help the sting.  Even if you manage to miss the jellyfish, there are fish that burrow under the sand and if bitten your feet swell up three times their size. And not even a Frenchman with a bladder problem is going to cure that.

 

Time for today’s Q and A – off we go.

 

Ginger and Kayla asks:

Hi John! I have had a few sailings with Carnival and wanted to say that I have always had a great experience! I took my mom and daughter last year in July on the Carnival Magic and we had a blast! My daughter had such a good time, she is still talking about it! I just booked us another one on the Carnvial Triumph for the end of May! Thanks to everyone who make sure that we are happy and taken care of!!

Ginger and Kayla

 

John says:

Hello Ginger and Kayla,

What a wonderfully positive start to today’s Q&A and I am thrilled to read that you both had such a great time. I will make sure the Carnival Magic team gets to see these words of praise and I hope we see you again very soon.  

Best wishes to you both.

John

 

Bruce Glancey asks:

I just returned from my cruise and what a scam the spa seminar was. I went to one called “secrets of detox and weight loss” and listened to some dumb and ignorant South African girl try and sell me stuff. The art class was the same and it was written in the compass that we would be told about “how to start an art collection” but was just one hour of a man from Romania trying to sell art. Since when is Romania known for their art experts? WTF! If you are going to promote these “lectures,” then that is what they should be and not just a ploy to sell stuff.

 

John says:

Hello Bruce Glancey,

First of all I hope you were on a Carnival ship because you used the word “compass” which I think is the RCI version of our Fun Times. I appreciate your comments and will make sure they are passed on to the right people. I know that during both the events you mentioned there are indeed some good tips and advice but I also know that there is mention of the products and services they offer on board. I guess it’s a question of finding the right balance between the two and I apologise if during your cruise you thought we did not.  I do hope you had a good cruise and I do hope even more so that you were actually on a Carnival ship.

Best wishes.

John

 

Raymond Davies asks:

I also only want to eat at a table for two when I am on my cruises. I know of no other environment where you would walk into a fine restaurant and expect that you would be paired with people you have never met before and expect to eat a meal with them. This is ludicrous. Carnival should have only tables for two and four because I would say that the majority of your passengers would prefer to eat with their family and not with people they have never met, have nothing in common with and who have different interests and are on a different rung of the social ladder.

 

John says:

Hello Raymond Davies,

You are right, of course. Being seated at a table with people you have never met before does seem a crazy idea, right? And on land, in restaurants and hotels it would be laughed at. Yet on ships, it works. You see there is, in my opinion, something different about cruise ships where passengers want to meet new friends and meet new people at dinner. It isn’t just at dinner where friendships are forged. I stay in hotels many times each year and while I see people walk past each other in hotel corridors or stand in elevators or sit at breakfast three feet away from another table……not a word will be said. There will be no greeting, no hello and no “Are you having fun and enjoying your stay?” And that for the very most part is not the case on ships. Our guests talk to each other, they want to make new friends and this is one of the many reasons why cruising continues to be so popular. Yes, there are those who want to eat with only their family members but there are far more who love to meet new people. There is the old saying that on a cruise there are no strangers, just people you haven’t met yet. Anyway, we have an excellent balance of private tables and larger tables so we are able to accommodate most requests and I am here to do that for you should you ask me? Thanks for writing to me.

Best wishes.

John

 

Teo Lama asks:

Hello Mr. Heald – Thanks for all your hard work answering everyone’s questions.  I cruised on Carnival Glory on 3/3/13 seven-day western Caribbean an enjoyed it very much. The food and drinks were great. The crew as always worked very hard and were friendly. The shows in the theatre were amazing and more than I expected. My dining room staff in the Platinum dining room, Barlam, Vitali, and I Nyouman were great. Marco, my room steward, was excellent also.

 But there were two things I didn’t enjoy during my cruise. Next door to me were four high school students and every night at 3am-5am, they would come down the hallway yelling and stomping, enter their room and have what sounded like wrestling matches. My point is that I came to

find out that the parents were across the hall instead of in the room next door so they were spared from the ruckus. I wish Carnival would have a policy were parents would have to stay in adjoining rooms to their ridiculously inconsiderate kids so they can share in the misery. Security was called several times but the parents could have cared less or couldn’t control them. I don’t know. The other issue was the cabin doors on Carnival Glory. The rooms were very nice and the doors are very sturdy.  But it seems like the doors slam shut making a loud banging noise. This made it impossible to sleep in late, take a nap in the afternoon, or even sleep at night. Maybe in the future. the doors could be retrofitted or designed so that they don’t slam or make such a loud noise when closing. Other than those two things, I really enjoyed my cruise and the service provided. Thank You.

Teo

 

John says:

Hello Teo Lama,

I am so glad you had fun and I will pass on your kind words to the people on board and I know they will be thrilled. I am though sorry to hear that the actions of your neighbors disturbed your sleep and I will bring this to the ship’s attention. Please do remember that with situations like this to call the guest services desk so that we can send security to speak to them and, again, I apologise that they disturbed you. I hate the slamming of doors, it is a pet peeve of mine for sure, and, even now as a CD here on Carnival Legend, I have asked guests on the PA system not to do it. Thanks then for the review, I will pass it on and I hope we see you again very soon.

Best wishes.

John

 

 Suzie Chan asks:

My five-year-old son was on his first cruise on the Carnival Imagination and was so scared of the towel animals that he was inconsolable and in hysterics. We spoke to the cabin boy and he stopped making them. We are back with Carnival for the 5/27 Carnival Victory cruise and want to make sure that we get no towel animals. The cabin we are in is **** so can you guarantee that we won’t have these animals again because my son was hysterical and I will not have him put through that again?!!

 

John says:

Hello Suzie Chan,

I am so sorry that the towel animals upset your son and, certainly, I will make sure that the stateroom stewards, as is their official title, will not make them this time. I have sent the note to the ship and all will be well I am sure. I wish you a wonderful cruise.

Best wishes.

John

 

Bill Tindle asks:

Dear John, my wife and I will be with you on the Carnival Legend for our first taste of the Carnival experience. I found this site thanks to some nice people on another website who were standing up for you because some rather nasty people were making some jokes about your weight. I am a 300-pound man myself and so I also told the writers of these hateful things what they could do! I will be with you in June and would like, if at all possible, for you to please arrange a chair without arms for me otherwise I will have to carry that chair around with all cruise long as I will be wedged in it. I have my details here and hope that you can help. Thanks John, I have read posts from lots of people who say how kind and funny you are so don’t worry about posters on _____- like ______ and ____ and ______and just keep being you. Cannot wait for me and the family to meet you and see these European ports. Booking number ******.

Sincerely,

Bill Garcia

 

John says:

Hello Bill Garcia,

I laughed when I thought of you walking down Promenade here on the Carnival Legend with a chair stuck to your bottom. What a wonderful image and one that I can certainly associate myself with. I deleted the names of the posters you mentioned only because they are pointless and because what’s more important is that you have a great time with us here on the Carnival Legend. Please don’t worry about the chair, I will make sure you are comfortable and, if you can, please send me your cabin number on my FB page if you have FB. If not don’t worry as I have marked this on my calendar so I don’t forget. Thanks for thinking of me, that was very kind and I hope this will be the first of many cruises with us.

Best wishes.

John

 

Robert Short asks:

Mr. Heald: I just wanted to make a few points regarding the cruise that a group of 16 others and I took on the Carnival Liberty March 2. First, the weather didn’t even reach 75 degrees on the first three days, and I don’t think that’s appropriate weather for a “Caribbean cruise” and I want to know what you and the beards are going to do about it!? Especially considering it was supposed to be our spring break and Megan Fox was not even in my room. I demand some sort of compensation. Bollocks. Second, the entire crew was fantastic, the food was great, and I really don’t know where we could beat the value. Third, I have to send complete admiration for Andy Ferguson, one of your most talented musicians. He is the best we have all heard and we all

appreciate him entertaining us on the pool deck nightly.  Make sure Mr. Arison and the beards get that. And, lastly, Karl, our cruise director, was great! You were our first cruise director back in 2008 on the Carnival Freedom, and although I’m not saying he’s better than you six cruises later, he’s pretty close. So to sum it up… Thank you all for a phenomenal time!

Robert Short

 

John says:

Hello Robert Short,

You had me going there, you really did and it wasn’t until I saw Megan’s name that I realised that you were having me on. I am so glad you had fun and I will make sure Karl and Andrew get to see your words of superb praise. I hope we get to sail together very soon and, until then, I am here if you need anything. Thanks again and congratulations on the post, you had me there.

Best wishes.

John

 

Mickey Brown asks:

Sir John: I recently completed the final voyage of Carnival Destiny from Miami to Venice and I must say I had a great time on a grand vessel. This was my first trans-Atlantic crossing, longest cruise I have taken, and the first time cruising the med. Generally the seas and weather were

FANTASTIC – nine straight days at sea and NO ROUGH WATER.  So, anyway, I wanted to give you a general review of this journey but I will keep it brief.

 THE SHIP – Destiny is a great ship and I will miss her as Carnival Destiny. I was able to take the Behind the Fun tour which was very educational and was much fun. For me the highlights were the visit to the bridge and the laundry room. I think there was a washing machine there that was reserved for JH’s underpants (kidding, of course) but I have a great respect for the laundry staff and for Captain Giusa. I will, however, be anxious to see how Carnival Destiny is transformed into Carnival Sunshine and will be booking a cruise on Carnival Sunshine soon.

 FOOD – Brilliant, as always. And this time I tried frog’s legs for the first time.  Tastes like chicken. Otherwise, great food and a great dining room staff.

 STATEROOM – I had one of the newly renovated balcony rooms and it was great. Our room steward, NINJA, was superb and very attentive to our needs and kept our ice bucket FULL.

 NOONAN and SHIPBOARD activities – What can I say, short of JH being the CD, NOONAN was great. He kept us busy and entertained. I attended his LIVE morning show in the Palladium most every morning and even called in once. We participated in many of the activities – my wife doing the In Under 60 Seconds game, me being hypnotized by Peter Gross, the water slide, hot tubs, trivia, etc. We were not bored. In fact we came home with six ships on a stick and about eight medallions.

 LAND TOURS – The land tours we took in Malaga, Livorno, and Civitavecchia were great and must do’s. Picasso museum, Ponte Vecchio in Florence, the Lunch in Florence and Rome, Vatican, etc. Great. I did however did not care for the Barcelona city tour.  Next time here I will do the HopOn HopOff bus.

 PORTS – Malaga was great and I think Carnival needs to make this a regular port of call.  Barcelona was fun, but my not favorite port. Livorno, Civitavecchia and Venice without a doubt were beyond brilliant.

 WEATHER — The entire trip was great – smooth seas and sunshine for the most part. We did have zero visibility fog one day that I awakened to the sound of the ships fog horn. When we did arrive in Venice, it was, however, very cold and there was SNOW on the ground. We were fortunate enough to NOT have to have to walk through water in Venice as the water levels were normal.

 KUDOS – Kudos to all and especially the tour desk and the tour companies in Livorno. My wife had accidentally left her cell phone on the bus in Livorno and, when we discovered it was missing upon returning to our stateroom, we called guest service and the tour desk and to make a long story short, the cell phone was recovered and waiting for us in Civitavecchia the next morning.

 LANDMARKS while cruising – Cruising through Gibraltar was fun even though at 3:30 am, we couldn’t see any landmarks except the lights. Stromboli was steaming as we cruised by as Aetna was steaming a bit as well as we passed through the Messina straight. Water and more water – nine straight days at sea was a lot and in those nine days we saw no land and one fishing trawler.  When in Civi, we did see the Costa Magica and she looked brilliant all lit up at night.

 OK – now for the not so great things. I was disappointed that there was NO cruise loyalty desk on board as I was ready to book with a deposit but could not as I was hoping to see how the no voucher program worked. Maybe next time. I was also a bit surprised that there was not as much hype about this being Carnival Destiny’s final voyage. I liked the idea of the crew taking a final team photo and then the passengers joining in on the fun, but to get a copy of that photo was going to cost $21.95.

 BUT HERE IS A PRAISE: I like the fact that Carnival had a check-in counter at the Miami airport. Did not know that was there until I gathered my baggage – this saved SOOOO much time. Only suggest that if you can add more agents to do more check ins, do it.

 So in summary, this was a brilliant cruise that had great value to this cruiser. Loved everything about the cruise and my visit to Europe.

 And as a suggestion for all, when you all return back to the U.S., make sure that when you check the box on the declaration form that says no fruits and veggies, make sure you really have none.  You see Barney, the fruit-sniffing Customs beagle in Seattle, found an apple so we got some extra attention from Barney Fife as he wanted to see the apple that was squished between two pairs of my drawls. Hope he liked that apple.

 So thanks to CCL and crew of Carnival Destiny for this vacation the trip of a life time.

 

John says:

Hello Mikey Brown,

That post should have started with a fanfare and ended with a standing ovation. It was brilliant and thank you for sharing with us the final voyage of the good ship Carnival Destiny. I am sure that she will have a brilliant future and I hope that you will get to sail on her soon. Again, thanks for this superb account of your voyage and I shall take great care in sharing this with many people.

Best wishes.

John

 

So a very good morning from somewhere in the Mediterranean. It is 6:50 am and here I am in my usual pair of blogging underpants writing to all of you. Today is our sea day and we have only two this voyage and both are our elegant nights. And while many guests will make the effort to dress formally, some will decide not to and as it is their vacation so who are we I say to tell them otherwise? Anyway, that’s a topic that we have discussed too many times but let me also say that, as usual in Europe, there are some guests who want to dress elegantly but can’t and that’s because we have 22 missing pieces of luggage which the airlines have misplaced between the U.S. and Canada and their final destination in Barcelona.

 

From: LEGEND GUEST SERVICES

To: LEGEND CRUISE DIRECTOR

Sent: Tuesday, April 23, 2013 6:55 PM

Subject: Cabin ____ Has lost luggage  

 

Mrs. _______ called again asking about their luggage lost by Air Canada. Guest was very upset saying that it was Carnival’s responsibility to find this luggage. John, the guest says she reads your blog and wants to talk to you because she says that she cannot now go to the D/R on elegant night. Thanks and regards.

Guest Services Associate

 

It is obvious that it is frustration that made the guest upset and I can totally sympathise with her but in unfortunately this isn’t Carnival’s responsibility. If you lose your luggage on your way to Miami as I once did, thanks to American Airlines, would you expect the hotel you are staying in to find it for you? This is not a sarcastic question; it’s just a question – and I think we know the answer. When American lost my bags that time I was staying at the Intercontinentalmarriotthyatt and I never thought to go up to the desk and ask Yolanda the receptionist to call BA and get my spare pair of underpants here now! But we are not the Intercontinentalmarriotthyatt and so I will speak to the guest and make sure she knows we are doing all we can to help and meanwhile assure her that tonight, elegant night, she can enter the dining room wearing whatever she has as she deserves to enjoy her meal as much as anyone.

 

Yesterday we were in Palma de Majorca and as I briefly mentioned on Facebook yesterday it was a beautiful sunny day, spoiled only by those pick pocketing bastards who managed to use their skills to pick the pockets of two of our guests and one of our crew members. These bastards are everywhere in Europe and even though I make extensive announcements in my travel talks and remind guests over the PA system, I am afraid cruise ship guests and land based tourists are still falling victim to these clever artists.  The worst places are Barcelona and Rome, although I understand that Paris has a big problem too. Last season on the Carnival Breeze, I did my best to warn everyone as I did here in my travel talk on embarkation day but to no avail, it seems.

 

Looking back to 2012, Rome was the worst and I was specific in my talks about this. I warned the guests that teams of pickpockets dress as tourists and work in groups in the most crowded parts of the city like the Trevi Fountain and St. Peter’s Square. If you’re not concentrating, you don’t stand a chance. Next time you’re trying to work out what shoulder you throw the lucky coin over you might want to pay attention to the people around you.

 

Pickpockets go where the most tourists go such as Las Ramblas, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, St. Peter’s Square and the Coliseum are all places where our Carnival Breeze guests fell victim to the dippers. OK, I may be making it sound like there are hundreds of incidents each cruise and, of course, there are not, but it does happen and it’s something that travelers need to be aware of. My advice is based on what the locals tell me and the tour operators we work with. They say leave your proper wallet, your eye phone and your designer purse on the ship. Don’t carry back packs because they are the easiest for these robbing wankers to steal from, for obvious purposes. Don’t leave your cell on the table while having your lunch on the Piazza. And if a gypsy-looking couple approaches you with a baby, watch them like a hawk because these two ladies who are begging you for money are using the baby as a distraction. Don’t be shy here, be ruthless and tell them to go away as loudly as possible.

 

And finally do what I do now when the rare occasion happens and I get off the ship. I carry a dummy wallet in my pocket. It’s a tatty old thing I found in a drawer at home. I keep it in my trouser pocket as I walk around and it looks really thick as though I have lots of money in it. I am hoping some thieving bastard pick pockets me because when he gets back to his shack to count his takings he will open my wallet to discover nothing but paper in it and a note that says “I wiped my bottom with this wallet, have a nice day” in 10 different languages.

 

I will continue to warn the guests but as always some won’t listen and like previous seasons in Europe I will see couples who are wearing flashy Rolex-style watches and with enormous cameras hanging off her shoulders. It makes me sad that their day in port that will start with such excitement will probably end with an insurance claim. Europe is beautiful and it should be a must on everyone’s bucket list but please be careful, use your common sense and you will come back to the ship with everything that you left with.

 

One last note on this and that’s that many wear one of those bags that go around the waist and these do provide a sense of security and remain a good way to foil the pick pockets. In the UK they are called Bum Bags…….yep, Bum Bags. Or, should I say, they used to be called that because these days they are not.  My Dad has always said that American speak is slowly overtaking “proper” English. Well Dad, I am sorry to say it’s not slowly overtaking ……it’s here…….and has overtaken proper English like a race between a cheetah and a three-legged yak. And proof of that comes that the young generation of British people now call “Bum Bags” ……  “Fanny Packs,” despite the fact that Fanny, as you know, in British means mmmmm ……… sorry, you’ll just have to ask Uncle Google. Yep, the empire has fallen.

 

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.