February 24, 2009 -
Just before I start today’s blog can you believe that someone bought my bobblehead of eBay for $47?………………………And I just found out who got it…..tell you that later. OK, do you remember the days when you came back from the mall with a new and shiny electrical appliance? And found it had been sold without a plug. You then had to go back out and find a plug, buy it and hope that you had the knowledge to wire the thing to the thingy you just bought. Nowadays, though, thanks men with beards any domestic appliance with a flexible cable must be fitted with a plug and the plug must be fitted with a fuse link that conforms to some standard and removing it is illegal and will result in a SWAT team bursting through your door. That’s a different SWAT team to the FBI SWAT team who will burst through your door if you dare show a DVD to a group of more than four people without permission. Anyway, you now come back from the shops to find that your shiny new toy has a plug. But that, unfortunately, the product itself hasn’t actually been built. Regular readers of the blog will know that when it comes to gadgets and DIY, I am totally crap. Last Christmas I bought some pretty outdoor lights for the garden. Except I didn’t. What I actually bought was a box full of pieces that could be turned into some outdoor lights for the garden. By anyone with a simple degree in mechanical and electrical engineering from Cal Tech. Of course, there were some poor-quality instructions which explained that all you needed to assemble your quality product is to have fingers like cocktail sticks and six and a half thousand tools that you do not own. It was truly and genuinely extraordinary to find how little had been done at the factory. Of course I commend any company that can maximize its profits and quench the thirst of its shareholders. This is all excellent and makes the world go round, but implying on the box that the customer is buying a garden heater when in fact he’s buying a box of pieces: that’s flirting with fraud. How long before Ikea sells you a tree in Finland and a saw? Anyway………………you are probably wondering why I am talking about this ……………. well………………let me show you why.
Guest: Mrs __________ Ref: 836005170A Cabin: _____ Booking#: _______ Added-Changed: 02/24/09 – 02/24/09 TV DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND Guest stooped by the desk and asked to speak to a manager. GSO told Mrs______ that she would be available to help. Guest stated that she found the TV in her stateroom difficult to operate and that the TV on her last cruise on Holland America was easier. When asked for more detail guest said that the channels were not in number order and that the remote control had too many buttons on it. Guest refused assistance and walked away saying out loud so other guests heard “the people on this ship are unbelievable.”
I think the guest is a little confused although when I checked her age I did expect her to be older but she is 51 years old. The strange thing is that the TV’s have a good chance of being the same make and design on Holland America as they are on Carnival ships. Anyway, let’s move to the follow on from this comment from the same guest.
Guest: Mrs. _______ Ref: 836005170B Cabin: ____ Booking#: _____ Added-Changed: 02/24/09 – 02/24/09 Mrs._________- returned to the desk demanding to speak to a manager. GSS was called and spoke to guest with me. Guest said that the complimentary shower gel in the cabin is for men only because it smells strong. GSS stated that it was a gel for both ladies and men. Guest then started raising her voice saying that the TV, the gel and the food were all better on Holland America and she wants compensation. GSS apologized and asked for more details on the food. Mrs.________ said that the mashed potatoes were lumpy and that the soup she was served was cold. GSS said that she would document her comments and contact her later today. Note: from Pablo, Maitre’D Mrs.__________ ordered the strawberry soup from the menu last night and shouted at the waiter because it was cold. Guest was shown on the menu that it says that it is cold soup. Guest was very rude to waiter.
Brilliant. I am sure this saga will continue and I of course will let you know all about the new adventures of Mrs. Sony Coldsoup as and when they happen. OK, its time to answer some of your questions.
Bill Heck Asked: John Please Reply My wife Marjorie and I are not aligned with any of the three blogger subsets, I am just a blogger and a Heald fan, we had a great time. The groups had some functions, and that is great, good for them, I had plenty to do and plenty of refreshments. Between the drinks Carnival served at the various parties and the wine package I bought we were in good spirits. This was the most function packed cruise I have been on and it was great. I might apply for the Evil Krewe for blogger 4 in December. I think Ed said he was going on this one. The dining room seating was in a state of flux, as Rodney reports. Didn’t bother me, we sat at four different tables, three of the tables I now realize were for the blogger subsets, but it didn’t mean I didn’t sit there. I wondered what the message was on top of the table placard, cruise mates, and another night there was a sign on the table of some kind, but we used it for a placemat for our wine bottle. One woman we started to sit with got a little cranky. Now, I figure it was because of the subset issue. We found another assigned table, sat there anyway and ate with two couples that were from another subset than what the table was labeled for that we had met earlier. Cindy from PA. You know, this gives me a headache. We did meet different folks at the dinners and enjoyed the time comparing life experiences and of course Carnival experiences. I like to find out what others did during the day in case we are missing some good fun and we enjoyed the freestyle blogger seating. By now you have figured out my opinion that the table assignments are not a big deal. Your initial decision to make the blogger tables freestyle is the true course. You know, on a cruise we never want to hear the word no. So, “no you can’t sit there” rubs some folks the wrong way. Like Rodney. I missed the woman showing off her hooters, and she dropped her panties as well? LOL Amazing. We are John Heald Bloggers at dinner. All for fun, Fun for all. By the way, the photo of two big smiling men and one little woman looks good in the mouse pad. Thanks. Whatever you decide for the next Bloggers Cruise will be fine with me. As long as you don’t require ID. Just think how many tables we could sit at on a nine day. What do you think? Regards, Bill Heck
John Says: Hello Bill Thanks for taking the time to write. I can tell you that I will think long and hard before having an open sitting experience at the next bloggers cruise. It did not work out as I would have liked but I can understand why that happened. Anyway, we learn by our mistakes don’t we? I have received lots of comments about this and I apologize to anyone who may have been on the receiving end of another bloggers moment of moodiness and I truly think next time we will go with assigned seating. It’s always great to hear from you and I hope we shall meet again on the Carnival Dream Cheers John
Patti&Wayne Asked: Dear John, PLEASE REPLY… We just returned from a wonderful week on the Splendor. It was our 10th and first as VIP’s. Unfortunately, Ft Lauderdale did not offer the best organization for VIP’s so it was a bit of a disappointment. Maybe we have just been spoiled by how streamlined embarkation is in Miami! Of course as soon as we stepped aboard, all the shortcomings disappeared, the ship is everything we had hoped for. Only thing missing was you. I do have a question for you…we are a couple of weeks from booking our next cruise on the Dream. We are bringing the rest of our family (7 in total including my husband and myself). Do we have to forego the benefits of our VIP status in order to stay together as a group or can we all go through the VIP process? If you could please let us know we would greatly appreciate it. By the way, Goose was great….entertainment was the BEST and we got to spend some time with Ken. (the man never ages!!!) Thanks for keeping us laughing!!! Patti
John Says: Hello Patti and Wayne I have to admit that having recently experienced the debarkation and embarkation process in both Lauderdale and Miami, I agree that Miami comes out on top. Still, the people of the Fort Lauderdale port together with Carnival are working hard to improve the facilities and the process of getting on and off the ship. The VIP privileges will apply just to you and your husband but I would still use them. Let them board the normal way and you can meet them on the vessel and be ready to give them the grand tour. I am sure the family will understand, after all, you have worked hard to achieve Platinum status and it would be a shame not to use the benefits. I am so happy that you had such a great experience on the Carnival Splendor and you are right……..Ken never gets older………just uglier …… I miss him very much. Let me know if you have any questions about the Carnival Dream and I will be happy to answer them for you. My best to you and all the family John
Larry&Connie Asked: John, What a great interview. Don’t know if we could do 107 days, but are thinking about taking the Carnival Dream when it comes across the pond to the U.S.A. for the first time. We’ll do the 12 day in Europe then over to N.Y.C. 28 days in all. Are you going to bring it over? I know you’re planning another bloggers cruise on the Dream. What are the dates? Maybe we can do that also. Larry & Connie
John Says: Hello Larry and Connie Being onboard a ship for 107 days takes a special kind of person but there seems to be many who enjoy the incomparable experience of a world cruise. I will be on the Carnival Dream for the inaugural events and maybe coming across on the TA with Heidi and The Thingy. It would be amazing to write about that experience for the blog thingy. Still, let’s see what happens and as soon as my plans are confirmed I will let you know. It is confirmed that we will be holding two more Bloggers cruises on Nov. 15 from NYC and Dec.3 from Port Canaveral. It would be great if you could both join me and the bloggers and if you have any other questions I remain at your service. Doing the Med and the crossing to New York will be a brilliant experience………….I hope you get to do it. Cheers John
Lorelei Asked: John – Please Reply What a wonderful interview. We are looking forward to our upcoming cruise on the Valor and your article trigger a thought about St Patrick’s Day. We will be onboard the Valor for St Patrick’s Day and I was wondering if you have any special activities planned? Might help in our packing of green items. Thanks – Lori
John Says: Hello Lori Yes, the activity that is typically associated with St. Patrick’s Day is a traditional Irish one called “Getting Drunk.” ……….no, seriously we will have a Paddy’s Day party, encourage everyone to wear green and we sometimes serve green beer as well. It will be a great way to celebrate this special day. We also have a Scottish/Irish celebration. That’s where everyone gets drunk but nobody wants to pay for it Cheers John
Melissa Asked: John (reply if you want) When are we going to get an update on the Dream? Haven’t had anything for a month, I am going into withdrawals Do we have to wait for April to get anything new (pics would be great!) Thanks John
John Says: Melissa Sorry to hear about your withdrawals. Let me see what I can do. I will be visiting in April but I am sure we can rustle up a few photos before then. Leave this with me. Best Wishes John
Jake Silverberg Asked: Hello John, Wow! The Carnival Valor is my second favorite ship in the fleet. Spectacular ship I must say after sailing in 2006. The seaside theater is a fun addition to an elegant ship. David Tancock met up with me onboard the Carnival Fascination. He’s a very kind man, & told me about you two on another ship working together, and I certainly knew that to Brits would be Excellent on the ship working together. If there is any way you could describe me to David by…perhaps saying…”Remember the boy from the Fascination who you talked to for quiet a while about me, and gave a 2 carat gold plastic trophy to for knowing EVERYTHING about the fleet”…? I would LOVE that SO much! He met my mother, and we where talking about how I want to become captain, and I told him about my “attempt to visit the bridge when…I ran into Captain Vapoli”. I hope you enjoy the Valor as much as I did, and The food has really been the best to me when cruising with carnival, my favorite line ever!!!! I have voted for your blog on http://www.bestblogsatsea.com & tuely love the site! PLEASE REPLY if there is any opportunity for an interview, or a little hello to David, just anything because He is such a hard working ACD, & I give him luck, and credibility to becoming an official CD like you. PLEASE REPLY JAKE S. ( :
John Says: Hello Jake Thanks so much for the kind words about David. He is a great chap and I just showed him your comment and indeed he remembers you and how much you knew about ships and Carnival Cruise Lines. I see your blog is doing very well and why don’t you start working on an interview for me. I want to post an interview with newly promoted CD Butch Begovitch who is rapidly becoming a firm favourite with Carnival guests. Why don’t you start working on 10 questions and I will post them and his answers. Good luck mate John
linda alvarado Asked: Dear John, Please respond. I too love the food on all the Carnival ships, but sometimes I remember how fun the dinners were at night many years ago when they would salute the different nations with food and song or dance from those nations. Is there any chance that some of the ships might go back to that type of dinner theme? I realize how very busy all the restaurant staff are and how excellent they are at what they do, but I do remember how fun those days were and how everyone seemed to get into the fun of the evening and become more like family. Thanks! Linda
John Says: Hello Linda I think you will see more and more of this coming back Linda. Certainly last week when I ate in the guest dining room the waiters performed songs in Italian and danced to music from the Caribbean and Brittney Aguilera. Our dining room entertainment is a very important part of your experience and I agree with you that we need to do as much in there as we can, regardless if the waiters are busy or not. My current favorite song they perform is that’s Amore……………it’s priceless. Thanks Linda and if you have a follow up question or need anything else, please let me know Best Wishes John
cruisinggrandma Asked: John please reply. My husband’s 70th birthday is on Friday 27 February and we sail on the 28th on the Glory, our 10th Yeah! I know I could get a cake or decorate the cabin but that has all been done over the last 9 cruises for either me or him because we have been trying to go twice a year since 2003 (our first trip on the Glory with you). October and February each year, you see our anniversary and my birthday are on the same day in October and of course his birthday is February. Do you have any suggestions? Cruising Grandma
John Says: Hello Cruising Grandma I need you to start putting together a collage of photos celebrating his 70 years. Stick them on a piece of cardboard and the pack that secretly. Then, leave this for the CD Butch at the Guest Services Desk and I will make sure he shows this at one of his morning shows on the big screen. I know that will be a huge surprise. What do you think? Cheers John
Christy Richardson Asked: We are trying to book a room on the conquest for April 12. I was looking at the available rooms and there are some strange shaped ones available on Deck 2 Aft. I believe they are 2475, 2477, 2472. Are there problems with these three rooms? With only two months out, I would guess that if they are as large as they seem and no one has booked them yet, there may be a problem. Can anyone tell me about them? Thanks
John Says: Hello Christy These rooms are as you said on the aft part of deck 2. They are all category 6B ocean view cabins and being on the aft they have great views and are indeed a slightly different shape to other cabins. They are very roomy and will make a great home for your seven-day cruise. Let me know if you need anything else Cheers John
Linda Asked: JOHNPLEASEREPLYURGENT John, I too am disappointed that Carnival is not planning to have ANY presence in Europe in 2010. Couldn’t there be at least one ship in the Med, perhaps alternating between the previous two itineraries? I hear that other guests have expressed the desire for Carnival to look at not making it a total pullout and I’d like to add my vote as the Greek Isles was our 2010 plan. Linda
John Says:Hello Linda I know many people are disappointed that Carnival is not placing a ship in Europe next year, myself included. However, prudence states that with the economy as unstable as a three-legged donkey we place all our fleet closer to home. Your idea is a great one though and don’t forget we still have a few cabins available on the Carnival Dream for her Med cruises this year. Let’s see what happens over the next few months and I join you in the hope that a Carnival ship will be back in Europe once again. My apologies for the disappointment and I hope to see you soon Best Wishes John
OK. That’s all for today. I have another 10 to answer tomorrow. Let’s get straight over to Jaime who has a wonderful story to tell in today’s Dear John letter
February 23, 2009
Dear John, Today, no one had the right to use common retort “it is not the end of the world” because on February 23, 2009, the Carnival Splendor reached this very location – the END OF THE WORLD… the southernmost tip of South America. I think I now know exactly how Christopher Columbus felt when he thought the Earth was flat, and he was going to fall off the edge. It was rocky and thrilling and exciting, we went in a big circle around the highly anticipated “Cape Horn” for over two hours of scenic viewing. Unlike Columbus we were able to capture amazing photos, and then… continue sailing.
Before I made my way up to deck five forward to take part in the viewing of this once-in-a-lifetime adventure, I was warned by my fellow crewmembers that it was not only cold, but freezing, bone chilling and painfully arctic. I bundled up in my warmest swimsuit, er sweatshirt, rather and went up to find out that it was no colder than any Michigan winter. I think the dancers were just cold because they have no body fat. It was beautiful watching us approach the cape… Everyone celebrated in their own way: Our own Columbian, Owen could not handle the cold, so he went inside. Scotty was drinking matè. The Canadians decided to take their shirts off, as you will see below.
Dirk our naturalist on board and Goose our Cruise Director on board were on the bridge making announcements about exactly what we were observing. It was interesting to notice that the waves were coming toward the ship rather than from the sides. Among other the sites were the Chilean flag flying high, a lighthouse to guide ships in and mark the territory, and a memorial commemorating the albatross that have fallen to a soggy death at this southernmost tip of South America.
These albatross have an eight-foot wingspan and looked quite impressive from the ship. Dirk did inform us that these birds often follow the ship when visiting these parts. Our piano man Greg actually saved the life of one of these albatross which decided it would be a good idea to land and go for a swim on Lido deck 9 aft for two hours. Greg rescued the bird, and without considering the possibility of getting lice, picked it up with his bare hands and set it free to fly up, up and away back to his family and avoid becoming the newest ingredient on the Carnival Classics menu.
Eventually I made my way up to the bridge and learned that we were facing 17-foot swells and winds of more than 30 miles per hour. It was quite exciting on the bridge because a variety of different alerts and sirens were going off since we were experiencing some rather intense sea conditions. Personally, after hearing the rumors of the sea conditions when sailing in these parts, I was expecting a roller coaster ride comparable to the Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point. Instead, I got something more closely resembling treadmill workout with a 5% incline.
Nonetheless, the white capped waves, soaring birds, and coworkers making silly decisions truly made this a once in a lifetime experience. You can leave it up to the members of the entertainment department to take their shirts off while visiting the closest spot to the Antarctic. Others chose to take a swim in the hot tub. But the most exiting of all were those who were brave enough to take tender boat #16 to the actual Cape Horn to get their seaman’s book, their pictures, and their bodies stamped.
My dear friend Enzo, the safety officer was among the officers and photo team members that were courageous (or psychotic) enough to make this voyage. They wanted to set foot on this land to visit the flag and the lighthouse. They attempted to dock in multiple areas around the horn, yet the rocks and extremely rough waters prevented them from doing so. They were able to get close enough to shore to be thrown the stamp that they were longing to receive. As the tender returned to the ship, the captain cleared the port side of the bridge so that he could be visible to and have radio communication with the members of his crew that were brave enough to take this adventure. Captain Pagano wanted to personally contribute to their safe return home. The captain helped to guide them in and, in conjunction with the safe steering skills of our safety officer, all crewmembers returned back to the ship unharmed with both remarkable pictures and exhilarating stories.
Today was a great day. It really made this entire voyage worth while. I realize I continue to say this almost every day. But honestly I continue to be a part of more amazing experiences every time I wake up and discover what is in store. Tomorrow, we visit Ushuaia and the plans for a wonderful tour of this location are already in the works…
Cape Horn as seen from the Carnival Splendor
Cape Horn as seen from the Carnival Splendor
One of the Albatross near the ship.
A picture taken from the Tender Boat from one of our Splendor Photographers.
The dancers who decided to take their shirts off in celebration of visiting Cape Horn!
Talk to you then!
All the best,
Wow, what amazing photos and what an incredible journey the ship is having. I am not going to make any jokes about Jaime being “around the horn” ……….that’s too obvious. Anyway, thanks Jaime again and let’s add some more photos here. These were sent to me my Dance Captain Claire who went up in a helicopter over Brazil when the ship was docked there…………….have a look at these stunning shots.
I think you will agree with me that these are astonishing photos taken by Claire and our top fleet photographer Radu whose work is legendary. I hope you enjoyed them. OK, it’s been a busy day. Last night the ship was passing through some large swells as we head to St. Thomas. At one point we were close to canceling the show as performing complicated dance routines on a stage that is pitching and rolling can be very dangerous. However, around 20 minutes before showtime the seas calmed and all was well.
Today started off cloudy but the sun broke through and now we have a beautiful day. There is nothing better than seeing a Carnival Lido Deck full of people swimming, sun worshiping and enjoying the games, music and concerts while sipping on a Margacolada thingy. Today was also the first time in I don’t know how long that I hosted a travel talk about the Caribbean and not the European ports. However, I started well and after 10 minutes I was in full flow. Unfortunately after full flow comes automatic and that became a big problem when during my travel talk for St. Maarten I started talking about the concerns of renting a gondola and that the place not to be missed on this small Caribbean island was Pompeii …………………….bugger.
Before the travel talk I hosted my first Morning Show. I love doing these and today we featured the regular dedications of birthdays, anniversaries, etc. and two very special ones. This leads me into welcoming back a regular feature to the blog thingy the “In Their Own Words” section where I let you read the letters guests send. Here are today’s two special ones.
Two letters. Both acknowledging the men and women from two different wars who fought to protect all we sometimes take for granted. How terrific that Amy took the time to not only mention her husband recently returned from Iraq but also her son who has been pulled from pillar to post as he and his grandmother keep the home fires burning. And then we have our WWII and D-Day hero Harold. I have seen Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers and both epics share battlefield glory with unqualified respect for the soldiers who earn it.
Anyway, I read his letter out on the show and then later during my travel talk I asked if he was here. He was. I invited the audience to thank him for his service and 600 plus people in the lounge did so by giving him a standing ovation. After the talk I saw loads of guests shake the 84-year-old man’s hand and many had their photo taken with him. I felt proud to be on the vessel with him and pleased that I had shared his story with everyone………….that was until about an hour ago.
From: VALOR GUEST SERVICES
Sent: Tuesday, February 24, 2009 1:50 PM
To: VALOR CRUISE DIRECTOR
Cc: VALOR ASSISTANT CRUISE DIRECTOR
Subject: Cabin – ### – Wants to talk to the cruise director with regards to mentioning the war Good Day John, Mr _________stopped by the desk and requested if you can contact him as he is upset that you spoke about the war at your show this morning. Guest is from Germany. Regards, Gauri Gurav Guest Services Associate | Carnival Valor
What an idiot………..me, not him. I totally forgot that we had 70-plus Germans onboard and while I didn’t actually mention Germany’s part in the war this morning I can see why he would have been upset…………as Basil Fawlty said ……..don’t mention the war …………. anyway, I spoke the guest just now and he is very upset. I apologized and told him how bad I felt but I also said that I wasn’t celebrating the victory of the Allies but that a survivor of those terrible times. He is still upset and told me he would be writing a letter to Carnival’s HQ.
Hopefully the bottle of wine and fruit basket I will send him will calm him a little. Strange isn’t it but I just wrote that and realized that I hadn’t sent anything to Harold’s cabin so I just took care of that and sent him the same as I sent the gentleman who is upset. It seems that some wounds never heal and I may have opened one again today………………das bugger. Yesterday while backstage for the show I jumped over a piece of scenery backstage. It wasn’t a very big piece of scenery as you can imagine, but even so I only just made it. And when I landed I was out of breath. And my ankle hurt. This was all very disappointing. For 44 years I have jumped over things without a moment’s thought, but from now on, I shall have to give the maneuver some serious thought and planning. One day soon, though I won’t know it at the time, I will jump over a piece of scenery for the last time.
It’s the same story with rumpy pumpy. Everyone has rumpy pumpy at some point without knowing that they’ll never do it again. I think, if they did, they’d put a bit more effort into the final performance. Maybe that’s what John Entwistle of the rock band The Who was up to in that Las Vegas hotel room. Maybe he realized his ticker was on the blink and decided to go out in a blizzard with a bright-orange hooker. I sometimes wonder what I’ve done already for the last time. Drove my Polar Bear killing Range Rover? Told a joke that makes 1,000 people laugh? Upset a German? It always fills me with great sadness and a resolve that I must never, ever, allow myself to be bored. Life is too short, and my time left too precious. That’s why I hate the theater.
A guest was telling me today that he was just in the UK and watched Macbeth at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. He said it was extremely good. But it was Shakespeare, and he’s second only to Sex and the City. He bores me. At no point will Portia crash a police car into a helicopter, and Shylock will not end up falling from the top floor of the Nakatomi Tower to the sounds of Henry shouting Yippie Kiyae Mother $#@^%$ And, unlike with a film, or a TV show, or a dreary drinks party, you can’t just leave when the boredom descends like an itchy blanket. You are imprisoned by the etiquette of theater. You can’t even commit suicide without attracting a chorus of sssshhhhhss as you splash arterial blood all over the orchestra pit.
This is why I hate meetings and the meeting bug that seems to be sweeping the corporate world has also infected the ships as well. Honestly, it’s hard to get anything done these days because we have to have meetings about what to do when before we used to … well ……………just do it. This is why I shall not be going to meetings any more. I’ve never been a fan them, but now, as the summer of middle age begins to fade and small pieces of scenery become too big, I can no longer tolerate the interminable long-winded speeches and the dreary job justification. In the past I could sit on my hands and bite my tongue and count the seconds, knowing that soon I’d be released into the fresh air.
But these days I just don’t have the time to waste. So watch out Carnival. Invite me to another meeting with the advance warning that I’m filled with a sometimes uncontrollable urge to throttle a vice president and goose the lady taking the meetings minutes before kidnapping our President and CEO Gerry Cahill and threatening him with a pair of my underwear, demanding the next time he buys a bobblehead from eBay he pays more than $47 for it.
John, Heidi and The Thingy