Table For One Please

March 18, 2009 -

John Heald

Yesterday was St Patrick’s Day. We had green, white and orange bunting draped listlessly on some of the bar counters with extra-cold Guinness ready to be served in ice cold bottles ……..however most of the Irish Americans dressed in their green T-shirts seemed to prefer that other famous Irish beer………Budweiser.

However……….I missed my mate Ken Byrne, maitre d of the Carnival Splendor and our talk about………. “the craic.”

The “craic” is very popular Irish phrase as popular in the Emerald Isle as “OMG” or “LOL” is online. I remember Ken once telling me though how much “Irish Pubs” that are outside of Ireland itself make him laugh. You find these pubs everywhere from Aruba to New Zealand.

To walk into one of these pubs “and there is not a single pub in Ireland remotely like them,” said Ken is to walk into an Ireland that only exists in the mind of the tourist. I guess it’s about turning Ireland into Disneyland, where everyone drinks so much Guinness that their liver is as hard as the Blarney Stone, wear large shamrocks in their lapels and can be found singing drunken versions of Danny Boy.

Anyway………..happy St .Patrick’s Day to you all……….now let me get on and tell you The Craic.

Well, the moment has come once again and I shall today have to think about packing a suitcase and manhandling it to the tender in Belize and then to the airport. While Heidi is the Dwyane Wade of packing, I am the chap who has one shot from the half way line at halftime to win a million dollars and ends up hitting Marv Albert and knocking his wig off.

My natural tendency is to travel encumbered like an explorer, with tin-lined trunks full of shirts and suits, portable cigar humidors, photos in frames and my collection of 400 DVD’s.

This year I have decided that it will be different. I am taking a minimalist capsule wardrobe of two suits, two pairs of pants, a few socks and two pairs of underwear ………. after all…….I will be home in a week. And that’s it. The rest of my suitcases can remain here on the Carnival Valor. I have no idea if and when and how I will be able to retrieve them is anything thing but the thought of getting on a tender with three suitcases and then 12 hours of flying is something I just cannot face.

One thing I shall definitely not be packing is a piece of art I bought from the art auctioneers on board. It’s a piece by an artist called………ummmm……….can’t remember but the reason I bought it is because it is of something rather than one of those abstract artworks that look like Walt Disney just vomited over the canvas.

It’s of a beautiful lady smoking a big Havana cigar in the tobacco fields of what may be Cuba I think and it will go straight in my office at home. Hanging above my desk there already is a poster of the West Wing signed by all the actors (and how sad to learn of the death of Ron Silver who played Bruno Geaneli). In the bedroom there’s a painting of an Aston Martin DB6. In the sitting room is a painting of Southend on Sea’s coastline done by my relative Uncle John Rogers.

I hated art at school as I think I may have mentioned before but I always remember my art teacher Miss Melling because she told us about the great artists of the world ………….. but I remember very little because Miss Melling also had breasts the size of Rembrandt’s head. It could, therefore, be argued that I’m not the most qualified person in the world to talk about Vincent van Gogh but he is the one painter I remember from art class.

Vince never achieved any notoriety in his lifetime. Except in the village of Arles where he lived, and only there because he used to waddle about in the streets abusing people, catching diseases and cutting his ear off.

He spent months on each of his paintings and it’s hard to see why. All of them were sent to his brother Theo who managed to sell only one. And that wasn’t the blossoming almond tree which even I’m able to recognize is pretty good. “Very realistic,” as people with beards are prone to say. God knows what possessed Theo and his wife Jo to preserve these paintings when Vince finally shot himself in the chest. But they did and now they’re worth, oh, about the same as California.

Anyway, to avoid packing for at least another hour or so let me start to answer a long list of questions that have been marked for my reply……………..here we go.

CruisinSue Asked:
Hi John (Please reply)
I hope all is well with you. Great blog as usual.
As you already know, I along with my hubby and a couple of blog friends are booked on the Valor for March 29. I am curious to know if maybe Eddie Capone will be an entertainer for that sailing. As I have said in the past, he is my favorite comedian on CCL. I would like to see him again sometime.
Give my best to Heidi and keep the great blogs coming. I am sorry I won’t see you on the Valor, but I know you have a very important job to do and cannot be there. Take care and thanks in advance.
Gloria aka Sue

John Says:
Hello Gloria aka Sue
Great to hear from you and the good news is that yes indeed the unbelievable Eddie Capone will be a featured entertainer during your cruise. He will be performing during the welcome aboard show as well as having two late shows the following day. I am so very sorry that I will not be with you that week but I know you will have a fantastic cruise.
Best wishes to you and the family
John

Diane Wojda Asked:
Dear John, (please reply)
We are so sad that you will not be our cruise director on the Valor 3/22/09. I read your blog every night and really feel like we are already on our cruise. We love all the inside insight you give us. We would love to enjoy your humor in person some day. My niece is going to be starting with Carnival this summer as a social host. She is very excited, as we are for her. I know she will make an excellent addition to your staff. We were wondering what we need to do to reserve a table for just the three of us at the early seating. Our son (10 years old) is not much of a night owl and will never make it through a dinner starting after 8 pm. We try to go to dinner early and then a show – our son is a huge fan of your production shows. He is still talking about Ticket to Ride and Nightclub Express from the Fantasy in January of this year. So sorry once again that we are missing you on our cruise. Best wishes to you and Heidi and thingy!

John Says:
Hello Diane
Congratulations to your daughter first of all. I am sure she will be a valuable addition to the entertainment department and I am also sure she will have a fun-filled career. If she has any questions please have her drop me a note via the blog. I am also sorry I cannot be with you but I know you will have a terrific time and your 10 year old will be amazed at seeing Nightclub Express and Far From Over, our two big shows. I have asked the maitre d to make sure you have early sitting as requested but I will need your cabin number or surname as soon as possible please
Have a great cruise and thanks for all the wonderful kind words and my apologies that I cannot be with you
Cheers
John

Kaen and Bill Luddington Asked:
Hi John,
We were on the Valor Mar. 1st – 8th ‘09 (cabin 2427), and had a blast, as usual. Having connecting cabins with your Friends makes room for parties!
So good to see you again (met you in 1992), and to speak with you in the restaurant in Cozumel. But missed you before we left, did you get my envelope with our email addy?
Is the address listed on your blog page the one to send packages as well? (Some people have one for each…? don’t know why.) Please let me know as soon as possible so I can ship you three a little something.
Would love to see you and Heidi’s smile when you see it. The reason for this will apparent when you do. )
Do take care, hugs to you, Heidi, and ‘Thingy’.
Karen and Bill

John Says:
Hello Karen and Bill
It was great to see you again and next time invite me to your party, it sounds fun. I am so glad you had a great time and I did indeed receive the address. As for mine you can indeed send packages to the PO Box and how truly kind of you to think about sending a card. I hope we get to cruise together again very soon and I also hope you took home some brilliant memories of your cruise last week.
My best to you both
John

Erin W. Asked:
Hey John (Please Reply),
Its me again Erin W. (Celebrating my 30th in April with Butch and the Glory gang)…Anyway I am a Carnival Fun Day Sunday host (YEAH) and just watched your video on party central…In the video you say to click the link to enter to win a free cruise.. However I can’t find the link and several other people have posted they don’t see it either…Do you know where we can find it??
Also in one of your posts you mentioned that Butch may get transferred to the liberty – Does this mean I won’t have him for my birthday?

John Says:
Hello Erin
I am sure you are getting excited about the forthcoming Carnival Sunday Funday and I know it will be the best party ever. I have asked Stephanie to provide the link to the win a cruise thing and here it is.

Link isn’t up just yet, check www.houseparty.com/carnival for updates!

Butch is indeed now scheduled to take over the Carnival Liberty as cruise director which is a big reward fro his hard work and dedication. However, the exact date he is going to start is still very much undecided but as soon as I know I will make sure you know. Please keep reading the blog thingy and I can’t wait to hear all about your party.
Have fun and I send you and your family my best wishes
John

Bonnie Asked:
Hey John, great blog, has enjoyed it. We just got off the carnival victory sailing March 1 and it was wonderful, I do however want to know if it’s possible to get a drink recipe? Yes a drink recipe, we loved the raspberry sour drinks on the ship but forgot to ask how they were made. Can you help? Thanks a ton.

John Says:
Hello Bonnie
Glad you found the blog thingy and are enjoying it so much. I asked the bar manager for the recipe and it appears there are quite a few drinks made with raspberry sour. Here is the most popular one…..if this is not it let me know a specific name if you can. Hope you enjoy it ………….or them.
.05oz vodka

.05oz white tequila

.05oz white rum

.05oz raspberry liqueur

.05oz gin

2oz cola

2oz sweet & sour mix

Shake all ingredients except raspberry liqueur in a cocktail shaker with a bit of ice. Pour into a highball glass. Carefully layer the raspberry liqueur on top. Please drink responsibly……………well……….no more than eight
Cheers
John

Mark Chambliss Asked:
John, **please Reply**
Looks like I might miss you in Miami or Fort Lauderdale April 2nd-6th for Cruise3sixty at the convention center and shipboard too….Well if I don’t get to see you we would like to wish you and Heidi our best wishes for a smooth delivery and for a beautiful baby. Catelyn would love to baby-sit someday and we will look forward to your schedule afterwards and book a trip to see you.
We live 20 miles from the Alabama shooting that took place last week…what a bonehead!! I’m checking the HEAT schedule to see if they are playing April 2nd-6th while I’m down there. Any ticket connections down there?
Mark, Amanda and Catelyn

John Says:
Hello Mark
Thanks so much for the kind words and I am sorry I won’t get to see you in Miami for Cruise3Sixty in April. I was so sorry to read about the awful shooting in Alabama ……..sometimes the world is a crazy place. Thanks for the offer to baby-sit and its one I may very well take you up on. I wish I had Heat connections but I usually sit up in the nosebleed section myself. Try and see a game as the Heat is on a roll. Let me know if there is anything else I can do for you and my best to you and Catelyn
Cheers
John

Alex Asked:
Dear John,
I am glad that you were able to appease the guest who wanted to give a lecture on the ship. Perhaps he has a future on Cunard where his lecture might be more appreciated?
Anyway, I recently had a guest ask me about the availability of a conference room on Carnival ships. I have never personally seen a dedicated conference room on a Carnival ship, so I was wondering if the ships are equipped with a conference room, or if you simply use a lounge for small group gatherings or meetings.
Regards,
Alex

John Says:
Hello Alex
Thanks for taking the time to write. Some of the Fantasy class, all of the Destiny, Spirit, Conquest and Splendor classes have conference room facilities. They seat about 100 people and on the Destiny and Conquest-class they also are used for weddings. If we do have lectures and they appear to be popular we will place them in one of the bigger lounges. Hope this helps and if you have any other specific questions please let me know and I remain at your service
Best wishes
John

Judy Jurgensen Asked:
John please reply:
Hi John!!
I will be on the Valor in about a month for a back-to-back cruise and am turning Platinum on the second leg!!! Can’t wait! I’ve never been a VIP anywhere for anything so I am really excited.
I do have a question though. Why doesn’t Carnival’s other companies recognize my status? Holland American has some great European itineraries but I’d miss my VIP status. Since they won’t/can’t I won’t be sailing with them.
What I think would be a nice practice is when someone reaches VIP status with Carnival or one of its sister cruise lines, that VIP status be recognized from cruise line to cruise line,
Thanks. Take care of yourself, Heidi and the Thingy!
Judy

John Says:
Hello Judy
First of all let’s concentrate on the positive and congratulate you on your forthcoming Platinum membership. You will really enjoy being a VIP and all the benefits it brings …….so……….congratulations. I have been asked many times why the various cruise lines within Carnival Corporation do not band together to include each other in their frequent sailing programs. I asked the question once myself and was told of the huge complexity that this project would have. Each line has their own levels and benefits and combining those together is unfortunately not an easy task. However, during the current climate maybe it is something we should consider doing and I will once more take it to the people who can make things like this happen. So, have a wonderful back-to-back cruise and I hope to hear from you again soon.
My best to you and the family
John

Elaine Asked:
Please reply…
Just a couple of things before you leave the Valor…
First and most important… You made my Mom & Dad (Naomi & Marty) the happiest people on earth!!! They were shocked that you actually took the time to answer them on your blog and couldn’t believe it. If my dad was impressed, that’s a huge thing!!! Thank you very much….
Second… I believe somewhere on your blog I read that the Rocky Horror Picture Show movie will be onboard the Valor. Do you know if it will be there in time for the March 29 sailing?
Third… Is there anyway that you can tell us or even know the kid count for the above sailing? Or the # of Platinum cruisers on the sailing.
Fourth … We have finally decided to have our Meet n Greet on the 1st day at sea 2PM in the Lindy Hop (Piano Bar) and would like for you to please invite the new Cruise Director David ………. sorry …………Charlie…………..(quoted from your blog!!!) and any other staff member to join us. We’d love to have them there and meet them.
Fifth … Are we going to get the new UGLY Sign n Sail cards on our cruise or the old NICE Sign n Sail cards????
And lastly, I wish you a good night and good luck in your new travels.

John Says:
Hello Elaine
Thanks for taking the time to write and let me start to answer your five questions.
1. Thanks for saying “thanks” but really you don’t need to…………it’s my job here on the blog to try and help as many people as I can as often as I can.
2. I have indeed asked for the Rocky Horror show for the Carnival Valor………..well, the new CD $% has and I hope indeed it will be here for the 29th. I will ask $% to keep me informed.
3. The preliminary kid count is 349 under the age of 18 and I doubt that will change as the sailing is sold out. I don’t have the Platinum guest count as yet and usually we do not get this until a few days before the cruise starts.
4. No problem for the meet and greet and I will ask $% to make it so. However, can you send in a comment via the blog on the 25th just to remind me so I can remind him? There will be a notation in the today at a glance stating “Cruise Critic meet and greet.” We will try and book the piano bar but it might also be in the Paris Hot depending on the week’s schedule. $% has already promised to attend.
5. The Sail & Sign cards have actually been very well received by the vast majority of guests and the new ones will indeed be here waiting for you. However, I do think we can make the Platinum and milestone cards more………..well…………special and I promise we are looking at this very seriously.

Thanks so much and I wish I could be with you and once again I send my best to you and your family
Cheers
John

Jrmende63 Asked:
John Please reply.
First I was thrilled to see the Carnival Spirit will be sailing From Seattle to Alaska! That made my day!
Second, I am getting ready to sail with my hubby, Randall on the Carnival Fascination, April 4 for our 28th wedding anniversary. I was so thrilled to find a Carnival Cruise, close to home that was leaving on our exact anniversary date. Very Cool!
OK third, and the reason I am writing this post is something that has bothered me since Randall and I boarded on the Carnival Splendor on 12/06/08. I loved the cruise, but something happened that has just nagged at me. I was not going to say anything to anyone but I just think this situation was a little strange. Please tell me what you think:
Upon entering our cabin there was a beautiful rose in a vase on the dressing table. I saw it and thought how sweet that my hubby sent me a flower. Hubby then realizes that he left his cell phone in the embarkation area. I go to retrieve the phone. While I am gone, a man from room service comes to the door and tells my husband that the rose was mistakenly put in our cabin, it was for someone else. My hubby says no you cannot have that flower; my wife must have got it for me. I came back to the cabin after retrieving the cell phone from the purser’s desk…umm sorry…guest services desk and Randall tells me about the man coming to the door. I said I did not send you the flower, he said I did not send it either but did one of our friends? (Well John, you had said to look for something in our cabin from you. I said well maybe it was from you.) Well the door knocked again and this time it was a lady from room service who said she was there to get the flower. She stated the flower did not belong to us and we could not keep it. I gave her the flower, she took it and left.

This bothers me because I felt like maybe someone had sent me this flower and they were taking it away. And if no one had sent it to us …was a rose really so costly that they could not have left it with us and sent another to the room they took it to? I know this is really small and petty, but I don’t see this type of service on Carnival and hope I don’t see it again. What do you think about it? Should they have left the flower? or should I just have given it back without question?
Julie

John Says:
Hello Julie
You and many others seem so excited about the deployment of the Carnival Spirit to Alaska and I hope you and Randall enjoy your special anniversary cruise together on the Carnival Fascination. A rose by any other name! I can totally understand who disappointed you were at having a rose and then suddenly it being taken away. During embarkation most ships have over a hundred cabin deliveries to make. These include gifts from travel agents and family members. One such gift is the cabin rose which are ordered fresh and delivered that morning and I doubt there are any spares onboard so if we had allowed you to keep it someone else would have been very disappointed.

However………if this situation had been handled in a more appropriate manner, we should have collected the rose………..apologized………….and then replaced it with something else. That should have been how it was done and I sincerely apologize for this and will make sure your comments are forwarded to the housekeeping department. So, Julie, you have every right to feel disappointed and I am sure that since then your husband has bought you a whole field of roses…………….right? Thanks for writing and I wish you both a great time on the Carnival Fascination.
Cheers
John

Andrew Clark Asked:
Please reply and feel free to post.
John,
I just finished up the seven-day Valor sailing with you and I have several comments that I would like to share.
Firstly, I had been looking forward to having you as the CD since I discovered this blog about a month ago in preparation for the trip. However, I did not attend a single of your shows….I was too busy having an unbelievably fun time with Melvin in the Karaoke lounge every night. I did see the replays of your shows in the room and enjoyed them, but I did feel like I let you down in some strange way.
I have a couple of very minor complaints that I want to pass on and then several positive comments. 1- Please consider raising the temp. in the hot tubs. They are at the very best lukewarm and if it’s sunny but very windy, you’re actually colder in the hot tubs than if you were sitting in a lounge chair. 2- I found all your in room PA announcements perfectly acceptable, even when I was hung over and wished they weren’t there, however, the volume of the PA in the hallway is so loud, (maybe just my cabin) that there was no need for an in room speaker. I noticed that the hall noise was more noticeable than on previous cruises so this could have just been my individual stateroom as well 8370.
On to the positives. Allison, Matt, Danny, and Gio were all wonderful. I was the first person Danny met on the cruise during embarkation and she was the last staff person I said goodbye to on the way out the door, and that little personal contact meant a lot. My group was four fairly crazy 29-year-old guys partying it up with the younger crowd before we hit the big 30. We went to pretty much every trivia, beanbag, win lose or draw, etc. that your staff put on. (and won so many that we took to wearing ships on a stick around our necks on the last day) Your staff was exceptional to us, got to know our names, our strange nicknames, our team names and so on. When we were the only 4 to show up for the first win lose or draw Allison encouraged us to battle it out amongst ourselves, laughed along with us, and didn’t even get mad when I punched her easel whilst drawing “bloody nose”. These four were just great, if I haven’t made that point clearly enough. However, one more thing I must mention is about karaoke on the last night. I went to guest services, waited in line for 30 min, talked to them and was essentially told that nothing could be done and the capers was final. I was able to sweet talk the nice lady at the desk into humoring me and writing you an email, but I did not think anything would come of it. So I moved on to the aforementioned cruise staff. At WLD part 3 I asked Gio about it, and he said he’s get onto it, at beanbag an hour later I asked Danny about it, and by the time my team was sent packing in the quarterfinals of the tournament Danny let me know that we had our Karaoke again. I cannot explain how cool this was to me, that we were able to get the agenda adjusted to accommodate us at the last minute, and the persistence and willingness to help that Gio and Danny showed me. Obviously, you made the decision, and I thank you for that as well, but these folks really went above and beyond.
Re: Karaoke: Melvin is a wonderful asset and by far the best Karaoke host I’ve seen (which is out of a considerable number)
This is already an extraordinarily long letter, but as I had an extraordinarily good time, I’m going to continue.
As I said, I’m 29, but I’ve been on at least 20 cruises, many as a teenager, through college, law school and now as a professional. This was my third carnival cruise, but I have nine on royal Caribbean and had been looking forward to going diamond over there. My last with them was in dec. My first carnival cruise was at about age 15 and I was unimpressed with the “cheesy flashiness” of the fantasy (I believe) and I definitely was in the ‘carnival is the cheap, crappy line’ camp for quite a while.
This cruise (and the aforementioned RCL sailing in dec.) has converted me. I found the food to be considerably better, although I am definitely no expert in this regard. But what I am in expert in is fun. No cruise has ever had more games, trivia, activities, shows, karaoke, live music, etc. than this one. We played in at least 15 trivia games throughout the week. At least. We did karaoke every single night (even when it wasn’t scheduled) we won five ships on a stick and 12 medals, sang our asses off, and had a spectacular time. Every single bar, casino, staff, waiter, etc. always had a smile and gave off an impression of fun. We had the guy working at the counter across from the piano by the java hut yelling out requests for my friend to play as we did an impromptu jam session. That is what I’m talking about! Bravo Carnival!
One last quick story about the very beginning of the cruise. As we walked into the terminal and handed our fun pass slip to t he first carnival employee we encountered, the ‘very flamboyant seeming’ older gentleman said to me, “have a great time, just remember, they all have fathers.” to which I responded with irony, “I won’t do anything you wouldn’t do.”
Thank you sir. I’ll be CCL platinum in no time.

John Says:
Hello Andrew
What a fantastic posting and one I know we all enjoyed reading. I wanted to address one or two points if I may. Let’s start with the PA system. Unfortunately this does not have a volume setting per say. The level is set and tested by experts and approved by US Coast Guard and obviously needs to be loud enough that everyone can hear it. I checked your cabin and there is indeed a speaker directly over your cabin door so it is no wonder that it was so loud. I apologize for the two announcements I made inside your cabin but as you know these were for a missing person who thank goodness turned up safe and sound.
With regard to the karaoke on the last night, I must admit I have never seen karaoke so popular as last cruise and with such a large group of college students I guess that it should not have been such a surprise. Normally on the last night we have the band in the lounge for the last few hours but upon hearing your wish and that of many other young people we added the extra hours for you.

I hope you have found your “ass” after singing it off at karaoke and I also wanted to say a huge thank you to you for acknowledging the brilliant e-staff here on the ship. I have sent them all copies and they are all glowing. I hope you keep reading the blog and hope to hear from you again very soon
Cheers
John

Mike & Lori Asked:
John,
Please reply!
We are sailing on the Sensation on Apr. 2 for three nights. Will there be a formal night on a three-night cruise? Just wondering. Sure wish you were going to be on the ship with us but maybe one day we will be fortunate enough to sail with you.
Loved Harold’s story. Great pictures from the Splendor.
Mike & Lori

John says:
Hello Mike and Lori
I am glad you enjoyed Harold Chamber’s story, he is a character I will never forget. Yes, there will indeed be a formal – or elegant night as they are now called – during your cruise on the Carnival Sensation so take something special to wear and have some beautiful portrait photos taken.
Have a brilliant time and I also hope to sail with you soon
Bon Voyage
John

Amanda Huber Asked:
PLEASE REPLY
I am a Carnival fan and a member of the cruise critic community. I have only been on two Carnival cruises so far but I loved them and have another one booked for April 2010 (or will have it booked by the 20th!!!). I’ll also be on the Triumph when she gets back to New Orleans.
Now to my problem. I had a cruise booked on the Legend for October 18, 2009 but decided I needed to cancel it. I moved from Arizona to New Orleans in the fall of 2008 and could no longer afford a vacation this year. I had to cancel my Bank of America account since they do not have branches in New Orleans. Now my refund form Carnival seems to be floating around in cyber space. Bank of America says there has been no account activity since I closed the account in Aug 08. They said they never received a refund from Carnival and that since they account was closed they would have not accepted it and it would have been returned to Carnival. My rep at crucon says that Carnival says they refunded my deposit to my account. I need some help. Anything you can do would be a big help. With the economy they way it is $250 is a big amount to just let go. I’d be happy to just put it towards the cruise I am booking for April 09. Again, anything you can do would be great.
If you need my past guest number or any other info to help me resolve this then please just email me.
Amanda J. Huber

John Says:

Hello Amanda
Thanks firstly for your loyalty to Carnival and I am sorry to hear about your credit concerns. Please allow me a few days to investigate this situation and I promise that you will hear something from me or from someone at carnival very soon. Please don’t worry and I will write soon?
Best wishes
John

FLIP FLOP CRUISE QUEEN Asked:
JOHN, PLEASE REPLY,
Do you know yet where you are staying when you come to San Francisco on Thursday? We would love to meet up with you for coffee or cocktails, etc. Please let all of us on the west coast know. Can’t wait to see you and share a few laughs!
THANKS,
Sheryl

John Says:
Hello Sheryl
How are you? I am actually going to have no time at all and this has to be honest really disappointed me. I arrive at 11:30 pm on Thursday night and then the following morning I have meetings all day onboard the Carnival Spirit that is somewhere in dry dock in San Francisco. Then, the next day at 6 am……….yes…………6 am I start my local radio interviews. Still, I may have a window of opportunity so would it be rude to ask for your phone number so if I do we can have coffee.
I hope we can indeed make this happen
Thanks so much and my best to you and all the flip-flops
John

Amy Asked:

Hi John,
My sisters and I just got off the Carnival Valor with you and were witness to the wonderful crowd that was onboard last week (Jimmy Lee, Mr. Atlanta, and all the others). I have a couple questions I was hoping you could answer… First, what ever happened to the honeymoon couple that decided to drive from Costa Maya to Cancun for the day??? Did they ever make it back to our ship in Belize?? The eight spring breakers that decided they needed “a little extra time” in Cozumel – were there cabins available for them on the Inspiration? Or where did they stay for the night onboard? (Just curious about this one!!) And would you be able to tell me how the lady is that needed to be taken off the ship in Costa Maya due to the medical emergency? We were actually on the excursion with her when the accident happened and had been hoping you would update us during the cruise about her condition as we were all worried how she was. I kept watching for her son(s) while onboard but never saw them again to ask.
Thank you for a wonderful cruise that was filled with nonstop laughter!

John Says:
Hello Amy
The people onboard the ship last week were amazing and the characters you mentioned were sensational………I really miss Jimmy Lee. OK, the honeymoon couple did make it back to the ship but unfortunately the plans I had to make it a fun return were changed because I guess the situation of missing the ship put a strain on their new marriage and after meeting them I new that making fun of them was not a good idea. It was one of those times that needed compassion not ridicule.

Yes………..there were indeed cabins for the missing eight guests on the Carnival Inspiration although from what I understand they really kicked up a fuss and gave the staff there a torrid time stating we should have waited for them. Of course as you know………we did…………..for as long as we could.

Although I cannot tell you any medical details I can tell you that two days after leaving the ship the lady in question recovered enough to be flown home for continuing hospital care in Michigan. Thank you so very much for your kindness in asking after her. I hope you enjoyed the cruise and it was an honour to have you onboard
My best to you and the family
Cheers
John

nanetteali Asked:
nanetteali@gmail.com
John!!! Please reply …
MUAXXXX !!!!! Miss you!!
Did Heidi get my present for Thingy??
A big huggo for all of you(Heidi , Thingy and you)
Nanni

John Says:
Hello Nanni
It’s been too long since we have written to each other. Heidi did get the package but she has not opened it as she is very superstitious. She has decided not to open anything for the Thingy until after he/she is born. But I want to say a grande grasyarse to youo mi amigo para siempre. I hope youo ando theo familyo areo wello ando I sendo muchus hugos too youo allo
John

Catrin Asked:
John (please reply)
I know you take EVERY SINGLE letter to heart…. and I am sorry there was one person who “just didn’t get it”….
BUT>>
Don’t you DARE change that Bedtime Story ONE BIT! On our second cruise with you, On the Triumph in 2004, we never laughed SO HARD …. So hard that we re-live it via YOU TUBE quite often!
Because they asked to exchange the bottle of Champagne shows what kind of selfish people they really are. We won a bottle at the past guest party on our last cruise… and we are not drinkers. We did take it home, however, grateful we won something!
And now.. To be a bit of a pain…. have you had any response from my lengthy letter regarding the Pricing of my April 11 cruise on the Pride? I did send all the info you requested. Carnival DID call a few days later … asking if I wanted an upgrade to a suite for $1190.00 more (for both cabins) – but that was just a random “up sell” call.
Thanks for continuing to look into this.
Cathy

John Says:
Hello Cathy
Thanks so much for the words of support. I have learned over the years that there will always be people who do not like what you do in this job and although I shouldn’t I still find it difficult not to take these comments to heart. I hope by now you will have received a call or e-mail from our Miami office. I saw some correspondence regarding this and they had promised to contact you so please can you let me know as soon as you can if this has been the case.
I remain at your service and hope to hear from you soon
Best wishes to all
John

Bill (Zydecocruiser) Asked:
John, Please answer.
Jeez John,
Why do you rewards guests for poor behavior, e.g. Adam, with a bottle of champagne? Doesn’t that just encourage more whining in the future?
Unless, of course, he finds alcohol offensive, too, in which case, good one. Score!
A question about the cove balcony rooms on Carnival Dream. I thought I read somewhere that in bad weather, the balconies may be closed off somehow. Is that true, and if so, how? Will something roll down or are there big metal plates that will be bolted on, or what?
As to Eau De Royal Champions No 5, it is definitely a crock that stinkith. No cruise line with any semblance of integrity would pay cheerleaders to mislead the pubic. They must be Republicans!
Thanks,
bill

John Says:
Hello Bill.
I should have you live on my shoulder so that when you see me do something silly you tell me. The cove balconies are incredible and the views spectacular. Being so close to the ocean they do have large metal doors that upon the command from the bridge crewmembers will come and close these “weatherproof doors” to keep the waves from pounding over the balconies. This of course will hopefully be something of a rare occurrence. The cove balcony cabins along with the new family two bathroom cabins have become an instant hit Bill. How right you are about the Royal Champions….it’s a real shame they had to stoop as low as a snakes bollocks to drum up some business.
Hope all is well and hope you have had a brilliant time on the Carnival Splendor
Cheers mate and best to Lizzy
John


Dutch By Association Asked:

**PLEASE READ**
Hi John, Stephanie and other blog friends,
Just wanted to let you know (in case you would like to share with the Blog readers) that in 1 month and 12 days Dutch By Association (DBA) has celebrated 10,000 hits. (http://dutchbyassociation.blogspot.com)
For reference, DBA is a site put together, maintained and updated by myself, an employee at Holland America Line. I am not an official voice for HAL, in the sense that I am not in the PR department, but I have been okay’d by PR in this venture, and quite honestly, this blog was my inspiration.
Reader support has been outstanding and I hope to celebrate 100,000 hits in no time.
I’m considering a contest that would result in a HAL related prize for the winner in honor of this milestone and will have more details on the blog soon. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from DBA readers and would like to get your readers also involved by inquiring as to what sorts of things they would love to see covered on the site. While my main focus is of course HAL, as yours is CCL, I am always willing to post to the best of my knowledge on any topics the readers would like to see.
I appreciate all you folks do, would like to again thank you for the motivation and wanted to share this milestone with you.
With warmest regards,
DBA

John Says:
Hello DBA
Congratulations on your instant success. I just finished looking at your HAL blog site and I have to say it is excellent and the photos amazing. I have copied one here for all to see and I hope they stop by to see some more.

hal

For more great HAL related photos and much more stop by dutchbyassociation.blogspot.com
I wish you continued success
Cheers
John

lou-anne Asked:
here it is John
Jordan Asked:
John, please reply if at all possible: I’m a college student at the University of Central Oklahoma, and I just have to make a comment about your post about when your dad would get your college report card… Well I must let you know that at my college they are real cheap and send your grades via email. Yes, email. Not to my parents email, who pay for my college (thanks mom and dad!). But to my email. Want to request a transcript? You must request it through email. I think it’s safe to say that the internet is taking over the world. Well, school is actually where I am asking for your help. I’m in a class called Global Protocol and Diversity, and I have a project where I have to interview somebody from outside the country. It’s an interview about traditions, customs, and pop culture, and I was wondering if I could do a brief interview with you via email or while I’m on board the Valor March 15 through the 22nd. My family and I are very excited to go on this cruise, especially my fiancé, because it is his first! My parents decided to go back to Carnival after sailing a couple of RCI, as they felt like the value and staff on board were less than par. We had so much fun on the Elation ten years ago, when I was just a little girl, ten years ago. We are counting down the hours! Thank you for your time, my email is —–, or my cabin number next week is ###. Warm regards to you, Heidi, and the thing!
Jordan

John Says:
Hello Jordan
Great post and I was amazed that college grades are now sent by e-mail. You are quite correct the world is being over taken by e-mail and the web. I am so glad your family is Carnival fans and we will all do our best to make sure you all continue to have affordable value and brilliant fun. I would be happy to help you with an interview so please e-mail me the questions and I will answer them as soon as I can. I hope to shake your hand next week mate.
Cheers and my best to all the family
John

So John , lots of comments are made to you and it was there a little while back – We all know you are a busy man, you should keep a folder of the promises for the cruises you are going to be on . Stephanie and crew could do this for you ( sorry Stephanie – another Job ) or teach him how to look it up on the blog – it would make it easier for you and then you would not have to ask the bloggers .
Well unless it’s a test to see if we are paying attention – Which we were and we all know how to search the blog.
So John , it’s too bad the guest did not like the show , but he could have left the show , and did not have to listen . Dangerfield – huh , he has some racey stuff out there – and you know your bedtime storey is awesome , we tell everyone about it . In fact it is our favorite ever . I am very very serious when we talk about Carnival it is to say John is the best , you make old and young laugh , you have taste , you do not make things sound vulgar , never rude and you tell things to everyone with taste. I have never read a blog that was not able to be read to a child , it is tasteful comedy always .
You are a great CD and it is too bad that this guy is not able to handle a great comedy routine . I think he needs to just realize that he had the choice to get up and leave . He was not forced to sit there and if he was offended he should have left . I really think he put one on – and there you did it again – gave a gift encouraging more people like that to be critical something and they too will expect a compensation for not getting up and leaving something they do not like and finding someplace else to go . They could have went anywhere – ok so how long has the bedtime storey been told , how many complaints and really if there were you would have changed it or been fired long ago . Ummmm note you are still working .
Please reply John . Was this a test?

John Says:
Hello Lou Anne
A big thank you to you and the other bloggers who researched the blog thingy to find out what I had promised Jordan. I met with Jordan yesterday and for some reason I had expected a man but Jordan is a beautiful young lady and we sat and chatted for 30 minutes. I hope the material I gave her was useful for her college exams. I have read your post a few times and want to thank you for those uplifting words and words that I will always try to remember. It wasn’t a test but if it had been a test you would have got an A Plus and five gold stars. Best wishes to you and all your family
John

Bill (Zydecocruiser) Asked:
John, Please answer…
Hmmm. Don’t knows if the last comment went…
Now another question – If I have four links in my post, it seems to get discarded or somehow processed differently. Why is that?
And back to the original…
Hi John,
It would be great if you were the CD on Carnival Spirit Hawaii cruises. I’m already booked on the April 11, 2010 cruise and looking forward to it.
A question or two about the itinerary. It seems Spirit will call on the Big Island (Hilo) then overnight in Maui, and then back to the Big Island (Kona). Does it really make sense to do it in that order? Or, does it not matter, since the ship will be going so slow between islands overnight, anyway?
Also, why not a port call at Lahaina, Maui? Most people will probably head there for one of the days, anyway.
In any event, I can’t wait until this cruise. I already have a webpage set up!

http://www.zydecocruiser.com/CarnivalSpirit/Hawaii/index.htm

But then, I already have one set up for the Carnival Spirit Alaska May 27, 2009 voyage:

http://www.zydecocruiser.com/CarnivalSpirit/Alaska/index.htm

to be continued…

John Says:
Hello Bill
You have been busy. Sorry that I am a little behind in answering questions. It seems that the number I am asked to reply to is rising all the time so please again forgive my tardiness. Having never actually been to Hawaii or the islands I can’t really comment on what “makes sense” as far as the order of the ports of call. However, I know someone who can explain this to me so I will ask them and let you know. I am sure it will have as much to do with pier availability as anything. Anyway, I will get back to you on this ASAP
The Web pages will I am sure be as superb as yours always are and the photos you always post for all to share are fantastic.
Cheers mate and best to Elizabeth
John

Bill (Zydecocruiser) Asked:
Hi John, Please answer (cont’d)…
and for one of two “Dream” voyages.

http://www.zydecocruiser.com/CarnivalDream/GrandMed/index.htm

http://www.zydecocruiser.com/CarnivalDream/TA/index.htm

Which leads to another question. What are the odds Carnival will add a pre-inaugural Carnival Dream voyage???
Thanks,
bill

John Says:
Hello Bill
It’s been ages since you last wrote and I have really missed you. I doubt very much if there will be a voyage added for the Carnival Dream as there was for the Carnival Splendor. I certainly have not heard of anything………even a rumor but if I do I will of course let you all know. I will see you there and maybe – who knows – on the Carnival Spirit as well
Cheers and best to E Beth.

Ashley Asked:
Hello John (please reply but not necessary)
Sorry for the delayed comment but I wanted to say thank you for posting the letter from Chris “Bubba” Roberts. In May I will be doing an Alaskan cruise on the Spirit with my Father. (Though I will miss my cruising buddy Sarah dearly!) Since my mother passed away my dad has come out of his shell and decided he wanted to see Alaska as well as see why I loved cruising and Carnival so much.
While reading Bubba’s letter and hearing of his soon departure, I realized how lucky I am to be sailing with him (and Julie). He has received such high accolades and I have enjoyed his writing on here. I hope to have the opportunity to tell him that in person. Plus Julie, his fiancée, is from one of my favorite places in the world, which ups her cool points in my book.
Though I know I will be in the lower age bracket (at 30) on this trip, I couldn’t be more thrilled to be traveling with my dad in this once-in-a-lifetime experience for him. And I am so glad that Carnival is a part of our adventure.
Just wanted to share!
All the best
Ashley

John Says:
Hello Ashley
What a beautiful letter and one I hope you don’t mind me sharing with Bubba. He is a great guy with a heart the size of a Waffle House and I know he and Julie will be thrilled to read your comments. I am so sorry to hear about Mum and therefore I know you will cherish each and every moment with dad and I wish you a wonderful time exploring the Last Frontier that is Alaska.
My best to you all
John

cruzn buckeye(aka Edy) Asked:
John please reply
Okay, I wrote you a long letter and forgot to fill out my info above so when I hit submit it all disappeared. So now, I only have a few minutes before I head off to work so I will condense it.
Can’t wait to see Heidi and thingy pics… you should be home soon right??
Don’t like the new sail and sign cards, they look like they were made by the cruise line that paints the big cartoons on the side of their ships…
Prefer assigned dining…good to know that they have both open and assigned…that way everybody can enjoy what they like best…hope they never do away with assigned though like the cruise line that paints big cartoons on the side of their ships..
Blogger cruise to Alaska…I heard that you may be thinking of that…but John…Alaska is just too
FREAKIN’ COLD!!! (As many cruise critics have noted ) on the Dream post. I want to do another blogger cruise next year…but I only cruise where the weather is hot and I can enjoy the hot tubs and pool deck!
Do you know when you will hear your cd schedule for 2010? I want to book another cruise but am waiting to hear your schedule so I can cruise with you again!
Please…no big screen on Fantasy class…or Spirit class for that matter…while many people love them I love listening to band playing island music and the ocean as many, many cruisers do. This way, with some having it and some not it is the best of both worlds! Thanks for everything you do!
Sea Ya!
cruzn buckeye

John Says:
Hello Edy
Thanks for taking the time to write just before you went to work. As much as I would love to hold a Bloggers Cruise in Alaska I think it would be too difficult to get everyone over there and also not everyone, including you, likes the cold. I will really give 2010 some thought and announce where will hold the cruise as soon as I can. The 2010 CD schedule should start to appear in the summer. We have lots of new people in the chair and we are currently looking to see if they are going to have the position on a permanent basis. I will also be able to think about what I am doing once the Thingy arrives as to be honest my mind is pretty full of the excitement and concerns of being a Father. Thanks for all the comments; they are so valuable to us here.
Have a good day at work and my best to you and the family
Cheers
John

Lisa Asked:
Good morning John,
We had the pleasure of you being our CD on the Valor last week. I have been reading your blog the last couple of days since being home, and am amazed how many people read/write/follow you – for good reasons, of course.
During our cruise, you mentioned that Carnival is having a few more ships built, and a naming contest. I have a great new name (no, not Preparation, Constipation others as some on the ship suggested), but can’t see anywhere to submit it. Was this a joke too? Or is there somewhere I can suggest the name?
p.s. we and our four kids had a fabulous time last week – thanks Carnival!

John Says:
Hello Lisa
Welcome back home and I am so glad you discovered the blog thingy and I hope you will be a regular reader. I did mention a ship name contest that week as we wanted to gather ship names from you the guests as we look to the future. Although the contest was not “official” I do hope that one day I can run the official version here on the blog thingy which again I hope you are apart of. ……………….the Constipation hasn’t come out yet.
I hope you had a brilliant cruise and hope to see you again very soon
Best wishes
John

janette Asked:
Hi john, I was wondering if you will be on the Splendor this weekend for all the festivities in San Francisco.

John Says:
Hello Janette
Yes indeed – will you?
Cheers
John

DavidK Asked:
John,
I am fascinated by your blog. So much so that I have been reading every entry and watching every video as I attempt to catch up (up to June 2008 so far). It is especially interesting how we have shared some of the same experiences like being yelled at by Regis Philbin.
My girlfriend and I will be traveling on the Valor for the April 26 sailing. I have previously sailed on the Mardi Gras in 88 and the Ecstasy (1993 IIRC). This is my first time back to Carnival in over a decade and we are thrilled and excited. I understand you will not be with us in late April however BIG Tex will.
We have one very minor special request. Do not worry it is not something like a Mah Jong board or some other crazy item. I understand that most of the tables for dining on the Valor are for two people. My girlfriend and I believe that the highlight of cruising is the dining and being at a table with other cruisers. How can we request a table with other people?
Please let me know if there is anything you can do to assist us.
Best Regards
DavidK

John Says:
Hello David
Welcome home mate and my goodness I hope your eyesight is OK after reading all the blogs………….you deserve a medal. We are certainly excited that you have decided to return to Carnival and I can promise you there have been some amazing changes since you were last here. But ………….saying that Fun is still the main ingredient and I promise you will have the most fantastic time. I will ask you to send me your full name and cabin number so I can make sure you get to be on a table with others although most are indeed like this with the minority of the tables being for just two. In a few moments you will read about one of the most amazing changes The Supper Club…….which you really have to try.
Have a great cruise and once again welcome to the blog and welcome home
John

Bobby Asked:
Hi john, PLEASE reply, I was wanting to know if the valor is going to have open seating? And also what time is the first seating for dinner is? Also does u have a picture of BIG TEX the cruise director that will be doing our cruise in May,
best wishes to u and your wife
Sincerely
Bobby
Hope u get this before u leave

John Says:
Hello Bobby
At the moment the Carnival Valor has only two assigned seating times at 6 pm and 8:15 pm. There are plans to put the option of open time seating on other ships but this is being done one vessel at a time and at the moment I have not heard the start date for the Carnival Valor. Here is a photo of Big Tex who is now Skinny Tex as you will see from this photo……………he has lost 60 pounds …………..the sod.

tex

Cheers mate and let me know if you need anything else
John

That’s all for today but I will try and answer more over the weekend.

I know many of you have been waiting for news on the Carnival Elation and I promise I am not ignoring you. I hope to have some news at the beginning of next week so stand by for that.

Time for the penultimate Jaime

March 17, 2009

Dear John,

Welcome to the lovely port of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, better known to us crewmembers as “PV.” This port has always been high on the list of favorite locations to visit for both guests and crew. There is so much to do here! All sorts of new adventures to uncover… here everyone has the opportunity to visit one or both of two downtown areas – there is regular downtown with a large market and all sorts of shopping, as well as old town with a long beach area, live music, traditional Mexican food and a full day of fun in the sun.

In addition to these two locations that are just a short taxi ride away, within walking distance of the pier you can find the Kristal resort – a lovely place with a beautiful pool and beach. You also have the option of visiting the traditional Mexican Riviera highlights of Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club or the mall (with an English movie theater and Chili’s just inside). The ship also offers a long list of shore excursions aimed at pleasing a vast demographic of guests – everything from a city tours to snorkeling parasailing, scuba diving and underwater basket weaving.

For this visit to PV, most of the entertainment department signed up for the crew shore excursion to take part in the “Extreme Canopy Tour.” As often as possibly our wonderful shore excursion manager, Paul, will coordinate with the tour operators so that we can secure a bus for crew only so that those of us with time to go off the ship in port have the opportunity to view this port from a guest perspective. Of course this is also especially helpful since we do interact with guests on a regular basis; we can give them excellent feedback about what the tour actually consists of!

The Extreme Canopy tour is the one shore excursion that I wanted to experience incredibly badly while doing the Mexican Riviera itinerary with the Carnival Pride this past holiday season, and never had the opportunity because of circumstances that pertain to my interesting love life (which I probably shouldn’t have brought up again because John has left it alone for almost a week now!). ANYWAY, I was absolutely thrilled to find out we would have the chance to take this tour which consists of every type of thrill seeking activity imaginable: a boat trip, an ATV ride, a mule ride, hiking, and of course, my personal favorite flying through the forest on a series of seven long zip lines, surrounded by foliage and hanging from over 200 feet above the ground. Throughout the day we found ourselves playing the game “how many modes of transportations can we take?”

After first disembarking the ship and meeting the tour group it was slightly disorienting to see that it was the Carnival Splendor was docked in the very location that the Pride sat (well floated) just a few short weeks ago. The group of 32 crew members on the tour boarded a tiny boat to head to the touring location. We felt like puppies with our hair flying in the wind, I believe a couple of the dancers may have had their tongues flapping as well! After making our way back to land we took a huge ATV that held 16 people through off road, rugged terrain and barreled through wet muddy areas until we arrived at the almost top of a tall, tall mountain. When this bumpy ride was complete we had a safety briefing about the proper handling of a mule. These want-to-be-horses were not the prettiest creatures I had ever seen. They may have not been the strongest either, but they did indeed successfully carry all 32 of us thrill seekers on the half hour ride up to 2,000 meters above sea level, where the zip lining adventure could begin.

The tour group faced a series of seven long zip lines. The crew of five employees at the tour ensured that we safely and successfully made it from one zip line to the next. They were an absolutely incredible group of workers, lots of fun, friendly and a little spicy (and not only because they were from Mexico!) During the tour they not only cared for our safety on the zips but they also took us on a special course where we had a chance to have a water landing and repel down the flat side of a mountain. It was quite the adventure! Even though my gym shoes will never be the same, it was everything an extreme tour should be. After soaring through the acres and acres of the woodlands of Puerto Vallarta we did not want the tour to end. But alas, like all wonderful memories created on port days with the Carnival shore excursions program we expected nothing less than a wonderful time.

Only a few more days left until arrival in Long Beach (hi Mom and Dad!!) I can not believe this trip around the horn is almost over, and we are finally home! SO much planning and preparation went into this itinerary and I am confident that many guests and the crew would love to do this trip again. I have asked my team members, Adele (the beautiful, wonderful scouser), Lauren, Owen, Michelle, Brad and Goose to compile there favorite memory from the 49-day adventure so you can look forward to hearing all about that.

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The Extreme Canopy Tour Adventure Group

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It was safe, I swear!

img_0863
I don’t think this is an organized Carnival Tour (it is really the painters).

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Goodbye to beautiful Puerto Vallarta! Thanks to photographer Alonso.

Have a wonderful day!
Jaime =)

There will be one last Dear John letter from Jaime and I will ask her to look back on this voyage of many highs and maybe one or two emotional lows. So, tune in on Friday for Jaime………one last time.

Yesterday we were in Grand Cayman and alongside us was the Carnival Legend and a Princess ship which I think was the Grand Princess but I am not sure. There was also an X ship and one of those with graffiti on the bow. It was a beautiful day and that day has once again been captured by that remarkable entertainment staff member and photographer Geo………….have a look at these amazing portraits.

valor_march_2009_1

valor_march_2009_14

valor_march_2009_15-edit

valor_march_2009_29

valor_march_2009_31-edit

valor_march_2009_45

valor_march_2009_50

And so last night after much badgering from the head chef and the food and beverage manager I went to the supper club……………alone. I thought long and hard about who I could take with me but anyone I thought about was either working or boring. It then dawned on me that I have very few friends………….I was Billy No Mates.

I thought about taking a book with me. A chap eating with a book looks cozy and self-contained. A chap eating without a book…… is a lawyer. However, I was alone only for part of the meal as the chef, the f & b manager and 308 different waitresses kept coming up to my table to ask if everything was OK. At one point the chef was about to approach me for the seventh time and I caught his eye and tried to form a Vulcan mind meld. Stop right there. Keep your hands where I can see them, and step away from the senior cruise director.

You see, that’s what I am ……..a CD……..I am not Micky Arison, Gerry Cahill or Donald Trump…..I am just me….but I appreciated that they cared yet I still do not understand why in the last few months my standing seems to have risen when nothing has changed at all.

Anyway……..let’s talk about the food in a moment, but first………..the drink
I drink little but water, and I can tell you, it varies greatly. I always drink tap water at home, because the UK has very good tap water. I never drink it in Holland, because the water here is hard, limey and tastes like it’s been used to rinse false teeth. You’re mad if you drink bottled water in the Mexico, but you’re equally mad if you drink tap water in Paris.

Anyway, I always loved San Pellegrino but lately the fizz has gone out of the water and now it’s flatter than Kate Moss’s chest. So….I reverted to Crystal Geyser which is the still water we serve onboard. I could have had Perrier and apart from the fact that I refuse to assist the French economy in any way it tastes like someone has dissolved an aspirin in it.

And so to the food. I had started with the Caribbean Crab Cakes with wasabi followed by a huge steaming bowl of Dutch Onion Soup………OK, it wasn’t Dutch but I refuse to write the F word. I refused the Caesar’s salad because the main event was moments away.

Let’s talk about steak. Over the past decade, it almost completely disappeared from menus. Chefs don’t like cooking it and smart new glossy people don’t like eating it, because of the fat and the cholesterol and the blood and the bad karma and the waste of rainforest and the mad cows. But mostly because steak is common. Anyone can eat a steak and anyone does.

Steak is what condemned men ask for as their last meal. Steak is one of those things that incites specious and heated arguments about where the best comes from. Well, I guess it varies from animal to animal, but the most memorable steaks I’ve had were in a restaurant called Prime 112 in Miami’s South Beach. There, you must try the Cowboy Steak………..mention my name and I promise you…………..bugger all will happen but if you are in Miami………….and if you can get a table………..this is the place.

If what you crave is a brilliant steak at a realistic price, then the supper club is your place. All the side bits and pieces, the mustards and sauces, salads and vegetables, are good, but they’re not the point. It’s all about meat and the ancient dark bloody art of believing you are what you eat — and you are therefore….T-Rex. You certainly are of you order the Porterhouse which I did and once again it was simply sensational.

Desert was off limits although the apple pie looked amazing and then the best bit of the meal arrived………the check………….$30 plus $4 for the water. That’s a five-star four or five-course dinner for $30………$30…………….that is still jaw droppingly astonishing.

Remember, you can book through the blog thingy and quite honestly…………….going on a Carnival ship and not having a supper club experience is like going to Egypt and not seeing the Pyramids………………not trying that Porterhouse or one of the other superb cuts of meat is like ……..well……………just plain daft.

Where is a photo of Billy No Mates and his Porterhouse Steak.

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img_0857

Today, the 25th annual Cruise Shipping Miami Convention, the year’s largest cruise event got underway in Miami. This yearly event is where everyone who wants to attract business from the cruise lines pitches their wares and hopes someone will take them onboard. This ranges from people representing ports of call from all over the world to tour operators, food vendors and people who want to offer their services.

The day starts when all the presidents and top executives sit at a table and pretend to like each before addressing the gathered masses. The place was apparently packed except for three empty chairs. When a colleague asked who used to sit there he was told that the chairs used to belong to a certain cruise line’s internet marketing team…………. all of which were now asking if people wanted fries with that.

This year each of the lines top people presented their state of the industry speech. This included one from our president and by far the best-looking man at the table (although admittedly he wasn’t up against much competition) Gerry Cahill.

Gerry spoke about offering short Caribbean cruises out of U.S. homeports, which are within driving distance for Mr and Mrs. Joe Public as appose to keeping ships in Europe as originally planned. Gerry also I hear mentioned our blog thingy and how it was the most popular in the industry……..thanks Gerry………..that was very kind of you.

Anyway, it appeared that most of the lines presidents agreed that although there is much doom and gloom on the TV that we should ignore Wolf Blister and his mates because people do still have jobs and people still want to take a massively well-deserved vacation and therefore people still want to cruise.

As I said, all the presidents agreed on this …….well………I say all………because one president was not listening to the others. He was to preoccupied sticking pins into two voodoo dolls, one of which looked suspiciously like reporter Anita Dunham Potter from MSNBC who broke the Royal Champions story……….. and the other doll ………. well ……..it was plump and had grey hair………oh bugger……….it ‘s me…………now I know why my hemorrhoids have been flaring up……………..voodoo my arse. I will write to you tomorrow via my now working raspberry as I head to San Francisco.

Goodnight
Your friends
John, Heidi and the Thingy

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31 Responses to Table For One Please

  1. Catrin says:

    Hi John,
    I am replying to your reply…..

    As of Today (3/18), the only call we received from Carnival was a random agent calling to “upsell” us two category 11 Cabins from our 8I Cabins for $1190.00. I asked if this was in response to my request for a price adjustment… and all the agent kept repeating was that the suite upgrade (up SELL) was a great value. I cannot help to think this was just a call to upsell, not in response to my email to you.

    We denied the upgrade, because we are very happy with our aft balcony! and…. to be honest, we just don’t want to spend another $1190.00.

    Safe travels this week, and we very much appreciate any follow up ….
    Cathy

  2. PLEASE REPLY A.S.A.P !!

    JOHN,

    I need to know if the Cruise convention will still be going on through Sat. the 21st. I went before, and its only a 30 m inute drive. PLEASE LET ME KNOW –

    JAKE S. ( :

  3. JOHN – PLEASE REPLY

    John –

    Please provide more details about the inaugural sailing of the Carnival Pride from Baltimore, in particular your comings and goings. I would love the chance to come down to see you and even give you someone to eat with other than Billy No Mates.

    Still debating various cruise options for the year – too many variables up in the air right now to decide. Of course, if Carnival feels compelled to award compensation to those who still mourn the loss of their Paradise five years after her last respiratory system friendly cruise, I am available to accept such compensation.

    Keep the faith.

    Jon

  4. Kuki says:

    Hey John,

    I’ve missed most of your blogs from the Valor because I was out to sea myself, and when I returned I managed to break my toe, so missing SeaTrade (oops.. shipping convention too).

    Hope the flight from Belize isn’t too bizarre for you. I once flew Mayan Air from Belize. It was a 7 minute flight about 4 ft off the water. May your ticket be with another carrier :)

    After Anita broke that story about the RCI chimps, I made some comments… and someone from some site got some men with beards to threaten to close the border with Canada. So, on that topic I’m now feeling like the German Sheppard I used to have…. muzzled for nipping at the neighbors.

    Wish you a quick trip through the rest of the month until you get to return home to be with Heidi and enjoy feeling the thingy kicking at her, and getting chewed out by Heidi because you’re responsible for EVERYTHING!

    I know you’ll love being home. I’m not back to follow and enjoy your follies.

    Regards,
    Kuki
    CruiseMates.com

  5. "BIG" ED says:

    John, I see you completly ruined that stake. How you can eat that steak burnt to a crisp I will never understand. It almost looks like the steak you had in New Orleans. How does Hiedi sit across from you when you have a steak. Heidi knows how to order a steak, cook it over a candle.

    BIG ED

  6. nanetteali says:

    Yes it have been too long since our last “conversation” …I miss them…. :) It’s good that Heidi has not opened the gift because you are going to be together then. You are both going to laugh with the gift and the card.
    Yesterday I went for the first time to one of our famous “Irish” Pubs (Remember Shannan’s ?) It was fun mostly because Vivi and I went to see an excellent band that does a tribute to the Beatles’s. It was fun! :)
    I sendo muchus hugos too youo also y un grande besymier?
    Nanni

  7. Linda says:

    John,
    Just a few observations. First, in reference to writing a blog. Please know that our hats are off to you. Often I marvel at how, day after day, you can come up with witty stories and pithy observations! It’s a real talent to do it once; unbelieveable that you’ve kept it going! Secondly, I agree with the comment that while open seating might be nice, you’d miss out on the special treatment feeling you get by having the same wait staff each night! (So glad open seating is just an option) As to VIP awards, it seems that categories should be based on total # of days sailed (like hotels do room nights) rather than # of cruises–being on a 12 day cruise should count more than a 3 day trip. Then, while I understand that it would be difficult to transfer award status from cruise line to cruise line, when Carnival is not in Europe it certainly would be nice to sail on another ship and not lose your “status” and also to have that cruise count towards the next award level (perhaps not when Carnival and say HAL both have the same itinerary but definitely when they are in “non-compete” status). And finally, I had sent a request to have the Early Saver discount I was due checked upon–I have now received an updated bill :-) Because of lower rates and the Early Saver program I’ll be sailing 3 times this year and have already picked out a January 2010 cruise! Linda

  8. have a safe trip my friend…

    smiles, bonnie and prince charlie

  9. Alex says:

    Hi John,

    I’m glad you finally had the opportunity to try the supper club. I’m one of a small minority that do not enjoy beef, but I still find the supper club to be a very good value. I would spend $30+ for a chicken or seafood entree alone if I went to a comparable land-based restaurant, and you can’t beat the atmosphere in Carnival’s Supper Clubs. In fact, in my opinion, it is hard to beat Carnival’s food quality on any cruise line short of sailing on maybe Cunard or Seabourn.

    I can’t wait for my next cruises onboard the Carnival Imagination, Inspiration and Legend. Being someone who works in the tourism industry, vacation time is at a premium and December can’t get here soon enough so I can spend some time onboard the Fun Ships of Carnival!

    Regards,

    Alex

  10. david douglas says:

    John, my fiance is on Freedom and i have noticed that by ship tracker,there has not been a update to your location since 0600 this morning. Is everything OK? Today was going to be costa rica and tomorrow is panama with return to Flordia sunday. If you will just let me know that all is OK. Thank you David

  11. Diane Wojda says:

    Hi John,

    I am writing to give you our room #7314 on the Valor sailing of 3/22/09. The reservation is under Diane, Gordon and Alec Wojda. It would be greatly appreciated if you would be able to request a private table at the early seating for our cruise. I know our son will love the production shows on the Valor. I think he is a little future cruise director! He loves to pretend at home and has learned all of Big Tex’s dance moves. Each trip he comes home with some new material. We love reading your blog and hope to sail with you soon.
    Best wishes on the new baby.

  12. kiciaski says:

    Hi John,

    Sorry you’re leaving the Carnival Valor but you’ll have a good time on the Carnival Splendor and seeing Ken again. Please say Hi to him for us.

    Just curious why the itinerary for the 3/22 Carnival sailing is different than the usual run including Roatan? I see there are about 5 sailings in 2009 that have this change with Costa Maya. We like Costa Maya so that will be good but just wondered why a few were different.

    I just had a thought about why David now Charlie Davidson changed his name. Now his initials are CD. Is that a coincidence since that is what he is now?

    Just to pass on a funny story about our cruise on the Carnival Sensation years ago that relates to the above story about the rose. We had a suite that trip and on the counter in our room was a little card like the kind that comes with flowers that said it was for us and Bon Voyage. But, there was nothing but the card. We asked at the Purser’s office if there was supposed to be something with the card but they couldn’t help us with that so we ended up with a nice little “card”.

    We are going to have our Cruise Critic Meet and Greet for the 3/22 sailing after the muster drill at the Lido aft deck/bar. It would be nice to meet our new CD Charlie. Maybe you could mention it to him and if he has the time he could stop by and say Hi.

    Enjoy your trip to California. Fly safely.

    Linda and George

  13. Roxianne says:

    John,

    Thank you for posting photos of the Legend. It will be our home May 24 – 31. We moved to Kentucky June 2008. I immediately found a quilter’s guild to join. Last night I found out that one of my fellow quilter’s will be on the Legend the week before we will. She will be on her honeymoon. Enjoy your time off.

  14. Neil from Canada says:

    John,

    Was on the Splendor the last week of January and tried the Supper club again. BEST steak I ever had… My wife and I love the Supper Club, best value ever.

    Cheers,

    Neil

  15. REPLY PLEASE JOHN

    First of all I want to thank you once again for answering my question about Carnival’s Promotion during the summer. After reading your answer, I’ve excepted the fact that since I cruise during January – February there will be probably no promotions during that time. I read the Promotion again and probably it’s with one of the smaller ships and I prefer the larger ones. Sorry for bothering you with such trivial material and I’m truly embarrassed for even bringing this up. I think it was a moment of weakness. I truly enjoy cruising and if my wife and I have the money to do so, we will continue to cruise especially with Carnival. It was just because I had just come back from a very enjoyable cruise on the Valor and the very first thing I see when I opened my inbox it was that promotion. So, accept my apology for wasting your time and let you know that I will be continuing cruising with Carnival.
    Give my love to Heidi and Thingy and Marylou and I wish you both success with the new arrival.
    Thank you once again my friend.

    Paul F. Pietrangelo

  16. Appreciate the words of encouragement, John!
    Many more years of success and blogging to you as well!

    DBA

  17. Cheryl K says:

    Funny you would mention Ken..I thought about him yesterday on that famous Irish day. I have been to Ireland so I do know of what he speaks as to the “Irish” pubs here but what the heck, they are fun and green beer well…..

    The supper club is awesome. It still amazes me that people have not tried it. We went to a “food demonstration/tasting” at the supper club on the Splendor and I asked the lady next to me if she had eaten here and she looked at me and said “oh no, it cost too much”. She is on an 14 day (minimum) South American cruise and $30 is too much to spend for a 5 star meal. Can’t even rationalize that thought! I went 4 times (Jaime joined me one of those) and each time the food was superb and the service second to none! You look so sad in your picture…

    Can’t wait to hear Jaime’s wrap up on the Splendor on Friday. Wow, the PV crew extreme tour was definately extreme–only the young…sounds scary to me.

    Its nice that Carnival is recognizing the value of your blog in promoting cruising. The new commercials are very funny too and have attracted a lot of attention and interest so we don’t need paid champions to harrass people into cruising.

    Have a safe trip and my wish for you is that you don’t have the same attendant/commandant on your flight that I did flying back from Santiago! Oops, that photo of the HAL ship and the ice bergs is awesome–we didn’t get to see any that size in Chile and our “bergs” we were told by Dirk were “bergie bits”. Beautiful photo.

  18. janette says:

    Hi John yes I will be on the Splendor I am one of those t.a.’s. I am also from England, but have lived in California now for many years, my sister Sonya and I own a Travel Agency in Redding Ca. Look forward to meeting you and seeing the new ship.

  19. Wes and Liz ,Manchester England says:

    Hi John,
    Just a quick one if you get chance to reply.
    Liz and I are interested in the Spirit to Hawaii in April 2010,mentioned by Bill(Zydo) We have always wanted to do this trip.
    My question is about embarkation in Ensenada. We usually book our own flights from England. Would we have to make our own way to the port or do Carnival have their own transport. I even heard a story that check in is in San Diego and then you are shuttled down to Ensenada. Is that true?
    I wont be booking it until I hear from you.
    Cant wait for your trip to the Dream next month. Will you do some photos of the Piazza deck for us and we are in cabin #6438, on the inaugural, so perhaps a photo shoot in there for us if you get chance as well.

    Cheers
    Wes and Liz

  20. nanetteali says:

    I was talking with Eugenio about how much we would have love to be on that table with you. There is nothing better than good food and great conversation with friends. Some day..

  21. Ralf says:

    Hi John,
    Big Ed is right about the steak. Looks like you could use it as a sole for shoes.
    Why do the 8 blame you? They did not come back in time.
    After reading the blog this morning I checked my reservation on Freedom eastern Caribbean
    25 April. booking shore excursions.
    Finding this Information:
    I am booked on TA DREAM. Bloggers were asking about booking shore excursions in advance. Online booking is available for all ports of call.

    Have a safe trip

  22. Larry&Connie says:

    Hi John, Hope your flight to San Francisco is a smooth one. I know you’ll be with a whole bunch of cruise agents on board the Splender but, we still hope you give a shout out to Jody Oblad from the Destinations travel agency. She has made our traveling the last 10+ yrs. just wonderful. Once you find someone as good as Jody, you try to keep them close. The cab just showed up to wisk us away to our next adventure. San Juan P.R. till Sunday, then the Victory for 7 days. See ya when we get back. Tell Heidi & Thingy hello Larry & Connie

  23. Linda (Mom of DJ) says:

    KUKI: So sorry to hear about your breaking your toe. We hope it heals quickly!!

    John:

    I see that Melvin is again doing another excellent job at his Karaoke Host post. He is a jewel.

    Aretha S. and Rozwin C. also had great reviews on Cruise Critic this week. Seems our Karaoke Hosts are making quite the impression.

    Safe travels as you head to California.

    Linda (Mom of your friend DJ)

  24. Katiel53 says:

    John,
    I have a simple question regarding the Emerald Room on Carnival Glory. We absolutely loved our experience there, and I would like to know if the charge of $30 includes the tip.

    We were under the impression it did, but the service was so great that we left a tip also. I am asking this because of a thread on Cruise Critic.

    One person posted the $30 is the tip and I posted that it includes the tip and that the charge is for higher quality food and service.

    Someone else posted that it does not include any tip and that a tip of A$7.50 per person should be added. I don’t want to post anything else to that thread until I find out for sure if the tip is included etc.

    I did try to look on the Carnival website, but I couldn’t get an answer to my question. We are looking forward to going on Glory again in October.

    Although it will be a little late, we are going to celebrate my father’s 96th birthday. There aren’t too many people who make it that long and we are sure it will be a fun trip.

    Originally, we were booked on RCI, but after our Glory cruise a few weeks ago, we convinced my sister and her husband to change to Glory. I know we will have a wonderful time.

    I am looking forward to your reply. Thanks so much.

    Frank & Gerri

  25. divetrash says:

    Hi John,

    I feel for your plight with the table for one. I travel often for business and my clients cannot always be counted on for a friendly dinner after work (and frankly, a lot of times, I really don’t want to spend anymore time with them!). So I have the choice of either grabbing a quick bite and taking it back to my hotel room, or sucking it up and sitting at a table for 1 in a local restaurant. I used to do the book thing, and I still do on occasion, but I’ve gotten more comfortable with eating by myself and I find people watching to be vastly interesting.

    In a good restaurant, the staff will go out of their way to make you feel comfortable and welcome when you dine solo. One of the best restaurants I’ve found for this is The Water Grill in downtown LA. Amazing food and a waitstaff beyond compare. Not intrusive, but friendly and accommodating and very welcoming to a solo diner. I go there everytime I’m in LA on business.

    Still it’s nice to have someone to chat with while you eat. To that end this blog has been a big help. On my last business trip to Atlanta in the beginning of March, I was able to get together with the fabulous Kathie (aka Kap) for dinner. We hadn’t seen each other since the first Bloggers Cruise. So it’s sort of like having a big ol’ family scattered across the United States, and someone to eat with when you are out of town!

    Just one more thing to thank you for.

    Best wishes to you and Heidi and Thingy. And big props to Stephanie (is the bobblehead on your desk?), Tom and Tony for all they do.

    Regards,

    Laura (aka divetrash, aka Princess Laura of the Evil Crew)

  26. dwa76 says:

    Hi John!
    Man that steak looks so good. You’ve got me hungry now. Sign me up!
    Great pictures today. All those ships look so beautiful just hanging out in the line like that.
    Interesting commentary from the Miami show.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Good luck with your flight from Belize and keep in touch.
    Take care!
    David

  27. Hi Laura,

    Tom and Tony reminded me everyday until I brought the bobblehead to work. It’s standing on the cubicle wall between Tom’s and my desk :)

    Stephanie

  28. Mike L says:

    Hi John (please reply when you get a chance),

    I hope you were able to enjoy your dinner… even if you were alone. I also hope you have a safe and hopefully unadventurous flight and trip to San Fransisco.

    Anyway, I have a quick question that I have been wondering for awhile, and I think some others have or have had similar thoughts.

    Why doesn’t Carnival have its own private island. I know that Carnival owns Princess and Holland America and that some Carnival ships sometimes dock at Half Moon Cay (which I have read fantastic things about and hope to sail there soon), but why doesn’t Carnival have its own island. Many cruise lines (whether owned by Carnival or not) have their own island, and they always are among the most popular visits the ships make. It always makes for a very nice quiet, relaxing day… a perfect vacation day with a nice private beach, music and entertainment, and good food. Are there any plans for Carnival to get a private island?

    Also, I noticed that Princess will only have one ship sailing in the Caribbean this summer. Is there a reason why Carnival does not take advantage of this and have some ships visit this island? Even during the winter, is there a reason why Carnival ships do not visit Princess Cay?

    My last question is a little off topic… it involves live music, which has come up from time to time on the blog, and I know that you agree that it partially makes a cruise a cruise. I am considering a cruise on the Triumph, but I recently read that some of the live pool music has been replaced by the big screen piped in recorded music (not 100%, but someone on a message board wrote that they noticed this and that they noticed hours have been cut). I hope this isn’t so, as it is really is a factor when booking a cruise… after all, what is a cruise to the Caribbean/Bahamas without a reggae/caribbean band? I can listen to pre-recorded music anytime at home. The good thing about some of the Princess ships is the tv and band are at two different pools, so the tv cannot necessarily be used to replace the band… they have both.

    Do you have any info on this… the bands, the tvs by the pools, the reggae band on the Triumph and on the ships in general…. and lastly, I am hoping that the brand new Dream will have a good reggae band by the pool…?

    Sorry that this ended up being so long. I and I feel some others am/might be interested in this, and when you get a chance, I definitely appreciate any info you have.

    Thanks for everything John, and I hope you have safe and enjoyable travels. Speak soon, and I look forward to the next blog!

    -Mike

  29. Jen says:

    Hi John,
    I really enjoy reading your posts! I am cruising on Mar.29 on the Valor, and your stories and information you have provided are w-o-n-d-e-r-f-u-l! A week away and already I cannot sleep due to excitement…(or is it because of the cold weather up here in Canada?)
    This is my second cruise with Carnival and will be celebrating a friends birthday and my graduation from University (Education – 5 long wonderful years :) ) with family and friends (4-60 years old). I noticed that in a blog or two of yours, it was mentioned that most tables, on the Valor, in the dining room are for ‘smaller groups’. In my group, there are 12 of us.
    Since you are a book of knowledge, what are our chances of sitting together or close to one another? We all booked together, but were curious.

    Looking forward to hearing back from you when you get a chance.

    Take care!

  30. Juan & Maria Santana says:

    Hi, John!

    We enjoyed Jaime’s recount of Puerto Vallarta. It brought back memories. Juan & I visited Puerto Vallarta several years ago and we loved it. We are wondering if Jaime & her group knew that it is called “Party Vallarta” for the many spring breakers and other young people who go there to party like crazy.

    As always, warmest regards.

  31. Jeff says:

    Please reply

    John-

    I just booked the Dream for Oct. 2010 last night and am very excited! My wife told me today that she was reading on cruise critic something about on board credit that you recieve if you book a cruise within 60 days of your last or something like that. Is this true? If so that is a great deal…bummer for this one since we book something like 66 days after the Inspiration but still a great deal! Sorry to bother with such an odd question, just curious for next time! Thanks

    Jeff Sommerville

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