December 16, 2009 -
Yesterday I went to London to meet with the most prestigious travel writer in the British Press ………….Mr. Frank Barrett who is the Travel Editor of the Sunday Mail Newspaper …………….. think USA Today’s Gene Sloan but with a Prince Charles type of accent.
I was invited to have lunch with him and his colleagues to discuss an article on Carnival Cruise Lines, me and the blog. I also tried to promote the suggestion that the article feature a photo of me dressed as Santa surrounded by Latvian women dressed in Santa hats….only in Santa hats …. Mr. Barrett told me told me to bugger off and contact the Daily Mirror or The Sun for that one.
Anyway, the article should be good and I will tell you more about it later. The Lunch was excellent and the conversation lively and fun. It was held in a rather posh London restaurant a top of a tall building with amazing views of London and as we chatted and I nibbled on some fluffy goats cheese (personally I would rather have eaten my own hair), I couldn’t help but notice the large groups of city types……..in suits………..holding their Raspberries…..drinking champagne …………..and wearing silly hats………yep……………the office Christmas party was in full swing.
I know I will sound grumpy here but I honestly do like Christmas and especially this year with Kye having her first experience of the 25th.
Naturally there are some things I don’t like. I don’t, for instance, like it when a 16 year old girl tries to spritz you with Chanel’s latest perfume the moment you walk through the door of a department store. But mostly I get on well with Christmas. I find it wonderful to give presents. I like turkey curry in February. The Great Escape is always worth watching. I don’t have any relatives who wet themselves during lunch. I love the fact that like today it’s below freezing which in turn gives me a chance to say “Global warming my arse.”
That said, there is one feature of Christmas that fills me with such fear and such dread that I genuinely shiver whenever it is mentioned. It is the hemorrhoid on the turkey’s bottom, the mold on the smoked salmon. It is . . . the Office Party. When I worked in London many years ago my co workers………starting in January every year, would each save £1 ($2) a week for the annual yuletide piss-up.
By July they would have enough for the shrimp cocktail and by September they were dizzy with anticipation about the first pint of beer. I never understood why. I still don’t. The notion that you turn off your computer at 6 pm and at 6:01 pm are making merry with people you don’t like very much over a paper cup of Heineken seems odd.
They are not your friends or you would have seen them socially at some point during the year. So why think for a moment that the evening will be anything other than hell? Christmas these days is almost completely ruined by the office party.
Take my lunch yesterday for example. We were in a restaurant which as I said was posh. The entrees cost $25 – $55. Yet, there was no sign of the credit crunch as wankers ……….. sorry …….. bankers ………..downed bucket fulls of Moetperignonkrug champagne.
This would mean that the streets of London would later that afternoon become full of ordinary people who have suddenly lost the ability to walk in a straight line. And the atmosphere in every restaurant is buggered by the table of 60 who order food not for its taste but its aerodynamic efficiency.
It was obvious that this party had been organized by the most junior member of the team because their idea of an office party was basically lots of vomit and silly hats.
You think you have nothing to talk about with the man who drives the forklift in the warehouse, but you have even less in common with the office juniors.
The second thing about the office party is of course rumpy pumpy. The glossy magazines will of course be full of “true life stories” about Mary Sue from reservations who had one too many glasses of Baileys and ended up having rumpy pumpy with Brian from accounting……. despite the fact that Brian is as ugly as a cruise ship named Epic and has breath that would make a camel want to smell it’s own scrotum.
Why? You sit opposite these people for years and it never once occurs to you that you would like to see them naked. So how come, after one warm wine, she only needs to put on a paper hat to become Megan Fox?
This Friday Carnival’s Vice Presidents and Senior Management will have their Christmas party which will probably involve drinking Pinot Grigio served at room temperature while standing between the office water cooler and the photo copier and wearing the same clothes they have worn all year though perhaps with a “fun” bit of tinsel in their hair. The highlight will be the distribution of the secret Santa gifts which will include one poor sod having a gift bought for them by Tim our Vice President of Public Relations ………….which will mean that they will receive something that needs batteries and was purchased from The Adult Toy Emporium.
We will be talking about Christmas on the ships later but for now it’s time to crack on with today’s Q and A…………….here we go.
John, the pics of the new pier at Isla Roatan is awesome. I wonder, where is he chairlift to the beach located? I think it’s amazing that they built a lift to get people to the beach! How far is it away from the pier that was used before Mahogany Bay pier opened up. I see there are building around the pier, so yipeee shopping!!!!
The new Carnival Thingy–Any idea on a name for the new bouncy baby ship?
PS: can you tell me where my fave maitre’d is going to be in January? You know who, Alex K, otherwise known as a hot Lithuanian. He is, as far as I know as if Dec 1, on the Liberty still…If he is on the ship then I hope we’ll be in that dining room, I need some eye candy! My friend is platinum and our reservations are linked for dinner (we each have separate cabins), so I hope we can get a good table, a round table in the center main floor would be nice!!
Hopefully your first Xmas with Kye will be magical, but do remember, she’ll likely enjoy the wrapping more than the items that is wrapped!!!!
I am so glad that you have been enjoying the photos of Isla Roatan and our new Mahogany Bay facility and in fact we have some more for you shortly. There is indeed lots of shopping there including a Diamonds International and some great restaurants. It’s about a five- to 10-minute walk from the old pier and the ski lift to the beach is of course a very special addition.
The new ship has not been given a name yet so for now we shall call her the Carnival Thingy and as for your favourite Maitre D you are correct he is on the Carnival Liberty so hopefully you enjoyed eating in his dining room. I am so sorry that I am late in my reply and I hope you had a brilliant time.
Best wishes to all
Kathy Roxo Asked:
Hi John (PLEASE REPLY),
I am a little flabbergasted right now because I keep trying to post blog comments and they never end up in the comment section (they always says “your comment is awaiting moderation” and then I never see them appear in the actual comments section). I hope that this works finally and maybe one of the 343 Stephanie’s can tell me what I might have been / am doing wrong!
I am a long time reader of your blog thingy but I just began posting (or at least trying to post) recently and I cannot even begin to tell you how much joy it brings me to read your blog every day. I wake up in the morning and the first thing I do (while I am still in my underwear of course) is check my email to see if you have posted a new blog for the day yet!
My family and I sailed with you on the Carnival Freedom a couple years ago and out of the 6 Carnival cruises (we would never dream of sailing on a different cruise line) the Freedom cruise was by far the best. We have been trying to schedule a time to sail with you again however, we usually have to sail at specific times of the year in order to work around our schedules and since our Freedom cruise our schedules never seem to coincide with your schedule as cruise director however, I am sure it will happen again, hopefully sooner as opposed to later!
I think it should be noted however, that the passion, joy, commitment, and dedication that you bring to the position of cruise director is absolutely amazing. For example, when we sailed with you on the Freedom, a certain Mr. Bells Palsy had visited you and despite that you did not miss one show or one joke and I cannot begin to commend you enough for a job exceptionally well done!
The menu you have listed here looks absolutely heavenly, I am extremely jealous of the people who are cruising on Thanksgiving this year! As for the people falling asleep around you, maybe they are readers of your blog thingy and have seen your previous pictures of men sleeping next to you (not in your cabin of course and they want to be some of the privileged few who make a cameo on your blog!
On to more pressing issues I had a favor to ask of you. My family and I are once again cruising on the Carnival Freedom sailing on January 2nd 2010 from Ft. Lauderdale FL. There are six of us travelling as a group and this is our 6th Carnival cruise together, our experiences on Carnival always surpass what we expect however one thing always leaves us wanting more and that is our dining experience.
We always choose and get late seating as we never want to miss time at the ports of call or dinner in the dining room and we always are seated simply with our party of 6! These aspects of our dining are always wonderful and we hope that they will continue again this year however our table assignment in the dining room and our dining staff have been somewhat disappointing.
You see John, we always seem to be seated in the way back of the dining room where we can never see the entertainment and excitement that is happening in the main area of the dining room and out of our 6 cruises, we have never actually laid eyes on our Maitre D! This is disappointing to us because we hear all the fun that others are having in the dining room and we feel like we are simply being stuffed back in the back of the dining room with dining staff who seem about as happy to be there as we are. I have seen other dining team members dancing on tables, singing, and even dancing with some of their diner guests but our dining staff never seems to be as exciting as many of the others. We always leave the dining room (with full, satisfied tummies of course) but feeling like we have missed a vital and exciting part of our experience. So, I was wondering if it might be possible for you to help us be seated with our party of 6 at a table in the centre of all the action this year so that we do not miss a beat.
I hate to ask you for favors John, as I know that they take up your time and I would rather you be spending it talking to Heidi and Kye as opposed to helping me with my silly request but I knew that if anyone could help enhance our dining room experience then it would be you John and more importantly, I knew that if you knew this was how we felt about our dining experience then you would WANT to help!
I look forward to your response and I hope that you know how much you are appreciate, respected, and looked up to as not only a cruise director and brand ambassador, but also as a person, father, husband and friend and I think I speak for more than myself when I say THANK YOU JOHN, from the bottom of my heart for all you do every day!
I look forward to your response (as long as my comment actually posts this time)!
Happy Holidays to you and yours!
I am pretty sure that by now you will have seen that I replied to you a week or so ago. I once again apologize for the time it takes to get comments approved as the 343 Stephanie’s have a lot to look at before they slap them on the blog thingy. You were not doing anything wrong, it just takes time that’s all.
What a great post though and my memories of Mr. Bells Palsy are ones of standing on stage, holding my face back with one hand so I could talk into the microphone and hoped people could understand this Quasimodo type character on stage. Thank you for the wonderful words that shows me my efforts were not in vain.
As I mentioned in my previous reply I have already sent an e mail to the Maitre D of the Carnival Freedom and he will do his best to make sure you have the table you requested.
I hope you all have a brilliant time.
Tom and Janet Hecker Asked:
John, we sailed with you Oct 10, 2006 on the Liberty and won the free dinner as pass guest. Thank you so very much. My first cruise was on the Festivale 5/31/1980. We have sent a picture of us boarding the Festivale as required to get it on our past history account. I have been working on this for 2 months or more and now no one will return emails. Can you help us get this list in our past cruise history?
Thank you again.
Tom and Janet Hecker
Hello Tom and Janet
I am sure you have great memories from your cruise on the TSS Festivale and your most recent cruise on the Carnival Freedom. I have sent your information to our CARE team who will work on adding your Festivale cruise to your past guest profile. I will ask someone to contact you once this is done
Larry Meador Asked:
John, please reply
I am so excited to have our 8th cruise booked. The three of us will be taking the Miracle out of Fort Lauderdale on April 5th, 2010. However, my wife, being the consummate planner, is already concerned that she will not receive her past guest pins. We have all of our previous pins for the Spirit, Conquest, Glory, Elation, Sensation, Fantasy, and our most recent addition the Celebration (thanks to E-Bay). The Celebration was our first cruise, so we didn’t get one on that voyage (even though that was where the addiction was born…)
I know there was much talk regarding the pins previously, and even some talk about the pins being for sale in the gift shop for those that had not obtained the coveted platinum status.
Can you clarify for me how we will be able to obtain our past guest pins for our upcoming cruise? I know it seems trivial, but we are quite proud of Carnival Cruise Lines being our ONLY cruise line. My wife wants us to go on each and every ship…. (p.s. This will be my 10 year old son’s 7th cruise….)
Many thanks for all you do, and please realize how much you are appreciated by your fans. I hope you get so see your girls soon!
Congratulations on booking your next cruise on the Carnival Miracle and I know your Cruise Director Malcolm and all the team will make sure you have the best cruise ever. The past guest pins are being handed out to our guests with Platinum status however they are for sale to everyone in the onboard shops. These are already in stock and I am waiting to hear that the ships also have pins from across the fleet as I think that is something everyone will appreciate.
Your ten year old is one lucky young man and if you remind me a month before you sail I will send him a little bon voyage gift.
Best wishes to all.
Princess Lori Asked:
John, please reply if you have time.
Oh….I can’t believe the total number of views for your Blog Thingy – over 5 mill. I remember when you hit 1 mill. Congrats to you, all the Stephanies and everyone at Carnival for making this possible! Have fun on the Carnival Dream this week with all the Bloggers!
Hello Princess Lori
Wow………..how very gracious of you. I also remember that one million mark and to think that in less than 3 years we have hit 5,600,000 is quite extraordinary and very, very humbling.
I wish you could have been with us on the bloggers cruise.
Best wishes and hope to see you soon.
My wife Nancy and I are taking our three (3) kids and their spouses and our two (2) grandkids on a cruise in 2011. We are going to go to either the Caribbean or Mexican Riviera. Still tossing that one around. My question is for these two destinations does Carnival require or suggest that all passengers have Passports? I thought it was suppose to be that after the first of January this year that all passengers leaving the US would need to have a passport. I have read in several places that this is not necessarily the case. I figured I would go to the “Ultimate College of Travel Knowledge.” What say you?
James & Nancy Enslow
Hello James and Nancy
The answer is that we strongly recommend that guests get their passports for cruises and hopefully this will give you ample opportunity to organize them for the family.
Best wishes to all
Hi John (please reply),
I’ve read online that another Carnival ship, this time the Carnival Splendor, hit a RCCL vessel… Didn’t read anything about it on the blog…since it’s the 2nd time in a few weeks I thought you might react to that I also heard they had to medivac the Captain of the Splendor 2 days after the incident, any info about that?
There was indeed a little scrape between the Carnival Splendor and the Radiance of the Seas a few weeks ago. Damage was very minor and neither ship needed to delay or change their itinerary. The Captain was not medivaced but did need to go ashore for some treatment but the two incidents were not related. Captain Rassello is now at home on vacation and will return to continue his duties as Captain very soon.
Thanks for allowing me the chance to set the record straight.
I love your blog. I find humor in everyday occurrences as well and I love how descriptive you are. I was laughing and crying while reading this blog.
Well, my name is Roni and I am cruising on the 12/19 Dream cruise. This cruise truly is a dream as I was in a really bad car accident and have treated myself, my mother, and my autistic 12 year old sister to the cruise of a lifetime. I was able to afford a suite for them.
Unfortunately, my birthday is the 23rd (always forgotten during the holiday season) and I’m gluten free so birthday cakes are out of the question. I was just wondering if you had anything special, maybe hidden in your bag of tricks, that might make this the best birthday and cruise ever for me and the girls.
Thanks for your time,
Thanks for the kind words about the blog and I am so happy to know that it makes you smile. How wonderful that despite the horrific accident you were involved in that you have booked a suite for your Mum and your sister and I know this will truly bring a smile to their faces when they see their stateroom.
I would love to send you something but I will have to get one of the 343 Stephanies to e-mail you as I do not know your last name or state room number. Hopefully you will reply in time for me to be able to send you something.
Hope you all have a wonderful time
John, we are now 18 days out from our Christmas Cruise on the Dream, I wrote you earlier about my Canadian French party coming on board. Our cabin is 8287, my niece (whose birthday is on the 24th if you could do something cool for her, she is becoming a teen!) is in 8283. The other two cabins are unassigned at this point (and they are the least English capable, being older folks). I have the booking numbers for them if you could use that…
Despite your love of frogs legs I hope you all have a brilliant cruise mon ami and look out for a birthday gift for your niece. I will also ask for French Carnival Capers for the cabins.
Bon voyage and mon derriere scheder du fromage
Lloyd Fernley Asked:
John, please reply
I was just reading the cruise boards on Cruise Critic and I saw a comment and some replies that said Carnival does not offer anything for the Jewish guests during the holiday season. My family and I will be sailing for the holidays on the Valor and I would like to know why nothing is done for your passengers who are of the Jewish Faith. Also, can you tell me the age requirements for your Club O2 teenage camp?
Well let’s start with the Club O2 question to which the answer is 15 – 17 years of old. It is a great facility and one that means you can relax safe in the knowledge that your teenagers are having fun and meeting new friends.
Unfortunately the person who states that we do not do anything for the guests of the Jewish faith during the holiday season is talking rubbish………..again. Each ship will have a sunset Menorah candle lighting service as we celebrate Chanukah with our Jewish passengers. There will also be a Christmas show performed by the cast and featuring the children and a visit by Santa. recently we have added the Dreidel Song to the show, once again acknowledging the Jewish passengers.
I hope you all have a wonderful cruise and enjoy this special time together.
Dan Coffman Asked:
I would like to know why I was not invited to this cruise because I am one of John’s Bloggers. We were actually on the cruise but did not know about the blogger invite. Room 6202, Dec 3-12, 2009. I am very disappointed in Carnival about the cruise and not being invited to this blogger event
I know you only posted this comment yesterday but I wanted to love you to the top of the answer pile so I could reply. The bloggers cruise was as you said held last week on your Carnival Dream where 183 people attended the private events etc. These people all pre-registered for this and the gifts via the blog. I posted the need to do this many, many times and so I apologize if you missed it. I hope you had a wonderful cruise and I hope you continue to enjoy the blog. Please let me know if you have a follow up to this.
That’s all for today. Time for the news.
And as we were talking about the Bloggers Cruise I want to share a photo of the private function we held for Big Ed and his Evil Krewe. We were meant to have Nani there so we could hand her the school supplies that her Krewe friends had brought with them but as you know we couldn’t dock in San Juan……….bugger. Those supplies are now on there way to her. Anyway, here is the photo and once again you will have a good view of the now infamous toilet cake.
You will see that there is a tall, very pretty lady with her arm round Mrs Big Ed or Pat as she is sometimes known. This lady is one of our most frequent commentators on the blog thingy ……… Linda Mom of DJ.
I mention her because she most graciously has given the sum of $500 to the St Jude Children’s Hospital which as you know is the charity that Carnival Cruise Lines is so honoured (spelt correctly) to be working with. Linda did not though make the donation in her name but in the name of Captain Queirolo and the Carnival Dream crew. How extraordinary! Actually……….it wasn’t because anyone who knows Linda will tell you that this is the sort of thing she does all the time and that thinking of others has always come before thinking of herself.
So thank you Linda for your kindness and you have made a difference to the lives of those children this Christmas just as you have made such a immeasurable amount of difference to the life of your precious son DJ.
Oh one more thing…………..you were a fantastic Britney Spears in the Legends show!
Now, I want to apologize to the blogger who asked about docking a Carnival ship in the port of Hamilton and St. Georges in Bermuda. I had said that I would investigate this matter but I seem to have given you false hope. I know this because I received an e-mail from our super spy PA 007 who wrote to me from his or her cubicle. He or she was quick to tell me that I was talking ” “bollocks” or actually because he or she is from America he spelt the word “bollocks” “bullocks” but never mind………..anyway PA 007 told me that these two ports can only take smaller ships with Holland America’s Veendam being the largest. Henceforth that is why the Carnival ships …………..when we do call there……………dock where they do.
Thanks again PA 007 for correcting my bullocks.
Well, Mahogany Bay is now fully functional and the Isla Roatan officially welcomed your Carnival Dream. Amongst the honoured (spelt correctly) guests attending the first call festvities were Carnival Corporation’s Giora Israel and your Carnival Dream Captain Carlo Queirolo. However, the most special guest was the President of Honduras Roberto Micheletti whose presence showed just how important the cruise ship business is to the country.
Here are some photos taken once again by our friend Radu.
Tomorrow, I will have some great photos of the Carnival Ecstasy and her new balcony cabins.
As I said, yesterday I had lunch with the travel editor of the Daily Mail He has recently returned from a visit to the Mall of the Seas and a cruise on the Seabourn Spirit that he said was excellent.
However, the last time he cruised on a Carnival ship was in 1994 on the Carnival Sensation. I told him that this was too long and so I have arranged for him to come and sail with me on his Carnival Dream and he has agreed to do so and write about his experiences. The Mail on Sunday is read by three million people and I told him that figure would rise if a photo of me and those Latvian women were to be published.
Anyway………..here is a link thingy all about Frank.
On Monday our President and CEO Gerry Cahill held a town hall style meeting for all our Carnival shoreside employees during which he gave a state of the business talk, thanked them for their loyalty and hard work and presented each one with a Rolex watch……….OK……..no Rolex ……….but his speech was very well received as was the video of our slide escapades. Gerry also paid some very nice compliments about the naming ceremony and in particular my little cameo with my extra large bottle of champagne. In case you missed that portion of it………..here it is again and my thanks to Gerry for the very kind words. The video will be featured in tomorrow’s blog.
I should have written about this next subject last week during the bloggers cruise but alas I forgot.
It was great to see so many familiar faces last week yet there was one missing…..and that was the always happy, always grinning face that has been sat on the second row of the theatre for 50 plus cruises with me…….the face of Robert Schneider who lost his battle with cancer earlier this year. Robert loved Carnival and loved the bloggers cruises especially. Robert……we missed you mate.
Hello everyone. I just wanted to say hello and say that apart from having to wash John’s underpants it is fantastic to have him at home. Thank you so much for the gifts and cards and the amazing surprise from Big Ed and his friends and I am really lost for words and I wish I could have been there to thank you all in person. Thank you all.
I know that John was worried that Kye would be shy around him because he has not seen her for so long. For the first few seconds she was but as soon as she heard his voice she smiled that huge smile and giggled hysterically when he sang her bouncy bouncy song.
John mentioned that he used to sing it to her on the phone. Also I had recorded him singing it on a video which I would play to her everyday on the computer.
The first time Heidi listened and watched it her chin went “wobbly.” Now, many of hearings later it always gives her lots of excitement. It has become her song and a stand-in for when Daddy is being a Cruise Director. The video ends after about five minutes, “That’s all now, Kye. It won’t be long before I’m home. Love you lots,” John’s voice says. Kye laughs and I hope that Kye doesn’t notice my tears.
You know how nervous I have been about posting photos of Kye but could not resist showing you this one.
Heidi, Kye and John