July 29, 2010 -
I met a few famous people on the Queen Victoria. Their names won’t mean much to you but they are all household names here in the UK and of course Duchess Camilla is a name known around the world………..and they are all constantly in the spotlight. Just imagine for a moment that you are Samuel L Jackson. You are eating lunch at the famous restaurant “Villa Topi Topi” on the island of Capri with some mates. As you leave he has an urge pick something unpleasant from his nose. And as he does, there are the paparazzi ready to catch that special moment. As a celebrity you can never really just let your hair down and do what you want. I mean, Duchess Camilla couldn’t tell the fat bloke with the bent tooth that she couldn’t care less about his sodding blog anymore than she could part her royal cheeks and let go an industrial-sized fart in the middle of the plaque ceremony.
Yep, I have the greatest admiration for famous people who know that any tiny little mistake will have them splashed across the internet on www.celebritiesfartingandpickingtheirnose.com.
I did meet one famous person who though does not conform to the norm. His name will mean nothing to you but let me tell you it anyway……….it’s Jimmy Savile………….actually that’s wrong ………it’s Sir Jimmy Savile. I had the honour of sitting and talking with Sir Jimmy for two hours while on the Queen Victoria and he is quite the character.
Sir Jimmy was the most famous DJ on BBC radio before becoming the most recognizable face on British TV. He started with a show called Top of the Pops which was a live broadcast and a show that went on to run for many, many years. The first show was launched on New Year’s Day in 1964, a year before I was born. During the show Jimmy Savile introduced a new band called the Rolling Stones as well as Dusty Springfield and The Beatles, who played the week’s No. 1……a song called………….I Wanna Hold Your Hand.
He is also known as the driving force behind one of the UK’s most famous hospitals. Sir Jimmy Savile led the £12m fundraising drive for the National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville hospital in Buckinghamshire. He told me that he persuaded the Duke of Edinburgh’s office to send a letter signed by Philip thanking a multi-millionaire businessman for offering his services even though the help had not yet been forthcoming. The letter sealed the deal and the hospital was born.
He has run 127 marathons for various charities, the last one when he was 70 years old. But it is for a program called Jim’ll Fix It that he is best known. This Saturday night prime time was hosted by Sir Jimmy who know is never seen without a cigar in his mouth and a huge gold and diamond bracelet on his wrist. The shows premise was for kids and adults alike to write in and basically ask for their dreams to come true. Sir Jimmy told me that the show would receive an average of 200,000 letters a week and that choosing which to honour was very difficult.
Now, at this point I was a little embarrassed because I myself had written in to the show asking to fly on Concord…..but the bugger never wrote back and my dream never came true. He had a kid box Mohammed Ali and one sang with ABBA (poor sod) and……well the list of what he “fixed” is extraordinary. But for many people they did and before I continue I thought you might like to see Sir Jimmy in action.
Now there are two links between myself and Sir Jimmy because even though he ignored my request to go supersonic he did fix it for a group of scouts to eat their lunch on a rollercoaster. Here is the clip of that and I will explain the link in a moment.
Did you recognize one of them……………yep………….the young lad with the dark hair is actually one of our cruise directors………none other than………….Wee Jimmy.
I told Sir Jimmy this and he laughed a lot remembering that fix it well. Sir Jimmy Savile was knighted by the Queen for his charitable services and now at age 80 something he relaxes by taking a Cunard voyage. He is quite the Cunard fan and holds court in the Churchill’s Cigar Bar talking of his adventures on the QE2 and how he thanks Carnival for investing in Cunard as he firmly believes that if they hadn’t that not even he would have been able to fix it for Cunard to still exist today. Sir Jimmy is eccentric for sure but he is a brilliant ambassador for his beloved Cunard and it was a true honour to meet him.
Here we are, in the cigar bar……..yes, the cigar bar……sharing stories, a fine cigar and our love of cruising. Oh…..and I asked him if he could fix it for me to see Megan Fox’s bottom up close and personal.
Time for some questions……….off we go.
William Jordan Asked:
Hello John (please reply)
Just found out about this blog and have had a grand time reading through the postings. My wife and I have cruised Royal Caribbean before but have booked two Carnival cruises. This will be our first experience with Carnival. One is the Fascination in December 2010, but the really important one is our 5th anniversary cruise on the Valor 9/4/2011. We booked the aft balcony 8450 and can not wait.
Our son will be three years old and will be going onboard the Valor for his very first cruise!
We have two questions — does Carnival serve a cider onboard? And what night would you recommend doing the Scarlett’s Steakhouse. We made the flip to Carnival for a couple of reasons — one, believe it or not, is the Behind the Fun tour I have read about. My wife says I am crazy, but I told her I wanted to do the one on the Fascination in December 2010 and the one on Valor in September 2011 because the I heard the five day cruise tour is different than the seven day cruise tour? Can you back me up?
Hello William Jordan
Thank you first of all for booking two cruises with Carnival. I am sure you had a good time on the “Whatcamacallit of the Seas” but I am very confident that you will find more fun, better service, great food and a massive dollop of affordability on our fun for all ships. I also know your son will have a great time as well and Camp Carnival will become a big hit with him.
To answer your first question, yes, we do serve a cider and it’s one called Strongbow. Back in the day when I used to have a drink or two, Strongbow cider was a favourite tipple of mine. Have you tried it? Actually, it’s not too crazy to want to do The Behind the Fun tour on both ships as they are different class vessels and you will see just how far technology has come in places like the bridge and the engine control room from the Carnival Fascination to the Carnival Valor. So yes, you are right to want to take both. Both these tours will take place on the last sea day and therefore I recommend either Tuesday or Wednesday as the perfect night to experience the steakhouse.
I am glad you have found my little blog thingy and if you have any questions before you sail, please let me know
Best wishes to you all
Audra Hough Asked:
PLEASE REPLY- URGENT!
We are going on the Valor on August 15th and my 14 year old son has Asperser’s (autism spectrum disorder). On the outside he looks like any other teenager but on the inside he is not.
I asked my TA if we had a letter from his specialists if we could go through the check in process quicker at the ports because depending on the day, time and hour he get extremely over whelmed in long lines and large crowds, he often has “melt downs.” WE are used to it but usually the people around us DO NOT get it at all. Usually we hear those comments on how we are bad parents, we need to control our child, and get bad looks from other families, etc…. (Which we ignore but I know it can be a huge disturbance to other vacationers)
Anyways my TA said she called Carnival but they don’t have any “quicker lines” that when you get there just mention it to someone and maybe you will get lucky.
I was wondering if you have any recommendations our cruise is coming up so fast and I would really like the right answer on what to do in this situation.
Thank you so much ahead of time! I really do appreciate any information and help you can give.
Hello Audra Hough
I am sure that travelling with your son can be a stressful experience and it is a shame that this stress is multiplied because of the way some people feel it is their right to judge a situation that they don’t truly understand. I am going to send this request to our Guest Services folks in Miami and see if they can help you with this request. They will contact you directly. I know that you will find the crew of the Carnival Valor very helpful and sensitive to your needs and please ask them if there is anything that you feel will help you and your son have a more relaxing time on board. I wish you all lots of fun and I am sure you will have a brilliant cruise.
David Poblowski Asked:
John, I need a reply to my question!!!!!!!!!!
I sent you a comment which you have not seen see you have not had the decency to bother replying to. In it I asked why you have screwed the single passenger and that because of your price increase I would not be stepping foot onboard a Carnival ship ever again. Royal Caribbean will get my business from now on as well as many their Cruise Critic readers and the rest of the idiots who read this blog and that continue to get ripped off will definitely be leaving for other lines as well.
Hello David Poblowski
I am so sorry that I have not replied to your comment although maybe I have because I for sure have written replies on this subject numerous times. It seems that you are very upset and I am sorry that this has gotten you so annoyed. Here is the official line on the subject one more time in case you missed it. Yes, we recently implemented a new 200% occupancy policy for single cabins. Due to heightened demand for our product, this increase was one of those opportunities that made sense to us. This change also brings our singles policy in line with our other competitors.
We recognize that some of our single guests will have to pay a little more, but hope they understand that Carnival still continues to offer a terrific value proposition to our customers.
Now, I am no expert but from what I have heard there it seems that many of the other cruise lines have the same tariff as well. I know that you are upset and again I apologize for this, however you reference to people who read this blog and whom cruise with Carnival as “idiots” is uncalled for and I will put this down to your bad mood at the time of writing your posting. Check out your options David and assess the value for money that each line gives and I hope that we will see you back with us on more time.
Until then I send you my best wishes
Kathy M. Asked:
Please, Please Reply,
I loved your commentary on the new Holland America Ship, but I do have to ask this. I know how excited the British get when they can meet one of the Royals or even an American when we get to meet our President so I need to know, did Heidi get to meet Princess Maxima? I know that you had said that she was excited about the possibility of meeting her so I was hoping that she would.
I also have to ask, on the second picture of the slide-show, is that little Kye dancing for the crew? She looks like she is really having a fantastic time.
Please give my love to Heidi and Kye,
From your #1 Bloggy Thingy Fan,
Hello Kathy M
It was a true honour for me to meet my first ever Royal on Monday and it was a day I will never forget. Heidi didn’t though actually get to meet Princess Maxima. She tried but the Holland America had to be first of course and she left without getting to meet her. Still, we had a fabulous time. Thanks as always for your continuing support of the blog
Brenda R Asked:
John Please Reply
My husband and I are loyal Carnival cruisers. We have sailed with you, John, on several cruises including the blogger’s cruise.
We just returned from a cruise to Alaska in honor of my parent’s 50th anniversary. Unfortunately, we were not able to select Carnival for this cruise, and had to settle for the Free Style Cruising ship. (ok Norwegian)
I can not adequately tell you how much this made us appreciate Carnival. The food variety on this ship was non- existent. The same food served for lunch on the buffet was also served at dinner, with very few changes. We saw the same meals for 7 days!
If you wanted to get the food that Carnival “normally” serves in the dining room, like a good steak and seafood, you would have to pay extra at their specialty restaurants.
We also missed having our assigned tables/waiters in the main dining room. Yes, we could eat whenever we wanted, but we often had to wait in line for a table and rarely saw our waiter ever again. You just don’t develop the fun relationship that you do with the waiters on a Carnival cruise.
Tips were also higher on this ship and the inside rooms were noticeably smaller than the comparable rooms on Carnival.
I just wanted to tell you thank you for all the great things Carnival does. Sometimes we take the things Carnival just naturally does for granted…until you experience another cruise line.
We will be booking another cruise soon…on Carnival.
I am so grateful to you for taking the time to write this posting. I am so very proud of what we do at Carnival and I am sure the people with beards will love reading this review. I hope you had a great time despite your home sickness for Carnival and that it will not be too long before we see you home again.
Best wishes to you and the family
Charlene Szwec Asked:
Hello John, Heidi and Kye,
This is Charlene Szwec thanking you very much for the wonderful gift you sent to my husband and I for our 40th anniversary on the Carnival Dream June 12th – June 26th.. We had a wonderful time doing the back to back and can’t wait till our next cruise. We’re thinking of going on another Carnival cruise in February, 2011, This time it will only be either a 7 or 8 days cruise. Do you know what ship you will be on then?
The Carnival Dream is absolutely that, a dream. I don’t ever recall seeing so many people having so much fun at one time on any of our other cruises. The ages were from infants to senior citizens and everyone had a ball. The food was fantastic and the open dining is a wonderful accomplishment in cruising. The Serenity deck was amazing. What a wonderful idea that was also.
My only concern was where the kids went for their activities and the Piano Bar being so close and the cigarette smoke from the Piano Bar lingering in the halls where the kids have to go through. I know I didn’t have children on the cruise but if I did I would have been concerned.
Other than that everything was wonderful. Our cabin steward was a wonderful man who told us to call him Kim. Our room was 8472. His helper was also fantastic. The head waiter we had, Tatyana was a wonderful brightness to the end of our hectic days. She was on top of everything, had a great personality and was exceptional at her job. Unfortunately she was sent downstairs for our second week and we were very disappointed. We saw no reason why this happened to her because she was an ace. I highly recommend anyone having her as a head waiter. She deserves the title. Her team was wonderful too. They worked very well as a team. I hope she will be a head waiter when she comes back after her stay at home.
Well, I’m gonna go but I wanted to thank you for everything. You are a wonderful person and Carnival couldn’t have a better person working for them.
Tell Heidi and Kye hello and enjoy your vacation.
PS We did get our laundry done the second week because of becoming Platinum and the little perks were great.
Hello Charlene Szwec
I am so glad you got the gift that I asked ACD James to send you and my thanks to him for taking care of it. I haven’t decided on 2011 just yet. Obviously we have the bloggers cruise in February which will be held on the Carnival Glory and maybe you could come sail with us on that. I will be the CD and I promise you it will be fun. Big Ed will tell you more about his Krewe and what they are up to that week in case you want to know more.
I will make sure that the team on your Carnival Dream get to read that great review which once again highlights the many different age groups of people who have fun on our ships each and every week. The Piano Bar concept on the Carnival Dream is different as it is an open plan. One side is non smoking and there is a way to access the aft staircase and aft lounges without having to walk through the piano bar but your point is well taken. I am glad the laundry was taken care of and from now on you can you proudly walk up the gangway as a proud, proud Platinum guest.
Best wishes to you all
S. B. Abbott Asked:
Dearest John, (please reply; if you wish)
Thank you for replying to my questions… Here is an update from our cruise…
Well as you know the Carnival Ecstasy did not sail on July 1st because of the reminisce of Hurricane Alex’s effect on the port of Galveston. Carnival arranged for discounted hotel rooms in Galveston and our large group (#35) made an excursion out of it @ the San Luis Resort Hotel. They arranged for $99/night compared to $400/night. We enjoyed our stay and the hotel staff was wonderful. We were all pleased with the compensation that Carnival gave us for changing our itinerary to a 3-day Cruise to Nowhere. One question I have is the future discount, is this information logged into the system under the past guest number? We were only given a piece of paper on Thursday when we arrived to board, but it was a general announcement. Once we boarded on July 2nd, the Captain did a great job steering the ship to sunshine and keeping us out of rough seas.
I arranged for my mother & me to take the Behind the Scenes tour. It was fabulous! Vanessa and Gavin welcomed us with breakfast. We toured the several areas of the ship. The entertainment staff’s dressing area; I was shocked they didn’t know that the Ecstasy was relocating to New Orleans. How is the staff made aware of such big changes? We visited the Kitchen where we met Chef De Cuisine Erwin Gomes; and several of his chefs. I was amazed at how quick the swinging door revolves. Ya’ll have some very talented waiters with good timing. We visited the Galley, Engine control room, Laundry facility, Crew’s break-room, eating & training facilities and the Captain’s Deck. Captain Giulio Basso’s 2nd officer (didn’t catch his name) was very helpful and answered all of our questions. Captain Basso was kind and took a picture with our small tour group (#5). Vanessa arranged for the pictured to be delivered to our cabin after the tour concluded. When we returned to our cabin we had a nice surprise from Chef Gomes who sent some sweet treats and a small note of appreciation. We were very pleased with the tour!
Overall the cruise to nowhere was great. The families in our group loved their decorated doors; however it took awhile for them to realize my nephew & I decorated them. Our group truly made the best of the situation. For example, several of us enjoyed the daily bingo games; and on Sunday one of our “new cruisers” won the free cruise during the drawing. The first raffle ticket number drawn was not present; so her number was picked second. We encouraged her to go straight to the Casino to use some of that good luck! Also wanted to give praise to the Maitre D’ of the Wind Star Riccardo for correcting our dinner reservation, my mother & I were the only 2 not included in our group dinner in the Wind Song. He quickly changed our reservations & updated the information. I would also give praise to our room steward, but I didn’t write his name down. Maybe they could give out business cards, or write their name down in the cabin. Also one other suggestion that you might pass along to the beards-It would be very cost effective to place a wrist band on the children (under 18) who purchase drink cards; etc. I think 4 of our kids in the group lost their sail & sign cards…even after placing them on a lanyard. The only obstacle the wrist band would be opening the cabin door. Possibly they could develop a bar-code reader on the doorknob.
I hope I can encourage our group to sail the Carnival Magic when she arrives in Galveston! Thank you again for sharing information on your blog thingy!
That’s very interesting indeed. I was so surprised that word had not gotten down to the crew that the Carnival Ecstasy would be repositioning to New Orleans. Certainly the Captain and department heads are told and from there on in it is their responsibility to tell the crew. This is usually done by posting the information on the crew notice boards and telling them in person at the weekly department meetings. I will pass this on to the chap who is in charge of the Fantasy class of ships and I know that he will make sure the information is relayed accordingly.
I know that your cruise faced some challenges due to Hurricane Arse……..sorry……Hurricane Alex and yet your determination to have fun has shone through in your review. I will make sure your suggestion is passed along as the wrist band idea is a very good one. I will also make sure that everyone on the ship gets to read this great review and thank you once again for taking the time to write it. I hope I will see you on the Carnival Magic next year.
Gary Nolan Asked:
Dear John (please reply)
I am a long time lurker to your blog thingy but this is my first time posting. Please do dot change anything you do. I read it every day and it really helps pass the time until my next Carnival Cruise. On August seventh me and my wife and 2 of my three children will be taking our 7th Carnival cruise on the Carnival Dream and we can not wait. We have also done a couple others on the something of the seas and each time I wonder why. Although we also have a great time I wonder why we did it as they offer a similar experience but nowhere near the value for the money.
I really hope to cruise with you someday and I will definitely look to see where you are before we book our next cruise. I do have a favor ( spelt correctly) Could you possibly see if you can get us a table or booth for 4 on our cruise on August 7th 2010 near a window we are in cabin numbers 2334 & 2336
One last thing, if you could tell us which machines in the casino are the loosiest I would really appreciate it! LOL I will try and write a small review once we are back.
Thanks for all you do and I hope you have a great time with your girls,
Gary & Colleen
Hello Gary and Colleen
It will be my honour (spelt correctly) to ask the Maitre D to assist you with your table request. As for the casino, well while I can’t tell you which machine is paying out I can tell you that all you need to do is not worry about it, take my advice and put some money in an envelope, slide the envelope under the casino door and walk away………it’s the same process as you going in there anyway. Seriously, we have some great casino games and I’m sure our friendly staff will make your experience memorable. Thanks for this first post and I hope the second one will be a review of your Carnival Dream cruise.
Have a brilliant time
Hello John, Please read.
Hi John I took my very cruise on Carnival way back in 1991 aboard the Jubilee and I’m wondering if Carnival would still have it’s videos of the cruise archived but I don’t remember the month and dates My Aunty and I Sailed on…We stayed in cabin number E90 and it was a 7 day cruise to the Mexican Riviera from San Pedro, Ca. so if you know anything on how I can obtain the cruise video. It would be very nice.
Oh how I wish they did because I was thin, gorgeous and sexy back then and I would love for you all to see some videos of the old days. But unfortunately we don’t keep them and those times will have to be just memories. I hope you have many memories of your time on the Jubilee.
Please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you
Best wishes to you and your Aunty
Don Casinger Asked:
Hi John (Please Reply)
I hope all is going well with you. I tend to lurk on your Blog not posting at all but I love reading your comments and the letters from your legions of fans.
My wife and I are sailing on Splendor on 8/29, and our booking number is 85N9Q4. I am so excited about you being the Cruise Director for that sailing! Although we haven’t had the pleasure of sailing with you before, I’ve read about you for some time.
I love to read about cruising, even when I’m not doing it, so I’m constantly roaming the internet reading reviews and looking at pictures. When I’ve got a cruise booked I go into over drive consuming everything I can about the ship we are sailing on. It’s always helped me in the past; I don’t spend all seven days of the cruise learning the ins and outs of the ship and its activities. When we board I already have a pretty good idea about what we want to do and how to get around the ship so we have more time for fun and spend less time being lost. Doing my research for this cruise was how I found out about your blog, and I’ve been a fan ever since.
This is our third cruise on CCL. Our first cruise was 10 years ago, on Elation, for our twentieth wedding anniversary. We followed that with an 8 day cruise on Spirit, and now finally it’s off to Splendor for our 30th anniversary. I’m sorry to say that we sailed on one other cruise line during the last 10 years, but all it did for me was to convince me that Carnival is the place to be!
This brings me to my question… As I mentioned above, my wife and I will be celebrating our 30th anniversary on August 30th. I’ve already booked a reservation at The Pinnacle Steakhouse for that special evening but I was wondering if you had any other ideas to make that night and the cruise extra special for the love of my life?
I’m truly a lucky man, I met my wife when she was still in high school (yes I’m a couple of years older than her…) and we’re still together 30 years later with two grown sons! Now this week is a prime opportunity to show her how really special she is to me.
Thanks in advance for any advice you can give me. I hope we get to meet you while we are on board so I can personally thank you for all you do for Carnival and its customers.
Your wife sounds like a very special lady and it will be my pleasure to send her a little something on your behalf. So what I need you to do is to write me a Dear John letter explaining just why you love her so much and to wish her a very happy anniversary. Please leave that letter at the Guest Services Desk when you board and I will read it out live on my Morning Show which is shown on the cabin TV’s and the big screen on lido deck. I am really looking forward to my time on the Carnival Splendor and I will do my best to make it a fantastic time for you both.
Best wishes and see you soon
And that’s all for today and a huge thank you for the comments from the last week. Have you all been getting your confirmations for the Chef’s Table? I sent another 34 to the ships yesterday and have another big group of bookings for today. I hope the system is working and if you haven’t booked a spot to enjoy this incomparable experience you really should.
We just got in these fantastic photos of your Carnival Magic. Take a look.
The two pieces are ready to be placed together and once they do they will combine to make that famous Carnival emblem of fun. My thanks to Cunard’s President and our man in London Peter Shanks for sending me those. He was in the shipyard in Monfalcone visiting the almost ready Queen Elizabeth and I will be featuring more about her soon.
And one last follow up from a previous blog about the Carnival Spirit and a question about not being able to book 2012 cruises. All of the Carnival Spirit cruises through spring, 2012 are open for sale and available for viewing on Carnival.com. The 2011 Thanksgiving cruise will be on November 18 sailing roundtrip from Los Angeles (San Pedro) for 9 days (Friday to Sunday). The itinerary includes 2 days in Cabo San Lucas, as well as La Paz, Mazatlan and Puerta Vallarta.
I hope this helps and let me know if anyone has a follow up.
So, it’s time to go. I know this is a shorter blog than usual but I have lots to do before I leave on Saturday. I have to say goodbye to friends and family and get things in order here at home which is why I hope you will understand why there will be no blog tomorrow. I am off to the Carnival Splendor, a ship I have so many fond memories of. Let’s have a look at her and where she is going.
And this is where we will be sailing to
|Sunday||Los Angeles (Long Beach), CA||5:30pm|
|Monday||Fun Day At Sea|
|Tuesday||Fun Day At Sea|
|Wednesday||Puerto Vallarta, Mexico||9:00am 10:00pm|
|Thursday||Mazatlan, Mexico||9:00am 6:00pm|
|Friday||Cabo San Lucas, Mexico||7:00am 3:00pm Saturday|
|Saturday||Fun Day At Sea|
|Sunday||Los Angeles (Long Beach), CA||9:00am|
I have no idea about these ports. I have no idea what the weather will be like but I do know that the Carnival Splendor is a fantastic ships and of course it is the last ship that Heidi and I delivered and worked on as a team.
Thanks for all your support while I was home and on Monday I will be back onboard moaning about a week of handover with Goose, telling you about the ship and her crew and before long I will be back as CD, writing about the guests and this unique job that I do. I would think there is a good chance that I may be bit sad………..as I will miss the girls so very much.
The Carnival Splendor is where my beautiful daughter Kye was conceived ………….and how as the desk in the CD office didn’t collapse………………….. I will never know.
John, Heidi and Kye.