August 20, 2010 -
OK, Mrs. God……..I won’t……I promise. But I can’t help doing some pretty serious coveting about my friend Spencer who has just sent me photos of his new house in the green pastures of Surrey in the UK. It’s a stunning Georgian house set in 15 acres of beautiful gardens and has stables, an indoor swimming pool, and a huge pond full of crap………..sorry…….. I mean carp. He also has his own indoor cinema and 4 garages to park his Aston Martin, Bentley GTC and his wife’s pimped up Porsche Cayenne. His neighbour…………..is Eric sodding Clapton.
I met him some years ago and we became friends. And when he sent me photos of his new mansion I wrote back saying how stunning it all was and how I couldn’t wait to see it for myself. What I really wanted to write was “BASTARD!”…………but I didn’t.
And I met a guest yesterday who wanted to talk to me about his unhappiness at the quality of food on the ship. It was a strange conversation because not only he should be having this talk with the hotel director but because rather than tell me what he felt we could improve on, he spent the most of our 20 minutes together telling me how rich he was.
I learnt that he had his own catering business that supplied on location food for the film and TV industry. He told me that he was a multi-millionaire and during telling me that he thought I had over sold the steakhouse and that it wasn’t nearly as good as I had said during my announcement, he produced an exclusive Black American Express card saying “With this card I have instant access to the best restaurants in the world.”
I was going to show him my Visa card with a $1,000 credit limit on it……but I doubt he would have seen the funny side. I also didn’t mention that out of the 503 people who have eaten there this week we have only had two negative comments and one of those was that it was too cold in the restaurant.
I guess the moral of both these stories is that money can’t buy happiness.
Many people, I think, including myself want to believe that is the case. It explains why we enjoy being outraged when sport stars move teams so they can earn $1,000,000 a week rather than $90,000 a week. And why we all enjoyed seeing the fat cat bankers having to turn in their Latvian Lap Dancing Membership Cards and swap their private jets for economy class.
But of course the truth of the matter is that the more money I have had, the happier I have been. It’s ridiculous to pretend otherwise.
This came home to me very forcefully when Heidi and I were spending a few days in Miami back in 2007. When Carnival pays we stay in a Marriotthilton type hotel but usually when we have to pay we will stay in one of Sleep Inns and Days Inns and Relax Inns and Comfort Inns and Travel Inns and Country Inns and the odd Holiday Inn. However, this time we booked into a hotel on Ocean Drive which wasn’t calling itself an Inn and which we couldn’t really afford.
I remember that when we went up to our room……..rooms, rather…….on the seventh floor…well, it was just breathtaking. Outside was the Atlantic and the beach and what we in the cruise industry call a wraparound balcony. Inside there were plasma TV’s and bathrooms everywhere. “And look, Heidi,” I called from one of those bathrooms, “They’ve got a bumwasher.” I then came across something called an Intimacy Kit, complimentary, a new one on me. In it, besides sewing gear and toiletries and whatnot, were two contraceptives. “Bloody hell,” I said to myself ………….. “So this is how the other half lives.”
That night we went for a meal with friends at my favourite restaurant in Miami, Prime 112 where the rich and tanned come to dine on simply the best food in Miami. Staying in that hotel in Miami and dining at that restaurant, I experienced a real urge to have more money than I do. Not a silly amount more; twice as much would suffice. Perhaps three times as much to be on the safe side. I couldn’t for the life of me think in what way I would be corrupted if I could afford to stay in places like that more often. Money can buy happiness and it could buy Heidi a business class ticket so that Heidi and Kye don’t have to spend 11 hours in coach and it could buy me an Aston Martin in which to drive off at 192 mph after I have shoved that condescending sod’s Black American Express Card right up his bottom.
Time for today’s questions………………away we go.
Preston n Judy Asked:
John, Please Reply
Good to see you on the west coast, but your on the wrong ship. You should be on the Carnival Spirit cruising Alaska.
Could I be so bold as to ask you for a table for 2? I will offer you many thanks up front and after. I see many now demanding and offering no thanks for your help.
We will be on the Carnival Spirit Sept 7, 2010 Glacier Bay Cruise. Our room number is 4154.
Thanks for any help.
Preston n Judy
Hello Preston n Judy
Alaska is on my list for sure because even if I only get to see it for a week or two, I know my time as a CD with Carnival will not be complete without seeing the Last Frontier and working on the Carnival Spirit. I will certainly ask the Maitre D to help with your reservation request.
Have a brilliant cruise.
Best wishes to you both.
Ian Lavender Asked:
I have read on Cruise critic recently that you will ensure that we will get a table for 2 on our next cruise. What will I need to do to implement this scenario as I do not want what happened on our last cruise to happen again where we were placed with passengers who did not have the same social standing and values that my wife and I have.
Please acknowledge my request by return
Hello Ian Lavender
I will be happy to try and organize a table for 2 for you and your wife. Please send me your sailing date, ship and cabin number. Please remember that I will need at least 3 weeks before your sailing date. Best wishes to you both
Sally Owl Asked:
JOHN PLEASE REPLY
John, I was looking forward SO much to writing to you today … and now I feel SO sad, thinking of Kye, and of how sad you must have felt as you left her, waving at you. However, on the good side, it’s one month today until we leave Australia on our way to our b2b2b on the Carnival Spirit – to Alaska on 7 September, then to Hawaii on 14 September, and back to Mexico on 26 September. We are aiming to have visited all 50 US states by the end of 2010, and this is our way of visiting Alaska and Hawaii – we can hardly wait!
When you kindly helped sort out our booking problems early in the year, you asked me to contact you before we leave. I know that this is a little early, but please can I ask some questions, and possibly two favours?
The questions – does the Carnival Spirit have the Chef’s Table experience on board? If so, would it be suitable for my husband, who is allergic to shellfish?
The favours – firstly, is there any chance that you could please request table seating for us at a table for four on all three of these voyages? My John is quite deaf, and finds that he can hear best with just four people at a table – we don’t want a table for just for the two of us, as that’s what we have all the time at home!
Secondly (and he doesn’t know about this), could you possibly send John some sort of greeting (or a letter of commiseration) on 28 September? That day will be our 25th wedding anniversary – very special to us as we were in our 40s when we married – and I’d really appreciate a message from you, if it was possible to arrange -Thank you! We’re celebrating on the day with a cruise on the Wailua River, where, we’re told, local musicians will greet those celebrating honeymoons or anniversaries with a special song – Thanks, Carnival for a wonderful excursion like this! I’ll put all our details at the end of this, so that they can be recorded without appearing in your blog.
We hope that you enjoy your time on the Carnival Splendor, and that you enjoy it as much as we did on our trip around South America – it’s a wonderful ship! Hope too that Heidi and Kye DO get to join you.
Thank you so much, John, for bringing Carnival to life for us – a day without reading your blog seems second-rate.
Hello Sally Owl
Thanks so much for the kind words. Leaving the girls was heartbreaking but I didn’t think that writing about that experience would make others sad too. My apologies for that. The Chef’s Table is not yet up and running on the Carnival Spirit and I am told it will start sometime soon. I don’t have an exact date yet but as soon as I do I will publish here on the blog thingy. I will make sure that your husband and you have a fantastic table for your back to back to back to back to back to back to back……..oops……..got carried away then……..but I will ask him to seat you as requested. And of course you can expect something from me as well. Have a fantastic time and a very happy anniversary to you both.
Kathy M. Asked:
Hi John,Please Reply,
I am sorry that the start of your West Coast experience got off to a bad start with the overbooking at the Hilton Hotel. I have stayed at that Hilton the night before I got on the Carnival Splendor, Carnival Spirit and the Carnival Paradise. One reason is because it is so close to the Queen Mary (in fact you can walk over to the ships from that hotel as well as the Hyatt).
I was wondering since Carnival is going back to Europe, will that be your permanent location. Will you ever be coming back to the states or even the West Coast?
I got a really nice email from Carol Lyman of the Bon Voyage Dept about the room decorations. She said that she would clarify with you that passengers can order online and have the rooms decorated before they embark. Thank you so much for having her get in touch with me, I really appreciate it and to anyone who reads this blog, if John says he is going to have someone contact you, I can vouch for it because it happened to me.
THANK YOU John for everything you do for the Carnival passengers. It is employees like you that make the Carnival Ships the best in the cruising world.
Give my love to Heidi and Kye,
From your #1 Bloggy Thingy Fan,
Hello Kathy M
Well Kathy you were right, I am having a great time here on the Carnival Splendor and hopefully the west coast folks are enjoying my silly sense of humour. I am going to be on my Carnival Magic for her time in Europe. And it is my intention to bring her across the pond and back to Galveston. I will host the first few cruises before turning her over to the next cruise director. I have no idea what 2012 will bring and a lot of that will depend on Kye and Heidi and my family commitments. I don’t know if Carnival will return to Europe in 2012 or where I might be. I am glad that Carol sorted that out and thanks again for bringing it to my attention. As always thank you also for your kind words and support of the blog thingy
Vanguard Man Asked:
Just discovered your blog after being told about it on Cruise Critic and that you are always reserving tables for people. Well that screws it up for the rest of us who use the normal ways to get what we want. A poll was put on Cruise Critic that shows that everyone agrees. It is unfair that we go to the ship and find all the good tables are taken by the people who have begged on your blog.
Hello Vanguard Man
I have been made aware of this poll by other Cruise Critic members and as I said to them, while I am sorry that it has upset some readers I am not going to stop. I actually help maybe a dozen or so guests a week who have asked me for something here on the blog thingy. So in the grand scheme of things it should not stop anyone who does see the maitre d onboard hopefully getting the help they need. If there is anything I can do for you will be happy to do my best for you.
JOHN PLEASE REPLY
Ah John, sending you a huge hug. It is not one of your sweet Kye’s, but hopefully she and Heidi will be with you soon when Kye is feeling better. Perhaps they can sail to the states then fly from there?
What a flight you had. It really is not surprising though, you seem to always have some kind of story. Maybe it is just your lot in life, you get to tell us all about it.
I love that you are back on the Carnival Splendor, my favorite Carnival ship for several reasons. I got to meet you on our September 11, 2008 cruise, Jaime was the first of your crew that we met and she always greeted us by our names when she saw us, Ken was our MD, the ship is gorgeous and we were so excited when we first saw her in Dover, we were in Europe for the first time and Mike and I were celebrating our 45th anniversary. It was a fabulous cruise and made so; mostly because of you John. I have such fond memories of that cruise. I still have my sold gold plastic SOAS 😉 and hope I will get one when we are on the Carnival Magic. Anyway, on to my question. Do you have any idea just who will be on your staff on the Magic? I am hoping that Ken will be the MD. There is also a fabulous DJ in the Karaoke Room that we met on the Carnival Ecstasy in January 2010. I am afraid I do not remember his name but he really WOWed the crowds. The room was always full and he always had someone up on the stage singing. You would love him, truly love him. He would always say this saying when the guest ended their song – ABSOUTLY BRIALLENT. I do not know if he would be the right fit on the Carnival Magic, but he sure would bring in the crowds.
Keep smiling John; you truly are one of the good guys
Hello Peggy 222
Yep, anytime I get on a plane I sort of know that something will happen that is worthy of a blog story. It is certainly wonderful to be back on this ship and you are right, there are so many happy memories for me here as there is of course for you. Well. The good news is that after some persuasion the one and only Ken Byrne has decided that he will join me on your Carnival Magic. It’s official……..and I am very, very happy indeed as of course will many, many guests be as well. He is incomparable. The Karaoke Host you mentioned sounds intriguing and I will have to do some investigation into who he is. I will be choosing my staff during the next few weeks and am waiting for some of the other cruise directors to send me their recommendations. Thanks for writing and for the kind words and I will see you soon on your Carnival Magic ………………….. more of which I will be writing about shortly.
Best wishes to you both
John, (Please Reply)
My husband and I are cruising on the 8/26 sailing of the Fascination from Jacksonville with some great friends of ours. I wonder if it might be too much to ask for a window seat at the late dinner seating for the 4 of us. I know if anyone can make it happen it would be you! Our cabin numbers are M94 and M100. Thanks so much!
I will send your request to the Maître D and I am sure he will be able to help with your seating request.
Have a brilliant time
Best wishes to all
Cheri Bolchoz Asked:
Cheri & I would like to take this time to express our sincere heartfelt appreciation to you, one of the 343 Stephanies (Stephanie Herrera), and all the cruise directors responsible for replacing my VIP ship funnel pins, lost when my hat blew overboard on the Carnival Fantasy, somewhere in the Devil’s Triangle. It is this type of act that truly lets one know how Carnival cares, and will go that extra mile for members of its family. It really softened the blow of losing something very special and years in the making. Carnival did the same thing for my sister-in-law, Julie Mendenhall sometime ago. I have my new hat now, and am placing the new pins for the ships we have been on as I write. We considered it an honor to finally meet you on the Carnival Fantasy on its Inaugural cruise out of Charleston, SC. As with all the guests, you truly made our cruise memorable, and justified our total loyalty to Carnival. Also I’d like to express my honor of being called Mr. Carnival by you, Todd Wittmer, and the Carnival employees. It is something I do not take lightly, and will represent the title with respect and pride. We look forward to seeing you again, if not before, on the Inaugural cruise of the Carnival Magic in Europe this coming May. By the way, I will be wearing my chinstrap when on the Lido deck from now on! God Bless you, Heidi, & Kye and please extend our thanks to all again who had a part in my trademark replacement.
Carnival is truly “Fun For ALL, All For Fun”
Mr & Mrs. Carnival
Michael & Cheri Bolcho
Hello Michael and Cheri Bolchoz
I saw how sad Mr. Carnival was when your hat blew overboard and thanks to my colleagues and the wonderful Stephanie Herrera we were able to put a smile on his face once again. I am glad we got to sail together on the Carnival Fantasy and it will be great to see you and your chin strapped hat on your Carnival Magic. Stay out of the wind.
Best wishes to you both
Charlene Bartlett from cruise critic Asked:
Hello There. I would love to make reservation for myself and 15 year old son for the Captain’s dinner.
My son is mature and has a life-threatening, chronic and fatal illness. He has a great love of cruising. We started sailing in Dec. 2008 after his health stabilized, after 300 admissions to hospital.
My son likes cruising more than Disney World. In fact, he prefers Carnival over Disney cruise lines!!!!
We sail on the Carnival Miracle on December 21, 2010. We are in cabin 5238. Could you help make this a Christmas Cruise to remember?
Charlene Bartlett (Charley)
Hello Charlene Bartlett from Cruise Critic
You know Charlene, I just got a huge telling off my another Cruise Critic member about helping people and then I read your posting which once again is proof positive that I should, when I can, help as many people as I am able.
I am so sorry to hear about your son and obviously we will do all we can to make this a cruise and a Christmas that he won’t ever forget. I am not sure what you mean by Captain’s Dinner. If you mean the captain’s table then that may be difficult because during the Christmas cruises all the dining room tables are used due to the high count of guests. But what I will do is ask the Captain to meet your son and have a special photo taken with him. So, as it is a little early can I ask that on November 10 you send your name, cabin number and sailing date again and I will arrange something special for him. It will be an honour to do this so please don’t forget to write.
Best wishes to you both
That’s all for today and thanks so much for a great week of comments.
It looks like shopping is going to be a very exclusive experience on Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth…
Now that is some very special shopping indeed. There are three famous stores in London. Harrods, Selfridges and Fortnum and Mason and the only one with a Royal decree is the Fortnum and Mason which will now be found on the Queen Elizabeth…………absolutely spiffing.
I love the theatres on the Carnival ships but………..I would relish the chance to perform in the theatre on the Queen Elizabeth…………..here’s why.
As I have said many times before, the entertainment director Alistair is one lucky chap and what a feeling it must give him to know that very soon that stage will be his to perform on. It doesn’t look like I will be going to attend the naming ceremony. It’s all a little complicated and would mean I would have to be off the Carnival Splendor for two weeks as the ceremony will be on a Monday. I would love to go, I mean, who wouldn’t want to be there to witness the launch of the ship carrying the name of our Monarch and flying the flag of the world’s most famous ocean liner company?
But I work for Carnival Cruise Lines and this is where it gets a bit complicated and ……. well ……… I understand that they want me here……..entertaining the guests on this ship. So, I will have to rely on our man in London and Cunard’s President Mr. Peter Shanks for a first hand report on what is sure to be an incomparable event.
It’s been one of those cruises. One of those where I spend too much time worrying about the guests who have made comments and complaints and not the vast majority that have had a brilliant time. There have though been a few more complaints than last week and in fact more than I can remember in a long time. Just being honest with you.
It seems that the guests who sail on the Carnival Splendor are generally speaking very much more vocal than the guests I encountered on the Carnival Conquest and Carnival Fantasy. It’s not been one thing, just lots of little things that guests seem to want to tell us about. OK, this is maybe 10% of the guests at the very most but you know me, I want everyone to be happy all the time.. Anyway, that aside the shows have gone well although I felt sorry for the many, many Spanish speaking people who obviously haven’t got a clue at what any of the comedians or indeed I am saying. And while the weather has been great in Mazatlan and Cabo it was pretty awful in PV which didn’t help the mood.
One group who has had a brilliant time has been the kids. Everywhere I walk the children have been high fiving me and saying some of the catchphrases that have sprung up during the cruise. Because of the very high Spanish speaking count this week I decided to call myself “Julio” during the second night show. And now all the guests, especially the kids are calling me Julio. This morning I was walking to the coffee shop when a 10-year-old stopped me and said “Can I have a photo with you Julio?” I told him of course he could upon which he reached into his pocket and pulled out his Eye Phone and gave it to my assistant Stephanie to take……..10 years old….with an Eye Phone…………California…………..gotta love it.
So on Thursday night I hosted the talent show. One of the acts was a 13 year old young lady who played the violin. Now……..normally our age limit is 16 to take part as we offer a Camp Carnival/Circle C talent show as well. However, I had no choice but to let this young lady in the show……….not because she insisted but because her mother did. Trust me………there is nothing worse than a “stage mum.”
OK, there are lots of things worse than a stage mum including realising your French and being eaten alive by a pack of rabid dogs. However, pretty high up on the list of nasty things is a mum who wants her sibling to be “a star.” And so right from the start of this cruise I have been bombarded with letters and messages and phone calls from Mrs. Stagemom. I had originally told her “no” but then came the shouting, the screaming, the tantrum and the tears……….that’s the mum by the way…….not her daughter. And so because the mother told me between the sobs and the hysterics that “I had ruined her daughters cruise” and that “I would regret it when she became famous that I hadn’t allowed her on stage,” I gave in and allowed her daughter to perform.
I felt so sorry for her daughter. She was lovely and you could tell that she would have been happy not to have performed and just hang out with her friends as she nervously stood in front of 1,500 people and played a piece of music by Mozart. It was nice…..and the audience appreciated it. Was she spectacularly amazing …… nope…..but it made her day and her cruise….not hers of course …….her mother’s. Also in the talent show I did my bedtime story……and honestly ………I am really getting too old to do this and if it wasn’t for the fact that so many expect it of me and because the audience for some reason roll on the floor laughing hysterically I wouldn’t do it anymore. It would be less painful to stick my thingy in a live electrical socket. I will prepare a video of what happened to me last night and post it sometime next week.
I see that some of you asked to be my friend on my Facebook thingy page and that is very flattering. When my friend and colleague Stephanie “Tofu” Leavitt told me she had started me a Facebook page thingy my only worry was that someone might post a photo of me naked with a rose sticking out of my bottom, with a pencil up my nose. Or that an ex-girlfriend would tell the world that my thingy was the size of a golf pencil………..so far this hasn’t happened.
However, last night I received an e mail from someone else at Carnival that told me that there are apparently more formidable risks attached to social networking on Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. That’s because this email showed an article by a Dr. Aric Sigman who blames social networking for narrow arteries, heart disease, cancer, genetic alterations, dementia – and death.
Bugger………well that’s me dead then because I have 6,930,000 hits on the blog thingy and 3,600 friends on my Facebook. Hopefully he is talking bollocks but……….I can see the compulsiveness in sitting behind the computer………..in a pair of underpants …… Facebooking …… Twittering …… Blogging…………E Mailing ……….and searching the web for photos of naked Latvians. But there are other dangers as well………especially for the middle aged person like me who understands bugger all about computers. I also don’t understand that if life is so wonderful …….. why did God create French people………………but that’s another story.
There are certain things a middle aged fat bloke from Essex can do to humiliate himself. You can dance in public. You can try to buy fashionable clothes in a department store, only to be told by the wafer-thin 18-year-old salesperson “They aren’t made in your size, sir.” I can fart ….. Loudly ……… when you’re sitting opposite that attractive girl from Carnival’s marketing department or indeed my arse could explode during my one and only ever massage. You can be overtaken by an 80-year-old when you are walking around the jogging track. And, you can try to get involved in the backstage conversation with the 20-something dancers who are talking about Lady Ga Ga and end up looking a total and utter plonker (www.urbandictionary.com)…….look that word up ………….it’s a great word.
But is there any humiliation more likely to make your buttocks clench together and sweat drip down your inner thigh………than a visit to a computer shop? The last time I had to buy a Lap Top I felt such a total arse. “Is it wireless-enabled?” I asked, using a form of words I had memorised from a conversation with one of the 344 Stephanies.
“Of course,” the spotty youth behind the counter answered as if I had asked if he had ever had rumpy pumpy…………… “These days they all are.”
Well I had taken the thing home and I remember telling you on the blog how the sodding thing wouldn’t work and how I had to go back to the store. And when I did another spotty kid had already decided I was an idiot. Whatever happened to the old saying: “The customer is always right”? The youth picked one of his zits, looked me over, made a swift judgment about my age, gave a weary sigh, and said: “You’re just not connecting it right. Let me show you.”
A small crowd gathered to watch what is probably a daily ritual at these Best Buy type stores ……………… the Public Ridiculing of a Stupid Old Git.
And it’s the same on the ship and I imagine it’s the same in the office in Miami. You call the HELP desk and even as you listen to the on hold stuff about Carnival’s fun for all vacation, you are already dreading the conversation with the IT guys who will be able to fix your problem in a second while scribbling the words “thick as sh*t” on their work pads. If we knew how to mend it, we’d do it. Most of us haven’t a clue about computers and faced with malfunctions will press every control in sight and only when all hope is lost will I give in and call the IT beards. If men are from Mars then Bob the IT man is from the planet Patang!
Oh and one more thing……..am I the only one who wants to beat Bill Gates over the head with my keyboard when that bloody paperclip man pops up on my screen?
Next week is going to be very exciting for those of you who have been awaiting more news on the Carnival Magic. If you are one of those…….I think you may like next week……starting on Monday’s blog.