Drugs, Ashes and More

February 15, 2011 -

John Heald

You may have see on this blog thingy and on Facebook these past few days that I have received lots of requests to help arrange the scattering of ashes at sea. These requests are always full of emotion and it is an honour for me to try and help.

One wonderful son wrote to me on Facebook about how his Father was an avid cruiser who loved the sea and loved Carnival and asked if I would be able to arrange this when he sails at the end of February. And of course I was honoured to help. This will though involve our environmental officer having to fill out an entire rain forest of paper work. Yep ………things have certainly changed when it comes to funerals.

I mean……..before they’d lower you gingerly into the ground or let you spend the rest of time in a vase on top of the underwear drawer. To have your ashes scattered at sea used to be easy, no permission was needed from the tofu eating beardists. These days you need tons of paperwork, bio degradable urns and everyone has to wear a high visibility jacket and safety goggles in case some of your loved one blows back and gets in your eyes………how ridiculous is that?

In today’s world, in the same way that you can get married underwater or during a parachute jump, you can choose how you wish to be disposed of when you have done dying. Take the story of a former Navy Seal who was attached to the nose of a torpedo, which was then detonated on the sea bed off Norfolk. Meanwhile, officials at the Homestead NASCAR thingy circuit announced that NASCAR fans can now be laid to rest at the track. Quite how this will work I don’t know. It’ll certainly be a bugger for Jimmy Petty next year if he skids in the final lap on the remains of Billy Bob Lemurcat from Valdosta, Georgia. Perhaps they mean that a dead person can be used as part of the tire wall. Or maybe to soak up oil spills.

Some may argue that if you are used as a crash barrier or detonated on the sea bed, some of death’s dignity is lost. I’m not sure this is so, because. Far better, surely, to use your liquefying body as a soft landing for NASCAR drivers. And being buried at sea means at least you get to see the Caribbean once in a while.

I’ve always said that when I die I want to be buried, because when I get to heaven, it’ll be hard to enjoy its bountiful magnificence if I’ve been cremated. I am not going to get an angel that looks like Megan Fox to have rumpy pumpy with me…..….if I look like the contents of a stateroom Stewards vacuum bag.

However, now that it’s possible to make all sorts of odd requests, I’m reconsidering this. This needs serious thought because having watched loved ones scatter the remains of their loved ones here on the ships of Carnival …………space is tempting……..and Uncle Google told me that there is a company that will blast your ashes into orbit for just $500.

A word of warning, though. While the company managed to get bits of Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, into orbit, it made a bit of a hash of things when it came to getting the Enterprise’s chief engineer up there.

The first time it tried, the rocket crashed and Scotty ended up not in the Romulan Galaxy but just outside Santa Fe, New Mexico. Happily he was found, he was launched again. But that went wrong too when the rocket exploded, sending the Canadian actor into the sea, where, one day, he will probably crash head-on into the Navy Seal I mentioned earlier. Almost certainly, this is not what either man would have wanted…

I have though been thinking of what I want when I go. And I have decided that I want my ashes to be mixed with paint and used to create a piece of art…….I want to spend the rest of time as a tattoo on Megan Fox’s bottom.

Time for today’s Q and A…………..off we go.

Joanne G Asked:
Please Reply

John, I have a small request to ask you. I have managed to put together a Cruise Critic roll call for the Splendor on March 20 with 40 expecting to join together. Please can you arrange a room for us to have a meet and greet in. We want it to be a non smoking place and for the first day at sea at 2:00pm. Thanks so much

Joanne

John Says:
Hello Joanne G

Yes of course. I have blocked you into the Cool Lounge at 2 pm and Felipe will make sure it is in the Fun Times as well. I wish you all a wonderful cruise.

Best wishes
John

Patricia “Carole” Holley Asked:
John
(please resend if possible to my one question in the following re: dining room Maitre D)

Review: Carnival Dream-a dream of a vacation, sail date 12/4/10, booking number ______

The food was excellent! The service was beyond outstanding and I’ll be talking about several exceptional people in a minute. This was our second cruise on the Dream since we were with you on it for the Bloggers Cruise last December (2009). I was the lady who gave you some hundred dollar bills-unfortunately; they wouldn’t spend anywhere since they were book mark magnets. Too bad I couldn’t use them in the casino-LOL. One of the highlights of our cruise was that we won our Dream ship on a stick for our door decoration-Yay! It goes well with our mascot “Nuts” (a beany baby squirrel who is also a platinum cruiser with his own little platinum sign). I think our room stewardess was as excited about this as we were. The activities were great on board but we enjoyed just chilling a lot of the time. I love the hot tubs that hang over the edge of the ship. The Carnival Dream is probably our favorite of all. It was decorated so beautifully for the holidays and I took pictures of it as much as possible. The shows were great but we LOVED the Comedy Club! What a great addition to the Carnival ships.

I’d like to shine the spotlight on several crew members who made our cruise totally awesome. We’ve cruised more than 30 times with Carnival and we have never been more impressed with several people. That’s saying a lot. In all that time, we’ve had some nice Maitre D’s but none have really stood out until now. His name is Budisa Drago (Scarlet Dining Room, table 537). I wish there was a status higher than “exceeds our expectations” because he’d certainly get marks for that. Is there a “Pure Excellence” category? He always greeted us by name with a genuine smile on his face. He continuously was talking with the guests in the dining room and came to our table every night to check on us, ask about our day, and just make sure our dinner was up to par. With many cruises we’ve taken, we really didn’t have any interaction with the Maitre D’ until the last night. No so with Mr. Drago! Some examples of his dedication to service are as follows:

1) One evening he came to our table (making his rounds to check on the dining room guests), he noticed my coffee cup was empty and started to get coffee for me-HE WAS GOING TO POUR IT HIMSELF! I was totally shocked since I’d just finished it. I told him I was fine and could wait until our servers had a chance to get it. He promptly signaled one of them over to take care of this matter. That says something about how seriously he takes his job. I realize how busy the dining rooms can be and try never to be demanding.

2) We mentioned we were going to make reservations at the supper club (sorry, we still think of it that way). He advised us that the best night would be the next one and proceeded to call them right then from our table and make our reservations for us, saving us the trouble. We wanted to go when it wasn’t too crowded and it meant a lot to us for him to help us with this.

3) On the last night of the cruise he brought the chef to our table and introductions were made. Never has this been done for us. It was an honour (spelled just for you) to meet the chef and tell him how much we were enjoying the meals on board. We’re just a down to earth couple of retirees and to have this happen to us is something we’ll never forget.

4) Mr. Drago brought over a plate of the most delicious petite fours I’ve ever seen or eaten on the last evening. I wish I had my camera that night because I’ve tried to describe it to our friends and can’t really tell them how beautiful the plate of goodies was.

Many of our friends have been introduced to cruising Carnival by us and I know they would be as impressed as we were by Mr. Drago. This man was the best we’ve ever had and will be remembered by us for all our days. He is the Face and Heart of Carnival. Carnival is very lucky to have such an employee who makes memories for passengers like us. I believe he will be with us on the Elation when we go in April (with a group we have) and I’m know I’m going to do everything I can so we can be in his dining room. Is that possible with a group of people? If I have to, I’ll get every one of them who will be dining (late dining) with us to go to the Guest Services desk, dining room or wherever we have to go to try to be in his dining room. We have some people who will be cruising for the first time, along with others who’ve cruised before, and it would be wonderful to introduce them to Carnival, great Carnival dining and the best Maitre D’ with Carnival. I’d like for them to have some wonderful memories like we have now. He is a true professional and a wonderful endorsement for the Carnival Corp. Any help/advise with this matter would be greatly appreciated. Our booking number is ______ on the Carnival Elation, sail date 4/9/2011.

There were several other people who were outstanding in the dining room too. Our wait staff, Ana Udriste and Inyoman Rudianto (“Rudi”) were top notch. It’s amazing how they could attend to so many people and still make you feel special. After the first night, they remembered I liked coffee with my meal and my husband liked ice tea. They were attentive and carried out their tasks with a smile at all times. One evening my husband became ill at dinner and they were nice enough to cover our meals and I was able to take it back to our room. Although my husband wasn’t up to eating that night, I was still able to enjoy a wonderful prime rib dinner. Thank goodness he recovered by the next morning and we were back in the dining room that night to enjoy another delicious meal.

One other young man in the dining room (bar service) named Hrvoje Valenta was one of the most pleasant people we met. He always stopped by our table to ask if we needed anything from the bar but it didn’t stop there. He always asked us how our day was, were we having a good time and just chatted with us in a very nice way. I felt guilty since we’re not big drinkers and never ordered anything. It was so sweet of him to take the time to speak to us every evening.
Our room steward was Supinya “Sue” (Cabin 1237) was really great. She kept our cabin tidy and was so nice when I asked for a few things I had used from the amenities basket. She was very good about bringing us ice and never obtrusive. We always take naps in the afternoon and somehow she knew it. It was very nice to leave and come back to a spotless cabin.

Again, thank you Carnival for a wonderful anniversary cruise. We’ve told everyone who’d listen that it was the best ever-even though we had bad weather more than half the time. Our friends are surprised by how much we’ve talked about our “perfect” cruise since they know we have been on many. This is why we cruise Carnival exclusively. I do hope that the people I’ve mentioned will get the recognition they deserve-especially Budisa Drago. I hope this can be forwarded to the correct department(s) so they can be acknowledged for their wonderful commitment to their jobs?

Thank you for your time. When I worked, I dealt with many customers too and it seems you always hear the “bad” but never so much of the “good”. I wanted to take the time to tell you about the good. I’m sorry you hear so much “bad” when there is so many great things about Carnival. I love your blog and read it every day. Keep up the wonderful work. John, I don’t want to ask for anything from you except maybe to point me in the right direction to try to get into Mr. Drago’s dining room for our group. I wish you a very prosperous New Yain ear and lots of wonderful times in this coming year (and less jerks to deal with).

Sincerely,
Patricia “Carole” Holley, past guest # __________

John Says:
Hello Patricia “Carole” Holley

Brilliant! What a brilliant review that was and a joy to read. Thank you for taking your valuable time to write this and write it so very well. I assure you that all your comments and praise will be sent to the people mentioned and their supervisors. Your review highlights what is best about Carnival and that of course is the service and fun our crew provide. Please make sure that when you are ready to cruise again that you let me know so I can arrange for you to be in Drago’s dining room

Once again a huge thank you and I remain here at your service.

Best wishes
John

Dave Vositch Asked:
Hello John,

Please respond if you have a chance.

My wife and I will be sailing on the Carnival Freedom from Feb 20th in stateroom 7348. I have two favors to ask of you. First could you recommend a good place to purchase cigars on this cruise? My wife and I sailed on the Carnival Freedom in 2007 with you and we both thought you to be the most entertaining CD we had ever had. When Paula and I got the chance to meet you and spend a bit of time talking you just absolutely made her cruise. Now for the second favor. Paula and I don’t get to spend much time together with me working as an airline pilot flying all over the world for American Airlines so we have to celebrate all our vacations, birthdays, anniversaries etc. when we can. On this cruise we will be catching up with her birthday and our anniversary. Since she had so much fun meeting you, and you made such an impression, would there be any way that you could have an email delivered to our stateroom just saying Happy Birthday to her. I know she would get a real kick out of it.

Thanks for all the hard work you put into this blog and I want you to know that a lot of us over here read it every day and you sure do know how to keep us rolling on the floor.

John Says:
Hello Dave

I am so glad this reached me in time and I hope you get to chance to read this before you cruise this weekend. The best place to get cigars will be St. Thomas which although part of the United States and there not permitted to sell Cuban cigars they do have some wonderful cigar stores downtown including the Davidoff shop which has an amazing selection of Fuente’s and of course Davidoff.

I must admit I have never bought Cuban cigars from any of the ports that you are going to and please be aware of the many fakes especially in the more common brands such as Cohiba and Monte Cristo can found in such destinations as Antigua, stay away from them, the same can be said about most cigar stores in Nassau, as well. There are excellent cigar stores in San Juan but St. Thomas would be the best place and you can smoke them in the cigar bar onboard.

I hope you have a fantastic cruise and look out for that little something for your wife. Fly safe, captain and have a brilliant cruise.

Best wishes to you both
John

Grace F Asked:
John please reply

Thank you so much for letting Chris the Cruise director know of my parents 60th anniversary while on the Conquest. He presented them with two pictures of the ship autographed by the Captain. They were truly surprised and thrilled and it made the trip more memorable. He also went one step further and gave them some chocolate strawberries from you and some champagne and they had the best time ever. Sadly though ex be her last exactly two weeks after the cruise my sweet Mother passed away suddenly and we laid her to rest this last Friday. I wanted you to know that she had such a wonderful time on the Conquest and the little things you did for her made what was to be her last vacation extra special. You are a wonderful man and the Carnival Company is full of the most special people I have ever met.

Thank you again
Grace

John Says:
Hello Grace F

I am so very sorry to read the news of the passing of your dear mum and you have the sympathies of myself and all of the blog readers. Sixty years is an amazing time to be together and I hope that your father, you and the rest of the family have some wonderful and loving memories of someone who sounds like a very special lady. You remain in my thoughts and please pass my best to dad and tell him I thinking of him. I am glad that mum had so much fun on her cruise. It is reasons like this that I continue to do my best to help as many people as I can

Best wishes
John

Lisa Asked:
John,

PLEASE READ, AND REPLY…

Just an FYI:

We (my family of 7) sailed on the Fascination 12/16/2010. We have NOT received an email comment “card” yet.

Thanks!
Lisa

John Says:
Hello Lisa

Yep, we have a system but it’s not foolproof yet obviously. I need to make sure you know that you must check the box that asks if you wish to receive e-mail information which includes the review card. But you probably did and yet haven’t gotten one so let me tell the right people and get one to you. I hope you had fun on your cruise.

Best wishes
John

KJ Portman Asked:
please reply

Can I ask that you send me a free gift. I don’t read your blog but was told that if I asked here I would get something. I am on the Dream on April 9th in cabin number 1388. My policy is you don’t ask you don’t get.

Thank you
KJ

John Says:
Hello KJ Portman

And it’s a great policy because you will get………what a brilliant post.  Have a fun cruise

Best wishes
John

Leonard Ince Asked:
John please reply

I have to agree with what another reader said about the Conquest. The Texans ruined the cruise for me and my DW. They were loud and uncouth and had no manners. We are not snobs but will never cruise out of Galveston or a ship with lots of Texans on it again. This was our seventh Carnival cruise.

John Says:
Hello Leonard Ince

I have to tell you as I did the other blogger that although the ship is sailing out of Galveston it does not mean that it is only Texans she has as guests. In fact I would guess that less than 50% are from Texas. I can only apologise in the sense that you were not happy and thank you for your seven cruises with us and hope number eight is the best yet. I must also say that my time on the Carnival Conquest was absolutely brilliant and the guests were some of the most fun I have ever seen.

Best wishes
John

Gwen B Asked:
I see you have been talking about the entertainment staff on your blog and wanted you to see my opinion. Wow, just wow. After returning from my cruise on Inspiration and reading some others reviews on Cruise Critic, I understand this ship is a ‘training ship’ for Carnival. I could not believe how pitiful the level of the entertainment staff was. It really seemed to me as if it was their first ever cruise. The Cruise Director (Danny Giriducci) was non-existent. I saw him one time at the welcome aboard show and never once saw him for the remainder of the cruise. His ACD was friendly, but highly unpolished and unorganized. There seemed to be 3 others on the entertainment staff who moved about the ship hosting trivia, shows, contests, etc and they were all pitiful. Ben may have been the most boring human being I have ever met. I cannot for the life of me figure out how or why he is working as an entertainment host of a cruise ship. Sam is funny (mainly because of his British accent and physical comedy) but is unorganized and generally lost when it comes to getting his job done. Last but not least is Lee…….boring, condescending and overall douchey. He is miserable at his job. My level of disappointment was heightened by the bad weather on both ‘at sea’ days

John Says:
Hello Gwen B

I was so disappointed to read this review and I will be using it to show the people mentioned and I know that they will take this to heart and work on improving their skills. I do want to point out that although there is indeed an entertainment staff college onboard it is not a training ship as none of these staff host activities until they have graduated college. Thanks again and I hope that despite the disappointments you mentioned that you had a great cruise.

Best wishes
John

Mike and Cheryl Barcomb Asked:
A request please John,

First of all I wanted to wish you a Happy New Year and love your blog and face book. Been watching you in NYC and it sounds very exciting!! We have a request if you don’t mind. Mike and I will be celebrating our first platinum cruise on the Carnival Miracle (one of the ships that tied for best! WOW we were on the Carnival Dream last year with you and will be on Carnival Miracle February 23 room 5155) We were wondering if you wouldn’t mind if we request that we be on the Bacchus upper level looking over to lower dining room? We have not been on the second level and think it would be wonderful if you could possibly see if that could happen, also Mike has a bad back and if we could be close to the front of the dining room, we have been in the back of the dining rooms and the thrusters in the back for some reason cause a lot of irritation to Mikes back. Thank you we did receive the chefs table reservation also cannot wait for that! Thank you so much John, wish we could be with you but we are one of the fortunate ones that have been with you for the bloggers cruise and two other cruises with you.

Thanks again John and Happy New year to You and the Girls.

John Says:
Hello Mike and Cheryl

I am so glad I caught this and will send it to maitre d today and I know he will do all he can to make sure he helps you. I hope your back gets better and that you have a fun and relaxing time.

Best wishes to you both

John

And that’s your lot for today. Many thanks for all the great comments.

Things here are really picking up and everyone is working hard to get the ship 100% ready for the 19th and the press and travel agent event. I am in charge of getting the ship ready for this and liaising with all the various departments. I have to be careful, though, as I am not the cruise director. Oh how I wish I was though but that job has gone to Felipe whose bio I posted last week here on our blog thingy. Anyway, while I have been uber busy getting everything ready as well as helping Felipe and showing him the ropes and blogging and Facebooking……….I wonder what he has been up to. Well, let’s find out.

Please tell us how you feel about being the new CD of the Carnival Splendor. It is extremely exciting to be part of this unbelievable project. The ship is beautiful and you can tell in advance that this is going to be an amazing run. It is a great honor to be able to call the Carnival Splendor “home” now for a while and I can’t wait to have our guests walking around and having a wonderful time here with us. I have to say as well that it is one of the biggest and most exciting challenges of my career. Being the cruise director of a vessel such as the Carnival Splendor is already a big responsibility. Taking over from John Heald also gives any CD a huge dose of adrenaline. Can’t wait for our first sail away…

What are you doing to get the ship ready to cruise again on the 20th? We have been working hard on the activities schedule and Fun Times for our first cruise. Along with our home office, we have been working as well on the line up for the shows in the Spectacular Lounge (the name of the lounge is not just a coincidence by the way), Punchliner Comedy Club & of course, music venues. Obviously the entire team is also brainstorming and each and every one of them has something new to add. The host team is extremely funny and our guests will certainly love them. Now that most of our staff and crew has arrived we have been going over little details as we approach the 20th of February.

Tell us about the dancers and cast. Are they rehearsing and how many of the cast who were here during the fire have returned. The cast that is on the Carnival Splendor today is full of energy and is excited to start performing the shows. They have been in Miami doing rehearsals for 3 weeks and now on the ship staging the shows along with Joe and Bubbles, our dance supervisor and dance captain, respectively. From the cast that was on board before, 8 of them are back and 8 are new to the Splendor cast team. They have been working hard from morning till night, rehearsing and cleaning up the show. All they need now is costumes; lashes, red lippy and the most important part; an audience.

Tell us about your team, your entertainment staff and ACD. The entertainment team on board is a lot of fun. In fact, it is not easy to find them trough out the day. They are always “on the go.” Their office has been organized, new trivias and challenges are already in place and it is just a great atmosphere. Each and every single one of them brings something to the group, it is just a big cultural soup with different people willing to have fun. Marcelo is the ACD, he has great sense of humor and is very experienced which is great for me, the host team and most important, for the guests. He is all the way from… Chile! (YAAAY, someone will understand my English!!!) He also loves to stand at airports for long periods of time before joining the ship.

What are you mist excited about being the CD of the Carnival Splendor? The ship herself would be enough to get me excited. Sailing out of California is also a unique experience that not many crewmembers in the industry have the chance to enjoy. Luckily, Carnival gives me that opportunity. The staff, crew and officers are the most friendly and that includes the managers, senior officers, hotel director and of course, the captain. On top of all of that, how about waking up in Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas the same week? You just can’t top that…

Did you find anything in the cabin belonging to John? Yes, once I arrived there were 8… I mean, 6 cans of baby food (sorry Kye, I was hungry), 6 big posters of a lady called Megan Fox in the closet, a picture of a young skinny John Heald on the desk (not a joke!) and a scarf. I also just found a very stinky piece of underwear that I first thought was pillow case. Has been removed by our bio-hazard team…

Thanks mate. I know nobody is more excited to be here than you and I am sure I will be hearing all about what a great CD you are. ……………..bio hazard team my arse!

Things here are really getting into top gear and as I write we have just finished our final crew safety examination under the review of the United States Coast Guard inspectors who are here.

One thing that we have needed to do is to replace every light on every life jacket in the guest and crew cabins. You know don’t you that each life jacket has a whistle and a light on it to attract attention? Well they do, and when the fire happened you will remember that we didn’t have any lighting at all so guests and crew used their lifejacket lights to see where they were going and see where they were peeing. So, we have replaced them all so each life jacket has a new light on it.

The good news is that all the examinations have been passed and as always the crew excelled themselves. The bad news is that we cannot leave until 5pm tomorrow. We wanted to and were ready to leave at 7am but because of traffic and other operational reasons we have been told we can’t depart until 5 pm. We will then arrive into Long Beach and will dock directly after the Carnival Paradise has left the pier.

Tomorrow, at 4:30pm San Fran time thingy I will be giving live updates from the bridge on Facebook as the Carnival Splendor starts her journey home.

Just a quick note about the bloggers cruise. It is coming very soon and I have had little chance to write about it. I can tell you that we will have an extra Bloggers only slot tournament. It will cost $20 to enter. I will host it. You can’t use your Platinum thingy for this as that needs to be used for the regular tournament. It is limited to 100 people. Oh and the prize…..well here it is

Who’s in?

As we continue with our look at the ship’s Fun Times………here are those for the Carnival Inspiration.

Click here for today’s Fun Times.

So yesterday I see that a guest was arrested on the Monster of the Seas for selling large quantities of drugs from his cabin. This has caused quite a stir I guess as apparently he was making some of the passengers very happy. I bet it put the ship’s food costs up as well with everyone getting the munchies at 3 am.

That might be bollocks though because when it comes drugs my knowledge is the same as The Queen’s knowledge on cage fighting. I have never, smoked anything stronger than a Cuban cigar and as for sniffing something……well the only bad stuff that’s ever gone up my nose is the smell from my arse after the huge bowl of San Francisco’s finest clam chowder the other night.

I don’t know socialize with anyone who partakes and of course Carnival strict drug polices among crew. I must say at this point that I have never taken drugs because I would hate anything that would affect my ability to think properly……why would anyone want to take away the ability to think clearly?

I once saw a group of people at my high school who’d taken some magic mushrooms. They were lying in the middle of the soccer pitch laughing hysterically at a piece of dog turd. Magic mushrooms then do not make you clever, irresistible to women, or give you X-ray vision, all of which would be fine. They make you laugh at a dog turd…and that’s not fine at all.

This is another reason why I don’t drink anymore. When I had partaken of a few beers I would marshal my thoughts into a coherent sentence but they would come out as a steam of incoherent rubbish….I sounded like someone from Japan trying to speak like a character from the Dukes of Hazzard.

The worst drug though, by a mile, is the common or garden sleeping pill. I tried one once, on a flight from Miami to London, and was so removed from anything you might call reality that to this day I have no recollection of the entire flight except being woken up by the flight attendant who was a pretty young thing from Virgin Airlines……she was blonde and quite attractive ….. yet when she woke me up I opened my eyes, looked at her and said “piss off you Scottish wanker.”..….I then realised what I had said yet couldn’t string a sentence together to apologize . …….and this was from taking just three Tylenol PM tablets….I promised myself I would never take them again.

However, after my overnight trip to New York a few months ago to do the Times Square thing I mentioned to someone that I wasn’t looking forward to the long flight back and they took pity on me and offered me two pills that would help me sleep. I said “No, thank you” explaining the last time had nearly resulted in me being banned from flying Virgin Airlines ever again. However, they were very persuasive saying they were only antihistamines rather than proper sleeping pills, so I relented and as the plane took off popped them into my mouth.

The first indication that something was wrong came 10 minutes into the film I was watching. It didn’t make any sense. I was watching a movie called The Untouchables and Sylvester Stallone had suddenly become Megan Fox and was wearing a leather skirt and high heels. I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t care. And then I fell into such a deep sleep that, if someone had sawn of my bollocks using a chain saw while singing I Like Big Butts……I would never have known.

The next thing I knew we were landing at Heathrow and this time as the flight attendant woke me instead of swearing at her and calling her Scottish I opened my mouth to speak and a torrent of green stuff drooled out of my mouth.

I vaguely remember collecting a bag from the carousel — I think it was mine — and driving home to the accompaniment of many blown horns and gestures to go away.

I’d love to report that the next day I felt refreshed but in fact everything was worse. I couldn’t shake off the crash helmet that had been nailed onto my head….and my mouth tasted like I had been chewing on Lebron James’s jockstrap.

I sometimes can’t sleep……I count sheep……I count the tigers that spring out of the field and eat them……I toss and I turn but if sleep doesn’t come I will never ever reach for the sleeping pills again. Having experienced the after effects I know that getting though the next day on one hours sleep is better than trying to get though it with the reaction times, humor, charm and conversation of a drunk Frenchman.

No blog tomorrow will be back on Thursday here and on Facebook tomorrow as the Carnival Splendor returns to Long Beach and returns to providing fun for all cruises down Mexico way.

Goodnight

Your friend
John

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48 Responses to Drugs, Ashes and More

  1. Ashley says:

    Thanks for the Fun Times for the Inspiration. I’m looking forward to reading over them before our cruise in less than two weeks!

  2. Christine says:

    Thank you so much for the blog and your Facebook page! My family and I are cruising on the Destiny this Monday (2/21) and you have been a wealth of information. Any last minute advice for an excited first timer and her jaded family?

    • Julie Mendenhall (jrmende63) says:

      Christine…just enjoy yourselves. Cruising is very addictive! I am getting ready to embark on the Carnival Destiny as well. It will be my 10th cruise!

    • annette says:

      Have no expectations, don’t sweat the small stuff (e.g., standing in line), smile and laugh every chance you get, and remember you are cruising to wonderful places and making incredible memories. Have fun…you are on vacation!!! Enjoy your cruise!!!!

    • Sarah says:

      Go with the flow and don’t be afraid to let everybody kind of do their own thing. The great thing about cruising is that you can all do what you want and meet up later.

  3. Cody Porter says:

    Just a small question for you, John. What are the differences from Carnival and Royal Caribbean?

    Thank you,
    Cody Porter

    • Julie Mendenhall (jrmende63) says:

      Cody if you need John to reply you have to put “please reply “

    • Doug says:

      That’s a small question? Hee Hee!

    • Karen Slaton says:

      Cody, Carnival is a lot of fun and Royal Caribbean is a bit more uptight. So if you’re not a party hardy person like I am, you’ll prefer RC.

    • Linda (Mom of DJ) says:

      Cody:

      A better person to ask is someone who has sailed them both A LOT.
      (Not just once or twice with either cruise line)

      That way you would get a balanced idea of each.

      Linda (Mom of DJ)

  4. Amy Callins says:

    Hey John. I thought that you were going to post the Fascination Fun Times today. Am I missing it? Thanks, Amy

  5. Michelle J. says:

    Hi John,

    Heard about your blog from fellow passengers over on CC. I really hope I’m able to cruise with you as CD someday – you’re a riot!

    My family (husband, 3 year old daughter and myself) are sailing on the Sprit on April 10 in cabin 8233 (my 3rd cruise, husband’s 2nd and my kid’s maiden voyage). We are totally bummed that we are wait listed for early dining especially since the kid gets cranky if she gets to bed much past 830pm. What would you suggest to increase the odds wen can secure early seating? Is there anything or are we just SOL?

    Thanks for your words of wisdom!

    Michelle Jacobson-Kwok

    • DINKS says:

      Michelle, the moment you get on board, grab a $20 and a note paper with your name (first only) and state room #, and go see the Maiter’D , PAITENTLY wait ( in clear view of the ‘D ) all the while smiling, and when it’s your turn after all the crying and gripping snobs demanding a better table, shake hands (with the $20 and yes, it is a bribe) make your request know with all humility, smiles and $20 dollars. Before dinner the next evening, you will have an invitation to see the resturant manager at early seeting. Trust me, it really does work. I did it on Conquest and Paradise.

      • MrPete says:

        If the guy is on the up and up, he will refuse the money.

      • $20 Bribe…………. NOT Just stand in line and patiently wait. If he can he will take care of your request………….. It doesn’t take a bribe for the <Maitre"D to help…………. At least it doessn't on a Carnival Ship Can't speak for any others…………….
        Carolyn…………… Milestone as of Feb27th

        • DINKS says:

          SORR-RY ! okay, a tip, but i was trying to avoid that Platinum0nuts cruiser. . .

          • Now is the time to hand the Maitre D’ that extra Maitre D’ tip envelope you picked up on your last cruise for just this. You just give him the envelope with your tip in it now. Then tell him your wishes. Now not only do you get your request but if you did right by him you will even see more of him all during the week.

            BIG Ed

  6. Hebburnboy says:

    Dear John,

    The NASCAR thingy does seem a little morbid.
    But perhaps Carnival could do something similar.
    When I die I want to be cremated in the engine room as the yet to be announced Carnival Valhalla crosses the equator then have my ashes scattered in the Jacuzzi on the Lido deck.

  7. Pingback: Carnival Splendor Web Cams are back up - Page 2 - Cruise Line Fans: Cruise Forum, Reviews and Chat From Real Cruisers

  8. Mike J. says:

    HEY JOHN, RE: Carnival Inspiration. I don’t know what Gwen B. is talking about because my family and I were just on the Carnival Inspiration for the Jan.24th sailing and we had a GREAT time! 2nd cruise with Carnival for my wife and me (Carnival Dream June 2010). My wife, my two children ages 4 & 7 and me were in one Oceanview cabin and my Mom and my Mother-in-law were in another cabin. The CD was Paul Santley who was very informative and entertaining. Our room steward Yevhen (Ukraine) was great and our Carnivale Dining room waiters Anthony (Grenada) and Iuliana (Moldova) were excellent and great with the children. We ordered a cake from the Formalities shop for my mother-in-law’s birthday and they brought it to the dining room complete with candles and a song. She was surprised and thrilled. We also saw Iuliana working hard on the Lido deck during the day. My children loved the Waterworks area (though the big waterslide didn’t seem to have enough water for adults) and we enjoyed the hot tub too (my 4-year-old didn’t want to leave). The Camp Carnival staff were great too. My kids had so much fun there that we left them on the ship when we went ashore for a tour at Cayman Islands. We saw the Carnival Freedom there just days before you got onboard and the Carnival Glory. Carla (Peru) and Stephanie (South Africa) as well as the rest of the Camp Carnival staff helped make the children’s cruise fun, so we gave them packs of cookies we bought in Cozumel. The Carnival Elation docked next to us there. We also enjoyed the shows. It’s amazing the detail and energy put into the dance productions. The dancers are very talented. My Mom had a great time for her first cruise. Our PVP was Paul Saunders who explained everything in detail and made our arrangements perfectly. We still have a future cruise certificate to use so perhaps we’ll see you sometime, John!

  9. Charles Fulton says:

    Hey John,

    I have been reading your blog ever since the Splendor situation last year and have to tell you I love it. I think I have been on a couple of cruises with you and hope to be on more. I’m currently a platinum member and will be cruising with 3 friends that are all 1st timers on the 21st of this month on the Paradise o (day after my 35th b-day, damm I cant believe I just said that seems like yesterday I was 21 lol) anyways I was curious about a couple of things I was trying to get them on the behind the fun tour, but every time I get on board its booked solid and I can never find it online. Can you please advise, also If at all possible, since I read a little further up I would love a few gift for my guest also …

  10. Susan Alaimo says:

    Hi John,
    We’re back from our Princess Emerald cruise and celebrating my hubby’s 60th. I just wanted to thank you for recommending that ship and for all you did. We had a WONDERFUL time! The ship was gorgeous, the staff was top notch and the food was delicious. We really enjoyed the lounge musicians and the production show were good (but not as good as Carnival’s). I didn’t any smell cigarette smoke during the 10 day trip. Whatever their smoking policy is, it seems to be working. This was our first Princess cruise but won’t be our last. Thanks again for helping to push us out of our Carnival comfort zone.

    While on Princes, we talked to many Princess loyal cruisers (elite, platinum members) who said that they would also love to try some other Carnival lines(Cunard, Seaborn, HAL and Carnival), but feel “stuck” because they “would have to start all over”. I sure wish that the Carnival executives would do something about reciprocity between the different lines. After being a Platinum cruiser on Carnival for so many years, it was a humbling experience having a blue (virgin) Princess card . But we survived. The seasoned Princess cruisers did help us learn the ropes of cruising on Princess.

    Any way, thanks so much for all you do and I look forward to meeting you on the Magic’s TA. So far, I have 18 people from our town joining us for the trip (and I’m not even a travel agent).
    We can’t wait to see the new Carnival Magic.

    Sue

    • Linda (Mom of DJ) says:

      Susan:

      I have begged for reciprocating benefits for years.

      I completely understand why this would not be “financially” possible with Platinum guests (since the other cruise lines involved are more expensive) but it would a fabulous perk for Milestone Reward Members.

      This would open up the avenue for loyal Carnival cruisers to test out different cruise lines that may be more expensive (a good thing for Carnival Corporation). And since these are individuals who have cruised with Carnival 25 or more times, they would certainly continue to still cruise with Carnival as well.

      Linda (Mom of DJ)

      • I have suggested this also. We will be milestone next week when we step on the Glo,………..oooopss Carnval Glory for the BC4. If it were recognized on some of the other ships that Carnival owns we might try a cruise on Princess, etc. But it’s not so we will stay on board with Carnival
        Carolyn

  11. Deb Judkins says:

    Dear John,
    First off I would like to thank you for answering all my Fb questions..:)
    second I would like to take the time to tell you how carnival has been a part of our lives. 2009 was a trying time in our marriage (On Sept 6th 2011 It will be our 25th wedding anniversary) we have 4 kids.our son 23, twin girls 20, and our youngest daughter 16.. Most of our family vacations were spent with the mouse in Fla!! . In Spring 2009( in a last ditch effort to save our marriage,) i woke up one morning to a to do list I had written the evening before, with an added item, Passport ..I was confused as to why my husband felt the need for us to get a passport.. he explained he wanted to take me on a real vacation away from it all!! we were not sure if we wanted an all inclusive resort or a cruise. so in April 2009 we booked a cruise for May 2009…on the Carnival Victory (neighbors and friends had suggested that a cruise would fit our needs best)
    So here I was flying to Puerto Rico with a man I had felt became a stranger in the 28 years we had been together. Work had consumed his life! If hes not physically at work, he is on the phone doing phone support, when the kids were younger it didn’t seem to bother me as much. but now they were off doing their own thing and here I was alone.. I cant tell you want a terrific time we had. The whole crew of the victory were wonderful…greeted with a smile where ever we went. met all of our needs and exceeded expectation!!we met a couple from Colorado ( we live in NH) and they became wonderful friends we stay in contact with them via fb and skype..In my opinion carnival saved our marriage!!! away from it all for a week No phone ..no computer..Just enjoying each others company and really getting to know each other again!! so we decided this is the way we want to spend each years vacation!! In May 2010 we sailed the Dream and took our then 15 year old daughter…we had a wonderful time. for the first time in i cant tell you how long, she was able to see her father at his best..No work stress just daddy!!! I cant tell you what this means to me..I am tearing up as I write this! we enjoy the more ports the better.. we did have a wonderful time on the dream and meet a lovely couple from England that were traveling with their 2 year old daughter molly..They became like family and they will be making a visit to NH soon. :) we speak with them on skype at least once a month…so I thank Carnival for opportunity to have friends all around the US and beyond!! That is priceless right there.. This May 1,2011 we will be back on the Victory celebrating Lindsay Our daughters 16 Birthday late! She turned 16 in December..and our 25th wedding anniversary early…Thanks so much for all you do, and Thank you carnival for the priceless memories ,
    A NOW cruiser for life,
    Deb Judkins..:)

  12. James Moss says:

    Hey John how do I submit a question for your Q&A? I also wanted to say Hi and I appreciate your blog, we have sailed with you a few times most recently on the Dream last March, we first met you on the Triumph back in 2003. I have a couple of questions for you is there an email I can send them to or do I post them here? Have a Blessed day !

    • vivienne says:

      James,

      To ask a question on the blog you need to write
      Dear John
      Please reply
      at the top of the letter.

      View the Q & A section above .

  13. Candace Rich says:

    I just saw that I somehow deleted part of my sentence at the end.
    It should read:
    “Also, I wanted to say that I was on the Elation with Filipe in September and I think he’ll do a great job on the Splendor!”

  14. Brenda Smith says:

    Hi John, my friend Ellen Born and I will be cruising on the Freedom, sailing 3/26/11 from FLL. We would love two spots on the Chef’s Table.

    I hope I’m doing this right!

    Peace, Brenda

    • STARR WILLAMAN says:

      Hi Brenda Sailing the same time and ship as you. Can’t wait!! Hope you get the Chef’s Table. Our group talked about it but a few of the group had some financial difficulty so they can’t do it. We are just glad they did not cancel their cruise.

      • Brenda Smith says:

        Hi Starr, nice to meet you! 36 days !!!! can’t wait either!! This is my first cruise. I hope I did it right? Oh well, no problem….it will be fun either way.

        Peace, Brenda

    • Timoneer says:

      Brenda, to get John’s attention for a special request, you need to put “Please Reply” at the beginning of your message. You will love the Chef’s Table. My wife and I experienced it on the Carnival Spirit in Alaska a few months ago – wonderful meal and service.

  15. Jim (please reply) says:

    John,

    A few things:

    First off we just got back from the Paradise and we couldn’t have had a better time. Thank you for all your help in getting us the Chef’s Table reservation, we had a great time.

    A couple of questions regarding the cruise:

    1. Can you please explain why on the 4 day cruise the ship remains in port in Ensenada until 9PM, yet on the 3 day the ship only remains in port until 6PM?

    2. The Chef’s Table is a great experience, one that is very high end and on the 3 day cruise it is held on the last night. The experience is long (ours was nearly 4 hours) and it eats up much of the night and then when you add in the fact that you have to pack up that night, it leaves the passenger with very little time to see the shows or anything else. Since this is an upscale experience, why would it not be held on the same night as the Elegant night? Just curious.

    3. This last one is more of an observation and less of a question. When we ate breakfast in the MDR on the sea day, the service was extremely slow and nearly non-existant when compared to the dinner service. Was curious is this was just a product of eating breakfast or is this was an atypical experience. By the way we did the your time dining and we never had an issue with attentiveness of pace of service.

    Once again, we had a great time and thank you for your help with the reservations.

  16. Hello John! I’m a new reader, and I just love your blog! You are one funny guy! I wanted to write to let you know how much I enjoyed my very first cruise on Carnival Paradise this past summer. I flew across country from Florida to surprise my high school girlfriends who I haven’t seen in 30 years. What a wonderful reunion it was!! Ensenada will never be the same after us 5 crazy California girls!!
    A couple of months after the cruise, we began to have some pretty bad marital problems, and my husband and I both have been considering a divorce. We’ve decided to go on a cruise to the Bahamas to see if we’re going to stay together after 14 years, and if we cant find the spark on the Fascination, where would we ever find it? We’re going out of Jacksonville Fl. on March 10,2010. I’ve got us booked in an ocean view cabin, but what would your suggestion be to make it more romantic? I love this man and want back what we had for so long. What are your thoughts on romance on the cruise? Is there some sort of “romance oackage” Carnival offers that I could get? An upgrade once we board maybe? I don’t even know what an upgrade on a ship would be…lol…just any help you could give would be greatly appreciated!!
    Thanks so much for your time,
    Mariah Harvey

  17. STARR WILLAMAN says:

    John and the wonderful beards. Posting as requested to see how it is working. Good Luck Splendor.

  18. Patsy B says:

    John – will I be able to make online reservations for cucina del capitano on the Magic when we sail in August? I would like to have lunch there on our sea day on August 27th.

  19. Beth Selinger says:

    This is a bit long but wanted folks to know…
    John…as promised here is my Carnival Miracle review for the cruise to Aruba, Dominican Republic, Curacao and Grand Turk that we took on 2/7.
    First things first – what a lovely surprise it was receiving your birthday gift! You and the Carnival team are wonderful and so caring of your travelers! Thank you so very much.
    I want to begin with those crew members who really made the voyage even more wonderful. Simon, the gentleman that manages the Internet café was so charming and helpful. What a great smile and willingness to do whatever he could to help everyone in there. He recently came on board the Miracle and he is a great asset to the crew and passengers.
    Wayan and Sudi were our wait staff. They were so much fun, so efficient and great dancers too! They really made our dining experience a grand time!
    Packaya and her asst. room steward were always greeting us by name – asking about our day and were very helpful with the extras that we needed due to storing my diabetes medication. Excellent job!
    Our CD Malcom was very visible throughout the cruise and although quite busy at times, did his best to try and stop for conversation when people engaged him in them.
    It was a bit of an unusual cruise for us, as the percentage of passengers on this one were 72% over the age of 65. The early dining and shows were packed and the nightclubs after 10:00 pm were so quiet you could hear a mouse peeing on cotton! Throughout the day there were always things to do but it was kind of funny that the “hot spots” were the card rooms!!
    The ports were beautiful with plenty to do. Having the beach so close in Grand Turk was marvelous!
    We did go to Nick and Nora’s steak house. It was the first time we tried going to one of the supper clubs. We, as a lot of folks believe that there is such good food in the dining room, why spend the extra $30.00 for dinner? While it is very true that the food is quite good in the dining room, the entire experience in the supper club along with the incredible food, service and ambiance is a not to be missed adventure. Believe me folks – it is so very worth it! We are hooked and plan to do it all again on our next cruise.
    Once again, Carnival took 8 days in the lives of 4 people and gave us memories and experiences that will be forever cherished.
    Thank you to all for creating a wonderful vacation.
    Beth Selinger

  20. DannyK says:

    “…..bio hazard team my arse!” Well, yeah. That’s why they needed the bio hazard team. What’s your point? ;)

  21. jackie shapiro says:

    just sent a long detailed email and it came back error with email address. Was it received? I hope it can be retrived.

  22. Liznphil says:

    John, thank you once again for taking up for us Texans.
    Leonard Ince…did you check passports to know the “loud and uncouth, ill-mannered” people are from Texas? Being that you are the know it all and could never be wrong type of person enlighten us and tell us how you know without a doubt they were Texans

  23. Linda (Mom of DJ) says:

    Hi to Felipe !!!

    He is a sweetheart and will do a wonderful job on the Splendor.

    Linda (Mom of DJ)

  24. Justin says:

    Hello i was wondering if you will join us on the fantasy on april eighth and i have some other questions i want to talk to you about if you will email me or somthing.

  25. richg says:

    John
    While I respect your “no drug policy”, you better hope for Carnivals bottom line that few of your customers follow your example.Personally I am down to coffee and an occasional drink.

  26. Dale Sawchuk says:

    John,We were just on the Glory.Feb 6th to 13 2011 sailing. We were in the Platnum Dining room table 340(moved to a table for 2)our S+S card was table 348 but we moved to 340 at embarkment after we talked to the Maitre D about a table for 2.
    We had a waiter on board named Babu from Indian and his assistant Geraldo( nickname Gerry) from the Philipines. We were very happy with their service. We booked the Glory out of New York for July 25 2011 and was wondering if either one of them was on the Glory that week we would love to have them as our dining room servers in a heartbeat. How or who would we contact to make this happen. We did not get there last names and have no way of contacting any of them to see if they are on this cruise. Just wondering how this could be done if they are on that ship for this sailing. Thanks Dale Sawchuk from Winnipeg Canada

  27. Bronica says:

    GOOD MORNING JOHN !!!!!
    i hope your day is going well. i have a comment. nothing important however. lol. i will be sailing on the DREAM on 4-30-2011 cabin 8375 with my very negative family whos cabin is 8416/8420 ( because of kids) my mother the biggest don’t wanta sail carnival person. is trying very hard to be positive . this is all in results of people jumping off the boast, boats stranded out in the ocean. i’ve been positive thur all this. shes used to crusin thur disney and rene and bobby go thur ncl so i’v been trying to make this exciting for them and it’s costing me .lolol i’v had some beer sent to there room so far i’v bought my mom and sons soda cards my intentions are to have all three rooms decorated with bon voyage and get my 2 nephews soda cards in there rooms for them as well. i’v sailed a few times with carnival last yr was liberty in april john i’v NEVER had a bad cruise it was only what i made it, as will my DREAM cruise .. 54 days and i’l probably be broke by the time i get there but i don’t care. as long as i can have a few fufu drinks im good… that’s for the ear.. told you it was nothing, I LOVE CARNIVAL !!!!!! Bronica Bruff

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