April 12, 2011 -
Yesterday evening, Italy time, I had a conference call about the naming ceremony of your Carnival Magic and thanks to the mute button I could sit there, listen, answer Facebook questions and fart……… And none of the dozen or so people on the call were any the wiser. I was talking to ……….or rather not talking to………..a group of people from our Miami office.
Now, for those of you who have never experienced a conference call, let me explain what happens. They’re exactly like a normal meeting in that nothing happens and nothing gets done and everyone talks bollocks but you don’t have to sit there, remembering not to fall asleep and not to pick your nose in front of President and CEO Gerry Cahill.
I just sat there, in my underpants, drinking Diet Coke and at one point during the call I went to the toilet for five minutes, and when I finally rejoined the conversation nobody had even noticed I’d been away.
Unfortunately, one of the problems with this is that someone from marketing is going to ask for my opinion and I won’t have any clue what they have been talking about because they were in the box and we were outside it, at the top of a flagpole seeing which way the wind was blowing.
I hate meetings but I guess I am the only one because anytime I call anyone at Carnival they are going to a meeting, in a meeting, leaving a meeting to go to another meeting or planning tomorrow’s 39 meetings with a follow up meeting about the previous meeting.
If I was Carnival’s president I would have one rule. If I go to a meeting, only I am allowed to speak and if anyone else speaks they have to wear the Fun Ship Freddy costume at the next 12 meetings.
The naming ceremony is going to be excellent though and because of the journey our godmother Lindsey has been on, I imagine it will be somewhat of an emotional ceremony, as well. I have been to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital twice now and it has made an everlasting impression on me. The one thing that stuck out in my mind when I went to St. Jude is that it is full of people laughing, not bravely or falsely, but just because children, even sick ones, are funny. Paintings, drawings and personal experiences by the kids adorn the hospital walls, my favourite from a 7 year old boy named Max who wrote about how just a few minutes before he was due to be taken for treatment he announced to the doctors that he had eaten a secret bar of chocolate bar half an hour ago………………..brilliant.
And I admit that after my visit I had to spend some time alone, puffing hard on my cigar, counting my blessings that Kye was healthy. The days I spent there I could see the need was obvious and that as cruise director, I am determined that our partnership with St. Jude and our goal to raise $3 million or more is a massive success. I hope that at some point during your vacation you can help me to keep them laughing………….and living.
Time for some Q and A ………………..lets crack on.
Clayton G Asked:
PLEASE READ AND RESPOND
A friend and me will be traveling on may 1 on the magic (cabin 1344). This is my 3rd cruise with Carnival and it will be my 40th birthday. Is there anything special that could be done for me as I have cruised with Carnival twice before. Then I need you to arrange Friends of Dorothy meetings every day at 10:00pm in the piano bar cause on my last cruise on fascination it was done at 5:00pm which was really a stupid time.
Hello Clayton G,
I will certainly have Friends of Dorothy meetings as often as I can throughout the cruise and please check your Fun Times for where and when they will be. It certainly will be after sailing and not at 5 pm. I will send you a little birthday gift as well. See you very soon.
Steve Linton Asked:
Mr Heald my concern is that after seeing stories of rude and sometimes dangerous behavior of some passengers I have to ask if Carnival has a plan to deal with them… What if there had to be a ship evacuation? After reading how ineffectively you have gotten certain groups to comply, I fear a time when it be imperative for them to follow directions. I think this matter needs to be addressed and not in a politically correct manner. It seems that you are letting the behavior of a few overwhelm the enjoyment of everyone to enjoy their trip.
Hello Steve Linton,
I am not sure as to what you are specifically referring to and I apologise if it is a follow up to something you saw here in the blog but as I am behind in my answers I can’t refer to the subject. There is nothing any cruise line can do when basic regard for other human beings is ignored and the rudeness of guests, although rare, is frustrating to other guests and of course the crew…….In a real emergency or when needed, we of course would take effective steps to make sure everyone did as ordered. If you are referring to a specific thing I would kindly ask that you write back and tell me so I can give you a less generic answer.
Louise Maplin Asked:
John, PLEASE REPLY
My family were on the Dream for our first ever Carnival cruise and I have one BIG complaint. We are regular cruisers with Celebrity and Royal and have always been able to mail packages back to our home in Edgewater, NJ. We usually buy so much we can’t pack it and the friendly folks at the ships front desk have always done this for us. But not on Carnival. This made me very angry and I was told that you are the person to complain to. Why do you not offer this service that all the other cruise lines do? I have posted this on Cruise Critic so it’s a known fact
Hello Louise Maplin,
Well, first of all I hope you had a great cruise and that apart from the postage issue you enjoyed the fun and service that the Carnival Dream crew gave you. I can’t answer for other lines and I am certainly not doubting you, but I have to say I was surprised when I heard that they took packages at the guest service desk. We have a very strict policy about this and I have the official wording here:
Postcards can be mailed each day when the ship is in port. Due to customs regulations, any type of mail other than postcards cannot be mailed from the ship; of course, letters and packages can be mailed from a local post office in the ports-of-call. The postal regulations of the various ports require that the postcards be stamped with a local stamp only (no U.S. postage).
So, that’s the reason and I hope this makes it understandable why your request was refused.
I do though hope you had a wonderful cruise and that we will see you again
I am thrilled to be cruising on the Carnival Magic Trans Atlantic with three girlfriends but please tell me the piano bar on the Magic will be non-smoking. Putting us in there with the smokers is the same as putting us in a room full of serial killers and having spent so much money for the cruise don’t we deserve the right to enjoy this fun place. Why is it reserved for the rude couldn’t care less smokers who have no morals.
Thanks for your response
I am very happy that you have decided to join me on the Carnival Magic and you will I promise ………….love this ship. The piano bar will feature a smoking area but the area around the piano will be non-smoking. There are many more non-smoking areas than smoking on the ship and I hope that you will enjoy them all. I look forward to seeing you and your friends soon.
We are cruising on the Valor April 24 and want a large table at the early seating for dinner. Our seating time was confirmed, but every time we ask for a table for 2, we end up being on a big table and then when we ask the Maitre D if he can move us, he doesn’t do it. We are in cabin 6251.
I have asked the maitre d to do his best to assist you. It is not always possible as we receive many such requests here on the blog and many more directly on board. The maitre d will always do his best to accommodate everyone but that is of course not always possible. Anyway, hopefully this time you will have your table for 2. Have a wonderful cruise
The Dawsons Asked:
John Please reply,
I suffer from a constant and severe facial twitch brought on by my Lyme disease. This can really trouble other people and while I have grown used to it these last 7 years it obviously embarrasses others. Please then can I have a table for 2 for me and Mother for our cruise on the Legend May 22. Thanks so much for all you do and the laughs you bring so many.
Hello The Dawsons,
Thanks for taking the time to write and of course I will do all I can to make this as comfortable a cruise as I can for you and will therefore ask the maitre d to help with your table request. I wish you a wonderful cruise.
Vanity Jane Asked:
REPLY I DARE YOU !
I along with other Cruise Critic readers are proud smugglers for two reasons. One is to have a drink (or two or more) in our room before dinner, on the balcony. Second, cost savings. I read your blog today about confiscated booze and wanted you to see the other side of the coin and that’s that there are many rum runners who beat the system. Hooray for us and boo boo Carnival for the BS drink prices.
Hello Vanity Jane,
John, Please reply
What is Carnivals policy regarding e-cigarettes. An e-cigarette has no tobacco, produces a water vapor that is breathed in and exhaled. There is nothing burning and so no primary or second hand smoke. As such, they should be acceptable to even the worst antismoking people. What do you think?
With the exception of the dining rooms, we allow these to be used across the ship. I have seen more and more people using them onboard and so far we have very few negative comments about them. If we do, it’s because there is not total understanding as to what they are. Hope this helps. Thanks for asking the question.
John, Please Reply
Will Carnival ever consider a cruise for only singles?
I think the short answer is no Dante. While we carry thousands of singles each year, we also carry a huge number of families, couples, groups and other guests so I don’t ever see us having a week or more with just singles onboard. Thanks for taking the time to write.
Dr Deany Cheramie Asked:
John (reply if you wish),
Platinum Cruiser needs to take a “Behind the Fun” Tour, then he would realize how hard the entire team works to make his cruise enjoyable and how little some team members receive as salary. After taking the Behind the Fun tour on the Carnival Triumph during our December 27th cruise, my partner and I doubled our tips to our stewards and wait staff. There are some team members who make as little as $75 a month and they send most of that back to their families in the Philippines or Indonesia or Mexico. Tipping them more gives them the opportunity to purchase small luxuries for themselves or send more money back to their families. Fellow cruisers, tip generously! Most of us have been blessed to live in one of the richest countries in the world. I will willingly give up a few cappuccinos so my steward’s kids can have shoes for school this year.
Hello Dr. Deany Chermie,
I just wanted to finish today’s Q and A with your wonderful post and I know that the vast majority of your readers would agree with your thoughts Doc. I truly appreciate you taking the time to express your feelings.
That’s all for today. Now with the new ship stuff I am unfortunately going to have to limit the blog to 3 or 4 a week, writing on Monday, Tuesdays and Fridays definitely and maybe Wednesdays as well but definitely 3 for sure. I promise to get back to 5 a week after the ship is sailing but with so much to do I just can’t manage 5. I will though keep you updated every day on the FB and answer questions every day three times a day. Hope that’s ok.
So what’s happening here on the Carnival Magic? Well let’s start with another brilliant update from Preston Bircher who as you know is the entertainment technical manager and the man behind the curtain that makes all our shows so spectacular with his lights, sound, stage scenery and much much more. Here he is:
Hey John… its Preston again, downstairs in the Showtime Theatre! You know that I’ve been doing this a long time. From way back in 1989 when I met you onboard the m/s Jubilee—John Heald the Assistant Bar Manager (I was the only Light & Sound Tech then)—to now—and 22-new-ship-deliveries later for me; I think this ship is going to be the best ship we’ve ever had built. Seriously! Fincantieri is really doing an amazing job. And finally getting to see most things finished as all the coverings were coming off this last weekend for Micky Arison’s site inspection was really just the icing on the cake. (Not to mention seeing the giant entourage behind him smiling ear-to-ear as the inspection was going really well… and you trailing behind all in your sweats… why were you the only one not in a suit?)
Anyway—we had a very productive weekend getting the lighting installed and getting all ready for the scenery to board the ship. All the flashing colors are flashing—all the spinny-lights are spinning—all the light-patterns are… patterning? Chippy, Steve, Dave and Darren were working hard running all thru the labyrinth of catwalks that are laced thru-out the ceiling of the theatre where many of the lights, speakers and special effects are hidden. Hauling very heavy “Vari*Lites” up onto the trusses over the stage and running the miles (should I say “kilometers”? This is Italy, of course…) of control and power cables getting ready for the Final Focus so that the real show can start to take life.
IT’S MONDAY! — Time to meet the Italian Customs Officer at the 1st of the scenery sea-going containers to have the seals broken and doors opened! (I love this part) The first show we’re going to work on is a giant magical-illusion show that we’re producing. It’s like totally huge! And these sets are amazing! Michael Barone and Jack Doyle at Scenery First have done a really cool job! You know, they are the best at scenery-at-sea! Well, not just at sea—just about anywhere. But making all these giant things move and automate and flow so fast on and off the stage while the ship is a-rockin’ and-a-rollin’ is a calculated science. All of the scenery that flies in and out up into the “fly tower” that is sandwiched up into deck-6 (making the entire theatre 5-decks in all—from pit to tower—decks 2 thru 6) has to travel in a guide system that is similar to that of an elevator’s—and at speeds of 600mm a second! It’s a totally different design concept than shows on land. Land theatres don’t list-and-pitch. They do it the best.
(Did you know that the Carnival Destiny was the first ship to have a fly tower? And Scenery First designed those sets as well… Groundbreaking we are here at Carnival, groundbreaking! And you were there, too!) Wow… do I go off on tangents, or what?
The scenery has been ‘at sea’ for over 6-weeks now making its trip from Philadelphia by truck to the Port of New York. Across the North Atlantic to the Italian port city of Livorno; yes the same Livorno that the ship will call on in May. Then trucked across Italy to Monfalcone—our home-away-from-home since 1996. Jack and his team peer into the container to make sure nothing has shifted and damaged. IT’S ALL GOOD! So then it is emptied onto a giant “skid” that is then flown by one of the giant cranes that is towering over the Carnival Magic and onto that special shelf that Fincantieri built just for us… Then we maneuver the giant set pieces thru the atrium dodging and avoiding Joe Farcus’ beautiful glass palm-leaf chandeliers. I asked the shipyard to remove the ones in the theatre under the balcony so that we wouldn’t collide by accident into them… oops. But we got it in the theatre without any mishaps and I can breathe again—and so can Boris the CCL person in charge of the outfitting on the ship. (These sets are big! Did I say that already?)
Wednesday we have container #2 and then the following Monday, containers #3 & #4. Also on Monday we have all the Costumes in their own container and one 40-foot “high-boy” container that is full of illusions!!!! That’s a lot of tricks! (Magicians don’t like it when you say that…) After you add the Entertainment Department containers for all the other gear, games, office supplies, ping-pong tables, Bingo Machine, video projectors, editing suites—there are over 14-containers in all… it takes a lot of stuff to start up a new ship. And that’s just the Entertainment Department. I can’t even imagine the number of containers for the Housekeeping and Food & Beverage Departments!!!!
Gotta run now—I’m going to get some of these pictures I took off my iPhone and onto your iPad so that you can upload them to your PC and hopefully onto your Blog-thingy! (John is getting very technological these days—we even had Skype Meetings a few weeks ago! And got a few visits from Kye and Heidi, too. So good to see them!!!! Kye is truly beautiful.)
Ciao for now John… don’t forget to come down to visit us… in between your blogging; Facebooking; Department Meetings; Captain’s Meetings; Entertainment Staff Meetings; creating the FunTimes for 7-day, 9-day and 12-day voyages; organizing Crew Activities and backing up the brand-new vacuum toilet system!
It’s great to be back together again! Kiss-kiss on both cheeks (Benevento in Italia!)
Thanks mate and at some point I will pop down to see if you have designed me a sparkley G string.
The crew count is now touching close to 900 with the total crew count here being 1,417. Today I decided to make one of the staff solely responsible for the SportSquare and sports activities onboard. The position will be Sports Director and this will go to a brilliant and funny chap and someone who loves the great outdoors and sports, rather like myself actually……and that’s Eli. Congratulations to him.
Once work is finished in a specific area it has to be inspected by one of us before we sign to say we accept it from Fincantieri. This includes every cabin and this morning the cabins on deck 2 were all inspected and agreed and so now the housekeeping staff can go in and set them up, ready for you. Tomorrow deck 6 should be ready.
So obviously none of the crew has to wear uniform yet so after work when the overalls come off the casual clothes come on and that means……..flip flops. Look, I know it’s a cultural thing but I just can’t stand the sodding things. I hate feet. I hate yours and I hate mine. Every time I pass through airport security and the security people with the iron on badge ask me and my fellow flyers to remove our shoes I shudder. Don’t look down…….take my advice, keep your head up otherwise you are in for some vomit inducing horror shows.
One time I saw a businessman with a hairy big toe poking through a hole in a sock, a clear case of nail canker in a middle aged woman and one bloke’s foot was so dirty he could have grown potatoes on it.
I went to smoke a cigar on the pier last night and I was surrounded by flip flopped feet. There is nothing that will put you off your Monte Cristo quicker than a pair of feet with toes so grizzled and hooked that they look like their own could swoop over a river and pick a fish up out of the water. But the crew is doing a wonderful job and now we have close to full compliment onboard with only about 200 still to join us.
It has been brilliant to correspond with so many of you, in fact close to 12,000 of you since I became a Facebooker. You know, I thought this was just for spotty kids to talk about their first kiss and Justin Beaver……but apparently teenagers no longer think social networking sites are cool and perhaps they will spend less time locked away in darkened bedrooms and more time carving out real friendships. Some feel that thanks to thingies like Facebook we are losing social skills. That may be the case, but it is also a reality and short of pulling the plug on the internet it is not going to change.
By and large, families do not sit down and eat meals together any more. They do not play board games together. The kids spend their time on their laptops upstairs as Mum and Dad ponder what is going on in the lives of their children. However, extensive research by Carnival’s marketing beards showed that people of all ages enjoy social networking and not just people who wear their pants lower than a snake’s bollocks. The beards then all got together at Carnival HQ and after 298 meetings decided that the Carnival Dream should have the first seagoing social network and that is was so successful they would repeat that success here on your Carnival Magic…it’s called Fun Hub. Terminals are located along the Promenade Deck and for those baggy-panted teens, they are located outside of the Club O2 and Circle C areas, as well.
Now, you can use the touchy feely screen to look at Capers……bugger…the Fun Times, dining options, show times and so much more. It will contain free daily world news headlines and then, of course, you can sign up to the social networking site. Here you can leave messages for your friends and family telling them what you have done and what you are going to do. The way I see it being most used is as a chance for people to meet other people. Want to find someone who likes to dance….leave a message on the Fun Hub. Want to meet fellow bridge players…… leave a message on Fun Hub. Have a dedication for my Morning Show…….leave a message on Fun Hub. Are you 80 years old and want to meet a 23 year old Latvian for some rumpy pumpy while hanging from the rope swing course…..…well bugger off to a different website, please. I will be promoting these stations a lot and as soon as they are ready I will slap some photos here on the blog thingy.
I want to show you photos now of the most brilliant and fun water park at sea. Have a look at these.
As many of you know Gerry Cahill, our president and CEO politely invited me to use the slides with him our Carnival Dream. Well…….when I say politely invited me I mean he made me an offer I couldn’t refuse and so my fat arse was on the slides. I hate water, I hate heights, I hate enclosed spaces and as I stood atop the slide I hated Gerry, as well. But……..once down the slide all that all changed and I loved it and the exuberant feeling that it gave. My point is this, if my lilywhite thighs can slide down them……so can yours and the ones on your Carnival Magic look even more fun…….so go on……have a go.
Now I am sure Gerry has some fiendish plan to have me hanging from a rope like Tarzan in a fat suit and well…….as we say where I come from, he has two hopes……Bob…….and bugger all.
Look, I know that nothing I do in my life could ever be considered “cool.” I would love to learn to do something that was though and learn it in secret without any bugger knowing. Then, one day surprise my colleagues at work by coming on stage and playing Rachmaninov’s 2nd Piano Concerto due talent show……speaking to the captain in fluent Italian…..or cooking something worthy of a Michelin star. As it is though my piano skills consist of the first few notes of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, I can’t even operate a microwave and the only words I know in Italian are hello, goodbye and my thingy is trapped in my zipper. Cool, is something I am not and there is as much chance of finding me on the end of a rope as finding The Queen at a Starbucks asking for a crapafrapacinno.
But I know Gerry, he is fit and highly competitive ……and I know that he will love it and already be sitting at home dreaming about his Carnival Magic’s rope swing course.
For one thing, he will love the look of the ropes course outfit. Tight boots, harness with metal hanging off, no shirt, talcum powder all over his hands, doing the LeBron James thing with it before he climbs on. And I am sure the various vice presidents and directors who have traveled to Italy with him will tell him how amazing he looks and some may even tell him he looks sexy. Meanwhile there will be me….. hanging on the end of the rope in fear and total terror. As I said, some of Gerry’s VP’s and directors will all be telling him how masterful he was and that he was one with the rope. They will be brown nosing him for sure and if they stand directly under me …..swinging on a rope …………..it will be my pleasure to supply the brown for their noses.
And that’s nearly about it for today……except….this. The following is a video that was never ever meant to see the light of day and I am sure that me posting it is going to result in a senior Carnival beard’s foot entering my bottom. You see, a few of the beards at the office had a bit of fun with our new ship and came up with this brilliant trailer and even though it was thrown in the trash, it was rescued by Super Spy PA007 who sent it to me. I think it is really funny and isn’t fun what we are all about. So here it is, a trailer for your Carnival Magic….with a guest appearance by a near naked me. Enjoy.