September 13, 2011 -

John Heald

This cruise is the first one for some weeks where we have very few children on board – 95 in fact. And while 94 of them are having a brilliant time in the ports of call and at Camp Carnival, Circle “C,” and Club O2, there is one 12-year-old here on the Carnival Magic who is doing none of the above…………and we shall call her Annie.

Here is a message from Annie’s mother.

Ref: 887271222A
Cabin: **** Booking#: ****** Added-Changed: 09/111/11 – 09/11/11
Guest reported to GSD stating that she was unhappy that her 12 year old daughter had not received any education activities at Circle C. Guest expected that she would be taught history about the European ports but it has all been games and dancing. Guest asked to speak with Cruise Director John. GSA offered to call YD but Mrs.______ insisted on speaking to CD.

I am really on a roll this week what with guests trying to sell me diet pills, the reaction to our Sept. 11 ceremony and now this. I can understand why people want to speak to me. Oh hold on, that sounded big headed and I didn’t mean it to be — I just mean that I am the voice of the ship and so the guests have a perception that I am in charge of everything. But in reality it’s the youth director who is in charge of all the three children and teen programming on the ship and the youth director reports to the hotel director. Personally, I find this a little odd as what they provide is as much entertainment as what we do for the adults and I would love to get the CD’s more involved with the program. Anyway, I digress. So even though I am not in charge of the program I met the lady in the company of our youth director and I have to say it has been an interesting cruise to say the least.

Now I have to say that before I headed on down to Carnival Magic’s lobby which is where I hold all my “The cruise director is a fat useless bastard” bollocking sessions that I had some pre-conceptions in my mind about how this lady would be. She would be wearing a caftan, have her hair in pigtails and ready to “teach the world to sing.” Wrong! She was pleasant and just wanted to explain that she had expected her daughter to receive an “education” while she was on board and not have her just “playing all the time.” I apologised and also said that I would take her suggestion that we should include teaching the kids Italian back to the beards in Miami.

Annie’s mother further explained to us that her daughter was “gifted” and was home schooled. I know nothing about “home schooling” and I am sure for many this really works but as she rattled off all her achievements I couldn’t help but look at her daughter as a normal kid who sat quietly, listening to Mum say that she wished she could have learned more about the history of Venice yesterday rather than decorate T-shirts with glitter. I felt sad because her daughter’s eyes looked sad they looked like she would have loved to be at Circle “C” right now having fun with her new friends. Now Kye is two years old and while I would never dare to criticise how another parent brings up their kid, it just seemed sad that she wasn’t allowed to go and be…….well, 12 years old.

All of us wrap up our children when it’s cold. We put them on booster seats in the car and make them wear so much safety equipment when they ride their bicycle it looks like they are doing so in Afghanistan. We strive constantly to keep them out of harm’s way, and then we send them off to school so they can be punched, kicked, and learn how to swear by the time they are five. Maybe this lady is right…………….maybe home schooling is the way to go.

Annie is skilled in mathematics I was told and at the age of 12 she probably is better at math than I ever was or ever will be. Mum told us her daughter, who already speaks fluent Spanish, starts school at 7 am every morning, works with her dad on math and English until noon. Then at 1 pm she works with her Mum on languages including Mandarin Chinese. But before she can collapse into bed she has to do two hours of homework. Facebook? A bit of Glee? Some texting? Forget it. The youth director and I sat there and listened to her daughter who in a strangely robotic voice spoke in Spanish until Mum flicked a switch and she changed to Chinese. She reminded me of Data from Star Trek. It was impressive, though, and it made me think if I would ever home school Kye? Probably not. I respect this choice but I of course could only teach her to tell bad jokes and to say “bugger”…… and much to Heidi’s displeasure I have already taught Kye to say “bugger” which means once I have taught her a joke about poo she will have graduated.

I want Kye to leave school with basic academic skills, enough to get her to $32,000 on Who Wants to be a Millionaire. But more than that, I want her to learn social skills so that she can interact properly with other human beings. I want her to learn to blog. I want her to enjoy life, to have fun. I can’t bear the thought of pressuring Kye so she can be put on a treadmill and have no social skills. School is supposed to prepare a person for life, not wear them out. Yes, I must do everything we can to keep Kye safe. But I should also do everything we can to make her happy as well. But who am I to judge. Maybe Annie was happy. Maybe she wanted to learn multiple languages and maybe she wanted to spend her time touring the art museums of Italy. And maybe she didn’t want to be on Facebook or using the Carnival Magic’s water park and maybe she didn’t want to be meeting new friends at Circle “C” and dancing to Justin Beaver’s new hit. And maybe she didn’t mind that after meeting me and shaking my hand that her mother made her hold out the hand that I had shaken to have it cleansed with some sort of antibiotic wipe she had produced from her bag. Our youth program is all about fun and maybe I am wrong, I hope I am…..but I don’t see Annie’s life so far containing much of the “f” word at all.

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

Mary McQuillen asked:
Hi John,

I have nothing but praise for Carnival! I have never had a bad cruise with Carnival but did on a RC cruise. I will never sail with them again! I am getting ready for my eighth cruise with Carnival. My daughter and I are doing our second mother/daughter cruise on Carnival Elation out of Mobile. I would love to do something special for her. This is our second cruise that we have done for her birthday. Leaving the families at home even though our hubbies and her kids are not happy about it! Any suggestions? Carnival is just fantastic with the best “Fun Ships” out there!! This will be my third of four cruises this year. I love reading your blogs and some of the funny requests of some of the guests. All the crew members are great on the ships!

Best wishes to you.


John says:
Hello Mary McQuillen,

I would be glad to send your daughter something for her birthday but I can’t see when you are cruising next. I do hope that I haven’t missed it so please can you let me know. I think it’s marvelous that you are spending some mother/daughter time together and on the wonderful Carnival Elation. I can imagine that the rest of the family are a bit jealous of you doing so, maybe next time you can all cruise together. Please let me know then when you are going either here or on Facebook.

Best wishes to you both.


Gerrit asked:
Dear John,

Our German family of seven will be sailing on the Carnival Magic October 7, 2011 (staterooms 2215 & 2219). While we were very sorry to hear that apparently you won’t be sailing with us (it would have been the third cruise with you as the CD for some of us), we’re really looking forward to yet another wonderful Carnival cruise in the sunny Mediterranean. The kids in particular look forward to meeting “Fun Ship” Freddy, needless to say. May I ask whether it would be possible for you to do our party two favours (spelt correctly):

#1: Through Carnival’s GSA in Germany, we asked for a baby bed to be provided for my younger son Tyler who will be turning two later this month. The GSA responded that it won’t be possible to provide one as my son will be two years old at the time of the cruise and that as a result of that it would be possible that he is too large to fit into a baby bed – which he is not as he sleeps in one at home, as well. Would it be possible for you to arrange for a baby bed to be provided for Tyler? Otherwise, we would have to bring our own baby bed for which the airline would charge us an excess baggage fee (actually two – one for each flight).

# 2: On two previous Carnival cruises, Ivan Lobo from India was our dining room waiter. I understand he’s working on Carnival Magic now. It would be absolutely wonderful if you were able to arrange for our party of seven to be seated at one of his tables during our cruise, if possible.

Thank you very much for taking the time to read this and thank you even more for making the before mentioned favours possible – if possible, of course.

Kind regards,

Gerrit from Germany and family

John says:
Hello Gerrit,

I am so sorry that I won’t be here with you but I promise that you will have a brilliant time here on the Carnival Magic. My daughter is two years old as well and also sleeps in a kid’s cot when she is on board so I will arrange one for you to be placed in the cabin. Ivan is currently on vacation I am afraid and doesn’t get back till after your cruise but please don’t worry as I am sure you will truly enjoy the service in the dining room and I have requested your table for you.

I wish you the very best of times and a wunderbar (that’s German by the way) cruise.

Best wishes


Buddy and Guy asked:

My partner of 12 years and I will be on our platinum cruise on the Valor September 25. Each year we cruise with Carnival, I always request a table for two and yet we have never been thought worthy of enough to be given one. I was directed by http://boards.cruisecritic.com/forumdisplay.php?f=162 to come to you to get a table for 2 confirmed for our sailing in cabin 7344 on the late seating.

John says:
Hello Buddy and Guy,

Thanks for taking the time to write and many congratulations on your Platinum cruise on the Carnival Valor. I am not sure what you mean when you said that the reason you have not been given a table for two was because “you were not worthy” but I will certainly do my best this time to make it so. I wish you both a brilliant time and thank you for your loyalty to Carnival. Have fun.

Best wishes to you both.


Fay Branton asked:

I don’t think I have ever been more disappointed than I was when I read that you won’t be the cruise director for our Trans Atlantic cruise. Why have you not told the people who made the decision to move you what an impact this will have on the trip. I am so angry at you and at them because one of the reasons we booked this cruise was that you would be the cruise director as we sailed with you to Istanbul on Carnival Freedom and you were excellent. Will Carnival be offering some kind of compensation for this trouble? This is just not acceptable!

John says:
Hello Fay Branton,

I was so sad when I read this because I know that there are as you said one or two others who feel the same and I hate, absolutely hate, letting people down. Like most people I work for a company with a command structure and the people at the top of the Carnival tree felt I could be better served elsewhere during this period. I realise again that by doing so I have disappointed you and for that I sincerely apologise. The compensation comes in the form of my replacement James Charlton whose bio I featured in the blog on Friday. He is young, tireless and energetic and I know he will make sure you have a brilliant entertainment and activity program. I wish you a wonderful crossing and I am so sorry I cannot be with you.

Best wishes.


Simon Freijland asked:

I agree 100% with the comment made by Greg today about the language barrier between your passengers and the Carnival crew. It is extremely frustrating to have to repeat over and over again what you want from room service and despite doing this the order still arrives late and incorrect. Case in point: on my recent cruise on Carnival Sensation I ordered a ham and cheese sandwich on toasted white bread and repeated the order again to the foreign speaking telephone operator. The sandwich arrived 40 minutes later and on WHEAT bread. I sent it back and had to wait another 30 minutes. Staff seemed to have no idea how to answer my questions and this was because none of them had any education in English and so were unable to answer. Greg said he found this very frustrating and I wanted to echo his thoughts and bet there are thousands more of your customers who would agree.

John says:
Hello Simon Freijland,

I am very sorry that your room service order was wrong as that is something that should not happen. However, I do disagree with your comment because as I think I probably mention to “Greg” when he posted a comment here that every single one of our crew must have an understanding of English as demanded by United States Coast Guard operating under the SOLAS agreement – SOLAS stands for Safety Of Life At Sea. It may not be their first language but they all speak English and while some definitely speak it better than others none of them should have concerns in answering your questions. However, if as you say they did, well again I apologise. I hope you had a wonderful cruise and that we see you again soon.

Best wishes.


Kathleen Stutchman asked:
Hello John!

Recently, my family and I cruised to Alaska on a Holland America ship (after 11 Carnival Caribbean cruises). When I first sailed on the Carnival Inspiration in 2001, passengers were allowed to go to their cabins upon boarding. Now, as you know, we must wait until 1:30 to have access to our cabins. When we sailed to Alaska we were allowed in our cabin as soon as we boarded since HAL recently made that option available. Anyway, what I would like to know is do you think that Carnival will consider making the changes like HAL did so that we can go to our cabin when we board? It really is a pain to carry around our carryon luggage. The reason that I don’t check in all of our luggage like I did on my first cruise is that I don’t like my make-up, and hair stuff, etc. crushed on the bottom of the huge luggage bins to leak all over my clothes. If Carnival can’t make that option available to everyone, maybe add it as a Platinum perk? Thank you for taking the time to read this, I don’t really know how you are able to do all that you do and keep up with this blog and Facebook too! You were on our 3/2011 cruise getting ready to take over from Chris Jefferson the following week-I got to see you around the ship-just not as CD. Really looking forward to having you as CD on our annual Spring Break cruise on the Magic 3/18/12!


John says:

Hello Kathleen Stutchman,

Thanks for taking the time to write and I was very interested in hearing this about how Holland America allows guests to go straight to their staterooms. I recently sailed on Princess and on P&O and they had the same restriction of going to the staterooms at 1 pm. I wonder, was debarkation over extremely early in Alaska as I am curious as to how they managed to get the staterooms clean and prepared in time. Please if you have a moment could you let me know what time you boarded and went to your cabin? There are no plans at the moment to have this as a Platinum perk as the stateroom stewards need all the time in order to get your cruise home looking its best. I can’t wait to show you the Carnival Magic and if there is anything you need before you sail please let me know.

Best wishes.


Margaret Green (Margie) asked:
Hi John!

My husband and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary on the second sailing of the Carnival Magic. We had such a wonderful time and met so many interesting people on board. We are sailing on the Carnival Magic on the first sailing out of Galveston (yes, we are Texans…but don’t get me started) and we were wondering if our favorite wait staff would still be on the Carnival Magic? We discovered Vladimir and Jarovic (Jay) in the ‘Anytime Dining’ and requested to be seated in their section every night. We enjoyed Vladimir’s wicked sense of humor and excellent menu suggestions and we loved conversing with Jay in the dining room and many other times we saw him on board. We can’t wait till we can sail on the Carnival Magic again!

John says:
Hello Margaret Green,

Coming back to the ship in Galveston will I am sure feel like coming home and that’s simply brilliant. Both Vladimir and Jay are here still but both are leaving on vacation between now and November and so they won’t be here when you sail again…..sorry. I am sure you will find their replacements just as good and if there is anything you think I can do for you before you come home please let me know.

Best wishes.


Melissa Royal-Cleveland asked:
Dear John,

I just wanted to tell you about the wonderful time my husband, very active two year old, in-laws, and I had on the July 19th sailing on the Carnival Spirit. My husband, two year old, and I were in cabin 1185 and our room steward was the best EVER!!! I would also like to tell you about our wonderful dining room servers (I don’t remember their names but we ate in the Empire dining room at 7:45 table #392). They always had a chocolate milk and a fruit cup waiting for my son when we got to the dining room, and when one night I left the dining room early because the very active two year old was getting restless and I didn’t want him disturbing other guests at dinner our serves went to the maitre d’ to see if they could have my meal delivered to our stateroom. While on the Carnival Spirit my husband and I took my father in-law on the Behind the Fun Tour. He loved IT!!! When we got back to our stateroom later that evening we had a note from our behind the fun tour guide stating that she was missing some of the passes, we knew that we had turned ours in and the note did not have any contact information on it so we assumed that it had gone out to all of the tour members and we didn’t think anything of it. Well we were wrong because around 9:30pm our phone rang and it was the tour guide wanting to know where her passes were, my husband tried to tell her we didn’t have them. This phone call woke up our very active two year old causing him to be up until 1:45am. My only suggestion is using caution when calling a guest stateroom after 9pm.


John says:
Hello Melissa Royal-Cleveland,

Let me start by saying how sorry I am about that phone call. I know how two year old kids are when they have been woken up unexpectedly and we should take this into consideration and I apologise. I will also send this to the ship. That aside I see you had a brilliant time and I will make sure that all those mentioned get to see your praise. And many congratulations on booking more cruises and I hope that you will let me know if you need anything at all before you sail.

Best wishes to all the family.


Judi asked:

Really no suggestions…I just wanted to say (as so many do) that you crack me up! I sit home on my lunch hour and laugh till I cry! I love the honesty. I’m taking my first cruise ever with my
family next June on the Carnival Liberty. I’m sure we’ll have a blast. Thanks for the smiles.

John says:
Hello Judi,

I just wanted to say a huge thank you for joining me on the blog and on Facebook and yes, you will have a brilliant time on the Carnival Liberty and if there is anything you need please let me know. Until then I will do my best to give you as much fun here and on Facebook as I can.

Best wishes.


That’s all for today, back with more tomorrow.

I had a note from Senda Schultz who recently cruised here on the Carnival Magic. She told me that she had included Carnival in her Vacation Bible School. Here she is:

“John, Our VBS was themed ‘Beach-Blast’ so what a better way to have a beach blast than with Carnival? It turned out really cute…Carnival cups and all…if you can see them! :)”

Let’s have a look shall we?

Fantastic, Senda. We are truly honoured that you did this and I thank you for taking the time to show us all. I send my best to you and all at your church.

Well as I said it’s been a cruise with some interesting characters on it but compared with what this hurricane season has brought so far, it’s been an easy ride here on the Carnival Magic. In the past couple of weeks in the Caribbean, there have been thousands of cruise ship guests who displayed an understanding and sympathetic attitude to the changes forced upon us by Hurricane Bastard and Tropical Storms Bastard 1 and Bastard 2. My fellow cruise directors reported the usual small percentage of guests who did not understand why the ship didn’t go to all the scheduled ports and demand that they be given 12 free cruises and a Aston Martin because they had to sail on a revised itinerary or spend an extra day at sea.

At the forefront of making sure these guests do understand and make sure that all the passengers remained informed, happy and content were the cruise directors. They were making constant announcements, and were making sure that the fun continued regardless. So, I salute my colleagues in the Caribbean whose positive attitude and ability to turn a complaint into a smile is what makes them the best in the business……well done all of you.

I want to talk about the way guests purchase photos here on the Carnival Magic but first because I can never just stick to what I am talking about I have to write about technology. Now, I know that I am to technology what the French are to deodorant but I am positive that none of the stuff designed to make our lives better actually bloody well works.

My new Raspberry keeps flashing me a message about if I want to connect it to my car via Blueteeth even though I am on a cruise ship in Italy and my car is home in the UK. And even when we are together in the same place as in my fat arse is sitting in the driver’s seat, it is still impossible. And this is because Blueteeth attempts to connect things using the air. That doesn’t work. If you want to join something to something else, you need a screw, or a nail, or some wire. And, because Blueteeth uses air to connect you there are going to be things in the air to stop that happening.

For example, for some strange reason the Blueteeth connection never works after I have had a curry. My Raspberry also says it can access the interweb but it can’t and in Europe it keeps dropping the signal together. That’s probably due to the ludicrous names the telephone companies have. In the US and the UK we have Vodaphone and AT&T. In Italy they have I TIM and Pop Star and in Spain they have……….well they have bugger all because whenever the ship is in Barcelona my raspberry never works. What else? Aggh yes, the self check-in consoles at airports ask a million sodding questions then tell you to bugger off to see a human at the end of a six-mile line. And some people moan about waiting 15 minutes for a fresh plate of Mongolian Wok to be cooked…………..I just don’t get it.

The machines that answer phone calls in Bombay haven’t a clue what you’re all about. Then there is the digital camera I use to post photos here and on Facebook. Mr. Radu understands it and it works perfectly for him but not for me. Mine takes a picture about two years after I press the shutter button. My photograph album these days is full of snaps of chairs, taken after the person who was sitting there has got up, gone home and died.

Today, you have a video iPod and a wafer-thin television set. You have a portable satellite navigation system, Tivo, a digital camera, a widescreen laptop, a rampant rabbit, automatic sprinklers on your lawn and a cell phone that plays the sound of the ship’s horn when anyone calls. At home I even have a coffee machine that is programmed to deliver an espresso in the morning, a mellower blend in the afternoon and big cup of girly decaf after six in the evening. How cool is that?….except you have to have a degree in astrophysics to just get it out of the box.

All of these things have created a new type of person. The gadget freak. And slowly some of these gadgets are arriving onto the ships and the latest comes in the form of the facial recognition thingy. It’s simple. You have your photo taken as you board the ship as normal, you know the one that’s embedded in your Sail & Sign card and the one our security team checks when you leave and when you return to the ship. Well now it has a second use as well because a bearded tech wizard for our Q branch in Miami…….actually it’s Miami so that should be our Que branch …….has designed a facial recognition program. All you do is swipe your card. It then recognises the photo and in turn puts all the photos you have had taken by our 23,989 photographers and you choose which ones you wish to buy. Simple. It has proven to be a big success here and I asked the head photo beard if there were plans to put it on other ships as well and was told that they are pursuing further development of facial recognition and other technologies that helps guests to find and sort their cruise memory photos more easily……which is beard talk for ummm …….maybe, could be.

Anyway, here is what the machines look like.

Finally today, one more question to answer.

Harvey S asked:

All Carnival brand ships look the same and yet you dare sit there and judge. RCI ships and NCL ships are unique yet Carnival makes multi-brand ships as I am sure we shall see soon when a Dream-class ship goes to Princess or Holland America. Same old same old, just stretched and painted different colors. Maybe you should look in the mirror before casting your tactless wit on other cruise companies.

John says:
Hello Harvey S,

I am sorry that you feel all Carnival ships look alike. You are right though as so successful is the Dream class that we will proudly give one to Costa Cruise Lines in 2014 who have completely different plans for her interior. Each of our brands is different, with their own identity and this is one of the many reasons why individually, Carnival, Costa, Cunard, Princess, Holland America, AIDA and Seabourn are so successful and why together they form the strongest alliance of cruise companies in the world that is Carnival Corporation. I hope one day you will discover this by sailing on one or more of our ships where you will discover just how brilliant the respective ships are.

Best wishes.


Actually, no………sorry I can’t leave it there Harvey. You see my arm hurts and it’s been a long few months so let me say this. All Carnival Corporation ships do look alike? Actually you’re right ……but only if you drink 12 pints of ThirstyFrog and sniff a pair of my underpants. Then maybe the Queen Elizabeth looks exactly like the Carnival Magic. And while you’re there have a good look at me because I will look just like LeBron James.


Your friend


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63 Responses to I RECOGNISE YOU

  1. Jenn Novesky says:

    Hi John!

    Just got back from sailing the Western Caribbean on the Valor – it was our second Carnival cruise (and we’ve signed up to do a fourth!). Have to say though, we were overall disappointed in the service, quality of food and the ship itself. I will reflect it all in the evaluation though, no worries! I am looking into waiting to go on the Magic, since we loved the Dream (then maybe the Breeze). We did find a few great wait staff – shout out to Alfredo and Wilbur – and a trainee – hi Fernanda from Peru! – that made the trip worthwhile. As did many (but not all) of the excursions! Sadly, snorkeling in Belize was cancelled due to a fabulous lightening storm we were lucky enough to catch at 3a!

    Also, I am half of a same-sex couple (my wife and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary on the Valor) – you may want to suggest to the beards that there be some sort of training about same-sex couples. Culturally, it’s different. I am all for question asking but if I got another question about us being sisters but not looking alike, I was going to scream!!!! 🙂

    Thanks for blogging!

    • Cruiser Dave says:

      So now we’re to assume that all women with the same last name are married to each other so that you won’t scream?

      • Jenn says:

        Nope. I am not asking anyone to ASSUME anything. That’s just the point. No need to say anything. Want to ask how we are related, then ask. Don’t assume. Get the difference?

  2. Mary McQuillen says:

    I would be glad to send your daughter something for her birthday but I can’t see when you are cruising next. I do hope that I haven’t missed it so please can you let me know. I think it’s marvelous that you are spending some mother/daughter time together and on the wonderful Carnival Elation. I can imagine that the rest of the family are a bit jealous of you doing so, maybe next time you can all cruise together. Please let me know then when you are going either here or on Facebook.

    Best wishes to you both.

    Hi John! My daughter and I are sailing on the 19th on this month. I really didn’t mean for you do do something even though she would love it. We are in Cabin E82. We sail with the families on Thanksgiving day, 6 of us then.

  3. Lisa says:

    HAL has allowed you to go to your stateroom as soon as you board on all their ships – my understanding I could be wrong. It also lends, if you read some reviews, to people getting cabins not as clean as they would hope.

  4. Ralph says:

    Sounds like Annies mom is related to the mother of the “gifted” flute player! So sad that 2 young girls have such “pathetic” mothers!!

  5. The Cruzin2some says:

    Dear L.J. Heald,
    I sure hope next week is better for you.
    The Cruzin2some

  6. Linda (Mom of DJ) says:


    In our area, homeschooling is fairly popular. And just like with kids that attend the standard “brick” school, some kids are more successful at it than others.

    Sadly, some parents insist on producing “smart children” instead of well rounded ones. But that goes for both homeschooling and “brick” schools.

    No matter how intelligent a child is, if they do not have adequate social skills … they are being saddled with a severe disadvantage.

    Linda (Mom of your friend DJ)

    • Jodi says:

      John – I have to agree w/Linda, she has made a very good point, as did you in the blog, going to school is NOT all book learning and being smart. I was a “gifted” child, my dad called me Boo Boo, like from Yogi Bear because he said I was “smarter than the average bear”. But unfortunately I was an only child, not intentional on my parents part, it just happened that way. If it weren’t for school, church and other activities I would have been very lonely indeed and missed out on wonderful people and friendships. This was important to my parents as my ‘book learning’. They wisely encouraged me to make as many friends as possible and ENJOY school as well as keep up with my grades! It is possible to do both and still be well educated! Kye is lucky to have a wise Dad and Mom. Keep up the good work! Your friend, Jodi

  7. I hope your arm gets better soon…You had me laughing when you talked about gadget freaks I am married to one…atleast he doesnt bring it to bed and he knows when I want to do something keep it off, he is a technical guy but does not act like one he can come up with some funny things…I hope you get to talk to him when we will be on the Bloggers in March. Have a wonderful time at home with your girls!

  8. Kathleen Stutchman says:

    Hello John, thank you for responding to my question! We were on board the ship at about 11 am and we were able to take our carry on luggage directly to our cabin; it was sooo nice to drop our stuff before we ate lunch. Before the cruise I had read about being able to do that on the HAL website or their Blog (can’t remember which). Apparently, the hotel director met with the directors of the other departments and brainstormed a way to get people to their cabins upon boarding. I don’t know everything they came up with to solve the problem but, here is what I saw: The day before debarkation they placed all the fresh bedding, etc. for the cabin under the bed in a zippered soft case. On the morning of debarkation they pulled in people from other departments to help with room preparation. There were two waiters who went from cabin to cabin and their only job was to strip and remake the beds. There were other workers who performed other duties. The cabin stewards had lots of help!!! They were very busy getting ready for the next guests…even with all the activity we never felt as if we were being rushed to leave, they were able to quickly prepare each cabin as guests vacated.

    Also, I have been thinking about your carpool tunnel problem. I have carpool tunnel problems myself, I even changed careers to get relief! I remember reading your request for vitamins and I was wondering if your problem began AFTER you started taking vitamins. Several years ago I thought vitamins might help MY carpool tunnel and it ended up making it MUCH worse! It was the “B” vitamins and as long as I don’t take them individually or in a multi-vitamin, I am ok.
    Again, thank you for responding!

  9. Luis R says:

    I used the face recognition thingy in the Carnival Magic and generally works fine. I never got stranger’s pictures among my pictures. However if you have pictures taken with sunglasses or any eyewear that hides the eyes the thingy won’t work. Since I wear sunglasses most of the time while outside some of the pictures taken during the excursions did not appear in the face recognition thingy. There should be some way of “teaching” the system about our faces with eyewear in cases like this.

    • Jas says:

      Luis, did you try wearing the sunglasses when using the FR thingy to search for your pics?

      • Luis R says:

        The face recognition system seems to use the picture that all passengers are taken at boarding time and used for security purposes. When you put our S&S card you will also get pictures from the other people in your cruise booking as well not just you.

  10. Joey says:

    OK.. the Homeschool lady obviously did not do HER homework. I pulled the description of Circle “C” from the Carnival website:

    Circle “C”
    The ultimate spot where children ages 12-14 can cruise, chill, and connect to others. Cool activities, awesome facilities and lots of great new friends to add to their text-mail lists.

    The activities (think games, dance parties, outdoor movies and more) are supervised and created just for them.

    The friendly and experienced staff at Circle “C” wants to give your teens the best vacation experience possible. All activities are coordinated by a Circle “C” Director and dedicated to keeping the activities fun for our young guests.


    IMHO, she knew what the “C” was all about and was just looking to show off her little robot to let you know how “special” she was.
    I can’t beleive she didn’t enter her little precious one in the talent show.

    I don’t know why she book with a line called “Carnival” with the “FUN Ships” on a “Vacation” and expect her wee one to be educated about the ports.

    Wanna know a great way to learn about the ports? It’s called an tour!

    John, you are a true professional and so good at what you do. If I had your job, there would be about 6 people “missing” from this cruise and some very full sharks in the Atlantic.

    Enjoy your vacation, you earned every day!

    • 4shee says:

      Just another case of no one reading what the event is about.Also not reading the cruise contract at least once to know what it said and what the cruise ship company can do for your saftey.

    • Jodi says:

      Yeah Joey! I agree, if it had been me I would have shown the mother the ocean over the ship’s railing and escourted the daughter to Circle “C” myself!

  11. Isabel says:


    I couldn’t agree with you more about that little girl! It is not Carnival’s job to educate my child, we do that via visiting museums and historic sites while having fun as a family. While our Son is in Camp Carnival he is having fun since it’s his time! Our Son (11) is in gifted classes, however, when school is out, so is he. That is his time to have fun and be a kid. He loves to read “his” books and not the ones the school makes him read. We never enforce the Summer reading or Summer projects the school “suggests”. He knows more history, geography and world events than most adults, just from traveling and cruising. So thank you!

  12. Wendy says:

    I too have a child that was labeled “gifted”, although he is in a gifted classroom and not home-schooled. Gifted is a diagnosis of how a child thinks. I believe it is very important that these type of children to have emotional and social growth. Academically they will be fine, it is the other areas they usually need help defining. We cruise next March on the Glory and my “gifted” son and our daughter will be loving Camp Carnival. Love your blog.

  13. Alan says:

    HAL does have the cabin availability policy. It was on our cruise this summer, too. I couldn’t find it on the HAL website, but here is a link….

  14. Kathy McElhaney says:

    I feel sorry for that young girl. But if her Mum truly wanted her to be educated while on the cruise she should have booked her on excursions instead of leaving her on the ship (I’m assuming that is the case). We had some of the best excursion guides when we cruised on the Magic in May. Our guides to the Doge’s Palace in Venice, the ruins of Herculaneum and the Colosseum in Rome were all fantastic. We learned so much!

    • Mark Thomas says:

      This Mom was really missing the point, however. The time they were taking was a vacation, not a field trip. I don’t care how gifted one is, they need a break once in a while. I’m 59, and I learned a long time ago that if I didn’t take some vacation time every year I would probably choke someone somewhere along the way. You’ve got to unwind, and even moreso for a 12 year old. Weren’t the parents taking a vacation? Why not the kid?

  15. Rick Drake says:


    Everything I know about human behavior I have learned from either Fyodor Dostoyevsky or your blog. I enjoy reading both.

  16. Eilean says:

    Dear John,
    As I sit and read today’s blog, I remember the times spent with my three kids homeschooling them. This mom and poor “Annie” are the reason so many people think homeschool kids are unable to be social and “over taught.” I made every effort to teach my three in a way that they had a lot of the “f” word (fun for those that didn’t read the whole blog) We tried to have a field trip at least once a week or so and when my husband and I took our cruise in February, I made packets for all three kids that included learning about where Mom and Dad where… I made it so interesting that they begged to go to… and they are this November. I have since had a severe spinal injury so I no longer home school… I miss it. And so do they. It can be a wonderful experience or it can be an avenue for a parent to either live through their child or gain “I’m better than you brownie points” Every child is “gifted” in something. Otherwise we would all be working in the car washes of the world. You, my dear, are gifted at making people smile and be happy. The beards… well they are gifted at running things… it’s what they do. And you do it well!
    Sea you soon!

  17. J.B. says:

    Such a sad story about 12 year old Annie…abuse takes many forms. What exactly did the parents plan to do with their free time while expecting Annie to be educated on the ship? Surely, they weren’t going to do something F U N?? Something is seriously wrong with that picture…

  18. Quincy Valencia says:

    Great post, John. It saddens me, too, when parents don’t allow their kids to be kids.

    BUT…..I have to urge you (and I’m sure I won’t be the only one here, so just wait) not to judge all people who choose to home school their kids by this one mother, or all home schooled children by this one child. People choose to home educate for a variety of reasons, some “better” than others. I actually home schooled my eldest for two years, and without going into detail I’ll say that I honestly believe it saved her life. Really. It’s also a myth that home schooled children aren’t socialized, as a whole. Most home schooled children I know spend more time with both peers and people of other age groups than do children in traditional schools, be they public or private. They just don’t do it at “school”. The interaction could be at educational co-ops, or sports programs, or 4-H or church groups (if they’re into that sort of thing) or arts programs or….you get what I’m saying.

    At any rate, it does make me wince when parents choose to make every single experience a “learing” experience. Sometimes, in my humble opinion, kids just need to play, with no ulterior motive. This girl seems very well educated, but perhaps (maybe) at the expense of a childhood? We’ll never know. Regardless, I believe Carnival’s kids programming should continue to be fun-focused so that the kids can enjoy their vacations just like their parents.

    Thank you for coming into my home every day with such amazing and amusing writing, although I do have to say my minds eye gets a little red and watery when it pictures you in your underpants everyday!

    Counting down to my next cruise on Carnival Freedom on 10/8/11!

    Take care.

    • HappyCampers says:

      Very well said!!

      We homeschool & take advantage of the cheaper cruise fares when school is in session. We just adjust our schedule so we can cruise when we want!

      My suggestion for Annie’s mother would have been to incorporate whatever lessons you wanted your child to learn regarding the ports of call…work on the before you left! Then your child would have been able to learn whatever you deemed worthy.

      When we cruise, it’s time for my son to meet new friends, have loads of fun without us around (he NEVER wants to come back to the cabin at the end of the night!), & have as much fun as his 8year old little body can handle! His favorite? The Talent Show for Camp Carnival! This cruise he danced, alone, on stage, to a song he picked. Talk about great life experiences! It took big guts to get up there alone in front of a theater full of strangers!

      Anyway–I feel bad for Annie because homeschool doesn’t have to be a dog & pony show, it doesn’t have to leave out the fun, & it doesn’t have to be Robot-Child producing! One of my favorite parts about homeschool is that we engage with the REAL WORLD every single day!

  19. Sue Blanchette says:

    Concerning Annie and the lack of educational materials in Camp Carnival – without discussing the merits of homeschooling vs. the Carnival Magic waterpark, perhaps mom has a point. As a veteran of 32 years teaching history, there are ways it could be introduced to the activities of CC that would be entertaining and enlightening. I’m not saying turn CC into school, but there is nothing that says learning and entertainment are mutually exclusive!
    HMMMMM – wanna hire me?! 🙂

    • Mark Thomas says:

      Sue, do you bring office work with you on your cruise? I suspect not. Why should the child not have a week off to relax and just be a kid?

      I worked once for a firm that had a great policy. If you were on vacation and the office needed to call you about anything, you got an extra day’s vacation for each phone call. They recognized the importance of unwinding. Kids deserve that same privilege.

    • nicole says:

      A vacation is time to have fun! yes sometimes learning about something new can be fun. but!!!! a 12 year old wants to giggle & do silly things and be carefree. Is she not entitled to ONE week of that? being home schooled probably means that she is ALLWAYS learning! and probably has no social interactions with other kids. Let the child have some damn time off and be just what she is, a kid.

  20. Peggy Dunbar says:

    Ah John, I love you. You are the best at what you do and your best is always perfect. Even though I will miss you my dear friend and it looks like I will miss Ken too, I am going to have a marvelous time on the Carnival Magic on September 25th.

    Why anyone would give a rats a$$ that Carnival does this or does not do that when they do not even sail on a Carnival ship, well they are not worthy of being on a Carnival ship.

    I doubt that any child on an cruise, much less and Alaskan cruise gives a rats a$$ about any of the ports of call much less about glaciers or wildlife. The parents can take care of that but when they go to any of the Carnival children’s program they are going to be not only entertained but they are going to play with glitter. What kid does not want to play with glitter? To think any different…

    I am looking forward to using the new “greener” version of Carnival’s new Facial Recognition “machines”. Now if the beards think this does not save money, they could not be more wrong. Paper, printing, ink that does save money and that should be important.

    Have a wonderful holiday with your precious Kye and Heidi. Please rest your arm and take it easy. We will not go away, we will be here no matter how long it take for you to come back.

    Keep smiling John; you truly are one of the good guys.

    My best to Heidi and Kye

  21. Jess says:

    Oh you always make me laugh John. Thanks 🙂

  22. Snoozeman says:

    RE: your question about HAL. I boarded the Zuiderdam last month about 11:30 am and was able to go to my clean cabin STRAIGHT AWAY! This is fleet wide, not just Alaska.

  23. Rebecca Rebrook says:

    Did anyone think to ask Annie’s mother why she felt it was Carnival’s responsibility to educate her child? I mean, it seems counter-intuitive to me to pull your child from traditional educational system because you feel that you are much better suited to educating your child and not others and don’t want your child babysat in public scool, but yet expect others to educate them while you go have fun.
    And I missed where Carnival offers educational course work, btw. That’s an option?

    • Kurt says:

      That was my question. If she’s home schooling and expects the kid to learn on vacation, then why isn’t she teaching on her vacation?

      • HappyCampers says:

        Exactly! They could have incorporated unit studies on whatever topics they wished before leaving for vacation, or Mom could have brought along studies to work on before each port.

  24. Julie says:

    Don’t worry John. Lots of us who homeschool just have average kids that are doing the best they can. My kids have lots and lots of social time and not nearly so much school as Annie. I am sure I would not measure up in this mother’s eyes because come our cruise in Jan we are bringing not a single book or anything else education related. My kids can make all the glitter t-shirts they want!!

    • William Jordan says:

      Wow – who would have thought a wheat versus white sandwich would make such a difference in someone’s life? Hopefully the hours she spent waiting for the white bread didn’t cause her to miss her excursion…… of course, if it did it would be your fault personally John.

    • Susan G says:

      We also homeschool our two children, and they are VERY much looking forward to seven fun days of NOTHING educational on the Ecstasy in two weeks! We love homeschooling, and so do our children, but we also love that they can be KIDS and can play and act silly and make friends – not just on cruises, but every single day. They have plenty of learning time, but playtime is equally important for us. I feel bad for kids (homeschooled or not) whose parents seem obsessed with their intelligence, accomplishments, talents, etc. It seems something must be missing from the parents’ lives that they feel the need to treat their children this way. Please know that not all homeschooling moms are nutjobs!

  25. Cruiser Dave says:

    Holy crap on a cracker, John. The pigheaded abuse you put up with in the Q and A section is unbelievable. Buddy and Guy demand a table for two in a snarky way without so much as a “please” or “thank you”. Fay is angry and wants compensation because you won’t be on her cruise. And Simon is bitchin’ because his “white” sandwich came on “wheat”. Not a lot of difference between those two words in English. All of them should be told to GET STUFFED. You are too kind to say so, John, so I will. Oh, I just did.

  26. Libby says:

    I am sorry to hear about Kye. It seems that her parents have forgotten that it is well, good and ok to take a vacation. Kye needs one too. If they had called Carnival ahead of time, they would be able to have all their questions answered and could have made plans to home school Kye for 10 hours a day in their cabin. You do have room service if they got hungry. See…no interruption! Very sad for Kye.

  27. mimi says:

    I can empathise with Simon re: his room service sandwich. On Triumph last January my hubs tried to order a GRILLED ham and cheese sandwich from room service.
    Was advised that it was not on the menu. He pointed out that the menu reflected the presence of both a ham sandwich and a grilled cheese sandwich. The person taking the order said they only had recipes for the two items on the RS menu and did not possess the recipe for the sandwich I wanted. Huh?

    • Jodi says:

      Huh? Indeed! This does NOT sound like the Carnival of my experience. Sounds like someone was having a bad day!

  28. Tim Johnston says:

    Hi John, About dropping bags upon boarding, maybe they could set up one of the larger lounges as a bag check area, sort of like a coat check area, and let people drop their bags there until the rooms open up. That way people are not carrying bags all over the ship right after they board.
    Also with the new face recognition thingy, perhaps the photo place could have a sale on their photos. Something like buy 3 get 2 smaller ones free. By picking out only the photos you want, they are not wasting all the photo paper the previously did. We sailed another line one time to Alaska and when we boarded they had a special of pay $150 before sailing and you got a copy of all photos taken of you during the cruise. We got to have photos we normally wouldn’t have bought and they did not have to throw away photos we didn’t buy. We probably would have bought 2 photos ($20) for the cruise and threw away the rest. As it was they made $130 off of us for photos we wouldn’t have bought and they would have thrown away.
    Can’t wait 17th Carnival cruise on the Miracle on Oct 17 out of Fort Lauderdale.

  29. Shawn S says:

    I know the woman beleives that her child is beyond exceptional, but all the child is learning in knowledge that is passed on to her by the best of her parents ability. Unless both parents are degreed education professionals in math, science ( which I noticed she did not mention in her daughters daily studies), english ( both grammar and literature) and numerous languages( I shudder to think of myself atempring to teach a language with my rather pronounced southern drawl)the the child’s education is being horrible shorted. I am not knocking home-schooling, in substandard school districts, home-schooling is a totally accetable alternative.
    You handled this woman wonderfully and with a lot more respect than I would have been able to manage!
    My partner and I will be on the Nov. 27 sailing of the Magic and are looking forward to meeting you at some point.

    • HappyCampers says:

      Hi Shawn…I must kindly disagree with your suggestion that parents who are not degreed Educators are not able to teach their children at home.

      There is a wealth of curriculum out there to choose from, & parents know their children better than anyone. This allows them to pick & choose the proper materials that work for their children. The greatness of curriculum is that it guides the parent on HOW to teach and WHAT to teach. Nobody is pulling anything out of thin air.

      When (if) the time comes & advanced subjects are needed (I, for one, will not be teaching my son Calculus!), there are Webinar Classes, Homeschool CoOp classes taught by professionals in that field, Community college classes that accept high school aged homeschoolers, private tutors, etc. Homeschoolers are not limited to only learning at home with Mom & Dad.

      I have a degree in Elementary Ecucation, but all my other Homeschool Mommy friends are educated in many other fields. I find myself learning from them quite often!

      When parents make the choice to homeschool, I have found that they will go to any length necessary to educate their child…degrees not necessary!

  30. janet says:

    Perhaps Annie and her mother should vacation in China where her talents can be put to use!

  31. Qzonna says:

    Dear John,
    Boy I have always wanted to write those words…lol
    Anyway, Annie’s mom should learn how to spell VACATION and also learn the meaning of it…it’s not just for adults but kids too. And while she is at it she should learn to have FUN. You know the thing you should do on VACATION…
    that’s all…Q

  32. Dave McDowell says:

    My 13 year old gets 7 hours of class in traditional school every day-but there’s up to 23 kids per class. This poor little girl gets 5 hours of class each day-by herself? THEN languages? Come on! Let her be a child for goodness sake!

  33. Tiara says:

    Good morning,

    I would like to respond by first stating that we homeschool our children as well. Last year, we booked a “Back to School” cruise on board Carnival out of Long Beach. Our entire family had a wonderful time. We have three children 15, 12, and 6. All of which enjoyed every moment we spent on the cruise. As far as socialization of homeschoolers is concerned, as you stated, you do not know much about homeschool so I will not take your opinions personally. This mother/child combo you had the pleasure of meeting, is a rare case in this day and age. In 2011, you would have to be completely lazy or have made a choice to isolate your homeschooled child for them to be not gain social skills from normal life. Our children are completely well rounded. They socialize when they go outside with the neighborhood children, at church in Sabbath school, church activities and sports programs (offered by our church), a community day program which they also attend once a week, plus one of two homeschool networks in which we have to focus on minimizing the number of field trips in order to complete our curriculum, as well as physical training where they take children’s Muay Thai, boxing, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes. Not to mention the other homeschooled children in their city meeting for movie morning at the theatre twice a month, and their children’s book club, photography club, and volunteer programs. These are just to name a few! There are other places to learn life and social skills other than sitting in a brick and mortar classroom setting, where there goal is supposed to be getting an education. My children (and many others) are able to receive a quality education, without the hassle of waiting for Mrs. Jones to ask little Johnny to sit down and stop talking so she can teach the lesson, without waiting on the child with ADHD’s medicine to kick in, without the disruption of the child that was passed long (due to the No Child Left Behind Act)and now doesn’t understand the material that is being taught, or the child that interrupts and is sat outside (to calm down)and doesn’t receive an education. Honestly, life and social skills are taught many situations. People state how much “things” have changed school is not like it used to be. I agree, I do not remember a Gay/Lesbian Student Union in the Middle School, or being labeled as a white/black/Mexican (lol)supremacist for calling someone a bad name, or children committing suicide for being called fat…the list goes on and on. Is this the socialization you are referring to?

    • HappyCampers says:

      It’s hard that we sometimes feel the need to list all the ways our children get “socialized”, isn’t it? One lone apple can sure make a bad impression on the whole bunch!

  34. Rebecca says:

    I will be going on my fourth cruise on Dec 5 out of Galveston.. Woo hoo! But here is the catch….i am going alone. Any suggestions for a ” loner”? I am a little nervous to go by myself, but am looking forward to the trip.

  35. Durward says:

    Hi John,

    All Carnival Ships look alike???? That’s called BRANDING. If this person would look around, all Shoney’s “look alike”, all Marriot’s look alike for each specific brand of theirs, All BMW X3 SUVs look alike. Well, you get the picture.
    Then again, each restaurant, hotel, auto and any other “branded company” product has indivuality within. Each Carnival ship should have a common look and feel.
    I love travel, and cruising in particular. Whether I’m on a Carnival cruise or one of the competitors such as RCCL or NCL, I enjoy it. I’ve found that you get what you look for. Every day, I start out thankful for what is before me. I’ve been blessed with a wonderful life (I’m 58) and if I can make one person smile, that is a great day.

    I’m planning to cruise with you some time within the next year. I feel like I know ylou from your FB and this blog thingie.
    Make it a Blessed day.

  36. Beth says:

    Hi John. Not all home-schooled kids are the way Annie is. We were on the 9/10/11 sailing of Dream. Our son is home-schooled and he had the time of his life at Club O2. He met friends that he still communicates with on Facebook, Facetime, texting, etc…. He did things I probably don’t want to know about. I never expected anyone on the ship to teach him about the ports we were going to. We did that BEFORE we left Texas. We sometimes have to bring work with us when we cruise. His work is done in the cabin and then he can have fun. We believe kids learn a lot from traveling; learning about different countries, cultures, meeting new people and helping to build social skills. I feel so sorry for Annie. I’m sure she would have loved the break from her reality for just a short period of time.

  37. JIF says:

    OMG! Only 95 Children on a Carnival cruise, how often does that happen?I know that won’t be the case on cruise 6/3/2012 on Magic. Will there be any special activities for the masses of celebrating 18 year olds. I’m a mom (dad’s not coming) bringing my very average public schooled fun loving son. (I’m thinking he’s not interested in education on this vacation celebrating high school graduation!)

  38. Quiero felicitarte por este gran blog, la verdad llegue a este por coincidencia, pero he leído un par de artículos y me han parecido fascinantes, espero sigas así.

    Un abrazo.

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