AUSSIE, AUSSIE, AUSSIE

January 11, 2012 -

John Heald

This has been one of the mildest winters for the last 50 years and today, the 10th of January as I sit here in my underpants, it’s 12 degrees C outside. This time last year snow lay thick on the ground and it was minus 4 outside. The fact that we have had no snow means that many of my fellow Brits seem upset and are heading for a winter break to Austria, France and even Vail, Colorado for a spot of skiing. Well, I won’t be joining them because I’d rather have my colon cleansed with Tabasco sauce than ever set foot in a ski resort. Or anywhere, in fact, where there is a chance of snow.

That’s not what I’d call a vacation. It’s what I’d call hell and about as relaxing as a fat man on an Herbal Life charter. When I get on a plane (which as you know already puts me in a piss arse mood), I at least want it to be heading somewhere warmer, where everybody doesn’t have snot dripping from their noses and temperatures colder than a welcome in a Paris hotel.

I know friends of mine who are reading this like my old mate Roger Blum and others will tell me I am missing out on an exhilarating experience. Exhilarating my arse. Going somewhere cold for your holiday is as pointless to me as vegetarian burgers and Kim Kardashian. Faced with the two options, either having fun on board a beautiful cruise ship surrounded by sun, entertainment, brilliant service and wonderful food choices or spending laughable amounts of money catching cold and knocking down trees with your face, there is no bloody contest. Smashed bones, stupid clothes, crusty red cheeks and a huge dollop of snot hanging permanently from your nose. You can achieve that effect by being the shopping trolley collector in a Publix parking lot in Alaska …..in January. The only difference is that the Publix trolley collector doesn’t bore everyone senseless with stories of their black slope accomplishments at Aspen.

I went skiing one time and one time only. It was many years ago with my friends Alan and Alison and my girlfriend of the time who was a brilliant dancer, super fit and had two airbags to cushion her should she fall, which she didn’t because she was brilliant at skiing as well. I wasn’t. I was crap. All I remember is the pain and the agony and the cold and the laughter of others as the fat sod tried to get up after falling over……..again. I hated the snobbery and the ridiculously good looking ski instructors whom unless you had breasts the size of the Alps like my girlfriend had bugger all interest in teaching you anything.

The reason I kept falling over though is not just because I have the balance and poise of Heather Mills…… It’s the ski boot! The first thing you must understand is the ski boot is specifically designed to be as heavy as possible and to ensure that if you fall over…. and you will …………. all the time ……..and your leg will break at its most painful point…. just above the ankle. Men …..The only way to prevent this from happening is to look at photos of Megan Fox’s bottom before you ski so you can cushion the fall with well, I don’t need to go there do I? Let’s just say  it’s like having a third ski pole. As you can see I am a fervent anti-skier. This is partly because ski bores are the second worst of the vacation bore genre (just ahead of people who hate Carnival and write on cruise boards about just how much they hate Carnival even though they have never cruised with us) and partly because I cannot think of a single redeeming feature about snow.

Skiing is not a vacation. A vacation is when you go somewhere warm and relax, eat well, have fun and see interesting places like Europe, on the Carnival Breeze for instance. A cruise vacation is where you enjoy that lovely feeling of just putting on shorts every day and changing into some casual wear at night as you head to the dining room, see a show and have a pint of ThirstyFrog Red and maybe catch a movie. It is not mincing around wearing ridiculously expensive ski wear, eating fondue and spending all day gazing at ambulances ferrying people from the slopes across a picture postcard landscape.

For your next vacation, why don’t you take all your money and set it on fire? Then stand in a refrigerator for a week, beating yourself with a baseball bat until your arms and legs break. And then, after you’ve eaten some melted cheese, dislocate your shoulder — it’s the same process as going skiing. Or alternatively…………… you can sail on the Carnival Breeze.

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

Judith Hodges asked:
Hey John.

My fiancé and I were on the Carnival Splendor and were met with a constant barrage of solicitations and advertisements for Carnival products and services. It gets old fast and it never stops. Royal Caribbean never uses the public speakers to advertise anything and you could learn a lot from them. We didn’t pay $600 to listen to some used car salesman tell me to go to the gift shops 20 times a day!

John says:
Hello Judith Hodges

First of all I hope you enjoyed your cruise and I agree that we as cruise directors do use the PA system to advertise revenue areas as well as shows and events and activities. We are currently evaluating the number of announcements but I can tell you that on a typical day CD’s make around four sales-oriented announcements and none are supposed to last more than three minutes. Believe it or not, many people find the announcements helpful as it supplements what’s included in the Fun Times newsletter. We do monitor the style and length of our cruise directors’ announcements and it is something that we will continue to evaluate. I do hope you both had fun and enjoyed your cruise.

Best wishes.

John

Georgie Marino asked:
Hi John.

Thanks so much for responding to my question about if you were going to be the CD on Carnival Breeze’s June 3 inaugural cruise. We are psyched and are booking our cruise this week.  We were on the August 14-26 Magic Mediterranean cruise and loved it. Can’t wait to see you, Calvyn and hopefully Ken Byrne.  Also, we are happy you increased the gratuities – it’s about time!

Love and kisses,

Georgie Marino

John says:
Hello Georgie Marino

It is great to hear from you too and I hope you have been reading more about the Carnival Breeze yesterday here and on Facebook. She is going to be a brilliant ship and I can’t wait to show her to you. Please let me know if you need anything.

Best wishes and see you soon.

John

John Lennon asked:

I just got off the phone with a very nice lady whom was very helpful…. yet the comment came up to ask or receive a specific question, that going through you was the best way … so here it is.

Carnival values the web site Cruise Critic opinion when it comes to cruising, so why is it Carnival does not do an Official Meet & Mingle? Actually offering a little get together for the cruisers which whom they are trying to get as return guests. As earlier said, I spoke with a very nice person whom said they would set us a section aside for an hour at the Ivory Piano Bar on an upcoming cruise but could do no more than that… no refreshments or appetizers?

So the question is why will Carnival do it for a singles meet and mingle? Put out food, have refreshments, drinks, yet not for a group of individuals whom chat about Carnival every day?  I am not just saying for this upcoming cruise we are going on. Guess you could say I am wondering why Carnival does not do it companywide and I realize from cruising on other cruise lines there needs to be a certain amount of people attending. So now what I do know? Carnival has never truly done me wrong, so I have nothing bad so say and as far as John Heald goes, I have nothing bad to say either, some may like/some may dislike. I will see what happens with this post before passing judgment.

John says:
Hello John Lennon

As you know I won’t usually post any mention of the Cruise Critic boards outside of requests for meet and greets. This decision was made by the many genuine people who go there to get good information and who need help and want someone to hold their hand through various aspects of cruising. I can tell you that I am happy to organise meet and greets but please understand that we don’t offer complimentary drinks or food as Cruise Critic readers book as individuals not as a group. We don’t do this for a singles meet or greet either by the way and I had a standard meet and greet set up on every ship but there were problems with different CC groups wanting different times so we thought it best to arrange on request which we continue to do. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you though and I wish you a brilliant cruise.

Best wishes.

John

Martha Delingpole asked:

Going on the Dream ship booking is ******. I just found your blog and absolutely love it. My husband and I will have been married 58 years and will celebrate our anniversary on the Carnival Dream on 2/4/12 and I have a huge request John. My husband was in the United States Navy for 29 years and he would love a chance to meet and say hello to the head engineer as Ed, my husband, was the chief engineer on a Navy destroyer. Is this something that can be arranged John, if not I understand but thought I would ask as you seem so willing to help people. Thank you and we are so excited to be on our first-ever cruise.

John says:
Hello Martha Delingpole

Thanks so much for taking the time to write. I saw this question yesterday and so I have had the chance to email the chief engineer on the Carnival Dream. His name is Giuseppe Seccia and I have arranged for your husband to meet him on board. Gary, the cruise director, will be making the arrangements and will be in touch while you are on board and you can expect a little something from me and the blog readers to wish you happy anniversary and to thank your husband for his service. I wish you a brilliant time and many more cruises in the future.

Best wishes.

John

Mel Cohen asked:
John –

I am looking at the excursions in Dubrovnik for when we cruise the Carnival Breeze with you and wondered if you can tell me something about the Best of Dubrovnik as far as pax like me with walking challenges. I don’t have to use a wheelchair but my 77-year-old knees don’t allow me the mobility I used to have. Can I do this tour?

John says:
Hello Mel Cohen.

Thanks for getting in touch with me. The Best of Dubrovnik tour is an excellent excursion and our most popular in this beautiful port of call. There is some walking around the old town at the end of the excursion but it is flat and you don’t have to climb the ramparts at all. I have seen many people with walking challenges take this excursion and I have absolutely no problem recommending it to you. I will see you soon and please let me know if you have any other questions.

Best wishes.

John

Lynne Cody asked:
Hi John,

First I would like to say you are a fantastic writer. You are very entertaining and informative. We have sailed with CCL 18 times. Our first sailing with CCL was on the Mardi Gras. What a trip!! There were 20 family members sailing as a group and we still laugh about some of the crazy things that happened on that ship. We will be sailing April 1 on the Carnival Glory. There are six of us sailing in three cabins.  Five of us are Platinum members. This is the first time that I am allowing my 15 year old daughter to take a friend. Her friend is also 15 but has never sailed. I was wondering if I would have a problem taking her friend with us to the past passenger party or any other functions for past guests? Another question (from my mother), this will be “Holy Week,” the week prior to Easter Sunday. Will there be any Easter services held on the ship? Since we disembark on Easter Sunday we were wondering if there would be an Easter Vigil mass Saturday evening. We are very excited to sail in April!

Sincerely,

Lynne C

John says:
Hello Lynne C

Thanks for the kind words and I am so glad you enjoy the blog. First of all let me thank you for your loyalty and I wish you had some photos from your time on the Mardi Gras. How things have changed and I see it was that ship that spurned your amazing loyalty to us and I am very thankful to you for cruising with us so often. You can indeed bring your daughter’s friend, that’s no problem and I will send a note to the ship for you so she can enter the past guest party. The sad news is that I am afraid that we won’t have religious services during Easter as Carnival does not have a religious program at the moment. We will ask the guests if there is someone who wants to hold one and maybe there will be someone on your cruise who will volunteer to lead mass. I wish you all a brilliant time and of course if there is anything I can do to for you please let me know.

Best wishes.

John

Steve Wright asked:

What are the next ships scheduled to get the new 2.0 update and when would the first cruise dates be after those upgrades are completed.

John says:
Hello Steve Wright

Here is the link for you to read when the ships will receive the exciting 2.0 upgrades.

http://www.carnival.com/core/faq.aspx?icid=CC_Header_466#q-1012258

Let me know if you have any questions.

Best wishes.

John

Simon Taylor asked:

I am British like your good self and wondered if Carnival will ever have a ship sail from Southampton or another British port. My wife and I are retired and don’t like to fly these days and so have cruised with Celebrity and three times on the Independence of the Seas. Our friends Norman and Paulette Lawrence who I understand you met on the Carnival Magic said that they had a lovely time and how Carnival was better than other cruises they had been on. We would love to cruise with you so please give me some good news. Thank you John and we enjoy your writing and can see from your humour that you haven’t lost your British roots.

John says:
Hello Simon Taylor

I can understand why you and your wife don’t like to fly. I really wish my parents who are also retired could cruise with me more but the hassle of today’s airports and sometimes long walks to the gate and waiting time means they haven’t cruised with me since the Carnival Splendor sailed out of Dover. I am afraid that I really haven’t heard anything about UK cruises one way or the other but hopefully we will meet one day and enjoy a plate of spotted dick. Please give my best wishes to Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence.

Best wishes to you both.

John

Lynn Adrionous asked:
John,

Very disappointed in your new menu which let’s face it looks as though it was designed by children.  Back to Silversea for us unless you can tell me it’s being changed.

John says:
Hello Lynn Adrionous.

I am sorry to read this and I have to say that while some folks such as yourself don’t appreciate our new menus the vast majority of our guests really like them, particularly given the wide range of different types of food offerd. We are always looking at our menus for guest feedback so your comments are appreciated. It would be wrong of me not to say that comparing the food from Silversea, which advertises itself as a luxury cruise line and charges much more for its cruises, to Carnival’s mass market and brilliantly affordable cruises is like comparing Megan Fox’s bottom with Judge Judy’s or my inner thigh to Johnny Depp’s. But seriously though we are listening to comments both positive and negative and will work hard as always to have choices on our menu that everyone will appreciate.

Best wishes and I truly hope we see you soon.

John

Keith Wilkins asked:
John,

My wife and I will be on the Carnival Magic first cruise out of Galveston. The reason I am writing is I wanted you to know what a fantastic experience that I had with Carnival’s early saver plan. Our fare has been reduced three times and everything went smooth on the first two adjustments and the third not so smooth. And if it ended there it would have been a just OK experience. I want to commend David, Maria and several other ladies who I’m almost sure their names ended in A for their dedication to customer service. Although it took some time to get straightened out, it was more than I expected. Thanks again to a brilliant staff at Carnival.

John says:
Hello Keith Wilkins

This is so brilliant. Thank you for taking the time to write about our customer service teams and what they are doing to help. There has been a huge improvement recently and although we still have hard work ahead there is no doubt that Gerry Cahill’s focus on vastly improving our customer service pre- and post-cruise is paying off. Thanks for writing and I hope you had a wonderful time on the Carnival Magic.

Best wishes.

John

That’s all for today and thanks for your continuing support of the blog thingy.

So in just two weeks time I have to head over to the States again starting with a couple of days in Miami and then back to what I love the most, being a cruise director again and as much as I truly enjoy and am proud to be the brand ambassador, it’s cruise directing that remains the part of the job I love the most. I have some special projects to work on before then including re-writing some of the language as it pertains to the life boat drill or safety briefing as we call it today. It needs tightening up, plus I am going to leave room for the CD’s to add, if they wish, a little bit of humour which in 2012 I think there is a place for. It can’t replace the message of course that safety is the most important aspect of the cruise but there is room I believe for a little bit of mirth.

Compared with what we used to say a couple of years ago the drills of 2012 are a lot different. In addition to important information regarding the actual lifeboat drill, there is information about environmental procedures, taking care when walking around a moving ship and much, much more. It always infuriates me when after making announcements that the drill is mandatory that when I look down from the bridge I always see a few people who somehow evaded the drill and are sitting on their balconies with a Fun Ship special and a couldn’t-care-less attitude. We then send the stateroom steward or in some cases security to inform the guests that they must attend. You have no idea how many give the staff a hard time and are really rude, refusing to attend. Anyway, look out for a few changes in the safety briefing and if you have any suggestions please let me know here on the blog thingy.

OK, it’s off to San Francisco we go and the latest update from Stuart the cruise director of the Carnival Spirit which as you know is in dry dock. Stu………over to you.

Day 2 started with the safety briefing to inform the contractors on board of the emergency procedures, like the guests must do every voyage. There were many meetings amongst the CCL management and the supervisors to the contractors to get acquainted and to discuss the projects underway. Much of the work being carried out at this early stage is existing areas being torn down and so there are rubbish piles everywhere. The place looks like a construction zone however anyone who has done a home renovation can relate. As always safety is priority and everyone is wearing personal safety equipment relevant to their job. What is very interesting to see is the female staff who normally wears the white uniforms, wearing coveralls. Admittedly they are not needed, but they look cute nonetheless. We had some really strong heads winds in excess of 50kts while sailing north to San Francisco so the contractors working on the open decks really had their work cut out for them. The busiest location is certainly the new Serenity project where I counted 35 contractors there at once, all working. Unlike me, who was offering shore excursion advice in San Francisco and drinking a café latte.

 

Day 3 — Just after midnight we were very excited to sail under the Golden Gate Bridge as we entered San Francisco. Many team members who have never seen it before were on deck 9 fwd to watch and take photos.  We arrived into the dock at approximately 3am    and I was awoken by a call from the hotel director at 6:30am. He said to get the camera crew ready as the “Green Thunder” water slide was alongside the ship on a crane barge and they were getting ready for the big lift. When I saw it I realized for the first time actually how high this slide is. I am a pure thrill seeker and I am stoked to have this   on board my ship. The crane team had little room for error as the crane lifted the slide onto the highest deck and at times I am sure I was not the only one who thought the ship was going to be too high for the crane. During the lift the ship was still in the water, and     had not been lifted so the ship could not go any lower. An hour later welders were fixing it to the steel deck. Several more lifts had to be made to piece the entire slide together, and now we have the Green Thunder on board, the steepest and fastest waterslide at sea.

Meanwhile, teams of housekeeping staff were busy tearing up the carpets in all the guests corridors, Technicians were pulling apart slot machines, and work was full speed ahead on the Serenity area. We are a floating construction zone of hundreds of specialist    contractors and Carnival Spirit team members stepping up to assist with whatever they can. Later in the day I got the call to make the announcement from the bridge to inform everyone on board about what dry docks are known for — periods of time with no water, electricity, air conditioning, computers or shipboard cell phones. And maybe no flushing  toilets. Reality kicked in when I found myself walking along corridors in darkness lighted only by the emergency strip lighting on the floor. But she is going to look fantastic when all is done. Time for some vegemite.

Thanks mate, another “bonza” report mate and we look forward to more from you soon.

It’s going to be very interesting to see what the atmosphere is like on the Carnival Spirit once she arrives in Australia. Now you may not know many Australians but I do and of course some of the population is made up of British ex-pats including my friend David who for many years worked on the ships with me. David was the ship’s doctor and we worked on the Carnival Triumph and Carnival Glory together and a few years ago he and his wife Susie immigrated to Melbourne, where he is a family doctor. I spoke to David over Christmas and he told me how he loves living in Australia and the thing he loves most about his adopted country is how down to earth it is. “I can even wear flip-flops to work and nobody cares,” he told me. The local attitude that lets him wear them in his surgery where he sees his patients is an example of a country that is so laid back. I have a feeling that we will have to think twice about how we do elegant night. I mean, will the Aussies want to dress up on their cruise vacation? I may be wrong here but I suspect the vast majority will say “No way mate.”

Australia is a dangerous place to live — and not because of the crocodiles, huge poisonous snakes and spiders the size of Rosanne Barr but because once you have been there and seen their way of life you won’t want to leave. Australians bounce when they walk and smile at strangers and say “g’day” on their way to an after work spot of surfing. Also, they have cookers in their kitchens but choose to cook their prawns in the garden. Those of you who may have seen Aussies on board our ships know how much fun they are and imagine then the atmosphere with 2,200 of them on the Carnival Spirit. I am sure it’s going to take the fun level to an even higher setting.

My only concern is……..will we have enough beer on board? And of course watch out for the famous Australian kiss which the Aussies love to give strangers and if you meet an Aussie on Promenade deck they are likely to want to give you the famous Aussie kiss which is like a French kiss…………..except it’s….. “Down under.”

Good night.

Your friend,

John

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41 Responses to AUSSIE, AUSSIE, AUSSIE

  1. Char says:

    Brilliant as always. I feel the same damn way about skiing and snow. I grew up in Wyoming and attended high school in Steamboat Springs Colorado. PFFFT I’ll take Melbourne Florida any day.

  2. Linda (Mom of DJ) says:

    John Lennon:

    You asked a very good question for which there is a very simple answer.

    Other cruise lines offer this, because they have to.

    They are not operating at 100% capacity much less well OVER capacity…

    and this is part of their advertising budget.

    Thank goodness that Carnival’s capacity exceeds well above 100%, so they are free to spend their advertising budget in more productive ways.

    Since anyone with the IQ of a gnat can arrange one of these Meet and Greets, I personally am glad that Carnival saves the money…which helps keep my cruising costs low.

    Linda (Mom of DJ)

  3. mary f says:

    WOW, I can hardly wait to be on the Carnival Spirit again. I am doing the Honolulu to Sydney, but I may have to book a cruise on her sooner. Thanks for the update and photos.

  4. LambKnuckles says:

    Can’t wait to sail on the SPIRIT this May!!! I’ll be Green Thundering down THAT slide!!!!

  5. Lee says:

    Great blog John. And I agree totally with you about cold weather and snow. Decades ago as a young man in the U S Air Force, I was on a military flight to the Far East. We landed in Alaska to unload a crate of something, probaby warm underwear and more booze. Anyway, the loadmaster informed me that I had about 45 minutes to get off the plane and get a cup of coffee. This was in the Dark Ages, before jetways, and as soon as I got to the doorway of the plane and saw the snow and felt the bitter cold, I decided I did notneed a cup of coffee.That is why I will be taking my tenth CCL cruise to the very nice,warm areas on the Valor, Jan 21. Also, I enjoyed the update on Spirit, as I have sailed on her twice and she is my favorite ship. Stu Dunn is outstanding as the CD. Keep up the great blogs. And thank you very much for all you do for all the cruisers, including the whiners and rude people (trolls)

  6. Cruiser dave says:

    John
    Your rant on skiing made this retired ski instructor laugh, especially since I just got back from my first brilliant day on the slopes this season. Sorry, but it was exhilarating, and in over thirty years skiing no breaks yet! You are absolutely correct that we would rather pick up the Megan Foxes of the world rather than the John Healds, and I hope you will understand why. I’ll leave you with this: What’s the difference between God and a ski instructor? God doesn’t think he’s a ski instructor.

  7. KP says:

    Don’t alter formal night too much, we Aussies still like to dress up on occasion!

    I of course can’t speak for the whole country, but one formal night on a cruise is not that big of an ask. My husband and I have only done one cruise so far (5 years ago now) and, even though we were young (early 20s), loved the formal night. Looking forward to Carnival’s ship arriving, time to start saving!

  8. Karen L says:

    John, I agree with you completely about skiing. I tried it once many years ago. I never even made it onto the slopes. In the middle of my first lesson I fell and broke my wrist. I’ll stick with cruising!

    Regarding the safety drill . . . On my recent Panama Canal transit cruise I saw passengers at the drill carrying drinks. They had them at the muster station and carried them up to the lifeboat station, despite announcements that drinks weren’t allowed. Staff did nothing to stop them. If the staff don’t take the drills seriously, how can you expect the passengers to?

    I’ve been on the Carnival Spirit several times and am can’t wait to see the new look when I sail from Honolulu to Sydney. Have been chatting on the CC roll call, and there are a lot of Aussies booked on that cruise. It’s going to be a fun time.

  9. Bob says:

    I indeed do have a couple of suggestions…hold all the drills in a comfortable setting like on the Magic, instead of lines of people crammed like sardines on the side of the ship, with limited breathing room in some cases. Do you really think anyone in that circumstance cares what you have to say? Perhaps this would be a good time to hand out tickets for a free cruise drawing! Also, don’t do it as we are leaving port…let us at least sail away in peace, giving our proper goodbyes to the shore and the beautiful view only available at sail away. You don’t miss much doing it in the middle of nowhere! Thanks for asking.

    • Jeanette & James says:

      The ship cant sail before doing the safety drill maratime law or some such thing. I to would prefer to wait. Atleast we dont have to go get our life jackets anymore.

  10. Looking forward to having you back on a Carnival ship. I hope you totally enjoyed your holidays. In a month Mary Lou and I leave for our cruise on the Carnival Freedom to Panama. We are really looking forward to the excursion to Panama. I;ll contact you later when the week before the cruise comes. Until then welcome back John.

    Paul F. Pietrangelo

  11. Diane Cordero says:

    John, It surprises me about the people who think Carnival should provide food and drink for their group, free of charge. Our group found the meet and greet price list and connected with special services to arrange, at what we all consider, a fair price for our get together. We even have a photographer dropping in. I’m sure that our group of 43 people will be able to enjoy the libations available for our money. Mahalo

  12. Stanley Krol says:

    Dear John,
    I cringe when I read a letter with that heading. I enjoy reading your blog in my underpants. I make it part of my routine.
    My fiance and I booked another Carnival cruise on the LIberty, February 25,2012 stateroom 1042, we are looking forward to the changes to Funship 2.0, we sailed on the Liberty in 2009.
    My fiance was diagnosed with ovarian cancer weeks later, after the cruise which would explain why she wasn’t feeling well during the cruise. We can’t put the blame on the crew! LOL! Everyone treated us like family! We are both healthy this time and going to enjoy this to the fullest. Thank you for the blog!

  13. Luis R says:

    I have been on two cruises with two entirely different experiences of the safety drill. First one was on Carnival Destiny in 2006. Back then we had to go to the stateroom to grab the life jackets then go to deck 4 to the life boat stations. It was not a good way to end the very first dinner of the cruise (it was done at 7 PM prior to sailing out of San Juan at 10 PM) by having to go from deck 3 to deck 7 to get the life jackets and then go down to deck 4. While it was quite a ride, I do admit it gave a better idea of the location of the muster stations and life boats since we had to actually meet in front of the boats.

    Second one was on Carnival Magic in Barcelona last July (sailed with you, John). This one was done at the main dining room on deck 3 and we never got to the actual muster stations. While this was way more comfortable I didn’t feel it wasn’t nearly as effective because you are just being told in theory what to do and not doing an actual practice.

    And I think we could be spared from the unsinkable jokes during the drill. I think humor is out of place during the drill. Better leave it for the end of the drill.

  14. SallyOwl says:

    We’re so keen to get back to the wonderful Carnival Spirit (on which we did b2b2b in 2010 – Alaska-Hawaii – Hawaii – Mexico)that we’re flying to Hawaii so that we can be on her as we head home to Australia. 17 days will not be enough – but now we can plan other cruises too, without having to fly to the States. We can hardly wait! However, we will definitely be carrying formal night gear with us too … we Aussies love to relax, but we’re pretty civilised too, and love to dress up when the occasion calls for it!

  15. Kelli says:

    John, Can you tell us if Spirit will be getting new mattresses during dry dock as well?? Sure hope so~they are “sorely” needed (my back would very much appreciate a new mattress for our upcoming cruise on her in February!)
    Hope you’ll answer this before we leave. Can’t wait to sail with Stu once again ~ Spirit is our very favorite ship and we are so sad to see her be going down under.
    We watch her leave port here in Seattle on Tuesdays during the summer…..wishing we were on her, but have to admit, there are no palm trees in Alaska, so cruising there is not at the top of our list.
    Thanks SO much for adding comments and photos from Stu from drydock ~ so fun to see!

  16. Wayne Campbell says:

    John:

    Once again, folks are telling you things about other cruise lines that “just ain’t so.” Take it from someone who’s been on plenty of RCI cruises, their CDs do their share of selling over the ship’s PA. I’m afraid that one’s not a Carnival exclusive.

  17. Richard W says:

    Can’t agree with you more about the Aussies, John. My wife and I took a three week land vacation in Sydney and Cairns (Trinity Beach, actually) a couple of years back. The Aussies were among the friendliest people I’ve ever met. They would go out of their way to make us “tourists” feel welcome. Thanks to some wonderful folks at a dive shop in Cairns, I was able to realize one of my dreams, to dive the Great Barrier Reef. I am most excited about the Spirit moving the Australia and look forward to sailing Australia in the near future.

  18. Debra says:

    In regards to the safety drills I wanted to mention when my mom and I sailed on the Dream we were on the balcony but never heard the announcement. Our cabin steward said he checked the room and thought we went to our station because I mentioned to him about the drill. I know our hearing tends to diminish after a certain age but Im not that old. I do not think all people disregard the drill but believe some do and I think that no matter where a person is on a ship, they should be able to hear all announcements. We heard it loud and clear when a young woman went missing and the family reported it. Announcements were made frequently and the person missing end up the night before in another cabin where she supposedly fell asleep. I find it very important to attend these drills and even once on a prior cruise, woke up my sleeping toddler to go to the drill and who at the muster station, made such a racket that we had to leave. So, there maybe some who disregard the drill and blow it off but there is another side as well.

  19. Michael S says:

    Judith Hodges stated that other cruise lines, like RCCL, don’t advertise as frequently over the PA. If that’s true (BIG if), she already has the answer to her question/complaint — “We didn’t pay $600 to listen to some used car salesman tell me to go to the gift shops 20 times a day!” Why would someone expect $600 would buy an advertisement-free cruise? Cruise lines make money through fares and other revenue areas. I’d argue that it is expected that the less you pay for your fare, the more advertising you’re going to see and hear while on the ship. The more I pay for a fare, the less advertising I’d expect. Carnival is not among the highest-rated cruise lines, but it serves its niche very well.

  20. Jeanette & James says:

    I am all for adding a bit of humor/humour to the safty drill I think is a great idea. Some airlines have been doing it for years. It should be taken seriouly you never know when you may need. A little clowning around to keep our attention is a good thing.

  21. Darryl Leibach says:

    Good day sir,
    I just reviewed the list of ships that are due for the 2.0 upgrades in the coming years.
    Why is the Miracle not listed? and why has carnival chosen not to have the 2.0 upgrades placed on any ship sailing year round out of new York? Wasnt the announcement for the 2.0 upgrades made in NYC? Seems a little strange to me… Is Carnival taking NYC cruisers fro granted?

  22. Ann says:

    While I really do appreciate your dislike of skiing…I’m sorry you don’t like cold weather cruising! We’ve been to Alaska twice on Carnival ships, had a lovely time each time, and are committed cold weather cruisers. Our other cruises..on other lines..have been to the Norwegian fjords, and up the northeast coast from New York to Quebec..in late fall.

    There’s nothing like watching whales do their diving from the side of a huge ship that is dwarfed by an even larger glacier,

    a cup of hot cocoa in hand…

    on a cruise ship Glacier Bay…

  23. Lonie Graham says:

    Hi John,
    I enjoy your blog thingy! Keep up the fun coming! My husband and I will be on the Carnival Spirit in July. We were both exctied to see the recent posts with the improvements being constructed on the ship. Just a quick question ~ are these improvements part of the 2.0 updates? We didn’t seen Spirit’s name on the list. Thanks for all the entertainment!

  24. Marino Riosa says:

    Dear John

    A little favour from jolly good London. Me and the missus will be on Carnival Liberty on the 10th of March 2012 for an exciting Western Caribbean cruise to celebrate our 25th anniversary (stateroom 1026).
    As you can see for my name, in a previous life I was Italian. As it happens, Carnival Liberty was built at Monfalcone, just down the road where I lived. I would love to visit the command room (?) and have a chat in my mother tongue with some officers. Do you think it could be possible?

    Thanks

    Marino

    • The Cruzin2some says:

      Dear Marino,
      As soon as you get on the ship sign up for “The Behind the FUN tour”. For an extra charge it takes you to all the off limit areas like the engine room, the bridge the galley and such. Usually there are only sixteen spots available and as you can imagine it fills up fast. This will allow you the access you want and a little more.
      The Cruzin2some

      • Marino Riosa says:

        Many thanks The Cruzing2some for the tip.

        A very good tip indeed and I would book for The Behind the Fun tour as my top priority.
        I just hope they won’t charge me US$ 159.99 pp, plus gratuity ;-)

        • cruisin'lovebirds says:

          I think it was $95 on the Carnival Dream and it was absolutely the best tour, excursion, activity or opportunity of the cruist! Janet from Orlando

          • Marino Riosa says:

            Janet
            I don’t like to moan without a reason, but don’t you think the tour is a bit expensive?
            At the end of the day, no transportation is involved and the little gifts are inexpensive.
            Nonetheless it costs like an excursion in any port, which are full day experience and always involves some sort of transport etc.

  25. Mumsykat says:

    Oh John, do I ever agree with you about skiing! My mother was an avid skiier and could not understand why I didn’t want to join her in injuring herself while simultaneously freezing! Give me the deck of a southbound CCL ship or a lovely beachside condo on some Caribbean island and I will be one happy camper.

  26. jgeraci says:

    John,
    Over the years cruising Carnival, I’ve met many Aussies. I have to compliment them, and the Kiwis on their friendliness and great sense of adventure.
    Australia has been on my LIST for many years. Now thanks to my favorite ship(Spirit) and my favorite cruise line (Carnival)I will be able to put a big check mark beside it. Can’t wait to sail Sept.30 across the South Pacific!
    JoyceG

  27. John Brownose says:

    Woof woof.

  28. ROSE HOLLINGSWORTH says:

    JUST A LITTLE COMMENT ON BLOG OF 1/11. NEVER SAY HOW NICE THE WEATHER HAS BEEN, AS SURE AS THERE ARE GREAT CRUISING ON CARNIVAL, IT WILL CHANGE THE WEATHER ALMOST IMMEDIATELY. WE HAVE HAD SNOW, AND TEMPERATURE IS NOW 19, AND GOING UP TO A BLAZING 25 THIS AFTERNOON. ALL THE MORE TO LOOK FORWARD TO MY CRUISE ON THE FREEDOM IN NOVEMBER. LOVE YOUR BLOG, AND LOOK FORWARD TO IT DAILY, OR AS OFTEN AS YOU CAN GET IN YOUR UNDERPANTS AND WRITE ONE. HAVE A GREAT DAY, AND KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK.

  29. The Cruzin2some says:

    Dear John,
    Does it look like there is about a fifteen foot drop straight onto the deck in the photo of “Green Thunder” or is it just me. Hope they finish that section with one that goes over the side for the complainers.
    Sort of like walking the plank 2012 style.
    I am really enjoying the pictures of what they are doing to my CCL Spirit.
    The Cruzin2some

  30. Maureen says:

    Hello John, I am going on the Valor on 3/3/2012 and the Dream 7/21/2012.  4th time in the Valor and going to the Palm Beach where we got married in August 2010 and the Dream, 2nd time, we sailed in 2010 in first week of March with you.  We just got back from the Victory on January 1-8 sailing…I do miss Matt and Karl with a K together, missed the “Yeah baby” from Matt.  We would like to book the Steakhouse on those sailing and I would like to know when are the Elegant nights.  Also how many people can be at a table?  10 adults?
    When u have a chance, please let me know.  Thank you for all u do- you are the best!  Maureen 

  31. Cabo says:

    Who or what is cruise critic?

  32. Barb Kline says:

    I’ve looked all over Carnival’s website, but cannot find the Spirit’s repositioning cruise from Honolulu to Australia. Where can I find that particular cruise, and when does it depart Honolulu?

  33. Jeri Green says:

    HI John,

  34. Jeri Green says:

    Hi John, I haven’t written for a while but am still reading all the blogs -even when on a ship! Which leads into the purpose of the note.
    Larry and I just returned from a cruise on the Carnival Freedom and we don’t want to wait to see if we get a comment card before making a few remarks recarding this cruise. We sailed from Feb.11 -Feb.19 and had eight fantastic days. It was our 30th cruise and none has been better. The Maitre d, Varga Csaba(Chuby) was the greatest! He met us the first evening at Your Time dining and saw where we enjoyed being seated and every night thereafter the booth was ready and waiting for us. Our Head Waiter, Sujantana and team waiter,Ceszr and Asst. team waiter,Komong were perfect. They all deserve a special thank you from Carnival for making the guests feel so special. We would see Chuby on the Lido deck and he always spoke, called us by name and inquired about our day while offering any help we needed. Any of the dining room staff greeted us by name whenever and whereever we saw them.
    A crew member (I believe he said he was a “runner” one day stopped and chatted with us every day. Richard (I didn’t get his last name) would even cross over from his station in the dining room to speak to us in the evening. The bar staff serving the dining room remembered our preferences and stopped by frequently. One was I Ketut Raimika but I did not get the other names.
    The Carnival Freedom was the cleanest ship we have ever been on and all have been clean.
    The dining room was so well run that I feel Varga Csaba must be a wonderful leader. Could you see that he gets this message and a huge “Thank you” from the Greens? The following people all should be commended for service that was the best ever: Varga Csaba,Sujantana,Cesar, Komng,Ketut Raimika,& Richard.
    We sail again on the Carnival Dream on April 7th with our family and are lookint forward to another wonderful cruise! Jeri & Larry

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