ASHES IN THE BARBECUE

May 4, 2012 -

John Heald

There are many ways in which you can tell you are getting old. The forest of hair in your nose and ears for example or those weird noises I make now as I get out of a chair or off a sofa ………. aggghoooo. However, these past few days I have experienced two situations that make me think that 47 is the new 73. Firstly, while at home last week a friend called me at 9:30pm and asked: “I didn’t wake you, did I?” Bloody hell! Is that what people think of me? Do they believe that I have just had a cup of cocoa and am in bed asleep, dreaming of a nice retirement home in the country at 9:30 at night? I felt like telling this friend who called that actually I was in the middle of “a little action,” but he would rather than think I meant some rumpy pumpy that a “little action” referred to a good bowel movement.

However, there was another situation which happened last week that really has me thinking I am just a few steps away from the Pearly Gates. We had some friends over to the house to celebrate Heidi’s birthday and while we sat eating some fabulous Indian take-out one of our friends said, “Have you decided in your will to be buried or cremated?” Now our friends are all the same age as me or Heidi so let’s put that into perspective shall we. That’s a group of people aged 38 – 48 talking about death while chomping on some chicken tika masala. And do you know what? Everyone seemed eager to talk about this as they would who was shagging who on Desperate Housebitches of New Orange County or cars! One of my mates knew a lot on this subject. He knew that the world is running out of space to bury our dead and that in Japan, 99 percent are cremated. He also said that one cemetery in London is burying people on top of a stranger who had been buried hundreds of years ago. Bugger that. No way do I want to be laid to rest on top of some chap that died of syphilis or the plague.

Since this conversation at dinner I have been giving a lot of thought to this whole buried or cremated thing. I know some of you may have religious reasons to do one or the other and I respect that of course. I, on the other hand, have been in a bit of a quandary. I used to think that when I die I want to be buried, because if I am lucky enough to go to heaven (which will be based on the fact that I send people strawberries and trophies), it’ll be hard to enjoy its wonderful brilliance if I’ve been cremated. I guess I mean that you’re never going to have rumpy pumpy with a Latvian angel if you look like the contents of a vacuum cleaner. However, one thing keeps playing over and over in my mind and that was a movie I saw many years ago. It starred Peter Cushing and was part of the old Hammer House of Horror movies. All I can remember were the fingers of bodies were attached to a rope that would ring a bell if they moved meaning they had been buried alive. Bugger that and therefore its cremation for me and this is my will and testament. Throw me on the fire and scatter my ashes at sea……..leaving just a small handful to sprinkle on H82seaugo’s chocolate melting cake.

Time for some Q and A……..here we go.

Luis Garcia asked:
Hello John.

I make no apologies in saying how angry and disappointed I am with Carnival’s decision to take the Carnival Splendor away from California and not give us another boat in its place. Californians are wonderful people who love to cruise and yet we are being punished, why!!!!!!!  As a police officer working the streets of LA I have the toughest and most stressful job in the world and am not paid enough to be able to afford to fly to Florida to take a cruise. I have done three with Carnival and there won’t be a 4th thanks to your bad management decisions.

John says:
Hello Luis Garcia

First of all, I thank you for your service as a police officer and thank you for taking the time to write and express your opinion. We have, as you said, decided to reposition the Carnival Splendor to New York after her South America voyages and replace her with the Carnival Miracle West Coast next spring to operate our Mexican Riviera, Alaska and Hawaii cruises. We realize that many people really loved the Carnival Splendor but the Carnival Miracle is truly spectacular as well.  We also have the beautiful Carnival Inspiration to enjoy from Long Beach. I truly hope there will be a fourth cruise.

Best wishes and stay safe.

John

Melissa Bergamin asked:
Hello John,

I’ve been reading and enjoying your blog for a while now and had mixed feelings about sending you this message, but I’ve decided it’s for the greater good – being the sanity of my cruising partner aka my mum. We are booked on the Carnival Miracle this summer (July 25) and we are very excited. This will be her eighth Carnival cruise and my fifth. Part of the reason for this mother-daughter cruise is because I have moved overseas to teach. I worked in China last year, and this year I have been living and working in Cairo, Egypt. I will also be returning to Egypt for next year. My time home is limited and we decided one way to maximize was to take a Carnival cruise together. I’m hitting two of my favourite stops (St. Thomas and Grand Turk) and we have booked a balcony. Now to the point of this rather long winded essay, I have promised my mum that I will indeed FORCE myself to relax with her. In the past, my idea of a cruise vacation was wake up, hit every activity humanly possible, and then add three more… I tend to tire people out when I just explain to them the course of my average cruise day.  Whatever, part of my addiction to action on Carnival is the hunt for the coveted SOS.  I get quite moody until I win one (not in front of other passengers, just my mum) and so I was hoping to save her sanity and to help me keep my promise of relaxing with her, you could help me out by sending me a SOS or arranging for me to be able to purchase one. I can already see her rolling her eyes at me and telling me to “relax” …….. and as I love her to bits, I would do anything within my power to make her happy and thank her. I understand if you cannot help me out, but I figured I would ask. I owe my mum’s sanity that much. Thank you for all you do, and the hours of entertainment combined with information you’ve provided on your blog.

A fan of your fun ship feature,

Melissa

John says:
Hello Melissa Bergamin

People take cruises for many different reasons and one of the common reasons is to take time for themselves and be able to relax and forget about the stresses and worries of everyday life. I can see that you are really ready to do just that and I am sure that the crew will make sure they serve and entertain you and take your worries away. I will be happy to send you a trophy as requested and hope that you can write to me here on June 25 or a few days before you sail on my Facebook page so that I don’t forget. I wish you both a wonderful time.

Best wishes

John

Brenda asked:
Hi John

We have sailed with you twice now on the Carnival Freedom in the Med and this past summer on the Carnival Magic in the Med. We are currently Platinum with 22 cruises (my 10 yr old has 22 cruises too!).  How will this work with the new loyalty program. We are only three cruises from Milestone with three future cruises booked (Dec. 2012 July 2013 and Dec 2013).  How close do we have to be to be grandfathered into the milestone program?  This will be a real bummer if we miss it and we are this close! Please let me know. Lastly, will you be on the Legend in the Baltic in 2013? Thanks.

John says:
Hello Brenda

I am getting lots of questions like this and it is quite understandable, of course. We are now just a very short time away from announcing the new loyalty program and the four different levels that this will be based on. Looking at the fact that you are this close to Milestone and with three cruises booked you should have no worries or concerns about you getting the top level. More details to come soon and yes indeed, I will see you on the beautiful Carnival Legend.

Best wishes and thanks for your brilliant loyalty.

John

Linda Shearing asked:

We have a big Cruise Critic roll call for the Carnival Dream cruise of 5/19/12. I expect 100 will attend so we need the piano bar on the Sunday sea day at 1:30pm -3:30pm. I have written to you before on your blog but did not get a response so I hope you will respond this time! Can we also have bar service?

John says:
Hello Linda Shearing

I am sorry I have not responded to you before but I am glad I saw this in time for me to be able to arrange this. I cannot promise you the piano bar as this may have been taken by a group already or indeed used for a ship’s function. However, I will make sure that it is arranged and that the location and time appears in the Fun Times and that a bar waiter attends to take individual drink orders. I hope you all have a fantastic cruise and enjoy meeting new friends.

Best wishes.

John

Elizabeth Windfelder asked:

HELP, I can’t decide! Which would you choose? 7/9/12 or 7/21/12 sailing on Carnival Breeze from Barcelona?

John says:
Hello Elizabeth Windfelder

I am sure thanks to my lateness of reply that you have probably decided what to do already. If not and having had a look at both I would suggest the 7/21 sailing……oh hold on…….no….the 7/9 sailing……oh bugger. I am, obviously, of no use here because both are brilliant voyages and I hope regardless that I see you this summer. I am sorry I couldn’t be of much use here but I promise that if you have other questions I will give you more complete answers.

Best wishes.

John

Paul asked:
Hi John

Have a question, will you be doing a live report from Carnival Destiny‘s extreme makeover in Italy next year. And why did Carnival feel it necessary to change her name? Thanks

John says:
Hello Paul

I will indeed be with the film crew at the yard and reporting on her amazing dry dock. I can understand that there are those who having cruised on her as the Carnival Destiny have a special connection with her. This upcoming refit is by far the most ambitious project we’ve undertaken and will totally transform the Carnival Destiny. With such dramatic changes, it just made sense to rename the ship. Once everyone sees the incredible transformation she will undergo that the name Carnival Sunshine will be absolutely applicable. She will be a ship reborn.

Best wishes.

John

Janice Travelli asked:

Have just returned from the Pride which was my 10th cruise. The platinum VIP gift we got was the beach bag/backpack and compared to the gift we receive as a diamond VIP with RCI it leaves a lot to be desired. It looks cheap and what is someone of my age (62) supposed to do with a bag like this. On RCI I got a beautiful crystal paper weight and a lovely T-shirt. Just saying!

John says:
Hello Janice Travelli

I am surprised to read that you did not like the bag as I have heard nothing but positive reports about it from other guests. We will be changing the gift again when the new loyalty program is introduced and, of course, I hope we will see you for cruise number 11 so that you can enjoy it.

Best wishes

John

Rona asked:

I have watched videos of you and Calvin and I have to say you two are like Laurel and Hardy. So funny together.

John says:
Hello Rona

The problem there is that one of them was skinny! Seriously, thanks so much for that wonderful compliment and to be compared with the greatest double act ever is amazing. I will post more videos of us soon.

Best wishes.

John

Martin Stansfield asked:

I am just off the Carnival Triumph and was not impressed. I detected an overall vibe of boredom and depression from the staff. The cleaning staff/housekeeping appeared to be from the Philippines or Indonesia. They never smiled and said hello in the halls, but it was unusual to come across so many foreign staff. The front desk had a very poor attitude each time I went there to complain. In general, the presence of so many immigrant workers (many Indians, Bulgarians, etc made up the wait staff), gave me an odd impression. I suppose you don’t hire American crew because outsourcing labor is cheaper, is this the reason Mr. Heald?

John says:
Hello Martin Stansfield

Well, let me start by saying that I am shocked that you should say that the crew were unfriendly as that is something that we very rarely hear and I will make a point of sending your comments to the ship’s senior management. Like most cruise lines, we hire talented people from all over the world and in fact at Carnival more than 100 nationalities are represented. We take a great deal of pride in having the friendliest crew at sea and all crew undergo training to hone their hospitality skills. I do hope that there were many aspects of the cruise that you did enjoy.

Best wishes

John

Jon Heller asked:
Hey John,

I was just wondering since I had been on the Carnival Magic a few weeks ago and thought you were a great cruise director. I was wondering if you were scheduled to be on the Breeze next year during the departure date of 2.16.2013. Let me know if you will be because either way we are booking this cruise. Had so much fun on the magic, can’t wait for the Carnival Breeze and Carnival Sunshine

John says:
Hello Jon Heller

Thanks for those wonderful words and yes indeed, I will be there as I am hosting the Bloggers Cruise in January and intend to stay on through February and March. I am so glad you had fun and hope we see each other next year.

Best wishes.

John

Laura Welk asked:
Hey John,

My friends and I are sailing in May this year and I had some questions about bringing our own liquor onboard. When I sailed with CCL the first time, we didn’t bring anything, the second time we brought a bottle of wine in our luggage and they confiscated it and we got it back the last night. Now, I have heard some conflicting things, some say you can bring liquor on in your carry on and are allowed one bottle per person, others say you can only bring in wine and are

allowed one bottle per person and some say you cannot bring it at all. I completely understand not being allowed to bring it on at all and seeing how CCL would like our liquor purchased from them. But since we are cruising in a few months I thought I would ask, mostly out of curiosity from all the mixed answers I have gotten. Hope this email finds you well and you have been enjoying yourself on the bloggers cruise. I enjoy your blog and Facebook updates immensely!

Thanks in advance!

Laura

John says:
Hello Laura Welk

I am sorry that this has been confusing and it looks like we (I) need to do a better job in getting the right information out. You can indeed bring one bottle of wine or champagne per person on the ship in your carryon bag and if you decided to take this to the dining room there will be a corkage fee for the waiter to serve it. I hope this is OK and if you have any further questions please let me know.

Best wishes and thanks so very much for the very kind words.

John

That’s all for today.

So here I am writing to you once again and before I forget may I thank Michelle and Mary who despite not having beards have done a wonderful job answering questions for me during my time at home with the girls. Talking of which, saying goodbye to Kye gets harder and harder and tugs at my heart strings to the point that tears run down my fat ugly face. I doubt it will ever get easier, will it?

So here I am in Italy, writing to you from the Carnival Breeze. Well, actually I am in the yard office which Carnival uses when we have a new ship being built. It is very warm here and there is no air conditioning or if there is it is being provided by an asthmatic hamster breathing through a straw. The ship looks brilliant and let me say straight away that Gerry and the beards have hit a huge home run here. Yep, she is a slam dunk, touchdown……ummmmm…….hit for six (cricket reference) vessel that I have no trepidation in saying is our very best yet. Once again the brilliant people here at Fincantieri are making a brilliant vacation home. What they do here is nothing short of amazing and in one month as we head to the Mediterranean and talk becomes of RedFrogs, BlueIguanas and Cucinas, it’s easy to forget that men and women built this ship.

As I mentioned on Facebook yesterday, the ship will leave the Monfalcone shipyard for a two day sea trial. She has passed all her previous sea trials with flying colours and talking to the Chief Engineer Antonio this morning he expects everything to be just perfect. Now in the days ahead I will have video interviews with all the senior officers which I hope you will enjoy.

There is only a skeleton crew from Carnival here with the department heads getting ready to welcome their crew over the next few days. Yesterday, 10 huge trucks arrived with supplies as diverse as trashcans to uniforms. The operation is continuous and the huge warehouse is filling up slowly with all our supplies. Move on date for the supplies is May 8 and the move on date for the crew to join is May 15. Now I mentioned uniforms because the Carnival Breeze will have new uniforms for all the crew. Yep, all of them from waiters to state room stewards from Camp Carnival staff to photographers, everyone will have the new look and I will show you just how they look in the days ahead. The new uniforms will then move across the fleet and I think the crew is going to love them. Especially happy is the entertainment staff whose new day uniform means they no longer look like they are delivering you a large pepperoni pizza.

The entertainment staff arrived yesterday as did cruise director extraordinaire Butch Begovitch.

He will be teaching the staff the 2.0 deck parties and hosting the first cruise Hasbro, The Game Show activities as I won’t have time to do the rehearsals etc. It will be great to have him with me. I know you are all anxiously awaiting more photos of the ship but as all the areas are still being worked on I shall wait a few more days until you can see her in all her undoubted glory.

Yesterday we announced all the brilliant food items for the Carnival Breeze and just in case you missed it, here is the announcement as written by our great friend from PR, Mr. Vance Gulliksen.

NEW FULL-SERVICE SUSHI RESTAURANT, OUTDOOR BBQ VENUE AMONG TANTALIZING ARRAY OF CUISINE CHOICES ON CARNIVAL BREEZE

And as mentioned there is a contest ongoing and here is Everett the Beard with a reminder about that.

One of the worst things about Facebook is that sometimes you’ll read a friend’s status update and it’s so inane you just want to… I don’t know, throw a handful of pico de gallo at them. But then it just ends up dripping down your monitor and keyboard, you have to clean it up yourself* and the person doesn’t even know — the gesture was meaningless, and you are now sad.

Carnival doesn’t want to see you sad, so we created the BlueIguana Cantina Fight for Your Appetite Sweepstakes!

Here’s how this works: we’ve made a Facebook page where you can not only learn more about some of the foods offered at BlueIguana Cantina, vote for your favorite dishes, enter to win an awesome Carnival Breeze cruise for two with airfare… and naturally, throw digital food at someone else’s Facebook wall. (It’s both therapeutic and thoughtful!)

So let your mate’s wall have it… then get ready to Facebook message them to beg their forgiveness when they win the free cruise for two. Enter here so maybe you’ll win instead.

*Dishwashers are actually a great way to clean keyboards. Seriously. Look it up.

So lots of food glorious food and let’s start with sushi. Now, there were some grumbles from a few that we are charging for this so let me just repeat what I said on Facebook that we continue to offer free sushi on Lido and sushi is also included among the many offerings within The Taste Bar complimentary appetizer program.

The Bonsai Sushi bar looks fantastic and the new sushi recipes from $1 a plate will be a massive bargain and that the huge sushi boat for 2 for just $15 will be very popular as well I am sure.   Bonsai Sushi is a totally new concept for us with a more extensive menu and upgraded quality along with  sake and Japanese beer, in a fabulous new setting with a dedicated seating area.

Now while many of you are probably huge Sushi lovers and are very excited about the new sushi restaurant here on the Carnival Breeze I have to tell you I am not a fan of sushi. Yes, I hear you saying that it’s the “ultimate healthy fast food.” But it’s just not for me. My wife loves sushi and she wishes I would love it too, bless her little Dutch clogs. She doesn’t want me to die or to get fatter, so when I am home she keeps me on a diet of mashed vegetables, muesli and grilled sodding chicken. It is kind and loving of her to do so, but sometimes I look at our refrigerator shelves full of Greek yogurt and falafel and skimmed milk and olive spread, and I feel like crying. And when she isn’t with me on the ship there is no doubt that I will bypass the Bonsai Sushi restaurant and head to deck 10 and sink my teeth into a Guy Fieri burger with melted cheese, a crispy onion ring, lashings of bacon bits and even his very own special mayonnaise.

One of the more exciting elements of the Carnival Breeze involves the existing Lanai barbecue which has a new menu and will be called Fat Jimmy’s C-Side BBQ. Now I can tell you that this was named after one of the most brilliant people I have ever met — our soft spoken, sports loving family man and Chief Marketing Officer, Mr. Jim Berra. I have to say that I have never heard anyone call him “Jimmy” and that he isn’t fat………. if he is fat ten if they named the barbecue after me it would have to be called “Morbidly Obese Really Huge Fat Bastard Johnny’s BBQ.”

Anyway, I digress. Jim or Jimmy as I shall from here on in call him, has done so much and will do so much for this company and its right and just that we name this dining venue after him. He loves barbecue and has had a big say in the menu which we will talk about in a moment. Now I love barbecue food and yet while it’s OK to accept invitations to other people’s barbecues and its going to be brilliant on the Lanai on the Carnival Breeze, never, ever host one yourself. Throwing barbecues is for plonkers and guaranteed by the time it’s over to make you hate your friends forever.

It never looks like it does on TV where the host smiles warmly from behind his barbecue as friends and family lie back drinking and laughing in his garden. This is bollocks! You become hot, stressed and you begin to despise those having fun around you in your garden eating your food, drinking your booze all while you slave over a barbecue so hot that your face morphs into a melted latex glove. The only time people come near the BBQ host is with fake offers of help which, of course you must politely refuse. Then your now ex-friends will make patronsing remarks such as, “You’re doing a great job, chef!” This is the point where you have to restrain yourself from shoving a chicken leg up their arse and stabbing them in the eye with that big barbecue fork thingy. Yes, I hate barbecues, especially when I’m doing all the work.

But I love Fat Jimmy’s and just look at the menu. We will offer a mouth-watering array of grilled favorites, including barbecued chicken breast, kielbasa, Fat Jimmy’s signature item, pulled pork sandwiches, along with traditional sides like baked beans, potato salad, coleslaw and mini-corn muffins.

The Carnival Breeze is brilliant and as I walked around the ship with Gerry Cahill and his entourage I tried to put my mind into “guest mode” to try find something to complain about something — anything — about which I could complain. And all I could come up with is that some of the stools on the lido deck restaurant are a little high and some older guests may struggle to get on them. The ship has new designers who have incorporated cool crisp blues and relaxing yellows both in the public spaces and the staterooms.

So join me here and on Facebook as I tell you more about the Carnival Breeze, our best ship yet and the ultimate expression of fun!

Goodnight.

Your friend,

John

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59 Responses to ASHES IN THE BARBECUE

  1. Rick says:

    Nice post and good to have you back, hope you enjoyed your family time.

  2. Kelly Burt says:

    Hello John,
    Glad Italy is so fantastic. That is on my bucket list but with one son in college, one in high school and a daughter in elementary school it is going to be way at the bottom of the bucket.

    Just so you will be aware, I am still in awe of the wait staff on the Sensation in the Fantasy dining room. Always a smile. Always a great attitude.

    However the room staff does need a personality transplant. There was one night we slept on the spare blanket because they did not change the sheets after a coffee spill. Nothing like crunchy sheets right. He actually put them back on the bed but I was exhausted.

    If anyone is going on the Sensation, please check out the excursion desk and guest services for some wonderful, wonderful service. They provided wonderful insight to our ports of call.

  3. Linda (Mom of DJ) says:

    Linda Shearing

    Since you are so insistant with your requests for John to handle…I have a request for YOU to handle…

    the words PLEASE and THANK YOU !!

    As a Cruise Critic member, I get ill when I read demanding and disrespectful request from people, without even the basics of etiquette (that means manners for those who may not be aware).

    If you are going to throw around the name Cruise Critic, as least do it in a way that does not embarrass us all.

  4. Linda (Mom of DJ) says:

    Janice Travelli

    We received the back packs are were very pleased.

    My husband and son used it to go mud buggying in Hawaii and it got covered in mud.

    It handled being washed with our free wash and fold beautifully…..

    As for “the mall of the seas” gift, check the price you paid for those “mall cruises” and you might get an idea of why they can afford to supposedly give something a little more expensive.

    • Rick Williamson says:

      I agree with you Linda, The back packs are great. Frankly they don’t have to give us anything. You already get VIP boarding and that’s the best part of having 10 or more cruises (we have 15 and 16th is booked). We did our 15th in April and from the time we left the parking lot till we were on the ship. It was 10 minutes! All the rest is great to have like the repeat cruisers party before dinner. And treats they send to the cabin. But the best part is relaxing and the service you get while on board. Again this is a person that needs to get over themselves.

    • Carole says:

      I know, right? I’d much rather have a backpack than a paperweight!!!

  5. John I have my final trip all planned. It will be on a Tuesday and my coffin will be black or white. The reason I know it will be on a Tuesday is because our trash day is Tuesday. My coffin will be black or white because that is the colour of GLAD trash bags. I tell Pat just put me in a BIG trash bag and put me out by the side of the road on trash day. Once I’m dead any money you waste on me is YOUR money your wasting.

  6. Linda (Mom of DJ) says:

    Martin Stansfield

    Carnival does not hire Americans in these positions, because they will not do the work….plain and simple.

    And even IF they would do the work, most people would not be able to afford a cruise if they paid American wages.

    Just ask NCL. 3 American staffed ships (in Hawaii) almost sent them into bankruptcy.

    As for the friendliness….I have sailed on 50 Carnival cruises and on every ship that Carnival has.

    I has been my experience that the staff and crew…

    GIVE what they GET!

    Think about it.

    • Teresa Cooper says:

      I think the dead giveaway was the line “every time I went to complain”. I too am just off the Triumph and had a wonderful time. The staff often smiled and said hello and were very helpful. I don’t think this guy is an experienced cruiser hence his surprise at the “immigrant” staff. Cracks me up! Seriously, does this guy think they all “immigrated” to a cruise ship? And just what is wrong with being something other than American? Does this guy need only Americans to wait on him hand and foot? Is he too good to have his food served to him by a Bulgarian or have his stateroom cleaned twice a day by an Indonesian? The staff on cruise ships come from countries where maybe the earning opportunities are not as great as what we have here in the U.S. so they are willing to leave their families and friends for months at a time in order to improve theirs and their families lives. And we benefit from this by getting a bargain vacation. Let’s give them some respect, shall we?

  7. Rick Williamson says:

    Dear Martin, I hope I never meet you an a cruise. You sound so depressing to me. 90% of the staff or more is not from the USA ON EVERY Carnival ship! And always has been. My wife and I enjoy finding out what country the people that serve us are from. And love to hear about they country. The staff of any Carnival ship does a great job. Sure each person has down days at some point. But remember they are doing this 7 days a week for 6 months or so! Lets see you do it with a smile 24/7 for 6 months. We think they do a great job for the most part. And we ALWAYS thank them for their service to us.

  8. Belinda Faught says:

    We are sailing on the carnival fascination may 21,2012 to celebrate my nephew’s graduation. Could you please send him a little something special? His name is Jamie and he’s in cabin U163. Also, this is the first cruise for my 3 grandchildren-Carter, Caleb and Caity who age 11,8 and 7… Cabin U185. hoping you could do something for them as well. Thanks so much!
    Belinda ..sailing on the Fascination may 21,2012..cabin U165

    • Roxianne says:

      Belinda Faught if you want tJohn to see your post, you will have to post it on Facebook. He is atleast three weeks behind on his questions here. you could also post it at the Ask john table listed above.

  9. anthea says:

    John,

    You have been missed these last few weeks!

    Love this today: ” no air conditioning or if there is it is being provided by an asthmatic hamster breathing through a straw.”
    Hilarious!

    You are always a joy. Thank you for all you do!

    Love to Kye and Heidi.

    Petal

  10. Leon says:

    In reference to the first letter, John, you have to admit we are losing a ship. We have three and will end up with two which reduces the choices for cruising from the west coast.

    • Rick Williamson says:

      Leon, you still have three Carnival ships over there on the western side of the USA. You will just have to go a little farther to get to Carnival Spirit. And look at it this way…..look at all the new ports you can see when you are on her after Sept. of this year. Also the main reason they may be cutting back is less and less people want to go to Mexico’s Western or Eastern sides. So the need may just not be there for 3 ships. By the by my wife just this week saw a travlers warning NOT to go to Mexico period…any of it’s ports.

      • Jim Wadstrup says:

        We are indeed losing a ship on the west coast. The Spirit is now in Alaska, but will be leaving for Australia. Nothing is going to replace the Spirit. I have sent a couple of notes to John, to no avail. He always seems to skirt the issue of one less ship out of the west coast.

    • Linda (Mom of DJ) says:

      Yes, while California (as a STATE) is losing ONE ship…

      that only represents 6 months of cruising opportunity)….

      (not a whole year)

      since it spent half the year in Alaska.

      Be glad Carnival has not pulled out all together like RCCL…..

      California just isn’t creating the bookings…and this is a business, NOT a charity.

      • Linda (Mom of DJ) says:

        *** that should have read ” THE WEST COAST” is only losing 6 months of cruising.

  11. Ralph says:

    Martin Stansfield,
    The crew seemed “bored” and “depressed”? Most likely caused by your arrogant and rude attitude!!!

  12. Linda (Mom of DJ) says:

    John:

    I have to say that I am right there with you where sushi is concerned.

    Looks a little to much like bait where I come from !!

    Bravo on the BBQ….I have enjoyed the BBQ ribs on Carnival for years and have often wondered how they get them so tender….
    on a ship…in the middle of the ocean???

    Yes, I even order them on Elegant Night.

    (just like I did on our Hawaiian cruise….BEST CRUISE EVER!!!)

    Hugs to Heidi…Kisses to Kye…

    Linda (Mom of your friend DJ)

  13. Bob & Nimia says:

    Hello John,
    The Breeze sounds just marvelous. Thank you for keeping us informed. Can’t wait to see her and you on June 3. In the mean time I’ll just keep dreaming about; Chocolate Melting Cake, Chocolate Melting Cake, Chocolate Melting Cake.

  14. Leah says:

    With regard to Martin Stansfield’s comments about unfriendly crew and “front desk” staff, I think one comment speaks volume: he said the front desk staff “had a very poor attitude each time I went there to complain.” Maybe they were just tired of having the same person appear constantly to complain. I have been on five Carnival cruises now and I have been to guest services exactly once: when I misplaced my key card, which was cheerfully replaced in less than 5 minutes. I have had better service from some staff than from others, but never what I would consider bad service. But then I am not bothered by “immigrant workers” (and since we are generally on a ship that is stopping to visit other countries, who are the real foreigners after all?). In fact, I enjoy talking to the crew about their home countries – it’s one of the things I look forward to the most. Maybe if Mr. Stansfield spent more time trying to relax and enjoy his vacation and less time trying to find fault and complain, everyone on his cruises would have better attitudes.

    • Teddy Gautsch says:

      Take the time to consider your place on a cruise, how would you feel if the locals at these ports had that same attitude towards visiting “americans” that you have exhibited towards the crew on the ship?

  15. Jacki says:

    Mr. Heald,
    I love your blog and facebook page. I have often thought what a great job you have, but now after reading what you have to deal with on a daily basis I don’t know how you do it. So I thought I would answer this one for you.
    Martin Stansfield,
    I strongly believe that this must have been your first cruise, on any cruise line. The crew on most ships is “foreign” to Americans. There are many reasons for this. People from other parts of the world have a work ethic that most Americans don’t have. Most Americans will not work 12+ hrs a day, 7 days a week. Most Americans would not be as pleasant as the “foreign” crew will be. Most Americans will not go over and above passenger’s expectations, instead being happy to only do what is needed to keep the job. But you should know that the cruise lines will not discriminate, they do hire employees from all around the world, including America, just not many Americans apply for the low paying, hard work jobs.
    Also you need to understand that Carnival is not “outsourcing” American jobs. Ships are registered in other countries. Carnival Corporation is registered outside of America. Wages are set by maritime law, not America law – so next time you are a guest on a foreign ship – be glad that the wonderful crew is willing to work so hard for a discriminating, foreigner like you!!!
    You are right though, seeing the crew working so hard does give an “odd impression.” It makes me wonder how in the country that I love, where we tend to feel superior to other countries, we can’t get the work ethic and diversity tolerance that the rest of the world has.
    John,
    You can have your job back now. I think Carnival would have to fire me because it is way too hard for this American to “bite her tongue” and be polite. Honestly I don’t know how you do it.
    Jacki
    Midwest USA

    • Sean says:

      Could not have said that better myself!!! Good job!

    • Janiece Mitchell says:

      Hear, hear, Jackie. Good answer to Martin. As a footnote, my husband and I had the displeasure of being on a cruise almost totally staffed by “Americans”. The waiters were surly and inattentive, and our cabin was not made up in a timely fashion any of the days on the cruise. When we cruise, we take care of the people who do a great job of caring for us. I love my country as much as the next person, but we have been labeled “Ugly Americans” when we travel, and it is in part, due to attitudes such as Martin’s.

  16. Elaine Brovero says:

    Welcome back, John. I wish to comment on the platinum gift of a beach bag..I am 63 years old and I love mine..I sure don’t want a hunk of crystal that I would have to hand carry on the plane home..I think I would leave it on the ship. Looking forward to cruises #16 and 17(back to back) on Freedom in November.

  17. Bonnie Locher says:

    Enjoyed the blog with comment about tribulations of getting old. Getting out of a chair is like Rock n’ Roll. You rock back and forth til you get up speed and then you roll out of chair and hope the noises you make only come out of your mouth as you groan. Personally I wish I were 47 again. That was a good year.

  18. Dave K says:

    Hi John – how do you find out about repositioning cruises? I don’t seem to see them listed as regularly scheduled cruises on the sites I go to.
    Thanks
    ps – think you should go on the Conquest sometime.

    • When you do search select either Panama Canal or South America. That is where they are listed.

    • Rick Williamson says:

      Ha Dave, just an idea for you. I ask my PVP to let me know if and when there where Carnival ships moving east or west about 2 years ago. And she has since emailed me letting me know. I’m hope they use their web site more often then they have in the past for news like that. At least have a place on the main page just to give dates and ships for future passages through the Canal.

  19. Luis R says:

    Glad to see a new blog after so long. :-)

    Well Mr. Stansfield, if you only go to the front desk to complain then you should not expect the staff to be so happy to see you. You seem to be the kind of person that is never happy and goes around looking for something to complain.

  20. Gary Davis says:

    Just returned from a 3 night cruise aboard the Carnival Spirit. Everything on board was great. Food in all areas of the ship very good. All the staff very friendly and I was always greeted with a smile and “hello”.

    The only complaint I have was with the condition of the sea lanes. Not too sure who is in charge of keeping them in good repair, but they were full of pot holes. The ship was rocking and rolling the entire voyage. Maybe a strongly worded letter from the beards could get the ocean maintenance department to get something done.

  21. Mark Similey says:

    Dear John,

    I post this as I cruise on the Valor (our 10th and definately not our last).

    Thanks for helping on the Meet and Greets.

    I want to say that until this past cruise the Miracle has been our favorite ship. While the Spirit class is a great vessel we have a new favorite ship. The Valor is amazing, great decor, wonderful common areas and the theme makes sense. But that is just a small part of the reason this cruise has made it to the top of our list. The biggest part is the crew. This crew has made this cruise the best. From our Head Waiter Joseph (Washington Dining Room table 304) and his team, to our room steward (don’t even know his name, room 1421 AND 1425), to your entertainment staff led by CD Matt and his crew, Everson and Janessa we love them all. I have been on a few cruises where you never see the CD except at the shows, but Matt has been out and about visiting and mingling and mixing it up, along with his great crew. Of course there are improvements that can be made but it is obvious why the Valor has the coveted Crystal Eagle aboard. Everywhere I go the stall remembers my name and addresses me so. Our Bar Waiter in the dining room I PUTU is the best yet.

    On more- the magician Elton is great. His rapport with the guests and table magic is great.

    So please pass on my sincere thanks to a crew for a cruise that so far has been amazing and isn’t complete yet.

    • Ray says:

      We just enoyed our first ever cruise, the April 14 sailing of the Ecstasy. We found the crew unfailingly friendly and helpful. Our cabin steward Dave was amazing, we rarely had to ask for anything, he always seemed to anticipate what we would need.

      Steve Cassel is a great cruise director, the waitstaff in the dining room were outstanding and the Chef’s table was fantastic.

      I am in the process of blogging a detailed review of our experiences. I really have nothing but praise for the Ecstasy and her crew.

      • Rick Williamson says:

        And we were on her the cruise before you (4/9/). And my wife and I feel the sameway about the whole crew!

  22. robin Jones says:

    Hello John

    Awesome blog as usual, just the thing to bring a smile to my face while in the office suffering from the after effects of friday night!

    Just one thing though with the new sweepstakes on Facebook, well they are only open to people who live in america, and well you have a lot of fans from the UK and Europe, is this not a little unfair!

    Take it easy mate

    Robin

  23. min bannatyne says:

    Hi John
    I am huge fan of Carnival Cruise benn with them about 12 times.
    Will you be our Cruise Director Nov 6 2012
    transatlatic?(Breeze)
    Looking forward being on the ship and meeting you for frist time.

  24. jgeraci says:

    John,
    My family has been made aware of my wishes concerning the disposal of my remains when I die. There will be a visitation, with a picture of me on top of the closed casket. I’ve already picked that picture out. It’s one taken of me enjoying Carlos & Charlies in Cozumel!
    There will be a gospel choir rocking out the church during Mass.
    Afterwards I will be cremated, placed in a shoebox, and taken aboard a cruise ship bound for St. Maarten. When the Carnival cruise ship leaves the port there, my sister Gig will scatter my ashes off the stern. What better way to celebrate a life well lived!
    JoyceG

  25. Allen Howard says:

    Martin Stansfield,

    I, too, sailed VERY recently on the Carnival Triumph and found every crew member, without exception, to be outstanding. As a matter of fact, this was my 5th – and best – Carnival Cruise. In my experience (18 cruises across 4 cruise lines), it is rarely the crew or the ship that is the problem – it is usually fellow guests. A cruise experience is what YOU make it. If all you do is complain, well, that says a heck of a lot. On your next cruise, give this recipe a try – find the good in everything instead of the bad. Mistakes WILL happen, however, by reading your comments, it doesn’t sound like you have ever made any. Why don’t you try saying “Good Morning” FIRST to the hard working crew member in the hallway – with a big smile on your face. I can’t imagine what it’s like to be in their shoes and have to deal – day in day out – with some of the passengers I’ve seen on cruise ships. Enjoy life. Find the good in everything. And, guess what, YOU will live a lot longer – and maybe, just maybe, be happy in the process. God bless you and yours.

    PS – this is my FIRST public comments ANYWHERE. I had a strong feeling that someone needed to hear these breif comments. Keep smiling. Life isn’t good, IT’S GREAT! Cherish every moment of it.

  26. The Cruzin2some says:

    Dear John,
    Glad to have you back. I just learned that the Splendor is moving away from California. Boooo! but the CCL Miracle is coming to replace her. Double Yeah!!!!! The Miracle is such a beautiful ship so I am going into planning mode. A Splendor cruise before she leaves and a Miracle cruise to welcome her to her new home.
    The Cruzin2some

  27. Trybus, Conrad & Nora says:

    We enjoyed great entertainment (evening shows)while on the Splendor lst Nov/Dec.
    Will there be more great evening shows (comparable to Las Vegas in my opinion) on the Valor this year (same time period of Nov/Dec.? A delish dinner, followed by such good entertainment is main reason we cruise.

  28. Lauren says:

    I love sushi, but I’m tired of having to pay extra to eat good food. The food on a cruise is supposed to be included- that’s what we pay for.

  29. Elizabeth says:

    I wonder if Martin Stansfield and I were on the same ship. We were on the Triumph in Jan. It was wonderful. The crew all seemed happy, the service was terrific. I can’t wait to sail on the Triumph again!

  30. TeddyN says:

    I, also, was on a cruise on the Carnival Triumph last month and my room steward was fantastic :), also other stewards i seen always said hello. The entertainment staff was great, The Casino staff was fantastic, The bartenders were quick and effiecient. Customer service handled my ONE and only complaint with the utmost courtesy. I did meet one rude employee, who decided to bump me when i had a full cup of coffee which got my clothes wet on the last morning. Would have understood if the lido was packed, but no one but me and the person i was talking with. I submitted complaint and was given a T shirt to wear :). lol, used hair dryer in room to dry my pants

  31. Teddy Gautsch says:

    Janice Can you imagine the having to make the decision on which gift will be handed out for platinum members? Its a gift so take that into consideration.

  32. Daniel & Natalie Inks says:

    Hi John,
    @ Luis Garcia , I don’t want to be a h8er , but you should really do your homework before you blast John and Carnival .. perhaps you could blast them for something relevant but totally out of their control, like having another decent port of call for the Riviera itinerary. Hope I don’t run into you in L.A. (pun intended)

    For me and my house we will continue to cruise Carnival. My 11th Carnival and my wife will have her Platinum on INSPIRATION Halloween cruise and out family Fun vacation.
    We just went on Magic and had a marvelous time, Butchie Baby was awesome, and sorry to say, I’m am now, not sorry we missed you again John. (Joking). Our Maître de Ante was a familiar face but I just could place the ship/sailing. The wait staff knocked it out of the park, we had several anniversaries at our table, and somehow they managed to spread the cheer thru the week and all couples had their special night. Chef’s Table with Chef Daniel again was fantastic but we did like the other menu on Splendor Spring 2011. We were able to do the Behind the Fun, and a very interesting look at the workings of thing unknown. We also had dinner at Cucina del Capitano, another great additional add to our vacation.
    But I did want to ask one thing. We had a group of over 200 and most commented that the housekeeping staff must have been invisible, I didn’t see our steward until late Tuesday. We all agreed, yes the rooms were shipshape, and for the most part without need. But, in my 10 Carnival, this one seemed to have a ‘miss’ in that column. Is policy changing on the steward accessibility? Will ‘they’ become another ‘stop’ on the “BEHIND THE FUN” lol
    On a serious note, John, Thanks for the special touch for all you were able to do .. and do pass on To Butch, Megan, Tanya, and Ante, another job well done.
    See you on top of a wave someday.

    P.S. when will you be posting page/part 2 of CD schedule 2012 ? I’m looking for INSPIRATION Halloween cruise. We are booked, Stephanie?

  33. Daniel & Natalie Inks says:

    @ Linda Shearing, you are probably too late, or I am, but you could call carnival in Miami, group events, That’s what I did, for a Vibe night club private party. Good luck, (I think you are on your own)

  34. angela f says:

    John,
    Just want to direct your attention to the story of Melanie Russell. After her cruising partner passed, she decided to cruise alone, only to misplace her proof of citizenship at the airport and be turned away at the port. There are several posts regarding this ordeal on the funville forums and Mary & Mischelle have been a great help to her. I don’t know Melanie personally, but I wanted to make sure that you knew the wonderful help that she says everyone at Carnival was. Thank your staff for the goodwill that this has provided at funville. It’s nice to have a drama free zone where we can all share our cruising stories!

  35. Mark Levine says:

    John,
    I just have to say, first of all, that one of the advantages of cremation is you could continue to have your remains cruise with Carnival in perpetuity. All you’d do is occupy a small urn. Perhaps in the Steakhouse? Or would all that seem too much like work?

    My wife and I will be celebrating our 5th wedding anniversary with a cruise 11/2/12 on the Conquest out of New Orleans. What a great departure point! We are as excited about New Orleans as we are about being back on The Conquest! Galveston is nice, but New Orleans is a place my wife has never been!

    I’ve always enjoyed your blog, but I’ll be reading with an extra-excited eye until November.

    -Mark

  36. Keith Wilkins says:

    John great blog as usual. I really loved the BarBQ analogies, how true. Thanks for all you do.

  37. to martin stansfield:

    “The front desk had a very poor attitude each time I went there to complain.”

    huh? is there any wonder they weren’t happy to see you coming? how many times DID you go complain about something? bugger off my friend, you’ll like another line better i think.

    bee

  38. john we are just back from the liberty and she is in wonderful shape. i LOVED the new features. and surprise of surprises, the beautiful and talented jaime was our cd! she is a shining star!

    smiles, bee
    xoxo

  39. Janiece Mitchell says:

    John,
    My husband and I just returned from our cruise on the Magic. Except for one little hiccup, which the Maitre d’ resolved immediately, the whole experience was tremendous. Galveston has streamlined the embarkation process, and we had no long lines while waiting to board the ship. Our cabin stewards were exceptional and our waitstaff attended to our needs as if we were the only table in the place. Kudos to the Magic Crew!
    My husband and I are frequent cruisers, not only with CCL, but with various and sundry other lines, and I guess we are terrible people, since we have not counted how many cruises we have taken, in total. At any rate, my first cruise was aboard the Mardi Gras, and I totally loved that experience! I know it was the beginning…but at every Past Cruisers event, every cruise director talks about how terrible it was. I would much rather think it was what it was, and CCL got better over time!
    Thanks, John for the blog…and please pass along our compliments to the great crew of the Magic!

  40. Erin says:

    “I have to say that I have never heard anyone call him “Jimmy” and that he isn’t fat………. if he is fat ten if they named the barbecue after me it would have to be called “Morbidly Obese Really Huge Fat Bastard Johnny’s BBQ.”

    — I totally just choked on my Lifesaver. LMFAO!

  41. D. Carter says:

    Hello John-
    I have read some of your blogs and It’s absolutely wonderful that you are able to read real reviews and get tips and information before you cruise. Thanks soooo much! My family and I are going on a cruise this summer(june 16,2012) on the Carnival Destiny, we are in room 1185. While my husband and I have cruised before (12 or so years ago). Our children have not. And since our cruise was so long ago, we both are equally as excited to cruise again. The kids are always looking online to view the photos and amenities of our ship. We decided to take this cruise to celebrate our daughers graduation from high school, and she has enlisted in the military so once we get back she will embark on a new journey in her own life. So the cruise was the perfect family vacation for us to do something memorable before she leaves.
    Thanks so much in advance to Carnival and their employees for helping our family create memories!
    Dee C.

  42. Carey says:

    I’m a new fan of your blog and just wanted to say that it is FABULOUS. You have a great writing style.

    Recently booked my fourth cruise on Carnival for February 2014… my previous three were ALL on the Legend and I’m going to try the Dream.

    Looking forward to reading more of your posts.

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