COME MANGIARE COME UN ITALIANO

May 16, 2012 -

John Heald

On Friday, I will fly home for two nights to celebrate my daughter’s birthday. I made a promise to her after missing her first and second birthdays that I would not miss another and thanks to the beards, I will head home on Friday and providing Ryan Air doesn’t fly me into a mountain or poison me with their in-flight sandwiches, I will return Sunday morning to the ship.

My Saturday will include hosting a birthday party for Kye’s friends and I am a little nervous about that. I have realised since Kye was born that there are many difficult problems for the modern parent. Which school to send the kids to, how much TV should they watch and whether to let them have a tattoo like the other three-year-olds in their kindergarten class? But just before I left for the Carnival Breeze, Heidi and I were challenged with one huge issue…….how much to spend on the “goody bags” that it seems is now the law to give the kids who come to Kye’s party.

So we went shopping and at a Walmartish-type of shop, I loaded the cart with bits and pieces having worked out that I would spend five pounds per kid which considering there are 18 kids coming equals………oh bugger……..where is the sodding calculator…….well, anyway, it equals a s**t load of money. As I loaded the sticker books and candy into the cart, I caught my wife looking uncomfortable. “Will that be enough?” she said. Enough, are you kidding? When I was a kid and we went to a another kids party we got bugger all except a bowl of ice cream and balloon animal that — regardless of what the parent who had made it said — did not look like a poodle or a giraffe but a thingy. “Yes,” said Heidi, “but Kye had just been to a children’s party where each kid got a Princess dress with matching shoes and handbag from the Disney store.”

Maybe this is what kids expect now and it was only because my arms were full of Peppa Pig stickers and lollipops, I did not lie down right there in the store and have a nervous breakdown.
I am not sure how it is where you live, dear bloggers, but children’s parties have become a stage for ridiculous spending and a contest to see who can throw the best. A friend of mine lives on a posh island in Miami where kids are flown by private plane to an island in the Bahamas for their birthday and where Justin Beaver is paid millions to sing Happy Birthday to a seven-year-old. But I don’t live in Miami but in a little town in Essex but even there it’s bloody ridiculous. I know one parent who spent loads of cash on a Willy Wonka party for 30 children where so much chocolate was served that many of the kids left the party as diabetics. What will these parents do when their children reach 21, charter a cruise ship and fill it with Latvian lap dancers? Anyway, Kye and friends will have food, cheap bags of candy and a huge bouncy Peppa Pig thingy I have hired in the garden. And before you think I am being cheap here, let me tell you I am not because each and every one of Kye’s friends will all get something no other parent in Essex can match. Yep, they are all getting a Carnival Breeze solid gold plastic ship on a stick.

Time for today’s Q and A…..off we go.

Andy asked:
John

I am the husband of Marivonne Diaz. I just wanted to say THANK YOU for making her crash cruise of the BC5 such a Magical time (pun intended). She had such a wonderful time meeting you and talks about you every day. Sorry I was unable to meet you as well, even though I tried on two bookings, but when she was talking to her fellow Cuzins I just had to give her my blessing to go without me. :-( Maybe the next time I will get the pleasure of meeting you, as well. Again, THANK YOU!!!

John says:
Hello Andy

There is absolutely no need to thank me as it was a true privilege to meet your wonderful wife on Bloggers Cruise 5. I truly hope we will meet one day too and enjoy some Carnival fun.

Best wishes to you both.

John

Jeanette Politti asked:
John,

One of the reasons we cruise Carnival seven times in four years is because of the bang we get for our buck but the food in the MDR has taken a dive I think and there have been multiple comments on Cruise Critic too about this. What’s going on, big guy?

John says:
Hello Jeanetee Politti

I am glad you appreciate the value for money and I have noted your comment about your opinion of the food we serve in the dining room although it took me a few minutes to work out what MDR meant. The most recent menu has been met with mostly excellent comments as shown on the cards we receive from those guests who are sent one. Most of our new dining options, from Guy’s burgers and Cantina to the Taste Bar and Punchliner Brunch — are completely free of charge – and illustrates the brilliant value for money Carnival provides.
Best wishes.

John

Amy Salvage asked:
John,

My husband and I just took a seven-day cruise this past February 27 on Carnival Magic and had a wonderful experience. As first time cruisers, we enjoyed it immensely. So much that we have already booked another cruise on the Carnival Triumph this coming October 22. We really enjoyed the shows and the Carnival Magic dancers were awesome! All the crew members (employees) whether they were in the buffet areas, or tidying up the cabins or doing maintenance work on the decks, EVERYONE was so very pleasant and helpful. We never encountered an unhappy attitude with any of them. I’m wondering if you will possibly be on the Carnival Triumph in October. If not, then I hope there will be a cruise director as good as you. We enjoyed your talent and hope to actually meet you face to face on one of our future cruises. We are definitely hooked. :)

John says:
Hello Amy Savage

It’s a joy to read that as first time cruisers you had such a brilliant time that you are “hooked” and this is of course thanks to the brilliant crew of the Carnival Magic. I will make sure that they see your words of praise and that we will indeed see you again soon. If there is anything I can do for you please let me know. Thanks for the great post.

Best wishes to you both.

John

Kris Marek asked:

I am in strong agreement with the person who wrote that the workers limited English skills has a negative effect on the cruise experience. Case in point was the bar servers in the bars on Carnival Liberty who never once understood my drink orders and who were rude. There were no genuinely informative lectures about the upcoming ports of call (or anything else), and we found that disappointing. Frequently, several activities were scheduled at the same time, or very nearly so, and we had to choose among several attractive-sounding options at the same time which is ridiculous planning. Finally and for reasons we never understood, dinner was interrupted at least once almost every night by bursts of (very loud) music and waiters dancing on serving tables. I think this was supposed to be fun but it was not! There were some good points. The cabin boy was attentive and friendly and the food choice on the lido deck was very good but the lack of English skills and poor planning of activities and that awful loud music in the dining room are areas Carnival will need to improve on if they want to be successful.

John says:
Hello Kris Marek

Thanks so much for taking the time to write this post and I am glad to see that you had some good points. I know that many of our crew have accents, myself included, but we all speak English and indeed have to pass a test in order to work in guest areas. This is why I am so surprised about your comment regarding the bar staff but I will pass this onto the ship’s management. It was also interesting to read your comments about the dining room because recently here and on Facebook we discussed this and there were many hundreds of comments posted with the vast majority saying they liked the fun atmosphere the music and dances that the servers perform. However, it is not for everyone, so please let me apologise for the disruption it caused in your dining experience. I am glad the gentleman who took care of your stateroom was a highlight and the stateroom steward as his position is called is a fine example of our brilliant crew. I do hope you had fun and that we will see you again and I have as I said, sent your review to the ship.

Best wishes.

John

Clarice Hudson asked:
Hi John,

I feel so privileged to have met you on the Carnival Splendor. I just got off the Carnival Inspiration yesterday with my daughter and three grandchildren. I took them on a cruise for their spring break, along with many other families on board for the same reasons. I was surprised that there was no comment cards handed out on this cruise. I wanted to let you know we absolutely loved CD Matt and Assistant CD Weezie. They were so good at recognizing the kids as we walked about the ship and at the shows. Also loved “Buttercup,” Clair and Nick, as well. I can’t remember our waiter’s name at dinner or the drink server who always remembered what the kids wanted to drink and always brought them with extra cherries (until the ship ran out of cherries on the last night). I will say I was a little disappointed with the room staff who never introduced themselves like others have done on my other cruises. As for the shore excursions, we did have a good time. We were shorted one ticked on the first excursion when they were delivered to my room and had to go ashore and get it worked out. The beach party in Rosorita was a little disappointing in that the Rock Wall was broken and the kids really wanted to try it…..but all in all even though the weather was cold, they all had a good time….grandma had to come home to get sleep and rest up, but I wouldn’t have traded the time we had together on this trip for anything.

Thank you to all the staff for a wonderful spring break trip.

Clarice

John says:
Hello Clarice

I can see from your post that grandma did indeed need a rest after that very active cruise and thank you for telling me all about your adventures. I will make sure that the ship takes note of your comments including reminding the stateroom stewards to introduce themselves to the guests. I think your grandchildren are so very lucky to have grandma take them on a cruise and I hope you are rested and ready to do it all again very soon. Thanks again for the wonderful review.

Best wishes to you all.

John

The Igbinedion Family Group asked:

Why are there so few black performers in your shows? I say this based on my last cruise on your ship Carnival Liberty there were no black dancers and all the comedians were white. I hope there is a good explanation for this but it left me and my party with a bad taste in my mouth. Why does Carnival not employ black entertainers?

John says:
Hello Igbinedion Family Group

First of all, I do hope that you had a great cruise and secondly I am glad you wrote to me regarding this as there is indeed a simple explanation. The dancers are hired based on talent and that is all and we can only choose from who attends the auditions we hold. We have 200 plus dancers and singers working across the fleet and boast a diverse cast on our 23 (soon to be 24) ships. I can tell you that here on the Carnival Breeze our dance captain and one of the best dancers I have ever seen is indeed African-American as is the lead male singer. As for the comedians, well, again, they are scheduled according to availability and, of course, their talent and had you been on another ship that week you may have seen Happy Cole, Percy Cruise, Dean Gaines or one of our many African-American comedians who work for us. So thanks again for taking the time to write and hopefully my explanation has helped you all understand and I hope we will see you all again very soon.

Best wishes.

John

Annette Zgeb asked:
Dear John,

In 2009 my husband and I were on the Carnival Splendor for a back to back to back South America cruise. It was seven weeks and it was awesome. One of the “speakers” was a naturalist named Dirk Yonkerman. He was fantastic, knowledgeable, interesting, charming and just plain nice. February 2013 we are fortunate to be on the Carnival Splendor again for another back to back to back cruise, this time going the opposite direction. Would it be possible to find out if Dirk will be on this cruise again?

John says:
Hello Annette Zgeb

What a fantastic voyage that was and I see you are doing this again and that is just brilliant. I remember getting so many great comments about Dirk so, yes, indeed, I will make sure that I send this to the beards and ask that they give serious consideration to doing this again. I will keep you informed as to what is happening and wish you the very best of times.

Best wishes.

John

Big Duck asked:
Heald,

Can you tell me how many hours the crew work each day. A friend of mine said that they work 15 hours a day, seven days a week, which, if true, is DISGUSTING!

John says:
Hello Big Duck

I am afraid whoever told you this is quackers….sorry…..silly duck joke there. Seriously, though, it is not true. The crew’s working hours are strictly regulated and are recorded on a clock-in/ clock-out system we call Fun Time. These hours are strictly monitored by management on board and shoreside and are also looked at by U.S. Coast Guard, as well. The crew work hard, that is for sure but no crew member works 15 hours a day that I can assure you.

Best wishes.

John

Marshann Johnson asked:

My son and I are planning on buying the excursion to swim with the dolphins in the Bahamas. My husband is not going to do it. Is there a fee for him to watch?

John says:
Hello Marshann Johnson

Yes indeed, he will be able to go and watch you swim with these beautiful animals. If he decided to go on the excursion with you there will be a small fee for transportation but that is all. I hope you have a brilliant time.

Best wishes and have fun.

John

Tracey Flynn asked:
John,

I want to give a shout out to the staff in the RedFrog Pub on Carnival Magic. They rocked and deserve a big raise. Please tell the beards. Love the blog and Facebook updates and love Carnival

John says:
Hello Tracey Flynn

I love this post and I will indeed make sure that your praise for those in the RedFrog is heard loud and proud. I hope we see you again soon and I hope also you continue to enjoy the blog and Facebook.

Best wishes.

John

And on that excellent note, so ends the Q and A for now.

So, let’s talk Italian food, shall we? Obviously I have been privileged to travel to many parts of Italy with the various ships and being in the shipyards and eating with Italian captains in their dining rooms on board has given me a wonderful insight to their culture and their food. I have to admit that I am not a huge fan of Italian cookery, though. Two reasons why. First of all, there is the pasta which when you are trying to lose weight and when you are diabetic and need to control carbs, Italian food is not your best mate. The second reason I am not a fan is garlic. I hate garlic. I would rather eat a dead hamster that has been marinated in my underpants for a month than eat anything with garlic in it or on it.

Now I can see some of you bloggers sitting there, in your underpants, saying, “John, you are an idiot, garlic is wonderful.” No…..it’s not….it’s revolting. Not just the taste…..but the smell. Bugger me, the smell. Try coming onto the bridge of the Carnival Breeze early in the morning and have the captain talk to you inches from your face after eating a huge dish of pasta de soddinggarlico the night before. I’d rather have H82Seaugo serve me a plate of skunk scrotum while dressed as Cleopatra than eat anything with garlic in it.

But I am in the minority and most people I know love Italian food and if I didn’t have a beach ball living in my stomach, then I would love it too and I would therefore be able to eat at the best Italian restaurant on the seven seas…….Cucina del Capitano. Already a huge success on the Carnival Magic, the Cucina will be featured here on Carnival Breeze, as well. For those who are not familiar with this concept, let me explain. At lunchtime the restaurant serves the finest pasta at no extra charge but it is at night when the Cucina really comes alive. Now the idea of this is not just to serve the best Italian food and the most absolutely ridiculous price anywhere — $12 for adults and $5 for kids aged 11 and under — but for you to sit around the table and eat it family style. And that just doesn’t mean that we will serve the pasta in big steaming bowls, no, it means that if you are the Cahill family from Florida, you get to dine with the Berlusconi family from Naples. Let’s have a look at the menu that we will serve here on the Carnival Breeze. There are a few changes with the biggest being that we have a new signature dish here chosen by the master of the Carnival Breeze, Captain Vincenzo Alcaras. So have a look but I do not advise you to do so on an empty stomach.

Click to zoom in

What would you have?

And now let’s remind ourselves about the menu on the Carnival Magic:

Click to zoom in

So now what would you have? Oh, and don’t forget the Chianti cart that serves the perfect wine to complement your $12 feast…did I mention it was only $12?

So here is a bit of news for you. Starting today, we are going to take direct reservations for the Cucina del Capitano on the Carnival Magic and I will explain how in a moment. Once the restaurant is up and running here on the Carnival Breeze, we will take reservations also but I have been asked by the chef to wait a few days into service before we do this so I am afraid we won’t be able to do it for the first cruise and reservations will have to be made on board.

To make reservations for this un-missable restaurant please can you e mail MCCUCINA@carnival.com. Please keep the email simple and only include the following information.

Name
Cabin #
Number of guests for dinner
Preferred Time for dining

Payment will be on board after you’ve dined.

And that’s it – so easy to make a reservation at the brilliant Cucina del Capitano.

Now allowing you to email the ship directly is a big change for us but I have been asked to let you know that the hostess will not be able to take The Chef’s Table or steakhouse reservations, only Cucina del Capitano reservations and those for now must be done online via my blog please. But the hostess will reply with confirmation for your Cucina reservation and we will do the same as I mentioned for the Carnival Breeze soon.

What I love about Cucina is that you get exactly what you order. Let me explain what I mean by that. These days, posh restaurants serve food where everything tastes and looks like something else. You order lamb because you like lamb. But at places with Michelin stars and full of pop stars your lamb arrives at the table in wrapped in banana leaves so now my lamb tastes like a sodding fruit basket. Cucina has everything, food that tastes exactly as you would expect, except even better. Brilliant unbeatable value for money and entertainment, as well, which I won’t spoil the surprise about. Food is a big part of what makes the Cucina a brilliant dining experience great but so also is the sense of family it creates while you eat there.

So here I am in Italy once more, a country united by language and religion and divided by almost everything else. You know, Italians often sound as if they’re having a vicious argument, even when they’re discussing soccer, cars or rumpy pumpy. Yet these arguments are not really arguments, they are conversations spoken passionately and with arms waving around like a demented traffic cop. Through my exposure to Italians cruising to Italian ports and eating with captains and chief engineers (and, of course, getting ships ready in Italian shipyards), I have learned that they will never agree about food. Sicily, for example, has a cuisine completely different from Naples but it’s far more complicated than that. I remember one of my great friends Captain Angelo Los telling me once that in his small home town near Genoa one family will make its pasta completely differently to the pasta a mile down the road. Individual families have recipes they guard and swear by more than Colonel Sanders does.

The only other thing that unites all Italians is the total belief that there is no edible Italian food outside of Italy……..but in the case ofCucina del Capitano………..they are absolutely wrong.

Bona Note.

Your friend,

John

Comment Policy

Look, friends — there are a few things you should remember before you comment. The space below is for you to post your comments about the post I've just written above. If it is something that's unrelated, please use the Ask John tab above. Now, while I may not be able to reply to your comment below, I do sit in my underpants almost every morning and read everything that is here. So feel free to comment on the comments and then if someone wants to comment on the comment to the comment then go ahead as well. Please be courteous unless the poster is French...........then you can say whatever you want.

50 Responses to COME MANGIARE COME UN ITALIANO

  1. mjgruskin says:

    http://mjgruskin.com/2012/05/16/carnival-cruise-lines-the-dream-review/

    ps/john the greatest gift you can give your daughter is for you to stay healthy and fit

  2. June says:

    I have to laugh at the Garlic, my partner and I on a previous cruise (different line)had 3 whole bulbs of Garlic with some steak (myself for lunch and dinner and him for dinner) unfortunately my mum who was travelling with us was forced to sit in the same car the following day when we disembarked to drive 6 hours. We were told in no uncertain terms we are NEVER to eat that much garlic again. She will walso be with on Carnival Breeze in October and her first trip with Carnival, and I know she';; have a great time.

  3. Jaimee Holdgate says:

    Just wait until your daughter turns 16, the goodie bags are much more expensive! The way we solved the stress of our daughters 16th birthday was to take her on a cruise. It was the easiest birthday ever! Her gift (a watch) and cake was also bought on the ship. Its a birthday shes never forgotten, me either, it was like a present for me too.

  4. Linda Pearl says:

    I had the Arancini on the innaugural sailing of the Magic. It was absolutely delicious! It’s too bad the Breezers will not be able to enjoy this dish, but,I guess, they will just have to book the Magic too!

  5. Catherine Thomas says:

    A ship on a stick, what a great goody bag item. I would have loved being one of the kids.

  6. Brenda Christina says:

    John, just a couple comments. Was on Carnival Miracle in March 2012 & we had great service, including the same matri-d we have had on another ship that we have teased about being the son of one of our group members (they are probably about the same age!). He is a delight. My Cabin Steward always remembered my name except for 1 time when he called me by a name that I found out was his wife’s first name-a big laugh by both of us the rest of the cruise. And, my dear mother who passed away this year in February hated garlic also (although I could sneak in a little garlic ever now & then & she never knew the difference!). Thank you and Carnival for the great job that you do. Next April will be my 13th cruise-all on Carnival. One couple (matri d’s “Dad”) have been on 33, I believe it is & all on Carnival!

  7. Linda (Mom of DJ) says:

    John:

    Your post about the birthday hostess gifts reminded me of a party that DJ was invited to at the ripe old age of 2.

    It was for one of the kids at his Mom’s Morning Out group.

    When I arrived at a house the size of Tara, I was greeted by the Mom who was dressed as Tinkerbell. (apparently the theme)

    I was also surprised to learn that I was the only Mom there.

    The rest of the 3 year old children there had been brought by their Nannies. Since it was on a Thursday afternoon, all the other Moms were working.

    An interesting experience to say the least…

    I am certain that it will all go well. Heidi will be the perfect hostess and Kye will have her Daddy there…so all will be right with the world.

    Linda (Mom of your friend DJ)

  8. Jeanette says:

    John, you are forgetting about Phat Kat the comedian who is black and hystical!!!!!

    Birthday parties are so different now than when I grew up in the 70’s . I would have a birthday party with family and a few friends and that would be it. I would be told I could invite four or five friends and that was it. We would have the usual cake/ice cream and be taken to a movie or rollerskating, or something I wanted to do that wasn’t expensive. I only went to one birthday party at the age of 10 or 11 where the whole class was invited. She was the popular girl in class (and a friend) and her parents threw a big birthday bash in their backyard. No goodie bags were given out though. My niece when she was in Grade 1-6 was invited to every kids birthday party and most she didn’t goto. My niece didn’t want to invite everyone, so she invited the kids she wanted from her class and the others she was friends with in other classes.

    Cucina–my mouth is watering…

    • Alison McCaffery says:

      Well see no a days parents “Have” to invite everyone in the class. We can’t be hurting little Johnny’s feelings for being left out now can we. /insert sarcasm here

      I also remember parties with just a few friends at the local park and we were lucky to get cake and ice cream. And a goodie bag wow!!! that was a surprise.

      John just go and enjoy being with your wife and little girl. (For she will always be your little girl, even on her wedding day) :)

    • Linda (Mom of DJ) says:

      LOVE PHAT KAT…

      or Chrifferer as he calls himself!!

  9. Lauren says:

    Yes, $12 is a great deal if it were anywhere else than a cruise ship. Once again, we are being charged more $$ if we want the good food.

    • Linda (Mom of DJ) says:

      Same great Italian food is available at lunch FOR FREE.

      If you are going to be an unreasonable tourist…cruise RCCL.

      • Phoenix says:

        Is this what Carnival is instructing its customers to do?

        Lead them to the competition?

        • Linda (Mom of DJ) says:

          Certainly, if someone is unreasonable and does not like Carnival….it is a free market…they should go elsewhere….

          that is the only way they “might” realize that THEY are the ones being unreasonable when THEY have the same problem with every other cruise line….

  10. Mark Levine says:

    John,

    Enjoy Kye’s birthday! I am sure you will get 326.4 posts complaining that you aren’t here for our blogging pleasure. But really that’s not too bad with or 13 million views, is it?

    I think I read somewhere that The Conquest is going in to dry dock in October — If that’s true, does that mean our November 4th cruise will include all the new Fun Ship 2.0 goodies, like Guy’s Burgers, the rum bar, and all the rest?

    Please advise when you have a chance — Looking forward to the cruise so much!

    -Mark

    • Alison McCaffery says:

      The Conquest will be in dry dock from Oct 14-28th. When it comes out it will have RedFrog Rum Bar, Blue Iguana Tequila Bar, Alchemy Bar, EA Sports Bar, Guy’s Burger Joint, Blue Iguana Cantina, Punchliners Comedy Club & Brunch, Hasbro, The Game Show, Playlist Productions, DJ IRIE, and according to John it’ll also be getting a Serenity Deck!!!!

      Enjoy your cruise on the 4th, we’ll be sailing on Nov 25th, and are looking forward to all the upgrades.

  11. Irene says:

    I just got off the Carnival Liberty on May 5th, and unless they had a cast change there was an amazing singer in the show who is African American. She could dance too.

  12. Linda Leach says:

    John, I must comment on the question from the person who was complaining about the communication with bar service on the Liberty. We just sailed on the Liberty 4/14 and visited virtually every bar on the ship and not once did we have a communication problem. Every bar service person was extremely friendly and fun. Here is his problem: he calls his room steward a “cabin boy.” As soon as I saw this lack of respect, I knew it was someone who can never be pleased and considers crew members beneath him. This type of person makes my blood boil, and, unfortunately, I see it on every cruise and every day in life.

    • Linda (Mom of DJ) says:

      Amen…you are absolutely correct.

      and those who file the complaints are usually the biggest racists of all.

      • Monica says:

        The rascism comment is a bit strong, dont you think? Every race has it’s bad apples….why cant we just be unhappy with someone’s service or attitude without it being rascism?

        • Linda (Mom of DJ) says:

          Nope…not a bit to strong.

          That is what is wrong in our country today…far to many people think that “racism” only goes one way.

          Over 60 countries represented on those ships and the complaint is always the same….

          • Diane says:

            Yes, a bit too strong. Anyone with half a brain knows that racism is not a one way street. And just because someone may not the proper verbiage for something does not give you free rein to ridicule them from your stinking high horse. I don’t have your lofty numbers when it comes to cruises, but rest assured, it is not even an aspiration of mine. You may very well be the ‘grand dame’ of cruising, but it carries no weight, and your remarks (consistently) make you appear very shallow and generally not a nice person :) Have a nice day :)

    • Allan from Canada says:

      “…Carnival will need to improve on if they want to be successful.”

      Really? Something tells me they are already successful… just a shot in the dark :) The cabin boy comment really bothered me too…

      • CruzinTwosome says:

        I don’t like the Cabin Boy comment either. I think its the same person troll posting under different names. The scenario is always the same, no one speaks English, blah, blah, then the Cabin Boy comment. Writing styles don’t lie.

    • Shawn says:

      I am glad to see that the cabin boy comments don’t only bother me. For one they are not a “boy”, they are a person. It just shows their lack of class when they make those comments. Someone actually asked one of the South African employees if it felt strange having to wear clothes on the ship since in their village they run around with nothing on.

      Some people just have no class. ON my last cruise I was actually discussing this with my dinner servant right before throwing my bowl of soup at him because it was 1 degree below my preferred temperature and he agreed that some customers are just impossible to please. Luckily I am not one of them, because by the 4th bowl of soup it was perfect.

  13. Bill Heck says:

    Hello John:

    The Cucina del Capitano is molto bene. As you mentioned, each dish is honest, not tarted up. The wine they serve is fantastic.

    I think the kids at Kye’s party will have a wonderful time with her daddy. Especially if you come up with a bed time story for them. I can just see them sitting there with wide eyes watching the big man roll on the floor.

    Say hello to your family, Marjorie says hello to you all. All the best.

    Your friend

    Bill Heck

  14. Gennifer says:

    Oh my gosh, I’ve just started reading your blogs a few weeks ago and I am addicted. You are hilarious and I pray that one day we get to meet on one of your excellent ships. I have 2 daughters, age 8 and 13, and I too, know the pain of birthday parties. Welcome to the club. PS I should have never read this blog the same day as I had surgery on my abdomen…laughter and stomach incisions do not go well together! Thank you for brightening my day

  15. Ducky says:

    That weren’t no Big Duck.

  16. Luis R says:

    Cool!!! A Carnival-themed birthday party with ships on a stick and all. You should bring Funship Freddie to your party too… hehe

    Back in my time, birthday parties were usually held on short notice… that is… you would get someone from a neighbor’s house inviting you to a birthday party right there with just a few hours notice. We got into our best clothes and off we went to have fun. That meant, of course, that it was not required to bring a present to the party. Life was much simpler back then. And yes, I had a few bags of goodies when those birthdays were better planned but still nothing fancy.

  17. Monica says:

    18 kids? All at once….You will need a pair of those swanky ear plugs that sell on the ship that works for high frequency’s. Bless You..I miss my kids being little the the pressure to perform was brutal.

  18. Tammara Goldsworthy says:

    I too sailed on the Carnival Liberty with my sister last year and every bar, especially the Atrium Bar, had amazing bartenders. Marie was especially amazing, Ketut was amazing along with every crew member. I feel that if you are unhappy in life, nothing or no one is going to be able to please you. Life is short!! That’s why we have “The Fun Ships” to make our lives complete! Thank you John and Thank You Carnival Cruise Lines…

  19. Pauline Ingrao says:

    Having lived in Rome for 15 years and being married to an Italian for almost 28 years, I love Italian food. We will be sailing on the Breeze hopefully soon and I will have to drag my husband to the Cucina restaurant. He will be able to give an honest assessment of the food quality. We usually don’t eat out in Italian restaurants outside of Italy because It seems like the restaurants cater to the local habits and ruin the Italian food, I hate pasta that is not al dente. Being American, I grew up on over cooked pasta and thought that was normal until I lived in Italy. Hopefully the restaurant will do a good job and not ruin Italian cuisine.

  20. Allan from Canada says:

    To The Igbinedion Family Group… I just watched a basketball game and there weren’t any white, asian, muslim, spanish people on the court… I was so mad I stopped watching… (tongue firmly planted in cheek)

    Come on, have we come to a point in time that if your race isn’t represented on YOUR cruise (or event) that this company is therefore racist?

    Just one more step backwards for society….

    • Linda (Mom of DJ) says:

      Yep, you nailed it.

    • Laura Brown says:

      Great comment. It seems like some people always have to play the race card. We should be noticing the talent not the performers race. I don;t care if the singer is purple with pink stripes if they can sing.

  21. Sue Honaker says:

    Hi John… Thank you for giving me a good chuckle or two first thing this morning.. How can a person have a bad day when you are starting it with a laugh… Anyways.. About your wonderful Birthday Party for your beautiful daughter Kye.. Thank Heavens my son is grown, married. Childrens birthday parties have become ridiculous.. My son when growing up always had a party..but NOTHIING compared to what you describe. I guess gone are the days when I can have kids meeting at a park for a picnic and let them run around playing outdoor games or a pizza party around our pool then sleeping over afterwards.. That is so sad.. Can not see a person going into debt just to give a child a birthday party. In my opinion, for whatever it is worth, is that Kye has the most important thing that she needs for her birthday… BOTH her Mommy and Daddy there, that way on her birthday she can show all her little friends that she is Daddy Little Princess. Enjoy this time with Kye,cherish each and every moment because in a blink of an eye, you are not planning just birthday parties but her wedding. Have a great and wonderful time at her birthday. Here is wishing Kye, You and Heidi many, many wonderful birthdays together with lots of love, laughter and happiness.

    Sue

  22. Barbara says:

    In response to Karen Marek.

    My first cruise on Carnival was the 2nd voyage of their first ship Mardi Gras. I have never, in all these years, had trouble making myself understood…or understanding the crew. I believe perhaps you might be one of those who feel insecure out of your English Speaking environment so will offer this; speak slowly to folks, listen carefully when they speak back. Don’t feel inferior to folks who speak 2/3 or more languages.

    AND, lastly…….

    The folks who wait your cabin and serve your cabin needs are NOT “cabin boys”…they are not servants, not indentured. They are professionals at what they do…and they do it because they like it. They are not there to serve your every need.

    AND, they are called “cabin stewards”.

    You shouldn’t treat them like some sort of underclass unskilled labor force.

  23. Barbara says:

    I find it funny and ironic that on a ship full of employees from all over the world, all races, all cultures, all ethnicity, that the Ibigdion family would “suggest” that Carnival discriminates in their hiring practices.

    What a hoot!!!

  24. Barbara says:

    Big Duck needs to limit his time on the “cruise forum that cannot be mentioned”.

    I was a member of that “forum” for 5 years and found it enjoyable and informative. Great info on ports, and “how to’s”, etc. About 3 years ago, I quit and closed my accounts.

    It is filled with crackpots, rumor mongers, very inexperienced cruisers (who think waiting 5 minutes for a hamburger is an outrage). Trolls from other cruise companies go there to be nasty, spread misinformation, bash, etc. Heck, we get enough of that from politicians….you sure don’t need these people on cruise information sites.

    Carnival has it’s own forum and there are many places to get valid and really good info on ships, itineraries, personal experiences and info from real travelers and cruisers.

    Drop them…..or they will drive you nutz with their baloney.

    • Ducky says:

      Interesting tactic.

      Post something outrageous using a well known CC name, then wait until John replies then post your outrage at CC.

  25. CRK Family says:

    John, have read your blog for quite a while really enjoyed you first hand of the Splendor event.

    Just took our Platinum cruise on the Carnival dream on 4/14/12, was a great cruise we really enjoyed ourselves. The Dream is a beautiful ship; however, we experienced a foul odor that smealt of sewage throughout the ship, when sailaing and docked. We went to guest services, they said they would look into it but we heard nothing, after we returned I call Carnival and told them about it, they told me they had not heard this before but would look into it and call back, to date nothing.

    I am not confident that concerns are being take seriously guess the clincher is if you google strange smell on Dream you will be reading quite a few posts…but Carnival has heard nothing.

    Still love cruising with you guys one issue dows not end the Fun just wanted to get the word to the right folks the listening ears need to be turned on

  26. Janie Nichols says:

    Lol! Thank you John, I love your blog – I check daily for my giggles! I was just pondering how I could wrangle an invite to Kye’s birthday party? I would bring a wonderful ‘Made in America’ gift that I am sure would delight! Ok, I guess I am coming off desparate and maybe a little icky…nevermind… I guess there are few lengths a 54 year old grandmother wouldn’t go to for a Solid Gold Plastic Ship on a Stick! I will just keep trying the conventional way instead groveling at the feet of children :) Maybe on my June cruise! The eternal optimist here! Keep Bloggin’ – you are the best! and happy cruisin’! Janie

  27. Mark says:

    Hi John,

    My wife and I very much enjoyed CD George Roberts on our Nov 2009 Imagination sailing. Best CD in my 7 Carnival sailings. Looking forward to no. 8 on Paradise in Sept. We will be sailing with another couple (first timers and newly weds). We hope to convert them into loyal customers. Any chance of reassigning George to the Sept 17 Paradise sailing. I know he will make it a fantastic time for all of us.

  28. Gail says:

    There was once a show on TLC (not sure how many episodes, but it did not last long) that was about outrageous parties for kids!

    People would spend around $10k or more on parties and I am like wow……that would be so much more useful in a college fund.

    Some parents do it for attention I believe and others because they just can.

    My brother and his wife like to combine their two middle children’s bdays (from March and April) and have a cookout thing at a park in May….80% if those that come are THEIR friends…not the kids. You are suppose to get the kids another gift though and watch any kids in attendance if you are not one of their friends, so they can mingle. I hate parties like that too, haha.

    I can not believe people do not like the singing and dancing at dinner! I have videos and my friends loved it! At one point we started a conga line and were going around the MDR!

    I was on the Pride in January and our lead male singer/dancer was black. I wish I could remember his name though :( He was really good though.

    • Mary says:

      I refuse to give into the over the top parties! When my youngest was 6 we had an “old-fashioned” party for her at home, we had cake and ice cream and played typical birthday party games. Simple goody bag…the next day a mom of one of the little boys came over and told me her son said it was the “best birthday party he has ever been to” ….hummm, just goes to show kids are happy with simple, it is the parents that are nuts!

  29. Not Ducky says:

    By the way ALL the comments that begin with HEALD are written, i have come to the conclusion that is is a spineless troll who loves to bash Carnival. Use to be another poster on here who was all PRO Carnival then went into troll carnival basher mode when he was finished being nice. lol, he got busted on another site when he forgot to change back to his nice name and started his post “Aloha everyone” noticed who it was then and from that day forward have hardly seen wither name on blog’s. lol, poor Host

  30. Beverly Bishop says:

    Help. I’m trying to plan a 12 day cruise for next year, 2013 – Carnival Legend. All the information on excursions at each port come up with a cost of $999.00 per person. REALLY!!!! Any information on what the problem is?

  31. George Richards says:

    John, please reply. And please pass this along to the Beards in Charge.

    We just returned from a 15 day – to Hawaii – cruise aboard the Spirit. Needless to say, it was fantastic and beyond a shadow of a doubt, our best cruise to date!

    It was our Milestone cruise which was made ever better by the hard work, planning, and dedication of Carnival’s Best Personal Vacation Planner Jacquelyn Spier! Jacque and I talked about this type of cruise several years ago when Princess was the only one doing it. Some how or another, she remembered our conversation and called us the day Carnival listed that cruise. Thanks to the Early Saver Program we had it booked almost 2 years out. During that waiting period Jacque worked with us in planning several other cruises with the idea and intent of Hawaii being our Milestone. She was very successful in working within the Carnival system to insure all of our credits were in place upon our arrival. Thankyou Jacque!!

    The ship – Excellent Condition.

    The CD – Stu was one of the best we’ve ever sailed with! He and his staff were all over the ship, very pleasant and very accessable. There was always more to do than we had time to do it in!

    The Crew – always a smile – spoke great English

    MDR Head Waitress – Youlie and her two assistants were nothing short of amazing! Service was fantastic!

    MDR Bar waitress – “Tinkerbell” Knew our names and drinks after the 1st night. She, like Youlie and others anytime we met them on the ship greated us by name.

    Steakhouse – Fantastic!!

    MDR Menu’s – Lunch & dinner pretty good. IMO the lunch menu changed for the best; dinner, I liked the old menu w/o the comfort foods much better. The breafast menu IMO is a hold over from the “Black Pearl” and needs to be changed/upgraded!

    Shows – what few we saw were great. However, many were cancelled due to the rough seas.

    The Captain – Captain Volpi the best, and most accessable we’ve ever sailed with!

    It was a great cruise – looking forward to the Breeze and the Sunshine

    George Richards

Copyright 2011 John Heald. All Rights Reserved

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