July 11, 2012 -
So, Wimbledon is over for another year and no, we have three weeks of rest before London hosts the Olympic Games where our opening ceremony will consist of a double decker bus, David Beckham in a pair of Speedos and that other British institution Simon Cowell introducing some Bollywood dancers. Yep, compared to the opening ceremony China gave us four years ago, this will look like it has been produced by the London Retired Ladies Knitting Association.
Even more worrying will be that the cruise directors who have Seaside Theatre Big Screens on Lido will no doubt be bombarded with requests to put constant coverage up there. I mentioned on Facebook last week that I had been pressured by lots of guests to put the Wimbledon finals up there so we could see one of the Williams sisters win and that Scottish chap lose. And it will be the same with the Olympics and while we will show the opening ceremony on the big screen and perhaps the 100 meter final, I don’t think any of us CDs will cancel live music and activities so we can watch the Ladies Syncronised Swimming or the Ladies Shot Put which will be won by a Russian lady called Boris.
It wasn’t a tough decision not to show the finals on the big screen. Now I did arrange for it to be shown in the conference room and at the casino bar but for every one person who wanted to see it, I know that there would have been many more who would have lynched me if I had canceled the live music and sunset party. I mean, for most people, tennis is about as exciting as reading 50 Shades of Grey with all the rumpy pumpy bits taken out. Wimbledon takes it to a whole new level. Hundreds of elderly Brits with their sunburn marks and their emergency wet weather gear sit there eating their cucumber sandwiches and applaud absolutely everything. Double faults from anyone who is taking on their beloved Andy Murray and when the umpire asks someone to turn off their cell phone. Unfortunately, what you have to remember is that Wimbledon attracts enormous television audiences from all over the world. I often wonder what these sophisticated people from abroad are going to think of Britain when they see some hysterical women applauding and cheering because a sodding pigeon has just landed on center court just as Federer is about to serve.
Yep, tennis is boring and it wasn’t a surprise surely that Federer beat Murray, was it? Heidi was very unhappy when Nadal lost because he is, of course, in her eyes, “a hunk.” Federer is though as boring as boring can possibly be. He would probably fold his clothes neatly over a chair before commencing the 30-minute window he has scheduled for rumpy pumpy. I often wish that tennis players would lose their tempers more and move into the realms of ice hockey where if they lost a point or the other player hits them in the bollocks with a tennis ball, then they have the right to jump over the net and bludgeon the other one with their racket. Now that would make tennis interesting again and if tennis had been decided on who the hardest, toughest most scariest, ready to beat the crap out of you player was…then nobody…absolutely nobody, would ever have beaten Martina Navratilova.
Time for today’s Q and A…here we go.
John Steiner asked:
I have a question concerning the photo department on the various ships. Does your photo staff transfer guest photos from SDHC memory cards onto DVD’s? On our next cruise I will be using a new camera and expect to be shooting in the RAW format, which takes up quite a bit of memory space. So I wanted to know in advance if the files can be transferred onto a DVD and how much that may cost. Oh, by the way, RAW doesn’t mean some Latvian doing rumpy-rumpy.
Hello John Steiner
I am afraid we don’t offer this service but it’s something that I can assure you is on the list of things to consider as we move to make our photo galleries branded areas and change the way we sell our photos. I will let you know news on this as soon as I am able. Thanks for taking the time to write and please let me know if there is anything I can do for you.
Alan S asked:
You may not remember me but you were so awesome in helping my son with a very special wedding proposal on the Carnival Dream two years ago. We are sailing as a family again with Carnival on the Bloggers Cruise with you, John, and will include my new daughter-in-law amongst the eight of us who will be on that cruise. I hate to see the way you are bullied on the Cruise Critic and I am proud to say that my defense of you has gotten me a life time ban and I am never allowed to post there or read their boards again. They hated me there, John, and I hope you never get to read what some say about you but they do not know what a huge heart you have and how special you made my son feel on his return from Afghanistan. It will be an honor to meet you and finally shake your hand.
Hello Alan S
Thank you for taking the time to write and I am so glad you and the family will be joining me on the Carnival Breeze for Bloggers Cruise 6. I remember your son and I think I am right in saying that he was injured while serving his country and thanks to Butch who was the CD at the time on Carnival Dream, we were able to make his wedding proposal a night to always remember. I am sorry that you have been banned from Cruise Critic and I hate to think that this happened because you were defending me. In fact, I feel very guilty if that is the case. I will also look forward to shaking your hand on Bloggers Cruise 6 and if there is anything at all I can do for you and your family, please let me know.
Best wishes to all.
Laszlo Toth asked:
I would like to share this with everyone connected to Carnival. Even future passengers:
I would like to inform Carnival about our last fantastic cruise experience on the Carnival Valor. We always have a great time when we cruise with Carnival but this was more memorable that the ones in the past (nine other Carnival cruises). The main reason we had such a great time on this cruise is because of your cruise director Matt. We’ve sailed with Matt back in 2009 on the Carnival Valor and back then he was just an activity coordinator and we had a blast with him. He was so very entertaining, funny and he made sure everything we did with him was FUN. When we boarded the Carnival Valor this time and heard his voice we had to seek him out to make sure that it was him. And that is when the fun started for us. He is just so energetic, funny just a great time being around him whatever he does. Unlike some of our other cruises on Carnival, we hardly saw the cruise directors. Not Matt — he seemed to be everywhere making sure everyone on board had a good time and, most of all, he wanted all of us to have FUN. We have another booking on the Carnival Valor on Oct. 27 and just hoping we will get to be with Matt because we will know we will have an enjoyable cruise and have plenty of FUN. Lastly, I see Matt as a great asset to Carnival and I hope he has many, many years on Carnival ships.
Hello Laszlo Toth
I am, at the moment, posting bios and photos of all our cruise directors and waiting in the wings, snapping at their heels, is a group of acting cruise directors who are all waiting for their full promotion. Arguably, at the top of that list is Matt who I continue to hear brilliant things about and whom I am very proud of. He is all we expect and more in a CD and I thank you so much for taking the time to write this and I promise he and his supervisors will see this excellent post. Thanks again and I hope we see you many more times on the ships of Carnival.
Sarah Curtis asked:
My family and I will be going on our second cruise experience on the Carnival Dream for our summer vacation. My brother has Asperger’s Syndrome and I need to make sure that we have a table with no other passengers at dinner. I have asked three times here and no response to this!!! Here is our booking number ******. A reply would be nice, Mr. Heald, or does Carnival not care about people with special needs!!!!
Hello Sarah Curtis
Thank you for writing and my apologies for the delay in my response. I see that you are sailing at Christmas so I am going to ask that you send me a reminder about this on November 15 or thereabouts here on the blog and I will make sure that I request the maître d’ to assist you with your table request. I wish you all a wonderful cruise and please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you.
David Toof asked:
I have noticed on the pictures of the new dining room on some of the ships that they don’t have any arms on the chairs!! Being a big guy, I hate the little chairs that they make a guy have to squeeze into in the dining rooms (and those nasty little plastic chairs on the room decks!). Is this going to be fleet wide?! Please say it is so!!!
Thanks for your comments.
Hello David Toof
That’s right, David, some of the dining rooms have all chairs with no arms and some have a few. Regardless, we will on all ships have a chair with no arms for you and if you need this you can request ahead of time through me or indeed when you are on the ship. Thanks for writing and please let me know if I can help further.
Joe Shelvey asked:
I wonder how someone as obese as you is allowed to work for Carnival then. Today in your blog you said that every crew member has to have a medical but surely Carnival would not pass someone as severely overweight as you. Then you talk about cigars and you are the brand spokesperson! How can Carnival allow you to publicly talk about something that is killing you and those around you? This may seem like an obnoxious thing to say but as someone who power walks five miles, five times a week and who doesn’t smoke and has taken four Carnival cruises I find their choice as brand spokesperson strange. An obese smoker seems such an odd choice.
Hello Joe Shelvey
Every crew member does indeed have to have a medical which is part of our contract and set by the United States Coast Guard. Now because I am a rehire then as long as I pass the major elements of the medical, then I am OK to carry on working on the ships. However, you are right as if I was a new hire, my body mass index thingy would be too high or low or whatever it is so I would probably be refused work. As for my smoking, well, that is a lifestyle choice that right or wrong has, I think, and indeed I hope, have no bearing on my abilities as either a cruise director or brand ambassador. Thanks so much for your post and by the way, I used to power walk three times a week, then I realised…I had a car.
Best wishes and hope to see you on a cruise with us again soon.
Jerome Racine asked:
I know you have heard (read) enough about the new loyalty program but I have just one question? We have seven cruises completed with eight, nine, and 10 which will be completed in fall of 2013. No grandfathering for this?
Hello Jerome Racine
Thanks so much for booking those three cruises and the day you walk on the ship for cruise number 10, you will receive that shiny new Platinum card.
Best wishes and congratulations
Sherry Scharf asked:
I have a little situation which I hope you can help me with as a onetime courtesy. Two weeks ago, we came back from a wonderful eight-night cruise on the Carnival Valor. While on the cruise, my husband and I purchased four Future Cruise Certificates. I used one to book our Sept. 2013 cruise on the Carnival Liberty, I used one to book a three-day cruise on the Carnival Imagination for this weekend (trying to get grandfathered in for Platinum) and I tried to use one for our upcoming Sept. 2012 cruise on the Carnival Freedom (already booked). It was declined because it wasn’t a new reservation. I know the FCC states they can only be redeemed on new bookings, but they have always been accepted. Since we have multiple cruises booked, I was hoping something could be done for us this one time. In the future, I will be sure to have a FCC before I book.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Sherry and Robert Scharf
Hello Sherry and Robert Scharf
I appreciate you getting in contact with me and I hope you had a brilliant time on Carnival Valor. I am not sure what happened in the past but having checked for you, I was told we do not make exceptions — they can only be used on cruises booked after you purchased the certificates. I am so sorry if you were given the wrong information last time and if there is anything I can do for you regarding this or anything else, please let me know.
Best wishes to you both.
Terri Kerr asked:
We have a family friend that just came back from being on Carnival Triumph she was disappointed because there wasn’t much to do on the ship. I have planned a trip in November on the same ship hoping that we are not disappointed as well. Hope you can shine some light on this problem.
Hello Terri Kerr
I am sorry to read this and indeed it is an unusual comment. Carnival Triumph is one of our most popular ships and certainly looking at the activity program, there appears to be lots do all day and night. At the bottom of my blogs home page is a link to the Fun Times and I would ask that you have a look there at the Fun Times for Carnival Triumph and see what we have planned. As for your friend, please, would you ask her to let me know more, what she felt was lacking, etc. so I can investigate this more? Thanks so much and if there is anything else you need, please let me know.
Best wishes to all.
And with a big thank you to everyone for their comments and questions, we will end there and be back with more on Friday.
Time for another cruise director bio and today we go Down Under to meet Skip Lyons.
A little bit of background information. After completing high school, I went straight into the work force working in bars as a waiter and a cocktail barman. I also spent some time working radio and a good amount of time working with a theatre company and eventually I found myself working in the Adelaide Casino as a casino dealer. I started working with Carnival in December 1996 on the Carnival Sensation as a casino dealer. After one month, I was promoted to casino host and after a couple of contracts in the casino, I made the big move and joined the entertainment department as a social host. From social host, I moved to an assistant cruise director and then finally into the position as cruise director.
I have worked on every itinerary that Carnival offers and one day I hope to work the Alaskan and Hawaiian routes as those are the only ports we visit that I have yet to see. I have worked on many of the ships, including now-retired ships such as Tropicale, Holiday, Jubilee, and Celebration, and current ships Carnival Imagination, Carnival Inspiration, Carnival Fascination, Carnival Paradise, Carnival Elation, Carnival Ecstasy, Carnival Destiny, Carnival Victory, Carnival Triumph, Carnival Conquest and Carnival Spirit. I love performing and being on the stage. Having fun and making people laugh is what gets me up each and every morning.
Skip is a true bundle of energy and, like his name suggests, will bounce around the ship meeting as many guests as he can and is one of those cruise directors who will never rest until he has met everyone and bravo to him for that. His Aussie wit and energy make him a brilliant CD and I hope you all get to sail with him one day.
So then, good morning from Livorno, Italy, where I am feeling very sorry for myself. I am sitting here in my 50 shades of brown underpants typing this blog to you because I have a sinus cold and headache. My head feels like the cast of the John Heald Blocked Me Facebook page are having a party in there and H82SEAUGO has joined them. Being on stage means adrenalin kicks in and you forget that you feel tired and blocked up but sitting behind the desk here at 8:45 am means I feel as energetic as a dead hamster.
However, while writing to you and performing on stage are all things I can do while feeling like this, hosting a table at the Cucina del Capitano is not something that the doctor ordered and is something that I’m really not up for, like of manscaping Calvyn with a pair of blunt nail scissors. But that is what I had to do last night because we have some Diamond guests on board (more on that later in the blog) and as you may know, one of the benefits of this is that the captain will host our diamond members for a special event. I hear on some ships the captain is hosting a cocktail reception and some are hosting a table in the dining room and this is driven by the number of Diamond guests we have on board. Regardless of what the captains decide, it is a special event that I am positive our Diamond members will enjoy.
On the Carnival Breeze, we, of course, have the highly successful Cucina del Capitano which last cruise served 1,385 people a brilliant Italian meal costing only $12 for adults and $5 for kids. At Cucina there is a round table that the captain sometimes uses to host VIPs and so I was asked to go with them him for our first Diamond event last night. My nose was blocked, my throat sore so I was really not in the best frame of mind for conversation. But everyone else at the table was having fun. The guests and the captain and senior officers were all laughing and joking while Mel, Charlie and the cast of Blocked by JH continued to have an orgy of fun and loud drumming in my head. Then, eventually, the lovely waitress came over but had to stand there for hours while the table continued to have a great time. And, as usual, it was the ladies at the table that were not ready. Why is that always the case? Along comes the waiter and asks you what you want and the reply is always the same, “Er, what, me? Oh dear, I haven’t looked at the menu yet.” Why is this? It’s not your first time in a restaurant and it’s not like you don’t know that the lady will be invited to order first. The men have always decided. Why haven’t the women? How did it become law that the person who is invited to order first is the one who never knows what to sodding well have? And that’s what happened last night as my head pounded and my nose stayed blocked and my throat felt like I had swallowed most of the golf balls that went missing from SportSquare and all I heard was “Why don’t you go first, while I decide?”
Sorry but I have had enough of this bollocks and so I have written to Gerry Cahill our president and CEO and asked him to sign off on a new rule. The new service rule at Carnival will be to make it the men who order first. The women will get asked last once they have had another three hours to look at the menu before they say, “I’m not very hungry, is it okay if I just have two appetizers? Do you think that’ll be enough…if it’s not I can always have some of yours.”
I will close today with this comment from a guest.
From: BREEZE GUEST SERVICES
Sent: Tuesday, July 10, 2012 12:10 PM
To: BREEZE CRUISE DIRECTOR
Subject: Comment about music in nightclub
Mrs _____ came to the desk today, John, and said she was disappointed in the selection of music played in the dance club. Guest is looking for more of what she said was older music and rock. Guest is from the UK and wanted to speak to you.
Thank you in advance and best regards,
Guest Services Supervisor, Carnival Breeze
Carnival Cruise Lines
Now I must admit that since the ship was delivered, I have paid very little attention to what’s happening in the Liquid Nightclub. I know I have two great DJs there and that our Skyy Blue Vodka promotion night and the evening our cast performs in the club is very popular and I must show you some photos of that soon. The place is always packed so obviously something is working there. This, I think, has a lot to do with the DJs, the branded uniforms the servers wear and the design of the club itself which is what I have heard described as “uber cool.” Anyway, I decided I had better take a look and I went to the Liquid Nightclub last night. Not the sort of sentence I get to write very often because I enjoy nightclubs less than I enjoy seeing myself naked in a full length mirror. But because of this comment and my guilt in not supporting the DJs more I had to go. Obviously, at 47, I was more than a decade (or two) older than almost everyone else, and subsequently may as well have been smeared head to toe with my in yak poo.
Most of the guests there had not seen my welcome aboard show or Calvyn and I on the morning show. Nope, they were way too cool for that. Therefore, most of the people in the nightclub regarded me with a combination of pity and disgust. I spent the entire time with the expression of a man about to be sentenced to 17 years in a Turkish prison.
“I am too bloody old to enjoy this,” I thought. And then remembered that I have always felt this way about clubs. And I mean all clubs from the awful ones back home that smelt like a bucket of vomit to the posh ones on South Beach. I didn’t like them when I was 20 and I certainly don’t like them now. I just don’t have to pretend any more. Nightclubs are hot and cramped and play the latest tunes thumping through the humid air so loud you can’t even hear yourself or anyone else fart. I could understand why this lady who was a bit older than me had complained about the music but we were a minority because it was packed. The Liquid Nightclub is then one of the most popular venues on the Carnival Breeze and the décor and the music and the service make it so. I watched the 20-something guests sharing panting pelvic thrusts with someone who they hope will be having rumpy pumpy with later. Yes, everyone was having a great time. The guests, even the bar staff were having fun. Me…I just couldn’t wait to get out of there…and I realised that at that moment, I would rather be anywhere in the world than the hell I was in now. Except Paris, of course.
Last cruise I arranged for the DJs to play more Latin tunes for the Mexican group and this cruise I will arrange a classic rock hour as well for this guest but I can’t fix what is in no way broken as the Liquid Nightclub is like so many things here on the Carnival Breeze, the best nightclub in the fleet! I stayed as long as I could…which was 10 minutes. And then I turned around and headed to the exit leaving the guests to gyrate themselves and each other to the sounds of the hippy hop music and for the men to stare at the Russian female guests and the thongs that stick out of the waistband of their jeans and went to bed…feeling really, really old.