July 13, 2012 -
This week, there have been many great articles from the brilliant Gene Sloan, the esteemed writer from USA Today, and other writers who wrote about the Carnival Splendor and her being the…well hold on, rather than me waffle and badly paraphrase his brilliance, let’s all have a look at the following post from our friend Vance.
United States Public Health examiners are tough — really tough — and to get the scores our fleet consistently gets is as easy as finding the words, “I love John Heald and want to see him naked” on one of H82Seaugo’s posts so congratulations to the Carnival Splendor and all the ships for their extremely high scores and, in many cases, perfect 100 out of 100 scores.
We were talking about cleanliness on Facebook the other day as well if you remember and the subject that was mentioned was the thing in hotels that carries the most germs. No, I am not talking about the toilet seat, but indeed it was mentioned that the winner of this award was in fact the TV remote control. And I agree because many of the hotels I have stayed in have had ummmm…sticky remote controls and some have been really evil. And not just because they harbour more bacteria than the inside of my underpants after an evening of eating spicy tacos from the BlueIguana Cantina, but because the sodding things never work and this is deliberate. The management doesn’t want you to steal them, so they buy old remotes, then disable the buttons ensuring that the TV gets stuck permanently on the hotel’s own “info channel,” a looped film in which a ridiculously good looking couple clink glasses in the restaurant or have massages to porn-style music. So you hurl the remote against the framed print of a vase of flowers and learn that it didn’t work because the bloody thing didn’t have any batteries in it.
So the question was asked about our remote controls and were they clean? And I will answer this in a moment. But first I have to wonder why our cabins need TV remotes at all? At most you’re only ever five feet from the screen. Why do any of us need them? They are complicated things and turn us all into lazy bastards because we can’t be asked to waddle the few feet to turn off that obese cruise director and his sidekick Calvyn. Anyway, we do indeed fully sanitise the remote controls on all the fleet as they are wiped and cleaned properly according to strict regulations we put in place. On one or two other ships, we are testing new self-cleaning remote controls and if that’s not enough, then may I suggest you use a remote control condom…or a shower cap, as it’s sometimes called.
Time for today’s Q and A…off we go.
Tina Hormel asked:
Loving your blogs and your Facebook postings as well, John. I am heading out for cruise #12 on Carnival Elation July 19 cruise. I love the new Punchliner Comedy Club shows and wondered who the comedians will be. Thank you, John.
Hello Tina Hormel
I am glad I caught this in time as I see you are sailing very soon. The comedians who will make you laugh out loud are John Wesley Austin and Kenny Miller. I hope you have a brilliant time and thanks so much for your loyalty.
Tanya Wells asked:
I haven’t had any luck with emails to the shore excursion dept.; therefore I thought I’d go to the person who knows it all We are sailing on the Carnival Liberty, Jan. 05, 2013. We’re trying to plan our shore excursion for St. Thomas — the St. John Champagne Catamaran Sail shows up when looking on the main website under Experiences & Excursions, however, not when requesting our sailing date? Is it going to be available and just not loaded into the site yet? Or just not offered? It had great reviews and we’d love to book it. Thanks for your help.
Hello Tanya Wells
I am sorry that we have not replied yet and thanks for letting me know. The excursion will be happening on your cruise and it may not be showing online just yet. Please check back in October and it should be there, I am told. If you have any other questions, please let me know. Have a fantastic cruise.
Remi Sanchez asked:
Can you help me, John, with a very special request for my son? He is young man of 17 that has some difficulties in socializing with others. I won’t go into more details here but I am hoping that on our cruise with you on Carnival Breeze 8/14 that he will be OK to attend the club for teens and that the workers there will be able to ease him into the activities. This would make a cruise we are all really looking forward to even more exciting. Please let me know what you can do. We are a family from Costa Rica but my son speaks very good English.
Hello Remi Sanchez
Thanks so much for letting me know and of course we will help. I have sent this to the youth director and she has agreed to meet you and your son the day you board the ship so that she can chat with you and your son about how we can help. I am sure he will have the best of times which means you will too. So please let me know if there is anything else you need and I will see you soon.
Kevin Paice asked:
Hello John and I am asking for you to please send this to the beards as I did not get a comment card after my Carnival Magic cruise and it was magic — thanks to the room steward. His name is I Wayan and he made the cruise for me and my wife. My wife has some severe challenges and needs to sleep virtually sitting up plus using a CPAP machine. I Wayan made sure right from the first day that she was comfortable and when we discovered we needed an extension cord he took care of it immediately. He always asked how she was doing and always made sure that on our way to dinner, he would help her onto her scooter. He should be recognized for his amazing hospitality and hope, John, that you make sure this happens. Thanks.
Hello Kevin Paice
Thanks so much for this fantastic example of an outstanding crew member. I have sent this to the ship and the beards and they will be thrilled as I am sure will I Wayan will. Thank you again for writing and I hope you will let me know if there is anything I can do for you.
Sami Ramperkash asked:
My family and have booked a cruise with Carnival Cruise Lines on board the Carnival Pride. We are a party of eight and are strict vegetarians. I have read elsewhere, sir, that the chef de cuisine on the ship is an Indian fellow and I am asking if he would be able and willing to prepare special Indian vegetarian meals during our time on your glorious vessel. I will await your kind instruction as to if or not you can do the needful.
Hello Sami Ramperkash
Yes indeed, as of now, the head chef on board the Carnival Pride is from India. I am not sure as I write when you are sailing but, yes, this is something we can do and, in fact, something we often do for our Indian guests. We have a wonderful nightly offering of a vegetarian curry on our menu and when you are seated at your table, please ask the maître d or your team head waiter to speak to the chef and he will oblige you. I hope you have a wonderful time together.
James McDonald asked:
My wife and I sailed on the Carnival Magic on March 25, 2012 and had a great time but I had a question concerning the tipping policies for the room service staff. We left a tip on the ticket for the first couple of staff members and got charged for them but then about the third time we used room service (which we used for breakfast only) we were told by the person who brought the order that we could not leave a tip on the ticket but would need to give him cash. If this is so then why didn’t the other members tell us the same? Can you please clear this up for me because from what I have seen on my past cruises was completely different and we are scheduled on Nov. 11, 2012 for a cruise on the Carnival Conquest and want to make sure which is the correct method of tipping these employees. I was under the impression that Carnival wanted everything on the Sign & Sail account.
Hello James McDonald
I am so sorry this happened because this is not the practice and the crew member who insisted you tip in cash was wrong, 100 percent wrong. The rules are simple that you can tip in cash or leave it on the receipt you sign and I thank you for bringing this to my attention. I do hope you have a great time on your next cruise and if there is anything I can do, please let me know.
Danny Daniels asked:
Are you going to be the cruise director on every new ship when it is first being sailed with paying guests? If so, for how long? I have booked the Carnival Sunshine for 1/26/14, will you be our C.D.?
Hello Danny Daniels
This is the 14th new ship I have delivered for Carnival and I have been so proud to do so. But I won’t be the CD for the Carnival Sunshine I am afraid. I wrote a few weeks ago that delivering new ships is a young man’s game, especially with my blog and Facebook responsibilities, as well. So I will be there to film and write about this new ship but the CD will not be me and I will announce who soon. I hope you have a brilliant time.
Brent Slater asked:
I know that Bloggers Cruise 6 is still a while away but since I live in Australia I have to sometimes put my application for leave in quite a bit in advance. I was wondering if there are any plans in the works so far to let people know when is where Bloggers Cruise 7 is going to be as I would love to cruise with you again.
Hello Brent Slater
I will be giving serious consideration about BC7 for sure and, obviously, you coming from Australia and having to travel that long distance it is understandable why you would like to know. Please allow me a bit more time and I will work on some possible dates. Until then, I thank you for thinking of joining us and I truly hope that this happens.
I got back from our family cruise on May 19 on Carnival Destiny. I had the most fun I’ve had in my whole 24 years alive and I just wanted to let you know that. I had so much fun that I got me and my girls another cruise booked for December on the Carnival Destiny again! We’re super excited to go…but I’d just like to know if Noonan is going to be back on the Carnival Destiny in December. I know it’s still a ways away, but I don’t know if we’d like anyone else as our CD! I don’t want to get all excited that there’s a possibility he might be the CD and then find out that he isn’t. He’s just a lot of fun and a great guy! Hope to hear back from you soon!
My, my, my Delilah, what a great post this was and sorry for the obvious joke there. I am so glad you had such fun on the Carnival Destiny and with Noonan as your CD. We are currently working on the schedule and I hope to have it ready in the next few days to post here on the blog but I think you may be very happy. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you.
Taylor Benninghaus asked:
Your iced tea sucks the big one. As someone proudly from the South I was disgusted at the free tea you served on Carnival Fantasy and many other passengers were all saying that they wouldn’t come back as the tea was undrinkable. Serving tea like this is a slap in the face to Southerners and if you are going to say you are going to offer cruises for Southerners, then having iced tea that tastes good is a no brainer and until you get better tea, then don’t expect many customers to come back.
Hello Taylor Benninghaus
I have heard before from iced tea connoisseurs that the recipe we serve on Lido and in the dining room is not how they like it. I have never heard though that this would be the basis of whether or not someone would return to Carnival or not. It is really hard for me to understand this because I have never had iced tea. For me, tea is served hot but I will for sure let the chef know that you were not happy. I do hope that you will look back on your cruise and remember the fun, food, service, shows, ports of call, friends you met, the brilliant crew, the cocktails, the activities, the sunrise, the sunset and the fact that you didn’t have to work, or clean anything or cook anything and you got all of this at a brilliantly affordable price and that these factors, not how the iced tea tastes, will decide if you come back for another fun cruise.
And that’s all for today, except I want to talk more about the iced tea comment above. I quite understand why people choose to get tattoos or stand up for the rights of the lesser spotted Mongolian dung beetle. I may not share your opinions, but I know why you have them and I would fight for you to be able to express them in public. Obviously, not to the death, though. There’s no way I am going to die so that we can protect the dung beetle from becoming extinct.
However, while I understand why H82SEAUGO would like to see me fired as brand ambassador and replaced with a baboon or why someone would vote for a certain politician or not eat anything that moos, baaas, or clucks, I do not understand why people continue to drink iced tea. I guess this is because I am British and iced tea drinkers in the UK are as rare as deodorant users in France. Asking for an iced tea at my house is highly dangerous because if you come round to my house and ask for a glass of cold tea with ice in it, I will insert a pepper mill in you. Herbal tea is even worse. At best, it is pointless. At worst, it is a a cup of snobbery designed for the sort of people who spend half an hour deciding whether the wine they’ve been given is all right. And chai tea? Have you tried that? Well, don’t because you can achieve exactly the same effect, for a lot less, by drinking your own urine.
Hot tea is my drink and the drink of a nation and also the drink favoured by the American Indian. Yep, that’s true, you know, the American Indians were huge tea drinkers. There is of course the true and tragic story of the chief of the Apache tribe, Chief Running Deer, who in one day drank 347 cups of tea…yes, 347 in one day. This amazing record had a sad ending though because the next day the tribe woke up and found their chief dead…he had drowned…in his tea pee.
Time to meet another cruise director albeit a very, very small one. Here is my good friend Ralph Valente, aka Wee Jimmy.
My life with Carnival: In 1999 I was hired by Carnival Cruise Lines as a DJ, yet when I arrived at the ship they were in need of a social host. Back then, my ship was the “Jubilee” and the social hosts were also groups coordinators, backstage managers, karaoke hosts and activities hosts so that gave me a true understanding of the overall job that I was to later fulfill as a well-rounded cruise director (around the waist, LOL!). A huge part of getting to where I am today comes from a lot of supportive friends in the Carnival family. Throughout my journey through the various positions I have held, I have met the most amazing crew members and guests. What keeps me going in my job is that I know I am making an impact on people’s lives. I am so thrilled to be a part of this team and have the opportunity to share our passenger’s vacations with them. I LOVE MY JOB!! I constantly feel so thankful that I am in a position to express my creative side, perform, and to manage an incredible, talented group of individuals who are friends as well as outstanding performers. People always ask where I got my name “Wee Jimmy” — John Heald (another amazing cruise director, besides me…hehe) started calling me that based on a comic character from the UK called Wee Jimmy Krankie… the name just stuck and now everyone calls me Wee Jimmy! I am currently on the Carnival Sensation and recently got married and I am as happy as I have ever been and am so fortunate to do what I do. I hope to sail with you very soon. I wear a kilt on elegant night but please don’t lift it up because it’s true, we don’t!
Let me explain how he really got his nick name. This happened back in 2002 when we delivered Carnival Legend and we were doing the same Baltic and British Isles run that she will do next year, in fact. Anyway, Ralph had tried a few harmless jokes on me which had mostly backfired so I decided to teach him a lesson. I had the carpenter take off his cabin door while Ralph was hosting an activity. He turned the peephole around. This meant that Ralph could not see out but everyone could see in. Ralph did not discover this for days and wondered why every time he left his cabin there was a line of people outside. I won’t tell you what they saw through the peep hole but it was no big thing and now we know why they call him “Wee Jimmy.” He is incomparable on stage and a more dynamic and friendly CD you will not meet and I am very proud of him.
We have a very special young man on the Carnival Breeze this week here courtesy of the brilliant Make-A-Wish Foundation and we are spoiling him as much as we can. He and his family will be visiting with the captain, taking a photo with the cast and he will have a private showing in the Thrill Theatre and many other treats. He is a wonderful kid and I hope and I pray that he will have many more cruises and a life full of fun and full of happiness.
Kids have been very much in my mind these past few days with me missing Kye, of course, and also because of a phone call I had with a senior beard. As you know, Carnival continues its wonderful partnership with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and our quest to raise $3 million for pediatric cancer research and treatment continues and is going very well. This is, of course, thanks to your amazing generosity and I thank each and every one of you who have taken part in the Groove for St Jude event and the Carnival Cuddly Bear activity. As we approach our third year working with the hospital I asked the senior beard if I might go to Tennessee again with our film crew Peter the Hair and Jay the Recently Married to film a new in-cabin video for the fleet. So plans are being looked at for me to go there in December after I disembark the Carnival Breeze. I will be honoured to go there again and this time I will be better prepared as the first time I went I was not.
Where sick children are concerned, everyone wants a fairy tale with a happy ending, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is justifiably famous for producing more than its fair share of them. When I toured the hospital two years, ago I had no idea what to expect and let me start by saying that it is an extraordinary place. Given its role as the “hospital of last resort,” St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is almost perversely full of people laughing; not bravely or falsely, but just because children, even sick ones, are funny. The walls of the wards are full of stories in the children’s own words. Some tell how scared they are, some have written about how they have made Best Friends Forever with the kid in the next bed and one that I remember was written by a young boy who wrote how he played a trick on the doctors because he devoured a secret bar of chocolate half an hour before he was due to have surgery and they never found out. To work in such a place must provide one with a whole roller coaster of emotions.
When I was there two years ago, I met with and spoke with some who work there and I was touched deeply by their compassion and their sense of total hope and belief, yet also I could see that they had to always be prepared for the cruel realities they have to live with every day. I have to be honest that after my visit to St. Jude and after seeing what I saw, I found myself counting my blessings that Kye, my daughter, was healthy but it also gave me clear determination to do all I could to help the children there and to keep them laughing…and living. St. Jude is a place of dash and drama, used to flashbulbs as celebrities lend their time and money to the cause as have many major corporations and private donors. And today, Carnival is proud beyond all measure to be continuing to help the children there today…and the children there tomorrow. And in advance, I thank those of you who while you’re having fun during your cruise for also contributing your $10 and proudly wearing those Groove for St. Jude T-Shirts.