July 27, 2012 -
Before I was a cruise director or a bar waiter even and before I worked in the city of London as a…well, actually, I have no sodding clue what I did, I worked for a local newspaper in my home town of Southend selling advertising space. It has been nearly 30 years since I did that for a holiday job while I was at college and I hated it and what I hated most of all was cold calling. Calling local companies and seeing if they wanted to advertise their business in our newspaper was a dark and lonely job that usually left me with the ringtone resounding in my ear hole. For these reasons, I always try to be nice to cold callers when they contact me.
You see, I remember what it felt like to have my happy, “Hello! Sorry to bother you but…” greeted with: “Why don’t you f*** off and get a proper job, you bastard?” Since then I have always, as I said, treated cold callers with some respect. But I think I might make an exception for my bank which I had better not name here in case they decide to accidentally transfer all my money to Nigeria. So there I was yesterday in my cabin, in my underpants, having just finished disembarking the excursions in Dubrovnik when my cell phone rang. Now I don’t know about you but my phone never rings. I get texts, emails, Facebooks and twits but no sod ever calls me anymore so it was a shock to hear the theme from Wonder Pets screaming, “The Phone, The Phone Is Ringing.”
It was my bank and, according to the nice Indian gentleman on the other end of the phone, they were currently running a scheme that is so ridiculous that it should consider having a huge thingy as its corporate logo. I was one of many Mr. Patel told me who was, “being called because I checked the box not to receive unsolicited calls and that you may have missed out on hearing about the bank’s brand new and exciting financial services,” such as bollocks, blah, blah and bollocks and perhaps I would like to reconsider not being contacted?
Now, I am no Jim Berra (our chief marketing beard), but this is surely anti-selling because I was so mad at the end of the call, I wanted to withdraw all my money (not that they would miss my paltry account) and hide it under my mattress. Cold calling is the old spam, junk mail for the ears and it took all of my past memory of cold calling myself and all of my self-control not to tell nice Mr. Patel from his call center in Bombay to shove his credit card services up his jacksie (visit www.urbandictionary.com for the meaning of jacksie, please).
They haven’t got an easy job, I know, so I was pleasant and said, “Hello, hello, hello…hisssshhhssshhh – I am in Croatia…it’s a bad oooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.”
Time for today’s Q and A
Gene Gober asked:
We had our first cruise ever this past April on the Carnival Conquest and I was wondering if it will count towards the new VIFP program. I have really enjoyed the pictures you have posted of the new Carnival Breeze and cannot wait to sail on her possibly December of next year.
Hello Gene Gober
Yes, indeed, it will count and I am so glad you had such fun that you are considering a cruise here on the Carnival Breeze. She is our best ship yet and I hope to see you here soon. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you.
Douglas Skirtel asked:
I find it so irritating that the cruise I have paid for is spoiled by the frustrating lack of English spoken by the vast majority of the workers on the ship, Mr. Heald. Case in point: My family and I just returned from the Carnival Elation and from the restaurant to the pizza place my orders came back wrong simply because the workers had insufficient English skills to comprehend what I had said. It may be OK in Carnival’s opinion to save money by hiring workers from third world countries but as an American cruising on an American ship, I expect at least that the people who are serving me speak English. This has me thinking it’s back to all-inclusive resorts for us.
Long Island, New York
Hello Douglas Skirtel
Thank you for taking the time to write, Douglas, and I apologise that you found communication with our crew difficult. This is a very rare comment indeed as all our crew must be proficient in speak English, especially those who deal directly with guests, so it did come as a surprise to read this. I hope that you will forgive any transgressions and we will work hard to continue to improve and most importantly, I hope you will consider the brilliant value for money that a Carnival cruise offers and that we will see you again soon.
Kim D asked:
Just booked our third cruise on the Carnival Glory from our home city of Boston in July! Can’t wait! My question is I’ve had a problem while having a quick snack alone in the buffet area, I get up for silverware, etc. and come back to my table and it’s been cleaned! It’s happened a few times, so I’m wondering if there could be a sign in the middle of the table stating “eating” and “done.” I’ve been to a place that had red and green symbols? Thanks
Hello Kim D
Now that’s a new one on me, as well. I know we have efficient crew but that’s a little too efficient, isn’t it? I don’t think we need signs but maybe we need to remind the crew that a knife and fork in the open stance means that the plate is not finished with yet but a knife and fork together means it is. I am sorry that this has happened and I will make sure that this is brought up to the fleet’s food managers, etc. Thanks so much and I hope you will let me know if there is anything I can do for you.
Carole Kazan asked:
I realize Carnival does not control the weather but five days of rain on a seven-day cruise surely warrants something, doesn’t it? This is what happened, John, on our Carnival Magic cruise. It rained for five straight days. Two of our excursions were canceled and so were all the deck games and parties. No apology was made by James the cruise director or the captain. We all expected Carnival to open the bars free for an hour or maybe give us something but we got nothing but more rain. I read on Cruise Critic today that other cruise lines throw free booze parties when this happens but Carnival doesn’t do anything!!!!!!!
Hello Carole Kazan
Well I can’t speak for other cruise lines and yet I have to say that I would be shocked if a cruise line would give 3,000-plus people free drinks because of rain. However, I understand your disappointment as we all hope for sun when we go on vacation. But, as you said, we can’t control the weather and I am sure that there was plenty to do and many ways to have fun during the cruise despite the liquid sunshine. I truly hope that on your next cruise, you will be blessed with sun.
Christina Black asked:
I have a question about cruise check-in policies. I seem to be finding conflicting answers. My traveling companions (we’re a group of four ladies) are all Platinum guests, and this will be my second cruise (Carnival Legend on Nov. 25, 2012). We have two cabins booked. Will I need to embark separately from everyone else since they’re Platinum and get to go through the VIP process? Or, because the cabin I’m staying in was booked by a Platinum member, can I embark with them? Thanks in advance for your answer. Cheers!
Hello Christina Black
Because you are in the same cabin, you will be able to embark with your friends. I hope you all have the most wonderful time.
Robert Kozlowsky asked:
I just completed my thirteenth cruise aboard the Carnival Miracle that left on May 30. My family, which included my 16-month-old daughter and her nine-month-old cousin, also went on the trip. I have always had great experiences on Carnival ships, and there was no exception this time either. The entire staff aboard the Carnival Miracle was so friendly to the children. They made it a great experience. I would like to specifically mention our waiter Nyoman and his staff at table 109 of the Bacchus dining room. Nyoman was so good to the children. He had the kids’ food out within minutes after ordering. Whenever he saw one of the children crying, he came over and made them laugh or gave them something to attract their attention. Once again, please make sure the entire staff aboard the Miracle is recognized for their excellent service and I can’t wait to sail again in the near future.
Hello Robert Kozlowsky
Thanks so very much for brightening my day and I will make sure that this wonderful post gets sent to the people who made such a difference to your cruise. Nyoman will be so proud when he reads this and thanks so much for taking the time to write. I hope we do see you again soon and please let me know if there is anything I can do for you.
James Storm asked:
I see you give advice on excursions but considering you are obese have you in fact actually done these trips. Enquiring minds want to know.
Hello James Storm
Enquiring minds want to know? What a great statement and I now have visions of a dark smoke filled room where strange and mysterious people meet every Friday night to discuss John Heald’s belly and whether or not he has managed to drag it around Pompeii. Yes, James, I have done all the excursions multiple times and if you have any questions about them, please let me know and I will be happy to tell you where to go…on tour, I mean.
Hank and Freda Palatine asked:
Will Carnival ever have dance hosts? We have worked for Holland America Line as dance hosts and we would like to offer our services to Carnival. Thank you for your consideration
Hello Hank and Freda Palatine
I have seen the dance hosts on HAL and I know the guests truly appreciate your work. Unfortunately, we don’t have this program on Carnival ships. I wish you both all the very best though and thank you for all the joy you bring to passengers on Holland America Line ships.
Danny Brouwers asked:
I really wanted to compliment you with all you are doing for the guests, and not to forget all the people who contact you on-line, especially given the trash they throw upon you sometimes. For me, this is not a normal, civilized way of dealing and communicating with people. Only when standing face-to-face something like that is ‘allowed’ because then, one can react and defend themselves. You amaze me with your ability to keep your cool and stay courteous. It is very nice to be able to contact someone “high ranking” who answers the questions, with the occasional humour in it. I personally really like the way you do it.
Why do I send you this mail? Just to let you know that not everyone is a jerk and there are still people admiring and grateful for your work. In a few weeks time, we’re headed off to Venice to board your new Carnival Breeze to celebrate our, somewhat delayed, honeymoon. I must admit this is truly the most looking-forward-to holiday I have ever booked. The amount of time I’ve spent on YouTube and the Carnival site, as well as lying in my bed thinking about the view from our balcony before bed and when waking up, really is costing me my sleep! I am planning to email you when we get back to share our experiences with you to tell you at what extent my expectations are surpassed, which I really think they will be after reading some excursion reviews. Complaining is easy, but giving and receiving positive feedback is much more satisfactory. Are you on Carnival Breeze with the sailing of August 26? Because if so, I’m looking forward to shaking your hand, John. That’s all for now, John. Keep up the good work! From The Netherlands, I send you my regards. In the meantime, I will keep on dreaming of my cruise….
Hello Danny Bowers
What a wonderful way to finish today’s Q and A session and I know we will meet very soon. It does take some deep breaths to keep going but I know that, for the most part, the work I do on line is appreciated. I have no doubt that you will love this ship and her crew and the ports themselves and I look forward to meeting you and shaking your hand and trying some of my pretty awful Dutch on you, as well. I wish you the most brilliant time here on Carnival Breeze and let me know if there is anything you need. Best wishes and thank you once again for these very kind words.
That’s all for today and thanks to you all for your comments and questions.
Time for today’s inside look at one of our cruise directors and today we meet the boy from Brazil, Mr. Felipe Couto.
I was born January 30, 1979, in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) where I currently live. I first joined Carnival Cruise Lines in January 2002 after going to law school in Brazil after realizing I needed different challenges at that point of my life. While on board the Carnival Imagination in the position of staff waiter on my first contract, I saw the cruise director on TV and thought “That’s the coolest job ever! One day I’ll do it…” One contract (and a lot of broken china) later, I was promoted to the position of social host while on board the Carnival Victory in 2004. Since then, I’ve been fortunate enough to work on board 15 Carnival ships and now, I am back home, where it all started — the beautiful Carnival Victory. I can honestly say I have found my true passion: people. Going back to an office sounds impossible to me right now and I am definitely looking forward to many more years to come.
Thanks, mate. Felipe was in the original host training school which Heidi ran back in the day and we both saw immediately that he was one to watch and so it has proven to be. Well done Felipe mate. Obligado.
Let’s change course, shall we?
From: BREEZE GUEST SERVICES
Sent: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 7:56 PM
To: BREEZE CRUISE DIRECTOR
Cc: BREEZE GUEST SERVICES MANAGER; BREEZE GUEST SERVICES SUPERVISOR; BREEZE GUEST SERVICES; BREEZE ASSISTANT CRUISE DIRECTOR; BREEZE CRUISE STAFF
Subject: Naples comment
Good Afternoon John
Mrs _____would like to speak to you about the time it took to get back on the ship today in Naples. Guest said she had a 20-minute wait and that it was too hot. Guest said that they had to wait in a long line to go through security and have their ID’s checked and that on a cruise on Royal Caribbean there were never lines and they had five gangways in every port. Please can you take a few moments to speak to her? Thank you and best regards.
Guest Services Supervisor, Carnival Breeze
Carnival Cruise Lines
Now there are two points here. One is that she came back from the Pompeii, Sorrento and Capri excursion along with 374 other guests and those who were coming back independently, as well, and there were two gangways that moved very quickly. Now she may have a point because it was hot outside and we obviously want to get our guests back on board as quickly as we can. But I also dislike it so much when guest comments mention other cruise lines. Please, just state your case, let us apologize, see if we can improve and move on.
I spoke to her and she really didn’t like the fact that she had to wait and then wait further for her bags to go through X-ray checks and her Sail & Sign to be checked. This really confounds me you know. We now think it’s normal behavior to take off our clothes at an airport and nobody dares to complain if someone with an iron-on badge gropes our dangly bits. Yet, each week on each ship across the industry, as sure as someone on another cruise Web site is calling me a fat useless bastard, someone will be complaining on each and every ship in the industry to a guest purser relations information officer about lines at the gangway or indeed at embarkation. Do that on an airline, you will be arrested, water-boarded and thrown in prison.
OK, nearly time to go. It’s very early here, in fact it’s…sodding heck…I must really like you all as its 8:10am and I have been sitting here in my underpants writing to you for the last hour and a half. At 9 am I will be hosting the morning show with one of the funniest must comically gifted people I have ever met. His name is Calvyn Shawn Champagne-Martens and if you haven’t ever met him………you really should. I would like to think that our morning shows are some of the most popular events on the ship and certainly the feedback we get, the number of letters we receive on board and the comments I see here and on Facebook would suggest that guests appreciate our odd couple comedy. And when I look at our relationship closely, I really am surprised that we perform together so well. Calvyn and I, it seems, have little in common and yet…we do. You see we love doing the morning shows together and as I said, they have become quite popular. Calvyn takes the lead, he is the funny one, he is the outrageous one and so that makes me, if you will pardon the pun…the straight man. One day Calvyn will be a CD and I have no fear or trepidation I saying that when he does become a cruise director that he will be the funniest CD in the fleet bar none.
Anyway, we receive many letters of dedication and request to the show. These range from happy birthday requests, happy anniversary shout-outs to letters about not enough American TV programs (yawn) and indeed one this cruise from a man who was offering a 200-Euro reward for his missing Eyephone which he had left in the Serenity area. We read all these and many more letters out at the show. Now this cruise we also received a letter from Avi and Adrienne, David and Rosie. This is their second cruise and their first…was on the Costa Concordia on that fateful day. I do not want to concentrate too much on what happened except to say two things: one is how the crew helped them and indeed saved their lives and, secondly, is that going through a situation like this has them feeling guilty that they are back on a cruise ship again. I told them that this was nonsense and that they should be so proud that just six months after that night they are back on a cruise ship. They will never ever forget what happened but the crew of the Carnival Breeze are doing all they can to make sure that while they are with us, they have a brilliant time. They told me how the first night on the Carnival Breeze they were all nervous and did not sleep well, which is to be expected, but how now “they were having fun.” Here they are with the captain and me.
After talking to these guests and hearing their story, all of us here on the Carnival Breeze want to work even harder to make sure that they have a fun vacation filled with wonderful memories.
OK, off to the show and tonight we have a brilliant comedy magician called Richard Griffin and if you ever get a chance to see him, please do because he is both amazing and funny. Over the years, I have introduced some fantastic acts for Carnival and some…ummmm…who were not so good. There was the singer who stated he was the godson of Louis Armstrong but had a voice that sounded like a cat climbing an electric fence. But the worst…well, that was on the Holiday in 1991. The Chan Brothers were two Chinese plate spinners who had an incredible show. They erected poles on stage and to stirring classical music would spin plates on top of 10- feet poles…on a moving cruise ship. The audience sat with their mouths open right up until the point where the plates stopped spinning but stayed on top of the poles. That was probably because the plates had indentations roughly the size of an elephant’s bottom in them.