August 10, 2012 -
I had already started writing today’s blog a few hours ago as the ship sat overnight here in Venice. While I was asleep, I dreamt of running the 200 meters final representing the UK. I had been neck and neck with Usain Bolt and we crossed the line together but the judges gave Usain the gold medal because his gentleman’s sausage had crossed the line before mine. Anyway, I waddled over to the computer to find a message telling me that during the night, some “new software ” had been installed and the computer had “restarted.” My half written blog had gone. I was livid. My little toe was as bent as a dog’s back leg thanks to a previous night’s stubbing, my carpool tunnel arm felt like a nest of ants were doing their own track and field events in it and now this… my blog had gone! I restarted, looked everywhere in every file and every program, in the drawers and in the trash but, no, it was gone forever. So I did what any normal person would do in a situation like this. I took my underpants off and gave my computer a beating with them.
I sat here for a few minutes and suddenly felt bad that I had beaten my Dell with the brown brush, after all I had not saved my work, obviously. Yep, it was my fault, so feeling bad for my Dell……… I sent it a fruit basket.
This is all though part of my continuing battle against machine. Yesterday on my Facebook page in between answering 2,389,877 questions about the Faster to the Fun Program, I wrote a silly bit about a program I had seen about some tribe living in an Amazon jungle and how they would love a George Foreman grill. I sort of suggested that they really would love some of today’s gadgets and luxuries to help improve their life and their mud huts. But this morning’s problems with my computer had caused me to think what it must be like to live like that without anything that we use in our lives every day. Imagine if I had wanted to wash my underpants which in the jungle would have been made out of baboon scrotum. This would have meant that I would have to walk to and from my mud hut carrying a pail of water back from the river where I may possibly have been eaten by a crocodile. And that’s before you’ve tackled the laundering process itself, which consists of hours scrubbing my soiled garments against a rock and wringing it out. By the time I would have finished…… it’s dinner time….so after a quick slice of yak, it’s time for bed.
Yes, life is simpler there and stress is a word that probably doesn’t translate for the Seaugo tribe of the Amazon despite the threat of waking up to find a tarantula nibbling on your dangly bits. But in many ways, living like that would provide a better quality of life than today. Yes, computers have helped us on the one hand, but introduced an equal amount of stress on the other. These days, we all do everything online, from reserving The Chef’s Table on your next Carnival cruise, getting up to date news on the Olympics or what’s happening in your own local town, locating a Latvian who is prepared to show you a good time to writing on a message board how much you hate big fat bent-toothed cigar-smoking British cruise directors. Tasks that would have taken years to do, can now be accomplished in the swift movement of a mouse thingy.
Or would be, if you could remember your password. But you can’t remember your password. You can’t remember it because you chose it so very long, long ago……like the day before. In the intervening period you’ve had to dream up another seven passwords for another seven websites. In this age of rampant identity theft, where it’s just a matter of time before someone works out a way to steal the way you look and use it to have rumpy pumpy with your wife and empty the bank account, we’re told only a total idiot would use the same password for. Passwords are for spies. “Ahhh, Mr. Fatblokeski, the Siberian winter is bitter this year.” “Yes, Sergei, your wife has breasts the size of the Himalayas and I want to use them as a trampoline” ……….those are passwords. I am leaving for a cruise and a half and Butch is taking over from me so I decided to change the password on my computer so every time he goes to use it, he has to type in “Johnfartedinthischair@99.” Job done.
Time for today’s Q and A…………..here we go.
Liam McDuff asked:
I have heard some negative reviews on Cruise Critic about Cruise Director Jen Baxter on the Carnival Fascination. I am prepared to ignore these comments and am terrified she will ruin our cruise.
Hello Liam McDuff
I am not sure what you have read on Cruise Critic about the wonderful Jen Baxter but I can tell you she has a huge fan base and it will be difficult to find a more passionate and caring CD. She is on the Carnival Triumph now and I am sure the guests there are really enjoying her. I hope you had a great cruise or if you haven’t sailed yet, will have a great cruise on the Carnival Fascination. Best wishes.
Pat Novak-Call asked:
I will be traveling with a friend for the 10/25 sailing of the Carnival Breeze. I will be platinum but she is not. We are sharing a cabin. My question is will I be able to bring her as my guest to the “vifp” party? I cannot remember if when my husband was alive if we got one or two invitations in the cabin. Thanks for your help.
PS Will you be our CD 10/25/2012??
Hello Pat Novak-Call
It will be great to see you here and, yes, I am scheduled to be your cruise director and, yes, you may indeed bring your friend to the VIFP party. I will see you soon here on this wonderful ship Carnival Breeze. Best wishes.
Debbie Halley asked:
Why is it that Carnival is going so “informal?” I am referring to how the crew will be allowed to address the guest as their first name. I am sorry but in my eyes, this is a sign of pure disrespect. We would never think of calling the captain by his first name. I like Ms. Debbie. To me, this just leads to “commonality.” I do not cruise for commonality. I like a certain level of respect. I do not want to sit and listen to crew talk about how terrible their life on the ship is while I am enjoying my dinner or a show or sitting out on deck which is where we will all be next. This is just wrong. This is exactly what we endured on our last cruise on the Carnival Valor. Commonality does not belong in the service industry. A certain level is always expected but now Carnival is taking that away. What next?
Hello Debbie Halley
Well, that’s an interesting point and I appreciate you taking the time to write. We are a company that thrives on the idea of fun and that’s what our guests, for the most part, want as well. However, you are the guest and we need to respect your wishes so please may I suggest that when your wonderful stateroom steward calls you Debbie please simply tell him or her that you prefer Mrs. Halley or Ms. Halley or indeed “ma’m” and they will comply. We want you to be comfortable and feel respected because you are. I am afraid I don’t understand your comment about the crew talking about how “terrible their life is” so maybe if you have time you can clarify this. Thanks again and hope we see you on one of our ships soon. Best wishes.
Lorraine Porter asked:
No comment cards any more John? I just got off the Carnival Breeze and what a fantastic cruise it was and I so wanted to write a comment about Desi, our waitress. She was exceptional and the care she showed to our eight-year-old son who is in a wheelchair still brings smiles and tears to my face every time I think about it. Please thank her for me and also the rest of the restaurant staff and Ken who always paid Cameron special attention, as well. You and Calvin may I say are priceless and you should both be on national TV stateside. It was a great cruise and we will be back for more and are looking at the Magic next from Galveston. Thank you, John.
Lorraine, Chad and Cameron Porter
Hello Lorraine Porter.
That’s right, no more comment cards as they are now sent to some of our guests online. However, I will promise that everyone you mentioned here will get the praise they need and that their supervisors also see what you have written. I have known Desi for a long time and know how wonderful she is with the guests she serves. Thanks again for the kind words and if there is anything I can do for you, please let me know. Best wishes to you all.
Good day Sir,
I have a question about the kids clubs and the age ranges. We have recently heard an increase in our customers giving feedback about the kids not being able to attend the activities in another “age group” even though they do not wish to be separated from siblings. I was just informed that the children of a family just returning from a cruise on the Carnival Magic decided not to utilize the kids activities because her sons age 11 and 12 did not want to be separated. Is this information correct, and, if so, are there any plans to allow a “little fudge room” on the age splits? Thanks for all you do, and I look forward to your reply.
We do indeed have very strict rules about our three different children and teen areas of Camp Carnival, Circle C and Club O2. We do try and keep siblings together, if possible, and if they fall into a six-month frame, meaning they are the next age up within six months, we do try and accommodate them together. If not, we will ask they attend the different programs. I know that’s not always what the parents want to hear but for the most part, once the kids are having fun and meeting new friends, they are happy and content. I hope this helps and please let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Best wishes.
Keith Vashtay asked:
Mr Heald -
My name is Mr. Keith Vashtay, a Platinum VIFP member. Please inform the workers on your Carnival Dream cruise ship that I wish to be called Mr. Vashtay and not Keith when I cruise on that vessel on 10/22. I am not a child and own my own company so I expect to be treated respectfully through the use of my own name. I do not appreciate the policy of first name recognition you spoke of today and I would expect if you asked many of your customers would say the same. I am a Platinum VIFP.
Hello Keith Vashtay
It is interesting that there are two comments here on today’s blog about the use of first names by our crew and both are of a similar nature. I do remember the blog when I announced this and remember the large number of positive comments about this. However, I was explaining just now to Debbie…….bugger…….to Mrs. Halley, we need you to feel comfortable and if that means we call you by your surname, then that’s exactly what we will do. I have sent a note to the ship to alert them of this request and may I kindly ask that as it’s some time away that if by chance a crew member does refer to you on first name terms please correct them and let them know what you prefer and I promise that is what will happen. The most important thing is that you have a wonderful cruise. Best wishes.
Stephen Martindale asked:
I will be doing a B2B on the Breeze for the last Med. cruise and the TA. My question is if I buy an internet package on the first cruise and have any leftover minutes, is there any way to carry them over to the TA cruise? Thanks.
Hello Stephen Martindale
It will be great to welcome you here and you have two fantastic voyages to look forward to. They are two separate voyages and because accounting looks at them as two different voyages you cannot, I am afraid, carry the minutes over. You may wish to consider buying the Internet in smaller packages or a per-minute plan. If you have any other questions or need anything, please let me know. Best wishes.
Maxine Lucas asked:
I am very happy to hear that Carnival is not leaving Jacksonville after all that speculation. Jacksonville is an awesome port with the best facilities and the nicest friendliest people in the United States so I am glad Carnival has recognized this and is staying. Now we want MORE SHIPS!!!
Hello Maxine Lucas
I, too, am glad that we will continue to sail from the Port of Jacksonville. I’ve personally never sailed from there but hear great things about the port and, of course, our Carnival Fascination cruises from there. Thanks for taking the time to write. Best wishes.
Elizabeth Woodard asked:
Does Carnival have any swim/splash pad options for kids in swim diapers? My family is considering a cruise on the Carnival Magic, but it would be horrible if my daughter couldn’t get in the water at all. She will be a little over two when we set sail and I hope to have her trained by then, but I am curious what our options are if she isn’t.
Hello Elizabeth Woodard
Carnival Magic does not have a kids’ splash pool but there are two small kids water slides at WaterWorks which I know my daughter who was two absolutely loved. We do have strict rules about children not being in the pool unless they are potty trained for obvious reasons. Hopefully your daughter will be potty trained and can use the pool with you but, if not, there are the slides and the gazebo areas that have a beach water effect that she will be able to use as well, my daughter also loved that. I wish you a wonderful cruise and let me know if you have any other questions Best wishes.
And that’s all for today. Thanks once again for your comments.
When I left the Carnival Magic pre trans-Atlantic crossing last year, I left the ship in the hands of then acting Cruise Director James Charlton. Since then, the ship has become his permanent home and I have great joy in presenting his bio to you now. So here is James Charlton, CD, Carnival Magic.
I was born and bred in West Yorkshire, in the North of England, and devoted most of my childhood to tree climbing, lady bird [bug] catching, piano lessons and community theatre. I studied music at university for three years and then continued as a post graduate to qualify as a high school music teacher. My passion for music was matched only by the great satisfaction I got from sharing music with others in the classroom. However, having never left the education system since the age of 4, I decided to take a ‘short’ break to broaden my outlook on life and see some of the world. Cue Carnival Cruise Lines. My first day ‘on deck’ was on the Holiday in August 2004 as a social host. It wasn’t long before I was hooked on ship life and my six-month sabbatical turned into a new career. I then spent time on Carnival Valor and Carnival Miracle. I was promoted to assistant cruise director on Carnival Pride back in 2008. You may have sailed with me as your cruise director over the last few years on both Carnival Glory and Carnival Sensation, and then since its delivery last year, on Carnival Magic. I was thrilled to be a part of the start-up team on Carnival Magic, and then even more happy to look after her when John Heald left to promote Fun Ship 2.0. Carnival Magic and Galveston, Texas, are now home for me. One thing you wouldn’t know about me unless reading this bio? I can’t eat dairy. So, if you find any milk-free cheese (somewhat of an oxymoron. I know!) give me a shout out and make me a very happy man.
Thanks James. I am thrilled to say that James has done so well and so quickly and has been a major part in keeping the Carnival Magic so high in the rankings. He is charming, funny and has a calming effect on people when the going gets tough. I am very proud of him even though he is a vegetablist and eats sod all except bird seed and tofu. It is my hope one day James will come over to the dark side and sink his perfectly white teeth into a huge Guy’s burger. Well done, James………….well done.
Well this will be my last blog for a while because on Tuesday I am taking some time off and heading home. This is one of those times where I ask your permission to stay off the computer for a while to rest, enjoy the family and to allow the surgery to heal after Dr. Ramitin gives my carpool tunnel the good news with the scalpel. I hope this surgery is successful but the rest will do me good and I intend to use this dictation program more as well. So I will be off Facebook from Tuesday August 14-27 where I will resume blogging and Facebook duties all the way through to December. I will post any news and events each day as they happen while I am at home but I won’t be answering questions until Aug. 27, if that’s OK with you.
It has been a wonderful four months from shipyard to now and as I have proudly said many times, Carnival Breeze is simply our best ship yet. I know we have our ups and downs here and on Facebook and I know that there may be things that we as a company do and things I say that you may not agree with or indeed like. But I do want to say that I appreciate all of you so very much. I appreciate your loyalty and your comments and your fun but most of all, I appreciate your time, the time you take each day to read this blog and my musings on Facebook. I have taken some flack these past few days and that’s fine, I am a big boy and besides, that’s my job. When we announce new objectives on my Facebook or the blog, it gives you, our customers, a chance to voice both your praise and concerns.
But the more I invest in this social media thing, the more I come across people who I think social media folks call “haters.” Haters find it tough when people get on and do something with their lives. I think this may be due to some self-loathing about their lives, their inability to make their own dreams happen. When anyone else contributes anything positive to the world, it represents a threat, to which the easiest antidote is an unpleasant comment. This takes the pain away briefly (or at least passes it on to someone else) but it only lasts until the next time they see someone doing something. That aside I love what I do and until you all tell me to bugger off then I will be here ready to help. Hope this will continue for a long time to come and I remain here ready to help where I can and provide you with as much fun and information about Carnival Cruise Lines as possible and with Carnival Sunshine, our Fun Ship 2.0 upgrades and other news and announcements………. there will indeed be much for us all to be talking about.
This cruise here on the beautiful Carnival Breeze has been an interesting one due largely to the multinational guest list we have. For the most part, the guests have been brilliant but I have to say we have one nationality here who has been ummmmm………..ummmmmm………challenging and no…….not the Russians. I am not going to say which as it’s not worth my bollocks being kicked by a few who will accuse me of all sorts of stuff. Now I have been doing this job a long time but nothing prepared me for what I saw when I walked out on stage on Thursday night to introduce our Lionel Ritchie tribute act, Malcolm Pitt, and yes, you unbelievers, this is true as witnessed by 800 people including blog and Facebook readers who are sailing this cruise.
The lights dimmed, my intro music played, I walked out onto the stage and as I opened my mouth to give a cheery greeting I could not believe my eyes. There, on the front row stood ……… note – stood…….a man…….whose baby was on the stage…..on the sodding stage……legs in the air………….while his father changed his diaper!
Now there were a hundred different things I could have said but none of them would probably have made a difference or have been understood either and irony or sarcasm would have been lost on him. So I just stood there and watched, saying nothing and just a shake of my head was enough for most of the audience to laugh out loud. The man looked up at me and you know what, he scowled at me as though I had dared to interrupt this delicate operation. About a minute went by before the diaper was changed and the soiled one placed in a bag and he sat down and as he did he received a thunderous round of applause from the guests. He didn’t smile, he didn’t say anything, he just scowled at me. I looked at the audience and simply said “Sir, please don’t do that here, take him to the casino, use the craps table.” The audience laughed……..dad and the rest of his family and friends did not.
I introduced Malcolm and he was as always brilliant and had them Dancing on the Ceiling. Dad, the baby and the entourage decided Lionel Ritchie wasn’t for them and left their front row seats and walked out 10 minutes into the show. Such is the life of a cruise director and I look forward to continue to share it with you. See you soon and thanks for allowing me these days off.
Your friend always,