September 26, 2012 -
As I sit wading through the questions and the reviews here on the blog, I often wonder as I reply what’s real and what is as fake as half the breasts in California. You see, that’s the problem, isn’t it, with review sites or any social media page that allows people to post what they want. In the beginning, way before I had even started my blog, there were cruise ship sites that were full of great information and honest reviews but all of them, this blog included, have now the a magnet for bastards and revenge seekers who will punish cruise lines because simply, they can. Most of what’s written in the comments section on this blog and on my Facebook page and on Cruise Critic is still rational and useful but if you took half the moaners seriously, the closest you would come to taking a cruise would be watching re-runs of the Love Boat.
The last few days have really brought this to light. Now we get hundreds of new posts a day here to the blog and of course many more on Facebook and it is impossible, yes, impossible, for myself and the wonderful Mischelle and Mary to validate them all and know if they are real. “Well, don’t post the bad ones, then,” I here you cry. OK, we could but then if we do that, I will be going against the principle I had set when I first sat in my underpants and wrote a blog and that was to tell you the good, the bad, and the ugly. Plus, there is another reason and that’s because we learn from our mistakes and from comments made here, we improve and work harder to be a better cruise line. But the flip side of this is that you get the people who just hate Carnival and these are the people who will sit in their mother’s attics concocting fake reviews and posting a constant barrage of negativity.
Take the post that I saw in today’s bundle of questions that shouted to AVOID CARNIVAL AT ALL COSTS complaining that the Carnival Freedom had so many problems including that the food in the dining room was “not fit for human consumption” and that a waiter spilled “a tray full of drinks over my wife and the crew just stood there and laughed and nobody did anything.” So we looked the name of the guest up and surprise, surprise, there was nobody of that name booked on the cruise that week and we also checked with the ship’s incident report about the drinks spillage and what a shocker……..no report of anything like that happening. Yesterday, I received a cry for help on Facebook about a couple whose toilet wasn’t working. Again, I checked with the ship as they are on board and no report has been made and I am hoping that someone will send me the cabin number so I can indeed ……………..help.
Most of the reviews and comments here and on other sites are genuine but some are not and are written by some very bored and somewhat vicious people. How do we know which reviews are genuine and which might be by someone scaring passengers away or a disgruntled ex-crew member with an axe to grind and using my head to do it on or indeed someone who just loves to hate Carnival. Anyone can click on this blog or another cruise-oriented site and within five minutes post a fake review about a cruise they took without even being on the bloody ship. Freedom of speech is something I fiercely believe in but it comes with a price. I will then continue to try and sift out the bollocks and I will start with anyone that uses those sodding annoying CAPS LOCK.
By the way, any critical comments about this part of the blog will be assumed to be fake and won’t be posted!
Time for today’s Q and A………………here we go.
Koreena Ralston asked:
Hi John! So, my family and I are celebrating my 40th birthday on the Carnival Dream in November. We’re on the Western Caribbean itinerary. I am roughly the size of a large manatee, have bad knees, not great balance and asthma (I’m not trying to brag or get you into a heightened state of arousal — I’m just tellin’ it like it is). We live in Port Canaveral so beach days really aren’t our thing, according to the weight guidelines, I will either kill a horse or flatten the tires of a bike and God only knows what I’d do to a zip line, and I wanted to do something fun in Belize. Would the ruins be beyond me or is there an option for the roly polys to stay at ground level and just take pictures in the upward direction? Any assistance would be welcome!
Hello Koreena Ralston
May I say, as a heavy person myself, that this post made me laugh. What a wonderful sense of humour you have and I hope we meet someday soon. Belize is a wonderful place and I know you will have a great time there. May I suggest that you do not think about the ruins and think instead of cave tubing? Now there is a little bit of a walk from the bus to the cave but once there, you will be drifting away on an inner tube through beautiful scenery and in the gorgeous cool waters. If you do decide to do the ruins then yes, you don’t have to climb so you will be fine there but I think if you can manage the river tubing that this may be the best fun for you. Have a think and let me know if you have any follow-up questions or if there is anything I can do to make you more comfortable. Best wishes.
Stephen Cymbal/ LaVerne Wizy asked:
Dear John: I have been on Carnival Cruise Lines for our second time. My question to you is: Who will be our cruise director for 09/29/2012 for the week. The ship’s name is: Carnival Dream. Thanks, mate. Love cruising on the ship.
Hello Stephen Cymbal/ LaVerne Wizy asked:
I am glad I caught this in time and my apologies for the delay in answering. The CD will be Steve Knisley who will be ready to give you a brilliant time. The ship has just returned from dry dock as well so she will be looking great. Have a wonderful cruise. Best wishes.
Shirley Kirkup asked:
John, I am very confused by how you get your entertainment on the ships because it looks like no planning is done to match your show to the passengers. Our cruise on the Carnival Sensation had two comics at the club that were both white but look at the passengers and you would see that the passengers were mostly African American. The comics had nothing in common with the passengers and we wanted to see more Def Comedy Jam-style performers. I suggest that Carnival Cruise Lines look at the demographics of who their passengers are and get comics according to that!
Hello Shirley Kirkup
First of all I hope you had a wonderful cruise and thanks for taking the time to write. Can I also say that we do not hire our comedians based on anything but the simple question: “Are they funny?” If the answer is yes, we hire them, plain and simple. The Punchliner Comedy Clubs are, in essence, the largest comedy clubs in the world with close to 100 comedy performances around the fleet each and every week and we do our best to please all the guests regardless of their background. I hope we see you again soon and I know you will enjoy the comedy club again. Best wishes.
Jackie Friedman asked:
My co-worker and frequent cruiser (like me) suggested I email you if I’d like to do something special on my next cruise. We’re leaving on February 2, 2013 from Jacksonville, Florida, on the Carnival Fascination. This will be my 12th cruise, but my ninth with Carnival. This will be my boyfriend’s first cruise ever and we will be celebrating our first anniversary together. I’d like to make this experience extra special for him. I need him to want to love cruising as much as I do so more will follow! What do you suggest?
Hello Jackie Friedman
Thanks for cruising with us again and I would like to suggest that you think about The Chef’s Table when you sail. It is a wonderful culinary experience and one that you both will truly enjoy and it will be a wonderful evening for you both. Have a think about this and if you are interested you can complete the reservation here on my blog at the “Ask John “section and if you have any questions about it, you can always ask me and I will be here. I am sure your boyfriend will enjoy cruising as much as you and please send me his cabin number a month before he sails here on the blog the day before on my www.facebook.com/johnheald page and I will send him a little something to say welcome aboard. Best wishes to you both.
Sam Bausch asked:
Hi John. I am going to be sailing on the Carnival Breeze next April 13 and would like to know if you are going to be my cruise director.
Hello Sam Bausch
I won’t, I am afraid, but please do not worry too much about that. Your CD will most likely be Butch Begovitch who is just wonderful and the ship, well she is the star and the Carnival Breeze will give you the best of times. Best wishes.
Paul Bergen asked:
John, you are lightning in a bottle and one day Carnival is going to wake up and realize what a mistake letting you have this blog was. If the bean counters were to do their job and study the negative impact you have on many would be passengers for Carnival, then you would be stopped immediately. I don’t get you and I don’t get Carnival for not putting the cork firmly back in your bottle and burying you back in the sand.
Hello Paul Bergen
I often agree with you because there are times I realise how for some of the beards this blog can be both a blessing and a curse. I am very thankful to them for allowing me the freedom to write what I want and I would like to think that by my hard work and dedication both here and even more importantly as a cruise director that I encourage more guests to return to Carnival than I do to choose another vacation. I can also tell you that I could do with a large cork…I had the chicken vindaloo at the Indian Tandoor last night and I will tell you, Paul, it has built a road through me! Best wishes.
Ricky Knight asked:
Good Morning, John. Ten years ago, I booked my family’s first cruise, and did not get travelers insurance. One week before our cruise I found out that I had cancer and I went and had surgery the next day. We missed our cruise, and we thought we lost our money. I called Carnival several weeks later and explained my situation to them and after my treatments were over, I finally got to go on my first cruise. Now 10 years later, I am cancer free and my wife and I are booked on our 15th cruise. I talk to people every day how great cruising is and how we love to cruise on Carnival. We are booked on the Carnival Magic Oct. 7. Our booking number is ******. The reason I am writing to you is that my wife’s 50th birthday is Oct.9 and I was wondering is there something you could do for her?
Hello Ricky Knight:
Many congratulations on your battle and your win and I wish you nothing but health and happiness. I will be glad to send your wife a little birthday something and I wish you a most wonderful cruise. Best wishes to you both.
Ben Grantham asked:
John, I am wondering if the Carnival Breeze will celebrate Halloween and if we should fly all the way from St. Petersburg, Florida, with costumes. Will there be a Halloween party and do you have any clue if passengers take part as the ship will be in Europe.
Hello Ben Grantham:
Yes, indeed, there will be a Halloween celebration for sure and the ship will be decorated and there will be a costume party, as well. Now, obviously, luggage restrictions and an older clientele means that it won’t be as well attended as say ships in the Caribbean but yes, if you can please do bring a costume as know there will be others who will, as well. Have a great time and get ready for a brilliant cruise. Best wishes.
Connie Cornwall asked:
Hi John we are four on the Carnival Splendor Jan 19, 2013, and are trying to find more info on the excursions, no one knows or has info. Help, we are trying to get details. Also, who is the CD for the Carnival Splendor? We love George and wondered if he was the ACD would be awesome, PS. We are Platinum cruisers.
Hello Connie Cornwall
We have not completed the CD schedule or the ACD schedule for next year just yet so please bear with me and I will let you know who your CD will be ASAP. I see that the excursions are mostly now online but if you feel you are missing some or if you have any questions, I am here to listen and help so please do get in touch. I thank you so much for your loyalty and wish you all a great time. Best wishes.
Harry and Catherine Reed asked:
Our next cruise on Carnival Dream will be number 17 for us both but we need help. Can you get us a table for two as we cannot and will not sit with other passengers? This was a big problem on our last cruise and the maitre d’ on the Carnival Elation was of no help when we demanded to be moved. We are not unsociable but have certain standards which is why we require a table for two. Our cruise date is 12/8 and we are in suite 7300.
Hello Harry and Catherine Reed
Thanks for taking the time to write and I see you are sailing in December. My concern is that if I send this request to the ship now it will get forgotten so can I ask that you send me this again on November 1 here on the blog or seven days before on my www.facebook.com/johnheald page. I will do all I can for you as I agree that we should get you a table for two. Best wishes to you both.
Erin Taylor asked:
Would you be able to tell me if there will be an “On Deck for the Cure” event when we are on the Magic in November? My husband and I participated in this on our cruise on the Carnival Liberty a few years ago and it was one of the most memorable times. It was awesome how many people took time out of their vacation to support this cause. We walk in remembrance of my mom. The experience was great as I was just able to look out on the ocean and think about my Mom and know she would have loved to have gone on a cruise. My sister will be with me in November, and I would love to be able to do this with her, so I am REALLY hoping ya’ll are still doing this.
Thank you so much for the beautiful post and I am sure that during the On the Deck for the Cure walk that you must have had so many memories of Mum and I send you my condolences for your loss. While we are a proud supporter of the Komen organization for breast cancer research and education (in fact, we have a large group of employees participating in the Walk for the Cure here in Miami in October), on board we now host the Groove for St. Jude which benefits the efforts in the fight against pediatric cancer by our friends at the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. I hope that you will be able to take part in the Groove for St. Jude event and if there is anything I can do for you, please let me know. Best wishes.
And we will stop there. Thanks so much for all the comments and questions.
OK, a few days ago we posted this:
TICKETS NOW ON SALE FOR
BOO AT THE ZOO PRESENTED BY CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES
A “SPOOKTACULAR” ANNUAL SAFE HALLOWEEN EVENT
October 19, 20, 26, and 27, 2012
Carnival Cruise Lines to Bring Even More Fun to New Orleans as Presenting Sponsor
Event benefits Children’s Hospital and Audubon Zoo
Tickets are now on sale for Boo at the Zoo Presented by Carnival Cruise Lines! The annual Audubon Zoo Halloween event for children up to age 12 features trick-or-treat houses with candy, a Ghost Train, a haunted house (scary and non-scary), games with prizes and entertainment and even more fun from Carnival Cruise Lines. All games and treats are free with $17 admission (for children and adults), excluding concessions. Tickets are now available at AudubonInstitute.org or at any Audubon attraction ticket window.
Boo at the Zoo Presented by Carnival Cruise Lines will be held on four nights over two weekends including: Friday, October 19 and Saturday, October 20, Friday, October 26 and Saturday, October 27 from 5:00-9:00PM each night. To ensure that each little ghost and goblin has the best possible experience, a limited number of tickets will be sold for each evening. Those interested in attending are encouraged to order tickets early for this highly popular, often sold-out annual event.
Welcome Aboard, Carnival Cruise Lines — Children’s Hospital and Audubon Zoo are proud to announce Carnival Cruise Lines, a long-standing supporter of New Orleans and the local community, as the presenting sponsor of Boo at the Zoo. New Orleans’ leading cruise line will bring its signature brand of fun for all to the event, with exciting family-friendly activities and entertainment including a jack-o-lantern-filled Fun Ship replica nearly 70 feet long, pumpkin carving creations, children’s decoration stations and tropical-themed treats. Carnival, which offers 4-, 5-, and 7-day voyages year-round from New Orleans, next month will welcome back Carnival Conquest from a two-week dry dock with a host of exciting new dining, bar and entertainment options as part of the company’s Fun Ship 2.0 initiative.
“We’re thrilled to partner with Children’s Hospital and Audubon Zoo, two terrific organizations serving the families of New Orleans and the Gulf area,” said Jim Berra, chief marketing officer for Carnival Cruise Lines. “Giving back to our homeport communities is extremely important to us and at this year’s Boo at the Zoo event, we look forward to providing everyone a Halloween-themed taste of the fun and excitement our guests experience aboard a Carnival cruise – all while supporting a great cause.”
New to Boo — Visitors can enjoy many new features this year:
- Carnival Cruise Lines welcome booth offering the first “treats” of the night
- A spectacular giant Carnival cruise ship Halloween display and light show
- Perfect a Perfect Pumpkin the Carnival Way decorating stations
- Three entertainment stages:
- Carnival Cruise Lines performers on the Capital One Stage
- Local favorites Papillion, Johnette Downing and Dennis & Co. in the Toddler Area in Audubon Zoo’s Cool Zoo (Note: no water will be running)
- Star Wars performers return at the Shell Wildlife Theater
- Zombie-themed Ghost Train Ride
- Elephant shows until dusk
- Mascot appearances and activities courtesy of the New Orleans VooDoo Arena Football League team
- Videogaming Experience by Games2U Nola (October 26 and 27 only)
- Family photos by Lakeside Camera Photoworks for $6
- New Orleans Hornets basketball team’s Mathmobile and Bookmobile
- A Haunted Maze returns by a-MAZE-ing
- Included in admission: Dinosaur Adventures exhibit and Endangered Species Carousel!
- Expanded areas for games and activities
Event Information at a Glance:
- Ticket prices are $17 per person (adult or child). Handling fees apply.
- Adults must purchase tickets as well as all children over the age of 12 months.
- Children under 12 months of age are admitted free.
- Adult and children tickets are the same price.
- Event is from 5:00-9:00 PM. Ticket holders may enter at any time during event hours.
- A ticket is required for each person to be admitted. Event is held rain or shine.
- Boo at the Zoo Presented by Carnival Cruise Lines is a fundraiser for Children’s Hospital and Audubon Zoo. Should a ticket holder be unable to attend, the purchase should be considered a donation. There will be no refunds nor will tickets be honored at another time.
- No outside food and beverages allowed.
- A special bag will be distributed to each child upon admission for trick or treating throughout the event, so there’s no need to bring additional bags.
- Please note that the Zoo is not open during Boo at the Zoo Presented by Carnival Cruise Lines.
NOTE: GHOST TRAIN RIDE MAY CLOSE AS EARLY AS 8 PM DEPENDING ON VOLUME OF GUESTS WAITING! Train ride can be scary for children under 8 years of age.
Tickets will be honored ONLY for the date purchased. Those ticket holders attempting to enter on another night will be not be allowed entry.
Audubon Zoo will close at 3 pm each day to prepare for the evening event.
Tickets can be purchased online at AudubonInstitute.org or at any Audubon attraction ticket window. A “print at home” option allows tickets to be e-mailed and printed from any computer. Tickets also can be placed at Will Call. No tickets will be mailed.
About Children’s Hospital
Children’s Hospital is a 247-bed, not-for-profit medical center offering the most advanced pediatric care for children from birth to 21 years. With more than 40 pediatric specialties and nearly 400 physicians, it is the only full-service hospital exclusively for children in Louisiana and the Gulf South. For more information about Children’s Hospital, visit www.chnola.org
About Audubon Nature Institute
Audubon Nature Institute is a 501(c)3 not for profit that operates a family of museums and parks dedicated to nature. These New Orleans facilities include: Audubon Park, Audubon Zoo, Woldenberg Riverfront Park, Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center, Entergy IMAX® Theatre, Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species, Audubon Wilderness Park, Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium and Audubon Nature Institute Foundation. Visit AudubonInstitute.org for more information.
About Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival is “The World’s Most Popular Cruise Line®” with 24 ships operating a wide array of voyages to the Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexico, Alaska and a variety of international destinations. Carnival is New Orleans’ number one cruise line and has two ships based in New Orleans year-round, the Carnival Elation which offers four and five-day Mexico cruises, and the Carnival Conquest which offers seven-day Caribbean voyages.
Right, I thought, sounds good and what a brilliant cause and forgot all about it. Now apparently there is going to be a big show and this apparently is also a huge event and guess whose arses have to wedge themselves into an economy seat and fly to New Orleans to host it ………. yep ……… mine and Calvyn’s …….bugger! So my schedule has changed again and before I give you the new schedule please don’t worry, I will be on the ship for the trans-Atlantic.
Yep, unless there are any unforeseen circumstances like my hemorrhoids exploding just after takeoff or a lion mistaking my thingy as dinner (OK, a snack) then I will be back, I promise.
Here is my schedule then:
OCTOBER 16 – DISEMBARK CARNIVAL BREEZE MID-CRUISE AND FLY TO LONDON
OCTOBER 20 – FLY TO MIAMI FOR MEETINGS AND FILM VIDEO FOR NAMING CEREMONY
OCTOBER 20 – 24 - FLY TO NEW ORLEANS TO HOST HALLOWEEN EVENT ON 26-27
OCTOBER 28 – FLY TO LONDON
NOVEMBER 2 – FLY TO VENICE TO JOIN CARNIVAL BREEZE
NOVEMBER 6 – CD FOR TA
Talking of zoos, they remain such a huge draw to young and old, rich and poor and even the French who, let’s face it, eat most of what’s on the other side of the cages anyway. People love zoos but that’s because people love animals. They love them in the movies and they love them at home and there is still a need for that soothing effect that animals seem to give us….that sometimes there is simply no better medicine for the soul than a big cuddly panda or the sight of a tiger ripping the head off a yak like you see on National Geographic. So, if you are from New Orleans or close enough to drive in on Oct. 19-20 or Oct. 26-27, I will be there on the second weekend and I would be proud to see you and meet you for what is going to be a brilliant event.
Now while I am away and starting from October 13, the CD here will be Jaime Dee and she will do an outstanding job, of course. I need to apologise to those guests who during the last two cruises before the TA were hoping to see me here and I send a big apology to you all but I also promise you will truly enjoy Jaime and, of course, enjoy this brilliant ship. Now I am leaving on October 16 rather than the start of the cruise because we have a special project we’re doing which I will tell you about in the weeks to come.
The all-inclusive bar program has been met with much excitement and I have been inundated with questions on Facebook about when it will be coming to other ships. Well I still have no news on this but I promise that Eddie the Bar Beard, who is in charge of our bar program reads this and my Facebook page and has seen how much interest the program has created and I am sure he will have news for me in the days ahead so please stay tuned.
Talking of beards, there have been some changes within the shoreside entertainment department recently and that has meant some of the people who have been part of what we have done for many years have gone on to new opportunities. I want to take this opportunity to thank them for their wonderful work and how they helped create so many memories and shaped Carnival’s entertainment offerings over the years. There are so many great things on the horizon under the leadership of Adrian, our vice president of entertainment, who will forge a new era of great shows, events and live music and in the days ahead I will be asking you on their behalf what it is you would like to see.
Sorry that this has been a quickie kind of blog but we arrive in Venice today and I want to spend as much time as I can with Kye and Heidi as tomorrow they will be flying home. I have spoken many times here on the blog and on Facebook about how I miss Kye but not enough about how much I miss Heidi…….oh, at this point, let me say goodbye to a few readers who have said, “The fat bastard’s talking about his wife family again so I am off to post a fake review about how I was on the Carnival Dream and my toilet exploded covering me in my own poo.”
Yes, there I go again talking about poo and with an added subtle reference to a comment posted on my Facebook page yesterday. I know that I do mention now and then my bottom and the things it can do. You see, I was brought up on “poo humour” and it has stayed with me ever since. We are all different. We look different, sound different and feel different. Some of us live on yachts and some in a shack by the side of a swamp but the one thing we all have in common ……….we all have bodily functions.
Let’s face it……….our bowels are a great leveler. Her Majesty the Queen and President Obama are powerful and famous people but even they have suffered the odd bad meal, the piece of fish or dish of curry that turns the bathroom into a tropical stink chamber. “Ohhh…….I wouldn’t go in there if I were you”…. It’s a comforting thought, isn’t it? I guess one of the reasons I joke about “number twos” now and then is that when you think about it, if you don’t laugh about toilets, you would cry.
Anyway, back to what I was saying. So yesterday while we were in Dubrovnik, we had dropped Kye off at Camp Carnival so she could face paint with the other kids on board, all 23 of them and after a quick meeting, I returned to my cabin to find Heidi ummmmm……..all romantic. Now one of the benefits of the senior officer’s cabins on all the Carnival ships except the Spirit-class, is that we have bathtubs. And when I got back yesterday to the cabin, I noticed Heidi had drawn a bath…..for us to share and have some “us” time. The concept of sharing a bath has never been one I have been able to handle. I like certain things just to myself. My own Chinese takeaway choice……no, you can’t try a bit of my General Tso’s chicken, bugger off!
I enjoy my plasma screen and my special chair at home. Sharing a bubble bath is not something I enjoy. The water always gets cold quickly and because most of my humungous body isn’t actually in the water, I end up with pneumonia by the end of it. Oh yes……… and I get a faucet shoved up my arse. Anyway, I got back to the cabin and Heidi and the bath were waiting.
The lights were dimmed and there was a Diet Coke for me and a glass of red wine for Heidi. There was some soft music coming from her Eyepad and realising that she had gone to so much effort, I decided not to moan and go along with her because I loved her and she loved me and all was wonderful, romantic and realising that Kye was at Camp Carnival and that most guests were ashore, I had thoughts that following the bath, I would lead Heidi over to my desk for three minutes of the best rumpy pumpy she had ever had. Yep, I was a stud, I was ready and so was my wife.
I took my clothes off and got ready to get into the bath where my wife was waiting for me and all was going so brilliantly. I was now naked and was about to get in the bath when I realised that my underpants were lying on the bathroom floor and realising that this may spoil the ambience I bent over to pick them up……. and inadvertently let one fly. I guess it was the sight of my flaccid arse and the smell of my lunch time curry that, suffice to say, the rumpy pumpy never happened.