October 1, 2012 -
Oh, FFS! I am sorry to start today’s blog with that now well-known phrase but I just got my tickets for my trip starting October 16th. And with flights to London, Miami, New Orleans, Miami, London and Venice, it means I will be flying six times in 10 days and that’s why I started with a huge oh, FFS!
Flying these days is about as much fun as spending a week with Noro Virus and no toilet paper. But on the 20th October, Calvyn and I will get in my car and drive to hell or Heathrow Airport as it’s sometimes called. Once there, I will park my car at the £700 a day parking facility and walk to check in where a 17-year-old Virgin will ask me if I had packed my suitcase myself or if I had a butler do it for me. Oh, by the way, when I say the 17-year-old was a Virgin, I mean she works for Virgin Atlantic, not that she was a virgin because she is 17 years old which means she obviously isn’t these days.
And then, of course, the fun really starts as it’s time to do the security dance. Belt off, bend my fat arse over to surrender shoes depriving myself of oxygen as I do. Place laptop computer and all jokes about exploding underpants in the tray and then walk through the magic arch to be fondled and groped by bearded security person. Yep, I am mentally prepared for this and now, of course, I have to be mentally prepared for the security people to see my gentleman’s sausage.
I will pass through the metal detector, the Harry Potter wand and receive my latex massage. My carry-on will have been emptied of all food items and my hemorrhoid cream will be wiped with a magic tissue to make sure it isn’t actually C4 explosive. And that used to be that but not anymore as now Heathrow puts all its passengers through the full-body-naked-no-dignity-scanner thingy so that the security staff can check I don’t have a bazooka inserted up my bottom and so that they can have a better day by realising that there are indeed people with smaller penises than them.
It is truly a weird experience standing there knowing that a few feet away, there is a chap called Bob looking at you naked. It is tempting to do something funny to break the ice like touch yourself inappropriately or do some hip thrusting so your dangly bits shake and wobble. But don’t, don’t do any of that because they could have you arrested and taken to a small dark room where you would be water boarded and hung upside down and whipped before being flown to some former Russian state……………….. and shot in the head.
So take my advice. Stand there. Say nothing. And accept that after the scan is complete and as you walk through duty free, know that Bob the security guard has made a printout of you naked to show his mates that night down the pub.
I wonder if we will ever see this kind of thing on the ships? Will one day all our guests have to go through this kind of machine? Maybe and not only will it enable us to introduce some new high tech security thingy but also and nearly as importantly, it will allow us to catch all the Cruise Critic “Rum Runners” who have a vat of rum taped to their inner thigh.
Anyway, six flights in seven days in coach and with Calvyn! Oh. the things I do for this company.
Time for some Q and A – off we go.
My husband (from Ashford Middlesex England:)) and I are flying from our hometown, Tampa, FL to Spain in November. We are meeting his brother (Surrey, England) and his family in Spain for their first cruise…the transatlantic to Miami on the BREEZE. Please, Please,
Please tell me that you will be the CD for that cruise. I want my brother and sister-in-law to have the best experience they could possibly have. Thanks! YOU ARE AWESOME.
What a wonderful way for me to start my Q and A session today and I will indeed be here as CD for the trans-Atlantic crossing. I look forward to making this the most wonderful cruise and if there is anything at all I can do to make it even better, please let me know. I wish you all the most fantastic cruise.
Melissa Baldwin asked:
My husband and I will be sailing on the Carnival Splendor November 11, 2012. This will be the second time we have gone on the Mexican Rivera (4 years ago we sailed on the Pride). My question is: Does the ship stay tendered for two days in Cabo, or does the ship leave port at night?
We love cruising with Carnival and cannot wait to set sail again in November!
Thank you for your help!
Hello Melissa Baldwin,
The ship leaves and then comes back the next night day, Melissa. This allows us to open all the ship’s facilities including the casino and shops and of course tendering guests at night is a challenge for sure. I hope you have a brilliant time and if there is anything else you need, please let me know.
SARA M asked:
Got back a couple of weeks ago from a cruise on the MAGIC from Galveston. Had a great time even though the weather was not great. We are Brits who are lucky enough to live in Texas. The only problem was that my husband, as a Yorkshire man, achieved the “world record” of eating an Indian curry every day for lunch! Great for clearing out the elevator though. Thanks go to all the crew and staff for such a lovely time. On a personal note, being a lamb lover, would Carnival “please have mint sauce not the green stuff that has never seen a mint leaf in its life. You do make me titter.
Hello Sara M,
Your husband and I are cut from the same cloth and pity the poor bugger who would be in an elevator with the both of us. I am sorry the weather was not good but I will pass on your kind words to the staff and crew and thanks so much for taking the time to write. I agree with you, mint jelly is disgusting and I shall bring on the mint sauce.
Hope we see you both soon.
David Cridland asked:
Please stop the dances in the restaurants. It’s embarrassing for the waiters and embarrassing for us to have and sit and watch them. They hate it, most of the passengers hate it, so get rid of it.
Hello David Cridland,
Respectfully, I have to say on both counts I am afraid you are wrong. The crew does enjoy it, they love to dance and have fun. Plus, for the most part, we find the guests really like it and knowing the guests like it, means the crew enjoys doing it all the more. I can understand that like anything, it’s not going to be enjoyed by everyone and I am sorry to read that you do not enjoy the dances but we have no plans to stop doing them. Maybe next time you sail, you can ask me to find you a table further away from the main area where the dances and parades take place so you can enjoy the meal more. Let me know and I will be happy to help you.
Leanne Haart asked:
I am 22 so spend lots of time on the Internet and when on my vacation on your Fascination ship, I noticed that the cost of using the Internet was off the charts. It’s 75 cents a minute or a special with 250 minutes for $100 which then translates to 25 cents a minute. The service is satellite and therefore so slow this time will be used up in no time at all. If places like Holiday Inn where I stayed the night before getting on the boat, can offer free Internet, so can Carnival.
Hello Leanne Haart,
I don’t want to sound disrespectful but while I will agree that the Internet aboard ship is more expensive than on land, the reason hotels offer free Internet is because they don’t have to use a satellite. Most of the cruise industry uses the same satellite provider which is why most charge exactly the same. However, I will agree that it can be slow and the people with beards are working on ways to improve this including looking at the trial currently on the Carnival Magic that includes unlimited Internet for one price and I will keep you informed about this. I do hope you had a great time and that we will see you again soon.
William Eves asked:
There is constant controversy, Heald, on the boards that you dislike. The controversy is about the flat iron steak. It is despite what you may spin the lowest grade cut of meat available and while you serve shoe leather, Royal have a filet mignon available every night at dinner. Playing catch up again, I see.
Hello William Eves,
The flat iron steak is not the “lowest grade cut of meat available.” I eat the flat iron steak regularly and I enjoy it very much as do many guests who order it each night on the ships. As ever, I won’t be drawn into what other ships do and, instead, I will simply say that I hope you try the flat iron steak because I am willing to bet that so far……………………..you haven’t.
Bob Hannie asked:
First of all, let me say that I love your blog and I love to cruise with Carnival but I have a concern about our next cruise which is on the Carnival Glory. We are on the last cruise before she goes to her refit and we have read stories that on the last cruise like this that things are shut down and not open and that the crew don’t give the service they would on normal cruises, you see, John. Please can you set my mind at rest.
Hello Bob Hannie,
I am not sure where you read this but please ignore it as it is simply not true. Nothing is shut down, everything is open until the end of the cruise and the crew will as always give the best service possible and make sure this cruise is the best ever. Thanks for the kind words and I know you will have a brilliant cruise.
Susie Pawlak and Amanda Jane Bettencourt asked:
We are a lesbian couple who will be coming from Houston for the cruise on the Magic 10/20. We want to be sat at meal times with other lesbian couples and is there any way to make this happen?
Hello Susie Pawlak and Amanda Jane Bettencourt,
I had to think about this for a moment and after doing so, realised that no, there is no way, I am afraid, to make this happen. Obviously, we don’t ask for personal details like this when you book and so there is no way for the maître d’ to know who has a same sex partner. Now we do have the Friends of Dorothy meetings each night so please go to them as I am sure it will be a wonderful way for you to meet new friends. Please let me know if you have any questions.
Best wishes to you both.
Johnathan Parvin asked:
I want to make sure that during my cruise on Elation 11/28 that the ship provides a meeting time for Geocachers to meet. It will need to be a big space to meet as I am sure there will be many attending. I am the main speaker and manager of the Geocaching Society in VA and will offer my knowledge to share in this event and will need assistance in setting up the PowerPoint presentation using my Apple MacBook Pro. Other cruise lines have made this a big event on their cruises and I am sure after you see how popular my event will be that you will make this a regular part of your programming. I will need the name of the contact person when I board to discuss my audio and my visual requirements. My guess is that there will be 300 – 400 passengers attending, maybe there will be more.
Hello Johnathan Parvin,
I am as thick as a Yak’s dangly bits. I am afraid. and have to admit that I asked Uncle Google what Geocatching was all about and now I understand. I will be happy to ask the ship to organise a time and a place for you to meet and I am sure we can help you with the PowerPoint presentation. When you get on the ship, please keep reading the Fun Times which is our on board program that is delivered to your cabin and this will let you know where and when the meeting is and then someone will be there to help you. Have a great cruise and I hope you and your fellow Geocatching guests have a great time together. The GPS in my car is a woman and gives me an almighty bollocking if I miss a turn. She’s German, I think.
Sean O’Donoghue asked:
I’m actually contacting you for a few things. First off, I’m hooked on cruising thanks to a cruise on the Liberty in February. It was a great experience. That said, I’ll be sailing with you again on December 9th on the Glory. Coming with me (obviously, separate cabin) on this cruise is a couple celebrating their 10th anniversary. Is there anything
special that can be done for them if I notify the crew?
Secondly, I do have a small issue. Carnival doesn’t recognize the apostrophe in my name. It was awkward boarding the Liberty after difficulty at the port check-in. I suppose a few others run into this too. Do you foresee any fix to this?
Lastly, the Glory is supposed to have the 2.0 upgrades by our sailing in December. Will the Glory have the main lido whirlpools moved to positions like the Liberty? Also, will “Kaleidoscope Blvd” receive updated furnishings? That part of the Liberty was one of my favorite places of that ship. Any chance you or Karl will be the CD?
Hello Sean O’Donoghue,
I am glad to see you enjoy cruising with Carnival and thanks so much for your loyalty. I have sent this to a colleague to see what we can do with your name and get the apostrophe added as it really should be easy to do but something tells me there will be a reason why we haven’t done so up to now. Anyway, I will let you know what they say. The Carnival Glory will have a full dry dock soon although we won’t be moving the whirlpools as we did on Carnival Liberty and I will check and see if we will add new furniture on Promenade Deck and she will get many of the 2.0 upgrades as well. Keep checking here and my Facebook page as there will be updates and photos of her dry dock and the Carnival Conquest before her as well. Karl will have returned from vacation and so you will see him on the Carnival Liberty as CD. Please send me your friends’ names and I will send them a little something as you requested and please do this one month before the cruise here or two days before on Facebook. Have a brilliant time and let’s see if we can get your name corrected.
Rick Williamson asked:
I see some talk about Carnival stock ownership and would like to know if there is any advantage to us cruisers owning it as far as when we go on a cruise with Carnival? Or is it just something that is cool to own?
Hello Rick Williamson,
I am sorry that I am not permitted to talk about Carnival stock ownership except to say that there is an onboard credit for those who have purchased 100 shares or more. Thanks, Rick. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you.
And that’s all for now.
Let’s take a pause and meet the employees for the month of September here on the Carnival Breeze as voted by their department heads. Congratulations to them all.
So today we start a new cruise. Goodness me, this European season has gone so quickly. Anyway, let’s have a look who is sailing with us this time and where we are going.
TOTAL GUESTS 3791
FRENCH CANADIAN 179
GUESTS UNDER 18 77
And here is where we are going.
- Sat, Oct, 13 Barcelona 5am-5pm
- Sun, Oct, 14 Monaco 9am-8pm
- Mon, Oct, 15 Livorno 7am-7pm
- Tue, Oct, 16 Rome 7am-9pm
- Wed, Oct, 17 Naples 7am-7pm
- Thu, Oct, 18 at sea
- Fri, Oct, 19 Venice arr @ 2pm
- Sat, Oct, 20 Venice dep @ 2pm
- Sun, Oct, 21 Dubrovnik 9am-7pm
- Mon, Oct, 22 at sea
- Tue, Oct, 23 Messina 7am-4pm
- Wed, Oct, 24 at sea
Last cruise was a good one with great weather for the most part and only one rain shower in Venice which this time of year is pretty good. There were some characters, for sure, though. We had a lady who rented a car to see Venice and when she realised that Venice had a bit of water around it and that her Hertz rent a car didn’t come with the option to turn it into a submarine, she blamed me. I broke up a fight between two male guests during my travel talk, was subjected to a drive-by stomach rubbing (bastard) and yesterday morning, as I walked to the morning show I saw a couple having a blazing argument outside of the Sapphire Dining room where comedy brunch was going to take place. They were really shouting at each other and as I watched for a moment, this middle-aged couple scream at each other, I had to think if I should or not intervene. I didn’t because the husband (I presume they were married) turned on his heels and retreated quicker than a French soldier.
There’s nothing quite as riveting as a couple arguing in public. The ship is a place of such pain, anger and misery can be found every week. Warring couples whisper angrily, “Who left the key in the cabin? And “I didn’t come all this way so you can play poker.” Or if it’s the husband, “I didn’t come all the way to Rome so you could go shopping.”
I liken having a blazing row in public as the married version of shouting at the Guest Services Desk or sending back the wine…………..mostly, it’s for show. There are no rules of engagement when it comes to arguing in public. I once heard a man and woman screaming at each other outside the ship in Venice. I remember this argument well because as Heidi and I walked past the arguing couple, the lady said, “If you shout at me anymore, Jim, you’ll wet yourself again.”
While most of the time these arguments are quick and painless, some have led to arguments that were serious enough that we have had to either ask the guests to leave the ship or one of the partners has asked to leave on their own accord. And that’s such a shame.
OK, let’s finish today by talking about drinking and the fact that as you know, I don’t. For those newcomers to the blog thingy, let me quickly mention that since heading to the bridge in 1995 to make an announcement under the influence of some cognac and my announcement sounding like it was being made by Bob Dylan………..I haven’t touched a drop of alcohol since. Really, I haven’t.
People ask me if I miss drinking at all. The answer is mostly no, although I do miss occasionally a good glass of Paradis Cognac with my cigar. But as we cigar smokers have banished from the face of the earth anyway, I really don’t miss alcohol at all.
However, being a nondrinker does have its own problems. Being happy, pissed, wankered, sloshed and totally blotto is fun, I imagine. It’s fun for you and fun for those who are also drunk. However, when you are with a group who are all drinking and you are sober, I am afraid everyone else just looks stupid, they sound stupid, they laugh at things that aren’t funny and you start to despise them. You look at them and as they giggle and laugh at nothing, you start to imagine how you would like to blow torch their nipples off.
But then there is another side. How do the happy, giggling drunk people feel about some fat miserable bastard sitting there sipping a carbonated diet drink? A gathering of good mates is supposed to be happy and filled with laughter. The last thing a group of happy people want is me sitting there wanting to talk about my carpool tunnel or the fact that the Carnival Sunshine will be beyond breathtaking.
These days, if I am invited out by the small band of mates I still have at home, then for the most part, I say “no thanks” and make up an excuse of a conference call with Miami or that I have explosive diarrhea. Yep, if they call and say that they are heading down to the pub, I don’t go because I know by the end of the night, they will be clinging on to trees to stop from falling over and I will find my mates totally annoying and they will most likely feel the same about me.
So why have I just bored the underpants off you all with my talk of drinking? Let me explain, please. As you know, I will be heading to New Orleans in two weeks’ time to spend a night in a zoo surrounded by people in Halloween costumes and being vomited on by kids who have eaten too much sugar. There will be a whole group from Carnival going including Peter the Hair and Jay The Recently Married who are our video team and will beam back film of me talking about the event from an enclosure of yaks right to your computer. There are Carnival PR people and Carnival operations people attending and indeed this is a big event.
The problem is that during our time there, one of the Carnival shoreside chaps will be celebrating a landmark birthday and is organising a visit to a ” famous Bourbon Street Strip Club.” And therein lies my problem………..there is no way I am going to a “famous Bourbon Street Strip Club” …………as sober as a nun.
Having a few drinks takes the blame of lusting over some stranger’s breasts and bottom but doing it sober……nope……I can’t do it.
Ten pints of beer and a few tequilas is the only thing that would make it possible for me to sit there glimpsing at my own fat ugly face in the mirrored walls without shrieking, “What the sodding hell am I doing here? Why am I watching some French Quarter girl called Claudette gyrating her freshly waxed lady garden up and down a pole?”
There is another problem as well. If Peter and Jay’s wives discover they had a 20-year old naked girl drill for oil on their laps, they can blame it on the alchol and be forgiven.
If Heidi finds out I had had a lap dance, I could hardly say, “It was the Diet Cokes that made me do it, darling.”
The dancers probably prefer you drunk as well because you’re more likely to stuff $20 bills in various orifices.
Anyway, I am sure they will have fun and, meanwhile, I will be back at my hotel room with Calvyn watching Steel Magnolias while Peter and Jay and the rest of the shoreside team will be at a strip club with two bagfuls of silicone in their face ………the lucky bastards.