November 30, 2012 -
During the CD conference last week on Carnival Breeze we spoke about our commitment to help raise money for St Jude Children’s Research Hospital and their continuing fight to find a cure for childhood cancer. Our objective is to raise $3 million and thanks to you we are well on our way to reaching that goal.
The Groove For St. Jude event is going to be revitalised thanks to some brilliant ideas from the cruise directors and I will be more specific about how this will work in the weeks ahead but look out for news on this at the start of January 2013. There were many great ideas from the CDs and some not so great ideas including one that only I seemed to want to reject. Yep, I was the only negative voice in a sea of positives and while I would do almost anything to help this brilliant organisation there is one thing I will not do……nope………I won’t do what one of the metrosexual, good looking, thin, well groomed bastard of a cruise director suggested……. and that’s a calendar of the cruise directors in different “poses.”
This was suggested by a CD whose name I won’t mention. OK, bugger that, it was Brent. When he suggested it I started to laugh out loud thinking that I would be joined by many of my colleagues who would be rolling on the floor laughing their arses off. But as I guffawed at this ridiculous suggestion I suddenly realised I was the only one laughing……..the only bugger in the room….and everyone else was staring at me. Everyone else was smiling and nodding their heads. Everyone else was thinking what a great idea this was. Everyone including Jen, Risa and Jaime our three female CDs. Yep, the laughter came from one just one chap and that was the old, fat, ugly sod called John Heald. Would I like to parade my flaccid arse, alongside 20 other cruise directors while Radu snaps away with his wide angle lens? Yes, I’m up for that. In the same way I’m up for allowing Calvyn to give me a sponge bath while dressed in an adult-sized diaper.
I am sure the Brent’s and the Gary’s and the Troy’s and the rest of the metrosexual clan of CD’s would happily do this and I am all about supporting a great cause……but come on……who the heck is going to buy a calendar full of the bits and pieces of Carnival cruise directors…… apart from the CD’s themselves that is……..and Calvyn, of course. I can think of nothing more vile than on November 30, 2013 turning the calendar page over to December1 to find Butch covering his thingy with a ship on a stick and to see just why we call Ralph ……Wee Jimmy. But if you insist and if thousands of people will buy our calendar and help raise money for St. Jude then I will indeed pose, on Deck 11 of the Carnival Breeze, dangling from the ropes swing course eating a Guy’s burger. Yep……….I can see the dollars rolling in.
Time for today’s Q and A……………off we go.
Jim and Carla asked:
Mr. Heald (please respond if you have the time)
I’d like to compliment Carnival on furnishing us another fine vacation. My wife and I just completed our 12th Carnival cruise, this time on the Carnival Dream (the week before Thanksgiving). It’s obvious every time we cruise that Carnival does all the big things right: easy embarkation/disembarkation, excellent service (in-room, in the restaurants, and on-deck), fine food quality in the dining rooms, nice destinations. To that end I’d like to bring to your attention our room steward and assistants (Michael, Sharlene, and Wesnama) and dining staff (Noel [who was replaced by Windi mid-cruise due to illness], Edgar, and I Gusti “Big G”). We couldn’t ask for better service. Likewise, Rachael Ann and Michelle at the pasta bar were a pleasure to speak with. We’re hooked on cruising, and we’re hooked on cruising with Carnival. The value offered is outstanding, and it’s always an “A” experience.
May I mention a couple of small quibbles about the loyalty program? These are only our humble opinions, since no doubt the beards have invested much time into getting the benefits right, but we’d like to mention a couple of things that caught our attention. First, yes thanks very much for the program itself: it’s totally gratuitous for us, its absence wouldn’t keep us from choosing Carnival again. Priority embark/debark makes self-assist a breeze; the laundry service allows us to pack lighter; and a free drink is always nice. The “Carnival logo gift,” though, is of little use. My wife and I now have two tiny binoculars, which, while nice, are too small for me to use; and, presumably, when we sail twice in the same year, we’ll get two sets each time of the gift. I wonder if Carnival considered (or will consider) providing the option instead of (say) an on-board, non-refundable credit for use in the gift shops, casino, or bars? Seems like that might provide you with more flexibility while still giving frequent customers something they would value more highly by allowing them to choose for themselves a more personal memento of the cruise.
Another minor quibble, the free drink coupons could be redeemed only in the main dining rooms and only at breakfast/lunch or at sea-day brunches. That seemed needlessly inconvenient: a drink coupon should be redeemable at our convenience at any bar and for any drink beneath a certain cost, as opposed to being useful only for a cocktail, beer, specialty coffee, or soda. Yes, please, a dirty banana! Sorry, frozen drinks not offered. Finally, while we appreciate the effort of providing chocolate-covered strawberries to our room, ummm, they’d been removed from a cake and placed on a plate (there was red velvet cake adhering to the strawberries). That was a bit unappetizing.
Please, take those comments above in the spirit intended. It’d be easy to read the above minor criticisms as those of spoiled brats (you do spoil us, though!). They’re meant instead as a way, in our opinions, of moving from an A experience to an A+ experience. In any case, though, Carnival remains our vacation of choice.
Thanks for “listening.”
Jim and Carla
Hello Jim and Carla,
First of all many thanks for your kind words and I am so glad you had fun. The points you raised are valid indeed and I agree that the complimentary cocktail should be able to be redeemed in other locations and this was raised last week at the cruise directors’ meetings with the beards with me specifically suggesting this. I was told that they (the beards) agreed and that we would look at changing this very quickly. I am glad you enjoyed the binoculars and from January we will have the new Platinum gift which will be a special Tervis Tumbler and this will as I said be the first of the new gifts which this coming year we will change up to avoid guests getting the same gift multiple times. I have sent your comments to the ship and I thank you so much for taking the time to write and thank you for your loyalty.
Eilean Terry asked:
I have asked my question five previous times… I really do need an answer and my PVP didn’t know. I am cruising in April on the Carnival Splendor. This will be our third cruise!! Anyway, my question is about seating in the dining room. I am, unfortunately, in a wheelchair. On our previous cruise my family was repeatedly sat at one of the tables that are against the railing that overlooks the other dining room. Which, unless you can walk is impossible to get to. Each time we were sat I had to ask multiple people to get up and move their chairs so I could get to my table. It was VERY embarrassing. My question is this… is there a way to make sure I get a table I can get to with my chair without disturbing half the ship? I DON’T need a table for two or anything just an easy access table. Please answer… if I can’t get an accessible table I won’t shop for something to wear for formal night. We will end up eating on the Lido deck. I really don’t want to be sent away like that but I hate causing a stir when I move.
Hello Eilean Terry,
I am so sorry that I have not answered your question so far, I am really behind and my apologies that I have not gotten to you so far. Please don’t worry, I am sure we can help so what I would like you to do is write to me here in February, please include your cabin number and I will arrange a table for you. Please let me know if there is anything else you need.
Best wishes and have a fantastic cruise.
This is a kinda urgent issue, and I really really hope that you could help me with it.
I deleted the privacy part, and sent you a private message at “ask John,” where you could find my personal information.
My name is XXX, currently a junior student at XXX. I’m an international student from XXX.
My mom, who’s currently a visiting scholar at XXX, booked the cruise two weeks ago, for the Caribbean’s six-night Western Caribbean (Ft. Lauderdale roundtrip) line. However, 10 days ago, I thought I lost my passport and I reported to the US Embassy. My Visa got cancelled and I could not travel abroad and enter the US again. However, I could travel within the US. This means I will forgo the chance of travelling with my mom (because the trip will be outside the US), who spent her two-month salary for the trip and already got air tickets. I’m feeling super super bad right now, and I can’t fall asleep. I really cherish the time I’m spending with my family, and this will be the first time I see my mom this year, and the only time before I graduate. I know I probably won’t have much chance, but I definitely will give a try. Do you have the power to give us a (almost complete) refund, or simply change the trip from outside the US to inside the US Caribbean trip? I know that the most efficient way of doing so is asking for your help, and therefore I reach out to you directly. It will be a Christmas trip for me and my mom, and I don’t want to spend the happiest time in life ever possible at home regretting and feeling guilty….:( Can you give me a response ASAP? I have a lot of other issues to deal with if not possible to do so… ;( I will love you forever if you could give me a reply!
First of all I am so very sorry that I have not replied yet but hopefully I can reach you before your mother’s cruise. I wish there was something I could do to change the itinerary of the ship and yet there is nothing I could do for that, of course. What I would like to do is put a smile on your face and send Mum something from you so please can you get back to me here or on my facebook page and let me know her name and cabin number so I can do something special for her. I hope this will make you smile again.
Doctor David Benowitz asked:
We are taking a family cruise over the holidays on the Carnival Glory and I am asking you how the ship is at Xmas. My family and I do not celebrate Xmas and hope by cruising that we will escape the usual infliction of music and religious beliefs that are not part of what we as a family do not partake in at this time of the year. Can you tell me what happens on the ship and what we should expect?
Hello Doctor David Benowitz,
Thanks first of all for bring the family on the ship and you will absolutely love the 2.0 upgrades that she recently was given. The ship is decorated for Christmas and there will be a Christmas dinner menu and a Christmas show. You will also hear Christmas music around the ship but not exclusively. There will also be a Hanukkah celebration for guests of the Jewish faith. I hope you will all have a brilliant time and enjoy this special and valuable family time together. If you have any other questions please let me know.
Alanna Cuenin asked:
I saw in an earlier post that you will be on the Carnival Breeze on the Dec 2nd sailing, but most likely not in the CD role. Will you still be on board for the Dec 8 sailing? My partner and I are celebrating our one-year anniversary and it is our first Carnival cruise! We have seen your videos about the Carnival Breeze which led me to your blog, and I think you’re awesome! I’m hoping you will be still be on the ship by then, even if it is to host a few shows!! Thanks for being so personable and approachable — speaks volumes for the cruise line and we haven’t even been at sea yet!! Thanks and best of luck to you on your next adventure 🙂
Hello Alanna Cuenin,
Unfortunately I didn’t get to be on the ship for tomorrow’s cruise but I will be there on December 8 to host the naming ceremony which you will see live on the big screen. I will be there all day so I truly hope to see you. Thanks so much for the kind words and I hope one day soon we get to cruise together again.
Mike A asked:
My wife and I were on the October 1, 2012, Carnival Breeze sailing. This had to be one of the best cruises we ever been on. Not only because we have never been to Europe before, but because the Breeze was an impressive ship and you and your staff did a great job entertaining us. We have been on 10 cruises and you were by far the best cruise director that we have ever had. However, one criticism that I have is what were the late adult comedy shows on the nights when we had to get up early the next day and there were no shows on the nights when we didn’t have to get up early? That confused us a bit. All in all, this was a great experience for us and I am recommending the Breeze & you to all my friends & family. Just one other question, is there a way to look up on the website of who the cruise director will be when we are making reservations? When I am planning our 2013 cruise I would like to know where you are and what ship you will be on as I would like to sail with you again. As you know, the ship itself (including crew) have become destinations not just the ports of call. Thanks again for giving us a great time.
Hello Mike A,
This is a valid point and with such a comprehensive port schedule in Europe we do need to look at seeing how we can better schedule the late night comedy shows. I thank you so much for those wonderful words, I am humbled by them and will hope that maybe next year you will join me on the Carnival Legend as we sail to the Baltic, the British Isles and the Norwegian Fjords. Thanks again and I do hope we will see you soon.
Lorraine Wingerden asked:
I just sailed with Carnival for the first time on the Carnival Paradise. I am a diamond member with RCCL and have to tell you that they do most things better than you guys but the crew were friendlier on Carnival. JMHO.
Hello Lorraine Wingerden,
I am glad you found the crew to be friendly as that is something we continue to work hard on and bravo to them for making sure you noticed how friendly they were. I hope you had fun and I do hope you will come and sail with us again. I am off now to ask someone what JMHO means.
Dolores Zduniak asked:
I know we have a hurricane out in the ocean. Your company is busy swapping out ports and trying to keep everyone happy and safe. But I have a problem. You see, it’s the spelling of my name. I have emailed your IT people. I get friendly notes stating they are looking into my request. BUT MY PROBLEM NEVER GETS FIXED!! Here’s the thing, I like my name to be spelled correctly. It is DOLORES, not Delores (note the E instead of an O) and whenever I log on its there-Delores. OK enough of a rant/ please forward to one of your lowly new employees and delegate this problem to him/her to fix. Thanks a bunch.
Hello Dolores Zduniak,
Just wanted to firstly apologise that this took so long to get fixed and secondly that my colleague and wonder woman impersonator Mischelle has indeed fixed this for you so all should be well. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you.
Lou Hawkes asked:
Your blog today mentioned the topless decks on Carnival which are the perfect example of when Carnival was fun. These days the ships are all about nickel and diming passengers and even your blog which was on the edge way back when has become a load of corporate hogwash. Bring back the topless deck, bring back the free rum swizzles and bring back the calypso bands of lido and bring back the fun.
Hello Lou Hawkes,
Well I doubt that we will ever see the topless deck again and there is more chance of you getting a free rum swizzle served by me in a pink G-string then the topless deck ever coming back. All I can say to this post is that I have just spent months on the Carnival Breeze and there was fun everywhere as there is right now on 24 ships. Have things changed? Yes, they have but the fun remains and you know what…….it’s only going to get better. I hope you will come and see for yourself.
Dasa Chulani asked:
Hello Mr. Heald,
please can you help me with a special request for my brother who works on the ship Carnival Freedom. He is a waiter and his name is Balin and he has not answered my email writings and my worries are real. Can you please do the needful and let me know that all is well with him and delightful. Thank you thank you and God’s blessing upon you sir.
Hello Dasa Chulani,
I have sent this to your email address and also wanted to post this here as well. You will be happy to know that Balin is well and working hard and his supervisor told me that he will be in contact with you very soon. Thanks for the very kind words and hope you and your family are well.
That’s all for today.
This is a quick blog today as I have meetings and then Facebook and I didn’t want Friday to go by without me posting something. It also gives me chance to say goodbye to Eric the Beard who will be leaving Carnival today to start his own business. I want to thank him very much for all his hard work and endeavors and wish him much success in the days ahead. Thanks mate and good luck………….don’t ever shave that beard off.
That means until we hire a new beard that my personal assistant Calvyn Shawn Champagne Martens will be posting the blog….…oh joy!
As I mentioned above the next Platinum VIFP gift will be a Tervis Tumbler and when we change that up I will let you know. Also on December 5 there will be news on the new Carnival gift cards which will be available on line and on board so look out for this because I think you are all going to like them. And in the weeks ahead we shall start telling you about the 2014 deployment plans, as well.
The press we got about that huge turkey on the Carnival Breeze over Thanksgiving was amazing and just in case you missed the photo taken by the impressive Andy Newman of our PR agency NewmanPR while dangling from a helicopter then here it is.
It really was fantastic and bravo to Carnival for giving 137,500 meals to Feeding South Florida who did just that, feed South Florida’s most needy people.
I was there to speak to the press as I have been so many times these past few years. Speaking to reporters is one thing but live television……..well that is something completely different and does very strange things to your brain. Having lived through the experience, I can now only assume that every single one of the nation’s favourite live TV faces has the ice blooded, psychotic personality of a sniper.
I will never forget the first one I did for Jennifer and Vance, my PR friends and two people who thanks to what I have written here on the blog and on my Facebook page have turned to drink and have regular sessions with a therapist. Vance has developed a twitch and Jennifer can be found in a dark room, in the fetal position, dribbling on herself, holding a voodoo doll that looks just like me. My first live TV was when we brought out the Carnival Destiny. Jennifer had me standing on the bow, at 6 am, in New York, in December, in a blazer and tie……it was so cold my nipples looked like a good place to hang a hat.
I was to do a show for Good Morning New York with Chuck Scarborough or something like that and I was so tired from the new delivery and so cold from Jennifer’s insistence I should not wear my big luxurious warm comforting leather jacket that I honestly was numb to the whole thing. Therefore I was too knackered to really think about the LIVE aspect of the LIVE show that I was taking part in. It was only during a cautionary pre-broadcast talk with Jennifer that it began to sink in. Jennifer’s job is to remind me not to say anything libelous or illegal while the camera’s pointing at me, because, of course……..it’s live.
As she ran through an exhaustive list of things that could potentially go wrong and lose me my job I felt that feeling that extreme nerves bring on and once again it wasn’t a good day to be my underpants. Five minutes before the broadcast, I suddenly realized I couldn’t see properly. Or rather, I could see perfectly well…….objects and surfaces and Jennifer in her warm thick overcoat and scarf and gloves but nothing I looked at made sense. The camera man and sound man and director and interviewer…..all in warm coats seemed as relaxed as sloths on vacation ….but not me…..as the countdown began, a list of fears went through my head.
Mainly I was afraid that I might vomit with sheer terror over the camera just as the show goes live and the first shot the viewers will see would be diced carrot dripping down the lens and I would have to say, “Sorry, Chuck I up-chucked on your live show.” I was so cold that I might snap and start swearing and making violent threats against the interviewer and Jennifer has to physically wrestle me to the deck.
But actually I did neither but I did do something far worse…….I took a pee. Only a little one …… a mere thimble full at most …… but nevertheless……. I did pee….. right there in front of the TV crew next to the Carnival Destiny, nanoseconds before I was due to start my interview. I was wearing grey pants and as my mind filled with horror and my underpants with urine I clasped my hands in front of my crotch and prayed that a huge slick of urine wasn’t obvious to the viewers of Good Morning New York. Nobody said anything and when I got back to the cabin I looked at my pants to see a very small spot on my pants. This was the second worst live interview I ever had to do.
The worst came the next day and this is also absolutely true. Yep, the worst of my live TV moments came also on the Carnival Destiny when Jennifer called me and with a hint of pleasure in her voice told me that I would be doing a live TV interview on CNN……..all about the gym and the equipment we offered on board the then world’s largest ship. Me a gym and live TV ………oh FFS. And that was me looking for a pair of Depends.