April 19, 2013 -
Did you know that Carnival provides every crew member a TV with a DVD player in their cabins? It’s a nice touch, isn’t it? And one I know the crew appreciate, along with the refrigerator every cabin is also given. In the old days, crew members, like myself, would go ashore in ports like St. Maarten where TVs and VCR players etc., were ridiculously cheap. Then along came Best Buy and the like so crew these days, buy their electronics in the American homeports which are now far cheaper than the Caribbean ports. And back in those days every ship would have an enterprising crew member who would buy video films from someone with a wooden leg and a patch over his eye and make dozens of copies and then open their cabin up at night for movie rentals……..and they would make a fortune. These days, that kind of thing is not allowed, of course, and in fact all the ships have a free DVD library for the crew with hundreds of movies and TV box set thingies to choose from. I was about to say that we have our very own Blockbuster on board but then I realised that it’s April 2013 and Blockbuster is, I think, gone or if not gone, almost gone. I actually will miss Blockbuster. OK, I will admit that becoming a Blockbuster member was a long sodding process. You had to show the 16-year-old kid in the shop your driving license and your birth certificate and then you had to drive to the shop and back again as soon as the movie was over, otherwise you would pay which would cost almost as much as it cost to make the movie.
Now I am sure there will be those bloggers who will tell me about the joys of downloading but this is pointless. Asking me to work out how to download something is like asking H82SEAUGO to list 10 things he/she loves about Carnival. In the old days I used to go to the audio visual manager on board and ask him for a copy of the pay per view movies that you get in the cabins and for a case of Heineken, my friend from Romania would oblige. However, this also has come to an end because the movies we show in the cabins and on the big screens on Lido are all digital………whatever that means.
Anyway, back to the old days and not only did we have a crew member who rented videos, we also had the following back in my days on the Holiday in the late 80’s: the crew barber. This chap’s name was Jo Jo and would use his cabin to cut hair. He would be armed with the bluntest pair of scissors in the world but most of the hair was cut with a huge pair of clippers. His cabin floor would be covered in hair from all over the world. He was a crap hairdresser and it never dawned on us that had he been a good hairdresser, Jo Jo, would have been working in the beauty salon and not as a garbage separator. Oh, by the way, that’s what they were called back then …….. garbage separators…………..now they are called the environmental team and regardless of what their name tag says, they still have one of the most challenging jobs on board. Jo Jo charged $3 to cut hair and was always busy. Jo Jo left Carnival some years ago and I often wonder what he is doing now………maybe he is a hairdresser to the stars. These days we have an official crew barber and a proper barber’s shop from which he works. It’s changed a bit since Jo Jo was cutting hair as there is a proper barber shop and it’s all clean and tidy and still pretty cheap at only $5. It’s quick and simple and very popular with the crew.
Now let’s talk about Mr. Ko who was from South Korea and worked on the Holiday in the position of purser bellman. He was responsible for printing the Carnival Capers before they were re-named Fun Times and he also looked after cleaning the pursers office and other similar work. Mr. Ko worked from 6 am to 6 pm and then he was done for the day. But rather than go to the crew lounge Mr. Ko would open up his cabin or as we, the crew, called it “Komart.” He had everything and I mean everything – toiletries, snacks, VCR players for sale, clothes and his two specialist items…….flip flops and Korean soup. Yep, flip flops. To this day, I have no idea where he got them or how he could sell them so cheap but sell them he did by the hundreds. At the end of each hard day’s work, the crew would climb out of their safety shoes and into a pair of flip flops. And most got theirs from Mr. Ko.
I bought a pair from him once and I hated them. They lacerated my toes and grated the skin off the tops of my feet and by the time I had made the 30-foot journey from Mr. Ko’s cabin to my cabin I hated them so much, I never wore them again. So traumatized was I by these bastard things that my feet have neither flipped nor flopped from that day in 1988 until the present day. But every time I see a pair of flip flops and every time I hear that awful sucking noise they make, I think of Mr. Ko who probably is a multi-millionaire and owns the largest flip flop factory in the Far East.
Then there was the Korean soup — or as we all called it “bowl noodle hot” because that’s what it said on the side of the packet………bowl noodle hot. You just added water and two minutes later you had a bowl of the spiciest soup you have ever tasted. It tasted fantastic but bugger me it was spicy and often the next morning you would find yourself pooing through a straw without touching the sides.
I should mention that back in those days there was no food after dinner for the crew. Once dinner finished you had to wait until breakfast. The only other choices were to bribe the room service chef or the “sandwich man,” as he was brilliantly named, who if he was in a good mood and for $5 would make you a BLT. The second choice was to go and see Mr. Ko who would give you some bowl noodle hot…..and a pair of flip flops. These days, we have a late night meal for all the crew served from 11 pm – 1 am but there are some ships where certain crew members still have a stock of bowl noodle hot for sale and its one of the few traditions that has survived below deck.
The purser bellman position is long since gone and now we have a professional print shop technician who is responsible for the Fun Times and, indeed, all the printing on board. I often wonder what happened to Mr Ko and my thoughts have been turning to him in recent days with all the worries with North Korea and that chubby little nutcase of a leader throwing all his toys out of his stroller.
Time for today’s Q and A………………here we go.
David Raila asks:
Hi John, I just wanted to let you know how much Carnival and the Carnival Destiny means to our family. Short version (kind of!) 1995, met my wife who had two daughters age nine and 11. 1997 got married and I adopted the girls. 1997, honeymoon on the Carnnival Destiny, our first cruise. 10 year anniversary on the Destiny. When oldest daughter got married we paid for her honeymoon, a Carnival cruise. Younger daughter graduates college and yep we take her on a Carnival cruise. Wife’s 50th birthday group cruise that includes our grandson age eight months. Two cruises last year one with our youngest daughter. Platinum now. Carnival Legend on July 15 this year. Carnival Destiny started it all and we are sorry to see her go but are excited to see her emerge as Carnival Sunshine. I joined the contest to see if I could win a part of her. Thanks to you and Carnival for all the wonderful memories past and future!
Hello David Raila
You certainly have a wonderful connection to the Carnival Destiny and I can totally understand why you and others share a little sadness at the loss of her name. Those memories you have will always be with you and we should all be happy for a ship that was once the talk of the industry and who once her completion to becoming the Carnival Sunshine will be the talk of the industry once again. I will see you in July and if there is anything I can do for you please let me know.
Best wishes to you and all the family.
Dan Oborne asks:
I am curious as to who gets what freebies from you, John? I had written to you asking to send my wife something for her 50th birthday when we were on the Carnival Paradise and you did send a bottle of champagne and one of the ships on a stick. But then I see photos on Facebook where other passengers got chocolate strawberries and fruit baskets and some got upgrades. Did I not kiss your ass enough to get some of that? I was grateful at the time for the champagne but seeing what other people got, I now have a very sour taste in my mouth and my wife was in tears. Just thought that you should know this John.
Hello Dan Oborne
I am very sorry to read that you are upset and that was obviously never my intention. There really is no pattern to what I send guests who ask me to help them celebrate a special occasion and I normally ask for the same thing for everyone. I am surprised you did not get six chocolate strawberries as well and can only guess that my colleagues I ask to assist me with this either forgot or as sometimes happens the ship did not receive their delivery of strawberries. I can assure you that I have never given any guest an upgrade as I do not have the ability to do this. I do hope you had fun and I am so sorry you are both upset and please send me your cabin number when you sail next time. Best wishes to you and your wife.
Rick Drake asks:
We will be on the August 8, 2013 Carnival Legend cruise to The Baltic. Five of the ports of call will use Euros and St. Petersburg will use rubles. Will we be able to get these currencies from the on board ATMs? If not, will Carnival have other provisions for this cruise?
Rick & Cindy Drake
Hello Rick & Cindy Drake
We will have an ATM machine that will distribute Euros. I should mention though that there is a six-Euro charge for this as we have to use a satellite, etc., and as we are a cruise line and not a bank. I do suggest you get your Euros before you sail as you will get a better rate for sure. We won’t have rubles but the main shops in St. Petersburg have prices in Euros so there really is no need to get rubles and, if you do, then you should only get a small amount. I hope this helps you and please let me know if I can help further. My main advice is sort your currency out before you sail because for sure you will get better rates before the cruise. See you soon and best wishes.
John Sherwell asks:
Hi John, I am curious if there will be any Bermuda cruises offered in 2014? I have been looking on carnival.com but cannot find any. Do you have details on what ship will go there?
Hello John Sherwell
I was just in Bermuda a few days ago when the Carnival Legend docked there last Friday as part of her trans-Atlantic cruise. The news though is that, unfortunately, we do not have any Bermuda cruises scheduled for next year. There were no berths available except on weekends and with many shops and attractions closed this would not provide a good experience for the guests. I am sorry I don’t have better news for you. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Best wishes.
Ken Collison asks:
John there are lots of fat people on your Bloggers Cruise. I saw the photo and thought it was a Jenny Craig cruise. LMAO. I think I am too skinny to come on a Bloggers Cruise with you, LOL. Our favourite cruise director is Todd Whittmer and the late great Corey Schmidt who if he were alive and still with Carnival, should and probably would be the brand ambassador Carnival needs.
Hello Ken Collison
You’re right, of course. Both Todd and Corey were both brilliant cruise directors. Todd is getting married soon and I wish him all the best. As for Corey, well his is a tragic tale and all I want to say is simply that I miss him very much and hope he has found eternal peace. As for the first part of your post, well, I shall simply ignore that and instead hope you are well and that we see you on a cruise with us soon. Best wishes.
My friends and I will be sailing on the Carnival Conquest on October 13, 2013 and most of us have sailed before. My question is regarding the dining options in the main dining room. Does Carnival offer any vegan entrees? I’ve recently changed to a plant-based diet and want to avoid all meat, dairy, and eggs when possible. I know this is really going to be tough because Carnival has such amazing food! However, I don’t want to eat steamed veggies and fruit all week, either (although, I do love those immensely). Do you have any advice or suggestions? I appreciate your time! Thank you!
Thanks for writing and please do not be concerned. We have a varied selection of vegetarian meals including a special one each night in the dining room and plenty to choose from on Lido as well at breakfast and lunch. May I also suggest one night at dinner that your order the vegetarian Indian option which is very good indeed. You will not go hungry and indeed I think you will have a marvelous time. Please let me know if you have any questions or need anything and I will be here for you. Best wishes.
Heather Westfield asks:
I am going to be cruising with Carnival for the second time and, this time, it will just be me and my partner. We DO NOT WANT TO BE SITTING WITH STRANGERS AND WANT A TABLE FOR 2.On our first cruise we were forced to sit with two couples that smoked and came to dinner STINKING OF CIGARTEE SMOKE AND IT WAS DISGUSTING. I called my travel agent about this but he said there was nothing he could do but told me you would get this done. Our booking number for the 4/26 Imagination cruise is ****** and our cabin number will be R117.
Hello Heather Westfield
I am glad I saw this in time and I have asked the maître d to do his best and secure you a table for two. I hope you have a brilliant cruise and enjoy every moment together. Best wishes.
Barry Arabia asks:
Yo, John……..Just a quick question regarding the Carnival Destiny to Carnival Sunshine conversion. Will any information regarding the progress, videos, and timelines, things like that, be posted on Carnival’s website, similar to how the construction process for the Carnival Dream, Carnival Magic and Carnival Breeze ships were? Or will most of the information on the process be posted via your blog?
Hello Barry Arabia
I hope by now you have seen the Friday video updates that have been posted on carnival.com and that you have enjoyed them. There will be another one along today and I will also start posting more photos as well soon. I hope you get to sail on her soon. Best wishes.
Jessica Kitcher asks:
When I was getting off the Carnival Dream after my cruise I was stopped and fined $100 by a customs agent because I had an apple and a banana in my purse. I had asked the waiter at breakfast if he could get me these to take with me for my flight home to Atlanta and he should have told me that it was not allowed. I think Carnival should reimburse me for this as I was not told that I could not take these fruit off the boat because your waiter should have warned me. He should pay the $100, not me. This ruined my cruise for me and my family.
Hello Jessica Kitcher
I am very sorry this happened and that you were fined by the United States Agriculture Department. I am sure the waiter did not understand that you were taking them off the ship but it is important that they are aware that you cannot and I will make sure this information is passed on. I am sure there are signs at the gangway along with a large garbage can stating any fruit items etc., should be discarded before disembarking the vessel and I will also make sure that the ship has these signs displayed clearly. I am afraid that while we can’t offer any refund of the fine, I will apologise again and I hope that we will see you again because up until the fine, you had a great cruise. Best wishes.
Jim Humphrey asks:
I am writing about our personal vacation planner. Her name is Kristina Pulido and I must say she is a wonderful person and a brilliant ambassador for Carnival Cruise Lines. My wife and I just upgraded our room on the Carnival Liberty April 27 sailing. I would like to pen a letter to Carnival commending Kristina but do not have a name or proper address. Please send me the proper person to contact. This is our second sailing, so far this year, just having completed the Carnival Magic in January. My wife is platinum and I am gold. Thank you for your help in this regard.
Hello Jim Humphrey
I hope you don’t mind but I have taken the opportunity of sending this post to the people in charge of the PVPs so that they can see just how superb you find the service that Kristina gives you is. I know they will be thrilled as indeed will be Kristina, so thanks so much for taking the time to write these wonderful words. Best wishes and have a brilliant cruise.
That’s all for today and there will be more questions answered here on the blog next week.
This is the last blog I will write during the trans-Atlantic cruise because on Monday we will be in Barcelona and ready to start our first 12-day Med cruise of which I shall write more next week. Has it been a successful cruise? Yes it has, even if I do say so myself, and the guests, well most of them, are saying the same and many who have done a TA before are saying that this was the best ever. Certainly the crew here is a superb group and has served and entertained the 2,087 guests with dedication and with a huge smile on their faces and, along with great shows and loads of activities it has been a brilliant success.
There have been some challenges and most came wrapped with a bow on top. Here is the last mention of Minnie who, along with a lady from years ago called Mrs. Snob, another lady who threw a bag of soaking wet laundry at me and a four-foot-nothing guest who slapped me round the face because we had no Ma Jong sets on board, will never be forgotten.
From: LEGEND GUEST SERVICES SUPERVISOR
Sent: Thursday, April 18, 2013 7:43 AM
To: LEGEND CRUISE DIRECTOR
Subject: Complaint about noise from cabin, missing clothing and not happy with the show
Miss_________from cabin________ arrived at the desk this morning to speak to the Cruise Director or Guest Services Manager because of the following. Miss___states that the people in the cabin next to her in cabin _______ make lots of noise and talk very loudly and that she cannot sleep because of this. Miss____also states that a blue jacket has been stolen from her cabin. She last saw it two days ago and wants the “police informed .” Miss____-would also like to speak to John because, at the show last night, the singer was British and she could not understand him. Miss______feels we should provide Americans for the shows.
What’s interesting about Minnie is that every time myself and the guest services manager meet her she is always accompanied by her traveling companion and she never ever says one word. What’s also interesting is the cabin that Minnie says is very noisy is occupied by a married couple, both of whom are in their 70’s, so the chances of them playing Slap My Bitch Up loudly, or having loud vivacious rumpy pumpy, is doubtful. However, we have asked security to pass by their cabin a few times each night and, so far, they have had nothing to report.
I have met with Minnie now on five separate occasions and have tried to put in my mind that she may be a bit lonely which is maybe why she demands my attention so much. I have seen this before with other guests and have always tried to show compassion for them. But Minnie does not fall into that category, she just really is not happy here and despite our best intentions, she continues to find so many faults, some we can help with and some we truly cannot and honestly speaking, when she walks off the gangway on Monday in Barcelona, I shall breathe a big sigh of relief. Oh by the way……her missing blue jacket? She left it on Lido Deck and it was handed in to the guest services desk by a crew member.
The antidote to Minnie has, of course, been Zoe. I have stepped back the last few days allowing her to spend time with the four ladies who have opened their arms and taken Zoe under their wings. I did though meet up with her last night and made sure she was doing OK. She is and if I think back to the lady I saw sitting alone on Promenade Deck she has come a long way. Grief is the price we pay for love and Zoe loved her husband so very much. Zoe has had grief counseling and the support of her family but here on the Carnival Legend, she found four strangers (four fellow sufferers) who she told me have made such a difference, not only on her cruise but in her life and she will be staying in touch with them and there are plans to all cruise together again in the summer. There is certainly no timetable to grief but I hope this is a step forward for Zoe and that she continues to try and find strength and maybe even happiness.
Last night and through this morning, the Atlantic looks like someone has taken a huge egg whisk to it and the seas are choppy and the wind is howling. The guests have had a great time though and so have I. It has been a joy to be back in the CD chair again and get back into the day-to-day running of the department, perform shows and activities and juggle this blog and of course my ever growing Facebook page.
It has been especially good to be back as a CD after the challenges we as a company have faced doing what I hope I still do fairly well and that’s providing fun for the guests. The Carnival team, both on land and at sea, are united to make sure we exceed your expectations and provide our guests with the most affordable and the most fun cruise vacation in the world. The second reason we will prevail is you, yes you because of your support and your continued appreciation of what we do and that has been and continues to be something all of us are so grateful for.
I have seen that here on the Carnival Legend these past 12 days and the smiles and the laughter and the comments I have heard from so many, prove that we are doing what we have always done, giving guests a brilliant cruise vacation.
And I am in a brilliant mood, people have laughed at my silly attempts at humour and the people have been really kind about my part as a cruise director. I am in a great mood because we will soon be in Europe and I will be closer to home. I am in a brilliant mood because in 14 days’ time, my wife and daughter will be here. I am in a superb mood because I have a movie to watch tonight called Naughty Latvians in Suspenders 7. Yep…….nothing can spoil my euphoria. Nope. Nothing at all.
From: LEGEND GUEST SERVICES MANAGER
Sent: Thursday, April 18 2013 9:22 PM
To: LEGEND CRUISE DIRECTOR
Subject: OH NO!
John, I didn’t see the list until now but __________is on a back to back cruise and will be with us for the next 12-day cruise as well!
It’s amazing how one minute you can be on top of the world and the next you feel like blow torching your own nipples off. Yep…………….Minnie is on a back to back cruise.
Pass the Prozac, would you?