May 1, 2013 -
In between the two shows last night, I had a 45-minute window to race up to Lido Deck and enjoy two slices of turkey, some gravy and some mixed vegetables, a Caesar salad and a piece of sugar free banana gateau. Saying hello to the guests who were dining there also and answering a few questions I took my now cold turkey to the back of Deck 9, found a booth and sat down.
As I sat there munching my food, a guest suddenly appeared and sat down. There was no
“excuse me,” no “sorry to bother you,” he just plonked his arse down opposite me and started to talk. There was no guilt shown on his face and no concern that I may have been possibly waiting for someone to join me, he just sat down and started to talk and his chosen subject ………… volcanoes. Yep, sodding volcanoes. OH FFS! As I wolfed down my food as quickly as I could, he told me about his experiences visiting volcanoes in Hawaii, Guatemala, and others and how my travel talk should have featured more historical information about Vesuvius and Etna. He had been to both during our stays in Naples and Messina and was so excited to tell me about the eruption ratio of Etna.
He only paused for a few moments to ask me what time we would be sailing passed Stromboli and when I told him that due to a new regulation, we would be four miles from her at the nearest point I thought he was going to burst into tears. He then started to discuss how Stromboli was on his list of volcanoes of the world still to visit and without me having to ask him he went on to tell me his complete list of yet-to-see mountains, where they were and their height and their volcanic facts and figures and when they could erupt next. You might think you know a bore. You may once have sat next to one on a long flight. You’ve probably watched one of those four-hour black and white arty French films or seen some synchronized swimming. You may even have been forced as a child to read Shakespeare. But trust me on this: you do not understand the true meaning of tedium until you’ve had dinner with a volcano fanatic.
You may like volcanoes but this guy loved them like he was married to the damn things and I am sure given the chance he would have rumpy pumpy (by himself) on top of one and when he passes away will want his ashes scattered on top of one. I had so little time to eat before the next show but he never once paused long enough for me to be able to say “Well, nice talking to you” before buggering off as quick as I could……After 20 minutes, I began to feel a blend of annoyance and lethargy. I wanted to lean across the table and stab him with my fork for turning my valuable dinner time into a 20-minute lecture on volcanoes……but I couldn’t because I felt all tired and drowsy………….. I had been hypnotized by volcano man!
It’s my job to talk to guests and I enjoy that part of the job second only to the time I get on stage. But this was different. I was trapped and there was sod all I could do about it. I guess it was the way he sat down without even the slightest worry or concern that he was disturbing me while I was eating. To him, I had a huge sign around my neck that said “Please come and sit with me and tell me about angry mountains.” And the fact that he did was weird and what was even stranger was that during the 20 minutes he was talking at me……….his wife sat on her own at another table waiting for him. He never referenced her, he never mentioned her and she never moved, she just sat there, waiting. Maybe she was used to him doing this or maybe he had given her the same speech about volcanoes during which she had died.
Time for today’s volcano-free Q&A …………………..here we go.
Samantha Rumsby asks:
John, I have noticed that the tomatoes you serve on the ship on Lido Deck all look the same. I was on the Carnival Imagination and noticed that the cut of each piece of tomato looked the same exactly so I am forced to believe that these are modified and not fresh, to save money. It may seem like a frivolous complaint but it is an important one to me. Is this yet another cut back? My next point is that someone should teach the workers to follow the rules and apply them. I stood next to someone in line for breakfast who had been to the gymnasium because his shirt was soaked in sweat and he stank. Nothing was done and often I saw people with no shoes on at the buffet line and it was like being stuck in some kind of hellish Wal-Mart commercial. The positives were our cabin cleaner Rabi and our waiters Heston and Adrienne all who were very good.
Hello Samantha Rumsby,
Thanks so much for taking the time to write and let me start by saying that I absolutely agree that we should and we must enforce the wearing of shoes inside the Lido restaurants and I will remind the ships of this immediately. I am not sure we can turn people away for wearing a shirt with sweat marks on it but they must enforce the wearing of a shirt, of course, which I think for the most part, we do. I am so glad you enjoyed the service of your stateroom steward and dining room servers and I will make sure they all see these words of praise. I am, though, I admit confused about the tomato comment. I have read it a few times and am still not sure of what you found wrong with them. Now, admittedly, I am one sandwich short of a picnic, so forgive me if I have missed the point. I can say that I checked with the chef here on the Carnival Legend who confirms that the tomatoes are……… ummmm………..well…………tomatoes and are grown in the usual way. Please can you clarify if I have missed the point completely which I am sure I have. I hope we see you again very soon.
Mary Holleran asks:
John, I would love to cruise to Amsterdam, Germany and such. However, due to weight and arthritis (feet), walking is hard. Is it possible to tour, from the ship, with a scooter? Won’t the battery run out after a short time? I don’t want to stay on the ship and miss all the sights. Thanks for your help.
Hello Mary Holleran,
Yes, indeed, Mary, the battery would run down as, most of the time, the major sites are a fair distance from where the ship docks and far too far for a scooter trip. However, in most of the European ports, we have wheelchair and scooter accessible buses that will take you on a sightseeing tour that has little or no walking at all. I truly hope you get to see these sights and if I can help you in any way, I will be happy to do so.
After several Carnival cruises, we have finally booked a Half Moon Cay cruise on the Carnival Ecstasy on May 6 and just rented a cabana, which I am very excited about. The problem I have is that I am SEVERELY allergic to horses. Is the horse excursion limited to a certain part of the island, perhaps away from the cabanas? Or are they permitted to run around all over the beach? I called the Carnival 800-number, but the customer service rep could not answer the question. I am sure you get thousands of these, but if you do get a chance to respond, I would greatly appreciate it.
I am glad I saw this in time so I could help you be at ease. The horses are nowhere near the cabanas so you will not have any concerns and will be able to enjoy this slice of paradise. I hope you have the best of times and enjoy this wonderful cruise.
Bob and Jane McAdoo asks:
We just booked BC7 on the Carnival Sunshine and would like to be included on your list of Bloggers. Not sure how to do that, but like the Jehovah’s don’t want to be left out of the 100,000, we don’t want to be left out of the 600. Please advise.
Bob and Jane
Hello Bob and Jane McAdoo,
Many thanks for booking what will be, I promise, a brilliant cruise. Toward the end of the year I shall be taking registration and making sure everyone who would like to take part in the events and receive the complimentary gift is able to do so. It will be a great cruise and I am so thankful to you both for deciding to come and join me.
Best wishes to you both.
Linda Fern asks:
John, we are planning a cruise with my husband and two twin boys and are thinking of booking a summer cruise on the Carnival Conquest as we are from the New Orleans area. Before we commit, I have two big and important questions that need answering quickly. I have read on Cruise Critic that the Camp Carnival staff is foreigners and not United States citizens and that the training they have is subpar to the training Americans get. This is obviously something that as a parent of twin seven-year-old boys I am very worried about so I need to know EXACTLY what qualifications the people who will be caring for my precious boys have. My second question is equally important and that is the hygiene on the ship. This is our first cruise with Carnival although we have cruised before with NCL some years ago. I am worried that Carnival ships are linked to the norovirus outbreaks and I want to know what steps are taken to make sure my two boys do not get ill on the cruise. I want your advice before booking and so can you expedite an answer to me?
Hello Linda Fern,
Thank you, firstly, for taking the time to write as it gives me a chance to set your mind at ease on the two important points that you raise. Secondly and with regard to the youth staff, many (though not all) may not be from the United States but all are trained to the highest standards and all have the specific qualifications we insist on and all are subject to a full background check so please don’t worry as your children will be safe, well looked after and will have fun. As for norovirus, all I can say that this is actually more prevalent on land and Carnival is not associated with this any more than other cruise lines nor have we had any recent concerns. We take strict measures to make sure that we have no outbreaks and these measures are set by United States Public Health and we adhere to them strictly (in fact, if you read my Facebook post yesterday, one of our ships received a 100 on its most recent health inspection). I hope then that has helped you make your mind up and we will see you all on the Carnival Conquest soon and please let me know if you have any other questions.
Best wishes to you all.
Just wondering if the Carnival Triumph is getting any 2.0 enhancements during the clean up and fix? I have searched high and low and nothing to be found. Thanks looking at taking the triumph for my 40th birthday in May.
I know everyone is waiting to hear about this and I can say that it is something that is being evaluated by the beards. I promise to let you know as soon as I know. I hope you have a brilliant cruise and if there is anything I can do to make your birthday cruise better, please let me know.
Nick Collinson asks:
Both me and my wife are devout Christians and are taking a cruise for the first time on the Carnival Liberty. We do not drink or gamble and are aware and accept that there are bars and casinos on the ship but we have worries about the shows. We are God-fearing people with high morals so we are worried about the shows that are on board. We usually vacation in Branson, Missouri, where the shows are designed for good people like us. Please then can you let us know what shows we should avoid that may have adult material or suggestive innuendos that would make us uncomfortable.
Nick and Jessica Collinson
Hello Nick Collinson,
Thank you for writing because I am glad to have the opportunity to answer your questions. The shows are mostly family friendly. The shows that feature the dancers/singers are based on popular music and classics, as well. There may be some “showgirl”-style costuming but nothing on that ship that I think would cause you both any discomfort. We do though have a comedy club and this is where it becomes more difficult. The shows include two family-friendly shows and two adult “uncensored” shows. Obviously I would not go to the uncensored shows but the family shows should be OK for you. Now I don’t know what your limitations are as to what you find offensive but I feel strongly that you will enjoy the family friendly shows. There will be a variety acts as well and they will also be something you enjoy. That aside I cannot think of anything that you will not enjoy and if you have further concerns or questions please let me know. Have a wonderful time.
Christine Fieseler asks:
I cannot thank Carnival employees enough for all they did for our family on our Carnival Glory cruise on 3/3/13!! My sister in law became very ill and was taken off the ship along with her brother in Cozumel. Everyone from the doctors to the nurses to customer service to Josh “Big Sexy” went above beyond to make the rest of us still be able to enjoy our cruise!! Please forward this info to the entire Carnival Glory team…My sister-in-law and brother-in-law will be leaving Mexico on 3/14/13 and flying back home! We all cannot thank the entire staff enough for all of their help and information! Sebastian and Thelma and the entire guest relations department were great with getting us updates & keeping us informed! Please pass on our huge THANK YOU and may God bless you all with Carnival!! I cannot praise you all enough!
Hello Christine Fieseler,
I am so very sorry to read about your sister in law and I hope that now she is fully recovered. I will indeed send your very kind words to the entire team for their hard work and service. I hope we see you all again soon in happier circumstances and if there is anything I can do please let me know.
Best wishes to you all.
Brad Miller asks:
Greetings John! I wanted to drop you a line about how our 1st ever B2B cruise went as well as feedback from all the first-timers and everyone in our group we brought with us. The first leg of our B2B was Feb 28 on the Carnival Victory and included myself, wife and two sons as well as four cabins of first-time cruisers! The weather was a bit chilly in Key West, warmer but windy in Cozumel, but all new cruisers say they are hooked and cannot wait to sail with Carnival again! I would specifically like to thank Goose and entertainment staff member Hugo for their wonderful treatment of my nephew “Little Tony.” Little Tony is 18 and is pursuing an engineering degree on a full scholarship at Michigan State University this fall. Little Tony suffers from Aspersers Syndrome and is very socially awkward. His father, Anthony, thought this cruise would be a great experience to help Little Tony to acclimate himself to crowds as well as perhaps “come out of his shell” a bit. Both Anthony and Little Tony entered the hairy chest competition and, John, I must tell you, it brought tears to my sister Yvonne’s (Tony’s mother) eyes to see the wonderful kind, warm and friendly treatment Little Tony experienced not only from all the fellow guests cheering him on but specifically from Hugo who was hosting the event! Little Tony was a bit of a “Rock Star” for the rest of his time on board and, although he did not win the competition, Hugo insisted on awarding him a “Ship on a Stick” trophy anyway. I will never cease to be amazed at the true human connections and memorable moments created by some of the amazing staff and crew aboard the Fun Ships of Carnival – no wonder we just keep coming back time and time again!
The 2nd leg of our B2B was myself, my wife and youngest son along with several returning veteran cruisers. We were re-assigned a new table in the Pacific dining room for the second leg which was nice as we were up in the balcony for the first go-round. In all of my nine cruises,
I have never needed the services of the maitre d’ before. I certainly hope that all of them are as FANTASTIC as Yusuf from the Pacific dining room was! We required his assistance a couple times during leg 2 and he was spot on! Two couples from our group who had been very much looking forward to both Chateaubriand as well as The Chef’s Table were disappointed to find out that both were on the same night. Upon hearing of our dilemma, Yusuf offered to put back multiple courses of Chateaubriand to be served on Friday to those couples so they could enjoy both The Chefs Table AND Chateaubriand in the MDR – once again, amazing, amazing five-star service by Carnival!
I would tell you all about our experience with Villa “E” that we rented at Half Moon Cay, but it is so amazing, so incredible, so worth every penny of the $499 price that there are no words to do it justice – we will never, ever again visit HMC unless we know we can book a villa! Finally, I would like to highlight three other crew members who truly made our vacation the most memorable cruise yet: Lorraine, the casino hostess from the UK, who was funny, friendly,
helpful and a real joy to just talk to! We chatted so much one night that my S&S card timed out on the machine I was playing – it is crew members like Lorraine that truly make you feel welcome in the casino!
Hello Brad Miller,
It is very hard to know where to start after that amazing and brilliantly written review. I will simply say that it made me feel very proud to work for this great company and that pride comes from reading about the fun you and your family had. I promise to make sure that everyone who sees this will feel the same pride and that goes for the crew and management on the ship and in the Miami HQ. The villa at HMC sounds stunning and I hope you do get to return there one day soon. Thanks again for this wonderful post and I send my very best wishes to you all and I remain here if you need me for anything.
Harriet McCarty asks:
John, is there any way to make sure that my husband, Len, and I have five pillows each meaning a total of 10 pillows for our cruise. I need all of them!! Our booking number is ***** for the Carnival Ecstasy cruise 5/30.
Hello Harriet McCarty,
Of course and I have asked the housekeeping manager if she will file this ready for your cruise. I hope you will be very comfortable and I hope you will have a brilliant cruise.
Just wanted to drop a note to let you know how much we love sailing on Carnival. We have already booked our cruise for 11/13 on the Carnival Magic. We will be celebrating my big 50, my mother’s 73rd b-day and her 30th anniversary….quite a bit of celebrating will be going on….My question is, can the doors of the cabins be decorated for these events? We are in cabins 2359 and 2363. Thanks.
Thanks so much for the kind words and yes, indeed, feel free to decorate the cabin doors and you can use tape or blue tack stuff for this as they are not magnetic. We don’t have door decorations ourselves but you can order in cabin decorations form at carnival.com/funshops if you wish. I will also be here if you can think of anything I can do for you. have a great time.
Best wishes to you all.
And that’s all for today
Here on the Carnival Legend, as it will be on the Carnival Sunshine next week, we have lots of international guests which of course gives a brilliant feel to the ship. The North American guests love meeting people from faraway lands like Australia, Holland, Japan, UK, Russia and Montana. And our staff and crew enjoy serving them as well and despite the odd “lost in translation moment” between a Russian guest asking a bar waiter from Jamaica for a “wodka” and a stateroom steward from Latvia trying to explain to a guest from Japan that the toilet is not scary and won’t suck him into the cabin below……..it’s service as usual and with lots of smiles form both parties. And it’s safe to say that whether it’s a guest from Auckland or Tel Aviv or Johannesburg or Moscow or London……..everyone is having a great time and everyone loves the Carnival brand of cruise vacation fun. There is though one area where many of the countries I have mentioned have trouble understanding and complying with ……….and that is the landmine subject of tipping. Having been a bar waiter for Carnival, I understand the mentality of tipping and how important it is and so I am probably one of the most generous tippers there is. That’s not a, “Hey look at me and how good I am” statement, it’s just a fact. I enjoy tipping and having been on the receiving end of working my then skinny arse off and getting bugger all for it, I always take care of those who take care of me.
I remember once when I flew from London to New York to join Gerry and the beards to announce the 2.0 upgrades. Carnival had put me on the red eye which meant I had arrived at the boutique hotel in the meat packing district at 2 am. The porter, who looked like he had woken up from 10 hours in, insisted on carrying my suitcase on a trolley even though I could have managed it. He showed me into my room. He showed me how to turn on a light and how to open the door to the mini bar and then started to hover. I had been in such a rush that I hadn’t picked up any American currency and had used my credit card to pay for the taxi from JFK to the hotel. I was now in the embarrassing position of trying to explain that I didn’t have a single dollar to offer as a tip. “Nothing?” said the bellman. “I’m sorry,” I said in my best Hugh Grant impression and offered to leave something for him at the front desk in the morning. He said something under his breath in a language that I think was Spanish and it definitely wasn’t “sleep well” but probably included the words “fat and bastard.”
I could understand why he might be put out, but I was taken aback by his hostility as he walked out of the room and slammed the hotel door .I would never have expected such hostility over the small matter of being caught without the cash for a tip. But it left me feeling guilty and I did leave him $5 the next morning and during my three-day stay, I never saw him again. It may come as some surprise to my British readers that I do consider myself to be a good tipper because tipping in the UK is still as foreign as military victory is in France.
But the world is changing. The culture of tipping is spreading fast and gratuities are now expected in countries where they were previously unheard of, including the UK. Russia is relatively new to tipping and our Russian guests are slowly gravitating toward the American way of things and certainly more are keeping their tips on their Sail & Sign cards.
Slowly, then, our international guests are starting to understand that gratuities for our hard working crew are deserved and that giving them a tip is “an American thing.” There is still one nationality that doesn’t tip as we saw so often on the Carnival Breeze last year if 50 guests sail from that country, then a minimum of 40 will, by mid-cruise, have removed the gratuities and will not give the crew who serve and take care of them anything at all. I am not going to say here what country I am talking about as I don’t fancy the swift kick in the bollocks that will no doubt follow from some.
Last year on the Carnival Breeze, there were a couple of cruises where we had a large number of certain guests remove all their gratuities and Carnival compensated the crew accordingly. But more and more, I see our international guests keeping the gratuities on their Sail & Sign cards and some are prepaying now, as well. Regardless, everyone gets the brilliant service that Carnival crew is famous for giving.
So my thanks to all of you who leave tips and to those international guests who still may not understand what this is all about, I should mention a sign that I saw hanging in a restaurant called Shorty’s BBQ in Miami that says as you enter, “Tipping is not a town in China.” Gratuities have to be earned and should not be expected by any of our service crew but I hope that if they provide you with professional service mixed with a huge dollop of fun, that wherever you are from that you will reward them.
So in two days’ time, the man sitting here writing to you in his underpants will be one very happy chap. That’s because my wife and daughter will come to sail with me. I really want to make the most of the time they are here so while I will continue to give my Facebook page my full attention, I will be off the blog for 12 days so that any spare time I have from being a CD on stage and around the ship and after updating Facebook, I can give to my family. I won’t see them again until July so I am looking forward to being with them so very much. Kye will spend her fourth birthday here with me and as I missed her third birthday, I want to make this very special indeed and maybe Heidi can help me dress in the mornings: Yep. Here is our old friend Minnie.
From: LEGEND GUEST SERVICES
Sent: Monday, April 29, 2013 10:28 PM
To: LEGEND CRUISE DIRECTOR; LEGEND GUEST SERVICES SUPERVISOR; LEGEND HOTEL DIRECTOR; LEGEND FOOD OPERATIONS MANAGER; LEGEND CHEF; LEGEND HOUSEKEPPING MANAGER
Subject: Miss———- comments received
Miss______has a new list of comments that she wants senior management to respond to. Miss _____-says that she brought a bottle of “Baba Al Limoncello ” in Naples. When guest got the bottle back to her cabin she discovered it had been broken and was leaking. Guest wants compensation as she states this happened when security put it through the scanner at the deck 2 gangway. Miss_____states she wants compensation of 25 Euros. Guest says that two beach towels were stolen from her chairs on Lido pool forward. Guest says she refuses to pay and the crew member at the towel stand was rude to her. Miss_____says that the cruise director dresses inappropriately and that like other cruise directors she has seen on Celebrity and Holland America, he should be in a suit at all times. Guest also says that her waiter is difficult to understand and that he does not speak good enough English and does not understand her requests. Miss__states that music at all the shows is too loud. Miss______is asking for a meeting with the captain, hotel director, cruise director and guest services manager
There is very little left to say is there. Me, the hotel director and guest services manager will meet with her and discuss the 11 pages of comments she now has in the icare report which we all think is a record and one I doubt will ever be broken. Talking of broken we will refund her the 25 Euros for the bottle which she probably broke herself or as none of us have actually seen it could be somewhere in her suitcase along with two beach towels.
The music is too loud. Well, that could be a legitimate comment and I will see what she has to say. Her waiter, well, he is from Honduras and has been with the company for 14 years and I know him well. He speaks perfect English and I just don’t understand why she would say he doesn’t. We will listen to Minnie again. This will be my fourth meeting with her and we will be sending all of her comments along with our report to the beards in Miami. Minnie has stated on a few different occasions that she will never cruise with Carnival again. I never like to hear that and we have all, I promise, worked hard to make her happy but have failed.
I have gone through many emotions with Minnie. Frustration, anger and sympathy – yes, sympathy. She seems to have very little joy in her heart and if it wasn’t for the fact that she was traveling with the friend then I might have thought that her constant visits to the guest services desk to request meetings with senior staff was because she was lonely and wanted attention.
But now I simply think that she is just not a happy person with very little joy in her heart. When she leaves here in a few days none of the crew will miss her and that’s a shame. Because as she flies back to New York I can’t help thinking what her life is like on a day-to-day basis. Is she like this at home? Does she complain in restaurants, shops and hotels (and asks to meet with the staff) or was this simply a case of Carnival simply not being right for her?
I would like to think that she has a loving family back home and that she will be surrounded by loving grandchildren and the giggles of youth. But I can’t help thinking that she lives alone and has no family who love her because they, too, like us here, just can’t wait for her to leave…… and as much as a pain in the bottom she has been………that actually makes me feel truly sorry for her.
One more thing……..her comment about the way I dress. Most of our cruise directors can go into any men’s wear shop and buy any item from any shelf, knowing that when they put it on, they will look great, handsome even. I am not one of those people. Trousers (“pants” as my North American friends call them) are the worst. This is because my stomach is similar in size, colour and texture of the planet Jupiter, it’s difficult to know whether my trousers should be worn above the waist or below the waist. Either case, I look like a teenager with his pants so low his boxers are out for all to see or my grandfather. This is why I have come up with my own look over the 26 years I have been at sea. It’s the look of a cruise director who has simply got dressed in whatever happened to be lying by the end of the bed that morning. Maybe though I should make more of an effort. My uniform usually consists of an open neck shirt, blue blazer and pair of trousers but according to Minnie, I should be in a suit and tie every single day…….maybe she is right.
Right, that’s about it for today and I leave you with my frustration caused by continuing battle with my laptop. Calvyn my friend and the Carnival Legend’s ACD and I had spent most of yesterday evening completing the entertainment staff schedules for the next cruise which is a one off to Izmir, Turkey and Athens, Greece. Well, this morning I turned Mrs. Dell on and all I got was a blue screen. I called for assistance from IS and right now they are trying to fix it but from what they are saying, “It doesn’t look good.” I am using my desk top to write this blog bit all of last night’s work and much more is on the lap top.
This, along with my Minnie problem, has my stress levels up and I will leave you with a brilliant piece of John Cleese in Fawlty Towers that explains what I did with the computer this morning. “Start, start you vicious bastard.”