July 9, 2013 -
One day, there won’t be any cruise ships. Obviously not in our generation or even maybe the next or indeed the one after that, but one day man will move from A to B using personal jetpacks and vacation on the planet Uranus and hardly anyone will care about cruise ships. Seriously, think about it because mankind will have come up with something better. It’s happened before, after all. Every day, I sit here in my underpants thinking up new things to write to the thousands of you waiting to click on my latest bunch of bollocks about my life as a cruise director and cruising in general. And maybe this blog is being stored on a vast computer somewhere and maybe this will be the only way future generations will know what cruising was all about.
You see, while there are museums for vintage cars and while men in sandals love and care for old steam trains and while you can still go to places and see the Concord, retired aircraft carriers and WWII planes like Spitfires and Mustangs, there is no museum dedicated exclusively to cruise ships. Think about it. Millions of people have cruised and millions more will cruise but while future generations will be able to use Star Trek technology to beam over to a car, train or plane museum, they won’t be able to walk on the deck of the QE2. They won’t be able to see the beautiful wood panels of the dining room on the Mardi Gras or the massive brass wheel on the bridge of the Festivale. In the year 3899, kids won’t be able to see how many hundreds of years ago people used to climb walls on cruise ships or how they were entertained by some fat bloke telling stupid jokes. Yes, there is the Queen Mary in Long Beach but that’s a hotel and some of the original features have been changed. But that’s it, I can’t think of anymore. Wouldn’t it be great then for the owners of all the cruise lines to invest in a cruise ship museum and as ships are retired, instead of sending them to a scrap yard in India to sail them somewhere to be preserved for future generations to see how their great, great, great, great grandparents used to spend their vacations. Maybe one day the Carnival Breeze will be in a museum with the Seabourn Quest on her port side and the Queen Mary 2 on her starboard.
Maybe I am a sentimental old fool but I would like to think that like cars and trains and war ships and planes that someone, somewhere, will open a cruise ship museum so people of the future can experience what cruising in the old days was all about. It would be a shame if even in 100 years’ time, that the only name people remember in the world we all love was Titanic. It’s too late for us to see the Queens Grill on the QE2 or stand on the bridge of the Mardi Gras but it would be nice to think that long after we are gone, that somewhere there will be an attraction called The World Of Cruise Ships…….. obviously with a huge statue of me, in my underpants, at the entrance.
Time for today’s Q and A…………here we go
Robert S. Gay asks:
I am sailing again for what will be my fourth cruise with Carnival. This time the Gays, the Redwoods, and the Engelbart families will be on Carnival Dream. One of our favorite things to do on the days the ship is sailing at sea is to go to the tea time event and it is on that subject that I need your help. I want to have a table by the window reserved for us on each of the sailing days. We all have the anytime dining option and cannot always, we know, be guaranteed a table by the window so a guaranteed table by the window for this event, the tea time, would be something that would be special for us. There is a total of 10 in our party and the cabins are 7324, 7334 and 8322 and our cruise is on the Dream on 8/10/13 and maybe you can send us something nice as well to make the cruise even more special.
Robert S. Gay
Hello Robert S. Gay,
Thanks so much for cruising once again with us and bringing your friends with you. I know that tea time is very popular with many guests who enjoy good conversation with new friends and of course, tea and cake and cream thingies. I will of course send you a little something to say welcome aboard, however, I am sorry that I will be unable to reserve you a table at tea time. Once I open this door, I am sure I will get many requests to do the same and that is extra work I don’t want to give my colleagues on board the ships. As you enter the dining room I am sure if you ask the hostess, she will do her best for you and your friends and seat you at a window table. I wish you all a brilliant cruise and have loads of fun together. Best wishes.
Kylla Akisson asks:
I have a question regarding becoming Platinum. I am booked on back to back cruises on Carnival Victory this October (booking numbers 65GGN6 and 65GHG7). I will become Platinum after the first leg of this trip!!! (YAY!) My question is this, since I am back to back, and literally walking off the ship, and turning around and getting back on, could my Platinum status begin during the first leg? I am traveling with my children, and would love to be able to have priority boarding (the other benefits are wonderful, but I can wait for those!). I am hesitant to purchase FTTF if my qualifying for Platinum can be honored when we check in for the first cruise. Can you help me with this? Thank you so much!
Hello Kylla Akissonm
I am sure it may seem harsh, but the rules are that you will receive your Platinum status on the first day of the second of your back to back cruises. I would then consider the Faster to the Fun program if that is something that you think will be useful to you and your family and, of course, you only need it for that first cruise. I want to thank you for your loyalty and wish you and the family the very best of times. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Best wishes.
Jerri-Lynn Palmer asks:
Good afternoon Mr. Heald,
My family is booked on the Carnival Sunshine for the December 29, 2013 cruise. Both my mother and aunt recently lost their husbands unexpectedly and this was the genesis of us taking this cruise. We plan on celebrating living life to the fullest, my mom’s decision to retire and to celebrate the lives of dad and my uncle. Now to the reason for my writing, I need some advice. My aunt and uncle lived and worked in the Cayman Islands for more than five years, and she is planning on taking a small portion of his ashes with her to leave on the island with friends of theirs. However, she is very worried that the ashes may be confiscated or she may be denied boarding because some may consider the ashes contraband. Is there any issue with bringing a small portion of my uncle’s ashes with her on the cruise and does she need any documentation (death and/or cremation certificates)? She would have no trouble bringing these items with her if they are needed. I just hope that a little piece of my uncle can be left in the place they both loved so much. Finally if there is anything that can be done to help make their vacation extra special I would appreciate it. My sincerest thanks.
P.S. My husband and I love your blogs and get a kick out of reading them together. Your sense of humour is brilliant and we laugh until we cry whenever we read your witty observations.
Have a fabulous day, and enjoy life every moment.
Hello Jerri-Lynn Palmer,
Let me start by saying how sorry I am for your loss and I send my sympathies to you and your family. Please do not worry about this as we will take care of this for you. If you can send me a reminder here on November 1st or preferably to my Facebook page at facebook.com/johnheald on December 27 I will make sure that the ship is aware and that we alert our agents in Grand Cayman just so they know what you’re bringing ashore. There won’t be any problem but its best we let everyone know. Thanks then and please do remind me and I wish you all a wonderful cruise. Best wishes.
Jeremy Marizano asks:
John, I sailed with you on the Carnival Magic in Europe and we had a great time. Our last cruise was on the Carnival Liberty and while we had a good time, there was one glaring difference John and that’s the maître d on Carnival Magic. We had Ken Byrne, who not only has an amazing voice like Sinatra but also visited our table every night. The maître d was not as good on Carnival Liberty and never sang or did any kind of entertainment and only once did in seven days did he come to our table but offered no free bottle of wine or any upgrades!! Ken Byrne is the best and I do not expect other maître d to be as good as he was but I do expect them to do their job and this guy came woefully short and he got to no tip from me!!!
Hello Jeremy Marizano,
Ken Byrne is indeed one of the very best maître d’s in the cruise industry and he sets the bar very high for sure. Our maître d’s are not expected to sing although one or two others do and some also entertain in their own special way. I am sorry that the maitre d on your Carnival Liberty cruise was not to your liking although I have to say that it is very unusual to receive a negative about any of them. I am not sure what you meant when you said you did not receive “free bottle of wine or any upgrades” so I wonder what you meant by this and hope you can write to me again so I can investigate if we missed something. I will certainly pass on your comments to the ship and I hope we see you soon. Best wishes.
Heidi Stream asks:
My husband and I just returned from a five-day cruise on the Carnival Ecstasy. This was my fifth cruise with Carnival and I have to say that we had the best service in the Windstar Dining room. Joseph our head waiter and his team members, Gerardo and Jhommylay, were AMAZING. On the first night, I tried to refill my own wine glass and I thought Joseph was going to yell at me! He grabbed the bottle and from then on my wine glass never came close to being empty without someone running over to refill it. The food was delicious as well. My favorite was the bacon mac and cheese! OH YUM!!!!! John, during our “Behind The Fun” tour, we were told that workers can be chosen for “Employee of the Month,” they get and extra day off and a bonus in their pay. I can think of no one more deserving of this than Joseph and his team. Can you make that happen? Thanks!!!
Hello Heidi Stream,
It’s great to read such a positive comment about the dining room team on the Carnival Ecstasy and I will so enjoy passing this on to them and the hotel director, as well. Joseph sounds like a wonderful guy and thanks so much for taking the time to write. I hope we see you soon and I know that there will be three very proud crew on the ship when they see this. Best wishes.
Tom Vancel asks:
John, thanks for arranging the impromptu veterans gathering on the TA crossing on the Legend. It was all very emotional. When Shannon sang “You Lift Me Up,” I reached for my handkerchief to correct the bug in my eye, and noticed that all the old salts around had faucets in their eyes. Thanks again for honoring us, the grizzled ones.
Hello Tom Vancel,
Strange, there must have been a lot of dust in the theater that day because my eyes were watering as well. It was an honour to stand with such brave men and women and sharing the stage with those two WW2 veterans was something I will never forget. I hope to see you soon and thank you so much for taking the time to write. Best wishes.
Yvette Edwards asks:
I am taking my daughter away Aug 9 for her 18th birthday on Carnival Sunshine and can’t wait! As we are from the UK the drinking age is 18 as it is in Europe. Will my daughter be able to have a few drinks with me and her dad whilst we are on the ship? Many thanks.
Hello Yvette Edwards,
I am sorry to disappoint your daughter but the drinking age remains 21 even though the ship is sailing in European waters. I am sure though that the Carnival Sunshine will be the most fantastic place to celebrate this special birthday and if there is anything I can do for you, please let me know. Have the best of times together. Best wishes.
Elfie Lemay asks:
Why are the passengers not allowed to go the very front of the ship where the ships bell is? I was thrown off this deck by the security. I paid for the cruise but the workers get the best spot to watch the ship into port!!!!!
Hello Elfie Lemay,
The very front of the vessel by the ship’s bell is a crew deck and for this reason and for the safety of the guests who may decide to recreate the Leonardo de Crappio (spelt correctly) scene, we do not allow guests to be there. I hope this explains this and if you have any other questions, please let me know. Best wishes.
Carrie Flanker asks:
Do not listen to all the old miserable a-holes. I am 24 years old and my friends and I cruise as well with Carnival and we love the DJs on the deck playing party time music. Carnival is a fun ship and if they do not like it, they can buy iPods and listen to steel drum crap. We have a voice, too, John, so please don’t change anything without listening to it.
Hello Carrie Flanker,
Indeed, the DJs playing a variety of fun music on Lido Deck is something that many guests enjoy. I have said on a few occasions that we won’t be returning to steel drum bands as they are too one dimensional. But I also think, as do the beards, that we do need more live music on Lido played by a multi-purpose band who can play both fun and current music with a mixture of Caribbean sounds as well. We will try and please everyone. It’s not easy but we will try. Best wishes.
Margaret Spears asks:
I have suffered from multiple sclerosis and take medical marijuana each day for the pain as prescribed by a doctor in Fresno. I have official letters, etc. and was told though by Carnival that this was not allowed on board. How come? This is terrible news for me. I am booked on the Hawaii cruise on Carnival Miracle and need this, please. Why is Carnival different to other cruise lines on this subject. I am very upset and hurting.
Hello Margaret Spears,
I am so sorry that you are in such pain and I wish I had better news for you. However, it is strictly against Carnival procedures and also those of United States Customs and other agencies to bring marijuana on board the ships. I understand this is a law that not only Carnival, but other cruise lines adhere to as well. If there is anything else I can do for you, please let me know and I hope you will have the most wonderful cruise. Best wishes.
Barbara Hasskarl asks:
I am home from a B2B on the Magic – May 12 – 26. Please pass on that all of the crew were exceptional. I am horrible with names but do remember Belvin in YTD so, hopefully, that will help to identify our head waitress. Our cabin was 2277 – that will identify the steward and his assistant. Could not have asked for better service. There were even a couple of crew members that remembered me from the Carnival Splendor last May. I don’t know if that is good or bad on my part since they mentioned they recognized me – not the other way around. I have the Carnival Sunshine coming up Nov 1 so hope I see some familiar faces again.
Hello Barbara Hasskari,
I love reading about guests who crew have recognised from other ships. I think this is really special and I know how much guests love this. I will make sure the ship sees your words of praise and I know they will all be proud. Please let me know if there is anything I can do before you sail again in November and I wish you another fantastic voyage. Best wishes.
And that’s all for today.
So good morning from St. Petersburg Russia and I have just returned from three hours on the pier helping our guests through the iron curtain of Russian immigration. Certainly, the ladies and gents who have been chosen for this job are the most serious, joyless people I have ever met and they make the inspectors at Miami airport look fun and loving, almost cuddly, in comparison. There is no conversation with them, no point in saying good morning in English or Russian as all you will get back is an ice-cold look found only here and in most hotels in Paris. But that’s their job. They are efficient and robotic and are very serious people.
My job is to split the lines and, along with the Russian-speaking guest services staff and some of the entertainment staff to help answer questions, and be there if they need help. And indeed, some did. As it happened on our first time here last cruise, we had some guests on independent tours who did not have the proper official invitation and despite pleading with the immigration chief, were not allowed ashore. They ended up buying tickets from us and will now have to go back and try and get a refund. Now this happened as far as I know, to only three different groups totaling maybe 15 or so people and most on independent tours had the correct paperwork.
I am sure there are those who read other websites and who worship at the altar of H82SEAUGO who will suggest that the fat bloke is saying this only to get people to buy Carnival tours. I am not. I am stating facts that if you do not have the paper work that Nora Titov and Sergei Ripyourbollockov require – you are not going anywhere so please, if you are on an independent tour please make sure you have the correct paperwork.
It is also in places like St. Petersburg where some of our guests use selective hearing. Let me explain by showing you this.
From: LEGEND GUEST SRVICES
Sent: Tuesday, July 09, 2013 8:26 AM
To: LEGEND CRUISE DIRECTOR
Subject: GUEST——— NOT INFORMED ABOUT DOCUMENTS NEEDED FOR IMMIGRATION
Guests came to the desk to get a Russian immigration form early this morning and were quite upset. Guests state that you did not inform them that they needed to complete a Russian immigration paper. I explained that it was mentioned in the talk you did and that the forms and a letter explaining this had been placed in the cabins the day before we arrived. Guest insists this is not correct and nobody informed them. They are on an independent tour and are saying that they will miss this.
Guest Services Associate,
I feel sorry for these guests but one has to ask how 2,300 guests from all over the world all got off the ship with the immigration forms completed and two middle-aged people from Delaware did not? They made their tour by the way…………just barely………but are still unhappy with me.
This time we managed to get our Grand Tour off and away quickly and so 30 minutes after we arrived we allowed the guests on independent tours to leave the ship. Yes, we give preference to those who have paid lots of money for our two day Grand Tour, of course we do but 20 (10 minutes better than last cruise) minutes after arrival all the guests are able to leave the ship and I was on the pier to help them and there still were a few complaints from guests on independent tours and I did my best to apologise. I think next cruise we will dedicate a lounge for them to wait in rather than have them stand on the gangway.
What is most important is that St. Petersburg remains the marquee port and rightfully so. The people are amazing and the city oozes history and there are more wow moments than probably anywhere else in the world. Our tour operators are sensational and the way. Olga and Sabrina and their colleagues handle 3,000 guests on tour over the two days is quite remarkable….. thanks, ladies. Three million tourists come to St. Petersburg every year, and while winter lovers may get very excited at the thought of skating frozen canals, and drinking premium vodka to stay warm, it’s in summer that St. Petersburg really shines and as always ………I wish you were here.
Let’s do some bits and pieces as in some small bits of news and comments that have no possible connection to each other.
1. Last Saturday, we were in Warnemunde with one of our sister ships from the brilliant AIDA cruise line who, by the way, will get a big new 130,000-ton ship very soon and I can’t wait to see what those wunderbar Germans will do with a ship that size. That’s because their current ships are stunning and some of the features they already have are superb. Anyway, on all their ship’s they rent out Segways to explore ports of call on. I saw some bobbing up and down the pier while we were there. I suppose they are popular with some but to me, they are as desirable as genital wart. Truthfully? I’d rather explore a port of call on the back of a yak that has explosive diarrhea than ride a Segway.
2. The other day, I asked about Fun Ship Freddy and how popular he was with our guests. I had 450 comments and I have passed them on to the beards about our favorite funnel-headed mascot.
3. Carnival Legend will get two new shows when she goes into dry dock next January along with a few surprises. More details on that and other dry dock information for this and other ships in the weeks ahead.
4. The Sacsenhausen Concentration Camp excursion in Berlin, which I was concerned about selling on board has sold out both cruises so far. I have spoken to some guests who did it this cruise and as it was for me it was they said, “something we will never forget.”
5. The shops on board here are selling a fantastic collection of Russian dolls, lacquer boxes and other Russian gifts in what they are calling a Russian Bazaar. We did this last cruise and it was a huge success and, I must admit, their prices are superb. We had tables set up in one of the lounges from 10 am – 4 pm and stocks were not limited, we had enough for everyone and that was made clear to the guests but that did not stop some of them from going bonkers. What is it that makes nice people magically shed their civilised skins and change into rude grabbing bastards who’d gladly head-butt a grandmother if it meant getting a Russian doll before anyone else?
6. I had a guest on this cruise ask me if he could give a talk to the rest of the guests about, “My Experiences as a First Responder During 9/11.” He told me he had done this on other cruises and I am considering this now, not sure what to do. I see positives and negatives.
7. I had a staff member resign. He loves his job and yet he cannot get used to ship life and being away from home. He is 22 years old and misses his family and friends and despite counseling from me he will leave in Amsterdam. He is a great guy and I wish him well but it proves that ship life is not for everyone.
8. This coming week we say goodbye to Adrian Fischer, our VP of entertainment who will return to his home in California. Actually it’s more au revoir than goodbye as he will take over the VP of entertainment at our sister company, Princess Cruises, where I know he will do a brilliant job. We will all miss him and miss his friendship and leadership. Princess Cruises will be very lucky to have him and I know he will lead their entertainment program to new heights. Meanwhile here at Carnival, the search is on for his replacement. H82SEAUGO has already applied. While the senior beards search for a new vice president, the rest of the entertainment team in Miami remain committed to areas such as live music, more entertainment and brilliant parties such as the ships had for the 4th of July celebrations. The show goes on.
9. Andy Murray won Wimbledon………..yipppppeeeee. We couldn’t show it here on the Carnival Legend……….booooooooooo. Yep, the only sodding channel that had it was the BBC1 station which had exclusive rights and we were far too far away from the UK to get the signal. We have the whole Sky package but could not get the final and of course some of our 400 British guests were rather pissed off about that but ….being British, they understood, didn’t complain, but were certainly grumpy and who can blame them? But he did it! Magnificent Murray. Amazing match, fantastic win. Well done mate.
10. Calvyn Martens is the assistant cruise director here and recently covered for three days as I left for the Carnival Triumph in Texas and he did a brilliant job. It was mentioned to me by a guest this cruise that they felt he looked “scruffy.” Well, maybe, as for sure he never dresses to Carnival “code” but it doesn’t bother me. He is an unusual ……. ummmmmm …….. shape and finds it difficult to get a uniform to fit properly and obviously I understand how he feels. But there is another reason I let him get away with this. You see he is not your cookie cutter good looking handsome or cute entertainment staff member. Yes, he may have the posture of a constipated hunchback, loves Cher and Barbra Streisand and would never been confused with a UFC champion fighter ………well, they love him.
This voyage will include our first call this season into Amsterdam and guests will be enjoying a canal cruise on the Amstel, the Van Gogh museum, the Anne Frank House and the beautiful villages of Delft, Maken, Volendam and Edam. I shall also make sure I mention what happened the last time a Carnival ship was here a few years ago. It was the Carnival Splendor and the true story of two elderly ladies who walked ashore, saw the word “coffee shop” ……went in for a cappuccino ……..and came out with the munchies.