August 23, 2013 -
So this is our last Baltic cruise and, goodness me, it has gone quickly. Next cruise, we will be in the Norwegian fjords and I will be talking about this in more detail on the next blog posting. Has the Baltic season been a success? Well as far as I can see based on the guest comments, the answer is a huge yes. There have been some challenges for sure but overall it has been a wonderful two months and I hope that airline fees settle down and that this and other operational reasons allow us to return here soon.
One area that has been a challenge has been the Internet service for guests and crew in the Baltic which, at times, is desperately slow and, while in St. Petersburg and Estonia, it is really bad.
Guests, obviously, find this frustrating and so much so that I now pre-warn them of this in the Fun Times. The problem is of course with the satellite and I checked with the internet manager who told me he was just on a Princess ship and that it was the same problem there as well.
I then made the mistake of asking him why….35 minutes later, he was still telling me while I stood there deciding which of the four pens he had in his top pocket to stab him in the eye with. Well, the answer is apparently the satellite has a low power something or other over Russia ….. that much is obvious as the Internet is slow, I don’t think the satellite has enough power to pull a greased stick out of a yak’s arse.
We have done a much better job this European season though catering to the many international guests both here and on the Carnival Sunshine, of course, sailing in Europe. From more international choices at breakfast to British comedians we have, I think, really improved. I also made sure that we took off the talent show and Carnival Legends show which remain popular in the Caribbean but on longer European cruises, guests last year on Carnival Breeze in Europe told us that they expected professional entertainment each night. And that is indeed what we have given them and my thanks to my colleagues in Miami who stroked their beards and gave me permission to choose the very best in fly-on acts who have all been a huge success I think.
One area where I messed up though was karaoke. I did not allow for the fact that with so many international guests, we would get such a demand for international songs. I have had some Brits who want more 80′s Brit hits and last cruise while I was away at home, Calvyn told me that there was a big group from Miami sailing who wanted more Latin music. And then there are the Japanese who want the lyrics to every song in the world in Japanese. We are a long way short of being able to please everyone. I have requested more songs and when we return to Europe (which I hope is soon), I will definitely work on improving our karaoke selection.
Tonight we will have our last German Bierfest and they for sure have been a huge success. The chefs have done a great job with the sausages, etc., and watching guests wave their steins full of beer in the air to the sounds of the Dietrich Ompah Band has been a joy to see. I am now working on a Scottish folk show for our cruise to the Scottish ports and am also arranging for a bagpipe band to play us into and out of port. Yep, overall, sailing the Baltic ports has been a huge success and I hope one day you get to experience this on a Carnival ship.
The other day I posted an interview with Carnival Corporation & plc’s new CEO Mr. Arnold Donald and I must say his answers were brilliant and I look forward to meeting him soon, hopefully on Bloggers Cruise 7 which I invited him to……..I wonder if indeed he will come?
Talking of BC7 I also mentioned that there would be 600 people going and that has some of you concerned that you won’t be able to be part of the group. That is my fault and I didn’t mean to panic you. I used the 600 number based on last year’s cruise and certainly I am hoping for the same amount this year. It may be less but if it’s more please don’t panic because there is no limit. I will take registration in late October or early November and anyone who wants to be part of the fun will, I promise, be able to do so. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the interview with Mr. Donald and I think it is safe to say we are in excellent hands. Oh and bravo to me as well for not trying a lame joke about Carnival being Disney like with Micky and Donald at the top.
I am really looking forward to the next bloggers cruise on the superb Carnival Sunshine. I will be bringing some of the guest entertainers I have had here in the Baltic to do special shows for the bloggers and am working on other events as well and some surprises. No doubt I will be forced to wear huge underpants and other practical jokes will be played on me and I enjoy that of course and deserve all that happens to me. What I do not look forward to is being asked to dance. I don’t know what it is about bloggers cruises but ever since the first one, there seems to be a desire for the lady bloggers to dance with me. And I hate dancing. I would rather be in a “who has the smallest gentleman’s sausage contest with LeBron James” where the loser has to use his bottom as a bean bag toss board…………than have to dance!
For me, and many others, the hatred of dance comes directly from the school disco. These days it seems all teenagers want to bump and grind with each other as they dance to One Erection…. oops ….I mean One Direction and other bollocks. In my day dancing only involved skidding across the dance floor on two knees hoping that when you came to a stop, it would be right under a girl’s skirt. That, I didn’t mind but when at the school disco a slow dance was played by DJ Hans, who was also the German teacher, I ran away, very quickly, just as I do today when a blogger asks me to dance
Of course, I was into girls by now in a big way. I remember walking home from school one day and finding a Penthouse magazine shoved into a bush (insert your own joke here) and I couldn’t believe my luck. I have no idea why this magazine was there; maybe it was the publishers who were trying to get us school kids hooked. Anyway, I looked forward to my journey home from school every day hoping there would be another magazine there but there never was. I kept that Penthouse magazine for many months, secretly hidden away in the back of my stereo speaker in my bedroom.
I became very good friends with Easy Elsie on page 45 and a letter from bored housewife called Jennifer who was doing naughty things with a plumber. Eventually, I gave the magazine to my best mate Alan, something which he appreciated nearly as much as my optician. Anyway, I intend to make this Bloggers Cruise 7 the very best yet and, as always, I hope you will join me.
Time for today’s Q and A………………off we go.
Sheryl Clarke-Dawkins asks:
Nineteen of us our looking forward to a Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Liberty on August 24. I just completed pre-registration for my children and I am a little concerned. My six-year-old daughter has multiple allergies (soy, diary, eggs, wheat and all nuts) and looking at the food list there is not a lot that she is able to eat. I have spoken to my travel agent and a Carnival agent and was directed to speak to the maitre’ d upon arrival. My question is this: do they have gluten free products that my daughter would be able to eat on board?
Hello Sheryl Clarke-Dawkins,
I am glad I have seen this now as you are sailing this weekend so I hope you see my answer. Yes, indeed, there will be plenty for your daughter to enjoy and I have sent this to the vessel so they are aware ahead of time, so please does not worry. The waiters will be there to help you and the chef will prepare some wonderful food for her. I wish you all a brilliant time and I apologise for the late reply. Best wishes.
David and Clara Reading asks:
We recently cruised on the Carnival Magic on what was a good seven days spoiled only by the Texans passengers. I have never cruised with such rude and arrogant people. They pushed in the lines at the buffets and were so loud in the dining room, me and my wife could not enjoy a normal conversation and had to shout to be heard. The parents let their kids run a mock and, as parents ourselves the values they showed are not at levels that are acceptable. I am not a party pooper at all but I will think twice before cruising on a ship from Texas!!
Hello David and Clara Reading,
I am glad to see that for the most part you had a good cruise. I am though disappointed to read that you did not enjoy the company of your fellow guests on the ship. I should point out that while there were for sure many guests from Texas there were people from many other states and, indeed from other countries, on the ship. I have always found Texans to be polite and caring and yes, fun loving for sure. However, I do apologise that the atmosphere in the dining room was not as you would have hoped for and maybe next time you sail, you will let me know ahead of time so I can arrange a more private table for two for you. I am here to help so please don’t hesitate in asking me and I do hope we will see you very soon. Best wishes.
I have not had a chance to experience the 2.0 upgrades. I like the Fantasy-class ships, any plans to put Guy’s burgers or BlueIguana Cantina on the Imagination? Sailing in October.
I do hope that one day you get to enjoy a brilliant Guy’s burger and all the other 2.0 upgrades. However, for now there are no plans to add them to the Carnival Imagination, I am afraid, but there are lots of great features on that ship and I am sure though that you will have a brilliant time. Please let me know if you have any other questions and I wish you loads of fun. Best wishes.
Jim Lipmann asks:
Now that the FTTF program is available on several of Carnival’s ships, you will have noticed Heald from the comments that people either love it or hate it. Those who haven’t reached Platinum or Diamond status love it, and Platinum and Diamond members pretty much hate it. Here’s an idea that I’m surprised hasn’t been thought of. Without fail, nearly everyone complains about the long lines at the buffet.
What if you could buy a pass for the buffet line that would allow you go to the head of the line? It would be good for twice a day, once for breakfast and once for lunch. It would only be good for one person. Each family member would have to buy their own, and you could only get food for yourself. The only exception would be is if you are assisting a special needs person, or a child under the age of six. The pass could be sold for $8 a day, and a buffet staff member would stamp or punch the card for you upon presentation and escort you to the head of the line. There could either be a limited number of passes available each day (say 25 or 30), or they could only be used within a specified time frame, such as breakfast, first ten sold would only be good from 7:30 a.m. to 8 a.m., next 10 would only be good from 8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., etc. So, what do you think? Good idea or not? If such a thing was available, would you make use of it? I know, I know. Some of you are saying “Shhh! Don’t give Carnival any ideas on how to generate more money. We’re nickel and dimed enough already!”
Hello Jim Lipmann,
Thanks for taking the time to write and I have indeed seen lots of comments about the Faster to the Fun Program. It really does not affect the VIFP program and I am reading more how the Diamond and Platinum guests truly appreciate their additional benefits of having their rooms ready at embarkation and enjoying their luggage being delivered first. As for your suggestion on the buffet…….well, yes, there are peak times when there may be a line for various food outlets but for the most part, these lines move quickly and there really are not that many complaints that I have read here or in the ship’s incident reports where people have felt that these lines were too long. In fact, I would go as far as to say I think we do a terrific job in feeding so many people on Lido and certainly with the choices we offer, the lines are certainly manageable. I do not think that we will ever adopt your suggestion. I can only imagine the upset it would cause if guests saw others going to the very front of any line, plus, we simply don’t have the staff to manage what would be a very difficult operation. Still, it is good to see you are thinking outside of the box and I am always here to listen to your ideas so keep them coming please. Best wishes.
Russell Groves asks:
John, you will be excited to know that you have Madison, my niece and Miss Teen America 2013, cruising on the Carnival Dream on 9/28 in cabin 6329. I hope Carnival will do the right thing and roll out the red carpet for her. We are sailing with her in 6329 and 6311. Thanks.
Hello Russell Groves,
I am sure you must be very proud of your niece and I will ask the ship to send her something to say congratulations and welcome aboard. I am sure she will have a brilliant cruise as indeed will you too. Best wishes to all
Larry Russo asks:
Why does Carnival not provide the ability for passengers to choose what dining table they sit at? Celebrity and Royal both have this capability and Carnival should too. My last Carnival cruise was on the Carnival Freedom and my mother and I were seated on a dreadful table with dreadful people. Passengers who book early like we do should be able to go online and choose where they sit. Carnival is way behind on this one.
Hello Larry Russo,
This would be very difficult to manage, I must say. The maître d’s already have a complicated job seating everyone and I think they do a wonderful job doing so. However, while we won’t have an online option where guests can choose seats I am here to try my best for you. So, next time you cruise please drop me a line here or on my facebook.com/johnheald page and I will do my best to reserve you a table for two or any other request you may have. I hope we see you again very soon. Best wishes.
Leah Savage asks:
My husband and I will be on the Carnival Conquest Aug 11-18 for our 25th anniversary with eight of our family and friends. Last October, we were on the Carnival Legend with many of this same group and our server in the main dining room was Eric Noel (I think) from Honduras. We loved him!! He said at the time that he would be transferring to the Carnival Conquest when the Carnival Legend went to the Europe route. We would love to know if Eric will be on the Carnival Conquest when we will be sailing and, if he is, we would love to have him as our server. Thank you so much.
Hello Leah Savage,
I just wanted to take the time to apologise to you that I missed this post and you have now of course already sailed. I am behind here as usual so I hope that you had a wonderful time and that you were able to meet Eric again. Please accept my apologies and my wishes that the cruise was another brilliant one for you. Best wishes.
Yolanda Johnston asks:
We are just back from a cruise on Royal. Please do not hate me and my DH, as you see, I won the cruise in a contest at work. We had a nice time for sure but it just wasn’t Carnival. The reason though that I am writing to you is to tell you that their cruise director (name deleted) said over the loud speakers as we left Grand Cayman that the ship we were passing was “the Wal-Mart of the Seas.” It was the Carnival Conquest. This really upset me and told (name deleted) that he was out of order doing that and he just laughed in our faces. Just thought you should know, John. We were with you on the Carnival Breeze in Italy and you remain our most favorite and Carnival still rocks!! We are booked next on the Valor and then a B2B on the Imagination.
Hello Yolanda Johnston,
I want to thank you for taking the time to write and for telling the CD (whose name I deleted in case he gets in trouble) what you thought. We all from time to time have fun with each other although I only do it here and on Facebook and never on stage or over the PA system. That’s because there are always going to be fans of that cruise line on board and why also give that line free advertising? Anyway, the most important thing is for me to say thank you for your kind support and I hope you have a wonderful time on your forthcoming cruises. If there is anything I can do for you, please let me know. Best wishes.
Charlotte Bodke asks:
Carnival should offer compensation because we missed Key West because another passenger got sick. Key West was the only reason me and my partner booked the cruise and we are totally bummed by what happened.
Hello Charlotte Bodke,
I am sorry that you were unable to call at Key West and I do understand your disappointment of course. I am sure though that you also understand that a guest needing urgent and immediate medical attention takes priority and, like me, you wish them a full recovery. I hope you get another chance to cruise to Key West soon. Best wishes.
Herbert Cole asks:
I am booked on the Carnival Ecstasy out of Port Canaveral on November 28, 2013. This will be my first cruise after having a bone marrow transplant this past March. As a result of the transplant, I need for all my food to be cooked “well done” in order to reduce chances of bacterial contamination. Is this information something that the dining staff would need to know in advance, or should I just mention it to the waiter taking my food orders?
Hello Herbert Cole,
I hope this reply finds you well and please don’t worry. All you will need to do is tell your waiter and he will make sure all the meat and other food items you order are well cooked. Please, also, if you can would you remind me here one month before you sail or preferably on my facebook.com/johnheald page two days before you sail and will alert the ship ahead of time? Thanks and have a brilliant time. Best wishes.
Glenn McKissic asks:
Recently, I had a marvelous experience on the Carnival Dream. Jaime, the cruise director, did a fantastic job and went out of her way for me. Will Jaime be aboard the Carnival Dream next summer? I am unable to cruise but only in June or July due to my work schedule. I also noticed that I have various choices of destinations for the Carnival Dream sailings in June 2014.
Hello Glenn McKissic,
I have read lots of great comments about Jaime recently and I will send this one to her as well. I do not have a confirmed CD schedule for next summer yet. We are working on it and I will post the new schedule as soon as it is ready. I hope we see you again soon and if there is anything I can do for you please let me know. Best wishes.
I’ve made several unsuccessful attempts to contact Carnival directly through their website. I’m hoping you can help! I was hoping to book the Carnival Legend for my honeymoon on her April 6, 2014 sailing out of Tampa, Florida. However, I am anticipating the Carnival Legend to have some upgrades as I’ve heard rumors of a dry dock. Can you confirm what these upgrades will be and when I can hope to see them on the Legend? Thank you so much! I look forward to hearing back from you!
Thanks so much for considering this ship for your special cruise. Yes, she will have lots of upgrades including a new super slide and the RedFrog Pub. She will be a perfect ship for you to spend your honeymoon on and if there is anything I can do for you, please let me know. I wish you a wonderful life together and loads of fun. Best wishes.
And that’s all for today. I will continue to do my best to catch up on questions that are posted here and apologise for any delay in me answering.
There are times when I wish I could take photos of what I see here on the ships and post them on this blog but because the Carnival lawyers would ruin their expensive Calvin Klein underpants if I did I shall instead have to paint a verbal photo of what I saw this morning. This cruise we have 330 kids on board and they come in all sizes, shapes and from all over the world. However, one kid stood out today as I hosted last night’s show featuring the brilliant Philip Browne. There on the front row on the port side of the Follies Lounge was a young couple with a baby who I guess was maybe a year old. It wasn’t the baby that caught my eye but what he was wearing……. it was one of those romper all in one cute as a button bits of clothing, which proudly stated ” I am a Fifty Shades of Grey Baby.”
I couldn’t help but mention this on the microphone much to the amusement of the audience. I was pleasant and I was nice and everyone laughed. But what I really wanted to say was that this baby was advertising the fact that he was a product of a good spanking session and that he advocated the use of handcuffs and nipple clamps.
This had me thinking that maybe we are missing out here on the ships of Carnival and that we should sell T-shirts like this in our on-board Fun Shops that advertise amusing ways conception happened on a Carnival Ship.
We could sell T-Shirts that say;
Made In Cabin 2269 on Carnival Magic
I Am a Fun Ship Special
That’s The Last Time My Parents Buy Condoms In Cozumel