BOOK………………ENDS.

September 27, 2013 -

John Heald

So here we are, three days into the trans-Atlantic crossing, and we will be talking a lot about this over the next few days here and on Facebook, I am sure. And today I want to start by talking about books. Now I have done ummmm……….ummmmm……..bugger me………..I have no idea how many TA’s I have done but it’s a heck of a lot. Some, I don’t remember, some I do.  There was one on Carnival Freedom where I was tormented by one guest who looked like Rodney Dangerfield, one on Carnival Liberty with a huge GI outbreak that certainly wasn’t fun, and one on the Carnival Splendor that was amazing because we had 16 days of glass-like water as we crossed the pond, it literally was…….. a pond.

 Now what, you may ask, has this to do with books?  Let me explain. You see dear reader, one thing all those trans-Atlantic crossings had in common was that the library, by the end of the first sea day, sat entirely empty. That is not the case today. Here on the Carnival Legend, the book cases are full. Yep, the book is dead, long live the Kindle. Every deck I walk on, I see young and old reading their Kindles. OK, that’s a lie because we hardly have any young people on this cruise but wherever I am, I see older people and their parents absorbed in their Kindles.

 

And if it is happening here, what does this mean for the book shop? They must be, I am sure, dying a slow and painful death thanks to Amazon. I love reading. I love buying books. I love the smell of a book shop and I loved them even more when they started to serve coffee and bagels. There is one in Miami that I go to every time I am there. It’s a Borders, I think, and it’s in the same shopping complex I go to buy clothes from Rochester Big and Tall. It’s where I choose my book for my flight home and it would not surprise me that, when I return there in November, it’s become a Walgreens or worse, a gym

 

I love book shops because they are quiet and free of the piped muzak which every other store in the world inflicts upon us. We still have a book shop near where I live in the UK and my daughter loves it. I used to go there with my parents and chose my next Enid Blyton book with excitement. Then as I got older, I kept going and now I go with my daughter. I go there as many times as I can with her when I am home but I have a feeling that this family-owned book shop will also disappear, just like the old record shops I used to buy my albums and CDs from. They, too, are mostly extinct. Yes, I know that great fat books in your suitcase do not leave much room for clothes. Yes, I know in a book shop, you pay double for what Mr. Amazon will deliver free to your door. It’s sad, isn’t it, then, that the book shop is dying and there is nothing we can do about it.

 

And that leads me back to the library. It is a quiet place to sit and on the Carnival Breese and Carnival Sunshine, we have a bar in there as well which makes a nice addition to a good read. But my question to you and indeed to the beards is this.  What do you think of our ships libraries?  How often do you use them? Is there a better use now of that space, considering the Kindle and Eyepad have murdered the paperback?

 

We’re in the process of planning out the Carnival Vista and, like with any cruise ship, we really want to make maximum use of the spaces for our guests’ enjoyment. As everyone has an electronic book these days, perhaps for my own selfish reasons, we can put the libraries to better use,…………..a cigar bar maybe? Oh, by the way…………the library on the Carnival Legend may still be full of books but both our copies of Fifty Shades of Grey have been borrowed.

 

Time for today’s Q and A……………………off we go.

 

Glenn Henenfent asks:

John, just back from the last Baltic adventure on Carnival Legend and, wow, what a fantastic cruise. The ports were the best ever and your help with all the information about them was invaluable. We did not receive a comment card, John, so please would you tell the beards that in Pappas, our cabin steward, and in Robert and his team in the dining room, table 238, they have people who are a huge asset to Carnival. We had an absolute blast and even though we are sad that Carnival has pulled out of Europe for next year we will be back with you, John, on the Miracle in Alaska if you are still planning this.

 

John says:

Hello Glenn Henenfent,

Thank you so much for taking the time to write and I will make sure that the crew you mentioned get all the praise they deserve. I am so glad you had fun in the Baltic and I will be on the Carnival Miracle next year, so it would be great to see you in Alaska. Thanks again and hope to see you soon. Best wishes.

John

 

Kevin Dargan asks:

Not to sound ungrateful but the champagne you sent my parents for their anniversary on the Carnival Dream cruise was disgusting. If you tried it, John, you would not send it to your worst enemy LOL. Me and the folks are cruising again on Ecstasy 10/17, so can you send something for what will be my parents Platinum and my 8th. Booking ref is #******

 

John says:

Hello Kevin Dargan,

I have not tried the champagne we give as prizes because I don’t drink alcohol. I haven’t heard any negative comments before but I am sorry you did not enjoy it. Many congratulations on your parent’s 10th cruise. Please thank them for their loyalty and yours, too, of course. I wish you all a wonderful time on Carnival Ecstasy and have loads of fun together. Best wishes.

John

 

Celeste Younger asks:

Hello John, I have a question for you, please. I am cruising on the Carnival Miracle on Oct. 19 to Hawaii with about 72 good friends. My question is, when are the “elegant nights” for this sailing? Halloween is in there somewhere and I believe there will be a party for that as well? I believe there is a Hawaii theme night? Thank you in advance for your reply.

 

John says:

Hello Celeste Younger,

I am sure you are very excited about this cruise, it sounds superb. The elegant nights are on the 20th and the 29th. There will also be a full Halloween party on the 31st. The ship will be decorated and there will be a guest costume party which, if you wish, you can join in on. It’s going to be great fun. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you and have a brilliant time. Best wishes.

John

 

Gary Harbert asks:

Dear John, I would like to get in contact with the activity director of the Carnival Dream, via text or email. How do I do that? I would like him to be in my wedding next June onboard the ship. Any information you could give me would be great. Can’t wait to get back onboard… thank you.

 

John says:

Hello Gary Harbert,

If I understand you correctly, you wish to have the cruise director help you with your wedding? If so, please let me know more details and I will, for sure, try and help you. Please write to me and I will do all I can. Best wishes.

John

 

Earl Kielbasa asks:

I need to know if you will show the Alabama at Kentucky game on the big screen TV on the Carnival Liberty 10/12. We have 23 in our group, all Alabama fanatics, and want this game played. Do not dare to disappoint us now, you hear!!!!!!!!! Roll Tide!

 

John says:

Hello Earl Kielbasa,

I am afraid I cannot make any promises that we have the game at all. If it’s on NBC, CBS, FOX or ABC plus ESPN Latin America, which are the stations we carry, then it will be shown in the EA Sports Bar on board. It probably won’t be on the big screen as we have movies, etc., there but we do play the Sunday and Monday night NFL games. Have a great time and enjoy this wonderful ship. Oh and hope your team wins. Go Heat. Best wishes.

John

 

Asha asks:

Hello,

Could you please let me know the policy for cancellation fee with CRL? The reason being, that I booked with Carnival to travel in 2011, but due to some issues, I had to cancel. But then I re-booked with CRL, and sailed again in August. The travel agent charged $250 per person, and I am not sure what happens to the money. What he said was that it was Carnival charging

the cancellation fee.  I would really appreciate if you can give me some information on that,

please. Thank you.

 

John says:

Hello Asha,

I have to say that unfortunately neither myself nor my colleagues in Miami know what this penalty is or what a CRL is. The best thing for you to do is to send us all your details and booking number to cclsupport@carnival.com so we can try and help you. I hope that’s OK.

Best wishes.

John

 

Michelle Lamont asks:

John-

Our family will be on the Carnival Sunshine U.S. inaugural on Nov. 18.  My son’s 10th birthday is on November 4, however, we have told him that we will not be celebrating his birthday until on the cruise to make it more special.  Since it will be after his official birthday, I was just wondering if you know if the wait staff will still be able to sing to him or will they only do this if it is on his actual birthday? 

Sincerely,

Michelle Lamont

 

John says:

Hello Michelle Lamont,

It will be a wonderful cruise and may I suggest that you go to our carnival.com.funshops page and order a cake. It will be delivered to the dining room and the waiters will indeed sing Happy Birthday to him. If you contact me two days before your cruise on Facebook at facebook.com./johnheald I will also send him something to wish him a happy birthday. Please include your cabin number. Have a great time together on this wonderful ship. Best wishes.

John

 

Patt Brantley asks:

I just returned from the Carnival Magic the week of Aug. 3.  It’s the sixth Carnival cruise I’ve taken my family on and the seventh Carnival cruise for each of us.  I entered my room and there on the counter was a bottle of champagne and a “24K gold plastic ship.” Come to find out, my son had emailed you earlier and asked you to leave something in my stateroom for all the trips I’ve taken them on.  It was so sweet and brought tears to my eyes.  Then, after dinner, there was a plate of HUGE chocolate covered strawberries.  I so appreciate you arranging this for him (and me)!  We ate in lower Southern Lights (table 539) and I would like to say how much we enjoyed our waiters:  Inocenti, Thermonfils and Wayne.  Our room steward was Hilda and she was great.

Please pass their names on to the appropriate supervisors.  We enjoyed every minute of the cruise & look forward to our next Carnival cruise. Love your blog.  Thanks again.

 

John says:

Hello Patt Brantley,

I am so happy to see you had fun together for this very special cruise and I will make sure all the great crew you mentioned receive your words of praise, and they will be thrilled. I hope we see you all again very soon. Best wishes.

John

 

Melaine Domanski asks:

On 10/2, I will be on the Carnival Miracle and because Adam and I are both working professionals with jobs that have us traveling so much, we don’t wish to dine with other passengers. Can a table for two be reserved in our names? I do not know what information you require to do this but the booking number for our suite is ******. This will be our first Carnival experience but not our first cruise!!!!

 

John says:

Hello Melaine Domanski,

And I am sure it will not be your last cruise with us as I am sure you will have a brilliant time. I will ask the maître d’ to assist you and I know he will do his best for you. Enjoy every moment. Best wishes.

John

 

 D Crafford asks:

John, I was on the Carnival Triumph July 29-Aug 3 and I had a wonderful time but two things seemed a bit wrong. First, someone needs to seriously consider totally clearing out the Rio Lounge before the Burlesque show in the 25 minute or so lull between it and the previous show and possibly to have a crew member assist people in getting seats.  We came 30 minutes early thinking to be part of the crowd that would be waiting to enter a cleared lounge, only to find that it was already packed.  No more than 10 people left after the karaoke show, tables that could seat 4-8 people were being used for only 2-4 and everyone I asked refused to let us sit at their table saying the seats were taken (oddly, most of them remained empty for the whole show).  We finally did manage to snag three chairs, haul them across the room and wedge them in a corner so we could see half of the stage.  While clearing the room won’t make it so that everyone has a seat, it would be more fair than letting people show up extremely early and camping out.  It would also help enforce the age restriction, which was NOT at all enforced in this case because there was a couple with their six-or seven-year old daughter sitting in a booth right at the main walking aisle, and three teenage girls behind us, giggling about sneaking in.  There is no way they were not all seen by at least a waiter, because the couple was in full view and the girls ordered water from the waiter twice.  Secondly, at some point, I happened to go in to the souvenir shop and saw that they had some rings on display.  I ended up falling in love with one of them but since I had not planned on any jewelry purchases, I wanted to think it over.  On the last sea day, around 6 pm, I went back to the shop ready to buy the ring but they were nowhere to be found.  When I noticed some cloth covered cases under a table I figured they had packed them up in advance of closing the shop, so I asked the girl at the counter about them and she said they were not for sale anymore. Apparently the rings are displayed and sold on sale for two days and that’s it. No more sales. Not at sale price. Not at full price. I went over to the gift shop and found one there, but in a smaller size than I needed so I asked the girl there if they had more (knowing that there had been 5 more in a larger size on the display I had seen) but she said they did not. 

 Now, John, I work for a large company so I would totally understand if the gift shop folks cannot just pop on over to the other shop and get/trade one size ring out for another.  Red tape, different

ownership, even just policy can sometimes make that much harder than it sounds. I get it. What I don’t get is why the original rings in the display are only sold for two days.  I would understand if she said they are only on SALE for two days.  I knew going into it that by waiting I might have to pay full price and I was ready for that, but to be told that they are only for selling on two specific days?  I know the cruise business has some special factors that land-based businesses don’t have to consider, but I have never heard of any business that would turn away a customer that was offering to pay a full and un-discounted price for a piece of their merchandise! 

 The sad ending to this is that while I did make note of the brand of the ring, I have been unable to find one online. So this cruise will be described in many wonderful terms, but it will also be “that cruise where I found that beautiful ring that they wouldn’t let me buy and I could never find anywhere else.” Thank you for the work you do and I know that it’s unlikely that you will personally reply to my email, but I would appreciate it if you might pass the information along to those who are in charge of those areas so that they might be able to assess if changes are needed.

D Crafford

 

John says:

Hello D Crafford,

First of all, I am so very happy to see that you had a great time and I thank you sincerely for taking the time to write. I will address this with the cruise director. The current rule is that the lounges are supposed to be cleared before a show like this and I will emphasise this with the CD when I speak to her. It is also disappointing to see that we had some under age guests in the lounge for this show and I know the CD will be disappointed, as well. My apologies for this. As for the ring, well, I don’t understand that either. I know they have a sale price but to refuse to bring the ring out again, I do not understand this and I will ask the management why and let you know.  Thanks for bringing both of these concerns to my attention and they will be addressed. Hope we see you again very soon. Best wishes.

John

 

Leah Shelstad asks:

Can you tell me who is in charge of hiring singers for the shows? I want to apply and send in my show reel. How do I do that and where????????

 

John says:

Hello Leah Shelstad,

May I direct you to www.carnivalentertainment.com where you will find all the details of what vacancies we have, audition locations and what to do, etc. I wish you the best of luck. Best wishes.

John

 

Michael Reiff asks:

Can you let the beards know that Dessi (spelling) is the best!! The energy she has and the care and respect she shows the passengers is remarkable. We have sailed Carnival Spirit twice now and there was a gap of three months between the cruises but when we entered the restaurant, she remembered our names instantly so please, John, pass this on to the beards as they have a gem in Dessi.

 

John says:

Hello Michael Reiff,

Yes, we do have a gem and I will make sure that, again, the beards know that Dessi Kostova has another fan. I say “another” because I constantly see comments about her and bravo to her for the brilliant job she does. Thank you for writing and for sailing with us and I do hope we see you again soon. Best wishes.

John

 

And we will finish the Q and A there with my thanks for all the comments and questions.

 

Good morning and here I sit in my underpants writing to you in an Irish accent as the Carnival Legend sits in Dublin, our first port of call for this, our trans-Atlantic cruise. The guests so far have been excellent and, compared to the rain of last cruise, the weather here is much better and there was even a glimpse of some sunshine early this morning. I am sure the guests will enjoy this and all the ports but the secret to a successful trans-Atlantic is the sea days and to give the guests as much variety as possible. Here is a copy and paste of what they had yesterday, the first sea day on board………………..oh, if you see any spelling mistakes, please let me know.

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 26TH, 2013

MORNING

8:00am
Pathway to Yoga +…..Aerobics Studio, 10 Fwd

9:00am
Morning Show with John & Calvyn……….Channel 27
Morning Interdenominational Service……….Follies Lounge
Card Players Meet till 5:00pm……….Conference Room, 3 Aft
Board Games Available……….Trump Card Room, 2 Fwd
Library Open until 11:00am……….Library, 3 Fwd
Body Sculpt Boot Camp +……….Aerobics Studio, 10 Fwd

9:30am
Trivia Hour: General Knowledge……….Firebird, 1 Fwd
Professional Dance Instruction……….Foillies Lounge

10:00am
Game: Scrabble……….Atlantis, 2 Aft
Indoor Cycling +……….Aerobics Studio, 10 Fwd
$10 Madness Sale……….FunShops, 3 Mid

10:15am
Bean Bag Tournament……….Lido, 9 Mid

10:30am
John’s Port Adventure Talk……….Follies, 2 Fwd
Game: Chess……….Atlantis, 2 Aft

11:00am
Music on Lido with DJ’s……….Lido, 9 Mid
Game: Yahtzee……….Atlantis, 2 Aft

11:15am
Mini Golf: Hole In One……….Sports, 11 Fwd

11:30am
Trivia: What Year Is It?……….Firebird, 1 Fwd
Game: Backgammon……….Atlantis, 2 Aft
Detox for Health & Weight Loss……….Aerobics Studio, 10 Fwd

AFTERNOON

12:00pm
Texas Hold’em Players Meet……….Casino, 2 Mid
Fun Finds Shopping Show……….Follies, 2 Fwd

12:15pm
Twist Contest: Poodle Skirts Not Needed……….Lido, 9 Mid

1:00pm
3 Minute Makeover……….Beauty Salon, 9 Fwd
Glee Choir Sign Ups……….Billie’s Piano Bar, 3 Fwd

1:01pm
Champagne Art Auction……….Satchmos, 2 Fwd

1:15pm
Super Trivia: Team Pursuit of Knowledge……….Firebird, 1 Fwd
Master Mixology: The Final Mixdown……….Lido, 9 Mid

1:30pm
Walking in Comfort and Relieve Back Pain……….Studio, 10 Fwd

2:00pm
Trivia Hour: 50’s Decade & Songs……….Firebird, 1 Fwd
Bridge Players Meet (unsupervised)……….Conference, 3 Aft
Diamond and Watches Sale……….FunShops, 3 Mid

2:15pm
Game: The Great Spoon Relay……….Lido, 9 Mid

2:30pm
Library Open until 4:30pm……….Library, 3 Fwd

3:00pm
General Trivia Hour: All Ado About Nothing……….Cafe, 2 Fwd
Diamonds and Gemstones Seminar……….FunShops, 3 Mid
Introduction to Acupuncture……….Aerobics Studio, 10 Fwd

3:15pm
5 Game Bingo +……….Follies, 2 Fwd
Champagne Toss……….Lido, 9 Mid

3:30pm
Movie Matinee: 5 Year Engagement……….Firebird, 1 Fwd
Win, Lose or Draw……….Atlantis, 2 Aft
Tea Time……….Truffles, 3 Aft

4:00pm
Octane Trivia Hour: Sports & Leisure……….Cafe, 2 Fwd
Tournament: Bean Bag……….Lido, 9 Mid
Pathway to Pilates +……….Aerobics Studio, 10 Fwd

4:15pm
Professional Dance Instruction……….Follies Lounge

EVENING

5:00pm
Captain’s Celebration……….Promenade,2 & 3
Circuit Class……….Aerobics Studio, 10 Fwd
Dance Music with Dimas Duo……….Lobby, 2 Mid
Motown & More with Big Band……….Atlanits, 2 Aft

5:15pm
Mini Golf: Hole In 1 Challenge……….Sports Deck, 11 Fwd

7:00pm
Captain’s Celebration……….Promenade, 2 & 3
Family Friendly Comedy……….Firebird, 1 Fwd

7:15pm
Dance Music with Dimas Duo……….Lobby, 2 Mid
Music & Dancing with Highlights……….Atlantis, 2 Aft

7:30pm
Trivia: Elvis……….Cafe, 2 Fwd
Library Open until 8:30pm……….Library, 3 Fwd

7:45pm
Fine Watch Sale and Seminar……….FunShops, 3 Mid
Family Friendly Comedy……….Firebird, 1 Fwd

8:15pm
Pop & Rock Hits with Edd……….Lobby, 2 Mid

8:30pm
Showtime: “Jazz Hot”……….Follies, 2 Fwd

9:00pm
Karaoke Fun……….Satchmos, 2 Fwd
Music & Dancing with Highlights……….Atlantis, 2 Aft
Piano Bar Entertainment with Bruce……….Piano Bar, 3 Fwd

9:30pm
Motown Night………. Medusa’s Lair, 2 Aft
Dance Music with Dimas Duo……….Lobby, 2 Mid

9:45pm
Adult Comedy (18+)……….Firebird, 1 Fwd

10:00pm
Pub Team Trivia……….DreamBar, 2 Fwd
Pop & Rock Hits with Edd……….Odyssey, 3 Aft
Texas Hold’em Players Meet……….Casino, 2 Mid
GLBT Meet……….Billie’s Piano Bar, 3 Fwd

10:30pm
Showtime: “Jazz Hot”……….Follies, 2 Fwd

11:30pm
Adult Comedy (18+)……….Firebird, 1 Fwd

 

Coming up on the next sea, day we will have the first of our lectures with the subject being the magnificent Northern Lights and a lot lot more that will keep the guests happy and having fun which everyone is………………….well…………………..nearly everyone;

 

From: LEGEND GUEST SERVICES
Sent: Thursday, September 26, 2013 8:57 PM
To: LEGEND CRUISE DIRECTOR
Cc: LEGEND GUEST SERVICES SUPERVISOR; LEGEND GUEST SERVICES MANAGER; LEGEND ASSISTANT CRUISE DIRECTOR

Subject: Guest from SR_______ Mrs. __________ comment on bridge

 Hello John,

Please note Mrs. _______ was at the GSD this evening (she cut the line and I had to ask her to wait her turn) to state that she was not happy we did not have bridge instruction and that our card room was not big enough.  I explained to the guest that we had lots of areas to play cards, John, but she saying that on Holland America ships they had bridge instruction and organized tournaments. John, please can you or Calvyn call her as soon as you can as she is a lot upset by this. Thank you.

Kind Regards,
Guest Services Associate
Carnival Legend
Carnival Cruise Lines

 

 

So I have a lecturer, dance instructors, dozens and dozens of activities, handpicked entertainers personally chosen by me, and yet speaking to this lady, she tells me the main reason she took this cruise was to play bridge.

 

You know, it always astonishes me how people compare cruise lines and say things like, “Well, on the Norwegian Oasis, they had naked rock wall climbing” or “on the Epic of the Seas they had a card room that seated 298 people, plus, if you said you were a Cruise Critic member you got a huge plate of nibbles served by the captain dressed as a French maid.”

 

Every ship is different and we all do things differently, it’s what makes the industry so successful. There is something to suit every taste. Have you ever heard anyone on an American Airlines flight say to the flight attendant, “On Delta, you get 12 more peanuts in their bag?” Nope, you have not because this kind of thing is another cruise ship exclusive………..and one that makes me want to shout, “Oh FFS!”

 

Anyway I spoke with the guest, explained that we did not have a professional bridge instructor on board but that we would organise a bridge tournament and that there would be adverts for bridge players to meet every day. I also explained to her that we had card tables set up in the conference room as well as the card room. Mrs. Bridge spent most of the conversation tutting and waving her handkerchief around in the air as she told me how inept I was as a cruise director for not having bridge instruction. Maybe she is right. What I lack in bridge instruction, I make up for in religious services with the rare occurrence of having a minister on board. He will be conducting a series of interdenominational services and one or two for the crew, as well, which I am sure they will appreciate. Anyway, apart from Mrs. Bridge all is well so far. We have had calm seas and good weather, the perfect start, in fact, to our trans-Atlantic voyage to New York and, of course,…….I wish you were here.

 

So it’s Friday and tonight I have to host two shows starring Hypnotist David Knight, plus meet with two guests who are on their 90th cruise with Carnival and then make sure my Facebook page is updated. And as I sit here in my underpants alone, I can’t help thinking of how Friday nights used to be when I was …………..a player. Yep, a stud muffin, a gigolo, a ladies man.

 

My Friday nights out as a studly twenty something are a long and distant memory. I remember Friday nights being exciting times though. It was the end of my working week being stuck in an office and then stuck on a train, Friday night then was my release. I would start getting ready about 7pm and, whereas now I can complete the three “S’s” in 30 minutes, but back in the days when personal grooming and the hope of getting some rumpy pumpy was so important, it would take considerably longer.

 

I concentrated on what to wear which, considering I had three shirts and two pairs of trousers to choose from, was not difficult. Then it was the hair……that had to be just right. Up until 1996 I had beautiful dark hair and then one morning, a few months into the Carnival Destiny’s inaugural season, I woke up…..looked in the mirror…………and a 50 shades of sodding grey hair was staring back at me.

 

Once my then dark hair was right, I made sure I had some money in my pocket and then right at 8:30 pm my best mate Alan’s shiny blue Ford Capri would pull up outside the house accompanied by The Pet Shop Boys or Duran Duran blaring from the cassette tape player. I never really questioned my best friend’s taste in music and even now that he is married with two beautiful children, he still gets all teary eyed when he hears Wake Me Up before You Go Go.

 

Every Friday night always started off full of hope that tonight a girl would find me attractive. Tonight we would not be ignored by anything in a skirt. Tonight the evening would end with a trip down lovers’ lane and not end with Alan and I sharing a late night kebab….we ate a lot of.

 

Each Friday night, we would stand at the bar nursing our drinks, drooling over the beautiful women. We both had our goals. I wanted to meet a blonde with blue eyes, while Alan was very much into brunettes with the deep brown eyes.

 

That, of course, was at the beginning of the evening and as closing time approached, our standards had slipped a little and both of us would have been happy with a girl with no hair, one blue eye and one red eye. But as usual, we would leave together, with the girls ignoring us in the same way I now ignore the salad bar.

 

Of course, at the end the night, as we discussed our failure over a kebab, it was never our fault we had left the pub alone once again. Whereas at the start of the evening we had marveled at the ladies’ beauty, by the end of the night, the reason Alan and I were alone again was that every girl in the bar looked like Judge Judy and Calvyn’s love child. Even the local ……….. ummmm ……….party girls Paula and Sarah wouldn’t even talk to us and they were very ummmmm ………… giving…………in fact, it was said that when these ladies die, they would have to be buried in Y-shaped coffins.

 

One Friday night, Alan and I had witnessed a miracle, one so astonishing that the bar we were in called The Shorehouse, went silent……everyone was in disbelief …….. why ……well two girls had walked over to Alan and me………met us….and as yet hadn’t left or indeed vomited on us,

I still remember their names, Lorraine and Sally. Now, you have to remember that Alan and I had little practice in the art of “the chat up” and if girls did talk to us, they usually dropped dead from boredom after just a few minutes.

 

I was working in London for Lloyds and Alan was at a local bank ……….we both had boring jobs. So Alan would always want to spice up our lives and, in the past, we have been vets, trainee pilots and, ahem….adult film stars. However, when Lorraine and Sally asked, “What do you do?” Alan decided to tell them that we were both at medical school and were going to be doctors.

The girls seemed very impressed by this and I clearly remember Lorraine asking me all sorts of questions about her aches and pains and one hour later, Friday night was going brilliantly as the girls were still with us and I was living in the hope that Lorraine may allow Dr. John to examine her later in the back seat of Alan’s car.

 

My hope of Lorraine having me give her a physical was still burning brightly as all four of us walked back to the car………we had been invited back to the girls flat (apartment) and I was trying to play it cool but my heart was beating double time. However, as we reached the car and the back seat beckoned …….. Alan couldn’t find his car key……….what a complete and utter ignoramus. At first, I thought he was joking but then I saw the serious look on his face that told me we were in the brown stuff. He looked everywhere, he even ran back to pub where he looked in every corner and crack to see if he could find it, but it had vanished. It was during the time that Alan was mincing about in the pub trying to find the key that would open the door to heaven, that the girls decided that the two junior doctors were in fact in need of medication themselves and realizing that there was no ride home for them here……….they buggered off.

 

Alan returned…….keyless…….and asked me where the girls where………I told them they had left and you won’t believe this……….he gave me a bollocking……what was I supposed to do ………tie them to a lamppost?………..sing Duran Duran’s greatest hits?………We argued for a few moments blaming each other and then we both realized that we couldn’t get into the car ………. and that was the end of the evening ………..Alan called his dad to come with the spare key and Aland drove me home.

 

OK, Lorraine may have had legs that could have supported an oil rig. She may have had a face like a bag of smashed oysters. She may have been drunk and was seeing me through Vodka and Lemonade eyes but she would have been mine …. and…….Lorraine was the prettier of the two.

 

This, and many other Fridays like them, was one of the reasons I gave up my job in the city of London and joined Carnival Cruise Lines in 1987. By then every girl in my home town had ignored me and Alan and I spent so much time alone………standing at bars, some people thought we were……….well…………..getting something straight between us every night. The final straw came when Alan and I went to a big nightclub called Zero Six which was where one of the top DJs in the UK, Ian Reading, would host the party everyone wanted to go to.

 

It would be packed with girls, many from out of town, which meant that they would not think Alan and I were together and may, just may, be interested in us………..it would be a buffet.

We arrived and the place was heaving, surely not even we could fail. Things were going well, girls were dancing…….some even smiling and looking at us……in fact, a group of gorgeous girls were looking at us both and laughing ……… wow …….. this could be fantastic……….so I smiled and waved back……..as did Alan……it was then that I noticed they were not laughing with us………… but at us……….in fact, a few were pointing toward us and one was laughing hysterically …….I couldn’t figure out why……….I looked at Alan to mention what was happening when I saw what had reduced them to hysterics…….my mate Alan aged 20 years …… had removed his jacket……to reveal …….a T-shirt……with…… the Smurfs on it.

It was time for a kebab.

 

Goodnight.

Your friend,

John

 

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30 Responses to BOOK………………ENDS.

  1. Rita Presnell says:

    Kevin Dargan…what an ungrateful jerk you are. When someone gives you a gift out f the kindness of their heart you say thank you and move on, regardless of the so called quality of the gift. Just how spoiled are you? If you do not like what is given to you purchase your own!

  2. Jose says:

    Kevin Dargan, you bit** and complain about your champagne and then turnaround and ask for another gift. You ungrateful spoiled brat.
    If you don’t like the free stuff, pull the money out of your wallet and bring your own wine or champagne aboard. People like you are the reason people like me continue to need medication. The entitlement mentality is sickening.

  3. Linda C. says:

    John, about the books and the library, please keep the library, in fact it would be nice to have it open more than it is. Many times when the weather has not been so nice out and I wanted to just sit and read it was closed. On some ships it is tiny. I too have a Nook, not a Kindle, but enjoy the paper ones as well. I have found some real gems in a few ship libraries although rare. The only thing is I think you could combine the internet spots with the libraries more. I think this has been done on the up graded ships but some of the older ones the internet desks are still stuck out in the open and I would prefer them to be in the quite of a library instead.
    Have a great crossing and thanks for all you do.

  4. Susan Smily says:

    Hi, John.

    Just wanted to let you know that the 3 of us traveling together this week have an iPad, 2Kindles, and a Nook between us.We also have 5 paperback books, and several magazines. My cousin, Jay, is a regular in the library, as he reads a novel every 2 days or so. He greatly appreciates the inboard library – as do the couple who we’re checking out books when I was in there this evening, and the couple who were just sitting there reading in the comfy chairs. So, do we deserve a library when we travel? You betcha. Don’t let the e book situation out there that is closing bookstores also count Carnival on-board libraries as another of its victims!

  5. You will be sad to hear that Borders books closed their last store on September 18, 2011.

  6. Teresa Cooper says:

    John I love the way you handled champagne guy. ;-)

  7. jackie says:

    John please email me details about Alaskas cruise in May. My husband and I want to go and was wondering if your the cd or guest. I tried the ask john route twice and never got a answer. Thanks mate. See you in Feb on sunshine.

  8. Grace says:

    First and foremost, John, I want to applaud you on the job that you do. I work in the hospitality industry in a resort beach town and I know what kind of flack that we can get from guests, and you handle it a lot better than I do. Thank you for doing an outstanding job.

    My question is, how do I contact the Maitre’ D on board the Fascination. I am sailing, on the December 9th sailing with my family, and I would like to be able to get a 4 top next to a window. I am a 2nd time cruiser and my family will be on their first. My DF is not looking forward to cruising and I want him to be able to see how wonderful cruising is, with a great view during dinner.

    Again, I want to say you do a great job and I love reading your Blog and your FB page. I hope to someday sail with you.

  9. Jim Munkittrick says:

    There is a spectacular cigar bar in Galveston, it is connected to a really great little coffee show..two doors between the two to block any smoke or smell. This would be a great way to layout a library, with a bar, and a cigar lounge.

  10. patricia poore says:

    Libraries…..please, please, please keep them….they have shrunk considerably but at least still there. A kindle is not a book. Beards, please keep them.

  11. Bonnie says:

    Oh John, I had to laugh when I read the first part of your post. Where I come from, “Now I have done ummmm……….ummmmm……..bugger me………..I have no idea how many TA’s I have done but it’s a heck of a lot. Some, I don’t remember, some I do. ” would give the reader the impression you had been naughty with several Travel Agent.
    Obviously my warped sense of humour was very wrong with this post, but I did enjoy the chuckle. :)

  12. Ethel Kelson says:

    John, I love you to pieces and hope to sail with you again but I was on the TA onthe Freedom and you were not. You had gone home because of a sick friend, I remember because I spent months telling my 10 travel companions what a great CD you were only to be disappointed. I was also on the Liberty TA. You and Butch were great even when we sat in Barcelona Harbour unable to enter the port. Keep up the good work.

  13. Nick says:

    Kevin, John did not have to send your parents anything. Please keep negative comments to yourself.

  14. Jenn N says:

    Hi John,

    I for one am super appreciative of the champagne you’ve sent me and my family (and the ship and strawberries!)!!! It’s super thoughtful and I find it a bit aghast that someone would complain about the quality of it. Is it a $50 bottle of champagne? No. That’s why I bring two bottles of champagne on board with me. Is it super thoughtful of you and Carnival and completely unnecessary to complain about? YES! Mix it with some OJ in the morning and stop complaining people!

    We’re sailing again on the Dream in December and while I’ve been unemployed all year, I am so happy we paid for this well in advance and that we’re, for the first time ever, booked on the Spa deck (in a balcony for us! My MIL is in an interior but it’s the first time we’re staying on the same floor!). We are grateful for the gesture from you John and can’t believe the gall of someone to complain that someone did something nice for them. I didn’t realize there were different calibers of “nice.”

  15. Ralph says:

    Kevin Dargan,
    Obviously…you had a pretty careless upbringing. No manners or class at all!

  16. Sharon Chandler says:

    Hi John. We are currently on the Legend TA crossing with you. We have visited the library and would like to share our thoughts on the usefulness of the library space. My comment on walking in was “What a lovely quiet space for Internet access!” On our previous cruise, the access points were all out in public areas that were noisy. The book selection here on the Legend is in a rather dark area. It needs more lighting. Several other guests asked about free exchange books that are apparently on another area of the ship? The fact that most guests, including us, have Kindles or I-pads, is going to eliminate the need for physical books. If you polled the guests, I doubt that very many have even visited the library. My suggestion would be to eliminate the books, but keep the quiet area. Perhaps calling it a “Media Room” or a Reading/Technology Room”.

  17. patty says:

    I think the libraries are gems and maybe a few more options in them and a little advertising is all thats needed. By options i. M.ean board games. There are plenty of classic inexpensive board games. Call it a family fun room or something. We bring a small set of games with us when we cruise and we will park out on a deck with a drink and play games. Passersby always look on longingly and we have had people stop and ask us where we got the games. Chess, checkers, backgammon, parcheesi, yahtzee, cards, cribbage are just a few ideas. Just some quiet games to sit and relax since its easy to get a dose of sensory overload on a cruise. Maybe Hasbro can hook you up! Thats what i would do!

  18. Pat Call says:

    Hi John

    Keep the library’s I have spent many an hour enjoying a book, game, or just quiet time they are some of the most relaxing and quiet places on the ships. Even though I have a e-reader while on a ship I also have a paperback to read and leave behind in the library for the next guest who would like to read it. I am looking forward to the Legend’s November 3rd voyage and re acquainting myself with the library onboard.

    regards
    pat

    pat

  19. Dave Myerly says:

    John, With respect to the Libraries on ships Vs. other items.

    Keep the libraries and expand them with more Internet stations around the ship AND PLEASE GET RID OF THE PARK WEST CROWD AND USE THE SPACES THEY TAKE FOR BETTER CRUISER USES.

  20. Lisa Almost A Senior says:

    HI John,
    My hubby and I have sailed on 19 Carnival cruises all since late 2007. We love the libraries because it is about the only place on any of the ships where you can have peace and quiet without music blaring or the CD shouting out the next fun event or kids running through having fun, of course, or quizes or being shooed out for the Art show to be set up. Even still, because of the games in the library, sometimes even the libraries aren’t quiet. So please keep the libraries – even though they seem pretty tiny on, say, the Breeze vs older ships like, say, the Paradise which has the most wonderful library of all the ships we have been on.
    Thank you for listening. I promise not to ask for organized instructions on how to read a book!

  21. Barbara Johnson says:

    I was on the Inspiration 2 weeks ago, and I went to the library, and there were NO books on the shelves, completely EMPTY. I was shocked! I like to check out a book for the duration of the cruise, and find a quiet nook to curl up in and read. I just wish all the things I like, didn’t disappear. Speaking of that, I like browsing through cruising brochures, especially on a cold winter day with a hot cup of tea. But NO, Carnival doesn’t print brochures anymore, thank God, Princess does. I’m Diamond with Carnival, but Princess is looking more & more appealing everyday. Love your blog, and thanks for letting me gripe.

  22. Steve Jones says:

    Hi John,

    I am writing to tell you how great I thought the Breeze was. We just returned from the 9/22 sailing. All the staff onboard keep a fantastic ship looking great and the hospitality is above board. There were a few staff members who really put “Fun” in Funship that I feel deserve extra recognition. Please make sure that Jinkee and Juliana from sapphire (table 423 early) and especially Juliya (hostess) are rewarded for going the extra EXTRA mile. They made an already exceptional cruise just magical. We have cruised with Carnival since 1988 (on the Carnivale) and these 3, quite literally, have set the bar high!!

  23. Fern says:

    Sweet John, I also miss the bookstores :(. My late uncle owned a bookstore for many years in a small college town in Arkansas, USA. I loved going there! The new book “smell” was so enticing!

    Thankfully, he sold the store and got out of the business just before the Kindle, etc., were introduced.

    I have a few favorite “real” books, but most of what I read is now on Kindle.

    Life goes on… .

  24. shirley evans says:

    Hi there Mate – still on the Breeze doing B2B and wanted to thank you for the fruit basket and our ship on a stick. Having a blast on Premier Cruise. Place is jumping. We were thrilled to make it to the Pub for our photo as first guests. Take care and will tell Troy and Carlos hi for you.

  25. Barbara says:

    I love going to the library on the ship. It’s always so peaceful and relaxing. I think that instead of a lot of books though, because it is true that most people are going digital, you should have more board games for all ages.

  26. 'Bonnie' Jones says:

    I LOVE to read, seem to be at the library once every week for a new book. I may take a library book on a cruise but usually only take paperbacks.
    I loved Costa’s library. It was ALWAYS open (unlike Carnival’s), they had games there too. But my favorite thing was a paperback book exchange. You brought the book you’d read there and exchange it for another someone else had finished reading.
    Once in an elevator I met a lady going there to exchange books and we exchanged some in the elevator!
    Carnival just needs a big box for the books- on Costa there were lots of books to choose from. I have suggested this on comment cards but its never been done. Can you get it done John?
    PS. We are Diamond- 300+ days!

  27. Marcus Jones says:

    John,

    Reading your blog, I am struck by how often one little thing can ruin a person’s whole cruise. I imagine the thousands of people and tens of thousands of people-hours that were spent to make it possible for us to be floating with an entire city on our way between two beautiful ports and I can’t believe that one little thing is going cause the whole trip to be the cruise where this or that little thing happened. We just spent 15 days on the Liberty last month with our two teenagers. Probably 25+ major things went wrong, but I can’t remember any of them. Karl and Bambang and Genesis were awesome!

    I never thought I would find a library on a ship until a trip on the Dream a few years ago when I ran out of things to read. It was an unexpected joy. Last month, I was surprised to find that the library on the Liberty was only open for about an hour a day at a different time each day. I thought to myself that it was a new policy to get people off books and into the bars. I didn’t care, I brought plenty of books, but I was reminded of that when you solicited opinions about the libraries. So here’s mine: I love the libraries. I think combining them with a bar is a great idea in that it will give the ship a reason to keep them open. There will still be lots of old people like me reading paper books for years to come.

    Best wishes,

    Marcus

  28. David Kelley says:

    Hello, We are sailing on the Sunshine December 1st, and that day is also my wife’s 47th Birthday…. Is there anything special during dinner I can do for her? Or is it already taken care of since it says “Special Occasion: Birthday” on her information? I just do not want to be the husband that planed this cruise on the Sunshine as she has been talking about this since February and forgot to celebrate her special day as this is the reason I picked THIS cruise.

  29. Pingback: Technology and the shipboard library | Wetravel2u's Weblog

  30. John C says:

    This is the best blog ever… Thank you John… keep it up.

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