November 4, 2013 -
So I am back from my trip to New York and, as always, it is a city like no other. New York is totally extraordinary. The whole city seems so diverse, from the mix of culture to the brilliant people, places, bars, restaurants, architecture, the men and the women…. everybody is different, everyone is loud and everyone is in a hurry. New York is simply…….wow. I have never seen a city with more restaurants than New York. I can only imagine that no one cooks in Manhattan and that if I were to go and inspect apartments and houses in New York City and examine the cookers in these homes, the very vast majority would still have the instructions inside and they have never been used.
Then there is the traffic. I am guessing that some of the richest people in New York must be car valets and people that own underwear shops. I watched our cab driver maneuver his car through the throngs of vehicles and pedestrians. As he did so, he leant on the car horn constantly and swore at everyone in Pakistani. And everyone was swearing at everyone else and everyone was blowing their car horns at everyone else and everyone who was not used to driving in New York was for sure ruining underwear and giving the leather seats a tint of brown.
That journey from Carnival Splendor through the city to JFK Airport is enough to make most people wonder if they should pull over and shoot themselves in the head. But all of this aside and amid all the hurly burly of New York life and regardless of how many times I have been there, I still see and experience things in New York that make me stop, smile and open my mouth wide in awe.
My favourite moment from my trip on Friday, though, was the sign I saw outside a pizza restaurant on 45th Street where we walked to dinner. It simply said:
FREE DRINKS ALL NIGHT! TOPLESS BAR STAFF! FALSE ADVERTISING!
Brilliant! I Love New York.
Time for today’s Q and A……………..you talking to me?
Courtney Logan asks:
Hi John: My husband and I are taking the crossing cruise next year on the Carnival Legend to Australia. I was wondering if you would be CD for this cruise, and, if not, if you know who it will be. I would love to meet you!!
Hello Courtney Logan,
What a brilliant voyage this will be and although I won’t be the CD, I know that you will have the best of times. I will let you know who will be in the cruise director chair soon here on the blog. Until then, if there is anything I can do for you, please let me know won’t you? Best wishes.
John Steiner asks:
I have an idea for you to discuss with the various beards. I have been on one Carnival cruise where there was a meteor shower so the captain had the top decks darkened so people could see the show. It was great. So my question is whether Carnival could, weather and cloud cover permitting, attempt to darken the top decks once per cruise while sailing? I know that there are safety issues to be considered, but the idea of being at sea away from light pollution and possible being able to see things that can’t be seen at home could be something that Carnival could do for passengers at little or no cost. See you next year.
Hello John Steiner,
Yes indeed, we did this as well during the crossing when we saw those amazing Northern Lights. I think this always has to be at the captain’s discretion and depends on where the ship is and the traffic, etc., around at the time. This is never something that the beards would instruct the captains to do because, as I said, it has to be at their discretion but we can and will do it when needed. Remind me when you sail again and I will gently ask the captain to consider this. Hope that is OK with you. Best wishes.
David Blackmore asks:
I read your comments on the Cruise Critic parties which I found to be distasteful showing an obvious dislike for the millions of members of Cruise Critic. I wish Carnival would do what Royal does and just throw the party! Why don’t you and why, Heald, do you get all pissy when questioned about it?
Hello David Blackmore,
I am very happy to help arrange a room for you all to meet and supply raffle prizes for you as well. That aside, I am afraid we won’t be offering anything else except our wishes that you all have a brilliant time. Best wishes.
Cindy Reed asks:
Hi John, I was on the Carnival Liberty for its Sept 14 sailing for my birthday cruise. The ship is very beautiful. My friend who was going with me, her husband had some health issues and she was unable to come so I went by myself. I had a wonderful time and I wanted to personally thank my wait staff for making my birthday a very special day. I am sorry I don’t remember their last name but it was Michael, Marcos and Mr. D. I was in the Silver Dining Room, table 326. I have cruised several times on Carnival and I think by far they were the best group of wait staff I have been around. Thanks so much for your blog, I so enjoy it.
Hello Cindy Reed,
Thanks so very much for telling me and I will pass this on to the ship. They will be able to tell from your booking who the waiter was and that Michael gets all the thanks for the outstanding work and service. It is very kind of you to write and I do hope we see you again very soon. Best wishes.
Janice Getty asks:
Myself and my life partner are both vegans and both are very disgruntled at the lack of decent up-market vegetarian dishes on Carnival Liberty. It seems to us and many others who lead a healthy lifestyle that Carnival does not promote healthy living and are too busy talking about greasy burgers and fat ridden dishes that cause heart disease, etc. Maybe Carnival and you, John, should take a long hard look at your vegetarian choices or the lack of them!!! Vegetarians live longer, this is a fact and if you saw the cruel way in which animals are slaughtered that, too, may change your minds. This is very troubling and will stop us ever cruising with Carnival again.
Hello Janice Getty,
I am very sorry to read that your cruise was not enjoyable due to the lack of vegan choices for you during your cruise. I think I have to say though that while I realise choice is limited for vegans (which I am sure it is in most non-specialised restaurants and hotels as well) we do our best to provide for you. I also have to add a personal note to this as well. You see, in my mind there is bugger all wrong with having a strong conviction. But at the same time I also have to say that there, is I think, something truly wrong when you believe that everyone else in the world must share that conviction. “I don’t eat meat and you shouldn’t eat meat either.” But I do and so do thousands of our guests. That aside, I do apologise that you found the choices limited, I will let our executive chef know your thoughts and we will work harder to improve. I do hope we see you again soon. Best wishes.
Vinnie Hartig asks:
My husband and I are traveling on the Carnival Conquest 12/29/2013. We were wondering if there is something planned for New Years Eve on the ship. I would also like information on the ship. We were told that it was renovated. Can you give us any info? Thank you.
Hello Vinnie Hartig,
Yes indeed, there will be a huge party on Lido Deck with live music and complimentary champagne and, of course, the big countdown from New York, live on the big screen. The ship has had all the 2.0 upgrades and that means you get Guy’s Burger Joint, the new bars on Lido, EA Sports bar and much more. I have no doubts you will have the best of times. Best wishes.
Brandi Webb asks:
I just wanted to say I love reading your Facebook and blogs, but I do have a question I hope you can help me with. I have a cruise coming up on the Carnival Ecstasy (Nov. 9) for my 21st birthday and I have just a few questions. My fiancé and I want to watch the Cowboys vs. Saints game on Nov. 10. They’re our favorites playing against each other on my birthday. I know that this isn’t always possible to do, but I’m just curious. I’m extremely excited for this cruise as I am every Carnival cruise, and I know we will have a great time.
Hello Brandi Webb,
Thanks so much for the kind words and I am hoping that your game is one that we will show. We don’t choose the games but show only what our network provider sends us. I will post the games this coming Tuesday on my facebook.com/johnheald page so hopefully you will see your game is one of them. Have a brilliant time and enjoy your cruise together on this wonderful ship.
Frank Teeman asks:
Just off the Carnival Pride where we were taken to the naughty room which was embarrassing and ruined the first few days of the cruise. What gives, John, there has to be a better way because this sucks.
Hello Frank Teeman,
I have to admit that I had no idea what you meant by this post and what the “naughty room” was. I asked those on my Facebook page and they explained that it was the term that guests use to describe the place where guests have something that they should not in their suitcase. Now as I have no further details here I really can’t comment so, hopefully, you will let me know more so I can give you a proper answer and help you further. Please, then, do get in contact with me. Best wishes.
Steven Pavia asks:
John- why do you continue to give all that free stuff to the beggers who pretend to be your friend and then ask you for freebies so it is laughable? I know of some who write with their real names to you here and on your Facebook and then use a different name to flame you on Cruise Critic. It has gotten out of control and yet you continue because you love the drama.
Hello Steven Pavia,
It really is not that big a deal for me to help people and thanks to my colleagues’ great help, I think it’s a nice touch to make special occasion cruises that bit more special. As for what others say about me on other sites, well, I can’t control that and, honestly, I don’t really mind, I am here to help and will always do my best to do so. Best wishes.
Catherine Meneley asks:
Hi John: Looking forward to another amazing Blogger’s Cruise 7 in February. Here are a couple of suggestions/requests for BC7. Please don’t schedule the Welcome Aboard Party (or any other bloggers event) during Sail Away so we don’t miss sailing down the mighty Mississippi River
Photos for the photo contest should be limited to ones taken during BC7. Please, please, please, do your Bedtime Story either for bloggers only or for the entire ship. See you in 131 days!!!
Hello Catherine Meneley,
It will be a great cruise and I am making more plans and decisions during the time I am here in Miami. The Welcome Aboard party has to be at 5 p.m., I am afraid, as many are on first seating dinner and there is really no other time to have it. I will definitely take what you said about the photo contest into consideration as it would seem fair to make it so. If there is anything else I can do for you before you sail with us, please let me know. Get ready for a brilliant time. Best wishes.
And on that note, we end today’s Q&A. Thanks for all your comments and questions. OK, lots of you have been asking about the new dining room menus and what’s happening and when and most were concerned that we were going to make changes that had been reported on Cruise Critic’s boards. So let me just say this. We are not planning any changes to the main dining room menus that will reduce the quantity, variety or quality of choices available to guests. However, we are examining potential changes to update our main dining experience. More information will be available once we are ready to begin piloting those changes and that may possibly come this week so stay tuned.
Talking of food, my diet is going well. Yes, yes, yes, I have said this before but this time I am serious. While in New York last week, a colleague asked me how I had managed to get “so big.” And thinking about it the answer is really simple – I just enjoy food. The end.
And, if like me, you have worked on a Carnival ship for 26 years, the stuff is everywhere all the time. I used to skip dinner though and work on the computer and then do the shows and then come back to the cabin and call 8000 and Ketut would appear with my room service order of two BLT’s with cheese on white toast. I would munch these down while watching my West Wing box set and then waddle off to bed. Yep, a balanced diet for me was holding a BLT in both hands.
And I would do stupid stuff like eat crisps for breakfast. Crisps are what Americans call chips and, yes, I am sure that some bloggers are giving that statement a disgusted response but, frankly, I can’t understand how anyone resists it. It seems obvious to me that crisps are the ultimate breakfast food. You get an instant wake-up hit from all the salt and a savory taste on the palate that is far superior to toast and butter, lots of lovely carbohydrates and, back then, I would rather have eaten chips than a bowl of beardy food like the tasteless, dry muesli I am forced to eat now. I hate muesli and I hate the way that when I do a number two, it comes out like a rope.
Plus, I am sure I read somewhere that there is more Vitamin C in a packet of chips than there is in an orange. It is probably bollocks but it sounds perfectly feasible to me. Anyway, the days of chips for breakfast are long gone and I have stepped up my diet. I have no idea how much weight I have lost but certainly quite a bit because I am starting to see my underpants now when I look down over the awning. The day I finally get to see my gentleman’s sausage without the use of a mirror or Calvyn, will be one of pure celebration.
So I have two more flights to New Orleans and back and then another from Miami to London, all through the joy that is Miami International Airport. Having flown as many times as I over the years I think I am able to express a decent opinion on some of the world’s worst airports. Heathrow is a nightmare to get to but terminal 5 has improved a lot. St. Petersburg in Russia is scary in a Tom Clancy kind of way but Miami trumps the lot with its own special brand of dreadfulness. They do say there is a place where all the world’s evil is stored and they called that place Pandora’s Box………wrong………..it’s Miami International Airport. It is full of a twilight zone of lines manned by people who will only speak Spanish, rip-off restaurants that have terrible service and charge 18% automatic gratuity and that has seating that makes putting your arse on a cheese grater more comfortable. Calvyn and I stood in line at security for 45 minutes looking at all the unmanned X-ray machines, wondering why they couldn’t have hired a few more people to tell us to take our shoes off…….in Spanish. This was way before the shooting at the Los Angeles Airport which would have meant more security understandably, but as anyone will tell you, long lines are normal at Miami Airport.
I think my disdain for Miami International Airport has grown over the years thanks to the two-hour wait to get through immigration where once you do get to see an inspector you are treated in such a soulless way that you feel as welcome as syphilis. And because you have waited for two hours your luggage has been removed from the carousel and shoved onto the floor along with hundreds of other bags making it very hard to find.
But this past Thursday, as I flew to New York, my dislike for MIA reached new heights. My American Airlines flight was delayed by two hours and so I was already in a bad mood when I got the call of nature. So, I walked into the restroom and, as I did, I slipped and slid across a sticky disgusting stained floor hurtling towards one of the urinals that hadn’t been flushed and was full of frothy yellow liquid. I am still having Vietnam-style flashbacks about that.