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!!

 

John says:

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

 

John Steiner asks:

Hi John,
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.
John Steiner

 

John says:

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.

John

 

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?

 

John says:

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.

John

 

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.
Sincerely,

Cindy

 

John says:

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.

John

 

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.

 

John says:

 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.

John

 

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.

 

John says:

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.

John

 

Brandi Webb asks:

Hi John,
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.

Sincerely,

Brandi Webb

 

John says:

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.

Best wishes.

John

 

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.

 

John says:

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.

John

 

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.

 

John says:

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.

John

 

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!!!

 

John says:

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.

John

 

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.

 

Goodnight.

Your friend,

John

Comment Policy

Look, friends — there are a few things you should remember before you comment. The space below is for you to post your comments about the post I've just written above. If it is something that's unrelated, please use the Ask John tab above. Now, while I may not be able to reply to your comment below, I do sit in my underpants almost every morning and read everything that is here. So feel free to comment on the comments and then if someone wants to comment on the comment to the comment then go ahead as well. Please be courteous unless the poster is French...........then you can say whatever you want.

23 Responses to PANDORA’S BOX….…OR MIAMI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, AS IT’S SOMETIMES CALLED

  1. Carol Mannon says:

    John, I love your blog and your posts on Facebook. I noticed that in today’s blog you complained about the automatic gratuity added at MIA when you got poor service. I have felt the same way many times on cruises, whether Carnival or some other. If I get good service, I always tip well. But I agree that automatic tips should not be there, whether at MIA, or on the Liberty.

  2. Anna Marie Fellers says:

    I think turning off the lights in an area of the ship for an hour of stargazing oen evening during a cruise is a brilliant idea! Of course it should be at the Captain’s discretion, but I would be so happy if this were part of the normal operation and lights always on could be the exception. Maybe have champagne for sale too? I hope you’ll consider endorsing this with Carnival. It seems the beards take your recommendations to heart.

    Thanks!

    Anna Marie

  3. Philip Hale says:

    For those of you who are sick of taking crap from self righteous self important CC members there IS an alternative. I found a blog site called Fun Time Cruisers on Facebook who LOVE Carnival, and cruising in general and don’t believe Critic is a badge of honor. That way perhaps we can reduce the “millions of CC members” to just the trolls who are welcome to stay there. I heartily support turning some lights off at night as well. Before they were remodeled on Liberty and Glory we used to go on the promenade above the bridge to see the stars. I miss that.

  4. Connie says:

    Hi –

    Have to agree with Catherine on the photo contest. In past cases some of those pictures that were submitted were years old. Doesn’t seem to make it fair.

    Thanks, John.

  5. charlie kelson says:

    john i just read david blackmore complaint about carnival not supplying food , etc for cruise critic parties, my comment is that if he is not happy with the carnival does business, the he should cruise on Royal or whatever line he likes. i think carnival does a great job with their ships and staff, obviously because they are the top cruise company, each company has their special way of doing things and cruisers have a choice, no one forces anyone to pick carnival if they dont like the way they operate, as for me, carnival is the cruise for my wife and ii, and our friends. keep up the good work!

  6. Jose says:

    Janice Getty, You are an admitted vegan and more power to you.
    You speak of how animals are slaughtered in a cruel way.
    Can you imagine being a plant and being pulled up by your roots? How cruel and painful to the vegetable. Vegetables have feelings to, and your lifestyle is killing them.

    I love animals, they are delicious and I am helping the planet. Eating beef reduces the flatula pushed into the atmosphere.

    Thanks now I can go take my meds.

  7. cherie says:

    Hi John
    I’ve been sailing with Carnival since 1980. First on Carnival, 1981 on the Mardi Gras. They were great ships! Nothing compared to the mega ships of today but they had charm like no other. I was one of the lucky 20 to attend the inaugural party for the Sunshine out of New Orleans. Then of course on the cruise the next day. I’m so excited and look forward to meeting you.

  8. Daniel West says:

    David Blackmore…you cruise critic types obviously don’t like the lack of freebies that comes with sailing on Carnival, so why don’t you stop beating a dead horse and just go sail on Royal Caribbean, NCL, HAL, Disney or whatever line will give you an all expenses paid trip so that you won’t bad-mouth them!

  9. Dale Fraser says:

    Hi John,
    First let me say you brighten my week with your blog and Facebook.
    Secondly let me say you must be a gentleman if you have the box set of West Wing. What a fantastic show it was and I watch my box set all the time.
    Have a look at “Newsroom” which was created by Aaron Sorkin also, it is brilliant.
    Sorry to hear you wont be our CD on the voyage to Sydney on Legend, but I am sure we will have a great time anyway.
    Anyway all the best, keep giving the free stuff to the whingers, aka Cruise Critic, and hope you get some time with your family soon.

  10. Donna says:

    @Vinnie Hartig. My family was on the Conquest for NYE 2000 (ringing in 2001). It was by far the most fun I have ever had on NYE. You will not be disappointed. Just make sure you attend the Lido Deck party!

  11. Luis R says:

    To John Steiner. Some ships, have open deck areas right there in the front of the ship that are totally dark at night when at sea to avoid affecting visibility from the bridge. Those areas are often called “secret” decks because they are accessible from the hallways inside the ship and not so obvious if you don’t know they exist. I don’t know if this is available in all ship classes but in the non Fantasy and Spirit class ships these areas exist on deck 5, 6 and 7 and on Dream class vessels I think also deck 9.

  12. John says:

    Lol John yes Miami airport is horrible!! I hate that you have to ride a train go upstairs down and up again just to find the bag drop..

  13. Joanne Serpa says:

    Hi John! I have a couple of silly little questions. Why does the disco always play the worst music? Is it the DJ’ s choice or does Carnival choose? My husband, brother, sis-in-law me & a fun group of friends like to cruise together and usually go in January. Occasionally the disco will do “theme” nights and the place fills up, but after an hour or so they switch back to that loud, obnoxious techno stuff and the place empties out. I can see playing that stuff on a spring break cruise, but in January it’s mostly 50 plus crowd. Second question…can you bring your own karaoke music? The selection on board is pretty stale? We’re sailing the Conquest in January out of Miami and I was just curious.

    • Cheryl D. says:

      Joanne, I just love Karaoke. We just got off the Splendor and I am pretty sure one lady gave the DJ her own CD to sing to. However, some of the sessions get pretty busy, so it may not be possible if the DJ is swamped with requests.

  14. Linda (Mom of DJ) says:

    John:

    After one to many extended wait times in the Security line in Miami, we finally broke down and try to fly First Class any time we have to go there.

    It really makes all the difference .

    Last time, we did not even have to take off anything, we did not have to go through the naked machine, nothing …. they just swabbed our sleeve and the bottom of our shoe for explosive residue and that was it.

    No waiting, no line…it was wonderful.

    Linda (Mom of your friend DJ)

    Quick and simple….

  15. Jodi Shimmel says:

    I saw the question to you about the vegan options on board. I am also a vegan, and I love Carnival, but I know during my cruises it will be next to impossible to get enough vegan food to eat on Carnival ships. Because of that I know I will have to also eat vegetarian while on board. (it’s also going to be difficult to eat vegan while in port, and this is of course no fault of Carnival’s).
    While I agree with Janice that your vegan options are very, very limited, I think your vegetarian options are wonderful. There is always at least one vegetarian option at every meal, and they are always quite tasty. I even discovered that my omnivore husband and I can eat in the steakhouse and they will prepare a vegetarian meal for me, so we may be doing that on our upcoming cruise in January.
    Thanks for being so informative and entertaining, I hope to meet you one day!

  16. Eileene Plummer says:

    John, I loved your discourse on Miami Int’l… made me glad I stayed in Ft Lauderdale before BC6!!

    Congrats on the weight-loss success, and wishing you much more. Might not recognize you come BC7. :)

    Lastly, I love the way you handled complainers Blackmore, Getty & Pavia. Obviously, all have attitude issues, or they would word their missives more pleasantly.

    Thanks for the chuckles!

  17. Stephanie A. says:

    Just so you know, if the pee in the urinal was frothy, that person aught to check for kidney disease….. Just sayin. Frothy pee is never a good thing :D LOL

  18. Stephanie A. says:

    Hey John,

    Do you ever give away a free cruise? That would be AMAZING. Just curious :D

    Stephanie

  19. DAVID METZGER says:

    John NYC is a great place to live but I wouldn’t want to visit there

    Thanx for the wine

    Cheers Mate

  20. Marianna says:

    Sorry titis mite be asking you and already ask question, but I haven’t seen it posted. Will you be on the Splendor the week of Thanksgiving ? I red that they are having a meet and greet on the first day at sea. Will this be sponsored by the ship? I was at one on RC and it was great. We were able to meet some of staff, and get an overview of ship operations. Thank you for any information you can give,

  21. Mike says:

    Wow, your colleague actually said that? What’s his Cruise Critic username? How rude!

Copyright 2011 John Heald. All Rights Reserved

css.php