May 5, 2014 -
There is more chance of Donald Sterling being asked to be Ambassador of the United Nations than there is of me ever being asked to be top beard for Carnival Cruise Lines. OK, I would enjoy being president for a week and be involved in important decisions like hiring more Latvian supermodels as crew and making Southend on Sea, Essex, UK, the home port for the Carnival Vista. But deep down I know I will never be president of Carnival Cruise Lines, a senior beard or indeed any kind of beard because I know my limitations and when it comes to what is required to be a beard, those limitations are massive. In the old days and if you wanted to present an idea to the beards you either picked up a phone, wrote an e-mail or stood up at a meeting and said, “I know, let’s do this.”
These days, it is all so different and to present any idea to Gerry and the beards, you have to build what is called “a deck.” Now this is beard speak for a visual program using Powerpointlessbollockswindowsmacpowerbookmyarse which, by beard law, has to be 377 pages long and include lots of numbers and columns and projections and dollar signs. The problem is that — considering I have the computer capabilities of a slug – it would take me two years to build this sodding deck and by the time I had done it, the idea I had would be outdated!
But the less senior beards who report to Gerry and his more senior beards seem to have this down and knock out deck after deck and idea after idea and wait until you see what they have planned for the aforementioned Carnival Vista!
“Why are you writing about being a beard,” I hear you cry? Well, as I hurtle towards 50 at breakneck speed I have been asking myself, “What’s next?” as President Bartlett would say. I think Alaska and I are going to suit each other really well and tomorrow when I finally take over as a cruise director, I think I will like it even more. But what, indeed, do I do next? I don’t know the answer, I really don’t. Maybe I could do more social media from home and travel every other month onto a ship? I don’t know what’s next, except I want my relationship to continue with Carnival for many more years to come.
Oh one more thing, if I ever do get to be president of Carnival Cruise Lines I will allow myself one day, just one sodding day, on the blog and on Facebook where I can reply to questions without fear of losing my job……….Oh what true joy that would be. “No, I don’t apologise, it was a sodding joke you blithering idiot. Get a sense of humour and stop proving why some animals eat their young.” Oh, and anyone who calls me “Heald,” as president I will be allowed to strip them naked and have Fun Ship Freddy flick their buttocks with a wet Carnival beach towel. I would film it, build a deck about it and show it on the big screen.
Talking of questions, time to crack on with today’s Q&A. Here we go.
Hello John: My family and I are sailing May 8-12, 2014. I would like to know if there will be theme days or nights on the cruise, and if so how soon will we found out. Thanks.
My colleague, Michelle, tells me you are sailing on the Carnival Victory and they will have an elegant night on the sea day before Grand Turk but no other theme nights. I am sure you will have a brilliant time and please let me know if you have any questions. Best wishes.
Curran Nichols asks:
John, I just returned from a March 23 cruise on Carnival Sunshine with my family. It was our last family vacation prior to our 17-year-old son goes into the Marine Corps in June. Overall it was a great cruise on a really well done ship with one big head scratcher. Special kudos to the Camp Carnival staff. My eight year old son had an amazing time there. He did not want to leave. Our room steward, Jury, was amazing. From day one, he referred to all of us by
name which makes a surprisingly big impact. The shows were good, although I found the family game show fell a little flat. The food was overall good. The dining room was a little inconsistent but overall still very good. The wok and Italian stations were a lunch time favorite. The Havana Bar is an underutilized gem. The culinary highlight though was JiJi’s. Amazing food with a fun and social presentation. The staff on the ship overall were great. Now the head scratcher. My wife and I did The Chefs Table. A big part of our desire to this over a dinner at the steakhouse was the advertised tour of the galley and seeing how the molten chocolate cake is made. The dinner was enjoyable with appetizers in the piano bar and dinner in a private space in the steak house. The presentation was nice and the food good. There was a brief performance by one of the magicians which was fun. And then it ended with a thank you and good night from the chef. No tour. No explanation of why the tour was cancelled. Just over. The confirmation letter even told us to wear close toed shoes because of the tour. No explanation, just thank you and good night. While in no way a big enough bummer to hurt the overall excellence of the cruise, it was a disappointment. If we would have known there was no tour, we would have booked the steak house for our couple night out. As I said, at the beginning, overall a great cruise and a thank you to all who made this family vacation one to remember for a very long time. P.S. If you could find out what happened to the tour, please let me know.
Hello Curran Nicholas
Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful review which I will send to the chef and the hotel director among others. I have no idea why you did not get a tour as that is very much a part of what The Chef’s Table is all about and I apologise sincerely why this did not happen. Let me find out why and let you know what the story is here as I am sure there must be a good reason. I am so glad you had fun and I do hope we see you and the family again very soon. Best wishes to you all.
Hello Curran, I was just informed that there was a technical problem within the galley that night which meant there were lots of people working on repairs so a tour could not be carried out. Now that should have been explained to you and it is not good that it was not. Please accept my apologies and those of the hotel director who wrote to me with this explanation.
Deidra Grafton asks:
I need to bring to Carnival’s attention the embarrassing situation me and my life partner, Helene, were put in by our rude cabin steward _______ on the Carnival Dream last week cabin number _____. We came to the cabin and put our bags in and saw the bed was a king bed as we wanted. Then came back to the cabin and found that he had made them into twin bed setup. I could not find him until the next morning and had to tell him that we wanted the king bed back. Does Carnival not understand or acknowledge that there are millions of lesbian and gay couples that deserve the same service as heterosexuals or was this just because our cabin steward was anti-gay? Helene was in tears and no apology was rendered by Carnival.
I do apologise for this because I absolutely understand why you found this upsetting. I will send this to the managers on the ship so they are aware and I am sure your cabin steward felt bad about his mistake and I am positive that he certainly did not mean or intend to be “rude.” I hope that aside from this, you both had a wonderful cruise and that we see you both soon. Best wishes.
Maria Kaczor asks:
Our first Carnival experience was on the Carnival Paradise last week. Overall it was really good but I have one HUGE COMPLAINT. Why is nothing offered when the daily paper comes to the cabin for passengers like me who cannot read the SMALL PRINT? I found it impossible to read. They used a very small font and nothing was done to help me. This is discriminatory in the United States.
Hello Maria Kaczor
You are right indeed when you say the Fun Times has really small print because with so much to tell our guests about, we have very little room for it all. However, we do provide two services for those guests who have sight problems. There is an audio channel on every state room TV on each ship that will provide an audible and complete run down of all the day’s events, shows and meal times. Then if you request through our special needs desk ahead of time or indeed through me here or on Facebook or directly to Guest Services Desk on the ship a large print Fun Times can be given to you each day. I apologise that we did not communicate these options to you during your cruise and please do let me know if I can help you before we see you again. Best wishes.
Benjamin Linka asks:
I read your blog from time to time so I am used to your biased, unfounded and sick comments about the environment and those of us who cherish this planet we call Earth. Your comment today suggesting that Carnival passengers be given guns to shoot at birds that may fly over the cruise boat took your lurid humor to a whole new level. You obviously are void of a decent education so I actually have pity for you somewhat. Keep your comments to yourself because from what I understand this is a supposed page offering advice to cruisers and not some platform sickening jokes and anti-environmental opinion.
Hello Benjamin Linka
Thank you so much for writing and I did want to move this comment forward to answer today as it is current and needed an answer. Thursday’s blog was viewed 70,289 times and I have seen four different comments about my end joke about trapshooting. I do apologise for upsetting you, that is never my intention, Benjamin, and yet it was a joke and I am surprised that you and three others took it seriously. I love animals, I really do, and in hindsight I should be a bit more careful with this type of humor but sometimes I just cannot stop myself. I do again apologise for upsetting you and I hope that one day we can discuss together on a great cruise like this one to Alaska our different opinions on the environment and talk as men do. Best wishes.
Curlene Ravidas asks:
WE WILL BE SAILING ON THE BREEZE ON MAY 24TH 2014. WOULD LIKE
TO FIND OUT WHO IS THE CRUISE DIRECTOR, HOPING ITS BUTCH I SAILED ON
THE BREEZE IN JAN 2013. HE WAS THE CRUISE DIRECTOR THEN, HE REALLY
IS AN AWESOME GUY…ALL THE SAME PLEASE LET ME KNOW WHO WOULD BE ON THE BREEZE ON MAY 24TH…THANKS CURLENE…
Hello Curlene Ravidas
You will be very happy to know it will indeed be Butch. Have a brilliant time. Best wishes.
Ray Griffie asks:
Hi John: my family and I just finished my 11th cruise on Carnival (Breeze, 3/15/14). I have a question/comment on the Cheers program. When we sign up for the program, the 15% gratuity is added to the charge. When ordering a drink from a bartender, or server, does their portion of the tip somehow get traced back and credited to them? If not, are they expected to wait on us for nothing… and Carnival keeps their gratuity? It would be great if Carnival somehow reimburses them for those tips… I feel guilty NOT leaving another one…. but feel as if we are getting double dipped and the servers are getting the short end of the ship on a stick…. can you clarify?
Hello Ray Griffe
Thanks for asking, that’s very kind of you. The gratuities are pooled between the bar staff in this case, Ray, and they all really do appreciate it. If there is one specific bar waiter or bar tender you wish to tip you can remove the 15% and tip that server in cash which he or she will keep then. But most people use multiple servers so that’s why the gratuities are pooled. I hope this helps you and please let me know if you have any questions. Best wishes.
Daniel McDonald asks:
John: Just out of curiosity, why are the beards called “beards?” Do members of upper management have affinity for facial hair, or is there a slightly less obvious, more esoteric reason?
Hello Daniel McDonald
Funny, were just talking about them at the start of the blog so this is good timing indeed. I have always associated those people who make the big decisions in life with having brains and beards. And so I started calling the Carnival top management “beards” and while some have beards many do not, especially the ladies but the name has stuck both with gather guests and with crew and shore side employees as well. I do hope that explains and thanks for the great question. Best wishes.
Simon Montfort asks:
When is the Carnival Magic going to a dry dock to get upgrades and what will she get!! Why the news blackout on this!! Much discussion on the boards but no answers. Something to hide, Heald?
Hello Simon Montfort
No sir, nothing to hide at all. Carnival Magic will be in drydock from February 8 – March 18 2015. We have yet to announce what she will receive during this period and although you and a few others may look for a conspiracy theory, there is none. We just have not announced it yet and when we do I will post the information here or on Facebook and as always try and keep you informed. Best wishes.
Joseph Spence asks:
My wife and I are booked on our first cruise on August 30, 2014 on Carnival Fantasy. She became ill last year and this is the one vacation she has always wanted to take so I want to make it really special for her. Is there anything you could suggest? Thanks and I enjoy reading your blog. Get quite a few chuckles out of it!!!
Hello Joseph Spence
I am sorry to read that your wife has been unwell and I do wish her nothing but health and happiness for future days. Please contact me here three weeks before your cruise or two days before on my Facebook page (facebook.com/johnheald) and I will see what we can do. Best wishes to you both.
Teresa Bowman asks:
Hello John! I am currently on my 7th cruise with Carnival and I am on board Carnival Magic. I only have one concern. This is my second time on the Carnival Magic. Both times I have run into problems with the mini bar. Both times I have been charged for something I do not use. The last time I did not take an inventory of what was in the mini bar before I removed those items and replaced them with my own and was charged for items. This time as I was taking inventory I found that a bottle of Vitamin Water had been half drank and then put back in the minibar. I took the bottle out and put in on the vanity and then told my cabin steward. I made it clear that I did not drink nor open the bottle. I explained to him that I had brought my own water (Ozarka), cranberry juice, Gatorade and Monster energy drink on board. I was charged anyways. I have had it removed from my bill. I just wish that there was a better way to avoid this happening again. Are we able to request that everything be removed from the minibar prior to us embarking? Possibly when we are booking? Thanks for taking the time to read this….and I hope to cruise with you one day!
Hello Teresa Bowman
You’re absolutely right, this should not happen and I will pass this on to all the right people. Please allow me to apologise for the obvious frustration this has caused and I will make sure its addressed. You can next time ask me and I will have the contents removed before you embark the ship. Thanks again and I remain here at your service. Best wishes.
And that’s all for today. Thank you all for your comments and suggestions.
So after seven and a half months, tomorrow the ship will be in Seattle and I will become a Carnival Cruise Director again as I join the guests for their Alaskan adventure. Here is tomorrow’s itinerary, who is sailing with us and some more information on this cruise.
Seattle Safety Briefing at 3:30pm
Depart at approx. 4:00pm
At Sea 10:30 am Travel Talk
2:00pm Naturalist Talk Elegant Night
Sitka, Alaska Noon – 8:30pm
Juneau, Alaska 10:00am – 10:00pm
Cruising Glacier Bay National park rangers are on board and conduct seminars and talk about the wildlife, etc. 4:00pm after Glacier Bay.
Ketchikan 7:00am – 1:00pm
7:30pm – Midnight Victoria British Columbia, Canada
Here’s who is on board this cruise:
TOTAL GUESTS 2128
FRENCH CANADIAN 10
GUESTS UNDER 18 112
3 SERVICE DOGS 2 FOR SIGHT IMPAIRED GUESTS 1 FOR SLEEP APNEA
So, there you go and, of course, I wish you were here with us.
Let’s talk about the shows and, after lots of deliberation and after watching the shows this cruise I have decided to go with 8:15pm and 10:15pm shows. Brent, the wonderful and very Canadian CD here, has experimented this past cruise with early shows starting at 6:30pm.
But with it being so light outside and with so much eye-catching Alaskan scenery to enjoy, the attendance for these early shows has been very, very low. So my idea then is to treat the ship like any other and do dinner and then shows and also to keep the nightlife going as late as possible and make sure the fun is the same here in Alaska as it is in Cozumel, Cabo or Curacao.
I have four great comedians, Smiley Joe Wiley, Lenny Schmitt, Tony Esposito and Lowell Sanders, plus hypnotist Jac Rene and of course three big production shows including my favourite, Ticket To Ride plus a little bit of my silliness thrown in, as well.
And with dinner times being 5:30pm and 7:45pm and, of course, with 700 or more on Your Time Dining I think what I have planned should, I hope complement the meal times and allow the guests to experience everything.
Tonight, I will host my Welcome Aboard show and see if I can remember how to make people laugh. It will also be a busy day because we have a new cast of dancers and singers joining the ship and, along with them, a new 10-piece orchestra with two singers, as well. Yep, this a new policy where the orchestras will join the ship together, leave the ship six months or so later together and have for the last three weeks, been rehearsing together in a studio in Miami.
This means we have a new 10-piece orchestra with two singers who I have scheduled already to do some fun things around the ship plus, of course, they will play for the three shows that the new cast of singers and dancers will be rehearsing over the next three weeks here on the Carnival Miracle.
One of the things the orchestra will be doing will be playing live jazz for Cigars Under the Stars on deck 9 aft. OK, it may be a bit “chilly on the willy,” as we say in the UK but we will have hot red wine, you know the glue wine stuff or whatever it’s called, hot chocolate, etc. and a chance for cigar lovers to enjoy some time together accompanied by live jazz. I may have to provide the band with a few shots of Jagemeister before they play up there but I think it will be a wonderful event…………..or I might just be totally bonkers and just looking for a chance to smoke a decent cigar. I will let you know how it goes.
Also joining us will be a brilliant band called Music Unlimited from the Philippines. I have worked with Ike and his band for many years and so it will be great to welcome them back and to listen to their wonderful party music again. I also have Adam in the piano bar who is engaging and very talented and two brilliant soloists in Vinnie and Dylan. I have great passion for live music and I know the entertainment beards have big plans to add more across the fleet and here on the Carnival Miracle, I have some of the best which I know the guests will appreciate for sure.
So the ship has lots to offer and the crew here is ready to dedicate themselves to providing the best of service with the biggest dollop of fun at sea. But as I get ready to sit my flaccid arse in the cruise director chair once again I know that not everything will be perfect and for newcomers to this blog I wanted to mention that I will continue to write about the good and the not so good. This may include some of the more “interesting” comments made by guests. And if I do write about comments I receive or that are part of our guest services icare report I will never disclose names and always make sure I write about what we have done to help these guests and discuss their comments so we can continue to learn…………………..and yes, yes…………maybe one or two will be posted simply because they provide……..ummmm…………………..entertainment.
So, tomorrow is the big day and tomorrow I shall also return to Facebook to start answering your questions there as well and post all the news. We are three or four hours behind EST and 8 or 9 hours behind the UK which has made finding the right time to talk to Heidi, Kye and Mum rather challenging. There are also times and places here in Alaska where there is bugger all internet connection so please don’t panic if you don’t hear from me for a while, I haven’t been mistaken for a blubbery seal and been eaten by a polar bear.
This has been a strange kind of blog because it has for the most part been devoid of humour ………….no change there then some of you are no doubt saying but I wanted this blog to be more about my plans and what we are working on to make this Alaskan season the best ever and less about my underpants. I realise that I talk a lot about my bottom and its movements but let’s face it, our bowels can be a great leveler. Prince Charles, President Obama, the Pope and Pine Bluff must have suffered with galloping gut rot after eating a rancid oyster or some undercooked chicken. I am sure President Obama has come out of the White House bathroom and said to Michelle, “Oh, I wouldn’t go in there for an hour or so” while waving an executive order under his nose. So, the blogs are back and you can expect the usual mix of information, comment, conjecture and bottoms. Yep, it’s time to be a CD again. I am excited and ready to go and, of course……………I wish you were here.