July 29, 2014 -
This is the longest contract I completed as cruise director without a break for some years, not to mention, it is the longest time I have been away from my family, ever, so I must admit I am finding it hard. I was really hoping that Heidi and Kye would come to Alaska but that is now not going to happen. That’s because of our two Mums. I can’t say any more than that at the moment except to say that Heidi is needed in England and Holland and needed by the two ladies who brought us into this world and, right now, need her. I am, of course, racked with guilt and miss them all so very much. Maybe I will write more about this in the days ahead but today is not the time. Kye was looking forward to seeing where “Elsa and Anna” live and for those who have been living in a cave or an Amish community, they are the characters from the movie Frozen. If you haven’t seen it, don’t. Get help, gouge your own eyes out with a toothpick, do whatever you have to avoid seeing it. Heidi just wanted a break, somewhere to relax and enjoy the service and fun that you all enjoy plus, of course, for us to be a family again. Pausing here because it appears something has flown into my eyes making them water. OK, I am back.
Now, Heidi loves the sun and, for her, as much as she would have loved Alaska, she would have preferred beaches and sun and a Guy’s burger or 10. She is the exact opposite of me. Whereas I love the fresh air that Alaska brings, my wife loves golden beaches and blue water, that’s her idea of paradise. My idea of that is a hotel room full of Latvian women but that’s another story.
The worst holiday I ever had was the best holiday Heidi ever had. It cost a sodding fortune and although it was in my favourite island in the Caribbean, Jamaica, it was bloody awful. We were with two other couples, great friends but they all had beach bodies, while I looked like a manatee. Don’t get me wrong, the place was amazing in the sense of the staff, the service and location overlooking the sea in Montego Bay. They have one of those huge infinity pools and well….that’s it. No TV, no entertainment …….and each night after Heidi and I would come back to our villa, I would have to remove the two tons of rose petals that would be sprinkled over the bed. And despite the fact that I thought I had always gotten every one of them off the bed, I would always wake up with one secreted between my buttocks. Heidi loved it though….of course she did. Just the words “no TV” had her drooling, although her opinion changed somewhat when an insect with the head and upper torso of a mosquito and the rear end of a yak landed on her arm.
This experience was supposed to show us a taste of what life is like in paradise. That is as ridiculous as thinking you can get a taste of beef by licking a cow. On a real tropical island, like Tom Hanks did in that movie (forget the sodding name now), you have to smash your own teeth out with ice skates and talk to a basketball. I guess though that many bloggers reading this will, despite my misgivings, think that this does indeed sound like paradise……….I guess though we dream the tropical dream. But a few others and I were built to live indoors, with a huge flat screen TV and not wake up every morning with a rose petal shoved up your arse.
Anyway, I digress. The girls are not coming….and I am…….well ……..sad……….very sad and quite lonely, actually.
Time for today’s Q and A………..here we go
Alaska was everything you said it would be, John. Thank you for your hospitality and friendship and for providing us and so many with the gift of laughter. You are as funny live as you are here on the blog, funnier even. The ship has other stars on it and they include our cabin steward Jose and waiter, Deepak, and his crew. We are big coffee snobs and loved the girls at the coffee shop especially Anita from Romania who made the best mochas ever!! Everywhere we went we saw smiling happy crew except security people in the ports. I tried to get a smile out of one of them but it was impossible – are they not allowed to smile? ha ha ha. Thank you and the Carnival Miracle team for a wonderful cruise – we will be back on the Carnival Magic for Thanksgiving.
Thank you for the very kind words and I am thrilled that, like so many you, fell in love with Alaska. I will make sure those you mentioned received the words of praise and they also will be so proud. Have another wonderful cruise on the Carnival Magic and let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Best wishes.
Donald Bollin asks:
You often shout out how good you are and your KAN fans pat you on the back, yet when it comes to fixing real problems, you bury your fat head in the sand. This was posted on Cruise Critic and the OP said that you have not responded to her attempts to contact you. READ THIS!!
I have been a very loyal customer and have overlooked the decline in food/service over the years because I felt I was still getting good value for my money. I overlooked Carnival ruining my luggage on my December Carnival Dream cruise and being told they would only consider paying for a repair (even though the repair man told me there was no way to repair it), I overlooked when my ocean view cabin on the Carnival Sensation had the window boarded up for the duration of the cruise with no offer of compensation of the difference between an ocean view rate and inside rate, I’ve overlooked cabins with constant construction noise and my request to be moved denied, I’ve overlooked the free cruises going to many others but never having anything like that offered to me, I’ve overlooked my Platinum status being downgraded, but they have finally pushed me over the edge. I booked in June on a special rate which gave $200 OBC for my 7/26/14 cruise on the Carnival Freedom. Today I called to find out why the credit isn’t showing on my cruise documents. They insist that is not the rate I booked, even though I know for a fact that is the rate I chose. They have website problems (admitted by the tech I talked to), but they won’t fix my problem. A $200 on-board credit is not a huge thing, but combined with all the other aggravation I’ve dealt with over the last two years, I have had it. I have always been positive on all my cruises and have never let little things ruin my cruise. Carnival supervisors are totally unwilling to admit their website has problems and will not give me any type of compensation for their problem. This may sound petty to a lot of you, but I’m just not willing to keep allowing Carnival to get away with their poor customer service any longer. So, you won’t see me posting here anymore, and you won’t see me booking anymore Carnival cruises. The aggravation has now outweighed the enjoyment of the cruise. Goodbye to Carnival. Let the flaming begin. So put down that sandwich and do your job so we can see if your actions are as big as your stomach, LOL!!
Hello Donald Bollin
I read this and indeed I can sense how frustrated this person is. I have no idea who or what an OP is so please can you ask him/her to contact me immediately on firstname.lastname@example.org for my attention so that I can help all I can. Please ask them to include the booking number etc. Thanks for letting me know and I send my immediate apologies to the person who wrote this for the problems they have had and I will do all I can to insure we see them sail with us again. Best wishes.
Ricky Alexie asks:
Hi John, was wondering if this rule still exists? I remember this from a previous cruise. If I booked a cabin as a Platinum Guest this verified VIP boarding, but if someone was in a different cabin and different booking number as long as you used the same onboard account both cabins could check in through VIP. We sail in about two weeks, any information will be welcomed. Thanks Ricky
Hello Ricky Alexie
I hope that you have not already cruised and that you see this reply before you do. The rules have changed now and we no longer allow this, I am afraid. But your friends/family will be right behind you and ready to meet you on board and for the fun to start. Have a brilliant time. Best wishes.
Scott Vinson asks:
Carnival will lose my business if they don’t allow me to be vaping on my balcony or in my cabin or in a non-smoking area on the boat. I have been vaping for over a year. My doctor has now put on my notes “ex-smoker.” I am from New Jersey and have been doing this everywhere, just this morning with my wife in the Westfield Garden State Plaza and nobody stopped me and none of the thousands who walked past me complained. Carnival must get the fact that vaping save lives and change the rules.
Hello Scott Vinson
Thank you for writing and over the last few weeks since we changed our smoking rules, I have been learning lots more about this “vaping.” It seems to me that we may need to take another look at vaping at some point down the road but I must admit that this technology is very new so I’m sure there is going to be another side of this argument but, as I said, it is worthy of discussion and that’s what I assure you will happen. Best wishes.
Wanda Epps asks:
When is the smoking stopped on the Carnival Dream I have booked a cruise on the Carnival Dream in October. There are five of us going and we have balcony rooms since we all smoke. I feel that this is a big mistake for the cruise line. I have cruised seven times trying to get to platinum but I will have to think twice about booking anymore. This is the same thought of a lot of guests. I see that this is going to really hurt the cruise line
Hello Wanda Epps
The smoking ban on the balconies starts on October 9 and I understand that you are disappointed by this. We are looking at ways to make our smoking areas more comfortable. I thank you for your loyalty and please let me know if you need anything before you sail. Have a brilliant time. Best wishes.
Kenny Lozano asks:
I have questions for our first Carnival cruise because we did NCL twice from New York and was told this was the place to come!!!! My cruise is on Carnival Splendor 8/20 with my wife and two kids. My son is 22 and my daughter 17. We are all a big family and need a table not a booth with armless chairs for us all. Is there a weight limit on the horseback riding in Half Moon Cay? If so what is it? My travel agent ________-from ______ emailed Carnival but they did not know so was told to ask you. My daughter and wife want to go so will need to know if they can, both are over 250 pounds. It is our 30th wedding anniversary on the 17th and the boat is in Nassau so can you send us something nice. My travel agent said to ask you that too and she said she is a big fan of yours and knows you.
Hello Kenny Lozano
Thanks for writing and I am sure that this first experience of the fun we have at Carnival will not be your last. There is, I am afraid, a weight limit of 250 pounds for the horseback riding tour in Half Moon Cay but there will be so much more for you to do on this island paradise. Have a chat with the shore excursion team on board or indeed your cruise director and they will help you decide what to do. I have asked the maître d to assign you a table as you requested so that will not be a problem. Please can I ask that the day before your cruise you send me your cabin number to my facebook.com/johnheald page and that way I will remember to send you a little something for your anniversary? I wish you all the best of times. Best wishes.
Mark Bailey asks:
We returned from two back-to-back eastern and western Caribbean cruises on the Carnival Sunshine a couple of weeks ago. The energy of Jamie Dee is something else! We are Platinum and I just received a post cruise survey about the new VIFP. It asked some questions that made me think, what extra privileges would I want to see? This is what I said: I am not sure I would load up too much on the privileges. I love the treatment on embarkation and disembarkation, I love the party and I love the laundry. It is fun to feel a bit special for a couple of weeks. Everyone is extra nice to you but Carnival staff is routinely nice to everyone anyway. On the other hand, you do get the occasional dirty look when you skip the lines getting on or off the ship. I think having privileges is great but I wouldn’t overdo it. Carnival needs new cruisers to come back again, you don’t want them to feel resentful at feeling they are second class. Like all things it is a balance, you want your loyal cruisers to be appreciated but you don’t want to alienate new cruisers. We enjoyed our red and blue cruises just as much. I don’t need more privileges to make me come back to Carnival, we would anyway, it’s what we like to do. That’s how we got to Platinum, not why we did it. Just a comment, you do a great job and thanks for listening.
Hello Mark Bailey
What a refreshing post to read and one I thank you so very much for writing. I have always hoped that people continue to cruise for the experience. Certainly, loyalty deserves recognition through various perks and we will continue to try and enhance them. But I can see that you cruise because, well, you love cruising and that is simply brilliant. There will be news on our loyalty program soon and, until then, I thank you so much for writing and hope to see you soon
Debbie Beyers asks:
Mr. Heald – we will be sailing on the Carnival Sunshine on April 18, 2015 – we finally convinced my brother and his family to sail with us. Unfortunately, one of his sons will be missing as he is in Afghanistan (US Air Force). We will be celebrating two birthdays…..BUT because I am such a planner and I like having as much info as possible – I have three questions….First, do you know who will be our cruise director; second, what is the “American Menu” and third, what are the rules of the contest (not sure it’s really a contest) I’ve seen on Facebook — the pictures of the “first guest receiving their free cocktail at the Red Frog?” Looking forward to hearing back from you. Thank you in advance for your time.
Hello Debbie Beyers
You must be looking forward so much to your cruise and I am sorry to see one of your family will not be with you and, please, if you get chance, thank him for his service. OK, the American Table is a new menu we’re testing with lots of exciting choices including the new Ports Of Call items celebrating the culinary dishes of the place where the ship is docked. The contest on Facebook for the first guests in the pub is simple. The first guests to walk in on embarkation day and order a drink, get that drink or drinks for free. Providing they are not on a back to back cruise everyone, has a half decent chance of winning and I hope you do indeed win. I cannot say yet who the CD will be as we are still working on the schedule for next year. I am here if you need me and on Facebook, so let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Have a brilliant time. Best wishes.
Gail Keilty asks:
Hi John: we have been fortunate enough to sail with you. I am turning to you because I have had a myriad of problems with Carnival and less than cooperative customer service reps. However, we keep booking because we take our grandchildren who love the kids club. We booked the 8/9 cruise on the Carnival Liberty out of Port Canaveral. We selected early dining. I called back the next day to request a table for five only since last Thanksgiving cruise we were seated with a family who would not speak to us and who were rude because apparently they requested to sit alone, too. The rep told me they could not take any requests only aboard the ship that was what we did when seated with the rude family and were told no room. Sorry. So, the rep suggested I contact you, the cruise director guru. I was surprised that she would refer me to your blog, isn’t that her job to resolve these issues? In any event, I could take all the help I can get since no one from Carnival never listens to me. I have heard of my friends getting perks, upgrades, etc. we never get any offers even though we have had problem after problem. Not relevant, so sorry to bother you with thus nonsense, but how does one get a table for five in early seating? Thank you so much and hope all is well with you.
Hello Gail Keilty
I can see how frustrated you are and I am glad, therefore, that you have written to me. The customer service people in Miami cannot take dining requests as in table sizes, etc. This is arranged only by the maître d on board. However, the simple fact is that is you would like a table for five that I will be able to help you. Please can I ask that you to send me the cabin numbers five days before the cruise to my facebook.com/johnheald page and I will do all I can for you. Have a great time together and I am here if you need me. Best wishes.
Leslie Norvell asks:
I will be cruising with 40 other Cruise Critic members on the Carnival Breeze August 16 to St Maarten, St Kitts, San Juan and Grand Turk. On the 17th we have paid for a party with open drinks at the piano bar. I have read that Carnival does not provide wrist bands like NCL does so I would like to request a security staff person to stand at the door and check the printed invitation that each person who has been invited to attend will have. Right now the drinks have been paid for on my credit card so I need to make sure non-invited Cruise Critic members or any other passengers don’t come in and get drinks. Can you arrange a security staff to make sure this does not happen? My cabin number is **** and the booking for this cruise is ****** I also need to ask for door prizes as well for our raffle prize drawings. We are all excited about this cruise and need to make sure their party goes well. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Hello Leslie Norvell
It is going to be a great cruise for you all and those ports are some of my favourites. I will be happy to send you four raffle prizes to the party and a staff member will deliver them there for you. I won’t though be able to have a security person there, they are very busy and I would hope that maybe you or another person attending could stand at the door and check the invitations. I hope that will be OK and I wish you all the best of times together. Best wishes.
Michael Kelly asks:
Hi John: I almost hate to say this but I am a Diamond VIFP with Carnival. I have read your blog and when I read that people want special treatment in cruising because they think they are so special and deserve it, I kind of understand it but when it comes out in print, they really do sound like the uptight people of class distinction we saw when I watched the Titanic. I have seen this when cruising before. I am retired and worked hard as a butcher/meatcutter in a store for years. It paid my bills and gave me a pretty good life. I remember when cruising years ago, I ran into some guys what seemed like nice people at our table and they were all professional business men bragging about their lives. I was never ashamed of my work and I listened to their boring conversations of money and uppity ways. When they asked me what I did for a living, I told them I was a butcher for 35 years. The looks on their faces were priceless. One even commented that, I think I knew a butcher one time. I returned with, I think I met a banker one time too but he didn’t impress me at that time either. Class is something people think they have but if you have to talk about it, you really don’t have any class at all. Carnival is a cruise line for the regular person who wants to enjoy life without having to put on a top hat and cane to impress the next guy. I am sorry I haven’t been cruising with Carnival for about three years now. My wife passed away and I won’t travel alone, so I started taking my wheelchair bound handicap daughter along with me. Living in Northern California, it is difficult to fly with her to get to one of Carnival’s piers in L.A, so we have been traveling out of San Francisco on Princess Cruises which is also owned by Carnival. Princess is nice but the class distinction is even worse on Princess. They have people that almost live on ships and have done over 100 cruises which makes my 28 seem like nothing. I am running out of destinations to go leaving and returning out of San Francisco with Princess and I really do miss cruising with Carnival. Do you think Carnival will ever start cruising out of SF? A quick note to the smokers. Carnival was one of the last cruise lines to allow smoking on balconies staterooms. I, too, am a cigar smoker and life is always changing, so either stay home and enjoy smoking or change with the times and smoke in the areas allowed. The world isn’t going to put up with second hand smoke anymore and we all have to live with that or die with it your way. Thanks John.
Hello Michael Kelly
Please never be afraid to say that you are a Diamond guest with us. I read your post carefully and it shows that you have worked hard and saved hard and you have spent your money and your vacation time with us and, for that, we are forever grateful. I am so sorry to hear of the passing of your wife. I am sure you must miss her terribly and I send you my sincere condolences. I hope that one day we shall see you back with us at Carnival but, of course, I understand the challenges you face traveling with your daughter and if there is anything at all I can ever do for you please ask me. Until then I thank you for this wonderfully written post and hope to shake your hand one day soon. Best wishes.
I am a practicing member of the Jewish religion and cruising with you on the Carnival Miracle to Alaska 8/19 with my family. We have ordered kosher food and have read reports that the quality is awful. Do you have kosher kitchens? My other concern is that the current attacks by Palestine terrorists and as family we need to pray each day for Israel and our family there. Is there a room you can offer me to do this and invite other Jewish passengers? This is our first try at a Carnival cruise.
It will be my pleasure to welcome you for your first Carnival cruise with us and I hope it will be a brilliant time for you and the family. We do not have a kosher kitchen, I am afraid, and bring our prepackaged and cooked food onboard through a vendor, I am sure you will be pleased at what we offer. I would be happy to help you with organizing a place for you and other members of the Jewish faith to meet and one of the staff members here will be in touch with you when you get on board. Please let me know if there is anything else we can do to help and I wish you the best of times. Best wishes to you all.
And that’s all we have time for today. Thanks everyone for your continued support of the blog.
Here is the list of the Dive In Movies we will show on the 12 ships that have the big screens on Lido.
XMEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST (PG‐13)
FROZEN: THE FINAL CHAPTER/UNCUT (R)
Plot: Now 25 years old, Elsa has rumpy pumpy on top of a glacier with Olaf. She is screaming “let it go, let it go” but her passion is so intense that her powers are unleashed and she freezes his snowman’s carrot and it falls off
RIO 2 (G)
THE VOW (PG‐13)
THE OTHER WOMAN (PG‐13)
GROWN UPS 2 (PG‐13)
RIDE ALONG (PG‐13)
THE HOBBIT: DESOLATION OF SMAUG (PG‐13)
DIANA (PG 13)
THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN 2 (PG‐13)
CAPTAIN AMERICA: – THE WINTER SOLDIER (PG‐13)
Enjoy these wonderful movies with your complimentary popcorn. Being here on the Carnival Miracle I do miss the big screen and I am going to talk to the beards about adding a big screen to the stage area on this class of ship. I really think we could use one……let’s see what they say. Anyway, the lady beards in Miami are really investing a lot of time and money to make sure we have more great movies and content on the big screen and wait, just wait for Carnival Vista.
Let’ see who is sailing with us today as we start another Alaskan cruise:
Total Guests 2,587
French Canada 7
Guests under 18 502
Diamond Guests 3
Platinum Guests 119
Most Popular Last Names
Yang – 18
Smith – 15
Johnson – 11
Top Three Most Represented States
Guests whose last name begins with the letter “X” 4
It has been a busy few days on board and on Carnival’s social media where Mischelle who runs our Carnival Facebook page and I have found ourselves having to keep an eye on some interesting conversations from writers who simply make things up in order to get a huge wooden spoon out and stir the pot.
Take the two examples from last week. First, I had to write an apology and a retraction to the message of sympathy I had written about crew members being on the plane that was so tragically shot down in Ukraine. I had read what looked like two credible reports which turned out to be …… well……….not credible. I felt terrible, I felt like an idiot.
Next up were comments saying how angry people were that we had decided to cancel the turndown service, which we hadn’t, and will not be doing…..how, where, why, who? Then a few days later someone posted on Facebook that their friend was on the Carnival Legend and he/she had reported that the lights had all gone out, the engines had stopped and the ship was in trouble. Again…………not credible. Not even a shred of truth. Why would someone say that the lights were going on and off ………..maybe that person was …..? Oh I don’t know……… blinking?
The problem is that when someone writes bollocks like these two examples above, it causes a tsunami of comments and conjecture and it causes the conspiracy theorists to dive right into the conversation. Wonder if he is part of a conspiracy theory club. There must be conspiracy theory clubs around the world. I bet they have a secret handshake to get through the door.
I bet they sit at their meetings telling each other that Princess Diana was killed by the Association of World Florists so that they would make millions as the world mourned and bought flowers. Another plaid shirt-wearing theorist would have told him to bugger off saying that she was killed by MI6 on the orders of the Queen who sent James Bond to have her whacked.
Some people’s desperation for conspiracy theories seems to be as great as ever and people like these continue to say that JFK was the victim of a CIA assassination plot. The moon landing was faked. September 11 was staged by the government. And although not obviously on the same level there are the conspiracy theories that believe Carnival will next week be holding daily Scientologist meetings and that for elegant night everyone will be required to wear a green graduation cap and gown. Anyway, Wonder Woman Mischelle and I are on the lookout for these ridiculous and inflammatory conspiracy theories and those who post blatant bollocks in order to stir up people on Carnival’s social media pages. Honestly, people who write these kinds of posts fill me with an uncontrollable need to use my cigar cutter on their nipples.
And, finally, the prodigal son has returned. Yes, joining me today is my new Assistant Cruise Director, Calvyn Sean Champagne Hyphen Martens. Yes Laurel and Hardy are reunited again and suddenly the Carnival Miracle is a lot ummmm………ummmmm……..well, let’s just say it’s more happy and light on its propellers. Calvyn is so many things. He is brilliantly funny, he is hysterical to be with, he dresses like a vagrant and his hair looks like it was washed in the left over grease from Guy’s Burger Joint. His improv skills are sensational; he is caring, loving and as manly as a pair of Richard Simmons shorts.
He is inspiring and he loves and he has breath straight from Satan’s arm pit. He is a great friend. Yep, Calvyn is all these things and by covering as CD on the Carnival Pride these past few weeks he has proven he is ready to be a full-time cruise director and, over the next few months, he will be just that. I am only with him here for two weeks before he goes to cover as CD on the Magic for three weeks and then he will be back here on Carnival Miracle. Calvyn Shawn Champagne Hyphen Martens is quite simply unique and it’s great to have him back. Wish you were here.