August 8, 2014 -
In the old days every crew member from the captain on down were paid in cash. Every two weeks we would go down to stand in line at the paymaster’s office and get our envelopes with our salaries in it. Usually my contained loads of $1 bills, I think the paymaster must have thought I had a lap dancing fetish — and if I find out who told him I will use a blow torch on their nipples.
These days things are different. Crew members have two choices — they can have their salary paid directly into their bank account or have it placed on an internal debit card belonging to a very popular American bank. Most, including me, included take the debit card option. We have two cards: the primary card which can be used like a debit card in shops, ATMs and lap dancing clubs anywhere the “Maestro” sign is displayed and a secondary card held by another family member. Heidi has my main card (shocker) and transfers money from it to our English bank account. This turnaround day in Seattle, I asked Heidi to transfer some money from her main card onto my supplementary card so I could withdraw some cash to tip Ariel my cabin steward, buy a few cigars and some hemorrhoid cream. But bugger me, I could not find the card anywhere. I searched high and low and low and high and both Ariel and my personal assistant Dee and Calvyn helped me. We turned my cabin here on the Carnival Miracle inside out but couldn’t find the card anywhere. I had last used it some weeks ago to buy stuff the one time I had gotten off in Seattle so it was now somewhere either in Big Bubba’s clothing store hidden between two pairs of XXXXL trousers or someone from Nigeria was using it to buy some oil drilling equipment.
Obviously, I had to cancel it. This meant phoning a very happy bank phone system that asked me to say my 16-digit number. I read it out. But it didn’t understand. So I swapped my now English-American voice that 27-plus years on ships, has left me sounding like a cross between Davy Jones from the Monkees and Tony Soprano and used my best Hugh Grant voice and tried again. It still didn’t understand. And then the ship’s satellite phone decided to drop the signal and let out a huge “OH FFS.” Eventually, after tapping 7,477 sodding numbers into the phone, I was transferred to a nice man who asked me my mother’s maiden name, my date of birth, my postal code (zip code), what I had for dinner on May 18 and how big my gentleman’s sausage is. Eventually he said he would cancel the card immediately…….along with all the others in my name.
“Excuse me,” I said. “What? No, you can’t do that.” Canceling all the cards would include cancelling the main card my wife uses for food shopping and for petrol (gas) and for important items like milk, Kye’s stuff, dog food for Breeze and essential items for Heidi herself like gossip magazines, throw cushions and scented sodding candles. The chap on the phone was very understanding and said he was very sorry but went on to say that if I cancelled my card, then my wife and my daughter and my dog would starve and there was nothing he could do about it as the computer only allowed him one option, cancel everything. He explained that someone could find the card and use it buy a 50 Shades of Grey starter kit or a washing machine. I decided to complain using the skills our guests had taught me these past years and a supervisor came to the phone……..and told me there was bugger all she could do either .
There was no social media page for me to write to and no fat blog with a Facebook page to write to. It does make me think that at Carnival we give you so many different ways to tell us what you enjoy (or what you didn’t) and many ways for you to ask for help and I know you all appreciate that along with our help desk and guest services people in Miami who truly do care that in Mischelle and myself you have a place to ask for help, vent your frustration and, of course, to tell us why you love sailing with us ……….and one of us will answer wearing only underpants.
Time for today’s Q and A, let’s crack on.
Jason Adams asks:
Good Evening John: I just wanted to drop a line to thank you for the hours of entertainment you provide us on your blog and Facebook. I would like to commend you on how you handle some of the “people” you deal with and the things they complain about. As I just sat and read the recent post about “Ship Life” you discussed the crew members that make our trip so unforgettable and the “people” they have to put up with (and I know the majority of your guest are not like some) and do so with a smile every time (without fail in my experience) to take care of US. My family and I will be on Carnival Dream March 2015 and will be celebrating our 21st wedding anniversary and will be sure to show the staff that will be catering to our needs that we appreciate them. I hope to get to cruise with you one day as I would like to sit down and chew the fat with you. Have a GREAT day and I wish you fair winds on all your travels.
Hello Jason Adams
May I start this reply by thanking you for your service as a firefighter and I hope you have a long and happy retirement. I also want to thank you for your wonderful words and I am so glad that you enjoy my daily musings. Please let me know if there is anything I can do before you sail and I will be here for you. Thanks again and I hope to shake your hand one day soon. Best wishes.
Regina Grannan asks:
I agree with Kimberly Dittman and her comment that passengers be told at the start of the cruise what a platinum VIP card stands for. We got off the ship in Half Moon Cay and got taken to the front of the tender line as is our right but the looks of hatred we got from passengers who did not understand we were VIPs was quite scary. I second Kimberly’s suggestion and a blow up of a platinum card on the giant screen on Lido with some wording under it may help also, John Heald
Hello Regina Grannan
Thanks so much for writing and for your loyalty and long may that continue. I really don’t think that the looks the other guests gave you were that bad, maybe they just don’t understand. As I mentioned I think to Kimberly, I really don’t want to segregate the guests that way as my job is to make everyone feel like family and for everyone to have fun. If anyone asks you please proudly tell them you are a platinum card member and that should be enough for them to understand why you have tender boarding privileges. Please let me know if you have any other questions and I hope to see you soon. Best wishes.
Derrek Guidry asks:
John – I see you are struggling to lose weight and I get it, I have been in that position, I feel your pain. But help is just two weeks away. On 9/19, my brother and his wife and kids will join your cruise ship and he has been telling me about you and I am sending help with him. John, what does your body actually need to lose every excessive pound you have at the moment?
1) Lower appetite
2) Better metabolism
3) Ability to burn fat cells with the aim of transforming them into pure energy.
Our new formula will ensure all those points for you on condition that you take the product I am sending you a sample of regularly. Please once you get these free samples call me so we can discuss your future. Obesity kills. Stop it, John, before it stops you!
Hello Derek Guidry
Thank you so much for thinking of me, that is very kind. I will though graciously say no to your offer as I am working hard to lose the weight through simple diet and lots of gym time. I agree with you that I need to work harder and I will but without the use of any substances I am afraid. Please do let your brother know I look forward to welcoming him here for what I know will be a great cruise and I hope we see you here soon. Best wishes.
Eugene Goings asks:
John, what type of room do you stay in on the ships? (O/V, inside or what?). Thank you.
Hello Eugene Goings
On this ship I am very lucky to have a balcony cabin with a small office as well as the bedroom and bathroom. Sprit-class ships like Carnival Miracle is the only class where cruise directors have this sort of arrangement and I enjoy it very much. Thanks for asking and please let me k now if you need anything. Best wishes.
Gary Sarmiento asks:
I cruised on Carnival Sensation and found the passengers to be much less travelled than my cruise on the Oasis of the Seas. There have been comments on Cruise Critic that Carnival is purposely downgrading its product to attract people who have never cruised before and certainly the type of passenger I saw shows that to be true. Is this really where Carnival wants to go attracting people LIKE THAT?
Hello Gary Sarmiento
I am not sure I totally understand what you’re saying Gary. Certainly, the affordability of a short cruise on Carnival Sensation will have attracted people who have never cruised before and that is absolutely one of our targets and I think I would say that every cruise line would say the same. But are we downgrading our product? No, absolutely not and in fact we are spending millions of dollars on upgrading many of our existing fleet. I am still not sure what you mean when you say “people like that” but hopefully this has helped answer your questions. I hope you had fun on the cruise and that we see you again soon. Best wishes.
Dominic & Frances Cangelosi ask:
Hi John: If you were here, we would both hug you. We sailed on the Carnival Dream June 22 celebrating our 50th anniversary and it was MAGNIFICENT. Thanks for getting us reservations at The Chef’s Table. Chef Allan was such a gracious host and the food and experience was wonderful. Frances is platinum and I am gold heading to platinum. Frances and two of her lady
friends have reservations on the Carnival Dream for the August 10 sailing. They used to go to the beach every year but lately it’s been cruising with Carnival out of New Orleans since we live in Baton Rouge. That’s why Frances is platinum. We totally agree with your comments about the Carnival employees. They are all the best in the world. We’ve sailed on other cruise ships but Carnival is the best by far. Our waiter, Elder, was the best we’ve ever had. Keep up the good work and, thanks again for our wonderful Chef’s Table experience. We love your blog. We will be back on Carnival soon, if the Good Lord is willing.
Hello Dominic & Frances Cangelosi
Well, that was a joy to read and thank you so very much for posting it. I know Chef Allan very well and he is indeed a wonderful chef and a great host. Thank you also for mentioning the crew, they do work so hard and are so dedicated to giving our guests the best of times and it is an honour to be working with them. I hope we see you again very soon and if there is anything I can do for you please let me know. Best wishes.
Lynnette Howard asks:
Just off the Carnival Freedom where in the same area of the main dining hall I was with was a lady with her pet dog that was with her every meal. Our waiter said it was a service dog but I know for a fact that it was a pet because I have the same breed of dog and know exactly how the Löwchen breed behaves and he was no service dog!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Does Carnival check the proper paperwork – obviously not, I think? The issue is does Carnival check that a dog is trained to mitigate an ADA-covered disability. That’s how service dogs are defined. This is civil rights not entitlement legislation. My sources tell me that 90% of the service dogs that go on Carnival are PETS. Seeing this woman with the same dog I have and because of how much I missed my dog ruined my cruise and I have doubts I will come back to Carnival
Hello Lynette Howard
Thank you for writing to me and I can see that you are frustrated by this and that saddens me. I hope that this really did not “ruin your cruise” and that as you look back you can think of all the fun you actually did have. I meet many guests during my time on board that rely on these amazing animals and I actually wrote about one in my blog a few months ago. They truly are life savers and all I can do is say that the paper work required to bring a service animal on board is looked and checked extremely carefully. I hope that you are able to sail with us again and I am here if you need anything. Best wishes.
Bettye Evans asks:
It has taken 60-plus years to get eight of us Lady Cousins together. I just can’t wait until Sept. 6 in New Orleans as we step aboard Carnival Elation. We are from Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina. My last Carnival Cruise was on Carnival Valor. LOVED IT!!! Now for my comment!
THERE IS ONLY ONE WAY THAT I CAN SEE,
TO MAKE A LADY FEEL LIKE THE QUEEN SHE WANTS TO BE!
TAKE HER ON ACRUISE – NOT ANY WILL DO!
IT HAS TO BE CARNIVAL FOR THIS IS TRUE!
LET SOMEONE ELSE COOK MEALS THAT ARE GREAT!
THEY EVEN CLEAN, WHILE YOU PARTY AND DANCE VERY LATE.
LOUNGE ON THE DECK OR SWIM IN THE POOL,
WHATEVER YOU CHOOSE, CARNIVAL MAKES IT FEEL COOL!
GO ON ONE OF THEIR GREAT PORTS OF CALL OR STAY ON THE SHIP WHERE THERE IS FUN FOR ONE AND ALL.
THE SHOWS ARE ALL GREAT, AS EVERYONE WILL AGREE. THERE IS NO WAY
TO DESCRIBE THEM, YOU NEED TO COME AND SEE.
THE VACATION IS WONDERFUL FOR YOUNG, OLD OR TEENS. CARNIVAL MAKES ANYONE FEEL LIKE KINGS AND QUEENS.
I KNOW I AM THE BIGGEST FAN AS YOU CAN SEE, A CARNIVAL CRUISE
VACATION DID ALL THIS FOR ME!
Hello Bettye Evans
Wonderful! What a wonderful verse and I think it shows off just how excited you are to be sailing soon on Carnival Elation. Please would you be so kind as to remind me via my facebook.com/johnheald page two days before you sail and give me your cabin number. Thanks so much and I wish you all the best of times together and loads of fun. Best wishes to you all.
Kia Bowkett asks:
Will Carnival stop selling cigarettes in the ships now the new ban has come online? I hope so. If just some of the millions of smokers in America smoked e-cigarettes instead of tobacco, we could save up to 10 million deaths. Why would anyone argue with that?
Hello Kia Bowkett
Interesting statistic that and I am not sure where you got it from but it is fascinating to read. We are still looking at our rules regarding vaping and e-cigarettes and I will let you know if and when make any decisions. Thanks for taking the time to write and we will continue to sell cigarettes ion the on board shops. Best wishes.
Melissa Lohman asks:
Hi John: Just a quick question for you. I’m confused. My boyfriend and I are sailing on the Carnival Pride in May 2015 out of Baltimore. I was told it was going to be dry docked for them to do upgrades on the ship. Is this true? If you could give me any info I would be most thankful. Thanks for your time.
Hello Melissa Lohman
The ship will be in dry dock from October 19-November 9. This means when you sail she will have all her exciting Fun Ship 2.0 upgrades and that means the fun is going to be extreme. Have a great time and please let me know if you need anything. Best wishes.
Derek & Vanessa Childers ask:
What’s taking so long getting the cruise director postings out for the end of the year? Royal Caribbean and Norwegian have theirs on line already so again Carnival is playing catch up. We are trying to decide if to book on the Carnival Breeze or Carnival Glory and it will depend on who the cruise director is as we don’t want ______ again. Why so long, Heald??
Derek & Vanessa Childers
Hello Derek & Vanessa Childers
I am sorry that I have not posted the schedule past September yet but hopefully in the next few days I will do so. There are some last-minute changes due to illness, a family tragedy and the introduction of our new entertainment director position. But I will have it posted very soon. By the way, I had no idea other lines did post their CD schedule and thanks for letting me know they do. Also, as you can see I deleted the part about the CD. I can understand when someone does not like their entertainment style or ability as a cruise director but to base your opinion on what you said was not worthy of print I am afraid. The CD schedule is below and I hope you enjoy who you will have entertaining you. Have a great cruise. Best wishes.
Are there any plans to allow reservations to the MDR for Your Time Dining? The ability to confirm when, where, at what table size, and with whom to dine can be useful at times.
Not at the moment and honestly with the program getting more and more popular I do not see us doing this any time soon. Please do let me know if you have any other questions though. Best wishes.
And that’s all for today. Thanks everyone for your comments and questions.
OK, here finally is the cruise director and entertainment director schedule for the rest of 2014 and the start of 2015.
So there have been changes with lots of new names and the addition of the entertainment director position. We said goodbye to Risa Barnes and then Noonan, Butch and James Charlton are working on special projects in the Miami office. The position of ED has allowed for some new names to be given a chance and I am sure you will enjoy their work and that they continue to make your cruise even more fun. So, thanks to you for all the support you give the cruise directors and thanks to them for the fun they put into your cruise. I will finish this segment by saying as I always do when I post the schedule that I continue to believe fervently that a good cruise director truly can make such a difference to your cruise. I will feature some bios of the new cruise directors in the weeks ahead here on the blog and let’s start with the man who has been given the job of entertaining the guests of the Carnival Legend as she makes her way across the Pacific to the land down under that is Australia, Mr. Eli Sharplin
What’s your name and where are you from? Eli Sharplin from Auckland New Zealand
Tell us about your work experience and your journey with Carnival Cruise Lines so far?
I started with CCL in 2001 and have traveled to so many amazing places and met and worked with thousands of incredible people from all over the planet. I started as a social host and have covered as both a backstage manager and also a dancer. I was made an ACD on the Carnival Spirit and have had the honor of installing the SportSquare on Carnival Magic and Carnival Breeze as the company’s first sports director. I started as cruise director on Carnival Splendor out of NY in December of 2013. I am now on the Carnival Legend and looking forward to the journey ahead.
How do you feel you, as cruise director can influence the guest experience in a positive way? I have always prided myself in being the same person on stage as I am off of it. I have a pretty sharp sense of humor and enjoy sharing it with those who want to listen. I enjoy everything that life has to offer and am certainly a “jack of all trades.” I get out of bed every morning with a smile on my face. I believe that laughter keeps you young and I love sharing that philosophy.
What’s your favorite part of your job? Making people laugh.
What do you find the biggest challenge? Getting enough sleep.
If there is one event, show or activity that you host that our guests must not miss, what is it?? Old McDonald had a farm – Eli Eli Oh
Please share with us your favorite story from your time on our ships? There has been so many….. In 2013, the Carnival Spirit cruised in to Auckland New Zealand and I got to bring my family including my 94-year-old grandmother on board to see the ship. Every time I turn on my phone I see my screen saver, a photo of my Nan in her wheelchair at the helm, with her hands on the wheel. Priceless.
And now – about you: Well, I was born and raised in New Zealand. I grew up enjoying the outdoors and spend my time in NZ fishing, hunting, diving and making the most of one of the most beautiful countries in the world. I have always enjoyed doing many different things with my time and I will always say yes to experiencing something new. I studied architecture and design, along with food and nutrition, in college and had my own landscape company for 10 years. I also enjoyed tree surgery, music, theatre, film and television and taught dance for twelve years. For the last eight years I have had a business teaching visual arts in schools in NZ which is something I enjoy when I am home. I teach drawing classes on board ships and would like one day, to tour and teach some schools in the USA. I started studying osteopathy and massage several years ago and I also enjoy fixing houses in my spare time. Like I said, I enjoy it all.
Favorite Movie? Saving Private Ryan
Favorite bar or lounge on one of our ships? Punchliner Comedy Club
How do you relax? Sleep… and if I have time, a movie. During which I tend to fall asleep.
And if you could meet any famous person in the world, who would it be? Richard Branson.
I would have loved to have spent some time with the late Sir Edmond Hillary.
Thanks mate. I know Eli well and he will be a huge asset to the long voyage to Australia. I am very proud of him and wish him all the best…………..if you sail with him please demand he puts on the “crocodile hunter shorts.”
And here is that incredible trans-Pacific cruise Eli and the Carnival Legend guests will be experiencing together
Aug 30, 2014 (Sat) Long Beach 9 AM 8 PM
Aug 31, 2014 (Sun) At Sea
Sep 01, 2014 (Mon) At Sea
Sep 02, 2014 (Tue) Puerto Vallarta, Mexico 8 AM 8 PM
Sep 03, 2014 (Wed) At Sea
Sep 04, 2014 (Thu) At Sea
Sep 05, 2014 (Fri) At Sea
Sep 06, 2014 (Sat) At Sea
Sep 07, 2014 (Sun) At Sea
Sep 08, 2014 (Mon) At Sea
Sep 09, 2014 (Tue) At Sea
Sep 10, 2014 (Wed) Papeete (Tahiti), Polynesia 8 AM 6 PM
Sep 11, 2014 (Thu) Moorea, Polynesia 8 AM 5 PM
Sep 12, 2014 (Fri) Bora Bora, Polynesia 7 AM 4 PM
Sep 13, 2014 (Sat) At Sea
Sep 14, 2014 (Sun) At Sea
Sep 16, 2014 (Tue) Cross the International Date Line
Sep 17, 2014 (Wed) Suva, Fiji Islands 8 AM 4 PM
Sep 18, 2014 (Thu) At Sea
Sep 19, 2014 (Fri) Noumea, New Caledonia 9 AM 5 PM
Sep 20, 2014 (Sat) At Sea
Sep 21, 2014 (Sun) At Sea
Sep 22, 2014 (Mon) Sydney, Australia 6:30 AM
What a fantastic voyage.
OK, let’s talk about me. As you can see there has been a change to my schedule and I will now fly home on September 10. I know that I am letting a heck of a lot of people down here and for that I sincerely and honestly apologise. I have not seen Heidi, Kye or my Mum for six months and words are impossible to find to describe how much I miss them. On September 14 my Mum needs me. I cannot say why at the moment but I cannot and will not let her go through what has to happen without me by her side, I really do hope you understand. This has been a wonderful contract and I love Alaska but family has to come first because for the last few months……..it has not. Thanks to you all for your understanding
I will fly have three weeks at home then to Las Vegas (my first ever time there) on October 1 for a conference to speak about audience engagement and social media and then on October 3 fly to Miami. I will be there to shoot some video and to meet with the beards about Bloggers Cruise 8 on Carnival Breeze and then home again on October 17. I will have a brief break off social media but any requests you have will be honoured as always.
Thank you all for your support and friendship. Last week on Facebook I spoke about the “x” at the end of e mails from people you hardly know and how some men (my Italian officer friends mostly) like to kiss me. But there is an extension to that. Is it me or has every man under the age of 40 has decided that the handshake is no longer acceptable? Everywhere I look male guests now form their hands into a fist and touch knuckles with one another while saying “What is up my dog” or something like that.
But it’s not just the younger generation doing it, oh no. Each and every cruise I meet men who have been reading my blog and Facebook page who feel that shaking my hand is simply not enough. This is OK if you are expecting it because I can lean back but if it comes out of the blue and a guest suddenly seems me and grabs me in his arms I end up for a few moments experiencing the guest rubbing up against me……and that’s not what I signed up for 27 years ago.
But this cruise there was one far worse and yes Nathan, I am talking about you. This Facebook and blog reader from Texas saw me at the Captain’s Celebration, took me in his arms and kissed me on the cheek just because I sent him a bloody ship on a bloody stick and a bit of fruit. I saw him a few times during the cruise and each time I do I run away. Thank God I didn’t send him champagne as well; I am not sure what he would have done. So please, when we meet on a cruise gents can we just go back to the handshake. It’s simple, it says, “Hello friend, please to meet you” and, there’s no contact between each other’s dangly bits.