June 5, 2015 -
Let’s leap in straight away with today’s Q & A – here we go.
Jean Reid asks:
Dear John: I am traveling with my children on the Pride in August. My daughter has a severe peanut allergy. We always travel with EpiPens and we both are very careful to quiz staff about ingredients in her food. I am aware that I need to let Carnival know before we sail about her allergy, but am unsure of that contact information.
Hello Jean Reid
Please do not worry as we are well prepared to help all we can here. I do advise that you send this to the guest access services department in Miami and also if you can send me a reminder on my facebook.com/johnheald page the day before the cruise with your cabin number, I will let the ship have one more reminder. Please let me know if there is anything else at all I can do for you and I will be here. Best wishes.
Leighanne Zdobysz asks:
Hi John: I just got off Carnival Breeze this past Saturday and it is one of my favorite ships. I have cruised on it twice in the last two years. (FYI: Matt Mitchum is so beautiful- love him and the entertainment team). Excellent cruise and had such a good time. Love Carnival. My question is this: Awesome taco and burrito bar at the BlueIguana Cantina. Where are the chips??? The food is amazing, the salsas are superb but no chips. Yes, I am an entitled American but figured I can’t be the only one who wants chips for the fabulous salsa provided. Chips, salsa, tacos, burritos, makes sense, right??? Thanks John.
Hello Leighanne Zdobysz
I see you are a fan of Matt Mitchum and there are many that would agree with your comments, I will pass them to him. The salsa bar is for toppings for the wonderful tacos we serve from the BlueIguana Cantina and serving chips from there is a very messy process as well. However, there have been other comments asking that we add this, so I will again address this with the beards. Thanks so much and I hope we see you sailing again very soon. Best wishes.
Jack Gandy asks:
We are just off Carnival Miracle. There was a small group of deaf passengers. The staff had reserved seats for them at the big shows. There were interpreters standing directly in front of the stage so we could not see anything because of them. I know they were trying to help but their waving around their arms like that spoiled the enjoyment for us and other passengers. Carnival should have planned this better IMHO.
Hello Jack Gandy
The interpreters of today are amazing as they do not just sign the show they “live” it and doing this enables those who can’t hear the music to really feel part of what is happening on stage. The theatre is big enough that there are good seats for all and I hope you had a brilliant time despite this concern. Best wishes.
Cassandra Gabris asks:
Is it true that as a PLATINUM VIP I can no longer bring my two sisters to the private party? I have cruised with them now twice both on Carnival Triumph and they have always been able to come. If Carnival has changed this policy, I will consider moving my money to another cruise line that will let me bring them in to a party held for its VIPS. My sister has every right to attend this party. She is a single mom who has raised two children on her own, so Carnival is going to stop her from having a few drinks? How can you justify this?
Hello Cassandra Gabris
Yes, this is correct. The party is now strictly for Diamond and Platinum card holders. The reason we have changed the party rules is because they were simply overcrowded and service was definitely an issue. So I hope you will continue to cruise with us. You and your sisters have obviously had fun with us before and those fun times are waiting again. Please let me know if I can help you with anything else. Best wishes.
Phillip Castelucci asks:
Dear Sir: My lovely wife, Angela, tried for many years to get me to take a cruise to no avail. I am a retired law enforcement officer, due to injuries suffered in the line of duty, and use a cane as walking is a bit difficult for me. Last year, I finally gave in and, with many misgivings, we went on Carnival Victory for our first-ever cruise. Busted up retired cops aren’t the easiest people to be around, much less please, but that cruise was a life-changing event for me. You unpack one time, you’re pampered, waited on hand and foot, eat fantastic meals, see great entertainment every night, don’t have to drive, and all this while your luxurious resort is taking you to wonderful places. Even a gimpy old man like me can walk to the dining room, Lido deck, theater, bar and Serenity deck, but if you are a little too sore one day, you can soak in the hot tub while a waiter brings you drinks! What a concept!
As you can imagine, I have been converted. We just got off the Carnival Valor after an eight-day and we’re making plans to take my wife’s parents with us on our next cruise later this year or early next, depending on their schedule. I would like to say how great our trip on Carnival Valor was, especially due to the superb staff. Borislov, our head-waiter in the MDR, assisted by Paolo and Mohammed, made every evening a dining pleasure, as poor Effendi tried to have our drinks present almost before they were ordered. Our room steward, Sudi, kept cabin 1062 spotless, turned down our sheets, and made us look forward to see which member of the towel
menagerie would join us next.
When my wife was concerned about plugging in a CPAP machine, he magically made an extension cord appear. The entertainment on board was extraordinary! The Las Vegas-style dancers and singers in the Ivanhoe theatre amazed me (how do they change clothes so fast, it takes me longer to change shoes?). We enjoyed the music and singing of Tom Vincent, and TJ provided one of the trip’s high points with the best rendition of the song
“Hallelujah” I’ve ever heard. It gave me goose bumps. I still can’t believe a man can juggle flaming knives and ride an 8-foot unicycle, all while making a crowd roar with laughter, but I saw it! And what a privilege to have an opportunity to chat and get to know Calvyn, the cruise director, who has probably been returned to the psychological ward by now. Mr. Heald, on the days when everyone seems to complain and says they’re unhappy, please keep in mind that for every one of them, there are probably a thousand people like me, who are quietly reminiscing, showing photos and bragging to their friends, all while anticipating the next voyage on a Carnival Fun Ship. I thank you, and I thank every one of the Carnival employees who makes this all possible.
Hello Philip Castelucci
Thanks for making my day brighter with this brilliant review. What a tremendous joy it was to read this and what a joy it will be to send this to the ship. There are many people you mentioned that will be so proud to know that they made such a difference to your cruise vacation so, again, thanks so much for taking the time to write. I do hope there will be many more cruises like this in your future and, if there is anything I can do for you, please let me know. Best wishes.
Myleen Fernley asks:
If I give him the bottled water, will the cabin attendant make me a bucket of ice from it?? We do not like the taste of the ship water. Will they do this?????
Hello Myleen Fernley
I actually don’t think we can, unfortunately, because we have our ice made in industrial machines, not individual cubes. Have a brilliant time. Best wishes.
Tom Sorrells asks:
John first I want to thank you for many hours of entertainment reading your blog and I follow you faithfully on Facebook, your writing is a never-ending source of amusement. Now my question. The changes in loyalty program are understandable. The parties are overcrowded and not enjoyable but the opportunity to meet the crew in a controlled environment and speak with them one on one is the only reason my wife and I attend them. We are Gold VIFP cruisers and ask for nothing as a reward for having fun on vacation, but what will happen when we Gold card holders reach Platinum? The numbers at parties return to where they are. Just like the past loyalty program, when the goal is in sight, it is moved back. Why? I am not saying that we will stop cruising with Carnival because we will not but we certainly have lost respect for a company that we thought respected and appreciated returning customers. So what is the plan? As more of us get close to Platinum, you raise the number of days to put that out of reach? I know you are tired of the complaints and I sincerely apologize for this note but this really bothers me. Hope you can get an answer and let me know what the plan is and possibly explain to the folks that make these decisions that the only reason there are so many Gold members is because you do things right. Also, I bet there are a lot of us Gold card carriers that have cruised more than some of your Platinum members. On our last cruise I met a couple that were Platinum, with only 28 days cruised, because they reached it under the old program and they cruise once every few years.
Hello Tom Sorrells
Thank you for writing to me and doing so passionately and honestly. I realise that, when changes are made like this, there are going to be those who are disappointed, those who are upset and angry, even. But, as you said, the parties were overcrowded and made service a huge challenge for the crew and resulted in occasions where we did not provide the service expected. For now, we are going to offer Gold card holders a complimentary drink coupon redeemable from 5pm on the last sea day at all the bars and lounges. We feel that giving everyone the evening is enough time to enjoy, but we will monitor this and evaluate any changes we need to make. I hope, also, you will reach the Platinum level which will entitle you to many more benefits. You made some great points in your post and I thank you for doing so. I hope we see you soon and if there is anything I can do for you, please do let me know. Best wishes.
Joe Cefola asks:
John, when is the Carnival Sunshine going to be in dry dock? I see it was last remodeled in Nov. 2011.
Thanks, but according to our records, the ship underwent the full Fun Ship 2.0 refit in 2013. Have not seen a schedule for any upcoming renovations but will advise if and when I do.
Please let me know if you have any other questions. Best wishes.
Norma Pruritus asks:
Traveling with my eight-year-old who has Asperger syndrome can be full of challenges. I was a nervous wreck but let me tell you that our cruise on Carnival Paradise was exactly that — PARADISE. This was thanks to all those people at Camp Carnival who were caring and fun and I cannot thank them all enough. A huge shout out goes to the young lady from Belarus whose name is Alena, although I may not have gotten that spelling right. She never forgot my son’s name. She always made sure he got his banana split with whipped cream and one night she gave him a special photo of the ship signed by the captain. I had not asked for this but this gesture meant so much to him. I will cruise many times again with Carnival because of people like this.
Hello Norma Pruritus
This truly brought a smile to my face and will be passing this to the Camp Carnival staff, their managers and, of course, Alena, too. I do hope we will see you and the family again soon and please can you let me know if there is ever anything I can do for you. Best wishes.
Andrew Reinke asks:
I just got off the Carnival Magic and am very angry at what happened to me. I have taken part and won the auditions to play Frank Sinatra in three Carnival Legends show. This time, I entered the auditions and I was not chosen. This was because the man who won was 90 years old but was not a good singer. He was terrible; he didn’t know the words, could not even hold the tune of the song properly. I was disgusted and so were other passengers. He won on sympathy, not because he was the best singer. The rule needs to be the best singer wins!!! I will not be taking part in any more Legends shows because of this.
Hello Andrew Reinke,
I am sorry to read how this has upset you. I understand that you were disappointed but I will also say that the winner of each audition is decided by guest applause. And, in this case, I am sure despite this 90-year-old gentleman not being the best singer, I am sure he was a wonderfully spirited chap to get on stage and perform and it was this that won the audience over. I do hope that we will see you cruise again and I do hope that you will audition. Best wishes.
And that’s all for today. Thanks, everyone, for your comments and questions. It’s good to be back blogging wearing only my…………..well……………….you know.
Last week, a lady called Mischelle, who is in charge of Funville and Carnival’s Facebook page, put together a new FAQ list on our web site that is simply brilliant and includes a new search function that saves quite a bit of time. However, as brilliant as the new FAQ section on carnival.com, I feel it is my duty as your Brand Ambassador to offer some of my own FAQs or as I like to call it, “John’s FFS List.”
You are going on a cruise FFS, not a sodding Amazon expedition. Don’t over pack by taking at least three shirts you don’t need (men) or a dress that you “bought for the vacation” to add to the 17 other dresses that you’ve “bought for your vacation” every year for the past decade on your way to being a Diamond guest (women). And you certainly don’t need that many shoes. Pair of flip-flops x 1. The shoes you’re travelling in x 1. That’s it. Furthermore, it won’t be “cold in the venings on the Carnival Breeze,” – you’re in the Caribbean for crying out loud – so take out the five fleeces you’ve packed “just in case.”
There are some ports where Carnival suggests you bring mosquito spray to protect you against everything that these little bastards of nature can hurl at you? Get bit by the wrong mosquito and, according to Dr. Google, you can experience vomiting, headaches, fever, a rash, and who knows what else. Of course many of these cases are not reported because even though men have all these symptoms, they refuse to admit anything’s wrong and refuse to see the doctor. Pack it. Use it.
Arrival to the Ship
You are travel-tired; you have flown from Cleveland, Ohio, to Miami having gotten up at 5 am to make the flight. You have been reclined on, charged $10 for a sandwich on the plane; you’re tired, grumpy and just want to get to the ship. It is a 30 minutes away in a taxi driven by someone called Jean Pierre who refuses to turn the air conditioning on to save fuel and the cab smells like the inside of yak’s scrotum, FFS. All you crave is your cabin, but you can’t have it, because, on arrival at embarkation, you are told the cabin is not ready yet and won’t be until after 1 pm. And, as you wait to board, people breeze past you wearing shiny cards on their lanyards. Why do they have shiny cards when you have a blue one and why are these bastards allowed on the ship before you and why does one man have loads of Carnival pins on a hat? And why does one man have an inflatable kangaroo on his back? You have finally begun the walk to the ship dragging your carry on and your family behind you. And there she is– your ship of dreams. You look like hell, you smell like hell and then, suddenly, out of nowhere, someoone whose name tag says his name is Ketut says he will take your picture. You politely refuse but your wife overrules you, so you stand there with hair looking like you just stuck your finger in an electrical socket and lakes of sweat seeping from your armpits having Ketut take your photo knowing you will have to buy the sodding thing before anyone else laughs at the sweaty chap with the Don King style hair. Oh, FFS. But finally you are on the ship and a polite and friendly bar waiter whose name tag says his name is “Ketut” ……….is everyone called Ketut?…………gives you a “welcome aboard drink.” By one sip, reveals it to be a rum filled tropical drink that is already easing away the stress……..ohhh, lovely……….oh, hold on a minute. Why is Ketut asking me for my Sail & Sign card? What is my Sail & Sign card? Oh, hold on. He wants my blue thing. Why? Oh FFS, it’s not a free drink. I thought it was………..Oh well, who cares. It’s doing the job, I am smiling for the first time in many hours. “Hey, Ketut, one more please.”
It’s 1p m and time to go to your cabin. You are confident you know where to go and so you lead your family to the elevators. Someone is smiling at you. They are wearing a bright red shirt that says “Just Ask” but you don’t need to ask because your brain has a built-in GPS system. “Just Ask,” my arse. You come out of the elevator and walk confidently to your cabin which is 7324. Ahh, 7321, 7323, so the next one should be……..Oh FFS……7325? What? Where is 7324?
Your wife looks at you. You know that look so well. It means- you are a stupid bastard and that you will not be getting any of that rumpy pumpy that you have been fantasing about. Your wife takes charge. She marches the family back to the elevator lobby where she finds a “You Are Here” sign, realises that your built-in GPS has led them to the wrong side of the ship and, thanks to her, you finally arrive in your cabin. That bed looks so inviting but the kids want to explore. They want an ice cream and a pizza and……..hold on; someone is knocking on the cabin door. It’s the cabin steward. But his name isn’t Stewart, it’s ummmm……….Oh, another Ketut. You will come to know Ketut, the cabin steward, very well. He will turn your towels into art. He is amazing, friendly and your family will love him and that $100 you had budgeted for the casino, will be taken from you by your wife to give Ketut because your family “loves him” and it will be his “extra tip.” Ketut’s specialty will be taking bathroom textiles and turning them into swans and elephants. At least once, when alone, you will try this for yourself. It won’t work. Rather than a beautiful swan, you will create something that looks like road kill. FFS.
Cruise Ship Sun
Please bring sun cream. It is so very important and failure to do so will result in pain worse than anything seen in a Game of Thrones torture chamber. You know that sun cream is important, so you pack lots but you will also discover that you are from Cleveland and, unless you live in Hawaii, that sun cream is the most annoying substance on earth. It is either too thick and viscous or too runny and thin. And, because no one ever puts the same factor on their arms as on their Cleveland-living pasty torso, you will need several bottles of the horrible, greasy stuff. By the time you have applied it all correctly, at all the right levels in all the right places, a Caribbean rain storm will have swept in and you will have to sit under the RedFrog Rum Bar on Lido bar reeking of Coppertone. The solution? Stay in the shade, reading a book or go play Harry Potter Trivia because your kids have made you watch every movie 50 times and you may just win one of those strange solid gold trophies you have seen. So you play trivia. You lose. Because the person with the hat on with all the Carnival pins on it wins and seems to know the answers before the question is asked.
If you have young children, please send them to Camp Ocean. The brilliant staff is there to entertain them and let you relax with that book. If you do not take the kids to Camp Ocean, there is sod all point in packing a book at all. You will get two paragraphs in and just as Mr. Grey is about to tickle her lady garden with an ostrich feather, you will be required to swim, use the WaterWorks, get them an ice cream, use the WaterWorks again, swim, more ice cream, take them to the loo, trudge back to the room because of a forgotten cuddly toy or try, at their insistence, to make a towel elephant which ends up looking like a deformed Yak. Taking your child on a Carnival cruise is an amazing experience. They will be full of life, energy. But then, like an eye phone which is down to the last one percent after battery level, one minute your kids will be functioning normally, singing and dancing and bouncing on the cabin bed, cuddling the towel monkey Ketut has made and the next, they will be gone, screen blank, functionless. But charging, slowly, sucking in whatever it is sleep gives kids, ready to go full charged to enjoy another brilliant day on the Carnival Breeze in the morning. If, however, you have the luxury of no children, then your poolside reading material should be chosen to impress. You do not want to be the person everyone else refers to in hushed tones as “the one reading a sex book” If you must read 50 Shades of Grey, FFS, get a Kindle.
The Cheers Program
If you buy our Cheers program, so you’re debating with yourself whether or not it’s acceptable to have a Bloody Mary at breakfast (it is), then a Sex on the Beach at noon and because of you taking the family to the wrong side of the ship on embarkation day, you realise that it is the only sex you are getting……so have one. You’re on a cruise, so enjoy it.
Do not be the person travelling back to a cold, rain-soaked Ohio in your cruise clothes. If you are the person getting off the plane in Cleveland, clinging onto the last vestiges of your cruise by wearing flip-flops, shorts that show your sunburnt radish legs, a I Have Been To Hell T-shirt from Grand Cayman and a straw hat that you haggled for at the Jamaican craft market, then you are the person everyone hates. Don’t do it. I will have more of John’s FFS advice in the weeks ahead as I cover the topics of meeting new friends at dinner, elevator etiquette and how going to the guest services desk on embarkation day and asking for an upgrade from an inside cabin to a balcony is as plausible as J.C. Penney giving you a pair of Calvin Klein underpants……. when you’ve only paid for a pair of Fruit of the Loom tightie whities. Oh FFS.