September 10, 2015 -
So it would be silly for me not to start today’s blog and mention what happened on the Carnival Liberty. First of all, I would like to thank each and every guest for their patience and understanding and thank those who were on the ship at the time of the fire for listening to the ship’s commands to calmly make their way onto the pier in St. Thomas. A big thank you also must go to the crew for their outstanding efforts over the past few days. I am sure you will have read on my Facebook page the comments from guests on the ship who saluted Carnival for the full refund, the 50 percent future cruise discount and the $150 onboard credit we gave each and every guest. This praise was echoed by hundreds of people on Facebook as well.
In speaking to the senior officers on the ship and the Carnival shoreside beards who flew to St. Thomas to support the crew and be there for the guests, negative comments were few and far between. The vast majority of guests probably felt that, although their vacation had come to an unexpected end, Carnival made sure that they were looked after, taken care of and, by giving the full refund, credit and discount, gave them massive encouragement to sail again and….I am sure most of them will.
Time for today’s Q and A, away we go.
Sherrie Friedman asks:
Hi John, I was wondering, I will be going on my first Carnival cruise in December and I know hotels have music on different channels; does Carnival have music in the rooms via TV or stereo? Thank you!
Hello Sherrie Friedman
Thanks for writing and, yes, indeed, on the in-cabin TVs, there are four music channels played through the cabin televisions with different genres of music. I hope this is a wonderful cruise for you, the first of many and if there is anything I can do for you, please do let me know. Best wishes.
Paul Owen asks:
Despite your attempts to ridicule the millions of proud members on Cruise Critic, it remains the potent force in the cruise community. When fire raged on the Carnival Liberty, Cruise Critic members were being told first hand by a poster actually on the ship. The poster was pauleydm. He kept us all updated — a great job done. The CC site seems to get the most news first. Even people on your page, Heald, were calling this not true and other names. But that is what your page is–TRASH. pauleydm deserves a free cruise, his forthright reporting meant the truth was heard. Other Cruise Critic members agree and get this done, Heald, and you may get back some of the credibility you lost with members.
Hello Paul Owen
I join you in thanking “Pauleydm” for explaining what was happening. I am sure he told you how quickly the crew acted, that nobody was injured and explained the full refund, 50 percent off the next cruise and $150 onboard credit he and all the guests received. I am sure he told you how wonderful the crew had been. Please thank him for me, let him know if he needs anything, I am here and I hope we see him again very soon. Best wishes.
Mia Coffey asks:
Hi John: My family and I are booked on the Carnival Dream in December. One of the reasons we picked it is because of its size, thinking bigger is better. But when I keep going to your “most up-to-date CD schedule,” I can’t help but notice that it’s not yet booked for a cruise director, and it doesn’t even rate an entertainment director!!??? Please tell me why do the other Dream-class ships get one of each? I cruised with Eversen Bevelle on the Carnival Glory in January and he was AMAZING!! He is scheduled on the Dream’s sister ship, Carnival Magic. Is the Carnival Dream going to get a wonderful, seasoned CD like Eversen? When will you know who is going to be the CD? Thank you so very much for your time.
Hello Mia Coffey
Please do not worry — you have picked a fantastic ship with a great crew. The CD will be Brandon, a young energetic and very funny chap who I am sure, like Eversen did on your past cruise, will give you the best of times. Please do let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Best wishes.
Ian Loudrey asks:
Something has been bothering me since my wife’s birthday cruise August 14. As a present for her, I went to the shop on the ship and bought a XXXL shirt. It was $5 more expensive than the smaller sizes. I did some checking and discovered this was the same for all the clothing there. In America, this would be classed as discrimination. Plus-size people like myself and my wife are kind of fed up with being treated like second-class citizens by Carnival who should also carry 4X and 5X shirts as well but don’t. Maybe we will vote with our feet and not cruise with you guys until you get this sorted!!
Hello Ian Loudrey
Thanks so much for bringing this to my attention. I know first-hand how challenging buying larger sizes are and you will see more variety and bigger sizes across the fleet very soon. I am afraid I have no control over pricing but do know that when I was at my biggest, often I paid more for clothing on land as I always understood more material had to be used. I do truly hope we see you soon on another cruise with us. Best wishes.
Nancy Jean asks:
Hi John: I love the Carnival Cloud 9 Spa balcony rooms, but someday want to treat myself to a grand suite, however, I don’t understand why that wouldn’t include access to the special spa rooms that the Cloud 9 Spa balcony rooms do given the cost. It would be a great idea to have Grand Suite Spa rooms. Can’t wait to be on board the Carnival Breeze again. Best wishes and thank you, Nancy Jean
Hello Nancy Jean
The idea behind the Cloud 9 Spa rooms is that, because they are adjacent to the spa, they have exclusive access including a private elevator to the facilities there. I can understand how you would like a grand suite, they are simply amazing cabins and I hope one day you do get to stay in one. Meanwhile, if there is anything at all I can do for you, please do tell me. Best wishes.
Jan Margheim asks:
We are going on our first B2B in September on the Carnival Glory. We are so excited about our trip. My question is how can I carry on my allotted bottles of wine (one per person/per week). Can I carry four bottles on at the beginning of week one and keep them with me? Do I have to leave two bottles and collect them for week two? I just want to do the right thing.
Hello Jan Margehim
I see you are sailing next week so I am glad I got to answer this before your cruise begins. The answer is yes, you may carry on the one per person per cruise when you board. Please make sure though you have your boarding pass for both cruises printed to show security. I wish you a brilliant time and loads of fun. Best wishes.
Cate Baczewski asks:
On my Carnival Glory cruise, I went to the Emerald steakhouse and I was so disappointed and angry at the lack of choices for vegetarians. I have been to steakhouses in Chicago and other places and they have more than one choice for the main dish which was some sort of mushroom pie which was tasteless. Maybe when you recommend the steakhouse, you should have the common decency to add that Carnival does not cater to vegetarians because it was the worst $35 I have ever spent!!!!!!!!!!!!
Hello Cate Baczewski
I am very sorry to read about your disappointment with our much-applauded steakhouse. I do realise that, outside of the many side dishes, there is only one main course choice and maybe we should look at adding at least one more. I will bring this to the chef and see what we can do. Please also make sure next time you cruise that you let the steakhouse hostess know the day before that you are going to be eating there so they have time to prepare something that hopefully you will really enjoy. I hope despite this, you had a great cruise and that we see you again soon. Best wishes.
Ashley Westbrooks asks:
Hello John!!! I am wondering if the social media package will be available on the Carnival Fantasy by Oct. 1. I am blind and normally use a guide dog. I will not be traveling with him. A dear friend of mine will be looking after him while we cruise. I must say, though, I am extremely anxious to leave him and would love to be able to stay in touch. The social media package sounds perfect for this. I realize some may say, “He is JUST a dog” but he is much more than that to me and being able to get updates on him at a fair price would be more than wonderful. Thank you! I hope you are having a wonderful day!
Hello Ashley Westbrooks
Thanks so very much for writing. Yes, the new Internet package is due there later this month. I totally understand how much you will miss your best friend and all the joy and comfort he brings you. I also want you to know that if there is anything at all I can help with, please let me know and I will be here for you. Have a brilliant cruise. Best wishes.
Barbara Rogers asks:
Good Afternoon, John. My family and I sailed on the Carnival Magic back on June 14 and I am just now getting around to writing you. We had a great time. It was mine and hubby’s third Carnival cruise and the first for our 19 and 16 year old. We all had a fantastic time. The ship was nothing that the kids expected it to be and they had a better time than they thought they would. My question today – which I am sure is an odd one. We toured the spa on embarkation day but did not purchase anything this cruise but loved the aroma of the big hot tub- like thing that they have. Well when we would go up to the Serenity deck and sat on the right side of the ship, we could smell the wonderful aroma of that spa. Is there any way you can tell me the scent that they use in there? My massage person here in town told me, if I found out the scent, she would have it for me when I get a massage and I could feel like I was back on board. Thank you very much for your help!!! We look forward to our next cruise to be either an Alaska or southern Caribbean.
Hello Barbara Rogers
I am so glad to read that you and your lovely family had such a great time and so much fun. What a good question about the spa. They use, I am told, something called Elemis Quiet Mind Room Mist. I use bacon. I hope that helps and I do hope we see you all soon and I am here if you need anything. Best wishes.
Frank Walters asks:
Good day to you John: My question to you and the staff at Carnival cruise– why is it not mentioned just as a quick thank you to all branches of the military during dinner and/or shows just as a gratitude? And to say we’ve not forgotten you. Because without any of our service members, there would be no Carnival Cruise Line. I thank you very kindly for your time and effort.
Hello Frank Walters
Let me start by thanking you for your service and, indeed, anyone reading this who may have served or who still serves now because, you’re right, we would not be able to cruise without you to protect our freedom. While we don’t do this at dinner, we do host a veterans meeting on every ship to say thanks and to give our brave and respected service men and women who are sailing an opportunity to meet. Plus often at shows the cruise director will mention military personnel. I hope we see you soon. Best wishes.
Laura K asks:
Good morning John: My boyfriend and I are sailing on the Carnival Sunshine in November. We chose this trip because of the amount of ports it offered, specifically St. Lucia. He has been trying to get to this island for a while now, and the opportunity presented itself! We are very excited about this trip! I am here to ask whether additional excursions will be added as we get closer to sail day? So far, I cannot find an excursion sponsored by Carnival that includes the Pitons and a good amount of time at the volcano. It seems like our choices are currently one or the other. We have searched trips not sponsored by Carnival, and found one we really liked, but after reading about the guests who were left behind in Roatan, I am TERRIFIED of something going wrong! This will be cruise three for me, but only the second where I am responsible for planning the excursions. Our cruise in February of this year was very easy to plan, but we had booked either in late December or early Jan. My guess is that all of the excursions were fairly solidified at that point. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!
St. Lucia is a brilliant island full of beauty and culture, you will both love it. I checked with our shore excursion office and most of the tours to the Pitons are already posted. I do always encourage guests to take an excursion from the ship and I hope you can find one that you both like. Please take another look and then let me know if you have any questions either here or on my facebook.com/johnheald page. I am sure you will both have a brilliant time. Best wishes.
That’s all for today. I will continue to answer as many questions as my time allows and will be back three days next week on my Facebook.com/johnheald page to answer questions quickly and help as many people as I can. For those regular readers of this blog and of my Facebook.com/johnheald page, you will know that I don’t drink and that alcohol has not passed my lips since 1997. Yet, in my everyday life and my travels, I am surrounded by people who do drink and by people who think drinking in vast quantities is absolutely hilarious. Alcohol makes people fall over and it makes some fall out of their clothes. Alcohol removes fears and it calms the nerves. And here in Italy, where I am writing to you from, where the skies are blue and the scenery is stunning, everyone around me is drinking at lunch time. The cafes are full wine of all colours. Italy, it seems, continues its love affair with the lunchtime drink — there is no “grab and go” cafe here, that’s for sure.
Yet, while I am surrounded now by people enjoying alcohol, I am finding that more and more people I know who are around my age, are saying that they are stopping and becoming teetotalers. Maybe they went to see their doctor and he sat looking at their test results sharing white haired head and adopting one of those serious faces that doctors do so well. Maybe they’ve realised that time is catching up with them and soon they’ll be six feet under. Whatever, the fact is, I have seen both on land and on ships that the people I have grown up with in this company are suddenly not drinking a thing except water, soda and, if they are metrosexual sandal-wearing vegetablists, kale juice.
I do not drink, as I said, and I have no problem with that but it has had an effect on my social life. As you may know, on September 21, we have the cruise director conference in Miami and, along with the hard work, there will be some fun times, as well. In fact, on the Sunday before the conference starts, one of my colleagues has arranged a night out on South Beach with some fun places (for them, at least) being visited. I heard about this second hand and asked the cruise director responsible for arranging this why I had not been invited. He told me: “I thought you’d find it boring as you don’t drink, John.” And, sadly, I understood what he meant. He and the young, good looking, fun loving, craft beer and martini-sipping cruise directors did not want to spend the evening with a miserable old sod sipping a Perrier.
And, sadly, I also realised that I am really not one of “them” any longer. My job has moved on, I am “something else” and, in some ways, I wonder if I even should go to the cruise director conference. I can offer guidance and make everyone laugh but I can’t help but wonder if they, the other CDs, think of me as a beard and not one of them. Still, on the flip side, when I am out with people who are drinking and having a good time and when people are getting “happy,” I just want to sit in a corner and post something on my Facebook page.
But when I sit here, as I am now, in the piazza in beautiful Trieste, having spent the day filming on your Carnival Vista, I watch the Italians here at the cafes enjoying a glass of wine on this lovely sunny day and I wonder, should I be doing the same? I am no better than a yak by refusing a glass of Pinot Grigio……. and ordering yet another tedious glass of H2O? But since I stopped drinking all those years ago, I have realised some important things. I am a morning person. I am not the best dancer ever. Most of my friends aren’t that funny. And, it turns out, there is nothing I did while I was drinking that I cannot do sober. I am still overweight but drinking is not something I miss. I am not ever going to be one of those teetotalers who tell you they love kale smoothies before skipping off to a sodding Yoga class.
Anyway, despite the allures of Italy and the cold wine sitting on every table, I shall not partake and stick to my bubbly water. As I said, I haven’t had a drink since I stopped in 1997 ……well, that is almost true. In 2003, during my stag party in Amsterdam my best man Alan and assorted friends bought me a pint of lager with a shot of whisky in it followed by them force feeding me a pair of edible strawberry sugar flavored panties……..the following week, I was diagnosed as a diabetic. Oh FFS!