September 15, 2015 -
Last week, I was in Italy exploring your Carnival Vista and there will be lots of video of my time there coming very soon. I was accompanied by our President Christine Duffy and we spent time on and off camera talking about all the brilliant features that your new ship will have. There are so many features on the ship that are brand new that I am sure will be jaw dropping when you read about them.
One of the areas that we have been showing off already is our largest WaterWorks yet and the centerpiece, the Kaleid-o-Slide. This will feature guests thundering down a twisting mega-slide on a raft-type thing and as you do, the lighting will change giving you the feeling that you are sliding down a huge kaleidoscope…….that is if you have your eyes open. One of the things that I hoped I would not be forced to do is to try this slide for myself. I have a fear of water, tunnels, going fast, confined spaces and a fear of crapping my pants in public! But it appears that our President Christine — who I call “boss” — has other ideas and there are expectations that I will, in my role as brand ambassador, be doing this with her and it will be filmed for you all to enjoy. Oh FFS!
You may remember that I did this for your enjoyment on the Carnival Dream with our then- President Gerry Cahill and I racing the slides together and my shorts coming off half way down. This proved that all men are not created equal and I swore I would never do this again. But I was wrong because this chubby bloke will be doing it again on your Carnival Vista.
I remember thinking then that I would rather hang upside down naked from smokestack, legs spread wide with Cruise Critic readers tickling my dangly bits with an ostrich feather…….than go down the slides. My stomach was in knots as I edged toward the coloured tube that leads off into oblivion. I sat on the edge, the soles of my feet tingling, feeling the cool jet of water gushing under my lily-white thunder thighs. You close your eyes and push off, slipping and sliding up the sides of the slide, my screams echoing all the way down before you’re spectacularly hurled off into a big toilet bowl thingy to be greeted by the sight of my swim shorts around my ankles and various crew members and beards laughing. Yep, I swore never again but Christine has “insisted” that I do this. Now I love you all but the only reason I will agree to this is, because if I don’t, Christine will have had me transferred back to the bar department where I would have to spend my days making my version of a signature Alchemy cocktail the “Kiss on the Buttocks.”
And, on that bombshell, it’s time for me to crack on with some Q & A…………..here we go.
Lennie Bannerman asks:
I am a vastly experienced cruiser. I have a serious comment to make about your lifeboat drill and how boring it is. Yes, John, it is boring and so it becomes dangerous!! It is the inclusion of blindingly obvious stuff such as how to tie the cord on your lifejacket that is the problem. People understandably feel that their intelligence is being insulted and switch off, thus missing stuff that IS important and not necessarily obvious. I am sure are the ones who dictate the contents of these briefings and they are long overdue a complete review. Add some humor, shorten them. Do something because they are dull and dull equals danger.
Hello Lennie Bannerman
That is a very interesting point indeed. Let me say that the content of the safety briefing is based on the requirements of United States Coast Guard regulations and we are obligated to give our guests the information they need in order to save their life in a true emergency. Saying that I wonder if we should consider adding some humour back to the drill? I say “back” because I used to add some to my drills when I was a CD. This was done without permission from the beards and sometimes was done to the exasperation of one or two of the captains. But I never had any guest complaints, only compliments, and I will also say proudly ……..the crew enjoyed and appreciated it, too. The humour was subtle. It was not enough to distract from the important “how to save your life in an emergency” but enough to have the guests laughing. The drill has to be sincere, simple and to the point but there is so much we have to talk about that they are longer than before. I do think the vast majority of our guests realise how important the drill is and how the information we give will save lives. But if we can do something to make the drill more interesting so guests give their undivided attention, then I agree, we should. I will discuss this with the beards and thank you for bringing it to my attention. Best wishes.
Hey John: I recently got off of a cruise and I must say I love the new Playlist Productions shows. I got to see 88 Keys (my favorite!), 80s Pop to the Max, Heart of Soul, and Getaway Island. I was wondering if there would ever be an opportunity for the performers to record some of the songs from the shows so that we can still enjoy an aspect of the show while not on a cruise.
I am so glad you enjoyed these new shows and we are currently producing more new shows for our ships. I think your idea of offering these revues in a recording of some sort is an excellent one so let me run this by the production staff and see what we can accomplish. Thanks again and I hope we see you on the ship again very soon. Best wishes.
Lilly Kimura asks:
We will be cruising on Carnival Dream October 15. My son Kenji is 12 years old and is a piano playing prodigy and he has a very important concert audition at DAR Constitution hall in our nation’s capital on November 7. So he will need to practice and need a room to do so for three to four hours a day for the cruise duration. I am not sure who to contact to achieve this and was told by my travel agency to write to you. He will need this private place to practice and in return my son would be willing to provide a free concert for your passengers, it will be something they never forget. How does that sound to you? Please do contact me urgently so I can assure my son that all is in hand.
Hello Lilly Kimura
I will speak with the musical director myself and see what we can do because I will actually be on that cruise with you. I cannot promise we can have two to four hours every day as we only have grand pianos in two locations but let me see what I can schedule for you. Thanks also for the kind offer for the concert. We will have a talent show, so maybe he would be able to play in that. I wish you a wonderful cruise and I will speak with you on board. Best wishes.
Anthony Olewnik asks:
My family has been on three past cruises with Carnival (all booked in fall and winter) and had 1 booked for this Halloween. Unfortunately, due to a family situation we have to postpone the cruise till next year. My question is in the summer, is the quantity of guests much more (over crowded) than fall and can the heat be an issue in the Caribbean? I have two children that will be ages three and 13 next summer and a large amount of children don’t bother me but I just don’t like overcrowded places. We are looking at either the Carnival Magic or Carnival Dream for June of 2016 due to our 15th anniversary at that time and would just be a great way to celebrate.
Hello Anthony Olewnik
I am sorry to read that you had to postpone your Halloween cruise; I hope things are all OK now with you and the family. It is never easy to second guess what the weather will do but it is certainly hot much of the time in the summer around the Caribbean islands but with the pools, WaterWorks and slides, there are so many places you can all cool down. We are always proud to carry lots of families during this time, so your children will have lots of chances to make new friends and have fun with them. So I believe it is a wonderful time for you all to sail and if you have any more questions, please do not hesitate to contact me here or on my facebook.com/johnheald page. Best wishes.
Know I will be flamed for this by your Kool Aid commandos but who cares?! Pauleydm was a poster on Cruise Critic on which I am a 5000 + member. His posts from the Carnival Liberty were priceless and honest and not full of crap like what you were posting on Facebook. I hope Carnival recognizes the work he did for us and rewards him with another free cruise and free Internet on that cruise so he can give us another report.
Thanks for writing to me and this is the second such comment I have seen about Paul. In fact, before he disembarked the ship, I sent him some gifts and he received a personal letter of thanks from the company. I am afraid that I cannot offer him a free cruise or free Internet but I do sincerely thank him as I do all the guests who were on the ship for their patience during some challenging times. I hope we see you soon and congratulations on being a member of the 5,000 club……..does that mean 5,000 days on cruises? Wow, that is truly sensational and I hope many of those days have been on one of our ships. Best wishes.
Hello John: We never know if we should leave an additional tip for our room steward, and if so, should we tip him/her daily or on the last day of the cruise? We have done both. Which do they prefer? I know their tip is included in the gratuity that is paid up front when we check in…I just feel they deserve so much more for all the hard work they do and all of the care and attention they give to the passengers. They are awesome! Best Wishes to you!
How very gracious of you to ask this question. Tipping is a very personal thing so there is no blanket answer to this. However, if at the end of the cruise you feel any crew member has exceeded your expectations it is very much appreciated by them if you give a little extra. Please do let me know if there is anything I can ever do for you. Best wishes.
Gary Hultman asks:
Hi John. We are loyal Carnival Platinum cruisers. We have two cruises booked for this winter. Every day I check Carnival prices for a better deal (we have price protection). They have lots of sales and deals but all they have done is raise the base price and then give an on board credit or a deal and it ends up being the same price. You think it is a deal but it is deceiving. Any thoughts on this? I know there is nothing you can do but thanks for listening.
Hello Gary Hultman
Let me start by thanking you for your loyalty. I am afraid my understanding of the pricing and protection is limited, so please allow me to pass this to a colleague and let her see your thoughts and reply. I do hope that’s OK and I hope we see you again very soon. Best wishes.
Bill and Linda Schneider asks:
John, perhaps this question has already been answered. Will there be a money exchange on the Carnival Vista, like there was on Carnival Legend when it sailed northern Europe? If not, will you try to make it happen? It was really inconvenient not to have that on board when we sailed on the Carnival Legend in April 2013, and had to try to find places off the ship to exchange money (both ways). We spent over two hours waiting in a bank in Messina to exchange dollars to Euros. Unbelievable!
Hello Bill and Linda Schneider
Yes, indeed, there will be from dollars to euros and back again. There will also be an ATM that will give you euros, as well. However, I should add that the ship is not a bank and you will definitely get a better rate from your bank or the banks ashore so I do advise you bear that in mind. Please do let me know if you have any other questions and I hope you have a brilliant time on your Carnival Vista. Best wishes.
Martha McLennan asks:
Carnival should follow Royal Caribbean and have reserved front row seats at the shows for platinum passengers. We should not have to fight for a seat with other passengers who have not earned the Platinum status. This would be a perk worth staying with you for. Just saying.
Hello Martha McLennan
Thank you for your loyalty and, although we will not be reserving seats at the shows for our Diamond or Platinum guests, I hope that the joys of cruising with us will see you return many more times. Best wishes.
That’s all for today and many thanks for all your comments, reviews and questions.
I often get asked why I publish the intense negative comments and the personal attacks on me and this company I love almost as much as Megan Fox’s bottom. You know, I have been writing this blog for almost eight years. We now have 20 million page views and over on my facebook.com/johnheald we are rapidly approaching 100,000 likes and last week we had over 1 million post clicks in a seven-day period which I am truly humbled by. Yet, I have seen such a change here and what used to be a genteel cute little baby yak called Dave has turned into, at times, a huge bite your bollocks of a great white shark called Bastard.
Now I only have myself to blame for this because I decide what gets published here. The beards send me 10 questions every day and it’s my choice if I answer or indeed post them. But I promised you all full disclosure and have lived by that promise. And there is little I can do about it even if I wanted to. You see, I have come to learn that there’s no one in charge of this Internet thing, despite the claims of thousands of low pant-wearing teenage boys who proclaim themselves to be “King of the Internet.” The online world is where millions of people are trying to get through another day of posting amusing pictures of their dogs dressed as Superman, typing in CAPITAL LETTERS and using fake names pretending that they know everything about Carnival. Overall, though, the Internet is a wonderful place and I still love writing the blog and my Facebook page and reading everyone’s opinions, including those who think of me as the sperm of the devil. Mostly it remains a remarkably amiable place, the warm cuddly baby yak lives on……..but the shark is always lurking……ready to eat your dangly bits for breakfast. So I am used to these anonymous posters who sit in their mother’s basement making inflammatory comments. You know, the more I think about it, the more I think that these sharks are getting some kind of high off others outrage. It’s a bit like a young boy farting silently at the breakfast table then laughing out loud, “Oh my God, that smell has curdled the milk and melted my Cheerios. WHY would you DO that, John? WHY?”
It seems typical shark behavior is to write that I am a bastard, offer bugger all customer service and talk out of my chubby white arse or that taking a Carnival cruise is about as much fun as having explosive diarrhea. Then the true Carnival fans round on the shark for blasting him or her for being an idiot with no more right to live on God’s green Earth than a slug. So why then do I continue to post these comments and how do I not attack their comments? Well, sometimes they may have a point. Sometimes their feedback helps me become a better person and a better representative of this brilliant company. But, mostly, there’s always the feeling that, as I get all defensive the shark is sitting at their computer, rubbing their hands in glee…….or worse …….. rubbing other things!
So next week I will be in Miami for the 2016 Entertainment Leadership Conference…..how about that for a title? Yep, we can’t call it a CD conference anymore because a) we have entertainment directors now and b) the beards have to by law give it some new swanky kale-flavoured title. There will be over 30 cruise directors and entertainment directors attending. Some I will who have known for years and some are good friends of mine and yet there will be many I do not know and some I have never even met. That’s because, well, I am really not a cruise director anymore I am a…………ummmmm……………well, let’s just say I am somewhat out of touch with the day to day life of being a CD because of all my other responsibilities.
So in some ways, I think I will feel a bit weird being there, a bit out of place and not just because I will be the only person who does not manscape. I will feel at times like a fish out of water but will do my best, when asked, to give our brilliant group of CDs and EDs as much help and advice as I can. I say that because after all, despite all the new branded beardy words of today the mainstay of a CD is to connect with the audience and make them laugh and feel good and that is something I always tried my best to do. Anyway, I will be reporting live from the 2016 Entertainment Leadership Conference via my facebook.com/johnheald page and posting photos and videos there for you so you can see your favourites.
I actually had a cruise director contact me a couple of days ago and he asked if he could call me to discuss what he should or should not say, etc., except he did not ask if he could “call me.” Oh no, he asked if he could sodding well “reach out” to me. Whatever happened to “I will call you” or “I need to speak to you?” And I swear the next time someone says “reach out,” I will use that saggy elastic in my underpants to strangle them with and then I will take the marketing book he read at college, shove it right up his bottom and he can then give 110% toward “reaching out” for help to pull it out.