John Heald's Blog http://johnhealdsblog.com Tue, 30 Jun 2015 17:03:23 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 Making Home Work – Work http://johnhealdsblog.com/2015/06/30/making-home-work-work/ http://johnhealdsblog.com/2015/06/30/making-home-work-work/#comments Tue, 30 Jun 2015 17:03:23 +0000 http://johnhealdsblog.com/?p=21919 Continue reading ]]> That great English tradition has started – no, I’m not talking about the weather. I am, of course, talking about Wimbledon, arguably the top tennis tournament in the world. Are you excited? Some of you are and many definitely are not because, for some, tennis is about as exciting as reading 50 Shades of Grey with all the rumpy pumpy bits taken out. Wimbledon takes it to a whole new level. Hundreds of elderly English people with their sunburn and their emergency wet weather gear sit there eating their cucumber sandwiches and applaud absolutely everything.

They clap for double faults from anyone who is taking on their beloved Andy Murray (who is actually Scottish and has posters of Mel Gibson in Braveheart on his bedroom wall) and when the umpire asks someone to turn off their cell phone, the applause reaches new heights.

Unfortunately, what you have to remember is that Wimbledon attracts enormous television audiences from all over the world. I often wonder what these sophisticated people from abroad are going to think of England when they see some hysterical women applauding and cheering because a sodding pigeon has just landed on center court just as Djockitch is about to serve.

The ladies favourite is, of course, Nadal, who most girls belive to be, “a hunk.” That’s why I rejoice anytime he is beaten by some lanky Ubesikkasistahnian. Then there is Federer who although he has won numerous championships I think is as boring as boring can possibly be.

I often wish that tennis players would lose their tempers more and move into the realms of ice hockey where if they lost a point or the other player hits them in the bollocks with a tennis ball, then they have the right to jump over the net and bludgeon the other one with their racket. And, of course, with Wimbledon will come the multiple requests to show tennis on the big screen which, the two finals aside, we are not going to do. Instead, they will be shown in the sports bars and in other areas of the ship.

I had better go empty the dishwasher as I have promised my wife I would do this for the last three hours and, if I do not do it before she gets back from her grocery shopping, I will be in my own tennis match shouting “new balls, please.” So while I do that, you have a read of today’s Q&A, here we go.

Tori asks:
Hello John: There was a contest on Facebook and the link is down about giving free vacations. Was this true? I wanna know how the names would be published for the winners.

John says:
Hello Tori

I am sorry to say that this was a faux Carnival page and not affiliated with us. We have reported it to Facebook. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Best wishes.

John

Erik Dobusin asks:
Looking at the photos of your daughter christening Carnival Vista makes my skin crawl and such is the depth of my resentment I am not sure if I can ever cruise on Carnival Vista. Why was this once in a lifetime opportunity given to a child who deserves it like one of the children at St. Jude’s – a charity your company supports? That would have been the right decision. It would have been a decision that would have gotten you far better press than the daughter of some egotistical cruise director with a small insignificant social media page. I am shaking my head in disbelief that Carnival allowed this — disgusting all around.

John says:
Hello Eric Dobusin

That really makes me sad and I hate so much to make any of our guests feel this way. We already do so much with and so much for our charity partners at the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and maybe in future days we can look at including someone who has benefited from the extraordinary facilities there. In fact, the godmother of Carnival Magic was Lindsey Wilkerson whose inspirational story took her from a patient at St. Jude to an executive who christened the ship so wonderfully. The photos, videos and my posts on my blog and on my Facebook page of the coin ceremony attracted over 300,000 views and I am sure there were thousands more who watched and read on other news outlets and saw what I think was the brilliant job Kye did ………. and she is only six years old. The actual godmother of the Carnival Vista has yet to be announced and she will actually christen and name the ship officially. What Kye did was just for the coin ceremony and float out. I hope this explanation helps calm you a little a bit and I hope that we will see you on your Carnival Vista, our best ship ever. Best wishes.

John

Peter Manzi asks:
Heald: Lots of us are on Cruise Critic and the topic of today is about the steakhouse and tipping the servers. It was suggested that an extra tip not be given in cash because it is supposed to be pooled and the servers cheat each other if actual dollars are given and keep the cash. There were also questions why Carnival will not be upfront and clear on what tip is included in the $35 charge if this is indeed the truth Heald. I eat at least once maybe twice on each cruise up at the steakhouse so I deserve an answer, don’t I? Just like the other Cruise Critic members who were asking.

John says:
Hello Peter Manzi

Thanks for thinking of the servers at our brilliant steakhouses, you are very kind indeed. The $35 does include a gratuity. I am not going to disclose how much but there is a gratuity involved in the $35 charge plus the servers are given salary, of course, by Carnival. As for not tipping in cash because “servers cheat each other if actual dollars are given and keep the cash, “that is simply incorrect in every way. The servers work in pairs and as a team and would never do that — it is a job requirement. But it is also just as important to note that when the bill comes and you pay that the wine steward or bartender or the steakhouse manager is the one to bring the check and punch it through, not the servers. So I thank all our guests who do think that the food and service at our steakhouses deserve an extra tip and, most of all, I hope you enjoy many more great experiences at our steakhouses. Best wishes.

John

Stewart Hicks asks:
Need to know the comedians on our Carnival Dream 7/12 cruise. Who are they?!?!

John says:
Hello Stewart Hicks

You will be brilliantly entertained by Arvin Mitchell, Steven Quezeda, Mark Simmons and Tim Cavanagh. Have a brilliant cruise. Best wishes.

John

Laura Sergent asks:
Hello, do you have any more info on what ship Kevin Donahue will be on after November?

John says:
Hello Laura Sergent

Thanks for asking, I am sure he will be thrilled to know someone was asking what ship he will be on. We have not yet completed the CD schedule for 2016 and, when I do have an updated one, I will post it here on the blog so please, stay tuned. Best wishes.

John

Michelle jones asks:
Hello….would like to find out the name and location of pier for my January 2016 Carnival Pride cruise that stops in San Juan…THANKS. Happy sailing to you!!!

John says:
Hello Michelle Jones

I am afraid that docking information is not released this far in advance by the port authority. However, for the most part, she docks at the San Juan cruise terminal north in Old San Juan. I hope this helps somewhat and let me know if I can help you further. Best wishes.

John

Lainey Adelstein asks:
I am not an experienced Carnival cruiser but I am told you are the man, John – the big cheese, the big kahuna!! Please then can you help me with something because I am trying to repair a friendship so if you can hear me out and hopefully help me out. I want to tell you about my best friend __________. We went to college together at Texas A & M and became firm friends and it stayed that way after we both graduated. Some weeks ago we were texting. I asked her how her boyfriend ———- ————- was doing. Her reply said that he was not her boyfriend anymore.

Without much thought I told her that I was happy he was not her boyfriend anymore because he was self-centered and obtuse. Her reply text said he is not my boyfriend anymore — he is my fiancé!

She has barley spoken to me since and I am devastated. I have tried to repair our friendship but it has been one-way traffic. Her mom told me that on July 5 they will both be on a Carnival cruise on the ship Carnival Magic. She also told me about you and how you helped her John with a problem she had on her cruise and she suggested I write to you with the idea we talked about because she really wants our friendship to get back to the way it was. The idea is that I send a video apology you can play it on the jumbo screen. Is this possible? What format and how do I get it to you???? I feel such a schmuck and am heartbroken. Can you help???

John says:
Hello Lainey

I can imagine how awful you must feel and I think it is admirable that you are trying to fix this situation and rejuvenate your friendship. A video message is not possible and not something we really should as a cruise line get in the middle of, I am sure you will understand why. However, I will send her a bottle of champagne and some chocolate strawberries with a note that simply says: “Sorry, your friend always – Lainey.” Fingers crossed that she will use this to toast what I truly hope will be a friendship reborn. Best wishes.

John

Jacinda Collymore asks:
Hello, John. Back in 2001 my sister and I cruised on Carnival Triumph and met you and you picked my sister, Jade, to be in a skit with you. She was asleep, remember John? If not see it here because someone filmed it and put it on YouTube. You made my sister so famous that in the islands she was having photos taken. Jade has completed her 10 years in the United States Army and to celebrate our families are cruising on Carnival Fascination on July 9. Thank you, John, for the laughs and for making my sister who will still call Mary a star something she will never forget we wish you were cruising with us.

John says:
Hello Jacinda Collymore

What a wonderful memory and what a star your sister was. Please would you thank her for the service she continues to give and I will make sure I send her something to reflect that. I wish you all a brilliant time together and loads of fun. Best wishes.

John

Anna Hoult asks:
Bringing to your attention the dissatisfaction on Cruise Critic message boards of giving beggars and cheerleaders ships on sticks when they are not earned. This was recently shared on the Cruise Critic message boards. Who cares if it is a birthday or a graduation blah blah. I am platinum I play by the rules and try and win a trophy, not beg you for one. I guess those of us who play by the rules are punished. Really wanted to win one for my collection on Carnival Sensation cruise but won nothing. But my head is held high because I refuse to beg you for one. You need to stop handing these out because it is upsetting loyal customers!!!

John says:
Hello Anna Hoult

The trophies are still so popular and, after all these years, this is great to read. I do send trophies to people who are celebrating a special occasion and who ask me and it really does no harm in doing so, there really isn’t. It is the little things like this that really can put the icing on the cruise cake, so I will keep doing it because simply, it makes people smile. Please know you can always ask me for one and I want to thank you also for your loyalty and long may that continue. Best wishes.

John

That’s all for today and thanks so much for all the comments and, of course, for reading my musings here on the blog.

It is actually easier for me to write blogs when I was a proper cruise director, living on a ship for a few months at a time, not just material-wise but because on the ship I have a pattern, a time plan. I used to write early in the morning while most guests were still asleep and dreaming of their next chocolate melting cake. Then I would write after midnight while guests were in the casino, at the Punchliner Comedy Club or gyrating in the nightclub trying to impress young men whose pants are down by their knees and who in turn were being drooled over by herds of cougars. Yep, I found a way to balance writing my blog and keeping up with thousands of people on Facebook as well as making sure I had lots of stage time and I was accessible to the guests.

Working from home is not so easy. It really isn’t. Yes, on paper it sounds good. Some think it is a license to take loads of time off to watch Game of Thrones and The Real Housebitches of Plastic Surgery County. Yep, the boss cannot see what you’re doing so you do what you want, have a two-hour lunch break, take a nap and have mid-afternoon rumpy pumpy. Trust me, that theory is total bollocks.

I think I work harder and for longer from home than I do when I was on a ship. However, as I sit here in my underpants which, of course, if I did in the Miami HQ offices, wouldn’t go down too well with Bianca in accounting. I can’t help thinking if working from home is the future for many jobs, yes, even yours.

With Eye pads and lap tops in most households these days, it means people can work from anywhere, so does location really matter if the job gets done? If Carnival had everyone work from home wouldn’t more work get done?

There would be no being stuck in traffic on I-95, no lunch breaks, bugger all water-cooler gossiping about how Mark in hotel operations has terrible flatulence. And most of all, there is no getting ready in the morning. I get out of bed and waddle in my underpants straight to the computer and not having to dress for success each day would produce another hour’s work for the men and three hours or more for women.

“What about meetings,” I hear you cry? Working from home, you couldn’t attend the meetings. “Bloody brilliant,” I say because the world, including the world of Carnival, has gone meeting mad and if you do insist in having meetings then we have Skype, of course.

I guess though it all comes down to whether your boss trusts you to get the job done from home or not. One of the problems is that changing to working at home does mean agreeing to rules on interruptions. There have, therefore, been no high heels and suspenders moments but it wasn’t for want of trying, but my wife, Heidi, said the suspenders didn’t suit me, and the high heels were a health and safety issue and frightened our dog.

Anyway, on Thursday I will leave the bosom of my family and off I go to Miami and join the Carnival Glory for the July 4 cruise and then onto the Carnival Paradise to see, help, advise and have fun with my good friend and Cruise Director Calvyn Martens. I will be writing some old style blogs from these ships and sharing with you what the guests are enjoying and maybe what one or two are not. So please join me here on my blog and on my Facebook.com/johnheald page.

I will be sailing a lot more over the coming months with some Carnival Journeys to host plus of course, more Carnival Vista filming, a cruise director conference on September 25 and maybe one or two other ship visits. Meanwhile I will be working on my blog and, of course, on my Facebook page from home and I really do encourage more of you to work from home too. If you decide to do this, here are some of the guidelines I suggest you follow.

 You must do the following

  • Ring your boss from bed as soon as the alarm goes off — all the better if you wake him or her up.
  • Continue to email and Skype your boss at least three times a day, even if you have bugger all to report.
  • Mute the TV before answering a ringing phone. Your boss will not appreciate hearing “winter is coming John Snow” or “and this stunning set of Ginsu knives is yours for only $44.99 if you call now.”

You must not do the following –   Boast that you’ve just watched all five seasons of Game of Thrones in three days

  • Make your six-year-old daughter act as a secretary. It may help you feel like an executive, but she will not be ready for the job.
  • Stand up during telephone conferences — your mostly white underpants will become visible to all.

The other good thing about working from home is you don’t have to worry about what to wear. And although I am often found writing wearing only my underpants, when I do get dressed, I tend to wear whatever happens to be nearest to the bed and don’t really care if my socks don’t match. The other day, by mistake, I went took Kye to school wearing odd sneakers.

That’s it for another blog; the next one will be live from the Carnival Glory as we celebrate the 4th of July and eight days of fabulous cruising together.

First of all, I have to renew my ESTA Visa to allow me travel to the United States. This means I have to state I have no convictions for drug smuggling, that I am not wanted by any known law enforcement agency and that on my trip to Miami that I am not going to be carrying any snails.

It doesn’t mention lions or scorpions or rabid yaks……….just snails. I wonder why? The problem is that it is summer here in the UK and we have lots of snails in our back garden. My daughter loves anything that is an animal and keeps bringing the snails indoors in a box and feeds them bits of fruit. This morning one of her snails who, for some reason, she called Rosie escaped and its whereabouts are unknown. So if you read about a chubby grey haired brand ambassador of a cruise line being arrested at Miami airport by a guns-drawn, anthrax-protocol biohazard suited Defcon 1 lockdown SWAT team……………..you will know that Rosie has been found.

Goodnight.

Your friend,

John

 

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My Dad’s Drawers http://johnhealdsblog.com/2015/06/23/my-dads-drawers/ http://johnhealdsblog.com/2015/06/23/my-dads-drawers/#comments Tue, 23 Jun 2015 15:25:42 +0000 http://johnhealdsblog.com/?p=21913 Continue reading ]]> I know this is supposed to be a cruise-related blog and for people clicking on this page for the first time, I welcome you and assure you cruise-related business is the normal conversation here and I will return to it a bit later in this episode.

However, I hope you will excuse me if I put into words something that has been on my mind these past couple of days. The subject is my dad, a subject that I think about every day, more so this past Sunday which, of course, was Father’s Day. For those who may have just joined me, let me mention my dad passed away a year and half ago leaving his bride of 54 years, me, my sister and three grandchildren missing him more than I have the ability to describe. This past Sunday, I had to go into his office/study, something I have purposely avoided as much as I could over the past months, unless requested by mum, to fiddle and check on an insurance file or some banking in one of the files he kept so meticulously.

The reason I went in there on Father’s Day and I sat for a few minutes in his study – which was a combination sanctuary, office, man cave, shrine to Carnival Cruise Line surrounded by Carnival photos and awards, a shrine to my sister and her achievements, a shrine to cricket — a game I would need three years to explain to my American readers – and, most of all memories of his grandchildren. I realise that in the midst of death, life must go on. But for whatever reason, I have hated, yes hated, to have to go in to his office. It was strange then that I found myself for no apparent reason started to examine the contents of the office. Examine as in – and I feel sodding awful for saying this – throw some of those contents in the garbage and shredding the old bank documents, etc.

As I started to do this, I knew well enough that dealing with these memories wasn’t going to be an easy task for me. My dad, Neville or “Nev,” as he preferred, lived, recorded and archived his life in woodwork and on paper. Not exclusively on paper – he also maintained a mean toolshed: nails and screws of varying types and lengths precisely housed and labelled and a selection of tools, some handmade woodwork planes by a chap called Norris which I know he saved hard for and one I had bought him for his 70th birthday. My Dad could turn a few lumps of old wood into an Edwardian desk that would make anything from IKEA look shoddy and cheap. He was a craftsman and he taught boys how to be a craftsman for 30 plus years at Southend High School for Boys. He tried to teach me woodwork but it would be as pointless as a snooze button on a smoke detector.

As I went through each drawer in my dad’s study, I was not in the least bit surprised that all his letters, paid bills and correspondence in the desk he built himself desk were in perfect order until the day he had passed away. After that, the letters and correspondence were in a big pile in the corner of his desk, something that would have driven him stark-raving bonkers. After 79 years of life and the inability to throw away even the smallest item, my dad had amassed a sensational amount of books, model steam trains, photos, letters and enough stationery to stock an Office Depot mega-store. There is a 1997-vintage photocopier. A selection of cricket and steam train videos, not DVDs, videos and 78, yes 78 model steam engines and 45 models of Old London buses beautifully arranged in wooden showcases made, of course, by my dad, with love. I think if the truth be told, my Mum would like the office cleared and turned into an empty room. Dad spent so much time there that I think this room more than any other in her house is the toughest one for her to be in.

So now I have to decide what to do with all of it, and I can’t deny I don’t even know where to start. I was daunted beforehand – and I was right to be. The desk alone – coins, cheque stubs, accounts, photos, camera bits, pens, keys, wallets, you name it – looks like several days’ work that I would have to do. Fascinating work, emotional work. Work I will, however, carry out, as my father’s son, and because he worked hard to accumulate it all, and because if it’s in his office, he will have had a good reason for it to be so.

And to bring light to what was a bit of a dark day for me, in one of his desk drawers, I found a wooden key ring I bought him at the craft market in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. It was beautiful handmade and hand turned carving of a Rastafarian and when you pulled the key chain…….his gentleman’s sausage would pop up. My dad loved it……….actually, no, he didn’t but it is at least another memory of a great man who gave me so much.

Cheers, Dad…………..I miss you.

Time for today’s Q and A……………….off we go.

Lance Hansen asks:
Just off the Carnival Magic and still stunned there was no COUNTRY MUSIC!!! Texas is the heartland of America and mainstream country is the music of America. I found it offensive both to Texans and to the military that there was no country band on the ship. Every ship Carnival has and, I think you have lots, should have a country band.

John says:
Hello Lance Hansen

I do hope that you enjoyed the cruise and that the disappointment of not having a country band playing all country music did not stop you enjoying the food and service and the fun. I know the ship has two guitar soloists and duo and a party band that will play country music by request. It is important when we have these discussions to remember that we only have the cabins we have. By that I mean the entertainment department has a certain budget and that budget is based on the number of beds we have to fill. If we were to add a country band that plays country music all the time, then we would have to remove the party band that plays such a wide selection of music. I hope this explains why we have the choice we do and I will be writing more about live music shortly. I hope we see you again very soon and thanks for writing to me. Best wishes.

John

Javier Vega asks:
Why do you keep saying how important it is to meet your cabin steward? My wife and I were on the Carnival Fascination in April for our anniversary and our steward was a ghost. The room was clean and tidy and he did everything he needed to do but we never saw him. I wrote this on a Cruise Critic review and there were some answers to me saying how angry that would have made them and one told me I should have complained and asked for some money back!! Why? He was a ghost, but also an incredible room steward. I am interested to see your take on this please. Why do passengers want to actually see their stewards and interact with them? I’m fine talking to them or never seeing them. As long as things go well, I’m happy.

John says:
Hello Javier Vega

That’s a great post and a fascinating question. I will bring this up for general discussion on my Facebook page and see what everyone has to say. I, in turn, will mention that the cabin steward is supposed to introduce him or herself to you on embarkation day/evening as part of his regular duties. After that, it is often down to chance if you see them as it depends if they are in your cabin area when you leave and or return. Most of the cabin stewards have the ability to detect when a guest is leaving and will come out of the cabin they are cleaning if they hear you leave yours. Interacting is important to many guests and so it should be, it is enjoyed by both parties I think plus it would be ridiculous of me not to mention doing so helps with the cabin stewards gratuities. I hope that helps with some kind of answer for you and please let me know if there is anything else I can help you with. Hope we see you again very soon. Best wishes.

John

Terry asks:
John, you mentioned you would be on the Carnival Journeys and I’m wondering if you mean all of them? We are on the January 31 sailing on Carnival Miracle – would love to cruise with you!

John says:
Hello Terry

I will be on the first two on the Carnival Dream and it is my intention to be on many more. I will confirm my schedule as soon as I can and I do hope to see you there. Please let me know if there is anything I can help with. Best wishes.

John

Julie Elkin asks:
Hi John. This is our first time on Carnival and we are about to go on Carnival Sunshine. If we do not want to go to the formal nights are there other dining options apart from the chargeable restaurants? Also, when is Carnival Sunshine getting the Fun Hub? Thank you. Juls

John says:
Hello Julie Elkin

Yes, of course, so please do not worry. Remember the choice to dress elegantly is yours as it is your vacation after all. You can wear more casual clothes that night, just no shorts and T-shirts. If you wish, you will have dinner served on Lido from 5:30 – 9 pm and various outlets there providing you lots of choices. I hope you will have a wonderful time…..actually, I am sure you will and if you need anything or have any other questions, I am here or on my Facebook.com/johnheald page. Wishing you the best of times. Best wishes.

John

Max Wooten asks:
Do you have to be fat and obese to be a Carnival John Heald cheerleader??? I always see the fatties comments salivating over the burgers and prime rib not asking for nutrition information. Why is nowhere I can find nutrition info for the different meals in the dining room, buffet, etc.? I track calories and macronutrients. I bet you do not even know what they are. They should be available on the menus many of my local restaurants are already doing. Asked on the Carnival Freedom and last week on the Carnival Sensation but nobody knew. Also, the same meal can vary greatly in calories depending on how it is made and the specific ingredients. Carnival this is common sense, really.

John says:
Hello Max Wooten

Let’s ignore the first couple of sentences, shall we, and put that down to frustration on not being able to see the nutrition information on our menus which is happening at some landside restaurants now I see. Meanwhile, on your next cruise, please feel free to ask the waiter for the menu for dinner for the following night, have a think about what you want to have and the waiter will ask the chef for the information you need. I am sorry it was not shared with you on your past two cruises with us. Obviously, there are far too many items for me to list here but if you have specific questions on menu items, please do let me know. Thanks and hope to see you soon. Best wishes.

John

Dana asks:
Morning John! I’m very excited to share that my husband and I have just booked a cabin (#2222) on the fabulous Carnival Freedom for November 12 this year. It will be our 13th Carnival cruise. Even more special is the fact that we’ll be bringing along our two foster sons, each of whom will be celebrating his birthday aboard! This will be their first cruise, and I can’t think of a more wonderful birthday present for them. One rather important question: During embarkation, will Carnival staff accept our placement paperwork and a good copy of their birth certificates as identification? Foster children rarely have original birth certificates available through Child Protective Services. Thanks for your insight. Dana

John says:
Hello Dana

How wonderful. I have such admiration for any foster parents and I am sure you have given these young men a wonderful life. Please do bring the official placement papers and a copy of the birth certificate and that will be fine. Please also send me your cabin number the day before the cruise on Facebook.com/johnheald so I can send them a little birthday something. Best wishes to you all.

John

Carol O asks:
Hello John, Taking your lead, I am writing to you in my underpants. I am a 69-year-old solo woman cruiser who has been cruising for 35 years. I am taking my first Carnival cruise on Freedom, August 29. I will be solo and won’t know anyone aboard. I selected second seating dining (8:15 p.m.) table for eight. Does Carnival arrange for older solo cruisers to dine at the same table? That might be too much to ask for. Just a little concerned at being out of place at my table. Any suggestions? Thank you, love your blog and follow you on FB.

John says:
Hello Carol O

And let me start by saying that my reply is also following your dress code, as well. Thanks for making me smile and may I ask that four days before the cruise via my Facebook page please would you send me your dining request to be seated with others and I will ask the maître d’ to make it so. Thanks so much and I wish you the best of times and am here if you need anything. Best wishes

John

Dustin McCoy asks:
Hi John, my wife and I are looking to book our next cruise, would you recommend booking with a Carnival PVP or through the website. What are the advantages of a PVP? Thanks!

John says:
Hello Dustin McCoy

I think many people reading this will tell you that the expert advice provided by our valued travel agent partners and our PVPs can make a real difference to your cruise. They are the ears and eyes on specials, discounts and can do all the legwork to find the right cruise for you with the right cabin and so much more. Please have a think about that and if there is anything at all I can do I am here for you. Best wishes.

John

Karen Sykes asks:
Has Carnival ever thought about holding a teen pageant contest during a cruise? I think this would be an awesome thing to do, like Miss America’s Outstanding Teen. With lots of teens on your boats there would be some big turnouts and what great entertainment for the passengers. You could give free cruises to the winners. Count my daughter in on this when we cruise on the Triumph on August 8. Awesome idea, right? Please respond if Carnival is going to do this so we can prepare.

John says:
Hello Karen Sykes

While I think there would be some who may enjoy this, I do have to respectfully say that this is not something we are able to do. Not only would this be challenging from a logistical standpoint, the cruises are all about fun and however we did this, I think some would take it very seriously and the fun part may be forgotten. I want to wish you a brilliant cruise and there will be a superb variety of entertainment on board and, of course, loads of fun for you and your family. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Best wishes.

John

Pat Piscopo asks:
Which ship is Jaime Dee on now? She was on Carnival Sunshine!!!!!!!!!!!! Who will be the cruise director on Carnival Sunshine Feb. 13, 2016?

John says:
Hello Pat Piscopo

Jaime is on the Carnival Sunshine until her vacation in a couple of weeks’ time. She will return to that ship in September. We have not done the 2016 schedule yet, Pat, and as soon as it’s ready I will post it here.

John

Frank Albauer asks:
Faster to the Fun!! Last year I booked this 10 months in advance. I booked a cruise for February 14 on the Carnival Magic it’s not available yet! It hasn’t been put out yet. Is there a policy change? Thanks, john!!

John says:
Hello Frank Albauer

This should be there now and, if not, will be there by the end of July, so please do keep checking. Please also let me know if you need anything else before you cruise. Have a great time.

Best wishes.

John
 

That’s all for today. The blog has received an average of 40,000 views each time one has been posted and that has brought with it lots of comments and questions. I will then try and answer as many as I can as quickly as I can but I remind you that questions can also be asked on my Facebook.com/johnheald page too.

So tomorrow I will fly to Italy and the town of Trieste where your Carnival Vista is under construction. Please check back here in the next couple of days for some video footage of what will happen and more news on our incomparable ship……….sorry………..your incomparable ship.

I want to introduce you to the name Eddie Castro. He is our new music manager and he and his team under the guidance of our senior entertainment beard Sara are adding more and more live music to our fleet of ships. Eddie worked with me as a musical director and we delivered the Carnival Breeze together and he loves live music………he truly does. I love live music, too, and in that Eddie and I are joined at the hip. Now I should say that Eddie is a proper musician unlike me because after half a lifetime of consistent failure I knew I was not born to be a musician. I suppose I should have seen the signs at the age of eight, when I attended Heycroft Junior School in Essex, UK. Like most of the kids in the UK, we were issued with a Dolmetsch recorder. I remember all the other kids could play a tune, while my own instrument emitted nothing but a sound similar to a constipated mouse trying to take a dump and produced a worrying quantity of warm spit.

The recorder, I decided, was pretty much a girly instrument so, by the age of 11, I was playing with the trombone. Sometimes, I would blow so hard into the mouthpiece that I saw stars and nothing would come out except a sound that can only be described as a wet fart.….you know the one all of us do after sitting at the meal table for hours eating everything in sight and then, finally, we stand up and…..bweeeeeeep. After a while, I laid the trombone aside, consoling myself with the thought that you never saw a trombone player in a rock band. So I took up the bass guitar. One year later I was fired from my mate’s rock band on the not unreasonable grounds that I was the only would be bass guitarist in history who could not play the opening bars of Smoke on the Water. But on the ships we have and always will support live music, however, it worries me that kids of future generations will one day believe all music comes from an Eye Pod thingy and not from the hearts and minds of brilliant live musicians.

Eddie has already overseen the addition of party bands on the ships and returning the likes of those Carnival household names like Blood Power, Music Unlimited and, beginning in September, the brilliant band Blackjack returns to Carnival Dream. There are party bands in the RedFrog Pub and romantic music in the lobby. There is Cuban/Latin music in the Havana Bar and soon you will hear much more Caribbean and Calypso music on the Lido and, indeed, in the atriums as you board the ships.

And as I sit here writing in my underpants to you there is another team currently making their way around the fleet………the sound patrol. This is a group of technicians and music supervisors who are going ship to ship to check the volume of all our live and indeed recorded performances covering the theatre, lounges and Lido. Some of you may not realise that we have standards set by the beards as to what volumes we can run shows, music, movies, etc. We do — sometimes they are full in their volume and, yes, I know that some people don’t appreciate that very much. I am fully sympathetic that as you get older your hearing becomes more sensitive or in my case, disappears. I say disappears but that’s not really true. What I will say is that it seems to me that movies and TV these days are made in such a way that many of us have no idea what the heck is being said. I was on a flight last month from London to Miami and decided to watch an in-flight movie: American Sniper. But even though I was using an expensive pair of those noise- cancelling headphones, I could not make out a single word that anyone said. Every actor whispered.

But back on the ships, our team will check all the levels and will make sure that all of our shows and musical performances are set to a comfortable level for all without losing the energy in the room that a good, solid, full sound always gives. May I give our guests some advice? Before you sit down, in the main lounge especially, look up and if you see a speaker right above your head or on a pole (structural pole not on an actual person from Poland). I would suggest you move away to a different seat if you do have sensitive hearing. Once again, I wanted to say how committed we are to live music and you will be seeing that commitment for yourself on your next cruise.

Well, this time tomorrow, I will be on a Ryan Air flight to Trieste, Italy, to see your Carnival Vista. I will be joined by Peter the Hair who will be filming loads of footage and interviews with me and, of course, and a special guest and I will be Facebooking photos from the ship daily and reporting on the coin ceremony.

Ahh yes, Ryan Air, an airline that should be renamed “Oh FFS Airlines.” Yes, I know they are cheap……..er………but there are so many rules and so many short cuts that past flying experiences with them have made my hemorrhoids flare. Their sandwiches cost about the same as the flight and are so refrigerated you may as well chew on a lump of frozen yak scrotum.

Yes, you’re right; here goes the chubby grey-haired wanker moaning again about flying. I know Carnival is paying for my flight but it’s not the money I am moaning about……it’s well …. let me explain. I believe that flying with Ryan Air is the perfect way of deterring everyone but the most determined traveler from ever setting foot on a plane. My previous flights with them have me getting off the plane feeling like the unlikely offspring of Charlie Sheen and Lady Ga Ga.

I have in recent flights to the Carnival Pride and Carnival Legend, been able to upgrade to business class thanks to my frequent flying points. So I am aware that something infinitely more agreeable exists in the air. Soft pillows, unlimited bottled water (I am Platinum……..with British Airways) exotic nuts and a good chance of sitting next to Megan Fox in tight jeans. I have mostly flown coach across the Atlantic which is purgatory, no more than a waiting room for the true hell of flying Ryan Air where the only nuts I will be served will be crushed ones, mine …………..as I try and fit into a seat designed for Tyrion Lannister.

Goodnight.

Your friend,

John

Facebook.com/johnheald

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A Beautiful Vista of Your Carnival Vista http://johnhealdsblog.com/2015/06/18/a-beautiful-vista-of-your-carnival-vista/ http://johnhealdsblog.com/2015/06/18/a-beautiful-vista-of-your-carnival-vista/#comments Thu, 18 Jun 2015 17:50:50 +0000 http://johnhealdsblog.com/?p=21901 Continue reading ]]> If you had been reading my Facebook page the other day, you might remember someone writing to me and suggesting that, when people are late coming back to the ship in Cozumel that the staff should walk down the pier and check the bars to see if we could spot someone enjoying a bucket of margaritas, oblivious to the fact that big white thing is sailing away without them and their clean underwear.

Yep, Cozumel, Mexico – a favourite port for the cruise industry and the many tens of thousands of guests who disembark there each and every week. I have been going to Cozumel for many years on the Holiday, Jubilee and Celebration, both in the early days and then later and before the word “Carnival” was painted on the hull of Ecstasy and Sensation and then every other ship throughout the fleet. Cozumel has been a port I have got to know so very well.

There have been many changes over the years, though, and the one small shopping complex of maybe six or seven shops has grown into a hundreds of duty free stores, jewelry shops, silver emporiums and T-shirt stores where signs proclaim that “everything is nearly free.” There are also a number of drug stores that some of you may have even visited. There are huge signs that state that you can buy just about anything over the counter, even Viagra. These drug stores seem to be do great business every time I have passed by and I always wondered exactly what people were buying. Back on the Carnival Triumph some years ago I saw one man coming out the shop looking very pleased with himself and I guessed that he and hopefully his wife would be happy with his purchase later that night………..I saw him later that night on the ship and said to him, “What’s up”? Needless to say, he didn’t laugh.

Every time I return to Cozumel, passing by the old shops that have been there since the late 1980s memories came flooding back. In those days the ships would stay until 2am and after I had finished pretending to know about wine in the dining room, my friends and I would rush ashore, jump in a cab and pay $1 per person to go to a club called Neptunos where entrance was free to all the crew and Corona beer was 50 cents a bottle. I have to admit those were different days back then. The sad fact is that now in 2015 I have very few people left to remember those wild times with as most who shared them with me have left the company.

Then there are the taxis in Cozumel, the same ones that will ferry guests to the beaches and downtown this year as they did back in the 90s. I love all things cars and I like to think I know a bit about them, however, over the years I have tried to work out exactly what make of car they use for Cozumelian taxis. I mean, they have four doors, four wheels and make a sort of a car noise but it is as though they have been made by a factory that was too embarrassed to put its name on the vehicle.

One thing that so many Cozumel taxis have in common is the seat covers because the plastic vinyl in so many of these cars have been replaced with old-style Carnival towels……. circa early 1990s. Now, these were given to guests to go ashore and to use at the beach and remember, there was no charge if they didn’t bring them back. There was no inventory back then. I cannot imagine how much money we lost in beach towels back then because many of these, pale blue towels are still in the taxis of Cozumel.

There are guests who sometimes scoff at the fact that we charge $22 for non-returned towels but here these cabs still today is proof positive that we are right to do so. These towels were left in the back of Jose’s taxi many years ago by someone who had just drunk 12 margaritas and was never going to remember who he was and what ship he was on, let alone remember the towel that Jose’s passengers’ bottoms now sit on. It’s strange but today we still have the odd guest who may drink a barrel full of margaritas and, like our 1990’s friends, won’t remember their name or cabin number but you can rest assured they will have that towel with them clutching it as though it had been woven from pure gold, determined never to have to be charged for losing it.

Many people have a favourite restaurant in Cozumel. There is Pepe’s Grill and La Chosa downtown and then on the Puerta Maya pier there is Three Amigos. Of course, Carlos and Charlie’s and Senior Frogs remain very popular. My favourite was always Pancho’s Backyard which can be found inside a massive souvenir store called Los Cinco Soles (they also have one on the Puerto Maya pier too). Los Cinco Soles is of course Spanish for “made in China.”

I have been going to this restaurant for many years simply because it has the best guacamole on the island. The only thing that has changed is the price. The cruise industry has helped Cozumel become a vibrant island full of enterprise. They have lashings of Hard Rock Café and McDonald’s and big gleaming five-star hotels. But the days of having lunch at a restaurant there for under $10 and the days of a lobster dinner for $20 with wine have long gone. Cozumel, like it or love it, has certainly changed.

I have digressed completely from the question at the start of my blog about we should send people to check the bars? Obviously, we cannot do that — time, resources and quite honestly the fact that people should be responsible for their own actions, mean we won’t do this. But even at Carlos and Frogs Amigos things have changed. Margaritas were $2 back in the early 1990s and now they are much, much more. Oh, and one other change, back in the early 1990’s, the legal drinking age in Cozumel was………. I have no idea, could have been anything. It is a fun island and still a massive favourite but if there is one island more than any that has changed in my 29 years in the cruise industry, it is Cozumel. And, honestly, I am not totally sure it has changed for the better.

Time for today’s Q and A……………off we go.

Christy asks:
John: We are sailing on the Carnival Breeze June 28. Do you know the movie line up? We were curious as to what will be playing? Thanks.

John says:
Hello Christy

Not yet I am afraid as this will be the start of July’s movies and I do not have the list just yet. I will publish it on my facebook.com/johnheald page as soon as I do receive it. I wish you a wonderful cruise and loads of fun. Best wishes.

John

John Ryan Johnson asks:
I know it’s a long shot, but is there any way to get Robert Berhalter on Carnival Glory for the March 5, 2016, sailing? It would be awesome! Reunion cruise with several people who met on the Carnival Dream in March 2013 when it was stuck in St. Maarten. He played that week and we loved him.

John says:
Hello John Ryan Johnson

Obviously, moving crew around the fleet on the request of our guests is very difficult as I am sure you understand. However, I will be asking the entertainment schedulers to see if this is something they can consider. I don’t want to raise your hopes but we will try. I am glad to know that he made such a difference to your time on the ship and I do hope you get to sail with him again. If there is anything else I can do, please let me know. Best wishes.

John

David Mason asks:
On one level, I feel sorry for you, Heald. You are, obviously, going off the Carnival rails but mostly, I have disdain over your inflated ego. Case in point my request to you for a table for two on our cruise on the Carnival Imagination that was ignored. Maybe you did that because I did not stroke your ego enough, right? I will give you a chance to redeem yourself. My DW of eight years and I will be cruising on Carnival Magic in cabin **** on August 9. We do not want to eat with others so again I am asking for A PRIVATE TABLE FOR 2. Can you tell me who the maître d is and what time we can get a first tender to the shore as we have a private excursion at 9:15 am!!! How do we do this? I hope you will show me that you are able to help your customers like you always say you do.

John says:
Hello David Mason

I do apologise that I missed your request. I answer and help so many each week and, occasionally, some do slip through the cracks. I would ask that you remind me of your table request four days before your August cruise via my Facebook page and here on my blog so that this time I am sure to see it and I will do all I can for you to arrange your table. I wish you both a great cruise and my apologies for letting you down. Best wishes.

John

Christine asks:
Hi John: I have a question for you regarding the new policy and the VIFP party. In September we will be sailing on the Carnival Breeze for an eight-day cruise. When we board we will have 69 days, so during the cruise, we will make platinum. Pending on the date of the party, will we be invited if it’s on or after our 75 day, or because we boarded as Gold, will we have to wait till our next cruise (on Carnival Vista)? Can you clarify that on your Facebook page so others can benefit, as well? Thanks.

Christine

John says:
Hello Christine

Many congratulations. You will receive your Platinum card on the first day of the cruise and you will, indeed, be invited to our new VIFP party. Please let your friends know this and if you have any questions I will be here. Have a brilliant time. Best wishes.

John

Judith Shockley asks:
I wrote you two weeks ago and also to Carnival. I still have not got a reply! We were on Carnival Valor for eight days on April 17. I had an experience with another passenger who kept knocking on my door saying that his key fit my door while I was napping during the day because I don’t sleep well at night. This happened for a couple of days. I went to the service deck and their response was “Oh that must be Bobby.” So I guess I was not the only one he was bothering.  They could not move my room and I wouldn’t anyway but there was no other offer of any compensation for the inconvenience.

John says:
Hello Judith Shockley

I apologise for the delay in writing back to you and I will investigate this with the ship and see what the story is from their side. It sounds to me (and this may be an assumption) that the guest may have had special needs or been a little confused. I will investigate and I apologise if you were disturbed. I do hope you had a wonderful cruise and if there is anything else I can do for you, please let me know. Best wishes.

John

Walter Carr asks:
I have a request/question. Can you ask the powers that be to start carrying spray starch in the gift shop along with the laundry powders? We plan our travel so that we can generally get to a CVS or Walgreens before we board the ship. If we want to fly in the same day as departure this becomes a chore. You are not allowed to fly with a can of spray starch in your luggage for a reason that makes no sense to me. I guess I may try to break into the cockpit and iron the pilot’s shirts if I have starch with me.  I am one of those anal people who enjoys ironing (have ironed for drinks on a few cruises LOL) and always iron each morning for the day. This was just part of how I was raised.  For non U.S. departures it can be a chore to find starch in a store, and often requires finding a supermarket.  It would seem like this should be a natural to carry on the ship because of this.  I wouldn’t even care if I had to pay $10 for a can of it. LOL

John says:
Hello Walter Carr

I agree, there are some items you can’t fly with that are understandable and some that are absolutely not. I will ask if we can add starch to the laundry rooms rather than the gift shops as it might be easier to get them added there. Leave this with me and enjoy your ironing. Can I send you some of my underpants to press? Best wishes.

John

Hazel Geering asks:
I sent an email to the maitre d’ on Carnival Valor back in April to make a special request for my large group of 10, but have yet to get a response. I’m a Cruise Critic member with over 5,000 posts!! My request involves a large group, and our plans are on hold. I was told that they respond immediately but nothing has been returned after three e mailings to him. Is this the kind of service we can expect on the ship on our cruise? The booking is linked with ******.

John says:
Hello Hazel Geering

I am sorry that you are disappointed by this but as I have said here a few times now the maitre d is under no obligation to respond to e mails from guests and, with our spam system, there is a good chance that your emails may have gone into his spam box. The maître d gets a very complicated reservation file three days before the start of the cruise and he or she has to fit it all in so getting lots of emails from guests each voyage is not something they need and that’s why the company’s position is one where they are not expected to reply. I am sure having read this that you understand. Now, as you are sailing in September we have lots of time anyway so please on September 18, send me your request and the cabin numbers to my Facebook.com/johnheald page and I will speak with the maître d on your behalf and see what we can do for you. Thanks again for your understanding and I wish you a brilliant cruise. Best wishes.

John

Shannon asks:
I am looking at booking a cruise for my mom and myself sailing on October 31. She asked if there was going to be a costume party. I have no clue since I have never travelled on Halloween so I figured I should ask.

John says:
Hello Shannon

Yes indeed there is and I am sure it will be the best Halloween you have both ever had. Please let me know if you have any questions. Best wishes and have loads of fun together.

John

Lee Shelvey asks:
I think Carnival is letting all the veterans down because your meetings are now badly organized, badly advertised and this leads to a pitiful turnout. My last cruise was on Carnival Breeze. No attendance from the cruise staff member, cruise director or captain. On the Equinox we had free drinks for one hour and the captain gave all veterans a signed copy of the cruise map plus we got a cruise t shirt. I did two tours of Vietnam with the 1st Marine Division. Do I and other veterans not deserve better? Why are we not given the VIP offerings that we deserve on Carnival? I will answer my own question and say no according to what I experienced

John says:
Hello Lee Shelvey

The obvious starting point for my reply is to say a huge thank you to you for your service and the dedication to our country. While we will not be offering free drinks I do think that some of our ships organise this better than others, so very soon there will be a fleet directive issued to all the ships with standardized policies to follow. It is important that we recognise those who have served and are serving so I am sure on your next cruise you will see just that. Best wishes

John

Scott Shipley asks:
I turned Platinum about a year and a half ago before you changed the program. When I got my boarding pass and saw that I was demoted to gold it really upset me. After a few days on the boat I went and said something at the pursers’ desk. And they said they could note it in the computer. Still kinda sucks my wife gets all the benefits and I don’t and when I take my next cruise without her, I won’t even be able to into the VIP lounge to check in

John says:
Hello Scott Shipley

I am very sorry about this. I checked with a colleague and she said that your email address is not on file and we have a few guests who travel with the same name. Please, then, can you send me an email to cclsupport@carnival.com so we can get this sorted out. Apologies once again and hope we see you very soon. Best wishes.

John

Kim O’Neal asks:
Thank you for all of the laughs you send out. I am looking at Carnival Vista. Are the Lido balconies covered? Thank you and have a great day!

John says:
Hello Kim O’Neal

Yes, they are covered and I will be writing about your new Carnival Vista in just a moment. Hope to see you on board and thanks for the kind words. Best wishes.

John

Elenaor Delmege asks:
This fall my youngest daughter will be attending the International Culinary Center in California. This is a wonderful achievement. To celebrate we have booked the whole family on a cruise. We chose Carnival Miracle and our cruise date is July 11. There will be eight of us. I would ask that my daughter, Anabella, visit with the chef and then use the ship’s kitchens to cook her famous crispy parmesan chicken dish. What a thrill to have her cook for her whole family. We come from the four corners of the United States and it is very rare for us all to be together. The ingredients she will need are there. Thank you for making this important experience happen. Maybe the captain could join us. I bet he would love her crispy parmesan chicken. LOL.

John says:
Hello Elenaor Delmege

Many congratulations to your daughter and thank you for bringing the family on the Carnival Miracle to celebrate. I am very sorry, for insurance reasons, I cannot give permission to Anabella to cook in our galley but I will ask the chef to stop by the table one night and say hello. I wish you all a brilliant reunion cruise. Best wishes.

John

And that’s all for today. I will be back with more next week so please post a question or a comment and I will help you as quickly as I can. For a faster response you can contact me through my facebook.com/johnheald page. And now news on your Carnival Vista.

NEW VIDEO SERIES FROM CARNIVAL OFFERS FUN BEHIND-THE-SCENES LOOK AT CONSTRUCTION OF CARNIVAL VISTA 

Largest and Most Innovative ‘Fun Ship’ Set to Debut May 1, 2016, from Europe

MIAMI (June 18, 2015) – Carnival Cruise Line is taking a fun and engaging approach to showcase the construction of its newest “Fun Ship,” Carnival Vista, creating a series of monthly behind-the-scenes videos shot at the Fincantieri shipyard in Italy, where the 3,954-passenger vessel is being built. The video can be viewed here (insert YouTube link).

Host Peter Gonzalez – who has traveled to 30 countries to create videos showcasing the “Fun Ship” fleet – takes viewers on his 5,132-mile journey from Miami to Monfalcone, Italy, to document Carnival Vista’s 26-month construction.

In the first video, “Birds’ Eye View,” Gonzalez dons a hard hat and ventures high above the Fincantieri shipyard to demonstrate the incredible size of Carnival Vista while highlighting the painstaking process for cutting and assembling the 150,000 tons of steel needed to build the massive 1,055-foot-long vessel – the largest in the Carnival fleet.

Gonzalez visits Fincantieri’s fabrication bunker where he follows workers as they cut, with expert precision, six-ton steel panels that are conjoined into 1,000-ton sections positioned via crane to form Carnival Vista’s superstructure. Once the exterior build-out is completed, workers will begin installing innovations such as SkyRide, a one-of-a-kind suspended cycling experience, a new 455-foot-long tube slide called Kaleid-o-Slide, and more.

Future segments in the series include preparations, both on board and ashore, to create the line’s first on-board brewery, a below-deck look at the ship’s technical spaces, and the logistics of installing the three-deck-high IMAX Theater, the first on a cruise ship.  

Carnival Vista is scheduled to enter service from Europe May 1, 2016, then reposition to New York for a series of voyages in November 2016 followed by the launch of year-round Caribbean service from Miami later that month.

Cruise fans, those new to cruising and travel partners can get a preview of Carnival Vista at www.carnival.com/carnivalvista and follow @CarnivalVista for regular Twitter updates.

For additional information, contact any travel agent, call 1-800-CARNIVAL or visit carnival.com.

And I will be there next week and will have more videos of this incomparable Carnival ship. You know, I have been in the shipyards many, many times and seen the ships at various state of readiness but, even after all these years, I have no idea how these brilliant ship builders manage to construct something like your Carnival Vista.

All men are created equal so said some wise man who probably had a beard, wore sandals and meditated while sitting on a spike…………unfortunately, he was talking bollocks. You could give me the same ingredients our celebrity chef Guy Fieri uses and put me in the same kitchen with the same equipment and even though we have exactly the same number of hands, fingers and dangly bits, I can absolutely guarantee that I’d end up with a plate full of inedible crap that even a yak that hasn’t eaten in 17 days would turn his nose up at. Cooking is like painting. I know this because I used to try it at school. I would have a brush and some eyes but everything I tried to transpose onto paper ended up looking like a big ugly blob of coloured vomit And, as Heidi will tell you it’s the same story with DIY. My wonderful and much missed father could create an Edwardian cabinet out of two bits of wood and a rusty nail while anytime I have attempted to build anything, it ends up broken and on the floor.

So with just eight months or so to go before the Carnival Vista is ours and, indeed, yours, I salute the men and women who have and will continue to use their brains and their talents to design your Carnival Vista.

You know me, I don’t like to get all “corporatey” and yet I have to tell you this. Carnival Vista will be our best ship yet. Everyone from our President Christine Duffy on down feels that this is the case. There is a certain……..something….. that tells us she will be.

Yes, there will be some teething problems along the way; my experience of delivering so many ships for Carnival tells me that it would be ridiculous to think otherwise. But this ship and her sparkling new features check all the right boxes and when you’ve finished your cruise around the Med or the Caribbean and are back on dry land, you can look back and think to yourself, “That is the most brilliant fun I have ever had.”

Carnival Vista……………..have you booked yet?

Goodnight.

Your friend,

John

www.Facebook.com/johnheald

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Alcohol Collection, the Piano Bar Schedule, Pirate Tours and some Churchill. http://johnhealdsblog.com/2015/06/16/alcohol-collection-the-piano-bar-schedule-pirate-tours-and-some-churchill/ http://johnhealdsblog.com/2015/06/16/alcohol-collection-the-piano-bar-schedule-pirate-tours-and-some-churchill/#comments Tue, 16 Jun 2015 17:59:30 +0000 http://johnhealdsblog.com/?p=21897 Continue reading ]]> It’s not like me to start one of my blogs by being serious and not mentioning my dangly bits or moaning about the state of the world but today I feel I need to.

There have been a lot of comments on my Facebook page about our decision to have bottles of alcohol purchased from the shops on board or in the ports of call returned to guests on debarkation morning. The reason we’re doing this is pretty straightforward. Since we are not able to monitor the consumption of alcohol on the last night of the cruise – which can potentially impact the safety and well-being of all of our guests – we will distribute liquor purchased ashore and from the Fun Shops on the last morning of the cruise. While this may feel to some like an action we are taking to generate more revenue, the reality is just the opposite. Our overall changes to our beverage policy are not expected to result in any additional revenue in the end.

Now don’t get me wrong, I totally understand your concerns because, after all, debarkation day is a day that everyone already dreads. The cheery voice of the cruise director who tells you it’s time to say goodbye. The line to get off the ship and then the line to present your passport to U.S. Customs & Border Protection and then that sad journey home as you cling to the memories of fun, food and brilliant friendly service. So to add an extra step to go through on debarkation morning has some of you upset, and I get it, I really do. And the beards get it, too, believe me.

But please, everyone, let us at least try this first. Let the crew work as hard as they always do and let them make the collection of your liquor go as smoothly as possible. If it does, tell me please. If it does not, tell me that, as well, and I will pass your comments and concerns along to be beards. Either way, we have to try this first to see if it will work. I know change is difficult for some and I am happy to remain your pin cushion, glad to have you vent to me and happy to receive the harshest of comments.

Time for today’s Q & A, or as it should be called today, “John Gets A Bollocking” ……………. away we go.

Beverley Munn asks:
I read that Carnival intentionally keeps lines long, tendering processes slow, and rooms unavailable to keep demand for Faster to the Fun high. Is this true?

John says:
Hello Beverley Munn

Ahhhh, conspiracy theories, you have to love them. This is absolutely not true. We only sell approximately 15 cabins for Faster to the Fun and they sell out virtually every cruise weeks in advance. So please, wherever you “read” this, would you let the author know this is incorrect. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Best wishes.

Susan Ellis asks:
John: I researched information on my 11-day cruise on Carnival Dream, about room 8475. Only thing I could find, was a negative post about the black soot on the balcony, and how it covered the chairs and anything else out there! Also, the carpet was dirty due to the soot! Please let me know if this is an accurate problem with the room I have chosen!

Thanks,

Susan

John says:
Hello Susan

I am glad that you have written to me so I can set your mind at ease. The cabin you have chosen is a wonderful cabin on a superb ship. I have no doubts you will have the most wonderful time and please do ask me if you have any other questions or need my help. Best wishes.

John

Troy Powell asks:
Hi John: My family and I are sailing on Carnival Legend in late June.  Any idea when the Hub App will be rolled out onto Carnival Legend?  Thanks!!

John says:
Hello Troy Powell

All though the Fun Hub app is doing brilliantly and proving very popular on the Carnival Breeze I am afraid it won’t be on Carnival Legend in time for your cruise. I do wish you the most super time cruising Alaska and, if there is anything I can do for you please do ask me. Best wishes.

John

Claire Grogan asks:
I so agree with Paulette when she says you have a vendetta against us vegans. You need to realize that there is a trend towards making more compassionate food choices, as people realise they can thrive nutritionally on a plant-based diet. A study showed the number of vegans doubled in 2014. If this trend continues, along with the environmental pressures and human health interests, our food industry is quickly heading in a new direction. The damage animal agriculture is doing to our ecosystem, and the rate it is depleting our supplies of fresh water and other resources is causing some scientists to predict the world’s population will have to switch to a plant-based diet by 2020 as a meat and dairy diet is simply unsustainable. Studies show that animal agriculture is responsible for 50 percent of global warming as well as deforestation, soil erosion and oceans so polluted with billions of tons of animal feces pouring into them that large dead zones are appearing where nothing can grow. I want Carnival to start expanding your range of choices suitable for the hundreds of vegans who cruise your ships and maybe then this will encourage more of your customers to do the right thing and become vegan too!!

John says:
Hello Claire Grogan

I truly have no problems with people wanting to be vegans but to me I think there’s still room for all sorts of diets, both vegan and non-vegan alike. Carnival respects, as do I, the choice to be a vegan and we have certainly improved our vegan options in recent times. If you have suggestions on other ways we can improve with specific menu items please do tell me and I will make sure the chef sees them. Thank you for speaking your mind and allowing me to do also. Best wishes.

John

Jenna Wagstaff asks:
John: I’ve been sailing with Carnival for a while now. I think my first cruise was… well, I know we did the Big Red Boat, and I remember in 1999 we did the Carnival Sensation (I think), but I honestly couldn’t tell you which the first one was. I was really only a kid – maybe eight or nine. But I’ve been very blessed. My parents loved to cruise, and sometimes they even liked to take me along – they took me on nine cruises as a child, up until I was in high school. I wasn’t able to join them in college, as those years weren’t great with the economy, and money was tighter than before. But now, I’m a proper adult with a proper job, and I can afford to take my own vacations.

I was able to convince my partner, my terrified-to-swim girlfriend who was convinced the best vacation was a very dry one, to go on a quick four-day cruise in 2013 so I could catch up with my mom and dad and finally be Platinum before the rules changed on me. (They are probably on their 30th Carnival cruise by now!) I’m so glad we did. We had such a good time, and the little touches of love and appreciation shown by Carnival were such extra cherries on top of a delicious ice cream-y good vacation. (Tell the beards! We love the priority boarding – we’ve decided that, as long as that’s a perk, we’ll never cruise with anyone else. It makes us feel safe, as young adults traveling alone, and very, very special and appreciated.)

Our next cruise is longer, an eight-day on Carnival Sunshine. It’s a special cruise for me. The Carnival Destiny was my parents’ honeymoon cruise, and Carnival Sunshine is where I want to propose to my girlfriend. (I’d ideally like to marry her on Carnival Vista in Europe, but, hey, she has to say yes first!) John, I am just a girl who wants to ask her princess to marry her. I’m not a millionaire, or a celebrity, or even a Diamond cruiser… But I know you care about people, and I hope maybe you’ll care about love. I don’t even know what I’m asking for here, but I’m hoping maybe you can help me in some little way… make this cruise unforgettable. Do you think you could find it in your heart to help me make her dreams come true??

John says:
Hello Jenna Wagstaff

What a wonderful story and it would be my pleasure to help you with the proposal and make those dreams come true. Please would you contact me on my facebook.com/facebook page two days before the cruise and I will speak with the cruise director and, between us, we shall see what we can do. Thank you for sharing your story and I wish you both many years of happiness together. Best wishes.

John

Linda Bailey asks:
Hi John: I recently spent 33 days on Carnival Triumph in February and March.  I noticed that in the casino, the smoke was not as bad as other ships I have sailed on even during the 12-day Premier Club cruise. Carnival Triumph casino had several air filters that were filtering and recycling the air. It really helped keep the smoke level down.  I mentioned how helpful they were to Carlos, the senior executive casino host, and he was going to pass on the positive feedback. That said, with all the controversy on the smoke in the casino, are there plans to put these filters in all the ships casinos? I, for one, would really appreciate it.  Thanks for looking into this or passing it along to the beards.  And thanks for all that you and your brilliant staff of cruise directors do to make every sailing an enjoyable one!  I appreciate your consideration.

Linda Bailey

John says:
Hello Linda Bailey

I hope you had a wonderful time on the ship and may I thank you for spending your valuable vacation days with us. I agree that some of the ships have better ventilation in the casinos than other ships do, so this is very useful information. I will be passing this to all the right people and hopefully we can duplicate what the Carnival Triumph does. Thanks again and I do hope we see you soon. Best wishes.

John

Chad Lee asks:
Good afternoon, I just came off of the Carnival Freedom May 2-9. We had Joseph from the Philippines for our waiter in the main dining room. I wanted to give this individual a compliment. He went above and beyond to make sure that we have the best experience possible. He took out the time to get to know us and remembered our names. People like this make the vacation even more enjoyable. Please make sure this gets back to management. Thank you.

John says:
Hello Chad

I will indeed and thank you so much for taking the time to write. I will make sure that not only Joseph sees this but his managers do as well. They will all be thrilled. I hope you had a brilliant time and that we see you again very soon. Best wishes.

John

Robin Ellis asks:
Dear John: I am a Platinum cruiser (in the future, but I always wanted to write that! No complaints at all. I go on vacation to have fun, not to worry about what other people wear or do! I do need some advice, though. My daughter will be getting married on Carnival Triumph in June. We’ve all cruised before, and we are blessed that she has invited all of us to cruise along with them! Carnival’s wedding coordinator and information is very thorough, and it seems like everything will be taken care of. As a mom planning her daughter’s wedding, though, I want to make sure it goes off as smoothly as possible! Do you or your fans have any tips for Carnival weddings? What can we do, think about, plan for, or bring to make this the best day of her life? We’ve been on several Carnival cruises as a group but not for such a special event! Oh, and we’ll try not to bother other people, but if we do, they should either join the party or vacation in their closet, away from everyone in the world! Thank you!

John says:
Hello Robin Ellis

I want to thank you for sharing this most important of days for you and your family with us at Carnival and I know my colleagues on the ship will make sure it all goes superbly well. Please let me know the happy couple’s cabin number the day before the cruise on my facebook.com/johnheald page if you can and I will be sending your kind words to all the right people. Thanks so much. Best wishes to all.

John

Georgie Marino asks:
Hi John: OMG. I have not chatted with you in a while.  I’m a little confused.  I’m getting occasional emails with questions directed to you, but never see a response.   Should I assume that you are no longer answering questions/doing your “bloggy” thing???? Please let me know

Love and kisses.

Georgie Marino

John says:
Hello Georgie Marino

It is good to hear from you and I hope this reply finds you well. I have been away from the blog for a while but it’s good to be writing again. Now, I am guessing you opted in to receive notifications, so you are seeing the comments people post to the blog. If so you can choose to cancel that on your notifications. I am back writing blogs twice a week and answering as many questions as I can, so I am here if you need me. Best wishes.

John

Kelli asks:
Could you tell me if Carnival Triumph is getting the new menus, and, if so, when?  We are sailing on July 9 and I am curious what menus I should start salivating over :)

John says:
Hello Kelli

Right now the ship doesn’t have the American Table/American Feast menus just yet but we will let you know when they do. Please let me know if you have any other questions and have a wonderful cruise. Best wishes.

John

Kim asks:
Sailing on Carnival Conquest June 13. Will the new Wi-Fi package be available on Carnival Conquest by then? Are the new menus on Carnival Conquest?

John says:
Hello Kim

The ship is not scheduled to get the new Internet programs until July, I am afraid. Please don’t worry, you will have the best of times I am sure and let me know if you have any other questions. Best wishes.

John

Anthony Redwood asks:
As a platinum cruiser I am in a state of shock. Carnival has banned us from bringing our own water on the ship. Are you kidding me? Carnival is making money from us who have spent thousands of $$$$$$$$ to get to Platinum. There should be a rule that allows Platinums to still bring their water. I know you give us free water but my wife and I only drink the Dasani brand of water and you don’t sell that. Your records will show that we are cruising again on Carnival Victory in September and again twice in 2016. You need to re-think this one and make a quick change before your passengers do!!

John says:
Hello Anthony Redwood.

The most important part of my reply is to thank you for your loyalty and I am sure despite the disappointment of our new water rule, you will continue to look at the fun you have had and the fun that is still here waiting for you. Although there is a perception that this is being done to make money, the reality it’s being done to enhance guest safety and avoid delays in embarkation. With the new water regulations we do not anticipate any increase in revenue as a result of this policy change, particularly given the significant reduction in price we have instituted for 12 packs of bottled water. Plus, as you mentioned, as platinum VIFP you get free bottled water from us anyway. So I hope that gives some perspective on what this is all about and I am here if you wish to address any other concerns. I do hope we see you soon. Best wishes.

John

And that’s all we have time for today. Thank you all for your comments and questions

It is good to see that, as we unveil more entertainment options and new shows that there is one area of entertainment that remains so very popular. I am, of course, talking about the piano bar and the brilliant entertainers who work there. Here is their latest schedule.

Carnival Breeze

6/14/2015        6/28/2015         Jeremy Ray Borders

6/28/2015       8/23/2015         Jonathan Thompson

8/23/2015       9/20/2015         Robert Berhalter

9/20/2015       11/15/2015       John Gregson

11/15/2015      1/10/2016         Jonathan Thompson

Carnival Conquest

5/10/2015        7/4/2015           Tom Grable

7/4/2015          8/31/2015         Milburn Dumas

9/5/2015          10/31/2015       Jeremy Ray Borders

10/31/2015      12/6/2015         William Brawner

12/6/2015        2/6/2016           Kenneth Giordano

Carnival Dream

4/12/2015        8/23/2015         Barry Henricus Meijer

8/23/2015        9/20/2015         Michael O’Quinn

9/20/2015        9/27/2015         Ron Passalacqua

9/27/2015        10/25/2015       William Brawner

10/25/2015      2/7/2016           Matias Nahuel Sanchez

Carnival Ecstasy

5/4/2015          6/29/2015         Jorge Ramirez

6/29/2015        8/24/2015         Matias Nahuel Sanchez

8/24/2015        10/19/2015       Stephen Dooks

10/19/2015      12/14/2015       Roger Concepcion

Carnival Elation

6/13/2015        8/13/2015         James Steven Finn

8/13/2015        10/8/2015         Patrick Duffy

10/8/2015        12/3/2015         Zdrazko Spassov

Carnival Fantasy

4/27/2015        6/20/2015         Elizabeth Setzer

6/20/2015        8/15/2015         Deborah Macaluso

8/15/2015        10/11/2015       Robert Crucilla

10/11/2015      12/5/2015         Kenneth Giordano

12/5/2015        2/1/2016           Reynold Senn

Carnival Fascination

3/28/2015        7/18/2015         Roger Concepcion

7/18/2015        9/17/2015         Tom Grable

9/17/2015        11/12/2015       Tom Grable

11/12/2015      1/7/2016           Christopher Porcelli

Carnival Freedom

5/16/2015        6/20/2015         Timothy Lyles

6/20/2015        7/18/2015         Robert Berhalter

7/18/2015        11/16/2015       Anthony Ward

Carnival Glory

5/16/2015        7/11/2015         Daniel Christopher Schnatter

7/11/2015        8/1/2015           John Gregson

8/1/2015          9/5/2015           Martin Lucas Vince

9/5/2015          10/3/2015         James Steven Finn

10/3/2015        11/28/2015       Elizabeth Setzer

Carnival Imagination

4/2/2015          6/18/2015         Mark Johnson

6/18/2015        9/3/2015           Todd Fugate

9/3/2015          11/19/2015       Timothy Lyles

11/19/2015      1/10/2016         Mark Skowronek

Carnival Inspiration

4/27/2015        7/13/2015         Patrick Duffy

7/13/2015        9/28/2015         Elizabeth Setzer

9/28/2015        12/14/2015       Hailey Morgan Wiebe

Carnival Legend

5/18/2015        6/30/2015         Christine Hetfield

6/30/2015        8/25/2015         Adam Sayer

8/25/2015        9/15/2015         Mark Johnson

9/15/2015        12/1/2015         Adam Sayer

12/1/2015        12/20/2015       Christine Hetfield

Carnival Liberty

6/14/2015        8/30/2015         Jordan Heppner

8/30/2015        11/15/2015       Peter James Thompson

11/15/2015      1/10/2016         Jorge Ramirez

Carnival Magic

5/10/2015        6/28/2015         Jeffrey Abbott

6/28/2015        8/16/2015         Timothy Lyles

8/16/2015        11/1/2015         Greg Alcock

11/1/2015        12/13/2015       Michael O’Quinn

Carnival Miracle

5/16/2015        7/11/2015         Peter James Thompson

7/11/2015        8/29/2015         Jeremy Ray Borders

8/29/2015        10/17/2015       Roger Concepcion

10/17/2015      12/13/2015       Benjamin Tyler Gentry

Carnival Paradise

5/30/2015        8/13/2015         Hailey Morgan Wiebe

8/13/2015        9/28/2015         Gustavo Garcia

9/28/2015        1/14/2016         Robert Berhalter

Carnival Pride

4/26/2015        6/21/2015         Anthony Ward

6/21/2015        8/16/2015         Christopher Porcelli

8/16/2015        10/11/2015       Andre Mieux

10/11/2015      12/6/2015         Todd Fugate

Carnival Sensation

4/23/2015        6/18/2015         Gustavo Garcia

6/18/2015        10/8/2015         Agustin Villarin

10/8/2015        12/3/2015         Gustavo Garcia

Carnival Spirit

5/27/2015        6/30/2015         Kristilee Ransley

6/30/2015        8/16/2015         Jade Leonard

8/30/2015        10/14/2015       Benjamin Tyler Gentry

Carnival Splendor

6/17/2015        9/6/2015           Edmond Holz

9/6/2015          11/22/2015       Christine Hetfield

Carnival Sunshine

5/29/2015        8/21/2015         James Sullivan

8/21/2015        10/10/2015       Craig Quiter

10/10/2015      1/24/2016         Agustin Villarin

Carnival Triumph

4/25/2015        7/9/2015           Michael O’Quinn

7/9/2015          9/26/2015         Scott Casey

9/26/2015        12/10/2015       Barry Henricus Meijer

Carnival Valor

6/6/2015          7/25/2015         Martin Aucoin

7/25/2015        9/19/2015         Reynold Senn

9/19/2015        11/14/2015       Mark Johnson

11/14/2015      1/9/2016           Robert Crucilla

Carnival Victory

6/4/2015          8/22/2015         Zdrazko Spassov

8/22/2015        11/5/2015         David Lovett

11/5/2015        1/9/2016           Tom Wolf

As always, I hope you will send me your feedback and tell me which of the names above made your cruise even more superb with their mixture of music, song, audience engagement and, of course, fun. My thanks to all of them for their dedication.

I am getting very excited about my visit to the Carnival Vista on June 24. On June 25 I will be hosting the coin ceremony with a special guest and I will have a video here for you that night so you can see your ship and the ceremony itself.

This will definitely whet my appetite for our return to Europe and, even though I will not be the cruise director, (we will announce who that will be soon) I will be on the ship a lot and will also host the first cruises travel talks so I can share my knowledge of the ports that I have gleaned over the seven seasons I was there. And in the weeks and months ahead, I will be talking about the glorious wonders of the ports of call that make these destinations some of the most incomparable in the world. However, one subject that I want to stress is that, as we discovered on previous Europe seasons, is the so-called “pirate” excursion industry that has manifested itself in Italy, Spain, Greece and other ports of call. I remember a tour operator who had parked its buses on the pier in Civitavecchia (Rome) and picked up some guests who had made arrangements via the internet to provide an excursion around the city.

Just as guests were boarding, the police arrived and escorted the buses and the guests to the police station where the company involved was fined thousands of euros. Of course, the guests lost their excursion and the money they paid to see the Vatican and other sites. The police asked the guests to get off the buses, but some of them refused to do so. The officers then escorted the five busses to the police station, with the guests who had refused to cooperate, so that further investigations could be made. The guests were asked to give their personal details and explain how they had booked and paid for the tour. The police brought charges against the tour operator on account of their failure to comply with port security regulations and false advertising.

And that was their day in Rome completely ruined and there have been similar concerns in other European ports. I know there will be skeptics that think that I am saying this just to get you to buy shipboard excursions…..well…….bloody right I am! European laws are massively strict about what companies can come on to port property and it is very important we get the word out to everyone that it is our recommendation that you book your excursions through the cruise line.

The companies we use have been completely vetted and have all the necessary documents to avoid what was a distressing day for those guests whose excursion buses were escorted to the police station. There is no better word for these companies than pirates and trying to save a few dollars by using one of these companies will no doubt result in a day to forget……rather than a day to remember. You have flown a long way to get to Europe so why not have the same comfort and assurance that you feel from the crew of the Carnival Vista extended to your full day of seeing some of the most amazing places in the world? The European tours for your Carnival Vista will be available on line very soon and I will always be available here and on my facebook.com/johnheald page to help answer any questions you may have.

And now a trip down memory lane. I still remember that when I was a cruise director on the ships and I used to smoke my Monte Cristo Edmundo in the cigar bars, I would get looks of pure hatred and utter amazement from guests as though I was sitting there naked with a baby yak on my lap. And this brings me to my hero. While Prime Minister Cameron and President Obama may be thought by some to be excellent politicians, they are somewhat boring, just my opinion, but that’s what I think. Imagine then if we had someone like Winston Churchill in power today. A cigar smoker. A big, big drinker. A man given to saying what he felt in parliament with great quotes like, “I may be drunk, miss, but in the morning I will be sober and you will still be ugly.” Brilliant!

But sadly a politician like this, under the glare of the paparazzi and the press…he wouldn’t last a week. But if he were running for office today, in 2015, he would never be elected and would probably be arrested for speaking his mind as he did back when he gave those epic speeches.

It is so easy these days to upset someone as you will shortly see in today’s Q & A session. You can be ostracized by your neighbors for putting your refuse in the wrong-colored trash can, you can have your car vandalized if it has four-wheel drive and doesn’t have the word Hybrid on it, and yelling at your child after he has super-glued his sister’s face to the television is guaranteed to get you 10 years hard labor and a spot on Dr. Phil’s show.

As senior cruise director and brand ambassador, I have to not smoke my cigars in public and watch what joke I write here and on Facebook in case I offend anyone of any age, any sex, any religion, any creed, any color, any nationality, any height, any weight, of any …… well …….. thing. It’s bloody hard. That’s why, when I am on vacation, I smoke a cigar every day and tell all the jokes I could never tell on the ship to my wife and my friends.

There is, obviously, a time and a place for it but I do worry that naughty behavior is being erased from society, and that, unless the trend can be reversed, somehow we’ll all have to go through life like those Stepford Wives……..robotic and all programmed to do the right thing all the time. But I will not give in; I will fight on in the name of fun because laughter is a brilliant antidote to the stresses and worries of everyday life…..suddenly, I feel all Churchilian

We shall go on to the end, we shall laugh on the ship, we shall laugh on the seas and oceans, we shall laugh with growing confidence and growing strength, we shall defend our right to laugh, whatever the cost may be. We shall laugh on Carnival Fantasy, we shall laugh on Carnival Breeze, we shall laugh at ourselves and with others, we shall laugh when we want to about what we want to. We shall never surrender the fun.

I wrote that in my underpants and with a large cigar in my mouth, just like Winston Churchill.

Goodnight.

Your friend,

John

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Water in a Bottle, Hilary on a T-shirt http://johnhealdsblog.com/2015/06/11/water-in-a-bottle-hilary-on-a-t-shirt/ http://johnhealdsblog.com/2015/06/11/water-in-a-bottle-hilary-on-a-t-shirt/#comments Thu, 11 Jun 2015 15:42:32 +0000 http://johnhealdsblog.com/?p=21890 Continue reading ]]> I bet right now most of you reading this are wearing a T-shirt. Yep, T-shirts, we all have them, we all wear them and we all wear them on our cruises. Most are plain or have a fun pattern or logo on them. The T-shirt is the most popular daytime thing to wear and I, of course, love it when I see people wearing Carnival logo wear. It does make me smile when people wear T-shirts with a place they have visited on it, particularly if it’s the exotic-sounding name of somewhere far, far away from where you are at the time. There are some people who do think it’s alright to wear another cruise line’s T-shirt on a Carnival ship and this always makes me giggle.

Some T-shirts, as indicated in the letter below, are to some guests………..very offensive.

Josie Kane

I will preface my comments by saying that I usually cruise on NCL. I have heard positive comments about Carnival so opted to try them this time and cruise on Carnival Liberty. On the positive side the ship’s staff is definitely superior, courteous, friendly and efficient. The veranda stateroom was clean, the bed comfortable and the food of good quality. The experience in the steakhouse was very good, first class, actually. My number one, chief complaint was a situation on which following on from my numerous complaints nothing was done about. Each morning we would play the trivia competitions. This is something mom and I always do together. Each morning the same group of 50 or so would play. Among the passengers was an elderly man who each time would be wearing the most offensive, sickening T-shirts I have ever seen. I took photos of him and sent them to my travel agent. I cannot seem to be able to send photos on this page. Is there a place I can do this? You must see what the passengers are wearing. His shirts said things like:

“Stay away from me people! I am running out of places to hide the bodies”

“Anyone but Hillary 2016″

“Come for my gun and you had better bring yours as*****.”

This shirt he was wearing at 10 in the morning in public had a very offensive photo of our awesome president on it.

How could Carnival allow this????? I complained to the staff people running the trivia and the front desk and wrote a letter to the captain but still this man was seen all over the ship wearing these sickening messages on his shirts. My travel agent ______ ______ from _______ suggested I bring this to you. Are there rules against this because it is disgusting and terribly wrong that Carnival did nothing to stop it? Is this acceptable and legal to Carnival??

I will be replying to Josie personally but I also wanted to address this here as I think it is a very interesting subject.

I can understand why this has upset Josie and her mother. But, obviously, there is no way that the staff on board can control what other guests on the ship wear. If this guest had been staying at a hotel in Las Vegas and seen this chap sitting at a poker table at Caesar’s Palace would she have gone to the front desk and complained or told the dealer not to let him play. I think the answer is probably no. It’s a cruise industry type of complaint – something our industry has opened the door to many years ago

However, Josie has asked an interesting question. Should we have allowed these guests to wear those T-shirts on board? I guess the answer is yes. I mean, in all the years I have been at sea I do not remember asking a guest to remove a T-shirt because it offended some of our guests.

Is it appropriate? Well, I guess it all depends on what offends you. I mean if there is obscene language or nudity, I think you and I both agree that’s a no-no but someone’s opinion of a presidential candidate or a somewhat off-color attempt at humour, I don’t think there’s much we can do. I think it also depends on the setting. If someone who wears an offensive T-shirt to tour the Vatican or to a wedding or funeral he should be asked to leave. But on a cruise ship trivia quiz or on Lido deck, then who are we to stop him?

It will be interesting to read your thoughts. By the way, I am wearing a T-shirt that says:

“Oh FFS – It’s Cabin Steward – Not Stewart “

And next week maybe I will go on NCROYALEBRITY Cruise Lines wearing a T-shirt in Carnival colours that says

“Go Fun Yourself”

Time for today’s Q and A, here we go.

Frank asks:
So gold members will now only get a free drink, on the last sea day? That’s the thanks we get for being loyal with over 25 days? I have 35 days at sea with y’all. Five seven-day cruises. All that’s worth is a free drink and it’s only on the last sea day? Sorry John, we’ve been loyal since 2006, when we stopped cruising on Royal Caribbean. Even thought about going back a few times. However, Carnival always was loyal to us and loved the parties and the new FTTF. Now Carnival says, “Gold means nothing to us, but a free $9 drink, which cost us way less than that.” So, now since y’all are no longer loyal to guests that have between 25-75 cruise days, there’s no reason to be loyal to Carnival. Sad day when you’re told that your 35 paid sea days mean nothing to the cruise line. There’s a reason y’all have so many good members. Y’all were loyal to them. Now you’re not. Bye

John says:
Hello Frank.

Thank you so much for writing and I am disappointed to see how upset you are by the change to the party. The complimentary drink and the complimentary bottle of water is our way of saying thank you for sailing with us. I know that not allowing Gold card holders to the VIFP party is something that some have disliked but, honestly, service was a massive challenge with so many, over 1,000 often, eligible to attend. I hope that the reasons you cruised so often — great service, brilliant fun and all at affordable price will be the reasons you come back and not the fact that you get one, maybe two more free drinks you would have at the party. I am here to help in any way I can and I hope to see you soon. Best wishes.

John

Tom Anthony asks:
John. I am so sick of hearing about your diet and how much weight you have lost. Stop ramming this down our throats because it is VERY CRUEL!!!!!! I am 370 pounds. Yeah I am big but comfortable in who I am. Your health is becoming your new religion to bash us over the head and make us larger people feel guilty. I cruised with you on Carnival Liberty in 2006 when you were very big. I was on a diet at the time but never tried to force it on you! You may have changed every single aspect of your life all at once: when, what and how you eat, drink, exercise. That is a lot to ask of anybody who is already seriously unfit, overweight. Think about what you say before you say it!!!

John says:
Hello Tom

I am so very sorry to have upset you and I totally understand where you are coming from. In my defence, I have always said that this is my diet, not anyone else’s and I have never purposely meant to force it on anyone. I wish you all the very best and I wish you health and happiness. Apologies once again. Best wishes.

John

Mandi asks:
John, I saw a YouTube video of a cruise ship playing “Seven Nation Army” with its horn ……. consequently, I watched more videos of cruise ships having horn battles. Are you familiar with this? Does Carnival ever battle?

John says:
Hello Mandi

I have seen this video, too, and it is quite spectacular. Yes, Carnival ships will do this when other Carnival ships or ships from the Carnival Corporation family are in port together. There are some ports of call where this is not allowed though but when it does happen, it is simply brilliant.

Best wishes.

John

Gregory McCallum asks:
Just got off an amazing cruise on Carnival Sunshine (4/25 sailing). We have to thank Ana (guest services) and Jaime Dee for helping us with a difficult situation finding a way for our 17 and 18 year old to have fun when not being allowed in the same club. I have written a glowing letter about all they did for us and would like to know who I send it to get them recognized and is it possible to get a copy to Ana or Jamie since my wife and I put personal messages to them in it?

John says:
Hello Gregory McCallum

Thanks so very much for taking the time to write this to me. I will ask that you send the letter to: John Heald, Brand Ambassador, Carnival Cruise Lines, 3655 NW 87th Ave, Miami, Florida, 33178. Someone opens my mail there and will scan it immediately to the ship. Alternatively, you can attach it to an e-mail and send to cclsupport@carnival.com. Thanks again, I hope you did have fun and that we see you soon. Best wishes.

John

Caitlin Weber asks:
Hi John! Your posts on Facebook make my day! I am a frequent Carnival cruiser and love that you care about our opinions and make sure that we are involved! I have a question for you regarding an experience on my last cruise… What is the protocol with children being in the piano bar? Although our singer Natalie was BEYOND amazing, and one of the best piano bar singers I have ever encountered in all of my time cruising, I felt as though I couldn’t fully enjoy the experience because every night there was a little girl sitting up at the bar into the wee hours of the night. Some nights she didn’t leave until almost 1 am……. I’m wondering what the protocol is, as the Piano Bar is an actual bar where children shouldn’t be – in my opinion.

John says:
Hello Caitlin Weber

Thanks for the kind words and I am so glad you had fun. Some years ago, we had a rule that after 10 pm children under 18 were not allowed there but over the years, I guess this has slipped away. Let me address this with the beards and see what they want to do moving forward, so please leave this with me. Thanks so much, sending you my best wishes and hope we see you soon. Best wishes.

John

Yadira asks:
I have sailed four times with Carnival and each time there seems to be less and less entertainment for black Americans!! Our cruise we are just back from was on Carnival Freedom. There were four comedians and not one of them was black. There were many black passengers but they were not catered for. Have you seen BET??

John says:
Hello Yadira

I want to thank you for cruising with us once again and I do hope you had another brilliant time. Please, may I point out that our comedians are hired based on talent, nothing else, just their ability to make guests laugh. As for their scheduling, again, these ladies and gentlemen move from ship to ship and so on their ability, again, nothing else. We have many very funny African American comedians who work on our ships each week making hundreds of our guests laugh. Once again, I hope you had a brilliant cruise and that we see you soon. Best wishes.

John

Carrie Farrar asks:
In May we went to on Carnival Conquest. My daughter and I were in the pool. A guest took a photo of his children also in the pool. I could tell that, as my child was right next to his, she would be in the photo too. I asked the man who took the photo to show me but he refused. I was furious. I went to the bartender and told him what had happened but he laughed it off! The front desk did the same. I spoke with _________ there to speak to the man and to make him delete it. There is a law about this in America. I am a child-minder, so it’s drummed into to me all the time about not ever posting pictures of other people’s child!!! Why was nothing done? It has totally freaked me out!
 

John says:
Hello Carrie Farrar

Let me start by saying I hope you had a wonderful cruise despite this situation. I am sure that the chap who took the photo meant no harm and was, as you mentioned, taking photos of his children in what I am sure was a busy time in the swimming pool. I know that some of the pools I have taken my daughter to have a no photo rule but, really, I don’t think we need to adopt this rule. I really don’t. I will, though, send this to the beards for their thoughts and, meanwhile, I thank you for taking the time to write. Best wishes.

John

Steve Janzen asks:
Good evening John. I feel I know you, as do so many others, as I have had the honour of sailing with you a few times, and, more importantly, I get to experience my wife giving me a daily update of your life. Yes, I have the daily pleasure of my wife updating me most evenings as to your whereabouts, your lovely British way of speaking, and, of course, the rumblings of Cruise Nation. I needed to say something today as I feel saddened that there are some many ungrateful individuals out there that have made it their duty to take their anger out on you. There seems to be the thought out there that every time Carnival decides to change their policies or directives, that you somehow were personally and solely the person that brought about that change. I am grateful for what I am given, and I am also very grateful when I am able to enjoy my vacation time with my wife. Having said that, we should all be thankful for what we have today. Stand tall, be thankful, and never take any of the attacks personally, as those who complain are not worth the energy. We look forward to sailing with Carnival again in November, January and November 2016 again. We will connect soon. Proud to be Platinum on Carnival, proud to be Canadian, and loving life.

Cheers,

Steve

John says:
Hello Steve Janzen

Thank you for this rejuvenating post, I truly appreciate it. I have realised never to take what is written personally. Most of the time I succeed but occasionally, I don’t and I have to try harder there. I love Carnival, this company has stood by me for almost 30 years and I have done my very best to help the company succeed and I hope that we have a continuing relationship for many more years to come. Please make sure you send me your cabin number before the cruise via my facebook.com/johnheald page and I wish you another glorious cruise. Best wishes

John

Riclop asks:
More John Heald BS. You say your page has the “latest news” and, today, the latest news was Obama drinking a beer before noon. Waste of time and space is what you are

Cruise Critic 5000 + club

John says:
Hello Riclop

I am sorry that you don’t enjoy my page. I will continue to work hard to improve and please let me know if I can help you at any time. Best wishes.

John

Mike asks:
Just wanted to drop you a line regarding the reception for Gold members. We rarely ever went to that and it really is not a deciding factor in choosing a cruise. What I would like is an answer to when we will get a seven day option out of Tampa again? We are lucky we still have Carnival Paradise here but we really miss the seven-day option on a larger ship. Enjoy your time on Carnival Legend. I just missed you when you left her in New York. She was a lot of fun to cruise on and someday I hope she returns home here again in Tampa. Mike

John says:
Hello Mike

Thanks so much for being so positive. The dancing of the ships is far from over and I hope to share news that will make you smile very soon. Thanks for your patience and I hope we see you on another cruise in the weeks ahead. Best wishes.

John
 

Conor Hanlon asks:
Hey – when will you tell us the movies for the giant screen for our cruise on Carnival Breeze for July 4th? Why have you not told us yet so we can plan what we are doing? If you are supposed to be the voice of Carnival, then you are a big disappointment. What is going on here!!!!!!!!!

John says:
Hello Conor Hanlon

I will release the movie titles on my Facebook/johnheald page around June 25, which is when I receive them from our Miami office. I hope you enjoy the movies and have a brilliant cruise. Best wishes.

John

Peter Kenwood asks:
G’day from Australia John. Quick question about Carnival Spirit. Is she having her dry dock in Sydney or Melbourne? I want to come down and take photos of the ship for my collection. Is this possible? We love Carnival.

John says:
Hello Peter Kenwood

And a very G’day to you mate. The ship will have her August dry dock in Singapore so I am guessing that is a little too far for you to go and take photos, no? I do hope you get to see her though after dry dock. She is going to look simply brilliant. Best wishes.

John

That’s all for today and as always a big thank you to you all for your comments and questions.

Just a quick addition to my July sailings because on July 11, the day I disembark Carnival Glory I will jump on a plane and fly to Tampa to get on Carnival Paradise. A certain Calvyn Martens is the cruise director there and I am going to help him as much as I can and write about a Fantasy- class ship here and on Facebook. Here, then, are the two cruises I will be doing:

Carnival Glory

July 4 – Miami

July 5 – At sea

July 6 – Cozumel

July 7 – Belize

July 8 – Isla Roatan

July 9 – Grand Cayman

July 10 – at Sea

July 11 – Miami

 

Carnival Paradise

July 11 – Tampa

July 12 – at sea

July 13 – Grand Cayman

July 14 – Cozumel

July 15 – at sea

July 16 – Tampa

I will be hosting some shows and, as always, writing about the experience. I hope some of you reading this will let me know you are coming too and maybe some of you reading this will decide to join me – that would be brilliant.

So let’s talk water and, for those who may have missed the announcement, here it is — the letter that was distributed to our guests and travel agent partners:

While your bags may not be packed just yet, we wanted to let you know about some changes to our Liquor & Beverage policy which is being modified effective with sailings departing July 9, 2015.

Often times, we find guests transporting alcohol onboard through unauthorized means resulting in unmonitored consumption of alcohol. Unfortunately, this has led to behavioral and safety related concerns. We have also found that bottled beverages are frequently used to transport alcohol and the screening measures needed to validate the contents delay the embarkation process for all guests. For these reasons, we find it necessary to modify our Liquor and Beverage policy, including restricting guests from bringing bottled beverages aboard our ships.

To avoid any potential disappointment at the start of your cruise, please familiarize yourselves with our new Liquor and Beverage Policy below, which will be strictly enforced.

 

  • Guests are prohibited from bringing water, sodas and other non-alcoholic beverages onboard that are packaged in bottles.
  • A small quantity of non-alcoholic beverages (i.e., sparkling water, sodas, juice, and milk) packaged in cans or cartons may be brought onboard on embarkation day only in guests’ carry-on luggage.  A small quantity is considered a maximum of 12 sealed, unopened cans/cartons of 12 ounces each or less per person.
  • Guests are prohibited from bringing alcoholic beverages on board with the following exception:

 

o    At the beginning of the cruise during embarkation day only, guests (21 years of age and older) may bring one 750 ml bottle of sealed/unopened wine or champagne per person in their carry-on luggage.

 

o    A $15 corkage fee (a charge exacted at a restaurant for every bottle of wine served that was not bought on the premises), per 750 ml bottle, will be charged should guests wish to consume their wine or champagne in the main dining room, steakhouse or bar. 

 

  • All liquor, beer, other forms of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages outside of the exceptions referenced above are strictly prohibited in both carry-on and checked luggage and such items will be confiscated and discarded and no compensation will be provided.

 

  • All alcohol purchased in ports of call or in the Fun Shops will be returned on the morning of debarkation.

 

  • Guests are prohibited from bringing large coolers onboard since screening and movement of large coolers through embarkation is an impediment to the boarding and security process. However small, personal-sized coolers, no larger than 12”H x 12”L x 12”W for the purpose of housing small quantities of non-alcoholic beverages and/or medications are permitted as carry-on luggage.

 

We know some of our guests are accustomed to bringing on their own supply of bottled water so as part of this new policy we have significantly reduced the pricing for spring bottled water which will be conveniently delivered directly to your stateroom. Pricing is as follows:  

 

  • $2.99 (plus tax) for a 12-pack of 500 ML of bottled water for pre-cruise purchase. Please visit carnival.com/funshops to place your order before your cruise to ensure we have an ample supply onboard.  

 

  • $4.99 (plus gratuities) for a 12-pack of 500 ML of bottled water for purchase onboard.

We sincerely apologize for any disappointment these changes may cause however, we firmly believe this will result in a safer environment while also improving the embarkation process and the overall guest experience. 

This has been coming for some time and while Riclop on the Cruise Critic boards spend their time jumping up and down in their mother’s attic saying Carnival is doing this to make money let me say here and now, we are not, it’s that simple but let me say that again, this is not based on revenue at all. In fact, we do not anticipate any increase in revenue as a result of this policy change, particularly given the big reduction in price we have instituted for 12 packs of bottled water. This is all about safety and, although I cannot mention any specifics, it does not take Sherlock Holmes to realise that in life on land and sea, serious incidents can occur as the result of unmonitored alcohol consumption. So while Riclop looks for the voodoo doll that looks like a cross between me and Gomer Pyle so they can insert pins in my buttocks…….. let’s talk some more about water and soda, shall we?

Everyone has a bottle of water or a soda at their desk or at home or where they work or in the gym or in the car or by the side of the bed. Why and when did this happen? I am very much aware that people with perfect teeth who work for marketing companies have convinced us all into believing that we must drink water from exotic places like, Switzerland, Iceland, Fiji or Cleveland.

Yes, we must all have bottled water in our lives and when we don’t……we get moody. I am sure not everyone will read the various forms of communication Carnival has used to get this message out. That means if you are in embarkation at any home port in the coming weeks as you approach the port security you will see the forlorn look of those guests who have their bottles taken away from them. Some will be upset because they have to dispose of their water. Others will be upset because their bottle cost $10 to fill up because it is full of Grey sodding Goose.

Ten years ago, less even, the only people who carried a water bottle hooked to their belt were explorers or someone who was heading to a forward operating base in Iraq. Now…….we all do it, including myself. Water is made even more enticing if it’s not been filtered by volcanic rock or from a hidden spring high in the Alps next to a Toblerone factory or bottled at source from an ancient and natural spring.

People want a quick easy fix to whatever they believe is ailing them. What could be quicker and easier than drinking water? People come in to work carrying a two-liter bottle of water. “I really overdid it at the weekend. I went to the gym for three hours, had a marathon rumpy pumpy session with the wife, in a hammock and then ran a marathon before bedtime……….. I’m going to drink this whole bottle today!”

Sometimes you just have to congratulate bottled water companies, they extract water which originally fell over five thousand years ago and that during the thousands of years under the soil has gone through some of the greatest filtering processes known to man, passing between limestone and rocks full of minerals and goodness. And even though the water is from a 5,000-year-old spring, there’s an expiration date on it! But for those who do not want to drink our water provided at every meal, we are now selling water on board for close to the same price you pay at Walkaygreenmart and not have to carry a case of it off the plane, onto the bus or taxi, through the lines at embarkation and onto the ship to your cabin sweating like a yak in a microwave. So we have your bottled water waiting for you or you can order online. We will now be very strict in homeports and all ports of call in stopping anyone with plastic bottles, regardless of what is in them.

Next up, we will be coming down hard on herbal tea drinkers for the damage they do to the ship’s plumbing system.

Goodnight.

Your friend,

John

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Amanda http://johnhealdsblog.com/2015/06/09/amanda/ http://johnhealdsblog.com/2015/06/09/amanda/#comments Tue, 09 Jun 2015 20:01:26 +0000 http://johnhealdsblog.com/?p=21886 Continue reading ]]> On June 24, I will be flying to Trieste, Italy, to see your Carnival Vista. I will be joined by Peter the Hair, Jay the Latino and their film crew who will capture the special “coin ceremony” which I will share with you here and on , and I will also be joined by a special guest.

I am getting more and more excited about Carnival Vista and all she will have to offer. This though will be the first ship in many years that has not been delivered by a fat, ugly, bent- toothed, grey-haired cruise director – yep……..me. And just writing those words makes me feel ….. well………..a bit sad.

I have though been so privileged to deliver…….ummmm………….ummmm……..bugger, I have no idea how many new ships I have delivered as cruise director. Bugger, let me count quickly. There was the:

Carnival Ecstasy

Carnival Sensation

Carnival Imagination

Carnival Destiny

Carnival Triumph

Carnival Glory

Carnival Legend

Carnival Liberty

Carnival Freedom

Carnival Splendor

Carnival Magic

Carnival Breeze

That’s 12 new ships…………bugger me, no wonder my hair is as grey as an old yak’s dangly bits.

It was always a thrill to deliver these ships but I honestly could not do it now, I really couldn’t. While I will miss the banter that a new ship start up team has with each other and the thrill of getting the ship ready in time I just cannot do this, my social media duties and brand ambassador duties and don’t have the never ending energy that’s needed to bring out a new ship. Yep, it’s time to hand over the new ship torch to………..well, that remains to be seen and we will announce who the ship’s cruise director will be in the weeks ahead.

Yep, I will miss the long days and the fun nights in Trieste and Monfalcone eating great food in the restaurants with colleagues. But there will be some things of bringing out a new ship I won’t miss. You have to remember that up until around two weeks or so before the inaugural cruise, the ship does not belong to Carnival. That means that Fincantieri are in control of the ship so they control the air conditioning, which in many cases, they control it by switching the bugger off completely. I certainly will not miss that or the elevators not working or the fact that my cabin office is never ready immediately. For example, on Carnival Breeze I had no office chair for a whole week, which meant I sat there working on the Fun Times and blogging and Facebooking while sitting on my assistant Calvyn. But there is a huge reward to bringing out a new ship and that is the extraordinary sense of accomplishment that you played a part in the start of her life at sea, that you were the first captain, the first chief engineer, the first maître d’, one of the first waiters, the first pastry chef, the first cruise director……..yep, it is an honour to be chosen and even though I know that it is a young man’s or a young woman’s game these days, I also know that I will feel a twang of jealousy when we announce who that lucky sod will be. I will, though be there a week before to help the CD prepare a new ship and to help them with the European talks on ports I know so well and, of course, I will be on your Carnival Vista to share all the excitement of our brilliant new flag ship with you.

Time for today’s Q and A session so let’s crack on.

Laura asks:
My husband and I will be taking a family cruise with our grown children and their girlfriends later in the year.  I recently had weight loss surgery (gastric bypass, to be specific).  I am only able to eat about four ounces of food at a time (about 1/2 cup) and eat six small meals a day. This leads me to my concerns.  I know that there will be plenty of food for me to choose from on the ship. I absolutely love the food choices in the MDR. With the restrictions that I have with the amount of food I will be able to consume at a time, is it possible to take some “leftovers” back to my cabin for me to have later?  I would hate to waste any food and sometimes my taste and that of my husband are different so he may not be able to finish what I don’t eat.  Or…is it possible to request a much smaller portion of a main dish (I will have to skip the appetizers and definitely dessert.)?  Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks again for brightening my days with your humor on Facebook!

John says:
Hello Laura

I am so glad you have written to me and I am able to help you. Please do not be concerned about this because you can order small portions and, if you order the regular portions and you or your husband do not finish it, nobody is going to judge you or be upset, that is for sure. I think taking the food back to the cabin is not a good option, so why not just remind me about this on my Facebook page four days before the cruise and I will let the maître d’ know that you may be asking for smaller portions. Either way, I am here to help you, so please let me know if you need anything at all. Have a brilliant cruise. Best wishes.

John

Ian Keir asks:
I am not new to cruising. I have 26 now, seven cruises on Carnival. My comments are for your line, plus are relevant to the other lines I choose to spend my money with. It is with reference to your comments on gratuities for your crew we are forced to pay. I have never understood why we have to tip them. I have recently travelled by plane, seen a doctor and a hematology consultant and did not feel obliged to slip any of them a few dollars for their trouble. You shouldn’t need to incentivize your staff to give good service. Pay them a decent salary and, if they give bad service, fire them. Get rid of gratuities; increase the price of the cruise if you have to. Simple math Carnival.

John says:
Hello Ian Keir

Thank you for taking the time to write and I would like to start my response with the respectful reminder that you are not “forced” to tip anyone. The gratuities we take from your Sail & Sign card still need to be earned by the staff through service that meets and, we hope, exceeds your expectations. If that is not the case, you have every right to remove them. Like many restaurants and service industries on land, we do subsidise some of our crew with the gratuities that 99% of our guests give and I am sure that, when you cruise again with us the service you will receive will prompt you to reward the crew accordingly. Thanks again for writing and I hope we see you soon. Best wishes.

John

Wendy MacDonald asks:
Dear John, I just wanted to pass on our experience with a Carnival excursion we took in Grand Cayman on Carnival Conquest April 29, 2015. We took Cayman by Land and Sea – when it got to the last part of the tour, the undersea boat thingy we finished the boat ride and went to get back on the tour bus only to find there was no more room for us. The response we got from the tour guide was – you can walk back to the port, or I can come back and get you – with 90 degree weather I do not think it was appropriate to tell us to walk back especially never having been to this port. We had to wait 20 minutes for him to come back and pick us up, we were stressed standing alone outside this restaurant where the boat thingy was. I thought you should know that this should be addressed as this is not the way you want your customers to be treated. Other than this, the cruise was brilliant. Thank you, Wendy

John says:
Hello Wendy MacDonald

I am so sorry to hear this. I’ve sent a note to our tour operations department for them to review. I do hope you had a brilliant cruise and, again, please accept my apologies that we let you down. Best wishes.

John

Jim Smith asks:
Mr. Heald: My wife and I just spent seven wonderful days on the Carnival Sunshine. The ship was fantastic. CD Jaime and her staff were GREAT. The entire crew was wonderful. The only concern that we have is that the food was just okay. The specialty restaurants were outstanding (Ji Ji and Cucina). The main dining rooms were good but the buffet was very disappointing. The food was lukewarm at best. This was the worst of the three Carnival ships that we have been on. Perhaps the heat to the warmers could be turned up. Other than that, it was a fabulous week and we are already planning our next Carnival cruise and we will be bringing our daughter and grandchildren. Thank you for taking the time to read this and look forward to reading your blogs and Facebook posts.

John says:
Hello Jim Smith

I am very glad that you had such a wonderful time and I am sorry to learn about your thoughts on the Lido food. This has been sent to the chef there and the hotel director too and I know that they will work hard to improve this area. I hope we will see you again soon. Thanks for the very kind words and I remain here at your service. Best wishes.

John

Terri Redfern asks:
Just off Carnival Legend in Hawaii. The service and food were top notch and the entertainment and the band Cyclone Warning who play in the RedFrog Pub were awesome. On the negative side, embarkation was a nightmare; it took around four hours, with only water offered which ran out after two hours. Also they provided seats for only about a third of the people, the rest of us had to sit on the floor. We were one of the lucky ones as we had a wall to rest against! Nobody apologized for this which left us very angry and still does. The worst part of the cruise was the ports. Hawaii is too American which surprised us. We are from California and each stop was just like any place on the coast where we live. I think Carnival should choose the ports better. Having said the above, I would definitely sail with Carnival again.

John says:
Hello Terri Redfern

I wanted to make sure that I publicly apologised to you for the embarkation experience you had in Honolulu. I did, in fact, apologise on board over the PA system and in the shows and past guest party as well as write about it on my Facebook page but I wanted to make sure you saw this apology which I sincerely make to you and anyone who had to endure those challenges.

As for the ports, well, I was surprised to read that as Hawaii is after all…. ummmm……American and yet I found them to be diverse and extraordinarily beautiful. I do hope we will see you again very soon and if there is anything I can help you with, please let me know. Best wishes.

John

Sue asks:
When sailing on Carnival Fascination, we wanted to go to steakhouse and have been told there isn’t one on board. But we could order steak from our menus. Does that include other favorites from the steakhouse menu or just the meat selection? Thank you for your time.

John says:
Hello Sue

Thanks for asking this. You can order the filet mignon, New York strip and the lobster tail from the steakhouse menu while on your cruise. I hope that you have a brilliant time. Best wishes.

John

Bythia Tennyson asks:
John. I am bringing a graduating girl scout onboard for their senior trip.  She has been saving all their cookie money for five years to do this.  This is a first time for me.  My question is. Does the captain ever eats dinner with the crew?  If the captain does, is it possible to get the girl’s put on his possible list for dinner?  Like I said I have not ever been on a cruise before and I am coming with them. But they were talking about it and wondered if it was possible. Thought I would ask.

John says:
Hello Bythia Tennyson

Congratulations to this young lady on at all her hard work. I cannot arrange I am afraid dinner with the captain but if you would let me know her name and cabin number on my facebook.com/johnheald page the day before you sail I would be happy to send something to say congratulations on a job well done. I wish you all a great cruise. Best wishes.

John

Jonathan ONeill asks:
Hi there, John. Wife and kids love Carnival Breeze and we are doing our fourth Carnival Breeze spring break cruise in March 2016. What are the chances of getting a new set of shows and/or comedians? I understand swapping out shows (especially those with large sets) can be done only in dry dock. But I am certain our most recent spring break cruise (March 15, 2015) we had the same shows (the juggler and hypnotist) and some of the same comedians. I understand that we have other choices with Carnival (and other brands)…but like I said earlier, the wife and kids really enjoy Carnival Breeze and it’s another year until we can sail on Carnival Vista in 2017 out of South Florida. Thanks in advance.

Jonathan O’Neill

John says:
Hello Jonathan O’Neill

I am so happy to read how much you and your family enjoy Carnival Breeze and that you will be doing so again next year. We have already replaced The Brits show there with another show called 88 Keys and yes indeed there will be different variety acts and I am sure different comedians too. I hope you have yet another brilliant time and please do ask me if you have any other questions. Best wishes.

John

Paul Doty asks:
John, I’d like to leave a comment. I’m a VIFP Gold member (**********) and let it go to my head :).  I know everything I tell myself and can book my own cruise without help.  My trusty cruise guy (one Harvey Brister CCL) isn’t needed because this one is just me and the misses.

Normally, I foot the bill for all the kids and their families so Harvey arranges all that perfectly each time. Multiple rooms, flying in from different countries, babies, pregnant daughters, you name it, he arranges it. Everyone is happy and I look like the genius I is. I of course, let everyone know how hard I worked planning it all out :). Big mistake!  I is dum and shouldn’t be allowed near websites with a credit card.  An email to HBrister@carnival.com and all good now.  He knows exactly what we like and how we like it.  I highly recommend everyone at least talk to a Carnival Vacation Planner and, if you are lucky, you will get Harvey on the line! Thanks for all you do.

John says:
Hello Paul Doty

Well there is a chap called Harvey who is about to have a huge smile on his face. Thank you for taking the time to write and I will make sure that he and his manager see how much you valued his assistance. I hope that you continue to cruise with us and that we will see you holding a platinum card soon. Best wishes.

John

Manny asks:
Hi John: I am writing today only to say… I knew Carnival was the cruise line for me from day 1. With that said, I took advantage of a low cruise price on a competitor that starts with R. After 10 Carnival cruises I felt a little change would be good. Boy was I wrong… The little things Carnival still does are truly something I can truly appreciate. Here are the things I missed on this cruise that I love about Carnival:

Turndown service

Pens in the cabin

Cabin Steward that learns my name

A true vacation dress code

Deck parties

Multiple options for entertainment

Cruise directors that get involved with guest

I can go on for days… But I won’t. My email is to say, I appreciate Carnival for always being a good value, but offering so much more! From the water park onboard to the great entertainment. Carnival will always be my cruise line… For that, I applaud everyone at CCL! You always approach everything with the guest in mind and the words FUN!

John says:
Hello Manny

I want to thank you for this post, it really made me smile and, while I hope you still had a good cruise on whichever line that was, I am so proud to see that you missed us and you will be home to Carnival soon. I will send this to the beards so they can see this too. Thanks again and I remain here at your service. Best wishes.

John

And that’s all for today and thank you again for all the questions and comments you post here, I will keep cracking on and answer as many as I can as quickly as I can.

It’s a busy time for the entertainment department with two new shipboard entertainment directors joining Carnival and some more cruise director changes coming, so I will have a new schedule for you a little later this month. For those of you sailing in the Caribbean in the weeks ahead you will be hearing a lot more Caribbean music from the moment you walk on board into the lobby and for those sailing in Alaska, you will also be experiencing something very special entertainment wise and I will have more about this soon.

So while it has been a hectic week for the entertainment shoreside team and the hundreds of people who work on our ships entertaining you, it has also been a week full of bitter sadness.

As those who recently sailed on the Carnival Sensation will already know through a letter you received on board, we lost a member of our entertainment team this past week. She was part of our Playlist cast of singers and dancers and her sudden, unexpected and tragic passing has affected so many, most of all, those who sang and danced alongside her. The guests were informed last cruise and on the current cruise that due to the loss of one of the performers that the Playlist shows would be postponed and, in their place, variety entertainers would be performing. Obviously, the cast specifically were overcome with grief and sadness as I am sure you can understand.

The shock has been immense for everyone on the ship and, as usual, in circumstances like this a Carnival CareTeam was sent to the ship along with grief counselors to offer support and assistance. And it was great to see that the CareTeam was joined by our vice president of entertainment and many of the shoreside entertainment team all of whom grieved together.

And to her mother whose heart will forever be broken at this loss of her beloved daughter, I want to say this.

Although you are going through something that is so tragic and sad, I want you to know that your daughter was loved, yes, loved by her colleagues and those who worked with her. Cruise ships bring those that work together so close together and her passing has left so many feeling hopelessly sad. But Mum………..I also want you to know that your daughter was a beautiful talented artist who has left a lasting legacy on those she performed on stage to and every single person who met her both on and off stage. She will always be remembered, never forgotten, by her Carnival family.

I spoke to someone on the ship, a friend and your daughter’s colleague, who told me, “I just can’t believe she is gone, I have been watching a DVD of her amazing performances in the shows with tears in my eyes, she was a fantastic talent, and we will miss her so much.”

You were a star, Amanda, and in heaven your star……… will shine on.

RIP

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John’s alternative “OH FFS FAQs” http://johnhealdsblog.com/2015/06/05/johns-alternative-oh-ffs-faqs/ http://johnhealdsblog.com/2015/06/05/johns-alternative-oh-ffs-faqs/#comments Fri, 05 Jun 2015 14:19:33 +0000 http://johnhealdsblog.com/?p=21877 Continue reading ]]> 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.

John says:
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.

John

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.

John says:
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.

John

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.

John says:
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.

John

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?

John says:
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.

John

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.
Sincerely,

Phillip Castelucci

John says:
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.

John

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?????

John says:
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.

John

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.

John says:
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.

John

Joe Cefola asks:
John, when is the Carnival Sunshine going to be in dry dock?  I see it was last remodeled in Nov. 2011.

John says:
Hello Joe

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.

John

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.

John says:
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.

John

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.

John says:
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.

John

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.”

Packing
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.”

Mosquito Spray
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.”

Your Cabin
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.

Children
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.

Going Home
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.

Goodnight.

Your friend,
John

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Safety First, Comedy Second? http://johnhealdsblog.com/2015/06/02/safety-first-comedy-second/ http://johnhealdsblog.com/2015/06/02/safety-first-comedy-second/#comments Tue, 02 Jun 2015 19:58:30 +0000 http://johnhealdsblog.com/?p=21869 Continue reading ]]> So a couple of weeks ago I mentioned about an incident that happened to me when I was a kid that has given me a pure and utter hatred for anything to do with the dentist. And tomorrow  I have my first dental appointment in….and I am embarrassed to say……20-plus years.

I will pause here for a bollocking from you.

Yes, I know. I am an idiot. An idiot with bad teeth. But, honestly, asking me to go to the dentist would be like asking someone who is afraid of spiders to put their head in a bag of tarantulas and have a bird-eating spider shoved down the front of their underpants and not worry about it.

Yep, I am dreading it even though it is something called sedation dentistry, so I will be unconscious but I have no doubts this will be one pair of underpants that I will never be able to wear again…………not without an industrial wash anyway.

Actually this is not the first time I have been back to the dentist, thinking about it, because some years ago, around the time I delivered the Carnival Liberty, or was it the Carnival Freedom? …… bugger, can’t remember…..but, anyway, it was around 2006 or 2007 that this story takes place.

Years of smoking cigars and drinking coffee have left my teeth looking as though a yak had wiped its arse on them. Heidi mentioned this some years ago and she booked me in for a teeth whitening procedure as a sodding Christmas present. I told her that I would rather sandpaper my own nipples off than go sit in that torturer’s chair ever again. Anyway, Heidi told me that this had nothing to do with a dentist and that it was a painless thing that would be over before I knew it. I thought I knew how cosmetic teeth whitening works. A sexy nurse with huge breasts would smear goo on my teeth, shine some sort of laser at it and that would be that… I would walk out with the nuclear smile like someone from The Real Housewives of New Orange Jersey.

And so I went.

Well, there was good news and bad news for me. The good news was the dental nurse did have huge breasts. The bad news was…. his name was Brian.

I remember emitting a small amount of oily discharge into my underpants because the room I was having this done in looked like a dentist’s room complete with the Spanish inquisition-style chair. The dentist explained my teeth might feel a bit sensitive during the procedure, but so what? I’m no nine-year-old girl. Honest, I’m not. How painful could it be?

The process itself consisted of three 15-minute sessions under the magic light. Session one passed and was OK. I felt a strange tightening sensation in my teeth, but that was it. Shortly into the second session, I felt a sharp, sudden pain. Have you even bitten into an ice lolly (or popsicles, I believe you call them) with sensitive teeth?

Take that sensation and multiply it 1,000 sodding times. Then imagine it lasting far longer and occurring without warning. I writhed in the chair, tears filling my eyes and the sound of, “Oh FFS,” filling the room.

“That’s the sensitivity I was talking about,” said the dentist, patting me on the arm. I wanted to see how sensitive his mouth would be if I put my fist in it but then another shot of pain made me writhe in agony.

The pain gradually ebbed away. “Be a man,” I thought.

By the end I was no longer thinking about “riding this out.” I wasn’t thinking at all… I was a confused animal. I was not of this Earth and the only thing that I vaguely remember was asking myself what I had done to piss Heidi off that was so bad that she had bought me this trip to hell ……. for Christmas. Maybe piss was the answer. Maybe my urinating occasionally on the toilet seat or over that stupid mat that hugs the bottom of the toilet had resulted in this punishment.

As Brian took the light away and removed the clamp holding my mouth open, he said, “Don’t worry, your teeth will only do that for a little while.”

How little? “About 48 hours,” he said. “I’d take some Ibuprofen if I were you.”

I staggered across the road to the drug store. While begging for Ibuprofen, another tooth went off, which meant I actually asked for “Ibuproaaaaaaaaaaaah” instead. For the rest of the day, I sat at home, demented, oral firecrackers exploding at random intervals.

I contemplated shoving my head into the microwave and ending it all. Anything to make it stop. And the end result was that, yes, my teeth were whiter and I could smile at guests without making them vomit. But two months later and a few more cigars and cups of coffee later, they have lost their sparkle and are back to being 50 shades of brown.

But on Tuesday morning I will head to the dentist and, honestly, I am truly scared, truly terrified and I am not sure I can even go through with it. I’d rather smash my teeth out with a hammer than go to the dentist.

Time for today’s Q and A……………off we trot.

Paula Gomez asks:
Here is my report on my Carnival Magic cruise. The cruise was good – just not the best. It could also be that we’re just not Carnival-type people. We like to dress for dinner and we were the only ones. A Texas thing maybe? One of the best things Carnival has going for them is their mostly excellent staff. We found them to be friendly, courteous, enthusiastic and helpful at all times. Our room steward, Imee, was excellent and we couldn’t have asked for better service from this lovely lady. We had fun but probably are looking at going back to Holland America for next time but Carnival Magic is probably not a bad choice for people who are happy to share their vacation cruise with loud, obnoxious and brash Texans.

John says:
Hello Paula Gomez

I am glad to see that you had a “good” time and I will be making sure that Imee, your stateroom steward, gets the praise she deserves. I also hope we see you again soon and, if not, that you enjoy your cruises on the wonderful ships of Holland America Line.  Best wishes

John

Andy Landers asks:
Good morning, John! I hope you are feeling better. I have been following you on Facebook

for over a year now and I am really impressed with how you represent Carnival and yourself. My wife and I have fallen in love with cruising. We have yet to be on Carnival as we are trying out all the big cruise lines to see which one we prefer the most. We have found a cruise in which we want to go on. It is on Carnival Breeze in February 2016, going to the Southern Caribbean. One of the things we love about cruising is the laid back atmosphere and love the main dining halls. My “formal attire” consists of a pair of TOMS, dress slacks and a relaxed button up (untucked).  The other nights, I wear a nice pair of linen shorts and a nice polo to match. I have been reading blogs online about my attire being a big “NO NO” on Carnival. Is this true?  Would my attire be sufficient on a Carnival cruise? Thanks and looking forward to trying Carnival out in February! Thanks!

Andy

John says:
Hello Andy Landers

Thanks so much for the very kind words and I bid you the warmest welcome to the world of cruising with Carnival. The simple answer is yes, what you described is just fine. The shorts cannot be worn in the dining room on elegant night but what you mentioned you will wear on that night is no problem at all. Your cruise. Your choice. Thanks so much and if there is anything at all I can do, please do let me know. Best wishes.

John

Tony Gherna asks:
John: Just a question. My wife and I, on our last cruise on Carnival Dream last October, I noticed that the basketball court is surrounded by a net, and I wondered why the mini-golf area didn’t have the same thing. We watched young boys bouncing the golf balls off the ship in Cozumel, I wondered why there was not a net there or any staff or even a camera, just a thought. My wife and family will be on Carnival Conquest in June and I can’t wait, I we love Carnival.

John says:
Hello Tony Ghema

The vast majority of the time the golf balls stay where they are supposed to be so I’m assuming in this case the boys were doing this on purpose which, of course, they should not have done. Obviously there are strict environmental laws about anything going overboard, so we have the nets over the basketball court. The vast majority of the golf balls stay on the putting surface but in this case it appears some naughty boys did the wrong thing (and to be honest this is the first time I’m hearing of such a thing). I hope you have a brilliant time and if there is anything I can do, please let me know. Best wishes.

John

Andrea Lee asks:
I want to commend a supervisor at the Long Beach cruise port in California. His name is Joseph Rait and was more than helpful, went above and beyond for me, stayed after his shift was over to help and I honestly don’t know what we would have done without him! We booked a cruise for April 19, 2015, get there and, to my surprise, I needed a birth certificate. I’m not sure how I didn’t know that but I missed that. We got held back and were not able to go. Flying in from Idaho I felt stranded with nowhere to go that is until Mr. Rait called Carnival got us on the next ship on 4/20/15, called our airline to get that moved an extra day, called a hotel for us, and helped with transportation. He was a Godsend and a true asset to Carnival. If every business has people like him the sky would be the limit for success!  Please recognize him and ensure he knows how truly thankful we are for having someone as kind and helpful as him. He’s the reason

we will only sail with Carnival from now on!!

John says:
Hello Andrea Lee

I am so very sorry this happened to you and I will, for sure, let Joseph know how much you appreciated his service and his care. I will also make sure his managers know what an asset they have in Joseph. Thanks so much for being kind enough to write and I hope we see you soon.

Best wishes.

John

Athena Jones asks:
Nothing has declared the real you better than the fact that you admitted that you scorned your daughter for using the word elevator and not for spewing out the word crap!!!!!!!! Lousy dad, lousy brand ambassador!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

John says:
Hello Athena Jones

Thank you for sharing your opinion with me. I do the very best I can to be a good father and a good brand ambassador. I realise there are times when I fall short on both but will continue to work hard on both counts. Best wishes.

John

David asks:
Our recent, much-anticipated cruise vacation to the Southern Caribbean on the Carnival Conquest became a nightmare, a cruise from hell, due to the constant disruption of our sleep at all times by the screaming and crying of a two-year-old in the cabin next door. That “experience” was compounded by the unpleasantness and lack of professionalism of the guest services staff in dealing with what should have been a routine issue. Their attitude, until we created a major incident very late in the cruise, was one of “we-do-not- care, nor can be we do anything about your ruined vacation!” Once we made it clear that their lack of action was totally unacceptable and a public shouting match where the guest services manager participated, we were finally assigned a room where it was possible to actually sleep, with two days remaining on our eight-day cruise. We were also reluctantly “invited” to a dinner and a bottle of wine at the steakhouse, something we would have preferred to do without in the interest of having the problem resolved earlier and in a professional manner. We called them to get them to have the parents stop the baby from crying or to relocate our inconsiderate neighbors. We were told there was no cabins going spare for them to be moved to and were offered earplugs and no compensation. This is no different than having a barking dog every night at the house next door where you would continue to call the police until they do something to quiet it.

John says:
Hello David

I am sorry that you had a crying baby in the cabin next to you and I am sure that the parents were feeling terrible about this situation as well. I will send this to some people for their review and I do hope you still had a wonderful time Apologies again and hope to see you soon. Best wishes.

John

Bradford Welton asks:
John. Did they stop serving shrimp cocktail at dinner?

John says:
Hello Bradford Welton

No, sir, shrimp cocktail is available every night, so please enjoy. Best wishes

John

Katrina Ramos asks:
Hi John: My daughter has started a collection of ships on a stick from each new ship we sail on. If she is unable to win one on our upcoming cruise on Carnival Breeze, is there a place on the ship that I could purchase one? Thanks so much! PS. You are an amazing writer and I adore your sense of humor.

John says:
Hello Katrina Ramos

You are very kind indeed. Please send me a note on Facebook (www.facebook.com/johnheald)   the day before the cruise with her name and cabin number and I will see what I can do to make her smile. Have a brilliant time. Best wishes.

John

Angela Baricelli asks:
In reply to the person who was offended by the comedian on your ship that made jokes about Italian Americans, I sympathize and agree. I would have walked out but would have made sure the comedian got a piece of my mind first!!!!! Why did he not treat Italian Americans with the similar sensitivity to that shown to Jewish, African and Native American passengers? Shame on that comedian and on Carnival for not terminating him for what he said.

John says:
Hello Angela Baricelli

When you say “terminate”…….do you mean have the comedian whacked?  Sorry……..too much Sopranos. I can only say again that comedy is subjective and we are never going to shackle our comedians, especially in the uncensored shows. Comedy is very difficult, as I probably just proved with my silly joke, but we have to try and laugh at each other and ourselves as life really is too short not to. Please come and sail with us soon. Best wishes.

John

Nicole Stewart asks:
Just got off Carnival Pride today for a seven-day cruise to The Bahamas. Traveled with my husband and my two teenage sons, one of whom turned 15 during the cruise. On the second day of the cruise, I stopped at Cherry on Top to order a cake and asked for it to be sent to the dining room on May 2 which was my son’s 15th birthday. I wanted it during dinner since we were traveling with my sister and brother-in-law and cousin and his wife. When I ordered it I made sure to repeat that we wanted it at dinner and she wrote down my cabin number. That worried me, so I said again, not to my room, to dinner and she said yes, she understood. As the week went on others were being sang to during dinner for their birthdays and my son wanted no part of this attention on him, so I was getting more and more excited because I was picturing the excellent wait staff bringing him his cake that he didn’t expect at all. So as the dessert menus came out my husband tries to ask our server without being caught by my son. They had no idea about the cake. This started to upset me. So they called down and the lady had no idea about this! My cousins wife then ran down to the candy store to ask about this and the lady that ran the store could have really cared less and turned her back on cousin’s wife.  Very unapologetic and rude and dismissive about it and my cousins wife asked for a manager and was ignored. She walked out and went to customer service. A manager talked to us at our dinner table and apologized. I have to say that the dining room wait staff went above and beyond and came out with two slices of cake and candles and sang to my son anyway and totally made up for the bad experience. Everyone on your cruise ship works nonstop and is so polite! Everyone except for the lady running the sweet spot! Very rude and if she would have just done what she said she would do the whole situation could have been avoided and my son would have been surprised like I pictured in my mind.

John says:
Hello Nicole Stewart

Well that is disappointing and I am sincerely sorry that somewhere along the line, we dropped the ball. I will investigate this further with the ship’s hotel director. I am very glad that the waiters worked hard to make sure they looked after the situation and I will, for sure, make sure they see your kind words. Please let me know when you cruise again and I will send your son a little something to make sure we make him smile.  Best wishes.

John

Heidi Doose asks:
Hello John: Happy Sunday to you and yours! I am a happy Carnival cruiser who appreciates all the hard work you and every crew member put forth on each cruise! Thank you for your devotion to righting wrongs and laughing at the ridiculous :)  I’m curious if you received the personalized book that I sent to Kye? I sent it in January, after being directed to send it to your office in Miami. I have not heard if it made it safely into your possession. Just a yes or no would truly be appreciated. I hope you both enjoyed my book!

Heidi Doose,

Author, “As the Sun Said Goodnight”

John says:
Hello Heidi Doose

Thank you for writing and I understand from my colleagues that the book is there in Miami waiting for me. I will be back there in July, so will look forward to collecting it and reading it to my daughter. Thanks again for your wonderful kindness and I wish you and your book great success. Best wishes.

John

Larry Cooper asks:
John: I know it’s early for this question but here goes anyway, will you be on Carnival Vista for her crossing? Thanks,

Larry

John says:
Hello Larry Cooper

Yes, indeed, that is confirmed and I look forward to seeing you there. Best wishes.

John

Simon Yang asks:
I’ve now been on five Carnival cruises and on every cruise there’s been a LGBT or Friends of Dorothy Meeting listed on the Fun Times. There’s always been one listed for every day of the cruise, but my husband and I have never seen any signage or Carnival staff to organize the meeting at the specified spot. There should be staff there to introduce gay and lesbian and trans-gender passengers to each other and provide us with some kind of party. Please consider this as we are a huge market.

John says:
Hello Simon Yang

We do indeed have LGBT meetings listed most nights in the Fun Times. However, we do make this an unsupervised event just as we do other meetings on board. I am sure that you will continue to meet new friends at these gatherings and, if you have any other suggestions on how to make these meetings better, please do let me know Best wishes.

John

Robert Wolfe asks:
Carnival could and should do more for the gold members in the VIFP program. Suggestions should be sent directly to John Heald. My suggestion would be one free drink on the first and last day on any length trip. My last suggestion would be up to 50 percent off the all you can drink non-alcohol cruise package aka as the “bottomless drinks”. Hopefully you will respond to this message.

John says:
Hello Robert Wolfe

Thank you for taking the time to write. I have read many hundreds of comments about this and I understand the frustration Gold card members feel. One new benefit that we’ve added recently is a complimentary Appreciation Drink coupon valid at any bars or lounges after 5 pm. I hope you will enjoy a cocktail or a specialty coffee and complement this with some great music, a Punchliner comedy show or great conversation with family and new friends. I have added your comment to the others I have sent already to the beards so they understand your thoughts. I do hope we see you soon and I remain here at your service. Best wishes.

John

That’s it for the questions.

Let’s start with an invite to our VIFP’s for a special hush hush photo project, here is the message from the beards to our Diamond and Platinum members.

“You’ve got experience having our kind of fun… and have the photos to prove it. Post some of those old photos to Instagram or Twitter with #VIFPCarnival or email them by June 10 to  CCL_mktg_CGC@carnival.com

This year, we will be making July 4th a very special night with a huge party on Lido. And while we don’t have fireworks, there will be a brilliant atmosphere on Lido and in the atriums and in the days ahead, I will bring you full details of how you will celebrate your independence from us redcoat wearing British bastards. And if you are on the Carnival Glory for the July 4th cruise then you will notice one of those British bastards on Lido with you…….a chubby, grey haired, bent toothed chap……..yep, I will be there with you on the Carnival Glory for that cruise so I look forward to that very much.

In August, I will be looking to cruise on the Carnival Fantasy from Charleston. I think it is very important that I sail on a Fantasy-class ship as it has been a while since I have and I’m really looking forward to it. Carnival Fantasy was one of the first ships I worked on so lots of great memories there. I also want to sail on the Carnival Sunshine to see a brand new cruise director who will be covering for the incomparable Jaime Dee while she is on vacation. This chap will be new to the company. We are excited he is joining us and I will tell you more when I introduce his bio here soon.

I will also be tying down my schedule to sail on as many Carnival Journeys as I can. I am confirmed already on the Carnival Dream but want to do as many as possible. The first two voyages are on the Carnival Dream in October should you wish to come and join me for what will be two very special cruises with extra special entertainment, events and, of course, our flashback day to 1987.

Remember, embarkation is in both New Orleans and San Juan. I really hope to see you there.

I will on the Carnival Journeys, be hosting lots of the shows and my own favourite events. And I will also hope to do the boat drill or safety briefing which leads me nicely into the subject of, if the words “safety” and “humour” have any right to be in the same sentence together.

It started a couple of years ago with Air New Zealand’s escape from the normal, mostly dreary preflight safety videos then hired the brilliant Richard Simmons in full retro campfest mode to update the instructions on seatbelts, oxygen masks and tray tables that, let’s face it, are largely ignored by many passengers. And now it seems other airlines, like Delta, have hired celebrities, models, dancers, comedians, singers, kids and cartoon characters for their safety videos. Is it then time to put some kind of humour back into our safety briefing?

One of the things I guess I won’t be doing too many more times now that I am not a long-contract CD is the safety briefing and for those of you who have heard my speech in recent months, you will know that I always added some kind of humour. 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.

Now Amber Jones (who it seems enjoys multiple use of punctuation) may be saying, “How do you know the guests were laughing?!??! You were on the bridge you grey-haired chubby idiot, how could you possibly know???????????????” The answer is that not only did the crew tell me the guests laugh but I could see that this was the case on the monitors. Yep, the muster station cameras rely straight to the bridge, so I would always watch you live during the drill.

So what was some of the attempted humour from me? Here are a few examples from my drills last year on the Carnival Miracle in Alaska.

Before I started speaking and while the guests were all at the muster stations I would tell all the gentlemen that “for the purpose of this drill and in accordance with United States Coast Guard regulations, all gentlemen must remove their baseball caps.” And as the TV monitors showed me………….they all did.  And when I told them I was joking, most would laugh……….one or two would mouth extremities.

Then during my description of the lifeboats, when I explained that they all had “adequate supplies of water, food, first aid and signal equipment, ” I would add that “lifeboat number 7 has flat screen HD TVS, a hot tub …………and a Hooters.”

In Alaska, I explained, “Some of you may be concerned about icebergs and having seen that movie with Leonardo De Crapio, you are worried we may hit one” and would then go on to explain that the most dangerous thing to a ship was fire and explain how to avoid that etc.

And, finally, after explaining that the guests were on a moving cruise ship and if they used the stairs they should grasp the handrail in case there was a sudden unexpected movement of the ship. I would immediately follow this with a reminder that guests must wash their hands often and with soap and water to prevent gastro illness. And failure to do so may cause them to have ……… an unexpected movement.

OK, none of the above is brilliant cutting-edge humour but I felt it was humour that was needed to be embedded along with all the very serious and very necessary information  There may be some of you who think there is no place for this. There may even be some of Carnival’s new high visibility jacket-wearing beards who as I write are putting plans together to make sure I am never allowed near a PA system again.

Your safety is the most important aspect of your cruise; it has to be, of course. But if the airlines have realised that to get their passengers attention and to make sure they truly are listening, they have to change, have to include humour or some kind of gimmick, is it wrong for us to do the same on our ships?

Right, time for me to make a phone call to Virgin Atlantic Airlines to offer myself and Megan Fox to make a video warning of the potential dangers of attempting to join the Mile High Club.

Goodnight.

Your friend,
John

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YOU HAVE TO LAUGH http://johnhealdsblog.com/2015/05/28/you-have-to-laugh/ http://johnhealdsblog.com/2015/05/28/you-have-to-laugh/#comments Thu, 28 May 2015 18:25:34 +0000 http://johnhealdsblog.com/?p=21863 Continue reading ]]> It is almost June which means we are only a couple of days away from Hurricane season. It’s hard to think about hurricane season when you are sitting in your underpants writing from the UK where hurricanes are as rare as finding a Jehovah’s Witness actually inside a house.  But at this time of year, it is on our minds and I hope will be as quiet as a mouse with laryngitis.  I thought, for the sake of new readers and new cruisers, to explain a few facts.

These days, we have all the tools needed to see where a tropical storm is developing, where it is going and what the projected track is likely to be. Advice is taken from government agencies such as the National Hurricane Center, United States Coast Guard and the Church of Scientology ……….OK, maybe we don’t ask Tom Cruise and his mates where Hurricane Bastard is heading but we do take advice from very serious people. That advice is then digested by the beards at Carnival who look at the projected track of the hurricane, discuss with the ship’s captain and then decide what needs to be done.

Although itinerary modifications happen from time to time, any decision to change an itinerary is always done with the interest of guest and crew safety in mind. Hurricanes are as reliable as a blind yak and can suddenly change their tracks and so we wait, gather advice and see what we need to do, often within a day or so notice.  Above all, we want to deliver the itinerary the guest booked which is why we want to wait and see what happens with the storm before officially announcing any changes.

Once a decision has been made to adjust the itinerary, the next step is to see where the ship can go. Let’s say that Hurricane Bastard is heading through the Eastern Caribbean and the scheduled calls are at St. Thomas, San Juan and St. Maarten, so we look to the Western Caribbean for an alternative itinerary. That is when the beards call the port authorities in Cozumel, Jamaica, Grand Cayman and The Bahamas to ask for a berth on a specific day.

Once a new plan is in place, then the following also happens:

  • The shore excursions team has to call the tour operators in the new ports of call to book as many spaces on the excursions as possible.
  • Crew members who may have been joining the ship in the original port of call have to be advised and rescheduled if necessary
  • Ticketing for fly-on entertainers’ flights need to be changed
  • The ship’s managers have to organise new schedules for all the departments
  • The cruise directors/entertainment directors have to design a new Fun Times

And, finally, a letter has to be prepared for guests to let them know what is going to happen and why. We also email or text guests and post the new plan on our social media channels. And when that new itinerary is given to guests, 99 percent will accept the decision — they may be disappointed but they understand. But I also have to say that, on every ship that is affected by Mother Nature, there are people who do not and will not understand that the cruise lines make these changes for their own safety. To the few who are angry and not understanding, I ask that you please don’t take your frustration out on a 22-year-old guest services associate, an entertainment staff member or anyone in a uniform as they have absolutely nothing to do with this decision.

I have been in this position many, many times in my 29 years and there has been the odd occasion when I have been screamed at and prodded and poked. I am able to take that, obviously, and the experience sometimes (not always) enables me to turn that situation around. But it’s not fair to take that anger out on a junior staff member.  Any one of them who is screamed at in this manner, should be able to give the guest the good news with a cattle prod. But, of course, they can’t and they don’t. Our wonderful staff apologises, takes the verbal tongue lashings and apologises again.

Let’s hope it’s a very quiet hurricane season this year but if we should be forced to change ports of call, then, please, don’t shout and swear at a staff member who, only 10 minutes before, was changing a $20 bill for two $10s or hosting the Harry Potter trivia quiz.

Time for today’s Q and A – here we go.

Scott asks:
Any updates on other ships that will be receiving the unlimited high speed Internet in the May/June timeframe? Will be sailing Carnival Conquest for a back-to-back on June 13 and 21 and then in late July again. Also, will be doing a back-to-back on Carnival Dream Journeys Cruise on Oct 4 and 15 and certainly would expect that ship to have high speed Internet well before October this year. Thank you for the updates on Internet.

John says:
Hello Scott

The new Internet is so popular and that’s not a surprise as the packages from $5 a day or $25 for the cruise, plus the increased speed, have made them a huge hit. The new plans are currently on:

Carnival Freedom
Carnival Breeze
Carnival Sunshine
Carnival Ecstasy
Carnival Sensation
Carnival Paradise
Carnival Fascination
Carnival Victory
Carnival Elation
Carnival Pride

There are more ships planned these next three months and, by year’s end, it will be fleetwide. The Conquest won’t have it for your cruise but the good news is that Carnival Dream will have it. And I will see you for those Carnival Journeys as well. Please let me know if you have any questions and see you soon. Best wishes.

John

Simon asks:
Heald.  Have you read this link, very disturbing.

“I was on Carnival ———-. My cruise friends decided we meet the captain on the formal night.
When we got there, the attitude of the captain was really bad. He would not look into our eyes when he shakes our hands. It was like he had no mood to be there and that we are not important.
He was such a snob. The friendliest guys were the directors in HR, and the doctor. I guess he was upset at the low turnout.”

What is the rule on this? He should be punished for such behavior!!! The captains should be sociable. This is not acceptable!

John says:
Hello Simon

Please excuse me for not posting the link but instead copying the post as I did want to address this. Certainly, I apologise to the person (I am guessing it’s not you, Simon) who felt that the captain was not as sociable as she would have hoped for. I’m not familiar with the particulars on the situation so it’s difficult for me to comment and I would need to check with some folks here and see what I can find out. There is no doubt that some captains enjoy the social aspect of the job more than others. They are hired for their maritime experience and to keep the ship safe, that is obviously their primary function. But we also expect them to be sociable and welcoming to the guests and I can safely say that, for the very most part, is exactly what they are. This isn’t a complain get very often as we are fortunate to have the best captains at sea working for Carnival Cruise Line. That is something I strongly believe is true. Thanks for forwarding this along. Best wishes.

John

Gail asks:
Dear John: In two weeks, we’ll be heading off on Carnival Magic and I was wondering whether it has the old-style production shows (which are fine) or the new Playlist-style shows. And what shows are the ship’s showing right now?  I know a lot of people like the old-style shows with the big sets and the elaborate costumes and such. But, honestly, I don’t get why they bag on the Playlist shows. I had the opportunity to view three of the Playlist shows (88 Keys–LOVED IT! Heart of Soul-also very good and 80s Pop to the Max, which my son really enjoyed) over spring break and I thought they were excellent.  Cheers mate!

John says:
Hello Gail

Carnival Magic has the full cast shows including Grooveline and the brilliant magic and illusion show starring Jason Byrne. I agree that the new Playlist shows are superb and, while I will always miss the orchestra being part of the show, the new casts are fantastic and with shows like you mentioned and ones like Epic Rock, we have some big hits on our hands. And wait until you see what we will do on your Carnival Vista. I wish you a wonderful cruise, thanks for the kind words and if there is anything I can do for you, please do let me know. Best wishes.

John

Shannon asks:
Hi, I am sailing on Carnival Conquest on May 31.  Will the #SlideforStJude promotion still be going on?  Where can I buy a Groove for St. Jude T-shirt?

John says:
Hello Shannon

You are very kind to ask. The Slide for St. Jude is over but our work for our charity partner continues with our Groove for St. Jude. You can, if you wish, donate $10 on board and you will get a T-shirt and a wrist band for your donation. Thanks so much and I am here if you have any questions. Best wishes.

John

Rhonda asks:
Hello John: I am wondering about the onboard credit for Carnival stockholders. Is it available for each person in the cabin if they both are stockholders, or only one per cabin? Thank you so much for being so open and honest with your comments, both personal and business.  You do a great job representing Carnival!

John says:
Hello Rhonda.

It is per cabin not per person that this credit applies to. Thanks for asking and thank you for those very kind words.  I remain here at your service should you need my help. Best wishes.

John

Trevor asks:
I seem to remember the good old days when the port talks actually gave some useful information. The last one I went to on the Carnival Glory was just a push for the shops so the ship gets a kickback. Royal Caribbean gives actual port history lectures. They also have white glove service at cocktail hours. Very classy. Carnival could learn a thing or two.  Just sayin’.

John says:
Hello Trevor

I think you may have attended the shopping talk, not the port talk. The port talk — or the official name — the Fun On Board Fun Ashore talk — is held by the cruise director and covers arrival and departure times, things to know ashore, a brief look at the island and the excursions offered and how to get around on your own. The CD will also talk about security and safety in port as well. The shopping talk is held after this and yes, the shopping expert will recommend some stores that give Carnival guests wonderful deals and guarantees and will no doubt save you some money. You also get to shop with absolute confidence at these stores knowing, if you have any concerns once home you deal with Carnival who will help you resolve them. As for “white glove service.” I do think though that it’s not the gloves that make for wonderful service but the person wearing them and serving you and I think our crew are the best at sea………..still, I am biased, obviously.  Please let me know if you have any other questions and I hope you had a wonderful cruise. Best wishes.

John

Kim asks:
Carnival has to step up and open the door to its vegan passengers. I am always very careful of what companies I give my money to!  I am considering a cruise with Carnival soon. It would be six of us, all vegans. We have done lots of research but most of the reviews we have read about Carnival show that Carnival has little or no regard for this most healthy and most loving of lifestyles. What assurance can you give us that you will have options enough that the same money we spend as meat eaters will be value for the price spent? I hope you will respond or someone will at least. Carnival should remember that when there is more vegan food around, then more and more people will try it and start to be vegan – and that means fewer and fewer animals will be killed and ground up into burgers and nuggets. I hope Carnival remembers that there is no war in the animal world; humans are the only violent species.

John says:
Hello Kim

Thanks for the passionate comment. I know very little about the vegan lifestyle but I do know that Carnival has worked very hard these past few years to provide lots of choices for all our guests who are vegans. There is always plenty to choose from and, if you need something extra, just ask your waiter and he or she will speak with the chef to provide you as best he can. We have vegan guests sail with us every week and I have read many positive reviews. So please come cruise with us and let me know when you are sailing so I can help let the ship prepare accordingly. I do hope we see you soon.  Best wishes.

John

Cyndi asks:
John how does the Fun Hub work?  If I was on a ship that had it what would I have to do? I mean does one have to turn the airplane mode on and the Wi-Fi on to use it?  If that’s the case then I don’t think I’d want to chance using it and running up my phone bill with unwanted roaming charges and data usage.

John says:
Hello Cyndi

Yes, that’s right, once downloaded, you connect to the ship’s Wi-Fi and off you go. There are no further charges for you. It really is a great addition on the Carnival Breeze and we will add to the Carnival Sunshine very soon. Let me know if you have any further questions. Best wishes.

John

Doug asks:
Mr. Heald, love following your blog and on Facebook!  Don’t know if you have answered this before but has Carnival ever thought of offering the Cheers package as a prepay option similar to the liquor you can prepay for?  It might be a thought to consider for many cruisers that book in advance to pay it down prior to the cruise versus the hit of $800-900 to their Sail & Sign! Your thoughts?

John says:
Hello Doug

I can absolutely understand why you and others would want to do this. I will present it again to the beards and see if they are open to this idea and let you know what happens. Thanks for the very kind words and hope to see you soon.  Best wishes.

John

Jeff asks:
Hi John: I am very excited to say I will be sailing on Carnival Miracle October 17, 2015.  I will be celebrating my 50th birthday (Oct 6) so this is my Hawaii 5-0!  My reason for writing is to ask you for your opinion.  I would like to know what one thing you would recommend I do in Hawaii?  Also, since this is my first time on the Carnival Miracle, what one thing on the ship should I do or see?  Thanks in advance for any assistance.  I know you are extremely busy and appreciate your time!

John says:
Hello Jeff

I just completed a Hawaii cruise and what a brilliant way to celebrate your birthday. The ship is superb after her 2.0 upgrades and I know you will love the new shows and all the additions. As for Hawaii, it truly is brilliant, diverse and has great beaches, stunning scenery and a mesmerising culture. Any of the volcano tours are not to be missed as is the snorkeling which is some of the best anywhere. Have a look at the shore excursions list and I will be here to answer any specific questions. Why not book the steakhouse for your birthday dinner and please send me a note to my Facebook page the day before you sail with your cabin number. Sending you my best wishes

John

Michael asks:
We sailed on Carnival’s Liberty. We attended a comedy show featuring ——— who began his act by repeatedly making jokes about Italian-Americans. As a proud Italian-American man who served in the military during the Vietnam conflict, I did not find that amusing. At the conclusion of the show, we complained to Carnival about the show we attended. After a couple of days, we were contacted by the assistant cruise director. He listened to our comments and assured us that he would pass our concerns to the cruise director and upwards from there. To date, we have not had any further contact from Carnival and have been told to write to you.

John says:
Hello Michael

I am so very sorry that this upset you. I am not sure if the show you attended was a PG show or the adults only show. Obviously, comedy is subjective and there is always a chance that while 199 people will laugh, one will not. It is so hard for a comedian to find something that is not going to offend one person. I am glad you wrote to me so I can apologise and I do hope you enjoyed the rest of your cruise. Best wishes.

John

That’s all we have time for today. Thank you all for your comments and questions and I will keep answering you as quickly as I am able.

It has been and always will be a subject that divides opinion, a subject that never goes away and will always be discussed and debated on social media. No, not my underpants, smoking or the VIFP party, nope, I am talking about dress code. This past week alone, there were 4,000 plus comments about it on my Facebook page showing that it is still a relevant subject. So not to disappoint, I wanted to add a few more words, if I may, and I want to start with a question about restaurants on land.

When was the last time you asked, when reserving a table for dinner, if you needed to dress for dinner? My guess is that it was probably a few years ago. Certainly, it was for me and I remember that occasion very well. I also remember when I got engaged the first time, not to Heidi but to another person whose name I won’t mention here. It was at Claridges, a very posh London hotel when, on the hottest day of the year, I was told to put my jacket back on after draping it over the back of my chair.

But, these days, most restaurants have no shirt and tie rule, jeans are fine, although they won’t accept shorts. You can’t tell who’s who from what they wear anymore and that’s a good thing. So many people don’t like dress codes and so restaurants have thrown those rules out. Now people who wanted to try these wonderful places to eat and were turned off by dress codes are now going to these places and enjoying the food and service dressed for the most part as they want which, for the most part, is relaxed. The dress code then has been worn away to nothing except yet one of the last bastions of these rules is the cruise industry.

For us it’s a fact that some people enjoy dressing up. It’s a journey away from their usual day to day lives and that is understandable. And, of course, it would be ridiculous of me not to mention that many people enjoy dressing up to take family photos as a great reminder of their cruise. The question is then, how long will we have dress codes for, how long will the cruise industry keep what most land based establishments have thrown away?

There is one more rule, though, that I hope never comes to be enforced but the way the world is going it is a rule that surely cannot be too far away and it makes me nervous and afraid.

It is a rule for writers, comedians and indeed you or me to poke fun at people. I worry that the governments of the world will ban every single joke about anyone and you’d better have a good look over both shoulders before starting to say something. Write something funny about anyone. Because it will be illegal to say or do this in case it causes alarm or distress.

I often wonder after I have had fun at someone else’s expense on my Facebook page that the FBI will to kick my door in and arrest me. Anything slightly sexist, anything that makes fun of gender, religion or politics is unofficially forbidden. Can you imagine Benny Hill approaching a TV executive today and saying he wants to make a show where he chases a scantily clad nurse around accompanied by saxophone music?

But off stage, off our TV screens and behind the scenes, in the RedFrog Pub and around the ship’s dinner tables, comedy is still alive and well and offensive and brilliant. You may not be able to say much in public in case you are branded as someone who should be water boarded and locked away immediately, but over the years, I have met thousands of you, listened to what you have said and laughed out loud with you.

Smoking bans and other laws make our lives better and healthier but if laughter is the best medicine, please Mr. Obama, please Mr. Cameron and please future leaders of the world, don’t take our ability to laugh away.

After all, I doubt our Punchliner Comedy Club will be very full if our comedians have to resort to telling knock knock jokes.  Keep laughing everyone!

Goodnight.

Your friend,
John

 

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LET’S TALK ABOUT ME http://johnhealdsblog.com/2015/05/26/lets-talk-about-me/ http://johnhealdsblog.com/2015/05/26/lets-talk-about-me/#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 20:17:06 +0000 http://johnhealdsblog.com/?p=21860 Continue reading ]]> Yes, the blog is back.

After ignoring it for far too long, I have decided to put more time and effort into this and so I hereby pledge to you with my right hand on a photo of Megan Fox’s bottom, I shall sit here in my underpants and write as often as I can.

In my defence, the blog received the 20 million page views it has had because it documented my life as a cruise director and because I answered the questions posted there. So I hope that, as I do breathe new life into this page, you will continue to read and comment and although Facebook remains the main course, that a twice-weekly blog appetiser will be to your liking. OK, let’s crack on and talk about…………ummmm…………..me.

Since I last wrote, a lot has changed. I have lost more weight and really have tried to improve my lifespan and live longer by dropping the pounds. I remember waking up one morning last year, aged 49 years old and well aware that, unless I took some serious steps soon, I would be in serious trouble and not be around to tell Kye’s first boyfriend to bugger off or I would cut off his dangly bits with a Swiss Army knife.

It really was awful. I got out of breath pulling on my socks, my knees ached after scaling the four steps from the lounge up on to the stage on the Carnival Breeze, and my stomach was so enormous it looked like I had swallowed a one of those kids’ hopper things.

The cause of this was 29 years on ships. Yep, I blame Carnival and I should consider suing Carnival for allowing cruise directors to have room service. Yep, that was the problem. I would do shows, wander the decks and then shove a huge pile of BLTs with cheese down my enormous gob and then go to bed. There was no exercise, no rumpy pumpy to burn off calories and repeating this over the years, really put the pounds on me……..I was in serious trouble ……… I knew that for sure.

The solution was obvious but impossible for someone with the determination and drive of a vegetablist that has been invited to eat her tofu and kale wrap in a slaughter house. I had tried the gym in the past and it was hopeless. I had tried running on the Deck 11 jogging track but only just made it round one time before collapsing in front of the guests. I just have no sodding will power.

And my pain barrier is so low, only a maggot could get under it. If I were to be captured by some Cruise Critic board readers, I would give up the remaining dancing of the ships information and all of Carnival’s secrets even at the mere mention of the words “nipple clamps.” To me, the notion of doing exercise for the purpose of getting fit was completely bollocks. Running, when I had nowhere to go, and riding a bike to sodding nowhere seemed ridiculous. But I swallowed my pride, endured the looks of the spandex-wearing, muscle-bound guests on the ships who giggled and took photos and video of the fat grey haired man puffing and wheezing on his bike and kept calm and carried on.

Seventy pounds lighter I feel better and my diabetic levels are normal. I am not telling you all of this because I am trying in any way to say “you should do the same.” Oh no, I remember the hell of being chased and harassed by sandal-wearing Herbal Lifers all wanting to sell me their teas which through explosive diarrhea, would lose me 30 pounds. No, this is my diet story and I am sharing it with you because it has been part 1 in the change of my life and part 2 is coming up after today’s questions and answers. Here we go and we start with someone who is also concerned about my health.

Louise Chantell asks:
You are a smoker so you promote smoking on the Carnival ship which is fundamentally scandalous. I’m surprised that nobody has yet advised you to give up smoking. You may not want to, but you can guess that dying of lung cancer is not an attractive option. Stopping smoking is the one most useful thing you could possibly do. Get a life, John. Stop smoking those smelly disgusting cigars. The rest of us are not impressed.

John says:
Hello Louise Chantell

You are right. I should give up and maybe one day soon I will but not yet. I have given up bread, pasta, fries, chips, soda, anything with any carbs, chocolate or anything sweet and rumpy pumpy, too. So the only treat I have is my daily cigar. I can’t defend the fact that they are not good for me, I know that but the time is not right for me to stop. I thank you so much for thinking of me, that is very kind. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Best wishes.

John

Andrew asks:
Hello, I am cruising on the Carnival Valor December 26, 2015, on a New Year’s cruise from Port Canaveral. Who will be the cruise director? Thanks!

John says:
Hello Andrew

Your cruise director for this fabulous cruise has yet to be decided. A new version of the CD schedule has just been posted here on the blog and a newer one will be coming soon which will have your CD listed then, so please look out for that. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Best wishes.

John

Kelly Varner Clark asks:
John, I cruise often (Platinum) and I have noticed on my last four cruises I have swelling very bad! I drink water all day and if I have a cocktail, I drink water after. My last cruise I took fluid pills 40 mg.  Took them every day but still had swelling but not as bad. I NEVER had this before. I have seen online that a lot of people are having this problem as well. So what in the world are they putting in our food? I love cruising but when I go in September, I will eat salad only and see if this helps. This cannot be healthy for people with blood pressure problems. Please get down to the bottom of this. It is not just me, thousands of people have commented on this. Thank you.

Kelly

John says:
Hello Kelly Varner Clark

I am so sorry you have had this concern and I assure you we are not adding anything in our food that would cause this. I am sure if you visit your medical professional, he or she will be able to help you discover what is causing this obviously very uncomfortable condition. I have not seen any other comment about this but I will be here if there is anything I can do for you. Best wishes.

John

Abriana Perrin asks:
PLATINUM CRUISER writing.  Me and my family need a table for four because last time we were put with a family from Venezuela who spoke no English. This spoiled every meal time and made it so awkward for me and my wife. This time, bringing my brother and his wife so we must have a table for four people. Our cabins are E72 and E86. Booking numbers ****** ****** Carnival Ecstasy 6/26/15

John says:
Hello Abriana Perrin

Thank you for writing and I have written now to the maître ‘d on the Carnival Ecstasy who I am sure will do all he can for you. I wish you the very best of times and lots of fun. Best wishes.

John

Meshia asks:
How can I find out the new Internet package schedule? Right now, I’m mainly interested in the Carnival Valor, being my next trip is on that ship. Please and thank you.

John says:
Hello Meshia

The new $25 a week social media package is expected to be placed on the Carnival Valor in September. More news on this in the weeks ahead and I wish you a brilliant time. Best wishes.

John

Donna Huffman asks:
Has Carnival ever considered having a scale available to weigh luggage for flights?  I am always stressed out about going over luggage weight limit.  So far this year, we’ve been on Carnival Breeze, going on Carnival Legend next month and Carnival Splendor in September.

John says:
Hello Donna Huffman

We have scales in the gym which I have actually seen people drag their suitcases to so that they can be weighed. But that aside, and with the movement of the ship it is not something we can offer. However, from someone who flies as much as I do, I totally understand why you want this. Please let me know if I can help further. Best wishes and have a brilliant time on board.

Neil Goodman asks:
On our Carnival Magic cruise, my wife was diagnosed with _________ and had to be medically air evacuated by a United States Coast Guard rescue helicopter. The medical staff was amazing and so kind and, after nine days in the hospital in Houston, she was allowed to come home. I have one comment that has been resting uneasily with me. Why does Carnival not stop passengers from crowding on the decks to get photos of my wife who was seriously ill being hitched to a bed and pulled into a helicopter? The flashes were everywhere. At the time, I did not have a moment to stop and think but, now that I do, I am so angry that the passengers were allowed there to do this and angry at Carnival for not stopping them. This was my wife and I know that if it had been their families, these people would not have wanted the whole frigging thing recorded and photographed. What is your policy on this?

John says:
Hello Neil Goodman

Let me start by saying that I hope this reply finds your wife having made a full recovery and that she is doing well after what must have been a very challenging and emotional time. I also understand totally what you have said here because, if it were a member of my family in that situation, I would not have wanted it filmed and photographed by hundreds of people, as well. But while we do ask that guests not take any flash photos for the safety of the helicopter pilots, stopping the guests from being anywhere on the open decks and requiring that they do not take photos would be very difficult indeed. Obviously, we do not allow them close to the rescue center on Deck 10 aft but the guests often want to see the site of a helicopter hovering over the ship. I honestly do not know what the answer is here but I do know that I appreciate your kind words for the medical staff on the ship and I will send this to them. I hope we see you both soon under happier circumstances and I remain here at your service. Best wishes to you both.

John

Edward Ludford asks:
My wife and I are “lots rusty” in our ballroom dancing.  Do you offer lessons on your three- to four-day trips to Mexico from Long Beach?  Actually, if you do, we would spend four- to five hours a day in practice and “lessons.”  Thank you.

Ted Ludford

John says:
Hello Edward Ludford

I am afraid we don’t offer dance classes but, as the saying goes, I think, “Dance like nobody else is watching” and have a brilliant time. Best wishes.

John

Henry Cabrini asks:
Your cabin lights are too bright. Hurts the eyes, so put dimmer switches in there like Seven Seas Navigator has. They get hot and put the room temperature up too. Seven Seas Navigator also had better stocked mini-bars and beef wellington and caviar on the menu. Carnival could learn from them.

John says:
Hello Henry Cabrini

Interesting point about the cabin lights. I can’t say I have heard that one before but I must admit, I always turn them off when I leave, not only to save energy but, yes, to stop them from heating the room. I do hope you had a great time with us and that we will see you soon. Best wishes.

John

Sue Laursen asks:
Hi John: My husband and I enjoy the flexibility of Your Time Dining but also enjoy meeting and talking to other guests over dinner. My question is; why do we always have to be seated alone?  We do ask if there is a table we can join but have always been told there are none available.

I’m sure there must be other cruisers who would like some dinner company. Any suggestions?

John says:
Hello Sue Laursen

This is a good point and one I wrote about on Facebook last week. It does seem that most people who ask for YTD do ask for private tables, which is why when you ask that question it is difficult for the dining room hostess to seat you with others. Plus, I think our response to this has been to configure more tables for two. I do always recommend to guests that, if they wish to sit with others, then it is best to ask for early or late sitting. Please let me know if I can help with anything. Best wishes.

John

Laurie Willis asks:
Hi John: I know lots of people write to you with complaints, but I’m writing to say thank you to Carnival. You see, I just got home from a four-day cruise on Carnival Victory. We boarded on April 23, 2015, stopping at Key West and Cozumel. This trip was planned for a while and my husband and I were very excited about it. John, my beloved mother died on April 21, 2015. The day before my mother passed away, she told me not to cancel our cruise, that she wanted us to go and have a great time. I was devastated to lose my mother. I reluctantly went on my cruise. I was upset a few times in the first day and the customer service people in the ship eventually found out about our loss. The entire guest services team checked on us numerous times a day. They took such excellent care of my husband and me. Every crew member we came in contact with seemed to know about me and my situation. The empathy and compassion on that ship was absolutely incredible. I really didn’t want to go on the cruise but I am so glad I did. It meant so much to me that the staff of the Victory went well beyond what they usually do to make me have a good time.  Even while handling some very difficult things on the ship. So, John, I’d like you to pass on my gratitude and gratefulness to everyone for me.  It really did mean so much to me. Best wishes.

Laurie and Everett Willis

John says:
Hello Laurie

I am so very sorry to read of the passing of your wonderful Mother and I am sure the decision to take the cruise must have been so hard for you. I am very thankful to you for taking the time to write and to praise the crew, all of whom will see this, and they will be so proud. Thanks again and I hope there are many happier times ahead and hope also that we see you soon. Best wishes.

John

Annette Lautar asks:
Hi John, I am cruising Carnival Valor spring break 2016.  My daughter has Celiac and cannot eat wheat soy or milk. (Very severe allergy to wheat, soy milk, causing swelling of the throat, and intestines when digested.) What is the best way to communicate with the Carnival Valor team so my daughter is able to eat without worrying about food?  We appreciate your time.  Thank you

John says:
Hello Annette Lautar

Please do not worry; we are very used to looking after our guests with such concerns. May I suggest you contact our guest access services desk, give them a call and let them know and they will arrange everything? I will also be here and on my Facebook page should you need my help. All will be well and you will have a brilliant time.  Best wishes.

John

Athena Jones asks:
Heald – you have served your purpose: you should surrender your giant ego at the gangway; you are not the star you once thought you were.  You will not be missed on the Cruise Critic boards. Goodbye, Heald, don’t let the door hit you in the ass as you leave.

John says:
Hello Athena Jones

I don’t think anyone can honestly say that they are in the entertainment business and that they do not have an ego. I certainly do have one, although I think calling it “giant” is a wee bit of an overstatement. Ever since I started writing this blog and until today, I truly do not understand why I am so despised by some who read Cruise Critic and I wish that there was something I could do to change that. Until then I will simply say that I am not going anywhere and will continue to be part of this brilliant company. I hope we see you sailing with us soon. Best wishes.

John

That’s all for today, I will be back with another 10 on the next blog. I know at this point I should apologise to those who have posted here only to find bugger all answer from me. I did give my full time to Facebook and answered hundreds of questions a week there but I will try really hard to put more time into this blog and help you all I can. The quickest response still though comes through Facebook.

When I had been dropped off at the cabin, I had not been told anything– I was literally just dumped outside the door and told to wait here and, therefore, I had no idea about the communal hell that awaited me.

So let’s get back to talking about me, shall we? I have a feeling that at the end of this blog some of my readers will look like that scene in the movie Airplane when that lady talks too much …………. anyway, part 2 of my changes.

As you may have read, I have decided not to do any more long contracts on the ships as cruise director. This was a very tough decision to make — I mean really tough — and I did not do it without a lot of thought and conversation with Heidi and some of my colleagues.

And, in the end, I decided that for the sake of my family and for the sake of the department, I would stop putting my name on the cruise director schedule, it wasn’t fair on anyone. Did I want to do this? No, I really did not want to stop. Being a cruise director has been part of my life for 24 of my 29 years with Carnival Cruise Line and deciding to stop doing something that has been something that I was so lucky to be doing; well, it was a decision which I wrestled with for weeks.

So why did I decide to do this? Why did I decide to stop being a full-time cruise director? Well, for the seven of you who have not buggered off to watch paint dry or have gone over to the Cruise Critic boards to write about a door “hitting me in the ass,” let me explain.

Many of our ships now have the entertainment director position and he or she now being in charge of meetings, meetings, more meetings, the Fun Times, scheduling, meetings and department affairs (not the ones with the Italian officers, I mean general every day affairs) the cruise director is now free to host far more events. In fact, it is now his or her job to host these events and it is expected of them.

Having an entertainment director on the ships has been such a great improvement for you ……… yes, you, the guest and this is being proven by the comments I read on Facebook and by the internal ratings numbers we get from our TGEM report. TEGM stands for ummmm ……… ummmm …….well, buggered if I know……but it shows the ratings based on the review cards some of you complete and those ratings show that ship’s with the entertainment directors have high ratings, higher in most cases than the ship’s that do not.

The ratings are high because the cruise director is free of all the restraints that was changing the job from being a on stage, front of house, always there for the guests position to a job that because of e sodding mails and more red tape than a factory that makes red tape…….the cruise directors were spending more time with Mr. Dell then with the guests.

And so the new position of ED has allowed the CD to be hosting everything, morning, noon and night and I know that you all appreciate that so very much and for the very most part, the cruise directors prefer this as well, after all, they choose to be a CD because of their love of people. It certainly took a chunk of time for the CD to accept they were no longer the department head, something that I understand completely. Some of you may think that this had something to do with my decision but I can tell you honestly, it had absolutely nothing to do with it. Certainly for the last four or five years, I had chosen very strong assistant cruise directors who as anyone who worked with me will tell you, really ran the department anyway.

That’s because my social media and brand ambassador duties were such that it was difficult for me to be a CD and keep up with Facebook and this blog. The toughest time was bringing out the Carnival Breeze which had me on four or five hours sleep a night………not a good thing.

And so because I can’t dance the Wobble and because I am 50 years old and can’t be bouncing off the walls like a Mattjamiestumikeweemalcolmjasecorygeorge can, I knew it was time ……. time to pass the torch of fun to our brilliant crop of CDs.

I want to pause here because I see Carnival has put a link to my blog on the main page of carnival.com. That means some of you may have clicked on this having no bloody clue who I am.

So with that in mind, I will give you a quick look at my career so far.

SEPTEMBER 1987
I joined the Holiday as a bar waiter, aged 22 years old and not knowing the difference between a Pina Colada and a Slippery Nipple. That first day, I was shown where my cabin was and that was it. No training, no big welcome as we give all our crew now and, as I sat on the one chair in the room, I realised that there was no shower and no toilet. I didn’t think it could get any worse; I was alone and no clue what to do next. It was then that my cabin mate entered the room. He was a wine steward and he was from Portugal and we will call him Manuel Quencho because that was his name

He was the perfect cabin mate, if you were looking for someone who never took a shower, peed in the sink, yep — he peed in the sink — and smoked 20 cigarettes a day…..in the truly tiny cabin we both lived in. You would expect that upon meeting someone who is going to be sleeping a few feet below you, I would have received a warm welcome but he was a complete and utter bastard……and I spent the first week crying and wishing I could simply go home ……..and that if Manuel was going to pee in the sink that he would move my toothbrush out of the way first.

What saved me was that Manuel left a week later and I had a new cabin mate who was absolutely fantastic. His name was Bican, a wine steward from Istanbul and we became firm friends. Bican taught me to love Turkish tea, which he would boil in the cabin every day. After work, all the wine stewards would get together and cook ……yes……cook….in the cabins on little portable stoves.

I am not sure how I got through those first few weeks, which were a cross between being in the army, boarding school and prison. Nowadays, it is, of course, so much different. The crew are welcomed with open arms and given a full orientation before they start work. Many of the crew will have had to pass through what we call Carnival College specific to their job before they join their ship and there is a dedicated department on board who is there to assist with training and crew welfare. My training was Bar Manager Colin Campus handing me a tray and a menu and off I went to serve drinks I had never heard of before and when a male guest asked me for “sex on the beach” I ran back to my cabin locked the door and hid under the bed.

APRIL – SEPTEMBER 1988
I had completed my contract as a bar waiter and, surprisingly, I decided to come back for another eight-month contract. This time, to the Jubilee where amazingly I was given a job as wine steward. Now, if I knew bugger all about exotic cocktails, my understanding of wine was comparable only with Kim Kardashian’s understanding that her bottom does not look sexy covered in so much oil and that she is lucky that Exxon didn’t set up an oil rig between her cheeks. But a wine steward I was. Back then I did actually drink the odd glass but most of the wine I did drink, came with a screw top and had a picture of a Blue Nun on it or if I was really living the lifestyle of the rich and tanned, I would treat myself to something with a cork in it.

My life as a wine steward was short lived probably because I didn’t know anything…….and I mean anything…….about wine. The only thing that got me through it was a bit of banter and a few jokes, plus the fact that many, if not most, of the Carnival guests during the late 80s knew even less about wine than I did.

SEPTEMBER 1988 TO FEBRUARY 1989
It only took six months for the management on the Jubilee and the Carnival shoreside bar beard who was called Barbara, the bar beard, to realise I was a terrible wine steward and asking me to recommend wine was like asking Stevie Wonder to be a golf caddie. And so they promoted me to assistant bar manager.

FEBRUARY 1989
Ahhhh yes, 1989. WHAM was singing Wake Me Up Before You Go Go and I weighed the same as my right thigh now does. My hair was as black as coal and I was a sex object, meaning I asked every lady I met for sex and they would all object.

I had been promoted from wine steward to assistant bar manager and they gave me a white uniform. I won’t spend too much time on this because I wrote a blog about this last year but, basically, the bar manager, an evil bully called Oswaldo, physically assaulted a bar waiter called Aslim and when I tried to stop him, he put his hand in my face and pushed me away. I should have called security. I didn’t. Instead, I broke his nose and fractured his jaw.

I hate bullies.

I was fired.

I was hired two days later in a position newly created for me…………they called it “social host.”

And so later that morning, I packed my suitcase, moved cabins, and, to my utter joy, it had its own private bathroom, so my days of peeing in the sink were over and my days of entertaining the guests and using a microphone had begun.

I never saw Oswaldo again as he and Carnival came to an agreement that it was best that he go home to Spain and he never returned to Carnival. I hope he is today living in peace and happiness, growing olives and doing so with a nose as bent as a dog’s back leg.

I should have been fired but thanks to the Carnival beards of the day, I wasn’t and they gave me a chance. So children, remember Uncle John’s words of wisdom. If you want to succeed, find a manager and break his nose — it means a guaranteed promotion.

And here is what happened next.

1990
Social host, working for Carnival’s best-ever cruise director, Gary Hunter – delivered the Carnival Fantasy

1991
Promoted to cruise director – first ship, TSS Carnivale

1993
Delivered Carnival Sensation – the first of 13 new ships I have delivered as cruise director

2004
Promoted to senior cruise director

2005
Received my first hemorrhoid

2007
Started this blog that has over 19 million page views

JANUARY 2008
Hosted my first “Bloggers Cruise” on the Carnival Fantasy

2010
Promoted to Carnival Cruise Line’s brand ambassador

2010
Gene Sloan, the wonderful writer from USA Today describes me as “famously irreverent” and “known for his candid, funny and sometimes outrageously inappropriate daily missives about life at sea”

June 2012
Delivered my last ship as cruise director – Carnival Breeze

So, after all of that, I am probably down to just one person reading this – hello, Mum.  It has been a brilliant ride and I am not ready to get off yet. I will still be very much part of this great company, the best cruise line in the world, Carnival. I will be sailing every other month on ships and hosting shows and telling inappropriate jokes and not doing the wobble.

I will be on the Carnival Journeys voyages. I will be hosting Bloggers Cruises 8 and 9. I will next month, be in Italy filming your Carnival Vista and will be on her inaugural cruises and the trans-Atlantic. And I will be here on the blog, twice a week, and every day on Facebook, helping, listening, making more “outrageously inappropriate” posts and, despite what Athena Jones was hoping would happen …………..“letting the door hit my ass on the way out.”

I want to thank Carnival. The beards have been so flexible and allowing me to do all of this shows that they still have belief in me which is, after all these years, so very humbling. I also want to thank my family for the times they stood at the window, waving goodbye to me and for allowing me to follow my dreams. I wish Dad was here so I could thank him one more time, he was and always will be my role model.

I have more laughter to share in me and I look forward to many more years of sharing that laughter with you both on the ships and here on the interweb. I love my job, I really do and I consider myself to be one lucky, lucky man.

Right, that’s enough about me, let’s talk about something else………the movement of ships between…………oh, bugger, I am out of time. Sorry, you will have to wait a few more days for that.

I have 30 seconds left, so I will say thanks for reading this blog and I promise the next one will not be “all about me.”

It will, instead, be about a sponsorship deal we have signed for our entertainment directors. Their uniform polo shirts will read “ED – sponsored by Viagra.”

Goodnight.

Your friend,
John

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