John Heald's Blog http://johnhealdsblog.com Tue, 29 Jul 2014 18:40:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 A daughter won’t be sailing :( but a son has returned http://johnhealdsblog.com/2014/07/29/a-daughter-wont-be-sailing-but-a-son-has-returned/ http://johnhealdsblog.com/2014/07/29/a-daughter-wont-be-sailing-but-a-son-has-returned/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 18:40:56 +0000 http://johnhealdsblog.com/?p=21749 Continue reading ]]> This is the longest contract I completed as cruise director without a break for some years, not to mention, it is the longest time I have been away from my family, ever, so I must admit I am finding it hard. I was really hoping that Heidi and Kye would come to Alaska but that is now not going to happen. That’s because of our two Mums. I can’t say any more than that at the moment except to say that Heidi is needed in England and Holland and needed by the two ladies who brought us into this world and, right now, need her. I am, of course, racked with guilt and miss them all so very much. Maybe I will write more about this in the days ahead but today is not the time. Kye was looking forward to seeing where “Elsa and Anna” live and for those who have been living in a cave or an Amish community, they are the characters from the movie Frozen. If you haven’t seen it, don’t. Get help, gouge your own eyes out with a toothpick, do whatever you have to avoid seeing it. Heidi just wanted a break, somewhere to relax and enjoy the service and fun that you all enjoy plus, of course, for us to be a family again. Pausing here because it appears something has flown into my eyes making them water. OK, I am back.

Now, Heidi loves the sun and, for her, as much as she would have loved Alaska, she would have preferred beaches and sun and a Guy’s burger or 10. She is the exact opposite of me. Whereas I love the fresh air that Alaska brings, my wife loves golden beaches and blue water, that’s her idea of paradise. My idea of that is a hotel room full of Latvian women but that’s another story.

The worst holiday I ever had was the best holiday Heidi ever had. It cost a sodding fortune and although it was in my favourite island in the Caribbean, Jamaica, it was bloody awful. We were with two other couples, great friends but they all had beach bodies, while I looked like a manatee. Don’t get me wrong, the place was amazing in the sense of the staff, the service and location overlooking the sea in Montego Bay. They have one of those huge infinity pools and well….that’s it. No TV, no entertainment …….and each night after Heidi and I would come back to our villa, I would have to remove the two tons of rose petals that would be sprinkled over the bed. And despite the fact that I thought I had always gotten every one of them off the bed, I would always wake up with one secreted between my buttocks. Heidi loved it though….of course she did. Just the words “no TV” had her drooling, although her opinion changed somewhat when an insect with the head and upper torso of a mosquito and the rear end of a yak landed on her arm.

This experience was supposed to show us a taste of what life is like in paradise. That is as ridiculous as thinking you can get a taste of beef by licking a cow. On a real tropical island, like Tom Hanks did in that movie (forget the sodding name now), you have to smash your own teeth out with ice skates and talk to a basketball. I guess though that many bloggers reading this will, despite my misgivings, think that this does indeed sound like paradise……….I guess though we dream the tropical dream. But a few others and I were built to live indoors, with a huge flat screen TV and not wake up every morning with a rose petal shoved up your arse.

Anyway, I digress. The girls are not coming….and I am…….well ……..sad……….very sad and quite lonely, actually.

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

Jana asks:
Alaska was everything you said it would be, John. Thank you for your hospitality and friendship and for providing us and so many with the gift of laughter. You are as funny live as you are here on the blog, funnier even. The ship has other stars on it and they include our cabin steward Jose and waiter, Deepak, and his crew. We are big coffee snobs and loved the girls at the coffee shop especially Anita from Romania who made the best mochas ever!! Everywhere we went we saw smiling happy crew except security people in the ports. I tried to get a smile out of one of them but it was impossible – are they not allowed to smile? ha ha ha. Thank you and the Carnival Miracle team for a wonderful cruise – we will be back on the Carnival Magic for Thanksgiving.

John says:
Hello Jana

Thank you for the very kind words and I am thrilled that, like so many you, fell in love with Alaska. I will make sure those you mentioned received the words of praise and they also will be so proud. Have another wonderful cruise on the Carnival Magic and let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Best wishes.

John

Donald Bollin asks:
You often shout out how good you are and your KAN fans pat you on the back, yet when it comes to fixing real problems, you bury your fat head in the sand. This was posted on Cruise Critic and the OP said that you have not responded to her attempts to contact you. READ THIS!!

I have been a very loyal customer and have overlooked the decline in food/service over the years because I felt I was still getting good value for my money. I overlooked Carnival ruining my luggage on my December Carnival Dream cruise and being told they would only consider paying for a repair (even though the repair man told me there was no way to repair it), I overlooked when my ocean view cabin on the Carnival Sensation had the window boarded up for the duration of the cruise with no offer of compensation of the difference between an ocean view rate and inside rate, I’ve overlooked cabins with constant construction noise and my request to be moved denied, I’ve overlooked the free cruises going to many others but never having anything like that offered to me, I’ve overlooked my Platinum status being downgraded, but they have finally pushed me over the edge. I booked in June on a special rate which gave $200 OBC for my 7/26/14 cruise on the Carnival Freedom. Today I called to find out why the credit isn’t showing on my cruise documents. They insist that is not the rate I booked, even though I know for a fact that is the rate I chose. They have website problems (admitted by the tech I talked to), but they won’t fix my problem. A $200 on-board credit is not a huge thing, but combined with all the other aggravation I’ve dealt with over the last two years, I have had it. I have always been positive on all my cruises and have never let little things ruin my cruise. Carnival supervisors are totally unwilling to admit their website has problems and will not give me any type of compensation for their problem. This may sound petty to a lot of you, but I’m just not willing to keep allowing Carnival to get away with their poor customer service any longer. So, you won’t see me posting here anymore, and you won’t see me booking anymore Carnival cruises. The aggravation has now outweighed the enjoyment of the cruise. Goodbye to Carnival. Let the flaming begin. So put down that sandwich and do your job so we can see if your actions are as big as your stomach, LOL!!

John says:
Hello Donald Bollin

I read this and indeed I can sense how frustrated this person is. I have no idea who or what an OP is so please can you ask him/her to contact me immediately on cclsupport@carnival.com  for my attention so that I can help all I can. Please ask them to include the booking number etc. Thanks for letting me know and I send my immediate apologies to the person who wrote this for the problems they have had and I will do all I can to insure we see them sail with us again. Best wishes.

John

Ricky Alexie asks:
Hi John, was wondering if this rule still exists? I remember this from a previous cruise. If I booked a cabin as a Platinum Guest this verified VIP boarding, but if someone was in a different cabin and different booking number as long as you used the same onboard account both cabins could check in through VIP. We sail in about two weeks, any information will be welcomed. Thanks Ricky

John says:
Hello Ricky Alexie

I hope that you have not already cruised and that you see this reply before you do. The rules have changed now and we no longer allow this, I am afraid. But your friends/family will be right behind you and ready to meet you on board and for the fun to start. Have a brilliant time. Best wishes.

John

Scott Vinson asks:
Carnival will lose my business if they don’t allow me to be vaping on my balcony or in my cabin or in a non-smoking area on the boat. I have been vaping for over a year. My doctor has now put on my notes “ex-smoker.” I am from New Jersey and have been doing this everywhere, just this morning with my wife in the Westfield Garden State Plaza and nobody stopped me and none of the thousands who walked past me complained. Carnival must get the fact that vaping save lives and change the rules.

John says:
Hello Scott Vinson

Thank you for writing and over the last few weeks since we changed our smoking rules, I have been learning lots more about this “vaping.” It seems to me that we may need to take another look at vaping at some point down the road but I must admit that this technology is very new so I’m sure there is going to be another side of this argument but, as I said, it is worthy of discussion and that’s what I assure you will happen. Best wishes.

John

Wanda Epps asks:
When is the smoking stopped on the Carnival Dream I have booked a cruise on the Carnival Dream in October. There are five of us going and we have balcony rooms since we all smoke. I feel that this is a big mistake for the cruise line. I have cruised seven times trying to get to platinum but I will have to think twice about booking anymore. This is the same thought of a lot of guests. I see that this is going to really hurt the cruise line

John says:
Hello Wanda Epps

The smoking ban on the balconies starts on October 9 and I understand that you are disappointed by this. We are looking at ways to make our smoking areas more comfortable.  I thank you for your loyalty and please let me know if you need anything before you sail. Have a brilliant time. Best wishes.

John

Kenny Lozano asks:
I have questions for our first Carnival cruise because we did NCL twice from New York and was told this was the place to come!!!!  My cruise is on Carnival Splendor 8/20 with my wife and two kids. My son is 22 and my daughter 17. We are all a big family and need a table not a booth with armless chairs for us all. Is there a weight limit on the horseback riding in Half Moon Cay? If so what is it? My travel agent ________-from ______ emailed Carnival but they did not know so was told to ask you. My daughter and wife want to go so will need to know if they can, both are over 250 pounds.  It is our 30th wedding anniversary on the 17th and the boat is in Nassau so can you send us something nice. My travel agent said to ask you that too and she said she is a big fan of yours and knows you.

Kenny Lozano

John says:
Hello Kenny Lozano

Thanks for writing and I am sure that this first experience of the fun we have at Carnival will not be your last. There is, I am afraid, a weight limit of 250 pounds for the horseback riding tour in Half Moon Cay but there will be so much more for you to do on this island paradise. Have a chat with the shore excursion team on board or indeed your cruise director and they will help you decide what to do. I have asked the maître d to assign you a table as you requested so that will not be a problem. Please can I ask that the day before your cruise you send me your cabin number to my facebook.com/johnheald page and that way I will remember to send you a little something for your anniversary? I wish you all the best of times. Best wishes.

John

Mark Bailey asks:
We returned from two back-to-back eastern and western Caribbean cruises on the Carnival Sunshine a couple of weeks ago. The energy of Jamie Dee is something else! We are Platinum and I just received a post cruise survey about the new VIFP. It asked some questions that made me think, what extra privileges would I want to see? This is what I said: I am not sure I would load up too much on the privileges. I love the treatment on embarkation and disembarkation, I love the party and I love the laundry. It is fun to feel a bit special for a couple of weeks. Everyone is extra nice to you but Carnival staff is routinely nice to everyone anyway. On the other hand, you do get the occasional dirty look when you skip the lines getting on or off the ship. I think having privileges is great but I wouldn’t overdo it. Carnival needs new cruisers to come back again, you don’t want them to feel resentful at feeling they are second class. Like all things it is a balance, you want your loyal cruisers to be appreciated but you don’t want to alienate new cruisers. We enjoyed our red and blue cruises just as much. I don’t need more privileges to make me come back to Carnival, we would anyway, it’s what we like to do. That’s how we got to Platinum, not why we did it. Just a comment, you do a great job and thanks for listening.

John says:
Hello Mark Bailey

What a refreshing post to read and one I thank you so very much for writing. I have always hoped that people continue to cruise for the experience. Certainly, loyalty deserves recognition through various perks and we will continue to try and enhance them. But I can see that you cruise because, well, you love cruising and that is simply brilliant. There will be news on our loyalty program soon and, until then, I thank you so much for writing and hope to see you soon

Best wishes.

John

Debbie Beyers asks:
Mr. Heald – we will be sailing on the Carnival Sunshine on April 18, 2015 – we finally convinced my brother and his family to sail with us. Unfortunately, one of his sons will be missing as he is in Afghanistan (US Air Force). We will be celebrating two birthdays…..BUT because I am such a planner and I like having as much info as possible – I have three questions….First, do you know who will be our cruise director; second, what is the “American Menu” and third, what are the rules of the contest (not sure it’s really a contest) I’ve seen on Facebook — the pictures of the “first guest receiving their free cocktail at the Red Frog?” Looking forward to hearing back from you. Thank you in advance for your time.

John says:
Hello Debbie Beyers

You must be looking forward so much to your cruise and I am sorry to see one of your family will not be with you and, please, if you get chance, thank him for his service. OK, the American Table is a new menu we’re testing with lots of exciting choices including the new Ports Of Call items celebrating the culinary dishes of the place where the ship is docked. The contest on Facebook for the first guests in the pub is simple. The first guests to walk in on embarkation day and order a drink, get that drink or drinks for free. Providing they are not on a back to back cruise everyone, has a half decent chance of winning and I hope you do indeed win. I cannot say yet who the CD will be as we are still working on the schedule for next year. I am here if you need me and on Facebook, so let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Have a brilliant time. Best wishes.

John

Gail Keilty asks:
Hi John:  we have been fortunate enough to sail with you. I am turning to you because I have had a myriad of problems with Carnival and less than cooperative customer service reps. However, we keep booking because we take our grandchildren who love the kids club. We booked the 8/9 cruise on the Carnival Liberty out of Port Canaveral. We selected early dining. I called back the next day to request a table for five only since last Thanksgiving cruise we were seated with a family who would not speak to us and who were rude because apparently they requested to sit alone, too. The rep told me they could not take any requests only aboard the ship that was what we did when seated with the rude family and were told no room. Sorry. So, the rep suggested I contact you, the cruise director guru. I was surprised that she would refer me to your blog, isn’t that her job to resolve these issues? In any event, I could take all the help I can get since no one from Carnival never listens to me. I have heard of my friends getting perks, upgrades, etc. we never get any offers even though we have had problem after problem. Not relevant, so sorry to bother you with thus nonsense, but how does one get a table for five in early seating? Thank you so much and hope all is well with you.

John says:
Hello Gail Keilty

I can see how frustrated you are and I am glad, therefore, that you have written to me. The customer service people in Miami cannot take dining requests as in table sizes, etc. This is arranged only by the maître d on board. However, the simple fact is that is you would like a table for five that I will be able to help you. Please can I ask that you to send me the cabin numbers five days before the cruise to my facebook.com/johnheald page and I will do all I can for you. Have a great time together and I am here if you need me.  Best wishes.

John

Leslie Norvell asks:
I will be cruising with 40 other Cruise Critic members on the Carnival Breeze August 16 to St Maarten, St Kitts, San Juan and Grand Turk. On the 17th we have paid for a party with open drinks at the piano bar. I have read that Carnival does not provide wrist bands like NCL does so I would like to request a security staff person to stand at the door and check the printed invitation that each person who has been invited to attend will have. Right now the drinks have been paid for on my credit card so I need to make sure non-invited Cruise Critic members or any other passengers don’t come in and get drinks. Can you arrange a security staff to make sure this does not happen? My cabin number is **** and the booking for this cruise is ****** I also need to ask for door prizes as well for our raffle prize drawings. We are all excited about this cruise and need to make sure their party goes well. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

John says:
Hello Leslie Norvell

It is going to be a great cruise for you all and those ports are some of my favourites. I will be happy to send you four raffle prizes to the party and a staff member will deliver them there for you. I won’t though be able to have a security person there, they are very busy and I would hope that maybe you or another person attending could stand at the door and check the invitations. I hope that will be OK and I wish you all the best of times together. Best wishes.

John

Michael Kelly asks:
Hi John:  I almost hate to say this but I am a Diamond VIFP with Carnival. I have read your blog and when I read that people want special treatment in cruising because they think they are so special and deserve it, I kind of understand it but when it comes out in print, they really do sound like the uptight people of class distinction we saw when I watched the Titanic. I have seen this when cruising before. I am retired and worked hard as a butcher/meatcutter in a store for years. It paid my bills and gave me a pretty good life. I remember when cruising years ago, I ran into some guys what seemed like nice people at our table and they were all professional business men bragging about their lives. I was never ashamed of my work and I listened to their boring conversations of money and uppity ways. When they asked me what I did for a living, I told them I was a butcher for 35 years. The looks on their faces were priceless. One even commented that, I think I knew a butcher one time. I returned with, I think I met a banker one time too but he didn’t impress me at that time either. Class is something people think they have but if you have to talk about it, you really don’t have any class at all. Carnival is a cruise line for the regular person who wants to enjoy life without having to put on a top hat and cane to impress the next guy. I am sorry I haven’t been cruising with Carnival for about three years now. My wife passed away and I won’t travel alone, so I started taking my wheelchair bound handicap daughter along with me. Living in Northern California, it is difficult to fly with her to get to one of Carnival’s piers in L.A, so we have been traveling out of San Francisco on Princess Cruises which is also owned by Carnival. Princess is nice but the class distinction is even worse on Princess. They have people that almost live on ships and have done over 100 cruises which makes my 28 seem like nothing. I am running out of destinations to go leaving and returning out of San Francisco with Princess and I really do miss cruising with Carnival. Do you think Carnival will ever start cruising out of SF? A quick note to the smokers. Carnival was one of the last cruise lines to allow smoking on balconies staterooms. I, too, am a cigar smoker and life is always changing, so either stay home and enjoy smoking or change with the times and smoke in the areas allowed. The world isn’t going to put up with second hand smoke anymore and we all have to live with that or die with it your way. Thanks John.

John says:
Hello Michael Kelly

Please never be afraid to say that you are a Diamond guest with us. I read your post carefully and it shows that you have worked hard and saved hard and you have spent your money and your vacation time with us and, for that, we are forever grateful. I am so sorry to hear of the passing of your wife.  I am sure you must miss her terribly and I send you my sincere condolences. I hope that one day we shall see you back with us at Carnival but, of course, I understand the challenges you face traveling with your daughter and if there is anything at all I can ever do for you please ask me. Until then I thank you for this wonderfully written post and hope to shake your hand one day soon. Best wishes.

John

Morris asks:
I am a practicing member of the Jewish religion and cruising with you on the Carnival Miracle to Alaska 8/19 with my family. We have ordered kosher food and have read reports that the quality is awful. Do you have kosher kitchens? My other concern is that the current attacks by Palestine terrorists and as family we need to pray each day for Israel and our family there. Is there a room you can offer me to do this and invite other Jewish passengers? This is our first try at a Carnival cruise.

John says:
Hello Morris

It will be my pleasure to welcome you for your first Carnival cruise with us and I hope it will be a brilliant time for you and the family. We do not have a kosher kitchen, I am afraid, and bring our prepackaged and cooked food onboard through a vendor, I am sure you will be pleased at what we offer. I would be happy to help you with organizing a place for you and other members of the Jewish faith to meet and one of the staff members here will be in touch with you when you get on board. Please let me know if there is anything else we can do to help and I wish you the best of times. Best wishes to you all.

John

And that’s all we have time for today. Thanks everyone for your continued support of the blog.

Here is the list of the Dive In Movies we will show on the 12 ships that have the big screens on Lido.

XMEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST (PG‐13)

GRAVITY (PG‐13)

FROZEN (G)

FROZEN: THE FINAL CHAPTER/UNCUT (R)

Plot: Now 25 years old, Elsa has rumpy pumpy on top of a glacier with Olaf. She is screaming “let it go, let it go” but her passion is so intense that her powers are unleashed and she freezes his snowman’s carrot and it falls off

RIO 2 (G)

THE VOW (PG‐13)

THE OTHER WOMAN (PG‐13)

GROWN UPS 2 (PG‐13)

RIDE ALONG (PG‐13)

THE HOBBIT: DESOLATION OF SMAUG (PG‐13)

DIVERGENT (PG‐13)

DIANA (PG 13)

NOAH (PG‐13)

THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN 2 (PG‐13)

CAPTAIN AMERICA: – THE WINTER SOLDIER (PG‐13)

Enjoy these wonderful movies with your complimentary popcorn. Being here on the Carnival Miracle I do miss the big screen and I am going to talk to the beards about adding a big screen to the stage area on this class of ship. I really think we could use one……let’s see what they say. Anyway, the lady beards in Miami are really investing a lot of time and money to make sure we have more great movies and content on the big screen and wait, just wait for Carnival Vista.

Let’ see who is sailing with us today as we start another Alaskan cruise:

Total Guests                                        2,587
USA                                                    2,333
Canada                                                            63
French Canada                                    7
UK                                                      20
Australia                                              16
India                                                    23
China                                                   38
Guests under 18                                  502
Diamond Guests                                 3
Platinum Guests                                  119

Most Popular Last Names
Yang – 18
Smith – 15
Johnson – 11

Top Three Most Represented States
California
Texas
Florida

Guests whose last name begins with the letter “X”                4

It has been a busy few days on board and on Carnival’s social media where Mischelle who runs our Carnival Facebook page and I have found ourselves having to keep an eye on some interesting conversations from writers who simply make things up in order to get a huge wooden spoon out and stir the pot.

Take the two examples from last week. First, I had to write an apology and a retraction to the message of sympathy I had written about crew members being on the plane that was so tragically shot down in Ukraine. I had read what looked like two credible reports which turned out to be …… well……….not credible. I felt terrible, I felt like an idiot.

Next up were comments saying how angry people were that we had decided to cancel the turndown service, which we hadn’t, and will not be doing…..how, where, why, who?  Then a few days later someone posted on Facebook that their friend was on the Carnival Legend and he/she had reported that the lights had all gone out, the engines had stopped and the ship was in trouble. Again…………not credible. Not even a shred of truth. Why would someone say that the lights were going on and off ………..maybe that person was …..? Oh I don’t know……… blinking?

The problem is that when someone writes bollocks like these two examples above, it causes a tsunami of comments and conjecture and it causes the conspiracy theorists to dive right into the conversation. Wonder if he is part of a conspiracy theory club. There must be conspiracy theory clubs around the world. I bet they have a secret handshake to get through the door.

I bet they sit at their meetings telling each other that Princess Diana was killed by the Association of World Florists so that they would make millions as the world mourned and bought flowers. Another plaid shirt-wearing theorist would have told him to bugger off saying that she was killed by MI6 on the orders of the Queen who sent James Bond to have her whacked.

Some people’s desperation for conspiracy theories seems to be as great as ever and people like these continue to say that JFK was the victim of a CIA assassination plot. The moon landing was faked. September 11 was staged by the government. And although not obviously on the same level there are the conspiracy theories that believe Carnival will next week be holding daily Scientologist meetings and that for elegant night everyone will be required to wear a green graduation cap and gown. Anyway, Wonder Woman Mischelle and I are on the lookout for these ridiculous and inflammatory conspiracy theories and those who post blatant bollocks in order to stir up people on Carnival’s social media pages. Honestly, people who write these kinds of posts fill me with an uncontrollable need to use my cigar cutter on their nipples.

And, finally, the prodigal son has returned. Yes, joining me today is my new Assistant Cruise Director, Calvyn Sean Champagne Hyphen Martens. Yes Laurel and Hardy are reunited again and suddenly the Carnival Miracle is a lot ummmm………ummmmm……..well, let’s just say it’s more happy and light on its propellers. Calvyn is so many things. He is brilliantly funny, he is hysterical to be with, he dresses like a vagrant and his hair looks like it was washed in the left over grease from Guy’s Burger Joint. His improv skills are sensational; he is caring, loving and as manly as a pair of Richard Simmons shorts.

He is inspiring and he loves and he has breath straight from Satan’s arm pit. He is a great friend. Yep, Calvyn is all these things and by covering as CD on the Carnival Pride these past few weeks he has proven he is ready to be a full-time cruise director and, over the next few months, he will be just that. I am only with him here for two weeks before he goes to cover as CD on the Magic for three weeks and then he will be back here on Carnival Miracle. Calvyn Shawn Champagne Hyphen Martens is quite simply unique and it’s great to have him back. Wish you were here.

Goodnight.
Your friend,
John

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Smoking, the final word………promise this time http://johnhealdsblog.com/2014/07/25/smoking-the-final-wordpromise-this-time-2/ http://johnhealdsblog.com/2014/07/25/smoking-the-final-wordpromise-this-time-2/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 18:03:30 +0000 http://johnhealdsblog.com/?p=21747 Continue reading ]]> The title of a blog I wrote last week was “Smoking…..the last word.” Obviously, that title meant nothing because here I am, sitting in my underpants, talking to you about it again. I realise that along with politics, religion, reasons to dislike the French, and if I would look good covered in whipped cream and chocolate, that smoking is a subject that stirs the soul and divides opinions. But I have an inbox with over 200 comments alone on the subject of smoking. I will as you will see in today’s Q and A, be accused of “covering up the issue” and “sweeping it under the carpet” which, of course, is not true because, embarrassingly, I have not swept anything anywhere well….. ever. I also realise that I am in a no-win situation if I continue to discuss this here or on my Facebook page but after the new rules were announced and then another line (the one with graffiti over their bows) announced the same, I am afraid I have bugger all choice. But before I do, let’s go back in time.

A decade ago, smoking in offices was still common. You could light up on a bus or a plane and enjoy a cigarette in our dining rooms on board. In fact, you could smoke pretty much anywhere you wanted. These smokers’ pleasures have all but disappeared and smoking is banned just about anywhere in public. Next, I think anyone caught smoking will be waterboarded and locked in a small room and forced to listen to non-stop Celine Dion songs. Now, regular readers of the blog will know that I despair how far things have gone in certain aspects of society, which wants to ban smoking and force everyone to wear a high-visibility jacket 24 hours a day………just to be safe. Now, I smoke cigars and yet I understand that people ……many people…….hate the smell of them and cigarettes and they hate even more sitting on their balconies and having a cloud of my Monte Cristo smoke waft over them. I understand why people hate that — it’s the same way I would hate to sit on my balcony next to a group of guests who haven’t taken a shower all cruise………..which is why I never go to Paris. But seriously, you can’t smoke anywhere these days. There is a blanket ban and, in the years ahead, who knows how far smoking bans will go. We still allow smoking on board, including the casino. Yes, the casino is mostly nonsmoking, yet, rather than tell smokers to bugger off completely as in Las Vegas, we have a smokers section which covers all the major gaming and slots. However, the remainder of the casino is smoke free allowing, once again, for choice.

But that’s not enough and let me explain why. You see, it’s the non-gambling smokers who are using the casino as their personal smoking room and chasing out the non-smoking gamblers. This is hopefully a good compromise for the casino’s customers. Gaming smokers will have their tables and slots and hopefully nonsmokers will have a bearable environment. What we need to do is make sure that non-gambling smokers have a better place to smoke…….does that make sense? So, how do we do that? As I mentioned previously, I think we really must look for ways to make smokers’ areas inviting for smokers. Let’s face it, with the exception of the superb Lanai area on the Dream-class, which is perfect for smokers, the other smoking areas are adequate at best. We are looking into upgrading our smoking areas, so please be wee bit patient and I will share the results as soon as I am able.

Oh, yes……..last night, I had a cigar on my balcony and enjoyed the Alaskan night air and reflected on how much I will miss it.  I like the way cigars blurs the edges. I may eat my words when I’m pushing my lungs around in a wheelbarrow, but temporary relief from anxiety and the stress of my job can surely sometimes be healthy ………can’t it? Thanks for all your opinions on this subject. It has made for some fascinating reading and let’s see if there are any more as we head into today’s Q and A.

David Bailey asks:
John: Is Carnival no longer cruising to Europe? Any chance for a future cruise? I so, want my 5th Carnival Cruise to be to Europe. If not, which cruise line would you recommend?

David

John says:
Hello David Bailey

I miss Europe very much and, at the moment, because of high air fares to Europe from North America, we do not have any ships there in 2015. We are all hoping that we return some day as our guests and crew really love sailing European waters.  Meanwhile, I have cruised on Princess Cruises in Europe and they have great ships and wonderful itineraries. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Best wishes.

John

Lee Nason asks:
I have an important question. Do you use the same humor that you write on this blog as a cruise director in shows? It is uncensored and quite cutting and, as a Christian, I find a lot of what you say to be extremely offensive. My concern comes from the fact that we are on your boat, the Carnival Miracle, for our cruise to Hawaii, so if you answer in the affirmative, then my wife and I shall give serious consideration to not attending your performances. I am sure that other practicing Christians have similar concerns about you, so I think this is a question the masses need answering.

John says:
Hello Lee Nason

Thank you so much for writing; I am really glad you did. The good news is that I will not be the CD for that voyage, it will be Troy Linton who is a marvelous cruise director but definitely not as, ummm, “cheeky” as I am. I think it is important though that I mention that I do try to adapt to each situation I find myself in on stage and, at times, and depending on that situation, this blog is an extension of my onstage personality. But at all times, I am aware that we have a family audience so my experience tells me, most of the time, when I should or should not say what comes into my head. I do apologise for anything that I have said that may have offended you and, most importantly, I wish you a brilliant cruise to Hawaii.

Devin Westhause asks:
Hi John: Not a question, but just a quick word to comment on yet another wonderful Carnival experience. I type from my deck 9 balcony on the Carnival Breeze, surfing for another cruise this December. My wife and I have spent the last few days talking to the many repeat cruisers we’ve encountered this trip, and a common theme has emerged. Carnival is an amazing value for the dollar, and there are some things that just make the trips great.  First, the service.  Everyone claims to care about service, and many do it well, but Carnival excels in this area. Each and every employee we encounter is friendly and seems to care tremendously about us as guests and about their company. The pride that they take in their work is very nice to see. Second, is the food.  I don’t walk past many opportunities to eat, and, on this trip, I’ve been blown away by the included opportunities and several of the a la carte options.  Please pass on kudos to the entire dining department just how good their food is. Like many people, we have lots of options on where to go and what to do with our precious vacation time.  We keep coming back to Carnival because it’s a great value and a guaranteed great experience. Thanks for all the work the entire company puts into delivering such a good product.

John says:
Hello Devin Westhause

Well, I have to say that this was an absolute joy to read and I thank you sincerely for taking the time to write from your beautiful balcony on the Carnival Breeze. We do strive to give the most affordable cruise possible and, once on board, to complement that with the best of service and the most fun. It seems that we are managing to do both. I have sent this to the senior beards and I know they will be as thrilled as I am. I do hope we see you again very soon and if there is anything I can do for you, please do let me know. Best wishes.

John

Kim Dean asks:
John: I just wanted to tell you that I love reading your blog and your comments on Facebook. My best friend and I are booking a cruise October 4 on the Carnival Fantasy (our second time on this ship). This cruise will be a bit bittersweet as we have always cruised in the past with our spouses. We will be cruising without them this time as I am now divorced and she is a widow. We both love Carnival and can’t wait to cruise! Thank you and Carnival for all the wonderful memories of the past and the ones to come!

John says:
Hello Kim Dean

I am so sorry to read of the passing of your best friend’s husband and of your troubles as well. I do hope that your cruise will rejuvenate you both and that you will have some wonderful times together. Please send me your cabin number the day before you sail to my facebook.com/johnheald page so I can see what I can do to make you smile. Best wishes to you both.

John

Mark Montgomery asks:
I see the non-smoking Nazis have won. You caved in big time, Heald? There are hundreds of your customers on our Carnival smokers Facebook page all saying that we will boycott Carnival and go to other cruise lines and all-inclusive resorts. You will see just how powerful a lobby we can be. You should be ashamed. Carnival and you should be ashamed, Heald, because you say you smoke. You only publish the letters from the anti-smoking Nazis but won’t have the guts to publish this I bet!!!

John says:
Hello mark Montgomery

I, too, am disappointed and, obviously, I am caught between a rock and a hard place here. I will miss being able to smoke a cigar on my balcony but I also totally understand that the well-being of other guests, the majority of whom do not smoke, is important. My job now is to get the smoking areas we do have, improved and made more comfortable and, hopefully, this will get you back home with Carnival. I certainly hope so. Best wishes.

John

Austin Hawkins asks:
HEY! What about the people who still smoke, what are we supposed to do? You guys realize, don’t you, that there will be hundreds of smokers in the casino now? Those of us that had our morning cigarette and coffee will now be all at the casino and then watch the complaints roll in Jabba.  ROTHLMFAO

John says:
Hello Austin Hawkins

I understand how passionate you are about this and, while respectfully saying “hundreds of smokers” is a large exaggeration, there is no doubt that we will be looking at increasing the ventilation in our indoor smoking areas. This, along with our commitment to making the outdoor smoking areas we already have more comfortable, should elevate any of the concerns you raised. After all, the reason you enjoyed smoking on the balcony was, I think, because of the sea air and sunshine, both of which you will enjoy while smoking in our outdoor areas. Best wishes.

John

Andy Parrish asks:
Hi John, I wanted to sincerely thank you for the care package you sent to us on the Carnival Elation last week.  It was much appreciated!  I also wanted to write down my thoughts about the Carnival Elation, as recently, I have read some unpleasant reviews of this ship and its crew. Firstly, I do realize that she is one of the older ships in Carnival’s fleet and, therefore, the decor is slightly dated compared to newer ones, and she shows a little more wear.  That being said, nothing I saw while on board that would indicate that this ship is not receiving the best care and attention from her crew.  There was always someone cleaning.  The entire staff was friendly and courteous from Robin, the CD, all the way down to Phakchira (Pat), our room steward.  The comedians were on point and the shows were great.  Bartenders Liliana (Drama Bar) and Rowena (Gatsby’s Great) were personable and attentive.  The person who made the most impression on us during the cruise was our head waiter, Rodney.  He was constantly full of laughter and made sure our every need was seen to.  We ate dinner in the dining room every single night and not once were we disappointed.  I thoroughly enjoyed yet another Carnival cruise and even berthed two more cruisers in the process this time.  I look forward to making Platinum status so I can bitch and moan about the lack of free perks like so many others before me…ha!  Keep writing, my friend!

John says:
Hello Andy Parish

Thank you sir for this wonderful review and one I know that every single person you mentioned on the ship will be thrilled with. It is great to see that so many of the ship’s company exceeded your cruise expectations and I do hope this means we will see you again very soon. I hope also that you make Platinum soon and if you need anything, please let me know.  Best wishes.

John

Paul Renaud asks:
My partner and I will be on the Carnival Victory for the cruise that starts on 8/14… I am going to ask him to marry me on the cruise. I want to do this in public during a show. We saw this done on our last cruise on a Royal cruise. Can you get this done and hope your passengers can handle a gay proposal and if they are offended- tough cookies LOL. I am not sure if this is the best way to get this done and I am anxiously awaiting your reply.

John says:
Hello Paul Renaud

Thank you for getting in touch with me here so I can help you. I will pass this to the cruise director whose name is Marcelo so he can have a look at what is possible. If there is a chance of a stage proposal, I am sure he will arrange this and, regardless, he will be in touch when you cruise next month. Please leave this with me and I wish you both the very best and hope you have many wonderful years together.  Best wishes.

John

Loretta Jollymore asks:
John, I am very excited about my dream cruise to Hawaii on Jan 17, 2015. We are trying to plan excursions but there are none listed yet. We are getting a little concerned about the possibility of another itinerary change. Can you let me know what the scoop is? Thank you and I really enjoy your blog.

John says:
Hello Loretta Jollymore

Please do not be concerned, all is in hand. The shore excursion team are putting the tours together and we will have them all posted no later than the end of September for you. Please let me know if you have any questions and I wish you a brilliant cruise. Best wishes.

John

Kristen Peterson asks:
Dear John:  My family and I just got off of the Carnival Freedom on Sunday. We loved every minute of it! I was nervous because many comments on my Facebook page were negative and we did an eight-day pack and go. We had to get 2 rooms because our daughter’s bf came and we were on two different levels but it was fine  :) We are gold level and working our way to platinum. We usually go on the smaller ships, so this was also a concern. We do like the smaller ones better– just a personal preference– but we enjoyed this one also. We had misplaced an iphone with important and confidential emails. We went to guest services, no one had turned it in so they filled out a report and immediately contacted NCL which was the other ship in port with us. By the grace of God, a passenger had found it on the ground in the cruise area in port and had guest services contact us immediately to verify it was his J  My daughter’s boyfriend had wanted to win a ship on a stick so bad that we went to every contest/trivia that was offered, by the seventh day no ship but my husband and son heard about the ship building contest and ran and built one and won!  (Of course, they were the only ones that entered.) Skip Lyons and Ashley were so gracious, they gave us two ships, a medal, a bottle of champagne, and a wonderful thank you letter  :):) For the first time in 21 years, my husband and I will be leaving on the Carnival Fascination in November with no children, NEVER have I ever left them. I would plan and then cancel. Our daughter will be 20 and our son is 15, I am very nervous. This is our honeymoon as after we were married my husband had to finish a few courses to get his degree. I want to surprise him with a behind the scenes tour but want to make sure I understand it. He was in line to be a harbor pilot/captain in NYC but lawsuits changed it and he had to find another career. His grandfather and uncle were both captains and expected him to be one, so I wanted to know if this tour will take us on the bridge? Thank you for all you do!

John says:
Hello Kristen Peterson

What a wonderful post and bravo to the person who handed your phone and bravo to both sets of ships’ guest services people for arranging to get it back for you. It seems like you all had a brilliant time and that is wonderful to know. I am sure this next cruise will be very special, being just the two of you and if you would like me to try and arrange a table for two, please do contact me four days before on my facebook.com/john heald page. Yes, the Behind the Fun Tour does go to the bridge and you will meet with the captain, so I think your husband will really enjoy that. Thanks again, then, for writing to me and if you need anything else, I will be here. Best wishes.

John

Tom Fauland asks:
HI JOHN, my wife and I and my best friend & his wife will be sailing December 7 on the Carnival Dream. This will be our fourth cruise together. Back in January, my mom passed and in June, my best friend lost his mom too.  The plan is to have a nice little toast to our mom’s on the Dream with maybe an ice cold drink. I enjoy reading your blog. Thanks. Ttom

John says:
Hello Tom Fauland

I send my sympathies to you at the loss of your Mum. Please send me this message again to my facebook.com/johnheald page the day before the cruise and include your cabin number.

I wish you all a great time.  Best wishes.

John

Michael Kaiser asks:
My son has been out of work for eight months. He finally got a job after months of hard work and lots of rejection. We had booked for him to cruise with me and my wife and our daughter but now that he has a job, he cannot go. I called Carnival to get a refund and was told it was past the date for this and there was nothing to do. Carnival has no heart. This 19 year old has been in a terrible state since losing his job and now that he has one, Carnival will not help. This will not be a cruise now we will enjoy.

John says:
Hello Michael Kaiser.

Firstly, many congratulations to your son on getting this job. I am sure he will do very well and be happy once again. I will make no promises but please do let me speak to a few people about this and see if anything can be done. I wonder also if your son has actually asked his new employer to see if they can give him the time off.  Anyway, leave this with me and, regardless, I do hope you all have a great time.  Best wishes.

John

That’s all for today. Thanks everyone for your contributions.

I just made an announcement from my cabin and was thinking how simple the PA system is here compared to the ones I had on our newest ships, Carnival Breeze and Carnival Magic. Here on the Carnival Miracle, the PA system looks like this.

Miracle

Now have a look at the one on the Breeze:

Breeze

Yep, the PA system there is so much more complicated than the one I have here. The one on the Carnival Breeze has more buttons than there are on the bridge, including one ominous red button that has a label on it that shouts STOP MSG EMERGENCY and I still have bugger all idea what that means.

I often think how pleasant it must have been to live in the Stone Age….…in a cave……….in your underpants ……waiting for your wife to cook you a Megasorearse steak over an open fire..…ahhh…..those were the days.

The smoking topic was, for the most part, discussed calmly and rationally and, even when passionate responses were called for, most of the many hundreds who wrote, did so without getting personal or using abuse. But there are a few exceptions as this subject brought out a few who spend their days and nights going online to insult a bunch of people they’ve never met. Most of the time, I ignore these comments but, occasionally, I get upset. There was one just yesterday that I will not honour by posting it but who suggested for the second time that I was “the worst kind of father” and that I should “put my daughter up for adoption because she will have a better life.”

God, I was fuming when I read what this Randy chap had written. Honestly, I had clear and present thoughts about doing something to his dangly bits with a pair of bolt cutters. But, of course, I couldn’t because, firstly, I don’t own a pair of bolt cutters and, secondly, because Randy is, of course, not using his last name and a first name that is most likely false, make him, basically…….anonymous. He could live in New York or New Hampshire, New Brunswick or New Mexico, who knows. But because of this being the second comment he has written about my daughter (the first in the Q and A section of the blog last week or so) I have asked the techy beards to block him/her/it using the IP address to recognise his/her/its computer. I have no idea if that works or not, we shall see.

So Randy, mate, if you are reading this, please don’t bother posting anymore because even if your post gets through the anti-Randy fire wall, I shall ignore you completely because your comments are as pointless as a snooze button on a fire alarm. I wonder, though, Randy, would you come up to me in person and say, “Your daughter should be put up for adoption?”  No, of course, you wouldn’t. And yet you see nothing at all wrong with doing so on the my blog and on my Facebook page where I know you lurk as well. If I say something that offends someone on stage or here on the blog or on Facebook, you know where I am. You can find me. You can demand an apology and you will get one or you can write to Gerry Cahill and demand I be fired. But the person who writes outrageous and absolutely disgusting things about my family and posts them on a public page…………well, that is sad and there is nothing I can do about it.

But there should be, I really do think there should be. When people write stuff that is so cruel or so hateful, then I should be able to get their details from Uncle Google.

Obviously, that is never going to happen, is it? But why is it fair that Randy No-mates can say what he/she/it dislikes about me knowing that he/she/it will get away with it. I cannot imagine what it must be like to be famous and have thousands of people Twitter how much they hate you. I know someone who has a huge following on Twitter and is very much in the public eye and very much a household name. He gets constant hate posts. Why? Because that person is rich and has worked hard to get where they are, yet social media has opened a whole new door for jealous bastards to pour their jealousy on them.

Look, I’m not suggesting for a moment that people with multiple screen names, like Lucinda Lace has, should not be allowed to tell me the new smoking ban sucks or that Carnival is the worst cruise line in the world and they would rather cruise on a bit of driftwood down the Amazon with their gentleman’s sausage dangling in the water waiting for a school of piranha to swim by. Go ahead, that’s free speech.

I don’t care if someone makes fun of my use of the word “brilliant” or that I am an idiot. Who am I to say that person doesn’t have the right to post that in his opinion? But the interweb should have a worldwide rule that people have to use their real names and we should ban web anonymity. That way, I can visit the person who said the most repulsive things about my daughter and use a ship on a stick and a fruit basket as a suppository.

And to the rest of the many thousands of people who each week read this blog and my Facebook page, I remind you to please keep your opinions and comments coming. We may not always agree but I am here always to listen.

Goodnight.

Your friend,
John

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‘SHIP LIFE’ http://johnhealdsblog.com/2014/07/22/ship-life/ http://johnhealdsblog.com/2014/07/22/ship-life/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 21:11:50 +0000 http://johnhealdsblog.com/?p=21739 Continue reading ]]> My regular cabin steward and friend, Ketut, is currently on vacation but in reality he is in rehab for spending the last three months having to wash my underpants……….by hand. His replacement is Ariel from the Philippines. He really is a wonderful guy, full of life and always sings when he is cleaning my cabin. A few days ago, I noticed he wasn’t singing. I asked him why?  Life on a ship can be lonely, very lonely and sometimes the crew tends to keep their troubles to themselves or is too busy in their work to find time to talk about what’s on their mind. They are encouraged to always to talk to someone whether it is their department head or someone from our human resources department but the fact is many do not………It’s hard to explain why….it’s just ship life.

But I realised that the always singing, always happy Ariel was not himself and I asked what was wrong? The answer, a bastard called Rammasun or Typhoon Rammasun to be exact. This huge mega storm passed to the south of Manila with winds at an unbelievable 200 mph. And while his family were uninjured, his home, the home he shared with his sister and mother and his two-year-old son, was totally destroyed from the foundations up, completely devastated. It was a home that Ariel had help pay to build with his hard work for five years on Costa Cruises before joining Carnival a few months ago. His son was injured, not seriously but enough to have him in a hospital for a couple of days, a couple of days he had spent cleaning the senior officers cabin and making sure I had my 20 bananas a day.

Had Ariel mentioned this to someone, we would have arranged a flight home but, he knew that what he needed to do was to keep working, to keep sending money home, to start again, to help his family who needed the dollars now more than ever…….I have helped him with some extra money because he truly is a wonderful person. Uncle Google tells me that 200,000 homes in Manila were destroyed or badly damaged, so that has me thinking. I wonder how many other of our Filipino crew received similar news from home after the typhoon struck? How many more are cleaning, serving, cooking, entertaining, photographing guests and being the brilliant crew you all know they are? Most won’t say anything, it will be head down, do the work, smile in guest areas and get that salary and those gratuities home as quickly as possible despite inside, hurting like hell. Why don’t they say anything?…….It’s hard to explain……………you have to work on board……….it’s just ship life.

More on that subject after today’s Q and A, which we start right now.

Lenore Oram asks:
I will be bringing my elderly parents on Carnival Ecstasy. We have cabins R90 and R96. I told your customer service folks that I needed one key that would open both cabin doors so that I can look after my parents but was told no. Why is this? We just stayed last week at the Courtyard by Marriott in Merrillville, IN, and they were happy to do this for me, so why not Carnival? Very disappointed. This has ruined my cruise with you before it has started!

John says:
Hello Lenore Oram

I am glad to see that you and your parents will be sailing with us and I am sure you will have a wonderful time. I am afraid we cannot do this because each door has a different electronic signature and only one can be stored on each key card which is also your Sail & Sign card. Maybe you can just take your mother or father’s card and keep it with you. Please don’t worry and just get ready for lots of fun. Best wishes to you all.

John

Laurie Ryan asks:
Hello: My husband and I are platinum cruisers. We are booked for March 15 on Carnival Conquest of Ft. Lauderdale. We always have a balcony because my husband is a smoker. Given the new policy regarding smoking and not being able to smoke on your balcony, would it be possible to get the outside areas/decks where smoking is allowed. We are looking at switching our room around and get closer to a smoking area which is more convenient for my husband. I did send you and email yesterday but wasn’t sure if I had put my email address in. Thanks.

John says:
Hello Laurie Ryan

I am sure when you booked the cabin it was not just to enjoy smoking from the balcony because there are so many wonderful things to see and experience from it and moments to enjoy together. Carnival Conquest has an outdoor smoking area on deck 10. I hope you keep the cabin and enjoy a wonderful cruise. Please let me know if you need anything. Best wishes.

John

Sherri Gladbach asks:
A poster by the name of ________posted on Cruise Critic the email addresses for all the cruise directors who work for Carnival. ______ said to take the first two letters of the ship name and add CD at the end. I have been emailing the cruise director on the Carnival Victory over and over but no response. I need help with our meet and greet for 7/31 but no help has been offered because he has not replied. Is this the right email code and why, if it is, has he not replied? We have 35 in our roll call and need the piano bar at 3pm after the sail away from Key West – nibbles, etc. Please respond as a matter of some urgency

John says:
Hello Sherri Gladbach

I am glad you have written to me here because, while these email addresses have been published, they do often go to our spam folder called Postini and also the cruise directors are very busy and do not have time or are they expected to converse with guests by email. I, on the other hand, will be happy to assist with a lounge. I will ask the ship if the piano bar is free and if not they will reserve you another lounge. We cannot provide snacks but I will be happy to send you some raffle prizes. I wish you a brilliant time together and please write to me here or on www.facebook.com/johnheald if you need anything else

Mitchell asks:
Hello John Head: We have heard something about a new smoking policy that is supposed to
start Oct 9, 2014 that no longer smoking on the balcony is allowed. What if I’m already booked and my cruise is Oct 5, 2014, does that mean I can’t smoke on my balcony after Oct 9, 2014, or am I grandfathered into the old policy? Thank you for your rapid response.

John says:
Hello Mitchell

That is correct. The new smoking policy starts on the October 9 so it will be OK for you to smoke on your balcony during your cruise as the new rule will not go into effect until the start of the following cruise. Please let me know if you need anything and have a great time. Best wishes. John

Denise Milazzo asks:
Would like to know if Wee Jimmy, the cruise director, will be on the August 3 sailing of the Carnival Sensation next month? We love him

John says:
Hello Denise Milazzo

That’s so good to know as Wee Jimmy is a great friend and I am very proud of the work he does. Unfortunately, he will be on vacation in August and the CD will be Kevin Donahue who I am sure you will enjoy very much. Please let me know if you have any other questions and I wish you a brilliant time. Best wishes.

John

Amy Corder asks:
I just read your FB question about recognizing those who have served. On our last few cruises, the CD has recognized military, emergency services (police, fire, and EMS), and teachers. As these are important careers that serve each and every one of us, one of the biggest careers that serve us is not mentioned. Truck drivers bring us almost everything that we use. If one watches the ship as it’s being loaded, dozens of semi-trucks are delivering foods/etc. for the cruise. If it weren’t for these drivers who are away from their family for sometimes weeks on end for the duration of their entire career (20-30+ years), we wouldn’t be able to enjoy the foods and services on our cruise ships. I just wanted to bring this to your and everyone’s attention. I am in one of the professions that get recognized and, as a Pre-K teacher, we rarely get that recognition due to people thinking we are “glorified babysitters.” Thank you for your time! (Oh, and a side note, the July 29 cruise on the Carnival Miracle, one of the radio DJ’s, that helped inform everyone about what was happening during the Joplin tornado of 2011, will be vacationing with a group of family and friends, Chad Elliot Carroz.

John says:
Hello Amy Corder

Thanks for writing and, you’re right, of course, truck drivers supply us all with things that we often take for granted so please let me say here and now a huge thank you to all the hard work that our truck drivers do to keep the country moving. And thank you too for your wonderful work and giving the children in your care a superb start in life. I will look out for Mr. Carroz and I am sure he will have a brilliant time. Thanks again for writing and I hope to see you soon. Best wishes.

John

Roger Seitz asks:
Was told that the bathrobes in the cabins are not washed or replaced each time but that the cabin boys just hang them back in the closet. True or false ???????????????

John says:
Hello Roger Seitz

I wonder which work of fiction told you this because it is not true in any way. The stateroom stewards replace them with freshly laundered ones every embarkation day. Please let me know if you have any other questions and I will be here to help you answer them. Best wishes.
John

Laurie asks:
Hi John, hoping you can answer a question for me. We will be sailing on the Carnival Sunshine Aug 9, 2014. This will be the first cruise where we will have some of our children and grandchildren with us and we want them to experience everything. We want to book the steakhouse but need to know what nights are the formal nights on the Carnival Sunshine. Hope you can help me with this. Thank you for your time.

John says:
Hello Laurie

I can tell you are excited about your family cruise on the beautiful Carnival Sunshine. The elegant night is on the 10th and that is the only one on this cruise. Please let me know if there is anything I can help you with and I wish you

Angie Morgan asks:
John: We recently booked Carnival Valor for Sept. 2015 out of San Juan and we are really looking toward to our 10th cruise! I have seen vague reference to the fact that Carnival Valor is scheduled to get the 2.0 upgrades soon. Can you confirm or not on whether it will go to dry-dock before our cruise? It would be nice if we knew and what specifically was changing. Thanks in advance! Hope you are having fun on your new gig in Alaska!

John says:
Hello Angie Morgan

Thanks for writing and, at this time, I’m not aware of any plans for the Carnival Valor to have a dry dock this coming year. As soon as I know any plans to give her the 2.0 upgrades, I will let you know. Until then I hope you will let me know if you have any other questions. Best wishes.

John

Linda Vickers asks:
Great news on the new smoking ban. The mongrels can all whine and moan while the rest of us rejoice that their selfishness is at last being punished. Smoking kills – that is a fact.

John says:
Hello Linda Vickers

Certainly, there has been mixed reaction to the news and we will continue to do our best as a cruise line to find a comfortable place for our valued guests who smoke to do so away from those who do not. Thanks for expressing your opinion here and I hope that we see you very soon

Best wishes.

John

And that’s all for today. Please keep the comments coming. As we start another Alaskan adventure, let’s see who is sailing with us.

Total Guests                            2,602 – very busy
USA                                        2,332
Canada                                                48
French Canada                        9
UK                                          22
Australia                                  10
India                                        18
Guests 2-5                               43
6-8                                           55
9-11                                         85
12-14                                       133
15 – 17                                    134
18 – 20                                    97
Age 90 plus                             2
Diamond Guests                     3
Platinum Guests                      81
Most represented state                        California
Most popular last names         Johnson – 17, Smith 16 and Chang 14.

I want to write more about “ship life” if that’s OK and continue with something that could be the last bastion in today’s modern workplace and that’s teasing, banter and well……..making fun and having fun. But even here on the ships it continues in its most diluted form.

You see, back then, it was a massively male-dominated industry, especially onboard. There were no female crew members in the dining rooms, no female bar staff and no female housekeeping personal either. It was the dancers, the spa and a few casino and pursers who were female. And as you could imagine the “banter” was of a much stronger variety and, obviously, not appropriate in today’s world, that’s for sure. Common sayings back then would get you a one-way trip down the gangway today. Some female crew gave it as good as they got and we all got on with the job feeling neither harassed nor discriminated against. But that’s because it was almost never meant seriously or nastily. It was “ship life.” These days the banter still exists and certainly the racier references have long gone. True sexism, true harassment is disgusting and should get the kick in the bollocks it deserves. But it would be a shame if we got rid completely of the banter that has spiced up ship life – and office life, for that matter – for decades. Because for many of us, that would make life on board……..very dull indeed.

You will hear the term “ship life,” every day, over and over again. It covers a big dollop of subjects. One of those is loneliness and the results that this brings, the crew are away from their families and their loved ones and, while it’s not something that I condone or accept as an excuse it is fact that “ship life” brings people together in relationships who may be would never come about if they worked together on land. Some keep it secret or as secret as they can but the gossip drums beat very loudly on a ship. And it’s not like they need to tell anyone who they are dating because it’s as obvious as posting five photos of naked bottoms on this blog, four being Megan Fox’s and one being mine and asking you to pick the one does not belong to the screen goddess.

They might as well skip down Promenade Deck naked holding signs that say, “We are together, hey, that’s ship life.” They’ll think no one notices that in a darkened corner of the crew lounge after work they accidentally always manage to sit next to each other, legs touching under the table. But behind their backs other crew members are pretending to vomit, grinning at each other because ………… they know.

Just like office romances, on cruise ships there are many similarities to those on land. When a lady starts wearing short skirts with one of those push up bra thingies to work when before she wore long black pants and a blouse buttoned all the way to the top…….she’s definitely getting some post-work rumpy pumpy. A man will wear new cologne and if he is Italian he will walk down promenade like a peacock thinking to himself………… “I am the man!”

And, then suddenly, just as the relationship started it will end. One crew member will go on vacation or transfer to another ship and there are goodbyes and then the cycle starts over again because yep, you guessed it, that’s “ship life.”

Don’t get me wrong. There are many relationships between the crew that are meaningful and full of love and many end in marriage. There are countless stories of people from all corners of the world marrying but there are others that founded on loneliness to a certain degree and the need to have someone to spend time with. Relationships happen with “ship life” in rapid time because there is no break, no “I will call you and maybe we can get together next week” because you work, play eat and yes sleep in the same places seven days a week for months at a time. Breakups happen as quickly on ships as relationships do.  People date for a time and then break up and the worst part is that you have to continue to live and work with these people no matter what because that is also part of “ship life.”

And yes there are times where the loneliness manifests itself in a ways that I simply can’t condone. Some crew members sail with their significant other and I absolutely hate having to pretend that I don’t know what is going on when I really do. And I should say that there are many who, like me, agree and are faithful and would not do this but there are some who do, it’s just a fact. And, of course, even if I wanted to have some rumpy pumpy on the side that would not be possible considering I have a face like a bag of smashed oysters and despite my diet I still have a small planet under my shirt. Oh, and the most important reason, I love my wife, unconditionally.

And the two words of the day “ship life” also come to mind when world events happen. You are so cocooned in the everyday hectic life that never allows you to close the office door and bugger off home that you feel so detached from the outside world. Take the situation in Ukraine and the tragic shooting down of the Malaysian plane. As I mentioned on Facebook the other day we have lots of crew from that area and I always make a point of talking to any of the ship’s crew when I see their nametag and it shows they are from somewhere the world is talking about. One such person who works in the dining room here on the Carnival Miracle. He comes from one of the areas where the most intense fighting has been happening and his town is just 20 minutes from where the plane fell to Earth killing everyone on board. I asked him how he felt about this and he seemed glad to talk about it. I asked him if he and his fellow shipmates from his country had discussed this but he told me they had not because some have different views, strong views and, yet, “ship life” does not let that interfere with their work. They get on with the job of serving you our guests and as he says, “I will talk about it when I get home to my family.” He believes that vodka, yes, vodka, is to blame for what happened by the way. He told me that drinking vodka is the pastime for some and that it was, in his opinion, it was a vodka-fueled decision to send a single missile …………just to see what would happen. There are always conspiracy theories when anything happens in the world and I was absolutely flabbergasted when he said this and have to admit I have a hard time believing this. He nodded, turned and, after making such a statement he went to the laundry to collect his uniform to wear to serve dinner that night and that is a pure example of “ship life.”

It’s a good life. It’s a very good life. It’s a life that provides families with an excellent standard of living, one that these men and women could not provide, maybe if they worked in their home countries. They do such a great job, don’t they?  But tonight, I think it is important to remember something. When you are watching Wolf Blister and his mates reporting on the latest disaster or world event that even though you may not be able to point to where it is happening on a map that most likely amongst the united nations you find on the Carnival ships there is a crew member who served and entertained you on your last cruise. And he or she will still be serving and still entertaining and still working so hard top exceed our guests’ expectations and will do so with a massive smile on their face. But behind that smile, there is worry and there is hurt. But they won’t let that worry and hurt show though because………. hey, that’s “ship life.”

Goodnight.

Your friend,
John

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Bar Fight! http://johnhealdsblog.com/2014/07/18/bar-fight/ http://johnhealdsblog.com/2014/07/18/bar-fight/#comments Fri, 18 Jul 2014 18:48:54 +0000 http://johnhealdsblog.com/?p=21735 Continue reading ]]> On the last day of each cruise, I hold a Behind the Scenes Q&A. This where I give the audience the microphone and they can ask any question they want and, as senior cruise director and brand ambassador, I try and give the answers and have fun doing so. Each week I am guaranteed that four questions will always be asked and, 99% of the time, I am right. Those questions are:

  1. How much time do the crew have off/how many hours a day do they work? The maximum is 10 hours after which they must have a seven-hour rest period. Each crew member must clock in and out and these reports are regulated by Carnival and shown to the United States Coast Guard as well.
  2. What are the roughest seas you have ever had? The aftermath of Hurricane Bitch…….I mean Mitch….on Carnival Triumph. Not pleasant at all and, just behind that, was the Carnival Magic sailing in the Gulf of Leon between Spain and France.
  3. Is there a morgue and a brig on the ship? Yes and we always hope we never have to use either of them.
  4. How did you get started as a cruise director? Story coming up later in the blog.

These, along with the often asked, “How much do you earn, John?” seem to be the most commonly asked questions and, with the exception of the salary one, I always have the answers ready to go. I will, in future blogs, talk about questions 1, 2 and 3, but today I want to talk about number 4.

The reason for that is it involves violence, not something I enjoy or advocate but, honestly, last cruise, I felt like punching something or someone, actually, and it reminded me of that. The person in question was a guest who was so rude, so aghhhhhhh, I can’t even begin to put into writing some of the foul and degrading things he said about American servicemen during the Vietnam War, that I was having vivid thoughts of using my eight years of karate, which I did when I was younger and kicking him hard in the bollocks. The problem with that was twofold. Firstly, there was no way I was going to hit such a small target and, secondly, I can’t get my leg more than five inches off the ground without needing something to lean on …….and some oxygen afterwards.

Anyway, this guest reminded me of the last time I hit someone and I will talk about that after today’s Q&A.

Before I do, a word to our younger readers that Uncle John says violence is not the answer. Yep, as I sit here, in my underpants, I use the keyboard as a sword.  Fighting is not dignified or professional. I mean, you wouldn’t see our President Gerry Cahill leap over the table and do a Chuck Norris-style roundhouse kick on some reporter from CNOXBC for trashing the company he loves with such passion…..would you?

You know, in my job and, indeed, in my life as a whole, I have been made in such a way as to stay calm and carry on. I hate violence. I really do. But the other day as this twenty-something man slandered the people who had fought in Vietnam, I did wonder how it would feel to take my fist and smash it right on the end of his pierced sodding nose.

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

Tom Ferdinand asks:
Hello John: I have been reading that Carnival is not a gay friendly cruise line from what others have told me and from what I have read online. I am cruising with my partner, Carlos, on the Carnival Conquest August 10. I want to make sure that there are areas at night only for gays and lesbian passengers to meet that is 100% private. There are more of us than you think!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

John says:
Hello Tom Ferdinand

I am sure you are looking forward to your cruise next month. I am not sure where you have read that Carnival is not a gay friendly cruise line because, quite simply, we are. Each ship has advertised nightly LGBT meetings and, although not in a private location, they are held in bars and lounges and give guests a chance to meet new friends. I have no doubts you will have a brilliant time. Best wishes to you both.

John

Rhonda Burnett asks:
I have been on three cruises in the last two years. I couldn’t believe it took me 50 years to discover cruising, I LOVE IT! Sadly, despite paying perfectly good money like everyone else with a balcony, I was told today that smoking will no longer be allowed on the balcony. It doesn’t make sense to me, as smoking on your own private balcony is less intrusive than smoking on a public deck. I’m just sad because I didn’t know my last cruise was going to be my last cruise.

John says:
Hello Rhonda Burnett

I am so sorry that you won’t be cruising with us again and I truly hope you will change your mind. We live in an anti-smoking world on land and sea and for the well-being of the mainly non-smoking guests and for safety reasons, too, we have joined most other major cruise lines with this restriction. I know you are frustrated and I totally understand and I will work hard to make the smoking areas we do have more comfortable. Meanwhile, I hope you will think about all the great fun you had on your cruises and that we will see you again soon. Best wishes.

John

Doug Collier asks:
Heald: There was a bog poll taken on Cruise Critic with hundreds of people including members of the 50,000 Club urging Carnival to stop the last night cheesy song by the wait staff in the main dining hall. The bags are packed and leaving on a cruise ship makes me cringe and hundreds of people who took part in this premium poll agreed. Dump it and take the cha cha slide with it.

John says:
Hello Doug Collier

I wish you could have sent me the link so I could see what “hundreds” of people were saying about this and, certainly, I will canvas my readers here to see what they have to say as well. I personally think it’s a nice way to say goodbye but it has been around for many years, so maybe, yes, it is time to look for a replacement. Let me pass this onto some of the beards and Ken, our maître d’ here on the Carnival Miracle, and see what they have to say. Thanks, then, for bringing this to my attention. Best wishes.

John

Ted Haines asks:
Heald: You say you are a smoker but you are nothing but a puppet. If you had any pull with this company, you would have stood up for our rights and done something. I am disgusted in Carnival and disgusted at you, Heald. There are voices similar to mine all being heard at https://www.facebook.com/groups/735731246490602/ Don’t say you support us because that’s just bulls*** from your fat mouth. Don’t talk, do and stop treating us smokers like people who live in a third world country.

John says:
Hello Ted Haines

I can see how angry you are and that makes me sad. I am happy to say here loud and proud that I am upset at the decision to not allow smoking on balconies. I am a cigar lover and this was my one form of solitude away from the guests, the staff and from the thousands on social media. It was my 45 minutes of peace. Cigars were my yoga. But I also understand that we are a minority and that Carnival, like most other cruise lines, had to do what was right for the well-being of the guests and for the safety of their vessels. All I can do is assure you that I will work hard to make the areas where we still allow smoking to be more comfortable. I do hope we see you soon. Best wishes.

John

Lynette S. asks:
John, my dear: The hubs and I decided, after a long and massively annoying bout of “weighing options,” to cruise for the second time with Carnival. We are sailing the Carnival Pride on the 20th for out 16th anniversary (six married). We kinda scored with a lucky draw of a handicapped room while booking, solidifying our decision to cruise. I know there must be others who may not need them but have them, how does Carnival choose which non-handicapped cabin to relocate? Can I just refuse until I am forced out? Trying to avoid check-in disappointment…

John says:
Hello Lynette S

If this is the July 16th you are talking about, then there is little chance of you being moved from the cabin. But, should someone who needs it and if there are no other special needs cabins available, you can indeed be asked to move as we do give priority to guests who need the facilities in these cabins. But I am sure all will be well and that you will have a wonderful time. If there is anything at all I can do for you, please do ask. Best wishes to you both.

John

Richard Hayes asks:
I have a comment and question. When I started to look for cruises for next year (we have a cruise booked plus other travel which cover the last half of the year), my wife and I thought about Europe or the Panama Canal but no cruises listed on your website. So is there a chance there may be some planned later? Also, just saw your new policy about smoking and am bothered by it even if I am no longer a smoker. I can understand why many are upset. BUT the main reason I may not cruise with Carnival next year will be the lack of places to go.

John says:
Hello Richard Hayes

I miss Europe too and that’s why I am hoping that we can return at some point as our guests miss it too. I will keep you informed when, and if, we return. I do hope we see you soon and if there is anything I can do, please let me know. Best wishes.

John

Sean and Chloe Mendip ask:
Just off the Carnival Breeze and, Matt, the cruise director, was great. He danced every dance at the deck parties and did The Wobble like no other. John, I don’t mean to be rude but this is what we want in our cruise directors, not some old lethargic man telling dated jokes. You had your day, hang up your hat and please let Matt be the cruise director who is on the new ship, meaning Carnival Vista. He deserves it and your passengers deserve to see an energetic party animal, not a cruise director who is a throwback to Julie McCoy. Just sayin’.

John says:
Hello Sean and Chloe Mendip

I am a huge fan of Matt and his energy is extraordinary as is that of many of our cruise directors and, certainly, I do not “wobble”…well, I do but not the dance version. I think Matt has a brilliant future and thanks so much for the kind words about him and let’s see what happens with Carnival Vista. Best wishes.

John

Steve Hecht asks:
Hi John. You may remember us from the Baltic cruise last year. My wife and I are currently on the Carnival Breeze and I wanted to pass along some observations for you to take to the beards. First off, Matt is one of your best cruise directors (behind you, of course, ha ha) but he really does a great job. The food is outstanding — better than other ships we have been on, and, being platinum, we have been on a few. The negatives: Why is this ship so warm? It seems that the A/C is not up to the task. Many public areas of the ship, the back of the Blush dining room and our cabin are warmer than usual. When we questioned this, we were told it was normal. Sorry but having been on a dozen or more ships, it is warm on this one. The beach pool is a minimum of 20 degrees hotter than any other spot on Lido. I think that is due to the fact that the windows do not open and there is no cross ventilation. With the pool being lower than the rest of the area, you are down in a hole with no air movement. I feel sorry for the bar folks that have to endure the heat. We have cruised the Alaskan waters, the north Atlantic and the Med and we have never rocked like we rock on this ship. Just my observations; just thought the beards should know.

John says:
Hello Steve Hecht

Well, thank you for the kind words and I agree that Matt is a brilliant CD and one who has a very bright future. I am so glad you are having fun (had fun) and I will make sure the ship’s managers see this. I am sorry to read that some areas are too hot, that should be adjusted so please leave this with me and let me make sure the right people see your comments and make changes. I do hope that we will see you soon and thanks again for taking the time to write. Best wishes.

John

Peter Huber asks:
I am a long standing Carnival customer and shareholder who, like many of the people who write on this blog, think your loyalty program is less than adequate. There should be a lounge open each night only for platinum passengers serving free drinks and exclusive only to us like the Crown & Anchor lounges on all Royal Caribbean ships. This creates a special feeling away from other non-VIP passengers. There should be rows or preferred seating for us at shows– again, a policy that other lines have in abundance. I also strongly affirm what Clara said in her post that we should have a special exit and entrance gangplank on to and off the ship so we are not forced to stand in line with non-VIPs. These additions and more will keep your VIPs loyal. If you do not, you will lose most of us and Carnival will suffer.

John says:
Hello Peter Huber

We truly appreciate our loyal guests and, while I cannot comment on what other lines offer, I think our loyalty program is a good one. We will not be adding any of the suggestions you mentioned but the program, as a whole, is being closely looked at as we speak. I will let you know of any changes as soon as I am able. Until then, I do hope we see you soon. Best wishes.

John

Lisa asks:
Hi John. I am an agent servicing with Carnival. I had to do many cancellations yesterday because of the new smoking policy. I totally understand it but, obviously, the guests didn’t and many
cancelled. So, in class today, someone made a suggestion we thought needed to be passed on…so you’re the lucky one to get it!! :) How about a hookah bar? Maybe that would draw back the guests we lost or get some new ones. Anyway….a suggestion. Have a great day!

John says:
Hello Lisa

Thank you for all your support and I know it has been a challenging week since we announced the new smoking policy and then NCL did too, so I am sure your work has been even more so. I think there is little chance of the hookah bar ever happening but never say never, I guess. Thanks to you again and if I can ever do anything for one of your customers, our guests, please do let me know. Best wishes.

John

Charles Murray asks:
Hi John: Have a little problem and maybe you can help. I am a gold level cruiser and heading towards the next level. During my recent welcome back party while cruising on the Carnival Liberty, I was one of the few guest that could raise my hand when ask who in room had cruised on the Carnivale back in 1978. This was the second ship of the Carnival Lines, if I remember correctly. My problem is, I cannot get credit for this cruise since no records were kept back then. I wrote Carnival and told them it was a July of 1978 cruise out of Miami. My 18th birthday was on that cruise. I left for military activity the week after. Hard to forget. Carnival will not give me credit for the seven-day cruise. I don’t have any records of this because I went in the military the week after and have no records. I don’t think anyone would fake something like this so long ago. Being I’m a faithful Carnival customer, can’t something be done? Help. Thank you.
Charles

John says:
Hell Charles Murray

I appreciate you telling me this and I will pass this along to the right people. If you had a luggage tag, photo or anything from that cruise, this would really help. But, as I said, leave it with me and I will see if anything can be done. Thanks for writing and hope we see you soon. Best wishes.

John

And that’s all for today. Thanks to everyone for their questions and comments.

Time to talk about debarkation. Here, on the Carnival Miracle, I will be going to what is known as a “silent debarkation” system. This means just one announcement only from me to say we have started and then I can spend the rest of the morning sitting in my underpants writing blog and Facebook updates. Now the reason we will be doing this is because of complaints from some people who live on the side of a hill that looks right over the ship. These are apparently very well to do houses, a millionaire’s row of Seattle. I can see them from my cabin and they are big mansion-style dwellings with lawns more manicured than Kim Kardashian’s lady garden and with huge flag poles stuck in them proudly flying the Stars and Stripes….…the lawns, not Kim Kardashian. Understandably, then, these lawyers, doctors, business magnates and pillars of the Seattle society do not want their morning coffee and drizzled poached eggs on the terrace ruined by some fat Davey Jones-sounding cruise director telling guests to have a safe journey home and, occasionally, when bored, singing loudly….. “Let It Go.”

So it is time, then, to start a silent debarkation, which will please the people on the hill and, please, if I am honest, the guests as well. You know how it is, right? Everyone has a face like a bowl of curdled milk. A dark cloud hovers over everyone’s head and the gangways echo with deep sighs. It is what is called “post-cruise crash” and I have a question for you, how long does this feeling last for?  Tell me your experiences of “post cruise crash.”

So, as promised, here is the story of how I went from the bar department to the entertainment department. Are you sitting comfortably? Then let me begin. It was 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, not because management thought I would be a great manager, but because my knowledge of wine was about the same as the Pope’s knowledge of Lady Ga Ga songs. So they gave me a white uniform and made me an assistant bar manager.

The ship was the Jubilee and, one night, I was sitting at the Gazebo Bar (loved that promenade on the Jubilee) with the bar manager. We shall call him Oswaldo, as that was his name, and he was a total and utter bastard. Hold on, for those of you who are saying that’s unfair and unprofessional, please stand by and you will see why I said that and said it with such ferocity. The entire bar department were scared of him and, indeed, so was I. He was as popular as a genital wart and he ruled the department through fear and intimidation.

Now you have to remember that this was 20-plus years ago and, back then, once the ropes were undone and the ship moved away from the dock, that was it, the ship was its own boss. There was no email, no ship-to-shore phones, there was bugger all and we did have one or two managers in various departments who were real dick…..tators….and Oswaldo was one of these. So there I sat on Promenade Deck with Herr Oswaldo and all that was missing to complete his tyranny was a small moustache above his nose. He was from Spain, not Germany, but the “Herr” and the moustache reference should give you an idea of how he ruled his department.

This was his thing. At 9 pm every night, he would sit with me and watch the business sipping on his vodka cranberry, as normal. So, along comes a five-foot-nothing bar waiter from Indonesia. His name was Aslim and I will never forget him. He was carrying a full tray of drinks and, for whatever reason, he suddenly dropped them and the Promenade Deck was suddenly swimming in beer, wine and slippery nipples. And he had done this right in front of Herr Oswaldo.

I rushed over to help him and I remember even guests — or passengers — as you were known back then – helped, as well. Not Oswaldo, he stood waiting for the debris to be collected and the deck to be mopped and for Aslim to replace all the drinks for the guests and then told me to bring Aslim to the bar manager’s office. I did so, reluctantly, and I could see how nervous Aslim was. Once in the bar manager’s office, I watched Oswaldo explode. He grabbed Aslim by the collar of his burgundy uniform jacket and started to shake him, screaming how he would be taking the cost spilled drinks out of his salary. He kept shaking him and shouting at him repeatedly. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I asked Oswaldo to stop shaking him. He didn’t. So I forced myself between them. He looked at me with an expression of unadulterated hatred. His lip was curled and his brow was sweating as I calmly asked him again to stop and he responded by taking his hand and shoving it hard into my face and pushed me away.

And I am not proud, to say that I reacted as my karate teacher had taught me and threw a huge elbow to his nose followed by a right knee to his bollocks. Oswaldo screamed at me in Spanish and, as he did so, he lifted both hands to his nose and fell onto his desk writhing in agony, blood pumping from his surely broken hooter. And I bet his bollocks weren’t having a good day out either.

I took Aslim by the arm and we both left the office. As we did, I knew my Carnival career was over. I had been there just three years but that was that, there was no way I was going to survive this. These days, we don’t have any managers in any department like Oswaldo but, if anything close to bullying were to happen, there are protocols in place involving the HR director, staff captain and hotel director. Back then, there was none of this and so I found the staff captain, told him what had happened and that was me, confined to my cabin.

We didn’t even have a formal security department back then and, so, to make sure I didn’t do my Bruce Lee impression on anyone else, the ship’s command had deck hand sit outside my cabin all night long. Now all of this had happened on the last night of the cruise and we were in Miami the next day, so I had packed my suitcase and was ready to be taken off the ship, which, when a crew member is terminated, he is taken under guard back to the airport and only given his or her passport once on the plane as their C1 D1 visas are null and void.

That is what I was expecting. Nobody came to talk to me that night and I remember just sitting there, waiting for the inevitable. I had no qualms about what I had done. I hate bullying, always have and always will, and so while it was the end of my career, I felt at peace with myself for having protected Aslim, who had made the simple mistake of dropping a few drinks. The ship docked. Still nothing. It was just me and my best mate, Jose, the deck hand. I wished someone would hurry up and just fire me and get this over with.

Eventually, there was a knock at the door and there stood Roger Blum, now my great friend, the then director of operations. Bloody hell, I thought, I am really in the s**t. But I wasn’t. Roger told me what I had done was wrong but after listening to what Aslim, the bar waiter, had said, the ship and the office people realised I was protecting a crew member and that I had acted in self defence. I was told I had broken Oswaldo’s nose and that his bollocks has shriveled up to the size of almonds and he had left the ship for medical treatment.

And then came the shocker. I wasn’t just not fired, I was told that, under the circumstances, it would be better if I became a social host. And so later that morning, I took my packed 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 with a nose as bent as a dog’s back leg.

I should have been fired but thanks to Roger and the other Carnival executives of the day, I wasn’t and they gave me that chance and I hope that this now fat, grey-haired cruise director hasn’t let them down and I will be eternally be grateful for the chance they gave me. So children, remember Uncle John’s words of wisdom. If you want to succeed, find a manager and break his nose, it means guaranteed promotion.

Goodnight.

Your friend,
John

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Smoking — the last word. http://johnhealdsblog.com/2014/07/15/smoking-the-last-word/ http://johnhealdsblog.com/2014/07/15/smoking-the-last-word/#comments Tue, 15 Jul 2014 15:39:08 +0000 http://johnhealdsblog.com/?p=21731 Continue reading ]]> So I have not had much time to talk about Alaska this week with all that’s been happening. It is, of course, all about the scenery and the things that live in it. I have mentioned many times on my blog since being on the Carnival Miracle how excited my good friend Michelle, our naturalist, gets when she sees, smells or talks about any of God’s creatures great and small. And certainly on an Alaskan cruise there is plenty of opportunity to see them in their natural habitat as the place is teeming with whales, porpoises, sea lions, bald eagles, bears, birds and more.

Yep, if you love wildlife than an Alaskan cruise should be at the very top of your basket list, or is it bucket? Whatever, you know what I mean. We humans have a consuming urge to either feel needed by animals, or to feel sorry for them, or to eat them, or all of the above and now in Skagway you can take your love of animals to a new level by combining looking for wildlife with horseback riding. This past cruise one of our most popular new excursions was the horse back wilderness excursion which sold out quicker than a new batch of hot Krispy Kreme doughnuts. I like dogs, I have one. I don’t like cats and the way they crap in my garden and the way their tails stick up in the air so you can see where that poo comes from. But horses, nope, I just don’t get horses. My sister has two. My daughter wants one and from Jamaica to Aruba and from Skagway to St. Maarten, put the word “horse “in the excursion title and it is a guaranteed sell out.

Horse enthusiasts are forever telling me, that their horse is very intelligent — bollocks! If it were intelligent it wouldn’t let you ride round on it. If you ask anyone of the thousands of people reading this blog right now to give you a piggyback around Alaska because you couldn’t be bothered to walk, they’d tell you to bugger off. Anyway, for those of you who do like horses we now have a brilliant excursion in Skagway.

You won’t be seeing me on a horse, not after last time I was on a horse with my entertainer friend Greg Russell. He told me the horse would be really gentle so I got on it and immediately it started bucking and kicking its legs in the hair. I fell half off and my foot is caught in the stirrup thingy and it was dragging me behind. It was a terrifying ordeal and honestly I thought that this was it, this is how I would die being dragged behind a sodding horse. Luckily, though, the manager at the Wal-Mart came out, unplugged it and saved my life.

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

Adriana Mosca asks:
I am now on the ship. I thought you said Carnival employees never say no!!! They did on the Carnival Victory. I asked the room service person to send me 20 bananas but was told they could not do that. I am on a diet called The Morning Banana Diet but when I told them this I was rudely told no and they would only send me three. Big time mad about this.

John says:
Hello Adriana Mosca

I am sorry that this reply is after the cruise and I want to start by saying that I hope you had a wonderful time. Then let me say that that this is honestly a strange request and I think they may not have been able to do it because sending 20 of anything would have left the stock in room service short and they would have had to say “no” to other guests while they waited for the store room to deliver more. I am sure had you called a few different times that they would have been able to help you and send you more as requested, not just 20 at one time. Again, I am sorry this upset you and I do hope you managed to have fun and that we will see you soon. Best wishes.

John

Barbara Thompson asks:
Dear John: I have heard that Carnival is starting a pirate night on cruises in September. My question is will it be on our Carnival Dream cruise. We cruise Aug 31, so I am not sure if we would have this event. I just wanted to know so I can plan accordingly. Love Carnival!

John says:
Hello Barbara Thompson

Yes, indeed, we are going to be having a pirate night and details and dates will be released soon. It should be lots of fun and I hope you get to do it on your cruise. I will of course keep you informed. Have a brilliant cruise and please let me know if you need anything. Best wishes.

John

Karen asks:
Hi John: FYI, I totally love your writings! Thank you for having common sense. This is so lost anymore. I had my first cruise with Carnival on Carnival Dream this past New Year’s Eve. It was at the suggestion of my sister, who is at least platinum. My husband was totally upset with me for booking this cruise without his knowledge or consent. He pouted like a two-year-old for months! I thought I’d never make the cruise because I’d be in jail for killing him! LOL. Long story short, after a couple of days, he finally relaxed and had a fabulous time! (Although he will never admit it to me!) Anyway, we are booked again for this November on the Sunshine. I picked this particular time because he will be celebrating his 60th birthday. I would appreciate any suggestions from you about doing something special for him. We’ve done the steakhouse, so I know that won’t be “special” anymore. Keep up the great work with your comments on FB and your blog. I love reading about it all. Hopefully, someday we will have the privilege of meeting you in person! In the meantime, bon voyage! (P.S. We’re not French…lol)

John says:
Hello Karen

Well, I am glad this story had a happy ending and hopefully we have now made a cruise convert out of your husband. It sounds like he is looking forward to this celebration cruise and you have lots of things planned. Please send me your cabin number on my facebook.com/johnheald page the day before you sail and let me see what I can add to the occasion. I wish you both the best of times together. Best wishes.

John

Beth Walkley asks:
John: This was my fourth cruise as we have just walked off the Carnival Sunshine this morning. I have never written you before but I felt I needed to as to all the bad reviews this ship and staff have received. On our first sea day we were laying by the pool and they just finished water aerobics. This family was very upset that they made the kids move to the front of the pool while they were doing their class. She felt that the class should have been held in the Serenity pool. She ripped into the instructor. Then a few hours later I went to customer service and she was ripping into them. The staff handled her amazingly as I would have thrown her overboard. When we left Cozumel it was a pretty rough ride. My kids were concerned as we were leaning a little. The wait staff kept walking by leaning real hard to the right. I never laughed so hard. The ship is beautiful. No bad smells. No rude staff. Jamie Dee is an awesome cruise director. Never have seen someone with so much energy and she says she doesn’t drink caffeine. I must give a big thank you to our wait staff.  I Nyoman – we called him Wi And Victor. As I said we walked off the ship about an hour ago and I’m waiting on a call back now from my PVP on an eight-day cruise on the Carnival Sunshine.

John says:
Hello Beth Walkley

Thanks so much for this great review and it seems you had a brilliant time despite that bad weather. I have to agree that making people leave the pool is not a great idea and I will chat with the ship to see if we can find a better time to do this. I know that the people you mentioned will be thrilled when they see this and I hope that the fun you had means we will see you again soon. Thanks again for taking the time to write and I am here if you need anything. Best wishes.

John

Doug Frantz asks:
Dear John: You may remember me my partner Amy and my friends Sean and Hana as we were dressed in our Star Trek Starfleet Officers Uniforms at your Alaska seminar. You certainly had fun at our expense and we loved every minute of it. We had lots of pictures with other passengers which was a great feeling. Special shout out goes to our amazing always smiling cabin steward, Roy, who we gave a Star Fleet Academy pin to. The same kudos goes to Wayan and Izi in the dining room table 262. John, just one comment if I may. You said in your seminar something I feel I need to correct because Captain Kirk never actually said “Beam me up, Scotty” LOL. We had a blast John and next stop on our five-year mission is Carnival Dream in January 2015 LOL.

John says:
Hello Doug Frantz

I do indeed remember you well and in fact I wrote about you in a blog last week and the Star Trek cruise convention we had many years ago. Thanks for putting up with my silliness but it’s not every day you have Star Trek people in the third row. And I have noted that Captain Kirk never said that, I had no idea. Most importantly, I will send your kind words for the people you mentioned and they will be so proud that you took the time to mention them. I wish you a wonderful time on your next cruise and hope that you boldly go on to become platinum and diamond members. Best wishes to all.

John

William Dubuc asks:
Just off Carnival Liberty – One major complaint was that we had Frozen and the Lego movie as choices for the big screen. The kids have their camp so why are we inflicted with this crap and why are there not more adult theme movies? This ruined my cruise experience John it really did make hundreds of passengers walk off in disgust.

John says:
Hello William Dubuc

Certainly choosing what movies we play on the big screen is difficult because we do proudly cater to a family audience and with kids passing across the deck all the time we have to be careful of the content. So we really do try and mix it up accordingly with movies for all. I see that your cruise had the movies Gravity, Ride Along, Divergent, The Vow and The Hobbit, certainly more for adults than kids. I hope we see you again and let me know when you cruise next and I will let you know what movies you will see.  Best wishes.

John

Christopher Resnick asks:
Your writing is some of the most ignorant I have ever read. You obviously have a 100% lack of education about global warming and the threat it brings to our planet earth. I suggest you start by watching Al Gore’s campaigning documentary An Inconvenient Truth. The case for global warming is fact. It is typical of “non-believers” like you to adopt a certainty that their view is correct, witness Islamists and fundamental Christians to name just two. This page is supposedly about cruises not a page for you to express your ignorance,

John says:
Hello Christopher Resnick

I do apologise if any of my remarks offended you and your right, sometimes I do drift away from cruising and express a remark or two about other subjects. I respect your opinion as I hope you will mine and as for global warming, well I prefer to keep an open mind……….not an empty one.

Best wishes.

John

Shawn Clemons asks:
Hi John: First off, I am not a TA. I work for a travel nursing company as the director of operations. However 15 years ago I was a TA and fell in love with cruising then. Last year I took my first cruise with carnival and absolutely loved it except for the kids. Since you are
on the ship I am sailing on in October, I was hoping you could give me some insight to how many children sail in October for a 15-day cruise — and when you’re doing a 15-day cruise that is sold out is it like doing a Caribbean that is sold out. Is the occupancy of the cabin as high – three to four to a cabin? I am the consummate researcher and try to always be prepared. I have looked through your blogs and I have not seen where you have addressed this. I must tell you I greatly have appreciated you honesty on your blog. Thanks for your time in advance — I am excited to experience Hawaii in the fall — by all accounts you are the best CD out there!

John says:
Hello Shawn Clemons

Thanks for writing and I see you are on the cruise to Hawaii which I have no doubts will be superb. The current count for guests under 18 is 78 which are actually quite high for a longer cruise like this. The cruise will I am sure sell out because longer cruises like this are very popular and do not come around too often. I have no doubts you will have a brilliant time and I will be here if you or your family need anything at all. Thanks for writing and for the very kind words.

Best wishes.

John

Brenda Carty asks:
When will Carnival get back to Europe? Every other cruise line seems to me to be cruising there so why not you guys

John says:
Hello Brenda Carty

I miss Europe too very much and we are hoping that air fares from North America become more affordable so we can return one day. I will, of course, keep you informed. Best wishes.

John

Sarah Kozel asks:
John, dress code, your favorite subject to defend and try to abolish. I am a platinum VIP and close to diamond status!!! Just off the Carnival Glory and saw two ladies come for dinner some nights with a summer dress over a bikini. They had come no doubt straight from sun bathing and just put a plain beach style white dress over their bikinis. This is disgusting that the maitre d let them come in the main dining hall dressed like that.

John says:
Hello Sarah Kozel

It will always be an opinion that divides our guests. To me a summer dress is fine but if it’s wet or straight from the pool then I would agree it should be allowed in. However from what you describe that was not the case. Regardless the most important part of my reply is that I hope that all the fun you have had that has kept you coming back to Carnival and so close to being Diamond status would not stop because of what someone else wore for dinner. Thanks so much and I remain here at your service. Hope to see you soon. Best wishes.

John

Sabrina asks:
We has a question regarding the comedy lineup for the August 30 Carnival Fascination cruise. Our Carnival planner/booking agent Michelle Hill said you are the one to ask. We were wondering who the comedy entertainer is on that five-day cruise out of the Jacksonville. Also, we have seen the same show for the last three years. Do you have any information on the shows? We have seen Motown and the Diva’s. Thanks John

John says:
Hello Sabrina

Thank you for writing and you will be laughing out loud to Hank McGauley and John Wesley Austin. The shows are currently the new Playlist shows of Divas and Motor City. Enjoy the shows and have a brilliant cruise and let me know if you have any other questions. Best wishes.

John

And that’s all we have time for today. Thanks you though for all your comments and for getting this blog voted as the winner of USA Today’s best cruise blog. I am honoured beyond words.

Just before we move on let’s have a quick look at who is sailing with us this cruise, shall we?

These cruises are really going quickly so let’s have a look at who is sailing as we start another Alaska adventure.

Total Guests                            2,591
USA                                        2,323
Canada                                                61
French Canadian                     11
UK                                          11
Australia                                  18
China                                       38
Guests Under 18                     424
Service Dogs                           1 poodle – for sleep apnea (name unknown)
Diamond                                 7
Platinum                                  155

Yep, here we go again and I am sure both man and beast will have the best of times. It has been a hectic few days on Facebook and I don’t think I have answered so many comments since we told you the shrimp cocktail was off the menu. Look, there is no point me answering another hundred or so questions on the new smoking polices here as well so I picked two, here they are:

Paul Lowes
URGENT! The beards need to see this poll and so do you John Heald. It was conducted after that disgusting announcement about smoking being BANNED on the balconies. You have pandered to the whiners and will now surely lose 50 percent of your business. Take a look at this poll conducted on the world’s most read cruise site and you will see just how many people HATE this idea and read the comments from your customers who will go to other cruise lines who do not treat their customers like workers in cotton fields forced to smoke in uncomfortable conditions. http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2068042.  We all want this to be changed and have more rights for smokers or Carnival will see a big hole in their earnings!! Carnival need to wake up and realize that anti-smoking is more religion than science!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And then this one

Mia
Hello John. I have spent all day reading the comments on your blog and other cruise opinion web pages about Carnival, my cruise line of choice banning smoking on the balcony.  John, I have smoked since I was 17. I belong to the generation whose parents both smoked 40 Camel cigarettes a day and whose childhood was spent enveloped in clouds of smoke. Everyone smoked in Chicago where I grew up. You could smoke on the bus, bars and clubs, everywhere. Nobody wanted to stop and once I’d started because my friends smoked, neither did I. I loved smoking and I had no regrets. It drives people mad when you say smoking is cool, but disliking something doesn’t stop others from doing it. Smoking used to be cool. People who smoked were by and large more fun than the people who coughed ostentatiously and waved their hands around saying, “Ugh” were boring and not cool.  I remember when I was 30 and still smoking and the anti-smoking folks started coming out of their caves telling me that they had given up and that I should as well. And, John, I remember thinking” I’ll take my chances.” Then my father died of lung cancer. He was diagnosed in April and by September he was dead. He had smoked since he was 18 and he died at just 59. My mom and me were grief-stricken but both of us kept smoking despite the fact that the same cigarettes we were putting in our mouths had been the reason we had buried our father. My mom now has lung cancer and I am embarrassed to say that this was not the reason I decided to give up, John. Even with Mom in a care home, I will admit that this was only part of the reason I no longer smoke. It is because smoking has recently become no fun, a word I know you use a lot, John, so I am sure you will understand. I was fed up with leaving restaurants mid-dinner to have a lonely cigarette outside, or of walking around the port of San Juan our cruise last year getting breathless going up a small hill to the old town.

What to do? I had smoked for 25 years. I had big nicotine addiction. I wasn’t going to be able to stop just like that. It is not just smoking that I enjoy but the ritual. And, I didn’t really want to stop smoking. I wanted a magic cigarette that did me no harm — or, at least, considerably less harm. It turns out that such a thing exists. I haven’t had tobacco for nearly six months. It is incredible and the joy of it has made me giddy. I am vaping — inhaling the vapor from a cigarette. This vapor contains nicotine but none of the 50 carcinogens found in Marlboro Lights. And yes, I am still addicted to (a decreasing amount of) nicotine. Being addicted to nicotine can lead to stroke, or cancer, or make your skin wrinkly and grey, or make your fingers yellow, or give you gum disease and brown teeth — all things that I want to avoid.

And, just like that, your life changes and you are free of nicotine. It was too late for my dad and too late it seems for my dear mom but it is not too late for me. I think banning cigarettes from balconies is a good thing and I know I will get flamed for saying that. Let may say to those who will flame me though is that cigarettes killed my Dad and will be the cause of Mom’s death as well. That is something I have to live with every day but I have more days now since stopping smoking and using my life saving vapor cigarette. So please John, please do not make me smoke this only where people are using real cigarettes. I hope this post shows you why. Thank you for listening

So, two very different stories there and both have strong arguments. There is one fact that is never going to change and that is smoking is never going to get easier. You can debate the rights and wrongs of that but with laws and regulations on land and sea getting even stricter as to where and when people can smoke it is a juggernaut that can’t be stopped. There is no going back. I will answer your questions always of course but I shan’t be commenting in the heart of the blog anymore. Time to move on and concentrate on making the smoking areas we do have more comfortable.

I am in discussion with the beards about improving the smoking areas we have and our current polices on eCigarettes and I will let you know as and when I have news on this. Opinions will be divided and if I can say it’s been difficult for me to stay objective and juggle the brand ambassador role in one hand and my Monte Cristo cigar in the other. But banning smoking from the balconies gives fresh air to those above, below and next to smokers like me and elevates the risk of fire, as well. Those are facts, love them, hate them, doesn’t matter, the fact is they are here to stay because such is the way of the world we now live in.

Let’s move on, shall we? About three years ago I was approached by another cruise line suggesting that I should come and work for them. They offered me a very big salary jump and all the Latvian women I would possibly want. OK, maybe not the Latvians but the money offer was flattering for sure. But honestly and I mean honestly as nice as that was I didn’t give it a second thought. I politely said no and that was that.

Why? Two reason. First, is that it has taken luck and a huge dollop of hard work to get me where I am today and I don’t mean sitting at my desk on the Carnival Miracle writing to you. No, I mean senior cruise director and brand ambassador to Carnival Cruise Lines. Then there is the fact that I really truly doubt any other cruise line would let me be…..well……….me. And maybe it is safe to say that deep down no other cruise lines passengers would want me to be ………… well …………me.

But there is a another reason — a bloody big one at that. And it’s one simple word, loyalty. This company has been brilliant to me and to my family in more ways that I can ever give them gratitude for. And so they have my loyalty. I am loyalty to Micky Arison and to Gerry Cahill and to the thousands of people who work on land and sea alongside me to make sure that everyone reading this has the very best of times on your vacation. Loyalty in the work place is not always evident and loyalty in sports teams these days is as rare as a Smoking Allowed Here sign…….. well………anywhere.

Where is that loyalty? It is a familiar saying from fans who take such huge pride in their faithfulness to a team. These last few days my two favourite sports stars left my two favourite teams — Louis Suarez from Liverpool to Barcelona (that’s saccccceerrrr) and, of course, LeBron James from my Miami Heat to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Miami will miss Mr. James, of course. We will always accept that sports stars can earn wealth beyond our wildest dreams, but it’s when they put the money at the forefront of their decisions and start acting like commodities rather than sporting stars, that make my hemorrhoids itch.

But as far as my loyalty is concerned it is unquestioning……….unless, of course, Disney Cruise Line offer me a job as brand ambassador, I might change my loyalty then. Yep, my Facebook page as their brand ambassador could have a video of me in the shower washing my dangly bits singing “It’s a Small World”……..that aside……..there is only one Micky I am loyal to.

Goodnight.

Your friend,
John

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Song of America http://johnhealdsblog.com/2014/07/08/song-of-america/ http://johnhealdsblog.com/2014/07/08/song-of-america/#comments Tue, 08 Jul 2014 20:57:11 +0000 http://johnhealdsblog.com/?p=21727 Continue reading ]]> It was an awful start to our day in Seattle for me and far more awful for the person that at 7 am this morning, just like it happens on land-side jobs each and every day, I had to tell was no longer employed by Carnival Cruise Lines. This is really the part of my job that I absolutely detest.  Now, obviously, I cannot go into detail but I can tell you that this person has had plenty of chances, probably more than he deserved, and I was determined to change this person……but I failed. When you relieve a person from a job on land, they pack a box, call a cab and go home. On a ship, it’s very different. You have to pack, not a box, but one or two suitcases and you don’t hop in a cab….. you have to fly home… sometimes and in this case……a flight which will last this person many hours. That’s a sodding long time to reflect on what’s transpired.

We did this this face to face, of course, and when I say “we” I mean I did it with our human resources director. This position started a few years ago and is now fleetwide and has become a tremendous asset to the crew. So in the company of our HR director, I met with this staff member and we took our time to explain why he had to leave and looked back at previous documentation and discussions we had. There were tears, there was anger and there was not a moment that I did not feel like a total bastard, despite his inability to do the job that he was required to do at the standards the company expected. Yep, put a crying, begging, angry 20-something man in front of you and I doubt anyone has a heart cold enough not to feel some kind of empathy. I read recently how one company in the UK fired all 180 of their employees by e-mail.  There has also been “techno-dumping” of partners as well with partners telling their wives, husbands, girlfriends and boyfriends that their relationship is over and that they are having rumpy pumpy with their best friend or changing their name from Randy to Penelope.

OK, you may be too scared to face the wrath of a woman you’ve been having rumpy pumpy with ……..hence the text……but surely ……is it ever OK to fire someone by e-mail? I guess there is the simple but important difference that it is much harder to fire someone than to dump someone. I hate the way in which The Apprentice presents an unrealistic picture of how easy it is to fire someone as Mr. Trump — and that poofy orange hair of his – pointing his finger and saying “You’re fired.” In real life……… it isn’t anything like that and many of you in a managerial position will know what I mean, right?

As easy as it would make it, I could never fire anyone by e-mail and I would hope that when I finally lose the plot completely and walk into Gerry Cahill’s office wearing only a leather thong, smoking a palm tree, singing a reggae version of the song from the movie Frozen, “Let It Go….Mon” ….that he will fire me in person and not by an email. But I don’t want to make light of having to fire someone from their work here on the Carnival Miracle because it is an unpleasant a task there is. And as we roll out the new entertainment director position they will take over this burden and numerous other responsibilities… and I, for one, will not miss it at all.

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

Claire asks:
Hi John: I love reading your blog, it’s so entertaining as well as informative! My husband and I will be sailing on Carnival Breeze in January 2015 for our 40th anniversary and have signed up for Faster to the Fun since we aren’t quite Platinum yet. I just read in your most recent blog that there are only 15 cabins per cruise available for Faster to the Fun. Is this true on all ships, including Carnival Breeze? Thanks for having to address this issue twice in such a short time.
Have a great weekend and keep us posted!

John says:
Hello Claire

What a wonderful way to celebrate your anniversary and mark this milestone of 40 years together. We do limit Faster to the Fun to approximately 15 cabins per cruise and also take into consideration the number of Diamond and Patinum cruisers on that voyage. I think you will really enjoy the benefits this brings and, if there is anything else I can do for you, please do let me know. Best wishes to you both.

John

Ralph Lacey asks:
We just got back from our cruise on Carnival Dream with one big negative. On the Tuesday afternoon my wife and I decided to spend the afternoon on the balcony and then ordered room service that took nearly 30 minutes to bring two sandwiches and coffee!!!! That is not my complaint. We were so relaxed that we decided to stay in the cabin that afternoon and night and skip dinner in the main dining room. We put the Do Not Disturb sign out. The next day was a day with no port, so we slept late but, even though we had the Do Not Disturb sign hanging on the door, our idiotic room steward (name) knocked on the door at 10:30 am.  My wife and I are heavy sleepers sand did not expect and did not hear him knock until he came in and saw us both in bed. This was very much a shock to my wife to see him and a man in white uniform standing our doorway staring at us. I complained to the front desk and asked for the steward not to clean our rooms but to have him replaced. This night not sound like a big deal but why have a Do Not Disturb sign out if your staff ignores it?????????? Very unsatisfactory behaviour and not the way to run a cruise company

John says:
Hello Ralph Lacey

I am very sorry to read that this incident has left you feeling frustrated and, yet, I am glad you have written to me so that I can try and explain. If I am reading this correctly you had the Do Not Disturb sign out from the previous afternoon through the night into the late morning the following day. If that is the case, we do have an internal rule which requires the state room stewards to check on the safety and well-being of the guests inside the cabin. I am sure that you will feel comforted knowing that this was the reason your cabin steward, and what sounds like an assistant housekeeping manager, knocked on your door. It also sounds like, thanks to the wonderful deep sleep you were both in, that you did not hear him knock. And while I really can’t apologise that they checked on your safety and well-being, I do understand, of course, the discomfort you both felt seeing two employees at the entrance to the cabin. I hope this explains why this happened and I do hope that you can look back at the many positives you enjoyed on the cruise and the fun you had and that we will therefore see you soon. If there is anything I can do for you, please let me know. Best wishes.

John

Jason Wilson asks:
I’m booked on my third cruise in September. I’ve always brought a bottle of wine with me on board and paid the cork fee. I haven’t had the opportunity to enjoy the sea day brunch yet and was wondering… if I buy a bottle of champagne on board, do I still pay a cork fee if I bring it to brunch to make my own mimosas? I see mimosas aren’t on the sea day brunch menu, so I figured I’d make my own… options?

John says:
Hello Jason Wilson

Thanks for writing and if you have purchased a bottle of champagne from on the ship there is no corkage fee at the brunch. If you purchase this off vessel we will charge a corkage fee. Mimosas sound like a great complement to your brunch and I hope you enjoy them. Please let me know if you have any other questions and have a great cruise

Jenny A asks:
Alaska is on the bucket list! I am an experienced cruiser (six cruises just last year) but the elusive Alaskan cruise will be soon. From your opinion, pertaining to Alaska — any specific side of the ship- portside or starboard? A higher balcony versus a balcony on a lower deck? Mid-ship balcony versus forward or aft? Tracy Arm fjord or Glacier Bay? I am sure each is beautiful but if you may only cruise Alaska once- which is better? Is one risky with weather and maybe a miss?
Due to my work schedule, I must cruise Alaska late in the season (September). Aside from cooler weather, what should I expect? More/less rain? Towns starting to close up for the winter? Less excursion options? Less daylight? What is the must-do excursion for the entire trip? I know you won’t have time to answer for each port but what excursion do you hear is the most unforgettable? These questions may seem mundane but I’d like to try and plan well. I promise not to use a fanny pack nor complain about the fog horn. Although is aft easier on the ear with the horn? I look forward to meeting you soon!

John says:
Hello Jenny A

I can tell already how excited you are for your Alaskan cruise. People often ask me what side is better, port or starboard and, really, the absolute truthful answer to that is that it does not matter. When we enter Tracy Arm or Glacier Bay, the captain maneuvers the ship 360 degrees so everyone gets to see the wonders that these places offer and, apart from the first cruise where every single whale was on the starboard side, they have since then been dividing their time equally. As for which is best, Tracy Arm or Glacier Bay, that really is impossible to answer? It would be like being asked to choose between two gorgeous puppies. Whatever cruise you choose you will see amazing sights and incredible views and you will not be disappointed. The best tours are in my opinion the helicopter tours, the trains to the Yukon and any of the whale and wildlife quests. These are unforgettable. The weather is hard to predict so wear layers and, certainly, bring something waterproof and warm. I do hope this starts to get you even more excited and if you have any other questions, please let me know. I hope to see you with us going north to Alaska very soon. Best wishes.

Dianne Hernandez asks:
In follow up to your blog statement about dress code, take notice of what RCI does. They have staff at each entrance to their restaurant on the Independence of the Seas and anyone not in proper attire is sent away to eat at their bistro. This did not happen on the Carnival Magic, our first Carnival experience. Not sure if this was because the ship is full of Texas people but the restaurant was overflowing with baseball caps, jeans and I even saw someone allowed in wearing camouflage hunter pants!!!!!!! This spoiled our experience in the restaurant considerably. Are dress codes different on a ship from Texas or is this typical standard at Carnival?

John says:
Hello Dianne Hernandez

Our dress codes are, indeed, the same through the fleet and not based on where the ship sails from. Certainly, it is difficult to see what every guest is wearing as they enter the dining room. It sounds like we can do better but, I for one, would never want to see any of our guests on their hard-earned and valuable vacation having to pass a dress code inspection before being allowed to come in for dinner. I will, of course, pass on your thoughts to the managers on the Carnival Magic to see what they can do to improve here. I am sure that you enjoyed the service and the food despite what others may be wearing and I truly hope that you had a wonderful time and that we will see you again soon. Best wishes.

John

LaDonna Kay asks:
Hi John!
Platinum cruiser here! Love Carnival and will be loyal forever!  Question: When, if ever, do you anticipate an expansion of your ports in Charleston or Baltimore? I’m in North Carolina and would really love to see the larger ships a little closer to home. I love those large ships and recently sailed on Carnival Breeze (December 2013) but it can be pricey when you consider airfare to Florida. Would love to know if this is in the works at all? Seeing those bigger ships in the rotation to these areas would be amazing and would enable me to cruise even more frequently than I already do! Love the blog, love Carnival!
LaDonna

John says:
Hello LaDonna Kay

Thank you so very much for your appreciation and for your loyalty to us and long may that continue. I can tell you that we really enjoy sailing from those ports but I am not aware of any immediate plans to bring bigger ships to Charleston or Baltimore but will certainly let you know if that ever comes to fruition. I hope you have more cruises planned and, if there is ever anything I can do for you, please do let me know. Best wishes.

Megan Kates asks:
I agree – we platinum VIPS should get more and should not have to scramble for seats at shows. We deserve reserved seating based on the thousands of dollars we have spent. John, others may not like the fact but we are loyal, so why should we have to use the same gangplank and not have the best seats at shows, a private line for all the buffets and free Internet? Loyalty programs keep passengers loyal and we deserve to be thought of as VIPs and not fenced in with the other non-VIPS as we are now.

John says:
Hello Megan Kates

I agree that the loyalty of our VIFP guests is extremely important to us at Carnival and I thank you for the loyalty you have personally shown. We do not have any plans to reserve seats at shows or have a private gangway but we are looking at what we can do to improve the current program and, when I have news on that, I will share it. Thanks again and hope we see you soon. Best wishes.

John

Kenneth Pomering asks:
This is being written from the check-in waiting area because I am so angry.  I am waiting to board Carnival Triumph for the start of our cruise this huge obese monster of a woman in a wheelchair and her family of seven were allowed to board first. Why? This woman chose to be that big but she and her non-handicapped family got to board before me and, get this, Heald, she was carrying a 12-pack of Coke on her knees as the staff person tried to push her fat ass in the wheelchair. Being fat is a lifestyle choice, not a proper disability and should not be rewarded with priority boarding.

John says:
Hello Kenneth Pomering

It would be unfair of me to talk about what does and does not constitute a disability as I do not know all the circumstances, I am sure you understand. If a guest requires wheelchair assistance we do, by law, have to provide them with just that. I hope once on board, you had forgotten how frustrated this made you feel and that you started to have immediate fun and that you ended up having the best of times. Best wishes.

John

Michael Kaplan asks:
John: Since meeting you on Carnival Liberty years ago (2005) and getting to know you better during the past Blogger’s Cruise, I felt the keen desire to pass along this to you. Sometime at the beginning of May I was speaking with a neighbor about how much we enjoy cruising and she mentioned she would love to go sometime. I immediately started to look for a three-day cruise out of Long Beach on May 29. We included another first-time cruiser neighbor and booked a cruise. I can’t explain exactly why, but it rivals as one of the best of the 30+ cruises I’ve been on. There were so many exceptional staff members, I thought I might run out of room on the survey. My friends are ready to go again – soon! I may have captured two new Carnivalites, but, with you leading the way, we all become Carnival ambassadors! John, for all you are and for all you do I thank you. And I thank Carnival for keeping the bar raised for the quality of staff and crew. See you again next January on Carnival Breeze. We’re going to do back-to-back on this one because we just can’t get enough!

Mike

John says:
Hello Mike Kaplan

This was a joy to read. Thank you for introducing new people to Carnival and the fun that comes with it. It sounds like you all had the most amazing time and I hope there will be many more amazing times to be had in future days. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you and thanks again for this wonderful post. Best wishes.

John

Rick Walton asks:
Your call/no-call on tsunami hysteria was just swell.  BTW, our first day home, and my four-year-old is singing, “Is that a booger in the sugar …” Thanks for that. Cheers.

John says:
Hello Rick Walton

Thank you for the positive reinforcement because it really was a tough choice to make. If there had been even the smallest of concerns to the safety of the ship I would, of course, have kept everyone informed but in this case there was none and so it was decided not to worry anyone unnecessarily and, from what you have written, and from what others on board that cruise have told me, it was indeed the right decision. I am sorry about that song……..it will have by now I am sure, started to grate on your every nerve. I hope we see you and the family again very soon and thanks so much for sharing in the fun. Best wishes to you all.

John

Cath Hamrick asks:
Let me start by saying we are frequent cruisers with Carnival. We will be sailing on Carnival Sunshine in May 2015. My question is what happened to the deck cams? They have not worked for several weeks. Love seeing what is going on. Thank you

John says:
Hello Cath Hamrick

My apologies for this. I have checked and they all seem to be working now. Here is the link. http://carnivalentertainment.net/ships/verify.php?go= Please let me know if you have any other questions. Best wishes.

John

Jen Qualls asks:
We are sailing on Carnival Victory out of Miami to Grand Turk, Nassau and a Bahamian out island for five days.  Will we be able to purchase a “Cheers” card?

John says:
Hello Jen Qualls

Yes, indeed, you will as the Cheers program is available on the Carnival Victory. Enjoy this and have a wonderful time. Best wishes.

John

Philip Erwert asks:
I read your new cruise director schedule blog and do not see two of my favorite cruise directors Tex and Willy Lee, mentioned. What gives?!

John says:
Hello Philip Erwert

Both Tex and Willie have left Carnival and are working elsewhere. We wish them both all the best. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Best wishes.

John

And that’s all for today. So it was a great cruise despite bad weather in Skagway which resulted in a mudslide on the railway line to the Yukon which resulted in lots of excursion changes. The rest of the cruise, the weather was superb and the guests, I think, all had an excellent Alaskan experience. It was certainly a busy one though and I have three enduring memories of it and here they are.

  • Zoe – The very first time I met Zoe, she looked like she was shouldering all the world’s problems and, that after losing her husband at such a young age, who could have blamed her. But here we are, one year later, and seeing her cruising with the ladies who one year ago took her under their wing and seeing Zoe smiling and listening to her tell me about her new job and how she is beginning to live her life again……..well that was the most brilliant feeling.
  • The National Anthem part 1 – As I documented on Facebook, I had received a request from a father for his young daughter to sing the National Anthem at one of the shows for the 4th of July celebrations. After a letter from me and a follow up conversation and even an offer for her to sing a duet with one of the show band singers at one of their sets in the Jeeves Lounge, I am afraid to say that Dad was not happy. I saw them two more times in passing around the ship and, each time, I greeted them with my usual exuberance and each time I was blanked by Dad……who gave me not even a nod of the head. And that makes me very sad.
  • The National Anthem part 2: Again, as mentioned on my Facebook page, two different cabins complained about the waiters singing the National Anthem on July 4th in the dining room. Both said that they found it “disrespectful.” Now what’s interesting here is these are two different cabins and they certainly do not know each other. Yet both used the word “disrespectful” so does that mean they may have a point? Let’s look at the facts shall we? The waiters, under the leadership of our “singing maître d,” the incomparable Mr. Ken Byrne, come from 23 different countries. Now, admittedly, I did not hear it but like every song they sing they would have done it with great gusto yet two sets of guests found this disturbing enough to complain and I wanted to check before speaking with the guests if anything had happened during the performance. So I talked to Ken who confirmed they sang the correct words, no comedy or jovial behaviour was added and the waiters all sang the song with gravitas and with some pride as well. As they did the guests sang along as well and most stood……not all……..but most. So what was it that these guests found disrespectful? Well it turns out that one cabin was not actually upset at the singing of the song which, by the way, was not the Star Spangled Banner but a song called “God Bless America,” something had been lost in translation between them reporting their comment to the head waiter who reported it to the guest services desk. The reason they were upset was that we had not done the same for Canada Day last Tuesday and they found this very disrespectful to the Canadians. And maybe they are right, certainly short of me wishing the Canadians a very happy Canada Day over the PA system we don’t do anything and I will address this with the beards. The second cabin — well that’s a whole different story. They felt the waiters who stood on the stairs at around the upper level singing the song did not do so seriously and that they were laughing and, I quote, “treating the song with disrespect and ridicule.” Those were his words. Now, at this point I would like to have said how this again is worthy of discussion. A song like God Bless America or any national anthem, regardless of where you are from, gives you a sense of great pride and maybe this chap had served in the military or had a personal connection to the words of the God Bless America. But that now does not matter and let me tell you why. First of all, he was so mad that he went straight from dinner and screamed — and I mean screamed — his bloody head off at the guest services associate and this brings me to another point if I can digress just for a moment, please. Carnival’s ships are staffed by humans, who make good decisions and bad ones. If a decision is bad enough and it affects you or those dear to you, it is worth complaining about and we are here to listen, always.  But don’t shout at the poor sod at the guest services desk. Please, stay calm and ask to speak to someone in charge and then if you must shout, so at someone who can actually help. If your complaint is logical and well-argued, and you are persistent, you will be surprised how often you can get a result, we really do care and we really do want you to have the best of times on our ships. As I mentioned, this chap’s complaint about the staff singing this song may have been worthy of discussion but not by me, not here. You see, the second reason for that statement is that he removed the gratuities for his family of four, not just for the waiters but for his cabin steward, as well. That’s his right to do, of course, but this has taken away any thought of me trying to ponder and trying to understanding and his indifference of the waiters singing the anthem of the United States of America. I am sorry that the song upset the guest………….but did it justify him removing all the gratuities? I guess only he knows.

We are now talking about singing this every week and, so as not to upset others, we will have other countries anthems sing as well and will provide little flags for everyone to wave. We will include the American anthem, the Canadian anthem, British anthem, the Australian anthem and the French anthem. I think this will be a wonderful addition to the dining room entertainment even though it will cost us some money to provide national flags for all the guests to wave …….. Although for the French anthem, the guests can, of course, just wave their table cloths in the air.

Let’s see who is sailing with us today, shall we?

Guests                                     2,434
US                                           2,002
Canada                                                89
French Canadians                   12
UK                                          18
Australia                                  9
India                                        52
Guests under 18                      488
Diamond                                 4
Platinum                                  176
Labradors                                1
Most common last name         Patel (27)

So now I could go on and talk about what’s been happening here on the ship but it would be silly to do so because all anyone wants to talk about is my dangly bits…..bugger………I mean smoking. Now for those of you who may have not have heard, here is the news on smoking.

In response to the preferences of a majority of our guests, effective October 9, 2014, Carnival Cruise Lines will no longer allow smoking on stateroom balconies fleetwide.  The company already prohibits smoking within staterooms.  Carnival’s updated smoking policy is consistent with most other major cruise lines.

Smoking will continue to be allowed in designated open deck areas, as well as night clubs and certain areas within the casino and casino bar.

Guests who smoke in their staterooms or on their balconies will be assessed a $250 cleaning and refreshing fee on their Sail & Sign shipboard account.  Information on this fee is included in Carnival’s ticket contract.

We appreciate our guests’ understanding of this modification to our smoking policy based on guest feedback.

In fact, if you could see me now, you would see me in my underpants, wearing a black armband because I, for one, am mourning the loss of smoking on the balconies. I will miss being in Alaska, sitting late at night, on my balcony and enjoying the solitary peace that my cigar brought me after a long day as CD and posting on social media.  However, I am a cigar smoker second and a cruise director and brand ambassador first and so from a guest point of you I have to face the obvious that I have known has been coming for many months. One question will be this, I am sure. Why didn’t we go 100% smoke free? The answer is simple and that’s if a family or a group book a cruise and just one person smokes, Carnival will not be a vacation choice. They will end up going to places where you can smoke like ummmm ……. ummmmmmm…….. ummmmmm …..or…..ummmmm.

This is a non-smoking world we live in. Let’s face it — because it’s true, isn’t it, and our new policies place us in line with most other major cruise lines and the vast, vast majority of our guests are non-smokers and we wanted to have our shipboard experience to meet our guest’s preferences. And our ban on smoking on the balconies is just another rule I have seen come into play. Yep, I have been at sea 27 years this August and I have seen so many changes during my time. I don’t just mean that in the 80′s and 90′s you could smoke everywhere — the dining rooms, all the bars and lounges and even in a lifeboat if you wanted …..no, I mean that people’s tolerance to smoking was far greater back then. But this is not just a cruise ship thing is it?  Because hotels, bars, restaurants, casinos and even sodding golf courses and beaches now have huge nonsmoking signs on them.

Smoking is, of course, is hazardous to your health and others and the damage caused is self-inflicted and maybe the harder it is to smoke, more of us will stop……………and, yep, that’s a good thing, obviously.  You know, I remember a friend of mine who works as a doctor here with us at Carnival once telling me something I will never forget. She said, “I worked in hospitals watching people some only in their 50′s, gasping for air and unable to walk 20 meters without having to rest. To this day, not one of them has ever said, ‘I’m glad I smoke, it is worth it.’ They never say, ‘The government shouldn’t tell us what to do.’ It is usually, ‘I wish I had listened and stopped’ or ‘Please tell my children not to smoke.’

When it was first suggested that passive smoking was harmful, the idea was at best controversial and the evidence supermodel thin. It is not so now. It is widely accepted that second-hand smoking is dangerous to those who experience it for a sustained period and that’s why we have stopped it on balconies and because it is simply not fair to the many who are on the next door balcony who do not want to be surrounded by smoke…………despite the fact that much of it dissapissatates (spelt correctly) into the air.

I have, of course, read a few “We will never cruise with you again” already today and that, of course, is understandable, even though for some it was a knee-jerk reaction. What can we do to make those guests happy? One thing for sure is we MUST improve the outdoor smoking areas. Provide better seats, more of them, more shelter from the elements, tables and bar service and basically mirror image the brilliant smoking areas on the Dream-class ships that can be found on The Lanai. And that’s my short-term solution for you and for me, Mr. and Mrs. Smoker. These ships have superb outdoor areas and so if you are booking based purely on smoking polices then for now those are your best bet and you won’t be disappointed. It’s a short elevator ride to the Lanai, there is a bar right there open 24 hours a day and the coffee ship is just a few feet away.

Meanwhile, I will make it a personal endeavor to work with the beards to improve the outdoor areas for smoking across the fleet because, well, we have to. Yep, as much as I will miss my “me time” on my Alaskan balcony next year on the Carnival Legend here in Alaska I accept and totally understand why we have done it.

Now hold on, please don’t panic I am not saying anyone should give up smoking — it’s a free world and I still will continue to enjoy my cigars and the time spent with others as we enjoy this pastime. The points I raised are only made to show why smoking has such a bad image.

And I should add that maybe one day as we get “smoking kills” messages on packets of cigarettes and boxes of my beloved Opus X’s cigars, we will also have similar messages on wine bottles, sugary candy and soda, even cell phones once someone with a beard determines they cause cancer.

Thanks for listening and, as always, I will be here and on my Facebook page to listen to you.

Goodnight

Your friend,
John

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The People I Met Last Cruise http://johnhealdsblog.com/2014/07/01/the-people-i-met-last-cruise/ http://johnhealdsblog.com/2014/07/01/the-people-i-met-last-cruise/#comments Tue, 01 Jul 2014 21:15:43 +0000 http://johnhealdsblog.com/?p=21723 Continue reading ]]> This past week I have been talking about Mrs. Robinson and her daughter on Facebook and had forgotten to tell you about some other people who were with us this past cruise. Yep, they were at my travel talk, they were in the dining room and apparently according to the shore excursion manager, they were on the Best of Juneau tour. Who am I talking about? The answer is Star Trek officers dressed in full original costumes, gold, blue and “you’re completely ***** red.”  Yes, indeed, last cruise we had four diehard Trekkies on the ship and if you’re reading this I salute you with that Spock thingy salute. I really hope you had fun. They reminded me of a charter cruise I will never forget. No, not that charter where I hid in my cabin for seven days while herds of guests stalked the corridors all wearing “I have lost 50 pounds — ask me how” badges trying to find my fat arse and shove a selection of teas up it.

No, this was a Star Trek convention we had on Carnival Sensation back in the mid 90′s. We had stars from the original series, the Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. Most of them, as I remember, were a bit quiet and couldn’t seem to wait to get out of the public areas and hide in their cabins. The only exceptions to the rule were Michelle Nicholas who played the radio operator, Lieutenant Ahwhorea or something like that, and an actor called John De Lancie who played Q. He was brilliant and we spent the week smoking cigars together.

My favorite memory of the cruise was watching Captain Gavino’s face on the then formal night. We stood at the entrance to the main lounge at the captain’s party and, instead of welcoming elegant ladies in flowing gowns and smartly dressed men in tuxedos…. …..we welcomed Cardasians, Klingons, Romulans and the blue-skinned ones whose name I am not enough of a Trekkie to remember. There were Starship captains who truly believed they were ……… ummm …… Starship captains and Vulcans who instead of shaking Captain Gavino’s hand would approach him and give him the Vulcan salute while saying, “live long and prosper.” I guess Star Trek is not so popular in Italy because poor old Captain Gavino looked like an Amish guy in an Apple store.

Seriously, though, some of the passengers truly thought that the actors were really the characters they played if you know what I mean. At the Q&A sessions, guests would ask one of the actors, “When you were on the planet Cruisecriticborg and were being attacked by the giant lizard……. how did you feel?”  It was obvious to me that the actors just wanted to say………”I just read what was on the script and buggered off to my trailer.” But they couldn’t because these people truly were ……….ummm………….different. Perhaps I am being too cruel. Trekkies are an easy target. Having a go at them is like setting your phaser to “stun” when an alien life form is already down. But such ritual humiliation appears to be part of the fun for them. They know they are nerds. They are in on the joke.

I personally liked Star Trek. I specifically liked the banter between Kirk and Spock…….the stud and the geek. I guess that’s how Calvyn, my previous assistant, must have felt when we worked together on board. Many of us have a mate who is a bit of a nerd and somewhat ugly but smarter than us. That was me and Calvyn…….I was Kirk………he was Spock and Calvyn always wanted to fly his ship to the planet Uranu……..never mind.

Captain Kirk got the big boss’s chair in front of the giant plasma screen while Spock sat quietly behind him, occasionally, grunting the word “acknowledged.” He could also do the famous Vulcan Death Grip which I myself used on Tony Lang once in the playground because he had told me that Sally Pool had said I smelled. The death grip worked when Spock did it but when I tried it on Tony he laughed and punched me in the bollocks. Being a Vulcan, he had a seven-year mating cycle which meant he only got to have rumpy pumpy once every seven years……..many of you……..like me……..will now be thinking if you have a bit of Vulcan in you and it might also explain why he had so much strength in his wrist when giving the old death grip.

Of course, Kirk was a stud. He had rumpy pumpy with every kind of woman ……green, black, pink ………if it breathed ……..he would have his way with her (or it).  I am sure that he must have spread some sexually transmitted diseases around the galaxy ………he really did go where no man has gone before when he had rumpy pumpy with the shape shifter thing who started out as a woman called Amanda but finished up as a man called Bob. Of course, since Kirk hung up his communicator we have had many more captains of the Enterprise. I guess many loved Jean Luc Picard but not me and not just because he was French, OK……..yes………I didn’t like him because he was French. But although he was calm and had cool sayings like “make it so number one” he wasn’t Kirk. Picard could outwit the Borg and then have a cup of Earl Grey tea. That’s OK. Kirk, on the other hand, would have had his way with three green alien women by the time the kettle had boiled. Captain Kirk was a hunter, killer and if he met a Ferangie, he wouldn’t want to hold “peace talks” with it he would rip its head off and then run off with his wife. Kirk had a cool Phaser that looked like a gun and not a Gillette electric razor as they use now……….and Kirk had a lazy boy chair on the bridge. There was a lady captain in the last series but her name escapes me and I am too lazy to ask Uncle Google. It as a boring Star Trek series from what I am told because being a woman she made friends with the aliens wives and had an intergalactic peace accord within minutes. This only failed when she discovered that the alien wives were better looking than her …….. in which case she bitched slap them to death with her space stilettos.

Time for today’s Q and A but not before I head to the bathroom to fight my own Klingon.

Laura Woods asks:
Good morning John: I hope that you are having a fabulous day! Just had a couple of questions for you. First and most importantly, we are taking another Carnival cruise on August 1 on Carnival Liberty out of Port Canaveral. We are celebrating a few huge accomplishments. First, my husband and I are celebrating 20 years of marriage. Woop Woop!  Don’t know how when we are only in our early 30′s LOL!!  Then we are also celebrating our son’s graduation from high school and EMT school.  He did dual enrollment his last year of high school and was able to complete EMT school all in the same year.  He is going into the fire academy and wants to be a fireman. We are super proud!  Then we will also celebrate our daughter’s 11th birthday. Even though all of these celebrations do not fall at the same, time we will be cruising.  We are celebrating anyway.  We were on Carnival Dream the last two years and honestly we had the most incredible vacations through Carnival that we just continue to book each year. All of us are excited for this eight-day cruise. By any chance will you be the cruise director for Carnival Liberty on August 1? I looked at the list and could not tell who would be on our cruise.  I guess I really only had the one question.  Seriously, though, a huge thank you to Carnival for always making our vacations fabulous!  We have never been on the Liberty however; we have also never been disappointed.

John says:
Hello Laura Woods

It sounds like you have lots to celebrate on this special cruise and congratulations to your son who I am sure you must be very proud of. The cruise director will be Cory Rogers who I am sure you will enjoy and appreciate very much. I would kindly ask that, if you can, to please contact me on my Facebook.com/johnheald page the day before the cruise with your cabin number. I hope that is OK and I wish you all the very best of times together. Best wishes.

John

Randy asks:
The happily ever after goal of love that you are aspiring to is a myth. With your job, it’s not a realistic goal because you seem to value mobility and job satisfaction and self-glorification far more. Tell that to your daughter.

John says:
Hello Randy

I love my daughter more than anything in the whole world. Everything I do is for her and my family. Best wishes.

John

Ian Strout asks:
How come Carnival does not do fireworks on 4th of July and Disney Cruise Line (the best cruise line in the world) does a full display on their boats? Is Carnival too cheap to mark the most important day in the calendar year with some fireworks as tradition dictates???

John says:
Hello Ian Strout

I cannot comment really on what another cruise line does but, obviously, Disney does some things that we simply don’t do here at Carnival. I’m certainly no expert when it comes to fireworks but I’m sure it has something to do with safety and I am sure there are other restrictions, as well. We will have a wonderful 4th of July party on all our ships which I hope one day you get to enjoy. Best wishes.

John

Romy Goldstein asks:
Hi. I’ve been on three most awesome cruises with Carnival – Carnival Freedom, Carnival Dream and Carnival Breeze. I’ve now booked my fourth on Carnival Pride March 15. My question is why is there no seaside theatre on the Carnival Pride? I’ve heard that it is going to dry dock for 2.0 but no Seaside Theatre. Just wondering why? I think I’ve been very spoiled with the other boats. LOL.

John says:
Hello Romy Goldstein

I thank you so much for your kind post. Unfortunately on the Spirit class ships there is no place to put the giant screen as we have a split Lido Deck with two pools and no higher upper Lido decks. However, when you cruise on the Carnival Pride you will be on a ship that will have had her dry dock and receive a number of exciting Fun Ship 2.0 upgrades that I’m sure will make you very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very happy. Please let me know if you have any other questions and have a wonderful cruise. Best wishes.

John

Safeen Madina asks:
I am platinum VIFP with Carnival and ELITE Class with Celebrity. Here are some of the perks we get with them that Carnival MUST offer if they expect to keep guests loyal. Free internet, free coffee from their specialty coffee shops and 50% discount at their restaurants where fees apply – 50% discount! On our next cruise, we will reach Zenith level, that will mean a private lounge for cocktails before dinner. I have 11 cruises now with Carnival but perks are why loyal cruisers keep cruising and I think Carnival falls miles behind here. There must be more that differentiates us from other non-loyal passengers who are not on the same level as me.

John says:
Hello Safeen Madina

I would like to say two important things here and the first is to thank you for cruising with us 11 time, that really is wonderful and I hope there will be many more cruises with us in the years to come. Secondly, I would hope that the reason people cruise is not the perks but the experience of the cruise itself with all the fun and brilliant service that comes with it. Perks are nice and deserved but again, respectfully I would say that perks should not be the reason to keep coming back. Maybe I am wrong, that’s just what I hope. While we will not be adding any of the perks you mentioned, I can say the beards are looking at what we do and I will let you know of any changes to our loyalty program as soon as I can. Best wishes.

John

Paul asks:
Hello Mr. Heald: Can you let me know when they will have a Serenity deck on Carnival Conquest?

John says:
Hello Paul

There is no Serenity deck on this ship but the Deck 9 aft pool is designated for adults only. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Best wishes.

John

Robin Maciel asks:
John: A reminder to you that you only know if you have lost the correct amount of weight if your body mass index is what it is supposed to be. Just do not want you to get lazy because you are defiantly still very much morbidly obese, so keep going. We will see you in three weeks and we can talk more then.

Robin Maciel

John says:
Hello Robin Maciel

Yes, indeed, I have a long way to go and will keep working hard. Thanks so much for your concern and I will see you soon for a brilliant Alaskan cruise. Best wishes.

John

Sue Clarkson asks:
I just want to say that I have never had a bad cruise, even when we couldn’t sail to one of the ports because of bad weather. I would even be happy if I just get on the ship and it goes around in circles in the ocean….LOL. I’m not at work; I’m on a cruise having a great time, good food, and sunshine. My husband and I sailed on Carnival before we got married, and then we got married on a Carnival ship back in 2008 and we celebrate every anniversary on a Carnival ship…sailing again this year out of Galveston on the day of our anniversary 8/31/14 to celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary. Thank you Carnival for the fun and the smiles.  See you soon, and again next year.

John says:
Hello Sue Clarkson

I love posts like this, full of positive thought and excitement for the cruise to come. Thanks so much for taking the time to write and I hope you will be able to write to me the day before your cruise on facebook.com/johnheald and let me know your cabin number. Have a brilliant time and thanks for taking the time to write. Best wishes.

John

David Billock asks:
Hi John. My wife and I are sailing on Carnival Paradise in January, will be the second time on this ship. Anyway, I had a thought; don’t tell my wife, not allowed to think without asking permission. It would be nice to connect with others on the same cruise beforehand that would like to do so. Is there some page set up for that or something that could be added to the Carnival website for those that have booked already? Maybe there is not a demand for it, but I think that connecting with others on the same cruise would be awesome. Then when you get to meet in person on the ship you already have sort of a friendship established. Thanks David

John says:
Hello David Billick

I think your wife and mine must be very similar! Thanks for writing and, meeting new friends on a cruise is indeed something that is still one of the best aspects of sailing with us. There is our Funville site which I think is a wonderful place to see who is sailing and make new friends. Plus you can contact me via my facebook.com/johnheald page a few days before and I will ask the maître d to help with putting you at a big table with other guests. Hope you have the best of times and if there is anything else I can help with, please do let me know.  Best wishes.

John

Renee Lombness asks:
Your comedian_________used the “F bomb” at the 11:30 pm show on Carnival Valor four times in 35 minutes of comedy. Why? Uncensored comedy has no place on a family cruise which you always say Carnival is. The funniest comedians like Seinfeld and Jeff Dunham don’t use bad language!! Most passengers left the show saying that they were disgusted at the content of the show. More family comedy, scrap these degrading shows that feature nothing but degrading comments about women.

John says:
Hello Renee Lombness

I am very sorry that you did not appreciate the adults-only uncensored shows. I realise that they are not for everyone. However, I do know from vast experience that these shows remain massively popular with our guests and in our defence we make sure over and over again that before the show start, all in attendance realise that we do not keep a leash on our comedians and that their shows are adults only. I hope you enjoyed the family shows though and indeed enjoyed the cruise. Please do contact me if you have any other questions and comments and I hope to see you soon. Best wishes.

John

John Conklin asks:
What are your thought on Carnival stock? I am just about to book another two cruises B2B on Carnival Liberty and thought it may be time to buy stock in my favourite cruise line. What do you think John please? DW and I will be with you on September 8 in Alaska and are so excited

John says:
Hello John Conklin.

Thank you for being so excited and so you should be as Alaska is incomparable and the crew where are outstanding. I am not really allowed to say too much when it comes to stock purchase except that I am a stockholder and that all of us here at Carnival continue to work bloody hard to make sure we are the best in the industry. Hope that helps and, meanwhile, I will see you soon and please let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Best wishes.

John

Sarah asks:
Hi John,

Last January my siblings and I purchased an Alaskan cruise for our parents’ 25th wedding anniversary. My father is a UK citizen. He’s lost his passport and has applied for a new passport. As it turns out, it seems that Her Majesty’s Passport Office has all but shut down with a backlog of 50,000+ applications. We don’t believe he will get his new passport in time for their trip. We are trying to find out if he can still sail using his US green card but can’t find any more information on it. I’m hoping you can help me out and let me know if he can even board without his passport. They are booking number 85VFQ4 in case you need this information. Thank you for any help you can give. Have a wonderful day!

Sarah

John says:
Hello Sarah

Oh, that’s terrible news. I had heard that there was a backlog thanks to the additional applications but that’s ridiculous it would take so long. Let me pass this on ASAP and get you an answer. I think it’s OK from our side but let me get you some expert help. I truly hope that this will be OK; I am pretty certain he will be able to but let me check. I hope to see you all soon. Best wishes.

John

That’s all for today, thanks to you all for your comments and questions.

Another wonderful Alaskan cruise starts today and let’s see who is sailing with us……….why are you not here?

Total Guests                                        2,405
US Citizens                                         1,991
Canadians                                           41
French Canadians                               18
UK                                                      23
Australia                                              15
India                                                    34
Guests under 18                                  361
Klingons                                              0
Diamond Guests                                 4
Platinum Guests                                  171

This week, there will be July 4th celebrations across the fleet, except on Carnival Spirit where for some reason, it’s not such a big celebration Down Under. Most ships will have a deck party and all the trimmings plus those ships with the big screens on Lido Deck will show true-blooded American Hero movies in Pretty Woman and Sex and the City 3 – The Syphilis Strikes Back. Kidding. The movies will be Captain America – Winter Soldier and Independence Day …….. naturally.

Here on the Carnival Miracle, we are limited as to what we can do. The 4th falls on a day we are in Skagway until 8:30pm and after sailing we are not allowed to play any music on the open decks as it may cause a Mr. Bear to have ED during a night of passion with Mrs. Bear. So we will have a party in one of the lounges but the good thing is that in Skagway there will be a big 4th of July street party so that will, for sure, please the guests. And I as a Brit will be honoured to wish all Americans a happy 4th July……..even though you still insist on drinking that sodding awful cold tea.

Let’s talk about some more of the guests I met last cruise. I met a guest this past cruise who I have not seen in a long time, maybe five or more years. He is a regular cruise, a Diamond guest who we shall call Neil because that is his name. I last saw Neil in Europe on the Carnival Splendor and it was great to see him here on Carnival Miracle. Neil has never married. He’s not hideously ugly, he doesn’t have hemorrhoids, halitosis, a facial mole that sprouts a dozen hairs or three nipples. He doesn’t live with his mother and he isn’t French. He is independently wealthy, attractive, funny, amusing, and popular. He always used to have a girlfriend and each of these relationships trundled along, as relationships will, to that point where commitments had to be undertaken, questions asked that involve diamonds, placement cards and singing hymns in church. And at that point, they gently parted ways.

I sat with Neil at the Diamond Party this week and asked him why he could never sign up to the Marriage Club. His says it’s because he fears that all women are only really after his wealth. He always thought that the evolutionary purpose of every woman is to find a male, fleece him, skin him and throw him back, a broken and shivering poor person. Yet, I see him now after a long time and now I see a man who has suddenly gotten old overnight. He no longer has a girlfriend and …….well…….he looks sort of lonely. Now don’t worry, I have Neil’s full permission to write this and indeed he reads this blog often. I know he played the field for many years and I am sure all that rumpy pumpy and stuff must have given him many evenings of ecstasy……but now ………well, he’s older and alone ………….and I fell so very sorry for him. Maybe it’s me I feel sorry for because the last couple of weeks I have been feeling ultra-lonely. I had hoped that Heidi and Kye would be here now with me on the ship but that’s not possible. Both our Mums have concerns that need Heidi’s full attention and, obviously, that alone riddles me with a massive portion of guilt.

Yep, I met many fantastic people this cruise but one person remains in my mind now and probably for a long time to come. Why did Mum make her wear her graduation cap and gown all cruise long both at the shows and at dinner? Or am I reading this the wrong way? Was it the daughter’s choice to do so? I have no idea but I would bet all my underpants that there was more to this story than I will ever know. Yep, only one thing is for certain and Mrs. Robinson as I called her in my mind, left the ship angry and massively disappointed that I would not do more for her daughter. I can only wish that the daughter has a wonderful stay at Brown University where she is studying law and that she has a bright and prosperous future.

And finally, last cruise, I had a wonderful honeymoon couple on stage with me at the Welcome Aboard show. They got married on the ship and, of course, I had some fun with them asking why they were at the show and why they were not having some honeymoon night fun. The answer was, according to the husband, “We are both too tired.”  That made me think. It was the same the night Heidi and I got married. As a “man” I knew that the wedding night is supposed to be a rejoicing of two people coming together and in many ways it’s the law. The priest knows it, both sets of parents know it and you know it……..rumpy pumpy must be part of the wedding night. You’ve planted your kisses and fingered your rings. and off to the bedroom you go.

But like this couple at the show, I was “knackered” which is Brit speak for very, very tired.
Had the napkins been folded into swans? Was the car on time, where’s Alan my best man? What do you mean he’s at the bar telling jokes about the midget and the Nun to my future mother-in-law who speaks sod all English? I was stressed, Heidi was stressed, the parents were stressed, the band was stressed, the vicar was stressed and my best man was pissed as wet fart and then after all that, the moment Heidi said, “I DO,” run to the bridal suite like some Benny Hill skit.

Anyway, I digress, as usual, and this couple was wonderful and what made them stand out was the fact that both were US Coast Guard officers and had met at Coast Guard school and we were very proud to have Kacie and Thomas sailing with us and I wish them many wonderful years together. And may I suggest, Thomas, that you have as much rumpy pumpy as you can before Kacie gets pregnant. Take it from me, women don’t really feel like having rampant rumpy pumpy after giving birth — or even non-rampant rumpy pumpy. Or even, you know, groping. Their minds will be on sanitary pads, baby poo and sleep deprivation with absolutely – and I mean absolutely – no thought of rumpy pumpy that’s for sure.  Get as much as you can now mate because once you have seen the Sigourney Weaver Alien episode –or birth as it’s sometimes called — you may not fancy any for a few years anyway.

Goodnight.

Your friend,
John

 

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IF YOU COULD SEE ME NOW….AGAIN http://johnhealdsblog.com/2014/06/27/if-you-could-see-me-now-again/ http://johnhealdsblog.com/2014/06/27/if-you-could-see-me-now-again/#comments Fri, 27 Jun 2014 19:55:32 +0000 http://johnhealdsblog.com/?p=21721 Continue reading ]]> This past week, a gentleman posted on Facebook that, because the captain had decided that the winds were too strong for Carnival Liberty to safely dock in Roatan, it was……….drum roll please …………….”the cruise from hell.” Now while I have sympathy for anyone who misses a port, is it really the “cruise from hell?” ……..The worst vacation of their lives? Has this family never had massive arguments because no one remembered to pack the toothbrushes? Have their children not gotten car sick and vomited all over the rental car? Have the kids never fallen over while riding their bikes and spent two weeks screaming as Mum picks gravel out of their knees? Did they all remember their passports? Are none of the children so embarrassed by their parents’ summer outfits as their Dad wears the briefest of Speedos on the beach? Is the air-conditioning working perfectly in every car they have rented and every hotel bedroom they have stayed in? Did nobody get lazy about the sun cream because it was a bit cloudy and then blister like purple bubble wrap? Has Dad never drunk a few too many and spent rather too long talking to the lady on Lido in the G string and with breasts the size of beach balls? Has a camera has been lost? Or an eyephone dropped in a hot tub or maybe Mum and Dad want some rumpy pumpy in the tiny hotel room just for once………you little bastards ………….. it isn’t too much to ask. Can’t you just go and play on your own for a bit like other children? 

I heard the “cruise from hell” sentence last cruise from two guests who wanted monetary compensation for the fog horn disturbing them. Yep, it was, for them, “the cruise from hell.” But no, it wasn’t. The toilets flushed, the air conditioning worked, the service was in full flow, the fun was never ending, the food was fantastic and the Alaskan scenery breathtaking. It is when you speak to people like this that you realise that, just as having your nipple pierced isn’t for everyone……occasionally, you are going to meet someone who doesn’t have a great time no matter what you do. But the worst vacation ever? The cruise from hell? Nope. Sorry. That’s simply bollocks.

Time for today’s Q and A. Let’s crack on.

Brenda Carothers asks:
Just thought you should know that on the Cruise Critic boards your “fans” are “brilliantly” referred to as KANS. ROFLMAO!

John says:
Hello Brenda Carothers

It’s when they stop talking about me on Cruise Critic that I shall start to worry. Best wishes.

John

Rich Quinely asks:
Good Morning, John: I have a question that I am hoping you can shed some light on. I will be sailing on the Splendor for the second time on Aug 4. I would like to bring along my grandmother who is 85 and is suffering from mild Alzheimer’s disease. She has never been on a cruise but always wanted to. I’m a bit concerned about her getting lost though and I was wondering if you have ever dealt with a situation like this? Does Carnival have any options available to assist with people with memory problems? The other thing I am concerned about is waiting in the long lines at the pier. Is there another place where elderly people who can’t stand long can check in?

John says:
Hello Rich Quinely

Thank you for writing and I am glad that you have asked me. I can tell you that we have various protocols in place should our staff see a guest they may think needs help or is in distress. Obviously, you know your grandmother’s limitations but, rest assured, we are here will do all we can for her to make her comfortable and happy. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Best wishes.

John

Stephen Crews asks:
John: My wife and I are taking our third cruise in October on Carnival Elation when I return from Afghanistan and are curious if she is going to be receiving any of the Fun Ship 2.0 additions while she is in dry dock in September?  Thank you.

Stephen Crews

John says:
Hello Stephen Crews

Thank you for your service and please stay safe and well. I am not aware of any upgrades to Carnival Elation but, when and if I do, will surely post them here for you. Thanks, Stephen, and please let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Best wishes.

John

Mark Eckstein asks:
If Carnival is concerned so much, how come they don’t respond to bad experiences? Last cruise, our third, we found dirty clothes in our room, and when we left after our cruise we discovered that one of our new suitcases had a large rip in the bottom that was not there earlier. We filled out a comment card that was sent to our email and never heard nothing back from Carnival.  We are thinking about taking another cruise this fall, but now not sure with who yet.

John says:
Hello Mark Eckstein

We truly do care and I would ask that you send me your report, sailing date and concerns along with your booking number to cclsupport@carnival.com so that myself and my colleagues can help you. I hope we will see you again and I apologise for the concerns you have had. Please write soon. Best wishes.

John

Bryce Kautz asks:
I had heard that Carnival employees will pamper you but that was not the case on the Carnival Pride. We are just off the Pride and asked at dinner to our waiter, Sunny, for plates of fries with melted cheese and chili. He told us “NO” and walked away. This upset us so we complained and wrote a letter to the captain and it was not until three days before the end of the cruise that we got what we wanted. We also had to beg for ice in the cabins. PUT ICE BUCKETS IN THERE like basic motels do. This was not the service we expected.

John says:
Hello Bryce Kautz

I do hope that, apart from these two concerns, you had a wonderful time. Let me mention the ice first. We used to put ice in the cabins but so much went unused, that it became an immense waste of water. Now we just put ice in the cabins upon request and all you have to do is ask and the stateroom steward will comply without question. We also try and help with special food orders although they are not always possible. You can imagine if we took special orders from 2,000 guests, the galley simply could not cope. I am glad that we could help you eventually and I am sure you appreciated that they did. I do also hope you had fun and that we see you soon.  Best wishes.

John

Sally N Inglis asks:
John: I started reading your blog mainly because of your last name. That is my birth name.  I was born Deanna Dale Heald, in Augusta, Maine. I was since adopted, grew up in New Orleans, married in Edinburgh, Scotland; and now live in San Diego. In doing my genealogy, I don’t get back to England until 1568 with a Thomas Heald (if this info is accurate.)  For sure, I’ve proven direct lineage to Joseph Heald in 1806 in Maine.  Six generations proven, seven to go, perhaps 8.  Anyway, love your blog.  Going on Carnival Inspiration in September for the Styx concert.  Looking forward to it.

John says:
Hello Sally Inglis

It is an honour to meet a true Heald and I am sure that, as we follow our lines back, we may have a connection somewhere and from some period of past times. Please send me your cabin number on my facebook.com/johnheald page the day before you sail and enjoy the band and the ship. Best wishes from your long lost cousin.

John

Gary Warner asks:
John: Disconnections over on your favorite Cruise Critic site posted your email address as _____ I have sent three emails to you about our meet and greet but you have not responded to date which is very disappointing. I am now trying this forum which I hope I have better success with. Our Roll Call for Carnival Magic’s cruise staring from Galveston on July 20, 2015, now has 50 guaranteed people coming. We need a place to meet on the 21st which is the sea day and the time should be 2pm. Our preferred location is the piano bar!!! Can you also have a bar server there for us to buy drinks? I know that Carnival supplies door prizes, so will this be for each person attending because it may go to 60, so please have that as the count of prizes to be supplied. We have three platinum cruises plus me in the roll call!! Thank you!!!!!!

John says:
Hello Gary Warner

I should point out that Disconnections should, when posting my email address, note that most emails not recognised through Carnival’s filter system go to our spam box and that I do not have time to reply to those emails, as well as write blogs and spend the time that I do on Facebook. Maybe you would pass that on. But I am glad to see that you have such a good group of new friends ready to have fun. I will make sure a place is reserved and listed in the Fun Times so you all know where to go. I will also ask for bar service using your own individual Sail & Sign cards and I will provide two trophies and two bottles of champagne as prizes. I wish you all a great time and please do contact me here or on Facebook if you need anything. Best wishes.

John

April Mellers asks:
John: There are disturbing reports on Cruise Critic today that Carnival has started allowing 20- year-olds to be in Club 02. This is what the OP says is FACT: “I asked where on the ship she met him and she explained that he was in the Club O2 every day hanging out with them. He told them he didn’t like people his own age so he’d go hang out with them.” According to the post, there was another guy the same age hanging out part time in there with them? The scary thing is he is supposedly dating another 15-year-old he met on the cruise and making plans with her to go see her. My daughter decided to tell me about it when she found out the other girl she met and talks to daily is dating him and planning on meeting up with him as soon as she can. It’s very scary to think about. I just wanted to let everyone know our experience so you’re not as trusting of Club O2 club. I should have been more aware of the ages of the kids my daughter was hanging out with. I’m not sure what Carnival’s policy is on age limits or how they enforce it but it was not enforced on our cruise.” If this is correct then I have serious concerns and I bet I am not the only one!! What do you have to say for yourself on this!!

John says:
Hello April Mellers

Thank you for bringing this to my attention.  Your post contains no specifics on the ship or the name of the guest who allegedly had this concern, but I can assure you that Carnival has very strict policies regarding who can participate in our youth programs and we would simply not allow this to happen. Anyone participating in our youth programs has their dates of birth checked from our guest manifest and other official listings. We do not allow anyone outside of the designated age brackets to participate in our youth programs when our supervised activities are being run — it is that simple. If a 20-year-old was trying to participate in Club O2, he would have been asked to leave immediately by the Club O2 director.  Further, since all kids who are registered in the program by their parents are the only ones who are allowed into program, we place a special sticker on the kids’ Sail & Sign cards so it makes the process easier to identify who is allowed into the teen venues and who are not (we have different stickers for each of the teen programs).  Carnival is the top-rated cruise line for families for a reason and safety is our number one concern, particularly as children are concerned.  Please feel free to write to me with any other questions or concerns. Best wishes.

John

Heather Smith asks:
We sailed on Carnival Sunshine on May 10-17. It was our first cruise, and we loved it.  We are already looking forward to booking our next cruise.  The only negative comment I have is that

when we went to the Epic Rock show on Friday night, it was incredibly loud – so much so that we left after 30 minutes.  Maybe we are the only ones who felt that way, but could you mention it to the appropriate people?  It promised to be a good show and we would’ve really enjoyed ourselves and stayed for the duration had the volume been at a reasonable level.  Thanks!

John says:
Hello Heather Smith

I am sorry you left as it’s a great show. I will certainly pass this very important post from you on to those who need to know because we need to monitor volumes very carefully and I am sorry that you found it so uncomfortable. Thanks, Heather, I do hope you had fun and hope we see you soon. Best wishes.

John

Thomas Nurman asks:
John. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for the wonderful care you gave my father on the Carnival Miracle. I know you have lost your father in past weeks and the fact that you sat and listened to his stories and laughed at his jokes made his 80th birthday so special. The gifts you sent to him were enjoyed by us all but the highlight was when you personally had the audience applaud and thank him for his 34 years in the United States Marine Corps serving God and Country. You should be proud, John, and we love you for what you did.

John says:
Hello Thomas Nurman

It was a true honour and a privilege to meet your father and help celebrate his birthday. I think you saw from the audience reaction just how much they appreciated and applauded his service. I hope you all have many wonderful memories of the cruise and that we will see you all again very soon. Best wishes to you all.

John

Anne Nikanovich asks:
John, why does Carnival not have a more extensive program for interns working on your ships? Ridiculous that this huge company offers nothing to graduates like me. How idiotic!!

John says:
Hello Anne Nikanovich

Good question. The simple answer is that space is limited for crew and every bed we have is filled by crew who are here for a full contract. Plus there really is not any position on the ship that warrants an intern program, I am afraid. Please do check cclcarrers.com and see if there is anything shoreside that you may be interested in and I am here if you have any questions. Best wishes.

John

Denise Greenberg asks:
Will Carnival have a dry dock and upgrades for the Carnival Fascination!! Please respond!!!

John says:
Hello Denise Greenberg

We’re just finalizing the dry dock schedule for 2015, so I will let you know once I hear anything. Stay tuned and best wishes.

John

Todd Belue asks:
On Cruise Critic there is a disturbing review of the Carnival Liberty’s steakhouse and how the steak was incorrectly prepared and that the service was abysmal. I sent this to Carnival management and they have not responded to my email. We have a roll call of 22 experienced cruisers some of who have booked the steakhouse. We are now very worried if the chef cannot even cook a piece of rib eye steak correctly. Why has Carnival not addressed this? Cruise Critic has millions of members. It is the number one cruise site in the world with thousands of people reading every report, every review, yet Carnival does not even respond despite knowing this. Cruise Critic readers are saying that the flat iron steak in the main dining hall is better than the meat at the steakhouse Do you want my money at the steakhouse or not? We sail in October!!!!

John says:
Hello Todd Belue

Thank you for writing and I am very sorry that the people who had the problems mentioned here had such a negative experience and if I knew their real names or had their information I would write to them and say just that and see what else we could do. Each and every week we have thousands of people who enjoy the most wonderful meal with amazing service at the steakhouse and I am sure you will too. I wish you the best of times on the ship and have my favourite, the cowboy steak.

John

That’s all for today.  Let’s talk steak shall we.

The comment about the flat iron steak (as good as they are) being better than the steaks we serve at the steakhouse is, respectfully, utter nonsense.  There are people though who will always tell you that they have had better meat. These professors of steak are always just back from New York or Argentina or Miami Beach’s Prime 112 ready to lecture you about cows that were massaged by Latvian women in stocking’s and suspenders. They tell you (the steak experts, not the cows) about the cut, the taste and that Kobe beef is the best and……and, oh, shut up ……..You went to a restaurant and ordered steak. The end.

For years I would never order a steak in a restaurant because…….well, it was a steak, a steak that, if I wanted Heidi would cook me at home. But then I discovered the Carnival steakhouse and I discovered that it wasn’t just a fact of throwing a piece of a cow on a hot grill and adding a dollop of ketchup next to it…….nope, it was much more. It’s the saltiness, that deep, juicy redness revealed when the cut halves of the meat are peeled open and shoved apart; that moment when you pause the fork in front of your nose to breathe in the amount of fine beef just before it enters the mouth. Coupled with the fact that there are amazing appetizers, salads and desserts and that the price is only $35, makes a meal in our steakhouses simply unforgettable.  I now consider the steakhouse to be a fantastic place to eat and the one here on the Carnival Miracle to be as good as any I have ever eaten in. Oh, I do have to admit that the chef hates me because I ask for my steak well done…….very well done.

Just last week, someone posted a copy of the Carnival Sensation’s Carnival Capers………yes Capers not Fun Times…….on my facebook.com/johnheald page. Inside, it showed we were offering trapshooting which involved the possibility of giving a 12-gauge shot gun to someone who had drunk the equivalent of three Cheers programs, pillow fighting where couples and strangers would beat the living crap out of each other with a 20-year-old pillow that was as fluffy as my inner thigh while sitting six feet off the ground on a slippery pole. And should they fall off, they landed on a mat that was so thread bear and thin it was basically a towel. All of this along with the beer drinking contest, the lovely legs contest, the belly flop contest have gone thanks to new world order, men in high visibility jackets armed with clipboards and, of course….global warming.

Back then, our advertisements featured people with perfect teeth and perfect breasts as the song “If you could see me now” played in the background. But times have changed and today’s commercials need to be short, sharp, hip and cool and that is, I think, what Jim Berra, our marketing genius, brought with the last few commercials. The water slide ad that played during the winter Olympics was a huge success as was the Moments That Matter campaign that featured all the great photos from you, our guests.

Nowadays, many ads tend to be ironic and funny just on their own but on the other hand there these days, it seems, anyone will endorse anything if the price is right. I would be a represent a company in an ad – but I have my limit as I like to think I still have principles. Let me explain. If Gerry Cahill, our president, personally asked me to host a charter of the National Association of Incontinent Farmers or for phase two of Carnival Live, I was asked to play the part of the “bitch” in a Jay Z video then I would say, “Yes, boss,” of course. Whereas, if our president asked me to host a charter for a certain herbal tea company, I would say, “No, sorry, you’ll have to find someone else.” Sorry, I draw the line and spending seven days with people chasing my fat arse around Lido Deck screaming “I lost 30 pounds big fella, ask me how.”  I know how — your teas give you constant explosive diarrhea so of course you lose weight, FFS!

But, I wonder……….there are many celebrities who, when offered a bucket load of cash, asks the question “Where do I park my wheelbarrow” followed by “Will it buy me a vacation villa next to Kim sodding Kardasian?” In the UK we have Samuel L. Jackson, Ewan McGregor, Angelina Jolie, Hugh Laurie, Dame Judy Dench, Dame Helen Mirren and Dame David Beckham, all of whom are people who have surprised me by lending themselves to the ad man or woman. I mean, Brad Pitt is selling Levi’s for God’s sake. Do people buy Levi’s because Brad wears them?……..the fact that he probably wears Versace or some other Italian designer jeans is probably missed on most people.

So, no I don’t think a celebrity is needed to advertise Carnival Cruise Lines like we did back in the “If You Could See Me Now” days but if we did ever go that way again…….who would you like to see as the star of the commercials?….It would be interesting to read who you think is right for the role……. hhmmmm…..Megan Fox’s bottom on Lido Deck …….now that would make be buy a cruise.

But hold on, how about we relive the good old days. Yes, Jim and the beards, I have the answer for our new commercial which I’m sure would be a smashing success. Let’s dust off that old song and have me hurtling down the water slide singing “If you could see me now” while eating a Guy’s Burger in a pair of speedos. I could even be singing my own version of the song, staring down over my immense stomach at my gentleman’s sausage singing, “If I could see it now.”

Goodnight.

Your friend,
John

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A MUCH LIGHTER BLOG……52 POUNDS LIGHTER, ACTUALLY (PLUS THE NEW PIANO BAR SCHEDULE) http://johnhealdsblog.com/2014/06/24/a-much-lighter-blog-52-pounds-lighter-actually-plus-the-new-piano-bar-schedule/ http://johnhealdsblog.com/2014/06/24/a-much-lighter-blog-52-pounds-lighter-actually-plus-the-new-piano-bar-schedule/#comments Tue, 24 Jun 2014 20:14:30 +0000 http://johnhealdsblog.com/?p=21718 Continue reading ]]> So it’s Tuesday, June 24, 2014, and I am sitting here in my underpants while the ship is docked in Victoria, BC, writing to you. Those underpants are quite baggy now because, yesterday, I finally reached the mark I have been working so hard on for the last seven months. Yep, I lost two pounds………..OK, two pounds plus another 50 pounds.  Yep, I have, as of today’s weight check, lost 52 pounds! Yipeee! Only another 50 to go. Oh FFS.

While I have had lots of congratulations from guests who cruised with me when I was a huge fat bastard and are now cruising with me again when I am not such a huge fat bastard but still definitely a fat bastard, there is one big problem……….my clothes are too big for me. I mean, really too big for me, to the point that I look like a clown. The guests are saying it, the staff is saying it, Heidi is seeing my pictures and seeing it and so I guess something has to be done. And so I will have to suck it up and get off in Seattle and go shopping. Now I may have lost 52 pounds but I am not ready to shop at JC Macy’s, so I will be asking Uncle Google to find me a Fat Bastards Clothing Emporium. I hate, hate, hate going into those shops. If I go to a normal clothing shop and find something I like, a T-shirt or a pair of jeans and then I go through the piles to see if there is one in my size. And even if by some miracle there is it’s still suitable only for a hamster.

I was in Miami in November last year arranging the Bloggers Cruise and I went to a shop in Las Dolphin Mall, which is in Venezuela. I found a casual shirt that had the right number of X’s on the label. Now had my assistant, Dee, not been with me, I would have purchased it right there and then but she was with me and had received instructions from my wife, Heidi, which meant I had to try it on. So I headed to the changing room which was the size of one of our cabin mini bars.  I tried on the shirt and surprisingly the buttons didn’t explode as I expanded my stomach. Hooray, it fit. Booo…….it didn’t. That’s because the designer of this shirt had thought that people with ample stomachs must have ridiculously long arms. My arms are, well, normal length and certainly guests do not point at me and make baboon noises when I walk out on stage. I was so pissed off.

The shirt fit over my stomach, it didn’t have “sleeps four” written down the side like most of my clothes, I had bought it from a normal store and not from Big Bubbas, yet the only person who could wear this shirt would have been that Mr. Stretch chap from the Fantastic Four. But after losing 50 pounds, it’s not T-shirts I need – it’s suits. Anyone who has seen photos of me here on Carnival Miracle will notice I am wearing the same two suits I was wearing when we brought out the Carnival Magic in……….ummm………….well, years ago. They look huge on me now, especially the pants which could be used to hold a wedding reception in. I hate wearing suits. It is fine if you are trying to get a job or if you are Micky Arison addressing the board of directors, but I do not see why the world thinks you are being respectful just because your pants match your jacket. It’s bonkers in my opinion. But the world does think this way and as we still have elegant night and because Carnival doesn’t want its brand ambassador turning up for elegant in sweat pants and an Aston Villa Football shirt, then I have to wear one now and then.

Now, whereas I may, just may, be able to find a T-shirt or casual shirt from a normal size person’s shop, I have sod all chance of buying a suit from there and so I will have to go to a big man’s shop. Maybe in another 50 pounds that won’t be the case but, for now, it bloody well is. I want to get my clothes shopping done at the speed of light, but this is not possible at all when you are buying a suit. First of all, the man in the shop will want to measure every single part of my body and I will have to stand my fat arse in front of a full length mirror being fondled by a man who will spend far too much time measuring my “inside leg” while talking about Cher.

Yep, I need new clothes and although I would rather dip my dangly bits into a bag of scorpions than go shopping for clothes, I am very proud of myself for losing 50 pounds. I have a feeling though that the next 50 pounds will be a lot harder.

Time for our Q and A – here we go

Carlos Marquez asks:
John sorry to bother you but could you please confirm who the CD is going to be on the Carnival Sunshine sailing of July 5?  Thanks!

Carlos

P.S.  FYI   we are trying to work a deal between Carnival and our hotels so next time you come to Miami hopefully you will be staying at our hotel.  We are the new owner/operators of the Hyatt Miami at The Blue. Cannot wait to have you as our guest!!!!

John says:
Hello Carlos Marquez

The CD will be George Roberts. This is a new change has Jamie Dee has taken some personal time but will be back soon. Thanks for the hotel offer – I might just have to take you up on that the next time I’m in Miami!  I wish you a wonderful cruise and please let me know if you have any questions. Best wishes.

John

Myssie Hanna asks:
Hi John: Please let me know the main differences between Carnival Liberty and Carnival Sunshine.  Our family wants to do a five-day cruise and I’ve really wanted to go on Carnival Sunshine, but not sure the dates are ones we can make.  So I was looking at the Carnival Liberty next.  I really want to be sure the water slides are awesome on the Carnival Liberty as I have two teenage boys.  I saw Carnival Sunshine looks like they have them, but just cannot tell.  Any input to help me make a better decision would be great.  Thanks.

Myssie

John says:
Hello Myssie Hanna

Carnival Liberty had lots of 2.0 upgrades that you will all enjoy so much. The main difference between the Carnival Liberty and Carnival Sunshine is that the Carnival Liberty does not have the WaterWorks but one single Twister slide instead. I have no doubts though that you and the family will have a brilliant time and, after the kids have enjoyed the slide it will be time for a Guy’s burger. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Best wishes.

John

Lindsey Kranz asks:
Message: HEY!! WHO ARE THE COMEDIANS ON THE JULY 20 CRUISE?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

John says:
Hello Lindsey

I hope you are looking forward to your cruise and laughing out loud at the Punchliner comedians Carl Faulkenberry, Al Romas, Dwight Slade and Chris Wiles. Have a brilliant time and please shout if you have any other questions. Best wishes.

John

Jeanne Polanco asks:
Carnival must consider adopting what Celebrity Cruise Line does and have a special VIP gangplank in port. Just off the Carnival Liberty and saw in Cozumel and Costa Maya that there was a special gangway for the workers that had no line which could be used for VIPs. The lines to get back were horrendous so this could be the solution to getting VIPs back on the ships and not standing in line with everyone else.

John says:
Hello Jeanne Polanco

I hope you had a wonderful time on the cruise and enjoyed the fun and the service and the ports. Unfortunately, the crew line involves walking through a busy area we call the marshaling area and it’s full of provisions and it would not be an environment we would want our guests to pass through. Plus there are no elevators from there to guest decks. Thank you for your loyalty and I do hope that we will see you again very soon. Best wishes.

John

Suzy asks:
Shore excursion tickets – until the last two cruises on the last sea day you have been able to get a copy of your shore excursions tickets for scrapbooking – I was surprised when I was told that you no longer do that because people were getting them then asking for a refund saying that they did not go (unbelievable) – for those of us who like to scrapbook or just want a souvenir of their trip there is an answer.  Get a rubber stamp for each ship and stamp the back of the ticket that says “TICKET COPY of your Shore Excursion – Souvenir Only - NO Monetary Value.”

John says:
Hello Suzy

Yes, what a shame that, for accounting purposes, we have had to stop this. However, if you would like a copy please do ask and they will give you a ticket copy that has a stamp on it that says USED. I just spoke with someone who said this is definitely something we can do. Please remind me the next time you cruise and I will arrange this ahead of time if you wish. Thanks for telling me this and hope we see you soon. Best wishes.

John

Miguel Navarro asks:
John, my wife and I are both platinum cruisers.  We just got off the Carnival Breeze (May 24 sailing) and have been enjoying our new VIFP coffee mugs each morning at home.  Until a few days ago we noticed two problems: 1) the coffee liquid leaks from around the edges onto the table (we hand wash them and they were never dropped). 2) The logo on the cup has faded (not sure it is from the heat of the hot coffee or what).  Can you pass this along to Carnival so they

can notify the cup vendor.  My VIFP number is 5158364421. Thanks.

Miguel Navarro

John says:
Hello Miguel Navarro

I am very sorry to read this and I will get new ones sent to you. Please accept my apologies and thank you also for your wonderful loyalty. I hope we see you soon and I remain here at your service. Best wishes.

John

Bruce McDonald asks:
John, love your blog. Has Carnival considered a cruise that overnights in Port Canaveral (Disney World) then to the Bahamas?  I would enjoy something like that from Galveston.  Thanks

John says:
Hello Bruce McDonald

While we always look to stay late in some ports, we rarely overnight (outside of a few calls in Nassau and on select Mexican Riviera cruises). Overnights stop us from opening shops and casinos and some ports even have restrictions on bars and alcohol service. Also, an overnight port would mean one less port in the itinerary as you need the night passage to reach the next destination. I hope that helps explain and if you have any other questions, please do let me know. Thanks for the kind words. Best wishes.

John

Jade Joie asks:
John: Why doesn’t Carnival do Europe?  We will have to go to Royal next year :(  We just got off the Breeze and loved it…so many wonderful things to say about it!

John says:
Hello Jadie Joie

I am so glad you had such a wonderful time on Carnival Breeze. With air fares from North America to Europe expensive at the moment, we are keeping the ships closer to home. However, we hope that this changes in the future as the feedback we receive on our European cruises is incredible. I do hope we see you again soon. Best wishes.

John

Denis K asks:
Regular reader, first time writing to you. I need you to fix me up with a tour of the engine room and a sit down with your head/chief engineer. I am a senior logistics engineer at the Big Bend nuclear power station. I foresee that we both would benefit from a sit down and a discussion. We (my wife and two daughters) are in Alaska with you on Miracle July 8 under booking ref ****** It is also going to be my wife’s birthday July 12 in Juneau so can you do something special for her. My wife is a dietitian so she would be willing to sit with you and offer advice and guidance.

John says:
Hello Denis K.

You will soon be here ready to explore Alaska and I will, of course, send your wife a little something to wish her a very happy birthday. I will also ask the chief engineer if his schedule permits you to have a chat with him, he is a very nice man, so I am sure he will find time if you have questions. I am afraid though that the only engine spaces we allow guests to see is the engine control room and the only way for you to see it is to take the Behind the Fun tour. This is available for purchase on board and features the bridge and photos and Q&A with the captain, the galley, backstage, many other crew-only areas with, of course, the chief engineer hosting the tour of the engine control room. I hope you get a chance to do this and I look forward to seeing you all very soon. Best wishes.

John

That’s all for today and my thanks to everyone who took the time to post comments and questions. This past cruise was an excellent one full of fun and memorable moments. We had rain in Skagway and, unfortunately, all of the helicopter flights to the glacier were cancelled. My naked water aerobics class in the main pool was also canceled. The guests have rain and a mixture of sun and cloud plus a bumpy sea day but it was an Alaskan experience the guests seemed to truly appreciate.

Let’s have a look at who is sailing with us today as we start another wonderful voyage.

Total Guests                2,443
United States              2,100
Canada                                    62
French Canada            9
Bahamas                      27
UK                              17
Australia                      20
Guest Under 18          392
Ladies called Susan    11
Diamond Guests         3
Platinum Guests          121

One of the places many of our guests will be enjoying will be the piano bar with our young British entertainer, Adam, who really does a great job. Our piano bars continue to provide our guests with fun, music and great memories and, with that in mind, here is their schedule for the coming months:

Carnival Breeze
6/15/2014        8/16/2014         Jordan Heppner
8/16/2014        11/16/2014       Adam Sayer
11/16/2014      12/20/2014       Open
12/20/2014      4/12/2015         Ben Gentry

Carnival Conquest
6/15/2014        6/22/2014         Bradley Dean Alexander
6/22/2014        6/29/2014         Elizabeth Setzer
6/29/2014        10/26/2014       Open
10/26/2014      2/23/2015         Open

Carnival Dream
6/15/2014        9/14/2014         Kimberly Krohn
9/14/2014        12/14/2014       Barry Meijer
12/14/2014      4/12/2015         Open

Carnival Ecstasy
7/14/2014        10/10/2014       Elizabeth Setzer
10/24/2014      2/16/2015         Open

Carnival Elation
6/19/2014        7/26/2014         Open
7/26/2014        9/25/2014         Zdrazko Spassov
9/25/2014        12/13/2014       John Melnick
12/13/2014      1/15/2015         Open

Carnival Fantasy
5/14/2014        6/27/2014         Jeremy Ray Borders
6/27/2014        8/18/2014         Peter Zwerver
8/18/2014        12/12/2014       Roger Concepcion
12/12/2014      2/7/2015           Open

Carnival Fascination
4/24/2014        9/18/2014         Jonathan Thompson
9/18/2014        11/13/2014       Hailey Morgan Wiebe
11/13/2014      3/14/2015         Open

Carnival Freedom
5/3/2014          8/3/2014           William Seth Gibson
8/3/2014          1/18/2015         Open

Carnival Glory
6/14/2014        9/13/2014         Kyle Bronsdon
9/13/2014        12/13/2014       Edmond Holz

Carnival Imagination
7/10/2014        11/13/2014       Daniel Satterberg
11/13/2014      1/15/2015         Jafar Curry

Carnival Inspiration
5/5/2014          8/29/2014         Christine Hetfield
8/29/2014        11/17/2014       Open
11/17/2014      1/12/2015         Open

Carnival Legend
2/16/2014        8/17/2014         Todd Fugate
8/17/2014        9/24/2014         William Seth Gibson
9/24/2014        12/16/2014       Gary Pickus
12/16/2014      1/15/2015         Open

Carnival Liberty
4/12/2014        7/27/2014         Barry Meijer
7/27/2014        10/18/2014       Milburn Dumas
10/18/2014      1/11/2015         Open

Carnival Magic
6/8/2014          9/14/2014         Robert Berhalter
9/14/2014        12/7/2014         Ben Gentry
12/7/2014        2/8/2015           Martin Lucas Vince

Carnival Miracle
3/1/2014          7/1/2014           Adam Sayer
7/1/2014          11/2/2014         Bistra Mileva
11/2/2014        2/1/2015           Todd Fugate

Carnival Paradise
3/31/2014        8/18/2014         Tom Grable
8/18/2014        9/15/2014         Steve Burks
9/15/2014        11/15/2014       Gustavo Garcia
11/15/2014      3/15/2015         Open

Carnival Pride
3/30/2014        8/17/2014         Roger Concepcion
8/17/2014        11/16/2014       Reynold Senn
11/16/2014      3/1/2015           Open

Carnival Sensation
4/3/2014          7/13/2014         Milburn Dumas
7/13/2014        7/27/2014         Bradley Dean Alexander
7/27/2014        10/9/2014         Jeremy Ray Borders
10/9/2014        12/11/2014       Tom Grable

Carnival Spirit
5/18/2014        6/25/2014         Natalie Carboni
6/25/2014        7/23/2014         Timothy Mitchell
7/23/2014        9/28/2014         Karin Muiznieks
8/29/2014        10/25/2014       Karin Muiznieks
9/28/2014        11/2/2014         Geoffrey Davies
11/2/2014        12/18/2014       Natalie Carboni

Carnival Splendor
3/17/2014        10/16/2014       Dana Honey
10/16/2014      1/11/2015         Agustin Villarin

Carnival Sunshine
4/9/2014          8/16/2014         Sophia Robbemont
8/16/2014        11/15/2014       Daniel David

Carnival Triumph
2/1/2014          8/16/2014         Agustin Villarin
8/16/2014        10/16/2014       Alan Sheppard
10/16/2014      2/5/2015           Robert Berhalter

Carnival Valor
5/11/2014        6/22/2014         Greg Alcock
6/22/2014        9/7/2014           Edmond Holz
9/7/2014          12/14/2014       Greg Alcock
12/14/2014      3/22/2015         Open

Carnival Victory
4/14/2014        9/25/2014         Robert Crucilla
9/25/2014        12/8/2014         Jordan Peterson
12/8/2014        3/21/2015         Jeremy Ray Borders

There you go, I hope you enjoy them all and, as always, I appreciate you telling me who your favourites are and also I would like to thank Laura, AKA Divetrash, for looking after them on their Facebook page.

During my years as a cruise director, I have always had one big problem…..women. Last night, I had one banging like hell on my cabin door……finally, I had to let her out. OK, that’s not the problem I meant. The problem is that I have never been able to say “No” because I guess it’s not in my character. Of course, I have always thought that if I do say “No,” then not only will “they” not ask me again, but I will be in the deep and smelly brown stuff when I need some help.

One good turn and all that bollocks. Of course, some people and, indeed, some nationalities are much better at saying no than others. In France, hotel and restaurant staff says, “No” before you have even finished the sodding sentence! I would love to say “No” much more often, starting now, in fact.

“Can I have a trophy, please?” “No, go to trivia and win one, FFS!”

“Can you get me a table for two?” “No………no, no, no. Your husband finds you boring and doesn’t want to be romantic. Secretly, he is hoping he gets seated with a group of single ladies who will have huge knockers. So, no, you cannot. I am going to seat you with a bunch of cougars so your husband can consider being a cheetah.”

But, of course, I am not going to do that because I like helping people and, let’s face it, in life, saying “yes” is far easier than saying “no.” But that was the word I had to use when speaking to the guest who wanted to host a talk for guests about the “spirit world” and offer to contact people who had passed on. I said “no” despite the fact that she told me the different cruise lines that had allowed her to do it. I also said “no” to the guests who wanted $100 each because of our “bravo bravo” announcement. I am getting better at this “no” thing………but, most of the time, I just turn into Hugh Grant.

On Facebook last week, I explained that due to some very inappropriate behaviour by me some 20 years ago, I have not had an alcoholic drink since. Yep, it has been 20 something years now. For those that missed the story, here it is again in a bit more detail. I think we may have been celebrating someone’s birthday and I had drunk three or four cognacs …….large ones. Cognac was my favourite drink. I am not an aggressive drunk. I usually giggle a lot and tell jokes about nuns and yaks. Anyway, I remember going to bed around 2 am but then the phone rang at 4 am and I was told to come to the bridge.

There had been a report of a missing guest and I had to call a full muster. This meant getting on the PA system, waking every guest and crew member up and telling them that the stateroom stewards and department heads would be checking that every guest was accounted for. I was told this by a captain who I can’t name but who had a strong Italian accent.

This is what I remember.

“You zee”……the captain said……”Wake op de passengers and tell dem wea hava to check a them in de beds.”

“Ummmmm……….What?” I replied.  It wasn’t just his thick accent that I was having trouble with…..it was my head and my stomach and ……I have no idea how I managed to get through that night. My speech sounded slurred and I couldn’t concentrate and, luckily, the guest was found and it turned out to be he was …… well ……..in worse shape than I was. I have no idea how I got through that night and how the guests understood me anymore than I understood the captain but since that night I have never drunk anything on board or indeed on land.

I will leave this section with my favourite story about what people do when they have had too much to drink. My best friend Alan was working in the city of London some years ago. It was Christmas time and he had been at the office party. Now this was back in the early 90s when times in the city were good especially amongst the bankers of which Alan was one. Anyway, the champagne had been guzzled all night and Alan somehow caught the last train back to Southend on Sea. There were a few people on the train and most were in the same comatose state as Alan was. The train ride from London Fenchurch Street to where we live is around 50 minutes and it was halfway through the journey with the train rattling and rolling along that the 17 glasses of champagne and the chicken vindaloo curry started to curdle and Alan woke up knowing he had seconds to act. He knew there would be a toilet on the next carriage but he also knew he would never make it. Now remember, this was the early 90s. There were no lap tops and Eyepads …… everyone carried around something called a “paper” and they did that in briefcases.

And so Alan knowing he was about to give up his dinner reached up above him, grabbed his brief case off the rail, put his head between his legs, and deposited champagne de vindaloo into his briefcase. The other few passengers were either pretending not to notice and had their eyes tight shut because they didn’t want to see the contents of Alan’s stomach or……..they were as I said before in a drunken coma. Anyway, Alan closed his eyes feeling pretty sorry for himself and some 30 minutes later he got off the train, collected his briefcase and walked the short distance to his home. Once home and knowing that he would be as welcomed in his bed where his wife was sleeping as Donald Sterling is welcomed as a LA Clippers cheerleader……he went to the spare room and went straight to sleep.

The next morning he woke up and, as he began to rise, he remembered what had happened on the train and looked down at the briefcase knowing what was inside. He took the briefcase into the bathroom and prepared himself for the hell that was about to greet him as he opened it up. One click……two clicks……it was open. But….there was nothing inside apart from his paperwork. He couldn’t understand. Had he dreamt the whole thing? He then realised he hadn’t dreamt it. He had projectile vomited last night on the train…..into someone else’s briefcase. And that someone was probably thinking, “What the hell did I do last night?” as he scraped bits of diced curried carrot off his spreadsheets.

Goodnight.

Your friend,
John

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Medium – Rare http://johnhealdsblog.com/2014/06/20/medium-rare/ http://johnhealdsblog.com/2014/06/20/medium-rare/#comments Fri, 20 Jun 2014 16:16:49 +0000 http://johnhealdsblog.com/?p=21713 Continue reading ]]> It is very rare for me to get heckled. Not because I am so funny that nobody has the courage to take me on. Oh no, it’s just that the type of shows I do and the fact that most are audience participation-based, it most often never happens. So when I do get heckled it is something worth writing about. Two nights ago I came out to introduce the hypnotist and the moment I started talking about nice weather and what a glorious day it had been, the heckling started from a few rows back. It was nothing dramatic but stated with, “Stop talking, get on with the show, will ya?” The audience looked at him, some laughed nervously; most ignored him. I obviously could not, it had been loud and clear and I had no choice but to comment.

 I was on stage and standing behind the microphone stand, so I said, “Who said that?” and then continued with, “Let me move to the side of this microphone stand so you can see me.” Now obviously this referred to my size and, by doing a self-deprecating joke, I hoped it would stop him from doing any more heckles. It didn’t. As the audience laughed at my microphone stand joke, my heckler started again and took it up a few gears

 “When they put teeth in your mouth, they spoiled a perfectly good ass,” he shouted.

OK, now that wasn’t nice and so I had two choices here. Ignore him or go to war with him. I took a breath and simply said, “Maybe Jack – our hypnotist – can hypnotise you into being warm and cuddly and maybe a tad sober.”

 Giggles from the audience. But that was a huge mistake on my part because the heckler shouted,

“That’s a fake British accent,” he slurred and then he raised the volume even more and said, “Is that a fat suit you’re wearing?” OK, not a great line from him but it made me mad especially as I have lost weight since joining Carnival Miracle through diet and exercise. The audience was now turning on him and some telling him to shut up, including the lady next to him who was obviously a wife, partner or friend because she was trying to put her hand over his mouth. But she failed and now the heckler carried on.

 I was a nano-second — and I mean a nano-second — away from saying the old fat comedian joke of: “I’m only fat because every time I’m with your wife, she gives me a chocolate chip cookie.” But…….because the wife was probably sitting next to him and because of the fact that there were many kids in the room and because of the fact that the joke I made when my fly was open got me into trouble and because the audience were about to lynch him…….I simply introduced the entertainer and the show started.

 By now many of you will have realised what happens next. Yep, you’re right. He started heckling the hypnotist as he was trying to put people “under” and that was that. Accompanied by one of our security staff who I had called the moment I was off stage, I went to his seat and asked him to leave. He looked like he was for a moment going to be combative but his wife gave him no choice and grabbing his arm, pulled him down the row to the aisle and out of the theatre. Many of the audience applauded. I have not seen the guest since and no doubt he had a few too many, it’s as simple as that. I sort of live in the hope that, before the end of the cruise, he will come and apologise but so far he has not.

 Our Punchliner comedians go through far more of this than I do and they are far more skilled than I am in how to put a heckler down. Plus, they too have that uncensored rating to protect them. There are many, many good lines I have heard over the years but the most effective is owned by the brilliant comedian Al Ernst who I once heard tell a heckler; “That sounded funny when you thought it in your head, didn’t it? Thank you but I don’t need your help – I’m pretty good at this. But if I get stuck later, I know where you’re at.”

 Please don’t heckle me but it is time for today’s Q and A….here we go

 Linda Petrie asks:

 Hello John, we ran into you a few times on the Carnival Sunshine in February.  First time was in the steakhouse, first night, and you commented on “how lovely” I looked – that was so sweet of you – it impressed my husband also.  We have been married 42 years, so love those compliments. Later, during the cruise, we visited with you again and talked about the Carnival Splendor cruise a few years ago where the young lady “took you down” on stage – we often smile about that – you said you still have the bruises to show for it. Cruising again September 27 out of Fort Lauderdale on the Carnival Freedom and will hit Platinum. Thank you for all the memories you have given us.  Hope we have many more cruises ahead of us. It is our pleasure to cruise with Carnival.

 John says:

 Hello Linda Petrie

What a wonderful post. I am so glad that you have taken the time to write and I hope you had the most fantastic time on your cruise. Congratulations also on reaching platinum and I hope you will let me know your cabin number closer to the cruise so I can send you a little something. Thanks again for writing and I hope you are both doing well. Best wishes.

John

 Vaughn Ahearn asks:

 Check out Matt Hochberg’s RCI blog. It is how one should be written IMHO. You could learn so much.

 John says:

 Hello Vaughn Ahearn

I will have a look when time allows and I am sure it is a wonderful read and, certainly, I wish him all the best with it. Thank you for letting me know; that was very kind of you. Best wishes.

John

 Greg Penglis asks:

 My dream is to be one of the world’s best cruise directors. Currently I’m a tour guide in San Francisco.  Got almost six years full time on a microphone including in depth discussions of the city and ridiculous comic improvs.  I’ve also played guitar for years and hope to do so on board with the dance bands, and to join the solo guitarist at the main bar for cool duets. I had been a flight instructor for years and I’m used to handling emergencies.  So if this works out to become a cruise director, I’ll probably take the ship’s officer exams as well to be even more qualified if necessary.  And I’ve written a book on flight instruction, and several articles and columns, so yes I’d love to do my own Carnival blog. I can’t work onboard until my daughter graduates high school next year and has her life planned out for college.  Then I will have no attachments and can sail the oceans indefinitely. How best should I go about applying to Carnival?  How far in advance should I start the process?  Can I be both entertainment staff working up to cruise director, and still play guitar and sing on board with the other groups or soloists?  Thank you so much for your help.  Any other place you can direct me at Carnival would be greatly appreciated.  I’ve got the regular Carnival career website, I was just hoping to find a mentor and learn more.

Thank you,

Greg Penglis

 John says:

 Hello Greg Penglis

I want to thank you for writing and I can see how determined you are to succeed which is great. Please go to our new www.carnivalentertainment.com web site which has full information on the job and how to apply. The job will start as cruise staff so you can learn all about the job and shipboard life. Many current CDs have done this and fast-tracked to the cruise director position. So, I wish you much success and I am here if you have any questions. Best wishes.

John

 Theresa Leggett asks:

 Hi John: I have asked this once before here and also when I received the survey upon my return from my cruise, but have not received an answer.  I hope you can help because this made no sense to me.  I was on the May 4 Carnival Breeze cruise and will say had a wonderful time for the second year in a row.  I purchased the Cheers program, like I did in 2013 on the Carnival Breeze. What is bothering me is that most bartenders on the 2014 cruise said they were not permitted to make me a rum and Diet Coke in a tall glass.  For example, pour one shot of rum in a tall glass and fill the remainder of the glass with diet coke.  I don’t understand this.  I could order a drink such as a Frog’s Island Ice Tea which contains several shots of liquor and it is served in a tall glass, but I was not able to get one shot of liquor in a tall glass with Diet Coke.   Diet Coke doesn’t count toward the 15-drink limit in the Cheers program so I don’t know what the reasoning is.  On several occasions, I would purchase a rum and coke in the small glass, wait five minutes and go back to the bar for a Diet Coke, which was served in a tall glass and mix the two together.  Please provide me with an answer.  Thank you.

 John says:

 Hello Theresa Leggett

I’ve been exchanging emails with Eddie Allen, our VP of beverage operations, and he confirms that you can and should have been able to and apologies that you were told this was not the case. I truly appreciate you telling me and he will make sure the message is received and understood. Thanks then for letting us know and I do hope you had a great cruise. Best wishes.

John

 Janet Hickey asks:

 Hi John, I love your blog. We are cruising August 22 on Carnival Liberty, this will be our eighth cruise and it is for our 35th anniversary.  We are actually going to see Antonio, the bartender, before he retires.  We heard that he is retiring soon and we would like to decorate his bar for that wonderful occasion.  Can you let me know if we can do that or if that is not allowed.  Either way we will have a great time and enjoy our visit.  Keep up the good work.  You are AWESOME!!!!!

 John says:

 Hello Janet Hickey

That is marvelous that you are going on to be with Antonio for his retirement and I am sure that the management will have no problem in you doing some kind of decoration or tribute. Drop me a note on my facebook.com/johnheald page please two days before the cruise so I can let them know and please include your cabin number. Have a brilliant time. Best wishes.

John

 Chris Villanueva asks:

 You sent us strawberries and a ship on a stick for our anniversary cruise on Carnival Splendor but have a question. Have you actually tried the champagne you sent for our anniversary? You should because it tastes like s**t. On Celebrity they sent us a bottle of Prosecco. Just saying you should try it because, if you did, you would be embarrassed. We asked to swap it for a six-pack of Bud but were told “NO”!!!

 John says:

 Hello Chris Villanueva

I do hope you had a wonderful cruise and I am glad you appreciated the chocolate strawberries and the trophy. I have not tried the champagne as I don’t drink alcohol but I know many people that I have sent it to seem to enjoy it. Thanks for sailing with us and I hope we see you again soon. Best wishes.

John

 Thelma Bennett asks:

 Why is it as if the customer service at Carnival call center has gotten worse? You can ask the question and depending on who answers the phone as to what answer you will get. I am a PLATINUM guest and I don’t recall having as much trouble as I have had with my last

booking. My booking with canceled in error and no real explanation were given.

 John says:

 Hello Thelma Bennett

I am so sorry to read this and I will ask my colleagues to look into what happened and help you accordingly. Thank you for letting me know and thank you for your loyalty and hope to see you soon. Best wishes.

John

 David Endicott asks:

 This is from a thread on Cruise Critic about cruise salaries. Here is what’s written about your job Heald: The cruise director is in charge of all on-board entertainment, creates, coordinates, and implements all the daily activities, acting master of ceremonies at social activities and evening shows. Professional entertainment background preferred or 2-5 years on board working your way up from an entry-level cruise staff position. Public speaking, delegate responsibilities and strong organizational abilities required. Fluent English Language skills required. Salary range: $3,800-$7,500 U.S. per month, depending on the cruise line. Apparently years ago cruise directors kept the profits on the bingo for most of their salary but now it is a salaried position. Care to comment, Heald?

 John says:

 Hello David Endicott

Just like most companies can’t comment publicly on their employees’ compensation, I really cannot comment on salary, mine or any other Carnival employee as I am sure you understand. As for “cruise directors kept the profits on the bingo for most of their salary” I can tell you that at no time during my 24 years in the chair has that ever been true. I am very lucky to have this job and I appreciate everything Carnival does for me. Best wishes.

John

 Joyce Ward asks:

 My DH and I are both platinum VIP with us both spending thousands of dollars for our 14 cruises. We are both sick to the stomach that Carnival has decided to slap us hard across the face with the Faster to the Fun $50 VIP you give just anyone. These people get on the ship the same time as us platinum VIPs and have the same perks that we have spent time and big $$$ to achieve. This is so wrong on so many levels. I am outraged as is my DH and eight other couples we play cribbage with all of who are from The Villages and are platinum important people with Carnival. You will lose us all if this continues.

 John says:

 Hello Joyce Ward

Thanks so very much for taking the time to write and with much passion. It should be noted that the Faster to the Fun program is only for 15 cabins per cruise and that some of the benefits that you receive, they do not. Plus we have added the benefit of your cabin being ready upon embarkation starting and your luggage being delivered first. It really should not impact your cruise in anyway and I hope, then, that you will have many more cruises with us and please let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Best wishes.

John

 Jamie McCarty asks:

 Hey John! First off, let me say I LOVE cruising, and Carnival is the only cruise line I’ve been on.  I will be sailing on my seventh cruise on Carnival Magic in October, 130 days to be exact. I have two quick questions for you.  Is Carnival ever gonna serve biscuits and gravy on the breakfast buffet? Has Carnival considered adding hard apple cider to the alcohol list? That is becoming widely popular in the US, plus it’s very yummy! Thank you very much!

 John says:

 Hello Jamie McCarthy

Thanks for those very kind words and we do actually serve biscuits and gravy on a couple of ships, Carnival Fantasy and Carnival Fascination, I think, but I will confirm. I am not sure how good they are so, hopefully, someone will comment below. We have Wild Orchard and Strongbow on our ships now and as you said, they are very popular indeed. I hope we see you soon and please let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Best wishes.

John

 JoAnn Otto asks:

 Hi John,

Our family just got of the Carnival Liberty on June 7. My husband and I have been on a few cruises and have always had a wonderful time, this time was no exception except for a person at guest services. My son who was on his first cruise, was checking his account on the kiosk and it said to see guest services immediately. So he went over and told the guy that he got the message, this guy brought up my sons account and said…”It’s not my job to offer you financial advice but you spend too much time in the casino.” My son told him he just wants to know why he had to come to the desk. The guy told my son he needs to call his credit card company to authorize the charges and the call would be free. I was shocked when he told me this. I went down the last evening of the cruise to get more no. 2 tags and this same guy said to me, “Didn’t you get some in your cabin?” I said, “Yes but I need four more.” He replied, “So you are a heavy packer?” — which is none of his business what I pack. I have never on all the cruises had a person treat me in this way. We did have his name but can’t find it right now. I just wanted you to be aware of this and maybe address it to someone. I am thinking his name was Puji or something like that. But everything else was WONDERFUL. Thank you

 John says:

 Hello JoAnn Otto

I do apologise for this and it appears that the guest services associate was attempting some mild humour which maybe he should not have done. I do appreciate you bringing this to my attention and I will send this to the guest services manager on the ship to look into. Apologies again and I do hope you had a wonderful time and that we see you again soon. Best wishes.

John

 Dawn Falk asks:

 John: We are sailing on the Carnival Pride June 29 and I would like to know if we can bring our own Diet Coke on board. I have seen other guests bring on bottle water.  Thanks

 John says:

 Hello Dawn Falk

Yes you can bring 12 cans per adult. Let me know if you have any questions and have a great cruise. Best wishes.

John

 Marty Eastman asks:

 I read your comment about chewing tobacco which was very disrespectful to a tradition that has been handed down from father to son for many generations. I was banned from using it in the casino on my Carnival Magic cruise, so you can imagine how angry I was. I am a proud Texan and proud Texans are not to be messed with. I have a cruise booked in January back on the same boat and if assurances cannot be made that I can chew and spit my tobacco as is my constitutional my right as a Texan and as an Americanm I will take my business across the street.

 John says:

 Hello Marty Eastman

Thanks so much for writing. I am sorry that you are so upset by this and you raise an interesting point. I have checked with a few casino managers around the fleet and it seems we do not have a blanket rule about this with some saying they will not allow it and other managers saying they are not sure. I have asked the beards in Miami to see what they have to say and, of course, I will let you know. I would imagine though that we will not allow it in the casinos in future days but let me confirm this. I hope you will still join us and that you will remember all the fun you had on the ship. Best wishes.

John

 That’s all for today

 Before a Carnival ship can take guests on board for a brilliant cruise vacation, the ship’s builders, in the presence of many Carnival beards dressed in high visibility jackets, perform many tests. Sea trials are done, engines are tested in all kinds of conditions and each weld is checked and double checked. The result of this exhaustive testing is remarkable and by and large, cruise ships are very resilient in all kinds of conditions. You can take them through the extreme cold of Alaska. You can sail them through heavy rain and you can leave it docked in the Caribbean sun. And still, all of its things will work when the captain says, “Let’s go.” And right now work and tests are being dine on each new piece of metal that will be joined together to, eventually, in 2016 become Carnival Vista and from what I heard about her today…..she is going to be absolutely brilliant.

 In Tracy Arm Fjord I had a table for one in the steakhouse. I don’t get to go very often but, before the shows, I thought I would sneak in and have a quick meal. I say quickly because I called ahead and told the lovely hostess, Nora Bollockov, what I would like to order. She found me a quiet table upstairs and as soon as I sat down, my superb tuna tartartartartartar arrived …………. with extra wasabi. And soon after my well done (yes, yes, I know it’s dry and I should have it cooked medium but I am British and I like my meat burnt not just waved in front of a sodding candle for a few minutes) cowboy steak (minus the hat) arrived, joined on the plate by asparagus and grilled onions. No carbs again………whose a good boy then, John?

 A table for one gives you time for reflection and outside of the usual ponderings about how much of my life is spent away from the ones I love my mind actually fell to the steak on my plate. You see, I could not help but wonder who was the first person to eat a cow? Which chap holding his spear said, “You know what? If I kill this, peel of its skin and place it above a fire for a few hours, I bet it would be very tasty.” Who was the first person who opened up an oyster and thought, “Mmm. If I put that slimy dollop in my mouth, I shall be to get aroused and have rumnpy pumpy all night long.” How about cigars? How many different types of leafs were smoked before someone found tobacco? Surely someone must have tried to smoke a rose or sunflower before finding tobacco? And how did they make it into a cigar or cigarette? And who was the first person to discover that peeing on someone is good for jelly fish stings? I bet he was French. Yep, those were my thoughts last night as I ate a wonderful cowboy steak and enjoyed the excellent service that can always be found in our steakhouses.

 One more thing before I go.

 From: MIRACLE GUEST SERVICES

Sent: Thursday, June 19, 2014 7:57 AM

To: MIRACLE CRUISE DIRECTOR; MIRACLE ASSISTANT CRUISE DIRECTOR;

Cc: MIRACLE GUEST SERVICES SUPERVISOR; MIRACLE GUEST SERVICES MANAGER

Subject: Guest request for meeting with the Cruise Director

Good day John

Miss_________ of cabin **** would like you to contact her. Guest has requested because she wants to have a lounge for her to do some talk to guests. Miss_________ is a from The American Association of Psychics and Mediums, “tTat is what her business card she left for you John says and also that she is famous from TV shows. I will leave this card in your box John if you or Dee can collect and call her please

Kind Regards,

Guest Services Associate

Carnival Miracle/Carnival Cruise Lines

 Yep, here we are again. I had one of these requests some years ago I seem to remember. I have not called Miss——– yet but will do so and unfortunately I will have to say “no.” I am sure what she does provides a comfort to many who have lost loved ones but I am afraid that it just isn’t right for a “Fun Ship” cruise vacation. Can you imagine the Fun Times?

 2:00pm                                    John’s Marriage Show                                    Phantom Theatre

                                                Slot Tournament $500 prize              Casino Deck 2 Midship

2:30pm                                    General Knowledge Trivia                 Fountainhead Cafe

3:00pm                                    Tea Time and Music                          Bacchus Dining Room

3:30pm                                    Contact Your Dead Relatives             Mad Hatters Lounge

 

As I said, I am not knocking what she says and what she does but I have to say no for obvious reasons. Besides and I say this respectfully….. I personally don’t need a medium……I speak to my Dad every day.

 Your friend,

John

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