The language of fashion

March 10, 2008 -

John Heald

Captain D’Aita looked at me and I at him…………………we both had no idea how to respond………….what strange planet was this person from…………what language was he speaking………….should we be afraid?

It was Elegant Night last night and we stood at the entrance to the International Lounge greeting everyone as always and the usual comments of “Good Evening Captain”……….”Hello Captain, you have a beautiful ship”…….were constant. Then……..we were both transported into another dimension as a group of young men walked up to us and the fun began.

The greeting that has us both totally bemused ………well………….I will tell you that in a moment but first let me tell you about one or two of them. One young man had a tuxedo on……………….shirt……..bow tie, jacket and trousers ………….. very nice………if only it had been black as tradition dictates instead of……………green……………yep… green…………..he looked like a booger doing an impression of George Hamilton.

The second of the chaps …….well you had to feel sorry for him. He had obviously had a terrible accident with a staple gun as three had accidentally been fired into his lip and two in his skull. However the winner from this group of creatures from Planet Fashion was a young man who for some reason thought it would be cool to wear an all white suit, white shirt, white tie, white shoes and considering he was as bald as well he looked like a roll-on deodorant.

So it was that they approached the Captain and I and indeed it was Mr. Right Guard who said hello in the most unusual way. Walking up to the Captain ………..he extended his arm straight…………his fist was closed……………and he said to the Master of the Flagship of Carnival Cruise Lines……….one of our most respected Captains………..a gentlemen of the sea and a true professional …………….he said…………..”What’s up, my dog.”

The captain looked at me……….I looked at him and then at the floor thinking Mr. Right Guard had just seen a Cocker Spaniel……..it was then that I realized that in some strange way the word “dog” was a term of endearment……….a term of respect.

Now I know some Captains from years past who would have given this kid an Italian salute……found a plank of wood and have it extended out the back for Mr. Right Guard and friends to walk off. As it was Captain D’Aita handled them in a professional and fun manner, never loosing his dignity yet having fun with them as well………..bravo Captain.

As I write it is 8:22 am. Mr. Bell and I remain great friends and he seems determined to do a back-to-back cruise. The weather although sunny is also very windy and the good ship Carnival Freedom is bouncing along and every now and then hitting an Atlantic Pothole causing the ship to have a little shimmy and a shake.

Last night the Senior Officers and I read through last week’s review cards. You know, I don’t think we have ever had a chat about this much on the blog thingy so please allow me to do so now. We do stress the importance of completing these on all of our ships……..in fact……..from what I understand this is an industry standard and not just here at Carnival. As you may know each card lists the various departments you have met and then each guest is asked to give them a rating. Under our current system those ratings are:

NON APPLICABLE
OPPORTUNITY FOR IMPROVEMENT
MET MY EXPECTATIONS
EXCEEDED MY EXPECTATIONS

Now, in my humble opinion, the above wording is too complicated. ………….What do I mean?…………well……….let’s say you cruise on the Carnival Conquest………..it is your first ever cruise experience…………you had no idea what to expect…………everything was amazing………….so you naturally complete the Exceeded My expectations Column all the way down……………Six months later you cruise on the Carnival Imagination………….everything is amazing…………again……….you may complete the exceeded mark all the way down…………however, you may already be saying……….I had a great time on the Carnival Conquest………I knew I would on the Carnival Imagination ………thus my expectations were met.

This is why it is important that we as Cruise Directors remind the guests that if they have had a cruise where the words “great”……. “fun”……..”wonderful,” etc. that they transfer these thoughts into the “exceeded column.”…………..anyway, I think soon we may be changing or simplifying our wording.

Now, once the cards are dropped into the boxes onboard our accounting department put them through a scanner which was I think designed by NASA.

Anyway, the cards are all scanned and then final numbers or “ratings” as we call them are produced. These figures give us an idea of what areas we are doing well in and more importantly a good idea in what areas we can improve on.

Now, I obviously cannot show you the entire rating system but I thought I would share my own personal rating with you from last cruise. This means I will show you how people marked the column “Cruise Director.”

Have a look at this

Number of cards collected = 1,599

Exceeded Expectations – 1,391

Met Expectations – 191

Opportunity For Improvement – 12

Based on the formula designed by professor Stephen Hawkins my overall rating was 92.34.

So, this shows me what people thought of the job I did last cruise and we examine all these figures carefully for every department on the ship.

Then, the individual comments are read as well of which 99% are words of praise mixed with decent suggestions.

So, the next time you are completing a comment card, please remember that they are indeed read very carefully and what you say is acted upon.

Oh, by the way………….I received 6 negative comments in the end about Mr. Bells………three said I should not have performed at all as they could not understand me……………one said that I had told a joke about divorce that they felt was offensive……….and one said that they had heard the same jokes from me last year on the Carnival Liberty…………thus I was marked opportunity for improvement……………………

Just a footnote on this…………I have never told a joke about divorce………….I really haven’t……..very strange………….maybe they got me mixed up with last week’s comedian as we look like, me and Marvin, 6-foot-3-inch African American.

Hope you found that interesting.

Let’s slap on some random photos.

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Bean Bag Toss in the Lobby- VERY POPULAR

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Bean bag toss

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Bean bag toss

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Bean bag toss

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Guests receive their prizes

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Brandon, the social host, hosting the bean bag toss

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Guitar Hero in Club O2

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15-17’s “hang”

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Guitar Hero in Club O2

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15-17’s play video games in Club O2

Here are today’s letters in their own words.

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Just before I answer the comments let me tell you some good news. I received an e-mail from Susan who you know was so badly injured in a car crash a few weeks ago.

Susan wrote to me and told me that she has many broken bones, she still cannot walk and is in a hospital bed with all the trimmings but in her own home which she prefers. She has round-the-clock care and most importantly wanted me to tell you all how much she appreciated all your words of kindness, love and support.

Susan, we continue to send you all these things and so much more and we all know that soon you will be back on your feet again ……………we miss you.

On we go with answers to comments and questions.

SUSAN IN PGH…………………………….Indeed, my sugar levels are higher than normal but the doctor, like you, told me that it is normal. I am really excited about my Emerald Princess cruise with Heidi and hearing how much you enjoyed sailing on her, makes me even more so. Thank you Susan for your great posting and hopefully the snow has melted.

SUSAN V…………………………………….I am glad to read that you are enjoying the random photos and I am very happy to hear you praise our super crew. I am at the moment considering a second bloggers cruise and certainly the Carnival Fascination would be a great place to hold it. I hope your daughter is enjoying her spring break time and I hope we see you all soon. Cheers.

GREG B……………………………………..We are working on the “Climb This” T-shirt with Lance. It is difficult because of copyright concerns but I am sure we can make something happen. I am glad you are enjoying the blog and when I read that friends like you find them so funny that really keeps me going. Thanks mate, see you soon.

SHAWN P……………………………………I am looking forward to seeing you also in July. Until then, I hope you continue to enjoy the blog.

BRUCE SWEZEY………………………….Hello Captain. Thank you first of all for taking care of our guests. Unfortunately, they did indeed miss the ship and are joining us today. I will be taking great care of them as I know you do when you are in the sky. I was very proud to read that you were enjoying my blog and I hope that you continue to do so. I am sure you can write a blog of your own and if there is anything I can ever do for you, please let me know. Thank you Captain and safe landings to you.

PAT ………………………………………….Ryan Fitzgerald, your Cruise Director has been on many of our ships. Most recently the Carnival Triumph. I know you will have fun with him. Thanks for your great posting and I remain at your service.

CINDY 56…………………………………..You are very kind and thank you for those beautiful words. Cheers.

CRUISING SAL……………………………I have still not heard anything from Maria. I am hoping this will change in the days ahead as she recovers from her breast cancer surgery. Let us all continue to think of her. I know you have a fantastic cruise to Canada on the Carnival Victory and we will see each other on the bloggers cruise next year. My best to you and the family.

JAKE SILVERBERG……………………..Hello mate. Not quite sure about 2010 and which ship to take the bloggers on. Let’s see what the future holds. The Carnival Splendor will have lots of new innovations and I shall be your personal guide once on board.

JANE………………………………………..Just wanted to wish you and your husband a fantastic cruise on the Carnival Glory and enjoy those coconuts.

BIG ED…………………………………….The photo is even better now as I am only wearing the eye patch.

MUSICAL CRUISER……………………..Yes indeed, as you saw for yourself, every pallet is checked by the trained dogs that are there to find anything from contraband, explosives and small bush tribes from Papa New Guinea that may be hidden amongst the toilet paper. Your wish to thank them publicly just came true as obviously they have a very serious job and is one we need to applaud. Thank you mate.

NICO R…………………………………… Don’t tell grandmother, we will do something as a surprise. Shhhhh

JOHN H……………………………………I agree mate. We should have these shirts made. Hopefully sooner than later. I will keep you informed.

PRINCESS ELAINE……………………..I should ask Heidi to do a blog but honestly she is working very hard picking up my slack and looking after the department and me. Still, thinking about it, that’s no excuse and I will put her to work immediately. Thanks Elaine for all your kind words and we will see you soon.

CAROLINE AND DON………………….I read your review of your trip to the circus with your granddaughter. It seems that circuses have changed a lot since I wanted to be a ringmaster and I thought it was hilarious when you said there were no Afro-Americans in the show but there were performing animals……it would seem the guests I have met here the last couple of weeks would definitely have found fault with that. Thank you for your continuing support of the blog and Heidi and I send you our kind regards.

SHARON DOVER………………………..Sharon, I am not quite sure I understand your request. Are you asking for the Carnival Splendor to change the itinerary and if so, which part of the cruise are you talking about? It seems to me this one may be a bit ahead of my pay scale but let me see if I can at least understand your concerns. I look forward to hearing from you Sharon.

RICHARD COWAN………………………It is super to welcome a first time poster and thank you for reading the blog as long as you have. I just wanted to say Thank You for those lovely words of support and it is words like these that hopefully will have Mr. Bell buggering off sooner rather than later. My best to you and the family.

FLIP FLOP CRUISE QUEEN……………Thank you Sheryl, you are so kind.

LEE RAYBURN…………………………….Hello Lee. First of all, it’s stories like the one you told that bring my current relationship with Mr. Bell into perspective. I particularly love the way you asked “if anything else was drooping.” You mentioned all your future plans for cruising and without wanting to take you away from your current travel professional who is no doubt helping you, what I might suggest is to call a cruise-oriented travel specialist or a Carnival Vacation Planner. They will tell you about all the latest deals and there are some fantastic ones out there, especially needed with the four kids in tow as well. Let me know if you have any special questions and I will see if I can find you the best way to go. Thank you so much for your kind words, I am truly lucky to do the job I do. I send my best to you and your family.

SHERYL…………………………………….I have not had the change yet to work on any specific plans for the bloggers cruise, however, Stephanie and Roberto and their colleagues are currently working on plans for the pre-cruise get together and charity event. I will let you know.

OHIO BOB AND DIANE…………………I can’t believe that, there you were, shuffling snow off your drive when someone drove past and shouted “OHIO.” That must have been so strange for you. Did you shout “Yaba Daba Doo???” I want you to know that you gave so much joy to so many people and for that I congratulate and thank you. Please stay warm over there and please stay in touch with me through the blog thingy. Heidi and I send you warm regards.

KARNA MICHELLE…………..What an excellent suggestion………..a page devoted for messages to other crew members who have made a difference to people’s cruise experience. I am sure this can be done……..lets see what Stephanie and Roberto come of with after reading this. Meanwhile, I am here to help you do this and I se you mentioned Maros your waiter from the Carnival Conquest cruise you and your family enjoyed so much. I just checked our records and he is on the Carnival Valor and I have therefore sent a copy of this message to the vessel for him to read………..I am sure it will make his day. Thanks for the great idea and let’s see how quickly we can get things going. Heidi and I send our best regards to you.

KEVIN………….I just photo copied your posting and delivered it under the door of every spring breakers cabin. I have no words………it was brilliant …………. nuff respect mon.

DRIVERNC………….How embarrassing………..I have no idea how you get a copy of Carnival Currents…………Stephanie …..Help!

KATHLEEN (BUCKET LADY)………….I am so humbled that my “Bucket Ladies” have decided to book the Bloggers 2009 cruise. After all the amazing things you have wanted to do before you “go” to add another cruise with me is so very amazing. I will do everything I can to make this event the best ever bucket event. See you next year and let me know how you whenever you have the time.

SHELLY………….Yep………..it is indeed just a coconut …………yep………..it gives joy to young and old………….yep I tried to explain that to you know who…………nope…………he would not listen………………….oh well, never mind.
Thanks to you for the words of kindness and I also look forward to the time when we can be together again. Cheers.

MISSING THE YOU NOT WHAT FROM THE YOU KNOW WHERE BUT LOOKING FORWARD TO THE YOU KNOW EVERYTHING ELSE……………Your suggestion of the first annual John Heald Complainers Cruise left me in a cold sweat so I shall just say that I nominate you to be CD on that one. You asked about Jack and Diane’s schedule on the Carnival Liberty…………I checked and they play every night in the Supper Club from 7 pm – 11 pm except the first night of the cruise………..I know they will be so excited to see you there with them as like me they consider you great friends. Please tell you lovely lady that we miss her ramblings and maybe if she has time she can put finger to keyboard again. Thanks mate and thanks for the friendship.

CHERI BOLCHOZ………….Sorry, yes of course you meant Christmas ornaments ………..I have not forgotten and my Gift Shop friends are working on this as we speak. I will let you know more ASAP. Thanks Cheri and all the best.

CINDY IN PA……………..Thanks for the very personal posting Cindy and I agree with you that I should have been able to spend more time with my Blogging friends on the recent cruise…………I will make up for this next time I promise. Let me answer your questions.

You asked about Baltimore and why Carnival does not operate a ship there anymore. Well, I don’t know exactly why we are no longer sailing from there but I can tell you that the cruises we offered were hugely successful and I wouldn’t be surprised that in the future you will see the Carnival smokestack there again.

You then asked about a 2010 Bloggers Cruise which I know you are trying to plan because of your husband’s work commitment. I had not begun to think about this yet and honestly I doubt we will do before the Summer. However, as many others are also asking then maybe we need to play hurry up a bit as I know people want to plan and I know it would help you a lot. I will have a good think about this during the next few days and see what happens.

If you have any specific questions you don’t want published just write “private” at the top of the posting and I will relay your answer through Stephanie or Roberto in the Miami office. I can see you have a full-time job looking after your wonderful son Cody and I applaud you for the love and devotion you show him and all your family each and every day. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you. Cheers.

MARGE AND GEORGE RIBAS……………I will be there in July with you for what will be a great adventure. See you soon.

GEORGINA FAIR…………Just a couple of old broads you wrote …………. yeah………. just a couple of very special ladies who have beaten breast cancer and are going to celebrate by taking a Carnival Freedom cruise ………………. nobody deserves it more. Please let me know if I can be of any help with anything and I remain at your service always.

PAUL F. PIETRANGELO…………..Please send Stephanie a mailing address …….. your wish is my command mate.

BIG MIKE……………The plane, boss…………the plane!

BETH C………..Now that’s a difficult question…………are European cruises good for kids? Well, any cruise with us is one kids will enjoy, however will they enjoy a day touring the museums of St. Petersburg as much as swimming with the Dolphins in Cozumel……..well that’s a hard one to answer. Tell you what……….tell me their ages and interests and let’s see if we can find the right itinerary for you. Standing by to help and my best to you and all the family.

DIVETRASH…………..I posted the Piano bar schedule for you and the many lovers of these ladies and gents……..hope you enjoyed seeing this. I am getting some rest honest…………………..in December. Thanks Laura as always for your kindness.

JERI GREEN…….I am so sorry if I confused you but unfortunately I will not be the Cruise Director for your October Carnival Freedom cruise. I shall instead be on the Carnival Splendor……………I am so sorry. Hopefully one day we will be all together but that looks like it will not be this year. Until then I hope the blog keeps you going. Please send our best to all the family, Cheers.

GIRLDOC………..I cannot imagine you shooting anything………….do you wear camouflage?

LOIS FUSSINGOVERJOHNSKI…………….If you were next to me now I would give you a big hugski.

THAD AND JEN…………….. I was so happy that you wrote and that you gave your Monkey Head group a promotion. I am sure many of the bloggers will have popped over to read all about it…………..it was strange that the day before I read your letter that as you may have seen I received a complaint about the Monkey Glasses……………it was a strange week. You were both so much fun to have onboard and as for the Crazy Canadian between my legs…………well there are some things I have completely shut out of my memory…………..and that is one of them. I hope you will both stay in touch via the blog thingy and good luck with the Carnival Dream Monkey head group of which I am now a member.

BOB KELLY……………………When anyone says that they are “hooked” on my blog then I get a very strange feeling that makes me realize how lucky I am. I wanted to answer your question that yes indeed dinner is served on the first night as open sitting from 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm so you can choose when you go. The rest of the evenings are at your set dining time. If you have any other questions please let me know and again…………..thanks for saying how much you enjoy the blog thingy.

LUIS AND MARIA TORRES…………Can we have our mattress back? Thanks for the great words of support and admiration for the crew and my best to you both. Cheers.

That’s all for today…………more tomorrow and thanks to all of you for the brilliant comments.

This has been a very busy weekend in Miami with cruise3sixty taking place. This event takes place right before the big Seatrade Cruise Shipping Conference and many of the cruise lines have been strutting their stuff. This included a unique Carnival Entertainment Department performance featuring a new and exciting acrobatic and break-dancing routine soon to feature on our ships…………..I am told it stole the show. Congratulations to the ever-forward- looking Director of Production Entertainment Kerry Stables and her staff for making this such a success.

Also featured will be a “mock up” of Carnival’s adult guest area “Serenity” as you can see from the release and photos below.

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I will let you know if PA 007 hears any gossip from the forthcoming events.

I met a wonderful couple today and I have to mention them. They are Moses and Esther Cohen and they came to speak to me at the past guest party today. They have been married many years………..it’s either 54 or 55 ……….neither seemed to be able to remember which was priceless itself. Moses is 88 and Esther well……….she said she was 80 but felt 50 and her cheeky grin showed me this was true. Anyway, they told me how wonderful it was to be amongst so many “young people” and how refreshing it was to be on a cruise like this ……………Moses then told Heidi and I that on their last cruise they were the youngest aboard the ship……………..very funny.

Now, I admit that we have had one or two…………..just one or two comments about my Spring Break friends but that’s it and when a couple like Moses and Monica tell me that they feel “young” themselves being around the kids from college ………..well, that’s a good thing, don’t you think?

I hope they feel that way tonight when they return from San Juan’s Senor Frogs Bar……………I wonder in fact if anyone will miss the ship……………who am I kidding…………………..of course they will!

So, here we are in San Juan………..we just arrived and the guests are going ashore. In a few minutes I am going to host a gathering for the 187 people who are expected to arrive here today having missed the ship on Saturday because of the bad weather. I am sure it will be difficult for them embarking today ………..we have food and drink and music and, most of all sympathy, ready for each and every guest and I will let you know how it goes.

Before that I have a list here of people who have suffered from Mr. Bell like me…………famous people as defined from that all knowing all seeing thingy called Wikipedia. Here they are and oh yes………..one or two comments as well:

Rick Savage, British musician and bassist for Def Leopard ……….He didn’t have Bells Palsy ………that’s how all 1980’s rockers looked plus he had probably just smoked an entire rain forest ( allegedly )

Pierce Brosnan, Irish actor and producer…………………….The name is Spond……….. Dwames Spond
George Clooney, American actor, director, producer and screenwriter …………Oh yea, like him having Bells Palsy matters……….women would climb over broken glass just to lick the residue of his eye patch.
Jean Reno, French Actor……………well …………..he’s French…………Bell’s will only make him more handsome.

Goodnight
Your Dogs

John and Heidi

Hi, I’m John, and this is my blog. So please don’t mistake my opinions — or those of my dear friends, fans or commenters — for those of Carnival Cruise Line or Carnival Corporation. My apologies in advance for anything I may say that upsets you, but this disclaimer covers Carnival and puts the blame directly on me………….. bugger.