Rock the Boat

September 17, 2008 -

John Heald

Sometimes, I think my job is nearly as difficult as being a door-to-door salesman …….selling doors. “Hello, would you like to buy a door….oh bugger, you already have one.” Anyway, there are moments when that job may be a welcome break. Here is one example why.

Guest: Mrs. _________ Ref: 002804459A
Cabin: _____ Booking#: ___________ Added-Changed: 09/16/08 – 09/16/08


Purser received comment card from Mrs. Johnson. It read as follows,

“Bingo- Why are we playing children bingo? Why not play some that would let us play more than five numbers at a time? We are adults, play making. 1- M-N-K-X 2 eight pack, two four-pack – Don’t treat us as children. What you play… 5 year olds do. We are older than that. I have played three times and won nothing because the games are too simple. I demand a full refund of $30 as there is no chance to win. I expect this to be done today.

[9/16/2008 3:24:48 PM LEES]
Purser tasked cruise director, informing of the comments made. Letter thanking for comments sent to cabin.

Or, translated into English this letter reads.

Dear John:
I have won bugger all and I want my money back…

Well, of course, she is not going to get it. I spoke to her though this morning in person. Sometimes, I wish I could secretly film these conversations but, obviously, I can’t. I especially would have like to have done that this morning as I was threatened with a lawsuit and, while the threat was being made, I got a good look at her index finger, which was being wagged in my face.

She probably wondered why I was bobbing around like a boxer moving my head from side to side, something I had to do in order not to be covered in her spittle, which was flying out of her mouth like a venomous cobra.

I told her that each bingo game was explained before the cards were sold and I casually asked if she knew what the games were and if she didn’t like them, why did she buy the card? Ooops……….she didn’t like that — and her finger now went into warp speed and the spittle became a river of phlegm.

By the time we had finished the conversation, my blue blazer looked like it had been given the good news by a flock of birds, all of which had been drinking prune juice.

Well, as we speak Mrs. Bingo is playing our afternoon “nine games for $10 session,” for which I gave her a free card. When I told her this she turned from Judge Judy on speed to a character from Little House On the Prairie…….it was all she had wanted …… something for free. I was now her best friend and she now finished the conversation by praising her stateroom steward and the dining room servers………..oh well, at least she is happy. If she does win bingo with her free card…………… maybe she will pay for my dry cleaning bill.

Good morning, everyone, and hope today’s blog thingy finds you well. We are at sea today and, tonight around 9 pm, we will sail through the Strait of Gibraltar. I informed the guests of this yesterday, as did the captain in today’s noon announcement and this was the response from one guest.

As yet, neither the captain nor I have spoken to this guest. I think we are both secretly hoping the other one will do it. Right now ….I would rather jog naked through today’s art auction than speak to him as I am just recovering from Mrs. Bingo.

I know he is disappointed and, of course, if he asked I am sure we could find him dinner at the main sitting or he could eat at our many alternative dining areas. I suppose it will be down to me to take care of him. Obviously, the speed required to make Malaga on time tomorrow — and lots of other equations — have been calculated and passing through this busy strait cannot be manipulated by what time we serve dinner.

Let me call the guest.

OK, he wasn’t there; I will try again in a moment.

Let’s pause, then, while we look at the last photos from yesterday’s call in Lisbon and some letters from our guests.

Sailing Away from the Port of Lisbon

Let me try to call Mr. Gibraltar again and, while I do, this let me leave you in the company of a very special gentlemen, sometimes guest blogger, and our man in London, Peter Shanks, Carnival UK’s chief commercial officer.

Hi John:

Have not been in touch for a while – but I hope all is well with you and all of your bloggers. I saw that you rightly mentioned the terrific victory for our friend, Lynn, and her UK Carnival Cruise Lines sales team for being voted ‘The Best Travel Sales Team in the UK.’ I was there at the ceremony and have to say it was well deserved. And talking of awards – two other marvelous things have happened to us at Cunard Line this week.

Firstly – at the very same UK Travel Awards there was a very prestigious award for ‘The Best Cruise Line in the UK.’ Everybody was there – our own sister brands P+O Cruises and Princess, both of whom have had a very strong year. As usual, the team from Royal Caribbean were there and as over confident as ever – well, it was a big year for them as they launched the ‘Probably Far Too Big To Be Much Use At All to Anybody With Any Taste At All Of The Seas’ this year. And, of course, it has been a big year for Holland America who showed off their marvelous new ship Eurodam to the UK market. And I have to mention Carnival Cruise Lines, and your own showcasing of Carnival Splendor to our market in Dover earlier in the summer. So competition was tough.

I have to be honest and say I thought one of the big boys would win. Imagine my delight when Cunard Line was named ‘Cruise Line of the Year’ for the UK market. Excellent – lot’s of applause, rush up to stage, look excited, accept award and the next thing I knew I was in the press area being asked ‘So Peter why do you think Cunard Line won?’ That is the moment I stopped in my tracks. Although I had been excited to go up to the stage – I realized it was nothing to do with me, the only reason we had won the award was because of all the people who work on the Cunard Liners. You have heard me say it before – but they and the White Star Service they deliver is just awesome. So that is what I said – and that was the content of the note we sent out to every member of our ship’s company the following day. The most valuable thing about these awards is being able to share them with the people that make it happen.

The fact is – we won because ‘We are Cunard!’ And if any of your bloggers have not yet heard of what is so special about ‘We are Cunard’ – just go on to, type in ‘We are Cunard’. And watch the video.

So I thought that was a pretty cool end to our week. That was until I read The Sunday Times Today. They have undertaken a survey to define the top 500 Super Brands in the UK as defined by their readers and a panel of experts. I was a little disappointed to see that there were only 15 travel brands within the top 500. But really pleased to see that Cunard Line was the only cruise brand, and, of the 15 travel brands, Cunard was 7th. Those above Cunard were British Airways, Virgin, Thomas Cook, Disneyland Paris, Eurostar, Qantas, and then came Cunard! So we are in pretty impressive company.

So now I am really proud of the brand, I looked at the criteria for being voted – by consumers – a Super Brand. They defined it as follows;

‘Cunard Line has established the finest reputation in its field. It offers customers significant emotional and tangible advantages over other brands which customers want and recognize’ – As says ‘The Sunday Times.’

Clearly these two awards mean just one thing – your bloggers need to come and experience the magic of Cunard Line for themselves. As do you John, and we need to fix up the voyage for you and I to undertake our ‘joint blog.’

Needless to say I have been brought back down to earth by my family. I had to take the Labrador for a two hour walk (which involved an argument with a golfer – how was I meant to stop the dog picking up his ball and dropping it in a river), had to clean up the garden, ferry my daughters to different sporting events and when boasting about Cunard’s recent achievements my daughters said – ‘Dad – get a life it’s the weekend!

Best Regards

Peter Shanks
Chief Commercial Officer
Carnival UK

Thanks, Peter, and I know how proud you are of the Cunard brand. We are proud to be associated with them, as well. And on a personal note, I will never forget my night onboard the Queen Victoria and my day onboard the leviathan of vessels, Queen Mary 2.

Don’t worry about the golfer. I am sure he and his Rupert the Bear trousers (sorry, you will have to Google a photo of Rupert the Bear) will get over it. Please keep the reports coming, our best to everyone at Cunard, and congratulations to you on the awards. Oh yes………Peter, I know November 11 marks the Queen Elizabeth 2 final voyage……….can you tell us about the plans for this special occasion?

OK, still no sign of Mr. Gibraltar, I will keep trying.

Many years ago I met a cruise director called Bill Panoff, who wore leather pants and did the most fantastic Tom Jones tribute act. Bill is now the publisher of the finest industry glossy magazine ………Porthole. Well, Bill has just published a two-page article about you and me. It’s a brilliant article and features some interviews and photos with some old friends from the blog. To find out more I invite you to check out the October issue. I am honored that Bill has recognized the blog for what it is, a community of friends – a fun celebration of cruising and life. Oh, by the way, we just raced past 2.9 million……..3 million is just a few weeks away.

Lets just pop back to the Carnival Conquest where 380 guests are on their way to Houston. I know the guests are enjoying the ship and I am also sure they will be very happy to get home. Then, the ship will start cruising from Houston and boarding her will be Cruise Critic Host Mac (Gregg), and all our friends from the Cruise Critic group. I know they have been very concerned about what’s been happening and I am so happy that their voyage is going ahead.

I received an e-mail from Greg asking if there was anything we could all do for the port of Galveston? Well, firstly let’s say thanks mate for your concern and I agree, we should do something. Let me see how the next few days pan out and then I will chat with you.

Meanwhile, if any of your group of 100-plus has any concerns or questions about your forthcoming Carnival Conquest or Carnival Ecstasy cruise, please direct them to me and I will be happy to help. Maybe you can slap this on the board thingy. Anyway, just to confirm ………….here are the new itineraries for the Carnival Conquest and Carnival Ecstasy.

Itineraries (changes shown in bold italics):
7 Day Western Caribbean Cruises from Houston:
On Sunday, Sept. 21, 28, Oct. 5, 12, 19, 26, Nov. 2, 2008
Day Port of Call Arrive Depart
Sun. Houston (Bayport) 4:00 PM
Mon. “Fun Day” At Sea
Tues. “Fun Day” At Sea
Wed. Montego Bay 9:00 AM 6:00 PM
Thurs. Grand Cayman 7:00 AM 4:00 PM
Fri. Cozumel 10:00 AM 6:00 PM
Sat. “Fun Day” At Sea
Sun. Houston (Bayport) 9:00 AM

4 Day THURSDAY Western Caribbean Cruises from Houston:
On Thursday, Sept. 25, Oct. 9, 23, 2008
Day Port of Call Arrive Depart
Thurs. Houston (Bayport) 3:00 PM
Fri. “Fun Day” At Sea
Sat. Cozumel 10:00 AM 5:00 PM
Sun. “Fun Day” At Sea
Mon. Houston (Bayport) 9:30 AM

5 Day SATURDAY Western Caribbean Cruises from Houston:
On Saturday, Sept. 20, Oct. 4, 18, Nov. 1, 2008
Day Port of Call Arrive Depart
Sat. Houston (Bayport) 3:00 PM
Sun. “Fun Day” At Sea
Mon. Cozumel 10:00 AM 6:00 PM
Tues. Progreso, Yucatan 11:00 AM 7:00 PM
Wed. “Fun Day” At Sea
Thurs. Houston (Bayport) 9:00 AM

5 Day MONDAY Western Caribbean Cruises from Houston:
On Monday, Sept. 29, Oct. 13, 27, 2008
Day Port of Call Arrive Depart
Mon. Houston (Bayport) 3:00 PM
Tues. “Fun Day” At Sea
Wed. Progreso, Yucatan 7:00 AM 3:00 PM
Thurs. Cozumel 8:00 AM 4:00 PM
Fri. “Fun Day” At Sea
Sat. Houston (Bayport) 9:00 AM

Still no sign of Mr. Gibraltar.

It’s about that time when people who have been with us since the beginning of the inaugural season start to leave. This cruise marks the last one for Ron Pass, our piano man who has made the Grand Piano bar his own. I know many of you have enjoyed his entertainment and fun. After a well-earned break, he will be heading to the Carnival Valor. I have also requested he join us for the Bloggers Cruise in 2009 and I hope he will be back in Europe with us next year. Well done, Ron, and thanks for everything you do. Now, as for his replacement ………….well………….there may be a last-minute change, so I will let you know who it is as soon as possible.

This afternoon I hosted the Marriage Show, which is always something I look forward to. On this occasion, I had a couple on stage from Hong Kong and there was as cute as basket full of puppies. Married for only three weeks, they traveled all the way to Dover to join us for their vacation. I asked him to show us a Chinese proposal and he sang the most beautiful love song complete with gestures and signs………….there were some wet eyes in the room and at the end 500-plus people gave the couple a standing ovation.

OK, I finally got to speak to Mr. Gibralter. He truly does not understand why we would dare to pass by the rock during his dinner. I apologized and explained that the ship needs to sail at a designated speed to reach the port of Malaga on time tomorrow. He told me basically the same stuff he had written in his letter. He could not understand why the Something of the Seas had managed to pass through the strait in such away as not to interrupt his grazing schedule.

Anyway, I gave him some dining options and I think, in the end, food is the most important aspect of his cruise because he refused each one of them.

As for the amenities and toilet paper……well, all I could do was apologize that the soap, etc., was not to his liking. As for the toilet paper, I agreed with him……..and……I suggested he do what I do………..use the shower curtain.


Your friends
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.