Creepy Crawlies

December 22, 2008 -

John Heald

It’s good to be home. Last night Heidi and drove to Manchester to attend the first of many Christmas parties (more about that later) and rather than drive the 200 miles back afterwards we decided to stay at a hotel for the night……….what a mistake that was.

I guess I had better not mention the name of the hotel but let’s just say it rhymes with a famous British cheese called Stilton………and it was beyond dreadful. The room we slept in last night was hysterically bad. The bed cannot possibly have cost more than $1 and couldn’t have been more uncomfortable if it had been made from barbed wire and cactus.

At about three in the morning, I climbed out of it and tried to sleep standing up only to find out my spine had checked out and buggered off home. The pillows were like postage stamps, it was hotter than a day in the desert wearing a bearskin, the bathroom smelled like it had been used to test chemical weapons, the soap rotted my groin and the television only showed programs in Arabic and Polish. I was charged £140 ($200) for a room and was then woken at 6:30 am by staff holding what sounded like the vacuum cleaner grand prix in the corridor.

And the drivers were obviously awarded extra points each time they crashed, noisily, into a skirting board………….the bastards.

Wake up calls? It is standard practice in all business style hotels it seems to mark your request in a little book. And then, as soon as your back is turned, put the book in the trash. You also get tea and coffee-making facilities. Except you don’t. It’s a kettle that the previous occupant has p****d in and several sachets full of stuff rejected by America’s nerve gas agency for being too dangerous.

At dinner, you get what I call vertical food. An endless array of ridiculous ingredients all served on top of one another by a girl who is 12 years old. Why can’t hotel chefs understand that if they aren’t Gordon Ramsey or a famous TV chef they shouldn’t attempt anything more adventurous than cheeseburger and fries?

Oh, and here’s an idea. Instead of wasting time folding the bog roll into a neat little V, why not get the cleaning staff to have a go at the plumbing?

As I went about my number two’s last night at the hotel, I noticed that some of the bacteria wandering about on the pipe work were actually visible to the naked eye. One was even reading a newspaper.

All I ever want to do in a British hotel is wash myself. But this is rarely possible because all the controls in the shower cubicle were put in place by someone who’s mad.

Torture isn’t allowed under the Geneva Convention. But it is still practiced on anyone in a business hotel bathroom. You either get a dribble of ice going over the partition and on to the bathroom floor or, if you nudge the tap by a millimeter, a torrent of what feels like liquid fire jetting into your face.

I’m not suggesting for a moment that I want bowls of fresh flowers, scented toilet water, a plasma TV and in-room belly dancer. I just want a comfy bed, clean walls, no bacteria, sausages, and someone on the front desk who can be asked to give me the wake up call I ordered.

And while we’re on the subject of cleanliness, I don’t care about how unenvironmental it may be to wash the towels. And nor do you. Or you’d sell your hotel and open a nuclear-free fair trade organic chocolate truffle shop instead. You’re just leaving everything dirty to save money. So there’s a tip. Wash the towels every day. And clean your bloody carpets once in a while. Then, spend a few days on a Carnival ship and watch our housekeeping manager and staff show you what cleanliness is and how service should come with a smile.

I am about to answer your comments that had a notation of “John, please reply” on them. Before I do can I just lightly defend myself against a lady who over the weekend launched a tirade of e mails at me stating I was avoiding answering her comments. Madam, I really was not. I answer about 50 – 60 per week and sometimes there is a few days in between before I get around to doing them. There is also a five-hour time difference between Stephanie in Miami sending them and me being able to answer them. So, I kindly ask you bear with me and, as always, I promise and assure you I will answer each and every comment I am asked to ……..even though it may take a few days before I do. Thanks so much for your kind understanding.

And with that…………here we go with the latest batch.

Pam M Asked:
John-please reply.
My daughter and son-in-law will be on the Fantasy Jan. 15. They are celebrating their 10 year anniversary. Can you give me an idea of what I can order for them to make their trip special? They never had a honeymoon because they were both in college. I will be at home with my grandchildren, but I will be on the Fantasy March 30!
Have a very Merry Christmas!!
Pam

John Says:
Hello Pam
I am happy to hear that finally your daughter and son-in-law will get the honeymoon they so richly deserve. Now, you can go on to carnival.com and click on our bon voyage section where you will find a whole heap of goodies for you to buy. It may be nice if they were to walk onboard and find the cabin all decorated with lots of honeymoon cheer. I would also like you to write to me via the blog one week before they sail so I can send them a little something as well.
My best to you and all the family
John

Kevin and Patty
John, please respond
I’ve read your blog daily for the past year and a half and this was the first time to respond. Like you, I did not become a father until I was 43, with greying hair, and a few well-deserved bags under my eyes. I to did not wish to know what my child was going to be, but, the radiologist “had other plans, we had told her that we did not wish to know and as soon as she got the first view she blurted out your daughter appears to be developing properly! OOPS!
Now this beautiful daughter of mine turned 5 last November and some of the questions and comments you say strangers ask have not stopped. I took her Christmas shopping with me last weekend and I was asked by some rude old bat (she was being rude to every employee in the store like she owned the place) how old my granddaughter was and that it was nice of me to take her shopping. I was a bit snippy and told her I was her father and she cut me off and said “WOW you and your wife still have sex, that’s amazing”!
I just walked away… I’m sure it won’t be the last time.

Here’s my question. On 3/28/09 we are sailing on the Carnival Glory and I am taking my beautiful daughter on her first cruise on the “big boat” as she calls it and I, not Patty, am a little on edge! We’ve sailed 9 times with Carnival, and have never really noticed that many children on any of the ships, the only ones I have seemed to notice were at dinner or early in the morning at breakfast. Do they have activities that the Moms and Dads can participate in, if they want to? And what is the tipping protocol for the child care employees?

John Says:
Hello Kevin and Patty
What a great comment and it certainly helps to know some of the trials and tribulations I will be facing as an older parent. Honestly, the cheek of some people is simply astounding. Anyway, I know you and your daughter will have a brilliant time on the Carnival Glory in March you asked about the Camp Carnival experience and if it included activities for parents. Indeed they do. You will find many “family fun” activities where we encourage children and parents to share in the fun together. These include contests and events and the famous Parents vs. Kids cookie decorating contest……. you will love it I promise. Tipping is at your discretion and the only charge for the service is if you the child minding service from 10 pm onwards. Our Camp Carnival staff will make sure that your daughter has a brilliant time as will you and Patty …. and I promise your daughter will make many new friends.
Thanks for the kind words of support. These are nervous times and it’s great to hear from someone who has been there.
My best to you all
John

Sheryl Asked:

John Please Reply
Although I had to cancel out on the Blogger’s cruise in February (boohoo), my friends are still going. A while ago, you hinted that some one very famous would be on the cruise. His “Rocket Man” used to be heard coming from Carnival cabin TVs. Since not another word has been spoken about this by you, my friends are teasing me that I ….”Fell for it.” Please say this ain’t so, John. Can you give me any more information about who this mystery guest will be?
Thanks for all that you do.
Sheryl
John Says:

Hello Sheryl
Oh, I am so sorry to hear that you are not coming to join us in February. I read some of the comments from a lady on the “boards” who seems to think I tricked people into sailing because of a mystery guest. Well……there will indeed be a mystery guest ……….I am sorry to say it’s not the rocket man but……….it will be someone who I know will make everyone laugh and make this cruise even more fun. I wish you could be there and even though you will not be onboard, I hope you will keep reading as I will be blogging everyday from the ship keeping you all informed. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you
Cheers
John

popcorngal Asked:
John, please reply…

Any word yet from Brent on the Miracle regarding what his plans are for the 1/8 National Championship Football game party? And we now know what the changes are regarding the Miracle and its propulsion problems. I guess we get Tortola instead of St. Lucia. We’ve never been there so it will be a new adventure. Welcome home Heidi, and as always, our best to you three!

John Says:

Hello stranger
It’s been a long time since I heard from you. You say the Carnival Miracle will be heading to Tortola. I love Tortola and you what you won’t find there are casinos, nightclubs and lots of “come into my shop” aggressive shopping. What you will find are lots of beautiful homes, gorgeous beaches and very kind and pleasant people. Have a look at the shore excursions listed on carnival.com and let me know if you have any questions. My favorites are The Best of Tortola and the Kayak adventure there which is one of our most popular Kayak excursions anywhere.
I am not sure what the permanent situation is with the Carnival Miracle and the propulsion concerns but I will check and get back to you. Brent has told me that there will be lots of coverage and get-togethers based around the games so I have a feeling this is going to be a brilliant cruise.
Hope to hear from you soon
Cheers
John

Canuck Cruiser Asked:
John, (Please reply)

Good day,
I got an email from Carnival informing me of a change in the itinerary for our Feb. 9th, 2009 cruise due to propulsion problems on the MIRACLE.
We are now going to miss St. Lucia and are going to stop in Grand Turk. I remember you saying that it was a great port and we are looking forward to seeing it.
My question…..is this. How can Carnival predict that there is going to be a propulsion problem this far in advance and why is this causing a change in the itinerary? Don’t get me wrong John…..been to St. Lucia (nice place) and I’m really glad to be going to Grand Turk based on your feedback. Is it a dry dock repair that can wait? Are we at risk of breaking down in the middle of nowhere? Seems very strange to send out a notice this far ahead of the sailing date but I guess it gives us time to rebook excursions. Luckily I didn’t have anything planned for St. Lucia.

I await your reply and reasoning for the changes.
I’m sure PA007 might have the answer.

All the best,

B&D from Canada

John Says:

Hello B and D
It seems that the Carnival Miracle changing ports is a popular topic. You know, we hate changing published itineraries and as always when anything like this happens we need to start with the words “we apologize as we know that people plan carefully the ports of call they want to call at during their cruise.”
I just received an answer back from the blog thingies super spy PA 007……..here is what he has told me. “John, there is an issue with one of the pods that requires a dry-dock which is scheduled for March. Until then ship should not exceed 18 knots which is why St. Lucia has been replaced with Tortola which involves travelling at lesser speeds.”
Happy Holidays
PA 007.
Thanks, PA and that will have I am sure helped you both and Popgorngal who wrote to me on the same subject so many thanks as always to the man/woman in the know ……….PA 007. You have nothing to worry about guys and again let me apologize for the change of ports but as you said…………Tortola is a wonderful replacement. Tortola the largest island in the British West Indies. You will discover thickly forested mountainous along its center, and a coastline studded with golden bays. Tortola has a character and landscape all its own……and they have a British Pub that serves great food!
If you have any other concerns please make sure you let me know.
My best to you both
John

SeanL Asked:
Hello John, (Please reply)

Thank you for the gift suggestions. We received an e-mail from Carnival this AM to say our Dec. 23 cruise itinerary has changed! Due to propulsion problems we will be going to Turks and Caicos instead of St. Lucia. Although we are disappointed we have wanted to go to the Turks also. I am concerned about the remaining damage from the hurricane. Carnival has given us a $50/cabin credit which along with the gas credit I am expecting should mean our booze is prepaid!-Just like our gratuities. I have said in the past “You can’t lose (luise) on a Carnival cruise” and will take this in stride but do we need to be concerned about our favorite Carnival ship? Will the captain ask for rowing volunteers?
Thanks for your help,
SeanL

John Says:

Hello Sean
I am sure you have just read the above information from PA 007 which means, of course, you won’t need to bring your oars. I also read your concern about past hurricane damage to the island of Tortola. I spoke to a colleague a few days ago who told me that the island looked fantastic and that it was back to its former glory.
So, spend your $50 credit and have fun doing so and thank you for your kind words of support toward Carnival. I hope you have a fantastic time on the Carnival Miracle
Cheers
John

Mike Richardson Asked:
JOHN,PLEASE REPLY
For Christmas this year, we are surprising our parents, kids, and my sister and her kids with a cruise on the Fantasy on August 8. There will be 11 of us and I have been assured that we will be seated at the same table for dinner, but in looking at the deck layouts, the biggest table I see in the dining room is for 10. This is a once in a lifetime trip for our family and this is very important to us. Could you please look into this for me? I will feel a lot better if I hear from you that we will indeed be seated together for dinner.
Take care and send Heidi our best!!
Mike and Michelle

John Says:

Hello Mike
Thanks for booking the family on the Carnival Fantasy and I am sure this is a Christmas gift they won’t forget. The biggest table we have is for 10 but if you don’t mind a bit of a squeeze the maitre d assures me 11 will be fine. So, why not send me a reminder two weeks before your sailing date and I will make sure you get what you desire.
Thanks for the kind words.
Cheers mate
John

Ashley Asked:
Please Read

John –
Thank you so much for your reply to Sarah’s email. I pretty much echo her accolades of the entertainment staff! What a wonderful cruise!

For the record…my vision is just fine! I just knew that Sarah would appreciate Goose, and she did! I however am a Wee Jimmy kinda gal! I am still waiting for the set up! =)

Take Care!
Ashley

John Says

Ashley
I recommend an eye test as with better glasses I think you will discover Goose has been hosed down with the ugly gun and that Wee Jimmy is as cute as baboon’s bottom. Still………….each to their own.
Seriously, I am so glad you had such a brilliant time and I will pass on your regards to the Carnival Splendor staff
Cheers
John
ps – I should have typed this in a bigger font

Bob McCord Asked:
I have come up with the NEW name for you new cruise ship “CARNIVAL DEVOTION” ! please reward my 2 free cruises for a 18 to 30 day cruise trip to Bob and Harla McCord,  this offer was offered by the Carnival Cruise Director aboard the Conquest, which we on (12-7-08 to 12-14-08) Room-1290 GREAT trip!!!

John Says:

Hello Bob
Congratulations. You came second in the ship naming contest but were narrowly beaten by Mr and Mrs Boundup who won with their suggestion of “Carnival Constipation” ………the ship that never moves.
I am so glad you had such a wonderful experience on the Carnival Conquest and hope to see you on board again soon
Cheers
John

Allie Asked:
Hi John,

You asked about debarkation, and my experience falls in the “needs improvement category.”

Our group had a wide variety of problems on our 11/30 Freedom sailing with both embarkation and debarkation.

Embarkation: Pier 19 was the site of mass chaos; no signs telling those of us getting onboard where to drop our luggage, masses of people who were getting off clogging up the teeny tiny area, and super long lines to both drop bags and check in. The Carnival staff was the least friendly of any I’ve encountered – at least, the 5 people at the teeny tiny counter where they were trying to check in all 3,100 passengers.

It was a wreck.

Debarkation was no better. I’m not really sure why Carnival bothers to pass out numbers, as neither passengers nor crew pay any attention to them. As soon as #1 was called, all manner of numbers were crowding down the gangplank. Those of us with a #1 tag had to hunt down a bag or two, as not all of them ended up in the #1 bag area. Not to mention some of our group were told that #1’s would be allowed off before self-assist, only to find that wasn’t the case. And missed their flights because of it (had they known otherwise, they would have done self-assist as well).

Overall the cruise had its great moments, and its less than great moments. Most of the crew was lackluster, seemed tired and uninterested coming off the recent TA. It took forever to get a drink at dinner, on deck or in a bar, unless you went to the bar yourself. Dinner service was very slow, not sure who our (very lovely, kind and funny) headwaiter pissed off in the galley. We may have been among the first to be seated, but were usually the last to leave.

Overall I greatly enjoyed the cruise. I think there is room for improvement, and I will carefully consider my choices when booking another cruise.

Lastly – thank you for caring. It’s evident in your blogs, your personal responses, and your attempt to make up for things that may not have gone quite right, even though you personally had nothing to do with it.

Carnival made the right choice for Brand Ambassador.

John Says:

Hello Allie
Let me start by saying sorry. It is only one small word but one that is heartfelt. Embarkation and debarkation are two areas that, quite honestly, we have some way to go before we reach the standard you the guest deserves and it appears that on your particular voyage we fell short of our goal. This January I will be part of a special committee that has been set up to improve the guest experience and at the top of the list will be the debarkation experience. In some ports I think we do well and in other home ports …. well ……………in my humble opinion we don’t and we can do better I promise.
Obviously there are many factors that insure this is a smooth operation. These include the cooperation from our friends at United States Customs and Border Patrol who are ultimately in charge of what we do. There is also the question of the real estate in which we have to work in. By this I mean the space allotted to us in the terminal buildings in our home ports. Also, as you mentioned, there is the cooperation of your fellow guests whom we rely in to listen to our instructions. People sometimes expect embarkation and debarkation to be the same as checking in and out of a hotel. Well, obviously it can’t be as in a hotel you rarely get 3,000 people all arriving in a short space of time and more importantly 3,000 people all wanting to check out at the same time. This, coupled with the extra security procedures that are enforced these days, means that the whole process can be rather time consuming.
Ultimately though it is our responsibility and when it does not go smoothly it is our fault ……..no excuses………it’s our fault. We should have staff to assist you and there should be signs telling you what’s what and where. And, as you say, this didn’t happen on the Carnival Freedom and for that I am very sorry. I will make sure this is discussed with ship’s management. I am glad you found most of the cruise enjoyable and in areas you state we need to improve on…..I promise we will. We know have a new Guest Experience department whose prime objective will be to make sure that the experience of all our guests on all our ships on every voyage will be the best experience you can possibly have on a cruise ship. …………….I am part of this and I promise I will give it my all.
My best regards to you and the family
John

Maribeth Kring Asked:
John, Please Reply ASAP,

I am leaving on the Carnival Splendor on Dec. 27th. 11 days yippee!

The Carnival Dream looks AWESOME!!!

My problem is that I have requested the early dinner seating for 2 but I need to change it to 3 and my planner cannot help. The problem is the 3rd party is an employee (Greg Gallello) and they’re not sure what to do about it. Who do I contact to make this possible and how?

Thank you so very much,
Maribeth Kring

John Says:

Maribeth
I have sent this to Ken the Maitre D who will make sure all is well for you. Have a great cruise
Cheers
John

hug71 Asked:
John, please respond, is it true that Bruce Begovich will be contributing to your blog from 12/19 – 12/26? He is absolutely amazing. I loved him as cruise director.

Can’t wait for the pics from the dream. Am considering the maiden voyage from port Canaveral.

Hug71

John Says:

Hello Hug71
I see you are a Butch Begovitch fan. Therefore I am sure you will enjoy reading what’s coming up in just a few moments
Cheers
John

MX Mom & Dad Asked:
Please Respond …
John –
Oh, can’t wait to see what info you have regarding the DREAM! We are booked on the transatlantic “Hero Cruise” sailing 10/27/2009. This is sooooooo exciting! Anyone else want to join us??? Contact Tami @ http://www.flyingdutchmentravel.com to join our group….. firefighters, police officers, emt’s, nurses, doctors, friends and family!!!! 800-248-7471 or 707-546-1212!! FUN! FUN! FUN!

Although you said you won’t be our CD, we are looking forward to your cruising with us as a “guest”. You can lead the conga line and bask in the sun with the rest of us!!!! LOL

AWESOME!!!!!!!!!! Now, what’s the news????? 🙂

Larry & Angie Asked:
Hello Larry and Angie
I hope by now you have seen the footage of the Carnival Dream and read my description of the building so far and what we can expect in the future. The videos were not too good. It was dark and rainy and honestly there was not too much to film. One lady wrote me a nasty e-mail saying she was sick of looking up my nose! Can’t blame her really.
The Carnival Dream is going to be amazing and it will be the perfect vessel on which to honour the brave men and women you mentioned above.
See you soon and my best to you both
John

Tim and Diane
John Please Reply
Good morning from the beautiful ship Carnival Freedom. Di and I are enjoying a much deserved vacation at sea. John we all know your love for the French. So it is with great pleasure that I tell you about a very nice French man that we talked to last night. He is not only French but he is an employee of Carnival cruise lines. His name is Dominque and Domininque is the Future Carnival vacation desk person. We mentioned to Dominque that we were thinking of doing the Blogger cruise on Carnivals Dream next December sailing from Port Canaveral with John Heald. He smiled and laughed and said that John is full of BS when he writes his blog. We laughed and said that may be true but it is funny BS. At this point we looked at his name tag and noticed that he was French. We put two and two together and we said to him that know we know why you don’t like John. Your French and John just loves you French people. Anyways we look forward to meeting you again on Carnivals Dream next year. We hope you received the cigar cutter from the CD on Princess Ruby.
Take care of Heidi and the Thingie.
Tim and Di

John Says:

Hello Tim and Diane
Thanks for letting me know about Dominique who was immediately fired and is now working in a soap factory in Paris……….I am kidding of course……………there is no soap factory in France.
I hope you both had a brilliant time and yes I will be receiving the cigar cutter from James next month.
Wish I had been there with you and please write soon
Cheers
John

Hanne Sampson Asked:
Hello John

My husband and I have been guest speakers on cruise ships on a number of occasions and we enjoy this very much. Up until now we have used an agent – how else can we apply?
Thank you

John Says:

Hello Hanne
I have passed your e mail onto our Director of Entertainment Chris who will be in touch soon with the necessary information.
Best of luck and I hope to see you onboard soon
Cheers
John

Kristie Asked:
Hi John!
We met a while back at the largest beach ball event. We talked about a cruise special and then I never heard anything else about it. Well I am writing you this because I gave you all the info about the ship that I would like to sail on like you asked and I never heard anything back from you. I know you are a very busy man, but I would love to surprise my mom with this for Christmas. Please let me know if you can help. Thanks for your time.
Kristie

John Says:

Hello Kristie
I am so sorry. I never saw the email or if I did I forgot to act on it. Please send me again the ship you are interested in and I will make sure without fail that I get someone from Carnival to send you the latest offers.
My apologies for letting you down
John

Wes and Liz, Manchester England Asked:
John
please reply.

We are booked on the Dream’s inaugural on September 21st in an Upper deck balcony cabin. What are you thoughts on the design of the outdoor Ocean Plaza being directly underneath, can people walking on the Plaza see onto the balconies above, and what about possible noise issues late at night. Oh and The Birdcage is one of our favourite films as it reminds us of South Beach and our Caribbean cruises.

Thanks.
Wes and Liz

John Says:

Hello Wes and Liz
I was at a dinner party in the Lowrie hotel last night in Manchester. If I had known you lived round the corner I would have come and seen you. As you know I was just on the Carnival Dream and I saw for myself how brilliant the Ocean Plaza will be. While you can look out to see and down to the Piazza the guests will not have any views into your cabin. They may be able to see you leaning over the balcony but that’s not going to be a concern. Neither is the noise. Not only do the decks have special sound proofing we will obviously not have late night outdoor entertainment which may effect your stunning cabins……and yes……..your cabin will be stunning …………as will the ship itself. I will see you there and remember in April I will return to the Carnival Dream for a look at the ship’s progress and keep you all updated.
Cheers
John

Lisa Asked:
John – I hope you enjoyed your weekend alone. I love it at my house when I am the only one home…..I get to do what I want to do and when I want to do it…..except for the dog and cat who make demands on me……sigh………..

I can’t wait for your reports about the new ships you are going to be visiting.

John – please reply……..have you decided the shore excursion for the Bloggers cruise in Cozumel this February? I know a lot of us are wanting to make plans and are waiting for this announcement. Also, do you know what our dining time will be?

I love the blog!

John Says:
Hello Lisa
Thank you first of all for saying how much you love the blog. I am still amazed that thousands of people read the rubbish I write each and every day. Anyway, the excursion for the Bloggers has now been finalized and I will be telling you all about it shortly so please keep reading the blog.
I will be back on the carnival Destiny on January 8th so please stop by for more island and ship reports then.
Cheers
John

Ray and Jeanne Asked:

Hey John
Please respond:
I wondered if you ever heard from the woman who fell off the dock in Copenhagen. I was one of the first on the scene. I kept reassuring her that help was coming and to stay calm. Splendor’s crew performed excellent with their response. Hope all is well with you and Heidi and baby-to-be!
All the best
Ray and Jeanne

John Says:

Hello Ray and Jeanne
I remember this incident well and of course know how comforting you were to her. It could have been so much worse but like you said, thanks to the lightning reactions of our Safety Officer and the crew the guest was saved and actually stayed on to complete her back-to-back cruise.
Thanks for asking after the Thingy and Heidi and we all send you both our kindest regards
John

Jrmende63 (Julie) Asked:

John,
(please reply)
This is not a really reply kind of posting, but rather a thank you posting. Randall and I have just returned from our back to back sailings, on the Carnival Freedom and then the Carnival Splendor. I had asked you to email Ken the Maitre D, about seating us in Martina’s section. Even though Ken was not on the Carnival Splendor when we sailed (12/6/08), we were seated in Martina’s section and had a nice reunion with her. I thank you so much for helping us out with this. Randall and I think the world of Martina. Randall could not believe that you made this possible. Thanks again for making our cruise wonderful. By the way, Martina says to tell you hello!
Julie and Randall Mendenahall.

John Says:

Julie and Randall
No need to thank me; that is what I am here for
I hope you had a brilliant cruise and am so glad you got to see Martina again
cheers
John

Theresa – Asked:
John – help! Topics to address that I thought you might be able to post a blog about. These two came up when I just checked the Kruzmats website (trying to be creative there):

1. What actually takes place on a cruise that includes Christmas? Is there a midnight mass, Christmas morning service, is there carolling, is there a sing-along, etc. etc. Does Carnival have a Santa Claus that hands out gifts at Camp Carnival or Club O2? (There’s a mother who did a post who is in a tither because her 15 yo isn’t seeing the cruise as her gift). The other Kruzmats tried to trouble shoot or lend a helping idea or two or three.

2. There is a serious marathon runner who will be cruising but is in training for the Boston and New York marathons. How could they find someone for him to run his ports of call with. I was able to help with an idea for Jamaica but I don’t know about Carnival’s other ports of call.

Can’t wait to see your blogs or responses. Can you believe Christmas is 11 days away! By the way, I hate phones too. Unless it’s an emergency or you have some really good gossip, leave me be please.

John Says:

Hello Theresa
Thanks for taking the time to write and let me help in answering your questions.
1. Well, I can tell you that Christmas and Hanukah are celebrated onboard. We have Christmas decorations, a Christmas show, candle lighting services for guests of the Jewish faith and even Santa flies in by helicopter. Now, over the next few days my friend and colleague Butch will be describing what life onboard is like at Christmas. His first entry is coming up shortly and I can promise you will really enjoy it.
2. Do you know what cruise he is sailing on? Please let me know and I will try and help your marathon running friend out as much as I can. Let me know please.
I hope you continue to enjoy the blog thingy and I hope to hear from you soon
Cheers
John

Spencer Cooper Asked:
John Please Reply!

You were talking about how you can clearly see a Carnival ship in a movie. Well I know this one is not in Miami like you said, but here is another one. In the movie Beverly Hills Chihuahua (horrible movie) you can clearly see the Carnival Pride. You can see if for a few minutes in the movie.

John Says:

Hello Spencer
I had no idea you could see the Carnival Pride in that movie………..then again I have never heard of that movie but now of course I will have to go and see it. The movie I was referring to was Holy Man starring Eddie Murphy who has a scene right in front of a Carnival ship…………I think it’s the Carnival Destiny but I may be wrong.
Thanks for taking the time to write in mate
Cheers
John

Peanuts Asked:
Good Morning John, (PLEASE REPLY: SUGAR CAKES)

Bless you and all the kind hearted animal lovers who take in stray animals, feed them and take them to vets, when necessary, and give a moment or years of kindness and love. Our sweet calico “Muffin” passed away last month of kidney failure. After 20 years of her sweet disposition, purring and just generally running this house she has definitely left a huge hole in our house and hearts. Our son brought her to us one summer evening asking if we could keep her because the neighbors were going to have her killed. I had just lost my 18 year old cat and wasn’t too receptive to take on another cat. But “puppy eyes” from my son convinced me it was a good idea. It was and what you did was a wonderful thing! Some family will probably have many wonderful year with little Miss PG. Bless you and Heidi for your kind hearts.

On to St. Kitts….That is the most beautiful and unspoiled island I have ever seen. I would love to go back there again. On the train tour we took, great tour by the way, they served a “sugar cake” if you or any of the bloggers have that recipe could someone please forward it to me. I’m “addicted” to those cakes. I think I would go back just for them (Not) but I do want to go back and if anyone reading this blog or the comments gets a chance to visit St. Kitts do so…The island and the people are beautiful and unspoiled!

Take care

Joan

John Says:

Hello Peanuts
The latest news on the cat we rescued is that she is living a cat’s life at the local sanctuary and so far has never been claimed despite the hugely expensive advert I placed in the local paper. Seriously, though, I was glad I was able to help.
Ahhh yes, St Kitts……….. a gorgeous place and you can see just why it is the chosen vacation spot for the rich and tanned. I have not tried the sugar cake but I thought I would share my Mum’s traditional cake she bakes at Christmas. Don’t laugh ……. it’s called:
Brussels Sprout Cake
You need
eggs
125g sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
100ml vegetable oil
125g self-raising flour
125g carrots
125g sprouts
35g walnuts
30g raisins
25g dried coconut
1/2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
Method
Line a baking tin with silicone paper.
Beat the eggs, sugar and oil for a couple of minutes before adding the flour, cinnamon, ginger and vanilla essence. Continue mixing for a minute.
Fold in the grated carrots, sprouts, walnuts, raisins and dried coconut.
Pour into the cake time and cook in a preheated oven at 180°C for 50 to 60 minutes, (until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out dry).
The cake can be served on its own, or you might like to enrich it by mixing together some natural yoghurt and icing sugar and pouring it over the cake.
It tastes like Yak poo…………but don’t tell my Mum
Cheers
John

Theresa Asked:
I’ve been a Christmas elf recently and haven’t posted but I have to put in my two cents re Christmas: We all the bleed the same color. Life can’t be all serious. We’re telling our granddaughter that in two weeks we’re having a special birthday party for baby Jesus and we will go to a special mass to celebrate. No one can deny that a beautiful midnight mass and its preliminary events don’t make you cry or smile. Our tree isn’t up yet but we’ll be going and donating our American money this weekend some time. Our lights will be up this weekend too and will remain up until Epiphany Sunday or maybe until Valentine’s Day. My husband just made the most adorable four wooden snowmen for our front yard that made me cry and will make our granddaughter Faith say “awwww Pop-Pop they are so booootiful.” This world is a miserable mess and without humor and special dates to look forward to, what is there. I think the people who do civil rights and anti-celebration things were traumatized during childhood. Yes there is a Santa Claus Virginia because if you don’t have fantasies and dreams, you have nothing and will be a very lonely person in your old age. Agnotists, lighten up. You don’t want this, you don’t want that but you want US to give up everything that we do believe in or enjoy so much. I have Jewish friends who love being with their Christian friends. I have young Jewish friends who throw a Christmas party for all their stressed Christian friends. The women of Hadassah at our local mall are the ones who save us from going crazy wrapping presents at home raising funds for the Jewish poor. Yes the Jewish poor. The bible study groups who read the bible and talk about it non-stop should practice what they preach when they are NOT in bible study. I could go on and on but I won’t. The world needs to get back to basics, reading, writing and arithmetic and enjoying celebrations and being patriotic and BELIEVING in SOMETHING. Some people in northern New Jersey complain because “blue laws” are still in effect in Bergen County. (If you don’t know what blue laws are, it means that the malls aren’t open and you can only buy food on Sundays). God bless them that they have stood their ground. The Sabbath should be taken seriously again; families should have Sunday dinners together again. Brothers and sisters who live so far apart any more should make it a point to come together at least once a year. Maybe I’m venting but maybe it’s because I looked down my street tonight, the same street that I grew up on and came back to, and knowing that the majority of my neighbors are Christian, you would think that our street was inhabited by people who don’t celebrate Christmas. I’m ready to go out and buy wreaths for every home and to put up the most lights I ever have. To the credit of my neighbors from Afghanistan, I commend you for letting your children learn western ways and putting up some bows and a wreath. As the saying goes, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. Who else would like to join me in the anti-scrooge movement? I don’t know about anyone else but the “winter holiday season” as I will call it, has always been my favorite and I still remember my cowgirl outfit I received at 5 and my orange Peanuts Schroeder sweatshirt received from sister when I was 7 with the quote “To those of us with a real understanding, music is the only pure art form.” Can you believe at 51, I still remember that quote! Have a wonderful English Christmas everyone.

John Says:

Hello Theresa
I just gave you a standing ovation
Thanks so much for sharing those sincere words
Happy Christmas
John

Bill Asked:
Hi John:

Please reply

I am 57 years old, a PADI certified rescue diver. Why regret never having learned to scuba when you can now? For years I thought about it and finally said, I am going to do it. I didn’t start until I was 54. My wife also. Lucky to have a good heart I guess.

You are right about the beauty found in the Caribbean underwater. Most of the Caribbean cruises we take are based on the dive locations. The Legend from Tampa gives four great stops. Let’s see, Roatan, Belize, Malahuan, Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Ocho Rios, St Thomas, St Maarten, and Grand Turk dives. Most several times, every dive is different. Diving adds about $800 to the trip for 4 excursions for both of us, but is worth it. We always go with the Carnival arranged dive operators. What a good time to be had.

Life is worth living 80 feet down! The weightless feeling is great and you can swoop around like a bird. Get Certified John, you will love it! We can buddy up!

Cheers Mate

John Says:

Hello Bill
You have given me and others hope that it’s not too late to experience the wonders of seeing beautiful fish, stunning marine life, ship wrecks and having the possibility of being eaten by a shark.
Seriously though I think it is absolutely brilliant that you have learned to dive and I you quite rightly say…………..”it’s never too late.”
Congratulations mate
John

That’s all for today. Remember, if there is anything I can do for you or you have any concerns please mark your comments John, please reply……………and I will.

Now, as promised. Here is my mate Butch Begovitch, the cruise director of the Carnival Glory.

Let the Festivities Begin

It’s turn-around day here on the Glory, always a crazy busy day full of stress, excitement, and anticipation. I start my turn around days at 5:45 am……get up have two cups of coffee, check the e-mail (hoping that nothing catastrophic has happened in the night), have another cup of coffee, then make my way to the pursers desk, or guest relations desk, or whatever we are calling it on a Saturday (we are in the process of re-inventing some of the language and names of departments on board and frankly it is hard to keep up with the changes…..I will get it right one of these days).

Anyways, if we make it in to our home port on time and Customs is quick with their clearance we begin debarkation at around 7 am, finish around 10 am wishing farewell to guests who have just enjoyed a wonderful vacation and then about an hour later we begin embarking guests for a new week…….and this week is extra special as it is our holiday cruise (time for another cup of coffee)!

Our U.S. ports are the best place for crewmembers to get their personal business done. Today is the day to deposit money in the good old bank account or this time of year take it out for Christmas shopping, shop for personal items, and call home. As I only have a small window of time on a home port day, today I will be busy getting out my last minute Christmas cards, mailing my last package home full of Christmas goodies for the family and making the dreaded weekly phone call to my mother who will no doubt give me a very emotional speech about how it just won’t feel like Christmas without me there. Personal business will be cut short as I will race back to the ship and change from “regular guy” to “Super Cruise Director” and begin the fun for another week.

For our holiday cruise we will be visiting the Eastern Caribbean — Nassau Bahamas, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten. We will spend Christmas Eve in St. Maarten and Christmas Day at Sea. In addition to our normally scheduled programs and activities, we will be offering a number of extra special events this cruise including, Nightly Chanukah Celebrations, Caroling, A Large Holiday Show with our singers and dancers, and special activities for families and young adults. We are expecting out of our 3,500 guest count this cruise to have over 1,000 children under the age of 18 so we have been planning closely with our youth experience dept. on board to offer as much entertainment that will reach wide audiences of all age ranges.

The ship is also decorated to the nines for Christmas. At every corner we have placed lighted wreaths, garland on every level of the atrium, beautifully decorated trees all over the ship; including a 14-foot tree in the main lobby…….the chef has even created a winter village display made entirely out of gingerbread, cake icing, and other sweet treats……it is on display in lobby and every time I walk by it I have to refrain from sneaking a piece of it for myself!

Our team members are have also got in the decorating spirit…….walking down the crew hallways you can see doors to crew cabins displaying Christmas cards from home, some doors decorated like giant presents, and Christmas stocking hanging outside waiting to be filled up with holiday goodies. I am crazy about Christmas decorating, too……..growing up, one of my favorite parts of the holidays was decorating the Christmas tree with my family. Every year, shortly after Thanksgiving we would have a day where my mother would bake cookies, we would blast Christmas music and go on a holiday decorating spree.

The day would always start by my brothers and I hauling box after box after box of Christmas treasures from the garage and as the day went on inevitably one by one my siblings would loose interest until it was left to my mother and I to finish the decorating. I have this year decided to go all out and have put up a seven-foot tree in my cabin and decorated it in the colors of the sea. The tree is so big that it barely fits in my small office space adjacent to my cabin, but it is beautiful……..it is now full of presents for my on board family just yearning to be opened……..even some sent from home, which I am guessing are socks, underwear and T-shirts; my mothers staple holiday gifts to all of her children no matter how old we get…….and unfortunately for my nieces and nephews, she has continued this tradition for her grandchildren as well, but I guess it just wouldn’t be Christmas without the holiday-themed boxer shorts.

I have included a picture today of the yummy Christmas village and of course, my tree….and as we set sail today, I am looking forward to creating some new holiday memories with my team here on the Glory and of course our 3,500 new family members that are boarding the ship as I write this……off to send those Christmas cards, and grab another cup of coffee!

cd-butch

gingerbread-village-butch

my-tree-butch

As you can see, Butch is determined to make Christmas for the guests and the crew a very special one. Stop by tomorrow and lets see how things are going. Thanks Butchy ………….and see you tomorrow.

Well, it was a very busy day on December 19th for Captain Mercer and the crew of the Eurodam. …………as you will see here if you click on www.eurodamnews.com.

Over at bestblogsatsea.com there are updates on all the Carnival Corporation’s blogs and I hope you will find the time to read them all. I haven’t forgotten those who have continuously reminded me that as yet Princess does not have a look behind the scenes but I promise you we are working on it.

As I said earlier I went to a dinner party on Saturday night. I didn’t want to go. …………. but I had promised a long time ago that I would…………so I did. This party was being held by an ex-school friend who has become rather successful these last 20 years as a sports promoter. He now represents some of the famous British soccer stars. We got back in touch when he discovered my facespacebook page thingy and so as promised we drove to his mansion up north.

There’s a trend with party invitations to be a bit vague about when guests should arrive. This invitation said we should be there at 7 pm for 7:30 pm. What does that mean, for heaven’s sake? Worse than this, however, are the loose instructions about the dress code? The invitation said it was a Christmas Dinner party and that the dress code was “Dress To Thrill”………what the hell did that mean? I wanted to call our hosts and ask but Heidi said that would be rude. Because we simply cannot cope if we turn up in jeans and find everyone else is in a suit. I get that hot feeling down the back of my neck and my hemorrhoids start to itch. I’ve watched this happen. Hundreds of people had been invited to a 40th, in a marquee with a band and all the trimmings. The invitation had said “dress to thrill” and so, at 8.30 pm on a lovely summer’s evening, the paddock was filling with BMWs and Range Rovers, and elegant couples dressed in black tie and evening gowns.

Anyway, I wore a suit and Heidi being with Thingy wore anything she could find that still fit her. We arrived at 7:15 pm……….still don’t understand why they could not put this on the invitation to find most people were also wearing suits and elegant dresses….. except one man……….who had obviously got it into his head that “dress to thrill” had something to do with James Bond and was therefore stepping out of his car, with a rather pleased expression on his face, in a all white tuxedo…………what a complete and utter prat (www.urbandictionary.com)

I am not sure but I might have mentioned my host before because back when we were 15 and school we both had a huge crush on a girl called Louise. I remember vividly, competing with him to chat up this gorgeous girl. He was captain of the soccer team and was therefore equipped with a Toblerone-type torso, firm thighs and shoulders broad enough to double up as a runway for light aircraft. Me? Well, I was a skinny git with pimples on my face and bottom

The only way I could win the battle was to make Louise laugh. And so, even when she’d gone off to have rumpy pumpy behind the bike sheds with my soccer playing friend, I was standing nearby waffling on about “this guy walks into a bar.”

I am not saying I am funny but I will say that most comedians……….most people who can have you on the floor crying with laughter are not exactly stud muffins. Ladies, do you look at Robin Williams and think “Phwoar”? No? So what about Chris Tucker or Jay Leno?

They’ve all lost a girl to the captain of the football team. They’ve all stood in front of a mirror, thinking “Well, there’s nothing for it. I shall have to be a comedian.” Or was that just me? I think, and I hope I don’t get clobbered for this, that the evidence is even more acute for women. Rosanne Barr, for instance. She is much funnier than Scarlett Johansson, Keira Knightley and Uma Thurman.

So at Saturday’s dinner party I looked around at the yummy mummies in their short skirts and their flirty tops. And I hoped and prayed that I would end up sitting next to the less attractive lady because that way, there’s at least a chance that I would have a laugh.

Unfortunately the dinner party was such that the 20 plus guests all had to be seated as per the seating chart………..bloody hell………a seating chart…………..were we the royal family!

This meant, though, that although I had an OK person on my left on my right and honestly ……I swear this is true……….. Was a vegetablist and he worked for a wildlife conservation society………and yes………..I promise and swear he had a beard. He looked at me with daggered eyes when I choose the Chateau Briand over the vegetarian main course. He then choose this moment to start a table discussion about his recent trip to the Amazon where he and his friends were shown a whole menu of insects and things that could soon be wiped out unless drastic steps were taken.

I could understand the weird-beards’ concern if the animals they’d found tasted like chocolate and had the visual appeal of a teddy bear. I too would be upset if humankind accidentally wiped out a creature that could speak, cook and looked like a cross between a baby panda and Jessica Simpson.

However, he told us that that every single one of the new species they discovered is either extremely ugly or very dangerous — or both.

There’s a beetle, for instance, called the spiky bastard — actually, it’s not called that but it should be — which is bright pink and squirts cyanide in your face when you go near it.

Then there’s a spider which is more than a foot across and is covered in hair. Described as extremely aggressive, it can almost certainly pull a grown man’s arm right out of its socket, which is why it’s been called Heteropoda Poopaloto — Latin for “If you find one of these crawling towards you, you’ll make a big mess in your pants.”

My particular favorite he told us about was the green snake with yellow eyes which produces a venom which the weird-beards said is “medically significant” to humans. Medically significant? As in, your eyes burst out of your head, your arms shrivel up and your heart swells to the size of a Hummer?

Still, I’m hoping, however, that the financial crisis doesn’t hit the world of beards and discovery too hard because I want the explorers who discover these creatures to keep exploring.

Who knows? With a bit of luck they even may find the creature that begat Judge Judy.

Goodnight
Your friends
John, Heidi and the Thingy

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.