A Quickie

February 8, 2009 -

John Heald

I love Abba. I love the music, the lyrics and if you were to pass by my shower you would find me washing my bottom singing “Waterloo.”

However…………it seems admitting you love Abba is the same as admitting you have sexual feelings for Judge Judy. …………..especially if you are a famous politician.

It’s a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. Does Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister, dance secretly to the music of Abba or do we think he’s really more of a Led Zeppelin man?

Bjorn Again, an Abba tribute band, claims to have played at a private party recently in Russia where Mr. Putin, wearing a smart bow tie, danced with great gusto and sang along to some of the band’s best-known hits (“Ooooh, I believe in angels, something good in everything I see.”). This is apparently such a damaging and shocking accusation that it was swiftly denied by a spokesman for Mr. Putin. The former Russian president, his aide insisted, possibly with a straight face, was nowhere near any such party.

What is Mr. Putin’s problem with Abba apart from the clear tsarist overtones of Dancing Queen? Anyway, I love Abba………… and I am proud to say that Comrade Putin.

Good Afternoon.

I wasn’t going to write anything today, in fact I had made a video which Tom is about to post now but just before I have a live radio interview I wanted to say a quick hello.

This morning we held a Q and A session attended by 400 readers of the blog. I had stated that I would answer anything and everything and so the questions began. I wanted to share the comments with you all.

1. The Platinum Rewards Program.

This was a hot topic of conversation and I admitted that perhaps our program had been somewhat stagnant over the last few years. This was fortified by guests telling that they were on their 25th cruise and therefore they had 15 tote bags and had in fact opened a Carnival Tote Bag Shop in Texas. Seriously, it is more than the free gift which by the way we need to and will have more of a variety of. It was also that that there should be added benefits for those who reach certain milestones. Now, I mentioned that there were comparable discounts for those guests who reach 25, 50, 75 and 100 cruises but ………. there needs to be more. Guests suggested complimentary photos or excursions and of course booking benefits for future cruises.

Basically they want a card that shows that they are the most loyal of Carnival guests and I agree that in these times we should reward them as much as is possible. American Express has the famous Black Card………..maybe we could have the same for 50 cruises or more. Regardless, I promised that our loyalty program will get better. I could promise this because we have a new and dynamic Chief Marketing Officer Jim Berra who started the loyalty program at Starwood Hotels which then became one of the most successful in the industry. So….Platinum guests……watch this space………I promise you won’t be disappointed.

2. The 2010 Itinerary
Obviously the question here was “Is Carnival going back to Europe?” This received a huge a round of applause so it seems that the need for a Carnival smokestack to be seen off the coast of Italy, Spain and beyond is great. I explained that the economy had dictated that we position the fleet where it was most needed and that doing so had allowed us to give Baltimore the Carnival Pride a few months earlier than planned ……….this also received a good applause. However…………it seems Europe is still something everyone wants to do, especially the Med where the sun shines. I also mentioned my desire to have Carnival do a British Isles voyage ………..and the thought of visiting Scotland, Ireland and parts of the UK was met with much excitement.

As I write I have no idea about what’s in store for 2010 as well the possibility of a visit to Europe by a Carnival ship. I have been promised an answer soon and when I receive it I will of course pass it on to all of you.

There were lots of questions and comments about Heidi, the Thingy and the blog. I received dozens of gifts and cards and it was very humbling and …….well …………….. thank you does not seem enough.

I have press interviews, I have two tea times and then formal photos with the bloggers ………..it’s been a great day so far and everyone I hope is having a brilliant time.

Just before Tom posts his video I wanted to tell you this. The first two questions at this mornings session started with the words “Why Not”…………”Why not” have more Platinum privileges, etc. and Why Not have a new itinerary for the Carnival Conquest.

I stopped everyone there and said this………..”The nation of Why Not is another cruise line”…..I then suggested that they not use the phrase “Why not”…………..unless it’s completed with…………..”Why not “have a flat iron steak for dinner every night ……….for free?”…………which was greeted with the biggest applause of the morning.

Here’s Tom’s video and I will write more soon

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.