Orange Juice and Bacon

February 17, 2009 -

John Heald

So, here we are today in Grand Cayman and I have a few confessions to make about this luxurious island. Firstly, let’s go back 21 years. Here’s a confession of ignorance. I never had any idea of the location of the Cayman Islands and when I discovered my first ship the Holiday would be calling there in 1987, I consulted an atlas and discovered that these islands were not where I had imagined them to be — somewhere in the Pacific — but were tucked away in the Caribbean, just below Cuba and not all that far from Jamaica. Then again some passengers still think that they are going to the Grand Canyon……….but that’s a whole other story.

I suspect that my ignorance was shared by many. But, these days, the Cayman Islands have become much better known. Firstly, there is no doubt that the cruise industry has helped define the island as a major tourist destination as did Tom Cruise. Back in the days when he was normal and before the days when he would be seen bouncing up and down on Oprah’s couch like a frog on crack, he actually made good movies. One such movie was The Firm. This portrayed Cayman as a place where the rich and famous had their money and where they would go to spend it…..it’s a great movie and Gene Hackman is particularly brilliant.

The movie showed the remarkable growth of the islands as an offshore financial centre. Most people now know that the islands are associated with international finance. Indeed, a free-association test could prove interesting. If one said banks, I imagine that quite a number of people would say Cayman Islands just as quickly as they might say Switzerland. Strange now I come to think about it. With all the credit crunch talk on CNN, Fox, CNBC, MSNBC and MTV you rarely hear anything about Cayman ……….. mmmmm.

So if you have a great deal of legitimately earned money and you were looking for somewhere to put it, you might find yourself in George Town, Grand Cayman, the island’s capital. And you would certainly have a good choice of banks at your disposal. Grand Cayman, which is only about 20 miles long and in some places less than a mile wide, has about 600 registered banks with hundreds of merchant bankers working there (that’s cockney rhyming slang by the way ……www.urbandictionary.com)

Given that the population of the islands is not much more than 40,000, that makes one bank for every 67 people — a misleading statistic, of course, as only a handful of these are high-street banks. And if you decided that you would like to live where you put your money, then you might take up residence in the islands and discover the advantages of not paying income tax, while all the time living under the protection of the Union Jacks that can be seen fluttering on the buildings of George Town. However, as many cruise ship guests discover, the cost of living is very expensive which is why I always warn guests ahead of time that a simple lunch (burger and fries) will be around $20 a head in a restaurant.

But the popular idea of the Cayman Islands being a remote and artificial tax haven, the preserve of wealthy tax-dodgers (not a term one uses in Cayman society if one wishes to be invited back) is a misconception. Certainly there are very wealthy people living on Grand Cayman, and some of them have a very strong aversion to paying tax, but there are many others.

Here is a bit of history that I can share with you thanks to my friend Mr. Google.

There are the original Caymanians, the descendants of sailors, settlers and fishermen; there are Jamaicans in large numbers, who contribute their characteristic warmth and exuberance to the mix; there are Central Americans who have fled the difficulties of their own countries; and there are all sorts of American, British and European expatriates, some of them quite well known. There is the author Dick Francis, for example, who has lived on Seven Mile Beach for some years.

Today, there are 8,000 cruise ship guests who have flocked to the island for the unparalleled diving, for the beaches and the turquoise-colored, perfectly warm sea. We have been joined this morning by the stunning Ruby Princess and another ship which the owners couldn’t be bothered to come up with a name for so they just stuck a big ‘X” on the smokestack.

I am writing from the lido deck restaurant and I can see the reef, the water is a very light blue-green color, the sort of water into which I want to swim in naked……. Preferably on my back so if I am spotted………….. They will think it’s someone snorkeling. It is one of the great Caymanian experiences to swim with these giant rays. They glide below you, like stealth bombers, with their great black wings and despite the bad press these creatures received after the terrible Steve “The Crocodile Hunter” Irwin incident this is still the must do event here. It’s an incomparable experience and should be on everyone’s bucket list.

Georgetown has great shopping however be warned, the locals have an air of flippancy about them which some people perceive as rude. The island certainly has an air of “we are the best” about it and maybe they are. I do wish they would build a pier. Carnival and other lines have suggested this and even offered to help them build it, this rich and prosperous destination is one of the few places left that requires cruise ship guests to use a tender service to get ashore.

Well, while the guests are ashore I am here writing to you and won’t be enjoying the island as there is a lot to do. I will be changing the way the guests are tendered ashore adopting the “Heidi” method. Being the first port I think it’s important that we use a tender ticket system and with no disrespect to what’s gone on before here, I will need to make the changes. Anyway, it’s a beautifully sunny day and therefore the perfect weather to answer your questions. So, here are the next ten marked John, please reply and my apologies for the delay in doing so.

I was recently asked about the planning process that goes into deciding our ports of call. Well, who better to answer this then the best in the business …..and I truly mean that he is the best in the industry, our Senior Vice President Terry Thornton.

terry-thorton-jpeg

Our itinerary planning includes several important components. We start by selecting home ports that provide our guests with easy and affordable access to our ships. This includes the ability for many guests to be able to drive to the port or take shorter, less expensive air transportation. We then decide how long the cruise should be and work hard to provide a wide range of cruise duration choices for our guests. Next, we select the ports of call and this is really about choosing ports that provide our guests with the best possible experience ashore.

We also look at our itineraries based on how they will perform financially. This includes an evaluation of what type of revenues we can generate and the operating costs required (particularly the fuel and port costs).

The hardest part of our itinerary planning is to be sure we are offering the best combination of cruises for all 22 of our ships. We have a lot of experience in working through this process and a great team of people involved from all areas of the Company. We also fully recognize the critical need to continue to innovate and offer even more itinerary diversity for our guests.

We also agree that the ABC islands are very exciting destinations and offer a great experience. However, due to their location so far south, we only have one ship that could visit these islands as part of a 7 day cruise. The Carnival Victory sails year-round from San Juan and only sails as far south as Barbados. We have called in both Aruba and Curacao in the past on our San Juan itinerary, but have made some changes in recent years to offer some new ports in that region including Dominica, St. Lucia and St. Kitts. We review and make changes to this itinerary every few years and will keep your input in mind as we evaluate future enhancements.

Thanks, Terry

And now on to the next set of questions marked John Please Reply.


Lynn in VA Asked:

Hi John,
Please Reply.
Sorry to bother you again, but when you answered my question earlier in this blog saying “It appears they had a different mailing address for you which I won’t write here on the blog.” I got concerned. We started sailing with Carnival in 2000 and have been receiving Current magazine for 8 1/2 years (with no problems). Our address has not changed (we’ve been at it since 1993), so I don’t understand why they had a different one for us all of a sudden. We have had a credit card and at least one catalog mysteriously change our address to somewhere in CA, so I don’t know if someone is fooling around with our Carnival information or what. Is there some reason why you can’t give me the real phone # of the subscription department? If so, can you give me a way to contact someone?
Thanks again for your help!
Lynn
Hope you and the bloggers have a great cruise!! Wish we were going too.

John Says:

Hello Lynn
Don’t worry Lynn, all is well and having checked with the department involved your records are all up to date. Please can you write back with your home phone number which we won’t publish and Stephanie will have someone give you a call? You should however have your Carnival Currents magazine delivered on time and to the correct address from now on. Please let me know if you have any further concerns. We did indeed have a wonderful Bloggers Cruise and maybe you can join us on the next one which is on the Carnival Dream.
My best to you and the family
John


meghan Asked:

John
Please Reply,
I have a very random question from a member of our roll call for our Valor cruise coming up on 2/22…first off we are all very excited for the upcoming cruise and those of us that follow your blog are so excited you will be our CD, for those that don’t follow the blog we have already told to start reading…..anyways my question is…do you know if the ships use Equal as a sweetener? One of the cc members uses equal (as opposed to Sweet n’ Low or Splenda and is determining whether they need to pack any or not) thanks in advance for your help!
Meghan

John Says:

Hello Meghan
I am looking forward to being your cruise director next week. I haven’t actually been a CD since October last year so I may be a little rusty…….please bear with me. Now, with regard to the sweetener question I am happy to report that as I write I see the sugar pot on the dining tables has yellow, blue and pink sachets in them meaning we have Splenda, Sweet n’ Low and Equal available onboard so no need to pack. Can she tell the difference between the three, I never can? Hope to meet you all and see you soon for seven fun filled days.
Cheers
John

Beverly Poitrast Asked:

Hi John, I realize you are busy, what with your bloggers cruise, etc. However, when time allows, could you please provide me an e-mail address, where I might correspond with you. Specifically, I am trying to find out who the CD will be onboard the Valor in November 2009, if you have this information. There is a specific reason I am requesting this information, however, I do not want to fill your blog response forum with all the details. If I had an e-mail address for you, I would be more than happy to provide you with a full explanation. Thank you for your help and I hope you are having fun

John Says:

Hello Beverly
I am sorry it’s taken so long to answer your question and please never apologize for asking them as that’s what I am here for. The CD for your cruise will be Big Tex who I just saw in action on the Carnival Fantasy. He is a great guy and you will really enjoy having him as your CD. Please write back via the blog if you have any need of help and if you don’t want it made public just mark it as private.
My best to you and the family
John

missingthesmokefreeparadise Asked:

John – PLEASE REPLY (yet again)
Is Ken Miles going to be the uber Maitre d’ on the December blogger’s cruise out of Miami? If so, I have an idea for a special blogger’s only event – one that will make every non-blogger on the cruise jealous. Have Ken work with the orchestra and give us a concert singing all those great standards by The Rat Pack, Mel Torme and Bobby Darin. I can assure you he has the talent and I think the show would be bonkers. I have satellite radio and have recently discovered a channel called Siriusly Sinatra (what a blatant advertisement for Sirius radio) – it is, without a doubt, the most enjoyable channel I have found thus far. All day, every day – Frank, Sammie, Deano, Mel, Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald – need I name any more names? Anyway, you have my idea – I will even let you take credit for the idea. Love ya, man – and I am horribly jealous of all the bloggers whose Fantasy is coming true this week. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy and when you have had too much enjoyment, think again about whether or not you can ever have enough enjoyment. BTW – Heidi looks great.
Jon

John Says:

Hello Mate
Always great to hear from you. Now…….firstly yes, Ken Byrne will be the maitre d on the Carnival Dream for the Bloggers cruise and what a brilliant idea. Now, I have to tell you that getting Ken to sing out of his comfort zone which is the dining room is never easy. However, as he loves the bloggers and as he has No Surrender (personal joke between us both) I am sure we can work this out. I am going to forward this to him and let’s see what he says. Hope you and MTSFP are well and hope I see you soon.
Cheers
John

John ‘Bart’ Bartholomew Asked:

Dear John
Was wondering if you could do me a favor and forward this email to the right person at Carnival. I know this isn’t you job but the Carnival site is all about booking a cruise or fixing a problem – neither of which I need to do. Instead I wanted to send a note complimenting a Carnival employee – Mark Baker, a customer service phone rep – who helped me book our family’s fifth Carnival Cruise last week. He reminded me, in an age where it is in short supply, what customer service is all about. He was knowledgeable and professional while at the same time he was interested and engaged. He knew that booking this cruise wasn’t an act of buying an off the shelf commodity, but instead was something that was very important to me. Having spent almost 40 years working with several of the countries leading mail order companies I have learned a lot about customer service and what great people can mean to a company. Mark is one of them. He also reminded me why I was booking another cruise on Carnival. There are a lot of ‘Marks’ at Carnival Cruise Lines. Yes, I have cruised both one of your sister cruise lines as well as one of your competitors. There is a difference. John, thank you for forwarding this on. Also, thanks for taking the time and effort you put into your blog.
Sincerely, John ‘Bart’ Bartholomew

John Says:

Hello John
What a fabulous comment and I have indeed passed this onto both Mark and his manager so you can expect to hear from them both very soon. Thank you for taking the time to tell me about Mark and he and many thousands of other Carnival employees work very hard and never get the limelight so I am glad that you took the time to change that.
I remain at your service
Cheers
John

Anne E. Asked:

Dear John,
PLEASE REPLY
I’ve been thinking for quite some time about asking you if you’d do something for me and seeing your post about Louise is the final “push” I needed. I have several friends who have, over the past few years, been diagnosed with breast cancer. For the most part they’ve beaten the odds and are doing well, though one colleague didn’t survive the battle. I recently volunteered for a program called “The Army of Women” which is sponsored by the Avon Foundation and Dr. Susan Love (a leading researcher in breast cancer). The “army” consists of women who have volunteered to partner with research scientists studying breast cancer. By signing up you agree to receive occasional emails informing you of research studies you may be interested in joining. The goal is to sign up one million women. Some of these studies involve answering a survey and others are more involved, but it is always up to you to decide whether you wish to participate. I think that Carnival Corporation, partly because they are already involved with the On Deck Walk for the Cure (which I participated in on the Westerdam a couple of months ago) and your blog, because a number of bloggers have mentioned their battles (or that of a family member) with breast cancer, would be a good resource for increasing the numbers of the Army of Women.
Would you consider posting this or a mention of the program on the blog? Or even adding a link on your site? I’m including a link to the site so you can see what I’m talking about.
http://www.armyofwomen.org/ourgoal
Best wishes to you, Heidi and Baby Thingy!
Regards,
Anne E.

John Says:

Hello Anne.
Thank you first of all for the kind words for Heidi and I and of course the Thingy. Congratulations on the amazing work you and your friends are doing to promote awareness of breast cancer and I would be proud to have your website www.armyofwomen.org/ourgoal posted here on today’s blog. I know that many of the 50,000 weekly readers have personal connections to this continuing fight and I am sure you will be hearing from many of them. If there is anything else you think I may be able to do I am here. I wish you and the army of women continuing success as you fight the good fight.
Kind regards
John

Semper Fi Asked:

John or Stephanie please reply
(please do not post)
Hello Sir
Need some help.
Cindy and I were just speaking with our PVP Jose. We were booking a cruise on the Carnival Pride out of Baltimore in July. This was going to be a special cruise as we were booking not only for us but for my two sons (ages 18 and 25) and my daughter and her Fiancée. The problem came when we discussed our 1-year-old granddaughter I was told by the PVP that we have to pay FULL FARE for her.
Now we did some checking and found that Celebrity charges a $98 booking fee plus port taxes of $72……. Norwegian has a similar policy in that they charge a $75 booking fee and then port taxes, again less than $200. Both of the above are for children between the ages of 6 months and 2 years. I personally called each of the cruise lines and talked to their customer services and PVP’s.

Now John you know that Cindy and I are brand loyal and would never even look at other lines as we know that they will never meet our expectations however I do have to look at the bottom line as well. And to charge full fair for a 1 year old seem just a lil silly to us, as you have to ask yourself what services is this child going to use on the ship. With the exception of a few dirty diapers and maybe $20 worth of food I am at a loss.
Let me know if this is really the policy of Carnival. Both Cindy and I are really upset about the prospect of having to take the children on their first cruise and it not be on a Carnival ship.
in advance thanks for your Help
Cindy n Bill

John Says:

Hello Cindy and Bill
This is very interesting to read about Bill and obviously with my Thingy wanting to sail at the end of the year, it applies to me as well. I was not aware of our charges or those of the other lines. So, as I know nothing please allow me a few days to investigate this and I will get back to you. We appreciate your loyalty to Carnival and I will do whatever I can to find out what options are available. As always I send you both all my best

John

Andrea Asked:

Hi John (please reply),
Nice interview with Capt. Scala! I sailed with my family on the Pride in 2003 with him and we had a chance to talk him at one of the cocktail parties. Very nice guy.
I commented on the blog on Feb. 4 with a question but it spent 4 days awaiting moderation and then just disappeared! Isn’t cyberspace fun! Anyways, just a quick question about the Splendor. My Fiancée & I are getting married on board on April 26 and we’ve booked a DJ for the reception. I have asked the girl that is in charge of weddings for the ship but she isn’t technologically inclined and hasn’t been able to answer. Can we bring our wedding/reception music on an iPod or does it have to be on CD? If it’s a CD can it be in MP3 format or does it have to be a regular audio format? I don’t know where the ceremony will be but the reception will be in the Red Carpet Dance Lounge, I don’t know if that info helps. Thanks so much for looking into this for me John! I really appreciate it. Only 73 more days!
All the best to you, Heidi and the Thingy!
~Andrea

John Says:

Hello Andrea
Your kind thoughts for Heidi and I and the Thingy are greatly appreciated and I am glad you enjoyed the interview with Captain Scala. I hope by now you saw that I responded to your question on Saturday’s blog. I just checked and its there under the blog called “Caller ID.” Please let me know if you need any further help and congratulations in advance on your forthcoming marriage.
Cheers
j


Stef Asked:

jaxcudas@gmail.com
Hi John… please reply when you get time.. I know you will be busy… it’s no big hurry…
First of all let me say a big THANK YOU to Jaime for her letters and pictures! I enjoy her updates and would like to thank her for doing it for us!
Second, yes… Mrs. Rude should defiantly be reported. I hate when we get service like that. It’s almost as if you are bugging her! I agree… talk to a General Manager or higher if the GM isn’t available!
Finally… Congrats to Mr. Duffy on his award!
OK… now my question….
I am getting confused. First I read that we must have a passport for sailing after June 1, 2009. Now I am reading that if you are doing a “loop” cruise you can just use your birth certificates. Meaning, if you leave from a US port and return to a US port you can just use your birth certificate. Could you please clarify this? I would hate to get to port and be told that we couldn’t board because we didn’t have a passport. I would FREAK out if that happened!!!!
Thanks again for your wonderful blog entries. Have fun on the Bloggers cruise. Hopefully one day I can join you guys! I’m looking forward to reading all about your trip!
Your new fan….
Stef

John Says:

Hello Stef.
Thanks for all the kind words and we did indeed have fun on the bloggers cruise. Maybe next time you will be able to join us. Now, regarding your question. Currently, to sail on a Carnival ship you can indeed just have your birth certificate but it must be accompanied by an official photo ID such as a drivers license. This is regardless of where you board or disembark in the United States. However, the simplest and surest way is to have a passport. If not………then your birth certificate and photo ID will be fine for the time being but the passport is the best way to go if you can. Please let me know if you need any further help and I am so happy that you are enjoying the blog thingy.
My best to you and the family
John


john steers Asked:

john,heidi and thingy,
please read and reply if possible.
The Carnival Sensation returned to service at Port Canaveral today complete with the evolutions of fun and balcony upgrades and a complete makeover and she looks absolutely brilliant. Carnival passengers sailing on the carnival sensation will be in store for a great cruise vacation. I was wondering if the blog will be getting Dear John letters during the repositioning/Panama Canal transit of the Carnival Pride. I don’t know if you were aware but port Canaveral was voted Carnival’s number one port this year based on customer comment card ratings. Best wishes to you, Heidi and the thingy
john steers
CCL
port Canaveral

John Says:

Hello John
Congratulations to the Port Canaveral Team on winning the Cruise Port award. It is an award well deserved. Yes, the Carnival Sensation has returned looking amazing and in a few moments you will see the official press release about her. I would love to have someone write a few Dear John letters about the Carnival Pride”>Carnival Pride’s arrival to Baltimore so let me see what we can do about that. Please pass on my kind regards to everyone there and once again……..congratulations
John

Talking of the Carnival Sensation, here is the official press release welcoming her home from dry dock.

EXTENSIVE MULTI-MILLION-DOLLAR REFURBISHMENT ADDS A HOST OF NEW FEATURES TO CARNIVAL SENSATION

Expansive Water Park, Adults-Only Retreat, Tropical-Themed Pool, 98 New Balconies, Circle C Youth Facility Highlight ‘Evolutions of Fun’ Upgrades

MIAMI (February 17, 2009) – The 2,052-passenger Carnival Sensation has undergone a multi-million-dollar renovation and emerged with a host of new facilities and features, including a sprawling water park, an exclusive adults-only retreat, and redesigned tropical themed main pool. Ninety-eight balconies were also incorporated onto existing ocean view staterooms and a new Circle C facility for 12- to 14-year olds was added, as well.

The extensive renovation, which took place during a 35-day dry dock, is part of Carnival’s “Evolutions of Fun” refurbishment program for the line’s eight Fantasy-class vessels. Carnival Sensation is the fourth “Fun Ship” to receive the upgrades, joining the Carnival Imagination, Carnival Inspiration, and Carnival Fantasy which have already been renovated. The four remaining Fantasy-class ships will be refurbished over the next few years.

Carnival Sensation resumed its year-round three- and four-day Bahamas cruise program from Port Canaveral, Fla., last week. On this route, three-day cruises depart Thursdays and visit Nassau while four-day voyages depart Sundays and call at Freeport and Nassau.

“With its wide variety of on-board facilities and convenient three- and four-day schedule from Port Canaveral – located in close proximity to Central Florida’s many attractions and theme parks – Carnival Sensation has been a popular choice for ‘Fun Ship’ guests, particularly families,” said Roberta Jacoby, Carnival’s senior vice president of hotel operations. “And with the new water park, updated pool area, and other guest-pleasing features, we’re making a terrific, value-packed vacation choice even more attractive to consumers,” she added.

Exciting Open Deck Upgrades
A highlight of the “Evolutions of Fun” upgrades is Carnival WaterWorks, a sprawling aqua park that is designed to appeal to guests of all ages. Towering over Verandah Deck, the expansive open-air facility includes a 300-foot-long water slide – the longest at sea – along with twin 82-foot-long racing slides and various water spray apparatus.

Another signature element of “Evolutions of Fun” is the redesigned main pool area. Located mid-ship on Lido Deck, the area has a distinctive resort-style ambiance, with colorful, oversized umbrellas, thatched roofing, vibrant tile work and other tropical-themed design elements.

Serenity Adults-Only Retreat
Also new on the Carnival Sensation is Serenity, an exclusive adults-only retreat located aft on Promenade Deck. Designed as an ocean-going oasis for comfort and relaxation, Serenity offers plush chaise lounges and chairs, and two large whirlpools. Shade is provided by oversized umbrellas, along with an area covered by thatched roofing. Within Serenity, guests can enjoy a wide range of icy cocktails and frozen drinks or partake in various dining options at the nearby, casual Seaview restaurant.

Ninety-Eight New Balcony Staterooms
Ninety-eight existing ocean view staterooms on the Carnival Sensation have been retrofitted with balconies, creating expansive new cabins measuring approximately 230 square feet. Twenty-four of the new balcony cabins are located mid-ship, 12 are located near the stern, and the other 62 are located aft, with several of these accommodations featuring extended balconies. Additionally, a number of the Carnival Sensation’s suites have been modified to feature larger, extended balconies to create a more spacious environment for guests.

New Circle C Facility, Other Enhancements
Carnival Sensation’s refurbishment also included the creation of a new Circle C facility on Atlantic Deck 8. Catering to the 12- to 14-old age group, Circle C includes a high-tech sound and lighting system, plasma screen televisions displaying movies and music videos, a touch-screen jukebox and gaming pods with the latest games and consoles.

All of the Carnival Sensation’s 1,026 staterooms have been completely remodeled with new wall coverings, tile work, carpeting and light fixtures. Additionally, virtually all dining, dancing and entertainment venues, as well as all guest corridors, have been renovated with a host of cosmetic enhancements.

Reservations are currently being accepted on the Carnival Sensation’s three- and four-day Bahamas cruises from Port Canaveral. For additional information and reservations, contact any travel agent, call 1-800-CARNIVAL or visit carnival.com.

And now…………………..here’s Jaime.

February 16, 2009

Dear John,

It is hard to believe that the first three legs of out South American run have already come to its conclusion. Tomorrow morning in Buenos Aires, we will be disembarking approximately half of our 3,000 guests. We do have a great deal of people staying for all three legs of this itinerary, but those guests who will be leaving us tomorrow will be sincerely missed – especially blogger Eva, who I have absolutely loved hearing stories about her childhood and family during this first cruise! After 17 days of sailing together, (which is my longest single cruise ever) you really do become a family. I cannot imagine the feelings of disconnection that will take place after the full 49-day run!

A few days ago when I asked you all what they would like to know about cruise ship life, Mark Twain (cool that he reads the blog, eh?) had a few questions about our infirmary and our medical team on board. In an attempt to please this obviously intelligent and probably extremely good looking blogger, I asked one of our lead nurses Rebecca his questions. She was kind enough to respond with the following answers:

************************************************************************************
Question 1. How do medical staff prepare? Not only is the cruise longer, but I also assume the guests tend to be older than the norm.
Response: It is a challenge to know that we’re going to be away from the States for around 50 days. Yes, the population is older but that in itself is not a problem. The main problem I have had is that I will not be having a medical stores delivered for the 50 days we’re away. I have had to stock the medical centre from the 31st of Jan to the 19th of March, so knowing how much to order when I usually have stores delivered every 7 days has been the major hurdle for me. Some things you could say I have ordered a bit too many of…you could rebuild the Great Wall of China with the amount of TheraFlu (cold remedy that the crew love) that I have in one of my side rooms! Another hurdle to prepare for has been the different requirements for each ports/ countries we are entering. I know we have to do certain reports for different countries but we also have to meet the public health requirements as well. Now this will not be a problem for us seeing as we did get a perfect 100 in our recent US public health inspection (go Splendor!), the problem is that they can change their minds on different things so we must be prepared for a variety of circumstances.

Question 2: Does Carnival add more nurses and doctors? Do they add equipment they don’t normally carry?

Response: Carnival employs four nurses and two doctors on this class of ship but for our South American run we are up to five nurses. We are all experienced Carnival nurses who have worked for the company for many years, plus we have two senior fleet physicians onboard who also have many years with Carnival. We don’t have any extra equipment than we would normally have as we are well stocked with digital X-ray, all advanced cardiac life-support drugs and equipment, an onboard laboratory and a fully stocked pharmacy.

Question 3: Do they contact the various ports to ensure that, say, cardiac catheterization is available along the whole route?

Response: The many ports we are calling at does hold some challenges for the medical services that are available. Not only do we need to have emergency medical services if anything happens but we also have over 1,100 crew that are onboard and we have to keep them healthy and happy! As far as I am aware we have not made specific arrangements in ports but we have a port agent available to use that resides in the countries we go to who is employed by Carnival to assist and help with anything that we need. We have a whole group of people onboard and in Miami who are contacted straight away if we have an emergency and who help resolve any problems that we have. We have excellent medical guest co-coordinators who we contact and they act as a liaison with travel insurance companies, hospitals both abroad and in the States and also help keep family members up-to-date as to what’s happening. A lot of the time we can all think that if we’re not in the US, Britain, Canada or another western country that the medical services will be not up to our standards but do you all remember reading about the guest we had seriously ill in Turkey. In the medical centre, we all assumed that the facilities would be not up to our standards when in fact the guest was admitted to the Intensive care unit, given all the treatment he needed and was well enough to go to a private room five days later! He then left hospital three days after that! Absolutely amazing…. So some ports may be better than others but as I have five nurses onboard, if, as a team, we are not sure of the hospital we are sending people to then I will disembark a nurse with them.

As a side note to John and everyone in blog-land…….please , please find Jaime love…We find her getting more despondent as everyday goes on and I’ve seen her walking around the ship looking, no, searching for her one true love…….

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Hahah thanks Becka for your answers to the QUESTIONS and not for the additional information about why I may or may not be visiting the infirmary this cruise!

Tomorrow you will hear more from me as a post-cruise wrap up as well as the fun in store in Buenos Aires!

All the best to you!
Jaime =)

I see Jaime is building her own set of fans which is brilliant to see. Thanks as always you single looking for a man blogger you.

Here are today’s photos from the Carnival Valor.

funnel

lobby1

lobby-2

lobby-3

lobby-4

prin-1

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prin-3

On another subject it seems many of you are asking for the chance to buy a John Heald Bobblehead thingy. Firstly……….why? And secondly it seems you can do so already as Kevin the Chef told me last night that there is one selling on eBay for $1.

Anyway, we do have some left over and I am going to think of a fun contest we can launch on the blog thingy where participants will have the chance of winning one ……….. again …………… why anyone would want one is beyond me. Look out for information on this soon.

I have met lots of people who recognize me from reading the blog. And I guess I continue to be surprised there are so many who do read it and recognize me. Then I have to remind myself that we are close to 3.8 million views and from January this year we average between 30,000 and 50,000 readers a week However there are of course many guests onboard who do not know me and whom I can sit amongst and listen to their comments.

Today, on Lido I have heard a conversation that the elevators are annoying because “they all go to different floors” and a couple who were arguing that the Titanic was bigger than the Carnival Valor. Mostly, though, it’s wonderful to listen to the comments about the ship and her crew.

Breakfast in America and in the UK is a big deal. On the ships, it’s something some passengers do to fill time until lunch. This morning I sat opposite a couple whose plates were over flowing with bacon, sausage, omelets, pancakes and those grit thingies ……….. there was enough food to feed five thousand. However, they ate maybe a quarter of it and then buggered off. The sheer wastage was incredible and between eating huge forkfuls they found time to be rude to a waiter.

It went like this:

“Is the orange juice freshly squeezed?” he asked Vladimir.
“Oh yes, sir, certainly it has been squeezed,” he replied confidently.
“Here? On the ship?” Mr. Bacon persisted.
“I don’t know,” replied the honest crew member from Belarus
“Get me some freshly squeezed orange juice because this isn’t,” demanded Mr Bacon.

And so of went Vladimir and despite not receiving a please or a thank you or any kind of common courtesy off he went.

As he left Mrs. Bacon started to complain to her husband that the ship didn’t have something called “biscuits and gravy and cream chipped beef” for breakfast. I think Mr. Bacon agreed with her because he said something inaudible and has he did so bits of has brown flew out of his mouth onto the table. I half expected Mrs. Bacon to put a bit of ketchup on them and eat them. I made an instant note about biscuits and gravy and cream chipped beef as I have no idea what they are. Anyway, five minutes later……..and no more than five minutes, Mr and Mrs. Bacon left the table and buggered off to go ashore or order room service.

A few minutes after they had left Vladimir returned holding aloft on a tray like a fishing trophy two freshly squeezed glasses of orange juice. He actually looked forlorn when he saw the Bacons had gone. I asked him if he had taken some oranges of the breakfast line and squeezed them into the glasses………….he said yes. I then told them that the Bacons had suddenly realized they were late for their shore excursion and had to leave. I then gave Vladimir a $5 bill saying that it was from them as thank you…………..and the boy from Belarus smiled a smile as wide as Mrs. Bacon’s bottom.

I probably should not have done that but I felt so bad for the rude treatment he had received and the fact that he had gone out of his way to exceed their expectations that it was the least he deserved. Of course, I also just thought that he will probably see the Bacons again and say thank you for the money…………..oops.

I hate to admit this but these last few days I feel lonely. Yes, obviously that is because I miss Heidi more than words can say but I also don’t really have any friends here on the Carnival Valor. I don’t have anyone I can sit and talk about life and the company to.
People – or should I say friends and colleagues – seem to be treating me differently this time. I found this also on the Carnival Fantasy a little bit as well but much more so here.

It’s as though they think with my new title of Brand Thingy I have somehow become one of them…………you know……….senior management and because of that our friendships seem to have changed. Sooner or later for most people the longer you work in the same place the more likely it is that you and/or your friends will get promoted. And the first rule of management – unless, you want to be demoted immediately – is that you have to quit bitching, whining and gossip mongering, or at least become more discreet about it. And as bitching, whining and gossip mongering are the glue that binds workplace friendships, as soon as one of you gets promoted you drift apart. I guess that’s why they say it’s lonely at the top.

I am not suggesting I am at the top………not for a minute but there is certainly massive amount of respect being flung in my direction and a lot less “let’s meet up for a Diet Coke and a cigar.” I felt this last night as after watching the brilliant Nightclub Express Show and the first of Eddie’s two late night shows I sat in the cigar bar………..alone. A team of guest relation officers (pursers as we used to call them) sat close by and when I walked in their happy laughter suddenly stopped and they became serious and……….I swear……..one even tried to hide the fact that she was drinking a beer by putting the bar menu in front of her glass.

Everyone stopped by to say hello and every five minutes a bar waitress would come over to see if I needed anything…………at one point I checked under the table and behind the chair to see if Gerry Cahill, our president and CEO was there. I wanted to say………..hey guys………..it’s just me……….John……..the CD………..and because I sat there all alone…………….and because I felt sad…………….I had a cigar………………bugger.

It looks like I will be Billy No Mates for some time to come and its another reason why I cant wait to get on stage next week and next year I in tend to spend as much time as CD on a ship as I can…………it’s where I belong.

Now I have just realized that I suddenly got very serious and so not to leave the blog today on a depressed note here is a photo of me swimming…………….enjoy by clicking on
http://www.toilette-humor.com/cartoon.html

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.