Talking in Code

March 6, 2009 -

John Heald

There was a wonderful sight to behold last night here onboard the good ship Carnival Valor as many of our Indian crew members gathered in the crew lounge to watch the movie Slumdog Millionaire.

Yes………I know it’s not out on DVD yet but we do have it as one of our Pay per View movies……… and oh…………..the look on their faces was just priceless. Many of our crew are from Mumbai, or Bombay as it was known, and for them to see this film was something very special.

I have been able to call many Indian crewmembers friends for many years as well as storeowners across the Caribbean and you will not find a people more complex – and complexed – than Indians. It’s amazing that many Indian citizens had just been heaping abuse and lawsuits on Slumdog Millionaire for showing India in a bad light, and for using the intolerable word “dog” to describe those poor little slum kids, is now in a state of total joy.


For those of you yet to see this movie it’s a tale of a boy from the slums of Mumbai who competes in the Indian version of the television quiz show Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Last night I watched it again with some crewmembers, the same crew who will have served you food, cooked you food, cleaned your stateroom and made your vacation experience that much better. I watched them as much as I watched the movie and saw their changing emotions throughout. They clapped and tapped their feet to the Indian music and their eyes glazed over with sadness when they saw the filthy, giggling, half-naked children picking through the huge piles of refuse. I couldn’t help thinking that some of them may have known people who were forced to live like this…..maybe one or two even experienced this hell of a life themselves.

Then there were huge whoops of joy as the Bollywood-style dancing in the finale started and many of the Indian crew stood and danced along ……..it was like something straight out of an episode of Fame.

I remember watching the Oscars many years ago when a big fat British director or producer whose name I cannot remember won an Oscar for Chariots of Fire. Plainly overcome with the emotion of it all, he bounced on to the stage and announced proudly: “The British are coming.”

Oh, how everyone laughed at the silly little fat man from the north of England. ….. including myself. One minor hit and now he thinks the SAS Special Forces are going to storm the White House and every American will be drinking tea with milk and saying “spiffing” by the weekend. ………..but this week he was proved right.

The British scooped all the golden dolls and showed Hollywood that a small film about millionaire dogs can beat Batman, Spiderman, Hulks and Ironmen any day of the week.

Strange though. Because when it comes to making films we British are usually …………. ummmm…………crap.

We’re even worse than the French. At least with French cinema the girls eventually get their clothes off and have rumpy pumpy. Usually after the lead character has spent an hour wondering, in black and white, whether to throw himself under a train.

Whereas in most British films, nothing happens at all. It’s all grimy and wet and miserable and then, mercifully, the credits roll. Sometimes this is because to get funding for a British film you have to go to a government body made up of vegetarians and communists who will insist the movie is about underprivileged glue sniffers.

So, the cinema-going audience is faced with a choice. Shall we go and watch Leonardo De Crapio blow up some terrorists? Or shall we go and see something about drizzle?

Often, though, British film directors yearn to get a film off the ground not because they want to make money but because they want to make a point such as Thatcher was a bastard, The Queen should be sacked, screw the rich. That sort of thing. It’s all so bloody depressing. Lots of people looking through raindrops rolling down a window before reaching for the Evo-Stik. And instead of the hero coming along in a helicopter gunship, we get some social worker who “really cares” and has a lot of meetings.

Then there is Madonna’s ex-husband Guy Bitchy whose movies are all exactly the same and show London as a city full of gangsters screaming “Oi guvner, give us the bloody diamond or I’ll blow ya bloody head off you low life scum geezer.”

That’s why Danny Boyle is so brilliant. He understands the need for a story. Trainspotting could have been about deprivation. But instead it was a feel good movie about a man’s escape from drugs. Then there was 28 Days Later. Same thing. It had a plot. It had a point.

And now there’s Slumdog Millionaire.

After the movie I spoke to a lot of the Indian crew who thanked me for showing this epic film for them. I then spoke to a crew member I have never spoken to or met before ……… a cook…………one of the cooks that makes the pastries and bread onboard. He shook my hand like we were best mates who hadn’t seen each other for years. He told me about his cousin who usually earns about $1 a day selling scrap wood, but has been in hospital with tuberculosis.

After his family’s hut was bulldozed without notice, they now live under a scrap of tarpaulin that stands no chance of keeping out the monsoon rains when they arrive in June. He then told me proudly that he and his two brothers are at sea with Carnival and Holland America working hard to support as many of their family members as they can ………but that he can’t help them all.

These are the crewmembers who smile each and every day and provide the fun and service that makes Carnival the best cruise line in the world. Yet, they all have their own story to tell. Sometimes those stories are ones that will make you smile and laugh and sometimes like my friend the cook………..they will make cry…………and occasionally they will make you realise just how lucky you are.

I want to apologize one more time to everyone disappointed that I am leaving the Carnival Valor and therefore will not be the cruise director on your voyage. Please don’t blame anyone but me. I should never have said that I would be here the whole of March especially knowing my schedule is ever changing. I have spoken to the folks in Miami and we have said that this cannot happen again and when I give dates I will be onboard I must honor them…….and I will. I know this does not help those guests who were looking forward to me being on the Carnival Valor but I do promise that unless I have a personal situation that requires me to be elsewhere, I will adhere to the schedule I tell you about.

So, once again I go on bended knee to ask for your forgiveness. It is not Carnival’s fault but mine and if you need to be angry at anyone it should be me…………..and the French.

Please forgive me and I promise that even though I will not be here the brilliant crew of the Carnival Valor will make sure you have the best cruise ever.

Time to answer some more questions.

Sandra Asked:

Please Reply……

John,

Are you trying to tell us that Jamie is now married? When did this happen? You slipped that bit of information into your blog…… Just like you ….

Is the Spirit going into dry dock soon? Linda and I are going to Alaska in July, and we thought that we would be on the Spirit.

Are you having any problems now finding your hemorrhoid cream? If so we can also send you some from North Carolina.

Love to Heidi and the Thingy, and to you too.

Sandra

John Says:

Hello Sandra

No, Jaime is not married and I was teasing her because she really wants to find Mr. Right but so far she has been unlucky in love. I know one day she will find the right person though …………preferably someone who doesn’t like to talk much as Jaime has that part of the relationship well covered. Her Dear John letters are amazing though and I continue to be very proud of her. Your Alaskan cruise will be on the Carnival Spirit and I know you will have a fantastic time especially as Chris “Bubba” Roberts will be your cruise director ………doesn’t miss his Blues Brothers act. I am always in need of hemorrhoid cream ……. it’s a hereditary problem passed down from father to son. My best wishes to you and your family and let me know if you need anything else.

Cheers

John

Melanie Asked:

Hey John (please reply if you can),

I know you mentioned that there may be something going on for St. Patrick’s Day (other than just drinking! lol) on the Valor. I plan on decorating my cabin for it, but is there any chance if I bring an Irish CD for you that I can get at least one song played over the PA to help put everyone in the Irish mood?

p.s. I promise it’s not a CD from Riverdance!

John Says:

Hello Melanie

Of course you can decorate your cabin plus we can tell some Irish jokes………..Ken the maitre d and I love going back and forth with English/Irish jokes. Tell you what, while I can’t play the CD over the PA system I will play it before a show or during one of my events. Leave me a note at the GSD when you arrive and I will be in touch begora I will and top of the mornin to ya.

Cheers

John

Spencer Asked:

John Please Reply

Hi John,

I saw a post on Cruise Critic a few weeks ago that there was going to be news on the Elation in a few weeks. It said you said that on the bloggers cruise. It has been a few weeks and I really want to know if there is any good news about the Elation. Can you please give me any information about this?

Thank You,

Spencer

John Says:

Hello Spencer.

The Carnival Elation is in dry dock in San Francisco until March 12. I actually spoke to the captain who is a great friend of mine. Captain Salvatore Messina and I go way back to the Carnival Destiny when he was staff captain and we would get off the ship together in Halifax and eat lobster. He is now a captain and as you will see he has two beautiful children. He will keep us informed on how the ship is doing and as soon as she comes out of dry dock I will make sure I tell you all about what appears to be your favorite ship.

Here is my friend Captain Messina and his family

19p070

missingthesmokefreeparadise Asked:

JOHN – PLEASE REPLY

Will you be on the two-day cruise to nowhere out of New York that precedes the Blogger’s Cruise?

Jon

John Says:

Hello Jon

Yes sir, I will indeed and hopefully I will see your Fun Ship Funnel hat walking up the gangway with Mrs. MTSFP by your side

Best wishes to you both

John

Frank Asked:

Hi John, Please reply. Perhaps you can help us with an issue of onboard booking. Seeing were about to embark on our 8th cruise next month on the Miracle we were curious does Carnival still offer on board booking for your next cruise. We have heard both directions on this yes and no? We are already ready to book for 2010 and were waiting to see if we can still book on board for a better rate or less of a deposit?

Thanks, Frank and Bridie

Titusville, FL

John Says:

Hello Frank

Thanks for taking the time to write. The Booking On Board addition is proving very popular and I know it is the intention to make this fleetwide. I will check with the Carnival Miracle and see if it has been implemented there yet and get back to you very soon. I will advise ASAP.

Cheers

John

RichieRich Asked:

John please reply-

Hi John- sounds like you are back in your element being a CD all be it sounds like for just a short time. I bet a lot of people are glad you are out to sea,(lol). John, we are booked this fall on The Dream for a med cruise. Can you tell me when we will be able to book excursions online, as of right now this web site just shows “must be booked onboard”

Thanks RR

John Says:

Hello Richie

I am indeed enjoying this brief time at sea although many will tell you that I have been out to sea for many years. The Carnival Dream is going to be a stunning vessel that will be visiting brilliant ports of call. The excursions will be available on line and I have been told they should go active on May 1. However, if you have specific questions about any ports or excursions, I will be happy to answer them for you

Cheers

John

Justin Asked:

(John Please Reply)

That sucks John, I was looking forward to meeting that man the myth and the legend, on my upcoming 3/22 valor trip.

Who will be filling in for you?

John Says:

Hello Justin

I know……..I feel so guilty you have no idea. Anyway, the CD will be David Tancock who was here as CD before I arrived. You will have a great time I promise and if you will forgive me hopefully we will get to be together one day soon

Best wishes and have a brilliant cruise

John

Thomas (Ted) Daniels Asked:

John,

Thanks for your entertaining blog. My wife turned me onto it, and we both read it on our lunch hours now while trying to hold in the laughter.

By a turn of luck, we’ve got our third (my wife’s fifth, I think) cruise booked for the Carnival Dream’s second European itinerary in October. I say a turn of luck because we were originally booked on the Freedom (I think that’s right) on Oct. 1st, then it was bumped to the 2nd, and then the next thing I knew, we’re on the Dream – which I’d never heard of – on the 3rd.

My only European trip prior to this one was a business trip to Poland, and neither my wife nor my Mom has ever been, so I was wondering:

1. Are there any special recommendations you have for this 12-day itinerary? My wife is excited about Dubrovnik for some unknown reason, and I can’t wait to see Venice. I’m sure you can tell us a couple of off-the-map places.

2. Are you going to be the CD for all three European itineraries? Reading your blog, it sounds like you’re going to be on the inaugural sailing, and I think I read you say you may cross the Atlantic with the Dream. Can you confirm – or tell us we’re wrong – that you’ll be on our sailing?

3. With all the Dream hype, this is probably not an issue, but is there any chance the October Europe sailings will be cancelled again? On one hand, you have all the money and marketing spent on the Dream, but on the other hand, the economy doesn’t seem to be getting better. We seriously considered not re-booking when the Freedom was pulled out of Europe, as we didn’t know about the Dream and started to wonder if it was just destiny not to take a European cruise. My wife is a travel agent, and she says that Carnival is telling her the Oct. 3 booking is filling fast, but I can’t help being a bit worried.

I’d appreciate any answers you have to any or all three questions. I’m really getting excited about sharing this trip-of-a-lifetime with my wife and parents!

Thanks,

Ted Daniels

John Says:

Hello Ted

I send you a warm welcome to the blog thingy and please allow me to give you some advice ……….don’t hold in the laughter because if you do it will turn to gas………and I am sure your colleagues won’t appreciate that very much. Let me answer your questions.

1. Dubrovnik will be the place that will be the biggest surprise and considering that this town was devastated during the terrible civil war of the 1990’s its amazing that now it is a town full of charm and its 14th century ramparts provide amazing views. I would highly recommend the Best of Dubrovnik tour which allows for lots of free time to explore the old town as well as the gorgeous countryside. As for Venice…..well sailing into there is indescribable. Around may time I am going to be writing a special blog featuring highlights and photos and recommendations for all the European ports of call so look out for that?

2. The cruise director of the Carnival Dream will be Todd Wittmer who as you may have read on the blog is a well-loved CD who will make sure your onboard time is one full of fun. I will be there to host the inaugural ceremonies plus I have two Bloggers Cruises on the ship, one from New York and one from Port Canaveral.

3. I know we have made some changes to our fleet positioning including pulling the Carnival Liberty from Europe. However, I can assure you there is nothing to be worried about and you will indeed get to experience all the magnificent flavors that Europe has to offer………..it will be a Dream come true.

I am sure you will have many more questions before you cruise and I will remain at your service to answer them. My best to you and your wife

John

John Says:

Hi John,

Back from the Carnival Legend on 3/1 and thought I would give you a quick report. I love the Spirit-class ships, and this was my first aft wrap around balcony, great room.

Embarkation and debarkation were the best I have experienced in my five cruises. Debarkation in port and two tender ports was also well handled. The staff was friendly and very attentive.

Thank you for your recommendation of the Mayan ruins at Tulum from Cozumel, My dad and I had a great day exploring history together.

Belize was cold and raining and when given the chance to cancel my snorkeling trip, I took it, so I have an excuse to do this itinerary again.

Isla Roatan was amazing; this may become my favorite destination.

Now, the bad, I had two complaints. First was open dining, We had asked for late dining, but upon arrival we were assigned open dining. I was going to go get it changed, but we decided to give it a try. Big mistake, open dining was terrible. First night of the cruise we were tired and had a light dinner on Lido (great job on the Lido deck BTW). Second night was the Captain’s dinner, went down at 7:30…and waited about 15-20 minutes for a table.

Once seated and given a menu, we waited … another 15-20 minutes before we were given bread, water and our order was taken. Good thing we got drinks while waiting for a table, never saw our drink server (start of a theme). The wait staff never introduced themselves, was rushed and forgot to return when asked for something. Looking around this seemed to be happening throughout the open dining, lots of rushing about. The food was great, service was not. I was done, I never went back to the dining room, I enjoyed great meals on the Lido deck. My folks tried the dining room once more, no wait for a table, but, they reported service was worse the second time.

I like knowing I have a table waiting for me at a certain time, with staff I enjoy getting to know, waiting there with a smile and a kind word.

It doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing, Carnival does dining right, forget open dining, besides Lido deck and all the specialty venues provides Total Choice Dining. I, for one, want nothing to do with open dining again.

My second complaint was with drink service. Now, I’m not much of a drinker anymore, it is rare that I have a drink or a beer. But, on a cruise I have a couple of Blue Margaritas and maybe a Miami Vice each day with dinner and the show, or maybe a nice adult beverage while playing the slots. I think I was asked if I wanted a drink in the casino twice, and I was there enough to rack up 500 points playing nickel and penny slots. At the first production show, I had to flag down a server to get a drink, after no one came and asked. The second production show I sat front row, stage right, across the isle from the CD and ACD. Not only did I sit through an hour-long show and not get asked if I wanted a drink, I tried to flag down a server 3 times and still could not get a drink. The first four rows of the center section had three different servers check on them twice each (start to notice these things when you are thirsty) and I could not get their attention. I showered, had clean clothes on and do not look like that Quasimodo dude and had not had a drink all day, I was at a loss.

Overall I had a great vacation. Legend is a beautiful ship and worth checking out. Four ports in 4 days is quite a lot, I do enjoy the sea days, but Isla Roatan is worth checking out.

Sorry this ran long, but I know you want to hear of our experiences onboard. If you get bored on Isla Roatan, go see the monkeys, great excursion.

All the best to Heidi and the thingy.

Ron (need another cruise) RN

RonRN

John Says:

Hello Ron

Let me start with the most important part of my answer………..an apology to you for the problems you experienced onboard the Carnival Legend. Sometimes we don’t get the chance or forget to say the word “sorry” and that is something I wanted to make sure happened straight away. I have forwarded your comments regarding the bar service to the hotel director of the ship and also the vice president of food and beverage. Serving staff before guests is something I have never seen before and I promise you this situation will be looked into.

I have yet to experience the open sitting dining experience on a Carnival ship so I was of course very interested to read your observations. I have read here on the blog mostly positive comments however it seems that we may still have some lessons to learn judging by what you have written.

So, I decided to ask the ship for some facts regarding the open sitting for that cruise. One thing I noticed was that 88 percent of the guests dined on the second evening (which they told me is higher than normal), two pagers were given out that day and the average wait was 12 minutes. Now………the fact that when you did get to the table and the waiter did not introduce themselves, etc ………….well that’s something else that is currently being looked into on the vessel. So, I wanted to apologize again and also say thank you for taking the time to tell me about this because constructive criticism is worth so very much to us. I would be interested to hear if anyone else has experienced the open sitting dining on a Carnival ship and what your thoughts were if you did.

Thanks Ron and I hope we get to cruise together soon

Best Wishes

John

Just as a follow up I wanted to let those who were interested in the Carnival Pride’s repositioning to Baltimore know that the tours for Puntarenas, Costa Rica are available by clicking here.

The excursions for Colombia are still being finalized and I will let you know as soon as they are ready.

Yesterday I was talking about the LEX program and how this great way of allowing us to take care of your luggage is not available outside of Florida. I thought that was correct information because I had checked with all the other homeports………except one ………. as Chris “Bubba” Roberts now explains.

I am reading on your blog today that you said LEX is only available in FL. That is incorrect.

We offer LEX out of San Diego as well as Vancouver. For Vancouver it has to be a flight direct out of Vancouver into the states.

Just thought I’d let you know…..

Chris aka Bubba

Thanks mate. I know you took time off from going to the local Waffle House to write this and we all appreciate you very much. We would love a Bubba update blog … any chance?

That’s all for the comments and questions for today………….there will be more next time.

I will be blogging tomorrow and include a Dear John letter from Jaime full of emotion.

It was a day to remember yesterday for one family on the Carnival Valor. As the ship prepared to sail it was clear that we were missing a family with Mum, Dad and four kids. We needed to leave Belize on time so after all the usual checks and pages over the PA system, the captain made the decision to sail. About five minutes after we had heaved up the anchor and had turned onto our course the bridge were informed that the family was on the dockside.

Now….in most other ports we would have waited for them but this was Belize and we had been anchored 15 nautical miles from the shore. However, they were obviously desperate to get back to the ship and I would like to say that the tender boat captains we had been using all day and that Carnival had paid a big sum of money for felt some compassion for this family…………..did they bollocks. They charged them $650 to bring them to the ship…….$650………and the tender boat Captain didn’t even have a patch over his eye.

OK, charge them something……..$100 maybe but $650 is a total and utter rip off.

Anyway, the family had taken a private tour and the guide had not planned it well and arrived back at the pier too late…………I called them tonight and the father is distraught saying there is no way they could have afford to spend that money but they didn’t want to miss the ship. What’s even more ridiculous is that he didn’t have the money in cash and so the captain of the tender made him run across to an ATM machine. The kids were crying said dad…….my wife was crying said dad…………..but the tender captain showed no mercy.

I have already reported this incident to the ship’s agency in Belize.

Yes………..I know the family should have planned this better and yes it shows the virtues of taking a ship-organized tour but most importantly it shows that if an opportunity arises there are still people out there ready and willing to take the Mr. and Mrs. Tourist for all they can. I hope the tender captain gets bitten in the thingy by a rabid bat!

So here we are in Cozumel today and we are under a Mexican sun that is beating down on the good ship Carnival Valor. It’s been nearly two weeks since I touched dry land and although Heidi had a little moan at me about getting off the ship and getting some fresh air I just can’t be asked to do so. I love these places but mincing around them on my own makes me sad. Here onboard I am busy writing and fine-tuning the schedule. It’s a great itinerary for the guests this exotic western Caribbean. Four straight days in port followed by a final sea day in which to relax and I can see why it’s so popular.

So, tomorrow Heidi attends her second antenatal thingy where mums sit around talking about umbilical cords and Desperate Housewives who have Sex in the City. Anyway, they have to bring cakes and things for everyone so Heidi went to my Mums house today to learn how to make fruit scones and cheese scones…….here she is and here are the resulting scones

p1010009

p1010011-2

Wow, she’s getting big now and I can’t wait to see her again………..and have a scone …………made with Splenda of course. Hopefully my Mum will teach her to cook Spotted Dick, Bread and Butter Pudding and my Dad’s favorite, tripe and onions.

Now, I want to talk a little bit about tipping and let me first explain why. Last night after the Far From over Show I stood at the exit to the lounge-saying goodbye and basking in the praise for the performance of the cast. All was ticaty boo when I was approached by a couple of British guests who asked me where they could remove the pre-paid gratuities that were on their Sail & Sign cards.

I, of course, told them but not before asking why they wished to do so. Well……….to cut a long story short the guests felt that although the service from their dining room team and stateroom steward had been really good they felt that the tips should be at their discretion and not pre-planned by the company. They told me they would prefer to pay the tips in cash. Anyway, I told them what to do and thanked them hoping that they would honour what they had said and tip the service staff.

You see, Brits and tipping just don’t go together. But the world is changing. The culture of tipping is spreading fast and gratuities are now expected in countries where they were previously unheard of or, at least, not generally expected. In China, where traditionally tipping was seen as a capitalist mechanism that promoted inequality, the practice — as my sister who lives in Hong Kong tells me – has been taking off since the Olympic Games.

Tipping is of course an ongoing subject for those who cruise. Should it be pre-paid? ……..should it be based on service?…….and who and how much should we tip? So, as always I open this forum up for all to comment on. I do not think Carnival has any plans to change the system but as a cruise director I would love to know what you all think and I know many others at the top of the Carnival tree would as well

One last thing…………..I once had to tell a piano bar entertainer to take down a huge sign he had stuck to a goldfish bowl that read “Tipping Is Not a Town in China.”

Now, one of the questions I was asked on the blog yesterday was one I wanted to answer in the body of the blog………..the question was “what does a GSA mean?” Well, GSA is the new name for our pursers and the GSA stands for guest service associate. The pursers desk is now called the guest services desk or the GSD and the chief purser is now called the guest services manager or the GSM.

I was chastised on yesterday’s blog for using acronyms and this also applied to when I posted which piano bar player would be on what ship. I had written GL instead of Carnival Glory and SP instead of Carnival Spirit, etc. In fact, one of the bloggers took the time to write the ship names in full in case anyone didn’t understand……..so thanks for doing that on behalf of us all.

On ships as in the army there abbreviations and acronyms for many different people and objects. The ships are shortened to Cele and Fass for example and that makes me mad. The crew used to call the passengers ………..well……………I really shouldn’t tell you this but we used to call you cones……………..and that’s a story for another day.

Yep, we shorten everything the three-letter acronym was created I think so that people at work could save time while talking. Today for example I was filming the welcome video for the Carnival Sunday Funday when Zed the cameraman asked me for a medium-sized close-up ……..except he didn’t…….he asked me for a MCU……and I just stared at him like The Queen at an ATM.

I am a huge reader of military history and in the current book I am reading about a Sniper unit in Iraq there are many shortened words. That’s because in the heat of battle you can’t very well take up 20 seconds of radio time calling for something when you only need three for the abbreviation. “Can someone fetch that sort of portable light-machinegun thingy so I can fire lots of bullets at the man with wires hanging out of his shirt” when you can say “Get the LMG”……. That way you have plenty of time to shoot him in the head.

I also have started to hear these abbreviations in meetings and during the dreaded telephone conference call. My sister Suedrip and I were talking about this the other day and she mentioned instead of talking about work in China (two syllables), they talk about going to the PRC (three).

For the last few years my least my least favorite acronym of them all was BFF — best friend forever. Anyone who uses this has no connection with me, at all, except for the brief moment where my fist is connected to their nose.

However, today, during a telephone conference call about the upcoming travel agent functions in California and other projects one of the Carnival marketing people came up with one that made me want to reach down the phone and poke them in the eye.

This person said that they would “have to accomplish this P2P.”……..everyone seemed to agree and before I could cover my mouth I said, “What’s P2P?”

There was silence ………and it was though I had just asked “What’s one plus one?” …… eventually a marketing person said it means pillow to pillow which in turn means flying in and flying out the same day, which is just about the most ludicrous bollocks I’ve ever heard. ……….I replied that I was taking this call “IMU “…………..there was silence …………so I explained that it meant………”In My Underpants.”…………….that was the conference call over.

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.