Doppelganger

March 9, 2009 -

John Heald

I had a very strange conversation with a guest on Saturday. It all started when I was at the Coffee Shop on Saturday morning with the doctor and the food & beverage manager. We were all getting our morning cuppa before the senior officer meeting. Anyway, I heard this very excitable voice say “Peter”…………now because my name is John I ignored it and carried on ordering my skinny frapacrapapoochino thingy.

Then the excitable voice got much louder………….”Peter”………………”Peter,” it bellowed and this time I looked up to see a lady in her fifties waddling towards to me ay 90 mph. Now, my first reaction was to look over my shoulder for a Peter but I already new that it was 8:50 am and the only two other people at the coffee shop were Doctor Carlos and the food & beverage manager whose name is Anhil……..who then………….was Peter ………….it was then I realized …….she was talking to me.

Her waddle had brought her right next to me, so close in fact that I could tell that she and Colgate had never been best friends.

This was now getting weird

She started to look me up and down like she was considering buying me and that’s when I had to say something as I was getting concerned that she was a possible axe-wielding maniac and any minute now her head would rotate and green pus would shoot out of her mouth.

I was about to say something when she said……..oh my goodness, it’s really weird and kind of scary. I was about to say “Yes, you are darlin” when she carried on “You are the spitting image of Peter Calbore our dentist…….are you from Iowa?…….are you a dentist?”

OK, at this point I considered telling the old cruise director joke where you say “No ma’m, I am a male prostitute” but as this situation was already strange enough I didn’t want to exasperate her in any way. So, I said no I am from the UK, etc. etc. and then I spent the next 10 minutes while my frapacrapoochino thingy got cold and my fellow officers buggered off sniggering into theirs.

After she finished telling me about who wonderful Peter Calbore was as a dentist she then took a camera out of her bag and took a photo of me to show the tooth doctor when she got home……..and as she turned to waddle of I said “Enjoy the rest of the cruise” and she replied. “You too”….and my fears were realized…she had no bloody clue who I was.

So, is there some poor unfortunate creature out there who looks like me or had this lady been mixing the Dramamine and the Prozac again…………..later that day I was speaking about this with the Doctor who told me some interesting facts. According to the doctor and his degree in medicine from the University of Madrid, genetically speaking, you are almost completely identical to every other living thing on the planet.

Apparently, if I could break into your house tonight and alter your DNA by just 2% you would wake up in the morning as a piece of broccoli or a dung beetle or a chair leg.

The doc stated that there are billions of us on the planet. Which means we cannot all be different.

There simply cannot be seven billion permutations of human being, any more than there can be seven billion permutations of a bar of soap……and that to me is very scary.

Think of those nature programs where the narrator whispers that all salmon find the spot where they were born, and have rumpy pumpy and die. There is never a salmon swimming the other way, smoking a Cuban cigar and wearing a “Fun Ship” Freddy hat.

But saying that……..I have never met anyone who is like me. And you have never met anyone who is like you. But it’s a mathematical certainty that there are several of you out there and several of me………….scarily, that means there are several Judge Judy’s as well.

And so I guess I look like Peter the dentist from Iowa. It’s just my luck that I am apparently the doppelganger of someone who has a profession that makes me soil my underwear ……………why can’t I be the spitting image of a playboy from Miami. What’s even scarier is that the lady guest who waddled over to seem and tell me about my long lost brother Peter also said “You and Pete have a third brother……..Gomer Pile” ………….. As I write I have no idea who or what a Gomer Pile is and you know what………I don’t think I want to know.

I am sorry I didn’t write yesterday but I needed a day to get things together for this forthcoming cruise…………..more on that later. Last cruise went well. I don’t think the audience was in tune with me as last cruise but that’s not their fault. The itinerary of the Carnival Valor’s eastern Caribbean cruise had one-and-a-half sea days at the start of the cruise and two sea days at its end. This allowed me more stage time then on this itinerary with the four straight port days which include two shows involving the dancers and a magic show none of which I am sadly involved in.

However, the morning shows, welcome aboard show, marriage show and bedtime story all went well and once again we met some wonderful characters. During the talent show I had been asked to surprise a young lady by invi………you know what……………rather than me tell you why not have a look at what happened

Fancy chewing gum while you are asking your girlfriend to marry you…….kids today. We gave them a DVD of the proposal and should she ever change her mind he can play it backwards and it will have a happy ending.

The only negative about the last day of the cruise was that during the debarkation talk I introduced the highlights of the week video and it didn’t work……..there was no sound ………it was very frustrating. But these things happen and as a cruise director you have to be able to improvise and move on…………and then go backstage and insert your shoe into the audiovisual manager. Still, that’s not the worst thing about the last day of the cruise ………..nope…….that particular mantel goes to that awful, itchy, badly tailored Dolly Parton dress……….bugger!

There were very few complaints last cruise apart from one or two noise complaints created by fellow guests, entertainment noise from the lounges and vibration from the one night when we had strong winds and rough seas. There were a few comments from the non-English speaking guests about……………ummmm……………speaking too much English and one negative comment about the supper club. This had nothing to do with the food and again the restaurant was practically sold out every night. However, I do get the odd comment about not having the live music there anymore.

I know many of you miss this but honestly the amount of people who actually danced to them was a very small percentage. Also, due to the design of the supper clubs on the Conquest- and Splendor-class ships half the restaurant could not actually see the duo ……they could just hear them. And so it was decided that this duo could be better utilized elsewhere and therefore they all now play in our Deck 3 lobbies and I am sure most of you will agree that having live romantic music there has really improved the ambience.
Back in the supper clubs the secret now is to have the right background music playing.

You don’t want Def Leppard, Pee Diddly or Frank Zappa playing while you gaze into your loved ones eyes holding hands over a porterhouse steak. So, we will get this right and yesterday I sent a staff member out to buy lots of appropriate music including some light jazz, Michael Buble, Harry Connick Jr., some soft R&B and Ozzy Osborne’s greatest hits.

Live music is always best but we also have to put our resources where the most guests can enjoy them. Regardless, the supper club experience is one that continues to be a highlight for many and on this cruise 488 people enjoyed that experience here on the Carnival Valor…………I haven’t been yet……………..bugger.

Time to answer some questions marked for my reply…………..here we go.

Deborah Asked:
Hi John – Please replay.

We have a great group on Cruise Critic that will be sailing on the Carnival Dream TA – Oct 27. We were wondering how we can reserve a group reservation at the Supper Club. I know its way early, but we are a very active and pre-planning group.

I loved the pictures – thanks for sharing.

I use to have a 401K plan, then a 201K, then a 101K, now I have a 0.50K plan that is still going down. I’m with you – keeping my cash at home until this mess is fixed.

All my best to you Heidi and Thingy!

Debs

John Says:
Hello Debs
Congratulations on booking the Carnival Dream trans-Atlantic……….it’s going to be an amazing voyage. We of course will be able to do a group booking for you but it is a little early at the moment. Please send me the details in early August via they blog thingy and I will make sure I look after your reservation requests. Hope your money stays hidden and safe and hope to see you soon
Cheers
John

Christy Richardson Asked:

Dear John (please respond),
I have booked cruise for my self, my husband, our three children (one of which is autistic) and my in-laws on the Conquest April 12. I am trying to make plans for everyone, but I am having a hard time getting info from the special needs guest services. She is on a special diet, and we have heard that if you bring food on to other cruise lines, they can prepare them for you. Does Carnival do that as well, or will we just have to make do with what is served in the dining room. I am also having a hard time getting info on the activities in Circle C. Where can I find this info?

Also, I am so excited for my husband and son to see the Conquest. I have been on it once before and from the first minute I stepped on it; I knew I had to bring them on it someday. They are both art history buffs and I know they will love every room on the ship. Do you know if there are any tours or books on the artwork on the ship? I think they would enjoy this.

Thanks for all the info you give out on your blog. I read it everyday.

John Says:
Hello Christy
Let’s start by saying thank you for booking you and your family on the Carnival Conquest for what I promise will be a great family vacation. You asked about your child’s diet requirements so let’s start there. First of all my apologies that you have not had satisfactory service via the telephone and that’s why I am so glad we have this blog thingy to help fill in the cracks. We can indeed help with whatever you need so please send me the dietary requests and let’s see if we can provide everything onboard rather than you have to bring it with you. Please send this info to me and I will take care of it from there. You also asked about our brilliant Circle C club for 12 – 14 kids. Well, have a look at the Circle C Caper for this week here on the Carnival Valor and this will give you an idea of what to expect on the Carnival Conquest as the ships are very similar.

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When you get on the ship you will find the Carnival Conquest book in your cabin which will have full information on the themes and artwork found around the vessel
Hope that helps a little and please let me know if there is anything else you need and hope to hear from you soon………oh, we do have some blog readers who also have children who are autistic and I know if you ask they will be happy to help in anyway they can regarding their cruise experiences.
Best wishes to you and all the family
John

Lorelei Asked:

Thank you for the great pictures from the Valor. I share them with the family and it makes us even more excited about our upcoming trip.

Now an invite – the Cruise Critic roll call for the March 15 Valor sailing is going to have a “meet and greet” right after the muster drill on the Lido deck rear bar (sorry I don’t know all the ship lingo or the aft from the stern). Our time with you is limited and we would love to have an opportunity to meet you. We plan on wearing green beads so hopefully we will be easy to spot.

John Says:
Hello Lorelei
Save me some beads and see you soon mate
Cheers
John

Scott Shields Asked:
Hey John,
How are you? I love reading your blog and watching the videos that you have posted on you tube. I think you are so funny. I have been on 11 Carnival cruises and have not had the chance to cruise with you. I have had 11 of them and the best one besides you would be Chris (I think) Jefferson or something like that. I sailed when Chris was on the Celebration and he just made the trip a good one. I am also glad to hear that the Celebration is no longer part of your fleet. After sailing on other ships and to go on the Celebration I was very disappointed, as I am sure I would be if I went on the Holiday, but Chris was just great. How much longer will they keep the Holiday in service? Also, I would love to be a CD or a Social Host, can you help me out? I hope to hear back from you soon.

Scott

John Says:
Hello Scott
Thanks for all the kind words and I am glad you have had so many wonderful cruises with us. The Holiday will leave us later this year. The Holiday class was massively successful and I’m sure she’ll continue this success sailing under the IberoCruises banner in Spain. Chris Jefferson will soon be the CD on the Carnival Conquest and as you mentioned he is a fantastic cruise director. If you would like more information on becoming part of the Carnival Entertainment team then may I suggest you start by looking at www.carnivalentertainment.com where you will find all the inside information on what the job is all about as well as how to proceed. I wish you much success mate.
Cheers
John

Longin2cruise Asked:
Hi John,
PLEASE REPLY
Sorry to give you another problem, but please look at the following thread on Cruise Critic.

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=935391

I know you are very active and very concerned about Carnival’s image. As much as I love Carnival cruises and the services onboard, the customer service department in Miami leaves a lot to be desired. Actually, in my opinion, you need to make time in your busy schedule to conduct training sessions with them. OK, I know you don’t have the time, but you get the point. At one time I had a problem and I firmly believe that your intervention was the only thing that brought about a resolution. It’s hard for me to understand how a company that has the absolute best cruises in the world can be so lacking in home office customer service.

I’ve rambled on long enough, but I think this Cruise Critic thread deserves your attention. There is a Carnival customer who really needs a resolution to their problem. Whether this problem originated with Carnival or is some kind of scam perpetrated by crooks, it needs to be addressed.

Please give my best to Heidi & Thingy. By the way, I sure will be glad when Thingy gets here & gets a real name.

Longin

John Says:
Hello Florence
I have this thread here now and will be investigating this myself. Please can you let this guest know that I am looking into this for him? I am sorry to read that some feel that our guest service department in Miami at times does not meet their expectations but let me check on this particular incident and I will advise as soon as I can. It has gone to the highest office at Carnival. Thanks for your concern and my best wishes to you and your family’
Cheers
John

luvcruisin Asked:
John,
If you have time, please respond.
I’m sending this again as it appears the first one is out there in cyberspace somewhere. Anyway, I’ve been away from the blog for about 9 months now and have been back reading it for a couple weeks now. I have to say, I love what you’ve done with it. I love that you put the comment before your replies. That makes it easier to match up. I also LOVE your videos. I would love to see more of those. Like more clips of your welcome aboard shows or other shows throughout the week. They are awesome.
My husband and I are planning a cruise on the Carnival Dream April 2010. Any chances that you will be the CD? I would love it if you were.
I think it was very sweet of you to give some money to that waiter that went out back to freshly squeeze some oranges for that undeserving couple that left before he returned. The world needs more people like you.
I wish you, Heidi and the wee thingy all the best.
Cheers
luvcruisin

John Says:
Hello luvcruisin (I wonder what your real name is?)
I am sorry that your first attempt at this post thing got lost in space and I am so glad you tried again and that you have been enjoying the blog so much and the format of this Q & A. I wish I was going to be the CD on the Carnival Dream but we have given this huge privilege to Todd Wittmer who will do a fantastic job. I will be there to host the inaugural functions and the naming ceremony as well as the two Bloggers Cruises in November and December so maybe we will be together then. Thanks so much for your kind words of friendship and I hope you will keep reading the blog.
My best to you and your family
John

Jim Maloney Asked:
John please reply
I always have a great time cruising with Carnival. I correctly have three cruises planned the first being on the Victory march 22 and I will have my 10th cruise on the Spirit on June 3. My question is. On my last three cruises I could never get a steak cooked the way I wanted. So how do you order to get it cooked the way I ordered it? I know that I could send it back but then I will be eating alone by the time they returned it. I know this is a corny comment but I have made it a mission to find a way to order my steak.

John Says:
Hello Jim
That’s a great question. You know, chef’s hate me because like many Brits I have to have my steak well done………..I mean…………really well done while Heidi likes hers waved in front of a candle for a few minutes and to her that’s cooked. Of course, being pregnant she can’t eat it like that at the moment. May I may a suggestion? When you enter the dining room ask the maitre d for a quick word. Tell him I asked you to speak to him ……… they all know me…….and mention your concerns. Then the maitre d will take your order into the galley and have it cooked as you like it……..how do you like it by the way? At least you know you won’t have to pay for it like you do on the “Raremediumorwelldoneitsnotfreelikeoncarnival of the Seas.” Please let me know when you get back from the Carnival Victory and I will alert the maitre d that you are on your way.
Bon Apetito
John

Sara Asked:
By the way, we are in cabin #### that week on the Valor, which looks to be right under the pools — and I have heard that they get quite noisy — is that true?

John Says:
Hello Sara
I have checked your beautiful balcony cabin out and it is under the area where the guests sit around the pool area. You may hear some ambient noise of a chair being moved during daytime hours but nothing at night. I checked with the guest services desk here on the Valor and we have no noise complaints showing for this cabin.
Let me know if you need anything else
Cheers
John

Rick H. Asked:
John:
Great pictures from Grand Cayman! Thanks and well done to Geo!
I love the postings of guest complaints! The half-empty bottle of wine was bad. Hmmm… I think the bottle I’ll be getting at the end of this month on the Miracle might taste a bit odd (but only after it’s empty). Just kidding! 🙂

A couple of quick questions about our upcoming Miracle trip: First, what can you tell me about our CD to be, Malcolm? Second, what activities should we consider in St. Kitts? We’re families traveling with kids ranging from ages 12 down to seven, and enjoy active excursions. Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

Best to Heidi and Thingy (I’m glad they’re doing well, even in the face of Carpal Tunnel and severe cravings for your presence), and thanks to Stephanie & the crew in Miami for keeping the blog thingy up & running!

Rick H.

ps: Jaime’s been doing a great job with the SA updates.

John Says:
Hello Rick H
I am glad you are enjoying the blog thingy and we have spoken to the dining room on the Carnival Spirit to alert them about you and your wine……..kidding. Malcolm Burn ………..wooohoo………that word will be one you will be hearing a lot from this vibrant and very funny man during your cruise. He is a terrific entertainer and don’t miss anything he does. Now, as for St. Kitts………..well, the answer is……………I have no idea as I have never been to this port. It’s one of the few that I have never been to so let me get you some expert advice from the ship itself and their shore excursion manager. Please give me 48 hours and I will be back to you. My best to you and all the family and thanks for all the kind words mate
Cheers
John

llie Asked:
Hi John,
Please reply
Loved the blog today!
In your blog of March 2 you posted
“I will be returning to the States on 24 April to host the special events in Baltimore to mark the arrival of the Carnival Pride.”
I am so excited to see the Pride coming here and even more excited that you will also be here. The one question I have though is that the 24th is a Friday. Is this a definite date? Will the general public be allowed to join in on the fun?? I hope so. 🙂

Please pass on my best to Heidi and little Thingy.
All the best to Steph & Steph.

Sallie

John Says:
Hello Sallie
I am glad you are so excited about the pending arrival of the Carnival Pride to Baltimore. It seems the whole city and beyond is feeling the same, I even did a radio interview for an oldies station in Delaware and they have a big group booked on the ship. The dates are around the 24th and yes they will be open to the public. I can’t give you any more information just yet but there will be something official soon including all the details and I of course will be posting them here on the blog thingy.
Hope to see you in Baltimore

Debbie Asked:
Hi John,
Please respond at your leisure directly – Does Carnival publish a captain’s schedule? I have known their best for many years and don’t want you lose touch. Any assistance would be appreciated!

Debbie

John Says:

Hello Debbie
We don’t actually publish this however if you would like me to tell you where a particular captain is currently serving or who is on a specific ship I will be more than happy to do so.
Cheers
John

Marylovestocruise Asked:
Dear John (please reply),
Long-time reader, first-time request. Could you please tell me who decides what the Platinum logo gift will be? I was very excited when I reached Platinum status, however, that was the first time thermos bottles were handed out. I now have five of them and nobody I know wants one!!

I am sailing on the Carnival Legend with my 85-year-old Dad, and 23-year-old son, we will all have reached Platinum status this cruise. Problem — now we will have three more thermos bottles! We would rather have an autographed picture of you (hint-hint) or maybe we could swap the thermos for oh, I don’t know a drink. Or a $5 off coupon in the gift shop. Or a mug. Or a John Heald item of interest. Or ANYTHING else.

I tried to bribe our cabin steward on our last cruise in January (on the beautiful Carnival Fascination), but he laughed out loud at me. Said others had tried, but alas…

My best to you and Heidi, we all feel like we know you even if we haven’t had the privilege of meeting you face-to-fact. I enjoy your blogs every day. Keep up the good work.

Carnival Legend, Cabin #

We anxiously await the arrival of the Thingy.

Thanks,
Mary Ruppert

John Says:
Hello Mary
Thanks so very much for the kind words. The Platinum gift is a subject close to many blog readers’ hearts and I am well aware that getting the same gift every time is a little frustrating to say the least. I can tell you that our repeat guests and the benefits we give them at Platinum level is a top priority and I assure you that you will see some very exciting changes. Like anything else though this takes time but I will make sure that your comments are listened to. We hope to be able to change the gifts much more frequently or have a choice for those who have achieved this milestone and I will make sure I let you know first here on the blog thingy
Best Regards
John

ROBERT & DORIS Asked:
HI JOHN,
PLEASE REPLY!
My wife and I just returned from our eighth Carnival cruise in the last 2 years, here is my guest number if you want to verify it, ######…
This is the first time that I feel like I just won’t be able to sleep again until I vent this to you.
We sailed on the Ecstasy 2/26/09.
I am so darn mad I could chew nails, the first morning of the cruise we went to Lido deck for the breakfast buffet by the pool, as always a buffet means you help yourself, BUT NOT ON THE ECSTASY! The bacon is rationed out by a server, and he acts like its funny to only give out two slices per plate, when we asked for more bacon he gave us each one more slice!
This was true at all four of the breakfast buffets on the ship for all four days…..
You could help yourself to anything else, but not the bacon…. I LOVE MY BACON, AND CARNIVAL CHEATED ME…..
NOW FOR MY NEXT COMPLAINT>>>

On all other ships we have sailed on, the smoking on lido deck was the entire starboard side…..but on the Ecstasy we were only given a few tables over by the pool, next to the screaming kids…..
I won’t even try to bore you with the other problems on ECSTASY like balcony doors on our suite that won’t close without three men to pull on it, or the elevators that are out of service, or the chef from India that cannot cook without curry on everything, and let’s not forget the broken ice cream machines.

THE last full day at sea we had 30-foot seas, and a very rough ride, the CAPTAIN got on the PA. system and apologized…….HELL we all know Carnival can’t control the weather… THE CAPTAIN should have apologized for the lack of bacon and smoking areas…..
THANKS FOR LETTING ME VENT!!!
ROBERT & DORIS RAAB
GAUTIER MS.

John Says:
Hello Robert and Doris
There are a few people who think that I only publish the positive comments I receive here on the blog thingy and that of course is not true. I am glad that you are able to use this forum to “vent” and from what I have read I can understand why. I love bacon too and therefore I sympathize with the alleged rationing of it. I am sure it was served because of the sneeze guards which are required by United States Public Health. These are the Perspex sheets that cover the food and sometimes it is awkward for guests to reach in and take what they need hence having a server. However, whatever the reason there should be no reason as to why you couldn’t have as much bacon as you desired so please except my apologies. Smoking is a continuing issue and one that will always spark vigorous debate. Certainly since my time onboard I have seen smoking areas get fewer and fewer. I am sure the ship has more complaints about people smoking than people complaining about not enough places to smoke. Again though, we need to give smokers a nice area in which to enjoy their cigarettes and obviously that was not the case on the Carnival Ecstasy.
Most importantly I thank you for venting and your thoughts have now been passed to the ship’s hotel director for comment and I will let you know what he advises. I have also passed your comments to our guest relations department asking them to follow up with you on all the issues you mentioned. I hope you enjoyed the cruise overall and anytime you want to vent………………..I will be here to listen
Best wishes
John

DC IN SD Asked:
Please reply John. Will you be on board the Splendor 3/24, 25 or 26 for the special travel agent cruise to nowhere out of LA? I will be on board with agent friend for the 2 nights, and would be delighted to watch you perform again. Was onboard the Freedom’s second cruise in Europe last year.

John Says:

Hello DC in SD
See you in LA! Please come and say hello.
Cheers
John

Tricia Asked:
John,
This will be our fourth cruise, my three-year olds third cruise. My second daughter will turn one on this cruise leaving March 14 on the Freedom and we would like to celebrate her first birthday onboard. When I’ve called our group rep. she hasn’t been very forthcoming with information on what we can do to celebrate, do you have any suggestions? Thanks.

Tricia

John Says:
Hello Tricia
Thanks for taking the whole family on the Carnival Freedom next week. I have e-mailed the Assistant Cruise Director James who will be ordering a little surprise for your daughter. Can I have the name and cabin number please? Many thanks and regards to all
John

Catrin Asked:
John (please reply),
First, I want to thank you for responding to my post about the price structure of our April cruise on the Carnival Pride. Knowing that you even read the long-winded novel says a lot!

Here is the information you have requested.

First, we booked directly through Carnival, but not a specific PVP. I just call the 1-800 number, and whoever is lucky enough to answer gets our reservation!
Our booking Numbers are #### and ###. THis is for 4/11/09 sailing of the Carnival Pride… cabin #’s and ###.

It looks like from a few comments on the blog this afternoon, that I may have touched a nerve. I hope that Carnival will indeed come up with ways to reward those of us who consistently sail year after year on this wonderful cruise line.

Thanks again,
Cathy

John Says:
Hello Cathy
Indeed this is a subject that I have been helping quite a few guests with recently. I am glad you were able to send me the information and I will get to work trying to help as much as I can. Give me a few days and someone will be in touch I promise
Best wishes to you and the family
John

Karen Edmonson Says:
John Please Reply:
You said your schedule is changing and you are meeting the Splendor in San Francisco- what day and can the public come, I live 1 1/2 hrs from there. Also you mentioned Los Angeles, are you going to be at Long Beach where the ships dock? I also have family there and most of the time leave from there. Just would like to be involved or see you again, thanks

Hi to Heidi and the baby

John Says:
Hello Karen
How lovely of you to write. I will indeed be in San Francisco and Los Angeles/San Pedro for the travel agent functions in late March. I am not sure as to what format they will take yet but when I do I will let you know so maybe we will have time to say hello again. That would be nice. Thanks for the kind wishes and my best to you and yours.
John

Juli Asked:
John please reply:
My husband and I will be on the Valor sailing 4/5. I was wondering the best way to request to be seated for dinner with a few other couples. Last year we sailed on the Triumph around the same time and while trying to celebrate our 10th anniversary we were sat with an annoying newlywed couple we had nothing in common with – bleh! We really enjoy meeting new people on our cruise but would love to sit with someone we actually might have something in common with. Help! We have requested the late dinner seating.

John Says:
Hello Juli
Meeting new friends at dinner is one of the most fun experiences about a Carnival cruise. When you get here I want you to go to the dining reservation inquiry desk held in the Lincoln Dining Room between 1 pm and 3 pm on embarkation day. Ask for Pablo, the senior maitre d, and I will tell him to expect you. He will tell you the age group of the people you are sitting with and if you need to change he will accommodate you. Hope that’s OK with you and you meet some new friends when you sail
Cheers
John

Bobby Terneus Asked:
Hey john “PLEASE REPLY, nice pictures of Grand Cayman, I was wanting to know who the cruise director will be for the valor on May 31. I wish that u will stay on there, we had u for a cruise director on the triumph back in 2001, you’re really good at what u do please reply
Sincerely
Bobby

John Says:
Hello Bobby
Glad you enjoyed the Grand Cayman photos and today’s beautiful photo from Geo as well. The CD for the Carnival Valor from mid-April on will be Big Tex who many of the bloggers enjoyed recently during our Carnival Fantasy cruise. He will assure you of a wonderful time. I too wish I could be with you again and I wish you a brilliant voyage
Cheers
John

Diane Asked:
Hi John, Please reply
I was just wondering, with all the $$$ in Grand Cayman, why haven’t they built a pier.
Thanks
Diane

John Says:
Hello Diane
Great question and you know what…………I have no idea. All I know is that I really wish they would and that Carnival has even offered our help and assistance. One day I hope this changes so we can lose the medieval transportation that is tendering.
Fingers crossed
Cheers
John

Melissa Jurgensen Asked:
John ,
I am just curious. Will the European shore excursions for the Dream be able to be purchased in advance eventually like all other shore excursions?

I notice when I look at them they all say “sold on board only.” I don’t want to spend half my cruise standing in the shore excursion line to book them. Ha, ha. Especially because the day after the ship sets sail from Civitavecchia it arrives in Naples and I don’t want to have to wait around to book an excursion right after checking in at Civitavecchia for Naples.

Thanks!!

Melissa

John Says:
Hello Melissa
You must be so excited about your cruise on the Carnival Dream. The excursions will be going live well before the ship sails………..my guess is around May. I have of course done all the tours in all the ports and will also be writing a special European blog about them complete with video nearer the time. Best wishes to you and your family
John

Mal and Lex from Western Australia Asked:
JOHN PLEASE REPLY.
John, welcome back to sea – glad you’re enjoying your return to what you love doing best and remember, a day alongside is a day wasted! I have a question – down here in Australia, cruising is booming as people realize what excellent value for money a cruise holiday represents. Sydney is expected to host something like 25 cruise ships this month alone; Fremantle (over here on the West Coast and twenty minutes from our house) is host to double figures this year, as well. Unfortunately, none of them feature the big beautiful red whale tail funnel; fortunately, around eighteen of these vessels belong to the Carnival Australia lines (Princess, P&O Australia, and sundry others).

Is there a reason that these vessels don’t count towards our Platinum status with Carnival as a whole? Lex and I love Carnival, you are our line of choice for cruising and we’re halfway towards the ten cruise total, but at the moment airfares to the States for us cost considerably more than the cruise itself (it can double or more the price of the whole trip), meaning we can really only board a Carnival vessel every two years or so. If, however, the Princess ships (two of which are home porting in Fremantle for part of the year, meaning no airfares) counted towards Platinum status for us in the Colonies, we’d be sailing twice a year. Any thoughts on making this a reality, at least until we see a “Spirit”-class ship making her way through Sydney heads towards the Opera house?

Thanks again to the crew on Splendor for making our 24 days around Europe last September so wonderful – sounds like Jaime and company are having a ball rounding the Horn. Best to you and Heidi, and good luck when you finally become a dad – you’re goanna need it, mate, that’s when the work really starts!

Cheers,

Mal

John Says:
Hello Mal
It’s amazing how popular cruising has become in Australia and that was also obvious by the reception you Aussies gave the Queen Victoria and Queen Mary 2…………..it was brilliant — or bonza or ripper — as you say down there. It does seem when you explain it like you just did that you should have some kind of reward for flying those thousands of miles to cruise with us and then supplementing your Carnival voyages with Princess. I will make sure I now forward this to my friends in the corporate office and let’s see what we can do. For now though my thanks will have to do but I will fight the good fight for my Aussie friends down under
Struth!
Cheers mate
John

That’s all for today – here’s Jaime

March 7, 2009

Dear John,

I was right for the first time ever… today was most certainly a brighter, more pleasant day than the previous one! With perfect weather, clear skies and a beautiful port area to explore what could be better (besides Maccu Picchu?) We arrived in our last Chilean port of call, Arica, at 1 pm – our new expected arrival time. Our guests were extremely understanding about the delay.

Their tours had been refunded or changed and our wonderful captain was kind enough to allow our new back on board time to be pushed back to 7 pm to allow the most possible time in this port. Everyone was pleased because not only did this port contain a unique downtown area, also each time one exclaimed the name of this travel destination it seemed as if they unearthed some sort of great discovery!

Since the original plan of taking a flight to Cusco was foiled because of the previous day’s extremely unfortunate incident and change of course. None of us would allow this change of plans to affect our day. We were fortunate to see the city highlights such as the Tutelar figures that were in the middle of the extremely hot desert. Only a few short days ago we were shivering in the chilly glaciers of Ushuaia, and today we had sweat marks the size of Alaska! We did not find and camels or cacti in the desert but we did find some perfect photo opportunities. After our vast exploration of sand and pebbles, the group headed up to El Morro which is none other than a big rock! Here we found the mini version of Christ the Redeemer… I guess this one performed slightly less impressive miracles than the one we saw in Rio earlier in the cruise. Rather than turning water into wine, he astoundingly changed Coke into Diet Coke.

This location was actually the perfect spot to take beautiful pictures of the entire city and gave a perfect view Carnival Splendor. This big rock was just like Meecchy Peachy – only it was about 10,000 feet closer to sea level!

Upon returning to the ship, the 25 crew members were informed that the dream of visiting Mitzubishi Picachu may still indeed come true if we disembark from our next port of call: Lima, and return to the ship in Manta. After deciding if I could spend the increased amount of money, asking to my father for advice, I decided that if indeed it was a possibility that I would still visit Miss Piggy if it was an option.

As my dad, who visited South America just 40 short years ago put it “it is just a bunch of rocks… but it is an important bunch of rocks!’’ And even though I would be spending almost all of my acting cruise director money on this excursion, the extremely emotional highs and lows of the past day still made me to want to go on this trip.

After a full day of negotiation and extremely hard work, Paul the shore ex manager said that their simply was not room on the train to accommodate the crew members. The guests who had originally booked the trip still had the opportunity to go on this trip, departing from Lima if they decided. Forty-one of the 47 originally scheduled guests will still be visiting this amazing wonder of the world. One of our guests, Queen Susan is going to bring us back pictures, magnets and hope that we can visit this location later in life!

Still smiling… only 12 more days until we return to the States… And yes Mach, I can see California, it just looks a little wetter and bluer than I remember.

Have a wonderful day… Next stop, Lima, Peru!

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Ginells wonderful photo from the trip to the desert

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Baby Christ the Redeemer – Thank you to Lawrence, whoever that is?!

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The view from the top of El Morro – Thank you Ginell

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A picture of Patrick taking a picture of the ship… oh yea, that is our ship in there too!
Jaime D =)

As you can see the ship is on her home stretch to California and we continue to thank the very single Jaime for allowing us to share her journey.

OK, let’s have a look at Geo’s photo of the day. Remember this was taken by one of our entertainment staff here on the Carnival Valor and he is not a professional……..although when you see the photo you will say he should be.
Today’s photo is once again of the Carnival Destiny in beautiful Grand Turk

grand_turk_november_2008_56

Let’s have a look at whose sailing this week on the Carnival Valor.

Guest Count – 3385
Non US – 998 Canada
France – 77
UK – 54
Venezuela – 51
Germany – 43
And the kid count is:
Under 2 Years -8
2-5 Years -33
6-8 Years -43
9-11 Years – 54
12-14 Years – 64
15-18 Years – 109
19-20 Years – 71

I can tell you that spring break is here and we have a higher number of students on board than usual and so far they have been well behaved. I will let you know if that’s the case throughout the cruise…………I am sure it will be OK. ………………… although I have memories of the Kentucky students from last year.

So, a busy cruise and for those of you who are expecting some negative references to the fact that we have 77 French onboard will be very disappointed as I intend to make this a week where I say nothing but pleasant things about my European neighbors and will be making no stupid and immature references to them at all.

So instead, let me talk about Heidi who is currently at home watching her favorite soap SOAP programs on TV. Unlike some Europeans the Dutch love to watch SOAP operas and Heidi’s favorite is a British SOAP opera called Across the Channel which stars the famous British SOAP star Dee Odarant who is only famous in the UK and not known in some other European countries.

Meanwhile I sit here listening to music while writing this blog thingy. Currently I have one of my favorite 1980’s bands playing called Rainbow featuring Ritchie Blackmore on guitar. The song on now is called I Surrender which was a song very popular in some European countries.

OK, enough of that.

Well I just got back from the welcome aboard show where I always can judge how the week is going to be. ………….it’s going to be good.

I had some amazing characters on stage including an 85-year-old grandma and someone called Jimmy Lee…………I will have videos for you tomorrow. Tonight on stage I was reminded how much I love the entertainment side of my job and how hearing 1,500 people howl with laughter is the most amazing feeling in the world………..apart from the day Heidi told me she was pregnant………the Miami Heat won the NBA championship and Sally Pool let me feel her left breast.

We try and provide as many activities onboard for the crew as we can. These include crew parties, crew shows and events and sporting tournaments. This last week I took part in such an event……………OK………..let me pause to give some of you a chance to regain consciousness………………yes……………I took part in a sporting event. The captain had organized a department head table tennis tournament and commanded everyone to play.

I used to play it at my Monday night youth club when I was a teenager. There was always stiff competition for the one table we had. We would invariably end up playing the rather unsatisfying “round the table” version in which everyone runs around taking turns to hit the ball like some drug-fueled maypole event. There were communal bats.

As the glue had long left the bats for better climes, the rubber covers would always be hanging off the wood … apart from Carl Buck’s personal one. He had his own brand new bat that he refused to share with anyone……….the posh sod. There was also the eternal conundrum of how to hold the things. Did you adopt a tennis grip or go for the more exotic-looking “Chinese” option, where you placed it between your split fingers and attempted fiendish spin?

And so it was with these memories fresh in my mind that I entered the contest where I was due to play Claudio the staff chief engineer or the second in command of the technical operations onboard. He is from Italy and as far as I far as I could remember Italian men are not known for their skills with a bat and were more likely to have rumpy pumpy on a table tennis table than know how to win a ping-pong game.

And so at 11:30 pm on Friday night the game began. We selected our bats silently and began to knock up, sizing each other up and I privately wished that I had not had the two-egg omelet for dinner as my bottom was making distinct sounds of displeasure.
He seemed a solid player, no real forehand but could get most things back. When we were done knocking up we kicked off a best-of-three match. What followed was one of those beautifully competitive sporting situations where both sides’ determination to thrash the other was masked by a thin veneer of sportsmanship and jokiness.

To my surprise I won the first game. Then the crew started to gather and suddenly we had an audience of excitable people cheering me on. The pressure was now extraordinary, both of us now playing for our position as Cool Dude Department Head.

He took the second game off me and suddenly we were all square. We both took off our jackets – this was serious now – a duel to the death. I concentrated on his lack of forehand and served almost exclusively to it. I could sense that he felt that this was bad sportsmanship but I didn’t care. I won the game and let go a slightly too-loud whoop of delight — very bad form.

We shook hands in an overly formal way. The crew streamed out in front of us and announced to the table that I was the victor. I went into insincere modest mode and said that it had been really close and that we were both a bit crap … secretly, I was bathing in a private glow of victory. I had satisfied the honour of my family and made my Thingy proud. This was my ship now … I would have stayed to gloat more but the omelet was having none of it.

Last night I lost three games to nil to the laundry manager…………………..bugger.

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.