Grandma, Jimmy and Wonderful Spring Breakers

March 10, 2009 -

John Heald

This morning I walked along the promenade after hosting my port adventure talk to find a group of three or four teenagers huddled around a laptop dancer computer watching something intently on the screen. Asking them what they watching I was told “Watchmen,” the movie

“Oh,” I said and as I walked away I realized that this movie was still in theaters and was not available on DVD.

Young People today……little buggers! ……..If they like a TV program, they go online and download the whole series. If they want to go to the movies and have spent their pocket money already, they download a movie. Everyone’s at it. My mate Alan told me he recently downloaded a program called Spotify, which gives you pretty much all the music in the world on your computer instantly, whether you’re into Mozart or Madonna.

It’s legal, this one, and it’s – of course – free……….as Alan is tighter than a duck’s arse with a huge piece of gaffer tape over it.

This got me thinking. There is a whole class of people that never pays for things, or at least not for the things that the rest of us regularly get our wallet out for. They’re the ones you find yourself sitting next to on a supposedly budget airline flight: you’ve coughed up $300 for your seat; they gleefully tell you they paid $5. They’ve watched the film du jour weeks before it opens at the cinema. They listen to free music and don’t watch television by episode but by series.

I have to say I’m quite bothered by the legality of this. Downloads have already completely transformed (i.e., killed) the music business, but I’d mind more if it hadn’t for so long appeared to be run by grossly overpaid people who never seemed to do much apart from take large quantities of cocaine and drive Aston Martins with chrome spinners on them.

I look around the ship this week and I see the college students who are lucky enough even in this era of crunching credit to afford a cruise and have money to spend on endless supplies of Red Bull and vodka. Last night at the captain’s party I was met many college students all of which so far have been wonderfully behaved and apart from a few waking up feeling like they have a Parisian living in their head there have been no serious incidents.

I met three ladies from a university called Climson or Clamson or Clemson or something. All told me they were here to celebrate there freshair year or something. I asked how their grades had been so far and all of them said they were A’s etc., etc…….and that’s when I had a terrible flashback where I’d come downstairs to find my school report had arrived.

Throughout the term I’d assured my parents that I’d been working hard, and that the small fire in the chemistry lab had been nothing to do with me. But there, in the report, was solid, irrefutable proof that I hadn’t been working hard at all.

Even today, 30 years later, I can recite, verbatim, the comments from my math teacher Mr. Sonnen. “Even if, as he claims, he was unwell, his mock exam looked like it had been written by someone who was trying to be deliberately stupid. Or who was four years old.”

I can recall, too, the way my parents looked as they thumbed through page after page of abuse and home truths. And also the look of utter bewilderment when the deputy principal who taught French said I’d been a “quiet” member of the set. This might have had something to do with the fact that I hadn’t been to a single one of his lessons. Because I’d been in the chemistry lab………………….playing with petrol.

My father would point out calmly that I’d let the school down, the family down and that I’d let myself down. My mother would throw frying pans at me. And I’d sit there, unable to conceive of a more horrible experience.

Now of course with the arrival of the Thingy soon the tide has changed and before I know it I will be the parent pouring over my kid’s school report to see if he or she is intelligent, smart and well liked ………..or French.

In the early years of a child’s schooling reports are fairly meaningless. You learn that your pride and joy has made a lovely paper plate without cutting her head off and that she has grown some flowers in a pot, and you swoon with joy.

But then as common entrance approaches, everything changes. For 12 years you’ve known, with no question or shadow of doubt, that your child is the greatest, most brilliant and most popular human being in the whole of human history.

You have had visions of him, on stage, collecting his Nobel Peace Prize for saving a polar bear called Pete. But then, suddenly, along comes a report that says that, actually, he’s a bit thick.

Teachers, of course, are very good at softening the blow. They use words such as “pleasing” and “encouraging,” no matter how many members of staff he has stabbed that term. “John is becoming very adept with his knife. Perhaps he would do well if he were to think about a career in a slaughterhouse.”

My English teacher Mr. Hounsel was brilliant at this. In my final report he said: “We like John very much. When he is sent to a young offender’s institute, we hope it is not too far away so that we can come to visit him from time to time.”

The trouble is that no matter how hard they try to mask the truth, you can’t ignore it, in the same way that you’d find it hard to ignore a tiger if it were in your car. Praise is lost in the background clutter. You’re used to it. Everyone is always nice about your kids. They have been since they were in a stroller.

But criticism; that’s a whole new area. That leaps off the page and hits you straight in the heart. “Jodi needs to concentrate more,” is no different from saying “Jodi has a face like a baboon’s arse”……………. It hurts.

Giving an honest appraisal of someone’s work is something that is never easy to do, especially with entertainers, dancers and musicians who are as highly-strung as you can get. But, I would always hope that one of reasons I am where I am today is that people told me when I did well and when I was shockingly awful. I am not a big fan of people who say “You are fantastic, well done.” and then once you have buggered off say “Did you see him on stage?………..He was dreadful.”

It’s not easy to always look an employee in the eyes and tell them they need to improve. I arrived here on the Carnival Valor to be inundated with complaints about a staff member. And after inspection it seemed they had cause to complain and indeed this person had no right to be in that position. What got the hairs on my bottom standing on end though was the fact that nobody had been prepared to do anything about it and waited instead for me to come onboard and be the complete bastard and fire them…..yep, an honest report from school or work is not always easy to give or easy to read.
As is the case in other areas of life.

I remember a year or so ago Heidi coming downstairs and asked me what I thought of her new outfit. I was honest. I gave her a proper report and said it made her look like a witch. And was she pleased? Was she hell? As we got into the car to go out, the windows frosted over on the inside.

Goodness me………..that was a long-winded waffle wasn’t it? Anyway, as I said most of the spring breakers have been great so far although one or two are a little …………. ummmmm …………tired and a little grumpy.

Sent: Monday, March 09, 2009 5:20 PM
Subject: Hi, John…FYI..
[3/9/2009 5:13:49 PM DEBA]
Guest Mr_________ called the GSD at 3:05 pm to complain about the announcements outside his cabin. Guest said that he did not get to bed until 4 am and was trying to sleep. Guest said that the last announcement was the worst and that he demanded a meeting with the captain. Guest started to swear and as the GSA tried to explain Mr _____ put the phone down. GSA tried to call back but again the phone was put down.
Sr Guest Services Supervisor

Well, sorry mate that you went to bed at 4 am. I hoping to get some sleep myself in April. I make three announcements a day and unless an emergency arises they are never placed inside the cabin but just in the guest corridors and public spaces. I am well aware that some people hate the use of the PA system and I can understand how they feel but not going to bed until 4 am and swearing at the staff is not something I will accept.

I have been trying to call the cabin but so far have been unable to get hold of the guest. Anyway, as way of apology I have asked the trumpet section from the orchestra to stand outside his cabin at 6 am and play revelry.

And it’s not just the young ones who are a little grumpy

Sent: Monday, March 09, 2009 5:51 PM
Subject: Complaint about Belize

Good afternoon,

Please be advised that the guests from cabin ________ came to the desk. They said that they were from Belize and were going to see relatives when the ship arrives on Wednesday. They said they had attended the cruise directors talk this morning and were told that they had to use a tender sticker to go ashore. Guest said that because they were from Belize originally that they should be first ashore. GSA explained that we had to control the tender situation and the stickers were given out for the guests comfort. Mr _________ then said that he was the cousin of the Minister of Belize and that if we didn’t cooperate the ship would not be allowed to call there again. GSA said he would do all he could to help and advised the guests to be in the Eagles Lounge at 8 am. Please can we make sure they are on the first tender?
Thank you and kind regards,

Richard Slager
Guest Services Associate | Carnival Valor

Ahhhh, yes. I can see the letter now

Dear Mr.Cahill:
Because you didn’t allow my cousin to come ashore without a tender sticker please don’t send your ships here anymore as we don’t want the valuable tourist dollars they bring with them
Ivor Screwloose
Minister of Bugger All

Anyway, I called the guest who I must say was extremely rude and we will get him ashore on the first tender without having the need to wear one of those awful tender stickers. I reminded him the last tender from the pier to the ship was at 5:30 pm ………………. oh bugger…………..its 4:15 pm…………oops.

However, 99% of the guests are wonderful and only on a Carnival ship would you see such a cross section of ages all blending together to have fun. They have enjoyed glorious sunshine today and now as I sit here at 12:35 am I am content that the ship’s crew is once again doing a wonderful job. Both performances of Nightclub Express received huge standing ovations as did the Godfather of Comedy Eddie Capone for the first of his two late night adult comedy specials. The live music venues are hopping and the One Small Step Dance Club looks like Studio 54……’s thumping……….wish the DJ would play more Wham though.
Let’s pause for a few moments to answer more of your questions marked for my reply ……………… we go.


Great blog as usual! It is so nice to have you back being a CD again–I LOVE IT when you include the guest comments!
When you are participating in the special events in San Francisco, are these things that those of your fans that live in this area can see you at? It will be so great to have you so close and I know that there are tons of us who live in the area that would love to come out and see you!!! Please let us know! Oh, and by the way, I signed up to host a Carnival, Sunday Fun Day, event at my house, so hopefully I am picked and you can join us! CHEERS!

John Says:

Hello Sheryl
I am so glad to hear from you and that you continue to enjoy the blog thingy. From what I have been told so far the San Francisco event is a two-day familiarization cruise for travel agents and that there are no public events scheduled. However, it would be wonderful to meet up with all my Californian friends. I will let you know what hotel I am staying at and maybe we can find time to all meet up. I hope you are chosen to host one of the Sunday Funday parties and as always I thank you for being such a loyal Carnival supporter.
My best to you and the family

Cruzin2some Asked:

Hi John… Thank you for taking time out of your busy CD life to answer past questions from me. You are simply put, ‘amazing’! Anyway, two reasons for this letter. I had wrote previously about the scrap booking program onboard the Valor needed a drastic uphaul and was wondering if you had had a chance to check it out or talk with Amy (who was in charge of this when we cruised in December)? I have been chatting with several people from different boards that love to cruise ‘all things Carnival’ but disappointed in the supplies had by the crew. Thank you. Also, I can hardly believe all the disgruntled passengers you deal with each cruise! How horrible!! I think it would be fun for us if you would put up some of your funniest and most ridiculous comments made by passengers! Make our day! God bless you, Heidi and Thingy!

John Says:

Hello Gammy
Scrapbooking……… are so right it has become a massive hit across the fleet. I have been here three weeks and when I arrived I saw what you saw. We were holding the event and it was well attended but you were correct the supplies we had were basic and we didn’t have enough for the 25 people who attended each class. So, that has now changed and we have supplies aplenty plus we are looking at adding new items for the scrapbooks themselves. This is an activity that is very important and we will continue to make it better

Naomi & Marty Asked:

Reply only if you want to…
Hi John, We are Elaine’s parents and the first time I have ever come on this website. Having a hard time figuring your site out but will keep trying. We were so looking forward to seeing you once again on our March 29 sailing. This will be our 21st with Carnival and would have been our fourth or fifth with you. This cruise is the start of our 75th and 80th birthday celebrations this coming May & June. This time there will be six of our family, five of us Platinum. On our next one in June, I’ll already be 75 and Marty will turn 80 on the cruise…(ssshhh it’s a surprise cruise for him). I’m sorry we will miss you this time but know for sure that we will again catch up with you in the future.
I really came on here to tell you Mazel Tov on the upcoming birth of your baby. I was thrilled when Elaine told me you were going to be a Daddy… I just know that you & Heidi will be absolutely wonderful parents. I was also wondering if you’ll have the baby with you on the ship the first years of his/her life. You can either email Elaine (it’s her email address I gave), let everyone know here or send me a letter to cabin 6338 Valor March 29th cruise…I think you know the address!!

John Says:

Hello Naomi and Marty
How wonderful to hear from and I am so disappointed I won’t be with you and all my other friends who were hoping to be with me on the Carnival Valor and especially as you will be celebrating your 21st cruise which is just fantastic. Thank you for the best wishes and I hope and pray my Thingy will be healthy and happy. I will contact Elaine and make sure we send a message. I am glad you have found me here on the blog thingy and I wish you both many many more happy years together.
Kindest regards

Bradley Asked:

Hi John,
I’m 15 years old and have been on seven cruises soon to be eight (all Carnival). Cruising is absolutely my favorite thing to do and I have decided that when I am older I want to be a cruise director for Carnival. I am sailing on the Carnival Splendor on 4/19 and I was wondering if you would be able to help me set up a meeting with Goose to discuss the schooling and other things required for the job. Thanks any help will be appreciated.

John Says:

Hello Bradley

Wow, so many cruises for one so young, you should be very proud. I will be happy to set this up for you and will send this request to my mate Goose on the ship. When you get onboard leave him a nice letter at the Information Desk with your cabin number on it and either he or one of his staff will get in contact with you. I wish you much success in your chosen career path and I have a feeling that you would make a brilliant cruise director. All the best and let me know if I can help further

missingthesmokefreeparadise Asked:

JOHN – Please Reply
After giving it considerable thought (almost 18 months), I have decided that my trans-Atlantic cruise on the Carnival Splendor was not to my high standards and I therefore demand a complete refund, including all monies spent in the Casino.
As an alternative, I will accept category 12 accommodations, including airfare for the Carnival Dream trans-Atlantic crossing, with a substantial on-board credit to sooth my savage breast.

John Says:

Hello Jon
I have read your comment and can understand your concerns. Based on the length of time it has taken you to realize that you were not satisfied with the voyage and with view to the current economical climate it has been decided that we cannot offer you a free cruise or refund the $4 you spent in the casino. Instead and as a way of appeasing you we will be sending you a photo of me wearing my Dolly Parton costume. This we feel is what you deserve.
Please let me know if you would like me to sign it.

Semper Fi Asked:

John please reply
copy of email sent to Stephanie yesterday
Just to keep both of you in the communications loop. Thank you both for all your efforts. I did receive a call today from a PVP supervisor (William 85477) again he was very nice but of no help at all. The cruise on the Carnival Pride as a matter of fact due to the loss of the early bird discount the fare has now increased from 5160.00 to 6983.00 for Cindy and I and the 4 kids plus the granddaughter and that is on an assignment basis for the kids 2 cabins and that is another part that has us upset, we had worked with our PVP Jose Arreaza(who for the record is a great guy and very helpful person) we had 3 cabins all arraigned on the Carnival Pride for the July 17 2009 sailing. Cindy’s and mine was cabin number ### which was and extended balcony the kids had the 2 adjoining cabins ### and ### this was going to be perfect as the kids could share our balcony. However that is all gone now according to William. Both Cindy and I are very appreciative of your efforts however nothing except the fare has changed. As a mater of fact we are currently considering cancelling the freedom trip booking number 4×6h 89 cabins ###. this will cost us close to 1000.00 to do this however just maybe it will get the attention of someone in senior management as they start to access why they are loosing brand loyal guests.
In any case Stephanie and John you both are aces in both of our books and we wish you both the very best.
Again Cindy and I thank both of you for your efforts.
In the blog 2 days ago John was answering questions and one hit a major nerve..
Rositer11-Carnival lifer Asked:
Please reply- you could just email me directly
John you said a while back the 2010 schedule was done any word when we may see a peek. Also you said you were looking into how much Carnival will charge for a baby, just curious.
John Says:
Hello Rositer
Well, at this point much of the fleet will remain where it is. The Carnival Glory will spend some summer months sailing out of New York before heading down to Miami and the Carnival Dream will make Port Canaveral her home. However, there may be more changes down the road and soon as any changes occur I will let my blogging friends like you know. Hope this answers your question and if you have any ship specific ones I will be here if you need me.
Best wishes
The second question was never answered…. the answer is full fare

John Says:

Hello Bill
Thank you so much for your candid reply. I am glad that we managed to get someone to call immediately following your request but obviously disappointed that they were unable to give you the news you wanted to hear. Our loyal repeat cruisers have never been more important to us and although they may seem like just words they are words that are meant most sincerely. I truly hope you don’t consider cancelling your Carnival Freedom voyage and if you can think of anything that I can do to stop you doing so please let me know.
I remain at your service

Jennifer and Danny Asked:

Please reply.
John, congratulations on two years, hope you do many more.
Can you tell us who will be CD on the Victory on May 8 out of San Juan and on the Pride out of Baltimore on Sept. 8? We are booked on both.
It won’t be long before you are changing those smelly diapers. ha ha!!!
Our best to Heidi.
Jennifer and Danny

John Says:

Hello Jennifer and Danny
The cruise director on the Carnival Victory for your May 8 cruise will be the one and only Wee Jimmy who is a whole bundle of Scottish fun. Then on the Carnival Pride you will have the pleasure of being entertained by one of our very best Mr. Mark Price from England. Two very different cruise directors, both of whom will make sure you have a fantastic time.
The diaper thing is a story for another day…………
Cheers to you both

Alex Asked:

Dear John,
Please Reply….
Earlier today I found myself reading an article about the ports in the Caribbean and how many seasoned cruisers are seeking out new, more exotic itineraries that include ports such as St. Croix and Tortola, and it got me to wondering, does Carnival have any new Caribbean ports or itineraries launching in the 2010-2011 schedule?
I came across a Carnival charter a few weeks ago that is including Cancun, Mexico as a port-of-call. I know that Cancun does not have a pier to accommodate a large cruise ship, but has any consideration been given to offering Cancun as a tendered port on a future Western Caribbean itinerary?
Certainly the city has the infrastructure to handle the influx of guests from a cruise ship, and the city is already well known as a wonderful beach destination for vacationers. I know I would be at the front of the line to put my deposit down if Carnival were to offer a Western Caribbean itinerary that includes Cancun as a port-of-call, perhaps as an alternative to Calica, Progreso, Grand Cayman or Belize that is offered on most of the Western itineraries.
Give my best to Heidi and the Thingy.

John Says:

Hello Alex
What a great post and let’s start by asking you a question. Have you been to Grand Turk yet? If not that certainly should go on your list of places to visit on a Carnival cruise as it is a simply sensational destination. I have never actually been to Cancun but I did check on the charter you are referring to and yes the ship will be calling there and will tender guests ashore on what I am told is quite a long journey. One of the things we look for when choosing a port of call is not just the destination itself but the infrastructure the port has and the accessibility of transporting the guests ashore as easily as possible. This means wherever possible trying to avoid tendering. Cancun is very similar to Cozumel wit the same type of downtown feel and similar beaches etc. Whereas Cancun is not an easy port to get to, our guests ashore in Cozumel has three different piers for the larger ships of today to dock alongside which is why Cozumel has become one of the most frequented ports in the Caribbean. So, for now we have no plans to send ships regularly to Cancun but if they decide to build a pier then who knows, maybe we will go one day. I would be interested to hear why you would like a ship to call there. As I said, I have never been and it would be great to hear from someone who has what it has to offer
Look forward to hearing from you soon mate

Randi Asked:

Dear John, Please Reply…
Below is a message I sent you months ago. You indicated I should contact you a week before our sailing. Anything you could do to make this 1st birthday a very special one would be greatly appreciated. Take care,
—–Original Message—–
From: Heald, John (CCL)
Sent: Sun 5/25/2008 2:01 PM
To: Leavitt, Stephanie (CCL)
Subject: Re: Question from the blog
I truly hope that I am on board with you to mark this special occasion.
Regardless, I promise I will make your family’s cruise extra special.
Please remind me a week before you sail so I can take care of this.
Best regards to all the family.

John Says:

Hello Randi
Thanks for the reminder. James – Assistant CD will have a little surprise ready for you
Cheers and have a wonderful time with the family

“BIG” ED Asked:

John, you won’t believe what I just found. It looks like the arse of the seas has a reward program for people that go on the internet and post positive comments about the arse of the seas. When you read these two posts you will see just what the arse of the seas will go through to get people to sail on arse of the seas. The first one is from Anita Dunham-Potter that she first posted Friday.
We that sail on Carnival ships know why we sail with Carnival. Many of us sail only with Carnival. Some of us have sailed on the arse of the sea before and now only sail with Carnival. We profess our love for Carnival without being offered a reward to do it.
You can also go to my blog to read the story

John Says:

Hello Ed

I have to admit I was astonished when I read this and there really is nothing else to say as my great friend Anita Dunham Potter has said it all. I am sure this is a debate that will continue for sometime and my personal opinion is that I think it’s just wrong. I have always tried to post the good, the bad, and the ugly here and allow everyone to speak their mind. I will stop writing the blog if that was not the case. Thanks mate and as always my best to you both

Leroy & Pat Asked:

John please reply:
Reading the blog today is says you are flying out of Belize March 19. I thought you were on the Valor the month of March. We were bringing something special for you & Heidi and the Thingy. We will be on the March 29 sailing and we were really looking forward to sailing with you for the week. Does this mean you won’t be on the ship that week? We are still bringing the Rhubarb wine.
Leroy & Pat

John Says:

Hello Leroy and Pat
Here are two more people I have let down by having to leave the ship earlier and that makes me so very sad and I am awash with guilt. I won’t be here as I have been asked to assist with the Carnival Splendor and her arrival to California. If you still want to give Heidi and I and the Thingy something you can leave it with the CD David onboard or mail it to the PO BOX ADDRESS at the side of this blog. Once again I am so sorry for letting you down and enjoy the rhubarb wine………in small quantities
Kindest regards

Frank Rist Asked:

Hello John,
John Please Respond,
I just am in love with your website; I always know I’ll get a good laugh when I read your posts. I had two questions for you. First of all I read in your most recent post about Belize and the new tender ticket program. Does that apply to all Carnival ships that go to Belize now or just the one you’re on? We are going there next month on the Miracle and were worried about getting ashore in time for Major Tom and the cave tubing. Also is Carnival still doing the booking on-board or not? We are ready to book a cruise on the Inspiration for 2010 and were going to wait to do it on the Miracle for a better rate and lower deposit? But yet we can seem to find out if that is still available

John Says:

Hello Frank
I am very happy that the blog brings you some laughter and I will always do my best to make sure that continues. The new tender ticketing system is now in effect on all ships that call in Belize so I promise you that you will not miss your excursion. We are indeed now taking future bookings on board. We tried it about five years ago and never got it right but this time we do and it will be available on the Carnival Miracle. Ask one of the loyalty experts there and they will help you and if you have any other concerns I will do my best to assist as well
Have a great cruise and best to you and the family

cruzn buckeye Asked:

John – please reply-
Thank you so much for and congratulations on this blog thingy anniversary! I love reading it and it helps me take care of my need to cruise….well…it and also cruise critic of course!
I was reading that there will be changes in scheduling in 2010. I am booked on the Carnival Dream out of PC for September of next year. Now, I am a little worried that her schedule may change; I hope she doesn’t go to Europe because I can’t fly that far do to medical issues. I would really love it if you happened to be the CD at that time! I had read before that you may be filling in for the current CD while he is on vacation. What are the chances of you being onboard then? Also, are any blogger cruises for 2010 decided yet?
I would love to join you on the Dream later this year but my cruise in September is booked on the Liberty. I don’t cruise in Nov/Dec. timeframe.
Thanks again!

John Says:

Hello Cruzn Buckeye
Great to hear from you and rest easy as there are no changes currently planned for the Carnival Dream as she will still be sailing those great Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises in 2010 from Port Canaveral. I am not sure what 2010 will bring but I do know that I want to spend more time as cruise director then I will this year. As for 2010 and the Bloggers Cruises, well we will have to start thinking about that very soon won’t we? I have a few early plans in my mind and later this year I will tell you all about them.

Stephen Smith Asked:

Please Reply
I read the posting a few days ago about the terminally ill child who needed to be in the first seating due to his stamina. I must admit I was dismayed to find the problem had to get to you to get solved. I have written on occasion offering suggestions to CCL on what I believe would make them a better cruise line (not an easy task as Carnival does a great job!) So here goes.
I have always believed in the concept of rules and guidelines in regards to company policies (I now own my own company and prior to that had been in senior management for a Fortune 500 firm) allow me to explain. A rule would be along the lines you can’t hit a coworker no matter how much they irritate you or what they say about you. A guideline would be Carnival doesn’t confirm seating requests until sailing. However in situations where common sense would tell you to do otherwise as in the case of the ill child’s need for first sitting we would allow the customer service rep to make the obvious call. The concept is quite simple. We don’t want our employees to be held hostage by a rule that in certain situations doesn’t make sense. When we implemented this strategy the impact was fantastic. The employees’ morale went up and turnover went down. I also might mention we had fewer customer complaints. Yes, there were rare occasions a bad decision was made or the power was abused. When that happened we coached the employee and if that didn’t solve the issue they were offered career counseling as they left the building. We taught our staff to use the “common sense” measuring stick when contemplating going outside company guidelines. That is to say, does it make common sense to do what the client is asking and is it in the best interest of all parties (the customer and the company) to grant the request. In the case of the terminally ill youngster the answer is obvious. I look forward to your thoughts.
John, you do a great job and I salute Carnival for seeing your value by making you Brand Ambassador for the line. A Carnival cruise might not be perfect for everyone. However, what Carnival promotes is exactly what they deliver and I believe that simple concept is why your employer is as successful as it is. Great job!
Stephen Smith

John Says:

Hello Stephen
A terrific post and I thank you for taking your valuable time to pass on what are excellent points and I am sure that with codes of business like this your company is I am sure a most successful one. Since reading the comment regarding the terminally ill child I immediately made sure that this request was given priority and indeed the request for early dinner time has of course been granted and we now have an open door ready to receive any and all requests that will make this cruise a special one for the family.
You asked for my view. Well, although I cannot blame anyone specifically I was upset that this situation had not been taken care of straight away. However, this blog ahs become so much more that me just waffling on about my life as a cruise director and has I think morphed into a way for the personal one-on-one service that we offer onboard our ships to our Carnival guests before and after their cruises. The corporate world has become so impersonal. Just a few days ago I had to call my bank about something and after calling the UK number of my local branch I found myself talking to some robaton in India. I used to be able to talk to my bank manager but now I have someone who has never met me and is reading from a script dealing with my request. So, being able to give personal service is something I strive to do on the blog and hopefully that personal service is something that we can try to implement within our shoreside departments
I thank you again for taking the time to write and send you warmest regards

flipflopcruisequeen Asked:

Heidi looks absolutely adorable! If we couldn’t see her belly, we would never know that she is with Thingy. And, the scones look like they turned out perfect! I am sure that you will get some fresh made ones when you get home.
That was wonderful that the Indian crew had a chance to view Slumdog Millionaire–what a great movie it is!
Will Heidi and Thingy be joining you for the Trans Atlantic cruise in October? It would be great to see her again and have the chance to meet Thing 1!
Thanks again for another great blog!

John Says:

Hello Sheryl
The idea is indeed for Heidi and I to sail the TA cruise with the Thingy of course. Obviously we will need to get permission for our family physician Doctor Ramitin but if he says yes………..we will see you there.

Dennis Casteel Asked:

John Please reply:
Our family is starting to plan a reunion and friends cruise next summer for my wife’s 50th birthday. We have decided to sail on the Carnival Splendor next June. We sailed the route years ago when the Tropicale was new. In looking at the deck plans for the Splendor we are very interested in the Cat 9 corner cabins at the stern of the ship. We can tell that the balcony areas are great but we cannot figure out the layout inside the cabin. Do you happen to have some pictures of any of those cabins or can some be found. We have spent a lot of time on cousin Princess but look forward to sailing on Carnival once again. Hopefully you can find someone to help us with this before we book.
Dennis Casteel

John Says:

Hello Dennis
It sounds like you have a wonderful trip planned on the Carnival Splendor next year. The cabins you refer to are wonderful and the layout is pretty much the same as most of the deck 9 balcony cabins. However, it’s the balconies themselves that are truly spectacular and of course the views for these extra large space s are amazing. Let me see if I can sneak in during turn around on Sunday and take a photo for you. Obviously I can’t now because they are all occupied but I am sure I can do so later for you. If I forget to post them give me a gentle nudge
Let me know also if you need any other help and it will be an honour to welcome you home to carnival
My best to you and the family

Mary Lou & Lee Lovelace Asked:

Dear John, I remember back a few years on my first cruise that it was a real hassle to tip with the envelopes and cash. Much easier now. But John, please answer, is this the service staff’s ONLY source of income? I was thinking they got a regular salary and that the tip was “extra.”
I routinely give extra cash to outstanding staff, like my waiters or room staff, besides the prepaid.
Can’t wait til December to see you on the Dream. Lee is almost through with his chemo and radiation, and it has been a hard road, but he and I are so looking forward to being on the Dream.
Love to you, thingy and Heidi, Mary Lou

John Says:

Hello Mary Lou and Lee
There has always been a myth that some of the crew is paid only gratuities and not a salary. This is not true and although the salaries of the service staff (waiters and stateroom stewards) is complemented by gratuities as in land-based restaurants, etc. each and every one of them receives a salary from Carnival Cruise Lines. I have been thinking about Lee and hope his final chemo session will be his last ever. Please tell him he has been in my thoughts.
Best wishes to you both

Stephen Asked:

My imminent hero, John
Firstly I just wanted to thank you, I know you probably get a lot of people dropping by just to say thank you, but it is coming from the bottom of my heart. My cruise on the Valor from the 22nd-1st March around the Caribbean was the best holiday of my 19-year-old life. I didn’t know what to expect when coming aboard, I was under the illusion it would be full of old people with their Zimmer-frames fighting over pork chops at the diner and young couples dry humping up on deck in front of everyone. But I was pleasantly surprised to see that there was a large demographic of people on there. And that’s partly why I am writing to you.

I came on the cruise with my sister and you could say that she acted as a makeshift repellant to the girls on there because it appeared too many that she was my girlfriend. There was a number of girls from the ship who I would love to get talking to so I have got someone to share the memories of one of the best times of my life with. And that’s where I was hoping you could help. I saw in a previous message you could check to see how many teenagers were present in a future cruise. Is there any chance whatsoever that you could help me out. I have been scouring Google until my eyes went square trying to find some sign that there was someone else out there who went on the same cruise as me, but I can’t find a thing. It’s now crystal clear to me that I have too many regrets that I just can’t seem to shake out of my head. So I was hoping that you could work some magic for me just to make my Carnival experience that little more special. I hope I can hear back from you soon as it’s been driving me crazy.
Thank you in advance from a definite future cruiser,
Ste from Liverpool
P.S Good luck with the baby and Thank you again to yourself and the crew onboard the Valor from 22nd February- 1st March

John Says:

Hello Stephen
What a brilliantly poetic post and one I know all the readers will have enjoyed. There are still some people who believe that cruising is for certain demographics only but as you so eloquently wrote, that is not true. I am so glad you enjoyed yourself and as far as anyone else being on that cruise with you let me give you some tips. Try and which are sites where people post their reviews of their cruise. You might want to try my Facebook page as well as many of your generation slap on stuff there as well. Let me know how your search goes and as we have thousands of readers every week here on the blog thingy you may get some replies soon.
My best to you and your sister and all the other scousers

Bob and Donna Asked:

John reply if you wish –
Regarding Ron’s comments today about open dining on the Carnival Legend — we sailed on the Legend January 25 and had requested open dining. Our experience could not have been more different. We were seated immediately each evening with the exception of one and that was at our own request — we wanted to wait for an open table with our favorite servers Clive and Made so we took a pager and waited about 10 minutes. In addition to eating at a time we chose, we feel that the service is actually even better because there are fewer people trying to eat at one time. Dessi, our Maitre d’ did a fantastic job making sure everyone was enjoying their evening. She made us (and everyone else) feel like they were the most important VIP in the room.
I realize Total Choice Dining is not for everyone so this is one where I think offering both options is the best plan. I’m certain many people prefer knowing the time, table and guests they will share the meal with. In our case we would not take a cruise where fixed seating was the only option.
Looking forward to our next Carnival cruise — even considering doing the Legend again we had so much fun.
Bob and Donna

John Says:

Hello Bob and Donna
It was great to read your comment about open sitting dining on the Carnival Legend. It seems that we have some areas we can improve on as we read in Ron’s comment but it also seems we are getting it right as well with your wonderful posting. This is new for us and there may be some bumps along the way but these days choice is important and so that’s what we need to offer.
Thanks for taking the time to write in and my best regards to you and the family

Mike & Lori Asked:
We are so excited! We won a cruise one year ago through a time-share thingy (which we did not buy into!) and thought we were going to have to go on “whatever of the seas”. To our delight when we called to book, they told us it would be the Carnival Sensation on Apr. 2, 2009. So in just three weeks we will be sailing the Sensation for the second time. The first time was in 2004 for our 20-year anniversary and our first honeymoon that we had never taken. So, this will be a very romantic time for us to sail on her again five years later! Can you tell me who the CD will be? We are really looking forward to this trip. Thank you for all you do for Carnival and for being our friend not only on Facebook but on the blog as well.
The Drew’s
Mike & Lori

John Says:

Hello Mike and Lori
Congratulations on winning the cruise and you will have the irrepressible Paul Santley who is a scouser meaning he is from Liverpool. Paul is old school and has a joke for every occasion…….you will love him. I wish I could be there with you and I hope this belated honeymoon is a very special one
have fun and best to you both

Finally: remember a few days ago I received this comment from someone about a guest who had been writing on Cruise Critic about a charge on his Sail & Sign card? If not, here it is again followed by the resolution.

Longin2cruise Asked:

Hi John,
Sorry to give you another problem, but please look at the following thread on Cruise Critic.
I know you are very active & very concerned about Carnival’s image. As much as I love Carnival cruises & 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 & 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.

Carnival’s Reply:

A credit in the amount of $144.27 was erroneously posted to Ms. Lewis’ account as a result of a payment made to Carnival by another guest who specified the wrong booking number on her payment. Following the voyage, the error was noted and a request was sent to Ms. Lewis asking that the funds be returned to Carnival. The letter was sent after completion of the voyage, however, it was generated with an erroneous date which understandably raised questions. Although Ms. Lewis received the shipboard credit in error, given the confusion the situation has caused and in the interest of goodwill, we are waiving the amount due and her balance is now at zero. We sincerely apologize for the frustration this matter has caused.

I am sorry it took so long to figure this out but I am happy I was able to get it sorted eventually. We have contacted the guest directly but I wanted you all to see it as I know some of you were concerned.

Thanks to everyone for their patience in waiting for my reply. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you.

Let’s have a look at Geo’s photo of the day…………or should I say photos. Here are two great shots of the Carnival Paradise.



Brilliant Geo – just brilliant.

OK, that’s it for me…………..I’m off to bed and will see you tomorrow and I will leave you with Jaime

March 9, 2009

Dear John,

Even though 25 crew members were not departing for Maccu Picchu today, those of us enjoying Lima – our only Peruvian port of call — still managed to make it a wonderful day! The morning began like most excellent days do, with tour distribution. Our amazing Assistant Cruise Director Brad brightened the day of one of our guests by personally escorting her to her shore excursion bus and managed to save her the front seat so that her injured knee would not be further hurt by climbing into and out of the bus. Brad worked his magic and managed to get her the seat of the guide. She told him how special he was and much she appreciated him and his hello. It is guests like these who are gracious and kind this that make our job worthwhile.

Speaking of Brad, he and the cruise director Goose have been working so incredibly hard during this entire itinerary. They have been planning new and exciting activities for all of the guests and they are dealing with ever-changing ports, and busy gathering new ideas for each of our incredible adventures. To be honest, they have such a huge responsibility and they have been working for 10 plus hours each day on capers, scheduling, lounge distribution and planning. I have gained so much respect for both of these men and they deserve much appreciation for all of their hard work throughout this entire run. I apologize for going off on a tangent, but they truly are doing a great job, and it so interesting to see all of the planning and behind-the-scenes work that goes into such a huge operation like a brand new itinerary.

At the conclusion of tours I had the wonderful opportunity to meet the three children of Pierre, our back lounge technician. I watched him embrace his family members that he had not seen since early November. Working on board a cruise ship is quite rewarding, yet when one is away from their loved ones for such an extended period of time is such a difficult challenge. I have never seen Pierre’s face light up so much as when he first saw his babies.

When guests were finally off on their tours, shuttle buses and daytime adventures, myself and many crewmembers headed to the lovely downtown area Mira Flores. As you head off the ship on a Sunday, no one is ever sure how many of the shops and restaurants will be open. Luckily, it seemed as if the port was planning for the arrival of the Carnival Splendor, because I do not think one place of business had “closed”sign hanging in the window. On our drive to downtown we went through some areas that were less that affluent, but when we finally reached our destination the wonderful Lancomer mall was set before us. I believe I heard the voices of angels resounding throughout the mall with each swipe of the Visa, MasterCard or American Express! This mall had an extremely Americanized store selection. Since we will be returning to our typical store selection within only a few days, a group of friends and myself decided to explore the downtown by going for a pleasant walk around the city.

Our walk brought us to such destinations as Love Park where a huge statue entitled “El Beso” (The Kiss) stand 30 feet high in the center. The red colored path and surrounding area was quite nice. It had a beautiful view of the city and beach and the only thing missing was… someone to kiss (I’m not bothered, though!) We continued our walk and we saw the downtown shopping area with an incredible opportunity for souvenir shopping! With only 13 days left until our return to the US, it is time so start expanding those suitcases with Peruvian and other South American memorabilia. Many hand-made scarves and glass blown figures were easily accessible at this marketplace.

After shopping was complete, it was time to replenish our bellies with the traditional Peruvian meal – ceviche. When pronounced correctly it sound like a derogatory term, when in actuality it is a tasty dish that was recommended by our Peruvian back lounge tech aka father extraordinaire, Pierre! We stumbled upon an awesome restaurant, slightly off the main drag where it appeared all of the locals went for lunch. After some difficulty communicating with the waiter at the restaurant, the three involved in my afternoon dining adventure ended up with two plates of seafood, chicken and rice, two other plates of seafood with rice, two salads, three beers, water and these reverse popcorn appetizers. The whole bill totaled $20 American dollars. I could be rich if I moved to Lima!

The day was quite nice. Even though there was no trip to Maccu Picchu, I did take a picture of the mountain from one of the local advertisements – so that is practically the same as going!

Back on board, it was Latin deck party night. We had a lovely sail away with a beautiful sunset, as we head toward our last South American port of call – Quito, Ecuador.

Our traditional Peruvian ceviche

The beach in downtown Lima Miraflores

The beautiful sunset as we sailaway toward Quito. Thank you to Lawrence for the picture

The kiss statue, at least they found love!

All the best,
Jaime D =)

Good Morning everyone. I have a friend who I won’t name who works for Carnival Cruise Lines onboard our ships. He is a very smart person and I remember him once telling me “Costa Maya is going to be the next Cancun, only better, you should buy some land.” Well, I considered it but said no, safe in the knowledge that our miniscule savings were safe with the men and women of AIG…………….the bastards.

Of course, if I had have bought property in Costa Maya the chances are that thanks to Hurricane Dean that property would probably be destroyed as most, if not all, of the property in this quiet Mexican town was. Dean was one angry storm and I remember.

The National Hurricane Center saying that it was the first top-level category 5 storm to make landfall in the Atlantic Basin since Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Dean packed sustained winds of 165 miles per hour (268 kph), with stronger gusts, when it came ashore, but weakened to a still-dangerous category 3 hurricane as it passed over the Yucatan Peninsula.

You know, at this point I was going to post some photos of the devastation this hurricane caused but then I decided not to dwell in the past and instead stay with the present. And so here are a few photos of today’s Costa Maya……… was great to be back.










There are certain moments in a child’s life that he or she will take all the way to the grave. Discovering that your parents spent the formative years of your life lying to you is one: there is no Tooth Fairy; that strange, obese bloke with a beard does not creep into your house under the cloak of darkness to leave you gifts once a year because he does not exist and, furthermore, his image as we know it was entirely created by a corporate fat cat as a means to sell more Coke and rot your teeth.

Also, my Thingy will not arrive thanks to a kindly stork who will deliver him or her to our doorstep. You will not be marrying a princess. My sister Suedrip’s cat did not get taken to live on a farm (in the sky); he was crushed under the wheels of my Dads car.

As sure as I know these facts to be true I also know that anti-aging face creams don’t really do what they say they do…………….yet the my wife spends ages putting these creams on and I won’t mention that each pot costs the same as caviar.

However, being told to in advertising that this cream will take away pores, fine lines, age spots and crow’s feet and make you look 10 years younger is in my humble opinion…….a bunch of bollocks.

While I’m not entirely sure what crow’s feet are, I am assured by her that one day I will have them, and that until that time comes I should obsess about them endlessly at the expense of all rational thought, until my face is covered in worry lines. I already have a hippo’s bottom so I guess crow’s feet won’t be so bad.
…….”Anti-aging cream my arse.”

I have been a bit grumpy these last few days because my Raspberry has stopped working. This means I am buggered and have to rely on the ships e-mail to stay in touch with Heidi and when finally it starts to work my in box will be overflowing with e-mails and work requests.

My old raspberry never packed up and always worked while this Raspberry Bold is as useless as a celibate monk asking to be Paris Hilton’s friend on Facebook… Oh, it could take pictures and connect itself to the interweb but its battery goes flat every 30 seconds, and when it came to the business of wanting to send an e-mail, I had to be actually sitting on the ship’s satellite receiver which may have helped with the signal but played merry hell with my hemorrhoids. What’s even more annoying is that the Cellular At Sea thingy we have at Carnival seems to work on every Nokiarolaerickson phone but not on my Raspberry.

When it does work and I can send an e-mail the Raspberry Bold appears to have found a way to drive a man to drink. You’re no doubt familiar with this. You type in “Bu” and it spends the rest of time guessing what the rest of the word might be. Tomorrow? Tornado? Tospot? It just can’t understand that you want to write “to” because, of course, in text speak, that’s spelt two.

Anyway, to disable the facility meant delving into the handbook, which contains 104 pages. Yes, 104 pages. For a phone. I knew I was in trouble. However on Saturday none of this mattered because I turned it on and the screen started to melt quicker than Michael Jackson’s nose in a microwave and it dumped all my files, my saved files and now just sits there looking at me like a hillbilly at the opera.

So, I am Raspberryless and there is bugger all I can do about it until I get to California. I walk around now feeling like I have forgotten to put my underpants on and cursing the day I got rid of my faithful old blue and basic raspberry……I shall miss old Roger ……… yes…….I named it Roger the Raspberry and what I wouldn’t give to feel Roger next to me one more time as I gently caress his tracking wheel.

And so to finish with today I want you to meet two wonderful people who sum up so perfectly what Carnival cruising is all about.

What a great guy. English may have not been his first language but he spoke the language of laughter fluently and has become a much loved member of the ship guests of every age taking photos of him………….I spoke to him last night and here is what he said ” Is my first cruise, I only go Carnival now and flank you for make me famous.”

I just wanted to scoop him up and hug him. He’s a Carnival fan now and that makes me feel famtastic.

Now, meet Grandma

So, there she is. Married for 60 years to a veteran of World War II. I spoke to them both this morning where as promised I arranged to meet them for a family photo.

I had seen him briefly at the captain’s cocktail party the night before and noticed he was proudly wearing his medals. I mentioned this to him but he shrugged and said something I will never ever forget. “No matter what it means or says on the back the medals will never make up for the friends whose lives I couldn’t save.”

I just stood there, head bowed…………………..with nothing to say.

Last night the Miami Heat beat the Chicago Bulls in a magnificent double overtime win. After the game some of the players will be called heroes. They always are. But trust me on this: when you see what it took for this man to stay alive and when you hear the stories of the hell that was Arnhem………….“heroes” is completely the wrong word.

One footnote: Last night at dinner Grandma and her husband received a bottle of wine at dinner with a note from some spring beakers seated near them at dinner. Grandma told me the note read:

“Thank you for saving the world.”

It was signed by eight “Huskies” from the University of Connecticut ………… spring breakers……………they are simply brilliant.

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.