The First Rule of Comedy

March 11, 2009 -

John Heald

We have had the new Laser Tag game here for three weeks and I can’t believe how popular it is. The bouncy castle type of stage we use takes about 15 minutes to inflate and then the idea is that guests go inside wearing a sort of SWAT vest and shoot each other with laser rifles.

I have to admit that when I first heard about this that it would be used only by young men with stapled ears and noses and whose pants are worn so low we can see the make of their underwear and the crack of their bottom. But……..amazingly we have families playing with Mum and dad and the kids all Ramboed up and older people as well ………… it’s extraordinary.

I had also expected to receive complaints from parents who would launch into a tirade against stupid video games, and how their graphic violence is poisoning the minds of our precious children.

But I have received none……..everyone loves it and I decided to see if this was the case in the arcade as well………and it is. Last night I watched parents standing next to their kids in the arcade onboard as they chased zombies around nuclear power stations, laughing hysterically when their arms and legs are blown off by imaginary hand grenades.

I guess I still have that image in my mind of Mum, Dad and the two Thingies sitting around a table playing Monopoly but, for two reasons, this is never going to happen. First, it’s not 1956 any more, and second, why would kids want to spend the afternoon (and most of the rest of their lives for that matter) pushing a tiny metal car around the streets of New York when they could use the time to put a sniper’s round in a baddie’s head?

Monopoly used to bring families together. But now that has been replaced by Laser Tag, Halo, Gran Turismo and Die Alien Scum Bastards 3. And it’s not like Monopoly is all about peace and love is it?

The only problem with electronic games, so far as I can see, is that while they are huge fun, kids don’t really learn anything. Other than how to drive very fast through a crowd of renegade soldiers while firing a 50-caliber machinegun.

Anyway, Laser Tag will soon be on other Carnival ships and if you see it have a go ………. it’s fun………….in a Schwarzenegger “I’ll be back” kind of way.

As always on the blog I try and tell you what is happening and not only the good stuff. It appears that you are all still unable to access my blog on board without having to pay for it. I was assured that this was not the case. I heard this from the Carnival Splendor’s latest voyage and it was the same on the Carnival Fantasy………and having checked here on the Carnival Valor the I am embarrassed to report that yes you have to pay. I am so sorry. I had told you this would be taken care of and it has not ……….and that makes me mad.

We have 3.9 million readers many hundreds of which take a cruise every month and they want to stay in touch with the blog. It’s also a marketing tool for Carnival so there is as far as I can see no reason to ask you all to pay. Anyway, I said it had been fixed and it has not so I wanted to apologize for this to you all. I have not given up and I know Stephanie will help me with this problem……it really upsets me.

Time to answer today’s questions…………….here we go.

James & Nancy Asked:
John Please Reply,
I was wondering since a lot of people are kind of paranoid about travel to foreign countries, why no cruise companies have tried sailing to all west coast cities in the US? Start at San Diego, Ca. and sail to Catalina Island then to Los Angeles (Long Beach) then on to San Francisco and on up the coast ending in Seattle, Washington. Then offer a rail package that comes back to San Diego for a round trip. This could be done in reverse for a trip that started in Seattle. I know the Spirit goes from the 8 day Mexican Riviera to the Alaska cruises and this would be an ideal repositioning type cruise. Just a crazy thought. What do you think?
James & Nancy
The Cruzin2some

John Says:
James and Nancy
Thanks for the e-mail. Your idea is certainly interesting, however, it’s not feasible because of the Passenger Services Act which does not allow cruise operators to depart from one U.S. city and return to another without visiting a foreign port in between.

I remember an amazing cruise we did on the Carnival Legend to Bangor, Maine, and other cities in the Northeast but it was only made possible because we also visited a couple of Canadian ports. Keep the ideas coming, though, as we are always looking for new and exciting places to visit. Thanks again for taking the time to write.
Cheers,
John

retirementman Asked:
REPLY PLEASE JOHN
I’m sorry for asking again but I’m a little confused about the LEX program. I’m taking a cruise next January, 2010 on the Dream out of Port Canaveral. I’m the one that asked you about this new program because my wife and I enjoyed it very much. First you stated that it was being done. Later you said that it only at Ft. Lauderdale and Miami. Then after another blog after hearing from Chris (Bubba) Roberts hearing you said it only was used inside of Florida he said it was used in San Diego and Vancouver. My question is when you said in Florida therefore Port Canaveral is now included? I’m sorry once again but I would just like to know the real results.
As far as the pre-paid gratuities that were on their Sail & Sign cards, we like the idea even though I still give more to our stewards who’ve always been so great to us. The only question my wife always asks me is how do we really know that all these great workers are given the pre-paid gratuity that we give?
The photo of Heidi was beautiful in her red outfit showing her pregnant. She looks really fantastic. The scones look great also.
One last question and it might be too early to answer, that being is do you know who will be the CD on the Dream in January 23 2010?
Once again, thank you for answering all of my questions even though they may be redundant.
Paul F. Pietrangelo

John Says:
Hello Paul
Paul, my sincere apologies for the confusion. I did indeed forget Port Canaveral as one of the LEX ports. They do indeed offer this service on the Carnival Glory as just confirmed by the CD Butch. This program is also offered in Vancouver on the Carnival Spirit but not in Mobile, Galveston and California. Thanks for the comments also on tipping and the fact that if you have great service which I hope is always the case you give them extra once again shows the true gentlemen you are. Well, as for the Carnival Dream in January most likely Todd will still be the CD although I hope to be able to relieve him when he goes on vacation but at this time no schedule has been set for next year. I am glad you thought Heidi looked great and I cannot wait to see her
My best to you and the family
Cheers
John

Cheryl K Asked:
JOHN PLEASE RESPOND
This question brought up something I forgot until after I posted. Many of us questioned–does the wait staff and room stewards actually know who left the tips on their sign & sail each cruise or do they just get it with no explanation as to who tipped them or didn’t? That could change the way people answer the question about putting them on the sign and sail. I always give extra but we obviously were on this cruise so long that we all were discussing this and wondered say if you gave the waiter $50 in an envelope does he think that is all you left him or does he know you also tipped on the sign and sail?
Cheryl

John Says:
Hello Cheryl
That’s a good question Cheryl and the answer is an absolute yes. Each team member is told who has left the gratuity on their Sail & Sign card and which cabin or table may have removed those charges. The gratuities are then paid to the crewmember. If you give extra as you kindly say you did they will know that this is an extra gratuity which is probably why you saw that huge smile and got the extra big hug? Thanks so much for asking this question and for thinking of our iconic crew.
My best regards
John

Peanuts Asked:
Good Afternoon John,
PLEASE REPLY
In regards to the automatic tips… we had mixed feelings about them at first. Now we prefer to pre-pay them with our cruise booking and if the service is beyond “expectations’ (which it has been) we will give our wait team, room steward/stewardess, etc cash on the last night. At first, when this was first started, we saw a slight dip in the level of service but we haven’t seen it since. We don’t mind them and quite frankly it’s nice not to have to carry the cash for them.
Heidi looks wonderful!! Thank you for the photo of her and the scones look sooooo good. Can you please give us your Mum’s recipe for them?
Take care,
Joan
John Says:
Hello Joan
I think many people feel the way you do and after a little uncertainty are now comfortable with either pre-paying the tips or having them placed on the Sail & Sign card account. I think the service now is as good if not better with this system but you are correct there were some “hiccups” when we first started this some years ago. I hope our service will continue to exceed your expectations. I will have the scone recipe very soon for you.
Best wishes
John

John Asked:
John< please reply
just returned from the Liberty on 3/7/09.
It was a great trip, we had the open seating diner, and it was by far the best way to go. Each time we showed up for diner we had a 5 min wait or less, we show up at 6pm, 7:30, 8:15. I am booking my fifth cruise this weekend and I will make sure I book a ship that has open dining. If you have time could you email me back, I have one small problem that happened on the ship, but I rather not post it here. Thanks John

John Says:
Hello John (great name)
It was great to hear your positive report on the open dining experience. I have yet to see this in action but from what I hear we are close to perfecting this now and that’s great news. Choice is the name of the game and while many still prefer assigned seating and staying with the same waiter and eating with the same new friends, there are those like yourself who need the flexibility of open sitting. It’s great to offer the best of both worlds. Please send me your comment on the problem you had and I will reply to you without posting.
I am happy you had such a fun time and my best to you and the family
John

Cecil & Mila Weintrop Asked:
Dear John,
Enjoying your blog, really enjoyed the November Clearout blog, hope you recovered your Cindy CD.
Please could you pass our e-mail address to Marczin Myzewski (Housekeeping Manager) who is an old friend of ours? We met on the Spirit in 2001/2002 where we both worked on board. We lost contact after we moved to another address. We still live in London. We would love to hear from him if he’s not too busy. Best wishes
Cecil & Mila

John Says:
Hello Cecil and Mila
Great timing, he is here for three weeks on the Carnival Valor and I just sent him your details. He is a great guy and I can understand why you became friends. I hope you are both well and you will be happy to know the November experience has not been repeated.
My best to you both
John

christina Asked:
JOHN PLEASE REPLY!!
My Aunt and Uncle will be going on the Valor 3/15/09 it is their 1st cruise was hoping you could send them a little something to the stateroom for them as a surprise. They are in cabin # Barbara and Michael Prischak. I would great appreciate it!
Cheers
Christina Lochrane

John Says:
Hello Christina
Cheeky……………please send free stuff 🙂 Ask and you shall receive. I shall send them something as requested and I am sure they will have a wonderful time.
Cheers
John

jim maloney Asked:
Dear John,
Please reply.
I am sorry if you received this emailed twice, I was having trouble sending the first one and I never did know if it went out. I love traveling on Carnival cruise ships. March 22 I will be sailing on Carnival Victory for the 9th time, number ten will be on June 3 on the Spirit. There one on going problem and that is getting a steak cooked to my liking. I know it is a small problem, but it has become kind a game to me to try to get the steak cooked medium. Every time and I mean every time during my last three cruise they were not cooked correct. I like my steak medium. I have ordered medium, medium rare, and even rare. I know I can send it back but that is not the point. Any suggestions on how to order my steak? By the way I love your blog. I read it each morning before I start my day and it always puts a smile on my face.

John Says:
Hello Jim
Just wanted to check you saw my reply to this yesterday.
Cheers
John

Darlene Asked:
Hey, John
What a range of emotions, reading today’s blog. First, for Jaime and all the crew and passengers on the Splendor. I’m sure everyone had to stop and think about what may be caused this man to end his life, and how precious life really is. My prayers to all affected by this loss. On a positive note: Jaime certainly has a gift of writing to be able to express the circumstances and emotions so well. She must have taken lessons from you, John!
And congratulations to Bubba and Julie! Visited their website and left them a message. I certainly enjoyed my cruise on the Spirit.
Please Reply:
Bubba mentioned that he returned to a new ACD. What happened to Kirk? He and Chris worked so well together and ALWAYS made me laugh. I’m hoping that he is now on vacation or has been reassigned as a CD!

John Says:
Hello Darlene
Thanks so much for the words of support. When Jaime first worked with me on the Carnival Splendor I immediately saw something special in her. One of her attributes was her ability to write and that’s why I encouraged her to keep doing so and to allow us into her world through her Dear John letters which you and so many others seem to enjoy so much. Kirk Benning is now a cruise director currently serving on the Carnival Ecstasy. He deserves this promotion as I am sure you will agree.
My best to you all
John

Christy Richardson Asked:
Dear John,
thank you so much for helping me out with the problem of my daughter’s needs. We will be going on the conquest April, 2009. Booking #. I absolutely loved the conquest when I went with a group of friends and wanted to share it with my family. I know they will love it as much as I do. My daughter’s diet is Gluten-Free and Casein/ Free which means no dairy or wheat of any kind and we also try to avoid soy as it can be similar to gluten. She cannot eat anything that has been prepared with any type of gluten containing flour or any type of dairy. She can have all kinds of meat and vegetables with seasonings that are gluten free. We use Rice Pastas for her and she loves potatoes and sweet potatoes as well as anything that has rice in it (no butter, but she can have ghee). She can have juices to drink and for dessert, we give her dairy free ice creams made from rice milk or coconut milk or dairy free sorbets. She loves apples and gluten free pretzels for snacks as well as gluten free / dairy free cookies and animal crackers. She also loves Fritos and regular lay’s plain potato chips.
We also use a wheelchair for her, but it can fold up to get in and out of the room because we were told that there were no more handicap rooms available that the rest of our group (2 other rooms) could be near. But, that’s okay because we did get a fairly large room (2470). I have been told it is over 300 sq feet.
Other than the diet situation, the only real problem we have foreseen is the shower. My daughter has sensory issues and does not like to shower, but if we have a shower chair in there, it could help. I don’t know if they have those on board or not, but if not, we can make do.
Thanks for helping us with this.
I love reading your blog each night after I put the kids in bed. Your videos are great, and I love the way you answer people’s comments. Thanks for all the help you have given all of the Carnival Cruisers out there. We will cruise again because you guys always treat everyone so well.

John Says:
Hello Christy
Thank you so much for taking the time to write back. Here is what we are going to do. I am going to personally make sure our Guest Access Services (special needs) Department contacts you to discuss this further. I can tell you that I spoke to the chef here on the Carnival Valor and he tells me we have everything onboard our ships to fit your requests. Then, I would kindly ask that the week before you sail you send me another comment via the blog to remind me and therefore I will then speak directly to the ship to confirm all is ready for you including the chair in the shower which we can of course provide. Between now and then I will do everything I can to make this a wonderful and stress free experience as I can for you and the family
My best wishes to you all
John

kjunea Asked:
Dear John,
Please reply when you get a chance…
Love reading the blog thingy and your take on life at sea. It’s a breath of fresh air after working with middle school kids every day, but then, they don’t smell so good either!
My husband, son, and mother in law are traveling on the Carnival Liberty on May 23. You had a listing of the Cruise Directors recently, but when I squinted, pulled the computer screen up to my nose and put on my reading glasses, aided with a magnifying glass; it appeared that the CD would be leaving on the day we arrive. Do you know who will be taking Steve’s place?
Best wishes to you, Heidi and the little thingy. Mine is now almost six and quite a handful at times!

John Says:
Hello Kjuena
Let me start by saying that as a son of a teacher I think you should be paid a million dollars a year. Teachers are underpaid and should receive far more accolades than they get plus you should be allowed to give a naughty kid a good clip round the ear when they misbehave. OK, now that’s out of the way let me answer your question. The cruise director on your voyage will probably be Butch Begovitch who is possibly being transferred from the Carnival Glory to the Carnival Liberty. I will be able to confirm this soon. Thanks for the kind words and I look forward to he or she being six very quickly!
My best to you and the family
John

Debbie Asked:
When we were on the Carnival Glory in June, they held a Walk for the Cure. I participated in this and really enjoyed it. I would like to know if the Carnival Freedom will be doing this also. We are sailing in April. Also, can you share with us how much Carnival guests have contributed to the Komen Foundation through these Walks.

John Says:
Hello Debbie
The On The Deck For The Cure walks are a wonderful expression by our guests of their desire to support the continuing search for a cure for breast cancer. Although we do not do this each and every week on every ship, we try to do it as often as we can. Sometimes this is dependant on the supplies of T-shirts and wristbands we have. I will forward your request to Todd the CD on the Carnival Freedom and hopefully he will be able to have this available when you cruise. As for how much Carnival guests and crew have donated ……….well, I don’t know …………..it’s a great question and I will find out for you and post the answer as soon as I get it
Many thanks
John

Amy & Bruce Asked:
PLEASE REPLY!! THANKS!!
John, my husband & I sailed with you on the Carnival Freedom last year during your bloggers cruise. It was our first cruise…we went for 2 weeks and weren’t sure what to expect…BUT YOU WERE FANTASTIC!! We see from your Cruise Director schedule that you are scheduled to be on the Carnival Valor w/o March 15…..We hope so as we will be on that sailing!!!
Hope to see you there!!
Amy & Bruce Norman

John Says:

Hello Amy and Bruce
I am so glad you had a great time on the Carnival Freedom and those words are so rejuvenating. I will be here next week until Belize where I leave from to head to the Carnival Splendor in California. I will not be the CD though because I am going to watch and help a bright new talent in David Tancock who will be leading your cruise. I will be all around the vessel though so please make sure you come and say hello.
See you soon and thanks again for the kind words
John

Tim Asked:
Hello John.. **Please respond***
I am a travel agent that has a group that will be sailing on the Freedom on 3/28/09. This is our third time sailing as a group together. We sailed this same route in 2007 on the Liberty and they took away the Nassau stop before we sailed. We are 18 days away and there are still no shore excursions listed for the Nassau stop. I have called Carnival 3x’s and have been told they had to be entered by hand and would be online by the sixth. They are still not listed.
There are a couple people in my group that keep asking me about this and are worried that the stop will be taken away again. Can you check to see if there will be any excursions in Nassau? Thank you…

John Says:
Hello Tim
Firstly let me say thank you for the great support you continue to give us here at Carnival Cruise Lines and I am sure you must be very excited about the coming voyage on the Carnival Freedom. I will check on this for you as having seen the website it does indeed not include the tours for Nassau. This may just be a glitch so please give me 24 hours and I will confirm everything is OK.
Best wishes
John

msqpon – Jo Myerly Asked:
Hi John, I saw the complaint about the bacon on the Carnival Ecstasy’s. The same thing happened to us last week on the Carnival Splendor. We were on the second leg of the South America cruise. We went to the Lido several times for breakfast. The bacon was by the cook making the eggs. We had to stand in the line and ask for bacon. He would give us about three pieces. If you asked for more he would give you two more pieces. I thought maybe the were being miserly because of the long cruise. Now I am wondering if this is system wide and Carnival is just being cheap.
Jo Myerly

John Says:
Hello Jo
Welcome home from the Carnival Splendor and I hope you had some wonderful experiences of South America. Well, the bacon thing seems to be a big topic of conversation. So, in response I have alerted our vice president of food and beverage for his response and of course I shall pass this along to all of you as soon as I get it.
Best to you and Dave
John


ges918 Asked:

Please Reply
John,
We noticed the aquarium in Baltimore over the weekend. It really brightens up the street. It is only a couple of blocks from my office so I will be sure to go check it out.
I’ve got a question about local cruises. Since we live within walking distance of the Baltimore cruise terminal, I was wondering: are there are ever last minute cruise deals available? It would be so much fun to wake up one morning and decided to hop on a ship rather than go to work.
Thanks for the help and the great job you do with the blog,
Gary

John Says:
Hello Gary
Glad you saw the aquarium. Have you tried it yet? When you do, please let us know. There are some terrific deals to be found and I advise you keep looking at www.carnival.com or get friendly with your local travel agent and get them to call you as soon as they get the deals come in. I wouldn’t wait until the day of sailing, though, as our departures typically sell out and we wouldn’t want you to miss this terrific opportunity to sail on the Carnival Pride. Plus, when you book early you have a better chance of getting the cabin and itinerary of your choice. We’ll be in Baltimore soon and you really must take a cruise on the Carnival Pride………….she is a fantastic ship.
Cheers
John

Bobby Asked:
Hi John, please reply; I wanted to know if they have the same shows on every ship?? like last time they had living in America, do they change shows after awhile. what shows are on the Valor??
Best wishes to u and your wife and upcoming baby
sincerely
Bobby

John Says:
Hello Bobby
The “production shows” as we call them have a long shelf life although in more recent times we have changed quite a few shows around on various ships. Obviously, while it is easy to rotate visual acts and comedians a production show is another matter. There are huge set pieces that not only have to be designed but hung in the theaters and our only real chance to change these set pieces out is during a time when the ship goes into dry dock. Therefore, while there is no specific time a show will stay on a ship we do our best to keep them as current as possible. The shows here on the Carnival Valor are called Nightclub Express and my favorite Far From Over which is an astonishing 80’s tribute show. I hope that answers your question and let me know if you have any follow ups.
Cheers
John

Irene Garner Asked:
Dear John….please reply
My cruise is only 13 days away as I write this but only 11 sleeps until we set off for Miami. My excitement can barely be contained.
I have two short questions.
1. I am wondering if there are any dartboards in the bars of the Carnival ships.
2. Do you or any of the other members of staff know about “Geocaching”? This is a world wide treasure hunting hobby and I think would be a great excursion idea for Geocachers at many of the different ports-of-call.
All the best…Irene (hooked on cruising)

John Says:
Hello Irene
Wow you are excited and that’s great to read because you should be its going to be a fantastic cruise. OK, darts……..let me start with that. I have to tell you firstly that we do not have dart boards on the ships……are you a darts fan? I loathe darts. You settle down with your mates for a bit of a chat and a few drinks and then one of them suggests a game. Why? Why do I want to spend my time in the pub, standing up, doing math. I can believe that throwing some shortened spears at the bottom of a beer barrel might in some way be deemed entertaining. Of course, it doesn’t help that I’m not very good at it. My ability to hit the treble 20 is governed not by hand-eye coordination but by the laws of averages and probability. Mostly, I fail to hit the board at all, or the dart bounces back and pierces my shoe. And then I’m expected to stand there, with my foot nailed to the floor, trying through a fog of pain to deduct 16 from 263. …….. sorry …….went off one there didn’t I?
Now, as far as geocoaching is concerned let me tell you what I know about that…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
There.
As you can see, I know bugger all. So, I kindly ask, what is it? It sounds fascinating and maybe something we could be doing onboard. If you have time please let me know via the blog thingy. Thanks for the posting, look forward to hearing from you and have a brilliant cruise
Cheers
John

That’s all for today. I will answer more tomorrow. I want to say a big thank you for all the comments. Please keep them coming.

Last night was a challenging one. I want to start this piece by saying that this has been the only problem we have had apart from one or two Rhodes scholars who may be MIT valedictorians but after a few Woo Woo’s have no idea who they are or which cabin they are in. The best way to prove that this is a very well behaved bunch of vacationers that we have not had any derogatory comments from other guests.

However…………….last night…

I should start by saying that at 44 I have reached the age where I am no longer able to tell how old younger people are. The kid could have been 18. Or he could have been eight. So, weirdly, I was standing there holding this boy by the scruff of his neck, I was thinking: “I’m going to get done for assault if I’m not careful.”

OK, why was I holding him by the scruff of his baggy T-shirt………..well, because as I walked into the cigar bar last night after the show I saw this kid punch another much smaller kid in the head. I ran over……….OK, I walked quickly………and separated them but this kid kept trying to push past me and continue to give the other kid the good news. I therefore had no choice but to grab his collar and lift him off the floor. I then realized I had to be careful and so I gently put him down.

As soon as I did he buggered off in a flurry of swearing and hand gestures involving various fingers. My attention turned to the other kid whose head must have been playing some heavy metal music inside it after the thump it had received. I asked him if he wanted to see a doctor but he said he was OK. I asked for his name and cabin number and after he told me I asked him to take a seat while I had a security guard come and make a report. As we waited I asked him if he new the name of the bigger kid…..”Yes,” he said ……. “It’s my brother.”

I canceled the security guard and instead called the parents who were asleep in the cabin while their 15- and 11-year-old sons wander the ship. I am not a parent ……. yet ………. and it’s probably not my place to comment but I am going to anyway. I called the parents and immediately got a bollocking that I was doing so at 12:20 am and that they had an early excursion the next morning. I told them what had happened and the father told me this was normal and then ……..well…………that was it.

He didn’t ask me if his younger son was OK or where they were now………he just well …..said nothing and that was the end of that conversation. And so along with one of the entertainment staff we walked the 11-year-old back to his cabin and I made sure to tell him that if he had a headache tomorrow to tell his parents. This morning I called security and told them that I wanted the incident recorded just in case.

I would love to post the name of the family involved but I cannot. Nothing can be done about the parents because they are too thick to understand in my opinion. It’d be like trying to train a hamster to smoke a pipe.

The only place where this issue can be tackled, then, is at school. So you fit airport-style metal detectors at the doors to ensure no pupil is packing heat, you put all the troublemakers in one class and you give the teacher in charge immunity from criminal charges …………..and a cattle prod.

And now for something completely different

From: VALOR GUEST SERVICES SUPERVISOR
Sent: Tuesday, March 10, 2009 8:12 PM
To: VALOR CRUISE DIRECTOR
Cc: VALOR GUEST SERVICES MANAGER
Subject: John, can you call this guest please
Guest Mr. ________ from cabin _________ called very upset about a comment made on stage by one of the staff teaching the dance class. Guest says that the staff member made references to his sexuality and him being gay by calling him “a queen.”
Please can you call him?
Regards,
Sr. Guest Services Supervisor

Before I called I checked with the staff member who took the class because I could not believe that she would say anything like this and after we spoke I new exactly what had happened. So, I called the guest and explained that the staff member was teaching an Abba Dance Class to “Dancing Queen” and after the lesson had finished she had said on the microphone to the audience who were watching and waiting for bingo to start “let’s have a big round of applause for our dancing queens.”

When I explained this to the guest he started to giggle and apologized for ………and this was in his own words “being a diva.” Anyway, all is well and the guest also thanked me for arranging the daily Friends of Dorothy meetings as well.

OK, after all that lets enjoy another photo from Geo. This time we go back a few weeks for these stunning shots of the Carnival Destiny in dry dock

dry_dock_destiny_september_2008_1

dry_dock_destiny_september_2008_44

dry_dock_destiny_september_2008_169

Amazing photos Geo, what a talent you have.

Some of you have been asking for me to confirm the Carnival Dream’s voyages after she arrives from Europe so here are her 2010 ports of call.

Day Port Arrive Depart
Sat. Pt. Canaveral 4:00 PM
Sun. “Fun Day” At Sea
Mon. Cozumel 10:00 AM 6:00 PM
Tues. Isla Roatan 10:00 AM 6:00 PM
Wed. Belize 8:00 AM 6:00 PM
Thurs. Costa Maya 7:00 AM 3:00 PM
Fri. “Fun Day” At Sea
Sat. Pt. Canaveral 8:00 AM

Day Port Arrive Depart
Sat. Pt. Canaveral 4:00 PM
Sun. Nassau, The Bahamas 8:30 AM 2:00 AM
Mon. “Fun Day” At Sea
Tues. St. Thomas/St. John* 10:00AM 8:00 PM
Wed. St. Maarten 8:00 AM 6:00 PM
Thurs. “Fun Day” At Sea
Fri. “Fun Day” At Sea
Sat. Pt. Canaveral 8:00 AM

Two brilliant itineraries ……one spectacular cruise ship……………when are you going?

And here’s more great news for Alaska lovers and the fine people of Seattle

CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES’ 2010 ALASKA VOYAGES TO OPERATE ROUND-TRIP FROM SEATTLE

MIAMI (March 11, 2009) – For the first time ever, Carnival Cruise Lines will operate a schedule of seven-day Alaska cruises round-trip from Seattle beginning in May 2010.

In total, 17 week-long Alaska cruises will operate from the Port of Seattle from May 11 to Aug. 31, 2010, departing Tuesdays aboard the 2,124-passenger Carnival Spirit.

Port calls on these voyages include the popular Alaskan destinations of Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan, as well as Victoria Island, British Columbia, and cruising Tracy Arm Fjord.

Each of these destinations offers a rich history and culture, along with awe-inspiring natural wonders, including calving glaciers, magnificent fjords and native sea and animal life. A wide range of shore excursions – from helicopter flightseeing and rainforest canopy tours to hiking, canoeing and kayaking expeditions – are also available.

The Carnival Spirit also features an on-board naturalist who educates guests on the region’s colorful history and points out animal and marine life from the ship’s bridge.

“Nothing compares to Carnival’s Alaska cruises, which showcase the beauty of the Last Frontier with an outstanding combination of charming and historic destinations, breathtaking scenery and our unmistakable brand of fun, all at incredible value,” said Lynn Torrent, Carnival’s senior vice president of sales and guest services.

“And Seattle is a terrific addition to Carnival’s industry-leading number of North American departure points. It will provide our guests with a convenient and affordable air transportation option, as well as the opportunity for those in the Western region of the U.S. to drive to Seattle,” she added.

Prior to the start-up of the new program, Carnival Spirit will operate two special voyages – a six-day Inside Passage voyage from Vancouver to Seattle departing May 5, 2010 and a seven-day Glacier Bay cruise from Seattle to Vancouver Sept. 7, 2010. Both voyages include a cruise through the Inside Passage along with port calls at Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan; and the seven-day cruise also includes a day of cruising in spectacular Glacier Bay.

Carnival Spirit is the ideal ship for Alaska, with 80 percent of staterooms featuring an ocean view or balcony – perfect for viewing the passing scenery — along with indoor and outdoor promenades, a 14,500-square-foot health and wellness center and 16 themed lounges, bars and nightspots.

Dining venues include the two-level Empire Restaurant with specially prepared “Just For Alaska” menu items featuring local fish, game and other ingredients, as well as the La Playa Grille, a casual eatery featuring a 24-hour pizzeria, and the Nouveau Supper Club, an intimate reservations-only restaurant offering prime steaks and other gourmet cuisine.

Kids sailing on Carnival Spirit can enjoy three different children’s programs – Camp Carnival for ages 2-11, Circle “C” for ages 12 to 14, and Club O2 for 15- to 17-year-olds – with facilities and counselors dedicated to each group. Many activities in these programs feature fun, educational activities with an Alaska theme.

Reservations are currently being accepted for Carnival’s 2010 Alaska cruises from Seattle. For additional information and reservations, contact any travel agent, call 1-800-CARNIVAL or visit carnival.com.

James Cusick and the lucky passengers of P & O’s Arcadia are currently in Shanghai, China….and the photos on his blog are outstanding. Have a look at www.bestblogsatsea.com to see for yourself and while your there have a look at all the other corporation’s blogs and you will see why we call the site best blogs at sea.

By the way, the Arcadia is calling in Hong Kong …maybe I should get Sue Drip to go and visit and write a blog for us about it……….I only need to tell her she will get free drinks and she will be there.

I discovered James Taylor’s music very late after watching a guest appearance he made on the West Wing in which he sang a haunting melody that had me going out and buying his greatest hits collection. “Handy Man,” “Sarah Maria,” “Song for You Far Away,” “Sweet Baby James,” “Copperline” and about 20 other favorites are now on my Eye Pod Thingy and as I write this part of the blog at 12:18 am I am listening to James’ tribute song to Martin Luther King Jr. (“Shed a Little Light”). I think “perfect” is the best review I can give him and his music. And so I would love to be on the Queen Mary 2 later this year…………….here’s why.

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James Taylor to Present Cunard Command Performances Aboard Queen Mary 2

Iconic singer-songwriter to set sail from New York June 19 on a legendary Transatlantic Crossing

March 10, 2009 – Cunard Line is proud to announce that Grammy® Award-winning singer-songwriter James Taylor and his band will perform during Queen Mary 2’s June 19 eastbound Transatlantic Crossing. Sailing from New York to Southampton, England, Taylor will headline two Cunard Command Performances in the ship’s Royal Court Theatre during the six-day journey. (Space is still available to book this very special voyage!)

“We are honoured to welcome James Taylor aboard our flagship Queen Mary 2 and into a lineage of luminaries who have sailed with Cunard during our 170-year history,” said Carol Marlow, president of Cunard Line. “Our guests will most certainly enjoy this intimate concert experience with an American music icon.”

Over the course of his celebrated career, Taylor has earned 40 gold, platinum and multi-platinum awards and five Grammy Awards for works ranging from Sweet Baby James in 1970 to Covers, his most recent album featuring his own interpretation of tunes from the 50s, 60s and 70s, for which he was nominated for two 2009 Grammy Awards. In 2000, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Most recently, Taylor was one of a select few music artists who performed for President Barack Obama’s inauguration.

“I’ve always wanted to take an ocean liner back to Europe. It’s such a civilized way to go, and the Queen Mary 2 is the last word in first class travel. It was a dream to use the passage to transport and rehearse our summer tour: band, crew and family; kit and caboodle. I’m looking forward to the pair of concerts at the end of the trip and, hallelujah, no jet lag,” Taylor said.

Queen Mary 2 offers an array of accommodation combining classic Cunard touches with a stylish, refined elegance. The ship’s legendary Queens Grill and Princess Grill Suites afford guests spacious five-star accommodation and dedicated single-seating dining in the famed Grills Restaurants, along with a private sun terrace, cocktail and concierge lounges. Guests sailing in Britannia category accommodation enjoy gourmet dining prepared by world-class chefs in the Britannia Restaurant, the ship’s grand three-tier dining venue. As an added bonus, guests can experience the culinary creativity of celebrity chef Todd English in the first restaurant at sea bearing his name.

Nights are filled with themed Royal Balls and Galas where guests can dance the night away to a live orchestra in the Queens Room, the largest ballroom at sea. Days are filled with such activities as perusing a vast selection of 8,000 books in the largest library at sea, enjoying traditional afternoon English tea or exploring the Cosmos in the only planetarium at sea.

Queen Mary 2’s Transatlantic Crossings reflect the pinnacle of civility in ocean travel and refinement. The only company offering regularly scheduled Transatlantic liner service, Cunard offers 25 crossings in 2009, singularly offering the New Golden Age of Ocean Travel through such unique Cunard experiences as Cunard Insights, the line’s award-winning enrichment programme. The six-day Crossings afford guests opportunities for leisurely pursuits, ranging from wellness in the only Canyon Ranch SpaClub® at sea to wine tastings with a world-class sommelier.

James Taylor will become part of Cunard’s illustrious history of hosting famed entertainers with peerless cachet. Notables such as Elizabeth Taylor, Rita Hayworth, Cary Grant and Clark Gable frequently crossed the Atlantic on Cunard’s earlier Queens, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth; and since Queen Mary 2’s debut five years ago, the ship has welcomed musical notables such as Rod Stewart, Shirley Bassey, Harry Connick, Jr. and Lenny Kravitz. In addition, actors Uma Thurman, Angela Bassett, John Cleese, Richard Dreyfuss and Terence Howard have sailed aboard the grand liner.

To book passage on this very special voyage aboard Queen Mary 2, consult your Travel Professional, call toll-free 1-800-7-CUNARD or go online to www.cunard.com.

June 19 – I wonder if Heidi would let me slip away and listen to the great man ……………. anyway, I am sure that this will be a concert performance to remember not only for the people listening to his incomparable music but for James himself as he performs on the most incomparable ship in the world.

I receive many letters each week I am CD and as you know I try and share as many as I can with you. This one is a very special one and after a tough day it was a joy to read.

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Laughter is indeed a great medicine although it is not always easy to prescribe ……… let me explain.

After the 8:30 pm show I received a call from the Guest Services Desk stating there was a family waiting to see me. Now, I explained that I had a meeting planed with a reporter who is sailing this week but the GSA said that I should come as they were quite upset. ……. and indeed they were. They were very angry indeed because the comedian who for obvious reasons I won’t name had made some comments about “large people” and that they felt humiliated.

Now, before we get into this let me say that I immediately apologized and sat and listened to their comments for 40 minutes. They were, like myself, large people. In fact, two were big enough to require a motorized scooter. I sympathized with them and promised that I would have the comedian do the same in person, which indeed he did. I called him and he came straight away to say how sorry he was…………they left still angry and also saying that the costumes were too “revealing” in last night’s Nightclub Express show……I will follow up with them tomorrow and make sure their comments are all documented.

So, let’s discuss this a moment. The comedian in question is one many of our regular guests will have seen and like both shows tonight many of you will have given him a standing ovation. So, why did the guests feel embarrassed by his “fattish” comments?

Well, probably because he is not really overweight himself. It often puzzles me how certain words can be so offensive yet if said by certain groups of people it becomes as commonplace and accepted as any other word in the English language

If a “bigger/overweight” comedian had said the same material I doubt there would have been a problem………..but there was………..and nothing is more important than our guest’s happiness and that’s were the subject should end………….or does it?

Of course, members of the public have the right to protest about what they think is insulting on stage, screen or in an art gallery or book. After all, there is a long history of the arts offending people. Fine, provided the protesting doesn’t gag freedom of artistic expression. Culture that upsets people and makes them think is usually a positive ………… at least that’s what I would like to think.

I watch some of these HBO comedy specials and honestly, I can’t believe some of the things they say on there. I saw a comedian a few weeks ago while I was in the Miami hotel who made fun of every single denomination, sexual orientation and disability there and did so using the most foul language I have ever heard………..and it was a woman ……..I wish I could remember her name………both her first and last name began with the same letter but I just can’t remember the name. Anyway, as offensive as she was the camera shots of the audience showed tears of laughter dripping down every face and unbelievably not one of them ran on stage and smacked her in the mouth…………and I kid you not, every other word……….I mean every other word was the “f” word.

I guess I am old fashioned. Time moves on, habits change and as a result what would once have shocked the nation to its core is now considered normal.

And yet, while you’re happy to watch this toilet-mouthed woman or a televised autopsy, you would be astonished and amazed if Hilary Clinton were to make a speech this afternoon in which he described President Sarkozy of France as a “f***ing idiot.”
Why? You hear the f-word all the time, and so do your children. Buzz Aldrin used it on the moon and we know it nestles in the vocabulary of both The Queen and Donald Trump but we can be sure because journalists can’t use it in print. Don’t you think that’s weird? I can say a couple had rumpy pumpy so obviously it isn’t the act itself that causes offense, just the word. And I can’t quite work out why.

If words move into and out of common parlance so quickly, has the f-word been a taboo for so long except on HBO and Steven Segal movies?

My Dad always told me that those who swear are simply demonstrating they have a limited vocabulary. That can’t be so because this afternoon I trapped my finger in the wardrobe door………and it hurt……. sometimes only the f-word will do.

Anyway, I will make sure I do all I can to help these guests and hope they forgive our transgressions.

I also have to be careful what I say here on my blog thingy and even though I have a disclaimer I still have to make sure I don’t upset anyone…….but that’s not always easy. You see, I have always spoken my mind and I have always done so in the hope that people will always understand that its just my opinion and I have never ever said or written something with the sole purpose to offend someone ……….. ummmm …….. well apart from Le French.

I know that when I give my opinions on global warming and polar bears men with beards go onto the internet and put my name and address in their To Be Killed folders. I’ve always felt like a bit of beef dripping in a big vat of tofu.

Talking of Range Rovers…………….Heidi went to an auction yesterday and bought a private number plate for my despicable non-environmentally friendly vehicle which as soon as I get home I will sell and buy a skateboard made of recycled toilet paper ………… anyway, unlike personalized number plates in the USA, they are quite expensive in the UK………but Heidi got a bargain………..here it is.

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Yesterday I received a rather tasteless comment which for obvious reasons Stephanie did not post on the blog. It contained the f-word five times and suggested that they would love “to shut me up.” It also trashed Carnival as a cruise line.

Now I’ve seen Goodfellas, and as a result I know that “shutting someone up” is Martin Scorsese speak for having someone killed. So, if my Range Rover has broken an iceberg and overheated a puffin, I apologize. Or if I have said something on this blog that has upset this person again I say sorry — truly I do — and if someone finds my body under a pile of unused rocks please know that I was probably whacked by a vegetarian man with a beard who had a French accent who just before giving me a bullet behind the ear said he was a member of a secret and sinister society called……….. “The Royal Champions.”

Goodnight
Your friends
BlOG HJ………….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.