Bringing Home the Bacon……….in a limo

March 23, 2009 -

John Heald

Ever since I was a teenager with a face full of zits, I’ve wanted to be a rock star. I used to look at the pictures of Mick Jagger getting onto the Rolling Stone’s personal jet and think: “What in the name of all that’s holy will be going on in that thing after it takes off?” None of it, I suspected, would involve accounting or ordering a Perrier.

I’d hear tales of Keith Moon fire-axing his way into Roger Daltrey’s bathroom so that he could cut old Goldilocks’ hair with a pair of garden shears. Or of Ozzy Osbourne buying an electric chain saw so that no one would know he was coming until he arrived through their bedroom wall. Or of one notable drummer snorting cocaine off a famous guitarist’s dog. And then I’d stop daydreaming and find my Mr. Sonnen my math teacher was still droning on logarithms and how long it takes three men to dig a trench if one of them has herpes.

However, between me and my dreams the Grand Canyon size unfortunate fact of life……………… I could not play a musical instrument. And when I sang, it sounded like I’d been kicked in the testicles by a very angry horse. I realize that this never stopped the Bee Gees, but they had lovely hair by way of compensation. Mine looked like someone had juts put a bowl over my head and cut around the edges.

Anyway, one of the reasons I wanted to be a rock star apart from the planes, the chainsaws and the lashings of rumpy pumpy was ……………I would get to go in a limo and although it was many many years before I did……… first limo ride was something rather special and a memory that will be everlasting. The feeling of getting in and out of this special car was simply awesome ………….but now of course my feelings have changed as I have been in quite a few and now…………and I hate the bloody things.

This Monday morning at a Godforsaken hour I had to go to the Carnival Spirit which as you know from the photos I posted is in dry dock some 30 minutes away from the Carnival Splendor. The ship’s agent had arranged transportation for me and when I came off the gangway …………there waiting for me…………was a limo. It wasn’t one of the stretch buggers but a big SUV complete with driver in starched grey uniform ………………. very embarrassing as I waved sheepishly at the crew who were working on the pier……………….and as they waved back I new exactly what they were thinking …………flashy bastard…………..or as the crew working on the pier were mostly from the deck department and were from Latin America they were probably thinking “el flasho bastardo”…………except the one crew member from Thailand who was probably thinking “You veeeery fattti flashi bastardi”……………..anyway……………I digress.

As you know my opinion on global warming is somewhat different to many others and while we have to be much more careful I truly believe the planet big and old enough to be able to look after itself. So I was not best pleased when I noticed I would be riding in something called an eco limo.

I needn’t have worried, though, because while California is embracing all aspects of the green revolution, it seems it really hasn’t got the hang of a nuclear-free fair-trade peace limo. It was a Ford Excursion. It was so big, in fact, that it was parked outside pier one, two and three. And the back was picking up someone else . . . in Utah.

This is a car that weighs more than most people’s houses, and the eco version weighs even more because they’ve taken out the petrol engine and replaced it with the same diesel motor that’s used to move the space shuttle to its launch pad. When it chugged into life you could see people at the pier diving for cover.

No matter, emblazoned down the side was a green sign saying it was an eco limo, and in the back were certificates from the state of California, commending the vehicle’s owners for their responsible attitude towards Mother Earth.

To hammer the point home, he’d placed some stickers in the back window that said: “This vehicle runs on foreign oil.” Only the word “foreign” had been crossed out and replaced with the word “vegetable.” Anyway, lets talk about the driver we’ll call him Raul…………because that’s his name. Raul as I said was driving an Excursion and what he liked to do was test every one of the speeds it would go. We’d start off with 39 and then we’d do 105, 25, 18, 84, 9, 0, 163, 41 and so on until he’d established that they were all working properly. Then he’d start testing the braking distances: 4 to 41, 57 to 5, 16 to 15 and, once, a terrifying 150 to 3. The range of possibilities was enormous and all of them were very bad, especially as Raul had the spectacularly annoying habit of impersonating the engine noise as we lurched along which he stopped doing once when he had to spit out of the window………………..charming

Cornering, however, was his specialty. He would make the noise of the tires screeching as he turned each bend into a series of straight lines interspersed with a series of violent jerks. He was a lovely man by his driving was simply dreadful. Which is why I felt so guilty, sitting alongside him, imagining what he might look like with covered in my breakfast.

So I did what I had to do on the Carnival Spirit and then Raul drove me back and apart from yelling out of the window at a taxi driver in Spanish the journey back was the same as the one there and here I am back on the Carnival Splendor as we head off to Los Angles.

I am having to write this from the Information Desk Guest Services thingy office as my lap top dancer computer has bugger all service. It has been great to see old friends — Jaime, Lauren and Adele from the entertainment staff and of course my old friend Lui the guest services manager who accompanied me on the fam trip in Europe. He brings a smile to my face and a smell to the office……….that man needs a cork! Also I have my great friend Charlene, the groups coordinator who is the best in the fleet called Charlene. Both of these young people always read the blog………….well…………….Charlene has someone read it to her as there are many long words………………seriously though I have missed them all and am so proud of them.

As we do let me answer some of your questions marked for my reply………………….here we go.

Laurie Bendick (please, please reply)
Hi John, It’s been years since I have been on a cruise with you, have actually been on seven other with different directors. I have one question for you that has bugged me all this years, it’s about a particular event that happened on I believe the Destiny. You picked out a fellow passenger and made a “deal” with him that every time he said the word “Kentucky” over the PA system he had to act out a little skit. At the end of the cruise his wife was “awarded” with gifts from every port of call. On every cruise I try to make my husband do something to be picked as the lucky passenger he tells me it’s someone you probably knew. Please help me end this debate. Thanks!

John Says:

Hello Laurie
Thanks for taking the time to write and I remember Mr. Kentucky very well ……………….. his name was Gregg and we still stay in touch and he reads this blog thingy. As I am sure Gregg will tell you after he reads this I had not met him previous to the cruise. When cruise directors are looking for volunteers each will have a different way of choosing who will join them on stage. I generally look for someone who will look you in the eye rather than slightly bow their head as you approach. Normally………..not always…………. normally they will be the ones who you can help become famous for the cruise. If you cruise again soon and you want your husband to be chosen just tell him to look up as the CD approaches and there is a good chance he will be chosen. I hope it’s not too long until we get to be together again soon and until then I send my best wishes to you both

Bette Jost
bjost Asked:

Hi John…
I am, indeed, one of your many fans and an avid Carnival traveler. I’ve been on 14 Carnival cruises (although the first 9 were before they kept track) and I must say… Carnival’s the BEST! We will be celebrating our 8th Anniversary on the Triumph on May 10th and I need some advice… There are 40 of us on this cruise that “met” each other on one of the websites and we are looking for a gathering place on the Triumph. What area(s) do you recommend? The bar on Lido deck is always so busy… I’ve been going over the deck plans but I don’t know if there are any areas off limits or closed. I believe Monday, May 11, would be the best day for everyone to meet… like maybe 2:00 pm?? But I just can’t figure out where. I talked to Guest Services about a private area but I have to guarantee a specific number of people and pay for 1 hour open bar… can’t quite afford to do that!! So… what do you think? I’m open to suggestions…

John Says:

Hello Bette
Please send me the name of your group and I will organize something for you. I suggest you meet in the piano bar or the conference room and I will see what is available. So, please send me the info plus your cabin number and I will make sure you have a place to meet. Please send me this information the week before you sail and I will make sure you are all happy.

Catrin17 Asked:

Hi John,
I am replying to your reply…..
As of Today (3/18), the only call we received from Carnival was a random agent calling to “upsell” us two category 11 Cabins from our 8I Cabins for $1190.00. I asked if this was in response to my request for a price adjustment… and all the agent kept repeating was that the suite upgrade (up SELL) was a great value. I cannot help to think this was just a call to upsell, not in response to my email to you.
We denied the upgrade, because we are very happy with our aft balcony! and…. to be honest, we just don’t want to spend another $1190.00.
Safe travels this week, and we very much appreciate any follow up ….

John Says:

Hello Cathy
Please confirm that you did indeed receive a call from guest services regarding your concerns as they told me this morning that they had indeed spoken to you. It’s been a few days since you posted this so I am hoping its been resolved. Let me know and I remain at your service
Best wishes

musingsofjustjon Asked:

John –
Please provide more details about the inaugural sailing of the Carnival Pride from Baltimore, in particular your comings and goings. I would love the chance to come down to see you and even give you someone to eat with other than Billy No Mates.
Still debating various cruise options for the year – too many variables up in the air right now to decide. Of course, if Carnival feels compelled to award compensation to those who still mourn the loss of their Paradise five years after her last respiratory system friendly cruise, I am available to accept such compensation.
Keep the faith.

John Says:

Hello Jon
Well, I will be arriving the day before the big event and then during the day I will be ………well…………………just hob nobbing between the marquees and various events. I will of course make sure we have a special meeting point for all the bloggers so we can all be together. I hope to see your funnel hat as soon as I arrive…………it’s been too long
Cheers mate and my best to Mrs. MTSFP

cheri Bolchoz
mbolhoz1 Asked:

Please Reply
Haven’t had time to read the blog past couple of days. Getting ready for a trip to Atlanta next weekend 3/27 then our cruise on Carnival Fascination on 4/4.
We are definitely going to do the horseback riding excursion in Half Moon Cay. I plan on booking it on 3/23 on line. We want the first time 830am so we can have some beach time after.
A relative of one of my residents (I work on an Alzheimer’s Unit as the Charge Nurse) was just on the Valor a couple of weeks ago. She told me that she had the most wonderful time & that you were great.
As far as colors for Thingy- light yellow or light green are great if you don’t know male or female
Will email you when the ornaments get here
take care
Cheri & Michael

John Says:

Hello Cheri and Michael
Thanks so much for writing and I think the horseback riding tour will be perfect for you…………let me know how much you enjoy it. I am glad your friends enjoyed the cruise on the Carnival Valor and I hope we will get to be together again soon. Thanks for the color choices and hopefully what I have bought the Thingy will be just perfect.
Thanks for all your kind words and my best to you both

dbarne1 Asked:

Please reply.
I have a reservation booked in the supper club on the Freedom 4/30. It is a surprise for my husband for his birthday. First, I would like to keep it a surprise. When we check in, do they say anything about the reservation? It will be hard to keep it a surprise if they do. Also, I tried to find out by calling Customer Service phone number which night the last elegant night is because I did not want to book it the same night. We do enjoy these elegant nights in the dining room. They told me when I called that it is up to the Cruise Director on the ship to decide which night these dinners are and they don’t decide until the week of sailing. Is this true? And do you know when the past cruisers party is? We also enjoy going to this and don’t want to miss it because of our supper club reservation.
Thanks for the info. This will be our 6th cruise on Carnival: Conquest, Inspiration, Celebration, 2 on the Glory and now the Freedom. We usually bring at least one of our kids but this time we are taking a much needed trip by ourselves.

John Says:

Hello Debbie
I must say it’s a little frustrating that our customer service department would tell you that the cruise director decides the week before what night the formal night or elegant night as it’s now called will be held. Anyway, that’s something I have to take care of and something which I need to say sorry for. I checked your reservation and it is not the last elegant night as you will be eating the day before. I will write back to you (or Stephanie will) once Todd the cruise director lets me know when the past guest party will be held.
You will receive a reminder of your invitation to dine at the supper club in your cabin the day before. However, when you get onboard just find a few moments to call 1078 from any phone and the supper club hostess will make sure that she doesn’t spoil your surprise.
I am sure this will be a special cruise for you and one where although you will miss not having the kids there will be one where you both have some valuable time together.
Please let me know if you need anything else

Paul F. Pietrangelo

First of all I want to thank you once again for answering my question about Carnival’s Promotion during the summer. After reading your answer, I’ve accepted the fact that since I cruise during January – February there will be probably no promotions during that time. I read the Promotion again and probably it’s with one of the smaller ships and I prefer the larger ones. Sorry for bothering you with such trivial material and I’m truly embarrassed for even bringing this up. I think it was a moment of weakness. I truly enjoy cruising and if my wife and I have the money to do so, we will continue to cruise especially with Carnival. It was just because I had just come back from a very enjoyable cruise on the Valor and the very first thing I see when I opened my inbox it was that promotion. So, accept my apology for wasting your time and let you know that I will be continuing cruising with Carnival.
Give my love to Heidi and Thingy and Marylou and I wish you both successes with the new arrival.
Thank you once again my friend.
Paul F. Pietrangelo

John Says:

Hello Paul
If you were here now I would flick your ear as punishment for apologizing. You never ever need to apologize for bothering me or asking a question or making a comment. That is what this blog thingy is all about and I want you and everyone to know that you can say and discuss anything you want to hear.
So, I owe you a flick on the ear and a firm handshake to thank you for being my friend
As I am yours

Wes and Liz ,Manchester England

Hi John,
Just a quick one if you get chance to reply.
Liz and I are interested in the Spirit to Hawaii in April 2010, mentioned by Bill (Zydo) we have always wanted to do this trip.
My question is about embarkation in Ensenada. We usually book our own flights from England. Would we have to make our own way to the port or do Carnival have their own transport. I even heard a story that check in is in San Diego and then you are shuttled down to Ensenada. Is that true?
I won’t be booking it until I hear from you.
Can’t wait for your trip to the Dream next month. Will you do some photos of the Piazza deck for us and we are in cabin ####, on the inaugural, so perhaps a photo shoot in there for us if you get chance as well.
Wes and Liz

John Says:

Hello Wes and Liz
Let me start by asking are you a Reds or Blues supporter as hopefully you are a United fan so I can pour scorn upon you regarding their recent losses. The Hawaii cruise will be very special and I am glad you are considering doing this. You will fly to San Diego and checked in at the terminal there and then the ship sails. Meanwhile the guests are bused on a two or three hour bus ride to Ensenada where you join the vessel. This is because of the Passenger Services Act which states that a cruise ship cannot sail from one US port to another ……….the ship must stop at a foreign port in between. It’s a tried and tested way of doing this and it will be a simple and easy way to comply with this law.
I will indeed take as many photos of I can of the Carnival Dream and will look out for your cabin.
Put the kettle on for me.
Best to you both

katiel53 Asked:

I have a simple question regarding the Emerald Room on Carnival Glory. We absolutely loved our experience there, and I would like to know if the charge of $30 includes the tip.
We were under the impression it did, but the service was so great that we left a tip also. I am asking this because of a thread on Cruise Critic.
One person posted the $30 is the tip and I posted that it includes the tip and that the charge is for higher quality food and service.
Someone else posted that it does not include any tip and that a tip of A$7.50 per person should be added. I don’t want to post anything else to that thread until I find out for sure if the tip is included etc.
I did try to look on the Carnival website, but I couldn’t get an answer to my question. We are looking forward to going on Glory again in October.
Although it will be a little late, we are going to celebrate my father’s 96th birthday. There aren’t too many people who make it that long and we are sure it will be a fun trip.
Originally, we were booked on RCI, but after our Glory cruise a few weeks ago, we convinced my sister and her husband to change to Glory. I know we will have a wonderful time.
I am looking forward to your reply. Thanks so much.
Frank & Gerri

John Says:

Hello Frank and Gerri
I am so glad you enjoyed the supper club on the Carnival Glory. The $30 tip does not include service which is left entirely up to the guest’s discretion. So, if you could please post on the thread thingy that the $30 charge does not include the tip I would be most grateful. This is something we should maybe post on the website and I will look into this now.
Thanks for changing to the Carnival Glory from the “Nosteakisfreeonthisship of the Seas” and do I read correctly that your dad is going on the ship with you……….if he is you must let me know so I can make it a very special cruise for all of you.
wishing you all the best

Lisa and Paul

John – please reply:
I’m sorry you had to go through all of that John but so thankful you were there to help out your staff member.
I’m hoping you can help us out or point us in the right direction. Hubby and I cruised with you and Heidi on the Freedom in April 2007 while he was on leave from Iraq. We did the same thing last year – back to back cruises with Todd – first to the Caribbean and then a Transatlantic while hubby was on leave again. For tax purposes, we need to know at what point we are considered in international waters and not in US territory. Our CPA suggested we contact someone at Carnival and ask but my emails have gone unanswered thus far.
This year his leave is in July and we have booked back to back Alaskan cruises on the Spirit.
Thanks for any help you can provide – I just love your blog – it always makes me smile!

John Says:

Hello Lisa and Paul
It was an honor to have you onboard and I hope your husband has some more peaceful times ahead. Well, that’s a great question and not wanting to give you the wrong answer I asked the captain. As far as the trans-Atlantic cruise was concerned you were not in US waters until the approximately 2 am on the last evening of the 16 days cruise which means for 15 and a half days you were not in US waters……..if that makes sense. I am so sorry nobody at customer service has answered you and I am glad you therefore wrote to me.
If you need more specific details please let me know and thanks so much for saying the blog makes you smile………..that made me………smile
My best to you both

I just wanted to chat about a subject that was brought up a few days ago……………..bacon. Do you remember that some were concerned about the fact that the breakfast bacon was being served rather than be self served as before? Now, this was something that I have been investigating and have seen for myself on the Carnival Fantasy, Carnival Valor and here on the Carnival Splendor. Indeed……… is a fleetwide standard. Why, I hear you cry? Well, I cried the same statement so I decided to ask the VP of Food and Beverage who is here. The answer is simple…………the huge wastage of uneaten bacon was of massive proportions and the dollar amount was simply outrageous which was costing us a lot of money plus Peter the Pig and his sister Paula………..died for bugger all.

So, in order to manage this better we are indeed serving the bacon to you. Now, I have seen comments on Cruise Critic that Carnival is restricting the guests to just 2 pieces per person………….which is as ludicrous as suggesting bacon goes well with chocolate ice cream. Here are the facts. the server will give you two pieces………..if you want more……………just ask……………the server will then give you two more pieces…………..if you want more…………..the server will give you two more pieces……………if you want more…………..the server will smack you over the head with the tongs and tell you to go to the gym.

Seriously, ask for as much extra as you feel you want. Yes, this new guideline is aimed at saving money………….it would be silly to say otherwise……….but we are also saving on huge amount of food wastage and I am sure there isn’t anybody who will mind that ……………………. oh by the way…………..the prunes are still self service and there is no limit on the amount of those you can eat……………..nobody will mind if you eat two huge bowls ……………. except maybe the plumber.

Well, the first two day cruise was a huge success. The ship had 2,200 of our travel partners onboard all of which enjoyed the great food and entertainment and of course one or two complimentary drinks. Yesterday I hosted the On Board with Carnival event where I was joined by:


We had a lot of fun and spent some time showing some slides of their families and finding out more about the people who are the travel industry’s best friends. Gerry and I have done a few of these sort of things and have developed quite a double act so don’t be surprised if you see our act on the road and appearing at a Motel 6 near you very soon.

And here are some wonderful pictures of us leaving San Francisco and heading under the bridge.









And now here as promised is some new and exciting information about the Carnival Elation which will be returning to the brilliant and popular port of Cabo San Lucas later this year. The ship will still sail its regular three- and four-day cruises to Ensenada and Catalina Island but the new program will also include four- and five-day cruises featuring Cabo San Lucas. The Carnival Elation will operate the three- and four-day cruises for 2 weeks followed by another 2 weeks of four- and five-day cruises. We’ll be sure to post the press release soon. I’m told it should be out anytime now.

I am sure this has brought a smile to many peoples faces…………….you wanted Cabo …………….you got it.

So the Carnival Splendor is heading out with just the crew and a few Carnival important people to Los Angeles. Some of you have will have seen on the web cam last night that we had rough seas all day and let’s hope we have calmer weather down to LA. We arrive at 11 am tomorrow morning and collect another 2,000-plus travel agents and business partners for more fun.

I want to tell you something about my last night in the hotel here in San Francisco …………I haven’t had time to tell you this yet as it was Sunday and my blogging day off.

I had been busy all day and had a very early start doing that 6 am morning radio show. At three in the morning, there was a terrible shaking and I felt myself hit the floor. Was this “The Big One?” Was I going to experience my first earthquake and be swept into the Pacific with the rest of the city? ummmmmmm no……………actually my bed had just collapsed. It was one of those embarrassing moments when you are at a hotel– like the toilet not flushing after a particularly fruitful deposit. The bed had collapsed………….in the Hilton Hotel…………..I was surely not the biggest person ever to sleep in that bed!

I rang Heidi in a panic: “What shall I do?”

“Put the mattress on the floor, go back to sleep and bugger off in the morning and don’t say anything….” She’s so wise, my wife.

And so that’s what happened. I can’t believe Mr. Hilton got all his beds from Ikea. The furniture is all made from that curiously soft condensed sawdust material that Ikea uses and considering the mattress was thicker than his daughter and with me on top of the mattress……… was no surprise that the thing collapsed quicker than an AIG savings scheme.

However, at least the hotel had a bathroom which contains a sink and a toilet. I am still in shock about some of the cabins on that new ship I was talking about the other day belonging to the cruise line that has a bow painted by fourth graders.

I made a mistake……………I said the cabin was 100 square meters…………..of course it should have been 100 square feet…………….and the sink…………the sink is in the cabin…………it’s not in the bathroom which is so small you won’t be able to fit in the damn thing and at 3 am in the morning the sink will I am sure look pretty good and the stateroom stewards will I am sure be wondering why the sinks have a faint yellow glow.

Again, I know I am being naughty but why would anyone want to spend their vacation in the size of something no bigger than a clown’s pocket. I am sure the ship has some great features but you won’t be able to enjoy any of them because you will have forgotten that at 3 am you peed in the sink and having just woken up and splashed your face with what you thought was water you are off to the medical center to have your eyes washed out.

I received a comment from a blogger and fan of the cruise line from the fjords who told me that I was an idiot and that the new ship that I referred to is not ugly but is indeed an architectural triumph and that she will never read my blog again.

Well she is right and she is wrong. I am an idiot but I am sorry, in my view (idiotic though it may be) the ship is ugly.

You see other lines including the one that has built this Judge Judy of cruise ships have set a high standard. Ben Affleck, Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Denzel Washington may look good in leather miniskirts and Roman armor but where would we have been 30 years ago if the only qualifications needed for Hollywood superstardom were perfectly square, perfectly white teeth and big arms? Without Gene Hackman, Jack Nicholson and Anthony Hopkins.

That’s for sure. And so it is with ships. Just being big isn’t enough. You have to be stunningly beautiful, rounded and shaped and this thing just isn’t. Still, as I said, I wish them much success………..but I just cant get over the ship I am sure proper travel writers with beards will say that it’s “brave” or “very striking”…………….me…..well I find that it’s…….it’s lumpy and ugly to Epic proportions……. and a little bit odd…………………maybe the designer is French.

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.