Welcome to the Hotel California

March 29, 2009 -

News From Steph

Today when the Boeing thingy lifted its wheels off the ground I fear I may have seen California for the last time. As Captain America took off from Los Angeles today, I looked out of the window and thought: “I’m 44. I’ll probably never get the chance to come back here again.” And it made me sad.

I’m also sad that, in all probability, I shall never again drive an Aston Martin or be the cruise director of the Carnival Splendor…….its Goose’s ship now. I also know I will never have rumpy pumpy in the back seat of a Ford Escort with Sally Poole. In fact, the list of things I’ve already and unwittingly done for the last time is endless.

But now a new chapter in my life is about to start as I head home to Heidi and await the Thingy to make his way into the world.

Just before I do there is just a bit of time that allows me to answer some of your questions. Here we go.

Stef aka Hockey Addict Asked:

Hi John!
(please reply whenever you get a chance. I know you’re REALLY busy right now!)

Since I guess I am still considered a newbie to cruising (2nd cruise booked for September of this year) I was wondering if Carnival would ever do a tour of the Bridge again? I’ve read on Cruise Critic a bit ago where you were able to go on a tour in the past. My husband and I would LOVE to see it. We just love the behind the scenes stuff… how things work!

You’ve made a bunch of Platinum Cruisers happy I am sure! By the time I am Platinum they will probably change again! Thank you for doing EVERYTHING that you do!

I look forward to more pictures and your stories while you are in CA…. but then again I look forward to your blog every day!

Sending our best to you, your beautiful bride and the Thingy….


John Says:

Dear Stef ACKA Hockey Addict,
One of the great things about the blog is that I am able to help both experienced cruisers and those who have just discovered the bets vacation on earth. Pre 911 bridge tours were common place. We would take guests to the bridge where the captain or one of the officers would guide them through the command center. Unfortunately those days have gone and until we find some trust in each other they are not likely to return. You will find an in depth video explaining exactly how the ship is operating. Check your Carnival Capers for details on this. Please let me know if you have any further questions. I hope you have a fantastic voyage.


Nancy & Doug – Columbus, GA Asked:

Hi John! (please reply when you can!)
Love, love, love the new designs on the cards! We were never really crazy about the “new” ones before and we are very happy these new “new” ones will proudly show off our VIP status! Gee, we really are vain aren’t we?!

We have a question for you – we are sailing this Sept. 26th on the Triumph for the New York/Canada cruise and we noticed the 2nd day is at the port of Boston, MA. We are there from 2 pm to 10 pm – what does Carnival do for the Captain’s Cocktail Party when this happens? Many, many people will be on excursions in this port during those hours. To be honest with you – we have never encountered this problem on any of our 14 cruises with Carnival! Whatever they do – would the same thing apply to the 2nd formal night, which would be our night in Halifax, Nova Scotia? Do they just give up the formal nights altogether? We’d like to know so we can pack accordingly and yes, we do enjoy dressing up for the formal nights! That’s the great thing about a cruise – you can dress down or dress up, whichever way you feel!

By the way, we wrote to Guest Services in Miami as you suggested about the problem we had on the Liberty with their dining room staff. Sorry to say, the letter we got from them in return was rather flip. The lady who answered seemed more impressed with the compliments we gave about the rest of the cruise, than concerned with our actual problem. Live and learn – next time we will just raise more of a ruckus!

Glad to see and hear that Heidi & Thingy are doing well and we wish them both all the best! We hope that all of you will be together very very soon!

John Says:
Calling at the Port of Boston is something I have done a few times and it has always been memorable. Having checked the itinerary you have nothing to worry about, as the elegant night/captain’s party will be held on the evening of the first sea day. We do not always hold the elegant night on the second day, as it is itinerary dependent. It’s going to be a wonderful cruise and your itinerary is one of my favorites. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Best wishes to you both,


Aimee Asked:

John-Please reply
I found this on the cruise critic boards and it has completely mortified me! While there is a good chance that this poster did this just to get a rise from people, all I can think of is that poor guy that didnt make tips from this room of…well jerks…for lack of a safe word.

I am asking you because you are the all knowing. The speculation has been (on the boards) that the steward has a responsibility to check the room, and I agree but I am really not sure. I know when I was a hotel manager that we had to check the rooms periodically to assure the safety and state of the room, even if customers request not to be “bothered”. Is that the case on a ship as well?

I guess there is no way to find out if this is true or not but if it was I don’t know about anyone else I would like to send a donation to the poor fellow that got his hard earned tips taken away due to this nasty group of kids. I guess it would take a fair deal of work to figure out enough details to do so but if its possible let me know and I will send a check!

Thanks for listening and I look forward to your reply!

Got a call from my neice last night that she was getting just off her spring break cruise today with several of her girlsfriends. They had a quad cabin, (yes there was a 25 yr old in the connecting cabin next door)

Being all age 21,they had a good time, real good time except for the room steward. Even with the do not disturb sign, he knocked a few times and was being a pain. I was told that they had the sign there the whole cruise and did not want the beds made or anything. They even exchanged the pool towels everyday for towels a few times a day.
Starting around Wednesday, the room steward knocked, they opened the door and just shut it on him. Thursday he became a little more persistent and they again just shut it and ignored him. Friday he knocked several times and the girls let him have it. He claimed he needed to check the mini bar. (It was not unlocked to begin with).
He claimed he needed to clean as it is much harder when they must turn the room around for the next cruise, he claimed a few other things he needed to check,ect.
What part of Do not disturb did he not understand.He loses a $100+ in tips when all he had to do was nothing.

John Says:
Hi Aimee,
Thanks for taking the time to write. I have read all of this on cruise critic and I think wrote quiet a substantial reply a few days ago. But let me just say this, it is extremely unusual for guests to leave the do not disturb sign up for an entire voyage and it is the job of the stateroom steward to make sure that the occupants of the cabin are safe and well. If the do not disturb sign is up for a few hours or even 24 hours the stateroom stewards will compile with the request an not enter the room. However, in this particular case I am sure the stateroom steward is concerned for the weal being of the guest inside and not because of he was concerned about his tips, which the girls in question had already removed. It seems to me having read your report these young ladies were just plain rude by slamming the door in the face of someone whose only desire was to do their job. Again this is a very unusual case. I would appreciate if you could add this to the cruise critic thread.
Best Wishes,

Roxianne & Lon Asked:

I have searched all over the Carniva; Website to find out what the difference is between a Gold Guest and a Platinum Guest. Can you point me in the right direction? Thanks

Our youngest son use to ski/snowboard. He attempted to convince me into trying it. Luck for me I always found an excuse not to go! I hate snow. If it would snow on Christmas eve and melt the day after Christmas, that would be enough for me!

John Says:

This is a really good question and a really good observation maybe we should have this information on our website. The gold card is issued to any body on their 2nd Carnival Cruise but the big milestone is the platinum card, which is issued when you book your 10th cruise. Benefits for this are brilliant and includes priority check in and debarkation, in cabin personalized stationary, complimentary laundry and you get to drive the ship….Kidding. There are a host of other benefits and you’re absolutely right we should make this more prominent on carnival.com and I shall make it so. Please let me know if you need anything else.

Elizabeth Gwin Asked:

Please reply.
There are rumors that the Ecstasy will go into dry-dock and might come out with balconies. Is it true? I hope so!!!


John Says:

Hi Elizabeth,
This is a really good question and at the time of writing I don’t know the answer. I will find out and as soon as I do I will let you know. Balcony cabins have been a huge success on the Carnival Sensation so maybe her sister will receive the same. I will check first thing on Monday and let you know.


Josh Asked:

Hi John (please reply),
I do not post too often, but just so you know, I am always here every day reading and looking forward to the next blog. You are awesome, and I wish you and Heidi the best of luck with the “thingy” on the way in about a month.

Anyway, my question and concern is one that has been brought up here from time to time. It is regarding live music. I have stopped cruising on the rockclimbingwechargeforsteakoftheseas because of major cuts they have made – most notably, the lack of poolside live music.

There is a thread on cruisecritic describing people’s frustrations and concerns about how people are noticing the bands being either replaced by the big screen tvs, the hours noticeably reduced, and/or the bands being cut to 2 person bands (who use prerecorded music to make up for the missing band members). What’s a cruise to the Caribbean without a Caribbean deck band? We can all listen to our eyepodthingys at home, but I… we all really do look forward to this every day on a cruise.

I apologize that my blog mostly consists of a concern of mine and many others, but if this is true, I hope that you and others at Carnival see this post and the others related to this on all of the other message boards. If Carnival has to find ways to “save” or areas to “cut” please do not take away our deck bands (not 1 or 2 person singers)… something that we LOVE about Carnival and about cruising. Carnival has stood out in this department… with live entertainment and in particular, with the deck reggae bands, and please keep these bands playing on all ships… the ones with and without the poolside screens. I hope to hear some good reggae bands by the pool while sipping a pina colada on the new Dream next November, and on any other Carnival cruises.

Sorry again this is so long… anyway, one last thought related to this. We don’t need the rock walls and all that stuff… what makes a cruise a cruise is the entertainment… and in some of our cases, the deck bands really do matter – this is something we can’t see and hear back home, and this is what makes a cruise a cruise and is the reason why we cruise Carnival.

Thanks for always being hear John and listening to us. Enjoy the rest of your travels, and I cannot wait for the next blog.

-Josh from NY

John Says:

Hi Josh,
Welcome home to Carnival. I wonder did you see the question I answered a few days ago about this very subject? If not let me recap. During a recent meeting we promised to not only not reduce poolside live music but to in facet increase it. This will involve the rotation of all the bands and duos on board so that it’s not only the calypso bands that play there. Movies on the big screen will only be shown after 6 pm the rest of the day will be a mixture of live music and pool side fun and games. This will be applicable fleet wide by the end of next week. I appreciate you posting this on cruise critic and I am glad you have rediscovered the affordable value and fun that a Carnival Cruise brings. Best to you and the family,

Cruzlovinmom Asked:

Please reply
Hi John,
My husband & I are booked on the Dream in mid Jan 2010, (only 297 days to go, lol) and I have a few questions I hope you can answer 🙂
(As a few others have mentioned) our reservation is now showing ‘waitlisted’ with our dining time……do you happen to know why?
Also, I’ve noticed that you mentioned some of the ships now have anytime dining (along with traditional dining) and I wondered if the Dream will have this option? My husband and I prefer to eat at a table for two, and this option would make that possible.
And my last question…..is there any chance you’ll be the cruise director for our trip? If so, that would be wonderful 🙂
Thanks again for all you do. I always enjoy reading the blog, and I best wishes to you, Heidi and the baby 🙂

John Says:

Hi Lisa,
It seems your getting very excited about your Carnival Dream cruise and she is going to be a fantastic vessel. The waitlist reply you received will be rectified near the sailing time of the vessel. The layout and configuration of the dining rooms are still under construction and once they are completed Ken and his staff can start on the table assignments. Anytime dining is working wonderfully on both Carnival Legend and Carnival Liberty and there are plans to extend this to other vessels in the fleet. This could include the Carnival Dream as giving guests a choice is something that is very important to us. Your cruise director will be Todd Whittmer and I do truly wish I could be there with you. As the cruise gets nearer I will be here to answer your questions and look out for a Carnival Dream update in the next few weeks when I visit the shipyard.

Best Wishes,

Anonymous Asked:

Dear John,
Here is another question for you that I hope you can answer for not only me but also many on the CC boards. Is it ok to save a seat for our spouses at the theaters? Not for a row(s) of seats, but just for 1 (some wonder for small families of 2-4)? I understand that Carnival has to draw the line somewhere and that might be hard to do to make everyone happy. But for my husband to save one seat while I change clothes after our wonderful meal (into something more comfortable than a dress and high heels!). Or what about if one of us after sitting down needs a bathroom break? You may not think this is a big thing but believe me when I say it is a very ’sensitive’ issue on the CC boards! (along with chair-hogging!) So I promised in my last post to go to the top… YOU… a man, whom many including me, respect very much! Thank you for settling this question for all of us!

John Says:
You may have noticed that we are getting much stricter on seat saving both on the open decks and in the main theatres. For example, lido staff has been instructed to remove any personal items that are left by guests on a lounge chair when those guests do not return after a 30 minute period. This is working well and we will continue to try and improve. While reserving seats in the lounge is not allowed we do allow the saving of one seat for a spouse or partner. Hope this helps.

Best Wishes,

Erin W. Asked:
Its me again – Erin W. (24 days til the Glory – 25 til the big 3-0!!) I need help with my Carnival FunDay Sunday..I have not received my fun kit yet and as directed by houseparty.com – I called to report this to them. I was told that 13 of us had been accidentally moved to some other mystery list and our packages never sent (this was after 10 min of them trying to find me – On the main list I was not even listed as a host). They also said that at this point they could not guarantee that the box would make it in time. I have been calling this morning trying to get an answer but having no luck so far. I have already spent a ton on food and drinks so I will be hosting the gathering anyway but its kind of hard to promote Carnival without a Fun Kit. Anything you can do to help? As it is Wednesday and the package has not even been shipped – Im not sure what to do.
Also I am also waitlisted for early dining on the Glory (4/18 sailing) – any news of why this is happening?
Thanks – Erin

John Says:

Hi Erin,
I’m so very long that it’s take me until today to reply and it’s probably too late. With all this traveling I am really behind. I can only hope that by the time you read this you will have held your party and had a wonderful time and the problems you were concerned about with the Fun Kit were resolved. Please let me know either way. And again I’m so sorry for the late reply. Hope you have a Sunday Fun day.

That’s all for now and I will catch up with the rest on Tuesday. Remember, even though I am not on board I will continue to help you in anyway I can.

It seems the fun continues on the Carnival Splendor’s John Mayer cruise…..have a look at these great photos from Jaime.




So he’s been away for a few days but Murphy …….is back. He arrived yesterday when I had the rather embarrassing situation of having to call the front desk because I had blocked the toilet. Now, don’t worry, I am not going to gross you out with the details but let’s just say Subway would have sold it as their bigger sandwiches if you get my drift.

I flushed and flushed but the foot long refused to disappear. Panicking I headed for the closet but Murphy had hidden all the wire coat hangers and replaced them with the non detachable wooden ones. I contemplated using my toothbrush or my
razor but instead I called the front desk. …………now when they answered I should have been honest and said “I just deposited a poo the size of a Lexus in your toilet and it won’t flush”…..but instead I said “Your toilet will not flush and I need some assistance” thus putting the blame on there badly designed lavatory not on my excessively large number 2.

About ten minutes later there was a knock at the door and there stood an elderly Asian man and his tool box.

Now……..there is absolutely nowhere to hide in a room at the Westin Hotel that will shield you from the total and utter embarrassment while you wait for Mr. Lee the plumber to use his origami skills to push your aircraft carrier of a turd down the toilet. He emerged 5 minutes later looking rather pail……I thanked him and he gladly accepted the $20 I gave him. He thanked me and went hoping I would have a large dinner that night so the following morning he could earn himself another $20.

Murphy – strike 1

Strike 2 was when Stephanie, Mr. Hair the video man and I were in a taxi heading to LAX airport. The driver spoke only Spanish and had recently sacrificed a goat in his cab because it smelt no better than Mr. Lee the plumber’s right hand did the night before.

It appears that the same driving rules apply in LA as they do in Miami……meaning there aren’t any apart from “everyone else is a bastard and I am king of the road.”

Pedro Gonzalez our driver was terrible and I was sure his erratic driving would cause an accident…….and I was right.

About a mile outside of the airport Pedro stooped at a junction then for some reason he lurched forward and at the last minute realized there was las auto in front of him. He broke hard and stopped inches away from hitting the car……Unfortunately the car behind didn’t hit the breaks in time and he smashed into the back of the cab.


Luckily everyone was OK and as we checked we still all had our faculties Pedro was out of the cab letting the young male driver have a lesson in Spanish swear words…….and all the time the meter kept clicking over. After a few minutes he headed back to the cab but not to head on to the airport but to get a paper and pen. I asked him to turn the meter off but he looked at me as though I had
just asked him to take of his clothes and tango with me………and that was him back in the street and that was the meter ticking ever upwards.

Eventually after ten minutes we headed to the concourse and paid our $75 cab fare from the Westin hotel to LAX……..I paid him exactly $75 of which $11 was from sitting there after the accident. He looked at me and suddenly he could speak English because he said “tip?”…….now I know I shouldn’t have done but because his cab smelt like Paris…..because he had left the meter running and
had charged us an extra $11…..and because I was tired…….I have to admit I might have been a little rude although Stephanie and Mr. Hair seemed to enjoy my outburst.

He said “tip?”

I said – “Don’t crap in the toilets at the Westin……there’s a top tip for you.”………and we buggered off to catch our flight.

And so I head home. It’s been a wonderful 2 months with the brilliant memories of the Bloggers Cruise, the joy of helping rebuild a New Orleans park and of course being a cruise director again. Yes, it’s been difficult being away from Heidi and at times I was desperately lonely and that was so tough to cope with. But through it all I had the blog thingy and I had you.

As always when I go home I worry that you will stop reading the blog thingy and I hope as always that you will still read my daily musings once in a while.

I will be writing everyday starting on Tuesday and you can look forward to lots of video, photos and interviews from around the fleet. I will be visiting the Carnival Dream, flying to Baltimore, attending a double Costa naming ceremony and of course ………I will become, God willing…….a Dad.

I will share all of this and so much more with all of you…..my friends and family on the blog.

See you in the UK

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.