You know, I never like to make this blog thingy a walking talking Carnival commercial ……………but sometimes you just have to.

Here’s a comment I received yesterday.

John, please reply.
I am incredibly disappointed yet again with the new Carnival ship. The Splendor certainly is not bad but John I can’t help but think this ship looks like it was destined for Costa….the layout, amenities and over look is simply very Costa looking. If so how incredibly disappointing that another level of swapping within Carnival has been achieved. A shame given all the resources Carnival has Mr. Arison nor Mr. Cahill can’t think outside the box. Instead we are subjected to the same thing over and over, painted a different color and re-arranged and the saccharin glows of all its employees pushing what I can imagine is a cash cow for the company. I will be booking two cruises third year for a total of 26 and I am proud to say I have never once cruised Carnival or a Carnival brand. Why bother? Been on one you’ve been on them all. Case in point John, the new Queen Elizabeth is actually designed and managed by Princess Cruises I found out. Something you don’t post here.

I suppose that in the days when your local shopkeeper knew your name and there were just a few makes of car for Uncle Joe to choose to buy “brand loyalty” made sense. Now we live in a world of huge hypermarkets and corporations, it is a rare thing………no matter how many loyalty cards you have in your wallet.

That said, I am the worst offender. Even though I know Virgin Atlantic is the best airline, given the choice I always choose British Airways. Even though I know the new style of Levi’s reveals my butt crack when I bend over, I would still never buy a pair of Armani jeans even if they did make them in my size. Brand loyalty is alive and well and no more so than in this cruise industry we all love so much.

It seems you may be brand loyal to maybe RCI, Celebrity or NCL ………….but please ……. be loyal based on the merits of these cruise lines not the possible faults of others ………. and while I applaud you for supporting this great industry by having taken 26 cruises, I do not feel the need to defend any of your comments when you say yourself…… “I am proud to say I have never once cruised Carnival or a Carnival brand. Why bother? Been on one you’ve been on them all.”

But you haven’t Kevin……….been on one…………So…….tell you what……..why not actually take a cruise with us?………tell me you didn’t have fun………..then Kevin…………I promise I will answer your concerns.

I guess I am a little confused as to you felt the need to write this comment. I dislike Desperate Housewives immensely. I know this because I have watched a few episodes and base my opinion on that. Even so, I have never felt the need to write to the producers and tell them.

By the way, just so you know, while Princess is based in Santa Clarita, California, and Cunard maintains its North American office there it is headquartered in the UK. They are independent companies managed by separate entities.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the next two cruises you have booked.Good morning everyone. Tell you what; while I am here I might as well continue by answering some of the outstanding questions marked for my reply…………here we go.

Bette Jost 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 nine were before they kept track) and I must say… Carnival’s the BEST! We will be celebrating our eighth anniversary on the Triumph on May 10 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 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….

Thanks!
Bette

John Says:
It always makes me so glad to read comments from people who say just how much they love cruising with us so thanks so much for the kind words. I suggest you meet in a lounge and I am happy to reserve this for you. I kindly ask that you send me a reminder on May 3 and also please put the group name (Cruise Mates, Cruise Critic, etc.) so that I can ask George the CD to put a message in the today at a glance section in the Carnival Capers. Hope this is OK and I know you will once again have a fantastic cruise vacation.
My best to you all

John n & Heidi

Cruisinggrandma Asked:
Thank goodness you made it home without Murphy trailing along. Heidi you look fabulous and thank you for allowing all of us to enjoy your joyful time. You have that wonderful glow and mom must have been helping out because you don’t look tired.
I know you have been really busy John, but I was curious as to whether you ever received the picture that I sent you regarding Butch on the Glory and my husband’s 70th birthday. I sent them to Stephanie on March 10 and I have not heard one way or the other. So I was not sure if I needed to send them again or are you just mad at me for some reason?

Again Heidi, John & Thingy
Lots of Love
CarolAnn

John Says:
Hello Grandma
Yes indeed I did make it home OK and it’s brilliant to be her with Heidi as we begin this new and exciting chapter in our lives. I did receive the photo and my apologies for not thanking you for sending it to me. You both looked wonderful and Butch never gets older. I hope it was a birthday Granddad will never ever forget. I send my best wishes to you both
John

T Jones Asked:
John
(please reply)
My hubby and I are going on the Fascination out of Jacksonville (our hometown) leaving on April 23 for our six-year wedding anniversary and I was wondering if you could give me some info on booking a massage at the spa as I want to surprise hubby and I would also like some info on what to do in Freeport as this seems to be the only place we have yet to go. Thank you in advance! Heidi you look amazing!

John Says:
Hello T Jones
Thanks firstly for the kind words for Heidi who does indeed look amazing. Booking a massage for your husband will be an amazing birthday treat for him. We do have an on line booking system for spa appointment for some of our ships but I’m not sure it’s on the Carnival Fascination just yet as far as I can tell. Now, you have two choices. Upon arriving on-board sneak to a phone and call the spa on 1199 or just pop up to deck 11 and visit them to make a reservation. If you are going to do this please do so as soon as possible because on a shorter cruise reservations may be limited. If you wish, I could reserve one for you …… if so please let me know when and at what time as well as a cabin number and I will be happy to do this for you. As for Freeport…………well……………I ma not sure of what you like to do and your age etc so I have listed below my three favorite tours.

Jeep Adventure
Hop into your jeep and drive off, on the left side of the road, following British tradition. See the popular Taino Beach, Sanctuary Bay where dolphins live, and picturesque replicas of the original New Plymouth homes. Stop on Casuarina Bridge to learn about Freeport’s unique history and founder, Mr. Wallace Groves. Continue with the off-road segment through Grand Bahama’s pine forest. Take a short hike to an inland Blue Hole. Get back in your jeep and follow the Heritage Trail along the seashore walked by settlers in the 1800’s. Take a dip in the crystal clear waters at a beach and enjoy a native snack

Dolphin Encounter
Take a 25-minute ride along the picturesque South Shore. Arrive at a natural 9-acre lagoon called the “Dolphin Experience”, home to a pod of Atlantic Bottle Nosed Dolphins. Participate in an orientation about dolphins with the facility’s well-trained staff. Step off the floating dock and onto a 3-ft deep platform where the dolphins will swim right up to you. Have the opportunity to touch, play with and take pictures with the dolphins…

Freeport Island
Travel through both residential and industrial neighborhoods on your way to the downtown commercial district. Shop in the quaint Port Lucaya marketplace, or stroll along the streets of Freeport at your leisure. Transportation is provided
We also have some brilliant snorkeling tours as well so there are lots to choose from. Please let me know how else I may be of service and have a wonderful cruise
Cheers

Jack Asked:
John, this is off topic and may be an odd question for you, but I really have no idea who else to ask. Carnival’s fleet has wonderful shower temperature controls. (Just one of the many things we like.) Set the temperature and the flow and it is just right and it stays right. They are marvelous. I like them so much I want to put them in my shower at home. They do not have manufacturer markings on them. Could you tell me who makes these dandy little things?

John Says:
Hello Jack
Ummmmm……..well, it’s a shower so I can tell you they are not made in France. You have me stumped mate so I will have to get back to you on this one. Please give me a few days and I promise to find out and let you know. I do agree with you though, they are wonderful showers. I will check with Arthur in our office in Miami and let you know. Back soon.
Cheers
John

Vicky Myers Asked:
Please reply
Just wondering how long the Splendor will be on the West Coast & where will it be afterwards?

John Says:
Hello Vicki
Thanks for writing in. The Carnival Splendor is scheduled to remain on the West Coast for the foreseeable future and operate year-round seven-day Mexican Riviera cruises. I hope you get a chance to sail on this splendid vessel…………..she has quickly become one of my favorites.
Cheers
John

Nick Asked:
Hi John, (Please reply)
First of all, thank you for this blog and your time and efforts into it (if only United Airlines had someone like you on the front lines). Anyways I just started reading not too long ago and I am very impressed how you take your time to not only post a blog, but to respond to individual requests….you just don’t find that level of service much anymore, and that’s why I am convinced the Carnival brand will remain the leader. I just started cruising last year this date on the Elation (btw Stu is a fantastic CD, keep him around) and now I have been on four, yes four, in less than a year, nuts I know…but it has opened a whole new world for me….I am also glad I have not experienced notasmuchfunoftheseas before Carnival, because now I have no desire to go anywhere else…I mean I feel at home with Carnival….another line would be out of place… besides Carnival has done a great job and sparked my interest to join club Platinum….LOL My PVP (another fantastic Carnival employee Linda Nejad) jokes that I will hit 10 in 2010…LOL……. SO my question…I just found out about your bloggers cruise later in the year and really want to attend….problem is, I am organizing a singles cruise on the Splendor, and my friends have picked the first of November to go…well if I did that date I may miss your cruise, and also I am not available in Dec for the second one…. I just don’t know if its worth it to make back to back cruising where the travel time to each ship will be tight (Sat disembark one in LA, Sun embark your bloggers one in NY) So I am having a hard time making up my mind on what to do, and wondering if you had any insight as to make my decision easier…What exactly can I expect on the bloggers cruise? Do you know of plans for a 2010 bloggers cruise yet? Thanks again for this blog and for your time!
-Nick

P.S. Can you tell the powers that be to bring back the Queen song in the past guest video…it just makes you think Carnival when you hear it…much better than what they have now.

John Says:
Hello Nick
Four cruises in a year………..you said “that’s nuts”……….it’s not……….it’s brilliant and we thank you for your brand loyalty. I am also glad you mentioned Stuart Dunn. He is defiantly a star in the making and has unmatched energy and I shall pass on your comments to him and Roger and Chris in the office. You asked about the Bloggers Cruise and what happens… Well, in its raw basic form it is an extension of what happens here I hope each and every day. Laughter, fun and people coming together celebrating life and their love of Carnival and each other. We have private shows, events, parties and I get to “hang out” with you all. Now, I see you have a conflict with your singles cruise and the bloggers cruise and maybe a back-to-back including a long flight from LA to New York may be a little difficult… I really can’t make that choice for you mate. I would love to see you on the bloggers cruise but you have to do what is best for you. If I don’t see you this year then maybe 2010…………I have not set the schedule for this just yet but as soon as I do I will let you know. Have a think about it and please let me know if I can help further. I truly hope you continue to enjoy the blog and thanks again for the kind words.
John

John Asked:
Hi John,
Please REPLY
Thanks for taking the time to provide us all with such great information. It seems Carnival has implemented a waitlist feature for dining times. Here’s my question. If you book your cruise and your dining time is listed as 8:15 PM (Confirmed) does that mean your time is definite?There seems to be some ambiguity on Carnival’s FAQ’s pertaining to this.
Thanks,
John

John Says:
Hello John
Your waitlist time was probably due to the glitch I mentioned in yesterdays blog thingy ……………again, our apologies. Yes, if you receive your booking with a 8:15 pm dining time it is indeed confirmed. Please also take the time to read yesterday’s blog which lists the dates or months when the new Your Choice dining option will be added across the fleet. It maybe that when you sail it will already be in place. If this is the case you can use this service…………if you have any questions just chat to the maitre d onboard. Please let me know as well if I can help further
John

That’s all for now. I will answer the next batch soon. By the way. You may not see your comment posted for a day or so because for the first time in many many many months Stephanie Leavitt is going on a vacation…………she will be off kayaking with the love of her life Coco………..oh bugger……..that’s her dog…………..sorry………..I meant to say the love of her life Kevin. She will be back on Monday but she has been told not to take her laptop or blackberry with her…………..not because we care about her but because she’s going kayaking and those things are not waterproof and cost Carnival loads of money.

Vance will post today’s and tomorrow’s blogs but the comments may have to wait until Monday. Please keep writing though and I will read them all I promise and of course pick out the ones that ask me to reply. Have a great three days off Stephanie…….nobody deserves a vacation more……….except me………………and Coco.

Here is a fun message from my friend and fellow Cruise Director Lenny Halliday

Well, after almost 12 months in the pipeline, I finally finished the Fun Ship Freddy Dance Club CD. It’s now on sale on each of the 22 Fun Ships in the fleet, at Camp Carnival, although it’s more than a kid’s dance CD.

It started when I wrote Fun Ship Freddy’s new introduction song just over a year ago, and is now being used as his theme song on the ships.

At the same time, hosts, who would be involved in the regular deck parties, as well as youth staff would tell me that guests would often ask if they could get a copy of the dance songs such as YMCA, Electric Slide, Cha Cha Slight, The Twist, The Chicken Song, Hey baby and the Limbo Rock. So this was the inspiration to put together a 16 track CD of classic disco dance tunes as well as a few extra ones for the kids, and a few originals.

After trying it out on my own family a couple of times, I know it’s guaranteed to get everyone up and dancing, young and old. If fact the kids’ songs like Head, Shoulders Knees and Toes, and Tooty Ta proved to be as popular with the parents as it was for the kids. Then again, all my family is from Liverpool, so maybe that answers some questions 😉

It was a lot of fun recording it, and I hope I can expand even further with this idea, once I start getting some feed back from the guests and staff.

It’s selling for less than $10, so it’s great value for almost an hour of fun.
Hey John, it was my 19th anniversary with CCL last week, but I’m still a year or two behind you. Remember meeting for the first time on the Holiday, when you took over from Tim Starr in 1991?
Wow, how things have moved along since then huh.
Best wishes to you and Heidi, and keep on blogging!!!
Lenny Halliday
Cruise Director
Carnival Legenduntitled

Thanks Lenny. I have a copy here and its loads of fun and a must have for all Fun Ship Freddy fans.

So, a few days ago I was sworn to secrecy. The last time this happened to me was at school when David Pattern threatened to beat me up if I reported him for stealing the saddle of our high school principal’s bike………….I always wondered why Mr. Simpson arrived at school with a look of anguish on his face.

Anyway, this time I was not allowed to tell you where I was going after I left the Carnival Splendor. I knew I was going to the Washington, DC area but apart from that I had no idea where and what I would be doing. I was joined by Stephanie Leavitt and the video producer, Mr. Hair. Stephanie knew of course where we were going but she had been told not to tell me in case I let slip here on the blog thingy where I was going.

I had been told that I would be visiting someone’s house ……..someone who had registered to take part in the Carnival Funday Sunday House Party… This person had been chosen by the party organizers and only a few people knew who they were.

And so it was after a hurried shopping expedition to buy me a new suitcase as Alaskan Airlines whom we had flown from California to Washington, DC on had decided that my suitcase needed some air conditioning so they ripped a gash down the side of the case. I guess it would not be there fault but the fault of the baggage handlers at LAX or DC …….. regardless, I was not a happy man.

Anyway, after hiring a car from Hertz which included a GPS system called Neverlost we set of to a place called Waldorf, MD………….I wrote MD because I never know if its spelt Marolyn, Maryland or Mariland……….anyway………..as we set off that’s where I was told by Stephanie (who should be in charge of the witness protection program) we were going to………..yep, Waldorf, MD.

As soon as Stephanie told me the name of the place we were going to I immediately started to think of the TV show The Little House on the Prairie…………why, I don’t know but I did. I loved that show the characters were all likeable. Little House children so polite that if they misbehaved not only would they take a whipping in the back yard but would insist on taking a whipping.

I remember Charles Ingalls proving himself a shining example to the youth culture of the day. Working six hours a day for a lumber company, then another six hours stacking grain, then another few ploughing his farm – all to keep his family together and a roof over their heads. Shucks, even when the guy falls out of a tree after trying to dislodge his daughter’s kite from a branch and breaks his ribs, he still drags himself to work and carries on piling the corn sacks in writhing agony. If today’s work-shy youth had this attitude we wouldn’t have any of this unemployment bollocks would we?

Even the villains like Nellie Oleson and her mother all had a good heart……….. why, even when little Albert burnt down the blind school, burning his best friend’s mother and sister’s baby alive, everyone had forgiven him by the end of the episode. Anyway, I digress …………..again.

The drive took about two hours. It might have taken us a shorter amount of time but we wasted 30 minutes trying to figure out how to work the oxymoron that is Hertz’s Never Lost……………Never Lost, my arse. Just before we called at the person’s house we had something to eat. We stopped at a place called Famous Dave’s Barbecue. Now, I don’t know if Dave is famous but I can tell you his Barbecued Baked Beans with Pulled Pork was enjoyed immensely by me and by 300 people on United Airlines flight 2405 to London a few hours later.

And so we arrived………..now…………….I am not going to tell you any more details outside of letting you read the official photo caption in a moment. The reason for that is because we made a video of what happened and I will be sharing that with you all on Monday. Anyway, here is the name of the wonderful guests we visited as randomly chosen by the organizers of the Carnival Funday Sunday House Party event

house-party

MIAMI (April 2, 2009) – Sharon and Quentin Foster from Waldorf, Md., are pictured here with Carnival Cruise Lines’ Senior Cruise Director John Heald who surprised Foster with a free seven-day “Fun Ship” cruise during the line’s nationwide House Party event held this weekend.

Foster was one of a thousand past Carnival guests who signed up to host Carnival-themed parties for family and friends.

Each host received a Fun Day Sunday kit with party favors and a wide variety of Carnival logo items and was also entered into a drawing for a free seven-day Carnival cruise.

Designed as a fun and creative way to raise awareness of the Carnival vacation experience, the House Party promotion attracted thousands of participants who enjoyed a variety of fun activities and giveaways.

So more about this lovely couple in a few days when we show you the video …………… you won’t want to miss that.

Was the House Party event a success………….Well…………..judge for yourself

Total Partygoers: 16,445
Photos Uploaded: 4,538

That is just incredible……………..16,445 people spent last Sunday experiencing some Carnival-style fun…………that is simply jaw droppingly astonishing.

Let’s give out a vote of thanks starting with the brilliant marketing team led by our Chief marketing Officer Jim Berra and his staff, especially Jennifer Vandekreeke and Emily Mendieta who were responsible for organizing this mammoth project and are a shining example as to why Carnival’s marketing team is the best in the industry.

Then of course to all the people who accepted the invitations to serve as party hosts. I am sure many of you may have never experienced the Fun for All and All for Fun experience of a Carnival cruise. I hope therefore you saw just why we continue to proudly say that we are The World’s Most Popular Cruise Line and maybe, just maybe one day you will experience the whole package on-board one of our fleet of ships………most importantly though I hope you had fun and the party enhanced your friendships with the people in your neighborhood.

And finally to the people who gave up time and energy to host these parties. We were talking just now about brand loyalty and nobody………….nobody……….is more loyal to the Carnival brand than you. ………….on behalf of our President and CEO Gerry Cahill I want to say a huge, massive, gigantic and very sincere…………. thank you.

As you can see there are 4,538 photos that you all have slapped on, here are just five as a small appetizer and for the main course please go to:

www.houseparty.com/carnival

I heard the Thingies heartbeat today again as we went to the hospital for Heidi’s checkup. It was …………..well………I can’t describe it………..just incredible. Heidi and the Thingy got a glowing report so all is well.

Although, later Heidi and I had a heated discussion that involved kids’ television.

We were flicking through the satellite channels and came across one called The Baby Channel. This features the usual segments on “how to breast feed” and “why men are bastards” but during the day there is a whole cavalcade of TV programming designed for the very young. These include Stinky Pinky and the rest of the his Teletubby mates, four Australian men singing and dancing around like little girls……..can’t remember the name of this one and then there is Bob the Builder although here in the UK its now called Bobski de Builderski as most builders are Polish.

Heidi oohed and ahhhed and said how much she was looking forward to showing the Thingy these programs………..and that’s when we started having our “discussion” as there is no way my Thingy is being brought up on this load of bollocks………and we haven’t even mentioned the worst of the lot yet.

I despise Barney the bloody dinosaur. His sickly, purple and green skin tones, his creepy little arms and dazzling white Californian dentistry and his sidekicks Baby Bop and BJ who look like the products of a nightmarish relationship between Michael Jackson and Judge Judy…

I hate the loved-up, fun-policed message. I hate the way Barney’s creators borrowed all the technical know-how of Sesame Street and The Muppet Show and removed all the wit, bludgeoning children with the vomit-inducing world’s worst song “I love you, You love me, We’re a happy family, With a great big hug, And a kiss from me to you, Won’t you say you love me too?” which is the musical equivalent of putting your fingers down your throat.

The CIA allegedly used this as a white noise weapon at Guantánamo Bay. I hate Barney’s oh-silly-me manner which is meant to be ever so adorable but is actually just put there to provide an easy foil for the ghastly, highly-dosed up on sugar, preposterously-overacting stage-school brats whose stage mums have made them hang around big dumb Barney making cute, smart-arsed comments

Dinosaurs are supposed to be fierce rip-your-head-off creatures that make kids scream in terror. It would be great, just once, to see Barney lose his marbles and when little Carla aged four from San Diego looks up at Barney and says “sing the song, sing the song” and Barney eats her.

I love dinosaurs…….the fierce and deadly Tyrannosaurus Rex. Death with wings, the Pterodactyl and the Judge Judy of the dinosaur world, the Brontosaurus………….oh and by the way ……did you know they recently discovered a dinosaur riddled with hemorrhoids …………..it’s called a Megasorearse.

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.