Sweet 16

April 8, 2009 -

John Heald

Last night I went to dinner with Heidi and some friends………..we seem to have been out every night since I have been home and when I mentioned this to Heidi she told me “we have to have a social life now because after the Thingy’s born our lives are over.” …… Well, she didn’t quite say that but you get my drift. Anyway, we went to meet some friends and before I talk about the meal I want to talk about the scenery.

Opposite the restaurant was a nightclub and outside that was a lengthy queue …………… sorry…………….line……..of people who, despite the chill in the air, appeared to be as-near-as-makes-no-difference naked.
It seemed odd lining up to get into a nightclub at 11pm when, obviously, it was full. And it was going to stay full, surely. Nobody leaves a nightclub at 11 pm.

I was wrong. Every few minutes two more lads would come flying out of the door in a flurry of fists and torn shirts. After they’d been calmed down by some kicks from the bouncers (do you call them bouncers in North America?), two more people were allowed in.
I watched this for a while and began to speculate on what might be causing so many fights in there. Drink? Girls? Drugs? Gangsterism? I think not. I think the root cause of the problem was unintelligence.

I’m told that if all creatures were the same size, the lobster would have the smallest brain. All it knows to do is eat and snap at something if another lobster looks at it funny or a female lobster gives him crabs.

Well, this is what you find in UK nightclubs and I guess it’s the same where you live. Someone looks at your girlfriend, you hit them. Someone looks at you, you hit them. With really stupid creatures, any stimulation whatsoever provokes a lobster response.

My nice and nephew are six and eight years old and. So they hit each other pretty much constantly. When the boy refuses to give his big sister a Pringle, she doesn’t yet have the vocabulary to formulate a reasoned argument. So she whacks him.

I’ve never hit anyone. I may not have the mind of Henry Kissinger or the accounting and presidential skills of Gerry Cahill, but even I know that if I punch someone, they will punch me right back. And that, because this will hurt, it’s best in a tricky situation to run like hell……………….OK………………..drive like hell.

Only once was this not an option. A girlfriend had been pinned against the wall by a wiry, tattooed man whose speech was slurred by a combination of drink and being from Scotland. He wanted very much for her to kiss him.

So what was I to do? The sensible answer was “nothing” but I feared a terrible row when we got home so having weighed things up for a while, I tapped the drunken Scotsman on the shoulder and said, as quietly as possible: “Excuse me.”

He whirled round, his eyes full of fire and his hands balled into steel-hard fists. But the blow never came. We just stared at each other and then…………..he ran off. It was the proudest moment of my life.

In fact, I have only ever been hit once. It was a big, rounded, fully formed punch to the side of my head and it was landed by someone who was French, right in front of two policemen. Who then arrested me for being beaten up. Alan and I had been talking …………… just talking….to a group of girls when we were in Calais which is the nearest seaport in France to the UK.

We were just trying out our French on them and just as Alan had said “tu derriere ces formidable a scherde du fromage” which means “you have a beautiful bottom but it smells of cheese,” a Frenchman standing close by hit me. The next thing I know Alan and I were taken away and had our passports taken and spent the next few hours in a police cell……..I am sure I have told you this story before haven’t I? Anyway, I hate fighting and I know this may come as a big shock to you all…………….I don’t like the French very much either.

So, there we were watching the UK’s youth having fun and kicking the crap out of each other and suddenly it hit me……….pardon the pun. Compared with nightclubs on land the ones on our ships have virtually no problems at all. Yes, we may have a few people who get a bit over excited through drink but very, very rarely do we ever have a proper punching, head butting and eye-gorging fight. This proves once again that Carnival’s ships are a great place to have fun and that once onboard the young adults of today seem to love one another ……..sometimes though they do that loving in dark corners of the open decks and that’s just not right…………..lucky bastards.

It’s funny you know. From time to time, there are guests (and not just young couples, mind you) who think having rumpy pumpy on one of our balconies is a great idea and they always think that nobody can see them. Well, maybe not from the balconies next to them, above or below them but they always forget about one thing………..the bridge. Ask any officer and he will tell you that some of the things they get to see from the bridge sometimes are unbelievable……..and it’s why the night shift is always the most popular.

OK, on we go with more of your questions answered.


Dave from Florida (formely Colorado)
 Asked:

John please reply URGENT!!!
Hey John,
Great blog today!! I did attend a local party here in FL and loved it!! Was a great idea from Carnival!!
I do have an unfortunate situation that I just feel the need to share and ask you a question about.
My family has booked a cruise for me on my birthday leaving April 30th (which is also my birthday) on the Carnival Sensation! Well, my new boss decided this past Monday that he will be hosting a meeting in Orlando on the 30th until 5pm!!! AAAHHH!!! I asked he I would be allowed to leave at 1pm because of my pre-approved vacation…no, and he basically told me to cancel my cruise because I must be in attendance!! Double AAAHHHH!!! Now, short of telling my boss to bugger off (and lose my job) I found 2 alternatives….one, I spend the night of my birthday alone in orlando, fly out the next morning to Nassau and meet the ship. Is that hard to do? My AMAZING PVP Juan R. said this would be possible! My other question is…Juan gave us a number to a supervisor and told us if we presented our cruise history (7 in 4 years ALL with Carnival…we love you!!) and showed them the fact we have 3 more booked….would they let us move to the May 28th Inspiration sailing and pay the difference?? Do you think this is possible?? We are on the Early Saver rate with this booking and the rules can be a little confusing!! I know it’s a long shot, but was hoping you would have some insight!!
Either way, looks like I won’t be spending my dream birthday on a Carnival cruise (this year) I MUST TRY AGAIN!!! Thanks for listening to me rant and either way….I am DETERMINED to be on a dang ship within 60 days!! To quote many, even if I have to fly out and meet the ship late “any bad day on a Carnival cruise beats the BEST day on land!”
Thanks,
Dave from Florida

John Says:

Hello Dave
OK, first things first. Don’t tell your boss to bugger off. You could have done this last year but under the current economic climate this may not be a good idea. Now, as far as flying to Nassau………well yes, this is definitely something that can be done. Just make sure your flight lands within two comfortable hours before the ships sails just in case the fight is delayed. As far as switching over to the Carnival Inspiration let me see what I can do. I will certainly ask the right people and have someone call you. So, stand by and lets see what can be done for you and either myself or someone else will be in contact with you very soon. But first I need your surname and booking number.
Thanks for all the kind words and hopefully we can sort something out and hopefully your boss will get hemmerhoids
Happy Birthday
Cheers
John


Kathy Phillips
radbandmom Asked:

John, please reply
My husband and myself have booked a suite on the Valor for the May 24th sailing. How large are the suites and what are the bathrooms like? This cruise is a delayed celebration of our 35th anniversary which was in December. Our granddaughter who is now 2 was born on our anniversary so cruising on the actual date was not possible. While this is my 6th Carnival cruise and my DH’s 5th cruise, it is our first suite. We are very excited but at the same time disappointed that our schedule did not permit us to take one of the cruises where you were the CD. By the way, who is the CD on the Valor? We follow your blog daily and can’t wait until the Thingy is born. Our best to Heidi and we hope things are going well.

John Says:

Hello Kathy
What a wonderful way to enjoy your 35th wedding anniversary……in a suite on the Carnival Valor. The rooms are beautiful and I could talk about the huge bed, the private balcony and walk-in closet. I could mention the flat screen TV and the lovely sitting area but instead of me waffling on why not take an interactive tour. Here’s the link where a young lady (whose name I don’t know, guess she is a paid actor) will show you to your suite.
http://www.funshipisland.com/#staterooms
So, click on that link and enjoy the tour.
The CD will be Big Tex from ……….Michigan……kidding…………..from Texas and he will make sure you have a fabulous time.
I wish I could be there with you and I hope you have a brilliant anniversary cruise
My best to you all
John

Irene Garner
irenegarner Asked:

Dear John….PLEASE REPLY
I keep coming up with questions, so I hope you don’t mind answering them. I was on the Carnival Destiny March 23rd to 28th and one of our shore excursions, snorkelling from Half Moon Cay, was cancelled. In fact many of the shore excursions that day were cancelled that day due to mechanical problems. Instead we spent our day on the gorgeous beach and the staff provided a wonderful barbeque for everyone. My question is whether the barbeque is a normal thing that happens when the ships arrive at Half Moon Cay, or any other private island or was it only because so many people didn’t get their shore excursions that day? We didn’t miss out on the snorkelling as we did it the next day at Grand Turks, but I loved the whole day spent on the beach and if it’s the normal thing that happens then I’ll be booking my next cruise to the Caribbean as soon as possible. BTW which other cruises go to other private islands, so I know what to choose?
Thanks…Irene (Hooked on cruising)

John Says:

Hello Irene
No need to apologize, I am here to answer your questions. I was sorry to read that your snorkeling trip was cancelled because of mechanical problems with the boat but I see you got to see the fish during your visit to Grand Turk which is a stunning port of call. The barbecue you refer to is indeed an event that happens every time a Carnival ship calls at Half Moon Cay. The food is brought across from the ship and it’s a wonderful way to enjoy great food in paradise like surroundings. Holland America ships also call at Half Moon Cay but as far as Carnival ships are concerned this is the only private island we call at. The Carnival Liberty and other ships call there and for the full itineraries have a quick look at www.carnival.com. Oh by the way, Princess Cruises has a beautiful private island called Princess Cay which they use ………and RCI have a private island called Alcatraz.
I remain at your service should you have further questions. Thanks for all the words of support
Best wishes
John

Eric R Thayer
jasperthayer Asked:

John Please reply,
John, we are finally taking that extended family cruise Jan of 2010 on the Splendor out of Long Beach. I have a few questions. I read somewhere that the Splendor has a “chicken rotisserie” rather than a Fish & Chips selection. Is that true? I’ll be bummed if there are no Fish & Chips.
Anyway, my second question is that we have no sailed out of Long Beach for about 3 years. I remember we had to stand in long mega lines outside of the terminal “dome” before boarding. I’m a Platinum member now, but I remember even they were standing in there own line outside with the rest of us. My question is, has that changed? Is there now seating inside the dome similar to the Miami terminal?
Thanks,
Eric

John Says:

Hello Eric
You will love the Carnival Splendor and she fits so perfectly into everything that is California and her new homeport. Yes you are correct. The ship does not have a fish and chips but does have a brilliant rotisserie which not serves the best chicken but you must also try the wonderful mac and cheese. Did you know we also have a make your own Burrito Bar now? Well, when I say make your own….we do the “making” but you get choose what goes inside. I tried one during my recent trip and it was fantastic. There is also the Tandoor, The Mongolian Wok, The Grill, The Pizzeria, The Deli and the Grand Buffet featuring our daily Taste of The Nations.
The new terminal at Long Beach has been improved with an $8 million renovation and reports from the ship are that the guests board much quicker than in the past. As a Platinum guest you will of course be given priority embarkation and debarkation as well. I will admit that the Californian Customs Border Control is a little stricter than in some other ports so a dollop of patience is required during the debarkation process.
I am sure you may have other questions before you sail and I will be here to answer them for you
Cheers
John

retirementman
retirementman2004 Asked:

PLEASE REPLY JOHN
Good morning John. First of all, what is wrong with these people that hate Carnival? If they have a problem go see a doctor. I thought your Milli Vanilli statement was excellent. I know that I enjoy the rooms on the balcony as compared to the other cruise lines. Many of my friend who have gone on a cruise on the other lines tell me that their rooms were very small and want to know why I had larger cabins. My answer is always the same, I went on Carnival that’s why.
Could please answer this question for me John. Since Carnival will now have anytime dinner will that mean that since I’ve chosen the late dinner will that mean my waiter no longer have the time as they had before since they will be running around for everybody at any time? I really enjoyed the chance of knowing my waiter and he/she about me. That was the fun of enjoying dinner as well as the fantastic food… Another question I have is since the Dream is a larger ship, when we arrive at an island we have to tender won’t that mean longer times and more confusion?
Last but not least my friend, don’t worry about anything about thingy’s birth. Just enjoy the process. You’ll be probably excited and worried for the baby as well as Heidi but all will take place in a place of awe but on ce it’s finished you be happy that you were there and suddenly realize that now you have your new child and a beautiful wife that gave you that child. Happiness will be yours. All the other things will be tough at the beginning but even that is happy. I say to you John, ride the wave of birth. You may fall off at times but just get up and ride it again. Just remember, that beautiful baby will eventually smile and call you daddy.
Paul F. Pietrangelo

John Says:

Hello Paul.
As always it’s great to hear from you. Please don’t worry about the anytime dining effecting your assigned dining and the waiters attention at the table. This will not happen. Tomorrow I will be featuring a Q and A with Shanaz, one of our hotel directors, who has experienced the set up of this first-hand and she will answer all your concerns mate
You mentioned tendering and the Carnival Dream and tendering. Well apart from the two European calls to Cannes, South of France the only regular tender port will be Belize. Certainly on any ship tendering requires a lot of organization a little bit of understanding from the guests but I know that it will be a very organized operation and the extra few hundred guests should not cause any concerns. Thanks so much for the kind words of support, where would I be without you and all my friends on the blog thingy.
My best to you and all the family
John

Tricee
starr_sun Asked:

John please reply…..
I need some help organizing a meet in greet on our cruise on the Dream. However, I don’t know if someone else has already contacted you about it. There are about 100 of us that have met on the cruise critic message boards. We are booked on the October 3rd sailing of the Carnival Dream. We are a very lively bunch and are looking forward to meeting each other on board the new ship.

John Says:

Hello Tricee
No worries at all. Just write to me a week or so before you sail and I will organize a meeting time and place and put it in the Carnival Capers for you.
Cheers
John

missingthesmokefreeparadise
musingsofjustjon Asked:

JOHN – REPLY OPTIONAL
I understand where you are these days, my friend. Your comments bring back memories of Mrs. MTSFP’s pregnancy and my mixed emotions about my participation.
Having been in health care my entire adult life, and assisted at a few births as part of that experience, I had very little desire to be an active participant in the experience. I am forever thankful that the Mrs’ OB/GYN (thank you, Dr. Spitz) made an effort to get me involved to the point that he was going to allow me to deliver the thingy of all was going well (circumstances, none of which had to do with our baby, prevented that experience).
However, when it came time to cut the umbilical cord, Dr. Spitz looked at me (not the nurse) and instructed me to cut the cord. Despite the chaos that was going on around us (too many patients, only one doctor), he still remembered his offer and did his best to meet this promise. I am forever thankful that he did.
My advice – be as involved as you can possibly be. In hindsight, I realize that I came very close to taking myself out of the most joyful experience of my life – the birth of my pride and joy, who is, by the way, named after me (she has my middle name).
As for the rumpy-pumpy issue, I can’t give you any advice. It is a function of life, gringo, so learn to live with it. Just continue to love the original joy of your life as she nurtures the new joy of your life.
JustJon

John Says:

Hello Jon
I read your comments two or three times and tried to put myself in your position and every time I did I had to run to the bathroom. I am indeed very nervous but thanks to stories of encouragement like yours I will survive. I hope I can be a wonderful father like you and I any other words of advice would be most appreciated
Thanks as always mate.
John

Stephen Smith
stephen Asked:

Please Reply
John,
I have read the gentleman’s post that infers that because Carnival Corporation uses similar ship design across the different cruise line that it owns the experience onboard is the same. Let me begin by saying I disagree with his assessment, but do believe their is an opportunity to address the concern and educate the cruise going public.
First Carnival Corporation does use similar ship design between its umbrellas of companies. The question is what exactly does that mean? Specifically it means the shell (hull), mechanics, and general floor plan of the ships are the same? The next question that needs to be asked is my experience on Holland America going to be the same as Cunard or is my experience on Carnival going to be the same as Costa. The answer is absolutely not. Each cruise line has its own decor, theme and for that matter its own personality. I wrote several weeks ago that Carnival Cruise Lines delivers on exactly how it markets itself. By the way so do Holland America, Cunard and Costa. Yet none of them are the same. Allow me to share an example outside the cruise industry.
John you have often written about your exploits of flying between England and the states. Most international airlines fly either the Boeing 747 or 777 on these routes. The airplanes are the same. Yet each airline offers different amenities, has different seat configurations (especially in first and business class) and vary greatly in the quality and selection of food.
In fairness to the gentleman who wrote the letter, if he simply dislikes a particular class of ship then maybe he has a point. I too have preferences when it comes to the size of ship etc. However as I read his post, his conclusion was same ship design plus same parent company equals same cruise experience. Sorry the math just doesn’t add up. Again each cruise line, for that matter each ship, has its own personality. Much of this has to do with the crew. I have been on ships where the crew is having fun and working as a cohesive unit. I have also been on trips where the crew was obviously just going through the motions. I can tell you a crew with a poor attitude will effect how much you enjoy your cruise far more than a floor plan.
Carnival Corporation delivers a large menu of cruise options through the various lines that it owns. Each provides its own unique experience, character and value to its guest. If the gentleman truly believes that a similar floor plan equates to an exact duplicate cruise experience than it is he who has the problem as it simply isn’t an accurate statement.
John I welcome your thoughts and best to you and your expanding family.
Stephen Smith

John Says:

Hello Stephen
I am sure that I speak for everyone when I say a hearty thank you for this brilliantly written synopsis of what Carnival Corporation is all about. Kevin (the gentlemen who made this observation) is someone who has the right to express his opinion. In a follow up he wrote that he only eats food he likes and only watches the TV shows he likes and this also applies to which cruise line he sails on. However, I am sure that he only knows what he likes and does not like because he has tried these items……..this is not the case with Carnival Corporation ships on which he has never sailed. Your explanation of what we do was spot on especially the words “each ship, has its own personality.” I agree 100% with this as I do that the crew can make or break the cruise which is what Carnival makes them as important an icon as any hardware.
So, thank you sir for taking the time to write and I truly hope it will not be the last time we hear from you.
Best Wishes
John

John R
john Asked:

Dear John Please respond
Your blog is always so entertaining and thanks for sharing your unique experiences.
Nothing to do with the Thingy (not until the Thingy visits her first piano bar) but I know that the piano bar on some ships is a non-smoking venue, while on other ships it is a smoking venue.
Do you know which ships have piano bars that are non-smoking?
Thanks,
John R

John Says:

Hello John R
The piano bars continue to be all smoking except the Carnival Splendor. This continues to be an experiment to see what comments we receive from guests and of course to see how it effects the overall atmosphere and the bar revenue as well. Which would you prefer?
My best to you and the family
John


Lisa
lrindler Asked:

Hi John,
Haven’t posted a comment since you were able to get a letter from my son to the Valor regarding the servers he loved. Just wanted to draw you attention to a very active thread on Cruise Critic
http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=962958
I am a huge Carnival Fan and am anxiously awaiting my next cruise this fall. However, I do feel for this person and feel Carnival really dropped the ball on this.
Thanks!!
Lisa

John Says:

Hello Lisa
I read through this thread and it seems that the family did have some concerns with their flights. Obviously, booking air passage anywhere these days is something that is far from stress free and when a plane is delayed there is very little than Carnival or any cruise line can do. So, they made it onboard but had to wait for their suitcases to arrive in the next port and I know from personal experience just how frustrating this can be. I also notice that the guest says she was embarrassed to stand in line and meet the Captain dressed in casual clothing rather than the elegant wear that she had hoped. Well, I can tell you that there was absolutely no reason to be embarrassed as this happens every week, on every ship in the cruise industry and the Captain’s are used to it and certainly are not put out if a guest is not dressed elegantly.
I know the guest wanted us to pay for tuxedos and formal wear but again………..but as I said, this happens so often it would be impossible to manage. While I have total sympathy for the guests and understand their frustration in their flight being delayed and the luggage also I just want to say this. If this situation happened on land and you went to the front desk of your hotel to say your luggage was missing and you wanted $100 to buy something from the gift shop…………well you could imagine what would happen. Yes, Carnival booked the flight through our air/sea program and again I am so sorry that the flight was delayed and I sincerely apologize to the guests. I hope everyone who reads this blog knows that if we at Carnival make a mistake (and we do) that I admit it here, loud and proud, but in this case I personally don’t believe that any monetary compensation is warranted. I will say this though, if the guests decide to come back again that I will do everything I can to make their next Carnival cruise vacation as brilliant as I can.
Lisa, maybe you can pass this on.
I hope you and all the family are well
Best wishes
John

John & Susan from Frisco, Tx
 Asked:

Hey John, Heidi, and Thingy….
Both Susan and I are so upset to hear about Chris. We met him on the bloggers cruise he was great company! Our prayers are with him in this trying time!
Take care of yourself and Heidi and of course Thingy. (I’ll be glad when a name comes along)!
I must comment on the marketing campaign that you guys have going now! The billboards are wonderful and Susan just got an ad in the mail that says, “Susan is boring’s worst enemy”! How great is that!
II need to tell you how disappointed I am with Carnival’s customer service department. I sent them an email asking to be reimbursed for the $30 or so dollars for a cab. They were supposed to pick us up and take us to the bloggers hotel. They even called and confirmed our flight information a couple of days before we left. I received a very official looking letter back from Amanda Lopez (Special Advisor, Office of the President) asking for a receipt from the cab. When I left my home I was officially on vacation not a business trip. After waiting at the airport and trying to find someone from Carnival for about an hour…..I must have forgotten to ask the cab driver for a receipt. Carnival makes the mistake and I have to continue coming up with documentation. A person with less Brand loyalty would not be back. $30….in the grand scheme of things is nothing…..but to lose a loyal customer over something so trivial…..not good!
John….as a stock holder and great friend of Carnival I would hope that others do not get treated that way! Both Susan and I are loyal to a fault and will write it off to someone being not smart. We love you guys and will continue our loyalty.
By the way we started a diet right after the cruise and Susan has lost 20lbs and I have lost 35lbs.
Looking forward to our family cruise in October on the Conquest!
John & Susan from Frisco, Tx

John Says:

Hello John and Susan
Thank you for your thoughts for Chris. I hope to be able to give you and everyone else some good news on his condition very soon. I was sorry to hear about your dissatisfaction with our guest relations department and will forward this to them to see what we can do to see if we can reimburse you. I know it’s not the money but as a loyal Carnival supporter and stock holder it is as you said………….the principle.
I agree with you, the billboards are fantastic and if anyone has one near them please take a photo and send it to me here on the blog thingy.
Thanks to you both and congratulations on the weight loss.
I will be in touch soon
Cheers
John


Elaine
elainem304 Asked:

Please reply if you feel a need to…
We had a great time on the Valor March 29th with a couple of “little trivial things” that I just wanted to mention…
Our Cruise Critic Meet n Greet was not listed in the Capers as you said it would be but I did go to the Pursers Desk, asked them to please tell Charlie and invite him. Thank goodness we had planned this prior to leaving so we all knew when/where to meet and did not wait to find it in the Capers. Charlie did indeed show up, spent about an hour with us answering all our questions and was very nice. I asked him a question to which he had to get back to me with either a Yes or No and I’m still waiting for the answer… (We wanted to know if we could perhaps get a tour of the bridge).
If you did send something to the room as I believe you mentioned in an earlier reply and it came out of your pocket, please get the money back… Nothing showed up, not in our room or in my parents room (Naomi & Marty). Although one of the other members from our Roll Call did have a bouquet of roses in his room and thinks (not sure) it was from you. If you didn’t send anything, that’s ok too I just don’t want you to have to pay out of pocket and not receive anything for it.
Rocky Horror Picture Show never did make it to the big screen but again, I don’t know if it made it onto the ship or not.
Every single staff member we came across was very friendly, always with a smile and a hello but not one of them “welcomed us back.” I really believe it has everything to do with the new card. Now that we have it, we hate it even more.
From her picture on your blog, I was able to spot/find Countess Carolyn and Don and went up and said hello and had great conversations with them during the week. Hi Carolyn and Don and it was a pleasure meeting you guys.
As stated here and elsewhere, yes, the food staff was only giving out 2 slices of bacon and I personally never saw/heard anyone complain about it. Once or twice we asked for more and we were given more without hesitation. Great job there to the staff and the Food Manager.
We had a full ship of 3551 passengers with 56 of us being Platinum. The past guest party was out-of-control with 1600 past guests on board!!! A Platinum Only Party would have been really nice.
And as usual, I do have a couple of questions for you…
We will again be cruising on the Liberty June 13th as a surprise for my Dads 80th birthday, which will happen Thursday June 18th. Do you think by that time the new/new obvious all Platinum colored cards will be ready? Do you think they will still be giving out the thermos? Do you think Carnival will ever have a Platinum and higher welcome back party?
I also want to give a HUGE SHOUTOUT to one particular Staff Member. Please please please convey to whoever it is that you need to that Branka from Serbia is one of the nicest, friendliest and by far, most helpful staff members we have ever dealt with at the Carnival Pursers/Concierge Desk. First day she helped us “rearrange” some family members from one cabin to another. Then the 3 days when we needed to get off the ship she was the one who personally escorted us either to the gangway or to the tenders. She was absolutely wonderful and if I could have, I would have taken her home with me!!!
So, all in all, overall, we had another wonderful Carnival Fun Ship Cruise. Valor is now one of our favorites.
And in closing, I am so very glad that you are back home with Heidi and “enjoying” your last couple of weeks together as a couple before you become a family… I mentioned to Doug (my husband) that I caught one of your posts about going to the class with Heidi and he just started laughing just thinking about what you could have and did write about that experience!!!
Now I’m going to catch up on all your posts/questions/answers/replies that I truly did miss while cruising…
Oh, and I predict a happy, healthy, easy labor and delivery on May 15th!!!

John Says:

Hello Elaine
One of the hardest things when people ask you for assistance is that you have to rely on others onboard to follow through. I am therefore quite concerned that Charlie did not put your meet and greet in the Capers as promised and he should have also said “no” to your bridge tour because unfortunately these days this is something we can no longer do. I sincerely apologize for this and for the fact that you did not receive the gifts that I had asked to be delivered to your cabin. I will be talking to Charlie about this today.
I was so glad that you found the crew friendly and was very interested to learn about your bacon experiences. I also agree with you that a Platinum Party is something that we should start to do on every ship ASAP. I know our brilliant Chief Marketing Officer Jim Berra is looking at this and I will give him a polite nudge in this direction. I hope this and the new Platinum cards will be ready very soon and in time for your Dads 80th celebrations which I might add I will make very special considering I let you down on the Carnival Valor. I have passed this onto Branka at the information desk who is as you said a very special person and I will also make sure a copy is sent to the Chief Purser ……….. sorry…………..Guest Services Manager as well
I hope you enjoy catching up with all the blogs and thanks so much to you both for your kind words and loving support. Again………..I am sorry that I was not the CD as planned and sorry also that you did not receive the gifts.
Best to you both
John

Bill (Zydecocruiser) Asked:

John, Please reply.
Hi John,
I realize that perhaps you didn’t catch every photo that I posted on my recent Carnival Splendor South America cruise:
http://www.zydecocruiser.com/splendor_09/index.htm
You might not have even noticed that you made the trip with me.
So here are some pictures that may help jog your memory:
http://www.zydecocruiser.com/splendor_09/johnh.htm
Enjoy!
Bill

John Says:

Hello Bill
I have no words except to say…………..you are just brilliant.
HERE’S MY FAVORITE

april8-bobblehead

Please never change
Cheers mate
John

Judy
discobey Asked:

Hey John please reply my son and daughter just came back from a fun trip on the inspiration and just wondered if you knew how many kids were on this cruise they came back yesterday April 6, as always keep doing what you do and enjoy your time off. hugs Judy

John Says:

Hello Judy
I am so glad your son and daughter had so much fun. Let me find out how many kids were on the ship and I will get back to you soon
Cheers
John

That’s all for today. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you by marking your comment John, please reply.

Actually that’s not all. I wanted to share this one with you that even though she did not ask for my reply I wanted to comment on.

Elizabeth Knight

I have been travelling recently on Royal Caribbean. I was promised that after my 10th cruise, I would become a “Diamond Club” member which would entitle me to a free happy hour every day on board from 5:30 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. (more than I could drink but could try). Now I am a Diamond Club member, they have raised the bar to the 27th cruise with them for these benefits. Boy, am I p*****d. However, I am happy to come back to Carnival (I have over 40 cruises with you) to better food, much much better entertainment, and excellent cruise directors such as yourself.
Elizabeth

I could do some hippopotamus size wallowing over the shortfalls of RCI but I won’t. I shall just say that we value our past guests very much and it will be an honor to welcome you home. People like you and the thousands of people who read this blog everyday are the true champions………………Carnival Champions.

Welcome Home Elizabeth
John

Now, I am answering around 50 questions a week and I do my best to follow up on as many as I can. Someone ………..and I forget the name…………asked me to find out the name of the people who make the showers onboard. The answer to that is a company called Aster Cucine who work with our friends Fincantieri in the installation and design of the showers. I hope that is helpful.

During the last few months I have been contacted via the blog to help guests in many different ways. This ranges from a surprise or two to help a family celebration, assisting in dining reservations as well as the more complex questions regarding booking concerns etc. I have been able to assist most of the time and this is because I have so much brilliant help from the people ashore in Miami and from my friends onboard the ships.

One such case involves a lovely Mum who has a daughter who suffers from a terrible condition called Lyme disease. Well, she contacted me via the blog and said she was having concerns with her daughter’s diet requirements for her upcoming Carnival Pride cruise. Well, I have managed to sort these out and then I had to turn to my friends onboard for help with her other request. You see, the daughter (who for privacy reasons I won’t name) cannot really be out on Lido deck and therefore Mum had booked a balcony cabin so she can enjoy the sun and the sea. However, she is unable to lie on the sun beds we have because with her particular condition this would be very uncomfortable.

So, Mum requested a padded sun lounger be put on the balcony…………easy yes? …………. ummmm…………..nope. These days we are very restricted as to what we can put on ships’ balconies. You may remember a few years a go a serious fire on a Princess ship that started on one of the balconies. Well, since then various guidelines have been set out by SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) and United

States Coast Guard and these include very strict rules as to what we can keep on the balconies.
And so I contacted the ship and after help from our head of ship safety Captain Domenico Rognoni this is the information I received from the Captain of the Carnival Pride

From: PRIDE CAPTAIN 
Sent: Tuesday, April 07, 2009 5:57 PM
To: Rognoni, Domenico (CCL)
Cc: PRIDE HOTEL DIRECTOR; Bradberry, John MD (CCL); Corrigan, Brendan (CCL); PRIDE STAFF CAPTAIN
Subject: RE: Questions from the blog marked Private

Thank you Domenico, we will manufacture the needed on board with the fire rated material we do have (padding) and install it on the New Metal Frame lounge chair, so to reduce to a minimum the fire load, while satisfying the Guest need. regards,
Capt. Vito Giacalone
Master De.Az Carnival Pride
From: PRIDE HOTEL DIRECTOR 
To: Heald, John (CCL) 
Cc: Marfatia, Cyrus (CCL); Leavitt, Stephanie (CCL); Smith, Ian (CCL) 
Sent: Tue Apr 07 18:01:32 2009
Subject: FW: Questions from the blog marked Private
Hello John so we will make a special fire resistant padding for the lounge chair in the balcony.
Brian D’Souza 
Hotel Director 
Carnival Pride

Well there you go. That’s Carnival teamwork and that’s the caring this company has for the guests. I want to say a huge thank you to all concerned for making this happen and I salute the work of the Captain and ship’s company especially and I am sure we will have one very happy Mum and one very excited daughter………I hope they all have the best family cruise vacation ever.
If there is anything I can do for you………please let me know.


I would like to invite you to have a look at some amazing photos of the Oosterdams rebuild project along with a full description of this stunning project by the ship’s Master. Click on this link thing and enjoy some spectacular images ………………………………..

http://www.hollandamericablog.com/2009/04/07/captains-log-new-photos-of-oosterdams-dry-dock/#more-5557

A few days ago we met Claire, the dance captain of the Carnival Splendor. It seems her blog was very popular so I asked her to give us an update on what’s happening over on the flag ship………….here she is

Random Cruises

Hi again, well it seems that my first attempt wasn’t too bad so here we go with another attempt at this blog thingy!!

I need to mention that in my previous attempt I talked about swinging and I’m sure some of you weren’t quite sure what the meaning of that was……..To explain: When a performer either goes on vacation or has a medical or personal issue and they are scheduled to return to the contract they need to be replaced for the time they are away, this person is known as a swing. Christina replaced Figs when Figs went on vacation. Hopefully that clears up any questions about that!!

I also feel the need to tell you a little bit about me. I am, as John said from up North, from a Town called Darlington; it’s about 35 miles south of Newcastle Upon Tyne where Newcastle Brown Ale is from. I have been dancing since I was 3 years old, I started with ballet and tap at MT Laundy School Of Dance which was in my home town and at the age of 16 went to Laine Theatre Arts in Epsom, Surrey, to train professionally, (it was a bit like the school in the program ‘Fame’). After graduating at the ripe old age of 19 I worked various land gigs before coming to work for Carnival. I am married to Paul, who is the shore excursion manager on board the Splendor; we met on board the Jubilee in 1999, we got married on Malibu Beach in Barbados in 2002, he really is my best friend and my soul mate (ahhhhh……. I hear you say!!). That’s enough about me!!

As I’m sure you are aware, the Splendor has had some 2 day, 4 day, 5 day cruises in the last couple of weeks. We also hosted a VH1 concert in the Spectacular Lounge featuring John Mayer, Jordin Sparks and a host of other performers. The day after the VH1 event we had a 4 day full ship charter cruise with John Mayer, O.A.R., Guster, and lots of other bands. Truthfully, and I hope you don’t hate me for saying this but I had no idea who any of these bands were, including John Mayer, I realized during his concert that I knew one song which I believe is called ‘World To Change’ the only reason I knew that was because the dancers on ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ each performed a solo to it. With this being said I actually enjoyed all of the concerts performed by the different bands.

To explain a full ship charter cruise means that the ship has basically been hired by a company, this time it was hired by a company called Sixthman who work with Carnival on a regular basis. They still use all of the Carnival team members for example the dining room staff, housekeeping, bar staff, etc. They did not need us to perform our shows as they take over the Spectacular lounge and its stage with gear for the bands, in fact we had to clear out the dressing rooms so that the bands could use them. For any of you who came to a backstage tour here on the Splendor you would have seen how many wigs, hats, props, and costumes there are in the dressing rooms and can probably imagine how big a task that is?! Luckily for me I have a fantastic cast who helped me move everything! The entertainment technicians also had an immense amount of work to do to help the Sixthman technicians set up and tear down the sound gear not only in the Spectacular lounge but in all of the other lounges too. I know what you are thinking…… the cast had 4 days off……..Fantastic……….Not quite, we had to man the doors in the Spectacular lounge and in the El Morocco lounge, we also had to escort the bands around the ship during the VH1 event. I got to escort Jordin Sparks who was the American Idol winner a couple of years back, it was fun as Jordin is very nice and I got to wear a cool radio with an ear piece, I felt like I should have been on the TV show 24…….”Jack we’re moving in……Over and out.” The whole experience was well worth it as we got to hang out with the performers and during the cruise we managed to see the concerts.

After the charter cruise we headed off on a five-day cruise to Ensenada and Cabo San Lucas. On embarkation day all of the gear that the charter group had brought on board had to be offloaded, and all of the lounges had to be put back to how they are for regular cruises. This is a huge task especially in the Spectacular lounge and did cause some technical problems during the ‘Welcome Aboard’ show that 1st evening. So to all of those people cruising 03/31/09 I apologize for that!

Also on March 31 Kevin Jayroe signed on to replace Lawrence, who will be going on vacation April 12. Kevin has a 12-day handover with Lawrence before performing his first show, which isn’t long but Kevin will be fine, he’s a pro! During this crazy rehearsal time I managed to score a couple of hours off in Cabo San Lucas to go whale watching, which was amazing as we saw a humpback whale jumping out of the water…….You’re thinking where are the pictures?……….. But I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and didn’t manage to get my camera out of my bag in time to take pictures. I do apologize but if you have seen any wildlife programs on TV it was just like that!

OK well I think it’s time for me to get ready for a show!

Love ‘n’ 5,6,7,8
Claire X

clarie-april8

This is Paul and me on Fraser Island in Australia; I was a little frightened of falling off that rock right there!!! This island is beautiful and well worth a visit!!

clarie2-april8

This was the season finale of the mid show pre-show which I will explain in my next installment……………Stay tuned!!

Thanks Claire for allowing us into the life of a dancer on our great ships. By the way ……….. Claire is from the North of the UK which means she has a Whippet which is a small dog and pours beer over her cornflakes. Let’s hope she writes again soon.

And so I have had to make a very difficult yet in the end an easy decision. As you know the city of Baltimore is very, very excited that the Carnival Pride is on her way and we in turn are very very excited to be bringing Fun for All to their city. To commemorate this very special occasion Carnival is bringing their unique brand of fun to the streets of this great city which I will tell you about in a moment.

I was due to host this event which would have meant me flying to Baltimore from April 23 and not arriving back here in the UK until the morning of the April 29…….Heidi is due to give birth to our Thingy on May 10.

We have discussed this long and hard and Heidi was prepared to take the chance and said I should go. But…………having done some research and after talking to the Doctor Ramitin it seems there is a good chance that the Thingy may want to arrive early in time to see the Miami Heat win the NBA championship……….and I can’t take the chance of missing that. ……………..the Thingy being born ……….not the Heat winning ……..although I don’t want to miss that either.

Therefore I have to regrettably tell everyone that was coming to see me that I won’t be there. I hope you understand. However, please still go. There will be a special bloggers breakfast which will be hosted by a very special person………none other than Jim Berra, our chief marketing officer. He will be there to share coffee, doughnuts and conversation with you all and this surely shows just how important Carnival rates the people who read this blog thingy of ours. So……………please come along and enjoy the fun plus have some time with Jim who is a new Dad himself and to whom I am very grateful.

Here’s Stephanie to tell us the details of this fun day.

Hi Everyone,

We’re counting down the days until we take over the Inner Harbor and make Baltimore a little more fun! The event will have something to offer everyone from the karaoke style fun booth, to live entertainment and a special place dedicated just for kids! And for our loyal blog readers we’re inviting you to a pre-event breakfast- pastries and coffee with our CMO Jim Berra. To find out more about the event and map out your fun day on April 25th visit www.carnival.com/funcity. If you plan on joining us for the breakfast please “rsvp” by leaving me a comment marked “Attn: Stephanie. I’ll be attending the breakfast”. Please let me know by Monday 4/13. Once you rsvp I’ll send you an email with all the event details. Please come and join us celebrate the Carnival Pride sailing from Baltimore!

Thanks,
Stephanie

Anyway, back to our meal last night and I would like to say thanks so very much to my best mate Alan for a wonderful night………..or do I? The reason I ask “do I?” is because the restaurant he chose was Japanese First……..they make you take off your shoes, which I can’t bear. It’s a sort of striptease dress code. And, instead of sitting on the floor, which I hate even more, this place had compromised and lowered the floor under the table. The effect is neither squatting nor sitting………….. It’s arse torture.

Anyway…………the food. Every woman in the restaurant appeared to have a handbag that costs more than a small family car………..and all seemed very comfortable eating sushi. I know nothing about this except I don’t like it and Heidi being pregnant can’t have it …….. so good choice there, Alan. I also know that our sushi bars on the ships are very popular and that the fact that it is complimentary is amazing.

The high point for me was the box of steamed wagu beef, cooked at the table. It cost about as much as a handbag, and tasted well…..like beef that’s been steamed. What I liked about it was that they had imported the cow from Australia. It was served by a 15 year old from Poland……. very Japanese. I just couldn’t understand why Alan had chosen this restaurant……..right up until the time when it was time to go as he and most of the restaurant laughed out loud as fat bloke and a very heavily pregnant woman tried to get up from sitting on the floor for two hours…….what a total bastard…..even though he paid…………..revenge will be mine

Every time I see a baby, a child or a teenager in the street on TV I immediately start to think how the life of my Thingy will pan out. I spoke to our friend and top journalist and mother of two beautiful young ladies Anita Dunham Potter yesterday and she told me to enjoy every moment because they grow up so quickly and before I know it……..the Thingy will be 16……..and that means I will have to give the Thingy a Party ……… although I will be 60 years old then….God willing.

I say 16 because the other night while I was flicking through the channels I came across something called My Super Sweet 16 which is shown on something called MTV. I know you have MTV across the pond so you must…………I repeat you must…………watch this program………it’s American………….and it is simply brilliant. The pop-video channel has contrived some surprisingly good formats in the past, such as the compulsive Pimp My Ride, but My Super Sweet 16 is, incomparably, the best reality show on telly. It follows a spoiled child’s celebration of what must now be considered the coming of age. The joy and the horror of every unmissable second are the hideously spoiled demands and towering sense of entitlement these kids rise to, accompanied by the total bollocks that monstrously spoiling parents will leap through to keep in their offspring’s good books.

It television of the lowest order, but is wholly redeemed by the unarguable fact that these are people who are exactly as we see them on camera. The clever and honest thing about MTV’s reality shows is that they never pretend the camera is a disinterested observer.

They just film what they see and it is such a pleasure to sit back and laugh at the tacky, hysterical little sods. The episode I saw was from Miami where this girl’s parents had hired out a whole aircraft hanger for her party and filled it with models, and Pee Diddly types………..she said she had spent $500,000 on the party.

My favorite bit was when the spoiled tart had a tantrum because her parents gave her the keys to her birthday present …………a Jeep Cherokee………there were tears as she cried to her friends that “Whatever ……..I ain’t gonna drive no Jeep.”………..however, her parents had bought the Jeep as a joke and a few minutes later a shiny black Mercedes ML showed up complete with her initials sewn into the seats and in faux diamonds on the grill of the car. She went crazy and there were high fives and hugs and wows and while this was going on nobody noticed that Jeep Cherokee drivers were throwing themselves under trains.

The best though was when she looked at her parents and said “I wanted a convertible.”

What a complete bitch………what a brilliant show.

Goodnight
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.