April 14, 2009 -

John Heald

And suddenly………..there she was. Just sitting there……..looking at me………wanting me as much as I wanted her. I knew it was wrong but I had wanted nothing more than to be inside her ……to feel her soft skin and to experience her power and her glorious thrust. Yep………..she was an Aston Martin DBS …………..and she was parked right opposite me this morning…………and I dribbled all over my clean shirt. People have asked me what it is about this car that drives me crazy.

Well…………When looking for the perfect woman, men often say they would ideally have Pamela Anderson in the bedroom and Rachel Ray in the kitchen (she is huge over here in the UK by the way). When it comes to cars, we want one that’s comfortable for the freeway, and exciting for those long and empty roads. The Aston Martin DBS is, quite frankly, a gourmet slut – Rachael Ray with the moral compass of Pamela Andersen.
I got to drive an Aston Martin DB convertible just once. It was a beautiful day in the UK and for a while I even felt like Vincent Chase, the lead character in Entourage.

Entourage, for those who don’t know, is a very cool TV series concerned with the heady excesses of Hollywood’s celebrity lifestyle. It’s like a boys’ version of Sex and the City – except it’s not a pile of shite. The reason I felt like Mr. Chase is that the DB9 is the car at the center of Chase’s own entourage, driven by his manager. If I see James Bond in an Aston I think, “I want one of those,” because if I had one of those Aston Martins, I would be that much more like James Bond. So if I see Vincent Chase and his crew rolling in an Aston I think, “Maybe if I had one of those I’d be a super-cool leading man.”

Anyway, it was while I was dribbling over the sight of a car I know I will never ever own I heard a voice……..a strange robotic voice saying “testing, testing, testing.” It was coming from a speaker on top of a 10-foot-high pole which also had a camera on it. Beneath it was a man in a high visibility jacket and I asked him what was going on. I discovered from this chap that Essex has been piloting a new scheme to cut antisocial behavior. Some of the county’s CCTV cameras are hooked up to loudspeakers, so when someone is spotted doing something they shouldn’t (for instance trying to climb the lamppost on which the camera is mounted), they get a bollocking off from the people watching in the control center through the loudspeaker………sounds like a reasonable idea.

But what I worry about will be the competition among the county’s young men in their butt crack showing pants trying to get the speaker to . . . well, speak. And there are bonus points for creativity. In terms of crime prevention ideas this scheme is right up there with attaching disco lights to people, which go off if they get mugged.

OK, let’s get serious. Most of today’s blog is going to be spent answering questions and there is no better place to start than this one.

Travelman11 Asked:

John ,
(please reply)
I want to know how you and Carnival Cruise Lines feel that the Carnival Dream will be totally eclipsed by the world’s largest and most awesome ship The Oasis Of The Seas. You always make fun of RCI but I bet you are all jealous of the sheer size of the ship which allows Royal Caribbean to once again blow your same old tired stretched Destiny class Dream out of the water. I wonder if you will have the class to reply – I doubt it!

John Says:
Hello Travelman
If only you and I were deer. If we were then all we would have to do to establish who the superior is would be to stand on the pier in Miami and wave our antlers around.
Unfortunately, men cannot do this, partly because we don’t have horns and partly because the human equivalent is the penis. And if you start waving that around by the climbing wall, no good will come of it.
So, I will just say that I wish the Oasis of the Seas smooth sailing and much success and hope that you will maybe come and see the Carnival Dream for yourself one day
Best Wishes

OK……..let’s push on with all the rest of the weekend’s questions marked for my reply ……………here we go.

spencercoop Asked:
John Please Reply
I am sorry to bother you again. I am the one that asked for the pictures of the new balconies. I asked you for the pictures of the new Penthouse Suites with the extended balconies on the Carnival Sensation. I know you have been very busy. I really want to see is how big the balconies are on the Extended Balcony Penthouse Suites. I hope this doesn’t sound rude, but if it does, I am not trying to be.
Thank You,

John Says:
Hello Spencer
Certainly you are not rude mate and I thought we had published them already. That’s my fault and I promise I will have these tomorrow. Let me get in touch with Stephen, the hotel director, again and I know he will do this for you.

Roxianne Asked:

PLEASE REPLY. We are going on our 4th Carnival Cruise (Legend May 24th) and Jen Baxter will be our CD. I have been reading you blog for a while and I have never heard you mention her. Is she any good?

John Says:
Hello Roxianne
I am glad you have been enjoying the blog and I hope you will continue to do so. You asked me if Jen Baxter the CD is any good. The answer is that she isn’t good……she is very, very good. Now, I will be honest that she may not look like your typical cruise director ……then again what does a typical cruise director look like? You know, when I first started as a CD all of my colleagues were exactly the same. All had entertainment backgrounds and all had a show of their own. All of them were good looking. I broke the mold. I was an ex-bar waiter……..I had no entertainment background short of singing The Clash’s greatest hits in the shower……..and I was ugly.
Anyway, I digress. Jen is from Liverpool and you will not meet a more vibrant and energetic cruise director anywhere. Have a wonderful cruise and I would be grateful if you would let me know your opinion of Jenn when you return
Have a wonderful cruise
Best wishes

John Scott Schultz Asked:
Please reply John.
Dear Mr. Heald, on March 23, 2009 my mother, my friend and I went on a cruise which left out of Mobile, Alabama. Once aboard the Holiday we found the room we would be spending the week in. This room was very filthy. There were towels and trash in the shower, the safe and phone did not work and the air was broke. After walking down to the front desk, the desk personnel told me “It’s spring break and were very busy.” After waiting two hours for the work to be completed the engineer stated that he couldn’t get the air to work. At 1930 hrs we had to switch rooms to a lower deck, when asked by my mother for help moving her bags the cruise line staff stated once again “were very busy”. After settling into our new room @ 2030 hrs we realized we missed dinner. This room came with a broken toilet and it wasn’t realized until after a bowel movement. Another 3 hrs and we now had a new toilet @ 0030 in the am. My mother who is an asthmatic went through too inhalers on this trip because she was having difficulties breathing due to the smell of fumes/fuel throughout this boat. I can go on and on. This out of 8 cruises with Carnival was a complete nightmare. This was supposed to be a trip not for me but for my mother as she hasn’t been out of the house for a year mourning the passing of my father. I know this will probably go on deaf ears but for what its worth I’m very sadden to get that kind of treatment from a vacation cruise line I really believed in. Thank you for your time
Respectfully submitted,
John Scott Schultz

John Says:
Hello John
You know that there are some people who think that I never post negative comments here on the blog but as thousands of readers will see here, that’s not true. Words cannot express how disappointed I was to read about the concerns you had during your cruise on the Holiday. I have taken two immediate steps. Firstly I have sent this e-mail to our guest relations department who will be contacting you soon. I have also sent a copy of this e-mail to the ship’s hotel director whom I know would want to know what problems you encountered.
You said at the end of your comments that you “really believed” in Carnival and I will do my very best to make sure you believe in us again. Please let me say how sorry I am and I say that on behalf of everyone here at Carnival.
I would appreciate you letting me know as and when you are contacted and what is resolved.
Best wishes to you and your family

Brenda R Asked:
John Please Reply
My husband works for a man who runs a business institute. His boss is interested in conducting a week long series of classes while onboard a cruise ship.
Who would we need to contact regarding the feasibility of him holding his classes, scheduling meeting rooms, booking, etc?
Thank you for your help.
Brenda Riffle

John Says:
Hello Brenda
Just before I try band point you in the right direction may I ask if this chap wants to conduct these classes to the entire ship or is he travelling with a large group who have maybe already booked a cruise. If this is the case I would need the name of the ship and sailing date. If not and he would like to do this as and when then please kindly send me his details and I will ask someone from our entertainment department contact him
Best wishes and thanks for writing

Bobby Asked:
Hi, John Please Reply, I would like to book the supper club with the Valor but I have to wait till this Thursday when I get paid. Do I make the reservation or do you? Also thank you for checking the tour. I will get back to you when I am ready to book the supper club
Good luck on being a father soon

John Says:
Hello Bobby
Don’t worry about being paid mate. No deposit is required; you just pay onboard using your Sail & Sign card. Here is Stephanie to show you the link so you can book using the internet or if you wish just drop me a line and I will book it for you
Click here for information on the Supper Club
Cheers mate

Andrea smith Asked:
(reply requested)
Hi John! I’m a newbie to your blog, as I just booked our cruise on Holiday, May 18. Took me 5 yrs to get back on a Carnival Ship, due to new husband, daughter in college, new baby, hubby in college, yada yada yada. Two things, well really 3 kind of- I had to choose Holiday over Glory because of location of port, price (hubby got laid off from his job week before Christmas) and we are celebrating my hubby graduating college (May 11), being elected Skills USA president for Chattanooga State Tech (his school) as well as the state of TN Skills USA Prez (high honor), hubby elected Student of the Year at his college, and in top 3 finalists of the state out of 30,000+ students (not bad for a 37 yr old redneck, lol) my daughter Lauren turning 21 (May 16) and our little angel Trinity turning 2 next week- lots to celebrate, and its kind of our honeymoon three years late, lol…all that said, what’s the best way to celebrate? With a cruise! How to celebrate on a cruise? Well, that’s where you come in…please tell me what I can do to surprise them- 2. I cruised on Glory, as I said earlier, and our CD was Carlo- and to this day, 5 yrs later, I still quote him from time to time when I am in a tizzy arriving at work late, in his quaint accent, “Good Morning, its a beautiful day on the Carnival Glory…….” and all my co-workers crack up…he was a great CD, and unforgettable- so I just wanted to throw that plug in for CD’s, that they do make an impression, and I will never forget the great week we spent with Carlo and all the wonderful Carnival crew members. 3. BIG QUESTION! Since we are travelling with a 2 yr old, I do question why all the excursions exclude children under 8, for the most part- I understand why because of watersports and all, but why don’t they find “family” options as well? I need to know what we can do in Cozumel or Calica with a 21 yr old, 2 yr old, me and the hubby…(yeah, i’m an older mom, lol) that we can afford on our tight budget. I didn’t want to leave the toddler in camp carnival all day while we leave the ship…
Thingy name suggestions: male- Asa (biblical and soap opera, as well as my dad’s name –lol – and female- Trinity (our angel’s name) Matrix super hero female style, kind of biblical, and not too weird or hard to spell- and Thingy makes 3 Heald, so that’s your Trinity! we call ours T-bug.
Sorry to be so long winded-
Thanks, and very nice to meet you “unofficially”

John Says:
Hello Andrea
What a great post and so well written. Let me start by saying welcome home to Carnival and I know already that you and your family will have a great time together on the ship. Let me answer your questions and your concerns.
1. Congratulations to your husband on his graduation and honors he received. You must be very proud of him. I am going to asked Stephanie to include a direct link here to Carnival’s bon voyage department (just click on the word Bon Voyage) because I think it would be great if you arranged to have the cabin decorated with lots of congratulation decorations … would make quite an impact when you open your stateroom door. Could you please also send me your cabin number and husbands name please as well so I can send a little something to him?
2. You asked about the two-year-old Trinity which, by the way, is a beautiful name and why most of the tours are not open to one so young. Well, it’s a simple case of safety. The tours are recommended by Carnival and organized through us but the actual excursions themselves are run by independent operators who will for the most part not allow someone so young on their tour. Here are two tours though that just might interest you.
On this excursion you will:
• Learn Cozumel is the largest island in the Mexican Caribbean and is anxiously awaiting the opportunity to show off her culture, history, and scenic beauty, as well as inviting you along for a little shopping!
• See that once a sleepy little island, Cozumel is now the most important cruise ship destination in Mexico and you will have the opportunity to see the whole island.
• Enjoy your guide’s informative narration as you pass the southern resort area, arriving at Cedral, the oldest settlement in Cozumel.
• Discover that Cedral features the island’s first church as well as a small, but significant ancient Mayan ruin.
• Your guide will explain the history of the island as you travel east. Arriving at Punta Sur, you will have a great photo opportunity looking out over the unusual limestone rock formations.
• Continue on to a typical Mexican church and drive past some residential areas before arriving downtown where you will be able to visit the Cozumel Museum.
• Here, you can also take advantage of Cozumel’s recommended shopping program with some free time to visit the stores.
Or we have the Playa Mia Beach Break
On this excursion you will:
• Take a taxi ride to Playa Mia, approximately $14 – $16 US and about 10 minutes each way.
• Spend the day at the private beach, fresh water pool, beach volleyball courts or trying out some of the non-motorized water-sports equipment.
• Hang out and have a drink at the domestic open bar.
Now considering Trinity is only two, I would book these tours on board and ask the shore excursion manager if the operator will charge for a two year old. Both excursions are wonderful and will provide you with a great time on the island.
So, there you go. Thanks for all the kind words about the CD’s making a difference to your cruise. Carlo no longer works for Carnival and we all miss him very much.
Please let me know if you need anything else
My best to al the family

Jason Mauldin Asked:
Hi John,
*Please Reply*
Just returned from my 4th cruise, a 7 day Southern Caribbean cruise on Caribbean Princess, and it was my best cruise ever. This was my 2nd on Princess also 1 on Carnival Celebration in 1996 and Mariner of the Seas last year. Not a big fan of RCCL, but loved Princess and everything except the food on Carnival. I have heard this has improved.
My question is what are the main differences between today’s Carnival cruises and Princess Cruises? I’m looking to book a cruise for next year and am debating on whether to stick with Princess or try Carnival again. Also, one of the things I love about Princess is the fact they allow the staff to hang out and eat and drink with the passengers in the nightclub and at the late night Bistro buffet. Will this ever be allowed on Carnival ships? I know, currently, Princess is the only cruise line that allows this.
Good luck with Thingy,
P.S. Sam the deputy CD on Caribbean Princess is the best I’ve ever had. She is from Wales and has a wonderful, kind of crazy personality. The CD, whose name I’ve forgotten, was also wonderful, but not to the level of Sam.

John Says:
Hello Jason
I was very happy to hear that you had such a brilliant time on the Caribbean Princess and that Sam the deputy CD stole the show. I have taken the liberty to pass on your words of congratulations to the VP of entertainment at Princess Cruises.
Many people ask me about the differences between Carnival and Princess and that’s not an easy question to answer. Let’s just say this. You could give two Michelin star chefs the same ingredients and one hour to come up with a superb meal and both chefs will take those ingredients and conjure up two completely different dishes……..both fantastic ……… but both very different. And it’s the same with Princess and Carnival. Both have 100,000-plus ton ships and both cater to mostly the same kind of clientele ……. yet ……..both are different and that is one of the reasons both are so successful.
I am glad you enjoyed mixing with the staff during your cruise. This is also encouraged here at Carnival. We want our staff talking and enjoying the company of our guests as they patrol the lounges and guest areas. Now, obviously I would like you to cruise with us here at Carnival but certainly I would understand if you stayed with Princess as they do give their passengers a wonderful product.
Please let me know if you have any follow up questions.
Cheers Jason

Jane Schneider Asked:
Hi John,
Happy Easter to you, Heidi and thingy.
I have a question for you. My husband and I planning to cruise to Europe in Oct 2010. We were blessed to have sailed on the Splendor in Oct of 2008 from Rome. I checked the Carnival site and didn’t find any cruises from Europe in 2010.
Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks John, I hope to see you again.

John Says:
Hello Jane
I hope you had a happy Easter and thanks for the kind wishes. Unfortunately you are correct. Carnival has decided that due to the current economic climate it was best to bring our ships closer to home and have them sail on shorter cruises from North American homeports……….it was definitely the right decision by the way. This means that we do not have a ship in Europe sailing on regular voyages next year. I was certainly disappointed about this as I could have been closer to Heidi and the Thingy. Now, you are not alone as other Carnival guests also wanted to sail in Europe and they have instead booked passage with Princess Cruises who have a number of vessels in Europe in 2010. If you are interested in this please let me know and I will ask one of my friends at Princess give you a call. I am so glad you enjoyed your European adventure with me on the Carnival Splendor and I hope we get to do so again soon.
Best Wishes

Lianne Brown Asked:
Dear John, Please reply
I found your blog when we booked our cruise on the Splendor. We sail on July 5th in cabins —- and —- (we are bringing the teens who have become accustomed to cruising and love it). We were so hoping that you were going to be the CD but it seems you have gone on to bigger and better things. We have a couple of questions that we are hoping you can answer before we sail.
First off, when we sailed on the Legend in 2006, we were thrilled by the music that played throughout the ship on departure. Songs like Come Sail Away, Holiday and of course Beyond the Sea were playing and it was such a treat, it made the departure so festive. Our CD was Brett Alans (fantastic!!) The next year we sailed on Miracle and there was no music to mark the moment…we were so disappointed as were the first time cruisers that we had told about it (we looked foolish to boot). So is this a decision of the CD, if so can we look forward to this on the Splendor? Hope so.
Our other question is on behalf of our 18-year-old daughter the aspiring dancer. She is hoping to dance on a Carnival ship in the future. We are wondering if she will have an opportunity to speak with some of the dancers during the cruise to find out more. She has been looking regularly at websites for auditions but it seems there is never anything that happens here in the French corner of Canada (Montreal). Is there any way you could help with this?
PS: On a personal note as a former labor and delivery nurse please make sure your blood sugar is in the right range on the big day, you’ll be no use to Heidi on the floor!! And believe me, it’s a moment you don’t want to miss.
Thanks in advance
Lianne Brown & Howard Singer

John Says:
Hello Lianne
I am happy to hear that you have recently found the blog and therefore allowed you to find someone to answer your questions before you sail on the Carnival Splendor with your family. The sail away music was played by Brett Alans who unfortunately recently retired. He was an old school cruise director who like me enjoyed playing music as the ship departed its homeport. I used to play Anchors Aweigh but even I stopped doing this……..and you know what……….I don’t know why I did because as you said it does make a difference. I fully intend to do this when I return to the Carnival Freedom in June. I am not sure if the CD will do this on the Carnival Splendor but I will certainly mention it to him.
As for your daughter the aspiring dancer and it will be my pleasure to make sure she gets to chat with the dance captain and meets the cast. Please kindly remind me a few days before you sail and I will make the arrangements and they will also take her through the audition process.
Thanks for the blood sugar warning………that’s a great point and I will remember to make sure I am fully charged before the big day.
I will look forward to hearing from you soon.
Best wishes to you and the family

Nancy Asked:
Hi John, (please respond)
I wanted to let you know how our Cruise on the Valor went the week of 3/22. It started out by my daughter getting an abscessed tooth, her girlfriend got a foot fungus from new flip flops, my husband lost his small plastic wallet with the sail and sign card, driver’s license and credit card in the Caribbean in Costa Maya, my daughter got bit by bugs in Belize and got Impetigo, her girlfriend lost a temporary filling from a root canal and last but not least I slipped on the wet gangway disembarking on the last day and tore a ligament and cartilage in my wrist. In between all of this we had our cabin door left open all day because of an error by the steward. I came back to the room after an excursion and found the room completely open to the public. The housekeeping manager didn’t really apologize just wanted to make sure we weren’t mad. The dining room wait staff was very slow. It took over 2 hours to have dinner each night we went to the dining room. We skipped the dining room a few nights because we didn’t want to spend 2.5 hours for dinner. We enjoyed being away and on vacation but I was not happy with the Valor. It was obvious that the CD was wet behind the ears with his position. Not too exciting! We sailed on the Liberty with you in 2006 and absolutely loved it. I guess we were spoiled with our first cruise!! I was so excited about this trip but can’t really brag that it was a wonderful ship. I am sure we will sail again in the future with Carnival. I was just disappointed in this trip. In regards to my torn ligament and torn cartilage of my wrist. I would highly recommend that the ship’s crew check the safety of the gangway before letting folks disembark. It was very slippery and I fell without even realizing I was falling. It happened very quickly. I didn’t stop to make a claim because we had to get through customs and catch an early flight. I just thought someone should know about it.
We really missed you as CD. Best wishes to you, Heidi and Thingy. I am sure this is a very exciting time for you.
Thanks for listening,
Nancy Anderson

John Says:
Hello Nancy
My goodness, I wondered where Murphy had gone and it seems he decided to come and see you and your family. Seriously, I am so sorry you bad all those concerns and my biggest worry is the gangway which I appreciate you telling me about. I have forwarded this to the ship’s captain who I can tell you is 100% committed to the safety of the guests and crew and I know he will appreciate you advising us of your situation. I have also taken the time to send your comments to our guest relations department and I know you will be hearing from them. I have also sent your comments to the hotel director who will want to investigate further why the door to your cabin was left open. I am sure it was just a simple mistake but an unacceptable one nevertheless.
I hope there were some good times during the cruise and I hope your family have recovered from their various ills. Please follow up with me and let me know as and when you are contacted by someone from our guest relations department and my sincere thanks for letting me know what happened.
Best wishes

jetskier Asked:
Please respond.
Hi John,
Do you know if Carnival is going to do anything special for the Fantasy’s “official” first sailing out of Mobile? The ship is almost sold out for its 6-night sailing on Nov 10th. I am glad we booked early for this sailing.
Also you had said on the Blogger’s cruise that you would check into what happened to the “fruit punch” that is no longer served in the dispensers on the Lido deck. I know you have had a lot on your plate since then.
Anyone taking bets on who is going to hit the floor first, John or the placenta?

John Says:
Hello Dave
How’s the arm by the way?
Let’s start with the fruit punch which has indeed can no longer be found in the dispensers. We do still have the juice and lemonade but I know how much everyone enjoyed the fruit punch so I am leading a personal fight to get it back. Now onto the Carnival Fantasy and her first sailing from Mobile. I am sure that there are some special things planned so let me find out what they are for you. The ship’s arrival has the city and state of Alabama very excited and as you said the first cruise is nearly sold out. I will keep you posted mate
Best wishes to you and your family

RonRythm Asked:
John, please reply
What is the status of getting fruit punch back on the lido deck? Some of us can’t drink carbonated like coke or acidic stuff like lemonade without paying the price. Should I plan on bringing powdered mix with me on the Legend in July?
Thanks and keep up the great blog,

John Says:
Hello Ron
Now………this must be a conspiracy. Two fruit punch questions back to back………did you and Dave plan this? Are you the founding members of the BBFP organization?
Seriously, as I just said, I know it is missed and I shall fight your corner I promise and keep you advised

Bill (Zydecocruiser) Asked:
John, Please reply.
Hi John,
It seems that we haven’t heard from PA007 in forever. Did Uncle Micky figure who he/she was and terminate him/her or perhaps a casualty of the current recession?
Anyway, maybe PA007 or replacement can explain this:
Carnival Dream is still supposed to debut September 21, correct? I have read that “Your Time” dining will debut on Carnival Dream on September 18, or 3 days before the first scheduled revenue cruise. There seems to be a discrepancy here.
Also, if the Heald’s were to do the Carnival Dream crossing, flights for the young Kuki could be somewhat reduced. Are you planning on doing the Dream crossing or is it a possibility?

John Says:
Hello Bill
You are correct, we have not heard much from PA 007 and seriously I did ask him/her to go into deep cover because there were some flags being raised as to where the information was coming from. I think its time I got him out of deep cover to answer your question though because as usual…….it’s a good one.
I will get back to you soon once our superspy has resurfaced.
Best to you and Thin Lizzy – sorry Elizabeth

cruzn buckeye (Edy) Asked:
John, Please reply
Thanks for the videos! Can’t wait till you post some videos of your Thingy! Good to hear that Heidi and thingy are doing well!
I have never got to see “Fun Force.. My next two cruises are on the Liberty and the Dream. Do you know when and if this will be on these ships?
I think the magician and laser tag additions will be great! I have a couple of questions….
We will be cruising on the Liberty in September.
This itinerary has a daytime visit to San Juan. I have noticed that there are not too many tours posted for daytime visits there. I would love to see some beach tours or all inclusive resort tours added….whadya think??
Also, I was reading on your blog about fire hazards on the balconies. I often book cabins that are wraparound or have long balconies. Sometimes there are loungers (the pool type where you can lay and bask in the sun) and other times there are not. I feel that on these long balconies, there should be at least one lounger of that type. If it is a fire hazard….well…there aren’t that many of these cabins available …. So I am sure that Carnival has the resources to put some fire retardant loungers on these balconies. I love to get up in the morning and stretch out on the lounger and close my eyes and just listen to the sea. It is a lot different that sitting in a chair….Please can you help make this possible? I am sure all cruisers who book these balconies feel the same. It is a little depressing when you first get to your cabin and walk out to check out that large balcony and see a couple little chairs to enjoy it from….thanks….
Also, still waiting to hear the great news of when and where the 2010 bloggers cruise will be…got that worked out yet??
Best to you and Heidi and Thingy!
Sea ya! Cruzn

John Says:
Hello Buckeye.
I am glad you enjoyed the videos and Fun Force will hopefully be on the majority of the ships by the end of the year…..they are fantastic and will definitely be part of the entertainment on the Carnival Dream. The tours we offer in San Juan are a little limited when it comes to beach tours but I will certainly recommend the biolominescence kayak tour and the horseback jungle ride…..both are wonderful. Maybe Nanni could recommend a beach for you. The sail into San Juan passing the El Morro fortress is not to be missed and make sure you are on the port (left) side of the ship as you enter. Since the fire on the Princess ship balcony a few years ago the entire industry has had to conform to the new rules and regulations concerning what furniture we can and cannot place on the balconies these days. Any furniture we do place there must be within SOLAS (safety of life at sea) and United States Coast Guard regulations. I do know that Carnival is working to find something that meets these regulations and is as comfortable as possible. I will keep you posted on this.
As for the 2010 Bloggers Cruise………well………….to be honest I haven’t given this much though these past weeks and once the Thingy is born I promise I will let you all know when and where we do this. I shall also be asking for all the bloggers to let me know what ship they would like to do this on before we make the final choice.
I hope you are well and I will keep you posted on the balcony issue
Best to all

lyleba Asked:
Hi John,
(please reply)
I’m so excited for both of you and your impending bundle of joy!!!
Now to my comments!!!
Our family loves Carnival and have sailed with you many times. My son and wife are sailing on the Victory out of San Juan on June 28th. I convinced them it was a great itinerary and they are sailing the Victory because years ago I loved the ship. Now I am reading too many negative reviews of the Victory on many websites. I pushed for them to sail on the Victory and now I am a bit nervous if the reviews turn out to be correct. Have you heard anything unusual about the Victory lately? Do you have any insight as to what the problem may be? I try not to let negative reviews influence me but lately the Victory does not seem up to par for Carnival. I feel responsible since I raved about the ship!
P.S. We’ll miss you on the Splendor 4/26.

John Says:
Hello Barb
Thanks so much for those kind words you started your posting with…they mean a lot to Heidi and I. You know the thing about reviews is that they are personal and for every bad review there will be 50 brilliant ones. Here are some comments I found posted on April 4th.
Carnival Victory made us feel like Winners!!
We got up on Sunday, and got to the cruise ship dock at noon. We had a suite so we went straight to priority boarding room. I suggest you use the luggage porter, it is worth it! We were only in the room for 10 minutes and we were boarding. We spent the next few hours admiring the boat, and there really is much to be admired. Our room was ready at 2:30, and our luggage was waiting for us there also. We team worked our way through getting things put away etc. and left to walk around Old San Juan. Before I go on to that, I would like to say that our room was AWESOME!! The balcony was plenty and the room was so comfortable. Looked smaller than online, but so great anyway. There is a vanity area to get ready in (which I loved) and the bath and jetted tub were awesome. Bed extremely comfy…our cabin steward, (Ann?) was AWESOME! Every single day…no exceptions.
The ship also is in great shape. The colors and decor were quite lovely. I personally loved the adult pool area…very quiet and serene. The large pool area was also awesome, but quite busy. All of the lounges were pretty nice. The Karaoke club was much fun, and Ana was a delightful hostess.
The cruise director Weeeeee Jimmy was delightful. He is so charismatic, and everyone seemed to love him.
St. Kitts: I think this was my favorite port…well, Dominica maybe, but that was because of the excursion. St. Kitts was just beautiful. We went to cockleshell beach, which is an experience in and of itself, but the drive there is SPECTACULAR! Our driver stopped at many spots so I could get good pictures…and I sure did! The beach had goats, moneys and the big pig…very unique and really nice once you get into the atmosphere! Again, get a good driver, and stop at all the picture taking spots on the way up or back…simply stunning. We shopped here (Best shops of all the ports in my opinion) and then relaxed at the adult pool area until bon voyage time!
The 7 ports in 7 days was AWESOME! The Victory is a fine ship and we would definitely sail again…wish I was still on it!! Carnival is a great price for a really good time!!

Barb…… people’s reviews for sure as they can include a lot of good points but remember it’s their opinion and remember your opinion that the Carnival Victory was a fantastic ship which is why you recommended to others that they experience the vessel for themselves.
Please let me know when you return about the fun you had and my best to you and all the family

Leon Asked:
John Please reply.
Hi John, bit off topic, but i still feel strong about this 6 months after our med cruise.
We set sail from Dover on Sept 11th on the new Carnival Splendor.
Our room was on DECK 2, at the very back.
From the first night, diesel fumes intoxicated our cabin, more so when the ship was docking at ports, but also on sailing days, which was also so very noisy, when the thrusters were in action..
It made my wife and I feel very unwell, and woke us up in the night and mornings.
We kept on going to reception to inform the helpdesk, but no one would appreciate our concern and that the fumes in a small cabin is potentially very dangerous.
For the 1st week, we were promised day after day that we would be notified of a free cabin to move to, but they ended up as empty promises.
The 2nd week, the smell was so bad, our cabin guy commented also, and said that this was serious.
Again, I tried to explain to reception, only to be told that if the engines didn’t work we would sink.
No one could understand that fumes usually mean carbon monoxide and that the headaches and light-headedness was unacceptable.
We survived the 2 week ordeal, and were given $100 off our bill, but to be honest such as gesture may have cost us our lives….
I have been meaning to write, and only had time now, and want to make sure that the problem had got sorted for the next guests.
I also want you to understand that although the reception is very busy, they need to understand that fumes in such closed quarters should not be brushed aside lightly, and to be honest myself and my wife did not enjoy such an unpleasant experience and felt helpless.
Although they offered us a small discount on our next carnival cruise, I am afraid that the bad experience has now meant we wont be travelling on carnival again, until passengers safety and concerns are taken seriously.
As a side issue of positivity, we enjoyed your smiling face and entertainment you provided on the cruise, you are a one off, and I wish you and your wife all the best with your new child.
Kind Regards, Leon & Julie.

John Says:
Hello Leon
Please don’t apologize and I intend to do everything I can to get you to change your mind and cruise with us again. I need to know if you were contacted after your cruise or if you have indeed not sent any kind of letter stating what happened to Carnival Cruise Lines.
I apologize if you have indeed already sent me this information but I want to start on this issue again so would you kindly let me know. Meanwhile I will start the ball rolling by forwarding your comments up the line. I personally had never heard of this problem during the many months I was onboard but it is important though that we address your concerns.
Please write soon and my sincere apologies.

Matt T Asked:
Hi John (please reply),
I hope all is well, and I hope that you enjoyed the holiday weekend. I am about two or three blogs behind as I’ve had a busy weekend between work and seeing friends or family. I look forward to catching up later tonight and tomorrow. I hope all is well with the Thingy, and I can tell you and Heidi are getting very excited. You’re going to be a GREAT Dad.
I am planning a family cruise for 12 people ranging from age 3 to 80 for New Years on the Dream, and I have a few quick questions.
-First, 5 of the guests will be first time cruisers (a 3 year old, 8 year old, 10 year old, and 2 adults). This is an expensive sailing, and they want to be able to relax and enjoy themselves without feeling cramped, but at the same time, they want to save money where/when possible. I am trying to help them decide whether to book a deluxe ocean view cabin for 5 people, or if they should book 2 cabins next to each other (either an inside and balcony or 2 regular ocean views). If it wasn’t such an expensive sailing, I would have them go for a balcony and inside, but given the popularity of this week of travel, prices are forcing me to have them consider the 1 deluxe cabin to save about $700. What do you think? Also, do you know how many square feet the deluxe ocean view cabin will be vs. how many square feet an inside and balcony cabin will be on the Dream (not including the balcony)? I am asking you because I have seen conflicting info on several websites. What would you do if you were them?
-One adult is single. Is there any way he can avoid paying 200%? I would book the 3 year old in his room, but then there would be no bed for the three year old in her parent’s room.
-I know a group cruise is considered 8 cabins or more, but does booking a family cruise of 5 cabins get us any discounts or onboard group specials? We will be celebrating several occasions at once (50th anniversary, 25th anniversary, and a birthday… plus the fact that we will all be away together for the first time) and we would like to try to find something special onboard to do together (not really sure what… but we definitely have plenty of time to think and plan).
-Do you know if the pool(s) will be saltwater like the rest of the ships? I don’t think there is a retractable roof by the pool, is there? Also, by the pictures, the lido pool seems a little larger than the lido pool on the Triumph-class ships… is this so?
-Will there be any special New Year’s party with champagne?
-Lastly, I assume that we will find the traditional reggae / Caribbean deck band on the lido on the Dream, in addition to other bands throughout this large, new ship?
Sorry for all the questions. We are all getting excited, and we want to book as soon as possible… once we figure everything out and arrange everything properly. I know that the Dream is definitely going to be an asset to the Carnival fleet.
Thanks so much for your help John. I… we all really appreciate both the blogs and the fact that you take the time to answer questions. You really are the BEST. Good luck with the Thingy, I hope you enjoy your time off and relaxing / preparing for the arrival of the Thingy, and I can’t wait for the next blog.

John Says:
Hello Matt
You must all be very excited about your forthcoming Carnival Dream cruise and let me therefore see if I can help with your questions.
With regard to which cabin to purchase for the five of you well I can say safely having actually been in the mock up of the deluxe cabins………book this one. While I do not have the specific measurements here with me (I will get them though and post them later this week) I can tell you that you will not feel cramped. There is a large double bed for Mum and dad plus Pullman beds that will come from the ceiling for the eight- and 10-year-old plus the couch will be made into a very comfortable place to sleep for the young one. Plus of course there is the huge benefit of two separate bathrooms. One door leads to a bath with shower unit and sink while the other door leads to a walk in shower and toilet …….this will be very useful when getting the family ready in the mornings ….. and will save you some money since they sleep five. I can’t recommend these staterooms enough ……they are brilliant.
Unfortunately the news is not so good for the single cruiser and there is little I can do about this. You could maybe see if you wanted one of the older kids to go in there with them? As far as the group booking is concerned there is probably something we can do there. Have you asked your travel agent or PVP? If not please ask them to contact Carnival and lets see what we can do. The pools will be seawater which of course is cleaned and treated before being used by guests. The pools on the Carnival Dream are indeed different to other Carnival ships. When I was there it was difficult to imagine what they would look like because it was so early into construction. However, one thing is for sure ……..your kids and thousands of others will have the time of their lucky young lives in the pools and at the Carnival Waterworks which I have included a link to here

I will be back on the Carnival Dream in early June and will make sure I update you on the pool size and configuration.
Yes……there will be lashings of complimentary champagne and a party you will never forget on New Year’s Eve. The ship will feature lots of live music including the always popular reggae/Caribbean bands.
Please don’t apologize. I want you to be excited…… should be excited …….. and I will remain at your service to help answer your questions
Best wishes to all

Stacey Asked:

Hi John (Please Reply),
I thoroughly enjoyed your narrative of your harrowing drive to your football match…I really think you should use your “free time” to write some short stories. I love your writing style and you bring a smile to my face every morning, which reading your blog is now part of my morning routine.
On to the questions…
A.) is there anything special (besides ordering room decor or a cake, renewing vows or dining in the Supper Club (which I have planned) that you’ve seen, suggested or assisted in onboard that I could surprise my husband with for our anniversary (which we will be celebrating while on board)?
B.) How long are CD contracts for, when will they be renewed and when will I be able to take a peek at your cool spreadsheet and find out who the CD will be for our 11/29/09 Glory sailing?

John Says:
Hello Stacey
How humbling to know that this blog thingy is now part of your morning routine and I am glad that it brings a smile to your day. Now…………lets answer your questions.
It seems you pretty much have all the surprises covered. I could arrange for you to take part in the Newlywed Game and find out how much you really know about each other. Also, if you let me know a few days before you sail what your cabin number is I am sure I can find a little surprise for you both
The cruise director schedule is due to be updated and as soon as it is I will post it here on the blog so you will find out who your CD will be in November. The contracts for most cruise directors are 6 months followed by 6 – 8 weeks vacation. It is of course never that simple with changes here and there.
I hope this helps and I look forward to hearing from you in the future
Best to you both

Tom and Cheryl Asked:
Hello John!
Thanks for helping to make sure that we will be able to take part in the Blogger’s activities – much appreciated! I have an additional question which I thought you might be able to answer. This is in regard to the (same) Blogger’s Cruise on the Dream 12/3/09. At this point, is it actually anticipated that the Dream will arrive early enough to allow for a standard embarkation time? The Dream will be dropping off her last (prior) passengers in NYC on Tuesday, December 1st, and arrive here 12/3/09 following ONE sea day. On the Dream’s two 8-night sailings from NYC prior to moving here, Pt. Canaveral will be her FIRST port of call. The itinerary for both of those shows TWO sea days prior to a 7 AM arrival in Pt. Canaveral. I imagine that for those two NYC sailings, the pace is a bit slower allowing for relaxation, less fuel usage, and more onboard purchases (we LOVE sea days)!!!
The main reason that I am asking you this question is: On Cruise Critic we have a very large roll call for this sailing – some are bloggers, but many are not. I have arranged with the Groups Department at Carnival to reserve the Caliente Disco for an hour on embarkation day (4:30 to 5:30) so that we can all have a nice meet-n-greet. We are looking forward to that, and perhaps you and Todd might be able to drop in and say hello if you are not otherwise occupied. My REAL CONCERN is that those plans will be SCUTTLED if the Dream is late arriving from NYC.
When we sailed on the first (post repositioning) cruise on the Inspiration out of Tampa, boarding did not begin until 4-6 PM… and we were only notified, as I recall, shortly before the cruise, though I can imagine it was known for some time prior.
Could you check into the (real) timing of things and see what timeframe the Dream will be here
THANKS for all that you do John – your friends,
Tom and Cheryl
Booking # —-

John Says:
Hello Tom and Cheryl
Thanks for taking the time to write and I hope that we will get to spend some time together on the Carnival Dream. Having checked I do not see any reason why the ship will not arrive early that morning to start debarkation on time thus allowing for embarkation to start promptly. Therefore I think you have nothing to worry about and the situation you experienced in Tampa should not be of any concern here. I would point out that the time you have reserved the dance club (4:30 pm) may be in the middle of the boat drill which often starts sometime around 4 pm…… may want to knock this forward to start at 5 pm although I should point out that this will also be the same time as our Bloggers Party.
Anyway, we can work it out. Have a think and let me know if you have anything to follow up on as I will be here for you.

John Says:
A quick follow up on the blogger who asked about the Sea Spi tour in Honduras and it not showing on the website. Well thanks to my friend Mico Cascais who is the vice president of tour operations and one of the most caring and brilliant executives at Carnival I know now why. Here is a quick note from Mico.
The Operator that offered this excursion has discontinued all of his excursions.
Coral Cay Marine & Nature Park Beach Break
Coral Cay Marine & Nature Park Snorkel Adventure
Coral Cay Marine & Nature Park Kayak Explorer
Sea Spi Shipwreck Adventure
Knowing that you are probably quite adventurous I would like to recommend these two wonderful tours in Roatan
• Take an island bus to Gumbalimba Nature Park for your equipment and a safety briefing.
• Start at the beach and paddle your kayak along the white sand beaches, jungle-covered hillsides, and over the coral reefs.
• Get a closer look at the marine life when you stop to snorkel along the way or near Gumbalimba Park.
• Enjoy one hour of free time to take a stroll through the park or relax on a hammock or lounge chair at the Park’s beach.
• Enjoy a fun combination of snorkelling and scuba diving that allows you to explore without the cumbersome scuba equipment and without the surface limitations of snorkelling.
• Take an island bus from the pier to Gumbalimba Nature Park. Have an orientation and practice session in shallow water.
• Walk into the water and snuba at a depth comfortable to you — a maximum of 20 feet.
• Walk among the starfish, rays, octopi and juvenile fish hiding in the sea grass.
• Move on to a coral reef teeming with a spectrum of tropical fish.
• Return to the ship after approximately 45-60 minutes of snuba.
Hope this helps. Let me know if you need anything else.

That’s all for today. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you by marking your comment “Please Reply.”

Have you seen Fun Ship Island recently? Well if not I urge you to have a look at the brilliant work that the ladies and gents have done here. Here’s a great link to start you off that offers you an interactive tour thingy of the Serenity Adults Only Deck and much, much more:

Heidi and I are very careful at the moment in not travelling too far from home in case the Thingy decides to make a play for freedom. So one avenue of pleasure left open to us was a trip to the cinema. Of course first we have to come to some agreement on what to see.

I love death, destruction, explosions and lashings of rumpy pumpy whereas my wife prefers movies full of love and kissing and movies that are wrapped in a big white fluffy blanket ………well when we looked at our current choices it seems that Heidi was spoiled for choice. Clearly, over the past year, producers have been working hard on the Foxparamountwarner movie lots and decided that nothing will snap us out of the credit crunch than a tail wagging happily to some cheesy elevator music while Owen Wilson does an “uh-oh!” face at some disgruntled pedigree cat-show judge. I’m guessing here. I haven’t seen Marley & Me – or indeed Bolt, or Hotel For Dogs, or Beverly Hills Chihuahua – but I’m assuming it includes that mandatory dog movie scene.

I say I haven’t seen any of these movies: I expect of course – as a soon to be parent that once I get the DVD of any of them I will then be forced to watch the movie in question at least 200 times. This, possibly, will ever so slightly stop me thinking about taking a huge crap in the chairman of AIG’s front yard although I might also have to deal with the fact that my DVD player and plasma screen, once I’ve thrown the latter against the wall and put my screaming head through the former, are now virtually worthless.

Obviously, pre-DVD or video, the most a child would see Snow White would be once, twice if he or she had parents rich enough, or bothered enough (unlikely, because in the olden days the meaning of parental responsibility involved no more than making sure that the doors were locked before leaving your kids in the car outside the bar mum and dad were drinking in) to take them to the cinema a second time. Now, my mate Danny has watched the movie Cars, more than 50 times as it’s his son’s favorite film ……. what movie then will the Thingy want to watch 50 times……..please God don’t let it be a dog movie.

In the end we couldn’t agree on anything so we rented a movie and trying to find something in between someone’s head being blown off by Stephen Segal and Julia Roberts falling in love with Hugh Grant’s floppy hair, I rented The Shawshank Redemption.

In this movie you learn that should you ever be put in prison and need to store or hide something you put it behind a poster. That and playing some very loud opera music will have every prison guard stop what they are doing and look up to the sky. The best job in prison is always wheeling the books around in the library. All that said the final scene with the boat on the beach is brilliant

But I still can’t stop thinking about the future movies I will be watching with the Thingy. Cars is actually a pretty good film, but will the Thingy want me to watch DVD’s of Alvin and the Chipmunks, Fairytopia, Garfield 1, Garfield 2, The Tale of Despereaux, and, to return to where we started, some real dogs in the form of Underdog and the two Scooby Doo movies (although – here’s the thing about watching these films so often, you do discover the odd jewel strewn among the shite: Matthew Lillard’s performances as Shaggy in these movies are amazing, the best rendition of a cartoon character I have ever seen).

If the current crop of dog movies is anything like these, I’m afraid I’m very much looking forward to the moment when the credit crunch has meant we are all too poor to afford electricity, cinemas become places where people just go to look for scraps of discarded popcorn, and DVDs are just metal Frisbees that you throw out of your boarded-up windows to warn off people waving their penis around who are shouting “my cruise ship is bigger than yours.”

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.