So I found myself yet again sitting in our neighborhood Starbucks nursing a huge bowl of black coffee while Heidi was in a shop being “fitted” for some breast feeding bras. I have no idea why she is being fitted for these and why she just can’t cut a hole in the ones she has……….but that’s another story.

I want to talk about Starbucks for a moment. Do you remember when I was in LA a few weeks ago and I wrote about how dreadful the coffee was at the Starbucks Stephanie and I went to? It was a cup of frothy milk with a thimble full of coffee that tasted like it had been brewed in a pair of my underpants.

Well a few days ago I was reading that Starbucks is continuing to lose money and close stores and I think I may have discovered one of the reasons why.

First of all let me explain that I was drinking coffee……no milk……..just regular coffee because of my diet. None of this Frappacrapacino for me. We black coffee drinkers sneer at the mochafrothyventebollockacino drinkers among us. These are for people who drive VW Beetles and think Kenny G is good music. Tea is for Meg Ryan in a fluffy pullover. Black coffee, on the other hand, is for people who think two Marlboros are a nutritious breakfast. Black coffee is for Salma Hayek in black underwear, laying across an Aston Martin DBS.

However, my point here has nothing to do with the taste or blend of the various coffees ………….. let me explain.

When I was young I believed in all sorts of things. I believed that there were monsters under my bed and that if I was a naughty boy Santa really would bring me bugger all presents as my Mum had said. Later on in my teens I believed that if I got right up close to the TV with my nose touching the screen I really could see Marsha Brady’s underwear.

I also believed that there were little people who were put to work inside photo booths. You know, the ones where you get your passport photos taken………yes those ones. Let me explain why.

I thought this because I was a bit thick and because of the size of the machines and the complex chemical technicalities of pre-digital photo developing, I thought that if you sauntered into a Publix type shop and cut open a passport photo booth, inside, taking refuge from working his tiny arse off in a pixie dust mine in the enchanted forest, you would find a tiny man who was busy taking your picture through the glass, developing your prints in small trays and then dropping them out through the slot for you to pick up. …………bloody hell that was a long sentence………….sorry about that.

This, I concluded, would also explain why you had to wait so long for your photos to come out.

So here we are finally arriving at my Starbucks point. That’s because as I sat there I had the same thought about the great big coffee-making machine in Starbucks. The whole Starbucking experience is based around two different worlds

First you zero in on your stylish, hip, contemporary, caffeine-based beverage of choice and then, once you’ve paid, you shuffle along the counter where you suddenly leave the 21st century behind. You now enter the realm of “the machine” – a heavy, steaming, burping, belching silver monster that dispenses hot jets of gas and water like my arse did when I ate a Vindaloo curry recently.

In three short steps you go from the cool, happening, grande world of latte, cappuccino and almond biscuits to something huge and clunking that wouldn’t have looked out of place in the cab of an old steam locomotive.

The staff pumps and grinds and turns dials and spins handles and rotates wheels with all the skill of Sean Connery’s character in the submarine adventure Hunt for Red October.

I’m transfixed by the clouds of steam that hiss and fizz and clank from this monster that looks less like something that’s going to dispense a cup full of hot espresso and more like one of the traps from the Saw horror movies.

And then there’s the size. In this era of miniaturization, when you can fit an entire box set of the West Wing on a gadget in your pocket or carry the whole internet round on your raspberry, why are they so enormous? What’s going on inside the thing?

My theory: a hardworking little person with a kettle and a jar of Folgers instant coffee. Working on the same principle as the photo booth, it would also explain why the assistants always shout your order towards the machine and also why you have to wait so long for your bloody coffee.

Sorry. Too much caffeine…….I had better go and answer some questions. Oh by the way. Make sure you visit our coffee shops onboard not just for your crapacinos, etc. but make sure you try the new milkshakes they are making there. I am told by non-diabetics that they are scrumptious and you must have one.

OK, now I will go and answer some more questions marked for my reply…….here we go.

Mel Asked:

John please reply!!!

Dear John,

I came back from a 9 day Southern Caribbean cruise with NCL about 2 weeks ago. My family and I would have loved to sail with Carnival but there was no route like that leaving out of Miami. At two of the ports we docked with the Carnival Victory and several of its passengers whom I spoke with were saying how they wished that route could have been done from the states instead of Puerto Rico, and how it would have been nice to have at least one day at sea instead of 7 straight days at ports. The last time I can recall Carnival offering a similar route was a 12 day Southern Caribbean cruise sailing out of Miami (back in 2002) on the (then) smoke-free Carnival Paradise.

John, my question to you is… do you think Carnival will offer trips to the Southern Caribbean, leaving out of Miami, like it did back then, or like some of the other cruise lines do? It would be great for those of us who like to visit the Southern Caribbean and love to cruise with Carnival, but cannot fly to Puerto Rico (or want a few days at sea?) =)

Thanks!

John Says:

Hello Mel

Welcome back Mel and I hope you had a great cruise with NCL. As popular as our Carnival Victory itinerary is I know that many people miss the trips down to Aruba. We made the very difficult decision to stop visiting Aruba at the beginning of 2007. Aruba is a very good port of call and our guests enjoyed the experience. Unfortunately, Aruba is located at the southernmost part of the Caribbean. For our seven-day cruises, it is only reachable on our ship that sails from San Juan We decided to replace Aruba on this itinerary to offer some new ports that offer our guests some new Southern Caribbean options. We try to refresh these itineraries every so often to give our guests new ports to visit. However, with things currently as they are, I know we are definitely looking at new itineraries. I will pass your thoughts to our Senor Vice President Terry Thornton who will I am sure take your suggestion very seriously as he does all of the comments made by our guests. Personally……I would love to go back to Aruba one day on a ship departing from Miami…….it’s one of my favorite islands.

I will let you know as and when I hear anything new

Best wishes

John

Matt T Asked:

Hi John (please reply continued…)

Since my last post, I spoke with Carnival again. There are MANY 3 person 3 person connecting ocean views and many 4 person 2 person ocean views that connect. On this ship, they do not make and 2/3 connecting ocean views from what I have been told.

I have a feeling (in the past) these sailings usually get a occupancy limit where 4 people will not be allowed in the 4 person rooms due to higher occupancy in other rooms. Since they do not make any of these connecting rooms, is there any way at all that someone at Carnival would be able to accommodate these 5 first time guests in a 3/3 connecting ocean view or a 4/2 person connecting ocean view…

I know it is a New Year’s sailing but all they want is a connecting room that’s ocean view and they do not make these for 3 and 2 people. Since occupancy limits are usually put in place on these sailings where only 2 or 3 people will be allowed in quad rooms closer to sailing, is there any way that Carnival will sacrifice one bed in either the 3 person or 4 person room that connecting with the 2 person or 3 person room?

Thanks again John. Just wanted to update my last post… and also trying to do whatever I can to get these first-time cruisers to cruise with us on the new Dream.

-Matt and family

John Says:

Hello Matt

Yesterday I sent your comments directly to Vicky Rey, one of our very important and brilliant vice presidents. She is currently looking at your case to see how and if we can help you. Normally I would say you will hear from her via me today but with the flu thingy keeping everyone so very busy it may be Monday before I get to speak to her. However, we are looking at this for you and if something can be done it will be. So, with your permission I will be back to you as soon as I can.

Please send my best to the five first time cruisers and to the rest of your family

Cheers

John

Samantha Garrett Asked:

Please respond–

John,

My friend and I just finished cruising the Western Caribbean on the Freedom (4/19-4/25) with Todd W as the CD. Todd did a wonderful job keeping us informed of the ports and things to do on sea days. His entertainment staff had use laughing hysterically with their skit for the talent show. The Music Connection group were excellent to listen to during the shows especially the Beatles and on deck. We were thrilled with Valeri (table 536 posh upper dining late seating) our head waiter. Valeri was able to make fantastic dining recommendations and chat up our day with those at our table. I was impressed with the visits each night from Boris the assistant maitre d’.

Each day when returning from port we chuckled at the announcements for cruisers who had not returned and in Key West we almost left a couple of folks in port. We were curious…..How often does CCL depart the ports without all passengers and which ports are most infamous for passengers not making it back on time? We figured there might be statistics on this as it seems to occur on a slightly regular basis.

John, good luck with Heidi and the Thingy. I have enjoyed reading your blog.

Thanks,

Sam

John Says:

Hello Sam

It sounds like you had a brilliant time on the Carnival Freedom and I will send your words of praise directly to the ship. As for the people missing the ship, well it does happen but probably not as often as you think. Although I do not have any statistics to hand, I can tell you that while the numbers of people who we actually miss the ship entirely is relatively small, however the number of people who nearly miss the ship – and make it the gangway in the nick of time and arrive just as we are about to sail – is pretty large. It seems that even though the departure times are written in the Carnival Capers, listed on a sign at the gangway and announced by the cruise director over the PA system that some people are oblivious to what time they to be back on board. Now, if someone is on one of our organized ship excursions then of course we are in contact with the tour operator and we know therefore where the guests are and we can then wait. However, if someone is off on their own we have no idea where they are and that means there are times we have to unfortunately leave without them. The captain will always wait as long as he can but with tight schedules to follow we can’t wait forever and thus ……… people do indeed sometimes miss the ship and you can imagine how it feels to come happily wandering down the pier….suddenly stop and look at the empty pier and say to your partner……”It was right there!”

I am glad you didn’t miss the ship and I hope you are looking forward to your next Carnival cruise

Best wishes

John

Bellacruz Asked:

Please reply

I will be on the 5/31 liberty cruise and I have a question regarding airport transportation. My flight gets in at 5 am to Fort Lauderdale but it says that transfers start at noon. What would I do for 7 hours? Also for a transfer back to the airport are there tours offered to kill time. I have a 5 pm flight out of Fort Lauderdale. Please help.

John Says:

Hello Bellacruz

Let’s start with the positive news. Yes, there are indeed tours arranged from the ship specifically for those like you who have a later flight. Here are the excursion details for you to visit the Art Deco area of Miami Beach

Enjoy an exciting guided bus tour of Miami Beach’s world-renowned South Beach / Art-Deco area. See the homes of the rich & famous that reside in Miami. See fast cars, glamorous people, sizzling beaches and live entertainment. Have the opportunity to adventure out into South Beach after the guided excursion. Step upon the # 1 urban beach in the United States, rated in the top 10 most beautiful beaches in the world. Stroll down famous Ocean Drive and see the famous Versace mansion. Have a wonderful lunch in one of the many outdoor cafes or restaurants in the area. Shop on Collins Avenue where many unique designer shops are located

The tour will then take you and your luggage directly to Fort Lauderdale airport where you will arrive around 2:30 pm – 3 pm. This will hopefully be a great last memory of your vacation.

Now, unfortunately I did check and the transfers do in fact only go to 11:30 am so it looks like you may have a long wait at the airport. Now, I would suggest taking a taxi which will cost you about $60 but even if you did that the boarding time on to the ship probably won’t be until around noon so even there you would have to wait for a few hours. Did you book your flight through Carnival or did you book it independently and if so can you change it?

Please let me know having read this if you think I can help you further and I will remain here at your service.

You may have a few hours to wait but the wait……….I promise will be worth it.

Best wishes

John

Mark Asked:

Please Reply

John, you and Heidi look terrific!

I know it is a bit early, but I would like to start planning my 30th wedding anniversary cruise with my darling wife – which is on May 2, 2011.

I do note that carnival.com is showing April 2011 cruises, but is it possible to find out when the May 2011 cruises will be posted? Also, we would like to do a Panama Canal cruise of 14 or 16 days – I don’t see any on the site. Any chance of Panama Canal cruises?

If Carnival doesn’t do, Panama Canal, I certainly would entertain a Princess or HAL cruise. I do wish though that all the sister cruise lines could have some type of loyalty program or share some type of incentives. I just can’t bring myself though to consider that “wanna be a nation cruise line.”

Good luck John and Heidi…and imagine that car seat with a wailing baby, by the way you don’t need a car seat alarm to let you know that the tot has done a number 2, you will smell it first!

John Says:

Hello Mark

You old romantic you……arranging something special for your 30th wedding anniversary. Well, let me see what I can tell you. The dates for 2011 will be set later this summer and then of course I will make sure I tell you all about them so you may have to hang on for a few months more. As for Panama Canal cruises I can tell you that these are very popular and there maybe a chance that we will have more of these in the future and again I will let you know. If I may be bold though may I say the word…….Europe? Although we are currently only offering the three cruises on the Carnival Dream this fall, from a personal note I really hope we will be able to offer fabulous European cruising and that is something that really will make a 30th anniversary very, very special……think Venice.

Princess and Holland America are brilliant cruise lines and they also offer some longer cruising. If you have any questions about this again please let me know and I will grab the answers from my friends there. It is so difficult to combine the loyalty programs with each line having their own different parameters but maybe one day it will happen.

Anyway, I know whichever cruise you decide to spend your anniversary on that it will be a wonderful way for you to say “thank you” to your partner of 30 years and if I can help in anyway I will.

Best to you both

John

Deborah Asked:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY HEIDI!!!

I am an April baby as well and celebrated my day on Saturday!!

John you and Heidi look wonderful, I can even tell you have lost weight – good job!! I know how hard it is, as I’m trying to loose a few pounds before our May 10th cruise on the Pride.

John (please reply) – You asked me to remind you of our May 10th cruise on the Pride – we will be celebrating my parents, George & Anita, 60th wedding anniversary. I’m taking them to dinner at the supper club our last sea night. (Make sure they have lobster left)…if at all possible can we please get my Mom a ship on the stick – she love to collect them. We are in cabin 7203 – Thanks for anything you can do to make this a very special cruise for them.

We were very fortunate to celebrate their 50th on Carnival with the entire family – unfortunately that was not possible for their 60th –

I will be bringing my lap top with me on our cruise – so I won’t miss the Thingy’s arrival should that happen while I’m on vacation!!

All my best to you, Heidi and soon to be Baby Heald!!

Debs

John Says:

Hello Debs

Thanks for the kind birthday wishes for Heidi and for saying that I look a little thinner. I am really trying. How wonderful that your parents are celebrating 60 amazing years together and of course a ship on a stick is the least I can do. Jaime is onboard and she will make sure that they get some special attention and I will personally make sure the lobster is ready for you. Jamie will also keep you informed as to the any new arrivals. Have a wonderful cruise and I wish I could be there with you

My best to all the family

John

Doug Asked:

John (Please Reply)

Greetings from Texas. Happy Birthday to Heidi! Thanks for the pictures today. You guys look great and I am glad to hear that you are both doing well. John, you’re an inspiration to me as I am also trying to loose some weight, and am glad you are doing well on your diet. I love to eat and everything I like is bad for me, so it has been a real battle.

It has been one of those weeks and I to decide to turn off the TV. and in search of a good laugh decided to read today’s Blog. As always, you had me laughing and I think I will spend the rest of the week just thinking about my cruise on Monday on the Imagination.

It doesn’t sound like we will be going to Cozumel, but that’s O.K. . . . As an Airline Pilot I appreciate Carnival’s attitude of SAFETY FIRST! We are not always able to take our passengers where they want to go when they want to go, but Safety has to come first.

A couple of weeks ago I was in the middle of a trip. It was Sunday and during the day I passed thru Dallas/Ft. worth Airport a couple of times. While standing on the jet bridge waiting for the passengers to deplane I noticed a couple of passengers with Carnival bag tags on their bags. I struck up a conversation and found out they were on their way to catch the Carnival Spirit. Then later in the day, I was walking thru the terminal and saw a family with bags and a box, Carnival logo on them, looking like they were on their way home. I wanted to stop and visit, but had to get to my gate for an on time departure. So, if you’re sitting on a plane and are told that they are waiting for one of the pilots to arrive in order to depart, don’t worry. It’s just me having stopped off to “talk ship” and I’ll be right there. After an on time departure we headed for West Palm Beach. We were descending as we past over Tampa, and there was the most beautiful sight out in the Tampa Bay. The Carnival Legend headed out to sea. She looked BEAUTIFUL even from 25,000 feet!

John I wanted to ask, is there an E-Mail address that I can send pictures to? I have taken pictures of the Carnival Billboards here in Ft. Worth and remember you asking for those to be forwarded. Now don’t laugh, O.K. you can, but I don’t know how to attach them here. I’ll be glad to send them if you will tell me the best way to do that.

I am looking forward to the future Blogs with more of an insight into the Captains and their world.

Thanks for all you do, and I know you are going to be a Great Dad!

Doug

John Says:

Hello Doug

Thanks for the kind words and I wish you much success with your diet. It isn’t easy but I am really trying hard. It’s great to read that you understand the reasons why we have decided to cancel the Mexican ports especially you being a captain yourself. As you say passenger safety is always the number one concern and we all acknowledge the wonderful work you do in this regard every time you take to the skies. Your description of the Carnival Legend from 25,000 feet was wonderful and I am sure its one of many great sights you must get to see………..have you ever considered writing a blog? Please could you send the billboard photos to us here on the blog and Stephanie will provide details now on how to do that…………..here she is.

Hi, just email the photos to socialnetworking@carnival.com. Thanks!

Thanks again for the great story and we all wish you safe flights and smooth landings

Cheers

John

Ken and Nancy Asked:

Hi we have cruised several times this will be our third on Carnival. We are scheduled this June from Los Angeles porting in the Mexican Rivera, We have a great concern. We are a family of seven, me and my wife, along with three of our children and my in laws. Who are in their late 70s, we have been waiting to cruise the Pacific side and now we have a fear of the swine flu. I don’t know what you Carnival are going to do about cruises in June but when we contacted the cruise line they have not planned that far ahead. Then when we contacted the airline they are not as concerned or showing any care since they said how do they know what we are doing when we get to LA, see we booked our airline on our own not via the cruise so they don’t see it other then the proof we have saying we are cruising from LA to Mexico. We are really concerned about this health issue and we do not want to lose any money from either the cruise line or the airline company, I am pretty sure carnival if they do cancel will adjust what we spend but I do not know about the airline as of yet. We have been waiting for this trip for so long to see this concern it is sad to all of us. We had planned on doing this trip last year but we had taken some guest with us who were first time cruiser and our agent advised us to keep first time cruiser on the east side or the Caribbean so we choice to take the Legend from FL and went down to the Caribbean and this year we went ahead with our plans and did book the LA cruise to the Mexican Riviera and we have been excited about it getting near and BOOM the flu. What a scare and what do we do, we want to travel with you Carnival but we are in fear of what is happening. What can we do where do we go, our travel agent said wait it is not close enough to worry keep your concerns but don’t change any thing yet. Now it is getting near and my in laws who of course with the age they always have some concern about health. Also myself I am a disabled individual with my own health issue although we have been wanting nothing but to see this beautiful side of Mexico but not if it is going to cause a health issue. Please listen and please advise us what to do. We have already paid in full the cruise and the airfare and we are booked on the upper deck with a beautiful balcony off the back of the ship this is something we have been waiting for. I can’t believe this is happening now. But of course health is our first issue. We will visit any port you can offer as long as we will be safe. Our scheduled plan is on the Splendor what a wonderful ship this seems to be also. Please let us know because before you know it the time will be here. Hoping to hear from you soon. Thank you in advance the Andersons, from New Jersey.

John Says:

Hello Ken and Nancy

I realize that there is a time delay in answering these questions by about 48 hours from the time they are posted. Hopefully therefore you have seen that Carnival is allowing guest to re-book their cruise at a later date. Now saying that, we have cancelled all Mexican port calls through the departures of May 11, however, we have not made any definite decision yet for June and beyond. We are closely monitoring the situation and of course will heed the advice of the various government bodies that we are in contact with.

I am sorry the airlines are not being as customer service oriented as maybe they should be and I can understand how frustrated and somewhat nervous you feel.

Personally if I was you I would wait and see what happens during the next 14 days. Then, let’s review what you need to do then.

You also have two choices as far as the cruise is concerned which hopefully should ease your mind somewhat. You can postpone your vacation and take a future cruise instead at no extra cost……………or still sail as planned on your seven-day itinerary and still enjoy all the wonderful amenities that the Splendor has to offer.

I am going to be here for you regardless and take a deep breath………….and don’t worry.

I send my best to you all and I will wait for you to write again

John

Lon & Roxianne Asked:

Heidi – Happy Birthday! You look wonderful!

John – Keep up the good work on the diet.

Please Reply – We are cruising on the Legend May 24 – 31. If they cancel Cozumel on this cruise do you think they will put in a different port (say Jamaica), stay later in Grand Cayman or just turn it into a day at sea? We would love an opportunity to experience the nightlife in port one of these days.

Thanks.

Roxi

John Says:

Hello Roxi

Thanks for Heidi’s birthday wishes and please keep telling me I look wonderful…… I like that.

Well the Carnival Legend is another of the fleet that was due to call at Cozumel and of course we are not doing this for the time being. We are looking at all the options for the fleet and of course where possible we will replace the cancelled ports with other destinations. As for future plans, it’s really too soon to tell. We’ll have to see how everything sorts out over the next few weeks and let you know.As for night time calls, that is something that is done on an occasional basis depending on the port but most ports are strictly day time calls.

Please keep checking here on the blog thingy and I hope to have news on your itinerary soon. Regardless I know you will have fun and I will be here to answer any questions you may have.

Best wishes to you and the family and I promise you will have a brilliant cruise on the Carnival Legend

John

Lisa Asked:

Hi John! (Please reply)

You mentioned that you will be visiting Carnival Dream again in June, and I was wondering if you could get some pictures of the ‘aft’ balconies. My husband & I are booked in one in Jan, (& we are SO excited!)

Loved the picture of you & Heidi in today’s blog. You both look great, and I can’t wait to hear about the birth of baby ‘thingy’ and to finally have a real name for him/her! I think it’s a girl

Lisa

John Says:

Hello Lisa

Funny isn’t it. Most people who have seen Heidi have said they think it’s a boy ……….. hopefully we will know soon. I will of course take photos for you and I think I may have to ask everyone to remind me of what they want pictures of before I go. The aft balconies are some of the best views onboard and you have every reason to be excited

Best Wishes and thanks for the kind words.

John

Juan Asked:

Hi John (please reply)

I just want to know what’s going on with Cozumel’s trip because I have heard it’s being cancelled but how can I know?

John Says:

Hello Juan

Please have a look at the schedules and information we have posted above. All the Mexican ports have been cancelled through the departures of May 11. Please let me know if you have a follow up question and I will be very glad to help you any way I can

Cheers

John

Diane Asked:

Being new to this blog thing I am not at all sure that this is where I should be. John- I have a question for you and I am told that I should put URGENT- PLEASE REPLY

We did a Mediterranean cruise last year on the Freedom and had such a great time that we are now booked on the Dream in October. The only smallest of complaints that I would have about last year is that when we were in Livorno although the schedule said that we docked at 7:00 we were not allowed to leave the port until 8:00. It seemed that to get past the port gates we must get a bus (we were not allowed to walk for safety reasons) and although there were cabs available they refused to take us to the train station. They were only looking for full day tours. We had really wanted to catch an 8:26 train and were unable to do so because of the delay getting out of the port. My question is: Do you know if the same situation will be in force for the upcoming cruises for the Dream? Is there any way to leave the port before 8:00 other than to take a ships excursion? Very much looking forward to our Dream vacation!!

John Says:

Hello Diane

Hello Diane and welcome to the blog. I am glad you found us. I am glad you had a great time on the Carnival Freedom and I am sure you must be excited about the Carnival Dream. I know exactly what you mean about the train and shuttle bus situation and I am sorry to say it will be the same as last year. The shuttle bus will indeed start running at 8 am to take you to the short ride into Livorno and then of course you have to walk to the train station. This shuttle bus is not run by Carnival but arranged by the port authority because as you said guests are not allowed to walk through the very long and busy pier area. The only suggestion I have is to do what many do and either take a Carnival excursion or you can offer the taxi drivers 20 euro to take you to the station……this sometimes works because as you correctly stated they rudely refuse to take you for a normal fare.

I will mention the shuttle bus situation to the port authority again this year and see if we can get them to start earlier however I failed miserably last time. I will let you know if I have any better luck

The Carnival Dream is going to be amazing.

Best wishes to you all.

John

Irene Garner Asked:

Dear John…….. Please reply

I do hope the person on our recent cruise who took possession of my grandson’s camera and case reads this blog and will feel a little bit guilty about not handing it in to the guest’s relations desk or some other responsible person. We were on the Carnival Paradise from April 10th to 13th, and on the last evening my grandson took the camera with him to photograph the friends he had made at the O2 club. Later, a few of them went for ice cream, and probably wandered around the ship too, but it wasn’t until we were packing our last few items the next morning and waiting to disembark that we noticed the camera was not around. My grandson is sure he brought it back to the cabin, but we searched high and low. We also went to guest relations and even asked the O2 director to open up the club so we could take a look inside there. No sign at all. We couldn’t search any other place on the ship as it was time for us to get off and the public areas of the ship were closed off. Since getting home I have talked to the lost and found department in Miami and sent photos of the camera and the camera case to them, but nothing has been handed in so far.

So many memories of the cruise are now lost to us. The camera was not top-of-the line, but it took great pictures. It was a Canon A470 7.1 mega pixels, grey in colour with a black and green camera case and long black strap. It feels creepy that somebody would actually take the camera to keep for themselves and look through the photographs we took. There’s nothing there we wouldn’t show anyone else, but it almost makes us feel violated. Not only that but this camera was a 17th birthday gift from his mother.

I know you can do a lot for us bloggers but in this case all I ask is that this is posted in your “Please reply” section so that, in the remote possibility the person who has the camera reads this, then they will return it as soon as possible.

Thanks…Irene Garner

John Says:

Hello Irene

I was so sorry to read your posting. As always with a lost camera it is never the camera itself but the memories contained therein that people miss the most. It’s a shame that some people believe that the old expression “finders keepers” is still relevant today. It isn’t.

I wish there was something I could do and I hope that whoever has it does indeed have huge dollop of guilt and decides to return to Carnival so we can return it to you.

I am so sorry

John

Mike & Lori Asked:

John,

Thanks for the great picture of you and Heidi and baby Thingy! Also thanks to Chris for the info on Alaska as we are going in May 2010. If Chris is retiring, do you know who will be the CD? Well, relax while you can and enjoy your days together.

Mike & Lori

John Says:

Hello Mike and Lori

Thank you for the kind words. I am not sure who is taking over from Chris “Bubba” Roberts when he retires. Chris Prideaux we hope will return to the office soon and then we can work out the cruise director schedule for the rest of the year and then I can post a copy here.

I hope we get to sail with each other soon

Best wishes mate

John

That’s all for today and as ever you know where I am if you need me. By the way, I know many of you publish your reviews of your latest cruise on the Cruise Critic and Cruise Mates boards but I would really appreciate it if you can post your reviews here on the blog thingy as well. Now, they do not need to have any structure. They can be as short as a list of great French military victories or as long as Eddie the Elephants thingy when he sees Eileen the Elephant dressed in stockings and suspenders.

The reason for this is that it gives me a chance to send the feedback directly to the ship and to those at the top at Carnival and it means that the praise that you will hopefully give will also be able to be sent directly to the people onboard as well. So, I look forward in the future to reading your reviews here on the blog.

Well, swine flu or whatever we are supposed to call it is still big news in the media. I am told from onboard that the guests are mostly handling the changes with total understanding and that the constant reminders by the cruise directors for guests and crew to wash their hands often with warm water, soap, use hand sanitizers, of course, practice good hygiene.

Anyway, let us again hope that this goes away quickly and we can all get back to normal.

Here once again is Vance our friend from Carnival’s PR department to post the latest statement.

STATEMENT REGARDING H1N1 (SWINE) FLU ITINERARY CHANGES

Miami, FL – Friday, May 1, 2009 – 9:45 am

Carnival Cruise Lines has cancelled all port of call visits in Mexico for 16 of its ships that were previously scheduled to stop in that country.

Itineraries for vessels departing between Thursday, April 30 and Monday, May 11 that included stops in Mexico have been modified. In many instances, the modification simply involved substituting an alternate port. Full details on the modified itineraries to date are available by clicking here.

Guests who do not wish to sail on a modified itinerary may opt to receive a refund in the form of a future cruise credit equal to the full amount paid for the voyage. The credit may be applied to an alternate sailing departing through the end of 2010. Compensation for missed ports/altered itineraries (where applicable) for guests who sail varies by itinerary.

With four and five-day cruises from Galveston and New Orleans that are being converted to seven-day voyages, those guests may opt to receive their refund in the form of a future cruise credit or money back.

For cruises departing after May 11, an update will be provided in the near future. Guests are encouraged to check carnival.com periodically for further updates.

If you have any questions about the new itineraries (especially for the Carnival Fantasy and Carnival Ecstasy) please let me know by marking your comments John please reply.

One more thing. I was surprised that on the BBC yesterday a health expert told us that face masks don’t actually help, in his opinion. I don’t just mean in Mexico – they aren’t rendered useless by the proximity of a large, droopy moustache – they may not help anyone. According to this health expert, they need to be changed every few minutes to have any real benefit. This is a pity. A global move towards the wearing of face masks was probably Michael Jackson’s last chance of blending into a crowd.

I want to comment briefly on the subject raised by a blogger that too many cruise directors do the same jokes…….and that’s true of course. As I mentioned in a blog a few days ago there are some “stock” jokes that can be heard on most ships on most lines. These usually concern the toilets, the top ten silliest questions asked by guests and the one about the “male prostitute” which I stole back in 1990 and even though I stopped telling it a year or so later is still told by many, many cruise directors.

That’s why the best cruise directors are the ones who have learned that the star of the show should not be them……..but the guests. That’s why I have to respectfully disagree with the blogger who said that the spoon game most of us do on the first night of the cruise is boring. Well, if it’s done right it really should not be. For me, the first night welcome aboard show is the most important of the cruise. It sets the scene for the entire week and for a cruise director it allows a chance to sell ourselves to you…….what do I mean by that?

Well, if a cruise director can sell themselves as someone fun then the following morning when he or she asks guests to come to the lounge to listen to them talk about the ports and the excursions they will hopefully do so because the guest thinks “Oh, that’s the chap who made us laugh last night, let’s go and see what he is doing.” Or, when the CD comes over the PA system with a rundown of the events of the day then hopefully the guest will listen because once again they recognize the voice and know they need to listen. By the way, nobody gives you any training in the use of the PA system and trust me, it’s harder to use than you might imagine. First of all you can’t hear yourself so it’s hard to judge volume and finding the right time to make announcements and even more importantly the right length is also very difficult.

Ultimately, you are always going to disturb someone. I don’t mean in the cabins as we only make announcements inside the staterooms when there is something we feel the entire ship needs to hear. What I do mean is that with speakers in the guest corridors you may disturb someone who is still asleep at 10:30 am or disturb someone having a nap in the sun. However, we need to get the information out there. Now, I read the occasional comment that says people think we should not use it all and they don’t care about what’s on sale in the onboard shops or what the drink special of the day is. “You are just trying to make money ,” they say.

Well………..ummmmm……..that’s a part of it, of course. It would be ridiculous for us to say otherwise but there are lots of people on board who use the announcements to keep up to date with what’s going throughout the ship.

Now saying that we should keep the announcements to three a day. I tend to do mine on a sea day at 10:30 am……1 pm…….and 7 pm and try my best to keep them three minutes or less……sometimes………and I know this will be hard for you to comprehend ….. but sometimes I do waffle on a bit. I do though always try and keep the announcements entertaining and as well as promoting the revenue areas I try to add a big dollop of humor as well.

So, as usual on a Friday I would like to encourage all of you to post your comments about the announcements over the PA system. We are looking at this area carefully and also how we can use the in cabin TV’s a bit more.

However, your help is needed here. I would like to know what you think based on your experiences. Please include the good and the bad. Tell me if the CD was clear over the PA or if the announcements were to long or too short or…….well, you get the picture. Just as they have been in so many other areas recently your comments are so very important and we all look forward to reading them.

Back to the welcome aboard show which as I mentioned is so very important to me and so very unpredictable………….here is one of my favorite first night memories.

So, there I am on the Carnival Triumph and I have my usual eight people on stage. The show finishes with the spoon game but really it’s all about the interviews, breaking the ice and making stars of the people onboard. Well during the interviews everyone was wonderful and I managed to find something worth sharing with the audience in them all and things were going well……except one lady who gave me one syllable answers to every question and honestly was as cold as polar bear’s penis. Anyway, we had some huge laughs from the audience for the rest of guests on stage and things were going well. After the interviews had finished I started to explain to the guests how we play the spoon game.

For those who don’t know, a spoon is tied to a long piece of string and we pass it down inside the ladies’ blouses and down the men’s pants……..it’s lots of fun. Now just before I continue remember each person on stage volunteered to come on stage. I went out into the audience and asked them to join me and they all said “yes.”

So, back to the game and as I walked down the line and approached Mrs. Frosty and told her what I wanted her to do……..she looked at me………and said loudly enough that my microphone picked up her words “This is why we should have cruised on Celebrity” — and walked off the stage grabbed her husband by the arm and out of the lounge to mostly silence sprinkled with a few boos from the audience

BUGGER!

So, I made some joke…….can’t remember what but I think I recovered and then of course I was left with one short for the game. Well, this time after what had just happened I asked for a volunteer and up scampered another lady and after her introduction the game got under way…..and all was going well … until……one man got the spoon stuck in his pants ……….he couldn’t get it out so do you know what he did ……… he waved me over……leaned on me and then……..he unscrewed his leg …….. took the leg off….the spoon was tangled in the framework …..he untangled it and the rest is just one big blur of uncontrollable laughter and applause from 1,600 people.

The man whose name I just can’t remember was a hero and received hero status for the entire cruise………as for Mrs. Frosty……well she was in her cabin dreaming of basket weaving lessons on Celebrity.

The cruise director can if he or she wishes really set the scene and that’s why in my humble opinion we have the best in the business with some very young and exciting talent waiting in the wings. I for one can’t wait to get back to the stage to help create some everlasting hilarious memories for you.

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.