Ryan's Birthday Cruise

May 7, 2009 -

John Heald

These days if you wake up with the flu, the American navy will come round to your house, bend you over a table inject you with plasma and take samples of your liver to their biochemical warfare centre in Atlanta. And when they’ve gone away, men in nuclear spillage boiler suits will want to know if you’ve had any contact with Las Pigos de Mexico.

This morning I woke up to find I have a runny nose, a sore throat, and every few minutes my eyes fill with water: all the ingredients you need to make a convincing Nyquil commercial for the television………….I don’t have swine flu………I have man flu ……… which is even worse. And it’s an illness women do not understand. It’s not a cold …….. that’s what women get………this is, as I said……………man flu.

I am being very careful not to go to close to Heidi and the unborn Thingy and she in turn has quarantined me to one room of the house. She has me drinking hot lemon (sugar-free drinks) but as I told her …….there is no cure for man flu. However, I have taken my own steps to make the transition to my certain death a little easier.

I have told Heidi at least ten times this morning “I think I am coming down with something.”

I have retired to the couch and lay down making sure first that I grabbed the remote control and have full view of the TV from my stricken position

I have taken my temperature a dozen times and each time it didn’t show that I have a reading of 200 degrees, I shouted “bloody thing is broken.”

I have demanded lashings of chicken soup be delivered to the couch and at lunch time I managed to conjure up the strength to eat two lightly boiled eggs and some rivita ………… which……..and you won’t believe this……..took 18 minutes from being ordered to my heavily pregnant wife bringing it to my couch of death.

Every time Heidi walks into the room I say, ” I’m going toward the light…….don’t take me ……….I am not ready yet.”

After my boiled eggs I took my temperature again…..it was still normal and still therefore ……..broken.

The final straw for Heidi was when I said, “I am going to take a nap……..if I don’t wake up please bury me with my raspberry and make sure I am wearing my favorite pair of underwear.”

That was when she told me to bugger off and write a blog……..so here I am ……….. writing to you with lumps of snot dripping onto the keyboard.

You see, women have no idea how to treat a man when they are ill so I have come up with this very handy guide which I hope women all over the world will read and use the next time their better half gets man flu.

Here are the “must do’s”

1. Repeatedly say “Oh my poor baby, you are so brave. I could never know of such pain even though I have given birth.”

2. Lie about the reading when you take your partners temperature and say “You’re so hot, the reading is off the scale, by rights you should be dead already, you must be fighting it you brave stud muffin.”

3. Make sure you plump up his pillows and be available to serve him food immediately it is requested.

4. Say “Don’t worry about me watching my favorite programs for the next few days. It is important that you watch sports and movies with car chases and explosions until you are feeling better.”

Here are the don’ts

1. Ladies you must never say “You have the cold I had, just take some Advil and then take the garbage out.”

2. “I had the same cold and I still looked after the kids and the house and the dog and learned two Asian languages you over grown pathetic baby”

3. Ladies – you must not expect any immediate recovery
Heidi said to me today that women get over colds in half the time men do ….. which to me is proof positive that women………..never get man flu.

OK, time to blow my nose……….and then answer today’s questions……here we … “attishoo”………bugger, my computer screen is green………let me just wipe it off with my sleeve…………OK, here we go.

Bill Copper Asked:
Please reply.
My wife and our three boys are looking forward to our cruise on the Freedom June 14. I thought I read earlier that you would be the CD for our cruise, but then read recently that you would not be starting back on the Freedom until later in the month. Do you have an update? We’re looking forward to seeing you (and hopefully Lewis Nixon).
On a separate note, I read this news story today and wondered if you have a comment:
“Ted Nugent, rock star and avid bow hunter from Michigan, was being interviewed by a French journalist, an animal rights activist.
The discussion came around to deer hunting.
The journalist asked, ‘What do you think is the last thought in the head of a deer before you shoot him?
Is it, ‘Are you my friend?’ or is it ‘Are you the one who killed my brother?’
Nugent replied, ‘Deer aren’t capable of that kind of thinking. All they care about is, what am I going to eat next, who am I going to screw next, and can I run fast enough to get away. They are very much like the French.’
The interview ended. ”
Hope to see you soon,
Bill, Chelo, and the boys.

John Says:
Hello Bill
I have requested that Lewis be there for your cruise as you went to school with him. I am sure he will be thrilled to see you. Unfortunately my confirmed return date is the 20th so I will miss seeing you and the family. I am so sorry and hopefully we can get to sail together one day soon though.
The comment from Ted Nugent was priceless and it gave me a wonderful laugh this morning and I have passed it onto some of my mates who……….being British …………. also have a love/hate relationship with our French friends.
I hope you all have a great time on this family vacation and I apologize that I cannot be there with you
Best wishes

Frank and Bridie Rist Asked:
Hi John please respond,
I think if you can’t be our CD in May next year on the dream that we should at least do lunch before or after your bloggers cruise this year in December on the dream seeing that we and Linda Hernacki live only 15 minutes from port Canaveral. I’m sure Linda would agree with me on that one. By the way that peach soup is oh so good!
Big Fans Always,
Frank and Bridie

John Says:
Hello Frank and Bridie
Actually I am in discussion with Roger and Chris about my 2010 schedule at the moment so let’s see what happens and of course I will let you know. Regardless I am sure we can get to see each other in Florida before, during or after the cruise.
As always I send my best to you both

DocF Asked:
Hi John, (Please Reply)
Please tell me you are not going to steal Jaime away from the Carnival Pride on the August 21 cruise! We met her on the Carnival Splendor’s transatlantic cruise and had a great time with her.
Since she graduated from Michigan State, and we live in North Carolina, we really wanted to talk college basketball with her. Hee Hee.
Seriously, Jaime is a great asset to Carnival, as you know, and we love her like our own daughter.

John Says:
Hello Doc
Well, will you tell your daughter to please stop dithering and send me another Dear John letter? She keeps coming up with excuses like “I am really busy.” Busy ….she is spending all day looking for Mr Right.
Seriously though we should have a Dear John letter from her soon and I doubt she will be with me in August on the Carnival Freedom. She is as you say a huge asset and one that Carnival is lucky to have.
I will make sure she gets to see this and I thank you so much for the very kind words

Debbie Asked:
John, Please reply:
We just finished our 8 day cruise on the Freedom. We had a great time. Our cabin steward Delia was the best we had ever over 6 cruises. We looked forward to seeing her every day. I also tried the acupuncture in the Spa. Jessica was great and I would recommend this to everyone. Also, the Freedom was hands down the cleanest ship we have ever been on. I’m not saying the others were bad, just that you would see cups on the elevators, dishes in the hallways etc. Not on the Freedom. I’m sure guests left them out but crew must have been right behind them picking them up. I was truly impressed. Here are a few comments I would like to make. First the embarkation at Fort Lauderdale is not the best or safest. Having fork lifts intentionally driving through lines of guests is dangerous. Here are guest in lines all excited about their vacation and talking to each other and suddenly fork lifts comes right in the middle of the line. I’m really surprised no kids have been hurt. I heard a lot of guests talking about this all through the cruise. Also the very long lines outside and inside for embarkation. I have been to 4 other ports and never seen lines like this. Once we got past all the lines and reached the ship there was 1 person there to greet us onboard. Yes that is right 1 person. And we were never welcomed “back” to carnival with the exception of the past guest party. Then we were really disappointed when during the muster drill the ship pulled out of port. This is a highlight for your guests, getting to wave as we pull out of port to all the people standing on shore. By the time the muster drill was over and we were allowed to leave, we were too far out to see the shore at all. This is another thing many guests were unhappy about and talking about during the entire week. Now to skip to debarkation. Everything seemed to be going smooth until we collected our luggage and rounded a corner only to find the longest line ever. A Carnival employee came up to several of us after we had been standing in line for about 20 minutes to very harshly tell us that there were 3 lines were there should only be 1 and we needed to fix it. The man standing next to me asked if he could get his comment card back because she was so rude to us. Another person behind us commented that he guessed since we were done spending money they no longer cared to be nice to us. John, just so you know this was the only unpleasant person we ran into who was a Carnival employee and unfortunately it was the last Carnival employee many people encountered which often means it is the person they remember. I’m sorry this is so long, but I do have a few questions for you. We only saw our cruise director a couple of times. We had some really rough weather the first couple of days on board. Bad enough that even the crew were getting sick. Activities were moved inside. It seems to me that all the entertainment staff including the cruise director should have been very visible to reassure and encourage the guests. Even when the weather was better we rarely saw Todd. James seemed to be doing his duties most of the time. I never actually saw Todd in any Carnival uniform. He did wear a suit to the past guest party. Mostly he wore khaki shorts and a shirt. So maybe we did see him and just didn’t realize he was with Carnival. My questions are these: What are Carnivals policies about employees and uniforms? And what about when they are off duty? Are they allowed to drink alcohol in front of guests? We had 3 of the entertainment staff sit next to us at a show and all were drinking beer. They had name tags on but not uniforms. Then when we were in the supper club, the same ones were there this time with their uniforms and name tags on and they were drinking wine. At the same time the cruise director and his girlfriend another crew member were in the supper club and they were also drinking wine. How much time off do the entertainment staff and other crew members get each week. The one who sat next to us at one show and was at the supper club when we were also told me he was spending the day at Atlantis in Nassau and would be in the Casino there. I’m just curious. One other comment, Melissa did the scrapbooking on this trip. All she did was sit at a table and work on the entertainment staff rotation. She did not interact with the guests. Many of the guests just left. I heard comments that they couldn’t believe she wasn’t going to talk to them or help them or anything. I also think this would have worked better if it was in a lounge where there were fewer people walking by and less noise. We were right outside the casino and next to the Viennese Cafe.

John Says:
Hello Debbie
Thank you for this honest account of your cruise and I am happy to read that you had a great time. I have passed this onto quite a few people and they to will appreciate reading your thoughts. Let me start with an apology for the apparent rudeness of one of the embarkation staff. We’ll advise the appropriate folks here at Carnival.
I have been the cruise director on ships out of Fort Lauderdale and I know that the space in the terminal building is not as much as we would like and that you will definitely need a lot of patience as you wait to be processed through immigration and then through the lines to collect luggage. I will definitely address the fork lift truck issue as that as you said could be dangerous and apologies for that as well.
Then, to answer your questions. Well, I will start with some defense for Todd and all the cruise directors that these days it is not as easy to be “all around the ship” as it was a few years ago. There is so much more that goes on behind the scenes that requires the cruise director to sit behind a computer and to attend safety meetings and the like. I won’t bore you with too many details but I myself know that it is not as easy to be a visible cruise director as it once was. Saying that though this must change as there is nothing more important than the cruise director hosting shows, activities and being accessible to the guests.
I will be sending this to Todd and I know that he will be distraught to learn that a guest did not see enough of him during the cruise and I know he will take your comments very seriously. Todd has been chosen to be the cruise director of the Carnival Dream because he is simply………our best cruise director and reading your comment will I know rejuvenates him to be even better. I also know that he will be taking a long look at the comments you made about the scrapbooking class. This is supposed to be an event where guests are taught the art of scrapbooking and I know Todd will make sure that there is a an instant improvement here as well.
Now, you asked about uniform. Well, this depends on the position onboard. The cruise directors really have a free hand in what they wear. Many…….like Todd…….will wear shorts and polo during the day and a suit or smart pants and shirt at night. Todd can do this because unfortunately he is according to many ladies …….good looking…….where as I being slightly rotund and ugly prefer to wear a blazer, tie and trousers during the day and a suit at night. I guess the clothes should suit the personality and the overall image of the CD and that’s why Todd, with his high energy approach to his job, prefers the casual look.
As regards other departments. Well, there are very strict rules about daytime and nighttime wear which each crewmember must follow. There are different rules for each department but regardless every crewmember who has access to the public areas must be smartly dressed and all crewmembers……..regardless of rank………must wear a name tag at all times in both guest and crew areas……….this is as much for security purposes as well as for guests to be aware who works onboard.
Regarding your question about drinking, yes we do allow certain staff members to be in guest areas and yes they are allowed to drink alcohol within reason. There also strict rules about this as well as you can imagine. Time off is really dependant on the position. Every crewmember has some time off. For example, your waiter will work breakfast, lunch and dinner for six of the seven-day cruise but one day he or she will not work breakfast or lunch which means they have a port day off until dinner time. For people like the dining room staff and the stateroom stewards, time off is not as much as much as say a dancer or a casino employee but I can say that every crewmember works very hard and complete 24-hour days off are very rare indeed.
I hope this answers some of your questions and if you have any follow ups please let me know. I thank you once again for taking the time to write and I truly hope that you had a brilliant cruise.
Best wishes

Gale Mitchell Asked:
John, please respond a let me and my husband know for sure if you will still be the CD on the Freedom on the Aug 23 sailing. We are going to book this cruise if you are. We did this same cruise in Dec but are looking forward to another cruise with you, since the last time we cruised with you was back in 1997 on the Destiny. This will be our 17th cruise with Carnival. Thanks Gale

John Says:
Hello Gale
Yes, I will indeed be the CD on August 23rd. It will actually be my last trip on the Carnival Freedom before heading to Europe for the carnival Dream hand over ceremony. So I will see you then.
Let me know if there is anything else I can do for you
Best wishes

cheri Bolchoz Asked:
John (Please Reply)
1st I hope Heidi & you are doing well, & hope all goes well with the birth.
Couple of things I need your help with.
1. I checked the price on our July 2nd cruise on 5/2 & the price had dropped from our original price- a difference of $147.50, so I called to get OBC as we have done in the past. Final payment day was 5/3. We had paid for the cruise in full back in April. The lady (Maria) told me it would be taken care of. I checked today & no OBC, so I called my PVP with Carnival to see what he could do. He is wonderful; he is going to talk with his supervisor. Maybe you can do something to help this.
2. Can you send Trevor Block my email & as him to email me. I have a few things I would like to check with him about for my 50th birthday on the 4th. Just mention Michael’s Freddy Tattoo, he will remember us.
3. Any word from Josh “Big Sexy” I have not heard from him & he did want us to stay in touch.
4. Any idea when I can look for the Christmas Ornaments?
I will be sending you a copy of the other tattoo. The one of the funnel
Take care & best wishes to Heidi
Cheri & Michael

John Says:
Hello Cheri and Michael.
Thanks firstly for the kind words for Heidi and I. Now, to your questions.
If you have not heard back from your PVP by the time you read this please let me know. Send me your booking number and the name of the personal vacation planner and I will certainly be more than happy to help you. Hopefully by now it has been taken care so I will wait for your advice.
I have sent Trevor your e-mail and I am sure he will be in touch with you. I am not surprised he remembers Michael’s Fun Ship Freddy tattoo………it’s brilliant.
I am surprised you have not heard from Josh yet. Let me send this again. I know he was very busy at our event in Baltimore but he is back on the Carnival Miracle now so I will send him once again your details.
The Christmas ornaments are in Chris’s office. I had been set to ask him to express mail them to you but then he was taken ill. As soon as he is back I promise faithfully they will be with you.
As always I send my best to you both and please let me know what happens with regard to all of the above

Dennis Asked:
John, Please reply;
I have a question about the Supper club on the Splendor. How many seats does it have and what are the table sizes. Also for the reservations is it ongoing each evening or are there two seatings and if so what time. We are working on a group for next June to celebrate my wife’s 50th birthday and we want to have as many of our group that want to, dine with us one evening in the supper club. Please answer when you can. I know time is getting short for the thingy’s arrival and you will be a very busy (and proud papa) May you and Heidi have all the joy that we did in raising two fine sons.
Dennis Casteel

John Says:
Hello Dennis
The supper club on the Carnival Splendor is called The Pinnacle and it is…. absolutely brilliant. The tables range from intimate tables for two people to tables of 4, 6 and 8. We can also make tables for ten as well when needed. The Pinnacle opens at 6 pm and there are no specific seating times but reservations are made up until 9 pm or thereabouts. The cost is $30 per person and you can make reservations online or when you get onboard by dialing 1078 from any phone. It is located on deck 11 aft and please try the Porterhouse steak. It sounds like you have a wonderful celebration planned and if there is anything I can do as it gets closer please let me know
Thanks for the kind words and my best wishes to you all

Jeanette Asked:
Pweaaaase reply!!!!!
John, I would like to know who’ll be the CD on the Splendor for September since I heard Steve Kniseley won’t be the CD (me sad–he is rather cute…). I wish you could be the CD, but you’ll have a wee one to bond with and to start teaching him or her bad habits!!!
Thanks John and perhaps Mothers Day will be the day!!!

John Says:
Hello Jeanette
I am sure the Thingy will pick up some of my bad habits……..if I teach him or her right. Anyway, the cruise director will be Gustav or Goose as he is known for your Carnival Splendor cruise. I know you will really find him to be superb and he and his staff will make sure you have unlimited fun while you are there.
Thanks for the kind words and yes………….maybe Mothers Day.
Best wishes

Lon & Roxianne Asked:
John – Please Reply
Our youngest son is considering applying for a job with Carnival Cruise Line. Some friends of ours said it probably won’t happen because the cruise lines don’t hire many people from the USA. Is this true information? I remember seeing a guy on the dance team from the USA on one of our past cruises. Nik just thinks it would be a cool job, he has no formal entertainment training (we think he is funny though).

John Says:
Hello Roxianne
Thanks for taking the time to write. Well, the comment about Carnival not hiring too many people from North America is not exactly correct. Although some of the service departments such as the dining room and housekeeping departments do not employ many North Americans, however, in places like guest services (pursers), entertainment department, gift shops, casino, spa and others we have lots of folks from the U.S. and Canada. If your son is interested in becoming part of the entertainment staff may I suggest he has a look at www.carnivalentertainment.com This will show him what the job is all about and how to apply and being funny…….as you proudly say your son is ……….would be one of the requirements. So, let me know if you or your son have any questions and I will be happy to help further
Best wishes

Stacey Asked:
John (Please reply),
I had a WONDERFUL bartender (I think she may have been a head bartender) in the Sports Bar on my first Valor cruise 5/05. Her name was Angela A. (I have her last name if you need it) from Romania. I think after Valor she was on Victory, and I wondered if you could put some feelers out and try to track her down for me.
There are LOADS of people over on Cruise Critic always trying to track down their favorite crew members…has anyone ever thought of starting some sort of optional database or message board so passengers can keep in touch, or sail again with, their favorite crew members?

John Says:
Hello Stacey
Let me start with your second question first. I have many people here contact me about various crewmembers who they enjoyed so much on one of the Carnival ships and they want to know where they are now. Certainly a database for that would be wonderful but I am sorry to say it is not going to happen. Do you know we have 20,000-plus crew members at sea at any given time plus a weekly turnover of crew leaving to go on vacation and their replacements joining which is also 1,000 plus a week? So, to manage a public database like that would be very difficult indeed. Plus of course there are some privacy issues involved as well. However, I can, when asked help you find the crewmember you are looking for. I know Angela very well and she is currently serving our guests onboard the Carnival Liberty and if you would like me to send her a message I would be more than happy to do so. Maybe you could mention this to our friends on Cruise Critic.
Best wishes to you and the family

LisaK Asked:
John–please reply.
Hi John,
I’m catching up on a week’s worth of blogs, so please forgive the length of my comments. You asked about what makes a great CD which leads me to my question…have you heard from Shawn Bussey? Has her little one arrived yet? If so, boy or girl? I hope she and her family are doing well.
Now, onto my comments:
Announcements–when we tried somethingoftheseas, we LOVED that there was a switch inside the cabin that allowed passengers to control the volume. You could turn it up or down depending on whether or not you wanted to hear the announcements. Of course, emergency announcements override the in-cabin switch. We like to hear the announcements and are frustrated when they sound like mumbles from inside our cabin.
What makes a good CD–I don’t think there is a formula. We have many favorites…you, Todd Wittmer, Shawn, Big Tex, and Josh Big Sexy (asst CD)…you all are very different. We had reached a point that we were getting kind of bored w/the same shows, jokes, etc., but then we were on a sailing with Todd on the Miracle when Carnival first came to Baltimore. He and his entertainment staff did all kinds of new events and activities. The other thing that was so impressive about Todd was his interaction w/his staff and how much fun they all were clearly having–people like Big Tex and Karl with a K were on that sailing with Todd. And, we all know how successful they have become. Shawn was great at gearing her sailings to the type of passengers onboard but still having a lot of fun. For example, Hawaii cruise clientele is different than Caribbean clientele. You, of course, are in a class of your own–nuff said!
Carnival Fun Day in Baltimore was fantastic. I can’t tell you how much fun we had. It was a joy spending time with other bloggers–Sallie and Mike, Lori and Tom, Derick, Linda, etc. And, Jim Berra was the perfect host for breakfast. We enjoyed the opportunity to chat with him and were so impressed how he asked for our opinions on a variety of topics and how truly interested he seemed in our responses. Stephanie Mead and Josh were loads of fun as always. Marcus Anthony was fabulous, and Fun Force was simply amazing. We took our 8 year old niece who is a big fan of Carnival, and she had a ball in the Kid Zone. We learned that day she’s a budding photographer…thank goodness for digital cameras. She took 600 pictures that day…unfortunately, the majority of them were of pigeons. She did, however, get some good shots of the Carnival activities all around the harbor.
Thank you to Carnival for hosting such a wonderful day in Baltimore and a belated welcome to the Pride. We can’t wait to sail on her out of our home port.
Congrats on the weight loss…you look great. Keep up the good work.
All the best to you and Heidi as you play the waiting game. The little guy or gal will be here before you know it. And, get some rest, because once the arrival happens you won’t get much chance to rest.
Take care,
Lisa and George Kilmartin

John Says:
Hello Lisa and George
What a brilliant posting and I am not sure where to start this response so I will begin with a big thank you for all the wonderful words. I have never heard of a cut off announcement switch in the cabins. It sounds like a fantastic idea and certainly would help dispel the complaints about not hearing them and from those who can hear them but do not want to. I will make sure we look at this option and I appreciate you letting me know. Certainly PA announcements should never go into the cabin unless the ship’s command requires the guests to hear something important. The announcements should be as short as possible but even more important they should be fun and entertaining which is what all of us CD’s aspire to do.
What fantastic comments about Todd, Josh, Shawn, Big Tex and Josh……..I can’t write the words “Big Sexy ” next to his name……not without taking a shower afterwards. Josh by the way is acting cruise director on the Carnival Miracle and I also heard that he was fantastic during the Baltimore event as was Stephanie. Shawn by the way is retired now and very pregnant and we miss her very much. I am sure Jim Berra will be honored to read how much you and many others enjoyed meeting him in Baltimore and for someone with such an important job he is as down to earth as can be which is one of many reasons why he has become an instant star here at Carnival.
I will pass this on to all mentioned and maybe one day soon we will be together onboard so I can enjoy 600 photos of pigeons
My best to you and all the family

Jenni Lynn Asked:
John- Please Reply,
Hello John! My name is Jenni Lynn and I am a long time reader, but “virgin” commenter to your blog “thingy.”
I am writing today with a question. My husband and I are cruising on one of the “Swine Fever” affected cruises! The Glory Sailing on May 30th. (Booking # ) I have just upgraded us to a balcony cabin for a song!!! I don’t plan on telling my husband! The trip is in celebration of our 1st anniversary (which is on Thingy’s due date (I think!) May 10) and the balcony (our first one!) will be a surprise!
Now to my inquiry… I was wondering if it would be possible to get the exact itinerary including days and times of the ports of call for the sailing. The online update has us listed as going to Grand Cayman, Grand Turk, and Ocho Rios.
Thank you sooooo very much! Best wishes for a safe, healthy, speedy, and easy delivery of “Thingy”
Your biggest “closet” fan!
Jenni Lynn

John Says:
Hello Jenni
Let me start by saying thank you so very much for being a long time blog reader and congratulate you also on losing your virginity………hold on…..that doesn’t sound right …… lets try that again……and congratulate you on posting a comment for the very first time. …………that’s better.
OK, let me start by saying that every single extra penny you spent on a balcony cabin will be more than worth it. From sitting there enjoying your morning coffee to late night glasses of wine watching the Caribbean go by, a balcony really does put the icing on your cruise vacation cake.
Carnival Glory has like much of the fleet been forced to change her itinerary due to the Mexico travel restrictions so here as requested are the details for your wonderful western cruise.
Saturday Port Canaveral 4 p.m.
Sunday “Fun Day” At Sea (was “Fun Day” At Sea)
Monday Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos 7 a.m. 2:30 p.m. (was Cozumel 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.)
Tuesday Ocho Rios 10:30 a.m. 6:30 p.m. (was Belize 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
Wednesday Grand Cayman 9 a.m. 6 p.m. (was Costa Maya 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
Thursday “Fun Day” At Sea
Friday “Fun Day” At Sea (was Nassau 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
Saturday Port Canaveral 7 a.m.

Please let me know if yiou have any questions about the ports and may I take this opportunity to wish you both a very happy anniversary and I hope you don’t go straight back in the closet and post again when you can
Best wishes

Adam W Asked:
Dear John,
Please reply:
It seems as if our teams, the Hornets and Heat, are out of the playoffs. What a letdown ….There is always next year!
I see that Butch will be leaving the Glory to fill in for someone soon. Our cruise is June 6 on the Glory. Is there any way you know what next month’s director schedule looks like? I am anxious to know as I was looking forward to Butch – I have heard he is awesome!
P.S. The “flat Stanley” I am making of you to take with us is coming along well. I am trying to Photoshop a New Orleans Hornets jersey for him to wear….

John Says:
Hello Adam
I was so upset especially as the games are shown very late here in the UK. Still, as you said….there is always next year.
Butch will be leaving soon to go to the Carnival Liberty. I am so proud as to how popular he has become. His replacement will be another brilliant young man called Ryan Fitzgerald. He has also become a firm favorite with our guests and I know you really will enjoy him. Please send me a review after your cruise and if you can think of anything else you need please let me know. Poor Flat Stanley………not only is he flat………..but you are making him wear a Hornets jersey………….that’s just cruel.

Ashley Asked:
Please Reply John!!! Thank u.
Congrats on the up and coming Thingy!
My boyfriend and I are scheduled on the Splendor for May 31st and I just found out the itinerary changed to ports in Canada. I’m extremely upset over this. I know that it is a safer decision to keep people from Mexico, at present, and I would never want anyone to get sick. However, this trip is a very big deal to us. We planned a three week trip around this cruise (cruise included) including my boyfriends
birthday celebration. We DO NOT want to go to Canada as we are living in cold temps presently. But this trip is not the kind to just move to a later date. Are these decisions final on the changing of the itineraries? And if so what dates would I be able to go instead (June, next Nov.)? I don’t want to call Carnival and clog the lines. Thank you so much!!!

John Says:
Hello Ashley
I am so sorry that the cruise has been changed and looks like it will remain as scheduled calling at Vancouver, Astoria and Victoria until mid June. Carnival did the right thing as you said and even though things seem to be calming down a bit with regards to the swine flu we can’t change anything until the government agencies such as the CDC give us the go ahead to return to Mexican ports. When that will be……well hopefully sooner rather than later but at the moment we have to plan to send the Carnival Splendor to the ports I mentioned above. I know this is a disappointment to you but let me also say this. The ship is perfectly designed for the colder weather with a fully retractable roof which covers the lido deck main pool, giant screen, whirlpools and bars so you will still enjoy the Lido deck life, I know you may not come away with a suntan but I promise you that the ship and her crew are just as important to your overall vacation experience as the ports. Unfortunately, sailing out of California we are very limited as to where the ship can sail within a seven-day period and if you take Mexico out of the equation it does not leave you with too many choices.
So, I apologize sincerely and I hope that you decide to sail, I promise you will not regret it. And if you should decide to sail at a later date, please keeping reading the blog and carnival.com and we will keep you informed as to when we can all get back to normal itineraries.
I remain at your service
Best wishes

That’s all for today and I will answer the next batch of comments marked with “John, please reply” tomorrow.
I wanted to also comment on this thread of comments I was sent for my opinion on. Here is the link thingy

Let me start by saying that I respect everyone’s opinion, especially those who write on the Cruise Critic and Cruise Mates boards. I also therefore would like permission to give mine on this subject and with 20 years at sea hopefully I am able to give a fair and balanced one.

Well, it would be silly to say that yes……of course we are trying to make some revenue from our shore excursion program. It always surprises me when people say that they are shocked and upset that we would dare to do so.

We do of course therefore add some portion of profit to the price that the tour operator charges us……we are a business after all and it should surely not come as a surprise that we want to make a profit.

I also want to reply to the comment that stated that “what Todd the cruise director had said during his adventure talk was pure bull.”…..well…respectfully ….it was not…..it was the truth.

Carnival does indeed have a very select process when it comes to choosing our tour operators. These companies are vetted very carefully to make sure that their descriptions will mirror the guest experience. The tour operators’ equipment is checked and double checked to make sure that they are operating in a safe way and are told that they represent Carnival, the world’s most popular cruise line, and therefore they must be the best at all times.

It is important to know also that when guests take a tour organized through us that they also get peace of mind. By this I mean that not only do we continually check that the tour operators continue to meet their contract obligations but also that they have been pre-briefed by Carnival as to what to do should something go awry.

Yes, our tours may be a little more expensive than some found on the Internet. Yes, we do make money on them.

But, what is also true is that booking an excursion from the ship means that you have peace of mind, knowledge that Carnival only promotes the very best tours and that these are run by people who strive to provide our guests the very best time ashore and that we have a dedicated shore excursion department onboard who are there to help you with advice before you book and after the tour should you have any concerns ………… which surely…………is priceless.

So, please make your own mind up and decide what you want to do when it comes to taking a tour. And while it is the cruise director’s job to promote the tours onboard please know that the statements such as the one made by Todd is indeed correct.

Maybe one of my Cruise Critic friends could add the above to this thread………many thanks and if you have opinions for or against what I have said………well please send them in.

OK, let’s check in with a ship that has been mentioned a lot recently……..the Carnival Splendor and her dance captain Claire

Unfortunate Events and Fun Ones Too!

First of all we I would like to let you know about what happened to the ship last cruise. When we set off for the Mexican Riviera we knew about the reports of swine flu in Mexico but since there hadn’t been any reported cases in any of our ports of call we headed toward Puerto Vallarta.

Unfortunately during the first sea day there was an official warning to avoid non-essential travel to Mexico. So, after a technical stop in Cabo San Lucas we and headed North to first stop in Long Beach and then on to San Francisco. It was great for us to go to San Francisco as some of us got the chance to go and see the San Francisco Ballet Company (which was beautiful) and some went to see ‘Wicked’ (which is an awesome show).

The cruise posed some challenges though, we performed Fiesta Latina the day the guests were informed that we weren’t going to Mexico. Normally as you know Paul does a fun pre-show mid-show in between the 2 shows for us but that night some unhappy guests were trying to disrupt the show but luckily some of the other guests told them to be quiet as they wanted to enjoy the revue. So if you are one of those guests and reading this, thank you!

We did have many positive comments from guests who understood that it was a situation that was out of our control. Brad (CD) did an excellent job during the cruise; he worked tirelessly to make sure the guests had a fun, memorable experience on board the Splendor, making the Splendor their destination rather than the ports. This cruise we are going to San Francisco, Victoria and Seattle.

With this in mind, all of our thoughts and prayers go to those who have been affected by the swine flu, and to all of those people in Mexico who rely heavily on tourism. Mexico has been hit very hard this year so far. To all who don’t know, Mexico is a beautiful country with fantastic people, and please don’t let these unfortunate events put you off going there in the future!

So on a more positive note, we did end up having our anniversary gathering, which was a fabulous event organized by Nicola and Heather (Senior Tech). I know some of you are probably thinking what questions did you come up with for our game show?

Here are a few of the questions:

Where and how much was the most expensive lunch we had during the contract?

You would think the answer would be Cannes or somewhere like that, right? It was actually in Marmaris, in Turkey, and the total price was $1,000 between 10 of us. You would think that we had caviar and champagne, but we had nothing of the sort, we did have some shrimp which happened to cost about $15 per shrimp, clearly they had been fed on gold! We made the mistake of not asking the price before ordering the meal, a lesson well learned and never repeated.

What was the first number we put on to the stage when we arrived to the ship?

A number called ‘Big Block’ in ‘The Beat’ it is in the Opening of the show where there are 5 girls and boys dancing together. It was the first time we had seen the set, which takes up the whole stage. George and Joan (choreographers/directors) had explained what the set looked like when we were rehearsing in the studio but it was hard to envision it until we actually saw it. Plus some of the set pieces arrived to the ship in Genoa and were a little too big for the stage they had to be cut down to allow us to get on and off the stage and to be able to move the pianos on and off stage.

Why do we call our cast pose Take 5?

I believe this picture was shown on the blog a year ago? We posed for a picture during rehearsals in Miami, I ended up in the box splits (which I can’t really do, I fake it……shhhh don’t tell anyone!) the others ended up in very intricate positions and lifts, the caption beside the picture said “The cast of the Carnival Splendor taking 5 during rehearsals” Believe me the very last thing I would do if I was taking 5 would be the box splits (even if I do fake them!!) I normally curl up in a ball on the floor in the hope that my body will feel better in 5 minutes…….It normally doesn’t feel better and every morning during rehearsals I wake up feeling like I have been hit by a bus, it’s that kind of pain that makes you want to come back for more……Why I hear you say? I don’t really know the answer to that it just does?!

Next cruise the new cast will be signing on to learn the shows. It’s very exciting as it means vacation is close but it is also very sad to know that it’s nearly the end when you’ve had a contract like this one.

You guys have already seen this picture………This is Take 5!!

Heather (Senior Tech), Brad (Cruise Director) this was the first time we went to San Francisco!!

This was taken by Radu (World Famous Photographer!!) the Splendor going under the Golden Gate Bridge!!

Marmaris, Turkey: The most expensive lunch!!

The Beat set: The Piano section during lighting focus.

What a great blog Claire and you and the cast should be so proud of the wonderful shows you have given to thousands of people. I miss you all very much………except the smell of the dancers’ feet backstage……….don’t miss that at all.

Well, to finish with today we have a story full of mixed emotion.

Here is my friend Vance to tell you all about a story that will make you sad…….but it does have a happy ending of sorts and shines a light on this wonderful cruise line I am proud to work for.

“Carnival and the Casey Cares Foundation Team Up to Provide Family with Memorable ‘Fun Ship’ Vacation”Click to read the entire article

I imagine that you never recover from the loss of a child…..not just for the parents but for their brothers and sisters as well which is why it was so wonderful that we could make Ryan’s birthday so special.

When that child is no longer there it must be like a star collapsing in the universe, revealing an immense black hole that must be near impossible to climb out of. I know someone who lost a child due to illness when he was just eight years old. They tell me that they learn to live with the sorrow, but that they miss him today as much as the day he died five years ago. Heidi and I are just about to have a baby. Reading stories like this …………well…….it certainly hollows you out, but it also makes you appreciate how precious your children are…………and what the real priorities in life truly are

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.