Judge John

June 16, 2009 -

John Heald

Today, I started packing for my trip to Miami. I am not going to lament on the emotions of leaving my two girls………….well not today anyway but I am going to moan about packing and packing one thing in particular.

If a trod on a bottle on the beach and a Genie appeared giving me three wishes, after world peace and an Aston Martin filled with $100 bills and Catherine Zeta Jones in leather hiding in the trunk………my third wish would be that the world had a universal plug socket. How is it that in today’s world where we have discovered that my Range Rover gives polar bears a migraine and we can build a ship like the Carnival Dream ……..the modern world can’t have the same way to get electricity out of the sodding wall.

I guess this wasn’t a problem when all we traveled with was a comb and some hemorrhoid cream but now I have a laptop dancer, the raspberry, the cell phone and other electronic devices that means that if I travel to Europe or the States than I have to do so carrying a vast array of adaptors. So many in fact that I look like Jules Verne and all that’s missing is Akimbo my manservant. Of course, all these wires and batteries and adaptors are just perfect in today’s “he has wires in his carry on he must be Musthafa Bin Bugger the terrorist” and therefore I will be sure to be searched by the big woman with the iron on security patch.

It would be wonderful if one as one plug fits all but considering the world can’t even come together on toilets then I am sure this is something that will never happen.

We have already seen in a past blog that in some areas in Italy you can park your Ferrari Enzo outside a very expensive restaurant and walk to your favorite table wearing your hand-made Brioni suit and should the call of nature come just before your Pasta in Caviar sauce arrive ………you still have to shit in a hole.

Why can’t Italy be just like Germany? They have normal looking toilets that also have a short flush for your number ones……and a full on Niagara for those most stubborn of number two’s.

Oh and while I am whining why can’t we find a universal butt for all jokes told in the world. We Brits have the Irish, you Americans have the Polish, the Canadians have Newfies, the Germans have the Austrians and the Dutch have the Belgians……so not only do I wish for a plug on the end of every electronic device in the world that fits in every plug socket in the world but I also wish for there to be one nationality which every other country in the world takes the piss out of……..I nominate the French.

Now, its time for today’s questions which because I wont be able to answer any tomorrow due to my Dover trip ………..I will answer double the amount today……………here we go.

Jennifer and Danny Asked:

Please reply. John what ever happened to Stan and Cindy? They were on several of our cruises and we loved to go to where they were performing. Are they on a ship anywhere?

Would like to see some more pictures of Kye and you and Heidi.

John Says:

Hello Jennifer and Danny

Stan and Cindy are indeed a wonderful duo and I so enjoyed working with them on the Carnival Liberty. They are currently on vacation and return to the Carnival Spirit next month where I am sure their wonderful music will be as popular as ever. Thanks for asking for more photos of Kye…….there will be some along at the end of this week.

Best wishes to you both

John

Host Mach from Cruise Critic Asked:

Hello, John, from a decidedly NON Metrosexual Host Mach!! PLEASE RESPOND!! Now, that’s an odd way for me to start a blog entry!!!

One of my Cruise Critic friends, Rick Gaskill, got off the Conquest just recently and posted this review on my Crazies thread. With his permission, I’m adding it here:

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

5/31/2009 sailing Conquest

Up at 6 am (Sunday) checked the web cam there she is the Conquest, the excite level goes up.

South 23 miles across the bridge on to Harbor drive we see the Whale Tail WOO HOO excite level up more!

Second cruise for wife and I but first for daughter and grandsons. Parked at Harbor House checked out the patio, gassed up the car and off the EZ cruise at 930 am. We were in the terminal about 10 am through scanners to check in no stopping. Seated in zone 1 by 1030 am. Very smooth embark; fun watching the newbie’s step on board.

I park at the atrium bar while wife and daughter see the purser’s desk. On the lido eating before noon. Rooms were ready on the nose at 130 pm. By the way, I got an upgrade/upsell from inside cabins to balconies for very little money! Wife and I in —, daughter in —-, had all the checked bags before mustard (lol) drill. Muster drill was before sail away.

The ship

The Conquest is in great shape

The cabins – Upper deck

Cabins were great, we are now spoiled to a balcony. Never knew what we were missing not having one. Great to have the couch and balcony.

The crew

All outstanding.

Special people our stewards, waiters and their assistants.

Impossible to say too much about Chris the CD! He was out and about the entire cruise came to our meet and mingle. Special thanks to host MACH . Chris sends hello to Mach and Lambie.

The food

Very good

Dining rooms, room service, specialty grills, deli all outstanding.

We did late seating this time, so we were not rushed at ports, got early shows and were not rushed dining, Great service, grandson had 3-lobster tails elegant night. Not on the menu ask for it, our boys had banana splits

The ports

Well we know Cozumel was dearly missed.

Jamaica, we did Sunset beach resort again this year. The food there was outstanding this year. MoBay No problem mon.

Cayman

Done the shopping thing with the gang, they caught a cab and enjoyed seven-mile beach, I went back to the

ship to chill.

The activities

Wife and daughter tried to do every thing in the capers. Me I concentrated on buckets of beer and the casino. Tried the poker pro Texas hold em.

Disembark

Thought we might try self-assist decided not. Had number 17 out of 30, very few people, found our bags walked straight to customs (no line I am dreaming) on the curb at 930, EZ cruise by 1000

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Just like everyone else I know, Rick and his family had a wonderful time on board the Conquest. There’s a darn good reason that the Conquest remains my favorite ship in the fleet… she’s full of magic, my friend… full of magic!!

Ciao!!!

Host Mach

John Says:

Hello Mach

As always it’s great to hear from you and thank you for sharing this great review. It’s always good to hear from people once they have returned from their cruise and this way we can see what we continue to do well and what we can improve on. I will be passing this onto the Hotel Director on board and thanks again mate to you and my best wishes to Stitch……..when’s the big day?

Cheers

John

Sheryl Asked:

John, Please Respond

As the wife of a diabetic who will be celebrating his birthday on our upcoming Carnival Pride cruise, I was wondering why there is no Sugar Free Special Occasion cake offered to be purchased from either the Bon Voyage department or onboard at the Formalities shop. There are always so many wonderful s/f choices for dessert at other times. I would love to have surprised him with a cake but cannot since he won’t be able to eat it.

John Says:

Hello Sheryl

As a diabetic myself I second that emotion…….why isn’t there one. Well, it’s an easy fix and I will get right onto this. Please give me a few days and I will post what’s happening to improve this oversight…………when are you sailing on the Carnival Pride ……….I will hope to have this done by the time your do.

Best wishes

John

R.E. Lee Asked:

Please reply John… The CD has not influenced my choice of cruises but I would lean toward a cruise with Ken B. as the Maitre d’. John do you know of Ken’s schedule after the Dream.

Thanks

John Says:

Hello R.E.Lee

I am sure Ken will be thrilled to hear this, he makes such a difference to people’s cruise as I am sure he did yours. Ken will remain on the Carnival Dream through most of 2010 taking vacations here and there. I do not have his schedule past that but I would bet he will be part of the Carnival Magic start up team.

Hope this helps and thanks for writing

Best wishes

John

Kathy M. Asked:

Hi John,

Please Respond,

I just got word from my SIL that she wants to take my brother for a short cruise to Mexico on Sept. 18, 2009. She has invited me to go with them on the Carnival Paradise, so I have two requests, first, who is the CD of that ship and second question is that ship going to have the audience play the newlywed game. My brother and his wife have been married or over 35 years and they only knew each other 5 days when they got married and everyone told them it would not work out. They sure made liars out of so many people. What I was wondering is how you and get someone on that game, I would love to have these two answer these kinds of questions.

I would also like to thank you for the idea of the cake; I am going to order one for them for in their room with some wine for something.

I would like to thank you for all the pictures of the Dream, I can understand why they are naming her that now, because that is what she truly is, A DREAM COME TRUE.

John Says:

Hello Kathy

I am sorry to have to admit that I had to ask someone what SIL meant …….I truly am crap when it comes to internet thingy short hand. Anyway, in answer to your question the CD will be Jeff Bronson or Brooooonnnnssssooooon as he calls himself. Jeff is a great guy and I am sure he would love to include your brother and his wife in the newly wed game especially after marrying as quickly as they did…….5 days……….wow……..that really is love at first sight. Please post a reminder comment a week or so before you sail and I will ask Jeff to do his best to include them.

I am glad you enjoyed the photos of the Carnival Dream there will be more soon.

My best to you, your SIL and all the family

John

Youneedanagent Asked:

John – PLEASE REPLY

First of all, let me suggest that you need to do a better job negotiating your perks when you discuss your contract with Carnival. As Brand Ambassador, your position demands first class tickets each and every time, regardless of destination. In fact, I believe that a private jet is appropriate for those excursions wherein you ramble around Europe.

I also feel the need to respond to Wench Cindy. For someone who is “not bashing Todd”, she seems to be doing a darn proper job of the task.

As someone who has also sailed with Todd twice, for a total of 21 days, I can honestly say he is one of the most affable and visible CDs I have ever come across. It would be my pleasure to sail with him anytime on any ship.

Now, as to the Kye question – a day without Kye is like a day without sunshine. Shall I suggest that you at least post the picture of the week on the side of the blog so that we can have our regular fix of the beauty?

Best to Heidi

Jon

John Says:

Hello Jon

Oh how I dream of traveling by private jet, staffed by Latvian women in micro skirts who will I recline in the Mulliner leather seats hand feed me a big bowl of spotted dick….. instead I will be turning right on the American Airlines flight to Miami and will have a flight attendant who is spotted and has the attitude of a lion with a hangover ……… bugger.

Thanks for the nice words for Todd and for Kye and that’s a great idea. I am going to ask Stephanie that when she has time she can make a new header that includes the three of us. Until then here is one to be going on with for you and the many others who requested “more Kye photos.”

Cheers mate and get me a private plane and you can indeed be my agent

John

IMG00236-20090615-1507-kye

Diana Vuong Asked:

Hi John (reply if you need to)

Thanks for the response in today’s blog. I am the one asking about the two graduations. I am actually sailing THIS SUNDAY. 6/14/09 splendor out of Long Beach. It’s not a week notice but if you still can, a lil treat for the two-grad girls would be nice. They are sooo excited!! FYI- the booking is under my name ” Diana Vuong, Cabin —″. I asked the questions rather late because they came to me when i was going over all the travel document and brochures while getting ready to pack!!

You can still respond and i will be reading them while on the cruise!!

The pictures of your family are so precious!

Diana

John Says:

Hello Diana

No worries Diana, have a great cruise and let me know what fun you had when we get back.

My best to you all

John

flipflopcruisequeen Asked:

JOHN, PLEASE RESPOND

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS:

1) Does the cruise director who is going to be on a ship influence the booking of a cruise? ABSOLUTELY!!! We booked the 10/27/09 trans-Atlantic sailing of the Dream because you were going to be on board, not as the cruise director, but we were looking forward to “hanging out” with you. We have bragged about you so much to the other fire, police, teachers and medical personel that are going. We understand now that you will be joining us for the last 2 days, and are hoping that we can at least touch bases with you.

2) Do you think a cruise director can make a big difference to your overall cruise enjoyment?

ABSOLUTELY YES!!! John, you are one of the funniest people I have ever seen, and I personally would listen to your Bedtime Story 100 times and never get tired of it. Besides that, whenever you have guests on stage with you, there is always something different and unique that you are able to find out about the guests and you capitalize on that and make it fun. YOU HAVE ONE OF THE MOST INFECTIOUS LAUGHS I HAVE EVER HEARD! By that I mean that whenever you get to laughing, I can’t help but laugh! Things are way to serious in this world, and to go on a cruise and have the experience of a seasoned cruise director such as yourself, (THE BEST OF THE BEST), make you laugh and forget about everything else, is PRICELESS!!! So, when we pick a cruise with you as the cruise director, we do it knowing that we are going to have a fabulous time, no matter what! I recently was on a 15 night trans-Atlantic cruise on a different line, and only saw the actual cruise director one time. The rest of the time we saw the assistant cruise director. We had originally signed up to sail the trans-Atlantic with Carnival, but when Carnival bowed out of the European market for this season, we switched lines, and it just wasn’t the same!

Thanks for giving all of us a chance to spout off on these questions.

Sheryl

John Says:

Hello Sheryl

I have so enjoyed reading the comments regarding everyone’s thoughts about what the CD brings to the table. It seems that although not so many will actually book a cruise based on what CD is on the ship most said that the energy and commitment the cruise director gives each voyage can really be the icing on the cruising cake. I was proud also to read that you would book a cruise based on where I am and I will for sure see you for a few days on the TA crossing of your Carnival Dream.

I try my best to make people laugh and certainly have considered stopping presenting the bedtime story but I guess it remains popular. Do you know you are the very first person to tell me I have an infectious laugh? I have been called infectious before by previous girlfriends but that’s another story. I shall have to listen more carefully to my laugh now.

Anyway, I want to thank you for writing and I am truly humbled by all you said.

See you soon and my best to you and all the family

John

Elaine Asked:

Hi John, PLEASE REPLY… (This was sent last week but I think it got lost in cyber space)… Maybe I’ll be reading the reply in the Liberty library!!

First, and most important… You and Heidi did a wonderful job.. KYE is absolutely beautiful and I love her name..

Now, I think I win a prize for telling you way back that she was going to be born on my birthday don’t I??? lol I also remember telling you that you needed to calm down from May 10th on because you still had 5 more days to go… !!!!

I was supposed to remind you of two things. The 1st is that the gift that you were suppose to send us for our March 29th Valor sailing never showed and the 2nd is that we discussed a couple of months ago about taking “Poppy” (of Naomi & Marty) on his 80th Surprise Birthday Cruise June 13th on the Liberty. There will be his entire family, wife Naomi, 3 daughters, 3 son-in-laws and all 8 of their grandchildren… Six of us are Platinum while the rest will be there shortly. Not bad huh???

I guess the only thing I can ask is if you would send Poppy a little “birthday present” to his cabin. His actual birthday falls on Thursday, June 18. Poppy doesn’t get excited over anything (even the time we upgraded him to a balcony cabin) but I think a gift from you will get him excited…. This will be my parents 23rd Carnival Cruise and you are the only CD that they keep talking about….Of course, they have also cruised with you about 3 or 4 times!! As a matter of fact, even up to today Dad asked me “How is John’s daughter doing?”…

So, in closing Dad’s booking # is cabin — and mine is cabin —. Here’s hoping this one makes it to you & Stephanie and isn’t lost again…

Thanks again for all you do…

John Says:

Hello Elaine

I am so sorry your original comment got lost and hopefully you will get to read my reply now in the Library. I have no idea why your gift never arrived on the Carnival Valor but rest assured I will be sending something special to make Poppy’s 80th very special. Butch I know will make sure of that.

Would you please let me know what happens when you get home?

Best wishes John

Linda Hernacki Asked:

John, PLEASE respond! I am sorry to say I agree with Big Ed, YES I would definitely book a cruise if I KNEW you were going to be the CD, in fact that was why we had booked the Freedom and Splendor, then last minute you were replaced. On the Freedom you were replaced with Todd, and I am sorry to say but he was very arrogant about everyone being upset that he took your place, in fact he read my letter on the morning show and said he was sick of hearing over and over again that he was not JOHN! That man needs an attitude check. He just does not have your personality or humor! Sorry if this upsets him!

Linda

John Says:

Hello Linda

As I just mentioned it is always so humbling when people write that they would book a cruise based on what ship I am on. Honestly, I have no words to say except thank you so very, very much and I am looking forward to seeing you next year. I know it was very difficult for Todd when at very short notice he was asked to replace me on the trans- Atlantic cruise and that is why I am being very careful to make sure that everyone realizes that the Carnival Dream is Todd’s ship and not mine. I am sure Todd will do a fantastic job.

I am so excited that I will get to see you and Mike and as always I am here should you need anything at all…………we have a light bulb that needs changing here at home, can you send Mike over.

Best wishes

John

Liam Quinn Asked:

John Please Reply

When you got on the valor last February you said it was a pity I was leaving so soon because you have such a plentiful supply of “Irish Jokes”…. the Irish Jokes I can take, but claiming two of our most famous sons for Brits?! Now that’s a bit much. Especially Richard Harris who has a statue of himself crown and all as Richard III in my home city of Limerick. My Grandmother swears he was a ruffian as a youth and was always chasing her. Then again my grandmother says that about Frank Mc Court, Terry Wogan and generally anyone famous from Limerick. As for Peter O Toole, I’m sure we can organize a trade as long as you promise to take Bono and Michael Flatley off our hands… The country has had enough of their silly hair and questionable taste in Sunglasses and leather Jackets.

Looking forward to seeing you on the Dream, P.S. I see you mentioned Laser Tag, it is fantastic fun and I am the reigning undefeated champion on two classes of ship now!

John Says:

Hello Liam

Great posting ………….and you didn’t even mention Ken Byrne our famous Irish singing maitre d. I just finished the Hellraisers book and you should give it a go. For those of you who don’t know Liam works for Carnival and we were together on the Carnival Valor. He has those two great Irish traits………he is funny…………….and looks like a potato.

See you soon mate and please send my best to everyone there

John

Linda Asked:

John please reply–

Sandra and I loved sailing with you on the Freedom and Splendor and wish you were joining us next month on the Spirit, but we look forward to meeting Bubba before he leaves and gets married. Didn’t he have a posting where he talked about his upcoming wedding to Julie in Vegas and where there was a link to the wedding webpage? I can’t seem to find it on the search. Could you give us the link information again?

PS: We also love the BEAUTIFUL pictures of Kye and Heidi and know that each day you’re not at home must be really hard for you!

John Says:

Hello Linda

Thanks so much for those lovely words for Kye and I am trying to block out of my mind how much I am going to miss them. I too wish I could be with you on the Carnival Spirit so we could meet again and I could see Alaska for the first ever time. Please would you pass on my regards to Bubba………whom I know you will enjoy so very much.

I know he is getting married later this year and I will ask him to send you the information …….. how very, very kind of you. His wife to be Julie is beautiful, kind, giving and as blind as a bat.

Have a great time and Bubba will be in touch very soon

Best wishes

John

Jackie Asked:

Dear John, please reply,

Stu and I had the pleasure of sailing with you on the Freedom in 2007. We never laughed so much. (Bedtime story& Mount Holly). We booked the next year thinking you would be the cd again and was very disappointed to have someone else. That being said we now book our cruises based on two things. 1- YOU and 2-ports

John Says:

Hello Jackie

The Mount Holly cruise is now infamous and one I will certainly never forget ………what fun we had. What ship did you book next year and when are you going. If it’s the Carnival Dream I may be there so please let me know the dates.

I am very thankful to you for saying such kind words and I do hope that we can be together again soon

Best wishes

John

MrPete Asked:

John…

PLEASE REPLY…..

Why do so many of the ships these days have muster drill at sailaway? Does Carnival REALLY want to piss you off at the beginning of a vacation?

John Says:

Mr Pete

Well, that’s a good question and I am sure you already know the answer is certainly Carnival does not want to purposely upset anyone at anytime so to suggest that is a little silly isn’t it.

However, I understand your frustration. The ship’s captain certainly given the choice would not want to hold the Emergency Drill while the ship is pulling away from the side of the pier. We realize that this is part of the “experience” and whenever they can the ship’s command will not let go the lines until the drill is completed.

However, that is not always possible. There are many scenarios in which this can’t be helped. The main one is traffic. If all the guests are onboard the port authorities may tell the captain he has to leave now………or miss his slot and wait to much later which in some cases would effect dining times and even the on schedule arrival in the first port of call. Traffic doesn’t just mean cruise vessels but commercial traffic as well. This is applicable to all ports especially Port Everglades and Miami.

Then there is the fact that by law….United States Coast Guard law…each and every guest must know how to save their life. If this means that just a few minutes before sailing time we still have 100 or more guests still arriving from late flights then the captain will wait until they have boarded before starting the drill…….because that is as I said………the law.

So, while I promise you that we always do our best to hold the drill before sailing there are times when this is not possible and as important as enjoying the sailaway experience is I am sure Sir that you will agree with me that is nowhere near as important as making sure everyone knows what to do in a real emergency.

Please let me know if you have a follow up question.

Best wishes

John

Sharona Asked:

Hi John (please answer!)

Several us on the Cruise Critic board for our Glory October 31 cruise would like to know if we will have Halloween festivities on our cruise? I think I read somewhere (maybe here) that they would go until Oct. 31…but we sail that day. Can you help us out so we know whether to bring costumes? Thanks!!

Katiel53

John Says:

Hello Sharona

I am sure you and the Cruise Critic group are very excited about your cruise falling on Halloween which is of course on October 31……..it is …………right? Anyway, the ship will indeed hold a full on Halloween party that night and I will be writing more about what exactly each ship is doing nearer the time. ….but yes………….bring costumes.

You will all have a great time.

Best wishes

John

Gerri and Frank Asked:

In answer to your questions of the day. We don’t book a cruise based on the CD as we usually book far in advance and have no idea who will be the CD. Once onboard though, it makes a big difference. Our last cruise was on Glory and we had Butch and loved him. We were hoping that he would be on Dream. He was visible all the time and was friendly to everyone.

I loved the pic of Heidi & Kye. Both are so beautiful. You are one lucky man.

I have a few questions for you. On Cruise Critic people have posted that the Welcome Home credit is going to go the way of the dinosaur. Some have been told it is already gone while others say it is going away Aug. 1. What is the truth? I know trying to get the lower prices when I have the Welcome Home credit and Early Saver presents a problem in that I believe, possibly wrongly so, that not everyone who processes the price reduction knows how to read that the WH credit is something else. I say that because I had to send one form 3 times and for Dream 2 times as well as talk to my PVP several times to get the credit. If the prices go down on my next two cruises, is there some way to keep these problems from occurring when I send in the form? Any special wording? I did the form for our friends on Dream, same circumstances, they got the credit immediately, we didn’t. I sent the forms for my other family for Glory, but they didn’t have the WH credit and got their credits within 2 days. We are the only ones who had trouble.

Next question, I have looked at the Dream deck plans and I don’t see any fish n chips on there. I did see the Mongolian, Deli and Tandoor, but no Sur Mer or fish location. Is there one?

My last question, at least for today is that when we go on Glory Oct 17 to celebrate my dad’s 96th birthday, (I know you told me to remind you before then and I shall) I am wondering if it is possible to get a table for five that is in a great location but accessible to a scooter. My dad is going to use one on this trip and he is able to walk, so if he couldn’t just “pull up” to the table, could we get a great table where he could park his scooter?

I know I have taken a lot of your time and I appreciate it so much. Thanks again.

Gerri & Frank

John Says:

Hello Gerri and Frank

Thanks for taking the time to write and especially for the kind words about Kye………you are right………I am indeed a very lucky man. I will make sure also that Butch sees the comments you wrote about him………I continue to be very proud of the young man.

OK, I want to get you the correct answer on the Welcome Home credit so please give me a few days and I promise I will post the answer for you and everyone. I think I know the answer but need it to be clarified so please as I said allow me some time and I will make sure its given correctly.

Carnival Dream will not have fish n chips as far as I know and instead upstairs where the fish n chips is will be some other exciting food choices that I am sure will be a huge hit. We will also have as you said many of our favorites including the Mongolian and the Grille etc plus one or two other daily surprises.

I am sure we can help your Dad out. How amazing that he will be celebrating this great milestone together with his loving family and how proud we are that you are spending it with us on the Carnival Glory. Please send me the reminder e-mail on October 7 and I will make sure his table is as you wished.

My best to you all

John

charles spurlock Asked:

Hello John

Please reply

I read your blog every day and really enjoy your stories My wife and I have been on eight Carnival cruises and have enjoyed them very much. We won a cruise while we were on the Holiday and have booked on the Destiny in July to go to Grand Turk. My question is, we want to upgrade our cabin from an ocean view to a balcony but Carnival say we can’t. Were wandering why, we had to pay taxes on the cruise and claim it as income, so why can’t we pay for an upgrade

thanks for you help

Charles & Betty spur lock

John Says:

Hello Charles

Congratulations on winning your cruise and I am guessing you did so at bingo or in the casino. When each free cruise is won at these locations each department is charged for the cabin…..so if a guest wins the free cruise bingo the entertainment department is charged for the stateroom. That’s why there are restrictions on upgrades. However, I will certainly ask on your behalf as you are willing to pay. Please allow a few days and I will ask someone from Carnival to give you a call. Please let me know the outcome would you. Congratulations on your win and I wish you and Betty a brilliant time

John

TJ Hadley Asked:

John (Please Reply),

Congrats to Heidi and you on Kye! She is very cute! I love hearing the stories, seeing the pictures, and videos.

1. I generally pick my cruise based on the dates I’m available. Before reading the blog I never even considered booking based on CD. In booking this last cruise, my friend and I were waffling about which cruise to take and settled on the Freedom so we could cruise with you as our CD.

2. I think the CD does have an impact on how enjoyable the cruise turns out to be. I had great CDs the last two times I cruised. I like to go to the shows and talks so it helps when the person hosting is funny/entertaining. Also as the CD can’t be in all places at all times, I find the social host staff to be an important part of the cruise. Passengers seem to feed not only off of their own happiness to be on the ship but also off the individual staff members who run the activities.

Now for the question:

I am sailing on the Freedom Aug 1 (for a much needed break after studying for and taking the bar exam…they let me out of law school even though I spent a lot of time reading your blog…hmmm) and was wondering if you could give your input on what the best excursions are or the must see things in Panama and Costa Rica?

Can’t wait to be on board and excited for you to be our CD!

Thanks,

TJ

John Says:

Hello TJ

Wow, what a great post and I am so honored that you are taking valuable time from your studies to cruise with us and so very humbled that you and your friend decided that you would choose to sail because I was onboard. I will do my very, very best to make sure you have loads and loads of fun and please make sure you come and say hello.

Well, Panama and Costa Rica are two of our most exciting ports and I am now going to post my three favourite tours in each of the two ports. Please have a read and send me any questions. I will also be hosting a travel and adventure talk for both ports and will hold a Q and A afterwards in case you still have not decided what’s best for you ………..anyway here are my top tips.

COSTA RICA

ARIAL RAIN FORREST TRAM

• Begin with a 2-hour motor coach drive to a private reserve dedicated to conservation near Braulio Carrillo National Park.

• Board the aerial tram for one of the most complete and intimate rain forest experiences in the world.

• Ride for approximately 80 minutes in comfortable gondolas designed for 6 guests and a bilingual naturalist guide.

• Glide through the rain forest up to the treetops to observe majestic towering trees, giant ferns, hanging gardens and occasional wildlife.

• Learn about current conservation programs and activities designed to protect this fragile environment.

CANOPY TOUR

Soar through from the canopy of the Caribbean Rain Forest down to the ground.

On this excursion you will:

• Take a two-hour drive from the Port of Limon to the Rain Forest Aerial Tram located in a 1,200-acre private reserve near Braulio Carrillo National Park.

• Begin with a safety briefing and a walk to your first platform.

• Fly 12 meters above the ground — using an intricate system of twin cables and double pulleys — across the magnificent Molinete River to the Caobilla Tree platform.

• Swing through the rain forest using seven traverses, from 80 meters to 140 meters apart.

• Enjoy 360-degree views of lush green landscapes.

• Observe the flora and fauna of this magnificent landscape, all while listening to the gentle sounds of nature.

• Take a guided walk through trails in the heart of the rain forest while your naturalist guides help you unlock the secrets of this amazing environment.

OFF ROAD ADVENTURE

Explore places in the mountains of Costa Rica that are only reachable in a vehicle like the “Terra-X6”.

On this truly unique excursion you will:

• Board the Terra-X6, a U.S. military truck equipped with a 2004 model bus cabin.

• Enjoy features including: panoramic windows, wireless audio system, video cameras, spotlights and air conditioning.

• Ride south along the coast before heading up a secondary road to the village of Bomba.

• Head up into the mountains across streams and other areas not possible in a normal vehicle.

• Enjoy views of Costa Rica seldom seen by visitors, as well as a glimpse of a day in the life of an average Costa Rican as you pass nearby villages and plantations

• Stop at a nearby riverbank to enjoy a picnic snack once back in civilization

My RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PANAMA ARE:

ARIAL TRAM

The aerial tram gives you an overwhelming look at the beautiful plants and animals typical of Panama’s neo-tropical forests.

On this excursion you will:

• Take a 1 ½ hour drive to Gamboa to board the tram.

• Travel 1.2 kilometers through the canopy of the forest in 72 minutes, not including time spent at the lookout.

• See magnificent plant life such as guarumo (trumpet tree), manglillo, mangavé, espavé (wild cashew) and balsa, just to name a few.

• Discover all kinds of indigenous animals including the coatimundi, peccary, howler monkey, squirrel, capybara, and sloth.

• Marvel at the beautiful birds such as toucans, trogons, parrots, and momots.

• Spot reptiles and amphibians such as caimans, iguanas, and dozens of species of frogs.

• Witness beautifully colored butterflies, dragonflies, and cicadas.

• Enjoy a visit to the frog exhibit and the serpentarium.

• Learn about integral roles these resident reptiles play in tropical ecology.

PANAMA CANAL TOUR

Take this incredible excursion and witness the wonders of the Panama Canal.

On this excursion you will:

• Arrive at the Colon 2000 terminal and board a bus to the Transismic Highway through the city colon to the Balboa Pier at the Pacific Coast.

• Board a large ferry that will transport you through the Panama Canal.

• View this great accomplishment from open areas on board the ferry.

• Go through the Miraflores Locks and Lake.

• Pass through the Pedro Miguel locks and onto Gaillard Cut.

• Cross the Continental Divide.

• Enjoy the ecological wonders of the area.

• Travel to the city of Gamboa and the dredging division of the Canal.

• See the largest floating crane.

As you can see I am a big fan of the Arial Trams………they are awesome.

Let me know if I can help further

best wishes

John

nancy walker Asked:

We are scheduled to go on the Dream January 2, 2010. Do you know who the cruise director will be? I hope it will be someone good. This will be out eighth Carnival cruise and all of the cruise directors have been really great.

Thanks,

Nancy Walker

Gainesville, Georgia

John Says:

Hello Nancy

Thanks for giving such a positive shout out to all the cruise directors you have encountered. Your CD on your Carnival Dream vacation will be Todd Wittmer so you are in for another brilliant time.

Best wishes to you and the family

John

That’s all for today. I will answer some more on Thursday and tomorrow the blog will be a little different. Rather than a full blog from me I will be posting the first of the interviews with those responsible for making your Carnival Dream a reality. Later this week we will have one with the hotel director, the captain and others, tomorrow we will feature an interview with someone who is very much involved in making sure that the ship is finished and built to Carnival’s specifications and I know you will find his insights very interesting indeed……….so please join me tomorrow for that.

Oh, I see some of you have been asking about this Wikipedia entry

In May 2009, Carnival announced that the Holiday may not be bound for service as the Grand Holiday as early stated. The Holiday may remain in Carnival’s fleet and sail from Charleston, SC on 5 – 7 day cruises to the North, with stops in New York, Boston, and Halifax in the Summer, and 5 – 7 day Caribbean cruises with stops in Bahamas and Key West during the fall and winter. Carnival also stated that they may ad up to four, 8 day Bermuda cruises as well. The move comes as Norwegian Cruise Lines ends its current sailing from Charleston, SC early in 2010 and also based on the twice a year sailing that Carnival currently offers from the SC port, have meet with a great deal of success. The ship may also see some service out of Norfolk, Va, and Wilmington, NC.

The Carnival spokesperson also stated that Charleston, SC and Wilmington, NC are both busy tourist destinations in their on right, and both cities are within a short driving distance from Myrtle Beach, SC which is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the Eastern United States, so it only makes sense to put a “Fun Ship” close by. The Port of South Carolina cruise terminal is expected to see a face lift, using the stimulus money if the deal comes through as expected.

The Holiday will undergo some much needed improvements and repairs including, plumbing and propulsion repairs, crew area improvements and repairs, some minor cabin upgrades, and the addition of a retractable covering over the aft area of the Lido deck, similar to the bigger ships in the Carnival fleet. Once the Holiday is refurbished the company plans to rename her the Carnival Holiday.

Well, good old Wikipedia……that’s the same Wikipedia that Governor Schwartzaneggerererererere wants kids to learn from once they have burned all their textbooks. I hope their knowledge of the American Civil War is better than what they wrote about the Holiday because I am sorry to say to those who read this and got excited that a ship would be based out of beautiful Charleston that its not true…….it was never planned or discussed. I will say that we would love to have Charleston as a homeport and one day that may come to be ……but not with the Holiday which is still being transferred to our sister company.

So, how do I properly express just how wrong Wikipedia got this……..I know ……. lets look up another word on their site?

Bollocks” is a word of Anglo-Saxon origin, meaning “testicles”. The word is often used figuratively in British English, as a noun to mean “nonsense,” an expletive following a minor accident or misfortune, or an adjective to mean “poor quality” or “useless”. Similarly, the common phrases “Bollocks to this!” or “That’s a load of old bollocks” generally indicate contempt for a certain task, subject or opinion.

Yep…………they got that one right!

So, at 8 am I will leave home and head for the port of Dover where the first thing I will do is tour the Prinsendam …..Holland America’s beautiful ship from which Captain Albert is currently blogging from………check out his wonderful writing and his reports on navigating the Dardanelles by clicking on http://www.hollandamericablog.com/prinsendam/

Also worth a look is Holland America’s continuing reports (they do this so well) on the assembly of the Niew Amsterdam. There are some superb photos of this and I know you will all want o see just how major pieces of the ship are built……………photos like this.

HAL

To see the rest just click on this link thingy

Anyway, after a tour of the Prinsendam and hopefully a chance to say hello to Captain Albert I will be hosting a convention attended by 700 travel agents from across the UK. I will moderating a panel made up of Peter Welch from Disney Cruise Line………I wonder if he will be mad if I get the 700 agents to sing “who’s the leader of the pack its up to me and you, M I C….K E Y………O U S O B “………and then my friends Rick Meadows from HAL and Sir Peter Shanks Esq from Cunard.

Honestly……….I have no idea what I am going to do or say……….I really don’t …………but that’s not the bit I am worried about because if i can’t think of anything to say I shall just tell the 700 agents that RCI charge for steaks and that the Norwegian Epic makes a boil on a Baboon’s arse look stunningly beautiful.

Nope………….the afternoon session isn’t the one I am worried about…………..it’s what I have to do in the evening.

Have a look at this

UK Travel Dance Stars competition

Princess Cruises and TTG launched their search for the ‘UK Travel Dance star’ back in January this year.

A fabulous evening was had by all at the first round of the competition at the ‘Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour 2009’, at Wembley Arena, where 30 winning agents were treated to backstage VIP passes, given top seats at the show and rubbed-shoulders with celebrities.

Six lucky agents were selected to go through to the second- round of the competition which took place onboard Grand Princess in Southampton, where they had a weekend of dance instruction with professional dancers Matthew and Nicole Cutler.

During the weekend, Matthew and Nicole selected three finalists who will be performing with a professional dancer at the ‘Princess Cruises and TTG UK Dance Stars Finale!’ on Wednesday 17th June at the UK Cruise Convention in Dover.

During the final, our travel agent guests will have the chance to vote on their favourite performance from the finalists and a winner will be crowned the ‘UK Travel Dance star 2009’ and will also win a fabulous cruise onboard Grand Princess!

UK Travel Dance star competition finalists

Ian Crampton

Ian and wife Penny Crampton own and run Yes2Travel, an independent travel agency with two branches in Staffordshire. Ian has also spent some time working onboard cruise ships in the Caribbean and Mexico.

Ian’s dancing career began over three years ago when, stumped for a suitable birthday present for his wife Penny, he enrolled her onto a beginners Salsa course. Since then he has been competing on the Sunday Ballroom and Latin Dance Circuit. Once the decision was made to take up competition dancing, Ian & Penny were determined to put all their efforts into succeeding.

Nicola Birch

Nicola, who works at Madison Travel in Brighton, started dancing at the age of 3 and never really stopped! She trained in ballet, tap and jazz and currently takes lessons in Street Dance, Samba and Salsa where she lives in Brighton.

She has a real passion for Latin music – that is what really makes her want to move! She has visited Brazil, Argentina and Cuba purely to go to the clubs to listen and dance to the live bands!

Laura Wright

Laura works at Affinion Travel in Northampton. She started dancing from a young age, doing tap and ballet and modern. More recently she started taking break dancing lessons. She’s have never had the chance to do ballroom dancing as there are no lessons near to where she lives – hence she is really making the most of this opportunity!

Professional Dancers

Nicole Cutler is a professional ballroom dancer and former World Amateur Latin-American champion. Born in South Africa she took up ballet at the age of four and first tried out ballroom and Latin-American dancing at the age of twelve.

In South Africa she danced competitively before moving to the UK in 1990. In 1994 she teamed up with Matthew Cutler. In 1999 they formed the principal couple in the stage show Burn the Floor.

Nicole has twice received the Carl Alan Award for “outstanding contributions to dance”.

She has also appeared as a professional dancer on BBC1’s hit show Strictly Come Dancing.

Matthew Cutler is an English dancer and also a former World Amateur Latin-American champion. Born in Essex, he started dancing classes in a church hall in Southend aged eight.

By the age of ten, he was winning most competitions and a judge suggested that he entered something a little more challenging. Matthew took ballroom lessons and Latin classes and began taking part in open competitions. He won the World Amateur Championship with Nicole Cutler in 1999 and went on to win many other competitions.

Matthew joined the third series of Strictly Come Dancing in 2005 and won the competition in 2007 with partner Alesha Dixon.

Matthew has twice received the Carl Alan Award for an outstanding contribution to dance.

Both Matthew and Nicole have been present during each stage of the UK Travel Dance Stars competition, from meeting our 30 competition winners back stage at the Strictly come dancing live tour, teaching them some steps onboard the Grand Princess in Southampton, to being part of this whole day today. Matthew and Nicole have been an integral part in the competition.

Good morning Judges,

Hope you’re well and have managed to prepare some Strictly esq comments for tomorrow night.

I just thought I should mention dress code for the evening – Sam will be wearing a lovely glam dress, so perhaps Lee and John you could wear nice smart suits, like they do on the show.

Hope that’s ok, and we look forward to seeing you in Dover tomorrow.

Should either of you need to contact myself or Sam Farrar, you may do so on or, respectively.

Kind Regards

Sophie

Sophie Nicholas

PR & Brand Executive

Princess Cruises UK

Nope, you are eyes are not deceiving you………..yes………I am going to be one of the three judges of the Princess Dancing with the Stars contest. Me……someone who knows as much about dancing as Paris Hilton does about nuclear physics. Yep, me……someone who would rather find a camel that has just eaten four entire bars of laxative chocolate and insert my entire head up its bottom than have anything to dance. Yep me ……….. someone who would rather watch Judge Judy pole dancing than watch Strictly Dancing with the Stars…………….how the hell did I get roped into this one.

My quandary is whether or not to be an honest judge or be Simon Cowell. Do I take the role of the “oh you were wonderful and you showed so much passion and even though you fell over three times and your tits fell out of your dress I am going to give you a ten for effort.”………..or do I say to the couple with three inches of fake tan slapped on their faces “You have the dancing skills of a penguin with one leg………..bugger off ?”

I have a feeling though I will be Len Goodman and not a Mr Simon Bastardowell type of judge……..oh………..by the way……. I struggle to understand why he hasn’t been deported from the UK and forced to be South African, or French, or something, let alone come to be regarded as this “hard but fair” judge of talent; like Mr Shorofsky in Fame. Why is he suddenly in charge of the biggest pop talent show in the world? It’s like making Susan Boyle the new face of Oil of Olay.

And, ladies, you MUST stop fancying him. Even if it’s cold, hard, guilty grudge-rumpy pumpy you’re craving. He’s NOT HOT. He looks like Darth Vader with a $5 haircut.

Anyway, I will have my flip video thingy with me and my camera and on Thursday I will send in a full report on Thursday. Right now I am off to ask Mr Google about Tango, Salsa, Foxtrot and the Waltz………….Len Goodman my arse.

Goodnight

Your friends

John, Heidi and Kye

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.