An Odyssey, A Peter And…..A Dream

June 25, 2009 -

John Heald

Todd Wittmer and his entertainment staff threw a brilliant deck party last night………one of the very best I have ever seen. Todd was up there leading the fun, singing about not being able to get any satisfaction, but having seen his girlfriend I know that’s a load of bollocks. He was also dressed in ummmm…….well……..what apparently is these days something called “metrosexual fashion.” This included a suit…………a T-shirt with no collar…….a tie…….and a cap that looked like something my grandfather used to wear when he went to watch a cricket match. I asked Todd what this was all about………and he told me……….”Dress for success.”

What does this mean anyway? Dress for success? Maybe I’ve never had to consider this because when I blog from home I’ve gotten used to wearing just my underpants. That works for me. The only problem is, I can’t wear this out on the street without being arrested. And what does metrosexual mean? I asked Todd ………..he said, “Sophisticated males who took trouble with their appearance, listened to women and are in touch with their feminine side. We know as much about arts, literature and cuisine as basketball and beer.”

OK, sounds interesting and it also sounds that Todd and many of the other metrosexual cruise directors are only a few steps away from wearing stockings and suspenders and buying the complete Will & Grace DVD box set.

Now this morning the metrosexual theme continued…….in the gym……..yes…… heard me right………the gym. I went there at 8 am so I could use the treadmill and walk a mile or so and afterwards I returned to the changing room and heard a group of lads in fashionable sportswear with those fussy American-idol hairdos. “Shit!” cursed one. “I’ve forgotten my hair gel and moisturizer.” “Don’t worry,” replied two of his buddies, almost in unison, “you can use mine”……..what the hell has the world come to? Metrosexuality has won.

It’s got your children. I asked Mr. Google for some figures and he told me that in a recent survey of 2,000 teenage males in North America found that on average, boys admitted to looking in the mirror ten times a day. And 96 percent of these big girl’s blouses used deodorant, 90 per cent hairstyling products, 50 per cent moisturizers and 25 per cent said they “might have plastic surgery”…………..what a load of bollocks.

Who can blame them though? Look at their role models. Things have gone so far and so girly that James Bond has succumbed. Where Sean Connery was a rumpy pumpy addicted beefy playboy, Daniel Craig is a tofu-eating, relationship-loving GQ model.

So, I am off to fart, pick my nose, wear the same underpants I wore yesterday and the day before…………..Metrosexual my arse.
Time for today’s questions………… we go.

DocF Asked:
John, (Please Reply)
Please tell your dancer who was just diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes that the fact that she is fit and active will make her management of her condition easier. Yes, this will be an added complication in her life, but she can do it.
I am glad to hear that she is starting out on multiple daily injections. This is a very good therapy and will allow her to maintain tight control.
We have three insulin dependent diabetics in our family.
Our oldest daughter was diagnosed when she was 9 and she is now 46. She is doing wonderfully well and looks at least 20 years younger now than she did a few years ago!
Our youngest daughter was diagnosed when she was 16. She is now 32 and had a neat little girl two years ago. She is also doing well with her disease.
I am an insulin dependent type 2 diabetic and I also manage my condition intensively and maintain a somewhat healthy life style. I check my blood sugar often and adjust my pump frequently.
We all use insulin pumps and I am a big fan of them. It helps all of us maintain very tight control and keeps us healthier.
John, you may, if you wish, give your dancer my e-mail. I will be more than happy to help her in any way I can. I believe that we diabetics have to stick together and help each other. The key thing she must remember is that she knows better than any doctor what is going on with her body. She must be proactive and manage her disease or it will manage her.
Finally, as a reminder, Mary Tyler Moore was a dancer when she was diagnosed. She has done rather well for herself.

John Says:
Hello Doc
I cannot thank you enough for the care and kindness shown in your comments. I have passed this onto her and she has indeed asked me to thank you as well. I have passed on your e-mail so she can thank you herself. It is not easy being diabetic and living on a cruise ship where sugar-filled treats are everywhere. It is also difficult because as a crew member you have to eat was is provided rather than choose what to cook yourself. I was intrigued that as a type 2 diabetic you use an insulin pump rather than take Metmorphin or tablets. May I ask why?
I take great comfort in the knowledge that you and the girls live such healthy lifestyles and I hope I can do the same. Mostly though I thank you for the support you have shown this young dancer who has seen her life change drastically and who needs all the help and encouragement she can get.
Best wishes to you and the family

Erin W. Asked:
Dear John – Please Reply….
Hi John – Erin W. here – Hope you are having a blast being back on board the ships! What age can Kye join you on board? Hopefully really soon! First let me say that what others are wearing at dinner have no effect whatsoever on my meal or service – this applies on both land and sea!
On to my question: I am booked on the New Years Eve Liberty cruise (12/26/09 sailing) and it seems as if they have changed my ports of call…It was originally: San Juan (evening version), St. Thomas and St. Maarten. Now it seems to be doing Nassau, St. Thomas, San Juan (day version) and Grand Turk…While I think this is a great itin (I’m actually doing it earlier in the fall and choose this one for the difference it offers) my questions are 1. Why did they change it? The Liberty won’t do the originally planned run again April 17, 2010 (I wouldn’t mind doing this one but who says it won’t change again…) 2. Do they not notify passengers about major changes to the ports? I mean I stumbled on it by accident trying to show someone the cruise I was taking…I mean at least people would be able to choose to go or to move to a different sailing…As I am booked both on the early saver rate with Carnival Airfare I am essentially stuck taking the cruise and will have an excellent time!! But just wondered (I called my PVP but they were not aware any changes had been made and had no answers???).
Last Question (Can you make this part private as not to tip anyone off? I have left my email with the post for a reply if possible you already know who my favorite CD is (I am purposely not saying their name) and I am sailing with them in not too long a time. I usually let this person know when we are sailing but this time we thought it would be fun to show up and play a little prank on the them or some kind of riddle, trivia, etc to announce our presence…What kind of help could you give me with this? Any ideas or help setting this up you could offer would be GREAT – you know this person well so I’m sure you would be golden in this!! My mom is also celebrating her birthday on the sailing but you can’t wish her a happy birthday without tipping off the CD – right?
Thanks – Erin W.

John Says:
Hello Erin
It will be a few months until Kye can join me and even then we are still discussing the flying trans Atlantic thing……..hopefully though next year we will be together more than we are apart. You are correct about the New Years itinerary change which was made because for operational reasons which will probably mean that space alongside the piers was at a premium and thus we had to make sure that we could dock the Carnival Liberty and not use tenders. I am surprised that the PVP’s did not know about the change and I guess we need to do a better job in communicating when we make them. I can actually help with that by sending their supervisors the changes when I get them. The guests will be informed eventually through agents, on the Carnival web page and yes here on the blog. However, it seems that the word is out there and I will let the powers that be at Carnival know so that the official word can be sent as soon as possible. We always hate having to make changes and we never do without them being totally necessary ones and hopefully we will find away to apologize when we do. You will have a great time and a day visit in San Juan will enable you to see the beautiful Old Town in daylight hours and possibly visit the stunning rain forest. I will gladly help you spring a surprise on the CD in question and as and when you are about to sail please send me the details and I will help you do so and I will be able to send Mum a little birthday something.
So, sorry for the change but as you said….you will have a fantastic time
Best wishes to all

Stephen Smith Asked:
Please Reply
It was said by someone much wiser than I, you don’t miss something until you don’t have it. With that said I recently returned from a cruise to Alaska with my family on a Princess cruise. I now know how much and more importantly why I enjoy sailing on Carnival. Now I am not saying Princess did a bad job, or we didn’t have a good time. We enjoyed ourselves, but it wasn’t the same as Carnival. Allow me to explain the differences of the two lines and hence why we have a preference. (I should point out that we would have sailed on Carnival had they offered sailings out of Seattle as they are going to do next year)
The Star Princess is a beautiful vessel. Yet the whole atmosphere and attitude of the ship is subdued. The quietness and low key mood is exhibited by the crew. Now if that is what you are looking for, the ship and line gets an “A”. However yours truly as well as my family enjoy a higher energy level. Carnival Cruise ships and their crews really are more fun. Everyone on board including the passengers seems to be more outgoing, more relaxed and more willing to get involved in the activities on board.
I also missed Carnival’s main stage shows. While the Star Princess had two productions like CCL, they each had only one stationary set that were less than sophisticated to say the very least. Yes, I am spoiled by what I have seen on my eight cruises on Carnival. The multi set extravaganzas on CCL on hard to compete against, but one set per show on a mega ship seemed awfully light. In fairness Star Princess singers and dancers were very talented and did what they could given the material.
Last, but not least was the selection of food. The fine dining experiences were certainly comparable to CCL. However the casual dining was not. There was no deli, fish and chips, or Tandoori Grill type restaurant. The hamburger/hotdog establishment’s menu was more limited than Carnival’s and the pizzeria closed at 7:00 P.M. During the summer with number of kids on board I was quite surprised by the early closing.
As I have said before different cruise lines appeal to different audiences and that was certainly reinforced by my experience two weeks ago. Now for my question…..
Is Carnival Corporation going the way of the Star Princess with significantly less sophisticated stage productions throughout all its cruise lines and will the operating hours of the casual dining establishments be cut as was the case in the pizzeria? I have sailed on Princess twice before and noticed a difference this time. I sailed last on Carnival six months ago and got exactly what I expected. Yet as the economy continues to self destruct I am concerned CCL will be forced to make financial cuts by corporate as it would seem Princess was forced to do.
I have said it before and I will say it again. Carnival Cruise Line delivers exactly what it says it will ….fun. I truly hope tough economic times don’t steer the line away from its proven recipe of success.
Stephen Smith

John Says:
Hello Stephen
Thank you so much for the review of the Star Princess and I think you have shown the brilliant diversity of the Carnival group of companies. Each brand has a product suited to a demographic which means simply we have something for everyone. You know, when Carnival decided to purchase Holland America, Princess, Costa, Cunard etc there were people loyal to these brands who were soiling their underwear at the thought of Holland America for example becoming Carnivalized………..and it never happened. All Carnival did was allow these lines to come together but at the same time to prosper as separate identities.
Princess has many loyal fans and I personally love the product but I also love how loyal you are to Carnival and for that you get a big hug and a promise that you will never see us trying to be something we are not. The food, the service, the shows and the fun will always be based on the formula that has kept us the world’s most popular you know what! What I am trying to say is this……..if the Carnival experience was sold in a box it would be labeled “Fun Inside” and we will always do exactly what is says on that label. In fact, on the Carnival Dream we haven’t cut we have added and the shows, the music and some surprises I have not told you about yet will be testament to that.
I truly hope you had a wonderful Alaskan cruise and I hope you will continue to read the blog thingy
Best wishes

David Wyatt Asked:
Question for John:
John, I have a question for you that is going to sound VERY superficial, but I’m going to ask it anyway. What are the chances that Carnival will either change back to the old Sign and Sail card design or make the Blue, Gold or PLATINUM more pronounced on the current card design? My wife and I are platinum members, actually when we sail on the Dream in October it will make us double Platinum. I cannot lie, being a Platinum member is awesome and it’s something that every Carnival cruiser should strive for. I know that the Carnival staff should, and do, treat everyone to the same caliber of service that Carnival is famous for but things change after the staff member see’s that Platinum card. Upon presenting the card, and after the “Oh! Platinum” that usually follows; the staff member tends to treat you like a “real” part of “their” Carnival family. Sadly, Carnival changed the design of the cards and the small platinum wave just does not stand out and 9 out of 10 times it’s not noticed. There, I said. I WANT to be noticed as a platinum member, not only by the staff but the other guests. I enjoy being asked by those with the blue or gold card “How do you get a platinum card?” Another question (from my wife) is it possible to add something on the card after each tenth cruise? For example a X2 for 20 cruises?
Superficial Cruiser

John Says:
Hello David
That is certainly not a superficial question David and hopefully you read in my blog yesterday that the old cards are on their way out. The ships will be receiving the new ones very soon and it is expected by August that the fleet will be using the ones that certainly are more color specific and that show exactly who is a Platinum guest. There is nothing wrong about wanting to be part of the Carnival family and I can assure you we are proud to say that you and many many others are indeed family members. We always encourage our staff and crew to acknowledge all guests by name and to give a special acknowledgement to those who have sailed ten times or more. Unfortunately although a very modern and fetching design the current Platinum cards do not stand out as much as the old ones thus sometimes maybe the staff and crew are not so aware that you are a Platinum member. This was expressed by many here on the blog and those at the top of the Carnival tree listened and made the changes and once the old inventory is depleted each ship will issue the new ones. I will post photos of the new cards soon
Thank you for standing up and saying “I am a Carnival Loyal Platinum Family Member.”
Best wishes

Jean Morgan Asked:
John Please Read This
John a couple of points if I may.
Firstly I think Carnival is being really cheap on the accommodation it buys for its staff when changing ships. That room sounded really scary and the hotel no better. And Carnival saw fit to put a young girl travelling alone in there, who would have been at fault should anything have happened to her? Maybe she should have asked Nanni if she could stay at her place, I am sure she would have looked after her very well.
Secondly I am really pleased that Carnival has embraced anytime dining and a more relaxed dress code. If Carnival Magic has a few more restaurants to choose from I might just desert my usual cruise line and try Carnival out. I am neither a dirty nor a scruffy person but the thought of being enforced to go out and buy a dress and be uncomfortable just so that others are not offended certainly offends me! I like to wear trousers and a top with flat shoes and sod everyone else’s opinion, if it puts you off your food that I like to dress like that then the problem is with you not me.
My husband and I are both Type 2 diabetics. My husband was only diagnosed last Friday and is still coming to terms with it. One thing I have found helpful for me as a type 2 is to stay away from carbs whenever possible. That means no bread, no potato, no rice and no pasta. All of those will give me a one hour level of 14+ and a 2 hour level of 10+. Carbs are just sugar by another name. I eat well, bacon and egg for breakfast is good. Plenty of meat and veggies does me well and some fruits. Beware some fruit is very high in carb. Avoid all things made with flour. Sugar free cake would possibly not be as good as it sounds.

John Says:
Hello Jean
Thanks for your comments and since Jamie’s report on what is a four-star hotel part of a very popular chain this hotel will not be used by Carnival again. It certainly wasn’t cheap either at well over $100 for the room before tax etc…….. Thank you for showing such concern.
The Carnival policy of dress code remains one that allows everyone to choose and providing guests don’t try to wear bathrobes or tank tops that show a Brazilian rainforest hanging from an underarm, everyone is welcome. The Carnival fleet now has anytime dining, confirmed seating, alternative lido fare and of course our supper clubs. There will be even more choice on the next generation of ships. I know exactly what you mean about carbs and was even today munching on a plate of sushi before realizing that the rice was full of carbs ……bugger. We have a lot of sugar free options here on board and yet they still don’t taste anything like the real thing ………….. oh well. Please send your husband my best. I remember how depressed I was when I was diagnosed but things will get better I promise.
Now, I don’t know what your favorite cruise line is but I will say this…….come and try Carnival ………………let me show you our world and maybe a fun ship vacation is just what you and your husband need right now and I will be honored to help you plan one.
Until then I remain at your service
Best wishes to all

Jennifer S. Asked:
Please Reply If You Can!
My family and I are preparing for our 4th Carnival Cruise (with one first timer) on board the Conquest in July.
I have been a part of an extremely fun roll call on Cruise Critic and wondered how we would go about setting up a fabulous Meet & Greet like others on the CC site have talked about.
Any help or suggestions you have would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!

John Says:
Hello Jennifer
I would be very happy to help you. Please send me your cabin number, name and the number on the roll call a week or so before your cruise and I will make sure all is arranged
Best wishes to you all

Olivia Asked:
Dear John,
(Please respond)
First, I want to say, I love your blog. The mix of personal stories with Heidi and Kye and cruise info makes a great read! I’ve been enjoying going back and reading everything since I discovered the site.
Anyway, I am going on my first Carnival Cruise on the Glory on July 11th in just a few weeks. I have grown up cruising with my parents on RCCL, but I’m 26 now and am branching out on my own with my boyfriend and trying out Carnival. My boyfriend has never cruised before and is very concerned because my parents have been telling him horror stories about Carnival They’ve never even been on a Carnival cruise, but there seems to be some competitive loyalty thing going on. I think Carnival will be much more our style and I know we’ll have fun, but I would really like to out-do my parents and come back with a special experience to brag about. Competition can go both ways, eh?
One thing I’ve never done is gone on a tour of a cruise ship. I’ve been on a Galley tour, but never on a full ship tour. Is there any way to do a full tour of the ship including the usually restricted areas? I would absolutely love this and it would certainly be a “coup de grace” to my parents!
Thanks John,
Olivia and Andrew

John Says:
Hello Olivia and Andrew
It’s great to know how much you enjoy the blog and next week when I become a cruise director again you will hopefully enjoy the true life stories that the guests provide.
Isn’t competitive loyalty fabulous…….especially between family members? I am sure your Mum and Dad have every reason to say they love RCI but to tell horror stories about Carnival without ever actually having taken a cruise with us is surely cause for you to smack their bottoms and put them on the naughty step.
Tell your boyfriend to ignore his mother in law……..not just about this……..but on every subject ……and then to just relax and get ready for the best 7 days he has ever had. I am going to copy this to the CD of the Carnival Glory as soon as you send me your full name and cabin number which I hope you will do soon.
Until then please send this message respectfully to your Mum and Dad……………Hey Mum and Dad………I hope you have enjoyed your time with RCI but if you ever fancy a cruise full of fun and full of affordable value then come and see me. If you want to pay more and pay for a steak and room service and climb a wall then I wish you much happiness on the Thingy of the Seas.
So, let me know your details and I send my best to you both

Dave Myerly Asked:
John – Please Respond
We were saddened to hear of the passing of Robert Schneider. He was a character and will always be remembered by many who knew him.
We just returned yesterday from another week on the Splendor from Long Beach CA. This was our 6th time on board since Sept. 1, 2008 (Baltic, Med., Caribbean 2 Times, South America Leg2 and West Coast). This time we went to Astoria, OR, Victoria and Vancouver BC Canada. We had a great time and this time we took a Penthouse Suite 7297. Quite different then a normal stateroom and we enjoyed the large space/Jacuzzi tub and Bidet. However, we really missed Ken Byrne as Maitre D.” Ken is like you and brings a certain “penausch” to the ship and makes the cruise a better experience. We said hello to Brad and his sidekick Matt. If Goose came aboard in Vancouver as scheduled, again we never saw or heard from him? The Brad and Matt morning TV shows were not on par with yours. They lacked the spontaneity and playfulness you bring with the task.
I want to make it known that Carnival should add this itinerary to the normal rotation for a ship on the US West Coast. They should include San Francisco and Seattle as ports. The US Northwest ports are ideal cruise stops and have much to offer especially during May to Sept.
Sorry to see you missed being home on your first Father’s Day (June 21) with Princess Kye and Heidi.
Jo reminded me to mention that she still wants to see photos of a “JUNIOR TUB” whatever that is from the Dream. We are booked on the Nov. 15 (NY) and Dec. 3, 2010 (Port Canaveral) sailings.
Also I never heard from anyone concerning the question about the use of On Board Credit. Was it “EVER DISCUSSED” by any of the higher management in meetings?
Best to you and hope your enjoying your time as CD again on the Freedom.
Dave and Jo Myerly

John Says:
Hello Dave and Jo
It must have been fabulous staying in Penthouse Suite on the Carnival Splendor and I was thrilled to read that despite Ken not being there you had such a wonderful time. He really does make a difference doesn’t he?
You are not the first to mention just how enjoyable the quickly put together itinerary of Astoria, Vancouver, etc. was and having just spoken to someone at Carnival I can tell you that it will be one we will consider offering again. It certainly does give us other options and I thank you for giving me the opportunity to thank Terry Thornton, our svp of marketing planning, and his department for putting this beautiful selection of ports together under the shadow of the swine flu thingy.
I have not forgotten the photos of the junior tub on the Carnival Dream and Boris will be sending me them soon. As for the on board credit I have re opened the case again. Embarrassingly I was under the impression that this had been sorted but I am so sorry that nobody…….including myself ………..followed up to make sure it was. Please e-mail me once again the details and I will go to the very top.
Thanks as always for your loyal support to Carnival and the blog
Best wishes

Mary M. Asked:
Dear John (Please reply),
I am tickled to death that we will be sailing with you on the Freedom in less than 2 weeks! Someone on our roll call on Cruise Critic suggested that I Google your name and see some of your videos on YouTube. I declined because I don’t want to ruin my anticipation of seeing you in person! I feel like we will be traveling with a legend!
I do have a couple of questions. First…I have tried making reservations for the supper club online, but have not gotten any confirmation. Is this normal?
Also I read (from people who just returned from the Freedom) that they had to wait in long lines in the hot sun at embarkation. Being a fair-skinned redhead from Minnesota this sounds scary! I really hope this was some isolated incident…I would hate to start out my cruise this way.
OK…just thought of one more question. Since we will be sailing on July 4, does Carnival do anything to celebrate the day? Just wondering.
I’m looking forward to our week on the Freedom and hopefully maybe even getting a chance to say “hi” sometime during the week.
P.S. If you want a really fun “volunteer” for any skits or such for the Welcome Aboard show, just ask for my dear hubby, Bob Miller. He loves to “entertain” and is quite the ham!

John Says:
Hello Mary M
I am so happy that you will get to see me in real life rather than on Youtubespacebook. I promise to do all I can to make you laugh. Please don’t worry about not getting confirmation on your supper club request but if you want me to check I will be happy to do so. Please send me the times and cabin number and I will be happy to confirm for you.
There are for sure busy times at embarkation here in Fort Lauderdale and the peak time of 1 pm is usually the busiest. Please don’t worry though, the waiting time is not long in the sun and you will be on board before you know it. I always suggest that wherever you board and onto what ship that guests do so with a dollop of patience as we process you through security and the ticketing process but once onboard the fun will start immediately.
Please leave me a not at the Guest Services Desk when you can with your cabin number on it. We will have a great cruise and a wonderful July 4th celebration as you and the 3,000 guests celebrate independence from………ummmm………… great great great grandfather ……… bugger
See you soon
Best wishes

Irene Garner Asked:
I am very excited to say that I have booked my 4th Carnival cruise for Sept 13th, 2009. I am taking my grandson again (this time he won’t be allowed to take charge of any camera). We are sailing on the Carnival Valor, to the Western Caribbean, our ports of call being Grand Cayman, Roatan, Belize and Cozumel. My question is about whether we will be able to walk off the ship at each location and go to a beach, or will we have to take the tender? I haven’t looked into any of the excursions yet, but I have looked at the satellite images of these places on Google but I haven’t figured out where the ships dock, and whether they are any public beaches.
So far my perfect port of call was Grand Turks on our cruise in March, where we could just walk along the pier and we were on the beach. Next favorite would be Half Moon Cay where we were taken to the beach by tender but we didn’t have to take any excursions (mind you they were all cancelled because of mechanical problems, but I liked being taken to the beach).
On our cruise in April to Ensenada in Mexico, there was no sign of any beach near where the ship tied up, and the only excursion to the beach was also cancelled because not enough people signed up for it.
Last summer, when we sailed to Europe I wish I has known that we could walk to the beach after being taken to the shore by tender in Cannes, otherwise I would have taken my swimsuit and towel too. In Sicily we had to take an excursion to get to a beach, and that beach was a huge disappointment. There were no other opportunities on that trip to enjoy some time on a beach, so I really want to be able to get to some beaches on this upcoming cruise.
So I’d appreciate it if you have time to answer my questions…only 82 days to go
Thanks…Irene Garner
hooked on cruising

John Says:
Hello Irene
Thanks for writing and on your Carnival Valor cruise the only ports that you will tender into are Grand Cayman and Belize. The ride into Grand Cayman takes about 5 minutes while the run into Belize takes around 20 minutes. The tender operations are frequent and organized so you will not have anything to be concerned about. In the other ports you will have direct access from the deck 0 gangway.
There are public beaches in all the ports except Belize where I do suggest you take an organized excursion. In Grand Cayman there is a famous beach called Seven Mile Beach. They have a public part of the beach there and it will cost about $6 per person each way in a taxi……….just ask for Seven Mile Public Beach. This is a beautiful beach area and you will not be disappointed. Have a look at the excursions in Roatan and Belize and then if you have any questions let me know. I think you should take your grandson snorkeling in one of the ports as they are some of the best in the world for viewing Nemo and his mates.
You will have a great time and I will be here should you need me
Best wishes

That’s all for today, there will of course be more tomorrow. Also tomorrow I have a special blog …….from Heidi.

In three days I will be the CD and I cannot wait. Then I can share the ports with you and take as requested lots of photos of the Carnival Freedom. I will also be sharing my life as CD with you and I hope you will all join me……right now I have to say……….I am a bit bored ……. and when I am bored…….I think of Kye and Heidi……..and that makes me miss them more. Still, Kye has been on her Raspberry as you will see here.



OK, here is the news. Yesterday I told you about the Seabourn Odyssey and how this amazing vessel has set new standards in the luxury market by taking that luxury to a new level. Here then are some photos sent to me by Harry Barr a travel agent who was lucky enough to see this amazing vessel for himself.

Grand Salon-Seabourn


Owner Suite-Seabourn

Pool Deck-Seabourn

Seabourn Square-Seabourn

The Colonnade2Seabourn

The Colonnade-Seabourn

The Restaurant1-Seabourn

Veranda Suite-Seabourn

There are not enough adjectives in the world to describe those photos and you can see now why the press and the people who have seen the ship are agreeing that yes…………this is a new level of luxury. Now to enjoy more photos of the Seabourn Odyssey have a look at this link from Holland America’s blog ………great shots………….have a look.

And as you can imagine the naming ceremony was pretty special as well complete with fireworks and the sensational backdrop of Venice. To share in the experience please have a look at Seabourn’s charming and charismatic President and CEO’s Pamela Conover’s twitter page at Twitter/Seabourn.

Staying with the latest news from our sister companies it is time to introduce you once again to our great friend and our man in London, Mr. Peter Shanks

A day on Queen Victoria

John – it was great to see you last week at the UK Cruise Travel Convention and to have you moderating the sessions. I am not if sure the great and the good of the UK Cruise Industry quite knew what to make of you – but you certainly made an impression and I think will have recruited a few more bloggers as a result. What could be better than spending the day with you in Dover – easy – spending a day on Queen Victoria in Southampton. Here is how my day went today………

Whenever I can, I like to go down to our ships when they are in town. We have recently opened the new ‘Ocean Terminal’ in Southampton and it’s terrific as it looks like the ship is right in the middle of the city. I boarded at 1000; our guests from the arriving voyage were already on their way home. You can always tell when a Cunard ship is in town – you can spot fleets of silver Mercedes carrying very happy guests up the M3 wending their way homewards with a wide smile on their faces. Whenever I enter the Hotel Manager’s office – he always has on the table ready for me the CSQ (Customer Service Questionnaire) scores for the voyage just finished. I always say – ‘I don’t come down just to see the numbers as to how we are doing – I come down to see how everybody is and what value I can add’. Having got that out of the way I of course went straight to the numbers. I was a very happy chap this morning. The Queen Victoria is now in her second summer season. We target ourselves to achieve a minimum score of 90% in how our guests rate us. So looking at the figures for the voyage just finished what did I find;

Overall Stateroom Service 96.5
Overall Dining Room Service 95.0
How Valued did you Feel 93.5
Overall Food 92.8
Exceed or Meet Expectation 93.6
Appearance of Stateroom 95.9
Appearance of Public Areas 96.6
Main Production Shows 90.3

And the two measures that really matter;

Would you recommend Cunard to your friends – 98.6% said ‘Yes’
Do you plan to sail with Cunard again? – 98.1% said ‘Yes’

So now its 1015 – time to go home because the day just does not get any better than that. Actually we then discussed some of the areas where we still need to improve and there are some , some areas where I can help deliver more support from the shore side team and I gave an update on how sales are progressing for the balance of the Summer. So what else can one get up to when visiting the ship for the day?

• Spending sometime with our Hotel Director and Accommodation Manager onboard where we mocked up some cabins to look at the new soft furnishings for Queen Elizabeth
• We had a meeting with one of our top UK travel agents – it is always rewarding to meet with them on the ship – everybody has a sense of the product and it leads to a much better quality of meeting and purpose
• Walking the ship is always useful – it’s inspiring to hear the excited comments from our guests as they explore the ship for the first time.
• In one of the lifts (elevators in American) I welcomed a couple who told me it was their 27th voyage on Cunard and they were engaged to be married on the QE2. I mentioned that our President was travelling on part of this voyage and that I would ask her to meet up with them personally – they were chuffed with that.
• I went up to have a look at the Queens Grill, Princess Grill and Grills Terrace. As I came out of the lift (that’s still elevator in American) I was greeted by the sight of two guests being warmly welcomed like ‘long lost friends’ by our Maitre’D – it was terrific to see guests coming home to Cunard.
• I popped into the Theatre and overheard a guest asking if one of the boxes was a ‘Royal Box’ – I was able to show them to the box that was named by Prince Charles and The Duchess of Cornwall, and went on to suggest they should book the theatre package and try the private box experience.
• I had a wander round the Spa – real interest from guests enquiring about treatments – and it’s always good to watch the reaction when guests see the facilities of the Cunard Royal Spa for the first time. I spoke with one of the fitness instructors – she was really pleased at how well the last voyage had gone and was looking forward to this voyage – good for her.
• I passed a group of French Guests – they were being welcomed by one of our International Hostesses in perfect French – fantastique.

So that was how I spent my morning John – and boy did it remind me what a fabulous team of people we have on Queen Victoria. On leaving the ship – proud as punch – I had a quick look round the new terminal to see how the check-in had gone. As I was talking to our Supervisor I could not quite work out why she was standing there with a rather odd shaped walking stick with a ‘Duck’s Head’ as the handle – she looked perfectly able and fit to me. Just as I thought that – one of our White Star Stewards came up and said ‘Yes – that is the gentleman’s walking stick, he left it behind and I will take it up to him in his stateroom now’. That’s what we call White Star Service.

So the point of the blog has been twofold John. Firstly to describe- tough as you may find it – what could be better than spending a day with you in Dover – and secondly to gently remind your many thousands of bloggers that we would love to welcome them on Queen Victoria – she is a fine ship. For Summer 2010 she will be Fly-Cruising in the Med and in Winter 10/11 she will based in the US on Panama Canal and West Coast/Hawaii deployments. What better than to spend some time being pampered and being part of history – on one of the most famous ocean liners in the world.

Lastly John – Congrats on the birth of your daughter – it takes a real man to make a girl…………….

Best Regards

Peter Shanks

What a terrific blog Peter and one that shows that the famous “White Star Service” continues to set the standard across the industry. I know some of the bloggers are considering a Cunard voyage and I know that having read this blog many more will start to think about doing so as well. Thank you Peter and once again for a gentlemen of your standing within the corporation to take the time to write on this humble blog thingy is truly wonderful and I know many of the bloggers will write and say thank you for doing so……by the way…….I still think we should hold a bloggers cruise on a Cunard ship……even if only a few of us go… would be such a thrill.

As you will have read in Peter’s blog we shared the stage together at the UK Cruise Convention. Peter is an accomplished speaker and when he opened the session to questions he handled a difficult and somewhat rudely asked question in the most professional and diplomatic of ways. He adhered himself once again to everyone who was there.

Me on the other hand……..well as Peter also mentioned I think some of the people there probably thought “Who is he and why he is trying to be funny?……..this is a serious convention ……….. bugger off.”

I guess when I think about it I have really blown any chance I ever had to work for anyone but Carnival. Not that I have any intention of going anywhere else but let’s just say one day Gerry Cahill wakes up and thinks………..mmmm……..that John Heald…….he’s a liability and he eats too much food when he is on board and that costs me money……..and fires me ……….I am so buggered………really I am ………..let’s make a list of those who would never hire me.

NCL – ummm………….having suggested that the bow of their ships look like they have been vomited on by Walt Disney and that the Norwegian Epic is uglier than a baboon’s scrotum ……………………….I doubt they would say welcome aboard John

River Cruise Companies …….I am sure a river cruise is what many people enjoy but having said in a recent blog that river cruising is as exciting as watching Michael Jackson’s nose melt in the sun I doubt that I will be asked to be the cruise director of the M/V Coma anytime soon
RCI…………..ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha…………….I am not on their Christmas card list and I have more chance of becoming a pole dancer than being asked to work on the wehatejohnhealdandhisstupidblog of the seas.

Someone who obviously has never ever thought about leaving is this special lady.

Many congratulations Cherie and I know that it’s thanks to people like you and the loyalty you continue to show to Carnival Cruise Lines that allows us to continue to be the world’s most popular cruise line. We all send you best wishes for the next 35 years.

Finally I wanted to leave you with this video which has found its way onto YouTube. It was sent to me a host of people including my mate Danny, blogger and photo journalist Bill Zydecocruiser and by my Italian friend Mac Aroni. Its amateur footage taken from a small sail boat and it is of………….your Carnival Dream.

Incredible………….stunning………awesome………beautiful……….sexy……..and totally jaw droppingly brilliant…………Oasis my arse.


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.