Discussing Dreams

July 1, 2009 -

John Heald

My geography teacher’s name was Mr. Alistair…….or Glass Eye as we would cruelly call him out of ear shot…. due to the fact that he only had one eye. I also sat next close to a girl called Louise whose breasts were the size of the Alps and thus my interest in old Glass Eye’s lessons amounted to bugger all. Therefore I never had any idea of the location of the Cayman Islands until some 20 years ago when I first sailed there on the Holiday. It turned out that these islands were not where I had imagined them to be — somewhere in the Pacific — but were tucked away in the Caribbean, just below Cuba and not all that far from Jamaica.

I suspect that my ignorance was shared by many. But, these days, the Cayman Islands have become much better known thanks to the only film apart from Top Gun that the dwarfish and slightly strange Tom Cruise starred in……..The Firm. Thanks to books by people like John Grisham and others the Caymans have become very well known as an offshore financial. Most people now know that the islands are associated with international finance. Indeed, say the word banks and I imagine that quite a number of people would say “Cayman Islands” just as quickly as they might say “Switzerland” ………or “bastards that lost all my money.”

So if you have a great deal of legitimately earned money from inventing a swimming pool poop a scoop and you were looking for somewhere to put it, you might find yourself in George Town, Grand Cayman, the island’s capital. And you would certainly have a good choice of banks at your disposal. Grand Cayman, which is only about 20 miles long and in some places less than a mile wide, has about 600 registered banks. Given that the population of the islands is not much more than 40,000 (of which 37,000 all have the last surname…Bodden)… that makes one bank for every 67 people…..yes I used a calculator.

The Cayman Islands are a British colony, complete with cars that drive on the right side of the road and a British governor, who, on special occasions, puts on the ceremonial outfit of white helmet and peacock feathers.

Of course one of the most popular destinations for our guests is Stingray City. It is one of the great Caymanian experiences to swim with these giant rays. They glide below you like stealth bombers, with their great black wings. Guests feed them by holding a piece of squid between their thumb and forefinger. Stingrays don’t have teeth but have these rubber suckers that shoot out of their mouth and suck the food in. The old stingray got a lot of bad press after the terrible incident with Steve “The Crocodile Hunter” Irwin but we have never had any incidents in Cayman and the comments from guests continue to be ones of great enjoyment.

Guests also love the Atlantis Submarine as well as visiting the Turtle Farm. Hatchlings are reared to over 300 pounds, and while most of the output ends up in restaurants placed between two slices of bread. Nearby is the little village of Hell, which has a tiny post office doing a lively trade thanks to its amusing postmark. I send a card every time to the President of France………it reads “I’ve been to Hell………..wish you were here.”

Still. Grand Cayman is still one of the most superb ports of call in the entire Caribbean and here we are today bathed in beautiful hot sunshine. There are only three cruise ships here. Carnival Freedom, Carnival Inspiration and two others I can’t be asked to name or make fun of. This means there are eight thousand cruise ship passengers who are for the unparalleled diving and snorkeling, for the beaches and the turquoise-colored, perfectly warm sea. All of these eight thousand passengers plus a smattering of the ship’s crew all have to go ashore by tender. I have moaned here before that even though all the cruise companies have offered to pay this massively prosperous island to help build a pier …… bugger all work has been done and thus the passengers are tendered ashore.

This is done from the ship in a very organized fashion but it would be wrong not to say that there will be lines and some waiting time to return to the ships as most people are having such a brilliant time they leave it to the last moment before doing so. Today won’t be so bad but can you imagine what it’s like when there are 6 or 7 mega ships at anchor? …come on Cayman……let’s build a pier……although apparently….they already have!

Guest: _____________ Ref: 840006350A
Cabin: -Booking#: _______ Added-Changed: 06/30/09 – 07/01/09

Guest came to the GSD to state that he was not happy with having to use tenders to go ashore in Grand Cayman. Guest stated that he was here last year on a Holland America ship and that the ship docked at the pier. GSA explained to the guest that this was possible as every ship used tenders Guest then said the GSA was saying that he was lying and wanted to speak to the Cruise Director and Captain. Gst refused to leave the desk until this happened.
CD called and CD came to the desk and sat with guest in the Lobby. Waiting for report from CD.

So, there I was having my morning coffee thinking about how to start today’s blog when the phone rang and there it was…………the subject for today.

I spoke to Mr. Pierman and explained that he was probably confused and that as he would see when he went ashore all the ships today were at anchor at that none were able to dock. I think he suddenly realized that he had made a mistake and covered this by telling me that the food was better on HAL and that there were too many people on the ship. And so I sat there listening to him for 10 minutes and eventually I think I had persuaded him that he was in fact having a good time. He loved the shows, he liked his cabin and the waiter he said was very good. And so I stood up, shook his hand feeling like I had had a small sense of victory…………however as I shook that hand Mr. Pierman said “we definitely docked when we came here on Holland America.”…………….bugger!

Time for today’s questions………….here we go.

Kathy M. Asked:

Hi John,
Please respond,
I have been reading your blog for over a year and I finally decided that I needed to ask this.
Since the Carnival Magic will sail in June 2011, when will passengers be able to start booking cruises on her? I have decided that since my birthday is in June, I am going to give myself a cruise on the Magic as a birthday present to myself. So how do I find out when they will start taking reservations?
Also about the pins, I am a big fan of the pins as well and I was saddened when they said they were dropping them. I am glad to hear that they will be bringing them back, but I also feel that if people would like one, they should be able to get one at the Pursers desk for free. Many of the past guest perks have gone by the wayside until you hit Platinum, so I think that maybe Carnival can give a little past guest gift like the pin as a gesture that they appreciate our return patronage.
Kye is getting so big and you can tell she is starting to notice her surroundings. I do have to tell you, I agree with another poster that Kye should be a baby model, she is beautiful.

Kathy M.
Hi John,
Please respond,
I just had to tell you this; you really did not miss Kye smiling for the first time. Just think about all the father’s that have missed their child’s first smile and don’t even have a picture of it like you do. So really you did not miss her first smile. Don’t get me wrong, it is not the same as being there, but you are lucky, you do have the photo of that beautiful baby.
John, I have been meaning to say this for awhile, I notice that many people write to you to intervene for them when they have a problem with Carnival, but I have not seen many write back and thank you. So I want to “THANK YOU” for all the extra things you do for all of Carnivals passengers. Whether it is setting up a backstage tour, setting up special seating arrangements in the dining room or even taking care of corporate business, you go far beyond just being a Cruise Director and for that I commend you. You are one of a kind John and I admire you for that. Carnival is very lucky to have such a wonderful caring special person to work for them.
Your blog thingy fan,
Kathy M.

John Says:

Hello Kathy M
I understand what you mean Kathy and I think of all the serving military personal who are away from their loved ones for so long and unlike me cannot contact them as and when they will. I just don’t want to miss too many of Kye’s milestones. And I want to say thank you to you for saying thank you. I always do my best to help as many people as I can. The blog thingy certainly has taken on a major guest relations role and hopefully I can continue to provide the support that people need. Thanks so very much for your kindness and I hope you continue to read the blog for a long time to come
Best wishes

Isabel Smith Leshen Asked:

John (please reply), you have a beautiful wife and child; the pictures just keep on getting better. Ten years ago we were on the Triumph. My husband Joe said at that time we must book our Carnival cruises when you are the cruise director. As luck has it, we missed out when schedules changed and we were disappointed. We have had the fortune of seeing other fine CDs but Joe wanted another opportunity to see you. He just turned 60 and is thrilled you will be on our July 4th cruise on the Freedom. Our son Mike liked you when he was 6 and now at 16 can even more appreciate your sense of humor. Hope you can drop by the Cruise Critic meet and greet at the Pizzeria July 5th at 3pm.
Best to you and your family. Isabel

John Says:

Hello Isabel
Goodness me…………I am old. Your son was 6 the last time we were together and now he is 16. Where do the years go? Anyway, it will be an honor to say welcome home to you and please would you leave me a note when you arrive at the Guest Service Desk so I can call and say hello.
My best to you and all the family and I will see you in a few days

Bill & Linda Asked:

John please reply. Just a quick question. What happened to the azi pod system Carnival used on the new ships.

John Says:

Hello Bill and Linda
For those who don’t know the the Azipod unit is fixed outside the ship in a pod, or casing, which combines the functions of a propulsion motor, main propeller, rudder and stern thruster……………..and thanks to the captain here for checking my work.
It was developed in Finland jointly by Kvaerner Masa-Yards where the Spirit class ships were built and by a company called ABB.
When the Destiny class and the following generations of ships were built in Italy we moved away from the Azipod system but there is no doubt how successful this system was and still is on some of our ships.
Hope this helps answer your question and if you have a follow up please let me know.

Best wishes to you both

Jim Eakins Asked:

John – Please Reply
I was dreaming about our upcoming Dream cruise in October; thinking about our special South American cruise on Splendor this past January; and looking at possible future cruises: as doubtless we all are oft wont to do.
What came to mind was the launch of the Magic in 2011 and I wonder what the girls and boys in the back room might be planning? Since so many have been musing about Carnival’s departure from the Mediterranean, might I be so bold as to suggest this might be a golden opportunity to do something along the lines of the Splendor South American cruise. How about a grand tour of the Mediterranean?
On an entirely different topic. I have often noticed many tables on the Lido Deck only partly full but have been somewhat reluctant to ask the occupants if we might join them (once bitten, twice shy!) and wonder if it might be possible to have a table tent type card made up that occupants could place on their table to indicate they would be delighted to have others join them for the meal? Just a thought to help with the often crowded Lido Deck and to encourage passengers to get to know one another.

John Says:

Hello Jim
It seems that you are pining for another cruise Jim and it’s great to read about your special South American Adventure.

Once again I see that the Carnival Magic’s destination is a hot topic and unfortunately at this point I cannot confirm or deny where she is or isn’t going. I can tell you that she will be a remarkable vessel and that we are all working hard to introduce even more new features on the Carnival Magic. Hopefully, once your Carnival Dream has sailed I will be able to tell you where the Carnival Magic will be heading to.

I love this blog…….I love the fact that people share ideas on how to improve the Carnival product ………..one they love so much already. And yours is a great idea. I have never thought about this before. If you want someone to join you ……….put a flag up. Maybe a small flag with Fun Ship Freddy on it? Then people will know that you would love to meet new friends. What a great idea and one I will present immediately.
Thanks so very much for this and thank you for speculating about the Carnival Magic and I hope to tell you more soon about her and your brilliant idea.

Best wishes

slickabrina Asked:

Please reply…
Hello John! Looks like my post never made it a few days ago so here is attempt number 2. Is there a particular reason why the Elation’s schedule is only through April of next year? I see Paradise is scheduled through 2011 but as someone who prefers Cabo, Elation would always be my first choice. Catalina and Ensenada just don’t hold much appeal for a short getaway. I also would prefer to sail out of San Diego as it is less of a headache.

John Says:

Hello Colleen
Hopefully by now you will have read yesterday’s blog that featured some great news about the Carnival Elation. If you have any questions please let me know.

Best wishes

George & Marge Ribas Asked:

John Please Reply
Hi John,
In less than 15 days, our group of 24 will be sailing once again on the Spirit to Alaska. I am taking my Bobble Head along and will be sure to take some pictures and forward them to you. I know we will have fun with Bubba but we are surely going to miss you as we have been spoiled by you. Our cabin is #—. Any messages for Bubba, let me know and I will gladly pass them on. Who knows maybe I can get a picture of Bubba and the Bobble Head. Thanks John

John Says:

Hello George and Marge
I wish I was going to Alaska with you and if you have time please stop by and see Bubba and give him my best regards. He loves chocolate by the way………….I mean………..he loves the Waffle House more but he loves chocolate.
I look forward to seeing your photos and reading a review of your cruise.
Have a brilliant time
Best wishes to you both

Patty & Rich Byrd Asked:

John, I submitted this question earlier in the week, but I’m not sure you received it. My husband and I are booking an Alaskan cruise for August 2010. I wish to book in the very near future, so my question is this: Which side of the ship offers the better vistas? We are booking a balcony cabin and I would hate to spend our time in port looking at the dock. While I realize that that situation could certainly happen, I would hope that one side offered a better view than the other. Could you please check with “Bubba” Roberts as to which side may be better? We were sorry to hear that Chris is retiring after this season as we sailed with him as our CD on the Inspiration a few years ago. We also enjoyed you as our CD on the Freedom in Europe a couple of years ago…you are a hoot! Congratulations on parenthood…it suits you and Heidi.

John Says:

Hello Patty and Rich,
I am sorry I didn’t answer your question before, must have got lost in the void that is cyberspace. Having not had the honor of being cruise director in Alaska, I will ask Chris Bubba Roberts to let you know which side gives the best views although one would think there is a good chance that both sides are equal. Anyway, I will get back to you soon, and again my apologies for the delay.

Best wishes to you both,

Lynn Peterson Asked:

Dear John,
Congratulations on your beautiful baby girl! I am sailing on the Splendor on July 12 to the Mexican Riviera and I can’t wait. I have a shell fish allergy and I am not sure if I need to notify anyone on the ship and if so who I should notify. Can you please let me know if I need to notify anyone and who it should be? Keep working hard on your diet, I know how difficult it can be but you can do it!!
Thank you so much for helping me.
Lynn Peterson

John Says:

Hello Lynn
Thanks so very much for the kind words about Kye. I miss her and Heidi very much.
I have alerted the maitre d and hotel director re your food allergy and they will make sure you are well taken care of.
Thanks for the words of encouragement and I look forward to hearing all about your cruise.
Best wishes

cruzn buckeye Asked:

Hi John! (please reply)
I enjoyed Heidi’s blog yesterday. And Kye’s first smile…she is such a cutie….don’t worry … it is okay to shed tears….how could you not? I know you must miss her terribly!
I have to say that the loss of Michael Jackson was so very sad. At first, it didn’t seem real. And then yesterday, I felt much sadness as I watched on TV and YouTube so many videos….and brought back so many memories of my years spent listening to his music.
I wanted to let you know about a current thread on cruise critic. It concerns the Dream and the wraparound promenade deck. Personally, I love the wraparound promenade but I have to agree with some of the posters, it takes away from the feeling of your balcony. I like having a balcony so that whether it be day or night, I can get away from it all and enjoy the ocean and fresh air. Now, it will not be quiet on the balconies anymore during the daytime. I know there will be many opinions on this. I am sure I will have a perfect time on my Dream cruise in February. But, I must wonder, why could that wrap around deck not be extended beyond the balconies? I think the cove balconies under the promenade will become even more popular and requested than they already are.
Have a great time next week as you begin your CD duties again! Can’t wait to be onboard with you in February!

John Says:

Hello Edy

Thanks so much for the kind words about Kye and her first smile. I hope I do not miss too many other milestones in her life. If you will give me a few moments I will be addressing the comments that you and others have made about the wrap around promenade and the balconies above.

Thanks as always for your loyal support
Best wishes

Peg Dunbar Asked:

John, Please Reply
Ah John, I am sorry you missed your beautiful baby girl’s first smile. Hopefully you will be home when the next first comes along. Kye really is such a beautiful baby. You and Heidi are so blessed to have her in your life. She is a very lucky baby to have the two of you as parents.
I really liked Michael Jackson in the 80’s. My daughter was a huge fan and had MTV on all the
time, so it was either like him or cover my ears. I think he was probably the most talented then, too bad he got so lost.
As I told you before Mike and I are going on the Spirit to Alaska on August 5th. Mike is getting very excited. I am going to go with a good attitude and hopefully come back home very happy that we did go. Alaska is not a place I honestly thought in terms of “cruising”. Everyone I have talked to says we are going to be amazed by the beauty of Alaska or as you have called it, The Last Frontier.
We were disappointed last September on our Splendor cruise to Europe when we arrived and found out that there would not be a Catholic Priest on board. On our two previous Carnival cruises they did have one and since we were going to Rome, I was very disappointed that there would not be one. I was wondering why you stopped asking Priests to be on the cruises? I think they really enjoyed not only having Mass every day that they could, but being on the cruise and the ports they went to. Do you see Carnival, in the future, reinstating having a Catholic Priest on board? I hope they do and I think there are others that feel the same.
I hope you are enjoying being on the Freedom. I am sure you miss your girls more that you are able to say.
Keep smiling John; you truly are one of the good guys.
My best to Heidi and your beautiful Kye.

John Says:

Hello Peg

It is so gratifying to know that so many of you are thinking of my family and thanks Peg for those beautiful words.

I have a feeling that after experiencing quality time together and experiencing the wonders of Alaska you will not regret your decision to cruise there one bit. Bubba and his staff will make sure you experience all the iconic Carnival fun you have enjoyed before but this time you will be doing so with the Last Frontier as the backdrop.

As I said a few months ago ……we have to do better when it comes to getting priests onboard. You may have seen a letter I posted yesterday from a very upset guest. The truth is though that it is very difficult to find priests or ministers or rabbis who are prepared to leave their parishes to come out and cruise. We mostly have to choose from those who are retired but that still is not easy. I asked this week here on the Carnival Freedom if we had anyone who would be prepared to conduct an interdenominational service but I have not had any positive replies so far.

I admit that I have not done anything about looking for a better way to get priests on board but I will address this again now with the Miami office as I know you and many others would appreciate this.

Best wishes

Joko Joan Asked:

Hi John:
One comment and two questions:
1. Kye’s precious smile. I do have printed contracts for future beaus to fill out when they start calling on her (she’s going to have a long line). You have to watch out for that ‘carriage crowd,’ ya know . . .
2. Last year, while sailing on the Glory, we had to pleasure of often meeting an ACD named David. I have never seen published as to what would be an appropriate token of appreciation to an ACD who extended themselves in friendliness. I’d like to see a piece on him – he made himself available, was not standoffish, he made going to the activities fun and didn’t treat the elderly (errr – me) with disdain but made me feel genuinely important and furthermore made me feel like a friend when we saw him over again. I hope he will be on the Glory’s 9/12 sailing so that we’ll get to enjoy his effervescent personality again.
3. Since you started blogging, I do not believe that there has been anything written concerning Religious Services.
To many of us, having services onboard is very important to us. If the sailings are from Sat. t0 Sat. we miss our religion’s requirement. If the ship sails from Sun. to Sun. that will entail missing the two services listed as in “Thou shalt keep holy . . . ”
I know that Holland America always has a cleric onboard and I am wondering why this is not possible on the Carnival fleet.
As we are sailing with 56 +/- in our group, I did attempt to recruit three clerics to travel with us but all three had prior commitments and are not in the retirement age group that would make travelling possible at this time.
We have met many clerics on Holland who were happy to use their retirement time to minister not only to passengers but to the hard-working crew who should have some entitlement to practicing their faith. I hope Carnival would give this issue some thought . .

John Says:

Hello Joko Joan

I have the photo of Kye’s smile on my Raspberry and my lap top dancer computer. I look at it and feel like she is smiling at me.

I would love to feature an ACD called David. Do you know anything else about him as we have 2 ACD’s called David? One is now changed his stage name to Charlie Daniels …….was it him? He is British and looks a little like Austin Powers.

Let me know if it’s him and if not I will know it’s the other David. Regardless it was nice to know that he treated you so well and you wrote a wonderful example of what we aspire all our staff to be.

I just wrote to Peg about the religious services. I know Holland America has a person responsible for leading religious services on board and that is indeed wonderful. However, I do not think that we need one all year round on every ship. The two products are very different and I am not sure we should look at having 22 ships each with a permanent cleric. However, there are times when a priest and or rabbi or minister is truly important. Holidays and important religious dates for example and on longer cruises. This is now on my desk and I will certainly push to accomplish getting this done because as you said it is important to many

Thanks again for the kind words and best wishes

Aneta Asked:

Hello, John. My family and I are going on the cruise ship “Freedom” on July 4th and we have a question about on-board Masses. We are Roman Catholic and we were wondering if there would be any priest doing masses on both of our Sundays on board. If there is no official mass then maybe a Catholic priest who happen to be traveling and it would be a most great favor if you got him contacted about us.
Thank you for your time!

John Says:

Hello Aneta
I often wonder if some of you all call each other and discuss what you will all write here on the blog. Kidding of course. It is strange though that all of a sudden and on the last three comments for today that the subject of religious services should come up. Unfortunately we will not have a priest on board although I will be asking if there is any guest who would like to lead a service. Hopefully there will be someone who could hold an Interdenominational service.
Anyway, I will let you know and please drop me a note at the Guest Relations Desk so I can send you a welcome on board something
Best wishes and see you soon

That’s all for today. I remain at your service should any of you have a question for me.

I saw on Cruise Critic that there is one of those thread thingies written by people with possible concerns about booking balconies above the deck 5 wrap around promenade.

Well, it would be silly to say that we at Carnival have not been having discussions about this as well. We have been talking about what time to close the overhang Jacuzzis and to stop the soft piped in music that will be playing in the outside seating area of the disco and the Ocean Plaza. As soon as operational decisions have been made I will let you know.

However, I will also say that if anyone is concerned then I would suggest for the time being you book a balcony on a higher deck. And while that may seem a bit harsh and I don’t want to appear flippant when I say this but it would again be silly not to say this as we are still ironing out the details on various aspects of this ship. What I mean is that if you are one who goes to bed around 9 pm – 11 pm then I would suggest booking a cabin on deck 7 or above. If however you are someone who stays up later and will go to sleep after 11 pm then a balcony over the lanai should not be a problem.

We must not forget the benefits of this though. Having a wrap around promenade gives us so many more areas for guests to enjoy everything from an early morning coffee……a mid morning outside game of cards or trivia…a lunchtime treat……..an afternoon gelato……or an evening sitting with a loved one and a glass cocktail thinking life is good.

I will update you on this very soon and maybe Host Mach would like to post this on the thread thingy please.

But not this bit!…………if you want noise then book a cabin on the twohundreddecibles of the seas overlooking their indoor promenade………don’t forget your ear plugs.

Anyway, lets remind ourselves just how stunning your Carnival Dream is going to be with these amazing photos sent to me by my friends at Fincantieri of the ship heading off for further sea trials.

DSC_0817 OK

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One of the events I enjoy doing so very much is the Marriage Show. I think this is because it gives me a chance to improvise as you never know what’s going to happen. Here are two photos captured from the video of the show………hence the quality is not so good.



Yep…….that’s me……….kissing a man………hey………it’s been four months.

Also featured there are Terri and Isaac Todd who have been married for 58 years …….. they met in prison. Yep……..Isaac was captured during the last few months of World War 2 and held in a German camp. When the war finished he was visited by a young British Red Cross worker who helped him and many other GI’s with their release. It was a wonderful story that had some of the audience shedding a few tears.

Since the death of Michael Jackson jokes about him have started clogging up my Raspberry. “And he looked so well” said one. “He’s re-releasing the ‘Thriller’ video in six weeks’ time,” said another. I’m not a big fan of jokes about people who have only just touched down the wrong side of rigor mortis, but I guess with the way Jacko lived his life it was to be expected that friends and colleagues would look for ways to make fun of his passing. Anyway, tonight in the dance club we are holding a Remembering Michael party.

This will include nonstop MJ hits and the MJ dance contest. I am sure it will be well attended.

OK…………let’s talk rumpy pumpy.

I remember when my Mum and Dad had our family dog castrated. Not a very fetching sentence to read, I’m sure, and not particularly pleasant to write, either. Few sights are more guilt-inducing than your poor Cocker Spaniel gazing in bewilderment at the blackened, pillaged terrain that is now his bollocks and wondering why you have put a plastic lampshade around his head.

The subject of contraception came up when Heidi and I spoke recently as apparently according to our family physician Doctor Ramitin ladies are extremley fertile after giving birth

Now, I would have thought the fact that we were 3000 miles apart might be contraceptive enough but as an option Heidi sent me a link thingy about …………….the male pill.

A new study in the UK has found that monthly testosterone injections in fertile men were 99 per cent effective in rendering them temporarily sterile. As we speak, volunteers are being sought for trials by researchers at the University of Oxford. There is talk of a male Pill being on the market in as little as five years………except it will come in the form of an injection.

Oh yes, I said to Heidi, put me down as a volunteer. You know how much I love doctors, needles and chatting about my Thingy don’t you? In on my list of “my favourite things”, lowering my trousers in front of people wearing white coats and having an is right up there with shaving my nipples off with a cheese grater. Nope…………we will have to talk about other forms of not getting another Thingy as there is no way I am going to see Dr. Ramitin and have a small prick in the bottom…………………….contraception my arse.

Your friend

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.