iBlog

July 8, 2009 -

John Heald

Good morning from Costa Rica and as me and my underpants sit here writing to you the guests are heading ashore ready to go communing with nature . They will be on tour looking for monkeys and sloths, exotic birds, frogs and turtles………..in France that would be considered a buffet.

Pre-blog days I took one of the most popular tours here which goes to the rain forest to experience nature up close and personal. I remember last time I was here I took the amazing Canopy Tour where the guide told me that there are186 species of birds here. It’s where a group of male bird watchers would go for a stag weekend.

As I stood on the canopy that whisked us across the tree top I could hear howler monkeys in the trees launching a chorus that sounded worryingly like a pack of hungry wolves. I would have looked down to check but I’m not very good with heights…………… or wolves.

Costa Rica has had no army since 1949 (a bit like France); instead the money’s been poured into education and health, making for an extremely modern and very democratic country. For such a small country (on one of our tours the Two Oceans by Railroad you can actually see both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts) it boasts an extraordinary variety of things to see and do.

And so while the guests are ashore I have a busy day ahead of me making some videos for a site I will be telling you about shortly. But first…………..let’s talk about phones.

Just before I boarded the Carnival Freedom I had dinner in Miami’s Lincoln Road with my friends Roger and Marie. They are a wonderful couple so right for each other and whose love has produced two of the most beautiful children in the world…….Max and Ashley. While they are so alike in many ways Roger and Marie are certainly not alike when it comes to technology. It was only a few years ago that Marie made Roger throw away a TV that was a black and white and had a remote control system that involved someone getting off their arse, walking over to the TV and turning a dial……..not pressing a button………..turning a dial.

Marie on the other hand is a wiz when it comes to the latest technology and as we ate dinner that night I watched her dribble and drool ………no………she wasn’t fantasizing about me dressed all in rubber laying on her dining room table with an apple in my mouth………nope……….it was because we were outside of the Apple Store and they were launching some new Eye Phone thingy. Apple launched its upgraded Eye Phone, the 3G S thingy and by the end of the weekend, it had already sold a million of them.

That’s a million people parting with serious cash in the depths of a recession…………….. For a phone. …………….recession my arse
Why am I mentioning this?………………here is why.

Guest: —————-Ref: 838006504A
Cabin: ———-Booking#: ______
LOST PHONE
Mr. ______ arrived at the GSD and started to cry. GSA asked what was wrong and took guest to sit in the lobby as other guests were there. Mr. ____ said that he had left his phone on the table on Lido Deck during breakfast and that he now could not find it. Guest was crying a lot and said that he had just bought it and paid $400 for it. GSA said that he would need to fill out a lost property form and that hopefully someone would hand the phone back. Guest then demanded that the Cruise Director make a ship wide announcement for the phone. GSA said that there were many pieces of lost property and we could not do announcements for this. Guest then started to scream and GSA had to ask guest to calm down. Mr._______ then said he wanted to speak to the Captain and John (CD)

CD called guest and arranged meeting.

Note: Missing phone is an iPod3Gs – black in color.

So what made this man and thousands of others toss their old Eye Phone into a desk drawer in preference for the S model? What magic powers does the S offer? You would hope, given how upset this guest was when I spoke to him, that it would cure hemorrhoids or make cappuccino or have a built-in Star Trek phaser (I spy a French person — set iPhone to maximum stun).

Nope……… the EyePhone 3G S thingy has according to the guest……… who I tried to calm down by talking nerdy talk about the phone………a longer battery life, more memory and it can open applications a bit quicker than the old Eye Phone. And it has a editing package a million people can post their annoying home videos of their pets doing stupid stuff straight to YouTube ……….. and that, it appears, is that.

It is clear Apple could announce that the next phone is exactly the same as the last one except it is 1 mm smaller and has a built in nose hair trimmer built in and we would still rush out with our credit cards………..I guess it’s all about brand image and other marketing bollocks.

My whole house is full of things that don’t work properly. I paid a ridiculous amount for a Dualit toaster because it was supposed be the best……..but isn’t. It toasts one side of the bread more than the other. Sometimes it burns the toast and sometimes it doesn’t. It depends on what sort of mood it’s in. My printer jams. My DVD player, a very expensive DVD player, only accepts films without explosions. It is obsessed with chick flicks but won’t play Bond or Rumpy Pumpy movies.

I accept all this without complaint because I am used to technology not doing what it’s supposed to do. But Eye Phones it seems are the exception to the rule and if Apple made cars people would buy one for sure. And when the company announced a new version, complete with slightly better windshield wipers, they would scrap the old Eyecar and buy the new one. Let’s hope Apple never gets into the cruise business.

By the way…………..the story continues.

Guest: —————-Ref: 838006504B
Cabin: ———-Booking#: _____Added-Changed: 07/06/09 – 07/07/09
LOST PHONE FOUND
Team waiter Victor returned a phone that had been left on Lido Deck. Phone was the iPhone belonging to Guest ___________. Phone returned to guest at 10:55am
Nothing further

I am waiting for the guest to leave a little note for me asking to thank Victor for finding the phone………so far …………….there has been …………iBuggerall.

Now onto to some questions…

Stacey Asked:
John,
I know you sometimes arrange for CC’ers to have a space for a Meet & Greet, and sometimes arrange for people to receive a Ship on a Stick for whatever reason. I was wondering if I could impose on you for a combination of the two. There’s a group of 50 (and growing) of us sailing on the Glory 11/29 sailing, and we’d love to have a meeting place the first night of the cruise for a get-together, but also to kick off a series of scavenger hunts. I’ve got some FUNNY cruise-specific lists…both for physical objects themselves and funny pictures taken by people of humorous things and situations. ANYWAY, I wondered if we could maybe squeeze a Ship on a Stick or a few small Carnival logo items as prizes. If not, the way things have been reading lately on CC, I understand the need for cutbacks and will take a reasonable cruise fare over some donated door prizes any day, no worries.
Thanks, John! Keep up the good work!
Stacey

John Says:
Hello Stacey,
It will be my pleasure to help you on both counts. The scavenger hunt sounds like a lot of fun and we will have a few solid gold plastic trophies ready for the winners. Please send me a comment on the blog two weeks before you sail and I will make the arrangements.
Best wishes to all
John

Mike Asked:
Please Reply – John, I Read Your Blog Thingy Religiously, So Thank You for All Your Posts and Help to So Many. I Am Sailing On the Triumph Soon and Have Been Researching Everything Under the Moon About this Ship. Including Numerous Reviews on Cruise Critic. I Have to Say, This Poor Girl! You Have to Admit She’s Got a Good Head On Her Shoulder’s and Isn’t Mad at You For Forgetting About Her! http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showpost.php?p=19994659&postcount=2 More Cruisers Should Act Like That

John Says:
Hello Mike
I thank you so much for the kind words and for posting the review. I rely on my cruise director colleagues to send the things I ask to people’s cabins and for the most part they do. Yet on this occasion I was let down and that makes me sad. So , may I ask you to please post this apology to momof1lilguy for not receiving the gift I promised and I will make sure next time she sails come hell or high water……..there will be something in the cabin.

Now, as for you………please let me know if there is anything you need to know before your Carnival Triumph cruise. I am sure your research has proved useful but if you need anything at all please drop me a note here on the blog thingy.
Best wishes
John

Maribeth Asked:
JOHN – PLEASE REPLY
Hi John. I am cruising on the Carnival Legend on July 19th and had a question. I was finally able to convince my brother and his wife to take a cruise with me. It will be their first and I’m sure by the end of day 1 they will be Carnival Junkies just like me!

The first day of the cruise is his wife Laura’s birthday and I was wondering if you could do a little something special for her to welcome her and my brother to Carnival?? Here is her information:
Laura Berendt
Booking # —–
Cabin # —-
Carnival Legend
July 19th, 2009
Thank you very much for all you do for everyone, John. Hugs to Heidi and Kye!
Sincerely,
Maribeth Kring
Big Ed’s Little Cousin

John Says:
Hello Maribeth
It will be my pleasure. I am sure they will have a wonderful first time experience that will have them Carnival junkies just like you. I hope you all have a brilliant time.
Best wishes
John

Jim Asked:
John, please respond,
I heard a rumor that the Specials Cards (drink-of-the-day and coffee) might eliminate. Any truth to this rumor?

John Says:
Hello Jim
I wonder where all these rumors start? Anyway, I have not heard this and checked with the bar management here on the Carnival Freedom and they have not heard of any changes in this regard either. I will keep my ear to the ground mate and will let you know if I hear anything at all.

By the way………ssshhhh…………….I heard a rumour that the Godmother of your Carnival Dream is going to be Judge Judy…….ssshhhhh

Best wishes to you and the family
John

Missingthesmokefreparadise Asked:
John – PLEASE REPLY
Don’t take offense at this comment, mon, but I think the Dunn’s River Falls is tremendously overrated.

I remember our very first cruise on that magnificent (now defunct) new ship, the Smokefree Paradise – it’s beautiful hull decorated with the universal no smoking allowed symbol.

Anyway, we wanted an eastern itinerary, but our schedule only allowed us to book the western (the little one was in Europe at the time – yes, we sent our daughter overseas and left the country). Looking at the stops, we decided to take the Rum Party boat excursion to Dunn’s River Falls.

I still remember the description – the magnificent, 600 foot Dunn’s River Falls. I had visions of a smaller version of Angel’s Falls in Venezuela.

What we discovered was a mountain stream – yes, that is what Dunn’s River Falls is, a mountain stream. I can show you a dozen such “falls” in the State of Vermont alone, and I am sure that there are thousands in the Rockies.

I will admit that the interaction of the fresh water with the salt water was quite fascinating – there had been a pretty good shower the night before, so the effect was a little exaggerated, but impressive nonetheless.

I also hope that you warn the passengers about the climb up the stream and that a path is available that allows access at various points – the Mrs. & I got out of the conga line and partook of the path instead. Just as interesting and much less stressful. We had a woman on our cruise who was part of the conga line and having trouble keeping up – she was pulled along, fell and suffered a concussion, so this tour is not for everyone.

I do have to say kudos to the crew of the Rum Party boat that took us to the Falls and back – very entertaining and doing everything they could to make tips. One young man in particular flirted with the Mrs. the whole way over and back – he earned a few dollars in tips from the Mrs. (and myself – I enjoyed his shenanigans).

I do enjoy the port – we walk over to the shopping center and go to Margaritaville. A simple, forceful “No, thank you” is always enough to get those individuals who approach you to leave you alone.
Still, I do think that Dunn’s River Falls is overrated – give me Quechee Gorge any day.
JustJon

John Says:
Hello Jon
While I think Dunn’s River falls is still a great tourist attraction and a must see while in Ocho Rios it is not nearly as grand as Angel Falls. It is though as you said an experience and the climb is only half the fun. The water, the scenery and the locals all add up to a brillinat day and it is no surprise that on all cruise ship calls it is the most visited tourist attraction in Jamaica. I certainly do warn the guests to be careful during the climb. I also mention that they should never go up barefoot and if they don’t want to get their own shoes wet that they can rent a pair of Aqua shoes there for $10.

Jamaica is all about the experiences and I have to tell you that the new Mystic Mountain attraction is fast becoming the “new” Dunn’s River falls.

I value your opinions mate and there is nothing you could say that would offend me ……….. except maybe that you wanted to dance a tango with me…..naked………….that may do the trick.

Best wishes to you and Mrs. MTSFP
John

Kaperino Asked:
Dear John or Stephanie, please reply
Periodically I have tried to book the supper club (steak club) for the Dec 3rd Blogger’s Cruise.

Dan and I are celebrating our anniversary and really want to reserve on the 5th. When will the Dream go online? Looking more forward than you could know! Alaska is in the prelim stages….ahhhhhhhhhhhhh!
Soon,
Kap

John Says:
Hello Kap
Thanks for writing in. The steak house will go online sometime in August. I will post the exact date soon I promise. I am excited that you have booked your Carnival Dream and the Bloggers Cruise and I promise it will be one cruise you will never forget.
Best wishes
John

Frank & Bridie Asked:
John Please reply,
John thanks for the info of the past guest pins and we will read you’re blog to see what you have to say once you get us an answer. I noticed that one of your guests had an issue with luggage tags and getting them laminated. I thought I might share with you something we have now done on our past two cruises and it has worked quite well. We Print the luggage tags on to full Letter size Avery style sticker sheets. Once they are dry we trim them down to size. We then lightly score/cut the back side of the tags about a 1″ down from the top and bottom. When it comes time to leave for the pier we simply remove the backing where we scored them. Put them through the suitcase handle and push the two ends together. Making us have airline style luggage tags! It has worked quite well for us. I bet carnival would do good at this too if anything for maybe pier side check in just like at the airport! Oh john One more thing I must admit that I was disappointed today when my parents told us they were going on a cruise most likely to Alaska. We were excited to hear this seeing we have already been and told them they would love it. ….. That was till they told us what cruise line……. Yup you guessed it……. it’s the closet cabin cruise line with the hideous nose art. We have told them NO NO NO, you must do carnival or even Holland America these two are the best at Alaska take it from experience. I don’t know what good it will do so we have tried but are somewhat disappointed. We are still so looking forward to meeting you along with Linda and Mike on the dream hopefully in January!
Big Fans as always,
Frank and Bridie

John Says:
Hello Frank and Bridie
I am sure many of the bloggers will find your information on the luggage tags most useful and thank you for taking the time to mention this. I am sure your friends will have a good cruise on their Alaskan adventure and I can understand that you are disappointed that they are not going on a Carnival or HAL ship. Still, think of it this way. Tell them when they disembark that if they had a good time and want to have an even better time cruising the Caribbean or Mexican Riviera etc ……..then they should try the Fun Ships of Carnival. Maybe they could cruise with you?

Anyway. Thank you again for your continuing loyalty and support for Carnival and the blog thingy.
Best wishes to you both
John

Doug Asked:
John (Please Reply)
Talking about steaks, I took your advice back in May when I sailed on the Carnival Imagination. I had a milkshake which I enjoyed very much. They are soooooo good. Later at dinner I had the Flat Iron Steak, and I can honestly say it was the best steak I have ever had! Could not wait to get to dinner the next night and place my order for one more.
As for embarkation, I have not had to wait in line to check in. Out of three Carnival Cruises now, two from Galveston and one from Miami, I get there a little early, get checked right in, and twice have gotten onboard without hardly any wait. Once had to wait about thirty minutes as the Ship was not ready for boarding yet, but no problem. I had a nice visit with some friendly folks and before I knew it, I was onboard.

My daughter and I were looking at the webcam last night from the Carnival Freedom. When she saw the Lido Deck all lit up she could not sit still. We are sailing on the Carnival Ecstasy again in December and can hardly wait. I would love to see a Bloggers Cruise out of Galveston on the Carnival Ecstasy. Sign me up!

Now my question. Would it be possible to order a print of the Carnival Destiny in Cozumel? I would love to have that picture framed and on my wall. I really enjoy all of the beautiful pictures and thanks for putting them on the Blog.

Thanks for all you do and I look forward to the Blog each and every day. I know you have a passion for what you do and it shows. Kye is a Beautiful little Girl and I know you miss her and Heidi very much. Hope they can join you soon as I know you would like to have them on board with you.
Doug

John Says:
Hello Doug
The flat iron Steak we serve for FREE in the dining room is superb as you said and it’s FREE unlike the steak on the Getsomemoneyoutofyourpocketifyouwantsomemeat of the Seas.
I am glad to hear that the continuing hard work we have put into the embarkation experience is paying off and I know that we have some way to go yet at certain locations. This is great news that I will share with everyone involved.

I have never sailed out of Galveston so maybe it is time to consider a bloggers cruise from there ……………certainly something to consider.
The photo of the Carnival Destiny was taken by Acting Cruise Director Stephanie Meads and I am sure she would love to send you a copy. I will ask her and get back to you ASAP.

I loved hearing how excited your daughter was looking at the webcam of the Carnival Freedom and maybe she will see me wave at her next time.

My best wishes to you all
John

Ruth Asked:
Greetings John!
I loved the picture of Kye. She is really a beautiful baby! I know that both of you are very proud of her.

John, PLEASE REPLY! Who is the cruise director on the Glory? We will be on there for the July 11th sailing. I wish it were you….but…..
Just wanted to know!

So, Ken is going to the Dream. He is magnificent. His voice is truly incredible.

Well, it is late and I have to work in the bakery tomorrow. They are giving me lots of hours because people have to cover for me while we are gone.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Ruth

Johns Says:
Hello Ruth
I wish I would be there with you as well. However you will have a brillinat time with Ryan Fitzgerald a young energetic CD who is becoming a firm favorite with many. Enjoy working in the bakery. I cannot imagine how big I would be if I worked there. Have a wonderful cruise and please send in your reviews. Thanks for the kind words for Kye………I am indeed ………very proud.
Best wishes to all
John

Dave and Barb Asked:
John
We are glad you are having such a good time back as a CD. You love it as much as I love computers. I go bonkers when I don’t have access to one. I am the IT manager at work so luckily I always have one, even on a cruise. They like to contact me 24/7.

Kye is looking great, not at all like her dad. Hopefully we will get to meet her next year.

Speaking of being in the yards with a new ship I have done that with 2 US Navy ships. The USS Tarawa and the USS Saipan. It is a very exciting experience.

The following is a John please reply.
When Barb and Valentine were on the Carnival Pride a few weeks ago they got to meet Jamie. Since she will be the ACD on the Carnival Dream for our 10/15/09 and 10/27/09 cruises she ask Barb to email her directly so she could make arrangements for Valentine. Barb didn’t get Jamie’s email address and wondered if you could ask her to send it to us? She was such a big help.

My second question is about Platinum status. We are under the impression that you achieve that status while taking your 10th cruise or is it your 11th cruise. The reason we need to know is that Barb will be on her 10th Carnival cruise when we start the TA portion of our Carnival Dream back to back cruise. Since we will be on the ship for 28 days laundry is going to have to be done, because we can’t pack enough for that amount of time. If Barb gets her Platinum card on the TA it will help since one of the perks is free laundry. Too bad we don’t have time to squeeze a short cruise in early or it would be a moot point. Thanks for your help as always.
Dave, Barb and Valentine

John Says:
Hello Dave, Barb and Valentine
I give thanks everyday that Kye has been blessed with her Mother’s looks and my bottom.
Here is Jaime
“Hello guys.
It was great to see you on the Carnival Pride and I will be able to look after you on the Carnival Dream as well. I will send you an e mail once I am onboard so we can look after everything.
Please give Valentine a big hug from me
Jaime.”

There you go……………..I am sure she will make this a wonderful cruise for all three of you and if there is anything I can do please let me know. You will indeed have achieved Platinum status for your exciting Trans Atlantic voyage so you can indeed take advantage of the laundry service. This way you don’t have to worry about what you pack. I wish I could be there with you all and again please let me know what I can do for you.
Best wishes
John

That all for today……I will be here tomorrow to answer some more so please let me know if I can help.

And now some very important and exciting news about Your Carnival Dream because today we officially launch the new carnival.com/dream web page thingy. Here to tell us all about is Stephanie “Coco” Leavitt who has been working on this brilliant new addition to our web site.

Stephanie – What will we discover when we click on the link thingy to www.carnival.com/dream

What can we look forward to in the future?
We have a lot of interesting and exciting content planned for the Carnival Dream section of carnival.com. Every week we will be updating the site with new videos. I don’t want to spoil the surprise but you can expect to see videos introducing key onboard staff, features on dining, waterworks, spa, etc.

What special Carnival Dream events will we be showing either live or recorded for readers of carnival.com and the blog to enjoy?

You’ll have to check back every week to find out more regarding events 😉 Just think back to the great events we’ve hosted in the last year: World’s Largest Beach Ball and Pinata, Fun City: Baltimore and the live blogging coverage of the Carnival Splendor naming ceremony. If our fans enjoyed any of those, they’ll love what we have in store!!

What other computer-type people helped put this great site together and…………do they have beards?

We had a dedicated team that worked very hard to put the site together, hopefully I don’t forget any, but here they are:

Dan, Giselli, Andres, Sherri, Renee, Peter, Michael, Jordan, and Stephanie (Cocoa)

Unfortunately none of them have beards, although Dan has a goatee and according to you Jordan belongs in a boy band.

Thanks Stephanie and I am sure we will all join together to thank her and her team for getting us even more excited about your new Carnival Dream……….she will be here soon ………… have you booked yet?

Just in case you need more encouragement, here is a photo sent to me by Boris Flyisopenski of your Carnival Dream just returned from her massively successful sea trials part 2.

Dream Sea Trials DSC_2178

Let’s take a musical break and back by popular demand is part 2 of the James Taylor video from his voyage on the Queen Mary 2. Here to introduce it is a man who is as British as Yorkshire Pudding and Spotted Dick………….Cunard’s Commercial Director Mr. Peter Shanks.

John
Hope you are well. Attached is the 2nd James Taylor link for the blog. It was awesome – and just the sort of thing that makes the Queen Mary 2 Transatlantic crossing so special. I like the fact that he and his whole band wore a tie for the concert – respect!

Best Regards

Peter

Thanks Peter it was indeed awesome and I once again declare my ambition to take a TA voyage on a Cunard liner……….and to take as many bloggers as I can with me.

And as we were talking about Holland America Line earlier here is a great photo of the Oosterdam as she sails behind Le Grand Levre hills in Monacco. And just down the road in Villefranche near Cannes is the beautiful P & O ship Ventura.

Oosterdam Photo - DSC02965

Oosterdam Photo - DSC02967

Ventura Photo - DSC02972

So, the Carnival Freedom is in Costa Rica, The Ventura and Oosterdam are in the Med …….. proving that Carnival Corporation’s ships really do give us the opportunity to cruise the world.

Here are some letters from today’s In Their Own Words Section

Letter1

Letter1-Page2-July8

Letter2-July8

Letter3-July8

Letter4- July8

And two photos from the Marriage Show.

Marriage Show IMG_1857 July8

Marriage Show IMG_1865 July8

Well, the weather took a turn for the worst yesterday and we had a day of grey skies, high winds and a few light showers. The high winds meant that we had to close the water slide and putting course but entertainment of a different kind came via the Seaside Theatre big screen.

I had ummed and ahhed about this yesterday and decided not to do it and thus it was not advertised in the Carnival Capers but this morning, when I woke up, I saw the weather and decided yes……we would show the Michael Jackson memorial on the big screen. And I am glad I did.

The Lido was full of people in windbreakers sitting on the lido chairs watching intently ……….. some cried………….others preferred to watch while drinking a few beers.

Of course, I am sure a send off like that is exactly what Michael Jackson would have wanted. This was after all, a man who blew a multimillion dollar fortune on giraffes, fairground rides and gold-plated chess-sets and slept in a bed with 12-year-old children. He was, after all, one of the greatest showmen in history.

I watched along with the guests and for me there were highs and lows. The Rev Al Sharpton in a speech that claimed MJ was responsible for Live Aid, Tiger Woods, Oprah Winfrey, Barak Obama’s election to the White House……… “and love.”

“I want you to know there was nothing strange about your daddy,” he said. “It was strange what your daddy had to deal with…” ………………this had some on Lido Deck standing and applauding ……………black, white, young and old……….extraordinary.
I stood with the entertainment staff and listened to Stevie Wonder sing They Won’t Go When I Go ……..for me……it was another Princess Di / Elton John moment.

But then in a crashing moment of sadness fell across deck 9 as the entire Jackson family took to the stage, with Jackson’s three children sobbing uncontrollably. Finally, Jackson’s 11-year-old daughter blurted out, “From the moment he was born, my daddy was the best daddy in the world.”

The family then followed her father’s golden coffin………watched by 500 passengers onboard the Carnival Freedom’s Lido Deck………… And the world.

Goodnight
Your friend
John

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.