Kids!

July 13, 2009 -

John Heald

Just before I get into the nitty gritty of today’s blog thingy I want to talk to you about postcards………yes………postcards……..now don’t fall asleep and scroll down to the next bit because I have something very interesting to tell you. At Carnival we seeing are more postcards being mailed through the guest services desk than we have for many years. I find this brilliant news, obsessed as I am with the tragic demise of “proper”………. as in pen-and-ink, correspondence.

Most of the people writing out the postcards could e-mail instead, or send a bloody text on their sophisticated Eye Phone thingies phones but no…… they choose the slightly cheesy postcard instead.

Perhaps it’s a form of bragging ……..“I’m on a cruise and you’re not” type of thing but it is also a long overdue and welcome return to the poetic art of putting pen to paper. There is nothing nicer than receiving a communication that involves ink and a stamp – it’s like finding a tiny present in the mailbox of a morning and it hardly ever happens any more. Even love letters are delivered via e-mail and all the mailbox has to offer most mornings are bills.

I hope that this newfound love of the postcard eventually translates into a rediscovery of the joys of letter writing: whatever you can say in person, or electronically, is 100 times more resonant and significant if it’s written down – even if it’s only………Wish You Were Here.

Time to talk about kids.

Guest: Mr ………..Ref: 840006622A
Cabin: Booking#: ________ Added-Changed: 07/10/09 – 07/10/09

PROFANITY IN THE PIANO BAR
Mr. Steven C of cabin — called twice last night very hostile to say that he was very disturbed by the Piano player in the Piano Bar due to the profanity that he uses, both calls he said the same thing over and over. That in the caper it says “Piano Party with Josh” and that there is nothing fun about all the swearing. That the Piano bar should have security there to stop his kids from entering as it is inappropriate for them. The guest has children aged 9 and 12 and the first report came via telephone at 12:40am.

Security checked the Piano bar and everything was fine. Cruise Director tasked.

Interesting one this. Now on one side I can understand his concerns. There are certainly no age restrictions on any of our lounges and bars except the dance club. Should there be? Well, that’s a discussion for another day.

After putting my Inspector Morse hat on I discovered that the guest and his wife were in the piano bar with their kids aged 14 and 12 and 12:30 am……….that’s thirty minutes after midnight. I guess “bedtime” for a 9- and 12-year-old has changed somewhat since I was their age when I was in bed by 8 pm ready for a full day down the mines or cleaning chimneys by 5 am………we were so poor we lived in a shoe box in middle of road ………… sorry…………..I went into Monty Python mode there.

Seriously though, was it right for a 9-year-old and 12-year-old to be in the piano bar or any bar for that matter at 12:30 am? The song the guest was unhappy about was something called “Let’s get drunk and……..ummmm………have rumpy pumpy” or a word to that effect and from what I am told it’s a well known country song. I mean, its not exactly swearing is it? I mean, what did the guest expect to hear at 12:30am in a piano bar………”I love you, you love me, we’re a happily family.”………………Barney my arse.

However, thinking about it ……..I had not put anything in the Carnival Capers to suggest otherwise. There was nothing to back me up here. And so I apologized to the guest and assured him that we will learn from this and therefore as of today our piano bar will be listed as an adult venue from midnight onwards. I have asked the piano entertainer not to sing any songs containing any adult material before midnight and now with the addition of the wording in the Capers this should protect the performer and me from parents taking their kids there expecting to hear “It’s A Small World”………which by the way was for some strange reason the song Heidi started to sing the first time she saw me naked.

We had 380 teens on this past cruise. When I say 380 teens I mean aged between 15 and 18 although apparently 12 is the new 21 these days. Our Club O2 program is brilliant and this past cruise was extremely well attended by extremely well behaved teens. However, whatever activities you offer and no matter that we have a lounge specially dedicated to this age group there are always going to be some teens who would think that Club O2 isn’t cool………but drinking is. Now, before we continue let me stipulate that our bar servers do not serve anyone underage…….it is quite frankly…………more than their job is worth. Sail & Sign cards are programmed so that minors cannot purchase alcohol and, if there’s any doubt about someone’s age, photo ID is asked for. Saying that ……..today’s teens are resourceful little buggers and if they want to get a drink …….. they will, usually through an older friend or family member. Yes, family member.

This past cruise we had a young lady aged 17 who came to Club O2 smelling of alcohol and clearly intoxicated. So, quite rightly the Club O2 Director refused her entrance and reported the incident to the Youth Director. And you know what…..the parents complained that she had not been allowed in the Club…….and it was them ……that’s right it was Mum and Dad who had bought the drinks for her……..extraordinarily they then could not understand why we would not let their daughter into Club O2.

I guess I am old fashioned and out of touch and I guess also that being a non-drinker doesn’t help ………but isn’t that wrong…….isn’t a parent supposed to encourage their 17- year-old not to drink? Do they want their teens to be drunk at 17 and grow up like the pop star Amy Winehouse, who is clearly touched by genius and yet through drink and drugs has become repulsive?

I realize that being a teen today is far, far different to when Alan and I chased girls and drunk a can of beer between us. Teenagers today it seems are less able to resist the temptations and attractions of tobacco and alcohol.

I stress as usual that 99% of the teens I meet on the ship are wonderfully brought up and brilliantly behaved……..but some are not.

Now, I am not sure if I have written about this before so excuse me if it was in one of my earliest blogs. However, back on the Carnival Glory in 2005 I was walking through the main lounge before a show. As I walked toward the stage I was quickly surrounded by a group of approximately 10 kids aged 14 – 17. I wasn’t even remotely bothered when the swarm of children first approached. I figured they just being friendly and wanting to say hi to the cruise director. But no. What they wanted to know most of all was if I prizes for them………give us solid gold ships on stick they said while pulling on my suit jacket.

I asked them politely to leave me alone because I had to start the show. I walked away. I even walked away a bit more. But they kept coming……….then one lad started to pull on my tie causing the others in his “gang” to laugh. Seeing that the others were enjoying this entertainment he continued by poking me in the stomach calling me “fat man.” And so, figuring that attack was probably the best form of defense, I grabbed the bugger by his hoodie, lifted him off the ground and explained, firmly, that it’d be best if he went back to Camp Carnival to play with the other children.

As he feet dangled in the air I realized I was in a tricky spot ……….that’s because I have reached the age where I am no longer able to tell how old a child is. The boy I was holding could have been 17. Or he could have been seven. And if he did turn out to be seven, I figured I could be in a spot of bother plus there were 100 plus guests already seated for the show that would start in 30 minutes time…

So, weirdly, I was standing there holding this boy by the scruff of his neck, and instead of worrying about being the names he was calling me I was actually thinking: “Bloody hell, I’m going to get in trouble here if I am not careful.”

So, I put the little bugger down and very politely I told them to leave and after a few more bits of name calling and bad language……..they did. Immediately I was surrounded by guests telling me they had witnessed the whole incident and they would all be “on my side.”

Now, I should have called security but they had all left and I had no idea of their names and besides………I had also been in the wrong for stopping the one kid pulling my tie and poking me viciously in the stomach by lifting him up by his collar.

I never saw the kids again and I regret losing my cool but for some reason this hooligan had put me over the edge. But I guess I should have been used to it and as adults nothing seems to surprise us any more when it comes to some of today’s teens. We’d rather they didn’t take drugs or ride motorbikes but we’re not going to be shocked if they do. And nor will we be unduly bothered if they stick safety pins through their noses………. nothing shocks us anymore.

I will tell you one thing. Kye won’t be smoking, drinking or be allowed out of the house until she is 53 years old……….I wonder if they sell chastity belts on eBay?

As I said, most kids who sail behave and have fun and do their parents proud………I will talk to you about 2 such kids later……but first…..time for today’s questions…. here we go.

Jackie Asked:
Dear John, please reply,
Hope you are well and enjoying being a CD again.
I wanted to comment on the certificates being sold by Carnival. I had a terrible experience in Feb right before we sailed on the bloggers cruise. I had reached 30 yrs service on my job and was given a 750.00 online gift choice. Because Stu and I wanted to do the bloggers cruise I decided to choose carnival gift certificates to offset the cost of trip. Dec 11th I went into the hospital and had major surgery and learned I had stage 1 ovarian cancer. I was released from the hospital on Sunday Dec. 14th and payment for cruise was due on Dec. 15th. Because of everything that happened to me Stu had to get the certificates ASAP to agent. My travel agent had to FedEx them and was assured by carnival they could be used for payment. Two days later I received a call that those cert. cannot be used for payment and I had to pay for trip with my credit card. Still only few days after surgery I was upset and had to do so. I then tried calling Carnival and wanted to use the cert. for my on board credit. Honestly they were not as helpful as the staff on the ship. They basically told me they were useless at this point. I spoke to many different people and bottom line I was told to cancel trip and re book through Carnival and then they can be used. I didn’t think that was fair to the agent that booked. Plus no guarantee I would have same room etc… Carnival did nothing for me I felt that 750.00 was a lot of money to throw away. Due to my illness was not sure if and when I would be traveling again due to my treatments starting day after bloggers cruise returned. I was not going to mention this, but as long as someone else had a question about the certificates I wanted you to be aware of this. I had to speak to many people at the online gift company and finally I had got my gift certificates changed for a major department store. Not what I wanted to do. Also I think that Carnival dollars and certificates should be explained as to the differences.

In spite of being treated by not caring people that man the phones at Carnival we had a wonderful time again cruising with you and will see you on the Dream in Nov.

John Says:
Hello Jackie
Thank you for asking because yes, I am indeed enjoying being a cruise director again ……………very much.

Let’s start answering your question by saying I hope that your battle against cancer has been successful and we all wish you continued health and happiness.

I am afraid my knowledge of these certificates needs to be more than it is at the moment and on Monday I am going to ask that someone explain the benefits and exclusions to me. Meanwhile, and most importantly I want you know how sorry I am that you do not feel that the service you received from the Carnival representative during your phone call was of a friendly nature. I am so very grateful that despite this you have booked to cruise with me in November for your Carnival Dream Bloggers Cruise. I will do everything I can to help make up for your disappointment.

Meanwhile, I am going to pass your comment to someone at vice president level and ask that they delegate a member of staff to call you as $750 is a lot of money to ignore. Please let me know if you have not heard from anyone in 7 working days of this being posted.

Again, my thoughts are with you and I hope by telling me of your situation something can be resolved.
Best wishes
John

Rick H. Asked:
John: (Please reply if you feel it appropriate.)
While I enjoy all of your blogs, I especially love reading the ship-board anecdotes!

About the electronic documents: I was nervous about them at first (because I was worried about the durability of paper luggage tags), but we’ve yet to lose even one after three cruises using them. Having said that, I will make a point of using Linda (Mom of DJ)’s idea to reinforce them with packing tape.

Here’s a suggestion: Could you have the tech-types PLEASE make it so you can electronically add in the guest name, cabin number and contact (phone number (perhaps cell phone #) so I don’t have to do this by hand for all of the tags we use for each cruise? It seems that it should be easy to set it up so that this information is transferred from the on-line check-in system (which has to be completed before electronic documents are provided). It would also have the added benefit of greater security and efficiency, as the information would be much more legible than many of the hand-written tags I’ve seen on others’ bags. Just a thought…

Also, please tell me that you were mistaken that Carnival is now primarily using Pier 21 @ Ft. Lauderdale. While the building is larger than pier 19, the traffic flow is MISERABLE there. On our return from our last cruise, the conflicting orders of various law enforcement personnel caused me to drive around for approximately 20 minutes before I could pick up my family, who were waiting curbside in the sweltering area designated by pier side and law enforcement personnel.
Finally, thanks for the recent updates from Bubba and Heidi.
Best to you, Heidi and Kye,
Rick H.

John Says:
Hello Rick
I am so glad you enjoy the blog and for sure when I am shipboard there are many stories to share with you all.

Your idea to have the personal details included on the tags makes total sense and certainly would save you all a lot of time. I will therefore bring this to the table……. thank you for the great idea and thanks to Linda Mum of DJ for sharing her luggage tag ideas.

I am sorry to say that yes we are using Pier 21 and although the debarkation and embarkation system is a huge improvement on Pier 19 it is as you said not the easiest place to find. In fact, the whole of Port Everglades is a maze of piers and cargo areas and as you said the signage is not the best. I know that Carnival is working hard with the port authorities to improve this but for now we are thankful to be at Pier 21 where at least once you have found it the journey onboard is smoother and far more pleasant.

Thanks for taking the time to write
Best wishes
John

Millie S. Asked:
PLEASE REPLY JOHN:
My girlfriends and I will be on the Carnival Spirit-Sept 15-28, 2009, Vancouver, B.C.-Hawaii. We are reviewing the excursions and one we would very much like to do is the “Pearl Harbor/City and Shopping w/Airport Transfer” on debarkation day-September 28. When looking at the excursion on-line it states we have to buy on board and does not give a price. We are trying to budget and would very much like to know the price so we know how much to bring… Also I was wondering how soon to the cruise do they assign cabins. As of today we still have a “TBA” in the cabin section of our reservation. Do they wait close to the sailing date so if upgrades are possible that is the time they do them? Thanks for your time.
~Millie

John Says:
Hello Millie
I checked online and did not find a price either which is strange. I have therefore emailed the shore excursion department so that they can give me the latest selling price and to see if in the coming weeks it will be added to the online purchase system. …..breaking news…..the cost is $79 per person and will be online in the next few days.

Can you send me your name and booking number and let me see if your cabin has been confirmed. For the most part the cabins are assigned immediately, however if you bought the cruise on a saver program or with a special discount maybe the cabin has yet to be assigned. Anyway, send me your details and I will investigate for you

Best wishes
John

LadyJag Asked:
Hi, John!
Please reply.
Thank you very much for your humorous and informative blog. It is always a pleasure to read.
Thanks to you and Boris again for the detailed answer to my question about the coed sauna on the Carnival Dream. Your past guest tally spawned a new pondering, now, which I hope you can answer.
On the Carnival Glory this past May, the past guest party (and captain’s party for that matter) was held in one of the aft lounges on the ship…or I should say, THREE of the aft lounges of the ship. The main lounge was so packed with past guests, you probably couldn’t squeeze one more body through the door with a plunger and a sledgehammer. (The woman who complained about the costumes in “Ticket to Ride” surely would have had an apoplectic fit over the large number of bums pressed tightly against the glass front wall of the lounge!)

Anyway, the crewmembers were very quick-thinking and directed the overflow of guests to the 2 adjacent lounges, but both of these lounges also filled to capacity in a relatively short time. The crew tried hard to keep up with the guests in the overflow lounges, but of course no one in those 2 lounges could see or hear anything going on in the main lounge.

So at the risk of sounding like a big whiner, I just have to ask – why is the past guest reception not held in the main showroom? It seems that venue can accommodate the increasingly growing number of past guests, and also avoid the fire safety issues that arise from overcrowded lounges.

John Says:
Hello LadyJag
Do you have a Jaguar or as you may say Jagwar?

That’s a great question and very simply it’s a question of bar service. You see, decks 4 and 5 of the main lounges on the Destiny-, Conquest-class ships, as well as the Carnival Splendor, do not have bar service areas there, plus the balcony seating has been designed in such a way as to make pass around bar service very difficult indeed…………..and that’s a shame.

That’s why we hold the captain’s parties in the back lounges although I must admit I have not seen the problems you encountered too many times………certainly here and on other ships I have been on we have also opened the disco (dance club) as well which certainly helps.
Anyway, I am glad you appreciated Boris’s help and if you have a follow up question to your posting or need anything at all please let me know.
Best wishes
John

Michael Asked:
Dear John…please reply at your leisure.

I was wondering if Carnival could put webcams on all of their ships. I would think this would give many of us a chance to see some of the places we have yet to be taken to by the “Fun Ship Fleet”. We have sailed on the Fantasy out of New Orleans twice and each time has been in the winter. I doubt we will ever get to go down the Mississippi in the summertime. How cool would it be for everyone to watch as the ship approaches the Verrazano Narrows Bridge or the Tampa Bay Skyway? The cost could be ‘hidden’ in the advertising budget. The bow camera being mounted on a movable pedestal would be nice. Regards to Heidi, Kye and you.

John Says:
Hello Michael
It’s very funny that you should mention this as it is something that I wrote to the office about just a few days ago. It would indeed be wonderful to have webcams across the fleet and I know so many people would appreciate this. Let’s see what we can do.
Thaks for the kind regards to me and my family which we return to you and yours.
John

Frank & Bridie Asked:
John Please respond,
Just wanted to drop you a quick note from my previous letter to you, saying I convinced my parents to drop the phone booth cabin and vomit on the front cruise line. They went with the much more respectful Princess Cruise Lines on the Star Princess next month. So I feel that my work succeeded! So do I get a free bottle of champagne? Just kidding.
Big fans as Always,
Frank and Bridie!

John Says:
Hello Frank and Bridie
Yes………….you do indeed get a bottle of Dom Crystal Krug Spumante when I see you next year. Seriously, they will not regret changing from NCL to Princess and I am sure the Princess people who may read this blog thingy of ours will also be very happy indeed. We make a great trio.
Best wishes and see you soon
John

Dorothy Asked:
John,
Please reply.
I have cruised with Carnival 5 times within the past 3 years. My first cruise was on the Carnival Glory, had no problems there, loved every minute of it, Carnival Sensation was with rough sailing, those who were not drunk looked like it going down the hallways, even me pushing my son wheelchair, still had fun, Carnival Destiny, stateroom got flooded on my birthday, still had a great time, Carnival Splendor, learned to keep eye on hubby, he can spend money fast, Carnival Glory had blast with sister and dad, got to learn things about dad that I did not know. I will be cruising in December on the Carnival Dream and was wondering how to go about ordering a certain bottle of champagne for hubby and me to enjoy in our suite. We will be married for 33 years in August, but can not take a cruise until December and I want to make it special for him, he is such a wonderful man and I’m a lucky lady to have him as my husband.

Thanks for the pictures of Kye, she is such a sweet little girl.

John Says:
Hello Dorothy
Sounds like everyone of your Carnival cruises have been adventures and I thank you for your loyalty and despite the odd setback for smiling and still having fun.

Your Carnival Dream cruise vacation will be the best yet and as far as the champagne goes please have a look at our Bon Voyage page on www.carnival.com.

If you don’t find the one you are looking for please let me know and I will take care of the ordering and delivery for you.

I hope you have a very happy anniversary and if there is anything I can do to make it more special, please let me know.
Best wishes to you both
John

Steve & Kerrie (Your Aussie Mates) Asked:
Please reply
Hi John
My wife Kerrie and I recently did our 4th Carnival Cruise on the Splendor. We realized that with so many staff on board there must be a whole world below decks that we never see. Are you able to shed some light on the typical day of a staff member, time off, roster etc and a little about the staff that serve the staff??

Regards Steve & Kerrie (Australia) (not millionaires…lol)
Aussie, Aussie, Aussie……………………

John Says:
Hello Steve and Kerrie
I am so glad you enjoyed your cruise on the Carnival Splendor. She is a great ship and she has a fantastic crew. You asked about the crew and their hours. Well, every crew member has to clock in and out just like many work places on land. We do this through a system called Fun Time. One of the reasons we do this is because the number of hours a crew member works these days is strictly monitored. One of the reasons for this is because we have to make sure that crew are not over worked and too exhausted to assist in an emergency.

Let me explain.

Before the waiter is a waiter, before a dancer is a dancer or a cruise director a cruise director we are seamen……….that didn’t sound right………………lets try that again. Before the waiter is a waiter, before a dancer is a dancer or a cruise director a cruise director we are sailors and the safety of the guests is every crew member’s primary concern. Therefore, if a crew member has worked so many hours that he or she is exhausted and then the ship gets into difficulty (touch wood) then that crew member will be too tired to help save the guests or themselves.

Now don’t get me wrong. Working on a cruise ship regardless of the position still requires some long hours however we always make sure that the crew do get time off. For example: The waiter has to be there to serve you dinner of course but at least once a week that waiter will not be scheduled to work breakfast or lunch thus giving them a big chunk of time off to go ashore and do what the crew do .
As for who serves the crew? Well there are three dining rooms on board each of our ships. There is a crew dining room which is self-service, the staff and entertainment dining room and the officer’s dining room which has waiter service. This is where the waiters are trained before they go to the Lido or main dining rooms. In fact, here on the Carnival Freedom I have been served these past two weeks by a young chap from Jamaica called Raul. Next week Raul will be going to the guest dining room to work as an assistant waiter. However, this week I noticed as he was bringing in my dinner that he had his thumb in the middle of my steak. I said “Raul, you have your thumb on my steak.” He said, “Well, I didn’t want to drop it again, mon.”
Whatever the position the crew on a Carnival ship are the best their is and I am proud to work alongside them.
My best to you both
Bonza!
John

Canuck Cruiser Asked:
Hey John,
Just curious about why some of my posts take so long in getting moderated? Please reply.

I posted on the blog two days ago on “STEAKS, Bottoms and Heidi” and it’s still not showing.

I know we’re in Canada but it’s not that far away from Miami. LOL
RE: Mr. SNOB………………take him aside and tell him that if he doesn’t change his tune ……you’ll introduce him to your friend in TURKEY. Remember her? I’m sure you do.

Nice shot of the DREAM…………I can see our cabin for our Jan. cruise. The best cabins are always at the back of the ship…………….beautiful view of the wake and always calm and peaceful. Counting the days………..212, 211, 210………tick tock tick tock.

Sure hope you’ll do the Bedtime story……I’ve seen the YOU TUBE version but “LIVE” would be a real treat.

That’s all from an unusually cool Canada (temperature wise).
B&D from Canada

John Says:
Hello B and D from Canada
I replied to one of your posts on Thursday and we are now experiencing so many comments (which is fantastic) it does take time for Stephanie and Stephanie and Stephanie and Stephanie to read them and post them……..so please don’t worry ……..they will always be posted eventually although Canadian post is a bit slower. 🙂

I have to say that like you I love the aft cabins. My Mum and Dad stayed in one on the Carnival Triumph and I remember the views so well and as you described them.

I promise I will do the bedtime story. I can’t believe that after all these years people still want to see it………..I hope you won’t be disappointed.

Anyway, I hope things are well in Canada and please have a Tim Horton’s coffee for me……..it’s the best.
Best wishes to you both
John

Laura Asked:
John (please reply if you want to)
I wonder if Carnival.com hasn’t been updated yet since I still only see the schedule for the Carnival Elation through April 2010. I am really wanting to book another cruise to Cabo (have one already for this September) but am unable to since there are no dates available. Thanks

John Says:
Hello Laura
I was told that by the end of July the dates for the four- and five-day cruises to Cabo on the Carnival Elation will be released. I will try and find you the exact date this week. They sound like wonderful cruises and I can see why you are so excited to book.
I will write more soon
Best wishes
John

Melanie G Asked:
John, Please reply.
I am a silent fan of your thingy, blog that is! My partner and I have taken 8 Carnival cruise and seriously looking forward to the 9th on the Dreams Oct 3rd sailing…Anyways you had mentioned when you were visiting last that you were going to try to get some updates pics of an aft wrap balcony…I have been waiting patiently but alas no pic..If Boris is back from sea trials could you possibly dispatch him to Cabin 8466 on the Verandah deck and snap a couple of shots for me. In fact a banner that says welcome themnm’s would be even better!!

I have one other question, I read somewhere on the CC boards that Carnival is doing away with the coffee card? Is this true, please say it is not so!

I know we have a huge CC group on this sailing and we are hoping for a meet and greet…any ideas as to where this could be would be appreciated…

Cheers mate and one day we hope to sail with you onboard as our CD… (Hopefully when there are more MED sailings…or…gasp…the Baltics that I had been eyeing up!!)

John Says:
Hello Melaine G
I appreciate not everyone comments all the time and I am also very appreciative when a “silent fan” of the blog thingy finally writes to me……….it’s great to hear from you.

I will be asking for a list in August of photos and information that people would like to hear and see of their Carnival Dream. It is too early at the moment as the construction and finishing touches etc are still ongoing. Most of the cabins do not have furniture in them as yet so there is no real point in taking a photo just yet.

I promise I will though next month and I promise that the wrap around balcony cabins will not disappoint. So, look out next month and you will see your home…cabin –.

We still have the $11 coffee cards here on the Carnival Freedom but I’m told that they may be phased out as they are not that popular I’m afraid.

I hope also to sail with you as CD one day and as for your Cruise Critic meet and greet I am sure we can organize a special time and place for you all to get together. Please can you post a comment with the numbers expected a week or so before you sail and I will make the arrangements.
Best wishes
John

Sharona Asked:
Hi John! Please answer! We have quite a group gathering on CruiseCritic who are on the Glory for the 10/31 sailing. We want to have a meet & greet, and you have mentioned you can help arrange a spot for us to meet. Can we get some additional information if we would like food and/or beverage service? Thanks… can’t wait to get back “home” again!

John Says:
Hello Sharona
It’s so great that I can help the many friends and readers of Cruise Critic meet on board and I will be happy to arrange a time and place. Please can you post a reminder two weeks before the sailing date and I will make sure I arrange for you. My best advice is having a cash bar. We can give you a lounge and bar service and that way everyone uses their own sail and sign card to purchase drinks. If you wanted everything charged to your card we can organize a party that includes an open bar and hors d’ oeurves. Please let me know what I can do for you.

It won’t be long before you are home
Best wishes
John

Randy Asked:
Hi John,
I had a question about the Holiday’s final voyage in November. Will you be joining us for that cruise? We always hope you’ll be on one of our cruises, but we never get that lucky despite cruising six times this year and eight cruises in fourteen months as of January, 2010 on the Splendor already being booked.

My other comment was to praise some of your great activities hostesses. Amy Barton, Kaylin Padget, Melanie Therrien, and Kaylin’s friend Rosie from Australia, were all exceptionally great on the Fun Ships we’ve cruised on since November of 2008. Great folks like these are the reason why guests keep coming home to Carnival. You can visit the same beautiful ports on any cruise line, but only Carnival has the Fun Ship crews.

As for young children loving Carnival, my grandsons spent an hour or so last evening with me taking virtual tours of the Pride which we cruised on last month, the Destiny which we are all booked on for Thanksgiving Weekend, and the Spirit which we’ll all be taking to Alaska very soon.

By the way, should we consider investing in stock in Carnival? I heard it’s a good idea for frequent cruisers like us.
Randy Smith

John Says:
Hello Randy
There are a very select group of people who I seem to keep missing when they come on board to sail and it seems that despite your best efforts we have never met which is a shame. As of now my plans are to join you for at least a portion of the cruise and I hope my plans do not have to change so we can finally shake hands.

Thanks so much for mentioning the entertainment staff. A great staff makes the activities so much fun and I will make sure that these names, some of which I know well, are sent copies of your comments as will their supervisor in the Miami office. The crew really do make a difference and I am so thankful to you for mentioning them.

It brought a smile to my face to read that you took a virtual tour of the ship with your grandsons…………my how the world has changed and just like granddad I hope your grandsons become true Carnival fans.

As for the stock………..well I have a feeling there are some laws and ethics that prohibit me from publically persuading anyone to invest in Carnival. I will simply say this…. I am a stock holder in Carnival Corporation and I am because even in these uncertain times I know that the product, the people and the future are very bright. My daughter Kye will soon be a stock holder as well. Thanks again for the great posting.
Best wishes to you and the family
John

Karen Asked:
John (please reply)
Did you see that Travel and Leisure just named the top 9 cruise ships of 2009? And guess what, Carnival Corp. had 6 of the 9. Not bad considering youhavetopayforsteaksoftheseas didn’t have any. (Only Celebrity managed to make it).

John Says:
Hello Karen
I had indeed seen this and I was very, very proud. Thank you so much for sharing it with all of us as well and I am sure there are some very jealous folks over at Wedidntwinanaward Of The Seas.
Thanks again Karen and best wishes
John

Zannett Asked:
Forgot…Please reply,
I was wondering if there would be any volunteer project prior to the Bloggers Dream sailing out of Pt. Canaveral. I know this was done with the Bloggers Cruise out of New Orleans in February. I just returned from a mission trip to Biloxi and was thinking that it would be awesome to arrive in Pt. Canaveral a day early and do something for the community before setting sail.

John Says:
Hello Zannett
We certainly had the most rewarding of times when we all helped clear, paint and tidy up the park in New Orleans. Well…………the bloggers did all the hard work I just sort of minced around pretending to look busy by interviewing people. Seriously though it was a terrific day and I thank once again people like you who are so quick to help those in need.

Unfortunatley the Bloggers Cruise on your Carnival Dream will not allow for this as the ship arrives with me on it straight from New York to Port Canaveral. However, I do know how popular this was so for the 2010 Bloggers Cruise I will see if we can do something similar as we did in New Orleans.

Thank you for writing about this and I am sure the people of Biloxi were so thankful for the help you provided.
best wishes
John

April Asked:
John,
Me again. This one has nothing to do with your blog, but about our trip. My boyfriend just called me in a panic (as he FINALLY unpacks) that he cannot find his iPod, which we have recalled made it at least to the plane ride down there. He is incredibly responsible and we cannot imagine him leaving it anywhere (i.e. the plane), and he did not use it during the cruise itself as we were too busy hitting up all the trivia and shows, so we can’t place exactly when/where it went missing. (Incidentally, a pair of flip flops also went missing during the week, most likely from our room, as he would not walk around barefoot ANYWHERE). I am not accusing anyone of anything, accidents happen, but I am hoping you can check the lost and found for a black iPod? His name might be engraved on the back (he can’t remember) – Martinez. We had already checked lost and found for the flip flops to no avail while on board. We were cabin 2398 during the 6/28 sailing. I really appreciate anything you can do in checking into this. We would contact customer service but we feel you are a much more personable person to contact, particularly since you are on board!!
Thanks again,
April

John Says:
Hello April
It’s been a strange week for the Eye products what with a man losing his Eye phone, etc. I am sorry to learn that your boyfriend has lost his and I will send this immediately to our guest relations lost property department to contact you. I truly hope you find it and hopefully you just left it in the cabin as if you did I can assure you that the stateroom steward would have handed it in.

Please let me know if you find it and again I will make sure this is reported and investigated.
Best wishes to you both
John

Mark Asked:
John Please Reply
Carnival recommends for non US passengers such as Canadian to have a passport that is valid beyond 6 months from the end of the cruise.
My passport expires 4 months after my cruise on the Freedom in 2010. I have already processed MY Documents using my current passport.
* Why the 6 month recommendation?
* If I get a new passport (I will need to do it now to be in time for January) will I be able to update MY Documents and will this cause a hiccup with Immigration?

John Says:
Hello Mark
This is a good question and I am not sure as to why we recommend this. Maybe it’s to make sure that when you book a cruise in the future that your passport is valid at the time of booking……I will have to check. We are in Fort Lauderdale today and I asked our guest services manager to check with United States Customs and Border Patrol who informed her that as long as the passport is valid for the voyage and the return home that is fine. So, you do not need to re-confirm your documents, etc.

As I said, I am sure Carnival’s website says this just to protect the guest from arriving with an out of date passport but I will check to see if there is another reason.
Best wishes
John

Bill R Asked:
John, Please Reply
Today’s post by MSQPON – Jo Myerly Asked: is another slight by Carnival on Military Rates. I wrote you back a way that I was denied blogger status because of the military rate on the Dream cruise on Dec 3. You said that you would fix that for me, I hope that was taken care of as I look forward to seeing you at the blogger functions.
Bill Russell

John Says:
Hello Bill
I have to defend Carnival’s military rates as I meet serving personnel most cruises who are so grateful that we provide these. There may be some complications when other discounting gets involved but overall it is a great program that we are proud to offer.

I will make sure that everyone who wants to be part of the Bloggers activities will be. I know that on this occasion not everyone was able to book with the bloggers code so I will make sure that everyone is taken care of. Looking forward to seeing you in December mate.
Best wishes
John

Chris C. Asked:
John, please reply:
Hi John, congratulations to you and Heidi on the birth of your beautiful daughter. My husband and I have sailed with you as our CD two times and have loved every minute! I’ve been reading the blog “thingy” since day one and look forward to a good laugh each day. My hubby and I are sailing on the Destiny, September 7, 2009. This will be our 7th Carnival cruise (wouldn’t cruise with anyone else). With the exception of our first cruise, we’ve always brought people with us (total of 12) and introduced them to cruising with Carnival. This will be our first cruise in 13 years to cruise alone. My question is, would it be possible to get a table for 2 in the dining room? We’re looking forward to this time alone and a romantic table for 2 at dinner would be wonderful. Our booking number is #14G8M1 and our cabin number is #9188. We’re confirmed for the early seating. Anything you can do to help us would be GREATLY appreciated! Thanks so much! Chris C.

John Says:
Hello Chris
Thank you so much for those kind words and I am always honored to meet that small band of brothers and sisters who have been reading the blog thingy since I started writing this nonsense two years and bit a go.

I know that finding quality time with your partner is not always easy and so I am sure I will be able to help you out. Please can you post a reminder and a John Please reply two weeks before you sail and I will ask the maitre’ d to accommodate you as you requested.

Thanks again for your loyalty to Carnival and for the kind words about. Heidi and Kye
Best wishes to you both
John

Cruzn Buckeye Asked:
John, (please reply)
Wow….2278 past guests! That is amazing and truly shows how good the Carnival product is! If we past guests keep booking you won’t have room for any new cruisers! I wonder how many were Platinum? I started a thread on cruise critic in June 2006,” Just for the fun of it how many Platinum carnival cruisers are there, was my question. ” http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=366497 I started of course with myself, then asked others to copy and paste and add their names to the list if they are Platinum. It has been a fun thread. There are officially 213 people on this list now. There are others that are posting that soon they will be able to add their names too.

That poor girl, the blonde, she must be totally embarrassed, as she should be. It is okay to have a good time but she must have embarrassed her family as well. You handled it well and I am sure the show ended up fantastic!

I think scrapbooking for Kye is a great idea!

I also think you should post a little video like a previous person said on here.

I was just wondering, I may have asked this before but not sure. Is Carnival considering returning to Aruba? I read on cruise critic that they are in negotiations to do so. Also, I was curious as to why not? I am sure you know that Holland has a 7 day cruise from FLL that goes to Half Moon Cay, Curacao, and Aruba. I want to do that but prefer to stick with the Carnival ships.

I would love to see Carnival do this from FLL or Miami or maybe an 8 day and add another deep southern port, like Barbados, or St. Lucia…..I think the Spirit class ships could do this…I would book in a heartbeat!

What do think?

Also, my cruise on the Liberty is coming up very quickly, Sept. 19! I mentioned this to you before about the San Juan visit being in the daytime, you had said that they were working on some new excursions. I don’t see anything new listed as of yet. How about a resort or catamaran type tour?

Do you know when we can start seeing more tours offered for this port?

Thanks so much for everything you do John!
Edy

John Says:
Hello Edy
The Platinum thread thingy was a great idea and its amazing to see how many names have already registered. We had over two thousand past guests this cruise and that as you said is another great testament to what we do here on the fun ships.

It is interesting where some of the posters on Cruise Critic get their information. I am not sure where they got the Carnival negotiating with Aruba thing from because after checking I unfortunatley have to say that there are no immediate plans to return to Aruba. I certainly would enjoy going there again as it has been a very long time. I do know that Terry Thornton, our senior vice president of marketing planning, is a big fan of the Southern Caribbean and as he decides where the ship’s itinerary I will ask him again as he is sailing on here next cruise with his family.

I have just sent an e mail to the shore excursion manager on the Carnival Liberty about the tours we will offer in San Juan and I promise as soon as I get this information I will let you know. I am sure there will be something that will get you excited. Maybe you should go to Nanni’s house for dinner.

Thanks again for another great post and I will be back to you soon with information on the San Juan tours.
Best wishes
John

Stef aka Hockey Addict Asked:
Hi John…
Please reply if you have any info…
I don’t want to bug you… but do you have any info for your schedule for 2010 yet? We were thinking of doing the Carnival Inspiration out of Tampa but we want to hold off and see where you will be in the later months of 2010. (September & October)

We won’t be able to sail with you on the Carnival Dream. She only does 7 day voyages and hubby wants to be able to have a couple days off after our cruise to get his brain back into reality and heading back to work. (Poo on him)

LOVE the onboard stories! LOVE LOVE LOVE the Heidi and Kye updates!
If you do the bedtime story this trip or next, could you give us a video to see how it went?

As of today 74 more days until we set sail! We can’t wait!!
Have a fun week!
Stef aka Hockey Addict aka Stephanie #3???? ;o)

John Says:
Hello Stef #3
You never bug me Stef, that’s what I am here for. I am sorry but I don’t have a schedule yet past covering Todd’s vacation on your Carnival Dream in February and March. After that…..I don’t know. I promise to work on this soon with Chris and Roger and the marketing people in regard to my brand ambassador role, as well.

Carnival Inspiration is a great ship and I am sure you will have a great time but I am truly honored that you are considering waiting to book so you can sail with me. Obviously I have to chat with Heidi as well about when I am and am not going to be cruise director and I hope to have some resolve on this very soon.

I am so glad you love the blog stories and I will keep them coming.
Thanks for the kind words for Kye and I send my best wishes to you. and your family
John

Sharon Asked:
Hi John
You probably don’t remember me, but I the lady who brought you and Heidi “Timmies” from Canada in May 2007 on the Freedom. The reason for my writings is we are going on the Dream for the Transatlantic – (wishing you were our CD) and noticed Melissa Ford and that she is from a small town north of Toronto, we too are from Barrie, small city north of Toronto, and wanted to contact her to see if she was homesick for anything. How might I get her email address or contact info.

Just a mention that we have been on a couple of cruises since then and had a few CD’s – BUT NONE compare to the quality of your compassion and energy. Once you’ve had the best, it’s hard to have any CD worth mentioning! Thanks again John for the great memories.

John Says:
Hello Sharon
Of course I remember you and so does Heidi. I just called her and said do you remember the lady who brought you the timbits and of course being a doughnut lover she did indeed………and thank you again.
If you give me permission Sharon I will send Melissa your e mail address so you can hook up. Its great isn’t that two people from relatively small Canadian towns will be sailing on their Carnival Dream together? Thanks so much for the kind words and I hope we get to sail together again soon……….does Tim Horton’s make a sugar free doughnut?
Best wishes
John

That’s all for today and of course throughout this week I will be answering as many of your questions as possible.

I want to apologize to the bloggers who wrote to me about the change of the complimentary drinks that are served on the Carnival Valor. You may have noticed that it was repeated by me word for word three times and it was of course a stock answer. I was asked to do this because it is very much a trial and with so many press reading this blog I was asked to only write a few words about this. While the facts were all correct I was worried that it may have come off as curt or flippant and if it did, I apologize.

OK, let’s take a photo break and have a look at some of the work that is going on onboard your Carnival Dream.

Sushi

Restaurant chandelier

Restaurant

Elevator lobby 3

Elevator lobby 4

Elevator lobby

Jazz club

Dance club 1

Dance club

Aft lounge masks

My thanks to Boris for the photos and he and the captain will keep me updated throughout the coming weeks.

It’s 7:10 am and we just started the self assist debarkation program here in Port Everglades. We have about 100 luggage cages which means we will have about 1,000 who took this option which considering its a longer eight day cruise is not bad. I hope to finish the debarkation process no later than 10 am.

I found this cruise quite challenging. There is no doubt that the guests had a wonderful time but in different ways. Let me explain. The early sitting was mostly North American guests of all ages and they attended every talk, activity and show and gave huge ovations to all the performances. The late sitting was made up mostly of the three large Quincinera groups from the Miami area. They had a brilliant time but they didn’t come to the shows that much because while the kids all spoke English, Mum and Dad didn’t or didn’t want to and that from an entertainers stand point is a little frustrating. However, I made sure that they were well taken care of and our Latin Band was very, very popular as were the Latin nights in the dance club. I am sure as I said that they had a good time but certainly this morning the big Spanish-speaking groups didn’t come to the debarkation talk or watch it on TV as they seem to want to get off the ship as and when they want rather than in the organized fashion we need.

The weather was not too good either with rain in both Panama and Costa Rica and one day of very rough seas. Overall though it was a good cruise and it will be interesting to see if the 1,000 or so guests from South Florida completed a comment card or not. I am sure they had a wonderful time……..I just am surprised that not too many came to the shows………..I wonder why?

The bedtime story was very funny this cruise………not because of me but because of the characters including an ex-Marine who played the villain and was truly hilarious as were the other two on stage. The deck parties were superb with Jaime and the staff doing an excellent job.

Let’s have a read of a last few letters from last cruise.

Letters1

Letters2

Letters3

Letters4

Letters5

Letters6

And so a new cruise starts and of we go on our six-day adventure to Key West, Grand Cayman and Jamaica. Let’s see who will be joining us.

GUEST COUNT 3,515

YOUTH COUNT BREAKDOWN:
AGE GROUP TOTALS
Under 2 Years 10
2-5 Years 87
6-8 Years 99
9-11 Years 150
12-14 Years 214
15-17 Years 259
18-20 Years 169

YOUTH COUNT REPORTS:
AGE GROUP TOTALS
Under 21 988
Under 18 819
Under 15 (Hotel Tracking) 560
Under 12 (Camp) 346
Under 6 (Nassau Ports) 97

The highest group of non US Citizens or Canadians is a group from Venezuela again of 54 guests.

Now, I have been talking a lot about our Steak houses these past few days and they are a product I love to promote and I thought you might like to see just how many guests took advantage of this amazing dining experience

Guest Steakhouse Dining Count

As you can see it was pretty much sold out from Cozumel onwards as 95 is the maximum we can serve in one evening. I know I am rabbiting on like an old woman (as my Dad always says) but honestly you must try this if you are sailing on a Spirit- or Conquest-class ship or the Carnival Splendor. You can pre-book online and the booking facility for your Carnival Dream will be ready next month.

Well, debarkation did not go as smooth as I like it and we finished at 10:35 am which is 30 minutes more than it should have taken. This was due to a combination of a large group of guests not listening to instructions and extra checks outside by Customs and Border patrol. Still, saying that we disembarked 3,600 guests in 3 hours isn’t too bad I guess………but we can do better and although much of this is mine to improve it does help when the guests listen to what they need to do rather than just walk on down to the gangway as and when they like………..I sound like I a moaning a lot this morning don’t I?

So it’s been a busy cruise dominated by the children who as I said for the most part were wonderfully behaved and were perfect little Dora the Explorers.

Of course I grew up and celebrated my teens in the eighties. Being a teen was different then. In the UK we were obsessed with bleached denim, jazz-funk and Top Gun. Everyone was into cuddly aliens like ET and we all wanted to move to Miami where according to what we watched on TV we would have been shot in the face in a matter of minutes by Crockett and Tubbs. We didn’t pierce our faces with a staple gun nor did we ever have the chance to go on a cruise and enjoy what the kids of today get to experience.

I have pretty much concentrated on the one or two problem children I have encountered on board but I want to finish today’s blog by talking about two of the many wonderful kids who cruise each and every week on the Fun ships.

And……if you want to know why I consider my job to be so rewarding…… have a read of this.

Dear John,

Thank you to all of the Carnival Freedom staff for making this a vacation to remember. My name is Mary Catherine —-.  I am traveling with my 10 year old son, Bryan and my 8 year old son Terence.  We have a special companion with us as well, my mother Mary Pat.

We have had to deal with much sorrow since 2003.  My best friend and husband, Michael was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer at the age of 36. Mikey was a police officer in NJ and unfortunately we lost our battle on August 21, 2006.  6 months prior to my husband passing, my father Dennis passed also from colon cancer.  My dad was also a police officer for the NYPD.

Needless to say, it has been a very sad life for us.  Luckily, going on cruises is something that Dennis and Mickey wanted to do.  So on this cruise we are celebrating many things:

1- Mary Catherine’s 39th birthday
2- Mary Cathrine and Mickey “would’ve been” 12th anniversary (we honeymooned on the Destiny)
3- Mary Pat and Dennis’s 40 something anniversary
4- Living the Legacy of two special men in our lives.

I would like to thank the Camp Carnival staff, Delia and her serving crew.  Wilson for helping is with our seating arrangements, Curely for tucking our stuff animals into bed safely at night.

We would also like to thank you John.  We have never met.   I have
read your blogs and have watched your morning show at night.  It has taken my 3 years just to be able to smile again and I thank Carnival for going above and beyond.  It was great to laugh again.

I would also like to let my mom know that she is the most wonderful mother in the world.  She feels every bit of pain that I feel.  She absorbs the pain from the boys when they miss Mickey or Dad.  She is my backbone.

I would also like to thank Bryan and Terence.  It is very difficult to put myself into their shoes.  They are very strong boys.  Their father and grandfather would be so incredibly proud of them!

We are looking into booking another cruise for next summer- just need to check my teaching calendar and kids class calendar.  We are hoping that we will one day be able to meet you and thank you in person for bringing laughter back into our lives.

Thank you so much!
MaryCat

And now let’s meet the boys.

Boys photo

I spoke to the family after reading their letter out on my Morning Show and I am sure many of the guests were moved by what they heard……..I know I was. They lost their Grandpa and their Dad in the space of six months. Both men were serving police officers and one cannot imagine the heartache they must still feel each and every day.

To know that I helped numb their pain even for just a short time is the most rewarding feeling you can imagine and I made sure that the boys left with a DVD each of the Bedtime Story and all the activities and shows that I hosted as well as two Carnival medallions awarded to them both for being the new men of the house.

Both told me that they both want to be police officers just like Dad and Grandpa ………… with kids like this in the world……………..the future is in great hands.

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.

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