The Chief

July 14, 2009 -

John Heald

These days I never complain in restaurants. Because when things go horribly wrong for me at the table, I do not have to express my disappointment, rage and frustration on site, I can write about it about it on the blog thingy……..which helps…….as was the case for those who remember the experience that myself, Stephanie and some of the bloggers had in New Orleans.

Some people though have no problem in complaining.

Guest: Mr ————-Ref: 840008382A
Cabin: ____Booking#: _____Added-Changed: 07/12/09 – 07/12/09

B – Not happy with food quality
Mr. ________ approached the desk cutting the line shouting that he wanted to talk to the Hotel Director . GSA took the guest to one side and asked what the problem was.

Guest said that he had been to dinner and that the food was the worst he had ever eaten in any restaurant. He said that the pasta was too hard and that the fish was tasteless. He also said that his wife had ordered the chocolate melting cake and she had said it did not taste of chocolate at all. Mr._______ also said that he had told the waiter and that the waiters English was not of an acceptable standard. Guest said that he wants the Supper Club menu served to him in the dining room and that he should not have to pay as he is staying in a suite. Guest said that this was done on his previous Carnival cruise as he had complained about the food there as well.
GSA told the guest that she would discuss with the HD and the Maitre D.

Note: Guest was very loud at the desk and said that he was a friend of the owner of Carnival Cruise Lines.

So…………there you go. And while the other 3,500 guests were enjoying the wonderful food and fun attentive service on the first night of their cruise………Mr. and Mrs. Michelinstar were allegedly eating the “worst food they had even eaten.”………..well unless they have spent every breakfast, lunch and dinner eating caviar out of Angelina Jolie’s belly button I am sorry to say that Mr. Michelinstar………is talking bollocks.

Let’s face it ………..you don’t have to be Colombo to detect that this comment is based on the hope that he will get supper club or steakhouse food served for free……come on……it’s as transparent as a naked man that walks into a doctor’s office wrapped in Saran Wrap …….. The doctor says……..”I can clearly see your nuts”………and in this case………so is Mr. Michelinstar.

The maitre d will give him a different waiter and will check on his food personally each night but just as he never got steakhouse food for free last time……….he won’t be getting here either.

I think I have highlighted over the past few weeks just how wonderful our food is and it’s not just me or the Carnival loyalists who are saying that either because as you will have seen and will continue to see people who have never cruised with us before are saying the same thing.

I spoke to the Maitre d Manuel about this situation and the poor waiter was quite distraught. He has been with Carnival for seven years and is one I know who constantly gets brilliant comments. He is from Indonesia and his English is very good by the way.

It is amazing isn’t it that some people have the front to complain in this way. Some it seems even enjoy it and to them is as natural as eating or breathing. Me……I hate complaining. You feel that quickening of the heartbeat as you call the waiter over, the gentle pulsing at the neck that comes with asking for the manager. That sweat. The mouthful of mineral water as the waiter points you out to the main man and they both stare over at you, the eye-roll from the manager, and his slow walk to your table, stopping to exchange pleasantries with a couple of regulars on the way, to show you who is boss here, and then that terrible question: “Yes, sir, what seems to be the problem?”

Luckily as I said I don’t have to do it these days, not that I ever did. Carnival wants you to tell someone in authority that you are not happy with any part of our product but to fabricate something in the sole pursuit of getting something for free……well this is something that flares up my hemorrhoids.

Mr. Michelinstar knew the food was going to be “the worst he had ever eaten” before he even packed his toothbrush. He would have complained if the waiter is wearing a tie he doesn’t like…..I just don’t get it……it would be like me moving to France and complaining about the local cafe serving horseburgers.

Anyway, I hope Mr. Michelinstar and his good lady have a better meal experience tonight but it won’t be steakhouse food they are eating unless they are prepared to pay the tiny sum of $30 to do so………….I wonder if that’s the last we will hear from him ……………… doubt it………………worst food he has ever eaten my arse.

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

Patricia Ferrara Asked:
Dear John, (please reply)
My husband and I sailed on the Carnival Glory last year we had such a great time we decided to book our 2nd Carnival Cruise on the Liberty to celebrate our 25th Wedding Anniversary. We will be sailing September 5th, and I was wondering who the cruise director will be during our stay?

John Says:
Hello Patricia
I was very happy to read that your first cruise on the Carnival Glory was so wonderful and that the experience led you to book another this time on the Carnival Liberty. Your cruise director will be the fabulous James Charlton. He is a new CD and has an amazing personality. You may have met him on the Carnival Glory when you sailed as he was the assistant cruise director there for some time. It sounds like you are in for another brilliant cruise vacation.
Best wishes to you both
John

Jim Asked:
Hi Stephanie/John: A couple of weeks ago, I noted some CruiseCritic members will be on the 11/11 “Spirit”. If at all possible, I’d truly appreciate a “Meet/Greet”. Possibly the late morning of the first “Fun Day at Sea”.

Also, you noted Stuart Dunn will be our CD. If he could have him autograph a photo of the ship with something wishing us “good luck”. I’ll make copies.
Thank you…

John Says:
Hello Jim
I do indeed arrange roll call meetings for my friends at Cruise Critic. Please can you send me a reminder two weeks before you sail letting me know how many in the group and what day you wish to meet. I have sent Stu your information as well so he can send you the photo, etc. Please let me know if I can help further.
Best wishes
John

Sheila Asked:
Hi John,
Great blog thingy as usual. I wrote you shortly after returning from our May 30th Carnival Pride cruise to thank you for the amazing job you did on getting a padded lounge for my daughter to use on our balcony. It was wonderful and much appreciated.

Although I did mark it “not for posting” I also asked for a reply.
Did you receive it? More pictures of Kye please.
Sheila

John Says:
Hello Sheila
I am sorry to say I didn’t see your comment Sheila. Can you resend it if there is still something you needed my help with? I am so glad everything worked out for your daughter and thank you for taking the time to say “thank you.”
Best wishes to you and the family
John

Lisa Asked:
John please respond. I have a small gift from Waffle House that I would like to send to Bubba. What is the best address for him? Thanks, Lisa.

John Says:
Hello Lisa
You should see the smile on my face now. Can you send it to Chris “Bubba ‘ Roberts?
c/o Chris Prideaux
3775 N.W. 87th Avenue
Miami, Florida 33166
I am sure he will be thrilled and in advance I will say a huge thank you on his behalf ……. is it a waffle?
Best wishes to all
John

Capt Bill Asked:
John,
Please reply.
It’s been a while since I have cruised, (since before Carnival started the rewards program) I have read a lot of different things on line about what you get being a platinum guest. I read what you get on the Carnival website, but I was wondering about onboard, I have read about platinum guests getting special tours and meet and greets on board. If you have the time could you blog about them. Thanks.
to answer the question about cruising with a specific CD, no I like Pot luck (so to speak) I like to enjoy the different CD’s although I have had the pleasure of cruising with you, and Wee jimmy when you where together, about 5 times. I normally choose my cruise by destination and cost. I am looking at my next cruise to be possible to the east again as my wife has never been to that part of the carib. So I will be looking at which ships cruise that area. I am hoping to get a Fantasy class or spirit class ship as I don’t really care for the larger ships. I like the service that you get on the smaller ships. It seems more personal able. You actually get to see the state room attendant and waiter and bus boy. You don’t get that on the large ships. And for the naysayers I have cruised on the larger Carnival ships. I have been on Carnival Victory and Carnival Sprit, and Carnival Destiny, but I have sailed the most on the Carnival, sorry I can’t call them by their new names The Fantasy Class ships the most. And I truly love them.

I look forward to cruising again and I hope you will be the CD, but if not I am sure it will be someone you have trained and will be almost as good. I look forward to Jaime going out on her own again, and I think she will make great CD.

Take care and have a great day, and PLEASE, keep up the good work. Don’t for a minute think you are not the BEST at what you do, because you are. Hello to Heidi and Kye, and can’t forget Stephanie,
Your friend
Capt Bill

John Says:
Hello Captain
The Platinum privileges are already superb and they will get better as our marketing department continue to make sure that the Carnival reward program is the best there is. As well as the early embarkation and VIP debarkation there are many other benefits such as free laundry service, priority tender service ashore and more. There is also the concierge section at the guest services desk dedicated to exclusive use for our Platinum guests. And of course there is the special gift which we have………at last ………. changed from the Thermos to a really lovely photo frame.

It is interesting how some guests like yourself prefer the Fantasy or Spirit class vessels to our larger Destiny or Conquest class ships. I must admit I was reminded just how brilliant the Fantasy class is when we held our last bloggers cruise on the Carnival Fantasy complete with her extensive upgrades. I will get to experience the Carnival Legend in October and this will be my first time back on a Spirit class since 2002 …. I can’t wait.

Thanks for all the kind words and I truly hope that one day very soon we will get to cruise together once again.
Best wishes to all
John

Amy Asked:
Dear John
Please reply
I am in the process of booking a spring break cruise next year for myself and my children, ages 9, 6 and 3. We are looking at the Carnival Dream so we can leave out of Baltimore which we can drive to rather than dealing with the hassles of flying. We will be leaving on the March 28 sailing and going to Port Canaveral, Nassau and Freeport. Here are my questions:

When will the pools open on this type of cruise? Since it will be chilly when we start out, I’m assuming it will take a day or two to get to warmer waters. Also, I read that the water slide is only open in the summer. Is this true?

What are your recommendations for some fun things to do with the kids while we are on board or in port?

We would like to bring our kids to the main restaurant (except the steak house – hope to do that with just my husband one night) on most nights. Is there a kids’ menu?

How dressed up do 6 year old boys have to get on formal night?
I could go on and on but I’ll leave it at that for now. In short, though, I’m excited to death to go on a cruise with my family but just need some reassurance that it’s a good choice for a family vacation and that we will all have a good time. I feel like a lot of vacations I was looking at either end up being fun just for the kids or boring for the kids but fun for the grownups. I’m hoping this is the perfect solution.
Thanks so much!

John Says:
Hello Amy
Just wanted to clarify that you mean that you are going to book the Carnival Pride out of Baltimore……….not your Carnival Dream……….correct?

Assuming that it is the Carnival Pride let me answer your questions. The pools will all be open and if needed heated as well so you and your family will certainly have some fun in them. The water slide is open all year round and closed only if it is too windy thus causing safety concerns so once again the family will be able to enjoy our Twister Slide.

The dining room will be a highlight for you and the kids who will all have spent the day having fun at Camp Carnival where Fun ship Freddy and the staff will have them never wanting to leave. Dinner is the time when the family comes together. There is indeed a children’s menu and your waiter will make sure that the fun they discover at Camp Carnival will continue during dinner.

The formal nights onboard are now called elegant nights and while we still have dress code rules for Mums and dads your kids can wear what they want. Most of children similar to your kids age are dressed casually however some do make the effort to dress them up which of course makes for a wonderful family portrait …….so if you can ………… dress them up a bit and have that special photo taken.
You should be excited and we are proud that you have decided to take your valuable vacation time with us here at Carnival. If you can think of anything else please let me know.
Best wishes to you all
John

Teri Asked:
Hi John,
First time writer…We have a lively thread on CC about Carnival eliminating drinks from the Captain’s reception. I was on the Valor 5/31/09 and we were offered $1 off drinks at the Captain’s reception. The last night of the cruise, there was a one hour farewell party, with drinks included, late in the afternoon. Is Carnival trying something new? I know times are tough. We were disappointed that we did not receive Valor pins to add to our collection, and we missed the hors d’oeuvres at the Captain’s reception but the drinks??? Say it isn’t so…

John Says:
Hello Terri
Thanks for taking the time to write and I am glad you did. I have received quite a few comments about the past guest party and will be addressing them in just a moment so please keep reading.

I hope you had a great time on the Carnival Valor and I will be here should you have any further questions.
Best wishes
John

CathyAsked:
PLEASE REPLY
John,
Love the pictures of the Dream – and also of your dream baby! Also like reading the handwritten letters you receive from guests. Way cool.
My family is sailing on the Carnival Miracle on July 27th out of NYC. We are all really needing a vacation and looking forward to our time with Josh and his staff.

My daughter and her friend are in college and will be sailing with us. My daughter is a straight A Math majors and captain of her college softball team. Allison really works hard and it shows! Do I sound like a proud Mom?

I was hoping you could have a Ship on the Stick (we have one from each of our Carnival cruises proudly displayed in our home) delivered to her room in honor of all her accomplishments. She will be so surprised!!
Our info:
Booking Number *****
Room Number ****
July 27, 2009
Carnival Miracle
Allison *****

Thanks for all you do – you are a special person who really bring the cruise experience to life every day!

John Says:
Hello Cathy
You do indeed sound like a proud Mum and you have every reason it seems to be so. I will ask Josh to make this graduation cruise as special as I can and please let me know all about your voyage when you get home.

Have a brilliant time and thanks for all the kind words
Best wishes to all
John

Rickus Asked:
Hi John
Can u please help me on this:
I was wondering how you can obtain a job as a social host onboard one of your ships. I frequently check Carnival’s web site for job postings but never see the social host position on there. Thank you.
Regards
Rickus Potgieter

John Says:
Hello Rickus
Thanks for taking the time to write. May I direct you to www.carnivalentertainment.com Here you will find all the information about the job and how to apply. I wish you much success and please let me know if I can help further.
Cheers
John

Martha Asked:
John,
BTW, is it possible to get Bridge tours anymore? DH is an airline captain and loves to see the controls. I think he wants to quit his 25yr job as a Captain flying to get a job as a Captain sailing, lol!!
Martha
Arkansas

John Says:
Hello Martha
As I am sure it is no longer allowed to visit the cockpit of an aircraft I am sorry to say the wonderful days of bridge tours are for now…….over. There are strict rules and regulations as to who can visit the bridge. I truly wish there was something I could do for DH in this regard but I am sorry to say that my hands are tied. Wish I had a better answer but it doesn’t look we’ll be able to help out on this one.
Please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you.
Best wishes
John

That’s all for today and of course there will be more tomorrow.

When rumors swirl around Wall Street companies, even those with famous names such as Bank of America or Barclays, for many it might mean a slight hit to their college savings fund or a bit of pain in their retirement equity portfolio…..as happened to me thanks to those bastards at AIG.

In the celebrity world rumors can sometimes make or break people like Britney Spears and even effect royalty as in the ridiculous rumors that Queen and Prince Philip hired a man called Vinny to have poor Lady Di whacked.

And so it is in the world of cruising we all love……….rumors are everywhere and while some have a foundation of possible truth……….others are built on the stuff that comes out of bull’s bottoms……..as in the case of the thread thingy that Carnival is canceling the complimentary drinks we serve at the past guest party……….that rumor is false ……………. totally ……….100%………….false…………..period.

And I hope the person that started that rumor feels and idiot for wasting everyone’s time for doing so.

On another note some of you have been asking about your Carnival Dream Blogger’s Cruises from New York and Port Canaveral. I will be working on this during the next few days. I was thinking about doing something in New York and arranging a dinner at our blogger friend Kevin’s restaurant Piccolo……..he had a serious fire there a few months ago but it has re-opened and I would for us all to eat there. Kevin……….what do you say mate?

Let’s have a look at a few more photos of the work that continues on your Carnival Dream. These were sent to me on Thursday by Boris.

Dream Lanai

Dream Lobby

Dream Main Lounge 2

Dream Main Lounge 1

Dream Jazz Club

OK, talking about your Carnival Dream it’s time to meet one of her ……..and all the fleet’s……..unsung heroes……..a man with an awesome responsibility……..her Chief Engineer.

Stefano

1. Chief, can you tell us about your life, where you are from and your sea going career.

I was born on Dec. 09, 1953 in a town on the Italian Riviera in the Province of Genova. I graduated from Cristoforo Colombo Naval School, in Camogli on 1972 and after the Military Service I did start my career with Italian Line in 1975, a government company owning the most prestigious transatlantic ships going from Europe to North and South America. I served as cadet and third engineering officer on Verdi, Leonardo da Vinci, Raffaello, Guglielmo Marconi and Galileo Galilei. In April 1985 I joined Carnival Cruise Lines being appointed to the construction of the Holiday. In the same year I was promoted to 1st Engine Officer.

Following with the Jubilee, the Celebration under construction at the famous Swedish shipyard Kokums. After two contracts on the Tropicale I was assigned at the commissioning of the Fantasy in Finland. I was than following the construction of the Ecstasy and the Sensation. On 1992 I was promoted to Staff Chief Engineer and Chief Engineer on 1994. I was assigned to the first Azipod ships Elation and Paradise and after that to the Pride, Legend and Miracle. This is my first time at Italian shipyard Fincantieri.

2. I know this is a question that could take days to answer but briefly……..what is the job description of a Carnival Chief Engineer.

With the constantly evolution of technology the duty of the chief engineer has been evolving into a more sophisticated and complex task compare to the ancient times. Besides leading the technical department and all related matters, there are today sensitive aspects like the environmental and human resources especially today with the economic climate. The technical job description can be summarized in the few worlds that I mentioned. The chief engineer supersedes the technical department. That involves all machineries not only in engineering spaces but all around the ship.

3. The ship is going on sea trials and I wondered if you could tell us what sort of tests will be carried out from your side in engineering.

The sea trial is a very difficult and demanding time and also very, very important. It was divided into two sections and between them a dry dock was programmed. Actually the sea trial is the first voyage of a ship’s life. All possible tests are performed (night and day) not only to prove the most important issues like stability, maneuverability and speed but also all comfort and entertainment aspects for the guest and crew. During the sea trial the yard has to demonstrate that the ship’s specification aspects are fulfilled and sometimes (like on some cases of the Carnival Dream are exceeded). All safety and control devices are tested and verify the good functionality of all the equipment. The first days it takes several hours to do the adjusting and fine tuning of all the equipments. After the first 3 days section the ship was in Trieste dry dock for cleaning and painting of the hull and inspection of Propulsion Propellers and Thrusters plus inspection of all underwater equipment like fins stabilizers, rudders and all important sensor like echo sounder, speed log and antifouling and cathodic protection.

4. The Carnival Dream is our biggest ship yet. What engines will be powering her and can you give us some other facts.

The Carnival Dream is a diesel electric ship (like all the other Carnival Ships, except for the Holiday) Six Wartsila 12 Cylinder V type Engines are providing the electrical power for the propulsion system (and all related ancillaries) and the hotel. Each Engines output is 12,6 MW (megawatts) nominal mechanical Power. The two propulsion electrical motor (Alstom) have an output power of 22 MW each at 135 R.p.M.

The new design Becker rudder efficiency has allowed to installed only two stern thrusters instead of three like an all the previous ships. Besides this there are much more new or more advanced equipments like fresh water generators (evaporators), human waste collecting system and bacteriological treatment plants.

5. How many crew will you have in Engineering?

The budget of the Engineering Department is of 79 crew included myself.

6. Once the ship has returned from sea trials what is the Chief Engineers role while the ship is in the yard?

During the commissioning time at the shipyard still many tests and checks are performed. CCL Shipboard Team is witnessing the tests and get familiar with the new equipments. Many tasks need to be organized for start up of the ship to cruising, not only technical but logistically and administrative works i.e. organizing all offices and workshops and very important to generate all consumable and spare parts requisitions, plus the database of PMS (programmed maintenance plan).

7. Are there any new features in the engine room of the Carnival Dream or is it basically the same as other Carnival ships?

As I mentioned before technology is improving and evolving day by day and so even if in a major aspect we can say that the Carnival Dream is still a diesel electric ship there are many other and new features that makes her in some way a new prototype.

8. Having had time now to see your new command and your new home, what do you think of our new flagship and how proud are you that you were chosen to be her chief engineer?

As said before, with a very good luck, I was assigned to many new ships. All of them gave me some worries and a lot of pride. I have tried to transmit the same feeling to all of the engineering crew and I guess all have the same emotion and proud with hope of another Carnival’s success.

9. What do you think will be your single greatest challenge during the first few months of sailing?

The first months will be very hard and challenging. Still minor equipment which have not been tested on quay and at the sea trial will have to be put in service, adjusted and tuned for the purpose. Some crew that will arrive just before delivery of the ship need to be trained and instructed which I consider one of the most important task of a manager nowadays.

It is also our intention to retest functionality and effectiveness of mostly of the safety and control device which were tested at the sea trials and like we regularly do during ship’s operation.

10. Let’s find out more about you. Fill in the blanks please

Your Dream Car: I know that you are expecting me to say a Ferrari, and I’ll surprise you saying…I love horses!!!

Anyway I have a car and I still have my 1974 convertible FIAT America. I’m proud about FIAT. Please let me tell you a hilarious note about this. When I first came to the States (1976) everybody was joking with Fix It Again Tony (acronyms of FIAT) and now Fiat is passing the advanced Technology to the other makers: common rail, multi jet system etc. What about that ??

Your favourite place in Italy: I live in Genoa and Torino, but my favorite place is Venice, a very unique place.

Your all time favorite movie: Very difficult question, I like Movies and particularly a like Actors like Jack Nicholson, De Niro, Al Pacino.
Hope to have more time for movies when I retire.

The single greatest engineering achievement the world has ever seen is …..: Another funny true story. When I started my career one old captain who was telling me that his first contract was on a sail ship (and he had to bring on board his own mattress, like all the rest of the Crew!!) was telling me that two things has drastically changed the life on board: air conditioning and stabilizers. I have been found myself thinking many times about this and still I believe that in marine field this was a great achievement!!!

Thanks Chief and see you for the handover ceremony.

What a great interview. Can you imagine the technical knowledge that the chief engineer of your Carnival Dream needs to have? I have known “the Chief ” for many years and not only is he a brilliant engineer but he is also a true gentlemen and family man. I hope you all get to meet him one day soon……….you will if you book your Carnival Dream.

When we were growing up it was illegal to murder someone, and er . . . that’s it. Now it is illegal to eat an apple while driving, or use a cell phone. It is illegal to smoke a cigar on a golf course or make fun of anyone or anybody and it’s very illegal to smack your children.

Today I saw a guest click their fingers to get the attention of a bar waiter……who was standing just a few feet away……that should be illegal…..or…they should make it legal for me to insert my foot in their arse for doing so.

The shows have been going well so far and the Welcome Aboard Show was back to normal after my blonde friend and the finger incident of last cruise.

Please meet Barry Edwards
Man Laughing

Man Laughing 2

Barry had one of those deep fireside voices that oozed romance and rumpy pumpy ………. like Barry White. I asked him if that what he was and if he oozed romance ……..and when I asked him what he did……..he laughed…….very loudly ………..and so did the audience ……………. because he was a Baptist minister …………oops.

Then there is Jim from Virginia whose wife Kathy told the audience that he was not in any way, shape or form romantic. And so, as is tradition, I am making a star of him because every time I mention where he is from he has to run on stage, dance, and proclaim his love for his wife.

Here he is:
Man Jumping

Man Jumping 2

Man Proposing

He has done this four times already and although his speech proclaiming his love is heartwarming, his Madonna-esque dancing is hilarious as he wildly moves his arms and legs jerking around the stage like a demented puppet.

And finally there is Stan Woods. I saw Stan standing in the isle and he was obviously looking for someone………….so I figured I would find out who…………and I am glad I did. The conversation went like this
JOHN……………………..WHO ARE YOU LOOKING FOR
STAN………………………NANCY
JOHN…………………….. WHO’S NANCY?
STAN……………………..A SWEET THING I MET AT THE BAR
JOHN……………………..IS SHE YOUR GIRLFRIEND?
STAN……………………..NOT YET
JOHN……………………..IS THERE A NANCY HERE?

Then from way back on the starboard side balcony I heard a “yes” and there stood Nancy. Well Stan was all smiles and shouted for her to come down………….here is a photo of Stan doing just that………….oh by the way…………Stan is 90 years old

Old Man

Old Man 2

Old Man 3

And so Stan and Nancy were reunited and I sat the down together with some champagne ……….however Stan had the last word because when I asked him if there would be some romance tonight Stan told me and 1,800 other people………”my cardiologist told me I shouldn’t take Viagra………..but what the hell.”

Carnival…………….the Fun Ships?………………….absolutely!

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.