Salt And Pepper

July 23, 2009 -

John Heald

Last night we had the Fun Hop. This is an activity originated by Carnival’s top CD Todd Wittmer. This is where we break the ship up into three teams based on the Carnival colours (spelt correctly) of Red, White and Blue. Now, Todd is a great singer …….. OK ………..Todd is a singer……….but I am not and so while the entertainment staff “rocked the house” as they say in street talk thingy, I stood back and watched from a safe distance.

I was talking to a nice couple from Vancouver when it happened……..a lady looked at me from across the Promenade Deck and smiled at me. Being a cruise director and a warm cuddly kind of chap, I smiled back at her. It just happened. It was a quick smile, nothing at all inviting – but she took it upon herself to approach me. She was very tanned and slim, middle-aged, and she walked over and said, “I like your face.”

Who says that? “I like your face.”……… She didn’t even love my face…….she just liked it.

Trying to think of something to say after that amazing line I asked where she was from. “South Carolina,” she drawled.

Actually what she said was “Soooooooooouuuuuuuuuutttttttthhhhhh Carooooooooooooooooooooollllllllllllllllliiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnaaa”………….I could have read War and Peace by the time she had finished speaking.

I was about to ask her if she was having a nice cruise when she started to touch my hair and said, “Y’all got salt and pepper haiiiiirrrr. That’s harrrrrrd to finnnnnnd.”

I realized at this point that many of the passengers on Promenade Deck were looking at me and the Southern Belle who had attached herself to me like a dog humping someone’s leg………and I was very, very embarrassed.

Now, she was no beauty queen but then again I am not exactly male model material either and I may have been quite flattered if she hadn’t been sponsored by Budweiser. I mean this lady was quite happy and I knew as impressed as she was with my salt and pepper hair that as soon as I walked away, there would be another face around the corner she liked just as much as mine.

And thank god for my raspberry which I pretend had buzzed in my pocket and so I said, “One moment Captain,” un-hooked her arm from playing with my hair said “Excuse me, I will be right back”…….. And buggered off………right back my arse………..and that was me……….back in the cabin…….with the door bolted.

I guess she was trying to pick me up………or anyone up…………..and are the words “pick up” still appropriate in today’s dating game? I have never had much experience in this mostly thanks to my mate Alan. We would trawl the clubs looking for girls who like my Southern Belle friend would be plastered and possibly have the inability through vodka not to realize how ugly we both were. My pick up lines were dreadful “Please excuse me. Very sorry to bother you, but do you have a moment? My friend has a girlfriend. And, um, she doesn’t like the last girl that he went out with. And what do you… I mean… is that…”

I would get it out eventually, while the girls would stare at me like I was some sort of stammering sex pest………..which if you actually think about it…………I was.

If I was bad at pick up lines Alan was horrific. There were many times he would leave the clubs and bars with a red face………not through alcohol or dancing all night but from where various girls had slapped him round the face or he would be covered in their vomit ……………why……………well for using what he used to call “Leave it to Uncle Alan” pick up lines………… these beauties:

“Your eyes are the same colour as my Porsche”……………….he had a Skoda by the way.

“Are you a parking ticket because you got fine written all over you.”

“You might as well have rumpy pumpy with me, because I am going to tell my mate John that you did anyway.”

And his all time classic……“My name is Fred Flintstone and I will make your Bed Rock”

I suppose if you’re going to hit on someone you have to believe they’re lucky to be on the receiving end of your pick-up. When I said goodbye to miss South Carolina and walked away she had a look that said, “Wow……our cruise director must be gay” … I have to stop smiling at passengers.

Time for today’s questions…….here we ho………..sorry………was thinking about someone else …………I meant to say……here we go…..not ho.

Michelle Asked:
Hey John, it’s me Michelle A.K.A. Mary….. What do you mean last cruise before you go home. Are you not going to do anymore cruises? I really enjoyed my cruise with you and my husband just loved the video of Bedtime story, we agree with you that God does have a since of humor. I am loving your blog thingy and I am truly blessed to have met you. Eli told me that he’s a teacher also, please tell him and Jamie that I said hello. I only wish that I could stay in touch with you guys to keep you up on my progress in school. Take care and God Bless you!!!

John Says:
Hello Michelle
I know you didn’t ask for a reply but I wanted to say hello and thanks for being such a superstar last cruise. But mostly I wanted to thank you for giving up your current job to learn to teach special needs children. As I said on the ship, we don’t pay the teachers of this world enough money and those who take the time and take up the considerable challenge of teaching children with extra needs deserve all our praise.

It was a joy to meet you and we all send you our best wishes as you start your new life as an educator.
Hope to see you again soon.

Tara T. Asked:
Please reply
I see on your itinerary a wedding renewal. My husband and I are cruising, our first, on Aug 9th, Freedom Western Caribbean 6 night, and are celebrating our 10th anniversary the last night of the cruise.

How would I go about setting up a renewal? Is it too late?

John Says:
Hello Tara
I did indeed mention our wedding renewal package which is hosted by the captain of the ship. It is not too late to organize this. You can do this online by clicking on this link thingy

Or you can book it onboard when you arrive. If you take the second option please let me know by posting another comment marked for my reply and I will need your full name and state room number please. I will then alert the vessel.
Best wishes

Mike J. Asked:
John please reply.
Let me start by saying that my son and I had a GREAT time on the Destiny. Captain Scala and his crew were top notch. Our first cruise with Carnival will definitely not be our last.

There was one major disappointment, however. I booked our shore excursions on-line and was interested in Carnival’s “Captain Explorer Out-Island & Snorkeling Expedition “on Grand Turk. The excursion description on-line was very misleading. It said it included snorkeling, a hike and boat ride. My son and I don’t snorkel so I emailed the shore excursion department and was told that we didn’t have to participate in the snorkeling portion of the excursion and we could wait on the boat.

However, the description did not mention that in order to participate in the “hike” on the island, we would have to swim ashore. We were not “dressed” to swim because we did not know that was included and besides, we cannot swim well. The online description just said “….
Then go ashore for a hike…” when it should say “SWIM ashore”.

If we had known that was part of the excursion we would have booked something else. Instead, we ended up spending nearly $200 of my hard earned money on an excursion we did not really enjoy or could really do anything on.

I think CCL needs to update the description so people will know that you need to swim to get to shore for the island exploration hike.

Being our first cruise I didn’t think about bringing this to the attention of anyone at the shore excursion or purser’s desk after our excursion.

Thanks, John.
Mike J.

John Says:
Hello Mike
I am so happy to read that you enjoyed the hospitality of our crew and their friendliness certainly comes from great leadership and in Captain Scala they have the very best of role models.

I am not familiar with this tour but it seems that we need to look at the description which should I think mention that you will need to swim ashore. Please allow me a few days to check into this and I will get back to you with the answer. Until then I truly apologize for this negative but hope there were many positives for you both.

Please send my best to Melissa and I will write again soon.
Best wishes

Scott P. Asked:
Greetings John! I haven’t seen you in a few years but have cruised with you numerous times over the years. I thoroughly enjoy your blog and thank you for taking time to keep it current. It really is greatly appreciated.

I have a question about the Carnival Colors. I am Platinum and close to the 25 milestone and maybe I have just seen the Colors so many times. But honestly it is really getting old. I know in the beginning they were doing Red, White, and Blue and then later condensed it down to Red and Blue teams. Are there any plans to end this? I understand the purpose and trying to get passengers more involved, but there is nothing more annoying than at the deck party having to listen to screaming about a color. I was on the Fantasy again last week and I actually went back inside for a few minutes to let them get past that.

Let’s go back to the good old days where you just go have a great time and Conga line and all the good stuff!

And something I have wondered.

Do staff members actually keep track of the points? I mean it seems impossible given the amount of activities.

One last question. I also hate the new S&S cards especially being Platinum. I will be on the Valor again in September, do you know if they will have the new Platinum card you mentioned by then? Thanks for your time John and hope to cruise with you again soon!

John Says:
Hello Scott
Thanks so much for the kind words about the blog and I hope we get to cruise together again soon. Now, one thing about this blog is that I always speak my mind and I am not going to say I like something if I do not…….and I don’t like the Carnival Colors activity. I disliked it even more when the scoring was given out every night in the dining room which personally I thought disrupted dinner and I am glad to say this has now stopped.

The purpose of the activity was to bring the ship together and every time someone won a trivia or a game they would score points for their colour (spelt correctly) team. Some ships are still doing this while some are doing what Todd was doing here and what I have continued. We do the Carnival Colors contest on one night only as a fun hop from lounge to lounge and then announcing the dining team at the deck party. For me…….this is the way to go and I think you will find that most ships are doing this now. It’s a lot of fun and a great way to build the excitement over a few hours and makes for one heck of a deck party.

You asked if the staff actually keeps totals of the points…….well………..I am going to say yes………but……..say no as well because I can’t answer of course for every ship.

I will pass on your thoughts around the fleet and let’s see what other bloggers opinions are on this…………speak up everyone.

Congratulations on your milestone status and you will indeed have the new and very much improved sail and sign card when you cruise next time on the Carnival Valor.

Please let me know if need anything at all.
Best wishes

Whitefamily15165 Asked:
Dear John,
We sailed on Carnival freedom on July 12-18 and a couple was left in Key West and you told us that we could read about it on your blog the reason they never made it back on the ship in Cayman Islands…I have been reading your blog and so far cannot find it? Please help!

John Says:
Hello the White Family.
I think you are talking about Mr. and Mrs……actually I really shouldn’t print their name. Yes…they missed the ship and I had great plans for them once they returned.

However …….. the lady was so distraught at what had happened and so mad at her husband for insisting on hiring a car and driving so far from the ship that she flew home…. without him and he returned to the ship on his own. Thus, there was little that I could do or say on stage.

I hope you had a great cruise. It really was a fun voyage and I hope you have many happy memories of our time together and that you pop on over to the blog now and then.
My best wishes to all the family

Mike Asked:
Hi John,
My wife and I will be onboard July 26th.

Will Terri Jo, the keyboard casino musician be onboard also? Thanks, and keep up the good work!

John Says:
Hello Mike
Terri Jo is on vacation at the moment but her replacement is amazing. Her name is Julie and you must check out her brilliant music. I will see you soon.
Best wishes

David and Rachel G. Asked:
Dear John,
My wife and I are finally getting settled back in to “normalcy” after a WONDERFUL HONEYMOON on the Carnival Freedom July 12th-18th. We would like to thank you and the rest of the crew for making our honeymoon perfect! I have never laughed so much watching your shows and of course the other shows were great too (especially Happy). The ship was absolutely beautiful and the guests and staff were some of the friendliest people we have met in a very long time. I have been on a few cruises and never enjoyed them….until this one. On the last day I told my wife (who loves cruises); “I can’t wait for the next one”.

Living in Florida, we get used to the heat, so we are hoping to do the Alaska cruise next. Any recommendations on ports or certain “must do’s”?
Thanks again for everything!
David and Rachel G.

John Says:
Hello David and Rachel
What a wonderful review of this ship and how chuffed I am that you laughed and had the best of times. Thanks also for mentioning comedian Happy Cole who is as you said ….. hilarious. Alaska is an experience like no other and one that anyone who has experienced will never forget. Unfortunately I have never cruised to the Last Frontier although it is on my bucket list of things to do. I am of course nervous about cruising to Alaska as men with beards tell me that because I drive a Range Rover that I have killed many a polar bear and melted many an iceberg ………so I doubt the locals will welcome me much.

However, my friend and cruise director of the Carnival Spirit Chris “Bubba” Roberts is the Alaskan expert and I will ask him to tell me which is his favourite. I will have that answer for you soon. Until then I hope your Honeymoon lasts forever and wish you both a very happy life together.

Dave V. Asked:
Hi John Please Reply
I was just reading some of your blogs and took a stroll down memory lane. When you were just John the CD. Oh sure, they did have your picture in the brochure back in 1996, but you were still John our “Cruise Director” So I thought I would drag you into this memory lane, back to January 1997 on the brand new Carnival Destiny. It was the week that Cathy Lee was shooting the video for the travel agents. A couple came up to you on the stage after the Port Lecture, I sporting an Imagination tee shirt and my wife a Sensation tee shirt. You told her you really liked her shirt, Isn’t that where you met your bride?

Well anyway, I said to you “You have a birthday this week, don’t you?”

And you gasped in surprise, “You remember my birthday, what is your cabin number, I want to send you a bottle of champagne, on me.” Well, we never did get the bottle of champagne, and because you are such a good CD, we didn’t care. We were just happy to see you again, and sail with you on your birthday. Now, on all the other Carnival Cruises I have taken, you were not there. So, if you would like to make good on the champagne, we are sailing on the Pride on July 31 from “Charm City”, cabin # 5150, and if you can’t, well that’s okay to. I still remember you when you were just plain old “John the Cruise Director”.
Dave V.

PS. We are also booked in October on the Carnival Sensation with 2 of our grandsons. Won’t be quite the same without you, but we will try.

John Says:
Hello Dave
Back then I didn’t send you the champagne because I was just John the skinny bottom of the heap Cruise Director with about as much power as a Yugo. However, now I am John the extra large CD and have upgraded from a Yugo to a VW with two flat tires and so you shall receive a bottle of champagne …or two.

Thanks for all the kind words mate and I hope one day we can see each other soon.
Best wishes to you both

Ruth and Al G. Asked:
Why can you not confirm our dinner reservation request of a table for two immediately? We had no problems doing this on Celebrity and Holland America.

John Says:
Hello Ruth
Can I start by kindly asking that you post your comments on the blog rather than e-mail them directly to me? I apologize for asking you this and I am not sure who posted my e-mail address on Cruise Critic but they should not have done. I answer around 60 questions a week and I just don’t have time to check in other areas such as my Carnival e-mail account ……….I truly hope you understand.

As for your dinner reservation, I did check and you have confirmed early sitting. The maitre d does not work this far in advance when it comes to table assignments and once again if I may kindly ask that you remind me two weeks before you sail I will do my best to reserve you the table for two that you desire.
Best wishes to you both

Mark M. Asked:
Hey John,
This is my first time blogging so pardon me if I am doing this incorrectly.

I thought I read somewhere that Carnival is in talks with possibly doing a cruise based reality show with you being one of the stars? Is this correct?

I think this would be a great concept as so much happens onboard a ship that millions around the world would be able to see. I think it would be great to see how cruise crew handle some of the rude, brainless, and miserable guests (you know who you are) that end up onboard. We have all run into them onboard a ship and sometimes think they should not be allowed in public (and certainly not on a “fun” Ship) and should rather be locked away so their misery does not spread like the H1N1 plague! I have seen how calm and professional Carnival staff handle these miserable, poor excuses for humans and think it would be awesome for all to see. This might even help stop the spread of the H1N1 misery flu as people will be able to see how foolish they look and decide to act civil while in public.

Bless you all who work onboard that have to deal with this nonsense.

Hopefully the foreign crew understand that these dopes do not represent the majority of Americans, but represent a minority of Americans who fall into a class of their own………
All the Best,
Mark M.

John Says:
Hello Mark
Your posting preaches the doctrines that we all try to live by as crew members here on the Fun Ships. Even though we have giant ships with giant screens and more dining options than ever, it is our crew which continues to be the iconic onboard experience and I am proud to work alongside them. As for the TV show. Well, I did meet with a posh agent from Los Angeles who shook my hand and told me that the blog would make a great TV show………and then he buggered off and I never heard from him again………oh well.

Thanks again Mark and I say that on behalf of the 23,000 seagoing crew members currently working hard on the best fleet of cruise ships…………in the world.
Best wishes

Dave Asked:
please reply
As ever, I am playing catch up with your blog, firstly, as others have said, Kye is very cute.

Ok, my question, the shots of the Dream are kind of distorted so it’s a little hard to tell, are the Balcony cabins on the sides of the ship set back a ways ? I can see the clear difference at the aft and whilst I am not too happy about it (I love my aft wrap sea views) I will learn to live with it I am just wondering what type of view will be had from the side cabins.

John Says:
Hello Dave
I hope you had a chance to catch up on the blog now and thanks for saying Kye is cute………just like her Dad. I will be taking many more photos of your Carnival Dream when I visit again in September. The balconies are set back some as we now have an outside promenade that you can walk all the way round on. If you stand on a deck 6 and upwards balcony or sit on your balcony chair you still have wonderful views of the ocean. However, it should be pointed out that if you lean over the balcony you also have a view of what’s happening on the Promenade. Obviously, the higher the deck your cabin is on the less a view of the promenade you have.

I hope this helps and if you have another follow up question please let me know.
Best wishes

That’s all for today.

I Just wanted to clear something up that I see one or two of you jumped on. I mentioned fruit punch and lemonade were available and I meant that they were available as part of the fountain fun soda card option. They are served from cans……just like Diet Coke etc. We have not returned the fruit punch to the Lido deck drink dispensers. I wonder what ever happened to the idea of finding a replacement product……..let me check. Sorry for any confusion caused.

Here are the latest photos from Boris of your Carnival Dream.

Dream at Dock

Dream at Dock 2

Dream Construction 2

Dream Construction 3

Dream Construction  1

Dream Construction Dance Club

Dream Construction Stairs

This morning I had a chat with all 344 Stephanies about your Carnival Dream Bloggers Cruise. We finalized a lot of things including the two private shore excursions, the private shows and tea times and soon………very soon……….we will be launching a contest here on the blog thingy with a spectacular prize going to the winner.

Now, I also want to change the logo we put on the T-Shirts as “I Love John’s Thingy ” needs to go into retirement……….any suggestions on what you would like on your mystery gifts and bloggers T-shirts?

Now, I also know that many readers of the blog had booked previous to me announcing that we would hold a Bloggers Cruise on your Carnival Dream and had booked using a past guest or military code etc. Therefore, and to make sure none of you are left out of the private events and shows and receive the gifts we need you to register and to help you do this….here is one of the Stephanies………I have no idea which one…….but one of them will tell you what to do if you did not book using the fare code thingy.

Hello all bloggers, Steph here. Which one…is the trivia game you will have to play to find out.

Here is the scoop on the fare code…If you have already booked your DREAM cruise and did not use the bloggers fare code…email with your name and booking information. Make sure that the subject line of your email says: Bloggers Fare Code. So that the email can easily be identified and not get lost in email cyberspace.

We want to make sure that ALL of our very important blogger guests are included in all the FUN activities as well as receive the really cool gifts we have in store for you.

Now for the very very very important part.

The deadline is August 15th.

Sorry there are no exceptions. After this date you will be required to enter the bloggers fare code when making your DREAM reservations. If you need help or have any questions please feel free to let me know. With that said, I am off to take my two year old to get a lollipop mess of a haircut. OOOps just gave away the answer.

For the logo……..I was thinking…………”PAY FOR A STEAK………..MY ARSE”

I learnt something today………the word POSH has nautical roots — port out, starboard home = Posh…………..who knew? Say the word posh and cruise ship in the same sentence and there is no doubt the next word will be Seabourn. Even with credit and crunch still on the breakfast menu there are many lucky sods who are willing to pay for luxury and when they do get their black American Express cards out……’s usually to pay for a suite on a Seabourn ship where they know they will experience a level of attentiveness they expect and demand. We have been highlighting the new Seabourn Odyssey on the blog thingy and so it is only fitting that we acknowledge this special award that Seabourn has received today.

Seabourn Certificate

Congratulations to them and one day…….maybe one day……….I can sneak onboard a Seabourn ship and share the life styles of the rich and tanned with you all.

My friend Al Ernst, Carnival’s 344th best comedian arrives today in Tortola. I truly love it when he is on board as we have a lot of fun together on stage and I get to be the straight man of the comedy duo which is a nice change of pace for me. I will also ask him to co- host the morning show with me and all in all we should bring some laughter to the end portion of this cruise.

The weather remained grey but dry in Antigua and today in Tortola at least the sun is putting up a fight…….OK it has as much chance of winning as an asthmatic vegetarian called Raymond has of surviving 10 rounds with Mike Tyson……but at least it’s putting up a little bit of resistance. Surprisingly the guests are having fun though and tonight I have the talent show and bedtime story so hopefully this will help continue to keep the mood of the guests a happy one despite the lack of Caribbean sunshine.

Many of our guests have taken the chance to go to Virgin Gorda today on our organized shore excursions. This is a little known island in a country that rarely makes it onto cruise ship itineraries. Scattered over miles of incomparably blue sea, the steep, green chain of the British Virgin Islands is among the most peaceful and least exploited corners of the region.

This particular Virgin — the “Fat One,” according to Spanish explorers, with a belly of forested hills (protected as a national park) in the north and flattish lands of scrub and cactus in the south — is the second-largest of the BVIs, yet it’s still just eight square miles. Most visitors come by boat, drawn by the huge expanse of sheltered turquoise waters in the North Sound, two miles across and enclosed by reefs and mini islands (including Mosquito, Prickly Pear and Richard Branson’s Necker Island). Gorda offers superb stretches of pure white sand and today many of the guests will be swimming in the rock pools that have formed between giant boulders and in the cave pools which are crystal clear. There is also a beach that I will definitely have to visit as it has my name written all over it…………… “Little Dix Bay.”

One thing I have learnt over the years that I have been privileged to be a cruise director is how to accept a complaint as something priceless. Many times guests have complaints that are justified and when they do we have to act immediately while they are still on board. I encourage anyone who feels that we can do something to make a negative into a positive to let us know onboard and not wait until you get home. I know I highlight the occasional negative comment here but I share these with you most of the time because they are usually outrageous……but sometimes…….they are definitely not ……. like this one

Guest: Mr. ————Ref: 840406943A
Cabin: ______ Booking#: ________ Added-Changed: 07/21/09 – 07/21/09

Refused Breakfast
Guest came to desk and reported that he arrived at the Lido Deck at 11:50 am and stood in line for the last of the breakfast service. By the time he reached the omelet station he was told that he was too late. Guest said that the guest in front of him had ordered eggs which had been done and that there were no other persons behind him but he was told no.

This kind of thing drives me crazy. Now, I can tell you that this crew member was not being rude …….although that is obviously how it was perceived by the guest.

No……..this crew member had been told by his supervisor that the line needed to close at noon…… and when this poor chap asked for an omelet it was already noon……and even though there was no other guest in line……….he said, “No.”

And I am glad this guest told us as if he hadn’t the food and beverage manager may never have known about it and it could have happened again……and again. Now if there were 30 people in line well that’s a different story…….but one…..we can and we must do better.

So, even though I highlight the outrageous and sometimes comical comments we receive each and every cruise, I encourage anyone who sails with us and who sees something that we need to know about to let us know as soon as possible.

But not if you have a comment like this one which was sent to me by my friend and Cruise Director colleague Lenny Halliday who is currently serving on the Carnival Victory. He sent me this complaint from……and I am embarrassed to say….a British guest.

“Hello John
I thought you might like this comment for your blog
All the best

Guest: _________ Ref: 8409566942A
Cabin: ____ Booking#: _______ Added-Changed: 07/22/09 – 07/22/09

Guest informed GSA that they were surprised that there were so many Americans on board the ship Mr.______ said that they were loud and obnoxious and that this is not what he thought the cruise would have been. Guest said that they usually cruise P&O cruises which are all English.

That’s brilliant. I can just picture this poor British chap in his pink shirt and blue blazer complaining that about “those vulgar Americans.” Still……at least this pompous arse has broken that stereotype that says British people never complain and that we are all a race of painfully polite, cricket obsessed over boilers of vegetables, who, when not queuing politely or reading Jane Austen, are taking tea and cucumber sandwiches with Mrs. Bucket with our little fingers raised in the air before popping home for a huge portion of spotted dick.

Ta, Ta for know and have a spiffing evening.

Your stiff lipped jolly good friend
John Heald, Esq.

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.