Mary Had A Little Lamb…My Arse

July 30, 2009 -

John Heald

So, there I was yesterday hosting the Afternoon Show. I always start by taking one call from a cabin and we usually chat……or play a game. Well yesterday the first person to call in was a 12-year-old lad. We will call him Travis……because that’s his name. So after the introductions I asked him if he wanted to play a game. He told me he would and I said I was going to ask him a question and every time he got one right he would win a prize ……………..here is how it went.

John: OK Travis…..question number one……….what is the name of the port where we are going tomorrow and what country is it in?

Travis: Silence

John: Travis – it’s Ocho Rios which is in which country?

Travis: Ummmm…….the Caribbean?

John: (not wanting to embarrass him) Correct……it’s Jamaica which is in the Caribbean. Next question. What happens in the Victoriana Lounge on the ship …………. the shows………….or eating dinner?

Travis: Dinner

Bugger…It was at this point that I realized that I needed to move away from this. Did he have learning difficulties?

And if he did I didn’t want to embarrass him at all. I mean……..he spoke well and didn’t seem shy or withdrawn……maybe he was just not good at general knowledge…….or anything.

Then suddenly, I had a brainwave and so continued…

John: For the special prize, can you tell me five games you can play on Playstaion.

Travis: Halo, Grand Theft Auto, etc., etc., etc., etc., etc. etc…………he named 10!

So at 12 he knew how to kill zombies, race cars around Los Angeles and how to use Twitter and Facespacebook but if I had asked him or many other kids his age what caused World War II and who won……….as my friend Al Ernst says “he would have looked at me like a farmer at the opera.”

It’s bloody ridiculous. Any child old enough to eat solid food is already proficient in search engines, apps, text spk, Wii Wee, Playstation, Xbox, and Nintendo and have cell phones by the time they are 5. When we were kids we had two choices ……….. Inside ………………or Outside.

Here is a photo of the Morning Show from today and one from last cruise which I shared with Carnival’s 344th best comedian Al Ernst.

Morning Show 1

Morning Show 2

Let’s crack on with today’s questions………here we go.

Cassandra Asked:
John, Please Reply….
I was just wondering why there aren’t more cabin options for families with 3 kids. It seems that all vacation deals are geared for a family of 4. What about the families that have more than 2 children? We would love to take our children on a Carnival cruise but don’t want to pay the hefty price of getting 2 cabins, since our children are only 5, 3, and 3. Can you give me any insight into this? Thank you for your time!

John Says:
Hello Cassandra
It could be said in the past that the industry did cater for Mum, Dad and the 2 children as far as the cabins were concerned. That’s because the cabins although spacious were probably not large enough to accommodate 2 adults and 3 grown kids. I can therefore understand why families with more than 2 children feel a little hard done by.

Carnival’s staterooms are some of the largest at sea and value for money wise they are the best of course. On your new ship Carnival Dream we have family cabins……..a real first. Here you have a Queen size bed for Mum and Dad….two pull out beds for the 2 kids and a sofa which the stateroom steward will convert into a fifth bed as well. This cabin also has the huge benefit of two bathrooms. One will have a shower, sink and toilet while behind the other door you have a bath and overhead shower and another sink unit.

This maybe the perfect solution for your family Cassandra and in a few weeks I will be providing photos of this and other cabin categories. I hope this helps and if you have any other questions please let me know.
My best wishes to you and the family
John

Wil-da beast Asked:
HI John..Please reply…wish I could get on the computer more often and keep up with everything. First of all I couldn’t believe the last picture of Kye. What a cutie…Now back to your question..When I asked about Amanda on the Freedom, I thought the red hair would be the clue.

She was on the entertainment staff and we spent many fun moments with her during the trivia games. We thought she was so special. Is she still on that ship? I hope these passengers don’t give you ulcers. I can’t believe all the complaints you get. Take care and stay healthy…The Beast

John Says:
Hello Mr. Beast
Thanks for the kind compliments for Kye……it makes me feel very proud. I did some investigation and Amanda was indeed part of the entertainment staff and is currently on vacation. She is due to go to the Carnival Miracle next month to entertain more lucky guests. From what I hear she is dynamite.
Hope all is well and my best wishes to you and the family
John

Michelle B. Asked:
Please reply
Dear John,
My husband and I will be celebrating his 50th birthday (I am 3 years younger than he is – haha) with our very first cruise on the Carnival Imagination in November. Sooooo excited!

I enjoy your blog thingy very much indeed.

You provided me with some moments of light relief today after I had just flooded my kitchen while changing the refrigerator water filter.

Well, I wondered if you could give the answer to a question I have.

I read on the Carnival Chat that Carnival might be thinking of giving behind the scenes tours for a price of, perhaps, $90. Is this true?

I have faith that you will know the answer!

Again, I enjoy reading your thoughts and comments – keep up the good work!
Best regards,
Michelle

p.s. I am also English. Lived in landlocked Missouri for 23 years now.

John Says:
Hello Michelle
They do say that 50 is the new 30 and 60 is the new 40. Personally I think that “they” are talking bollocks..….anyway…………what I do know to be true is that with her new and improved Carnival Imagination will be the perfect place for you to celebrate your husband’s 50th ( 30th ) birthday.

I am so sorry to hear that you have had plumbing problems. I flooded the bathroom today but that’s because I fell asleep while having a pee.

The Behind the Fun tour is indeed going to be rolled out on our ships that operate voyages of seven days or longer very, very soon (as well as shorter cruises in the future – it’s being tested on the Imagination right now). It is an exclusive look at places we have never taken our guests before and some where we can in small groups take them once again. Here is the official press release on the Behind the Fun tours. and it will indeed be on the Carnival Imagination when you sail……..it would make a nice birthday gift for your 30 year old husband. Hope you kept your English accent.
TTFN and Best wishes
John

Link to News:
Carnival’s New ‘Behind the Fun’ Tours Offer Unique Insight Into Line’s Shipboard Operations

JAS1178 Asked:
JOHN – Please Reply
Quoting You: “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 encourage anyone who sails with us and who sees something that we need to know about to let us know as soon as possible.”

John, on my recent trip I found myself with a situation that was well in my mind more than simply negative, and it was hard to get the issue in front of anyone beyond the front line pursers. Even after asking for either Chief Purser or Hotel Director (Would the average guest know to ask for these individuals?), it took persistence and days before the Chief Purser would speak with us. With the Chief Purser I hit a glass ceiling, and was told the only recourse was Miami. I’ve written a letter but the waiting is doing more to deepen the wounds. A few phone calls attempted really couldn’t route me to a department that really cared about anything other than pre-cruise issues. You are so correct, getting resolution as soon as possible is not only good customer service, but also keeps the wounds from festering. (Too bad you weren’t onboard, as I know this would have been resolved long before debarking).

My suggestion is that a process be established and published – much like the vacation guarantee, that if a guest needs help, but isn’t getting resolution, alternatives are presented. (ie. Call this number, or speak with this person). I think we realize that every situation can’t be resolved on board due to the limitations of being a floating vessel and sailing full, but that is the point that Carnival should step up and own up to the problem and reconcile accordingly.

By the way – I truly respect the cool you have kept with dear Ruth. WOW!

John, – its situations like the small breakfast situation you mentioned that really build my respect for you. Bravo!
In regards to the Color Competitions – I really like the alternative you mentioned- BRAVO Todd! On our recent sailing, it became a running joke as the points were announced – they would contradict the announcement from a short time before. So while not every ship, I’m 99% sure they were not kept at least on the last sailing we were on. THANK YOU that the announcements at dinner have excluded the score…if only we could curtail them more. We hear the cruise director updating us between dinner seatings of the shows etc, we don’t need to have a long announcement interrupt dinner from the matre’d.

John Says:
Hello Jonathan
First of all thanks for taking the time to write and for the kind words of support. Let me start with the topic of Carnival Colours. ………spelt correctly. Right from the start I hated the announcements at dinner and in fact I stopped the maitre d’s doing this a long time ago……against company policies. While the event itself is fun I saw no reason why we needed to interrupt the service and the fun that was already provided by the dining room team. And you know what………the maitre d’s didn’t like it either. Oh well…..we learn by our mistakes and now the scores and result service has been stopped across the fleet. The event continues with some ships doing one night only while others have it running the entire cruise. But the good news is as far as I am concerned that we will not have interruptions in the dining rooms.

Now onto your major concern. We put a lot of emphasis on the comment card at the end of the cruise which is fine. However, I strongly encourage our guests to talk to someone if they have a concern. Now, you can talk to someone at the Guest Services Desk (ex purser’s office) but you also have another option. Write a letter and address it to the Guest Services Manager, Hotel Director or if I am onboard …….me.

Either way, there is no reason or excuse why our team will not follow up with the concern. Often, the Guest Service Desk will be the ones following up but under the advisement of the HD or the GSM. But, if a guest wants to speak to either then most of our senior staff will be happy to do so.

Jonathan, I would like to give you the opportunity to let me know more about your concerns and maybe I can assist you.
I remain at your service
Best wishes
John

Charles Asked:
Mr. Heald: (Please reply!)
My Mom, my lovely wife and I are actively anticipating our embarkation on Carnival Glory this coming October. I am a member of the “Cruise Critic” forums, and right now, on that forum, there is a fairly heated ongoing discussion about “Chair Hogs.” The consensus on the thread seems to be a fairly strong concern that Carnival, while publishing a rule prohibiting the saving of deck chairs, does not actively seek to enforce that rule. Stories of altercations betwixt passengers, and much distress abound on the thread. I encourage you to take a moment and read some of the thread: (http://tinyurl.com/na9r9n) several posters to the thread have mentioned your blog, so I thought I’d come here to inquire of you if there are any plans of which you are aware to begin a more focused effort to uphold the rules against saving seats? I look forward to hearing from you. And I hope you feel better soon!

John Says:
Hello Charles
Ahhh…..yes….one of my favorite topics…..seat saving. Well, we make announcements both on the PA system and on the microphone during Lido activities and it’s in writing in Carnival Capers. All to these are designed to appeal to the better nature of our guests not to save seats…..some adhere to this ………many say “bollocks” or the North American equivalent and ignore it all. Now, there is a 30-minute grace period that if a chair is left unattended for a longer period that the items used to save the seats will be removed. However, it would be ridiculous for me to say that this warning is enforced 100% ….. because it isn’t and any cruise line that says it does is talking nonsense.

We have over 1,800 chairs on the open decks on a sea day and how our dozen or so deck stewards are supposed to monitor these and remember what towel was there and at what time and whose shoe, book, bag or goat that is being used to save a chair……..well, it’s a no win situation. The shocking truth is that I have even heard of sun-lounger hijacking. Items such as towels and books and small children surreptitiously deposited before breakfast will be removed and replaced with someone else’s.

All I can say is that we will continue to do our best and hope that the kind nature of some of our guests will spread to others……..but somehow……….I doubt it. This seat saving thing is alive and well on all cruise lines, hotels and resorts. If it was an Olympic Sport the Germans would win bronze….the Americans the silver……..and from my European experiences on Carnival Liberty, Carnival Freedom and Carnival Splendor, I can tell you the gold medal winner would be the Russians. It’s hard to remove a Russian’s towel when it’s guarded by an ex Spetnaz commando.

I hope you don’t mind my honesty here and I ask that you will post this on to the thread thingy. By the way………try deck 3 on both port and starboard sides…….nobody goes there and its one of the best places to enjoy sun, sea and shade on the ship.
Best wishes and have a fabulous cruise
John

Clay Asked:
John: (Please reply)
I guess you didn’t appreciate my constructive criticisms of the Legend I posted this past Sunday?

John Says:
Hello Clay
I am not quite sure what you mean by this. I just read my reply again and I didn’t see anything that I thought may lead you to think that I didn’t appreciate it. I thought your comments were well thought out and written with courtesy. I did not reply about the casino subject because I do not understand the complexities of gambling and how or what is a fair loss when you gamble…….I mean, I guess gambling is exactly that…..gambling. I certainly passed on your points about the bar service which it sounds like we need to look at. I also sent your post to a vice president and the ship’s senior officers and you should be hearing from someone soon.

I sincerely apologize if I said or wrote anything that offended you and look forward to reading about your comparisons to the Carnival product after your next to RCI cruises.
Best wishes
John

Jeanette Asked:
Please reply
John, I would like to know how far in advance do you plan the bloggers cruise. I would love to be on a ship with you as a CD, but I’m not made of money and can’t take off and cruise as many times a year as I would like, bugger.

I’ll be planning my Sept 2010 cruise soon enough and wouldn’t mind a bloggers cruise on the Dream in September 2010…No pressure though…..Now if you made a Jan 2010 bloggers cruise for Jan 17 on the Glory, that would be awesome, cuz I’ll be on the ship headed to my own private (er HAL’s really) paradise in Half Moon Cay (HMC).
Thanks John!

John Says:
Hello Jeanette
The 2010 Bloggers cruise is currently on Stephanie “Coco” Leavitt’s desk and we are discussing all the options at the moment. I know many of you want to start booking your 2010 cruise vacations and I promise that I will have news on this soon. I am leaning toward September as it will be a good time for all I think plus Heidi and Kye will be able to sail with us as well. Look out for news on this very soon and I hope you will be able to join us.
Best wishes
John

Laura Asked:
John, (please reply) so glad to see that you are still saying “spiffing.” My first cruise was with you 20 years ago this coming Feb. My daughter was with me and it was the first of many cruises for both us. To celebrate our 20 years of cruising and her birthday we are cruising on the Pride in Feb. Thanks for the memories! I’m sure you had a lot to do with our love of cruising. I will never forget the men’s nightgown conteste.That was the funniest thing I ever saw. I wish they still did that. My daughter and I will have a drink in your honor on our Feb Cruise.

My husband and I will be on the Dream November 15 of this year and although we won’t be part of the bloggers cruise, I hope to run into you somewhere on the ship. Keep those pics of the Dream coming, we love looking at them.

John Says:
Hello Laura
Spiffing……..yep…..much to my embarrassment I did go through a phase where I used this catch word a lot..…what was I thinking? I remember the male nightgown with mixed emotions. It was fun but it was also scary being chased around the stage by 30 men dressed in stockings and suspenders…….some would get very carried away and would try and touch my bottom. I used to wear a sign on my bottom that said “exit only.” ……..it was a great event though. We will be posting something soon for all the people who are on the bloggers cruise to list their cabin numbers so we can invite you to the private events and shows. I realize we set this bloggers cruise up late and many people had already booked their Carnival Dream cruise. So whereas on past and future bloggers cruises we have been strict in saying you have to book using the bloggers fare code …………this time we will be flexible so that we can invite all those who want to come.

You have seen me 20 years ago and it will be wonderful to meet you again. I look forward to that very much
Best wishes to you all.
John

Bill R. Asked:
John, Please Reply
Are there DVD players in the cabins on the Dream?????
Thanks,
Bill

John Says:
Hello Bill
How are you? The suites have DVD players but the regular cabins do not. Is there something you would need to watch……….maybe I can arrange it for you. Please let me know
Best wishes
John

Brandoninbuffalo ASked:
Hello John — (Please Reply)
I know you are busy but I am a long time reader of your blog and truly love reading it. Your daughter is absolutely adorable! My beautiful wife Jennifer of 3 years and our 2 year old daughter will be sailing on the August 15th sailing of the Glory booking # ******. This will be my 7th Carnival cruise and Jennifer will be celebrating her 31st birthday while on board. I could use some suggestions to surprise her while on board. Any help you or could provide is greatly appreciated.

Thank you for taking the time to get back to me.
Brandon in Buffalo, NY

John Says:
Hello Brandon
How wonderful that your family will be sailing together. May I suggest that you book your two year old into Camp Carnival one night and then take your wife to our steakhouse for a very romantic dinner? Please can you also remind me on or around the 10th of August so I can send her a birthday gift?
Have a great time
Best wishes to all
John

That’s all for today and I know I repeat myself a lot but if I can just say again to please mark your comments with John please reply if you need anything please. The comments have made for great reading these past few days. I have particularly appreciated the comments about the Platinum rewards program and your feelings on if shorter cruises should carry the same points system as longer ones. I will give those who have not yet commented on this a few days to do so and then I will ask one of 344 Stephanies to collate all the information and send it up to our Chief Marketing Officer Jim Berra for his attention.

Please keep the comments coming.

A few days ago a blogger wanted some information on what to do in the ports during their Alaskan cruise next month. Well, I have never been lucky enough to sail around the Last Frontier so I asked a man who has…..many times……..Chris “Bubba” Roberts.

Here is what he said.

Hey John,
Skagway – The big thing to do in Skagway will involve the famous White Pass Yukon route rail road. The famous route that the gold prospectors took to get to the Yukon in the late 1800’s. There are lots of tours that involve the train in one way or another. The best of Skagway tour will combine everything that Skagway is famous for: a train trip up the White Pass, bus back down the Klondike hwy, then visit the trail camp called Blairsville. It’s a historical reenactment of a gold rush trail camp. There will be a salmon bake, panning for gold, a show & more. Then afterwards head to the red onion saloon for the brothel museum tour.

Juneau – probably the best port for Whale watching. There’s the Whale Watching & Wildlife quest which is the only tour that actually guarantees you will see whales while on the tour. Otherwise, go flight seeing on either a float plane or a helicopter and fly out to the many glaciers of the Juneau area.

Ketchikan – Several options here. Go flight seeing through the misty fjords. Check out the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show. The Bering Sea Crab Adventure is one of my personal favorites and if you love the TV show deadliest catch, you love this tour. You can even go snorkeling in Ketchikan if you dare!
Have fun

Thanks Bubba…….we all appreciate all you do for the blog…………and the Waffle Houses of America appreciate all the money you have spent there.

Time for some photos of your Carnival Dream.

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Now across the yard from your Carnival Dream is the 116,000-ton sister to P&O’s Ventura……the beautifully named Azura. Here are two shots taken from onboard your Carnival Dream of her family member……….Azura

Azura 1

Azura 2

She will be ready in summer 2010. And also being built in the Monfalcone shipyard is of course the much anticipated ship Queen Elizabeth. I wonder……..you know ………not to say that a certain cruise line’s president is boring …….but…….watching nobody use the climbing wall for a whole cruise is more interesting … however …… I bet a blog about the building of a ship that carries he Majesty’s name would be a thrilling read…especially if it was written by a man with Cunard blood (and a bit of gin) pumping through his veins.

If only we knew of such a man……….hold on……..we do……of course ………why I didn’t think of this before…….we do have someone……..no……not Prince Philip ……… Peter Shanks…..the new President and Everything of Cunard………..a man we know and love here on the blog. A man whose writing talents mirror a cross between Shakespeare and Tom Clancy…….yes ……Peter Shanks…….and the new Queen Elizabeth…….two things that go together like…………Spotted Dick and custard.

So come on you lovers of ships……..come on you addicts of cruising……what say you ………..do I hear a “yes” echoing across the pond that we the bloggers of Carnival bestow upon Peter Shanks Esq the power to tell us tales of this royal lady of the sea. All those in favour………post “aye.”

Let’s pause to look at some photos and drawings sent to me for the Morning Show

Letters:
Letter 1

Letter 2

Letter 3

Letter 4

Letter 5

Letter 6

Letter 7

Letter 8

Letter 9

I met a wonderful man last night after the talent show. You may remember that I posted a letter from his wife about him a blog or two ago…….his name is…..well……..thinking about it and because of the sensitive subject on which I am going to write I think its best I don’t actually tell you his name.

I can tell you that he is a United States Marine and has just returned…….and by just I mean he flew home last Friday …………from a five-month tour of Afghanistan.
He told me that he had seen me smoking a cigar the other night and would I like to smoke one with him. Well, apart from the fact that I have, as I mentioned yesterday, bugger all friends and knowing what an honor it would be to smoke one with a man like this I gathered two Monte Cristos from my humidor and we met up for a smoke and a chat …………and I must admit I got quite a surprise.

That’s because although I sat and smoked with a man who had served his country since he was 19 years old and who was proud to have done so, I met a man who was not sure why he was fighting in Afghanistan and I met a man who was troubled by the lack of knowledge and news media coverage that the world was giving it.

He told me that thousands of American and British troops are involved in the war. Gunships are chomping their way through the desert sky. Battles are raging on the ground. People are losing limbs. Some are being killed. He referred to the day after Michael Jackson died and how two of his colleagues were killed……and it never even made the national news.

The marine then asked me and Jamie Fraser, the entertainer who had joined us, what we knew ……..what we really knew…… about the war in Afghanistan.

Well……..I know it was started to get rid of the Taliban who it was said, were sheltering Osama Bin Laden.
And that’s about it. Today, I don’t know whether Bin Laden is alive or dead or even if he’s working in a 7-11 in Detroit. I don’t know what’s become of the Taliban. All I ever hear is that another soldier or marine has been killed on a “routine patrol.” What is meant by “routine?”…………. I haven’t a clue.

I have a vague idea that they are trying to bring a bit of peace, freedom and the American way to this remote part of the world and I sort of imagine that the locals don’t want to grow hamburgers because there’s more money to be made from heroin. So are the marines and soldiers trying to get rid of the poppy fields? ……again…….I don’t know …… and unlike Travis who didn’t know where Ocho Rios was……..I am embarrassed that I don’t know more.
However, in my defense neither did my cigar partner. All he knew is that he and his unit return in October and they will continue to do what they are told and continue to serve.

Most of us now recognize the boys and girls are going through hell and that they need our support to make them feel it’s all worthwhile. Hopefully someone will explain why they are going through hell, what’s been achieved so far and what needs to be done before they can all come home saying……..”Job done.”

Anyway…………..here are all the brave military personnel who we honored at tonight’s Talent Show.

Show Military

There are two National Guard, two Marines, three Army Infantry and one Lt. Colonel in the Air Force……..the standing ovation they all received was heartfelt and unanimous.

I have the wonderful Empress Bee and Prince Charlie onboard this cruise and they are wonderful, caring and loving people, unlike the little teenage bastards who stole their electric scooters and took them for a ride. One is badly damaged..…security is investigating and let’s hope we find out who did this and charge their parents for the damage.

Well, here we are in Ocho Rios again and the sun has traveled with us. Compared to last cruise it has been a great week of weather. One thing that hasn’t changed is that I still can’t get off the ship. There is so much to do both cruise director wise and of course with the blog. I am not complaining…..OK …well……maybe a little but anyway……I don’t really have anything I need to do ashore, it would just be nice to touch dry land again.

The cruise is going well and last night I once again performed the bedtime story. I seriously think it’s time for me to put this skit to bed…..pardon the pun……..and force myself to write something new. The problem is that it’s still so funny……not because I say so but from the reaction from the audience.

Now obviously there are many who have seen it before…….once, twice even three times or more and most always ask for me to “do it again.” So I do. Yes, there are those who say they are bored with it but the majority find something new and funny in it each and every time ……as of course…………do I.

Here are a few photos of lasts nights show including one where the lady who played the part of Mary got so into her part that she ripped her dress open………have a look.

Show Lady Beating John

Show Old Guy John Ugly Face

Show Ripped Dress

Show Ripped Dress 2

The audience went crazy of course and when I asked if Mary was OK……..she looked at me and said “This dress costs $9.99 from Ross..…you can get me a new one? XXL.” ……………….I love my job.

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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