An Apology to Southern Dreams

August 3, 2009 -

John Heald

I hate to start a blog with a negative but I am going to today. While the past 6-day cruise was the best week of weather we have had, the audiences at the shows extraordinary and the incident report of negative comments as low as we have seen so far this summer …….. there were a group of kids who I am gloriously happy have buggered off…….and I hope that if they do cruise again I hope it’s not with us and ……..if they do cruise…………I hope they get sea sick……and lockjaw at the same time.

Here’s why

Sent: Saturday, August 01, 2009 12:24 AM
Subject: Atrium Issues


I know Shane called you about it just now, but just wanted to document the Atrium Duo getting harassed again by some kids.

During their second set (9:30pm-10:30 pm) someone was spitting down the atrium onto the duo. Some of the spit actually hit the piano keys while Armand was playing. While they were on break someone threw ice cream cones down onto the stage. I’m not sure how many were thrown in total, but the piano, stage, and sound board were hit. Housekeeping and security was contacted. They were unable to start their last set on time (11:30 pm-1 am) because the stage was still a mess. Housekeeping showed up a little before 12 am, and I did see security present. Ruth was so disturbed by the entire event I sent them home for the evening. I hope you don’t mind this decision, but Ruth was visibly uncomfortable.

A precise timeline is unclear, but this is everything I could gather from talking to Armand, Ruth, and Shane.

J. Alan Shaw
Carnival Freedom – Music Director

Behavior like this is rare on our ships and I certainly haven’t seen this sort of thuggery for a long time. I bet these are the same kids who stole Southern Dreams (Empress Bee’s) motor scooter and the same kids who decided to carve graffiti into one of the panels in the elevators. We had approximately 1,000 guests under the age of 18 and 990 or so were perfectly behaved and had fun………..yet there were this small group who were total bastards………spitting off the side of the atrium onto the band below……..unbelievable.

Our security was pretty aware of which group of kids this may have been but they never caught them in the act. We have CCTV cameras onboard and obviously I can’t say where they are but maybe we need more……..I am not a big fan of big brother style cameras but if it helps catch thugs like this then I say bring them on.

Anyway……sorry to start off with a blog like that but as I sit in my underpants at 5:45 am………….. Yes……….5:45am………..that’s blog dedication isn’t it. The reason I am up this early is not just for debarkation but because United States Customs and Border Patrol decided they wanted to see each and every one of the 1,200 crewmembers for a full immigration check. This means that we all have to present our passports to them and they stamp our I95 visa waivers and check who we are.

I just returned from being checked and after giving the officer a cheery “good morning” I was astounded that the return greeting was “John…… on here…….bet the passengers had fun.” And then he shook my hand telling me he had cruised on here on July 4th and that he and his family had a brilliant time and that he has been reading the blog every day.

I often moan about the way shipboard crew members are treated at Miami airport but on this occasion I say a big hello to Inspector Washington and his family and that the way he and his fellow officers treated the crew here today was first class………maybe they could give lessons to their Miami airport colleagues.

Anyway, I am back in my underpants sitting at the computer waiting for debarkation to start. I was supposed to meet my friend Roger Blum and his family today for a spot of lunch but I will be calling him later to cancel. I just can’t shake this damn cold. I have had it for a week now and although the fever has gone the stuffy nose and headaches linger on. This of course makes you feel lethargic and so I really don’t feel like facing up to the 90 degree heat of a Florida summer. It was so nice of Roger to offer to come and see me and hopefully I will fell better next week so we can meet up.

OK, time to move on and before I start with the questions of the day I would like you to see the last few letters from yesterdays morning show.

Letter 1

Letter 2

Letter 3

Letter 3.2

Letters 4_Page_1

Letters 4_Page_2

Letters 4_Page_3

Letters 4_Page_4

Did you read that terribly sad letter about the guests who lost their twin boys? I met with them after I had read their letter out and we spoke about their heartache and how the cruise had been something they had needed so very much. I cannot imagine how losing one child must feel but to lose twins and then face the health problems that followed ……….well ………..I have no words. I did what I could for them and although it was wonderful to hear that I had helped them laugh again and that the service was fantastic in both the dining room and their cabin, I knew that the hurt of losing their beloved children………………… would never go away.

I never got to say goodbye to Bee and Prince Charlie and I feel terrible about that and I just heard……………and my blood is boiling…………..because I just heard that last night their scooter was stolen………………again……………from outside their cabin …………………. Bee – I am disgusted at this and offer you my sincere apologies. I know they found the scooter and I hope that it was not damaged and I hope that you will forgive me and I hope these kids realize as they get older what a seriously cruel thing this was to do and they feel some kind of remorse………but somehow I doubt that will ever happen…… instead I will wish that when they go back to school that some bigger kids flush their heads down a toilet that hasn’t been flushed in weeks.

OK, debarkation is about to start so in between announcements and going back and forth to the lobby…………not just in my underpants…………..let’s get on with as many questions as I can because I am so far behind……………….. Here we go.

Mark Asked:
Hi John,
Myself and my girlfriend are on the Liberty sailing on 28/8 in a Cat 11 – I understand our CD is Kevin Noonan.
It’s our first cruise and we are over from the UK and I plan on surprise proposing my girlfriend on the first elegant night before our 8:30pm dinner at Harry’s.
I wanted to find out if there is somewhere reasonably quiet where we can do this and where we can arrange for a Carnival Photographer and/or our Camcorder to be used to capture the moment of our Black Tie and Cocktail dress.
Understand you might get a lot of these requests but any help would be great.

Also what metal type checks would we go through before our VIP boarding as I don’t want the ring or metal hinged box to set off any detectors and ruin the surprise – I have arranged to get it to Miami!

John Says:
Hello Mark
It’s always a thrill for me to write to people on the blog thingy who are from my home country. Congratulations in advance on your pending engagement……….just a reminder that the word engagement has the word “gag” right in the middle of it…….just doing my duty.

OK, I am going to alert Kevin or Noonan as he is called onboard about your request. Have you thought about doing this on stage? It’s not the quite place that you had mentioned above but it seems to be a very popular thing to do on the ship and Noonan could do this at the cocktail party before you go to Harry’s. If all you need is a quiet place then outside under the stars is very romantic and you can ask one of the ships photographers to be present at which ever location you choose.

As for the X-ray machine, as long as the ring is in your carry-on baggage it will not be a problem.

Let me know your thoughts and what I can do to help.
Best wishes

Retirementman Asked:
Explain to me why people would want to go on a cruise ship that has 22 decks, with 5000 guests plus workers? Is it because they want size. If it is, guaranteed you will get size and more Could you just believe what will happen when the time comes to stop at an island. My God the crush of people wanting to get off and on of the ship would be unbelievable. Talk about complaints. Cindy complained about the hype for the Dream. I believe it isn’t hype it called PRIDE and I think all the companies have that for their ships old and new. There is really only one question to ask you and probably you can’t answer that at this moment but I’m still going to ask it. When we are on our cruise will it be possible for us to meet you some time during our cruise week? I know that you are very busy but will MaryLou and I have a moment to see you? I want to take some knew photos of you since you have been losing weight. You know, new ship, new man. It comes together. Thanks for trying to answer my question and remember, it’s not hype but PRIDE.
Paul F. Pietrangelo

John Says:
Hello Paul
As always it is a pleasure to write to you and on a very interesting subject that you have posted regarding size. All I can say is this. One of my dreams was to drive a Hummer and a few years ago Heidi and I rented one from Hertz. It was huge and looked brilliantly impressive and I was looking forward to being king of the road…………only problem was it handled like a shopping trolley with a wonky wheel and I realized that in Miami where excess and bling is everything this car fitted in perfectly while in the UK where I was driving it………I realized that people were looking at me thinking………… “what a knob.”

Anyway, on to your question and the simple answer is yes………..I promise. There, that was easy to answer wasn’t it? I shall look forward to that day very much and until then and as always I send my best wishes to you and the family and thank you so much for your long time support of the blog thingy

Jim Eakins Asked:
I wonder if the new behind the scenes tours will be available for booking before setting sail on the cruise….. I like to book ahead and I would prefer to avoid the mad rush to the Shore Excursion desk on the first day. True, it is fun to make new friends while standing in line but I have found that this works equally well at the bar.

John Says:
Hello Jim
You know I knew someone would ask this question and so I thought that I had better premempte…………preemepmte……….preemt…………ask first…… I did. The answer is no, not at the moment. We want to advertise it on board and make it available to everyone. However, judging how popular it has been so far on the Carnival Valor where it was tested it seems selling it is not going to be a problem. I agree that standing in line is never a good thing so let me go slightly higher up the Carnival ladder and see if I can get someone else onside with the idea of selling it online. Maybe a link thingy here on the blog. I will be back to you soon re this.
Best wishes

Peg Dunbar Asked:
I love Fridays, picture day of your girls. Kye is getting so big and so beautiful. I think she looks so much like you Johan, I really do. Heidi is a great Mum, and is looking very pretty herself. I know how much you must miss them. You time will hopefully go fast so you can be with them once again.

Mike and I are leaving for our Alaska Cruise on August 5th. I am FINALLY starting to get excited about going. It is just so different from all the other cruises we have taken. We are also taking a 5 day/4 night land cruise from Carnival after the cruise.

I was thinking of taking a gift to Bubba. I read where someone else was taking a gift and it gave me the idea. I just do not know what is appropriate. Do you have any suggestions? I would rather it not be anything liquid as we are flying and you know the “rules” now. Any suggestions would be grateful.

I love all the news of the Dream, I so hope one day that Mike and I will be sailing on her.

Just a comment on your blog today.

To think I have gone all my life not knowing what goes on in a men’s room, nor did I care. But now I know it is a process, a very very long process 😉
Keep smiling John, you truly are one of the good guys.
My best to Heidi and Kye.

John Says:
Hello Peg
I love Friday’s as well and I also appreciate so very much the kind words that follow from you and many other bloggers ………….thank you.

How kind of you to think of Bubba and after pausing for a few moments I thought it might be nice to bring him a baseball cap from where you are from. He collects caps – especially sports teams and so that would be a great gift and memory for my mate Bubba.

I am glad I was able to take you behind the scenes of a men’s bathroom and there will be similar tours in forthcoming blog.

Look out for a gift from Bubba and I and there will be more Carnival Dream photos coming your way soon.
Best wishes

Tim Kriebel, MCPO US Navy (Ret) Asked:
John: Please Reply…
I’m a bit confused and upset to learn that Carnival will now be offering tours of the ship (including the bridge and engine room) for a fee (and quite hefty I might add).

What confuses me is that whenever anyone asked about touring the bridge or engine room you were quick to point out that it would not be possible because of security reasons. What has miraculously turned that around? Is it now NOT a security risk, or is it that the additional revenue makes the risks worthwhile? Seems a bit quirky to me.

Now having served 23 years in the US Navy and spent many days at sea on the bridge on the US Navy’s modern warships, I would welcome the opportunity to see the extremely modern technology that exists on Carnival’s Bridges, but sorry, I think paying for that privilege is absurd, and I’ll just have to watch the videos on board. That’s my opinion.

John Says:
Thanks as always for expressing your opinion which is what this blog thingy is all about. The industry is still at a standstill when it comes to offering full and complete tours of the bridge and other sensitive areas of the vessel to the hundreds of people that we have done in the past.
However, we have been allowed to do the Behind the Fun tour and limit this to a very small number of people each of whom will have to go through a security check and inspection before being allowed on the bridge and in the engine control room. As an ex Navy man I am sure you more than anyone appreciate the safety aspect of what we are doing and how it would be not possible to keep the bridge secure if we were to allow hundreds of people on their on regular tours.

The Behind the Fun tour is something that we are quite proud of and so far it has been a sellout success but I hope that more than anything it means we are one step closer to allowing everyone to see the bridge and the amazing equipment that is there. Also, as an ex Navy man, the next time you sail, let me know and I will see what I can do to get you a look at the command center.
Best Wishes

Missing the cruisin’ thing Asked:
John – haven’t had one for a while, so PLEASE REPLY
1. Kye is so beautiful. Thank goodness she looks like Heidi and has your digestive system, as the opposite combination would plague her for life. 😀

2. Noise levels – one of my bugaboos, particularly in automobiles. You know the ones I am talking about – you stop next to them at the light with your windows up and discover that you can’t hear your own, properly set radio and your car is vibrating as though you are in 1906 San Francisco. Next time, I will roll down my window and ask the driver for $80 – NOT.

3. Your comments about the toilet seat were hilarious. Most people do not realize how and where germs exist. You have done a public service, but why do I feel some guest will demand compensation because the CD stated it was 400 times more hygienic to eat off the toilet seat than the desk (presumably in their cabin, even though we know the stewards clean that desk with antibacterial cleaners multiple times per day).

One thing you did fail on – yes, wash your hands, but then use the towel you dry with to open the door. Assuming for a moment that the idiot before you left without washing his hands, your hygiene routine had no effect.

Best to all – and watch out for Southern Dreams 🙂 In fact, give her a kiss for me.

John Says:
Hello Jon
Kye has been blessed with Heidi’s chin and not my chins and she has also been blessed with my bottom which will stand her in good stead when she firsts eats a chicken vindaloo curry.

Noise……well it has actually become a very important part of what we do here. Now our lounges and shows are set and specific levels and are monitored all the time using a DB meter. I hate beeping ………..the dish washer at home drives me crazy.

And you are right. We provide small hand towels to grasp the bathroom door handles with and I should do more to encourage people to use them. Thanks for the reminder and as always thanks for the support you and Mrs. MTSFP have given the blog since it started.
Best wishes to you both

MelanieG Asked:
John, please reply,
You have me excited. Carnivals BEHIND THE FUN tour…sounds bloody marvelous…Big question, is it planned for my Oct 3rd sailing on the Dream…If so, can we book prior to embarkation or will we do a quick sprint as is done with the running of the bulls to the Pursers desk to book it!!

Thanks again and I look for your witty words now every day…

BTW KYE is gorgeous…you are one blessed man!!

John Says:
Hello Melanie G
We have not put the Behind the Fun Tour on the internet for pre sales yet. I am not sure when and if we will but as I just mentioned above I will bring this subject up this week. It certainly will be available on your Carnival Dream and we are not advertising it much except here on the blog thingy. Therefore, I suggest that once on board you book the tour straight away. I promise it will be worth the cost and will be a memorable experience. The bridge is impressive, the engine control room amazing to see……….but you know what…………the store rooms will also be a highlight as well.

Have fun behind the fun and thanks for the beautiful words about Kye.
Best wishes

Fraser Asked:
Please Reply.
First I would like to thank Linda (Mom of Your Friend DJ) for her follow up comment to my question about Panama, Thank You
Only 63 days till I board the Freedom, I feel like a little kid just before Christmas. I can’t wait.

I did have a question about the behind the scenes tour. Will this be available on the Carnival Freedom for my 9/26 sailing and can I book this prior to arriving at the ship.
Thank You for all you do John.
My best to the beautiful Kye and Heidi
PS Tell msiwantmyowntable to bugger off

John Says:
Hello Fraser
Linda, Mum of the incomparable DJ has been with me since we started the blog thingy and is truly someone who lives to help others and I thank her once again for doing so with you.

The Behind the Fun tour starts here on September 14th so yes indeed it will be in place by the time your voyage comes around. It seems for the most part to be something that people want to experience although I understand that some are annoyed that there is a cost involved.

Thanks for all your kind words and my best to your family

Andrea Asked:
Hi John! (please reply)
Wonderful picture of Heidi and Kye! I know how much you must miss them. My husband is off for job training for 6 months (he left exactly 3 weeks after we got married) and I miss him a lot.

This is just a follow up note. I had written to you a couple months ago asking for advice on who to talk to about the issues with our wedding cruise (April 26 on the Splendor). You had mentioned that you’d passed my concerns along and that I should hear from someone shortly. It’s two months later and I haven’t heard anything from anyone and every time we’ve called we just got the run around. I’m feeling more disheartened as more time goes by and I just hope that you can direct me to the right person/phone number. Thank you so much for helping, I really appreciate it.

Congrats to Stephanie! And I hope that the time from now until you get to be back with your girls goes by quickly!

John Says:
Hello Andrea
Being away from family is the hardest part of the job I do. But since I have no other talents there is nothing else I can do …….except possibly be an underwear model. But you are right, I do miss my family very, very much.

I am, quite honestly, very upset that nobody has contacted you and let me start by apologizing to you for this. The fact that I assure you that someone would and two months later you have received no communication makes me so very disappointed. I would like to start afresh. I know have a direct line to a vice president who has a hand- picked staff to assist all the concerns that are sent to me here on the blog thingy. May I ask therefore that you re-send your concerns and I will get straight on the case and this time I will follow up every day until someone from Carnival has contacted you.

I hope to hear from you soon and once again my sincere apologies.
Best wishes

Mary Asked:
Dear John (please reply)
Sorry, John. I did not mean to confuse you with my question about the specialty restaurants. The only reason I mentioned Princess was because that was where I read the debate about “to tip or not to tip.” I was not asking specifically about Princess but rather the general concept of the extra charge for specialty restaurants. You have answered for Carnival but I assume from your answer that it may not be the same for all cruise lines? Guess I was wrong in assuming it was the same for all cruise lines.
Kye is beautiful and soon you will see her again…only a few weeks to go!

John Says:
Hello Mary
Actually, I am glad you wrote again because I asked a friend of mine who is a VP at Princess and he confirmed that the price they charge at the wonderful Sabatini’s and at their steakhouse style restaurant (sorry, I forget the name) does include the gratuity as it does here in the steakhouses on the Carnival ships. Both lines have a section on the final bill where guests can add an extra gratuity if they so desire.

Thanks so much for writing again and thanks also for the kind words for Kye. Twenty three days to go……………but who’s counting?
Best wishes to you and the family

RonRythm Asked:
John Please reply:
Hello John & Friends
I’d suggest for a blogger’s cruise slogan:

“John can’t rumpy-pumpy right now, He has to write his blog”

As you can probably tell I won’t be on the blogger’s cruise. Now on to a more serious suggestion: I was on the Carnival Legend earlier this month. There were 4 ships in port that day which may have affected the supply of tenders, as lines to get back on the ship were extremely long. Would it be possible for Carnival to put up a few pop up sun shades for each line so that every now and then you could get out of the sun? They had one, but it and the water containers were right as you got on the tender which made them less than useful. It wouldn’t be too costly and could make the wait a lot nicer. Especially since reading the latest news, the Cayman Islands have dropped the idea of a dock again (they changed governments.) Of course if you could give Platinum passenger’s priority back to the ship, I wouldn’t complain.

Thanks for correcting some of the mis-information that comes out of Cruise Critic. While it is a great source of cruise information, too many people post things of the “I heard from my sister who heard from her husband’s best friend who heard from his stock broker’s secretary” type.

John Says:
Hello Ron
Great tag line Ron………..and unfortunately a very true one. You hit a sore point with me because when it comes to Grand Cayman I have very strong views………..and before I express them and to make sure my mate Vance from public relations doesn’t have a heart attack let me say……………THESE ARE MY VIEWS AND NOT THOSE OF CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES.

I cannot understand why the government won’t build a pier. The cruise industry has even offered to help fund part of the project but so far we have been told to bugger off. This means that in the winter, situations like you experienced happen. Anymore than four ships in port at once means that there will for sure be a line for tenders coming back ……….regardless what cruise line you are on. People think it’s just because of the number of tenders available which does play a small part but there is a bigger concern ……… only two tenders can dock alongside the pier at one time and when you have boats coming from 4 or 5 or sometimes 6 cruise ships at once………..well, the problem is obvious.

Anyway, you bring up a good point about the drinks and they should be at the start of the line not at the beginning of it and I will address this with all the ships that call there as I will the sun shades you mentioned.

Imagine calling thereon a ship with 6000 passengers!
So, as a cruise director I can tell you that although Grand Cayman has some of the most fabulous beaches in the world and some of the finest snorkeling and diving available ………. it is a place everyone should visit ………….but for me…………….it is a frustrating destination to get guests ashore and back to the ship.

Some cynics say that the islands refusal to build a pier is because of the massive amount of money the industry pays for the tender services…………but that isn’t true………… it?
Best wishes

Michele MARAGNI Asked:
Hi John, (Please Reply)
I hope you are feeling much better! baby kye gets cuter everyday, it won’t be long, you will be with your lovely ladies, I bet you are counting the days. John I just had to ask you a question, I just loved the Video you sent us Friday of the Carnival Dream, taken by helicopter during her sea trials, and I am in love with the song that is playing while the video is on, the Italian song is so beautiful, and the singer fabulous, would you possibly know the name of the singer and song? thank you so much! and much love, Hugs & kisses to Heidi & Kye! Michele

John Says:
Hello Michele
Thanks for the very kind words about Kye and Heidi and I am glad to be able to tell you that after some extensive research (I asked the Captain) the singer’s name is Elisa Luce and the song title is “Tramonti a Nord-Est.”

It is a beautiful song and I hope you enjoyed the video and just in case any of you missed it ………… it is again

Best wishes to you and the family

Terri910 Asked:
Dear John (please reply):
First off — love the photo of Heidi and Kye! I know you realize what a lucky man you are!

Now…to my question. Larry and I are booked on the Carnival Spirit out of San Diego on Dec. 5, 2009, to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary, which will be on Dec. 6th. Wanting to make it very special, Larry booked us in a Cat. 11 suite, which was a wonderful surprise for me. I have no idea how people are chosen to join the Captain at his table at dinner….but is there any way to at least put in a request? It would be an unforgettable treat. And who to ask but the one person that seems to know “all things Carnival”?

Also….do you think Carnival will someday return to Europe? We so enjoyed our Mediterranean cruise with you and Heidi on the Freedom in May 2007. We still want to try the western Med or even the Baltics or a European repositioning cruise…and you know us: we’d rather it be with Carnival than any other cruise line!

Take care, and thanks for any info you can give me!

John Says:
Hello Terri
Indeed I do know how lucky I am to have such a beautiful daughter and such a gorgeous wife. Not bad for an ugly old sod like me. The Captain’s table is usually dictated by our office who tend to sit VIP’s such as travel agent owners and large group leaders there. However, I will certainly ask and please therefore remind me a week or so before you sail. If that’s not possible I will see what I can do to make your special cruise even more so. You will love the suite by the way.

As for Europe……well…..nobody wants to go back there more than me and I am hoping and come 2011 you will see the famous Carnival smokestack back in European waters. I don’t know anything for sure but I promise as soon as I do that you will all know here on the blog thingy.
Thank you for your kind words of support and thank you also for being such a loyal Carnival Cruise Lines fan.
My best wishes to you both

Donna W. Asked:
Dear John, (Please Reply)
I want to start by saying that I love your blog! I found it just after I booked our first Carnival cruise. We (Mom, brother, sister-in-law, nephew and niece and me) will be on the Carnival Liberty on August 15, 2009. This will be my brother’s and family’s first cruise ever, though Mom and I have sailed 4 times previously on Princess (kept it in the family!)

I have a question for you: on the cruise my sister-in-law will celebrate her birthday (August 19) and we are thinking of ordering her a cake to celebrate. However, we have opted for the “Your Time” dining option and I’m wondering if the cake will “find” us in the dining room that night at dinner and how we can insure that it does? And, which cake gets the better review – the chocolate or vanilla? And, would it be too much to ask if you could find a way to send her a little something to celebrate (we’ve got a nice, red rosette with “Birthday Girl” on it that we’ll convince her to wear to dinner that night!)? I really want to insure that she and the whole family have a wonderful vacation and become cruise converts the way Mom and I are!
Thanks and keep up the terrific work.
Donna W. (Montreal, Canada)

John Says:
Hello Donna
I am so glad that you have booked your first Carnival cruise and also very happy that you have discovered the blog thingy. You will soon be on the Carnival Liberty and I know that Noonan your cruise director will make sure you have a great time. Your cake will be delivered for sure but my advice is speak to the Maitre D as you enter the dining room on the first night (once your sister in law has been seated say you have to pop to the bathroom) and tell him when and what time you would like it delivered. I am diabetic so the cake avenue of pleasure has been closed off……but……..I did ask the chef and he recommends the chocolate cake very highly. I will make sure the birthday girl gets a little birthday gift and I will need her name ASAP so please send it marked JOHN – URGENT ASAP via the blog thingy here…….oh and the cabin number as well please.
Best wishes to you all and have a fantastic cruise

Pete C. Asked:
John (please reply),
For my next Carnival cruise can you please see to it that a “Ministry of Silly Walks” contest is held. I would also appreciate if only Waldorf Salads were served… gotta love John Cleese….anywho on to the serious bits….

My family and I are Carnival cruise fans, and now I’m a John Heald blog fan too. We’ve always appreciated the efforts of the Carnival staff (particularly cruise directors) and I think your blog really helps remind people how difficult a task you folks have. You do this in a clearly humorous way that I’m sure is indicative of your on ship personality.

We’ve had the pleasure of cruising with some memorable CD’s including Corey “The Birdman” and Malcolm “In the Middle”. Each had their distinctive personalities and performance skills that impacted the cruise experience in a positive way for the guests. Based on so many great reviews and comments it seems that you rate 1 or 2 notches higher than them in many people’s eyes. Heck, you probably taught those CD’s everything they know.

Needless to say I am thrilled to know that you will be CD when my family and I board Carnival Freedom on the 8/15/09 sailing. Here’s hoping for some good weather and good times!

Couple of questions, if you don’t mind:

Will the “Ticket to Ride” show be performed on this cruise? I’m sure we would enjoy this show so I’m hoping it’s there.

I’d like to give you a celebration cigar for you to enjoy on your last cruise before you head home to see your lovely family. What kind of cigar would you like me to bring along for you?

John Says:
Hello Pete C
I mean………..may I ask what it is you expect to see off a Carnival ship balcony ……… Krakatoa………..the hanging Gardens of Babylon………herds of wilder beast sweeping majestically across the horizon.

Ah yes………….John Cleese and his nemesis Basil Fawlty…………have you listened to my interview with him on the blog?

Anyway, thanks for the very kind words and I appreciate you recognizing that sometimes …………not always………….the cruise director’s job is not an easy one.

Corey “Birdman” Schmidt was one of the finest CD’s we have ever had. His bird show was legendry as were his leather pants and we all miss him very much. Malcolm is doing well after his illness this spring and we all hope that he will return very soon. I have been around a long time and therefore have helped many of the new Carnival star CD’s along the way and I have been glad to do so. I in turn was helped by a chap called Gary Hunter whom everyone will tell you was Carnival’s best ever cruise director and if I could be as 50% as good as he was I would be a very happy man. I will be seeing you next cruise and I ask you to please drop me a note at the information desk…….sorry………old habits die hard……….guest services desk……..when you arrive so I may send you a little something. And yes……….you will indeed be enjoying Ticket to Ride. Please don’t worry about a cigar………….but if you insist any Davidoff or Fuente would be brilliant.
Best wishes and see you soon

Jetskier Asked:
Hi John,
Please respond,
Is there any way to ensure that Brad Tassell is the comedian on the Nov 2nd sailing on the Holiday? He is one of the fly-on comedians for the Holiday.

He is a great guy and has published some children’s books such as “Don’t feed the Bully”. We are considering booking the last sailing and it would be great to see Brad again. (and Tori also-woohoo)

John Says:
Hello Dave
I don’t get to write to you much so let me take this chance to say I hope all is well with you and how much I appreciate your support of the blog.

Let me see about Brad Tassell. I have never seen his act but reports are that he is very, very funny. I will ask Chris Prideaux and let’s see what we can do. I will let you know very soon mate.
Best wishes

Breaking News Jetskier – Chris Prideaux has confirmed that barring any unforeseen circumstances Brad will be performing on the Holiday for her last ever voyage.

SCarlow Asked:
Please reply.
John, I will be on the inaugural cruise. Anything special going on. I just noticed that Carnival is doing their inaugural ceremony when the Ship docks into New York. I was feeling pretty special being on the first sailing.

John Says:
Yes indeed the inaugural cruise is from New York and there will be lots of celebrations. The details are still being ironed out and remain hush hush…….but as soon as I know you will all know I promise. It will be a special cruise regardless and just sailing on your Carnival Dream passed New York’s iconic skyline will be a very memorable event.
Please keep reading the blog thingy for more details soon
Best wishes

Paula B. Asked:

Please reply. I am posting because I read Clay’s post and your response above in which you mentioned the Ocean Players’ Club. My family has booked our last three cruises through group sales, and I must admit that even with all of the activities on board, I have some serious gamblers.

We had a great time on the Freedom (7/12-7/18), but we did have one complaint that we tried to have addressed. As our group’s rep., I called corporate and got no explanation. Here’s what happened: My mom, who plays too much on the slots if you ask me, received two complimentary bottles of wine at dinner, strawberries in her cabin, several free drinks at the machine, and a tote bag, t-shirt, and hat. She was thrilled — not the problem.

My aunt and uncle, however, are table players. As a matter of fact, they sat at the 3-card table whenever it was open — even through dinner. If you asked the dealers from that week if they remember them, I know they would. They never left except when the casino was closed. My uncle, hearing how my mom was receiving “treats” for her play, spoke to the casino manager about being rated and was told that they do not rate table players. When I came home and reread the description of the Ocean Players’ Club, I do not understand why he received no points or comps. If you have a system in place to rate slot players (the card in the machine), then there should be something in place to treat table players equally. I know that my aunt and uncle spent way more time and money at the tables than my mother did at the slots. It’s not that we won’t sail again, my uncle even has me looking into reservations on the Dream; it’s just that this was somewhat disheartening when the Players’ Club site describes rewards. They would have been (and are) comp.’d at any other casino. Please clarify why the two — table players and slots players– are treated differently. I spoke with corporate and received a complaint number but was basically told that I was just looking for “free stuff.” I wasn’t looking for anything — I wanted to make others in my group happy and assure them that the casino manager on our next cruise would treat them fairly according to policy. A free drink or two for them would have been a nice “thank you” for gambling all that money.

John Says:
Hello Paula B
Thanks so much for writing. I checked with our Casino Manager Chris who does not remember speaking to you and apologizes for the misunderstanding………….here is what our head office had to say.

Our Carnival Players Club does reward both table and slot players. As you can imagine, it is much easier to track and reward slot players, as they insert their card at the machines when playing, so we can easily quantify their play. Just by inserting their card at the slot when they play, we automatically have all of their details, so even if they do not have much interaction with our slot staff, we are aware of their play and can send rewards accordingly.

Table play is much harder to track, as we rely on manual observation by our supervisors. This means that no matter what guidelines we set for the team, they may track guests differently on a cruise-by-cruise basis. For example, if we have a large number of guests playing heavily at the tables on any given cruise, someone whose play is constantly at $10- $15 a hand may go largely unnoticed. On a cruise that is not so busy – they may catch the attention of the supervisor merely by the number of hours they are in the casino and then be sent rewards.

In reality – they should always track the play; and if we had a remote system at the tables like we do at the slots, we could more easily guarantee that all play would be monitored. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

The one thing that you could pass along to your guests is that we always track play for anyone who requests to be rated. So, all they have to do is introduce themselves to the supervisor/manager on the first night of the cruise, and that will make the team more aware of their potential play.

So, tell you what Paula. The next time you or your family are cruising please tell me via the blog thingy and I will make sure that I let the casino manager know ahead of time so they can look after you.

I am so glad you had fun and I send my best wishes to you and the family.

Beentravelin Asked:
Dear John, (Please Respond)
I see your Freedom made the news this morning with Al Roker doing the weather in front of your ship in Key West! He even mentioned the Itinerary. Good publicity.

My questions are:

Will the Mahogany Bay Cruise Center be open for my Dream cruise on May 1st 2010?

Will the Dream be docking there?

Will the Chef’s Art be the only specialty restaurant onboard my Dream?

Send more pics soon! I’m having withdrawals!!LOL

P.S. My wife also slipped and fell on the Legend’s Marble floor. They had signs in place, but they weren’t visible behind the tinted glass. When the doors opened she took one step and ate it hard. We did go to the infirmary when it happend. Luckily she was just bruised a little. It should be looked at though. I’m not complaining, just offering a heads up.

John Says:
Hello Beentravelin
It was great to have Al mention us although some of the early bird readers of the blog may have noticed that I called him by the wrong name……….oops.

Anyway, let me answer your questions. Let me start with Mahogany Bay and explain to those who are not familiar with this name a little about it. The stunning new $62 million Mahogany Bay cruise center on Roatan in the Bay Islands of Honduras is something we are all excited about. Construction continues on the 20-acre project which is expected to welcome its first cruise ship the Carnival Legend on November 19.

Mahogany Bay – Roatan encompasses two cruise ship piers, a welcome center with a retail complex housing a variety of shops, bars and restaurants, along with a transportation/car rental hub, and a pristine private beach. A separate excursion pier will dispatch water-based tours. So yes… should indeed be ready by the time your Carnival Dream arrives in May. I will keep you up to date with the progress.

The Chef’s Art restaurant is the only specialty restaurant on your Carnival Dream but it will be very, very special and more details will be released soon. Have you seen the videos by the way on

Thanks to your posting and Clay’s posting I have alerted the ships command on the Carnival Legend about the signage you mentioned and I am very grateful to you both for letting me know.

I promise there will be more photos this week of your Carnival Dream.
Best wishes

Bill (Zydecocruiser) Asked:
John, Please reply.
Hi John,
Thank you. I still hope someone at Carnival will do some sort of write up for Raimando. Surely they have access to more information than I do.

On a different note, I might be willing to spend the $95 for the ship tour, but I have a question about cameras and pictures. Are cameras/pictures allowed? Obviously I would be less interested in the tour if I am not allowed to take pictures.

John Says:
Hello Bill
I have written to a senior vice president about Raimand our much missed Chief Engineer and I hope that he will instigate a memoriam page that I can post here on the blog. A big thank you to you and Elizabeth for taking the time to write about him.

Photos are indeed not allowed Bill but we will have a ships photographer available who will take pictures which are included in the price. Obviously as security is still very high we will not allow photos, cell phones or any electronic objects on the bridge and in other sensitive areas. There is also quite a bit of walking involved as well.

Let me know if you have a follow up question
Best wishes to you both

Al Asked:
Please reply.
We just got off the fabulous Carnival Valor. She is fantastic. We had the time of our life.

We also had the pleasure to meet Big Tex, he has to be one of the best CD’s of the fleet. Is it possible for you to forward me his email so I can catch up with him and book my next cruise where ever he is working at?
Thank you

John Says:
Hello Al
I have sent Big Tex your e-mail as I am not permitted to send you his. However, I am sure you will be hearing from him very soon and I am so proud of him and the job he does. You are correct …….he is one of our very best and I am very thankful to you for taking the time to write.

Please let me know if I can help further.
Best wishes

Gale Mitchell Asked:
John, Please reply…My husband and I booked the Carnival Freedom Aug 23rd after I found out from our PVP that you would be on this cruise. We just did this same itinerary on the Freedom in Dec. I hope you will still be on the Freedom at that time since it has been the late 90’s since we were on a cruise with you as the CD it was on the Destiny I believe. We are really looking forward to seeing you again an enjoying your humor. This will be our 16th cruise with Carnival. Although Carnival has many good CD none compare to you. Hope to see you soon. Gale ________________________________

John Says:
Hello Gale
I am so sorry Gale as I about to disappoint you. I am sorry to say that I will be leaving on August 23rd to have a few weeks at home before heading to Italy and your Carnival Dream. However, I am leaving the ship in great hands as your CD will be Wee Jimmy who as many will tell you is a brilliant ball of Scottish fun and I promise you he will have you laughing hard at his silly antics.

I am so sorry that you and I will not be together but may I ask that you send me a reminder before you sail so that I may send you a little something for when you arrive.
It will be a great cruise I promise and I hope we get the chance to sail together soon.
Best wishes

Bill Asked:
John-Please Reply
Last week you said the schedule for the Elation would be up soon. I thought you said by last Friday. Anyway, we are starting to make our cruise plans for next October and cannot wait to see whether we will be on the Elation or Spirit.

As for Ruth and Al I am wondering what the heck they are doing on a Carnival cruise. I guess I am tired of stuffy people who don’t know how to have fun and laugh. If I wanted to cruise in stuffy land I would bugger off to Holland America or something. I am sure HAL could use their money.

Besides, who does not want a cruise director who blogs in his underwear that he has worn for four days.

Anyway, it would be great if you could update us on the Elation’s schedule.

Also, do you know when the future cruise certificate program will be rolled out fleet wide? We are on the Paradise in 90 days and we are hoping that maybe it will be available by then.

As always, Thank you for all you do and the breath of comedy you give to an otherwise stressful day.


John Says:
Hello Bill
I am surprised that the Carnival Elation cruises to Cabo are not yet available for booking. I have written to Terry our SVP of marketing for final confirmation as to when these exciting and popular cruises will be available and I promise to give you the date very soon.

As for Ruth and Al………..well………….I think you said it all.

So, sorry I couldn’t be more specific with my answers but………..I promise I will be soon.

Thanks so much for the kind words
Best wishes to you and your family

Dorothy Asked:
Please reply
I finally booked the cruise for me and my 4 sisters. We are sailing on the Carnival Imagination out of Miami on February 1, 2010. We are going to Key West and Cozumel and was wondering what we should do while we are there. I’m also flying for the first time with my handicapped son, have always drove but thought we would do something different. I was wondering if the change in altitude would bother his ears and what can I do for that. I was told to have him chew gum, but he is not able, he swallows everything and gets chocked.

I’m taking only 2 suitcases, one with medical supplies and the other with clothes. I learned to pack by taking 2 tops for one pair of pants, wear pants twice with different top. I only take 3 pairs of shoes which are dress, tennis shoes, and sandals. I pack more clothes for my son than I do for myself, with all of his medical supplies, space is very limited. Enough about packing, just wanted to say that you have 2 very beautiful girls in your life, hope you can get home soon to see them. Maybe the weather will be better this cruise.

John Says:
Hello Dorothy
Congratulations on booking your first ever Carnival cruise and I know you must be very excited. Both ports offer so many choices and I will be honored to try and point you in the right direction as to what to do there. I will need to know a little more about your sons disabilities so I can recommend the excursions that he would enjoy………..I am already thinking that a dolphin encounter maybe something he and you would remember forever.

Anyway, we have plenty of time so when you can post me a comment asking for my reply and listing some of the things you may be interested in such as snorkeling, beach or sightseeing etc and what your son can or maybe cannot do.

As for the flying thing, well sucking a hard boiled sweet is something that I always do and for me that seems to work. Something like a Wurthers original. However, I have seen many people give their children ear plugs and I wonder if any blogger who has flown with children may be able to give you some advice. As the time comes closer to your cruise starting I am sure you will have many more questions and concerns. So, please, make sure you let me know if there is anything I can do and we also have people here who read the blog who may be able to give you specific help and advice regarding your son.

I remain at your service and get ready for a brilliant family vacation.
Best wishes

Samuel Asked:
For reply
I read on Cruise Critic that you give complimentary gifts for people sailing on your ships. My wife has a birthday on August 25th when we will be on the Liberty.

Name Sarah Poblowski

Please send her the gift.

John Says:
Hello Samuel
I will be happy to send your wife a gift and hope you both have a fantastic cruise.
Best wishes

Ann-marie Busby Asked:
Please reply
We are on the Dec.3, 2009 Dream and would like a table for 2 not 4 or 6, very important to my husband and me, can you take care of this for us? Thank you so much ann-marie

John Says:
Hello Ann – Marie
Please can you post a comment two weeks before you sail and I will do all I can to grant your request.
Best wishes to you and your husband

That’s all for today. I will do my very best to catch up with the outstanding questions throughout the week.

I just want to follow up on the subject of military discount. Last week I was asked why military discounts are not available when booking suites. Well, I did some digging and asked my friend Paul who is one of our Carnival PVP’s. He told me this:

I wanted to pass along that we do offer military rates on select ships, sail dates and cabin categories; not as a blanket offer on all ships, sail dates and cabin types.

So, sometimes we have a military rate on Interior, the next cruise might offer military rate on Balcony, and the next cruise might offer the military rate on a category 11 suite but not a category 12 suite … since the rates are capacity controlled … the early bird gets the worm …

I pulled up a list of military offers available on suites for cruises occurring between August and December of 2009, and there were 125 cruises available!

Thanks Paul for that advice and if any of you are interested or need more advice contact your travel agent or call Paul Saunders one of our PVP’s ……………and again we are proud to help those serving and those who have served have a brilliant cruise vacation.

Time for some photos from Stephanie Meads who is now cruise director of the Carnival Sensation. She sent these two great shots to me which I thought you would enjoy seeing.


Sensation 2

Thanks Stephanie – you are getting good at this photo stuff.

Now, Peter Shanks the president of Cunard and all round “good egg” recently sent me this wonderful article about a special person who sailed onboard the Queen Mary 2. I thought you might all enjoy it.

One If By Land Article_Page_1

One If By Land Article_Page_2

It seems rather fitting that a man who has dedicated his life to ships should celebrate this landmark on the most famous Ocean Liner in the world. Thanks Peter for sharing this with me and the bloggers and………have you written your first Queen Elizabeth blog yet?

OK, let’s see who is onboard this cruise which carries the voyage number FD8080109

Guest count 3608
Antigua and Barbuda 6
Argentina 2
Aruba 20
Australia 2
Bahamas 279
Barbados 3
Belgium 4
Bermuda 2
Bosnia and Herzegovina 17
Canada 69
Cayman 4
Chile 9
Costa Rica
Cuba 7
Czech Republic
Denmark 4
Dominica 3
Dominican Republic 14
Ecuador 1
Egypt 1
El Salvador
Finland 3
France 5
French Guyana
Germany 5
Guyana 11
Haiti 11
India 6
Ireland 1
Italy 4
Jamaica 7
Martinique 3
Mexico 2
Netherlands 29
Netherlands Ant
New Zealand
Nigeria 1
Norway 1
Puerto Rico 1
Russia 4
Saint Lucia 1
Saint Vincent 1
Saudi Arabia
Singapore 1
South Africa
Syrian Arab Rep
Trinidad & Tobago
Turks and Caicos 10
United Kingdom 15
Venezuela 2
Virgin Islands

That’s a big group from the Bahamas and actually the international count is a bit misleading as the Spanish language can be heard being spoken all over the ship.

That’s because we have a group of 300 who are all from Miami and are part of a big cuincinera group which as you know celebrates the coming of age of 15 year old girls in various Latin countries like Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Costa Rica, as well as Miami, of course, has a large Latin population.

Let’s see how many kids are onboard………………..and it looks like another busy cruise.
Under 2 Years 24
2-5 Years 85
6-8 Years 91
9-11 Years 143
12-14 Years 209
15-17 Years 244
18-20 Years 219

Anyway, time to get ready for the Welcome Aboard show and I will write more when I get back……..see you soon.

OK, here I am back again. The show was very, very busy with not a spare seat in the theatre. As usual there were some great characters and here are two I want to highlight.

Let’s start with this man…………Edmundo Martinez …………..and Irishman …………… kidding ……………….from Miami. He is a police officer in an affluent area called Bal Harbor (spelt incorrectly) which is where the rich and tanned live. There is a famous shopping area there where gorgeous young women park their BMW M6’s and walk their Shitzu dogs passed shops like Versace, Prada, Chanel and Taco Bell before spending obscene amounts of money at Neiman Marcus…..or Needless Markup as the locals call it.

Here he is posing for the front cover of GQ style magazine as I thought he looked quite trendy.

Show - Man with bald head wearing hat

Show - Man with bald head

As you can see I took his hat off and found a wonderful shiny bald head. He told me and the 1800 that the day before the cruise he decided to go bald because he was losing his hair and rather than have a few bits here and there he shaved it all off……he was a great guy and many women applauded when I asked if they found bald men sexy……..and so did a few guys as well.

Then with have my new best friend Harold Chambers who is a remarkable……..88 years old……..really……..I mean have a look at this photo and see if you think he looks that old.

Show - Old Man

It doesn’t really matter what else happened at the show because Harold will be the only thing the guests remember. Harold was a train driver in the days of steam and electric finally retiring after 40 years of service. He has been married to his wife Margaret for 61 years and among the funny stuff he said was this absolute classic.

JOHN – So what’s the secret to being married for 61 years?

HAROLD – I didn’t die yet!


JOHN – Seriously, what’s the secret?

HAROLD – Viagra

JOHN – Viagra?

HAROLD – Yes, I take it to stop myself from peeing my shoes.

So, it looks like this cruise is going to be a busy one but as always one full of fun. The weather has been great so far and today, Sunday, the sun is shining as we make our way to Cozumel.

Still. my overriding thought of last cruise as successful as it was were that small group of kids who wreaked havoc on several of our guests including my great friend and blogger Southern Dream’s Empress Bee. I know there will be one or two sandal-wearing modernists who will say “they were just being kids”…bollocks. I was a kid and I wreaked havoc but it was different. I smoked a cigarette on the beach which made me vomit over someone’s front yard on the way home. But stealing a wheel chair and purposely ripping up the battery so it couldn’t be used……..and spitting………spitting from deck 9 of the atrium onto the people below.

How things have changed. I know it’s only a small minority of kids today but there is enough to make you wonder what suddenly changed. I mean……..remember the days when you as a kid would give up your seat on the bus or train or for an older person……….. These days, nothing less than a full scale cardiac arrest will produce the slightest stirring in fellow passengers.

So, instead of finishing with a fun story or talk of my bottom or the underpants its contained in I want to finish with an apology………….to Southern Dreams…….Empress Bee………a Platinum loyal Carnival supporter who has survived and still is surviving cancer……..and to whom I say “sorry” …..Sorry that you were treated like this. I know that your amazing personality will already have forgiven the kids that stole, damaged and vandalized your scooter ………twice……..and that makes you a much better person than me………….because if it were up to me……they should be given the good news with a cattle prod……… and never allowed on a Carnival ship again.

Your friends

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.