You Can Pin This Blog On Me

August 12, 2009 -

John Heald

Every night before I go to bed and every night when I wake up I think about the same thing …………Megan Fox’s bottom…………..oh……..and what the heck am I going to write about in the next blog. And every time…….when I think I will be sitting in my underpants ……….staring at a blank screen…………something happens.

A few weeks ago or less I wrote a blog about how a guest had followed me into the toilet and as I stood pointing Percy at the porcelain he questioned me about the dolphin excursions in Grand Cayman. Well, this morning it happened again……not in the toilet ……..but in a scary, unforgiving place which I have discovered…….it’s called the gym….or as I like to call it…..hell.

Before I explain what happened I should perhaps allow those bloggers who just read that I was in a gym………… and fainted…………… to regain consciousness ……. OK ………….is everyone with me………………..right, let me carry on.

I know I have to get fit…er….and I know that won’t just happen with diet. And thus whenever I can I have been walking on the treadmill thingy. In the past I have looked at my fellow cruise directors and many of the senior management that work for Carnival in the Miami office and find it weird that most of them have not embraced middle age gleefully by running three times a day, going to the gym every morning at 6 am before work and eating a slice of lettuce for lunch……..I have been laughing hysterically at them and at the mere mention of diets before helping myself to another piece of fried chicken.

Anyway, ignoring as I do now the fried chicken I headed to the gym this morning at 8 am. There were a few guests working out and as I mentioned a few blogs ago as well when I spoke about the bodybuilder type…….the gym is a hilarious source of comedy.

You see, normal men do normal workouts, which is all well and good, but there’s always some slightly cheesy bloke aged between 50 and 60 going for the hard stuff. Such was the case this morning when a chap in his early sixties wearing something I have been told is charmingly called a “wife beater” fell off the insanely inclined, insanely resistanced treadmill and lay on the gym floor…… a beetle………. legs in the air.

As I helped him up and asked him if he was OK he seemed more interested that his hair weave was in place and I could picture him in my mind driving around in his big red Ferrari winking at pretty girls……..I bet he would be on Lido deck later……… Speedos ………..looking like he was smuggling two Brussels sprouts.

I can’t pretend I don’t find gym culture baffling. It seems to me that, in gyms, you have two types of creature….. the good-looking young, who are good-looking because they are young, not because they go to the gym; and the less good-looking middle-aged, who are trying really hard to be as good-looking as the young. Which will never happen because they’re not young any more. If older people are wiser, why are they not wise enough to know that you can’t hold back time?

I am sorry to bring her up again but take that lady I was seated next to at the captain’s table last cruise. You can inject your face up to a point, because it’s good to stop before you start looking like an alien. All I wanted to do was to lose the beach ball that burrowed its way under my T-shirt some 10 years ago and for that I had to use the treadmill. So after making sure the Ferrari driving guest didn’t need medical assistance after falling on his arse I climbed onboard my own treadmill, plugged in my Eye Pod thingy and to the sounds of Iron Maiden singing Run To The Hills, I began my two-mile walk to no bloody where.

As I continued my torture I became aware of a woman standing next to me in full gym gear. I looked at her and wondered if she was just admiring my buns of steel. Of course she wasn’t. She motioned me to take of my headphones and as soon as I did and without even bothering with the usual “Sorry to bother you” and ignoring the fact that my breathing was as labored as an asthmatic tortoise she said “You are the activities director aren’t you?”……….I tried to say yes but considering I am as fit as a kangaroo with no legs the yes came out like “Ahyehshhhhhhhh.”

Unperturbed, Mrs. Rude started telling me that the costumes in last night’s Big Easy Show were unsuitable for children and despite the fact that I was sweating more than Brian Epstein when he dropped the soap in the prison shower………she continued to wag her finger at me and tell me why her children wouldn’t be coming to the shows. Now, at this point many of you would expect me to stop the treadmill, get off, apologize and send her a fruit basket……but for some reason……..I don’t why………..I said “Am I bothered though”…….put my head phones back on and listened to Elton John sing The Bitch Is Back.

Actually………that’s a lie……..and you already know that don’t you? You know that I stopped the treadmill, you know that I stood there sweating and apologized and explained that I announce there would be showgirl style costumes and you know that tonight ………. she will receive some apples and plums.

I hate the gym.

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

Laverne Ord Asked:
John-Please reply my husband Harold and I will be sailing with you on Carnival Freedom Aug 15 booking 20JH65/cabin 8438 as we celebrate 80 and 85 yr birthdays and anniversary of 57 years. We would so like to have a table for 2 on our confirmed 6PM dining. Thank you for all you do and hope that cold is better.

John Says:
Hello Laverne
I think I replied to you in a blog a few days ago so I am sure this has overlapped. Anyway, just in case you missed it I have asked the maitre d to help with your request so all should be well.
See you very soon
Best wishes

Kim Risley Asked:
Please Reply
Dear John,
Don’t mean to be a pain in the ass… 😉 But I read on my roll call for Cruise Critic that a few of the people that are going on my cruise have gotten some up sell calls… and I haven’t heard anything yet other than that 1st call. Someone posted a number for the up sell department on Cruise Critic. Should I call or just wait? I know it’s still 30 days away, but for some reason I would like to try to get an up sell or upgrade. But I will be very happy with my room we have now.

Let me know, by the way you don’t need to post this. Just asking you this question… I’m a little concerned I will not even be called…

Kim Risley Valor Sept. 6th Booking ******

John Says:
Hello Kim
No need to apologize for asking, Kim. I have forwarded your booking number to reservations and mentioned that you are willing to maybe up sell to the next level of stateroom. I also suggest that you call the number that Cruise Critic provided as well so you have a double chance. Wait until Thursday until doing this so it gives them chance to read my message. Good luck and I wish you and your CC friends a brilliant cruise
Best wishes

Mike White Asked:
John, two months ago I was asked by my peers in a club I belong to, to organize a club cruise. They knew that my wife and I were avid cruisers (one cruise from platinum status) so I obliged and as of today we have booked 25 rooms on the Inspiration sailing from Tampa on February 18, 2010.

My reason for writing is that after I contacted you via the blog you gave me Stephanie Leavitt’s name and the social networking e-mail address which I contacted twice. I wrote her about promotional material, so that I can provide the club members with some visual aids in hopes of selling more cabins. Stephanie replied to me, however after two months, I have never received a thing. In spite of the fact that 25 cabins have been booked, I feel I could have done a lot better had I been provided some promo items. Don’t get me wrong, I am not looking for freebie stuff, but instead a promotional DVD, brochures, flyers, heck even balloons would have been good to generate some excitement and possibly book even more rooms than we had. Our two month price guarantee has now expired, but I wanted to let you know, that there was a lapse somewhere, which ultimately will only affect me, as organizer, as I am sure the cruise will eventually sell out anyway. As requested I will let you know a couple of weeks prior to sailing. In the meantime I will see you on the Dream 12/3/09.

John Says:
Hello Mike
First of all congratulations on booking so many cabins on the Carnival Inspiration. I know that you are a loyal Carnival supporter and I thank you for introducing many more people to the fun ship cruise experience.

I remember you asking for more promo material and I know that your request was forwarded to our groups department but what happened after that……..I have no idea. But you are correct of course, you could have booked more cabins and therefore I owe you an apology. We messed up there and I will make sure someone important realizes that. On a positive note I want you to know that now the cruise is planned that if there is anything I can do to help you and your group once onboard I will be honored to assist.
Once again, my apologies that we did not follow up here and I also wish you all a great cruise.
Best wishes

Jen Asked:
John Please reply,
A couple of things before my petty little question. Like many others, I would like to commend you for being so nice to Ruth and her request for a table for 2 by the window. I would also like to commend you for being nice to the woman who wrote the book and wanted to “help” you lose weight. As a person with quite a bit of extra weight on her, I probably would have thrown her off the ship.

Now on to my petty little question. I am sailing on the Dream on December 3rd (and quite looking forward to it). Normally, when the ship comes in, it goes through debarkation, embarkation, and the cleaning of the ship while this is happening which means that we cannot go to our cabins until 1:30 pm or so. When the Dream comes into Port Canaveral, there will be no debarkation as there will be no passengers. What time will we be allowed to go to our cabins? Will we still have to wait until 1:30?

John Says:
Hello Jen
Thanks for the kind words and as you may have read at the start of this blog it is not always easy to be nice. Your Carnival Dream will indeed arrive for the Bloggers Cruise and the first voyage from Port Canaveral on December 3. There won’t be any guests on board as you said so embarkation should start earlier and as nobody will have been staying in the guest cabins you should indeed be able to go straight there. The only thing that may slow things down is if the Coast Guard requires the crew to go through a full abandon ship drill but as they will have been in New York I don’t think that this will be a problem. I hope you are excited about this beautiful ship and there are more great photos of her in a few minutes.
Best wishes

Lruss71 Asked:
Oh Juan (Please reply), what a week you have had and it is only Tuesday! I just want to comment on all the people emailing you and asking for gifts. I just don’t understand why some people think it is ok to just ask for a gift. According to the dictionary, a Gift:

1. something given voluntarily without payment in return, as to show favor toward someone, honor an occasion, or make a gesture of assistance; present.

2. The act of giving.

3. Something bestowed or acquired without any particular effort by the recipient or without its being earned:

4. A special ability or capacity; natural endowment; talent: the gift of saying the right thing at the right time.

You should just add a 5th it could be, something obtained from John Herald just because you asked.

I can understand a frequent cruiser asking perhaps a favor for a dining request, i.e., but to just out and out ask for something for nothing, it just galls me. I have never met you but from reading you blog I can tell you must be a nice man.

That said could you please surprise me on my cruise next year on my cruise of Dream, booking #
Made-up, with a gold ship on stick, past guest pin, table for 20 by window and by the way make sure I get a French waiter because I can speak French with the best of them……Just kidding.. Don’t need a thing. Next year when I cruise the Dream, just being there will be enough.

John Says:
Hello Laurie
I see that quite a few people have written about the sudden increase in people asking for gifts and I thank you all so very much for the support you have all shown me. Let me just say that if a blogger or a Carnival guest asks me to send someone special a birthday or anniversary gift or a past cruiser requests but does not expect a special table request then I will do my best to make them happy. Many people have been loyal to Carnival and this blog thingy for a long time and I am very happy to say thank you anyway I can. I must admit though that recently and thanks to some lovely person who posted my e-mail on Cruise Critic I have been receiving lots of e-mails requesting and demanding gifts, etc. Those…..well they get the delete button treatment. I just don’t have time to reply to them. I guess for every 100 people who ask for something and say thank you and please there is one person who will ask without the pleasantries. I refuse to allow that one person spoil it for the rest.

I can accommodate all you requests except the French waiter and as we don’t have any French crew members onboard. Instead I will dress Ketut from Indonesia up with a fake moustache, get him to stare at your bottom, provide rude service and tell him not to shower for a month…………… won’t know the difference.

Thanks so much for your concern, it means so much
Best wishes

Sharon Asked:
(Replying to your Reply, so reply if you want)
I’m sorry; I thought you read the Cruise critic boards. In internet lingo, “DD”, means dear daughter. There is also a DH, DW, etc., meaning dear hubby, wife etc.

My DD has had different dialects. Her Pre-kindergarten teacher was from Spain, her Kindergarten teacher was from Mexico, and her latest teacher was from the Canary Islands. The program is wonderful. She has math, social studies, science, etc. all in a Spanish language, and then basic American English language for about an hour and a half. I truly hate the joke about Americans only speaking one language. The School System here has also a similar program for the French Language which is about 20 years old and next year they are starting Chinese.

When I say Kye is very pretty, I do mean it. All babies are cute, but some are beautiful, and I must say from last Fridays picture, (31/07/09), Kye is almost as pretty my girls were, sorry have to be a little bias.
In regards to Camp Carnival, a different “to color” t-shirt for each ship would be a good start. Getting rid of the electronic games would be better, Teddy Bear work shop, been there, done that, got two. Geography games, i.e.: where are we now on a map, where am I from for the counselors; cultural information, the counselors could teach a game they played as a child. Just like the ship itself, there are several counselors from all over the world and they could teach in the form of games and play about their country. My daughter can play “Duck Duck Goose”, at home.

This is just my opinion. Thank you for your answer and the information about our favorite waitress of all time, Rosanna!!

Looking to book Alaska in 2011!

John Says:
Hello Sharon
I wish I had time to read the Cruise Critic boards and then maybe I could discover which brain box started the “John should be President of Carnival” thread thingy and also find out who posted my e-mail address so I could introduce his arse to my cheese grater. I don’t quite understand the use of text speak such as “LOL” and “BTW.” I read a comment the other day on the blog that said something I had written had this person ROTFL ………..ummm…………what?

So, I apologize that I didn’t understand DD to mean dear daughter. I thank you for the Camp Carnival ideas and I will pass them along to the ladies in charge of the program. I have to admit that I doubt you will see the end of the electronic games. I am sure there would be a junior riot if we took away their Playstation PSP thingies but I do like the idea of teaching the kids more international games etc.

So, I hope you and your DD are well and I thank you on behalf of my DW for the beautiful words for our DD.

Katrina Asked:
Hi John – please reply, thank you for getting the follow-up information regarding military discounts. I guess it’s just the luck of the draw. We are limited since we are only able to sail out of Galveston. We just can’t afford the added expense of flying to port. I hope one day that we’ll be lucky enough to cruise in a suite. We did get a considerable discount on our balcony room and are very grateful 🙂

We’re already looking at booking another cruise next year. Are military rates only quoted by phone? Also all the cruises I’ve checked on don’t have any of the past guest rates listed online. Are these just not posted for next year yet? If not, when do they usually get posted?

On another note, I have a question regarding the Ecstasy. I see that sailings after 10/17/09 show balconies as guaranteed but don’t actually allow you to pick your exact stateroom. I know they will be refurbishing this ship and adding balconies and I’m very excited about all the added amenities! I called Carnival and got redirected a couple of times regarding this question and no one really had an answer for me. When will the balcony rooms open up for “Fun Select” so that we may book the exact stateroom of our choice? Just trying to plan out when I should look to book our next cruise!

I look forward to reading your blogs every day. You are not only very informative but also hilarious 🙂 I never know what you’re gonna talk about each day, which makes for even better reading.

Thanks again for taking time out of your hectic schedule to entertain us and answer our questions 🙂

John Says:
Hello Katrina
I am glad you found the information I posted about the military discounts and the suites. I hope one day you will be able to find the right deal for you and your husband to enjoy the suite life as you sail from Galveston.

The Carnival Ecstasy is indeed adding balconies just as her sister the Carnival Sensation has done. I spoke to someone in reservations who told me that these balconies will be available toward the end of September on “Fun Select.” This coincides with the work starting when she enters dry dock. I am glad you are enjoying the blog so much and if you need any further help please let me know.
Best wishes to you all

Cheri Bolchoz Asked:
John (Please Reply)
As you know we are sailing on the Carnival Dream 9/21/09 there are several Cruise Critic members (about 100) on this sailing. We have a thread on Cruise critic “The Inaugural Dream September 21, 2009″ on pages 55 & 56 there is a lot of talk & disappointment that Carnival is doing nothing special for the 1st sailing of this Beautiful New Ship. I know you said that Carnival was still ironing things out. I just felt you needed to know about the feelings of several Cruise Critic members.

Hopefully you will be able to clear some of this up soon. I know you said things were hush hush.

Hopefully you can help arrange a Cruise Critic Meet & Greet for the 1st sea day
I know you stay quite busy with all the questions on the blog & your work on the ship.

Have you had any luck in getting in touch with Chris about my ornaments (Sorry to be a pest on this)
Hope Kye & Heidi are doing well. I have made something special for Kye & hopefully will be able to give it to you in Rome on the 21st.
Take Care
Cheri & Michael

John Says:
Hello Cheri and Michael
I hope that you saw the reply I sent you with regard to the Carnival Dream inaugural cruise and us meeting so I can give your Christmas ornaments. Let me know if you saw this or not please.

In answer to your question on the Cruise Critic thread thingy that says:

“There is a lot of talk & disappointment that Carnival is doing nothing special for the 1st sailing of this Beautiful New Ship”
I would respectfully say…….how do they know we are not? I can tell you that the first cruise of any new ship is always special and when it’s a new class of vessel and you are the first guests to sail onboard then that is an incomparable experience……I promise. As for doing anything special. Well, as I said, maybe we are and I promise to let you know nearer the time what we are planning. Actually……..I wonder……..Cheri, can you do me a huge favor and ask the people on the thread thingy what their expectations are and indeed yours. What do you and they think we should be doing that qualifies as special? I would truly appreciate your thoughts and those of the readers …….is that a correct word?

I will gladly arrange a roll call for you all. Please nominate one person to stay in touch with me and let me know how many and when you would like to meet. I will then have the time and place noted in the Carnival Capers.

Cheri…………..I promise you and all the guests sailing on your Carnival Dream that this will be a cruise that they will always remember.

Hope to hear from you soon and my best wishes to you both

Sean McGrath Asked:
Dear John, (please reply).
Thanks for the great blog thing.

I was on the Valor last year and had a fantastic time. So good in fact I am returning again at the end of this year. While on the Valor I considerably enjoyed the draft Heineken. Being Irish, I like my beer and am used to drinking drafts. When on my previous cruise before that, on the Freedom in 07, they did not have any draft.

I don’t suppose you know if the Valor will still be serving draft Heineken in November do you?
One more question, hopefully one that is easier to answer, what is Carnival’s standard policy on drafts, is it normally stocked?
Many thanks.
Sean McGrath

John Says:
Hello Sean
Many years ago I used to love draught beer and you will be glad to know that on the Carnival Valor and here on the Carnival Freedom now you will find Heineken in the lobby and sports bars plus now we have added that other Dutch favorite Amstel as well.

I have a dream one day of having a British pub on one of our ships like Cunard and other lines do.
Hope this answers your question mate

Cameron Asked:
JOHN PLEASE REPLY- I remember a while back ago you told us in the blog that Carnival was working on some “Projects” and you said you would tell us in the coming weeks what they were. Well I was hoping, if you know what they are if you could tell us. Thanks.

John Says:
Hello Cameron
I have just written in the last few days about the Behind the Fun Tour and today ,in a few minutes, you will see some information on the past guest pins.
There will be more very exciting news soon.
best wishes

That’s all for today. As always please let me say a big thank you for all the great comments and reviews and if you need anything at all please mark your postings John, please reply. I apologize once again if it takes me longer to reply than you would like but I do promise to reply eventually.

A few months ago Carnival canceled the past guest party pins and there was much sadness and crying in the streets. And so, I took up your challenge and did my best to see if we could change the minds of those at the top of the Carnival tree……..and I did …… well…….a little bit. Here is the official statement from Vance and the PR office.

We’ve conducted extensive research on the past guest pins regarding their popularity and how many guests are retaining them. Since our research indicated that platinum guests (10 Carnival cruises or more) were the most likely to keep the pins, the decision has been made to make the pins exclusive to Carnival’s platinum guests.

Pins will also be available for sale in Carnival’s gift shops beginning in late October.

We are pleased to continue to offer the pins, which many guests consider a treasured memento of their Carnival cruise.

Now, I would love to be able to take credit for this… I will………let’s hear it for me!

I know that non Platinum guests will be a little disappointed and I apologize that I won the battle rather than the war but…….you will get your pin when you reach your Platinum status and until then you can buy them from the gift shop. I don’t know the price just yet but I will do soon and of course let you all know. My thanks to Roberta Jacoby and Jim Berra, our two senior vice presidents who listened to me moan both in person and on the phone and on e-mail and I hope this small gesture shows how much they listen to what you post here on the blog thingy.

Time for some photos from today’s work on your Carnival Dream’s forward and aft dining rooms.

Aft rest1[1]

Aft rest2[1]

Aft rest3[1]

fwd rest1[1]

fwd rest2[1]

fwd rest3[1]

fwd rest4[1]

fwd rest6[1]

More photos tomorrow.

I love the sound of laughter which along with my daughter cooing down the phone at me, the sound of a V12 Aston Martin and that wonderful noise your arse makes when you have eaten a huge plate of beans the sound of laughter is one of the most satisfying sounds on earth…….especially when it comes from the young…… young Graham Rodgers………aged 8.

I bet Graham I could make him laugh and he told me “no way”……… I said
What’s round and brown and lives in the forest?…………………Winnie the Poop

Here’s his reaction


And now to someone who isn’t laughing
Guest: Mr. ————-Ref: 848007369A
Cabin: _______ Booking#: _______ Added-Changed: 08/11/09 – 08/11/09

Guest said that he owned a restaurant in Chicago and that the Pizza we served was not good and not proper Italian Pizza. Guest wants to speak to the Head Chef and teach him how to make proper Pizza. Guest also said that the pasta he had at dinner this evening was to soft and the sauce not fresh. GSA apologized to Mr. ____and said that his comments would be forwarded to the Chef.

Now, I have never heard of any complaints about our pizza before in fact most people tell me how much they enjoy it. I am sure that as a restaurant owner this guest is very proud of his own pizza and pasta but it’s a bit cheeky don’t you think…….demanding to speak to the chef to show him how to make “proper Italian pizza.” OK, you may go to dinner somewhere and think “I could cook better than that” and you might even complain about the food…….. but to actually ask to speak to the chef and offer to teach him how to cook ……….who does this guy think he is ” Gordon Fu**ing Ramsey.”

Anyway……………what is proper Italian pizza and where is the best?

I remember when Heidi and I were first in Naples on the Carnival Liberty we got in a taxi and asked driver to take us to try some real pizza. He got so excited; he had to turn round to lecture us directly, delegating the task of steering his Fiat to his knees. It was the perfect reminder that food, along with rumpy pumpy, wearing blue suits with brown shoes and football (soccer) is the most important parts of Neapolitan life………it is every Neapolitan man’s dream to have rumpy pumpy, while watching soccer and eating pizza ………come to think of it…………it’s my dream as well.

I can’t remember the name of the place we ended up that day but I can tell you that the best pizza I have ever eaten was in Capri…… a stunning restaurant called Villa Verde. It is immersed in beautiful gardens in the heart of Capri. The restaurant has an elegant dining room leading out onto a large covered terrace where the likes of Denzel Washington, Mariah Carey, Ryan Seaweed and of course George Hamilton can usually be found.

The pasta is extraordinary and so is….well……..everything. The pizza, is sensational. If you have one of those “nothing but pizza will do” cravings that seem to afflict most of the world once a week and you find yourself in Italy, this is the place to have it.

However……where do you think the best pizza is…..I know one of our bloggers Kevin may have a few thoughts on this? And…….what do you think of the Carnival pizza? I would be interested in reading your thoughts.

But, it’s not pizza that I had for lunch today……..nope…….I had a special treat. One of the entertainment staff went ashore today in Grand Cayman and brought me back some Chinese food from ashore…….very nice I thought. So after munching down my Szechuan chicken I decided to open up the fortune cookie…..not to eat it……..too many carbs and sugar of course but to read the fortune inside.

Obviously what is written on that little slip of paper is total bollocks but unfortunately a Chinese crew member once told me that it is very unlucky not to open up the fortune cookie and since he told me that I always have done.

So, there I was, sitting in my underpants, opening up the cookie waiting for the usual….. “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”………“Trust your intuition”……or “Your luck is going to change” or………”don’t wait for your ship to come in, swim out to it”…… but this one was different…….it is obviously a new style of fortune cookie…… was hilarious….. it simply said…….”Man going through turnstile sideways going to Bangkok.” ………….brilliant.

Your friend

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.