A Blogadoodle

August 13, 2009 -

John Heald

Over the years I have been used to being invited to dinners and events because people know I will make conversation and am pretty effortless when it comes to small talk. This is why I am summoned once a cruise to eat at the captain’s table………which as I wrote in a blog last week I enjoy as much as I do having a bleeding hemorrhoid. Yet, there I was again last night …….at the captain’s table……..in my role as cruise jester. When the toilet explodes, you call a plumber. When the car needs servicing, we take it to a mechanic and when they want someone to be funny at a boring captain’s dinner…………they call me.

If being so relentlessly upbeat and chatty has a down side it is that I am frequently used as seat filler. Because I’m so friendly and cuddly and jovial people think I can talk to anyone…………which means I’m the guest who is seated next to the most difficult people at dinner parties or weddings. This means I miss out on sitting next to the fun people. Frequently I’m placed next to the dull people, the travel agents with the personality of a hand sanitizer or the French.

The captain’s table in the Posh dining room is round and seats at least twelve people. You’re stuck talking to the person next to you whether you like it or not even though you know a much more exciting conversation is taking place just across the table as a Latvian supermodel asks the chief engineer if she can see his thruster. But you can’t participate because there’s a giant flower arrangement in the way…….and because the circumference of the table is the size Rosanne Barr’s arse.

You will remember last week I was seated next to the woman with lips the size of two canoes …..surely it couldn’t be any worse this time could it …………. ummmmmm ………. yes it bloody well was.

I was sitting between a married a couple who were group leaders of a …. group …..I can’t say more than that. I knew I was in trouble as soon as I sat down because I made a joke with Manuel the maitre d about “letting his hair down” (he’s bald) and while he, I and others around us laughed……..my two new neighbors just sat there…… showing as much emotion as a dead frog.

And so I began doing my court jester bit and thought I would break the ice by showing them a photo of Kye on my raspberry…….nothing……….just a faint smile from her and I didn’t even bother showing it to him as he was busy slapping butter onto a piece of bread …….it was going to be a long night. It was as the appetizers arrived that my luck changed because I shouted to the other side of the table to the chief engineer if he was looking forward to vacation as he is leaving on Saturday. He of course said yes and that he was missing his family……and…….his two dogs. Well…….it was as though someone had turned a switch on in Mr. and Mrs. Boringgroups head…….”Dogs……..did someone say dogs?”

And that was that. For the next 90 minutes I learned about the dogs that they breed back in Missouri. Labradoodles, schnoodles, yorkipoos, pomapekes and porkies. Oh, and don’t forget the cockapoos. And even though I was bored out of my tiny mind at least they were talking to me……..right up to the point where I told them I had a dog…….and that I fed him on Ex Lax…….because it was a Shitzu…….and that was the end of the conversation. I looked around the table and saw a familiar sight. Three of the party was asleep and six, to escape the boredom, had committed suicide by stabbing themselves with a lobster shell.

One more captain’s table to endure before I go home………please God…….just once ……… can I be seated next to the owner of Aston Martin…….someone who can tell a story ………… someone who says “That reminds me of the time when I was working as a sniper for special ops in Afghanistan and I had to disarm the trembler switch on the bomb just after the terrorist had put a scorpion down the front of my underpants.” ……or a Latvian supermodel who is naked………. and wants me.
Time for today’s questions…………………here we go.

Catrin Asked:
Hi John (Please respond)
I have been loving your stories and pics about Kye, Heidi and your adventures on the Freedom! The stories about passengers are so entertaining!

Well, I have a favor to ask… and you were so gracious to try to help us out about our last April cruise on the Pride, I thought I would bother you again.

We just booked our 10th Carnival cruise (yea, we are now Platinum!) on the Triumph out of NYC in three weeks. This is a last minute decision. We have had some major stresses in our family, and we just need a week to re-connect with each other and get away from everything. What a better way than a cruise!

I was wondering if there is any way we could request to have a table for just my family of five. This trip is about us trying to spend some quiet time with each other. Although we have enjoyed dining with others in the past, this trip we just need to enjoy each other quietly with no stresses from having to have pleasant conversation with others.

It sounds awfully anti social – but I hope you and the others reading this can understand!
Booking # ******
Carnival Triumph 8/24/09
Once again, thanks for everything you do!
Catrin

John Says:
Hello Catrin
Thanks for the kind words and there will be more photos of Kye tomorrow. Congratulations on booking your Platinum cruise and I am sure you will enjoy all of the super benefits that it brings. I have sent a message to the maitre d on the Carnival Triumph and I am sure he will do his best to help you out. I hope you and the family do get to reconnect and the stresses of the past few months disappear as you enjoy another fun ship cruise
Best wishes to all
John

Shawn Hamm Asked:
Hi John, (please Reply I know you do a lot in one day)
I just got back from staying in Florida after the cruise that ends on August 1st. I must say I enjoyed you as the Cruise Director. I have sailed 7 times with carnival and I haven’t had a cruise director who made me laugh as hard. My fiancé who I purposed to on the legend this January in the super club where I had carnivals a/v guide record it. My fiancée Melissa found you to be really funny. I am planning another cruise in January will you be doing any cruises then. I just got done showing the talent show to her parents who want to come in January on a cruise. I was also wondering I am thinking about getting married possible on an island or on carnivals ship do you know if they give good rates if I can guarantee so many rooms. Also do you know what islands would be nice to have the wedding on. Thank you so much. I hope you are feeling better.

John Says:
Hello Shawn
First of all, many thanks for the kind words and I am very glad that you enjoyed the cruise and that you and your girlfriend had fun. Getting married on one of the islands and then coming home to the ship is an experience that will make for the perfect wedding. We have a specific department just for this and they will arrange everything ….and I mean ……everything. As for what island to get married on. Well, there is of course lots of choice. For example, I am writing this to you while the ship is in Ocho Rios, Jamaica and we have a couple who getting married on a private beach here. I have seen the location and it is stunning. However, you may want to have a look at a place in St. Thomas that Carnival offers as a wedding location. It’s a luxury villa named Harbor Lights Villa. This villa offers us this beautiful view along with more space for 30 invited guests.

Have a look.

Beach-View

So, if you are interested or need any more information, please click on the link thingy that I will ask one of the 344 Stephanie’s to place here

DREAM WEDDING PACKAGES

I wish you both all the best and maybe we will get to sail with each other again on your honeymoon cruise.
Best wishes
John

Robert Kruczek Asked:
JOHN, PLEASE REPLY.
I just got back from my 7/27 Triumph cruise and had a GREAT TIME; I do have to give credit to the guest services department aboard. We had a little problem with our liquor never being delivered the last night, but we called gsd and they took care of it right away. In all my cruises with Carnival (never sailed with you, yet) Jorge IS REALLY FUNNY, I always looked forward to his jokes, and the way he picked people out of the crowd and poked fun at them (in a good way). So please pass that note on to him…tell him I LUV HIM (joke from 7/27 cruise…hope he gets it)

I do have one question I would like answered: why do your TV stations come out of Denver? I don’t care about the news in Denver as do many other people…please let me know
Thanks John,
Robert

John Says:
Hello Robert
I will pass this on to George who you should know is basically doing all my jokes but in a Spanish accent which like his act is also false because he is actually from Columbia, South Carolina and his real name is Billy Bob Solano.

Seriously, he is a great CD and I will make sure he gets to see your words of praise.

The TV news we broadcast from Denver was chosen because they have a news anchor called Betty who has a huge pai……..OK……..kidding…..the reason is that we have to pick the feed up from where the various network stations send us their signal from which for NBC and ABC, it’s Denver. The altitude also means that we get an excellent picture as well. So, it’s purely logistics and while many do not to care as you said what’s happening in Denver they do enjoy the full network coverage that Carnival exclusively supplies.

Hope that helps and once again thanks for the great review and I remain at your service
Best wishes
John

Tracy Asked:
Hi john I just asked u a question lol but here is 2 more how does 1 get to sit at the captain’s table? And I was wondering if I could get a kitchen tour if I’m saying it rite gallery? please reply ty hope the girls r doing good.

John Says:
Hello Tracy
That’s funny isn’t it; I just finished writing about the captain’s table. The people chosen to sit there are mostly pre-picked by various people in the Miami office or by our business development managers who have a valued travel agent client or group leader they wish to invite. I wish you had been at the table last night as I am sure it would have been more fun. We are now rolling out the Behind the Fun tour across the fleet which among other exciting areas includes the galley, the bridge and the engine control room. I hope you get a chance to enjoy it.
Best wishes
John

Katiel53 Asked:
John, (Please reply)
A few months ago I wrote to you regarding the Private Island (Bannister Island) excursion for Carnival Glory’s 10/17/09 trip to Belize. I mentioned that on the main Carnival site, the excursion is posted and when I tried to book it, it sent me to my cruise site and it is not available to book there. I know you said the excursion is still available and that you would help us get it booked if need be.

(I know that for a while this excursion was discontinued because of the murder at Bannister Island, but I also am aware there have been cruisers reporting that they have been there since.)

Will you please check to see if, in fact, the excursion is available? If it is, can you find out why I am unable to book it?

I thank you for your help.

John Says:
Hello Katiel53
I apologize that I have not followed up on this before, it completely slipped my mind. I just checked and here is the latest information for you.

Hello,
Just wanted to let you know that it is offered online.
It is called the Private Island Beach Break.

Regards,
Abhijeet A Nakhrekar
Carnival Cruise Lines | Shore Excursion Manager |

There you go. I hope you have a brilliant time there and would love to hear your report when you get back. please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you
Best wishes
John

Brandy Asked:
PLEASE REPLY
John,
My husband and I are so excited to be taking our first Carnival cruise in September. I have just recently began reading your blog and gotten some good laughs…..until Monday. I was so disappointed to read that Carnival is celebrating a later cruise as the Dream’s Inaugural cruise rather than the one we are on, the actual first cruise on September 21st. I have been active on the Cruise Critic boards for some time now (we’ve been planning this trip for over a year) and people are upset. While we are very excited to be the first ones on board, we did expect that Carnival might do something special. If you have a chance go by CC at this link and read a few of yesterday’s comments. Start at post 1109.
http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=802478&page=56
Is there anything that can be done? I feel like it’s taken a bit of the excitement out of this “Inaugural” sailing. Thank you,
Brandy

John Says:
Hello Brandy
I just want to try and make this as clear as I possibly can. The inaugural cruise meaning the first ever-cruise of your Carnival Dream is September 21. Respectfully I cannot understand why anyone will be upset………..nothing has changed. Yes, the naming ceremony will be in New York but the first people to sleep in the staterooms, the first people to see the shows, the first people to relax and enjoy the Ocean Plaza, the first people to use the incredible water park, the first people to enjoy all the dining options and the first people to experience everything this stunning vessel has to offer…..will be you ….. on the inaugural cruise……….and again, why that would upset anyone is extraordinary to me. I couldn’t read the link as it needed me to join or something. But I hope you will post this response for me please.

There will be excitement, there will be a sense of history and there will be special events and it will be the best cruise any of you have ever had.
My best wishes to you and your family
John

Stingray310 Asked:
John,
Please Reply;
After seeing the pictures of the basketball court and recently reading on the blog about the swimming pool accessibility for wheelchair users I am curious if the basketball court and sports deck area of the Dream will be wheelchair accessible or not. I know I have emailed you previously about my son’s disappointment with the Carnival Liberty basketball court and mini golf area because he couldn’t access it in his wheelchair without assistance. I was just wondering if any new provisions had been made on the Dream for handicap accessibility to those upper areas of the ship. Keep up the wonderful and informative work on the blog and I hope to see you in the future as CD on one of our upcoming cruises.
Thanks,
Stingray

John Says:
Hello Stingray
I know how disappointed your son was about wheelchair access to the basketball court on the Carnival Liberty and I am so sorry to report that unfortunately it is the same scenario on your Carnival Dream. I believe feel we can do better. I will now write to the senior vice president and see what we can do for the Carnival Magic. This may not be possible but if for the next time your son sailed and he wanted to play ball……..would you allow me to arrange someone able bodied crew to carry your son and his chair up to the court? I hope I am not out of place saying this. My apologies again and please let me know what I can do.
Best wishes
John

Linda Asked:
JOHN, PLEASE REPLY (TO QUESTION AT THE END):
Hi, John, thanks for posting the card Sandra & I sent to Chris “Bubba” on the Carnival Spirit. How nice that he was so appreciative! John, you may have recognized the card as similar to those I had printed for our Carnival Freedom & Splendor cruises. We like using them when we want to communicate with someone on board–happily 99% of the time it is to compliment someone for going above & beyond and making our cruise memorable.

We had a great Alaskan cruise and in addition to the recommendations Chris listed for excursions, I’d like to say our favorite of the trip (and on our Top Ten List of worldwide excursions) was Dog sledding & Glacier Flight seeing out of Skagway. It was fabulous in every way–flying on a helicopter 4500′ up to land atop a glacier and once landing having the opportunity to “mush” a team of dogs over the ice with the traditional style sled used in the Iditarod. However the following day included a surprisingly great tour. Since we had been with you on the Baltic tour and visited the Russian Orthodox Church in Tallinn we signed up for the Sitka tour “Russian America, Raptor Center & Russian Dancers.” Frankly we did not have high expectations (write up didn’t reach out and “grab us”) but we wanted to see the church. Did we ever underestimate the day! But this was due in large part to our Sitka Tours guide Casey (Bubba, please pass this on to him if possible). I nicknamed him our Renaissance Guide–there was no subject (government, politics, science, religion) on which he wasn’t extremely knowledgeable. At the end of the tour I just wished I had a recording of what he had taught us that day!

Two other comments about the cruise and a question. First, not only did we thoroughly enjoy Bubba as the CD, but were delighted with Marc his ACD. They were hilarious every morning on their show. It really started our days off right! Also, John, I know you lament problems at some ports (with customs etc) but both Vancouver’s airport and cruise terminal are first rate! We arrived at midnight and I definitely was not looking forward to navigating through the airport (although from a previous Alaskan cruise I knew it to be a beautiful facility). I can’t begin to tell you what a nice experience it was and the immigration agent even seemed to be glad to see us come into his country–what a novel attitude! Our luggage arrived in just a few moments and carts at the Vancouver airport are actually free–no digging around for money when you’re tired from traveling. Boarding the ship through the cruise terminal was equally painless and pleasant. What a nice way to begin a vacation. The winter Olympics will be in Vancouver. I’d say they’re ready to be a great host city.
(Sorry this post is so long–feel free to edit length) Now the question. We know that tips are portioned out to each group of individuals, but that Maitre D is not included unless you choose to tip separately. Our question is this–does that money get shared with his assistant and the dining room hostess? While we’ve always enjoyed having Ken as our Maitre D and the Carnival Spirit’s Maitre D is also obviously dedicated to creating a 1st rate dining experience, this trip we found that (in our case at least) his assistant and the hostess were the ones we had the opportunity to interact with but we didn’t see any indication that they would be financially rewarded with the tip we left for the Maitre D. Having not seen this question raised before, just thought I’d ask for clarification.

Meanwhile, counting days till we sail on the Carnival Triumph and meet Jorge and the rest of the folks.
Sorry, can’t close without also complimenting Captain Donato. We had a balcony cabin and I often watched our docking–what a tremendous job! Even though the Spirit is smaller than either the Freedom or Splendor, it is still a HUGE ship to dock and each morning it was done so beautifully. It was thrilling to watch.

John Says:
Hello Linda
What a brilliant review and it is one that I will enjoy so much sending to the ship and the senior management. I have never cruised to Alaska and your report just makes me want to do it more. I appreciate you taking the time to write and I know Bubba and the crew will relish reading your kind words.

As for the tips for the maitre d, these do get shared with the assistant maitre d’s as well so they are well looked after by their senior colleagues. It is important to remember that tipping the maitre d is purely voluntary of course and I thank you for taking the time to recognize the work they do. Please remind me before you sail again.
Best wishes
John

David Green Asked:
John – for your reply
My family and I will be sailing on the Inspiration in September and I want a table just for my family with no other passengers there. We have strict religious morals and I think it best if we have our own table. How do I do this as the last time we cruised the people we shared our table with were not whom we would wish to ever dine with?
David

John Says:
Hello David
Please send me your sailing date, cabin number and the number of people in your party and I will do all I can to help you. Please get this to me via a posting on the blog at least 10 days before you sail
Best wishes to you all.
John

Bill (Zydecocruiser) Asked:
Please reply, John.
Any official confirmation of this?
“I’m in Aruba right now and saw last night on TV the minister of tourism announcing that Carnival will make 18 calls in season 2010-2011. Will keep you updated. Got the impression that the cruises will leave from Florida and not San Juan.”

I cruised on Carnival Destiny from San Juan to Aruba a few years back, and that was one of my favorite cruises!
Thanks,
bill

John Says:
Hello Bill
As always it’s great to hear from you. I had no idea about this so I decided to ask our Senior Vice President of Marketing Planning Terry Thornton who decides where our ships should sail to. Here is his response.


John,

We recently had a meeting with officials from Aruba and discussed some possible itinerary options. We are always looking at options to offer new ports of call, so this is part of our standard process. We haven’t made any decisions to call in Aruba in 2010 or 2011 at this time.

Thanks, Terry

Thanks Terry and as always we all thank you for being so approachable and for being a great supporter of the blog
Thanks again to you Bill and my best to you and Elizabeth
John

David Wyatt Asked:
John, (please reply)
We really loved reading your commentary with regards to sitting at the Captains table. You actually raised a question that my wife and I have always wondered. Who decides and what are the criteria for sitting at the Captains table? We have been fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to have been chosen to sit at the Captains table twice in 20 cruises. To me that sounds like pretty high odds but it happened and we really would like to know why.

We have found that having dinner with the Captain is a double edged sword. You feel very privileged at having been chosen, but also understand going in that it will be a tense meal that you won’t enjoy but would not miss for the world.

John Says:
Hello David
It continues to be the theme of the day. I wrote about the captain’s table at the start of today’s blog before I had read the questions of the day and then I find that two of the questions are about the captain’s table.

Please don’t let my moaning take anything away from the honor of being invited to the table and the fact that you have been there twice is pretty unusual. It is always a hit or miss event. Sometimes the captain, chief engineer and hotel director are excellent communicators and sometimes ……well………..they are not and that’s when it becomes difficult. However, if you have a captain who loves the social side of his job and you have fun people it can be a very special night. The last two here though have been very, very painful.

The table is mostly chosen by our Miami HQ and as mentioned is normally made up of VIP’s, travel agents and group leaders. In the old days it was decided by the captain himself and you were never going to be invited unless your legs went all the way to heaven and you had breasts like the Alps……..I miss those days.

Seriously though, it is as you said a special privilege and one I hope as many readers of this blog get to enjoy.
Thanks for taking the time to write
Best wishes
John

That’s all for today. More tomorrow of course.
Time for today’s photos. Let’s start with some sent in by Stephanie Meads, cruise director of the Carnival Sensation. These were taken in Nassau where the ship was docked alongside her sister the Carnival Fascination with a great shot of the Atlantis Resort.

P8110577

P8110578

P8110579

P8110580

Thanks Stephanie and congratulations on the great job you are doing as cruise director.

I must admit ………and I do so respectfully………that I am shocked that a few people are disappointed that they have chosen to sail on the inaugural cruise of your Carnival Dream. I just can’t understand why. The naming ceremony will be in New York but that it. The first cruise ever of the ship will be September 21 and I know that many, many people would be thrilled to be onboard. I guess maybe I don’t understand what guests’ expectations are……I am hoping someone will give me specifics so I can pass them on. Please excuse my frustration and I am hoping someone will help me out and say exactly what they want and expect to happen.
Meanwhile……let’s remind ourselves why this ship is our most anticipated ever by looking at photos of the aft lounge, piano bar, conference room and more.

Aft lounge 1

Aft lounge 2

Aft lounge 3

Aft lounge 4

Aft lounge 5

Conf room3

image026

Piano bar1

Piano bar2

Piano bar3

Piano bar4

I have been reading your comments on the news that the past guest pins will be given to the Platinum guests and I see that those who have sailed 10 time or more are very happy. I can understand and have total sympathy for those who feel hard done by that the pins are not being given to everyone. They will be available at the gift shops and hopefully that will allow everyone to get these cherished keepsakes. I have not forgotten you and I promise to keep fighting the good fight and represent everyone regardless if you have cruised once or many many times.

So, as I lay there ……….on the stage floor……of the Victoriana Lounge……..having been stuffed and mounted by Mary…………my pants round my ankles………..no feeling from the waist down………..thinking how nice a job in a cubicle would be…………..a guest came up to the foot of the stage stairs filming me with a video camera………..and as he did he shouted ” this is going on You Tube, man”…………………..bugger.

This morning there are 201 clips of John Heald on YouTube, for which. Some have been placed there by one of the 344 Stephanies while many have been placed there by guests. At present it is full, mostly, of young men falling off their bicycles and Japanese game shows featuring contestants setting fire to their nipples. But in addition to this you can log on if you wish to see three different versions of my bedtime story as well as my welcome aboard show and other stuff I have done over the years. I am surprised that You Tube has not been forced to treat the copyright laws with a bit more respect but at least it’s a way to allow you to see what we do here.
Anyway, I had a fun bedtime story last night and here are a few photos for you to once again feel my pain.

T1

T2

T3

T4

T5

T6

The ship is in Jamaica today and the guests have been enjoying a picture perfect day, in fact this is the best week of weather we have had since I have been here. It’s been nothing but mirror like seas and unspoiled sunshine. The incident report has been virtually empty and apart from the chap who wanted to show us how to make proper pizza the only other comment worth passing on………….is this one.

Guest: Ms ——–Ref: 847207493A
Cabin:____ Booking#: _______ Added-Changed: 08/12/09 – 08/12/09


Gst came to report that items of clothing including shirts and underwear were stolen from the laundry on deck 7 . Guest had put in her washing and came back 30 minutes later to find that her laundry had been taken out and another guest was using the machine. Ms ______ said that the other guest had stated she had found the laundry this way when she came in. Ms_____ reports items worth $200 have been stolen. Security has been tasked.

Now, let’s examine this shall we. First of all it is unbelievable that another guest would come into the laundry ……stop the machine from doing the washing thingy………take out the laundry………..put theirs in………….dump the washing on top of the machine but not before stealing a soaking wet shirt and some underwear. And $200 worth……….what the heck is her underwear made from…………cashmere…….silk…………..peacock scrotum?

As I write the missing $200 worth of allegedly stolen clothing has not been found. And I have to say who the heck would want to touch anyone else’s underwear? I bet I could put my underpants in the washing machine and walk away and find it still spinning a week later because nobody in their right mind is ever going to want to touch them. If they did it would be like that moment in Plane’s Trains and Automobile’s when Steve Martin realizes it’s actually John Candy’s mega underpants he’s wiping his face with.

We will solve the case of the missing silk underwear and have called in the help of the Miami police department, Interpol, the CIA, the FBI ……..and Richard Simmons.

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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