A Blog In Any Language

August 31, 2009 -

John Heald

Yes, yes, yes……….here I go again moaning again about flying. You see, this morning I booked my tickets to fly to Trieste and your Carnival Dream and this means that I once again have to experience the IKEA of the airline industry………Ryan Scare. Sorry………Ryan Air. Yes I know Carnival are paying for my flight but it’s not the money I am moaning about…………it’s well ………….let me explain.

I believe that economy-class air travel was the good Lord’s way of deterring everyone but the most determined traveler from ever setting foot on a plane. Those who have not been killed en route by thrombosis or poisoned by what the airlines refer to as “food” emerge at the end looking and feeling like the unlikely offspring of Phil Specter and Judge Judy.

It was clearly a deterrent because the airlines made sure that you knew just how bad it was by comparing it with something infinitely more agreeable: nice class, where it’s just like it is in the advertisements — soft sheets, fine wines, exotic nuts and a good chance of sitting next to Megan Fox.

But I’ve discovered that economy class was merely purgatory, no more than a waiting room for the true hell of flying: Ryan Air where the only nuts I will be served will be crushed ones ……….. mine…………..as I try and fit into a seat designed for Dopey and his six mates.

Anyway………..get this. A return flight to Trieste, Italy costs £0.99 (that’s less than 0.50 cents US) but look at the other costs.

Adult 0.99 GBP
Fare: 0.99 GBP
Online Check-In: 5.00 GBP Taxes
Fees: 28.27 GBP
Total Price: 34.26 GBP

Fees……….what fees? I was the one that sat here in my underpants using my internet and my electricity so what fees……………..fees my arse.

They also charge for food on board and for a “priority” boarding pass, which gives lucky holders the opportunity to take part in a “priority” scramble for seats, which — presumably through sheer spite — are unallocated…………..which means I will be tackling old Mrs. Strut an 87 year old from Glasgow for that converted row one with the extra room……..watch out granny……….the fat mans coming.

Anyway, my ticket is booked at that means my trip to your Carnival Dream is now official. I will be joined by Stephanie Leavitt and Peter the Hair who will be filming loads of footage and interviews with me and of course I will be blogging from the ship daily and reporting on the handover ceremony. One choice was made though that was not an easy one and that is whether or not Heidi and Kye should come with me………and after much deliberation ……….they won’t. It’s just too much and being on the ship for five days while I run around doing what I have to do is not going to help Heidi who will for the most part be stuck in the cabin…….maybe if we had the penthouse?

But seriously, she will be just four months old and we are going to wait therefore until she is older. We will now have to finish the discussion on whether or not she comes on the bloggers cruise.

But having to deal with the bureaucracy of Ryan Air fills me with dread. Honestly………the world has gone mad.

Take yesterday. Since Kye was born Heidi has lost loads of weight and she looks absolutely fabulous. During her pregnancy however she had loads of cravings………Mars Bars………Peanut Butter………Peanut Butter and Ice Cream………and telling me I was a bastard.

However……….while most of those cravings have buggered off one has remained……….Micky D’s. Now you would think that ordering McDonalds would be problem free………problem free my arse. I was driving Range Rover through a drive through thingy (very American) and I ordered Heidi’s usual, two double hamburgers without cheese. So they say: “Those are double cheeseburgers, sir.” So I say: “I’ll pay for double cheeseburgers but I just want them without cheese.”

I get the meal, drive away and Heidi opens the food and they are cheeseburgers. Now …….. normally I would have just told Heidi to rip he cheese off and throw it away but it was stuck to the burger and as Heidi hates the cheese they put on their burgers more than if they were covered in yak poo ….that was me, parking the car and going inside. So I go back and the 15 year old Polish girl at McDonald’s says: “We are not allowed to take the cheese off, you have to do it yourself.” So I ask to see the manager. He says: “I’m sorry, Sir. That’s Health and Safety rules.”

Here I am ………..Carnival’s Senior Cruise Director and Brand Ambassador……….and a guy in a paper hat is lecturing me. I wasn’t going to give in …………I was mad……..I was going to not care about others………I was going to be rude if I had to be……..I was Ruth and Al combined…………..I wanted my wife’s double hamburger with no sodding cheese.

The man in the paper hat said “Can you wait here please, sir. Sir, please wait here.” So now I am boxed in and people are looking at me and I feel like Peter Sellers in that scene from The Pink Panther when they are naked. People around are muttering: “Did he steal something?”

Ten minutes goes by and the guy in the paper hat comes back out and says “I have spoken to the owner and he says we can this time make you a double hamburger with no cheese but this will be the one and only time.”……………..unbelievable.

Can you imagine this happening on the ship?…………Once again I am drawn to daily comparisons on why a Carnival cruise is so special. Ask Mr. Patel the grill chef for a double burger with no cheese and the answer will always be “yes, sir”…….living on land truly does test your patience. That’s my last visit to Micky D’s……..Burger King here we come……what a load of McBollocks.

Time for today’s questions………….here we go.

Christy Asked:
Dear John, (Please Reply)
Poor man! I am sorry that your last cruise before you go home has to be so hard! I think that sometimes people can forget that life is not all about them. Me included! I have a question for you. We are booked on the Glory on 9/12/09. This will be our three year old’s second cruise (3rd if you count the time he was “in the oven”)! We have booked the French Beach Break in St. Martine. I know that “European Style” bathing may be observed but, I wanted to know if it happens a lot. Also, since they are French, would it still be considered rude to point, stare, and laugh? We are really looking forward to this vacation. Our first time on this cruise was back in 2004 and you were our cruise director! We had a wonderful time. A couple that we met on that cruise and have stayed in touch with are going with us too! We are going to have so much fun! Kye is beautiful. Spend every moment you can with her. They do grow up way too fast!
Thanks for all of your hard work!

John Says:
Hello Christy
They do say within the cruise industry that your last week onboard and the first cruise of the person taking over your position will always be one that never runs to plan. And that old adage was proved correct again as we had me with the tropical storm itinerary change land last cruise on Wee Jimmy’s first voyage the computer system that controls the lighting at the shows crashed and they had to cancel the Big Easy show……such is life at sea.

I am sorry to report that indeed yes………you will see the odd ummmm……..thingy……and the odd ummmm……..lady garden during your French Beach Break excursion. But it’s only one or two retired people from Paris who will be there doing that and as long as you don’t mind the sight of Jean Claude’s miniature Eifel Tower and Claudette’s droopy croissants then I know you will have a fantastic time because the beaches on the French side of the island are simply stunning. And yes………..by all means laugh at the French……….here in the UK it’s the law.

Thanks for the words about Kye, you are very kind.
Have a wonderful time and let me know about your beach adventures when you get home.
Best wishes to all

Meowsmurphy Asked:
Hi John..Please reply..
We are sailing on Carnival Legend on 10/4. Extra added bonus is that YOU will be our CD. Amazing and I am really excited to finally be able to count myself amongst those that have had you as a CD…can’t wait. This cruise will be a special one…we are celebrating our 43rd anniversary on 10/8 and we are taking our 2 granddaughters with us for their 16th birthday present. One will be 16 on 10/7 and the other one will be 16, 4 months later. I was wondering, if perhaps you might get the captain to send them each a special birthday greeting. It would add so much to their “special 1st cruise” experience? Their names are Lyndsey Lambert and Haley Hendershot. They will be in cabin.
Thanks so much for anything you are able to arrange.
M-E Wiggins

John Says:
Hello M-E Wiggins
I would be honored to make their cruise that extra bit special. Can I kindly ask that you remind me when you arrive by leaving a note at the Guest Services Desk and I will make it so?
See you soon and best wishes to all

Michael Asked:
Hi John, (please reply)
First time posting on your blog but I’ve been reading it avidly in preparation for our Sep 2nd sailing on the Carnival Spirit!

This will be my wife and my second sailing on Carnival (our first was on the Conquest for our honeymoon). On our first cruise we didn’t try out the supper club but this time I’m thinking that I will surprise my wife with a trip there for her birthday (which happens to fall right in the middle of the cruise). I was wondering, in the supper club, do they have Maine lobsters? When we were on the conquest my wife was not overly thrilled with the lobster tails in the dining room on formal night (I think those were Caribbean lobster tails or some-such-thing). Lobster is her favorite and I’m hoping that supper club would have Maine lobster tails.
Do you happen to know?
Thanks much!

John Says:
Hello Michael
I hope that you get to read this before your cruise starts. The answer is yes, we do serve lobster from Maine at the steakhouse and I am so very glad that you have decided to try this incomparable experience. Please let me know what you think when you get home. I wish you both a brilliant time
Best wishes

Canuck Cruiser Asked:
Hey John,
Thanks for the update on the DRAINPIPE slide.
I, You Tubed it and saw how you exit from the centre post down a staircase. Can’t wait until I give it a try. I see there is now a video on the CARNIVAL DREAM link.
I’m sure your head must be spinning from all of the changes this week due to the weather. Keep smiling my friend as you will soon be home to Heidi and Kye. Just stay focused for a few days more and enjoy your time off back home.

Now to my question…………Being Canadian I can procure some CUBAN cigars for you in January if you’d like. Any preference? Just email back at the address and let me know. I don’t smoke but would join you for a diet coke and have a small chat while you enjoy the stogie. OH……….btw……..are Heidi and Kye joining you in January 2010 for the cruise?
That’s all from humid and hot Canada.
B&D from Canada.

John Says:
Hello B and D from Canada
I am glad you are enjoying the videos of your Carnival Dream and there will be many more after my visit in a few weeks time. How wonderfully kind to offer to buy me some Cuban cigars but there is no need. They are more expensive than hiring a Latvian woman for the night ………… allegedly ………but…………..if one was accidentally to land in your suitcase a Cohiba Siglo 6 is my favorite and of course I will pay for it and bestow fruit baskets galore upon you.
I will be talking about Heidi and Kye in a moment but thanks for thinking of them and me.
See you soon
Best wishes to you both

MSQPON – Jo Myerly Asked:
Hi John, I sent you a question about a month ago and I fear it has been lost in cyberspace. We are sailing on the November 13 and November 15 Carnival Dream cruises out of New York City. I am wondering if a special tour will be offered to those of us who are staying on the ship. It seems like an ideal time do something special in the city while others are disembarking and embarking that day. Could you check this out?
Thanks for all you do for us. We hope you got off the ship in San Juan.

John Says:
Hello Jo
I checked with the shore excursion department and yes indeed they are working on an excursion for those who are doing a back to back cruise. I will have more details on this soon. My apologies that the original posting got lost and as always I send my best to and Dave

John Friedmann Asked:
John – please reply – the Med and Freedom seem so far away. My how 2 years flies by. Your beautiful Kye will show you that about time also. What great memories we have of you, though.

Quick question. We are booked on the Liberty on Aug 29th. Since we are going south and its still summer is a sport coat really necessary for elegant night? It would sure help baggage to leave it behind. What is the expectation now?
Our best to beautiful Heidi and Kye. How did you get so lucky?

John Says:
Hello John
Ahhhh the Med, how I miss it and I hope that 2011 sees Carnival and me heading back there. The elegant night dress code is………..oh bollocks……….I just saw that this is too late as you got on the ship yesterday. I am so very sorry. It shows how behind I am. Anyway, I was going to say that while not necessary that the vast majority will indeed wear a jacket on elegant night but it is not compulsory…….choice….it’s a great thing. My apologies for the late reply to this and I hope that you are having a brilliant time
Best wishes

Andrew Asked:
Dear John (please reply)
I am going to be a first times ever being on a cruise, carnival dream in Jan, just before you get on the dream to be the cruise directory. I have a couple of question.

1. Can you take a picture of the spa deck staterooms like room 12223?

2. How come Tim Wittmer does not have a blog so he can keep us up on the dream too. So stuff he does so first times cruiser knows what to look for?
I like checking your blog every day
Thank You

John Says:
Hello Andy
Congratulations on your Carnival Dream cruise and I know you will have a great time. I will do my best to keep you informed on what’s happening on board as Todd will be very busy preparing the vessel. I will be there on September 16 and will photo and video as many of the highlights and cabins as I possibly can.Best wishes and please keep reading the blog thingy for more information and fun.

Melissa Jurgensen Asked:
John please reply.
I have a question about Naples in October on the Dream. Will there be any type of shuttle offered from the port to a set location in the city and then back to the ship?

I know that is offered in ports such as Venice and Livorno, but I didn’t know if that was the case here.
Thanks in advance for answering my question! My best to you and your beautiful ladies. You will be home very soon.

John Says:
Hello Melissa
Naples is a fantastic port of call and the reason we dock there is not just to see Naples which is a big busy city. It is also the gateway to see some of the most beautiful places in the world. The Amalfi Coast, Sorrento, Capri and of course they must not miss sight Pompeii. We dock the ship within 10 minutes walk of Naples city center so no shuttle bus is needed. One word of advice though, when crossing the road please run like hell because road signs and traffic lights are mere suggestions.
Try and have read through the shore excursion descriptions and let me know if you have any questions
Best wishes

Sarah McGowan Asked:
I would like to know how my fiancé & I can be contestants on the Newlywed game. We will be on our Honeymoon cruise September 27, 2009 on the Conquest. Thanks in advance for any help you can give.
Sarah McGowan (soon to be Hathaway)

John Says:
Hello Sarah
I will send this to Chris Jefferson the brilliant CD of the Carnival Conquest and I know he will do his best to include you. I wish you a wonderful honeymoon cruise and look out for a little something from me and the bloggers. Best wishes and please come out of the cabin at least once or twice during the cruise

Diane Asked:
Hey John! (Please reply)
Did I read correctly… are you going to be on Carnival Dream until Sept.27th…. not looking for a gift but would love to see the bedtime story before you disembark…. How many days until you see Heidi and Kye?? Or should I say how many minutes… Have a wonderful time with your ladies… get some fresh undies and we’ll see you soon!
Best regards, Diane

John Says:
Hello Diane
Here I am with the girls and it’s wonderful to see them. I am now unfortunately disembarking the ship on the 21st as I have to fly back to the States to get on the Carnival Legend. I wish I could have been there with you but hopefully we will get to sail together very soon. Have a brilliant time on your Carnival Dream.
Best wishes

Cathy Asked:
Dear John (please reply)
My husband and I will be sailing with our two daughters on the Carnival Glory on Sept. 5th to celebrate our 16th wedding anniversary. It is the first cruise for all of us and we are very excited. I was just wondering if anything special is done on the ships for couples celebrating anniversaries and such? Should I have told someone when we booked the cruise? Thank you for your time as this is all very new to us (but hopefully just the beginning of future filled with cruises).

John Says:
Hello Cathy
Congratulations on your first ever cruise and as sure as I am sitting here blogging in my underpants I know that this will be the first of many Fun Ship experiences. We don’t automatically do anything for anniversaries however you can speak to your maitre d without your wife knowing and he will (for a small fee) arrange a cake to be presented at dinner and the dining room staff will sing their unique version of Happy Anniversary. Also as you didn’t leave me a last name or cabin number just drop a note at the Guest Services Desk for the attention of James the CD, tell him you are a blog reader and that I said to send you something from me for your anniversary.
I hope you have the very best of times
Best wishes to all

Bruce Press Asked:
Dear John.
I am a 5 time cruiser (all Carnival) and I never had a bad CD. They have all been great. I have only been reading the blogs since the first of August but if you are that much better than the average CD. I have to get your schedule so that I can plan the next Cruise. I currently leave in 12 days for the Fascination I know that it will be a great cruise with a great CD. I can wait to start planning the next cruise with you as the CD

John Says:
Hello Bruce
I am currently in the process of posting interviews and photos with all the Carnival cruise directors and I hope that you and everyone else are enjoying finding out more about the people who can truly make a difference to the cruise experience.

Now, as for my schedule …………well it’s nearly complete for 2010 and very soon I will be able to tell you when and where I will be sailing.

It would be an honor to sail with you and thank you for taking the time to read the blog thingy.
Have a great time on the Carnival Fascination
Best wishes

Retirementman Asked:
REPLY If You Have Any Time JOHN.
First of all John, to have a person come and shake your hand and then say to you “it seems like you’ve put on some weight.” is so very rude of him. But unfortunately there are many rude people in this world. He probably was brought up in an outhouse where the smell got to his brain. As far as a curfew, that would probably cause more complaints then its worth. Realistically, parents should automatically arrange that but who is going to control it? Not the parents who want to go out and enjoy the evening.

Water birth what a laugh. I have a problem John. I’m overwhelmed with all the great things that I will have to enjoy on the Carnival Dream. The question is,” How in the heck am I going to find all the time to enjoy everything that this brilliant ship gives me? ” Funny isn’t it. If that is my only problem life is great.

Now this is a serious situation. the guest that said you should” inject some humor into the lifeboat drill” is crazy. Many people on a plane never pay attention to the stewardess when she is explaining the rules that could save your life but I do. Same goes with the lifeboat drill. We’ve talked about years ago where even though how many times you’ve cruised you should always have a refresher and you should always be serious. I see many guests have drinks in their hands, and constantly talking when someone is explaining the lifeboat rules. I get very angry and frustrated when this happens. It’s my wife’s and mine that I want saved so I want to make sure that I know specially what to do and where to go. But many of those fun lovers just don’t care. SO…….inject some humor after we are finished the lifeboat drill. He’s totally out of his mind here.

In a few days you will be in the loving care of your lovely wife Heidi and your beautiful daughter Kye. Enjoy your break and love the two of them but also give yourself a rest. See you my friend.
Paul F. Pietrangelo

John Says:
Hello Paul
Life is indeed great mate because your Carnival Dream is indeed going to give you the luxury problem of finding time to enjoy everything she offers. I will be interested to read what you and others think about the Fun Hub booths and how you used them.

It always amazes me how few people listen to the flight attendant or watch the in flight video during the safety briefing and I guess that when I am on the bridge conducting the drill that everyone is listening. I was astonished to read that people bring drinks to the muster stations even though we announce that this is not allowed. It seems we need to enforce this better and we will I promise.

I think there is a place for humor during the start and at the end of the drill but the substance ……..the actual facts of what to do during an actual emergency must stay serious and explained clearly.

Thanks as always for your opinion and as always thanks for your support of the blog and of me as well.
Best wishes to you and the family

Brenda Asked:
Please reply
John, as always Thanks for the blog. I read it as soon as I get home from work. It always puts a smile on my face.
I am on the maiden voyage on the brand spanking new Carnival Dream. I really appreciate the pictures. The question I have today is how big is the Casino? I got a glimpse from one of the pictures. Will it be the same size as the one on the Carnival Liberty or will it be larger. As you can tell, I am a gambler.

I know that you will be walking off the Ship as we are walking on. Will you be departing early, afternoon, early evening? Just thought I may have the opportunity to shake your hand. Also, did I read on one of your blog thingies that we may be able to board around 10:30?
Thanks for all you do.

John Says:
Hello Brenda
The casino on your Carnival Dream is not going to disappoint because the real estate we have given it is very large indeed. All the gaming facilities you enjoyed on the Carnival Liberty will be featured plus new ones as well. The main difference is that like the Spirit class casinos your Carnival Dream casino is set in the heart of promenade deck so guests can walk through it and on to the Ocean Plaza.

I am going to stay as long as I can onboard and if my flight time allows it I will be organizing a quick meet and greet for all the bloggers who are sailing. I will let you know more soon.

It’s going to be something that you will enjoy and I wish you the very best of luck.
Best wishes John

Mike Asked:
My wife and I are going to be on the Carnival Legend on October 4th celebrating our 27th wedding anniversary. We celebrated our 25th on the same cruise back in 07. My question is why they don’t take request for dinner. We’d like a table for 2 one would think it could make Carnival dining planning easier if Carnival knew their customers request. We look forward to seeing you on the cruise. We loved our first cruise and can’t wait until October 4th 2009
Mike & Cindy Hill

John Says:
Hello Mike and Cindy
I am very glad that I will be there to sail with you on the Carnival Legend in October. While we do take dinner reservations for early, late or anytime dining, I am sure you can appreciate the difficulties of honoring 2,600 individual requests for the size and or style of table. However, if you would like me to try and speak to the maitre d and organize this I will so please let me know.
I am sure it will be a brilliant cruise.
See you soon
Best wishes

Susan V Asked:
Thank you for the information for my Mom on Cozumel. They were fine just knowing they did have an option rather than walking.

I appreciate you taking the time to answer one of my questions, but you didn’t mention the other one. I really need to know since we sail in 17 days.
Here is my question again (copied and pasted!)

Question about Kim Harrison:
We found out from her that she will be on our cruise (Carnival Glory 9/5) from the beginning until we stop in Belize (3 days). We wanted to find out if her schedule allows, could she join us for dinner. We would love to invite her (she told us she would love to but was unsure if she could) but wanted to make sure it was allowed and how we could arrange it as well.

Scott and I will be celebrating 21 years on this cruise as well and he will finally be PLATINUM so we are excited about our cruise. We are cruising with some wonderful friends we met last year on the Valor through Cruise Critics and look forward to our reunion!

I had asked awhile back for info or at least a picture of James Charleton (acting CD for our cruise 9/5 on the Glory). Any inside info is appreciated.
Thanks again,
Susan & Scott

John Says:
Hello Susan
Sorry that I forgot to answer this one, it must have slipped away back into cyber space. Anyway, yes, if Kim does not have a show that night and providing there is a space at your dinner table then by all means invite her. We encourage our entertainers not eat with the guests. All they have to do is to let the CD know who will in turn inform the maitre d and we always ask the entertainer to tip the waiter.

I will be posting a bio on James Charlton later next month but as you are sailing soon, here is a photo and some information on James.

Trading Card

P7230595 - cropped

I began a music career at Huddersfield University (Yorkshire, England) where I earned an Honors Bachelor of Music Degree. I then taught class room music at a Grammar School for 1 year, after which I decided to take a break from the education system. A 6 month ‘break’ as a Social Host on the Carnival Holiday turned into a passion for cruise ship life and all its characteristics. 2 years into my career with Carnival I decided to start taking my job a little more seriously and set my goals at the top. I was promoted to Assistant Cruise Director whilst on The Carnival Pride and after 2 fun filled night in Cabo San Lucas joined The Carnival Elation to assume the role. I was later to return to The Pride as ACD. Life as a Cruise Director really began for me on The Carnival Glory in Jan. 2009 when I had the opportunity to fill the biggest pair of shoes (quite literally) for Mr. Butch Begovich, who inspired me to try to become the best I could. To this day, those 6 weeks still remain the hardest 6 weeks of my working career yet hold some of the best memories yet.

I am sure James will soon be promoted from acting cruise director and he will continue the great tradition that allows us to say that Carnival really does have the best CD’s at sea.
Best wishes

Jeanette Asked:
Please reply
John is it possible to find out in advance what the table assignment will be for my September cruise. I really don’t want the fiasco that happened for my April cruise. I got stuck at a table for 8 and of the eight five of us showed up. Two paid no attention to the other three (me included when I said “hello”) of us until we started talking about our pets. The other two women at the table were well into their 50’s and the other couple (who ignored us for all but 10-15 minutes of the whole meal) was around the same 50’s. I was 39 and I expected to be at a table with others who were around 30ish or early 40’s, or even better (like on the liberty) at a table for eight with seven other single, solo cruisers!!!! I did change tables, but of the seven other people there was only one that was in their late 40’s and then three in their early to late 70’s!!!!! I wanted to be with people close to my own age, not people who were counting the days until retirement in months/or weeks and not years…

Please, is there any way to check to see if the table assignment is done for Sept 13th sailing of the Splendor and see if you can sweet talk the maitre’d (sadly it isn’t my sweet, sexy Alex) into putting me with people who will be happy to celebrate my 40th birthday with me…Oh, ya, and if you can find fellow Canadians that would make it even better–We Canadians have a lot in common (not just that we live in Canada!!).

John, you look mah-velous!!!! You are sticking to the diet, so it takes time for it to show that it is working. Your in it to lose it slow and steady, it just takes time and patience….now for your roid problem–try taking fibre supplements, it may help, if not, ask your doc to have em removed!!!!

John Says:
Hello Jeanette
One of the things about assigned seating is that while the majority of the time the people you meet at dinner will be the nicest people you could wish to meet and whom will stay friends forever ………..there are a few occasions where you sit with people who………well…you just don’t gel with..Such is life.

Now, I can’t actually find out who you are sitting with and if I tried to find out I think that would open a door where everyone would want to know and that would be so hard to manage. However, I will indeed ask the maitre d to assign you with the best possible people of similar age and I am sure therefore your dining experience will be a special one. By the way, one of the many reasons we introduced anytime dining was to allow guests to meet different people every night.

Anyway, please don’t worry and I will make sure that we do our best to make you happy. Thanks for the kind words about my weight, I really am trying hard.
Have a brilliant time
Best wishes

Randall Asked:
John (please reply)
Hi John. We are taking our first Carnival Cruise on the Legend Oct 11, 09 (6 of us including our 10yr old son). We are very excited to have you as our CD after reading all about you on Cruise Critic.

Every cruise we try and meet kids at a school or orphanage that we can help. I collect supplies and money before the cruise and deliver them. I’m hoping you can help us with making Roatan arrangements. I have collected a large duffel full of school supplies and books for the orphanage and school in Roatan and I need to make sure I can get off the ship with them. Is this something that can be done? Anything you can do to help us get these supplies to the kids would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks in advance

John Says:
Hello Randall
How wonderful that you have decided to do this and of course we can arrange accordingly. Please come onboard with a precise list of what you have to disembark and I will arrange this accordingly. Please could you leave this information at the Guest Services Desk when you arrive and I will make it so.

You are obviously a very kind person and I look forward to seeing you all very soon
Best wishes

Diana Mancebo Asked:
Please respond
Dear John;
How are you? I hope all is well. First, I want to congratulate you on your new arrival. Your daughter Kye is precious. Please enjoy her, time does go by pretty quickly; and before you know it she will be all grown up and you will be thinking where the time went. Now, I must say that I totally love your blog. I wish I knew about you and your blog before I went on the ship. It would help me better prepare me for you!!…LMAO I must publicly apologize for my rude comment to guest services about the interaction my husband and I had with you during the Talent show. You need to understand, that we are not used to your wonderful sense of humor and acting performance you display. We tried to play along, but it was very hard to do when we knew that my husband could have dressed better for the occasion but did not have the means to do so at the time. Yes, we lied about having a suit in our stateroom, because we were embarrassed. Actually, my husband did not even expect to be called up on stage, so he really did not think he had to dress up. We learn something every day, and with this experience my husband finally got it, that he has to think about his wardrobe a bit more and where to wear certain clothing.

At any rate, you were superb and we hope to see you in another cruise, but with your family onboard. I want you to do me a big favor and please thank the Freedom Band for making my song ” I will Always love You” shine…I have never, never, never sang with a live band before. I was a nervous wreck when you called me up on stage. I literally was going to walk out of Victoriana, but decided to stay and finish what I started. Oh my God! You have given me an experience that it was more like an outer body experience!…I saw the lights and the standing ovations with the applause, it was truly magical…You, Jamie, the Freedom band and the other entertainment staff made it happen for me. The only thing that I can say is thank you…thank you for making this wonderful experience for me to enjoy. Take care and happy

John Says:
Hello Diane
I am so glad you wrote because I heard the morning that you disembarked that your husband was not happy at me and what I had said on stage. Let me start with the most important thing I am going to type and that’s an apology…..I am so sorry that your husband found what I was planning embarrassing and that was never ever my intention.

You see, you looked so beautiful and after singing that gorgeous love song in the guest talent show I felt that we could do something special. The idea was that having seen your husband in shorts I wanted him to dress up for you ……….present you with your prizes and send strawberries and champagne to you etc etc ……….. basically turning the man in shorts into James Bond. I promise I would never have asked him to change if he hadn’t said yes when I asked him if he did indeed have a suit. So ………….please send my sincere apologies to him. I can tell you that you looked and sounded wonderful and the ovation you received from the audience was testament to that.

I thank you so much for taking the time to write and if there is anything I can do for you please let me know. Please keep reading the blog thingy.
Best wishes to you both

Well that’s all for today. I answered a double load of questions there which means that once again my underpants are sticking to my fake leather office chair. I will continue to answer as many as I can each day and please accept my apologies for the delay in doing so.

Great news from our Executive Chef Peter Leapold.

As per requests from Bloggers you can now ask your waiter or maitre d for a wheat free chocolate melting cake

Our thanks to the Chef.

Have you seen the new video on www.carnival.com/dream? It’s a brilliant animation ….tell you what ……..you pop over now and have a look and I will wait here………..its good timing actually as I need to go talk to the Arabs……….Mustafa Poo. See you soon.

OK, sorry I was gone so long…………I had chicken curry last night. Great video wasn’t it and congratulations to our CMO Jim Berra, the 343 Stephanies and the rest of the tofu brigade for that wonderful video.

I read your comments about smoking and found them fascinating with both non-smokers and smokers expressing their opinions. I know it seems strange that while bars have been smoke free for some time, you can still get smoke in your eyes in a bar at sea. Of course it would be silly not to admit that the cruise industry continues in its quest to show everyone that cruising truly is the best vacation in the world but we also want to provide an attractive vacation choice to smokers as well. I promise we will continue to provide as much smoke free atmosphere as we can on board. The one area I am concerned about is the Piano Bar. We have mostly non smoking lounges as you know but the one area that it seems people would like at least one night without smoke is the Piano Bar. So, I will collate all your comments and present this to the people that matter at Carnival and see what we can do.

On a very positive note you will be glad to hear that Carnival is assisting its crew members to stop smoking. While smoking may be a less popular trend in North America and the UK it is on the rise in places like Eastern Europe, the Far East and on the Indian continent where many of our crew come from. And so Carnival is giving free medical advice and free stop smoking kits and patches etc to those crew who wish to do so……….it is already proving very popular.

However, while I understand smoking is a subject that many feel passionate about I am sure that there are very few who would not agree that the polar bear-loving beardies have taken anti- smoking to ridiculous new heights. Here in the UK the board of beardies who give movies their ratings is seeking an 18 certificate for any film in which a character smokes, and where the film fails to explain that smoking is bad for you. It was only a matter of time before this idiocy reached us. In France, there have been bans on posters advertising films in which characters are shown with a cigar, such as the recent one of Audrey Tautou playing Coco Chanel……….who smoked like a bloody chimney. That’s typical of France…………stop your citizens from smoking ………. OK………..but while you’re at it maybe you can educate them that bathing is something that would also do the body good.

Whenever I see a film with an 18 certificate I am treated to torrents of foul language and relatively explicit rumpy pumpy. None of that seems to be so bad as people having a cigarette. My Mum and Dad have watched thousands of old films full of smokers but have never smoked so much as a salmon in their life…………..smoking my arse.

I know I often write about our sister companies here on the blog thingy and I love to support the blogs of P&O, Cunard, Seabourn, Holland America and P&O Australia. However, due to language constraints I never mention AIDA……….and I was thinking about this when I was talking to a friend of mine tonight. His name is Michael Bard and he works on the AIDA blog. He reminded me that I do often forget to mention them here on my blog thingy……….to which I replied………forgot mein arsche


I once suggested here on the blog thingy that German people have no sense of humor but Hans does at least find some things funny — people falling over on banana skins and Benny Hill, for instance. I also made fun of the fact that David (Das Hoffmeister) Hasselhoff is worshiped as Das Rock God. In fact, I had a good time at their expense. You zee, unlike the French and the British who would rather eat the boogers out of Nicola’s Sarkozy’s nose than be nice to each other, Das Germans and das British have fun at each other’s expense……but we like each other.

And I like ………no ich leiber (I love) the AIDA product and if there was one of our sister companies that I would have to put in first place for doing things that all make sense and for doing them thinking way outside of das box and doing those things on some of the most beautiful yet simplistic ships in das world…………it would be AIDA.

Here is some of what I wrote during my visit to our German sister in 2008.

I love the AIDA ships, I love their uber-modern designs and the way everything just flows……….I imagine Bill Gates house looks just like this inside. There are no doors to enter lounges and guest areas; one just leads naturally to the other. The color schemes are fresh, rustic and earthy and as you would expect being German, everything had been thought out down to the smallest detail. For example, every public bathroom is different……every one……each with a new way to make peeing more enjoyable, some even have TV screens over the urinal.

The Theatrium which, as you may remember replaces the normal theatre, seen on most cruise vessels is even more stunning that AIDADiva’s. It sits right in the middle of the vessel and guests can walk through, sit and watch one of the nightly shows and …….if it’s not their cup of tea……….or beer ………… leave ………. without disturbing anyone………there are no doors, it’s just ………….. Well ……… there and makes utter and total sense. Having no doors means that all the show’s rehearsals are open to the public, as is the broadcast studio and many other areas usually marked “crew only.”…………and I think that’s just brilliant.

At the top of the Theatrium are huge rotund seats that you can stretch out on like a bed on a private plane. You can start the night off by watching the amazing hire wire trapeze act and when that’s finished swivel the chair around, face the ocean, plug in your headphones and watch a movie.

The spa is huge and again those earthy colors have you feeling relaxed even before you take off your clothes for that massage. As you know, I am not a massage type of guy but the AIDABella Spa does have a private suite with a bath thingy next to the window. That dolphin and whale song music was playing and as tired as I am I could easily imagine myself in there and how relaxed I would be…………. It would be like lying in a vat of baby oil, dreaming about my whole body being as smooth as Megan Fox’s bottom and dreaming about ………….. ummmmm …… Megan Fox’s bottom… Sometimes it’s the simple things in life that are the best and nobody does simplicity better than AIDA.

The first example are there two smoking bars………..they are both………..inside /outside bars………This means that you can smoke indoors without having anyone come up to you and beat you over the head with a cucumber because you are smoking. …………there are no doors ……….the smoke just goes outside hurting nobody except the odd seagull who instead of looking for a piece of bread is now on 20 Marlboro Lights a day.

Seriously though, the Anytime Bar is so simple. Most of the room is indoors with a disco and nightly entertainment while the rest of the room has…yep you guessed it…..no doors so passengers have the choice…………all the other bars and lounges are non-smoking…………and everyone is happy…………….it’s so simple………..yet……….as far as I know ………AIDA are the only ones doing this……………until now on your Carnival Dream.

There are other simple things as well. Internet in the cabins ……….just like the Hyatt Marriott Intercontinental Plaza thingy Hotel……….a keyboard that’s linked to the TV. They have dartboards and pool tables and oh yes………..the absolutely brilliant 4D theatre. For a small fee, you are given a pair of 1950’s glasses and sit in big leather chairs and watch a series of 4D movies and cartoons. The chairs move up and down, side to side and when one of the characters gets eaten by a giant rat………..so do you and when that rat belches our hero out of his mouth jets of steam and water sprinkle lightly down on you from above………..honestly it is amazing ………..and so simple.

German’s love their food and, as you may remember, they love this “club ship”- buffet style dining at the pizza, Italian, and Asian, Swedish or multi-choice buffet areas. Beer and wine is included as are soft drinks and the food is top quality. Sometimes the word “buffet” can disguise the fact that the food may not be as high a quality as in a regular dining room but not here……….not on AIDA.

I wish the blog thingy came with “smell-a-thingy” so you could have enjoyed the sights and smells of the Market Buffet. It really does smell like a market…the fruits blending with the hanging meats and the smoked fish that blend with the two dozen types of fresh tea that guests shovel into a bag and dunk into tea pots. This…and I mean this with the greatest respect…has to be the best buffet at sea.

AIDA also has a premium contemporary restaurant and steakhouse, both with sumptuous menus and inviting chairs. Oh, talking of chairs…………yes, here I go again about chairs………..at the stern of the ship there is a room with huge, deep sofas that say come and rest das buttocks on me…..well….I mean the chairs don’t say that and there’s no sign that says in German “kommen und reston das buttocks on mich”………but that is what you will want to do. Guess, as well, what music and entertainment they have put there while you are relaxing and reading your Mercedes manual?………………Bugger all…………….less is more and there is no music, no distraction………just you, a big sofa bed, your book and the sea………….just as it should be.

Germans love to be outside and the AIDABella has many areas to eat, drink and be merry in the open air. Their Lido deck has a huge stage where the cruise industry’s most famous parties are held. These include stage shows from the performers, costume parties and a massive laser light show. I really have to see this one day as everyone I know who has seen it says it is quite remarkable.

There are many other areas of the ship I could write about, the bar by the tender station, the huge florist shop, the AIDA bar shaped like a star, the gymnasium, the fact that you can rent bicycles on board to take ashore. This now has been complemented with a bunch of Segway thingies so you can….ummm….Segway around the ports of call.

You see the problem is I cannot tell you how good this ship is……….just like I couldn’t when I explored the Queen Mary 2. I just don’t have the vocabulary. I just end up stammering and dribbling and talking wide-eyed nonsense as though I have just seen Megan Fox naked………on a Segway.

The other problem is this. None of you will ever sail AIDA…….and why would you? It’s a German ship designed for German people with everything written and spoken in German and you see that’s a real shame. It means that you won’t get to see what is quite possibly one of the best designed, most simplistically brilliant cruise vessels I have ever seen………and one that I wish we could translate into …….. Well ……….English.

But hold on………..because you can. There is a translate thingy button on the top of the Google bar thingy……it’s blue and has a squiggle and other signs on it and AIDA have done a very smart thing here by including this so that everyone can read about this great product and of course the AIDA blog which is something you should read. Their Captain’s blogs are wunderbar and I invite you to have a look at this link thingy and press the translator button which is once again located on the Google bar thingy on the right hand side of das page.

I wonder if it’s something we could and should add to the carnival.com site? In fact I mentioned this to one of the Herr Bard who says it is pretty easy to do. This might allow more non-English speaking people to experience the carnival.com website and then hopefully to experience the product itself. You can translate into any language with this thingy……..Italian, Spanish, Hebrew, Chinese, Japanese Russian even Klingon but not French…………what a shame.

Now let’s meet today’s cruise director……………….remember I will be highlighting all the CD’s in the Carnival fleet during the next few weeks so you can see just who is going to be making your cruise so very special. Then, once I have introduced or re introduced to everyone I will post the 2010 schedule so you can see who indeed will be your cruise director.

So with that in mind…………..here’s Steve Knisley

PBrush 1

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1. Please tell us about yourself and your journey to the Cruise Director chair.

I started with CCL in November of 1998 joining the Carnival Destiny as a disc jockey, the first crew member I met on the gangway was Jeff Bronson, now CD on the Carnival Paradise. I had the privilege of taking out the Carnival Triumph as DJ in July of 1999 with John as my cruise director and it was on that contract that I made the decision to try to become a cruise director, had a simple meeting with John and at that time the head of entertainment John Buccafusco, and then became a social host on the Carnival Fascination, where again the first person I met on the gangway was Jeff Bronson. I worked for a very influential CD named Peter Gibbs who I totally credit for where I am now. Peter not only offered great guidance but allowed me to grow and find my way. I have also done brief stints as Backstage Manager and Groups Coordinator on the Celebration before being promoted to ACD in 2002. My first Acting CD gig was covering for Jorge Solano on the Carnival Destiny, and on that first cruise we missed a scheduled call into Martinique, not fun for your first time out but with great team help and an extra show from Al Ernst we managed to pull it off. After several acting gigs on the Carnival Elation, Carnival Pride, Carnival Miracle, Carnival Inspiration and Carnival Legend I was promoted to full time on the Carnival Destiny in June of 2006.

2. What ship are you currently serving on.

Currently on the Carnival Elation, offering 3, 4 and 5 day cruises to Ensenada, Catalina and Cabo san Lucas.

3. Before we talk about you let’s talk about the ship. What are you favorite areas of the vessel and what is it that makes your ship the best in the Carnival fleet.

Personally I find Carnival Elation to be one of the two nicest Fantasy Class ships, the other being the Paradise, décor is beautiful and the ship is very easy to navigate. The new Serenity deck is a favorite place to get sun and enjoy a quiet place to relax.

4. Can you tell us about your itinerary and please pick your favorite shore excursion from each port and tell us why you like it so much.

Having just arrived to the ship I am still in the process of getting all the tours down, I will have to say that the Buggy Tour in Ensenada is amazing and the snorkeling (any) for Cabo is also excellent.

5. If someone were to ask you “What does a Carnival Cruise Director do?” how would you reply.

A Carnival Cruise Director takes the idea of a fun vacation and brings it to life, through not only the personalities selected to host events but also scheduling to get the best impact. I also see us as a liaison between the company and the guests and able to deliver messages not only according to procedures but also to bring out own flavor and fun spin.

6. What is your most favorite part of the job.

By far hosting, the stage work is the reason I wanted to become a cruise director, the behind the scenes meetings and office work are a big part of the responsibility but being on stage and getting the immediate reaction from the guests is by far the most rewarding part of the job.

7. If we were to sail on a ship where you are the CD what would be the must not miss activity or show that you host?

Two things that not to be missed. The deck party Power Hour is amazing. Recently I have found that after the activity portion of the deck party it sometimes seems to fizzle out, so I tried an idea on the Carnival Liberty and am now also doing it on the Carnival Elation and it works like a charm. On our Club Cabo deck party we start as do most ships with a series of dances and competitions but once that concludes I then go to work as the DJ for “The Club Cabo Power Hour.” We turn Lido deck into the biggest and best club just off the coast of Cabo San Lucas. With today’s best music and just a few classics thrown in. It is a huge hit and a lot of fun to do taking me back to club DJ days from home. After the “Power Hour” the “After Party” begins in the disco and it is also packed and a huge hit with the guests. The second not to be missed event is the Morning or Afternoon show. Unfortunately we cannot broadcast live on the Elation but each day we offer the guests a unique look into our lives. This show has some ship information but more than that it is very topic driven by what is happening in pop culture or the news, nothing debatable or political just a fun look at our take on what is going on in the world. It is also a big hit with guests (who can have their requests and dedications read out as well). It’s very much like a FOX’s “Red Eye” sort of format, never the same and always fun.

8. What is the hardest and or most challenging part of the job of Carnival CD.

The Carnival Elation provides some unique challenges that few other ships face, we have 11 different itineraries and that can make for very confusing scheduling, as well we have several cruises where there is no last day at sea and getting information to guests about debarkation can be difficult and you will find on the cruises that have no last sea day that often information is not relayed in the manner I would like it to be. It’s still a work in progress but we will get there.

9. If you could sail on any other cruise ship (not Carnival) what ship would you like to sail on as a guest and why.

I always sail on other cruise ships when on vacation, the most recent being the Mariner Of The Seas, out of San Pedro California traveling to the Mexican Riviera. I do have to say though that this was my third cruise with RCCL and was my least favorite of the three. I am very much looking forward to cruising on the Oasis Of The Seas, just because it is a cruise ship marvel. I am sure RCCL is going to have its share of challenges but from a guests point of view it does look pretty cool.

10. Finally – please fill in the blanks

Christopher Walken

Gemma Atkinson, why? Just Google image her!

WHATS ON YOUR EYE POD – “Eye Pod”???”.
This is a tough one as I have eleven of them, not a joke, I get anything Macintosh and have been collecting them ever since they were introduced in 2001. But on the one I primarily use (the 160GB Ipod Classic) I have very little music. I listen to talk radio each day and have the shows downloaded to my Ipod, so on there you can currently find over 1,000 episodes of “Opie & Anthony,” more than 400 episodes of “Ron & Fez” and a few of the “Jason Ellis Show” my new favorite, by the way all these shows can be heard on Sirius/XM Satellite Radio daily

Also a tough question because some are current favorites and others I will never flip by if I happen to find them on HBO in the middle of the night. Current Favorites include “500 Days Of Summer” and “Moon” both came in limited release but well worth checking out. All time favorites (and I am sure I am forgetting some here) “The Breakfast Club”, “Back To The Future” (The third one stank), “Threesome” and pretty much any Tarentino film.

Comics, Jim Norton, Patrice O’Neil, Jim Jeffries, Radio shows host Jason Ellis (XM 48 3:00-7:00pm in the east). And Carnival’s own Carl Rimi and Tommy Drake.

All time, Peter Gibbs, no longer with the company but I have never come across any before or since who has the quick wit, and total humility and ability to get the best out of his team, granted there are a few indiscretions the infamous Christmas photo comes to mind but Peter was truly a one-of-a-kind and loved by both guests and staff.

Currently, I think Chris Jefferson on the Carnival Conquest is one of our best, I have only seen him work a few times but in what I have seen he has it together, Chris is one of those guys who if I went to cruise I would want as my CD. Nice guy and good at his job.

Brilliant interview mate and I often read here on the blog thingy just how great a job Steve does. I remember him as does Heidi as a young DJ and we both knew that his determination and professionalism would send him wherever he wanted to go. I hope all of you get a chance to sail with him.

There will be more CD interviews tomorrow and throughout the week and later this week there will be more Carnival Dream photos of course as well.

I have tried to relax a little bit this weekend and watch some TV and as I did I realized how things have changed. Britain used to produce the best TV while what we got from you Americans was…….ummmm…….amusing at best. This may have been true in the Eighties, with programs such as Knight Rider, Dynasty, Remington Steel and Airwolf, but now many of the best things on British television — The Wire, The Sopranos, House, The Shield and Dexter etc — are American exports and a significant amount of the crap on American TV — American Idol, Who Wants To Be a Millionaire? The Weakest Link, Piers Morgan — is of British origin ……..so on behalf of a grateful nation……….may I say sorry for the rubbish we are sending you at the moment.

I am getting used to not having a full seven hours uninterrupted sleep and when Kye wakes I try to look interested and help. However last night as I crawled across to her side of the bed I think I must have pushed my luck too far. Every night since I have been home I have said to Heidi as she gets Kye ready for “late night drinkies” if “I can help.”

This has usually been met with a no……..or go back to sleep. But I think last night she must have been more tired than usual and thus was a bit ummmm……….grumpy.

I crawled across her side of the bed in my underpants which had become a bit ummm….. wedged up inside my bottom………..so I guess I didn’t look too becoming………….anyway………I asked if I could help and was treated to the following attack. “You may have eaten one too many curries but just because you have man tits I don’t think they contain anything more than chicken vindaloo and French fries do they…………now piss off ……..you’re scaring Kye.”

And so I pissed off…………….as I will again now.

Your friends
John, Heidi and Kye

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.