A Blog Full Of Holes

September 23, 2009 -

John Heald

Later on in this blog I am going to be asking you for a big favor in requesting for your permission in taking Thursday and Friday off and spending time with Heidi and Kye before flying off to the Carnival Legend on Saturday morning…………….more of that later.

When I say days off I do of course mean I need every moment of my last two days here in the UK to pack……….and complete a list of “man jobs” that Heidi has for me………including putting up some shelves in Kye’s nursery.

Yesterday I bought a drill in order to build what, at the time, I optimistically referred to as fitted shelves. When the spotty youth in the drill shop who had obviously used his drill to secure the pound of iron in his ears and lip looked me up and down with a you-don’t-have-a-clue-sir smirk on his face, then asked if I needed any help, I dismissed him in the manner of someone who knew everything there was to know about drills.

Then, when I….okay, it was my Heidi……..realized I’d bought the wrong type of drill (a silly cordless screwdriver thingy), I went to another drill shop and bought the right type….a something called a Black & Decker hammer bastard drill….yep that was one for me. It was the sort of thing that a man wearing a hockey mask would chase a bunch of American teenagers round a deserted house in Texas would use.

Spurred on by the doubting Thomases in my family namely my master craftsman of a father and Heidi who at least a dozen times has said “Why don’t we just hire a man, darling?” ……… I told them both to bugger off and set about the job with the enthusiasm of a president of a cruise line on a giant twister slide.

Enthusiasm, of course, is one of the biggest factors working against me. If I were less enthusiastic, I would be less likely to tackle big projects, like fitted shelves, and more likely to stick with manageable ones, like maybe picking up the phone and calling in a professional builder. But considering the amount of money we have spent this year on strollers, baby clothes and nipple pads I decided to …….well………do it myself………which of course can be abbreviated by the letters DIM………….oops.

Anyway, I had the wall, I had the shelves, I had the screws and I had the rawlplugs. All I had to do was fix the two-be-one-be-obi-wan-kenobi bits of wood in and – ta-da!

I don’t know if you’ve ever drilled a hole in a wall before ……I dare say you have but it’s a bloody hit and miss affair. I needed three holes, preferably in a row for each shelf. The first hole went smoothly, ruined only by a brief argument about how I hadn’t put any dust sheets down and, look, now Kye’s carpet’s dust all over it.

The second was even smoother and duly rewarded by Heidi making me a nice cup of tea. But the final hole, the one that would make the first two relevant, was a bloody oh my God I have designed the ugliest cruise ship in the world Epic nightmare.

At first I got nothing and nowhere. I stopped and wondered if I’d hit something that was buried in the cavity of the wall……….maybe the previous owner of our house had entombed his mother in law there.

Then I pushed harder. Still nothing. I changed drill bits, to a more ruthless-looking silver one that could kill a werewolf. Still nothing. So I changed angle ever so slightly and, with a sudden and violent explosion, the drill careered a good inch up the wall, taking a bollock-sized chunk of masonry with it………………….bugger.

“Is it supposed to do that?” asked the audience.

“We can fill it,” I replied hysterically. “With your underpants,” said a not-amused Heidi.

So I moved everything up an inch and this time the middle hole went wrong. Not a lot, but just enough to mean the two-be-one-be wouldn’t go in the wall.

I told Heidi everything would be OK ……….we would just have to remember only to put things made from feathers or air……….on that particular shelf.

I rallied for the fourth and fifth shelves, after I called my Dad who told me drilling was all about confidence. “You have to show the drill who’s boss”…………..right I am the boss. I have mastered the terror twister slide of death………I can master a damn drill.

For the second set of shelves on the other side of the chimney, my problems were compounded by the need to line them up with the first set.

“That’s not straight,” said the audience.

“That’s because the walls aren’t straight.”

“But it’s not straight with the walls or the other shelves.”

“I’ve gone for half and half.” “So everything looks crooked?” “Yes, so everything looks crooked. Don’t you have shopping to do or something?”

Then, when I was trying to hammer a screw a bit further in because it wouldn’t screw in any more, it slipped and I hammered my finger. And dropped the hammer on my foot (“I told you to wear shoes”), then stood open-mouthed as a crack travelled a good 2 feet up the wall.

I downed the tools and buggered off into the garden and smoked a cigar………. to forget. Later, all enthusiasm gone, I finished the job. Heidi then relished in giving me a major bollocking for the next 30 minutes……….and as she did all I kept thinking about was buying a nail gun.

Lets crack on with some questions………………here we go

Dave Carson Asked:
JOHN, PLEASE REPLY
Here’s a quick & easy question for you – – My wife and I are booked on the Carnival Dream’s second cruise (Oct. 3). Can you tell me the approximate time check-in will begin and the time the boarding process will start, Whoops – – I guess that’s two questions!

John Says:
Hello Dave
Well I hope you enjoyed yesterday’s blog about your Carnival Dream and I guess you are getting ready to head to Italy. Embarkation will start around 10:30am. I know we advertise it to be 12:30pm but we are usually able to start at 10:30 am. Remember you won’t be able to go to your cabin until around 1:30 pm but there will be brunch ready for you from 11 am and of course you will need a lot of time to explore this incomparable ship. I hope you have a brilliant time and please send in your review.
Best wishes
John

Wendy Asked:
Dear John, Please Respond Whenever Possible
Hope you are enjoying your vacation with the Heidi and Kye. I had shoulder surgery at the end of July and I have caught up with all your postings. I think I have read every blog written. Enough of that! Just keep up the good work.
To my question; we are sailing on the Carnival Valor on Nov. 15. I have a few questions, 1) we prefer a table for two. Why when making reservations for the cruise can’t we request a table for two, four, six, etc.? I realize it is a request subject to availability. I guess when the dine whenever starts this won’t be a problem.

2) We want to make reservations for the Steakhouse and were wondering what is the dress code for the steak house? Does my husband have to wear a jacket and tie?
3) Tours. We were looking at the Beginner’s Scuba Diving but my doctor said I will be just four months since my surgery and has advised against it. While reading CD Jen Baxter suggest the tour in Cozumel: Sea Trek Helmet Dive. I was wondering if she could comment on how strenuous the tour would be. I should be able to snorkel but I wanted to try something different.

4) Which ruins would you suggest we visit? Chacchoben Mayan Ruins, Kohunlich Mayan Ruins, Altun Ha, or Discover Mexico park. What is your opinion of Mayan Culture Experience?

Thanks for any help you can give me. We are also waiting for Carnival to go back to Europe.

John Says:
Hello Wendy
I hope your shoulder is better and thanks for catching up on the blogs, I hope you have enjoyed them. Let’s crack on and answer your questions.

1. With regard to your question about dining reservations it would be impossible to honor that large number of seating requests when it comes to table sizes. However, if you would like me to try for you I would be happy to do so. Please let me know.

2. The dress code for the Steakhouse is Cruise Elegant every evening of the cruise. This means that a nice pair of dress pants and an open necked shirt is fine and no tie or jacket is required. However, if you do book on the cruise elegant night you will find that most gentlemen will wear a jacket and tie. Hope that helps.

3. I am hesitant to recommend any excursion underwater for you. I have done the Sea Trek Helmet Diving excursion and while not overly exerting (basically, it’s walking on the sea floor) it is done underwater and breathing is done through a tube that pumps air into the helmet. It is a fantastic excursion but I would suggest that you check with your own doctor before taking this.

4. Which ruins would you suggest we visit? Chacchoben Mayan Ruins, Kohunlich Mayan Ruins, Altun Ha, or Discover Mexico park. What is your opinion of Mayan Culture Experience?

I would recommend Kohunlich Mayan Ruins if you don’t mind the 7 hour duration. All the others are great also (however, please note that in Discover Mexico there are only are small scale model reproductions.) And Mayan Culture Experience does not visit any of the below Mayan Ruins. So take the Kohunlich Mayan Ruins………they are visually stunning.

I hope this helps and I remain at your service should you need any further help.

Best wishes
John

Erik Valentine Asked:
John (please reply as time allows),
We will be sailing on the Conquest in Jan (before you’re CD, regrettably) and was wondering if they will be offering “tastings” such as Martini or Drink of the Day selections to introduce people to a lot of the offerings Carnival has while on board? I’ve seen some Cruise Critic comments about these but nothing specific for the Conquest.
Also, do you know if Carnival plans on adding the “Whale Tail” or “Monkey Head” drink glasses to their Online “Bon Voyage” section anytime soon? I found drink coolers and flutes, but neither of the “Fun” cups was offered.
My Thanks (as always),
Erik V.

John Says:
Hello Erik
With regards to the Martini Tasting may I suggest that you head to the wine bar on deck 5 aft? You will find the bartender there very accommodating and if you ask to taste a martini mix before buying he or she will be happy to do. You maybe also want to enter the mixology contest where guests are tasked with creating the ultimate cocktail which if you win is sold to the guests for the rest of the cruise. I have sent a request to Carol at our Bon Voyage department to try and get the Monkey Head, etc. added to the Bon Voyage gift list……it’s a great idea and I will let you know what she says. Have a great cruise and hopefully we can get those added before you sail.
Best wishes
John

Heather Kalisiak Asked:
PLEASE REPLY
Dear John,
Long time reader, first time poster. We all enjoy the blog very much, and hope you’re able to continue for a good long time. I usually sit around in the evening and read it aloud to the Husband, editing the potential naughty bits when the kids are around.

It will be 12 days from now when we will be setting sail on our second Carnival cruise, on the Carnival Pride out of Baltimore.

Our last cruise was 5 years ago aboard the Carnival Triumph, which was an interesting ride, since Hurricane Jeanne rolled into the Port of Miami the day we were supposed to debark, and we had to suffer through two extra days on the ship. With no cucumbers! Or lemons! Let me tell you, it was utterly traumatic and that’s why it took us 5 years to return to cruising, and I suppose I should have demanded a free cruise or something for being so inconvenienced.

(Um, no.)
We are thrilled to be able to finally sail again, especially since it’s a mere 6 1/2 hour drive from Buffalo to Baltimore. Not having to fly the four of us anywhere is a huge savings right there. We booked under the Early Saver program, and let me tell you, for us it has worked like a charm. We started out in an inside cabin when we booked, but after changing our room a total of 3 times, we are now in a category 11 suite for not much more than our original price we paid for that inside.

But ANYWAY, here I am rambling on and on (which is probably one of the reasons I enjoy your blog so much, as it sounds very much like my own rambling) when I actually have a VERY IMPORTANT QUESTION to ask you.
I am a member of Cruise Critic (oh noz! one of those!) and I am organizing a meet and greet for our roll call. Is there a certain procedure that I should follow if we would like to use a certain part of the ship for our meet and greet, like one of the lounges that would be unused at that time? Should I contact someone now, before we board, or should I go to the purser’s desk when I board and ask about the availability of a location?

I realize that time is of the essence, since we are leaving so soon, so if you could please have one of the Stephanies get back to me about how to take care of it, that would be great. My email address is in my WordPress profile, or you can answer on the blog. We’re all packed, so I’m running out of things to do before we leave anyway. ^_^
Keep up the great work. Kye is adorable.
Namaste,
Heather

John Says:
Hello Heather
I wanted to take the time to apologize that having just read this comment I realize that I am too late to organize this for you. I am so very sorry. I appear to be very far behind in my replies and that’s just not good enough. More on that later. For now, please accept my sincere apologies and I truly hope you had a brilliant cruise. Hopefully you were able to meet up with all your Cruise Critic friends and I will do my best to find a new way to organize these meet and greets.
Best wishes and once again……….sorry for not being there for you.
John

Cruisenbabe Asked:
Dear John, (please help me and please respond)
First, I absolutely love the blog. It is my Caribbean Sunshine that gets me through until my next cruise. I have seen you help so many people resolve issues on here that I am hoping you may be able to help me.

I have made several phone calls since receiving bad news at the end of last week about one of our upcoming bookings. However, I feel like I have been getting the run around. Every time I am given a new phone extension or a mailing address. My problem is very simple and I just want some of that good ol’ Carnival customer service. The letter I have written is as follows:

To Whom It May Concern:
I have a request that I would like for you to please consider regarding an upcoming booking. My husband and I made plans to take a cruise May 22 out of New Orleans on the Carnival Triumph, booking number 46LJ95. In addition to our deposit, we also paid for the deposit of our friends, booking number 47LJ12. After both deposits were place on my credit card, my friends learned that one of them was losing one of his jobs. Therefore, there is no way financially for them to be able to cruise with us. At the time I booked the cruise I booked it under the Early Saver rate. The associate informed me at the time that the booking could be “transferred” for $50 per person. I took this to mean that we could transfer the deposit for my friends cruise to our names and use it to do a back to back cruise in May. In addition while on the phone with the associate on September 8, 2009, we discovered why I was unaware of the terms of the cruise. This is because there was a glitch in the computer system with phone numbers. My husband and I moved this year and set up a new home phone and email addresses. However, when my past guest number pulled up to book the cruise it was booked under our old information. Therefore, the email that was sent was never received by us because it was our non-existent emails from before the move. That explains my surprise with the inability to transfer the cruise. If I had known at the time of booking, then I would have booked ours under past guest and theirs under something more reasonable to their needs.
My husband and I have already cruised on Carnival 2 times and have 2 cruises booked in the next year. We would like to add this 3rd booking using the deposit already paid. I now understand that this is not the Early Saver policy, however, considering our past guest status that Carnival could help us out at this time. There is no way financially for our friends to be able to cruise within the next 2 years seeing as their employment is in jeopardy and they are in school.

Carnival advertises how customer service oriented the company is. I am hoping that you will take into consideration mine and my husband’s past guest status, as well as, our future cruise bookings at this moment. We would like to take a back to back cruise in May to have completed 5 cruises with Carnival. Plus, we are past guests of Princess. The company will not be losing money, but more than likely making more money by giving us the opportunity to transfer this deposit one time. I am more than willing to pay a $50 per person for a total of $100 to do this if given the opportunity. It would be easier for all of the cruise guests and potential cruise guests involved with this if we were able to work this out this time.
Thank you for your time and consideration with this matter. I look forward to a quick and easy resolution to this problem.

John, if there is any way at all you can help us make this happen please do so. I know that policy is policy, but there also comes a time when circumstances are out of people’s control and overlooking a policy is the right thing to do.

Thanks for the laughs and smiles in the daily blog thingy! I look forward to my next cruises with Carnival and hopefully we can get this resolved so that I can say “I look forward to my next cruise this year and my back to back next year”.
You are awesome!!!

John Says:
Hello Cruisinbabe
Thank you first of all for the kind words about the blog and again my apologies for the late reply. However, having read your concerns I have sent your comments to a vice president of our CARE team who has been so wonderful in agreeing to help me with concerns like yours. Customer service has in my opinion never been more important and while I won’t comment on your specific problem I will promise you that someone will be in touch very soon to discuss this with you. Please let me know what happens. Thank you again for bringing this to my attention
Best wishes
John

Sharon Asked:
Please reply, (either Mr. Heald or one of the Stephanie’s, can be sent to personal email)
Sailing September 24, 2009 on Carnival Fantasy.
We have a large Roll Call at Cruise Critic. Is it possible for Mr. Noonan to schedule a meet and great for us one of the sea days?

Sorry to bother you with this.
Sharon
Guests wanting to set-up a Meet and Greet for a Cruise Critic group; sailing 9/24/2009 on the FA.

John Says:
Hello Sharon
I hope you get to read this before you sail as I just caught it. I have contacted Noonan your CD for your Carnival Fantasy cruise and he will arrange something for the first sea day. Please look at the today at a glance section for this in the Carnival Capers. Best wishes and have a great cruise
John

Stacey Asked:
John, (PLEASE REPLY)
First off…regarding the “man caves” for all the husbands to retreat to while the wives go shopping…let me just inform you that the only marathon shopping jaunts that my husband and I have done were in St. Thomas and St. Martin when HE was dragging ME into every darn jewelry shop on island. Turned out, after ALL that time, he ended up purchasing the one from the gift shop onboard that he’d been eyeing from the start. THEREFORE, I think your “man cave” idea needs a bit of tweaking to possibly include the victimized WIVES whose HUSBANDS are shopping nightmares. 🙂

Now…as for my question. I know that you have answered quite a few questions of mine in the past few months regarding my 11/29 Glory cruise (for which I am grateful), and have told me to post to the blog two weeks prior to my sailing to remind you about the particular issues. But with the recent influx of posts requesting replies, I was thinking (after reading your remorse at missing a few people who have requested your assistance, but you’ve missed them before they got onboard) if you’d maybe like to rethink the “2 weeks” answer you give everyone to contact your prior to their sailing. Just so that I can give you enough time to sift through all of your blog responses and we can still take care of all the things I’ve requested your assistance on.
Thanks! Keep up the good work, John!

John Says:
Stacey
Hello Stacey
A man who likes jewelry shopping………he is a rare breed indeed. You are correct that I am behind in my answering but don’t worry as I see your cruise does not start until the end of November. Please re post around November 1 and please list again what it is you need me to do so I can make sure I do my best to accomplish all you ask for. Thanks for the kind words and hope to hear from you soon
Best wishes
John

Miranda Asked:
John, (please reply)
I kept seeing everyone talk about your blog on cruise critic. I thought who the heck would want to read what some big wig at Carnival writes? YAAWWN! Boy was I wrong! I have been hooked for about a month now. Keep it coming as I am now addicted to your blog thingy. My question is about the CD schedule for 2010. I read where you announced yours, but I would like to know who our CD will be when we sail on the Carnival Valor on January 3, 2010. Since you are doing all of the CD interviews, I would just like to know who to pay more attention to as my upcoming CD. Thanks again for all that you do. P.S. I know it’s a little early but if Kye ever wants a nice, cute American boyfriend, I have a 9 month old son. She is adorable!

John Says:
Hello Miranda
That’s so funny…….me……..a big wig……..well I am glad that you realized I was a small wig and popped on over to the blog which I hope you have been enjoying. The cruise director schedule for 2010 is still being finalized but I can confirm that the CD for your Carnival Valor cruise will be the brilliant Big Tex. I will be posting more CD bios today and next week including that of Big Tex. I mentioned your son to Kye and she went “aggoooblurgoowee”……….and dribbled ………. which is a good sign don’t you think?

Thanks for the kind words and my best wishes to you and your family
John

Jennifer Hamilton Asked:
John (please reply)
I tried to post this question in your comments before but I think it dropped off somewhere into blogger la-la land. I love your blog and I love seeing the pictures of the fabulous Carnival Dream. We are thinking of booking two cabins on the Dream next spring, and I had a question about the wonderful looking spa cabins. I understand these cabins are non-smoking, but does that mean smokers are prohibited entirely from booking them? For example, my husband enjoys the occasional cigar, but never in cabin. My mother is a smoker, but also never in cabin, usually in one of the designated smoking areas outdoors. Would we be okay booking a spa cabin, if the smoking is not going on in cabin?

Thanks for taking the time to answer questions, and congratulations on such a pretty baby!

Jennifer (who is offering her hubby up as a cigar buddy if your cruise directing plans include the Dream next spring!)

John Says:
Hello Jennifer
I am glad you re posted. Sometimes the comments do disappear into the bloguda triangle ……. never to be seen again. Your Carnival Dream is an extraordinary ship and I hope you enjoyed my review of her yesterday. Please don’t worry about your husband having the odd cigar while staying in the spa cabin. As long as he doesn’t smoke in the cabin or on the cabin balcony all will be well. If he does a SWAT team will burst in and tie him naked to the smokestack. I hope you do book these cabins………the spa is extraordinary and the direct access to the luxurious treats that await you will make the cruise so very special.
Best wishes to you both
John

Carol Brose Asked:
Dear John: So sorry to have to write a rather undoing message of the Princess Line to Alaska from Seattle. My friend, Gayle, just arrived back from this cruise and when I asked her how everything had gone, she said she really couldn’t remember very much because she came down with 50 bed bug bites the first night out and when she told the powers that be, the doctor prescribed antihistamines which kept her so sleepy she had no idea of what happened on the trip. The maid service took all of her clothes and washed everything in such hot water that most of her new underwear and a new jacket of her husband’s had been quite ruined! They were put into another room; however, my fear is that the ship should be checked out very well, so that others would not be infected in the same manner. I told her I would report this for her, and I don’t know where I would send a letter of complaint. Could you please forward this message to the powers that be and make sure the ship is checked out well for future trips and the people that are aboard! Thank you for your help in this matter! Sincerely, Carol Brose for Gayle Miech

John Says:
Hello Carol
I am sorry to read about this experience. Would you please ask Gayle to send me a letter via a posting on the blog stating what happened and to include the dates of her voyage and booking number, etc? I will then send this onto someone at a high level at Princess and ask them to assist. She can also send this to Princess Cruise Lines via the customer care address which can be found at www.princesscruises.com

Please though send her my apologies and I am very glad that you brought this to my attention. I hope to hear from Gayle very soon.
Best wishes
John

Annette Mattaboni Asked:
John:
We took a cruise to Europe 2 yrs ago & had a marvelous time. We enjoyed you so much that we are looking forward to taking another cruise with you. Is it possible to get your schedule of cruises so that we may pick out one to take? Or, how can I find out about your cruises? We will be joined by another couple & are really looking forward to sailing with you. Thank you in advance.
Annette

John Says:
Hello Annette
How very kind of you to ask where I will be in 2010. I start on your Carnival Dream at the end of January through to the end March 20th. I then join the Carnival Conquest through to May 3rd and then on to the Carnival Fantasy until early June. Then after taking the summer off I will be on the Carnival Pride from September 5th until sometime in the winter. Then hopefully the Carnival Spirit. It would be an honor to sail with you on one of these ships and if I can help you decide please let me know.
Thanks again and best wishes to all
John

David & Lucy Asked:
John, please reply:
Have you heard (or seen) anything about the new Sign and Sail cards yet? Looking forward to a picture if you can scrounge one up.
Thanks

John Says:
Hello David and Lucy
Yes, the new cards have been distributed around the fleet and I will make sure I post photos of them next week from the Carnival Legend. From what I hear they are being much better received than the previous ones. Best wishes and stay tuned
John

Linda Asked:
John, please reply–I see that one of the ships mentioned today is being refitted for Carnival Australia. My question is, what is the relationship between Carnival and Carnival Australia? Are they sister companies like Holland America and Carnival (and therefore no transfer of “status” i.e. Platinum Guest) or since they are both named Carnival will traveling on one be the same as traveling on the other? (Planning ahead as Australia is on our bucket list and what better way to visit than on a Carnival cruise!) Thanks, Linda

John Says:
Hello Linda
The ship that is heading to Carnival Australia is the Pacific Dawn and you can read about her journey on www.bestblogsatsea.com (Carnival’s former Jubilee is also sailing the waters of Australia). Carnival Australia is part of P&O Princess and thus part of Carnival Corporation. Unfortunately even though they have Carnival in the name there is no direct link in their rewards program. Sailing on the different Carnival brands is a different experience as each has their own identity. By the way, you can see what it is like to sail on a P&O Australia vessel (which sounds like a brilliant experience) by reading this great blog: http://pacificdawn.pocruises.com.au/
Please let me know if you have any other questions
Best wishes
John

Cindy Wiley Asked:
JOHN PLEASE REPLY,
Your blogs are funny even when you’re not a CD.
There are always 2 songs that every Carnival ship plays during dinner. One is Tina Turner’s Simply the Best which signals the end of the cruise……BOO HOO.

And the other one is?????? For the life of me, I can never remember the darn song except it has the word “girl” in it…..LOL
Help please! Thanks, JOHN
Cindy 🙂

John Says:
Hello Cindy
Strange isn’t it but because I am never in the dining room on the last night I had no idea that the waiters sing Simply the Best. I was just on your Carnival Dream where the waiters performed the superb dance from Slumdog Millionaire and then did one by a group called Flow the Rider or something like that. Tell you what, why don’t I ask the maitre d’s on three or four ships what songs and dances they are performing. I will post their answers shortly

Best wishes
John

Linda (Mom of DJ) Asked:
John: (Please reply)
A question has come up on Cruise Critic that I thought was interesting.

How many Platinum members does Carnival have?
We have a running list on Cruise Critic that is current just short of 300 “units”. (That could be a single person, a couple or a family like us)

I know this number probably changes daily, but it would be interesting to know.
Thanks
Linda (Mom of your friend DJ)

John Says:
Hello Linda
I know you don’t ask for a reply very often so please allow me this chance to thank you for your support of the blog and the awesome help you give others. I have no idea how many Platinum cruisers Carnival has. If there are 300 listed on Cruise Critic I would imagine that this would be the very tip of the iceberg…..oops…….not a very smart cruise ship reference was it …… anyway Linda……I will check and if we have such records I will let you know. It is a great question though. Best wishes to you and the family and of course my mate DJ
John

Karen Asked:
John………please respond.
Counting down the days until we board the Carnival Dream at Port Canaveral on December 3rd, like so many others! Just wondering how many cruise elegant nights there will be on this 9 night cruise?

John Says:
Hello Karen
I am also very excited about this Bloggers Cruise on your Carnival Dream. We will have 2 elegant nights during this 9 day cruise. I hope to meet you onboard and get ready for the best cruise ever.
Best wishes
John

Glen demark Asked:
(John – Please Notice)
Hi John, Linda and I have decided to sail on the Dream for December 3 after the exhaustion of moving our offices to a new modern home port for us. As that is the bloggers cruise, we would love for you to include us in the festivities. Thanks in advance – and Linda and I will see you then. And I insist, this time, that you and some others find a night (as our guest) in the Steak House.
Glen & Linda
GalaxSea Cruises

John Says:
Hello Glen and Linda
It will be an honor to have you placed on the Bloggers Cruise list. I know that as travel agents you are huge supporters of Carnival Cruise Lines and it will be a great chance for me to show off your Carnival Dream so that you can hopefully sell her to your clients. See you soon and best wishes to you both
John

That’s all for today. I know I keep moaning about how far behind I am in answering the questions but I do get mad at myself that I am not able to catch up. I will though………..maybe one day next week me and my underpants can accomplish this task. Meanwhile please keep the comments coming and I will get to them as soon as I can.

I hope you enjoyed yesterday’s blog about your Carnival Dream and would appreciate your comments and thoughts on the ship. She is something to boast about but it is of course time to move on, collect my thoughts and start thinking about being a cruise director again. More of that in a moment, but talking about cruise directors why don’t I leave you in the company of one while I go cluster bomb the toilet with some shock and awe.

We mentioned the Carnival Fantasy a lot today and her CD Noonan was also mentioned so why not find out more about him…….so here then is Kevin Noonan……the CD of the Carnival Fantasy.

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1. Please tell us about yourself and your journey to the cruise director chair.

Well John, this answer depends on how far back in the journey that you want to go. I knew as a small child that I wanted to be a performer. This is one of the main reasons that I played 10 instruments before I was 10 years old (don’t be impressed, I played each one for about a week before I got bored because I stunk). Flashing forward a bit, I graduated from Batavia High School in 1998 (Between Buffalo and Rochester in Western NY) and was off to the University of New Hampshire. I loved it there (except for the whole going to classes thing). I was chemistry major though I learned a whole lot more about mixing captain and cokes than I did chemicals. I joined the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity in the fall of 1998 where I honed my people skills (well that is what I told my parents I was doing). I stayed at UNH for a couple of years until I felt the need to travel. I joined Carnival in February 2000 as a Youth Counselor on the Carnival Sensation. I did three contracts in Camp Carnival (Carnival Sensation, Carnival Fascination & the Carnival Spirit) before switching to the Entertainment Department in 2002. I then became a Teen Host for 3 months, this was before Club O2 existed (on the Carnival Ecstasy), then Social Host for three years (4 contracts on the Carnival Triumph & the start up of the Carnival Liberty), Assistant Cruise Director for 3 years (Carnival Pride, Carnival Fantasy, Carnival Imagination & Carnival Spirit) and then I got my first shot at Cruise Director at the beginning of 2008 and haven’t looked back since. I have now been CD on the Carnival Pride (for 10 days), Carnival Imagination, Carnival Destiny, Carnival Liberty and Now the Carnival Fantasy.

2. What ship are you currently serving on?
I am currently on the Carnival Liberty but by the time this gets posted I will most likely be on the Carnival Fantasy.

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.
I love standing at the back of the ship anywhere. Verandah Deck Aft is one of the best places to be as we set sail because the place you have just been keeps getting smaller and smaller and that means you are on your way somewhere new. As for my ship being the best in the fleet I am going to tactfully dodge this question. Look over there!!!! (I ran away) I think that every ship and every destination is unique and should not be compared to one another. Have loved every ship that I have been on (if you see above I have been on a lot of them) and while I am there it is my favorite. Good dodge Noonan!

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?
When I initially arrive on the Carnival Fantasy we will be offering 4 and 5 day Western cruises to Progresso, Yucatan and Cozumel, Mexico out of New Orleans, La. During November I will be repositioning the ship to Mobile, Alabama where we will still be in the Western Caribbean doing 4 and 5 runs also going to Costa Maya and Calica, Mexico. The tour that I most excited to do again in Progresso is the “ATV Adventure at Rancho Grande” it reminds me of being young, hanging out with my buddies (Justin, Rob, Clark, Weather and Brendan official shout out!!!!) and getting dirty. In Cozumel I try to play golf as much as I can. The Cozumel Golf and Country Club is an amazing course. Though I hate hole #16, I have never used the same ball start to finish. One time I lost 7 balls on that hole.

5. If someone were to ask you “What does a Carnival Cruise Director do?” how would you reply?
The Cruise Director of a Carnival cruise ship makes sure that everyone is aware of what is going on, where we are going and what fun things there are to do. Though 64% (not an exact percent but if you don’t finish a percentage in a 0 or a 5 it looks like you have actually done research) of the Cruise Director job is either on stage with the nightly entertainment or behind the scenes making the daily capers, scheduling activities, doing interviews for blogs and hosting parties and events but none of those things really answer the above question. I think a Carnival Cruise Director makes the experience of cruising special and memorable for as many guests as he or she can in their stay on board the ship. That is what we do with the other 35% of our time. (I know that 64% and 35% don’t add up to 100% but you gotta sleep sometime)

6. What is your most favorite part of the job?
I love to stroll the Promenade deck before shows, after shows and in the afternoon for a coffee, stopping along the way for a chat with anyone that is willing (and sometimes with people who are not willing). The one on one conversations and hearing how much fun people are having really makes this job the best.


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?

I enjoy the welcome aboard show the most because it is the first time that I get to meet the guests each cruise. When you have a good crowd (which is normally the case) it is the most fun event for me too. Sometimes you can actually feel the room letting loose as the show goes on. I love bringing guests on to the stage with me as well. In the welcome aboard show I do the spoon game which most readers of this blog have seen 32 times but it is not about the spoons at all. It is talking to the guests beforehand that makes the show. I don’t know how it happens but every time a guest is on stage they turn it on and become the star. For example this cruise I had a gentleman on stage named Mr. Hann (he had a pretty thick accent). I asked him what he did for a living and I swore his answer was that he was a “pisser.” Of course hilarity ensued but the place exploded when I went out to the audience and asked his wife what he actually did. It turns out he was a PASTOR. Nuff said.


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

I think it has to be entertaining a wide range of people that didn’t pay a cent to get in to your show. Now obviously they paid to come on the ship and I am glad they did but they have nothing “specifically” invested in the shows each night. Basically what I mean is if you buy tickets to an AC/DC concert you obviously like AC/DC. You chose that concert, on that night, and may have been looking forward to it for 3 weeks. There is no chance that you are going to walk out of that show. That is the complete opposite of what happens on a ship. On a ship you hear an announcement at 8 pm that there is a show at 8:30 pm. You look at your watch, got nothing planned so you go to the show. It is our job to keep that person laughing, having fun and enjoying the show (and in that seat). We also need to entertain kids age 4 to Adults age 137 (ok that is an exaggeration but you get my point). Then there are the people that are not happy unless they are unhappy. I always want them to be extra unhappy with me (I think that means happy).

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 would choose the Carnival Dream. I have been reading your blog and it sounds like the Dream is a ship that every cruise director would like to be on. I would also like to sail on Princess as I understand that they have a great product and I know I could learn lots from that experience.

10. Finally – please fill in the blanks

YOUR FAVOURITE ACTOR
It is a tossup between Adam Sandler, Jim Carey & Jack Nicholson.

YOUR FAVOURITE ACTRESS
Jennifer Aniston, Mila Jovovich and the boss from 40 year Old Virgin (I don’t know her name but when she shows up in a movie I am always happily surprised)

WHATS ON YOUR EYE POD
Sister Hazel, Shinedown, Dave Matthews Band, The Four Seasons, Rob Thomas, Matchbox 20, The Eagles, Garth Brooks, Fall Out Boy, Styx, Journey, Kings of Leon, Nickelback, Tenacious D, REO Speedwagon, Pink Floyd, John Mayer, Jason Mraz & The Fray.

YOUR FAVOURITE MOVIE
The Departed & Boondock Saints.

WHO MAKES YOU LAUGH
Demetri Martin & Dane Cook.

YOUR FAVOURITE CARNIVAL CRUISE DIRECTOR EXCLUDING YOURSELF AND ME (JOHN) AND WHY
There is no way I will answer this question with one name. I have worked with so many of the current cruise directors that I have learned so much from each of them and it would be unfair to not name them in this section. So here we go. My favorite cruise directors are, in no particular order: Chris Jefferson (he was my CD on the Carnival Triumph and the Carnival Pride), Big Tex (my CD on the Fantasy), Ralph Valente (formerly known as Wee Jimmy was my ACD {I was a host} on the Carnival Triumph), Jorge (it was after five when I wrote this, my CD on the Carnival Imagination).

IF YOU WERE INVISIBLE FOR A DAY WHAT WOULD YOU DO
I would definitely do a whole lot of things but what good is it to be invisible if you answer a question like this one?

Thanks Noonan. Great interview and once again I am very proud of another of the young people who I have watched come through the ranks. Noonan is also a very accomplished artist ………. maybe I can get him to send in some drawings of Mr. Robinson…………Noonan?

One of the jobs of the CD is of course preparing the Carnival Capers, a job that takes up many hours a week. Of course in the old days we didn’t have computers and would use something called “a typewriter” and after typing the activity out would stick it to a piece of legal paper. Once done it would be sent to the printer whose name was always Mr. Ko regardless of what ship you were on and he would print them………and they would look something like this

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Wow……..that was the start of the Carnival Capers and it brings back many memories for me. The featured act was Bill Boley or “The Colonel” as we called him. He was a ventriloquist …………a brilliant ventriloquist and the audience loved him………….can’t remember the name of his dummy though………I think it was Bob ……….anyway, he was a great performer. It’s amazing looking at what we did back then and how far we have come……..and ………what the hell is the movie “Who is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?”……..maybe we need to play that on the Seaside Theater Big Screens.

Anyway, we have changed a lot since then when it comes to what we do onboard and we have changed a lot in our production of the Carnival Capers………and you can expect some new and exciting changes by the end of the year when we will present a new and fun way of promoting what we do onboard.

Talking of new and exciting things, I have been so busy that I have forgotten to thank PA 007 for taking the time and the risk to break the news on the Carnival Fantasy’s new Charleston cruises. He or she is now back in their cubicle. However I have asked them to keep their ears wide open for any other breaking news …………..I am sure there will be some soon.

As I said, I have been focusing on your Carnival Dream recently but I must not forget that there has been lots more going on. This includes the Fantasy class ships being updated and some with the addition of the extra balconies. I though therefore you might like to see these great photos sent by our friend Peter Fenton who is the Senior Vice President of Shipbuilding and Refits …….. I think you will find these fascinating as we look at the Carnival Sensation and enjoy a close up view of how these balconies were added.

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And so it is onto the Carnival Legend. I fly with British Airways on Saturday and join the ship on Sunday in Tampa. I will watch Jenn Baxter as CD for a cruise and then take over as cruise director until November 1st. I have only worked on the Carnival Legend once before when she was brand new back in 2002 and she is the only Spirit class ship I have worked on. I have many happy memories of the vessel ………..and some fun ones as well.

Here is an extract from a blog I wrote in April 2007 (bloody hell that feels so long ago) about the ship…….you may notice a change in my writing style since then………i.e. there is no mention of my underpants or what is contained within them………….anyway……..here it is………….my favorite Carnival Legend story.

The ship was still in the yard in Helsinki, Finland. Picture the scene; I was sitting in the cabin at the computer with Heidi preparing for the handover ceremony and show. This is where Carnival takes delivery of the vessel from the shipbuilders and there is a lot of pomp and circumstance. The door to my cabin was as always on the latch and I heard yet another knock on the door. I shouted for the knocker to come in without even turning around to see who it was. There, as large as life, was Micky Arison, Carnival Corporation’s Chairman and Vice Chairman Howard Frank. Now, I was expecting these two esteemed gents to walk in my cabin as much as I was expecting Angelina Jolie to walk in saying ”I dumped Brad and I want you.” (Heidi is not amused).

Anyway, to cut to the chase I was asked by Mr. Arison to help him at the handover ceremony. Just a few months earlier the same ceremony had been completed on the then brand new vessel Carnival Pride and Mr. Arison wanted to have a bit of fun with this one.

He had devised a plan where during his speech thanking the shipyard for the wonderful vessel they had built I would start to heckle him from the back of the theatre and eventually walk on stage and say that his speech was boring and that it was the same speech he had done just a few months ago.

Now when the Chairman of the Board asks you to do this you say ”Yes, sir” and he left comfortable in the knowledge that this would happen. So, what was I going to do? There would be 1,000 people in the room, all from Finland and 99% of them spoke as much English as I spoke Finnish. The idea had been that I would do the heckling in English and then 5 minutes of jokes etc. in English knowing that the boss and a few others would be the only ones to understand. However, I decided (and quite bravely I might add) to turn the tables around and do the whole thing in Finnish. The problem was, I only knew two words in Finnish and they were words that were not going to put me on anyone’s Christmas card list.

I therefore got the help of one of our Finnish Pursers the wonderful Maarit who translated all my jokes into Finnish and wrote them out phonetically. I practiced for two hours even trying them out on another Finnish crew member until they understood me and laughed.

Now, I want to cut to the time when I actually get on stage and come back to the best bit. Once on stage I stood next to Mr. Arison, Mr. Frank and the Captain and they waited for me to do my speech in English but I then started to do it in Finnish and the audience laughed they looked very bemused. It had worked and the ceremony was successful and a whole lot of fun!

Now, the best bit. Let me set the scene. There are 1,000 shipyard workers, all the Carnival executives and shipboard department heads. The thing was, I had not told anyone apart from Heidi that I was going to do this. Mr. Arison started his speech and I immediately started whispering quietly from the back that I was so bored with this and I couldn’t take it anymore.

Then, without warning I shouted from the back of the room “Get off the stage, you said the same thing last time, boooooooooooooooo.”

One thousand heads turned to look at me in horror, but none more so than the Hotel Director Shahnaz Kashanipour. Now Shahnaz is one of the best and most respected Hotel Directors in the company and a great friend of mine, but at that moment she must have thought I had lost my mind.

I continued to shout “boring” and “get off the stage” to the most influential man in the cruise industry and as I shouted I started to walk toward the stage. Like a linebacker Shahnaz threw herself at my legs trying to rugby tackle me to the floor and I walked the last few meters towards the stage with Shahnaz hanging on my leg like a child grabbing onto their parents leg. It was a wonderful memory.

Oh, and by the way, during the ceremony the Mayor of Helsinki gave a very passionate speech where she mentioned the word Carnival Legend a dozen times. Unfortunately she called it the Carnival Leg End and to this day the crew of this fine ship still refer to it as the Leg End.

And so I return to the ship and to being a cruise director. I am very much looking forward to my time onboard and to being a cruise director again. Unfortunately I am not looking forward to saying goodbye to the girls………..it will I am sure never get any easier. As I mentioned at the start of the blog I would like to take Thursday and Friday off. I have never done this before but I owe them two days of my total attention and I want to enjoy each and every moment I can with them as I will not be seeing them for 2 months…………….I am not a good Dad, am I?

Thanks in advance for your understanding and thanks also for staying with me during my time at home. I will write from the plane where I am sure there will be a story and of course I will write every day next week starting on Monday from the lovely Leg End.

I send my best wishes to all of you as does Heidi and this little bundle of joy……………..Kye.

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Goodnight
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.

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