A New Leg End

September 28, 2009 -

John Heald

Surprisingly my British Airways flight to Tampa was remarkable only by the fact that bugger all happened. We took off, spent nine hours in a metal tube breathing in each other’s farts.

However after landing and with me panicking that I would have nothing to write about…….until I reached United States Immigration.

I chose a line with a lady inspector ………..don’t know why I did that…..it just seems the right thing to do. I hoped that unlike her Miami colleagues that she would be kind and loving to me and maybe even give me a cuddle…………ummmm……………..cuddle my arse.

Like her colleagues, she has a tough job making sure no bastards get into the good old USA but she was also selected for having no grace, no manners. She scanned my form and noted there was no street number for the hotel at which I was staying.

“I’m going to need a number,” she said. “Ooh, I’m sorry,” I said, “I’m afraid I don’t have one.”

This didn’t seem to have any effect. “I’m going to need a number,” she said again, and then again, and then again. Each time I shrugged and stammered, terrified that I might be sent to the back of the line or worse, into the little room with the men in rubber gloves who seem to have a pure hatred for anyone who works on a cruise ship. But I simply didn’t have an answer.

“I’m going to need a number,” she said again, giving the distinct impression that she was a robot programmed by people with beards, and that this was a conversation she was prepared to endure until one of us died. So with a great deal of bravery I decided to give her one. And the number I chose was 21.

This, it turned out, was fine. She’d been told by her superiors to get a number. I’d given her a number. Her job was done and so, just an hour or so later after spending some time in the “special crew members room” where we are treated like we all have the potential of having 2 pounds of semtex in our Nike’s, I was on the streets of Los Tampa but only after the customs man looked at me as if I’ve just chucked his tea into Boston harbor.

And so I headed to the shuttle train thingy which was packed with the 300 people who had all been sitting together for nine hours on the plane. We were packed in there like sardines…..we all smelled of sweat and fart residue and had Stevie Wonder been on the train with us he would have probably thought he was in Paris.

I was tired and had a meeting I had to attend that night with the Port Agent and was looking forward to that about as much as Phil Spector looks forward to his morning shower. However, my dark mood was lifted as soon as I disembarked the shuttle thingy for there stood Tom and Jane, two of our long time blog readers.

IMG00297-20090926-2229

As you can see Tom was wearing the Heidi fan club T-shirt and they came bearing gifts and hugs, it was just what I needed. We chatted for a while and I told them how honored I was that they had taken the time to come and see me. Thanks guys and see you soon.

But thats not all……..for after I left Tom and Jane and went to collect my baggage for the second time as you collect it and then give it back again before you get on the shuttle thingy there were the Travis family……all seven of them….complete with balloons and more hugs. They had driven from a place called Port Saint Lucie on the hope of seeing me and that is truly extraordinary. I felt so guilty that I couldn’t spend more time with this wonderful family……it was truly humbling that Tom and Jane and the Travis family had come to the airport just to see me ………. my words of thanks are truly not enough. I am one very lucky man.

And so it was time to head to my hotel in Tampa. Carnival was paying so while I was home I made a quick visit with Uncle Google and the Sheraton popped up with five different options. I could have an executive room, or a room with WiFi, or with breakfast, or with both. For a few extra dollars, I could even have the honeymoon package, complete with celebratory bottle of bubbly and a Jacuzzi bath.

It wasn’t my honeymoon, I don’t drink and after 9 hours in a bloody plane any bath I am in would immediately be full of bubbles…… I booked the basic option for $179. Then, I was directed to their flashy online check-in service. How very efficient. I clicked here and clicked there, requesting a room as high as possible. And non-smoking. And with the New York Times rather than the Tampa Trumpet, thank you very much and see you later. So far, so smooth.

After wandering around aimlessly like Phil Specter at the prison barber shop I finally get to the hotel-shuttle pick-up point. There is a phone and a button with the Sheraton logo next to it. I press the button and the hotel- shuttle guy on the other end of the phone says he’ll send a hotel-shuttle bus immediately and to have a “nice evening.”

The bus arrives and I notice two things……..first, the driver has put a sign on the dashboard outlining the extent to which any food must not under any circumstances be consumed on the bus ……..second, he has an enormous bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken on the passenger seat. This wouldn’t normally annoy me but I’m so tired and crabby and clammy from the flight and have bits of stuff in my underpants that it does……. hugely. And it’s now 7 pm (midnight for me), and I just want to go for a crap …………..and go to bed.

Halfway to the five-minutes-away hotel, the hotel-shuttle guy walkie-talkies to the KFC-bucket driver guy. We have to go back to the airport to pick up another passenger. So we turn back again, and it’s very frustrating but I can live with it because I must by now be literally seconds away from nice, crisp Sheraton sheets. I shall brush my furry teeth, peel off my sweaty clothes, power-shower myself to within an inch of my life, drop off the British Airways steak pie…………then pass out.

Finally, we arrive at the Sheraton and I literally run up to the reception desk. The woman couldn’t be less enthusiastic, which isn’t what you expect from a reputable international hotel chain. At the very least I want an artificial smile and a “Good evening, sir, Mr. Heald, sir. Good to have you with us.” I just get a grunt as she snatches my passport. She types my details as if she’s trying to get into the Guinness Book of Records as World’s Most Pissed Off Employee.

Then, the bombshell.

“Sir, we don’t have a reservation for you.”

“But I’ve got a reservation.”

“There is nothing under your name.”

“But I checked in online.”

“Could it be under another name.”

“Yes, I am on the witness protection program. My real name is Micky Cahill.”

“Sir.”

“No, I don’t have another name “

“Here is my reservation number” — and I showed her the copy of the confirmation e-mail that I had received from Sheraton on my raspberry.

It turned out that Check In On Line actually meant Get Screwed By Sheraton and so I asked can I just get a room to the Mrs. Rude…….she made some sort of sucking sound with her lips and bent her head over the computer.

“That’ll be $205.” She said with glee.

I asked why it was a different rate and for the first time I actually saw her smile as she told me that they only had executive rooms available………which made me think………..was Mrs. Rude on commission?

The room was nice. I am not sure what made it an executive room as it had a bed, a shower, towels, a toilet and a mini bar where a Diet Coke is $399. Having just come from the Carnival Dream where the “Yes I can!” spirit of fun Carnival service was so obvious the Sheraton, just like other hotel chains, airlines and other areas of the service industry , proved that the service the cruise industry provides is so far ahead of the land and based operations.

Let’s crack on with today’s questions. Here we go.

Stephanie Asked:
Hey John! We just got hooked on Carnival with our first Valor cruise in July. We are booked on the Dream in December and I have 2 questions for you.

1) How does one get invited to the pre-inaugural in NYC? We are a quick 2hr drive and would love a sneak peek!

2) Will you be on the 12/12 sailing of the Dream or just the 12/3 sailing?
Thanks!

John Says:
Hello Stephanie
I am so happy to hear that you enjoyed your first ever Carnival cruise so much that you booked the next one on your Carnival Dream. I hope you have been enjoying the reviews and photos and you will soon be onboard to experience the ship for yourself. I am sorry but I fly home after my bloggers cruise and Todd will be the CD and I know you will really enjoy his fun style of directing.

Unfortunately the sneak peek isn’t going to be possible. The ship arrives from her trans-Atlantic voyage and then after the naming ceremony she sails on a two-day cruise and visitors unfortunately won’t be allowed. Have a fantastic cruise and best wishes to you and your family.
John

Tom Morrison Asked:
John, we have taken 19 Carnival cruises, actually more but the computers didn’t go back but so far so we are only credited with 15. hehe

John, I was wondering if you know of a terrific entertainer who was in the piano bar for quite a few years named Kevin. He was absolutely hilarious, especially after midnight. Do you know if he is still with Carnival and what ship he is on?

Kye is great. Love the pictures. Heidi ‘aint bad either.
Tom

John Says:
Hello Tom
Thank you for your support and all those cruises you have taken with Carnival. I will get back to you re Kevin. I have never worked with a Piano Bar entertainer of that name so I will ask Rob King who is in charge of all the fleets’ musicians and he will tell me and I you where he is currently working.

Our piano bar entertainers are truly brilliant and thanks for highlighting them.
Best wishes and I will write soon

Ducky Asked:
John please reply.
John, Skype makes money from charging for calls from computer to landline. That is unless they send you a coupon for a month’s unlimited calling the day your daughter is off the Europe for a 5 week study program. (Thank you Skype).

Of course the founders of Skype really made their money buy selling the company to Ebay and not the underlying technology — then they waited a year or so then told Ebay they couldn’t use the technology anymore.

Speaking of phone calls, why do I have to call Bon Voyage to purchase a bottle of single malt or other special libation for the cabin? Why isn’t it available on the web site like wine?

I hope we get a chance to sail together soon.

John Says:
Hello Ducky
Thanks for the update on Skype. It seems too good to be true but I have to say it will be a blessing to be able to talk to Heidi and Kye this way. I have no idea why we limit Bon Voyage gifts to wine. I would hazard a guess that the requests we have for bottles of spirits are not that many however it is certainly worth mentioning to Carol who is in charge of our Bon Voyage department.

Thanks for letting me know about this and let’s see what we can do.

Maybe one day I can send out a live blog on the Skype thingy.
Best wishes
John

Frank & Bridie Asked:
John please respond, IN PRIVATE IF YOU WISH
So Linda and mike and us got talking and we were curious how does this work with us coming onboard for lunch in January?? We were curious about parking and getting through security and all that etc stuff. She mentioned something about passes. Could you fill us in some more? Or are we just going to have to kidnap you??

Thanks again john… Oh and of course big fans as always

John Says:
Hello Frank and bridie
I will be organizing everything for you both and Linda and nearer the time I will write to you in person. The only thing you will need is a photo ID. Thanks for being such great fans of the blog and I will see you next year.
Best wishes
John

Kathy M. Asked:
PLEASE, PLEASE REPLY,
Today 9/11/09, in one of your remarks to Juan and Maria, you stated you might be on the Carnival Spirit, do you know when that will be. I have been praying 3 times a day for Carnival to send you to the West Coast so I can sail with you, that when you mentioned possibly the Carnival Spirit, I just got so excited that I had to write and ask you when will you be sailing with her so I can change my reservation from the Carnival Splendor to the Carnival Spirit. I know when you released your schedule you did not mention anything about sailing on the Carnival Spirit, so I was pretty depressed and fearful that Carnival would open the cruises to Europe and that I would never have another chance of sailing with you, but after reading today’s blog, I am thinking that maybe my prayers will be answered.

John, I do have a question, when you are working do you ever have a chance to eat at the Steakhouses. I know the CD’s have a show right after the first seating, so do you get to eat before the first showing, or in-between the showings or when? I was just wondering.
Best Wishes to you, Heidi and Kye
From your #1 Bloggy Thingy Fan
Kathy M.

P.S. John awhile back I sent you and Heidi a Franklin Mint Heirloom Doll for Kye (For her later years when she will like dolls) and I have never heard if you received it yet. I sent it right after she was born, but since I do not know how long it takes to get packages from the states I have not asked before this. Please let me know if she received it. Here is a picture of it.

[IMG]http://i217.photobucket.com/albums/cc101/Chacooe/Laura.jpg[/IMG]

Please have Stephanie or someone let me know if the picture does not show up.

John Says:
Hello Kathy M
Thanks so much for that wonderful posting and let’s start with the bad news. I am sorry to say we never received the doll you are talking about and that you showed me in the photo. Do you have a tracking number or some way I can check to see what has happened? Your kindness is so welcome, and I know Kye would love it. Please let me know when it was sent etc so I can research it.

Well, the good news is that I will be on the Carnival Spirit starting in October until early December. It would be marvelous if you could come and sail. I have never sailed the West Coast and I feel that I owe it to everyone to do so this coming year. Please have a look at some dates, let me know when you want to cruise and I will confirm if I will be the CD.

Thanks so much for all you do and for your kindness.
Best wishes
John

BIG ED KONEFE Asked:
John Please Reply
I see the slides that you and I are going to races down in these pictures. How about the bloggers having a Mini Golf Tournament during BC3, 12/3, on that beautiful looking course? Maybe make it a “GOLF FOR THE CURE”. Charge an entry fee to go to the “WALK FOR THE CURE” fund. The winner could get a Ship on a Stick and a gift.
What do you think?
BIG ED

John Says:
Hello Big Ed
Now, me and you and the bloggers on the golf course……on your Carnival Dream ………… with a $10 entrance fee……………with all the money going to the On Deck for the Cure breast cancer charity……………brilliant. Let’s do it and by copy of this to the 343 Stephanies I will add this to the list of activities. The contestants will get the wrist band and T Shirt (Stephanie, please order big sizes for me and Big Ed) and the winner will get a special prize wrapped in a pair of my underwear.
Thanks for the great idea and we will make it so.
Best wishes to you and Pat
John

Lynn Asked:
Hi John,
Please reply
Love reading your blog! No requests here just wanted to say that we are taking our 2 oldest grand children; 7 yr old boy and a 9 year old girl, on their first ever cruise on November 26, 2009. They are sooo excited.

We are sailing on the Inspiration out of Tampa and one of the reasons that we choose this ship was the shorter duration and mainly for the water works park. I have heard that there have been many sea days on past sailings when the water works was closed due to “not working”. Is this true? Hopefully it will be open for us and the sun will shine!!

We love Carnival and your blog and hopefully we will get to sail with you one day as our cruise director.

John Says:
Hello Lynn
I can imagine how excited your kids are and how lucky they are going on a cruise ….their first……on the Carnival Inspiration. The water works is working perfectly and I just checked with the ship to make sure there are no problems so I know then what the problem is. You see the one concern with our slides is that during inclement weather and high winds we of course have to close them for safety reasons. I must admit that………and remember this is just my opinion not Carnival’s……..I think we do this too often…………..but in today’s high visibility jacket wearing safety conscious world we do have to make sure it’s OK for you to climb the stairs to the top.

However, one area that we can improve on is letting you all know that the slides are closed because of this. You see it may be a sunny day without a cloud in the sky and yet the slides are closed because of the wind. This needs to be told to the guests by the Cruise Director because if not then the guests just think that the water works are not working. I will be addressing this subject immediately.
For now, I want to wish you and the family a brilliant cruise and hopefully we will get to sail together one day.
My best to you and your family
John

Faye Gilbert Asked:
Hi John – please respond…
Here is a little secret that works for now – magic jack.
We just returned from our first Alaska cruise aboard the Carnival Spirit and my first VIP cruise – wow – thanks Carnival. Every day I received a little surprise, from delicious canapés and sushi, to a photo frame and so on. Very nice & unexpected & appreciated. However, we did not get a “pin” at the Past Guest party and I couldn’t locate any in the gift shop.

THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH for going a little something for my daughter & son-in-law’s 10th Wedding Anniversary and my husband’s 60th b-day. Extremely appreciated and everyone (12 of us) enjoyed the wine at dinner.

The Carnival Spirit is a beautiful ship. We loved all the glass art and were “dizzy” walking up the stairs to the supper club. I tell everyone to walk up the stairs, even if one isn’t eating there. I took just the “kids” to dinner. There were 6 of us. Impeccable service. We had 3 servers for our every need. The chef came out to show us the beef and seafood. He made a return trip to highlight his fabulous desserts. The chocolate foursome was scrumptious. $30 (including gratuity) for this meal was a steal. The rest of our group was jealous they didn’t go. The pictures we took of the appetizers, meal, desserts came out so great. No one should miss a trip to the Supper Club.

Our two year old was by far the best behaved of the group. He was signed up for Camp Carnival, but never made it there. He was with us for everything, except dinner. His other grandparents kept him so the parents could have formal dinner with us. He came into the dining room one night and just had a great time. He is very entertaining and adorable. Too bad he won’t remember his first cruise. (We are all going again Dec 11 on the Carnival Paradise – a gift to the kids for the holidays.) We have zillions of pictures so he can at least see himself on his 1st cruise.

Alaska was beautiful and the last sea day at the glacier absolutely spectacular. I have over 2000 pics in total – hard to decide what to print.

I encourage everyone out there to do Alaska on the Carnival Spirit at least once. You won’t regret it.
Although we did have some “drama on the high seas” with two guests in our group – unbelievable behavior from adult women – security involved and the threat of throwing them off the ship at the first port – it made for an unforgettable vacation. Fortunately, not my friends or family – just in the group. Ugh…never again. I will keep it family from now on – I know what to expect with them.
So again John, thanks for all you did to make this vacation cruise a lasting memory in all our lives. We do appreciate all your hard work for all Carnivalites.
faye

John Says:
Hello Faye
Congratulations on your first VIP cruise and the great review of the beautiful Carnival Spirit and her crew. I think your review is a great way for everyone who is close to getting to platinum status to keep going and I thank you for taking the time to write.

The pins will be ready to go in October and will be presented to the Platinum guests and then available for purchase in the Gift Shops.

I was sorry to hear about your family problems and I hope all has calmed down now and most of all I thank you so much for the wonderful posting and the kind words of thanks.
Best wishes to all
John

Ivan Garcia Asked:
Hello, my name is Ivan Garcia, I live in Colombia, and I really want to get a job in a cruise in the housekeeping staff or as waiter or something, but unfortunately I haven’t experience. What should I do? PLEASE HELP ME.

John Says:
Hello Ivan
Thank you for taking the time to write to me from your beautiful country. I have forwarded your e-mail to someone who will make sure you get the information on what to do to apply and I wish you much luck.
Best wishes
John

Bob and Lynda Asked:
Dear John, (please reply)
Bob and I just got off the Holiday today (Saturday the 12th of September). I had to write to you as soon as I could turn on the computer. Thank you so much for the gift you had Tory bring to our room. You made my cruise. I can’t believe you took the time to send us something when we never asked for anything. With all the people asking for gifts it is truly wonderful that you would take the time to surprise someone who didn’t ask for anything. Still would like to know if you’re going to make it on the November 2nd Holiday cruise. We are also going to be on the Fantasy for my birthday December 8th and with the grandkids January 16th.

Also, the entertainment staff on the Holiday was some of the best we’ve ever had. Laura, Rick and Rachael ran all the trivias and were great fun. Can’t wait to be with them again. The pictures of Kye are beautiful. Hope the girls will be able to travel with you soon. Take care, hope to see you soon. Thanks again for the surprise gifts in the cabin. I’m telling everyone who will listen, what a wonderful man you are. Lynda

John Says:
Hello Lynda
No need to thank me and I am glad you had such a brilliant time. Thanks for mentioning the Entertainment Staff, they are a group of people who are often not given the praise they deserve and my sincere thanks to them. I will make sure that their boss Chris is shown this and I will also copy the ship. My thanks to Tory for taking care of you, she is a real star.

It looks like the Holiday and I will not be getting to say goodbye to each other which is really a great shame. Please wish her a fond farewell from me.

Thanks for the kind words and my best wishes to you both.
John

Thomas Tatko Asked:
John: Could you post an answer please as it may benefit others.

Sailing on the Conquest “Veterans Cruise” 8-15 Nov 09. Do you know with the open seating option, can you make a reservation for a specific time if you have over 6 people or more in your group? On Princess using personal choice dining you can make a reservation if more than six. Thanks

John Says:
Hello Thomas
It will be interesting for me to see the anytime dining this week on the Carnival Legend as it will be my first experience with it. I checked and unfortunately you cannot reserve a table if you book anytime although after speaking to the ship’s Maitre D he stated that it would not be a problem for you all be seated together if you all booked the anytime dining. Please allow me to wish you and all the veterans a wonderful time onboard and I salute you all.
Best wishes
John

Zannett Asked:
PLEASE REPLY
Hi John,
Anxiously awaiting our trip with you on the Bloggers Cruise on 12/3! I know you are trying to play catch-up on ?s, but didn’t know if this was sent to you….can you tell me the elegant nights and any nights you have bloggers functions planned? I wanted to make reservations at the Steakhouse for my in-laws birthdays which we are celebrating that week and would love your input as to which night might be best.

Also, do you know if the Dream will have the Future Cruise Certificates available onboard?
THANKS!!!!

John Says:
Hello Zannett
Just in case you didn’t see my reply a few days ago let me just confirm that the first sea day before arrival in San Juan (December 4) will be the first elegant night and I have no private blog events planned for that or the second elegant night which is the second to last day of the cruise. There will be lots of late night bloggers stuff but not on these nights. So go ahead and make your reservations.
Best wishes and see you soon
John

Ronnie and Connie Asked:
John: Please Reply (if you have time)
I read one of your interviews in which you said that your 1st CD assignment was on the Carnivale in 1991. We took our first cruise for our 20th anniversary on the Carnivale in Oct of 1991. We honestly don’t remember who the CD was because we were so wrapped up in the experience of the cruise, which was great, even though it only lasted 4 days. Since that time we have tried to book a cruise every Oct. Wow, how the ships have changed!!
We did sail with you on the Triumph in Oct 2001. We have never laughed as hard as we did at the Bedtime Story. Keep it up!!!! Also, you rode the tender with us to Grand Cayman and we took a couple of pics of you on the tender ride.

At long last we finally got to the Platinum level last year on the Miracle.

As we were planning our trip for this Oct, Connie noticed that you are going to be the CD on the Legend in Oct. That clinched it for us and we booked the Legend for Oct 4th. Looking forward to seeing you in a few weeks.
I like collecting autographs, and who wouldn’t want one from the most famous CD at Sea, so if it is OK, I would like to leave one of these pictures from 2001 for you to sign. Who knows, maybe we can share another tender ride. See you soon.

John Says:
Hello Ronnie and Connie
Well here I sit on the Carnival Legend in a week’s time you will be here with me for my first cruise as CD on the Carnival Legend since 2002. I am very much looking forward to it and am humbled indeed that you decided to book because I was here. I hope you will take the time to leave me a note at the Guest Services Desk to tell me that you are here and your cabin number.

See you soon and I promise I will do my best to give you the best cruise ever.
Best wishes
John

Chris C Asked:
John Please Reply:
Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! The table you arranged for my husband and I on the Carnival Destiny sailing 9/7/09 was the most wonderful table we’ve ever had on our many Carnival cruises. It was in the Universe Dining Room, aft, on the upper level, in the very center of the ship, by the back window. The wake of the ship and sunsets were awesome. Everytime we sat down for dinner we gave you a word of thanks!

Also, much to our surprise and pleasure was the bottle of champagne and Carnival Destiny trophy that were waiting for us in our stateroom when we returned from our day in Nassau. We enjoyed the champagne at dinner that evening. Thank you so much!

We had a great cruise, our first one alone in 13 years. The ride got a little “bumpy” when the one engine went out (twice), but that didn’t spoil anything for us. Brent was excellent in keeping everyone informed as to what was going on.

I hope your time home with “your girls” as been relaxing. I’m sure it will be hard to leave them again in a week or so. You’re a blessed man and a wonderful Carnival Ambassador. We hope to sail with you in the near future.
Again, thank you for all you did to make our cruise memorable!

John Says:
Hello Chris
It was an honor to try and make your cruise that extra bit special. I was sorry to hear about the bumpy ride and glad that Brent kept you informed. That’s the most important thing.

I hope you will have everlasting memories of your cruise.
Best wishes to you both
John

Michael Asked:
Dear John…please reply.
Sallie and I had a great time on the Pride this past week and want to thank you for your all of your help. And a big THANK YOU to whoever came up with the idea of “Behind the Fun”! What a brilliant, to use your word, excursion. So much goes on that makes for a great cruise but the tour blew away one Myth. It’s not Homeland Security or any other reasons given for keeping the Bridge off-limits. From the moment that air-tight door is opened you can smell the air of Superiority…Coffee, real coffee that would have the bridge under constant siege where it known. (I won’t tell a soul). I have heard that Cunard still has bridge tours but I can’t imagine anyone going bonkers over the smell of…tea. I seem to recall we threw the stuff into Boston Harbor and off the docks in Chestertown, MD. (No offense) So, if you could find out the brand savored, spelt correctly, I might even be willing to wear the nighty one more time. Thanks for all you do and our best to Heidi, Kye and the man in the Big Chair.

John Says:
Hello Michael
What a superb posting and a great advert for the Behind the Fun Tour. Ahhh…….yes the coffee on the bridge. I get up there as often as I can for a morning espresso. I checked with the ship and they use an Italian (shocker) of coffee called Lavazza. It is available in the States and Canada I think and I hope you manage to find some. Hey……….as for the tea………I am going to send you some PG Tips……….the best tea in the world.

Thanks again for the great review which I will pass onto Shahnaz in the office as she put the whole program together.
Best wishes and thanks again
John

Paul F. Pietrangelo Asked:
PLEASE REPLY JOHN
I need your assist with this one John. I’m thinking about wearing a formal outfit for the special nights on my cruise on the Carnival Dream. I checked out how to get a tuxedo but the problem is it doesn’t show any prices. Before I decide to get one I would like to know the prices on every little price thing, example: Pants, coat, shirt, bowtie, etc.
Where to if I get the tux if I was to decide on getting it after I’m the ship. Also are there any surprise costs if I want to get a tuxedo. I want to make this cruise a special one.

Also regarding the debarkation talk. When I was on my first cruise I think the talk was very important. After now I think those that have been on many cruises I think a sheet of paper about it would suffice and/or a video on the TV would be OK.

In the future will Carnival cruise right through the Panama Canal from the Caribbean to the Pacific. I would love to take a cruise like that. If not I plan on taking my next cruise on the Carnival Freedom that at least goes near the canal.

Say hi to Heidi and Kye for me and I’m really looking forward to seeing you in January 23rd on the Carnival Dream. During the week do you have time to stroll around the promenade to visit with people?
Paul F. Pietrangelo

John Says:
Hello Paul
As always, it’s great to hear from you. I will check out the prices on the entire package of a Tuxedo for you on your Carnival Dream and will e-mail you the answer as soon as I have it. I want to make sure you get the exact price complete with everything you mentioned. I think it is great that you want to make this cruise extra special although it seems that the tuxedo is not as popular as it once was with many gentlemen preferring to wear a business suit. I am looking at the debark talk situation and we will be discussing this at the CD conference in November.

I will be back to you soon with the complete cost of the Tuxedo hire and I of course send my best wishes to you and the family.
John

*Paul – just heard that the weekly price for the full set is $87 for the whole cruise.*

BILL P Asked:
PLEASE REPLY JOHN
Hi John,
I am a Platinum and then some member, as well as an IATAN member and always attend the debark talk. Things always are in a state of flux these days.

Please continue the talks. Folks don’t read flyers, memos and suchlike. It’s just human nature. When this happens it just gets in the way and impedes those who are up to speed. I have gone from mellow to contemptuous of these folks before leaving the Terminal.

Port Talks are on point as well. Folks on the Boards ask the same questions year after year. There are many first-timer cruisers who also have never been out of country before.

It is a service to warn of Mexican water, pickpockets & scammers everywhere & nasty hair brading tools being used in Nassau/Freeport.

Then there are the “Welcome to please have a Coral Necklace” guys. Of course they want $5.00 when taken.
Preach On Brother…..Preach On!
Bill P

John Says:
Hello Bill P
One of the things I love about the blog is that in the space of just a few inches you will get two very different opinions on the same subject and here we have you and Paul, both Platinum members with two opposite opinions on whether we should continue the debarkation talk. It certainly is something we need to think about and my only thought is that I hate feeling that I am forcing people to come off the open decks to attend. I mean, we are the only cruise line that does this so I wonder how they manage to get the debark message across. Anyway, there are no plans to scrap it but I for one think we should discuss this as a group to see what the other CD’s opinions are.

The port talk is something we must continue for reasons such as you stated and continue them we will. Thank you for voicing your opinion and of course one thing you mentioned is so very true, we are as a world in a state of flux and as Cruise Directors we must make sure that as much information is given to our guests as possible.
Best wishes
John

That’s all for today and there will be more questions answered tomorrow. Thanks again for all the great comments.

Let’s do the news.

Well, the first cruise on your Carnival Dream is going very well indeed. As always when you do anything for the first time you are going to discover that even with all the best planning in the world you are going to make mistakes……..just ask my first proper girlfriend who experienced my first ever attempt at Rumpy Pumpy………….she became a nun.

Anyway, we did have a much longer than expected life boat drill. As you know the drill is held by asking guests to use the lounges as Muster Stations and then from there they would be ……… in a real emergency…………taken to the embarkation stations. Well, one of the muster stations is the dining room and this did cause a slight problem. You see the drill started at 5:15 pm because it’s only then that in Europe the majority of guests who are onboard. The other concern was that we had a large group of non-English speaking guests onboard which meant that the drill had to be done in three different languages. This meant the drill lasted longer than expected and because the dining room was a muster station it had to be cleared before the dining room could open for the main seating dinner………it did………..but 15 minutes or so later than advertised.

We will fix this problem before the next cruise but one thing was obvious, the guests appreciated not having to wear their lifejackets and go to the embarkation stations.

The Ocean Plaza, The Lanai and other new areas of the ship have had brilliant traffic and have been a huge hit as has the Dancin in the Street show which I am told received massive standing ovations. Now, I am not a huge fan of modern music such as Pee Diddly, Snoopy the Dog, Gusher, Lady Gag Ga etc. But………in the show there is an amazing song by a band called Green Day called Boulevard of Dreams. This song is sung by Lawrence our production singer and he sung it with such gravitas and the scenery and special effects that go with it were so stunning that I had to find out who the song is by and now, I just down loaded it onto my Eye Pod………well………OK…….Heidi downloaded it onto my Eye Pod. Dancin in the Street is a show full of spectacular highs yet this song……..and the way its set and staged and sung made such an impact on me.

I listened to a few more Green Day songs…………….and they were total bollocks.

The ship also has the new casino smoking restrictions as you know and I have asked the Vice President of Casino Operations to respond to a series of questions including his take on why he decided to implement this policy. I will post his interview later this week.

But overall the ship has been a magnificent success and let’s have a look at her once again through the lens of Radu who took these stunning shots of your Carnival Dream in Venice.

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More wonderful photos Radu and I know he will be sending us more very soon. Also, please pop on over to the Holland America blog as for all lovers of ships and their build and design there are great photos of the Niew Amsterdam receiving her Azipods………….here is the link thingy.

http://www.hollandamericablog.com/2009/09/25/nieuw-amsterdam-gets-its-azipods/

One follow up from last week and that’s the answer to what songs and dances are performed by the dining room staff. It seems that there is a fleetwide standard and this is what you can expect to enjoy.

Dances
• Low,low,low
• Jay-ho
Songs
• That’s Amore
• Leaving the Fun Ship

Time to highlight one of our Cruise Directors and today we get to meet Brad whom I had the pleasure of meeting for the first time onboard the Carnival Splendor.

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1. Please tell us about yourself and your journey to the Cruise Director chair:
Here is a little about the journey…I began my journey with Carnival in hopes of seeing the islands and of the Caribbean. I was teaching English at a high school in New Brunswick, which is in Eastern Canada where I am from, and was reading the paper one day seeing a recruiting add for cruise ships into the Caribbean and it occurred to me that I hadn’t checked off the Caribbean from my list…I make lists, started doing it about a year out of University, as the world became a lot bigger once I had finished that part of my life and by making lists of 5 places to see/and things to try, it was a way of keeping my excitement and thirst for experience more alive. Anyway, I came out as a youth counselor at the age of 24 turning 25, as this was the only job that I fit the requirements for in the add I had seen in the paper. The cruise ship industry was very foreign to me, but was the option presented to me as a way of seeing the Caribbean…so I went for it, not knowing what was in store. I joined the Carnival Glory at the tail end of its inaugural year and spent 8 months as a counselor in the youth program onboard. I remember the smile that was permanently on my face for the first 3 months onboard and seeing the beauty of the Caribbean and enjoying the life aquatic, amidst an international staff who all shared the same enthusiasm for travel and for the excitement of new experience. I was approached by the Assistant Cruise Director at the end of my contract who suggested I come try being a Social Host, for which I said no, thank you, as I had no real experience in any field of entertainment. Eventually my curiosity got the better of me and I started asking more questions and before I knew it, I had talked myself into a new opportunity and new skill set that had yet to be explored. I began my first contract as host on the Paradise in 2005-06, doing 3 & 4 day runs out of Long Beach. I really didn’t take much from the experience and decided that I would do one more contract and move on…however, that’s when I met Chris Roberts the Cruise Director on the Inspiration out of Tampa Fl on my next contract and he changed my life forever, now a very close friend, he challenged me to grow and to ask questions and to learn about the industry and the value of not only the entertainment that we provide but the product that we delivered to the guests which was a vacation of a lifetime and I was hooked from that moment on…I have never had a job that was so dynamic in every aspect, that gave me the opportunity to work with so many talented and wonderful people, that challenged you daily, as each day could bring with it a whole new set of variables that you hadn’t even considered yet. I really enjoyed being a part of a guest’s vacation, giving them an experience that made them forget the trappings of daily life that keep us from really appreciating the value of being happy. I learned to love that moment as a host when you could make someone feel special for 5 minutes, 15 minutes, or 5 days and I have kept that agenda always in mind even as I grew and took on more responsibilities and moved into the world of management and programming. I have been in the position of Acting Cruise Director for a year and a half and was recently promoted in June on the Splendor, a role that is like no other, as being Cruise Director is the most rewarding job I have ever had, second only to teaching, where a grin becomes a smile and a smile becomes a memory and a memory becomes an experience; an experience that you made possible by caring a little bit extra to make it special and I have not yet found a job that allows me to do this with as much success as it does with being a Cruise Director.

2. What ship are you currently serving on?
I am currently on the Carnival Triumph, sailing out of New York into Eastern Canada, doing 4 & 5 day cruises.

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.
This ship is special for me because it was the first ship that I spent an entire contract on as Cruise Director. So in that respect, my opinion is slightly biased, however, for those guests coming onboard for the first time the theme of the ship itself, I think is special. All the lounges are named after great cities from around the world, which is also further highlighted in the Atrium area as you look upwards into a vast wall mosaic of the world. This really highlights the global community which works onboard, an aspect of cruising that many guests really enjoy, the diversity of the crew and the ability to co-exist in such a small environment and make it harmonious I believe really transcends into the guest experience onboard the Triumph and enhances the entire experience onboard.

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.
We sail into Eastern Canada and our 2 ports of call are Saint John NB & Halifax NS. Having grown up an hour away from Saint John and having lived in Halifax for 3 years, this run is great as it allows me the opportunity to tell people about my home and what makes this part of the world so special. Whether it is the local hospitality of the people, the unique and beautiful natural wonders such as the Bay of Fundy tides, Hopewell Rocks, or Peggy’s Cove, or the rich and varied colonial history, the East coast experience is one that I am proud to have grown up in and one which I really enjoy sharing with our guests each cruise. Halifax, I would choose Peggy’s Cove as a must see, because it could be anytime of the year in any weather condition you will still find yourself in awe of the stark beauty of such a place, it has a power of presence just to be standing there watching the ocean splash against the rocks and small little fishing houses clung precariously to its rocky edge. Saint John, the reversing falls is something that exists nowhere else, due to the highest tides in the world. So this natural phenomenon ties in well with the power of the Bay of Fundy and this can I think be appreciated on many levels.

5. If someone were to ask you “what does a Carnival Cruise Director do” how would you reply?
This question is one that I’ve encountered before trying to explain to friends and family who have never been on a cruise what I actually do for a living. I found it difficult at first, there is so much to explain if you have no prior knowledge of cruising. So to answer this question one should consider who is asking the question, someone from the industry who has a vested interest in the answer, or the curious contact who is merely interested in the life aquatic. To the latter I would say my role onboard is to be in charge of the programming of all the entertainment, to work closely with professionals in all forms of entertainment from all over the world. To be the voice and face of the ship and to create a positive contact for the guest experience, someone they can relate to who is approachable and concerned with their overall experience while sailing. To the more inquisitive inquirer who has prior knowledge into the role of Cruise Director and is using the question as a comparative for other lines, I would earnestly say that as a Carnival Cruise Director I make every effort to be visible and involved in the guest experience onboard in a positive and supporting light. When not on stage performing, doing talks and interactive seminars, or dealing with departmental related issues which can range from disciplinary action to programming, I make all efforts to stay in open communications with all departments onboard and to assist in any way that can help their business, which in the end all funnels (no pun intended) into our product which is a great cruising vacation.

6. What is your most favorite part of the job?
Seeing that genuine smile you get during the cruise from a guest, when you know they have finally let go of what was holding them down in their normal routine and that moment when they are having a truly great time; those special moments when the only thing to do is smile and to know directly or indirectly that you had something to do with making that happen.

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.
Not being a true comedian, or having a notable commercial talent such as playing an instrument, I find I am at my best when interacting with guests and as such I would choose the Guest Talent Show; the show itself is great because of the positive way you can spin the show, making the guest’s feel good about showcasing their talent and the audience is great because they know that these aren’t paid entertainers and I really enjoy the atmosphere and the ability to interact unscripted with the guests, this aspect keeps things fresh and unrehearsed and a moment where I truly feel connected to the guest experience.

8. What is the hardest and or most challenging part of the job of Carnival CD.
Separating personal from professional: in any working environment as a manager I think it is a difficult thing to maintain this balance, however, in our workplace there is no break between public and private (or at least very little) and when one leaks into the other it can quite often create a negative impact.

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.
There is a certain draw to see what other lines are doing, so I suppose I am not particular but would welcome the opportunity to see the daily operations of Princess.

10. Finally – please fill in the blanks
YOUR FAVORITE ACTOR:

Daniel Day Lewis; the power of his performance is rare and usually reserved for the stage, however, he has been able to make the transference to screen.

YOUR FAVORITE ACTRESS:
Cate Blanchett; she possesses the ability to blend both vulnerability and strength in many of her roles; this balance lends believability to her characters, a truly rare gift in her chosen field of acting.

WHATS ON YOUR EYE POD:
Right now getting the most rotation are Kings of Leon, Neko Case, and Nina Simone.

YOUR FAVORITE MOVIE:
Color or Paradise; set in the Middle East, it is a beautiful and tragic story about the lines of tradition and how they are called into question in the relationship between a poor merchant and his blind son.

WHO MAKES YOU LAUGH:
my brother, he is the funniest person I know.

YOUR FAVORITE CARNIVAL CRUISE DIRECTOR EXCLUDING YOURSELF AND ME ( JOHN ) AND WHY:
Chris Roberts; he has been the biggest influence in my development as a Cruise Director; I admire his ability to manage others, his ability to keep things in perspective, his humor, his insight and his consistency as a person in that he is always himself in any situation.

Thanks Brad and we all wish you continuing success. I hear great things about you and enjoy every moment as a Carnival CD.

Well, here I am on the Carnival Legend. It’s Sunday and I wanted to finish this blog today so it can be posted on Monday morning as I feel very guilty that I have not written to you for so long. Tomorrow’s blog will contain much more about the ship and my adventures but I will say this now………..I had totally forgotten just how gorgeous the Spirit class ships are. ………….wow!

One last thing before I go. Many of you have been asking me who the Godmother is going to be for your Carnival Dream. Well, I have PA 007 on the case and hopefully he or she will have some news very soon. Many of you will know that I was lobbying for Angelina Jolie to be the GM of the Carnival Splendor which of course she wasn’t. And having seen a photo of her in the British Airways High Life in flight magazine I have changed my allegiance. Yes……she is still stunning but how can Brad Pitt or I ever have rumpy pumpy with her. ……..I wouldn’t know whether to fondle her ………….or read her. That’s because she is totally covered in writing. On her arms she has all the names of her 349 adopted children tattooed as grid references on a world map. Then……….she has the Japanese symbol for death on her shoulder and a huge bloody tiger on her back. Then she has an H on her hip a cross on her wrist and a bunch or Roman numerals allegedly containing the number of rumpy pumpy partners she had before she was 21 on her elbow.

She has a Tennessee Williams poem on her left arm and a poem in Latin on her stomach. She also allegedly has something tattooed down by her lady garden………..I hope one day to report to all my blogging friends what it says down there. She is a beautiful lady who does not need all this writing on her body…………I guess I just don’t understand tattoos.

I saw a guy a few months ago with the words “F**k Off” tattooed on his forehead ………… maybe he works as a receptionist at the Sheraton Hotel, Tampa.

It’s great to be back…………see you tomorrow

Goodnight
Your friend
John

Hi, I’m John, and this is my blog. So please don’t mistake my opinions — or those of my dear friends, fans or commenters — for those of Carnival Cruise Line or Carnival Corporation. My apologies in advance for anything I may say that upsets you, but this disclaimer covers Carnival and puts the blame directly on me………….. bugger.

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