Taxi

October 14, 2009 -

John Heald

Plans are underway for my pre Carnival Dream trip to New York in early November and while what I will be doing is for now, a secret, I do know that I will be traveling around the city a lot. And since I would rather wake up snuggled in Judge Judy’s bosom than drive in New York………it means I will be taking cabs…….lots of cabs.

The last time I was in New York was in 2001 and Heidi and I had our taxi…… ‘stolen’. We had been patiently waiting on the corner outside Slags of 5th Avenue, when a lady with huge sunglasses on jumped out of nowhere and intercepted the approaching cab. I, being British politely announced it was our taxi. “Oh, it’s YOUR taxi…….get the f**k out a heeeeeeeeere?” the woman with the welding glasses on sneered……. before jumping in.

There are many things in life that I know bugger all about, and one it seems was taxi etiquette. I asked a New York friend of mine who told me that you must turn into a complete and utter bastard or this will happen all the time. Cab-stealers I was told are the scourge of the city and you have to be assertive and stand your ground or you’ll end up defeated and ………. even worse……….on a sodding bus.

My New York friend told me that the cab stealer always has a really good reason for needing the cab more than you. They have to get to the hospital. Or a funeral. Or they’re late for a job interview.

People who steal cabs always have a sense of entitlement too. Wherever they’re going, it’s more important than your destination. This doesn’t just happen in New York but in London too. I was there recently while renewing my C1 D1 ship visa at the American Embassy. I was desperate to miss the rush hour back to the train station and jumped into a black London taxi at the same time as a student type got in on the other side. I then started dueling with him and he said his suitcase was because he was a makeup artist and he needed to get to a photo shoot. He stood with his hands on his hips and announced: “It’s fashion week.” His tone suggested he was serving his country. In his mind, backstage at a fashion show was like being deployed to Iraq……I let him have the cab …………….fashion week my arse.

It was because of me allowing Mrs. Chanel Glasses to take the cab in New York that Heidi and I came the closest we have ever been to missing the ship………this ship actually ………….the Carnival Legend.

I can’t remember the exact time we were supposed to be back but I remember we only just made it. We couldn’t work out why so many cabs drive around with the “off duty” light on and I remember standing there pleading, waving money at the cabs as they went past. After what seemed like hours one did stop…….and we felt indebted to him for life. I knew that the pier was not far from the department store and I remember pleading with him to take us……we made it back with not much time to spare before I was due on the bridge for boat drill.

We went ashore a few times in New York and I remember each time I would ruin a good pair of underwear playing the “will we get a cab?” game. And I remember once actually in the taxi we were usually delivered to our destination needing disc-replacement surgery from the wrecked suspension and pot-holed roads as the driver drove at 90 mph ignoring his indicators, talking on his cell phone and blowing his horn every 10 seconds for absolutely no apparent reason…………..as they do in Rome, Miami and Naples.

However, as Heidi reminded me just now when I called her to discuss today’s blog topic she reminded me of a cab ride at completely the other end of the scale. We were in Nassau and took a cab from wherever we had been back to the ship. This guy was the consummate Bahamian cabbie. He drove us at 15 mph, and through a couple of red lights first to his house, so that he could get a glass of water, and then through almost every one of the town’s suburbs before bringing us back. A 10 minute journey from Paradise Island to the pier that we had done many times and usually takes 10 minutes and costs $10 …… this time had taken 40 minutes and he tried to charge us $30. I am surprised he didn’t try and braid Heidi’s hair as well……..oh and don’t get me started on the 90 year old taxi driver in San Juan who nearly drove Roger Blum and I off the side of a bloody mountain ………that’s a blog for another day.

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

Kathy M. Asked:
Hi John,
Please Reply,

WOW, that storm came in fast and I mean fast. Look at the water in those pictures it was so calm and then look at the last ones, those swells were getting big. I used to live on the Oregon Coast and I know how quickly the weather can change when you live by the ocean, it can be beautiful and then without notice, look just like it does in the pictures you posted.
I feel for the Captain, so would you please tell him for me, that I have been keeping him and the other senior officers, in my prayers and also tell him that he did everything HUMANLY possible to keep the accident from happening, but when Mother Nature decides to do her show, nothing stops her.

As for the couple who feel that they should be compensated, Carnival should give them $20.00 and then ban them from ever cruising with Carnival again. It will not surprise me at all that they will find some attorney that will sue Carnival for stress for them. John, I despise people like that, I really do. Now if the collision was stronger and they were in one of the cabins and got hurt, I know Carnival would have taken care of them, but just to ask for compensation because of something that was beyond anyone’s control is just wrong and shows how greedy they truly are.

I hope you do not mind, but I posted on Cruise Critic what you said in your blog because some were reporting the ship was crippled and I just wanted to set the record straight and I knew what you posted is the truth.

Take Care my bloggy thingy friend,
From your #1 fan

John Says:
Hello Kathy

Thank you for the kind words for our Captain, you are very kind. I read many similar words of praise and having witnessed the incident first hand it showed that even with all the power of this mighty ship’s propulsion system that Mother Nature’s power is so much greater.
Thanks again for taking the time to write
Best wishes
John

Jake Silverberg Asked:
Please Reply

Question/ “Because the new ship Carnival Dream has the new cove balcony cabins, were is the new muster station located because of the balcony rooms on deck 3?”

John Says:
Hello Jake

It’s always great to hear from one of our youngest readers and as usual you have a great question. The Muster Stations are still on deck 4 however the guests do not go there directly. Instead, they meet in the various lounges around the ship and in a real emergency would be led to the embarkation stations by a staff member, the cove balcony cabins do not interfere with the lifeboat operation.

If you have a follow up question, please let me know.
Cheers mate
John

Crazy Cajun Asked:
John, please reply.

As someone who quit smoking many years ago. I don’t care one way or another about smokers being around me while gambling.

I have a question for you though. Where are you getting your information that all or most land based casinos have gone non smoking?

None of the casinos that we visit on the Mississippi coast have made any changes in their smoking policy.

Nor have any of the river boat casinos in Louisiana. Maybe some in Vegas or Atlantic City. But I have not heard of any major smoking rule changes from either of them.

John Says:
Hello Crazy Cajun (great name)

The information on non smoking casinos was indeed based on the ones in Atlantic City and Vegas. I had no idea about the ones in Mississippi so that was interesting information indeed. I know I keep repeating myself here but I do so only because at the moment I think Carnival is able to provide environments that provide comfortable atmospheres for smokers and non-smokers alike. It’s not a perfect scenario and the cigar bar being located in front of the Internet cafe on the Destiny, Conquest and Splendor class ships is testament to that. However, considering that smoking is frowned upon by most hotels, resorts and land based operations……..I think we are doing OK. Most importantly……….I don’t think this is a subject that we will ever be able to please everyone on.
Best wishes
John

ssorlie Asked:
Dear John Please reply if you can as I will await your response with abated breath (ok, I know I’m laying it on a little thick)

Oh yes the question! Does “Our” Carnival Dream that we will be sailing on Oct. 27th have Coffee Cards? If so how much? If not, could that be possibly something the bearded men could look into. Was on Princess this spring and they have them and I enjoyed my morning, afternoon & evening latte’

John Says:
Hello Sharon

We tried the coffee cards for some time but unfortunately they didn’t work and so we removed them. Sorry. However, while we are talking about your Carnival Dream and her coffee shop I must mention the Gelato they serve there. Real, Italian Gelato………I hear (I hate my diabetes) that the double chocolate mint is spectacular.
Have a wonderful cruise
Best wishes
John

Jake Asked:
Please Reply

John,
I have only sailed once with Carnival (August 2007) and I loved it! You were the CD during my European cruise and you were awesome. I have wanted to cruise since (my friends can swear by it), but going to college full time sucked away all of my time (as well as money). I have read your blog every day since that cruise and lived vicariously though you. Now that I have graduated, I am ready to cruise again!

I constantly talk about my cruise and longing to cruise again with my friends. They have finally gotten sick of hearing me talk about it and want to go on a cruise as well! Because of our crazy work schedules, the beginning of September is the only time that all of our schedules coincide. We have decided that we want to go on a 7 day Western Caribbean cruise out of Port Canaveral on September 4th 2010. I can’t wait to see the Carnival Dream!

On to my question. We have yet to book the cruise because we are worried about the weather. September is the high time for bad weather in the Caribbean with hurricanes and tropical storms. I have searched the internet and people offer very mixed advice as to whether or not going to the Caribbean in September is a good idea or not. I know that cruise ports can be adjusted based on weather, but I wanted to know from the best source around and that is you. From your years of experience and expertise, how often do storms affect September cruises to the Caribbean?

I want this cruise to be amazing for my friends as I have talked so highly of Carnival. If the Caribbean can be very iffy due to weather, I want to find another cruise over the same time frame to take them on instead. Money does not grow out of trees (especially in the current market being a fresh college graduate) so I want to find a destination in September that will be the best for us.

Thanks for all of your advice and sorry for the long novel!
Jake

P.S. Any fellow bloggers have advice on the subject? I just want to get all of the info I can now! Thanks.

John Says:
Hello Jake

First of all……..congratulations on your graduation. I am sure you are very proud and I hope you have enjoyed your college days. I am so glad that you enjoyed your European cruise and hopefully now you will be able to think about saying “bollocks” to your student loans and come and see us again. As we saw two weeks ago here in Cozumel, weather is always unpredictable. However, it is rare in the Caribbean to have a whole week of wind and rain so I shouldn’t worry too much. I don’t want to say that this season has been very quiet when it comes to hurricanes as I don’t want to tempt fate. But I do think it’s safe to say that worrying about the weather in September should not be a factor in deciding to cruise or not.
It will be an amazing cruise. Book it. Get excited. And let me know when you sail so I can send you something to celebrate that graduation.
Best wishes
John

Brandon Wilson Asked:
Hi John, (Please reply)

My wife and I are booked on the Carnival Splendor over New Years (12/27-1/3) and are very excited. We are booked on an outside cabin on the second deck (unfortunately we cannot afford the balcony or a higher floor, and this is the only time I can get off from work). We have sailed on Carnival together before and we certainly love the brand and the people. We had the most amazing wait staff on our last cruise (Miracle- Donovan and his assistant. Spectacular!!). This is our first big trip since we have been married and we have never been to the Mexican Riviera, as we recently moved from Florida and mainly went to the Caribbean. I was hoping you could recommend some excursions for a newly married couple in their mid-twenties for the Mexican Riviera. I want this to be a special trip for my wife and something we will remember for a very long time. She means the world to me and I only want the best for her.

Your blog is awesome!! I just discovered it and am now addicted to it.
Thanks John!

John Says:
Hello Brandon

Thank you for your support of Carnival and your cabin on the Carnival Splendor will be tremendous I promise. Thanks also for mentioning Donovan. I am big fan of this young man and will make sure he gets to see your words of praise. As I have never been to the Mexican Riviera ports I have taken the time to write to the Shore Excursion Manager and Cruise Director of the Carnival Splendor for their advice. I will post their recommendations as soon as I get them.

Please remind me a few weeks before you sail and let’s see if we can send your special lady a special something.
Best wishes
John

Mr Pete Asked:
RSVP Q below

RE: ANYTIME DINING
Even though your descriptions and makings of ATD sounds appealing, we are eating traditionalists. We love walking directly to our table, meeting new people, who usually turn out to be lifelong friends, and the wait staff, learning our wants and needs, sometimes incorporating that into their classic interactions with the passengers.

Regarding the listed times, I’m confused. Do you pick a certain time at the beginning of the week and adhere to that, or do you just show up when you want, and you are tallying those times according to your stats?

AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, where were you when the incident happened last night?

John Says:
Hello Mr. Pete

I agree. There are many that still prefer the assigned seating as it allows them to get to know their waiter and their table mates. However, anytime dining is as it says…..anytime. This means that you can go anytime from 5:45pm – 9:30pm. Choice is a wonderful thing.

I hope you saw my account of the now famous Cozumel incident and I hope it’s the only time I ever have to be a part of something like that.
Best wishes
John

jar855 Asked:
Dear John (PLEASE REPLY)

I asked this before, but forgot to ask for a reply. There is some confusion out there as to whether you will be on The Spirit this October 2009 or next October 2010. Hoping for this year… Thanks John.

John Says:
Hello Cjar855

I will be on the Carnival Spirit from late October 2010 to mid December. Hope to see you there.
Best wishes
John

Rodney Asked:

Missing your anniversary…..all the more reason you should have stuck to the original bloggers dates so you might have been able to be home but instead the Nov 15th bloggers are screwed over.

John Says:
Rodney

I just saw this comment and even though you did not ask for a reply I wanted to apologize again for canceling the bloggers cruise of November 15. It was not something I wanted to do but circumstances took over. I will be hosting a cocktail party before the ship sails and I hope you will join me.
My sincere apologies
John

That’s all for today………..let’s do the news.

And we start with saying thank you to all those people who have returned from their Carnival Dream and posted reviews. It seems that as expected the ship was a huge success and despite some inaugural cruise teething problems, everyone had a brilliant time. You know, if there is one cruise that the “exceeded expectations” wording on the comment card is pointless it is………….in my opinion………..and inaugural cruise because expectations are as high as Latvian supermodel’s bottom.

It’s a brand new ship which has been hyped over and over again……of course expectations are going to be high and to exceed them is an almost impossible task. I am sure that if the review card had said “did you have a great cruise?” or “did you like the new design?” and “did the crew do a great job?” the answers to these would have been for the most part …… an emphatic “yes.”

I read that two ladies had received a free T-Shirt for being the first to explore the casino on their Carnival Dream. Here is what one of the ladies (Susie) wrote.

“I have a favor to ask. When my cruise mate and I boarded the ship, we went down to check out the casino (great layout). We were what they said, the first people to walk into the casino. They gave us T-Shirts and hats and took pictures of us. They stated that they would email them to us but I have yet to see this. Is this something you can possibly check for me? I have listed my email above. Our room number was 1457 and my folio # was 8305 I believe.”

Here as requested is the link to your photo and I hope you don’t mind me showing it to everyone on the blog as you were officially the casino’s first-ever visitors. Congratulations.

Casino-Guests

And here is the link thingy:

http://www.oceanplayersclub.com/NewsandPromotions/DreamFirst.aspx

By the way, I would love to hear more from anyone who has cruised on your Carnival Dream so please, if you have time, post your reviews here on the blog thingy.

Talking of links lets show you this one which has all the information about a special cruise on the Carnival Imagination featuring New Boys on a Block….. www.nkotb.com/cruise.

Well, back on the good ship Carnival Legend all is well……..mostly and more on that ion a moment. Well, we are in Cozumel today and it’s a beautiful day and the guests have one extra hour to enjoy it.

That’s because the RCI ship we hugged a few weeks ago is on the opposite pier and the port authority along with both cruise lines have decided that the ship on the furthest pier needs to leave first……and that’s the Nobodyisontheclimbingwall of the Seas. This means that instead of leaving at 6 pm we will leave at 7 pm with guests needing to be back onboard at 6:30 pm instead of 5:30 pm.

The Youhitusandaguestdroppedthesteaktheyhadtopayfor of the Seas can just back out giving us the room we need to maneuver. Everyone’s a winner.

Now, back on board. If there was ever a wrong week for a group of Mormons to be sailing it’s this week. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing negative to say about them or their religion; it’s just unfortunate that we have this group and the Goth group sailing at the same time. Did you see the letter I received yesterday? It stated that they were disturbed by what they thought were devil worshipers which of course they are not.

Anyway, I spent 45 minutes with the guests today. I had arranged to meet them after sailing from Grand Cayman and had expected just the person who had written the letter to be waiting for me. I was surprised therefore to be met by a group of 15 men and women. I was outnumbered.

I knew that this was going to be a difficult one to turn around especially as the group had also been unhappy with our entertainment………..as you will see here.

Guest: Mr. _______Ref: 828010234A
Cabin: ____Booking#: ____- Added-Changed: 10/12/09 – 10/12/09

DID NOT LIKE CHURCH PART OFF SHOW

Mr. ———-came to the desk to advise that they were offended by the church part off the show they stated that they don’t dance like that in their church.

GSA tasked CD

The guest is referring to our New Orleans tribute show called Big Easy. The show is a reminder that we should remember the city’s culture, music and faith that helped it rise from the despair of Hurricane Katrina. The show contains a section of rousing Gospel Music which is normally well received by audiences as it was this week. Yet, this group felt that it was detrimental to their beliefs. And so, after apologizing I explained exactly that, that this was a celebration of music culturally linked to New Orleans which includes of course some great Gospel tunes.

Then we went onto the subject of my vampire friends. Obviously, I didn’t call them that. Instead, I explained that they were followers of a certain type of fashion, music and expression and that in no way were they devil worshipers as they had thought. Although it’s easy to see how they could be misinterpreted. Dressed in black clothes, their faces pierced and daubed with heavy make-up some wearing T-shirts adorned with slogans such as “Keep music evil”…they certainly don’t conform to your normal cruise ship guest.

However, the Goths and the Mormons had something in common….they were all very nice people and I truly feel I turned them around and made them realize that the Goth folks were, outside of the somewhat strange clothes and body art….normal people with normal jobs and families……except the bloke with the bat wings who is completely bonkers.

While I was pleased that I had managed this I was equally discouraged at my inability to persuade them that we meant no offense by performing the Gospel section in the Big Easy show…….as much as I tried their minds were made up………..it was blasphemous …………and that was that.

Let’s pause to read some more letters from the Morning Show. Before I do I should explain that more than any other ship I have been on recently the letters I have been receiving have been so very personal, as you will see here.

Letter 1 pg 1
Letter 1 pg 2

Letter 2

Letter 3 pg 1
Letter 3 pg 2

Well, quite a mixed bag there and dominated by a little girl writing to her mother to say thank you for adopting her and a letter describing how two young people lost their spouses and found each other. All the letters were once again, written from the heart and I tried my best to do them justice when I read them out on the Afternoon Show.

I mentioned yesterday that I had arranged a wedding proposal for a man. Well, I was going to tell you their names if she said yes and not if she said no…………their names are………Wendy Horton and Richard Harvey …………she said yes as he proposed to her on Deck 10 aft as darkness fell over the Carnival Legend. Smart move doing it in the dark ……….there was no way she would see how small the diamond he had bought her was.

Anyway, I sent them champagne and chocolate covered strawberries and wish them health and happiness…….by the way…..she is 18 and he is 19………I was never that young.

Talking of marriage I wanted to show you a posting I received.

Anne Dezenski – please reply Asked:
John

I read your blog now and then and the comments people write about you as they do on our Cruise Critic pages. While I enjoy what you write I must tell you that I feel you are being selfish by spending so much time away from your family. My husband comes home every night and as a mother with 2 young children I know how important it is that they see their father every night before they go to bed. I realize that this is none of my business and I say this only because I care about you and your family but I think you will regret the time you spend away from them.

My family and my brother’s family will be sailing on the Liberty on October 31st. There will be 8 of us and I would ask that you help us make sure we have a table together in the early sitting please. Our cabin numbers are 7248, 7236 and 7308.
Thanks
Anne

John Says:

Thanks for your kind words and I will talk about the first part of your posting in a moment. However, I have taken the time to write to the Maitre D and he will do his best to make sure you are all seated together.

Best wishes and I hope you all have a brilliant time
John

Well, that got me thinking. Yes, it is selfish of me to be away from my family but what am I supposed to do. I’m sorry but I don’t understand. If was alive in caveman days man and came home from a hunting expedition with bugger all because I wanted to play with my children, we would all starve.

If I was a penguin and came back from a fishing trip with nothing but a frozen thingy, my baby penguin would die and the following year Mrs. Penguin would be having rumpy pumpy with Brad Penguin.

I know that what some women really want is a husband who leaves work at 5 pm and comes home to make a delicious Shepherd’s Pie……….but that’s just not me.

Every minute of every day I miss my girls, my parents and my friends and every day I think of the time I missing not being with Kye and watching her grow……and it makes me so very, very sad.

But…….it’s all I know………being a cruise director. Maybe one day I can work for the Corporation on land but for now…….well………this is what I do and still enjoy.

Unless I win the lottery or become an International Underwear Model……….then the only way I can provide for my family is to do this.

Such is life.

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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