Going Dutch

October 15, 2009 -

John Heald

If there is one port that sits atop the ” why doesn’t a Carnival ship go there ” it is of course………..Detroit…………in second place is my home town of Southend On Sea and in third place……………it is of course Aruba. And while the motor city and the chance for me to go home for lunch and a poo on my own toilet remain a dream……Aruba……….is back.

We will substitute the 8 day Exotic Western Caribbean itinerary (visiting Colon, Panama; Limon, Costa Rica & Belize) with a new 4-port Exotic Southern Caribbean itinerary for departures from October 18, 2010 through March 27, 2011. The itinerary will visit Grand Turk, La Romana / Casa de Campo, Aruba & Curacao. We would rotate this new itinerary with the current 3-port 8 Day Exotic Southern Caribbean.

Day Port of Call Arrive Depart
Ft. Lauderdale 4:00 p.m.
1 “Fun Day” At Sea
2 Grand Turk 7:00 a.m. 3:00 p.m.
3 La Romana / Casa De Campo* 9:00 a.m. 5:00 p.m.
4 Aruba Noon 10:00 p.m.
5 Curacao 8:00 a.m. 4:00 p.m.
6 “Fun Day” At Sea
7 “Fun Day” At Sea
8 Ft. Lauderdale 8:00 a.m.

And there was much rejoicing as Aruba fans danced in the streets in their underwear ……………….and I bet the people of Aruba are pretty happy as well.

If you are reading this and thinking what all the fuss is about let me see what I can remember about my times in Aruba.

Uncle Google tells us this island sits 15 miles off the coast of Venezuela and was formerly a Heidi ten Brink colony, achieving independence from the clog wearing, windmill living Dutchies in 1986. The island is tiny — a mere six miles at its widest point, and just under 20 miles long and has a population of some 100,000 people. Dutch, English and Spanish are widely spoken, but the local language is Papiamento, a curious dollop of all three. It’s been a long, long time since I have been there though. The last time was for the special Millennium cruise on the Carnival Triumph. My Mum and Dad and sister were sailing and as well as worrying about them, organizing a party that would meet all the Millennium hype, I was concerned that all the computers would crash because of the bug thingy and the world would come to an end.

I do remember the beaches are great, and there is the cutely colonial architecture near the ship with diamond stores and lots of great restaurants. There is great diving and snorkeling and a weird desert-like interior where if memory serves me well we ran some great Jeep and ATV tours.

I do remember though that it has a wonderful clean and fresh feeling and the Arubans are extremely non French……..as in………..welcoming. So, here you go, for those who have been asking to go back to Aruba……….your cries have been heard…………..so get booking as I am positive these cruises will sell like full size photos of me in my underpants.

Time for today’s questions. Here we go.

Janet Sammons Asked:
Please reply 🙂

Hi John. I just love reading your blog. It always makes me laugh. I love all the information you have given us. I am the particularly laughing about the bathroom incident. I too have made that mistake, but since I am a girl, I usually see way more than I mean to, and my mistake is always noticed right away! As soon as I see the urinals!

I wanted to drop you a note and tell you that I am the group leader for a cruise critic group cruise on the Dream 2/20/2010. So far we have 68 cabins booked. I have been working like a mad woman planning all the fun things we will be doing on and off the ship. I am referred to as the Cruise Director!! We also have a tour director, slot tourney director, etc. We have a total of 9 directors. It’s so much fun!

I would like to know a couple of things about the dream if you don’t mind.

1. What will the hours be for the slides? I want to plan a slide race for our group and need to know when to schedule it.

2. We will have our meet and greet on the first full see day. 2/21/2010. It has not been scheduled with Carnival yet, so the time and place are unknown as of now. I was wondering if you could possibly make an appearance at our meet and greet. So many of us are huge fans and it would mean the world to my group if they could meet you even if it is just for a minute or two.

I realize you are extremely busy, so if it is not possible I will completely understand. I was just thinking what a treat it would be.

Our groups name is the “Dream Catchers” and we would be honored to meet you and are so so so excited to be cruising with you!!

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,
Janet Sammons

John Says:
Hello Janet

Thanks for the kind words about the blog and I am glad you enjoy the fun stuff and the information. Congratulations on the Cruise Critic group and I am sure you are all looking forward to cruising on your Carnival Dream. It looks like with all your Directors you won’t be needing me that week …….so I will take the week off. Hope that’s OK.

Let’s see if we can help answer your questions. You asked for information on the ship’s WaterWorks…….here it is.

Slide Hours:
Name: Carnival’s WaterWorks
Location: Sky Deck 15 – midship (top of slide)
Spa Deck 12 – midship (bottom of slide)
Hours: 10:00am-5:00pm (weather conditions permitting)
Function: Aqua Park
• 3-deck high, 300′ long spiraling water tube slide
• 82′ long double-lane racing waterslide
• Slide Policy: Kids must be 42″ or taller to use the slide.

I am sure you saw me and my beige socks go down the slides and if I can do it ……….. anyone can.

It would be an honor to come and join you and I will also help you organize your meet and greet if you need me to. If so, please post a comment to me in January and I will make sure we take care of your needs.

See you and the Dream Catchers soon.
Best wishes
John

Kathy M. Asked:
Dear John,
Please Reply,

I am so sorry for my post to you about the Carnival Elation, it just came as such a surprise to some of us after Carnival had led us on about the special Cabo trips and would give us booking dates after September 17th only to find out they were pulling her. It is not your fault what Corporate does and for that please accept my apology for taking it out on you, you did not deserve that from me.

I know exactly how you feel about going into the wrong bathroom, I did it as a teenager (13) and I could not figure out why they had to white things on the wall (I had just started PE classes at school and taking a shower was all in the open so I just thought it was a new kind of bathroom). I had never seen them before and I tried to sit on one and do my thing. That is when I realized I was in the wrong bathroom and scooted out of here in a real hurry. I sure thanked God a lot for not letting anyone see me. In case it happens again and you are caught, just tell them that you are doing bathroom inspections and that you are done. Most will never know the difference.

Your #1 bloggy thingy friend and #1 fan,
Kathy M.

John Says:
Hello Kathy M

There is never any need to apologize Kathy. One of the many reasons I continue to write this blog is to allow for you all to have somewhere to express your concerns knowing that they will be read………it continues to surprise me that other cruise lines have not done the same. Anyway, I remain here at your service should you need me and thanks for sharing in your bathroom story, glad to see I wasn’t the only one.
Best wishes
John

Kerensa Asked:
Hi John (Please reply)

I am also in the cruise industry and work for one of Carnival’s sister companies. I’m planning out our first cruise for next year and Carnival seems a bit more suited to us than the line that I work for as we have 3 small children. Here’s a hint: Our line is very classy but we’re almost packed with seniors 🙂 For our first cruise I really want it to be as fun as possible and geared towards all the fun things we can do as a family and I think it will be great if our kids have some little ones their age on the ship as well. I stumbled across your blog and LOVE it….I’ve actually read it from beginning to end and the adventures you provide are wonderful…both in the cruise info aspect of it and in your personal life. My question for you is what cruise/ship would you recommend for a young family with twin 3 yr. olds and a 1yr. old for next summer? Also if you were included in said cruise it would go above and beyond my hopes for our cruise de-flowering 🙂 Thanks so much!

BTW, your family is lovely. Your pictures brim with such tenderness for both of your ladies and it feels as if we know you guys. Much love to you all!

John Says:
Hello Kerensa

First of all it’s a joy to welcome someone who works in the industry and indeed someone who works for one of our sister companies. I think I know which one but I won’t say …… damn……sorry to say damn……I just banged my elbow on the desk…….hence me saying “damn.” Anyway…..I am sure that we can provide your family with a true Carnival Fun for All experience and what better than our new ship, your Carnival Dream. I will be there in February and March and it would be an honor to meet you. The Camp carnival facilities for the 3 year olds will make sure they have the time of their lives and I will do the same for you, Dad and the 1 year old. If not your Carnival Dream then I will be on the Carnival Conquest in April and the Carnival Fantasy in May. Please let me know if you need any other information and my best to everyone at……damn……..I nearly said it.
Best wishes
John

April Z Asked:
Dear John (please reply),

Generally how long does it take for a brand new ship to start taking 5 day cruises? I am DYING to sail the Carnival Dream, but a 7 day is just not feasible for my family at this time. Can I expect some 5 days to be added to the itinerary soon?
Thank you!
April

John Says:
Hello April

I hope somehow, some way, you can find a way to stretch 5 days to 7 as there no plans at the moment for your Carnival Dream to start a 5 day itinerary. If it’s a question of getting time of work I can write you a sick note.

To Whom It May Concern
Please note that April has been diagnosed with a serious case of Lackoffunitus. She will therefore need seven days of immediate Fun on a Carnival Cruise Lines ship.

Dr John Heald. Q.U.A.C.K. There you go……..sorted.
Best wishes
John

wil-da beast Asked:
John…Please reply……….Thanks for the videos.

The water slide episode was so much fun to watch and also the screaming of “little” Boys…Can’t wait to be a passenger on the Dream very soon is why I’m writing. A while back I mentioned that my husband and I will be sailing on the Transatlantic and would appreciate being in Ken’s dining room. You said to remind you when it’s closer to the time and you would see what you could do about it. So am asking for your assistance. Not sure how much info you need but…..we’ll be on the Dream’s TA Oct 27th…our last name is Sukman…room #2443…have early dining 6 pm..prefer table with fellow cruisers…Also if I’m not being too bold..Could you send a little surprise to my husband? He’s 71 years old and still working to support my habit of cruising. People ask him when he’s going to retire and he replies “I can’t, she just booked another CRUISE”..Thanks so much for your time and for all that you do for all of us. Can’t wait to see you on board in Bermuda. Hope that is still on your schedule. Sorry to make this so long. Before ending..I send my love to your girls. Little Kye is growing by leaps and bounds and getting cuter all the time…Regards from Houston…A&W

John Says:
Hello Wil-da beast

I am glad the water slide videos were enjoyed by so many and I have to admit, as scared as I was, and as embarrassed as I was at my shorts falling down……..I loved every minute of it and I hope everyone who sails on the ship gets to be a “big kid” as well.

I have sent your request to Ken and I know he will look forward to welcoming you. I will see you in Bermuda and have a wonderful time on your Carnival Dream.

Best wishes
John

Irene Garner Asked:
Dear John…Please reply

I am wondering if the Carnival tag line “All for fun, Fun for all “is copyrighted? I just heard the exact same thing on a Kellogg’s Pop Tart commercial.
Thanks…Irene Garner (hooked on cruising)

John Says:
Hello Irene

This is very interesting because the Fun for All, All for Fun is indeed a SM – Serviced Marked thingy. I have sent this to the people with beards to have a look at.

By the way and more importantly……….what the heck is a Pop Tart?
Best wishes
John

Vickie Greiner Asked:
John — please reply,

I truly enjoy reading your daily question/answer sessions. They are incredibly informative and greatly appreciated. To say you face a daunting challenge in trying to keep up with all our questions is an understatement, but please know we are grateful for your ongoing efforts.

I look forward to our 12/3 Blogger’s voyage on the Carnival Dream. Over on Cruise Critic, several people have been questioning the selection of Grand Turk as one of the elegant nights on this nine-day itinerary (since we have a late arrival there and don’t depart until 7 p.m.) Many have suggested that our early departure from San Juan would be a more preferable selection for elegant night. Can you please explain what decisions are factored in when choosing the elegant nights, specifically why Grand Turk as opposed to San Juan night?

Also, it is with great disappointment that I have been reading some CC people providing criticism on Todd Whitmer’s lack of visibility on the Carnival Dream’s first voyage and the fact that not all the entertainment shows were ready to be presented to guests. I can only imagine the demands which must have been placed on Todd in trying to get everything pulled together, so if you have insight on some of the behind-the-scenes obligations that a cruise director faces when bringing out a new ship, I believe it would be nice to share. Having sailed with Todd in the past, I found him to be personal, professional, and enthusiastic, so I want to take the time to speak on his behalf and say what a splendid choice I think Carnival made when picking him to bring out the new ship.

Bon voyage to all those who are sailing soon.
…Vickie aka Lilmatcat

John Says:
Hello Vickie

I want to start by saying thank you for the kind words about the blog and I hope you continue to enjoy it. Having read your comments about the second elegant night and taking a closer look at the itinerary I have to agree that yes, it makes much more sense to have this after departure from San Juan. I will recommend this to the ship accordingly and thank you for bringing this to my attention.

I apologize to those who were on the first Carnival Dream voyage and did not get to see one of the production shows. Unfortunately, time got away from us and it just wasn’t ready to open. However, I know we brought on top class entertainment in its place and the reviews I am reading about the Dancin in the Street show are glowing with many calling it “the best show we have ever seen.”

As for Todd not being visible on that first cruise. He is, on a normal cruise, one of the most visible and energetic cruise directors Carnival has ever had and with the start up of a new ship things can get very hectic at times. And, having delivered 11 new ships myself I know that despite all the planning and all the preparation that first voyage is manic to say the least. I know Todd will have worked into the wee small hours of the morning and will have been up just a few hours later. Todd was and is the perfect choice for this ship because he is simply……..the best. Anyway, let me apologize on his behalf nobody was more disappointed than Todd as he is a CD who loves being out with guests more than anything.
Thanks for your kind words of support.

Best wishes
John

Teresa Richardson Asked:
John, Please reply

Please explain how you got that fantastic camera angle in the 7th picture from the bottom in this blog of the two Carnival ships with the names showing on both ships. Our family of 10 will be on the Nov 5 Fantasy cruise and I’d like to try my hand at duplicating that shot. In all of our trips to Cozumel, I’ve never taken one that neat. We love your blog thingy and I can always tell when you have an especially good one–my husband can’t quit laughing. Rather than just reading me a line or two, he passes the computer to me to read while he wipes his eyes and I pass it back to him to wipe mine. You really do have a great gift for blogging. Hopefully we will meet on a Carnival cruise one day. We are thankful no one was hurt and that both ships received minor damage. Teresa

John Says:
Hello Teresa

Great question. The photo manager tells me he was virtually lying down on the pier looking up at the bow of both ships. It was a great photo and one I hope you can replicate when you sail. The description of you and your husband reading the blog has made me a very happy man indeed. Best wishes to you both and have a brilliant cruise.
Best wishes
John

That’s all for today. More tomorrow and as always thanks for all the comments and a special thanks for the continuing support of the blog thingy.

One of the 343 Stephanies is compiling your favorite photos and will keep doing so until Monday when she will put them on …….ummmm……a rotating ……ummm……..thingy and we share them all with you. If you have a favorite Carnival photo please send it to her.

I have been approached by two different people this week via the blog on a subject that is not easy to write about but it’s one that I need to briefly mention. The subject…….. burial at sea. In days gone past this would have been a simple task but these days there are of course environmental rules to follow.

The ashes, biodegradable urns, and flowers may be dispersed but not plastic materials such as plastic ribbons, plastic flowers, plastic urns, balloons, etc. The ceremony must also be conducted 12 miles out from port.

However, saying all that the on board team will assist with the ceremony to make it as dignified as possible.

It feels slightly awkward saying this but ……….if you need my assistance with this please let me know.

It was a strange night last night and not just because I shared an elevator with a 5 foot woman wearing 3 foot high black boots. While the first show was packed as normal the second performance at 10:30 pm was as empty as Paris Hilton’s head. I know the Goth group had their own party going on in another lounge but where the other guests. As I sat back stage pondering this thought I asked my assistant Craig to take a wander around the ship. He reported the casino was busy, Karaoke was packed and the lobby bar was also popular. So why didn’t they want to come to the show?

Now, it is important that we provide entertainment all over the ship not just in the main showroom and I must admit that in past months on various ships I have seen and my fellow cruise directors have reported that attendance at shows are not what they used to be. And I guess that’s a good thing because it shows that our strategy to have the entire ship full of life is working. However, I guess I need to ask you…………how important are the shows to you and what shows would you like to see more of?…….dancers and big productions, comedy, variety, reality?…….as always I remind you how important your comments are to us, so thanks for sharing them with us.

I see the comments on our smoking policy continue to come in thick and fast and that’s a good thing. All these comments are being read by the Carnival executive team .It is though very difficult to legislate a one-size-fits all ban across our fleet. The deciding factor in all of this should be personal choice. I think it’s a good thing that we offer a variety of smoking a non-smoking areas, from which you the guest is able to choose. We can still improve though and make it better for everyone……..and we will continue to try and do so.

Time for a comment.

Guest: Mrs ————–Ref: 828010241A
Cabin: ___Booking#: ______Added-Changed: 10/13/09 – 10/13/09

Mrs.———- approached the desk asking who does she has to speak in order to make a complaint. GSA replied that this is the right place and asked Mrs _____ what the complaint was. Guest said that the DJ would not play her request and that this was very rude. GSA apologized and said that he would pass the comment to the Cruise Director.

And after investigation it was discovered the reason the DJ would not play the request was two-fold. A) he didn’t have the song . B) It was by someone called Marilyn Manson and apparently his (or is he a she) has music that certainly would not be appropriate for our Dance Club. I know I should ask Uncle Google for more information about this but honestly……..I can’t be asked. Anyway, I had Craig call the guest and apologize……he did ……….they hung up on him.

On a much more pleasant subject I met Mr. and Mrs. Goldberg today at the past guest party and this wonderful and very cute couple were celebrating their 62nd wedding anniversary so of course I made a big fuss of them. What was so cute was that Mr. Goldberg is very hard of hearing and even with me speaking in the microphone, he couldn’t hear. So, I would say something and Mrs. Goldberg would grab him by his jacket collar and tug him toward her and scream in his ear……..and I mean scream. It was hilarious and the look of sublime acceptance on his face was just perfect.

By the way……..it’s a bloody miracle that I have been able to blog to you today. Not because I’ve been bitten by a vampire or been kidnapped by some Mormons. Nope ……… it’s my lap top computer on which I blog to you daily from. I’ve altered none of its settings and yet, mid-typing, the cursor has developed the habit of randomly flinging itself to another part of the document. This means that, before I cut and pasted it back to here, the end of this paragraph migrated to the beginning of it……..and me and my underpants are getting thoroughly pissed off about it. Does anyone with a beard have any idea why?

You know me and technology and how we have a hate-hate relationship. As I sit here I remember some years ago how Heidi and I rented a car on vacation in Orlando. We were talking about this during a phone call today. I speak to my wife by phone as I am of course a selfish bastard for working here on the ship and leaving her to live in a shoe box and scrounge for food in the neighbors garbage bins (see yesterdays blog.)

Anyway, we rented a car and eventually we had to fill up with petrol……..sorry……….gas. Now, respectfully I have to say that while in the UK it’s a simple task of putting the nozzle in the hole and pressing the pump handle thingy, in America you need to be a tofu eating beardy to understand how you use the dam thing.

I remember standing at the Citgo station reading the instructions. To use my credit card at the pump I had to enter my zip code, and not having a zip code, I ventured inside to ask them to switch the pump on. They couldn’t. In some parts of America you must pay before you put the petrol in. Trouble is, this involves knowing exactly how much petrol you want to put in, and as I’m in a hire car that’s two-thirds empty and must be returned full, I have no idea how much it might take to fill it. I explain this to the lady. She just stares at me.

“You have to pay first,” she repeated. “How much are you putting in?”

“I don’t know how much I’m putting in until I’ve put it in.” I explained. “I need to fill it up.”

“Well, just pay what you need to fill it up.”

“I don’t know what I need to fill it up, it’s a hire car. Can’t I just fill it up and then pay?”

“No.”

This is a stupid system. It’s like going for dinner and being asked to pay the check before you know what you are going to order. I mentioned this. The lady just stared at me.

Hertz my arse.

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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