Going On Holiday In 2010 – Coming?

October 21, 2009 -

John Heald

It’s 7:50 am and here I am in my underpants. You know, most mornings I wake up having some kind of plan in my head as to what to write to you all about. Sometimes though my mind is as empty as a Scotsman’s wallet. And on mornings like this………all I have to do is read the incident report.

Guest: Mr. ————Ref: 827110330A
Cabin: ———- Booking#: _____Added-Changed: 10/19/09 – 10/19/09


Guest came to the desk upset that he had been charged so much for the mini bar drinks in his state room. Guest said that there were no prices marked anywhere and that he thought they had been included in the price of the cruise. Note: Guest has drunk a total of $60 of beer and miniature drinks. GSA explained to guest that the prices were listed in the cabin on the top of the bottle of water. Guest said he should not have to pay as it was not clear that charges would be made. Guest was very angry and wanted to speak to the Captain.

Ahhhh………the good old mini bar, they provide reflex response every time you enter a hotel room….. switch on the lights, check out the bathroom, make sure there is no one else’s poo in the toilet, put your luggage down, bounce on the bed, check out the view and the price of the rumpy pumpy movies……..and suddenly it hits you “Ooh, there’s a minibar. And wow, it has – a tin of cashews.”

Reality dawns with the paper sledgehammer that is the price list. You feel mugged. You pledge never to spend $10 on a small can of Heineken when you can grab a crate of the stuff from the 7 – 11……………..ever!

The prices we charge in our Carnival mini bars, unlike the bastard hotels are exactly the same price as the drinks in the bars on Promenade Deck. It got me thinking……..we should have “minibar happy hours”………….30% off between midnight and 1:00 am………………what do you think?

But minibars are cruel. No matter how hard you try, you will always raid the evil little two-shelf fridge, usually late at night. And the bastard hotels know it.

Minibars are like having your own personal flight attendant in your room, without the rude service, rattling wheels and sweaty photo copier salesman sitting next to you. And, like an airline trolley, a hotel minibar stocks all manner of unhealthy, unsatisfying snacks and drinks at “bloody hell how much?” prices. And because few of us feel comfortable paying minibar prices, we invent ways to bugger it.

I know people who have bought similar drinks in the 7 – 11 to cheekily restock what we’ve necked the night before. That is easier said than done, however. Minibar products are sometimes outsized – more usually undersized (they have to be small to fit in) and unavailable from Mr. Patel’s convenience store.

I don’t know about you but when I am staying at a hotel for a long time as I do at the Intercontinental in Miami I go to Wal-Mart, stack up on sodas and water and sugar free puddings, emptying the overpriced minibar and replacing it with my own cheaper comfort fodder.

The first time I did this I went off for a day with the beards at CCL HQ and came back to find Mrs. Lopez the maid had helpfully made my bed, cleaned the poo from the bottom of the toilet and very kindly she had emptied the fridge of all my drink and replaced it with all the hotel’s drink. My Diet Coke was warm, theirs was cold. One-nil!

So I put them back again. One-one!

This tiring game of fill, empty, refill went on each day for eight days until I checked out.

Then of course we have the mini bars that have a sensor at the bottom of each item so that even if you gently nudge a can of Diet Coke…….it beeps……….and sends a “you’re screwed” signal to a computer who charges you more than you paid for the room. The someone who invented this should be hunted down and bludgeoned to death with a small fridge and a can of cashews.

Let’s do some questions shall we?………….ok…..here we go.

Michele MARAGNI Asked:
Hi John, Please Reply!

Well Dec, 3rd. will soon be here, my Mom and I are counting the days, to our Dream, and meeting you! I am very excited to say I have 3 Carnival Cruises booked!!! 2 on the Dream, which on Oct.2nd, I wrote you my husband and I will be renewing our wedding vows, well I’ve added a 3rd, April 24th, 2010, on the carnival Liberty, which I’ve been on before, for your fabulous Halloween Cruise, I was wondering who will be the CD, on this cruise?, will Mom and I get Lucky, and be cruising with you again? We have our fingers crossed!!!!!!!! Michele & Mom (Eleanor)

John Says:
Hello Michele

Your excitement about your forthcoming cruises is obvious from your posting. I share your excitement for the December 3rd Carnival Dream bloggers cruise and meeting you and Mom. The Cruise Director schedule is still being worked on so I am not sure as to who the CD will be for your Carnival Liberty cruise. The schedule should be completed soon and as soon as it is I will let you know who will be the lucky person to see you in April.

Please let me know if you have any other questions.

Best wishes to you and the family

Maverick Asked:
John – (Please reply)

It is with a bit of alarm that I read one of your comment replies, from today, regarding Carnival Dream cabins 8466 and 8473, the “aft wrap balconies” – category 9A – that apparently are not aft wraps…

What were you meaning when you said “Meanwhile guests who have booked these cabins based are being compensated accordingly”? Don’t think I’m asking for a free cruise…I’m just curious as to what “new category” these rooms are listed as…as I booked this cruise on that deck specifically for the Wrap Around balcony…


John Says:
Hello Maverick

It appears that embarrassingly the yard made a mistake when designing these two particular cabins. Our deck plans clearly show them to be wrap around but at the moment they are not. However, the latest news is that on October 28 the partitions will be removed so by the time the ship reaches New York both cabins will once again be wrap around balcony cabins. My sincere apologies to the guests who booked these cabins up until then and as I said those guests have been compensated accordingly.

Sorry to have alarmed you.
Best wishes

Lynn Homann Asked:
John, please reply:

I am taking my mother on her first ever cruise in less than 30 days! It is a thank you to her for all her help with my newest and third son (6 months old!). My question is this: Online my fun pass says we have early dining confirmed (which is fine) and my mailed docs say we have anytime dining. How do I know which it is AND how can I ensure that we get a table for two each night — girl talk!! Thanks in advance for any help. Lynn

John Says:
Hello Lynn

I am sure you and Mum are looking forward to some girl time together. Can you send me your sailing detail ASAP including your cabin number and ship? I will then see what I can do to help you. Did you request early sitting or would you prefer anytime? Please let me know.

Best wishes to you and Mum

Susan Asked:
We are sailing on Carnival Dream next May, My husband and I were so thrilled to be going on this new ship. We have been on several cruises all with Carnival. We envied those who had wrap balconies and decided that this cruise we would splurge and get the wrap balcony 8466 because according to the deck plans this was a wrap around balcony. We saw pictures of the back of the ship on blogs and we about fell off the floor when we realized this was indeed not a wrap. We called Carnival immediately the other wrap cabins were already booked. They told us not to worry that this was a wrap balcony. Indeed it is not. We were so discouraged no one would listen to us. When we read your blog about this matter we were so happy finally someone else has noticed this is not a wrap. We do not want to be compensated we want the wrap balcony that we paid for. The other cabin that is paying $ 500.00 less is getting the wrap. I sort of feel ripped off. I am sure there are others who feel this same way. I am so hoping that the divider is moved before our cruise. We are anxiously waiting to see how it will all turn out. Thanks for being such a great person your blogs always give us something to look forward to Susan

John Says:
Hello Susan

Well hopefully by now you have read the comment I replied to a moment ago to Maverick where you will have seen that this problem ………..actually let’s call it as it was………this mistake………..is in the process of being rectified and the partition which was placed there in error during construction is being removed. This means that you will indeed have a wrap around balcony as booked.

My apologies for any worry this may have caused
Best wishes

Tom-n-Cheryl Asked:

Tasting something SOUR… we have cabin #8466 booked on the Dream for our 2/27/10 sailing.

We booked #8466 PRECISELY because it was an “AFT WRAP”…

It will be interesting to see how they are going to handle this… and NO, I don’t simply want our rate adjusted to a Cat 8 level. That is not what we booked – nor desire!!! 🙁

John Says:
Hello Tom

Please see above and apologies to you as well and I am hope now that “sour” taste has been removed and replaced with something sweet.

Best wishes

Linda Asked:
Hi John – please reply

I’ve already booked the Carnival Dream on Nov 15th. How do I become a Blogger Cruise member?

John Says:
Hello Linda

Your Carnival Dream cruise will soon be here and as you know I will be hosting a cocktail reception for those who read the blog and are sailing on that voyage. The reception will be held before sailing so please keep reading the blog thingy and I will tell you when and where to meet. I am sure you are very excited about seeing the ship and I have a few photos of her for you to enjoy in a moment.

Best wishes and see you soon

Amber H Asked:
Hi John,

As a travel agent I read your blog as much as I can and I try to put myself in your shoes. Can’t say much for the soldier thing…my husband is/was a United States Marine. Anyway, I am asking that yourself or someone on the “care” staff get in touch with me regarding a guest who sailed last month. I don’t know if anyone at Carnival can help be he had an awful time with the company Carnival uses to supply wheelchairs oxygen while onboard. Anyway, it has nothing to do with the way Carnival handled anything. Just thought maybe you could have someone contact us to discuss the issue. Keep up the great blog! We love reading it whenever we get a chance.

John Says:
Hello Amber

We value beyond measure the support of all our Travel Agent partners and of course I will have someone contact you. Please let them know your concerns and if you have any further need of my help I will be here.

Best wishes to you and your husband

Sharon Asked:

Is there any information on 2010 Itinerary for Europe; Are there going to be any new destinations; also is there any information on the Magic?

John Says:
Hello Sharon

At this time there are no plans to return a Carnival ship to Europe in 2010. There is no news yet on where Carnival Magic will be sailing and if 2011 will see a Carnival ship return to Europe. I have our super spy PA 007 on the case and as soon as I know what’s happening I will be letting all of you know here as well.

Best wishes

That’s all for today and as you can see I am now only 10 days behind in answering those comments marked for a reply. I will do my best to continue to catch up.

OK, next up we pop on over to Dubrovnik, Croatia and a look at your Carnival Dream through the lens of professional photo journalist Andy Newman.




Marvelous. What great shots and wonderful memories I have of Dubrovnik. I hope one day to return there on a Carnival ship……………..with you.

Today we are in Cozumel and the weather is just as it was yesterday………overcast, grey and with showers expected for most of the day. My goodness I feel so sorry for the guests. But if they are all like the Saints and Sinners Cruise Critic group I met yesterday they won’t let a few showers get them down. I met them yesterday at their private party and my goodness they were very……….happy. And from a man in a blue wig to the lady in the red T-shirt they all were indeed a crazy bunch determined to have fun………………it was great to meet them all…………especially the chap who obviously sponsored by two hours of open bar said “I love the Brits…I’m part British………I have a Jagwarr”………I think he meant that he has……….. A Jaguar. …..pronounced correctly as Jag You Are.

I have not been off the ship since I arrived on September 27th. Yes, I know that’s not healthy but what with the blog and the job and no friends I prefer to stay onboard. The guests though are off shopping, snorkeling, swimming and sightseeing. This is a very lively bunch this cruise and the shows have all been met with much enthusiasm. I walked around the ship yesterday and unlike last cruise where every now and then a guest would ignore my greetings this week everyone smiles, says hello and I have had my photo taken more times than a boy and his weather balloon.

I hosted the past guest party yesterday and as usual we drew out an invitation to see who would win the prize of dinner for two at the supper club………bugger, bugger, bugger …………steakhouse.

I always have some fun with the winner and this was the case yesterday when I pulled out the winner Mr. Jimmy Cornes.

Now what makes Jimmy unique is his job. I asked him what he did for a living ………….. and his answer surprised me and the audience. He was a roadie…..and had been for 34 years………….”A roadie?” I said…………”Aren’t you supposed to be tubby, scruffy and have more tattoos than Angelina Jolie?”

Jimmy told a fascinated audience about the 11 years he spent traveling the world with a little known rock band called Led Zeppelin where he was chief roadie for band member and bass player John Paul Jones. He also worked with John Mellencamp, The Alan Parsons Project and Genesis. He is retired now but owns a guitar store and repair shop in Chicago. Well, I could have talked to him for hours about rock n roll but instead I thought I had better ask him who he was taking to the steakhouse with him. As I did I asked jokingly if it was one of the “groupies” he had met on the road………….”No” he smiled………..”I am here with my mother………she’s 84.”………….brilliant!

Well, as promised it’s time to catch up with what is happening at the world’s most famous ocean liner company………..Cunard. You know, the fact that I am about to introduce this gentlemen to you should not be understated in anyway. The fact that Cunard’s President and Managing Director is a blog reader and the fact that one of the most important men in the industry takes the time to write for you is quite astonishing.

So, here to describe a special journey for a special ship is that man……our man in London ………and our great friend……….Mr. Peter Shanks



Hello John and a special hello to all your blog readers.

I write this from Queen Mary 2. We are just leaving Greenock, with many thousands of people waving goodbye to what has been a spectacular day. Just twenty minutes ago – I pushed the hallowed red button on the bridge to sound our famous whistle and that in turn triggered an awesome firework display to celebrate the occasion. As we left – we heard the sounds of thousands of people singing ‘Happy Birthday’ from the shore – a very emotional, spontaneous and fitting tribute from the people of Scotland celebrating the 5th Birthday of the finest ocean liner in the world.

Today – Queen Mary 2 sailed up the Clyde towards Glasgow for the very first time. Over 120 Cunarders were built in this part of Scotland – including Lusitania, Aquitania, Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, QE2 and our first ever ship Britannia over 170 years ago this year. We were all bursting with pride – our crew, our guests – all of us making history together as the largest ship ever to sail up the Clyde. And yes – we were welcomed by Scottish Pipers.

It was also a special moment for me personally as I am a proud Scotsman myself – born in Glasgow. Our lap of honour started in Southampton and over the last few days we have experienced;

• A voyage up the East Coast of England coming close to some famous towns and beaches as we did so. We said a warm hello to Whitby, to Scarborough and Sunderland. You know the coast of the UK is actually very beautiful and the sun shone.
• As we came into Whitby – Commodore sounded the ship’s whistle in tribute to a friend of his who sadly passed away earlier this year and who had been very active in the RNLI Lifeboat Association – it is really marvellous when Cunard can play a small and humble part in recognition of things like this.
• The day in Edinburgh was indeed spectacular with the ship anchored just off the famous bridge – a wonderful sight.
• We travelled right around the top of Scotland yesterday, through the Pentland Firth, past Scapa Flow, past Old Man of Hoy – this coastline is rarely seen and to see it all the way round was a real treat for all of our guests.
• Lesley Garret – a delightful and famous British opera singer, performed two concerts to a packed Royal Court Theatre
• I was able to deliver a presentation to guests on the forthcoming Queen Elizabeth to a packed theatre. The response was very warm and there is a real sense of anticipation for our next Liner.

Onboard we have 2,600 guests of which over 1,500 our very loyal and valued Cunard World Club Members. Last night in the Queens Room we were able to thank them for their valued support – it was a real pleasure for us all to see so many familiar faces. I was also able to ask them in turn to give a warm round of applause for the people who lie behind the success of everything we do at Cunard Line – our valued ship’s company.

Well – that is all for now. Tomorrow is the big day – we take Queen Mary 2 up the Mersey into Liverpool for the very first time. As though today on the Clyde was not exciting enough – to take Queen Mary 2 to Liverpool, where Cunard Line was founded 170 years ago should be very special indeed. I will of course let you know how we get on. We will also post some of the marvellous pictures of events over the next few days.

I just wanted to share with you the excitement and pride of today. More to come tomorrow I am sure. Since I started writing this – I have heard our ship’s whistle sound 9 more times – with the last one being to say goodbye to the famous Waverley Steamship as she escorted us back down the Clyde – packed with what I hope are hundreds of very happy Scots. We certainly made our mark today …………….. Thank you Scotland – we will be back !

Best Regards

Peter Shanks
President and Managing Director – Cunard Line

Part two of Peter’s blog will be posted tomorrow.

Thank you so very much Peter for that passionate report. I know many of you will be “ooohing and ahhing” at the thought of seeing the UK as it was meant to be seen ………..onboard a Cunard liner. This got me thinking. You know I have been waffling on about wanting to experience a Cunard voyage for many months and as I was reading Peter’s report I suddenly had an idea. Why don’t I take Heidi and Kye on a Cunard voyage on the Queen Victoria around Britain? We did this on the Carnival Legend of course but we were working, but how wonderful to take my daughter and my wife and show them Scotland and Ireland and Liverpool and…….a Cunard Voyage. It so happens that I am on vacation in July and August next year.

And so I had another thought. I know many of you want to do Europe next year and like me are hoping that in 2011 we will announce our return. Until then ……… well …………… anyone want me to show them the UK………..and meet Heidi and Kye in the Queens Room for High Tea? White-gloved waiters serve fresh scones with cream, finger sandwiches and premium tea……and hopefully a sugar free scone will be made especially.

This isn’t going to be a bloggers cruise per say and certainly won’t replace the 2010 Carnival one that I hope to announce soon. It will be a group of friends traveling together and of course if there is enough of us I will host some events etc. But for now………just to test the waters……..anyone want to come on holiday with Heidi, Kye and I ?

The ship departs from Southampton on July 22, 2010…………….here is the itinerary.

1 Southampton Depart 5:00PM
2 Cherbourg Arrive 8:00AM Depart 5:00PM – we won’t get off the ship – Cunard will provide pegs for our noses.
3 Cork Arrive 8:00AM Depart 6:00PM
4 Dublin Arrive 8:00AM Depart 6:00PM
5 Liverpool Arrive 8:00AM Depart 11:00PM
6 Belfast Arrive 9:00AM Depart 6:00PM
7 Greenock Arrive 8:00AM Depart 6:00PM
8 At Sea
9 Rosyth Arrive 8:00AM Depart 6:00PM
10 At Sea
11 Southampton Arrive 6:30AM

I have as I said always wanted to take a Cunard voyage and I wondered if any of my friends wanted to join me. Let me know……….I just booked…….Kye says she is very excited.

Let’s talk fairy stories. We start with a real one …the wedding of our old friend Chris “Bubba” Roberts and his beautiful bride in Las Vegas last week.





I am sure many of you who have sailed with Chris and have read his posts here on the blog would like to send him the very best wishes………we miss him here.

I have the TV on at the moment and unusually for me I am not watching the news. Instead I am watching Turner Classic Movies which I usually flick past quicker than a hamster on jet powered roller skates. However, I paused this morning because they are showing Pretty Woman. Heidi loves this movie………I mean she really loves it………me……..well apart from the Lotus Esprit Turbo Dick Gere drives…………I think it’s a load of old wimpy fairy tale bollocks.

I would have shot the movie differently. In my version she would end up back on a street corner. She would have kept the gloves that went with the red dress but that was it. She’d have sold the jewelry for crack. The last scene would be her sitting on the sidewalk in ripped fishnets and Payless shoes (one of which has dog poo on it crapped by a hound called Jimmy …….Jimmy Poo) eating a burrito from Taco Bell when Richard Gere drives past………does a handbrake turn………and shows poor Julia that he is with Megan Fox ……………. they are married……………and she’s pregnant.

I would also re write Heidi’s other New York favorite Sex and the bleeding City.

Carrie ends up in her apartment depressed, angry, in debt and unable to trust a man ever again marries a girl called Vanessa who works in a charity shop and eats tofu. The only other one whose name I can remember is Samantha…..the one who only wears underwear to keep her ankles warm……….she, in my rewrite ………..becomes a Nun.

Your friend

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.