Valentine's Day

November 16, 2009 -

John Heald

I have been traveling and flying and packing and unpacking and changing cabins and flying again and taking my laptop out of my bag and taking my shoes off an putting them on and hosting dinners and doing interviews and performing naming ceremonies and freezing my bollocks off in New York and reading huge books and meeting famous actresses and trying to talk to all the people who want to talk to me and missing my wife and daughter and using the raspberry and not using it when the satellite went down and forgetting to take my diabetic pill and remembering that I am married and not to stare at the Latvian dining room hostess’s bottom and doing what Gerry Cahill wants of me and what the marketing people with beards want me to do even though I have no bloody clue what they are talking about………oh and amongst all that my hemorrhoids have been itching like crazy.

Despite all of this I was shocked and somewhat concerned when some told me yesterday that “I looked stressed.” This surprised me because even though I have been in demand more than lifeboat repairmen have been in Port Everglades these past few days……..I certainly never considered myself to be stressed.

I have always thought of stress belonging to other people and have always been amazed at what some people do to tell it to bugger off. I’ve never squeezed a stress ball and felt less stressed as a result; I’ve never played an online stress relief game, especially of the crappy ZX Spectrum kind featured on the website of the International Stress Management Association UK, and have always ignored the recommended solution of the massage — do you keep your underpants on? Can you scream if it hurts? Are you allowed to fart? ………….the mere thought of a massage makes my blood pressure rise……………not fall.

However, I am considering the advice issued by self proclaimed stress experts suggestions The chap who told me I looked stressed while on your Carnival Dream works for Carnival in their Miami offices and after telling me I was stressed he then went on to tell me how to unstress myself.

He said I had to “declutter” my life by “saying no more often,” which I think is bollocks. Saying no just leads to awkward confrontations and dismay: much better to say yes and then weedle out of the commitment by forgetting.

However…………my CCL colleague had left the best to last because he then said that I “could liberate myself from stress” by “being honest in a loving way”…………… this is the worst advice I’ve received since someone told me that I would enjoy dragging a 5 foot tall 30 pound bottle of champagne around New York.

There is no better way of making life more complicated and stressful than by going around telling people what you really think of them. Hiding your true feelings, as Cruise Directors have long appreciated, is the secret to a content life.

I am sure were I to look it up on Mr. Google’s thingy he would say that it is a fact that “stress is not good for you.” And while it’s true that it’s probably not healthy if you’re throwing up at the very thought of a week of work on Sunday nights, it has been demonstrated that a bit of stress can improve performance, and mankind would not have walked on the moon, built your Carnival Dream, broken the sound barrier, survived a press dinner next to a very happy Anita Dunham Potter………achieved bugger all…………. without experiencing a degree of stress. Then again everything I said could be total rubbish…………..because thinking about it…………..The most relaxed person I know is a mate called Tom who has no job but lives off his trust fund provided by his father who owns half of Jamaica. ………..he is always happy………..never angry and has a wonderful personality and is always ready to help others…………….he is stress free ………. although of course achieves his stresslessness by smoking five palm trees a day.

I am tired ……………..but stressed………………….stressed my arse!

I realized I wasn’t stressed as I sat in the business class lounge at the airport yesterday ……….. certainly not compared to the business men in suits around me. I had managed to upgrade myself to business class for the flight to New York and once again felt out of place in my sweat pants and oversized shirt by Omar the Ten Maker.

No wonder they all look stressed though. First of all, the laptop has to go. It seems men and women in suits are physically incapable of sitting down at an airport for a moment without flicking open the computer and pulling a serious face while pretending that the machine is actually doing something.

It isn’t. You spend the first five minutes waiting for the damn thing to stop making chiming and beeping noises and the next 20 discovering that it won’t connect to either 3G or the Edge, and that you cannot remember the password you chose for the AT&T hot spot thingy. Then, by the time log on, they have called your flight and it’s time to go.

So instead of pretending to be Gordon Gecko, who cannot be out of touch for a moment, leave the damn thing at home and spend the time either thinking about Megan Fox’s bottom or reading a good book. Both of these activities will ensure you’re a better, cleverer person, and that’s a good thing because most people would rather do business with a chap who can make a joke about bottoms than some nerd who reckons a widescreen iMac Power Trip makes him look important.

So, business travelers here is my advice…. Wear sweat pants. Read books oh and one more thing …………..talk normally on the phone and not so loudly because you want everyone else to hear your fictitious call with the President of Carnival Cruise Lines…………..when you are really talking to nobody at all.

Brian Asked:
Hi John (PLEASE REPLY),

I asked a while back about getting a schedule of the movies to be played at the Seaside Theatre and you asked that I remind you as it got closer. Sailing on the Dream, Dec 3rd and know you’re running just a little behind. We never got around to seeing a movie on the Freedom, so we were hoping if we had the schedule for the cruise we could make sure to pick one.

A month from tomorrow I will be on a plane going to Pt. Canaveral!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks for your help and look forward to meeting you.

John Says:
Hello Brian

I just disembarked your Carnival Dream and saw that amongst the Big Screen movies Todd has chosen are Star Trek (new one), Mall Cop, Valkyrie, Quantum of Solace and The Soloist to name but a few. And of course we have the Sunday and Monday night football games. Don’t forget to see the Laser shows which I will be talking more about later.

See you soon
Best wishes
John

Judy Asked:
John, (reply, if you don’t mine)

My mother and I just got off the Legend this morning. We had a great cruise and your shows were great. I took the limited “Cruise Ship Tour” and it was terrific. We went everywhere on the ship, met the Chief Chef and the Captain. Had our pictures taken with them and they came out great. I highly recommend this tour to everyone and wished that we could have met you too. I found myself in the casino a lot, won some money and gave it back to the ship. ha ha I met a very nice casino worker by the name of Joseph from the Philippines. He called me by my name each time I came to the casino and made a point of asking me how I was doing. It made that part of my cruise very nice. I even asked him last night if he minded if I took his picture, which he graciously said yes. I heard he was up for a promotion in the casino department and I hope he gets it. He will be a great asset. I wrote about Joseph on my comment card. Now a question for you, please tell me that “Mr. Little” was not a “plant”? That part of your show was hysterical.

Again, had a great cruise and you and your staff, along with the whole Legend crew, were terrific.

Take care and hope you have a great time off.
Judy

John Says:
Hello Judy

I am so glad that you had such fun on the Carnival Legend and that you enjoyed all the shows including the now infamous Welcome Aboard show starring Dick and his friends. Your words of praise for Joseph are a joy to read and I will make sure his supervisor gets to read them. Name recognition is something we are really working hard on here at Carnival as we feel that recognizing a guest by name can make such a difference ………..as you discovered first hand.

So, I hope it will not be long before we see you and Mum again on one of our ships.

I remain at your service.
Best wishes
John

Sharon Asked:
Please respond

I would like to say I do enjoy your blog, however, I do not feel the need to comment unless I have a suggestion.

And this is it:

Carnival uses Direct TV for its satellite service. Carnival sails out of Miami, New Orleans, Galveston, Baltimore, Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle, and NYNY, etc.

The majority of these ports have a sailing where the ship is at sea on a Sunday or Monday.

I was on the Carnival Fantasy September 27, 2009. At about 2:30 PM, the Majestic Bar, the Bistro, Windows on the Sea, and anywhere you could find a TV, was full of people wearing black and gold with a fleur de les on the front and back waiting for the 3 PM kick off. Kick off of what? A United States Football game featuring the New Orleans Saints vs. the Buffalo Bills, bet it was a great game. (I say USA Football because it’s not “American” football. Last time I checked futbol in the majority of the Americas is not the same, it’s what USA calls soccer.)

At 3:30 PM the Majestic Lounge was almost empty, the Bistro had a few hanging around to see the high lights, and no one was in front of the TV at Windows.

The games on the TV’s were out of Denver, CO. Boy, Carnival lost some money.

Carnival needs to invest in the Direct TV NFL Ticket. This way one can watch a game not showing on local channels. That way Carnival can feature games from local ports. If the Saints game was on Sept. 27, I think the drinks would have more than made up the cost of the NFL Game day Ticket. Plus, in the Capers one can state which game is playing where on the Ship. The Triumph out of NOLA in the Fall could have the Saints on the Pool Screen, another game, say the TN Titans could be on in the sports bar, Cowboys and/or Texans could be on in another area, (I’m picking teams where the majority of the guests would come from), and guests could choose which game on their stateroom TV. What a concept.

Please make this suggestion. We encouraged several people to make this suggestion on our comment cards.
Thank You
Sharon

John Says:
Hello Sharon

Thanks for taking the time to write your comments about the sports coverage and for explaining that its football American style you are talking about and not soccer. We do provide as you said network coverage of games as shown by CBS, Fox, ESPN, etc. However, we did look at NFL ticket and there were two reasons that we do not use it. The first is the cost. While I don’t have the exact price to hand I can tell you it is a huge seven figure sum to cover all 22 ships and the price was just too steep. The second reason is that the ships have sports bars but with a limited amount of TV’s and even now and just like sports bars on land there are constant arguments on what games to show as we have guests sailing from all across North America all passionate about their team.

We show the Sunday and Monday night football games on the Seaside Theatre Big Screens but we made a decision not to show the daytime games on the giant screen. This is because while some would like it many, many more prefer to enjoy live music, fun pool games and relax in the sun. I have just e mailed the CD on the Carnival Triumph to check if the Saints game is being shown by a network to have it played in the sports bar on deck 5 fwd. I hope you are OK with this and I hope you enjoy the game but most importantly I hope you enjoy your cruise.

Best wishes
John

Marty Paul Asked:
Hello John (PLEASE REPLY),

I just wanted to drop a line, as we just got back from the Oct 15th sailing of the Carnival Dream in the Med.

Spectacular cruise and spectacular ship!! Also, it was wonderful of Carnival to put in the wave/wind machine in the Med, to give us a thrill ride (40 ft seas, 70 mph winds). What, the Twister & Drainpipe are not enough? Just kidding, except we did actually have those conditions.

My sincere respect for Captain Carlo and how he handled these rough seas. With such conditions, even a 130,000 GT ship will get tossed (“& if not for the courage of her fearless crew, the Minnow would be lost…the Minnow would be lost…). Sorry to break out the Gillian’s Island theme song…

Capt Carlo and his crew did an outstanding job by turning the ship 180 degrees before she got out into the open Med and he “ran with the seas”, then turned north & used the leeward side of Sardinia and Corsica Islands to provide a smoother ride. I’m sure after consultation with Miami, Carnival cancelled Barcelona however, Capt Carlo & Carnival worked some magic and we arrived in Monaco early and stayed overnight, giving this cruise 2 overnight port stays (Monaco, Venice). Although I’m sure there was some disappointment missing Barcelona, I thought the extra overnight port stay definitely made up for it.

The ship itself was beautiful and I think Carnival has a winning design. Plenty of public spaces and plenty of entertainment options. I thought Todd Whitmer did an excellent job as CD, as did all of the entertainment staff. No doubt, this ship will be a huge success in the U.S.

Btw, I’m the guy who posted earlier about proposing to my girlfriend in Venice. Plan “A”- on an evening gondola ride with a serenade. No go- not a private ride, 4 other people were with us. Serenade was for an entire “fleet” of gondolas, not just a single one. Plan “B” – propose at the La Caravella restaurant in Venice, at a quiet, private table. No go- in Venice, space is of the premium, so no such thing and we were “wedged” in between 2 other fully occupied tables. So, thinking quickly on my feet (except I was on my arse<- not a U.S. term), I went with plan “C”- walked Jeanne over to the Bridge of Sighs area (with it in the background) and proposed to her there. Also, I did the “MartyCam” (<-patent pending) and was able to record the proposal on my camcorder with the Bridge of Sighs in the background! She said yes!

Sorry, I went on longer than anticipated. Anyway, I just wanted to thank Capt Carlo and the crew of the beautiful new Carnival Dream for a wonderful Med cruise (we have many, many photos and videos) and for the way the inclement weather situation in the Med was handled. Well done Carnival!! I will be posting a full review on Cruise Critic soon.

Our most prized moment was when we stopped and had a photo op with Fun ship Freddy on the dock in Livorno. I am thinking of asking Fun ship Freddy to be my Best Man at our wedding, if he will only wipe that grin off his face during the ceremony…

Ciao,
Marty & Jeanne
Houston, Texas

John Says:
Hello Marty and Jeanne

First of all may I send you both many congratulations on behalf of all the bloggers and myself on your engagement. It is wonderful to know that despite the challenges that you faced actually getting the deed done, you persevered and now are engaged to the beautiful Jeanne. I just left your Carnival Dream and of course I got to spend some time with Captain Queirolo and Todd and you are exactly right to praise them both. They are at the top of their game and that’s why they were chosen to be on our new flagship.

I will make sure that the folks in our Miami office get to read your testament of praise. If Fun Ship Freddy refuses to be your best man due to the fact that his head may block the photos of your bride and that he will have problems holding the ring in his huge hands……….let me know ………..and I will stand in for him. Once again………….congratulations and best wishes to you both.
John

Johnny Biles Asked:
Dear John, Please reply

Reading through your blogs and other’s comments, I see you are a cigar smoker. I too enjoy a nice cigar and have been known to bring some pretty good ones home from some of my cruises. I keep a humidor well stocked and try to never rush through a cigar smoking experience.

After reading that you enjoy the pleasure of a cigar, I wondered what is your favorite. Do you have one or do you try lots of different brands? I would think with your travel you have found some great ones. I will be on the Dream December 3 and am certainly looking forward to that. I hope to party with Big Ed’s krewe and also meet many of the folks I read about all the time. Who knows, maybe we can even share a drink and cigar sometime during the cruise! That would be great!! Maybe we can even swap a cigar or two. I would certainly love that. I usually do not comment on blogs, I am just a reader, but I wanted to ask you about these things. I am looking forward to meeting you on our cruise in December! Hope your family is doing well. In the meantime, Happy Cruising!!

John Says:
Hello Johnny

Ahhhh…………a fellow cigar lover. I have been enjoying cigars for 15 years now and have been fortunate enough to be smoking them before they became trendy and Cigar Aficionado magazine insured that the prices would triple. Anyway, I have been lucky enough to enjoy many brands and these days I rarely get to smoke one as it should be smoked. By that I mean, slowly, either in solitude with your thoughts or joined by other cigar smokers who appreciate the art.

When I am on a ship, this is mostly impossible as either the phone rings, a guest wants to talk to me or both at the same time. Also, I am very aware that not everyone appreciates the odor of cigars and as someone whose job it is to make sure that each and every guest has the best cruise possible…………I often refrain from smoking onboard.

However, with the new Lanai area here on your Carnival Dream I will be enjoying a cigar or two during the bloggers cruise and hope you and others can join me. These days I tend to smoke robusto cigars as time does not allow for a grand corona or torpedo…………anyway, as you asked here are my top ten favorite cigars which as you will see are mostly from Cuba.

10. Partaga Serie D number 4
9. Monte Cristo #2 Torpedo
8. Hoya De Monteray Epicure #2
7. Trinidad Robusto Extra
6. Cohiba Robusto special edition 2000
5. Artoro Fuente Opus X Torpedo
4. Artoro Fuente Opus X Robusto
3. Monte Cristo Edmundo
2. Hoya De Monteray Double Corona’
1. Cohiba Siglo X1

There you go, see you soon and long ashes to you.
John

grizel robertson Asked:
John

I have been trying for months to contribute to your blog & have enlisted fellow scotsperson’s Ralph Valente’s assistance without success.

As a Platinum Guest & 17 times carnival cruiser I am long time lover of the Fun Ship experiences & I am booked BtoB on C Victory in May 2010 immediately following a milestone birthday.
I sent several pages of correspondence to Heidi, Kye & yourself on 30 August 2009 by surface mail. Although I have had no response, I appreciate you have been very busy with Dream launch etc.

My correspondence highlighted everything I have experienced over my years of love of CCL, in particular the friendly & intelligent multinational crew from whom I have learned so much about tolerance of customs of other ethnic races.

John, it has cost me a lot of money & travel time to reach my Carnival havens but it has been worth every penny. Along the way, I have struck up friendships with many Americans who comprise the bulk of passengers I have met.

However, I would ask that you acknowledge Brits like myself for our allegiance to CCL. You were my CD on C Destiny for 2 weeks in Aug/Sept 1998. I enjoyed the experience & would love to meet up with you again. Following BtoB trips in 1999 & 2000 I was unable to cruise again until Aug 2008 owing to personal financial constraints (imposed by UK Family Law). Since then, I have embarked on 3 trips, the last of which was my BtoB on C Victory with Wee Jimmy as CD.

He was the icing on the cake for me when I was travelling solo & I think he appreciated my presenting him with a bottle of Irn Bru at the start of my trip & telephoning his mum Frances when I returned home in June.

John, I am not asking any favors for my trips in 2010, I just want you to know how much a Scottish female appreciates the CCL hospitality & how my experiences have opened up the doors to the extraordinary world of the Caribbean islands & their varying cultures.

Stingray City Grand Cayman, Carlos ‘n Charlies Cozumel & Aruba, Cool Runnings & Dunns River Falls Jamaica, Rain Forest hike to Middleham Falls Dominica, Kayaking in St Lucia, Catamaran & Reef Snorkelling Antigua, Trunk Bay trip Virgin Islands etc.

Time has always been of the essence & I can never truly appreciate the true beauty of these places.

I do hope that you can send a reply to me.

John Says:
Hello Grizel

First of all let me say thanks for persevering and getting your comments posted here on the blog, my apologies for the difficulties you had in doing so. Your comments were a joy to read and I know that as a fellow Brit and a fellow Scot (my Mum’s Scottish) that you have to come a long way to fulfill your cruising dreams. Yet, that shiny Platinum card shows that you have made the effort time and time again and that is a huge testament to you and of course the affordable value for money fun that a Carnival cruise gives you. I know Wee Jimmy will be thrilled to read this especially as he is hooked on Iron Bru……………may I suggest to my non Brit blogging family that you ask Uncle Google to tell you all about this traditional Scottish drink.

I am sure you are very excited to cruise again next year and would you do me the honor of reminding me a month before you do here on the blog thingy.

Until then I remain at your service
Best wishes and ock eye the noo
John

Ken Stevenson Asked:
John – Info you requested, please reply.

Thanks very much for your attention to our problem. Since we do enjoy Carnival cruising – three are scheduled in 2010 – it would be great if there was a general procedure to follow that would work in every case but having an advocate for even one is encouraging. First, we are not 80 but IN our 80’s, physically but not mentally, at least not yet. We may have to hobble around a bit but we just don’t feel like a couple of old f…., uh, folks. I considered a bike in the gym once but by the time I walk from our cabin well aft (lido, dining room) to the gym all the way forward I have to rest up for the hike back aft, forget the bike. For reasons like the dining room and the Lido activities we always book near the aft elevators. We’re talking Legend here. Our cabin is #7254 at least through 2010 and we’re booked for January 10th, May 2nd and August 29th. That last one is particularly significant. We should be in Cozumel on Wednesday, September 1st, to toast each other on our 60th anniversary. Maybe I can get Yusuf to come by and sing for my wife, he’s usually very accommodating. And he does one heck of a job. The cruise is worth the dining alone, everything from the custom omelets to the Grand Marnier soufflé to the 24hr pizza. And there’s always room service!! Table #131 has worked out very well for us several times in the past, thanks again to Yusuf. I don’t know just why Carnival seems to want to keep it unassigned. You look like a guy who can throw his weight around, nothing personal, so I’ll bet you can arrange it. By the way, we saw you on the September 27th cruise, the infamous ‘kiss on Legends left cheek cruise’ but didn’t have a chance to shake your hand; you were busy showing a group of officers what it’s all about.

Thanks in advance for your efforts on our behalf. And as I said before we all appreciate having an advocate who seems to give a damn.

Ken

John Says:
Hello Ken

Oh how I wish I could be with you as you celebrate that amazing 60 years of marriage milestone and I can assure you that I will do all I can to make this very special for you both. So, may I ask that you remind me one month or so before you sail on January 10 so by December 15 please send this again and remind me of your dining requests and anything else you think I can do to make your cruise more enjoyable………oh and by the way………………….80 is the new 50.

Best wishes to you both
John

Lynn and Mike Sagara Asked:
– Please Reply John –

We are finishing up our plans for the Dec 3 Carnival Dream Blogger’s cruise. One thing we would like to do is eat in the supper club one night but we are not sure which night. Do you have any suggestions? We don’t want to miss any of the blogger’s activities nor do we want to miss formal nights. See you in 33 days. Say hi to girls for us. Lynn and Mike

John Says:
Hello Lynn and Mike

May I suggest that you reserve a table at the steak house for the night we leave St Thomas? There are no private bloggers events then and this way you can enjoy a special meal together. Let me know if you need anything else and see you both soon.

Best wishes
John

Mike M Asked:
John (please respond)

My Bride of 40 years celebrated our Anniversary on the 10th of October with you and the crew of the Leg-End as you so politely called it on the TV…We truly enjoyed our cruise with a couple of exceptions. When I booked the cruise, I told them that we were celebrating our anniversary on the date we sailed, they said that they would do something special on the second night (Formal Night), nothing happened..I just wrote it off, No Biggee.

We were looking forward to getting the Ships pin…My Cabin steward told me that they were no longer giving them out…I was told by Corporate, in a E-Mail, that from now on, I could purchase them in the gift shop..What’s going on with this?

Now for the Good Stuff… I wish that they could Clone you as the Cruise Director on every ship…You are the best one we have ever seen on any Cruise Line…HANDS DOWN.

You were wrong about one thing…In Cozumel, you said they would serve the Margaritas in a glass the size of a fish bowl…We went to Jimmy Buffets place, and those were in the size of a BATHTUB..We each had 2 and came to the conclusion that we weren’t going to the second Formal night in the dining room…Bad on us.

John Says:
Mike

First of let me apologize for the celebration gift you did not receive. When you say you told “them” it was a celebration of your anniversary could you tell me who the “them “were? Was it your Travel Agent or someone at Carnival and I would be grateful if you could tell me exactly what was promised as I would like to follow up on this.

As for the pins, well yes, we did stop handing those out to everyone some months ago. However, since then I have managed to get them returned to Platinum guests and made them available for everyone for a nominal fee from the gift shops. My apologies for this.

Thanks so much for the kind words and I hope you have recovered from your trip to Cozumel and that bathtub full of Margaritas.

Thanks so much again and please let me know about your celebration concerns

Best wishes to you both.
John

Nancy aka mosaic_mom Asked:
(please reply) Hi John. Fantastic blog thingy.

I have a question for you. On Cruise Critic, there is a thread about removing the Carnival logo from the ship exteriors, and several people have posted pictures of several ships where the logos were removed or painted over. Why is Carnival doing that?

Hugs to you and your girls. Thanks for all you do.
Nancy

John Says:
Hello Nancy

We have indeed removed the logo from most of the ships and will complete the work by the end of the year. This is because the widget thingy is no longer our logo…………it’s now the smoke stack…………the most famous smoke stack in the industry. I would be grateful if you could add this to the thread thingy on Cruise Critic.

Thanks so much and thanks for your kind words
Best wishes to all
John

Samantha Asked:
John, *please reply*

I only recently discovered your blog, and am now addicted. Having been stationed in England (where I met my wonderful husband of 12+ years), I truly appreciate your humour (spelt correctly). But I am a tad cranky with you, mister. I’m getting ready to deploy to the Middle East (for the 10th time or so…) for a year at the end of November, and so booked the final sailing of the Holiday, followed by the 8 Nov sailing of the Carnival Legend. So imagine my disappointment when I found that after much build-up, it turns out you’ll be on neither of those sailings. Sigh. My husband and I are planning on a few weeks of cruising when I return in 2011, and would love to cruise with you as the CD. 🙂 Anyway, the Legend will be my 14th Carnival cruise, my husband’s 13th, my mom’s 2nd, and my dad’s 1st. The only reason we were able to talk my dad into coming is my upcoming deployment. And with it being my dad’s first cruise, I am bringing (for only the 2nd time) my formal military uniform for one of the ‘cruise elegant’ nights. I am just praying that this time I don’t get asked where the dining room is…But the point of this long diatribe is, and I hate to do this, but is there any way you could help me make this cruise special for my parents? (Cabin #7215) I’m a bit worried that my dad (a true Midwestern farmer) will go a little stir crazy on the ship and/or not enjoy himself. We’ve got plans for the steak house, and some great excursions planned, but any help making this cruise great for him would be greatly appreciated. God bless you, Heidi and Kye. I know how hard it is to be away from family for a long period of time. But sometimes you just have to do what you have to do.

All the best,
Samantha

John Says:
Hello Samantha

I read your posting and was so angry at myself for not seeing it earlier because you are now off the ship and of course it’s too late for me to send your Father a gift………..bugger!

So, please except my apologies and of course I am sure you all had a wonderful cruise on the Carnival Legend.

Most importantly I want you to know that each and every person who read this blog thingy will be wishing you a safe time during your deployment and it’s because of people like you that we all have the freedom to cruise.

Once again my apologies for not seeing this sooner and I promise the next time you step onboard one of our ships I will make sure you have something special waiting.
Best wishes
John

MaryCatherine O’Loughlin Asked:
Hi John! (Please reply)

Hello and Happy All Souls and Saints Days!!

Bryan and Terry asked me to send you a note to say hello. The boys both have journals at school and most of their entries are about our cruise and you. They loved that you put their picture on your site: http://johnhealdsblog.com/2009/07/13/kids/

We have made our decision and will be going on the Miracle out of NY in July. Any clue on who the CD will be? I will be spending my 40th birthday with Fun ship Freddie!!

I hope all at home are well and ink is the way to go!! I have 2 tat’s. My right ankle is my husband badge number and my left ankle is him on his police motorcycle.

We would love to send you a care package from NY for all of the wonderful things you did for us on our cruise. Send me a shopping list and where to send the package!

Stay safe….
MaryCatherine, Bryan & Terry

John Says:
Hello MaryCatherine, Brian and Terry

I remember the boys and their pictures very well and I am so glad they enjoyed their time onboard so much. We are working on the schedule this week at the CD conference and I will be posting the schedule soon after so you can see who the CD will be for your cruise on the Carnival Miracle.

There really is no need to send me anything………a nice card or a photo of you and your lovely family would be great and the PO Box address is located on the right hand side of the blog thingies home page .

I hope to see you all again soon.
Best wishes to you all
John

sheshasmomma Asked:
(Please respond just so I know you read this)

I’m not much of a Halloween person myself, never really understood why we were allowed to knock on doors and take candy from strangers if any other day mom’s slipper would have met my butt.

I few weeks back I asked you about my chances of 39 people getting early setting; you offered to help us out. I just wanted to let you know we all got it arranged and we all have early setting and should be close together. I wanted to thank you for even offering to help us out; you truly are a wonderful person. Carnival Cruise Line should be proud to have a wonderful employee who goes above and beyond his job. Also a big thank you to your 343 Stephanie’s for keeping us all blogging 🙂

Safe Travels
Geanine (sheshasmomma)

John Says:
Hello Geanine

There is no need to say thank you…………..that’s what I am here for.

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

Karen pee Asked:
John- please reply if and when you catch your breath.

We are MDR breakfast lunch and dinner people — unless we have slept in. Why all the hassle of the Lido when we can just sit and order and enjoy,- I am on vacation — no work for me.

DH and I are booked on Carnival Triumph for March 1, 2010. We splurged and got a suite cat 11. Hope it is as nice as it looks in the pics. This will be 14th cruise — all but three with CCL. Can you tell me who will be the CD and Maitre D?

Wishing you were going with us maybe next time. Take care and kisses to your girls.

Karen

John Says:
Hello Karen Pee

You will love your cat 11 suite and the Carnival Triumph has always been one of my favorite ships. The Cruise Director will be George Solano who is so very funny even if he does use all my jokes. I don’t have the Maitre D schedule for next year yet but whoever it is I am sure will give you a great time and I will let you know who it is ASAP. Please let me know if there is anything else you need before you sail.

Best wishes
John

Bill Asked:
John-Please Reply,

Today we left the Carnival Paradise and remembered why we love Carnival.

We had a great time. We traveled with our 3 year old daughter who absolutely loved camp carnival. One night we left her for her babysitting after hours and expected her to be sound asleep when we went up to get her at midnight after a great late night comedy. She was wide awake and came running. The Camp Carnival staff was great and answered every stupid question I had.

Our wait staff was terrific I think his name was Igusto anyway table 237 in the Elation dining room. Our cabin steward Luis (R122) was brilliant as well. Our daughter had her stuffed fun ship Freddy on her bed every night.

The food was outstanding especially the lobster. The deserts on the last night (Halloween celebration) were amazing. The chocolate cake and pumpkin cheesecake were great.

The cruise director and his staff were great considering the short cruise. One of the entertainment staff (Misty from Kansas) was spectacular. She seemed to love her job and was great on stage. She seemed to be on stage more than the cruise director.

However, you have always asked for ways to improve.

1) As we were leaving the ship our daughter only had one question…Where is the real Fun Ship Freddy? Well I must admit I asked that as well. Camp Carnival staff told us on the first day that there would not a fun ship Freddy appearance and I just thought you should know that the little ones love fun ship Freddy and he should be part of all cruises. I would have dressed up in the costume if it would fit a fat man.

2) There was one member of the entertainment staff (not Misty) who showed up to quizzes and an event on the lido listening to music on her iPod thingy. I understand she might have had a bed day but she seemed uninterested. (I am tempted to delete this and if you wish to before posting please do but I feel that it needs to be said.)

3) Breakfast, normally we would eat in the dining room but on two days we ended up in the lido. One day we got up too late and the second it was really rough so we were up on the lido for fresh air. The breakfast menu was exactly the same. This morning the only difference is that they had pancakes instead of French toast with raisins. Juevos Rancheros (Mexican dish with beans, eggs, and tortillas) or waffles, (maybe a waffle station), or a design your own omelet station like the Mongolian grill would be a nice change. All three serving stations had the same food different options would be nice.

4) The Paradise never seemed crowded with two major exceptions. First, the middle elevators on the atrium area always seemed to take forever or were not working. There were only two elevators that went from steerage class to Camp Carnival. These were always busy. (This has been fixed on newer ships like the Carnival Liberty which we were on a year ago.) Secondly, I am hoping that during dry-docks thought would be given to the layout of the main showroom. The main problem is that the main floor is not sloped enough so views from the back are lacking. Secondly the views from the balcony were horrid. Past the first couple rows my height challenged wife (5′0) could not see a darn thing. There were also many many many poles in the way which also obstructed views. I would hope that during dry-docks the balcony could receive some upgrades and get some stadium style seating. (Similar to newer ships). Also, having the duty free shops right outside the showroom is both brilliant marketing and annoying as all get out. I spent an extra $20 on shirts for the daughter because they were there and we had time to kill waiting for the early performance to end so we could get a good seat.

Anyway, we all had a great time and will be back on a fun ship soon.

John Says:
Hello Bill

I love reviews like this because they give me a chance to act on what you say and first of all thanks for taking the time to write and let me respond to some of your points.

Fun ship Freddy has become an icon and we must do a better job in making sure he is on each and every cruise each and every week. Unfortunately there is a shortage of ………..make sure your kids don’t see this…….ummmm………………..well you know…………….people who take care of Freddy. I have just written an e-mail to the Miami office about this. Surely we can have other staff fill in even if it’s just a few times a week. We must and we will do better with this and I will make sure we do. My apologies though to your daughter.

The staff member who showed up to activities listening to an Eye Pod….ridiculous. I will make sure the Cruise Director is informed and that this does not happen again. The Fantasy class still is a class of ships and with the new evolutions of fun upgrades they are even better and while I can’t move the gift shops I can change the other things you mentioned which is why I want to thank you so much for the comments. I am so glad you all had a great time.

Best wishes to you all
John

Zannett Asked:
Hi John (PLEASE REPLY),

I noticed that you are replying to requests for the 12/3 Dream sailing and thought I’d go ahead and make mine (I know others are growling, but what the heck). Is there any way you could place a request for us to have an aft window table? We had a table in that area on the Legend and my in-laws loved watching the sunsets.

They celebrated 50 years of marriage this year and this would be a nice way to spend time celebrating. Also celebrating my father in laws 71st birthday.

What a great blog today. It was a great interview with Mr. G and a great reminder of how hard the crew works. I am always amazed at the work ethic displayed and the pride taken in what they do. I wish we could receive the level of service accompanied by the smiles and wonderful attitudes at home! Can’t wait to sail with you, less than 5 weeks.

John Says:
Hello Zannett

I am glad you enjoyed the interview with Mr. Guna and he really is a prime example of how Carnival has promoted people from within the company who have a passion and a sincere love of the Carnival product.

I will send this on to Ken and Hassan the Maitre D’s here on the ship and I know they will do all they can to accommodate you.

I hope to see you on the 3rd and my best wishes for a wonderful family vacation

Best wishes
John

Mr. Derek Asked:
John (Please Reply)

I am booked on the Carnival Glory in June of next year and was wondering if the “Other Size” bath robes will be ready?? If you recall from the Philadelphia Experience, I am a big guy like you and could use an ‘Other Size’ robe. Since I am taking my Sister on the cruise for her 50th Birthday (Mine was last year and I took myself on the QM2 to London!) I don’t want to frighten her by having her experience me in all my glory, so a robe is a must. If you could just give a little shove to the folks that make these types of decisions, it would be appreciated.

Thanks for all you do for everyone and for providing Carnival a friendly face to the world. Best wishes to your girls and I look forward to cruising with you someday.

Cheers!
Derek

John Says:
Hello Derek

As Big Ed and others will tell you the subject of the bigger robes is one of my biggest failures as I have yet to get this done. It is not through want of trying though and this week at the CD conference I fully intend to make this a subject that I will press home one more time. I hope to have good news on this soon and my apologies to all who are anxiously waiting for this to happen. I am sure your Queen Mary 2 voyage was amazing and I can’t wait to sail on Cunard next year as the girls and I take a British Isles trip on the Queen Victoria.

I hope you continue to enjoy the blog thingy.

Best wishes
John

That’s all for today and I will try to answer more questions this week ………….more about that shortly. May I also say that due to my travels I have slipped behind again in answering them? So, please bear with me won’t you.

I understand that Carolyn and some of the Cruise Critic members were upset that I did not attend their meeting and therefore would like to say this:

Dear Carolyn
It was great to see you. I just heard that you were disappointed that I did not come to a cruise critic meeting on the Carnival Dream.

I have to say that the first I knew about this was when I was called by the groups coordinator onboard asking for me to attend. I was at the time showing the Godmother around the ship and this was the first I had heard about it.

I arrange many meet and greets for CC members and obviously its difficult to remember them all.

Anyway, my apologies for not being there and had I been reminded I would have been there.

Best wishes
John

OK, let’s do the news.

It’s always nice when the blog gets a mention in the press and this time it is thanks to our man in London and Cunard’s President Mr. Peter Shanks that we had a very prestigious magazine talk about us. They were talking about the success of Peter’s own blog featured at www.wearecunard.com.

For a President to write a blog it has to be both personal and written from the heart, not penned by the PR department and then posted hinder the pretense that it was written by the person at the top. Peter’s certainly does not fall into that category as he has as much passion for Cunard as I have for Megan Fox’s bottom. Anyway, my thanks and congratulations to Peter and here is the link thingy for you to all see what was written.

http://www.concierge.com/cntraveler/blogs/perrinpost/2009/11/a-cruise-line-president-who-blogs.html

Well, what a few days it has been………………where do I start………………..well before I should tell you where I am. I am in the Marriott Hotel in Miami’s downtown area and sitting in a room on the 14th floor in my underpants. It’s 6 am and I am not stressed but I feel pretty exhausted.

Yesterday I hosted a cocktail party from 2pm to 3pm for those bloggers I let down by canceling the bloggers cruise on their Carnival Dream Nov 15.

Then I had a flight from La Guardia to Miami which finally landed at just after midnight. I then endured a taxi ride to the hotel during which my Haitian driver spent the whole journey spitting tons of phlegm out of the window. It took all my will power not to join him and stick my head out of the window to spread my American Airlines steak sandwich over I-95. Then I arrived at the hotel. It was now just before 1 am and my mind was in a whirl as I approached the check in desk standing behind the standard bit of worn golden colored carpet having passed through the standard revolving doors, lots of plants and a cheerless greeting ……… well ……….. actually nobody greeted me as there was nobody behind the desk at all. I looked for a bell to ring ……. nope…….I coughed loudly hoping someone would hear and come and serve me ……………… nope……………….and so I stood there, tired and smelly with the sound of Jean Pierre’s spit leaving his mouth still in my head.

I stood there for 5 minutes……..that might not sound like a lot but at 1 am in the morning when you know you only have 4 hours of sleep to look forward to and you have been holding back a poo since the plane left La Guardia…………..it feels like 5 hours.

I was just considering whether or not I should jump over the desk and check myself in when a young man appeared. He looked at me and I at him and I was expecting a “Oh I am so sorry to have kept you sir, my apologies.”

What I got was “Reservation?”………that’s it………..one word…………….”Reservation?”

“No,” I said, I am from Amway and wondered if you would like to sample our new products.”

He looked at me like an Amish guy in an Apple store………….so I gave up……………yes, I have a reservation giving him my credit card. He handed my key over and begrudgingly told me to have a nice stay. Once again proof positive that comparing cruise ship hospitality to hotel hospitality is like comparing Megan Fox’s bottom to that of Judge Judy’s………..you just can’t.

Yesterday I had to leave cabin 8375 so that the state room steward could clean it ready for the next cruise. If I had been smart I would have started this blog yesterday but I just couldn’t get started. Anyway, I was homeless for a few hours and as much as I am enjoying the work I am pretty fed up with packing and unpacking etc. Oh well, it was worth it and with that in mind lets recap what’s happened these past few days.

Well, I hope you enjoyed the naming ceremony. I want to thank the marketing team of Stephanie Leavitt, the 342 other Stephanies and Jordan who is in charge of the interactive marketing team. Jordan started to tell me about the complexities of producing live steaming video but I was bored after 30 seconds so I twisted his nipple really hard and buggered off. Anyway, Jordan ………….. you and the assistant from Los Angeles you worked closely with did a great job and we all thank you for allowing many thousands of people to enjoy the ceremony and hopefully we can do more steaming video soon. A big thank you as always to Peter the Hair for filming everything …… he is so very talented despite narrating his entire life and everyone else’s. And of course Miss Leavitt who kept me on the straight and narrow…………mostly.

By now you know that the naming ceremony including my photographing the giant bottle of champagne around the streets of the big apple. One thing before I start………….I saw one comment that was quite nasty saying that Carnival was behind the times using still photography and not video. Well, apart from the fact that the city wanted an extraordinary amount of money for a permit to film with video I thought a photo story would be the best way to go considering the time constraints.

Anyway, it was lots of fun. The bottle weighed 30 pounds and was made by the brilliant men and women with beards at Scenery First. These are the folks who make the amazing scenery you see in all our shows and they did this bottle in quick time as it was decided we would be doing this just 2 weeks before the actual shoot. Here is their website……have a look….. http://sceneryfirst.com/

As I mentioned in the ceremony, had I been in any other city in the world more people I am sure would have stared at me……but in New York………………I was just another fat guy with a big bottle of champagne.

First of all ……………..here are the photos of me and Monique Moet in New York.

And then if you missed the ceremony itself here it is in its entirety.

Carnival Dream Naming Ceremony Video

Congratulations to everyone who helped put that together. I must thank the people at Fleischman Hillard, the PR company we worked with. I know I mentioned their perfect smiles and hugging habits in a past blog but they were fabulous. A special mention to Virginia and Libby who both put up with my weird sense of humor and my farting in the bus which carried us around New York.

A special thank you to our PR department especially Jennifer who organized the whole event ……………she is brilliant………..and she is sponsored by Robert Mondavi……. thanks Jen.

There are so many other people to thank and so I shall thank them all as a collective ……….. however, I did want to personally acknowledge Roger Blum who produced the entire show………………….congratulations Roger.

And how about Gerry Cahill our President agreeing to appear as part of Fun Force. He set the tone for a ceremony which portrayed I hope exactly what this cruise line is ……… fun …….and personally I thought it was a super naming event and I would appreciate your comments and thoughts on it as well.

Then there was our Godmother…………Marcia Gay Harden. I can tell you she was simply sensational. Remember, this lady has won an Oscar and a Tony and they don’t hand those out like I do fruit baskets. Have you watched Pollock, Mystic River or seen her in God of Carnage?

Well, please do because she is quite brilliant. She is a star ….. yet……she was as down to earth as me or you and considering other stars and Godmothers I have met who are as warm and friendly as a pissed off rattlesnake in your underpants……..she was kind and ……… well …… the best compliment I can give her is that she was as wonderful to work with as my all time favorite GM…………..Dame Judy Dench.

She told me that my introduction I gave her during the ceremony was the best she had ever received and that as you can imagine made the hairs on my bottom stand on end. She is a mother, a New Yorker and personally………….I thought she was absolutely the right pick …………….. I’m sure you agree?

However, right here and right now I am launching my campaign for the Carnival Magic’s Godmother. I would like Megan and her bottom to do it but instead I am going back to my original choice of Catherine Zeta Jones. More on her in the days ahead.

Marcia broke Monique the bottle with a stick which was signed by Mr. A Rod the baseball star. I want to thank his assistant to his assistant PA Miss Kay Elly for arranging for this huge baseball star to sign and engrave this bat with the words “Carnival Dream Naming Ceremony.”

Apparently he does not sign too much stuff and this makes what he does sign very valuable. And so we will be auctioning this signed stick with the proceeds going to our new charity partner St. Jude Children’s Hospital.

There is no doubt that the news that we will be working hard to raise millions of dollars for the amazing work they do has been met with much rejoicing by the guests I have spoken to here on your Carnival Dream. We started things off with a check presentation from our Chief Marketing Officer Jim Berra to the hospital’s Chief John Remington for $50,000.

There will be more news on how you can all get involved with this charity when you are onboard in the blogs ahead. But, I for one am very excited to be doing this and I know I can count on all of you to get involved.

Well, following the naming ceremony and our overnight event off we went with 3,900 guests onboard. Things got off to a bit of a rocky start and stayed rocky throughout the first night. The start was rocky though due to a rather antiquated terminal building which as hard as we tried did not make for a quick entrance to the vessel. I spoke to many who recognized me and they told me they had a long wait to join the ship………….and for that I apologize and we will do better.

The rocky journey continued that night as the effects of Hurricane Bastard were felt. When you hear that the Captain stayed on the bridge all night you know that the sea conditions must have been pretty nasty and indeed they were. Huge swells and winds of up to 70 mph meant that even though because we were going nowhere and the Captain could slow the ship …………the ride was very bumpy indeed. Then while sail if you are going nowhere I hear you cry. Many of our guests enjoy the casino and gift shops which can only be opened 12 miles out of the harbor and that’s right where the sea conditions got bad.

Most of the guests took it well although I am sure some were a little green. Things got better yesterday though but as the sea conditions calmed the fog came in and that meant from 4 pm and throughout the night we had to sound the ships horn once every minute as required by maritime law…….and when you are trying to watch a big screen movie it can be quite intrusive!

It is surprising though that many guests arrived at the ship wearing shorts and T Shirts as though they expected sunshine………on a sailing from New York. In fact we received five individual comments at the Guest Services Desk complaining about the weather. I guess we need to do a better job explaining that a 2 day cruise to nowhere in November from New York may not give to many opportunities to slap on the sun cream!

The ship though was a huge success. We didn’t really get to see the traffic flow as we normally would as obviously nobody was using the open decks. However, this gave both the atrium and Ocean Plaza a chance to go head to head and the winner was by far the Ocean Plaza. Todd had scheduled constant entertainment and activities there and with the weather being as pleasant as a Frenchman’s armpit it was the place to be. Particularly popular was the Thriller Dance Class, Super Trivia and the Latin Trio that played there.

Another massive hit was the entertainment with Marcus Anthony singing his glorious Motown music and the Dancing In The Street show which so many people said was the best show they had ever seen…………..and I agree. The comedy club was also very well attended and that I think is another hit we have on our hands.

One other area that was met with huge praise was the Serenity Adults Only Decks. I am positive that the chairs and cabanas we have there will be prime real estate once the ship gets to where the sunshine is…………….oh and everyone was saying how they can’t believe it’s free!

So, overall your Carnival Dream has been met with much excitement both by guests and the many journalists I spoke with. But to me the biggest thrill was to listen to the crew, many of which have done new ships before and may have become a bit over the whole new ship thing. Not here on your Carnival Dream though. Everyone from the Captain on down seems to be pumped up and proud of this ship………………as of course am I.

Today the ship will sail on her first Caribbean cruise. Onboard will be 3,989 guests and a film crew who will be making three brand new national TV commercials for you……..and from what I heard yesterday………these commercials are going to be exactly what you and I want to see. They should premier in January and I will give you more exciting information about this soon.

One last piece of news from the ship. We held a press conference and our break dancing President Gerry Cahill was asked when Carnival would have a ship in Europe again. Gerry explained that we had made the right choice not to have a ship in Europe in 2010..… however …………although he was not ready to announce anything yet…….he said …………. We are seriously considering putting a Carnival ship in Europe in 2011”………..and once again the hairs on my bottom stood straight and true like a guard outside of Buckingham Palace.

So, it’s now 8:30am and time for some coffee. I am off to the Carnival Imagination to join the rest of my CD’s for our annual conference. We will be talking from 8 am to 7 pm every night and in between I shall write a daily blog. They may not be a long as usual but will contain news on what we have discussed as well as me answering more questions. Please bear with me though one more week.

On Friday I will disembark and in-between flying back to your Carnival Dream in New York and preparing for the bloggers cruise I will from Friday 20th until the 29th be onboard the Carnival Glory writing about the ship, her crew and the ports of call. Maybe I will see some of you there.

I want to leave you with one photo of a special blogger. There are still those who do not like the fact that I help people prior to their cruise and therefore I wanted to share a photo of one person I helped with dining arrangements, special bathroom requirements and instant Platinum benefits ……………meet Valentine…………….a service dog who does wonderful work for her owner and is now a proud Platinum Carnival card holder.

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.