A Blog On The Metro

November 19, 2009 -

John Heald

Butch Begovitch is one of our young up and coming CD’s who many of you have told me is the “one to watch” and certainly his exuberance for the job has shone brightly here during our Cruise Director conference. However, Butch, as I said yesterday and like many of his colleagues is what is known apparently as…………………metro sexual. And so, purely for investigative reasons for this here blog thingy of ours I asked Butch what I would have to do to become…………..metro sexual……………………and what I heard was not pretty.

Up until then he worst culture shock I ever had was when I stood on a Paris train it was crowded ……..in July……..and I was surrounded by dozens of Parisians……….there was no air conditioning and as I have said many times before here on the blog……..the word “deodorant” does not translate into French.

This though was nothing compared to Butch’s assault on my very existence? He looked at my arse and said “That’s some serious junk in your trunk,” all concerned and grave. “But you mustn’t be embarrassed.” I nodded, too embarrassed to speak. I’ve never noticed that I had a particularly big arse before. I mean……….I know everything else is big…….well…..mostly everything else but my arse………I had no idea and……………… I’ve never discussed it in detail with another man, either. Butch saw my embarrassment though and quickly added “I would die for your shoulders, though. Mmm, yes. Beautiful broad shoulders.”

…………………..oh god I thought………….put me back on the train with Monsieur Le Stinkie and his mates. By now, other Cruise Directors had gathered round and suddenly their Senior Cruise Director had become the center of attention…………..bugger.

For those of you who like me have no bloody clue what “metro sexual” means let me give you Butch’s explanation. A heterosexual man who enjoys shopping, fashion and similar interests traditionally associated with women or George Michael. Apparently Butch added it’s a man who loves flossing, cooking, crying at movies and most terrifying of all……..something he called “manscaping” which apparently means………well……….I think you can figure that one out on your own.

My fellow Cruise Directors have gone for this in a big way. Next time you take a stroll down Promenade Deck and run into the Cruise Director, have a look at their eyebrows. All waxed. It doesn’t stop up there…………according to Butch back’n’crack waxing is a Cruise Director norm.

The grey men of the CD team, Lenny Haliday, Steve Cassel (it was him in the yesterday’s photo by the way) Paul Santley and myself have not embraced the idea so wholeheartedly. After all, when was the last time you had your eyebrows done?

But is that right? Should I try and turn back time……..should I wear more fashionable clothes ……………should I die my hair……………..should I wax the hair from around my thingy?

Should I become a metro-looking CD? I look at what the younger Cruise Directors have been wearing these past few days and what they wear on stage…………clothes I wouldn’t buy in a million years…………. all velvets and turtlenecks and skin-hugging tops that look like something you would use to land a Trout. Oh yes…….and they all have those annoying Eye Phones ……… every single one of the “Metro CD’s” has one.

Never make the mistake of asking a “metro CD” about their dam Eye phone because they will spend the next 4 months telling you how it is able to deliver the weather forecast from anywhere in the world and get instant clips from YouTube of kids smashing their genitals to pieces while trying to skate board down a handrail.

Anyway, more on this later but now it’s time to answer your questions…………..away we go.

Randall Ponik Asked:
Hi John, Please Respond

El Wifo (or is that La wifa?) decided to spend some time with the G-kids and a rodent in central Florida, so… having served my time in Hell on numerous other occasions, I decided to have some REAL fun and booked my 15th cruise with Worlds Leading Cruise Lines – my 7th with Carnival. And rather than sail alone, I’m bringing a friend along on his first cruise. We’ll be on the December 14th sailing of the Fantasy with Risa Barnes…. I’ll be sure to send you her report card afterwards. It will be an entertaining trip; watching my friend park his 2 wheels for a few days and trade in his leather jacket for a dinner one and (horrors!) a tie. (Hope he survives)

I have 2 questions for you about our sailing

First, is there a designated cigar smoking area on the Fantasy – or is it out on the rear deck? It has been a while since I’ve been on the ship and I honestly don’t remember, or it may have changed with the refit. Of course, Risa is welcome to follow her senior cruise director’s lead and join us for a cigar some evening.

Second, the stated itinerary has us in Cozumel on day 3 from 8am to 6pm – with day 4 in Calica, arriving at 7am. Now I know that from Cozumel you can see Calica across the strait on the mainland…. at most a little over an hour away. What can we REALLY expect? Leave at 6pm and float around the strait for 13 hours, or can we possibly expect to leave the port later on in the night and see some of the nightlife in Cozumel?

John Says:
Hello Randall

Congratulations on booking your cruise and having recently been on the Carnival Fantasy with her new upgrades I can promise you a family vacation to rival anything M I C K E Y can ever give you. Let me answer your questions and I see like me you are a cigar smoker so you will be happy to know that the port side of the Majestic Bar which is reserved for cigar smoking.

Calica is indeed a short distance away and at full speed I am told it would take the ship about three hours to get there from Cozumel and vice versa. Leaving at 6pm allows guests to enjoy the nightlife on the ship, the shows, the food , the deck party and on a shorter cruise this is very important and something I know you will enjoy. It will be a great cruise and I know you and your family will have a brilliant time.
Best wishes to you all

Paula Asked:
John – Please reply

We will be sailing the Carnival Dream for a B2B on 2/6 and 2/13. It will be nice to see you again.

I know that there is a Super Bowl group on the first cruise 2/6 and no doubt that game will be broadcast on the megatron on deck.

We were just wondering if, the following week 2/13, the Daytona 500 will be broadcast on the megatron. We are a crazy group from all over the US and Canada that found each other in 2006 on the Carnival Liberty and have been cruising together ever since. Most of us are NASCAR fans and hope that this is the case.

Thanks for all you do and see you soon.

John Says:
Hello Paula

I will be with you for the Super Bowl thingy and indeed we will be showing the whole game on the Seaside Theatre Big Screen. This is something that at night will be very popular and even though I don’t understand the game I will make sure that it’s celebrated with all the trimmings.

The Daytona is not normally shown on the big screen as it’s a daytime event and I don’t want to disturb the live music and relaxation and fun on Lido during the day. It will be shown at the sports bar of course.

I hope this is OK and I truly look forward to seeing you all very soon.
Best wishes

Kathy M. Asked:
Hi John, Please, Please Reply.

I have been wondering about something and I think that you will be the only person who can give me the correct answer. When a person cruises solo as I do, why is it when the Early Saver Program only gives us the OBC for one person when we in fact are paying the same price as two people. I feel that is discrimination against solo cruisers. Why can’t we get the same credit as if there were two people in that cabin instead of one. I just don’t feel this is fair to solo cruisers. Maybe you could ask one of the men with the beards what the reasoning is behind this.

Please give my love to Heidi and Kye, I sure miss her pictures.

From your #1 Bloggy Thingy FAN!!!
Kathy M.

John Says:
Hello Kathy

This is a good question and so I asked one of our VP’s for the correct answer and I am happy to say she told me that if a single guest books they should get the OBC based on double occupancy since he paid two cruise rates. So, I will have someone contact you next week and we will adjust accordingly and if anyone else has a problem with this please let me know.
Thanks for bringing this to my attention.
Best wishes

Michael Shaw Asked:
Hello John, (Please Reply)

I am writing you to say Thanks so much. My wife and I just got back from a week in the Mexican Riviera on the Carnival Splendor. A month or so prior to our trip, I sent you a message asking for you to help my make this a very special cruise for my wife as it was during our 2nd anniversary.

On the night before our anniversary, we came back to our room and had a personal letter from the CD Stephanie wishing us a happy anniversary. She knew our history of getting engaged on the Paradise and then spending our honeymoon on the Pride. Stephanie noted all this in her letter and then left us a bottle of Champagne on ice. She also left us VIP tickets to a show only performed on the Splendor.

This made our trip just that more memorable and ensured us why we sail with carnival. Throughout the cruise, Stephanie was a very funny and cheerful cruise director. I believe she was taught by the best, you!!! It definitely shows. I know she is now on the legend but can you please pass it on to her that everything she did for us was very much appreciated.

John, because of what you did for us and what you do on a daily basis for many to ensure there Carnival cruises are extra special, I want to say thank you so much. You are truly a pioneer and I hope someday we will have the pleasure of cruising with you. There are no many people I want to take a photo with and get to shake their hand. You are one of them.

Thanks so much again,
Michael Shaw

John Says:
Hello Michael

Thanks so much for the kind words and my thanks to Stephanie for following up with my requests. I am glad you both had such a wonderful time and I remain here at your service.
Best wishes to you both and I hope you sail with us again.

Karen Raiche Asked:

John, My PVP suggested I contact you. I belong to a group called the Coconut MonkeyHead Wasters, you may have heard of us. Many of us will be on the January 23rd and also the January 30th cruises of the Carnival Dream. We are a fun loving group and are planning a few group activities. We would like to hold MonkeyHead races on the racing slides. We were hoping that we might be able to “book” the slides for a period of time in order not to disrupt other cruisers. We would love to have you as a judge if you might be available. Please let me know if this could be arranged.

Thank you,
Karen Raiche
Founding member of the MonkeyHead Wasters

John Says:
Hello Karen

I have indeed heard and experienced the Monkeyhead group of cruisers before and I know how much fun you bring with you. I will be the CD for the cruise of the 30th and will do all I can to make it extra special for you. Unfortunately I cannot block the slides for specific groups or individuals as they are open for all the guests which I am sure you will agree is the fair way to go. However, I am sure you can use the time that the slides are open to organize races amongst yourselves. Having done all the slides (in my socks) I can promise you they are amazing ……….we will need you to take your monkey hats off though. If you have a get together please let me know and I will be sure to stop by and say hello.
Best wishes

Dorothy Asked:
John, Please reply not in a hurry for answer.

I’m kind of feeling sorry for myself, but I know in my heart that I’m doing the right thing.
I was told by hubby that Gene and I could take a cruise either the 3rd or 12th of December on the Carnival Dream, but he could not go with us, then he said if we went then we could not adopt a needy family for Christmas like we did last year. I told him immediately that I rather help one or two needy families than to take the cruise. My heart is saying I did the right thing, but my brain is saying I’m an idiot, so far heart is winning. I know that I got my cruise in February, but wanted to do the Carnival Dream for Christmas, but deep down in my heart I want to make some little kid or kids happy knowing that Santa did not forget them or that someone cared enough to help them.

In your honest opinion have I done the right thing, would you make the same choice. I know that I should not ask you this, because only I know the correct answer, right.

Enough about me and my decision. I hope you are enjoying New York. I never been there, don’t think I want to either, I love the small towns and less traffic.

Thanks for the lovely pictures, will never be able to go to places like that, but I can Dream.
Thanks for the wonderful advise that you give, and keep it up, never let anyone get you down, you have helped a lot more people than you will ever know and we appreciate it very much.

I have found a friend in you even though we have never met, I feel like I have known you for a long time. Good Night Friend will look forward to your blog tomorrow.

John Says:
Hello Dorothy

I read your posting twice just to make sure I had the right information…………and indeed I did. The fact that you have decided to forgo what must be a much needed family vacation cruise on your Carnival Dream to look after a family whose dream of a cruise is not going to come true You are doing something very special and something that you should be nothing but proud of and I am sure that many of the bloggers who have read this would agree. Please let me know when you are sailing though so I can do something for you. Best wishes to you, your family and the family whose Christmas will be extra special because of you.

Chris deOgburn Asked:
Hi John: (Please REPLY)

Just starting reading your blog and I really enjoy it. Honestly I don’t know where you find the time to answer all email, write a blog, and work a full-time CD job — you are amazing.

I was on the oct 3 sailing of the Carnival Dream and WHAT a ship!!! Most people I spoke with agreed the layout is excellent as I never felt like there was 3600 passengers on board the ship. This was my first cruise and I am hooked.

You made the right choice by selecting Todd Whitmore (sp?) as the CD for the DREAM. The entire entertainment staff was just great and James Dunn (asst CD) and Todd (CD) play off each other so natural and are so darn funny. Ken and the dinning staff are just awesome and made us feel so at home each evening at table 445.

I do have one complaint that perhaps you can pass along to management as I am not sure where to send this. We had pre-paid for transfer from and to the ship from the Rome airport. We selected this over other means of transportation as we felt this would be the easiest and would be the least stressful for my father. My father has been ill and getting to and from the ship was where we feared he would meltdown unless we planned ahead.

Well, our worst fears took place as Carnival choose not to employ the baggage porters the day we arrived at the airport to begin our big adventure. Instead, we had to pull our own luggage off and then follow a mass chaos of confused guests to the other end of the airport to the outside taxi lane curb. Taxi cabs trying to get out, employees desperate to find a way to get small groups of guests to cross safely to the other side to deposit all luggages so it could be loaded on to the semi trucks. Then we got scrambled back into the airport trying to follow the right employee out to the waiting buses that were on the other side of the airport. It was very hot outside and as a result my father’s blood pressure dropped so here we were trying to prop him up and get onto the right bus. If we had known this we would have arranged other transportation as Carnival didn’t not deliver on what was sold. What was sold to us is we would identify the luggage and Carnival would take it from there and we would be escorted to our bus without the fuss and worry of luggage.

To some people it might sound like I am lazy but when you are traveling with senior citizens that have medical issues it is quickly compounded into something really serious.

Now, I must say we did make it to the ship and did have to seek medical attention and they were superb and resolved his medical issues and he was able to enjoy the rest of the cruise a few days later — he is still talking about what a great time it was for him and all of our family.


John Says:
Hello Chris

Thanks so much for the comments on your Carnival Dream cruise. Todd is here with me for the CD conference and I just showed him your words of praise and he was very happy to read them and I have sent them on to Chris Prideaux the Director in charge of the CD’s. I have read a few negative comments about the transfer situation in Rome and I apologize that you had to go through those events. I will pass this on immediately to someone in our care team and will also send it to one of our Senior Vice Presidents. If and when we ever head back to Europe we need to get this right…………………and we will.

Someone will be in touch soon
Best wishes and thanks again for taking the time to write

Betty Mayfield Asked:
John (please reply)

I hope that you received the thank you notes we left for you on the Carnival Legend in August. What a great interview with Mr. G. Carnival service is always fantastic but the 2 times I have been on the Legend have been better than any of the other ships I have sailed on. My oldest daughter wants our next summer’s cruise to be on the Carnival Dream but her twin sisters don’t want to sail on any ship but the Legend 🙂 We left a thank you on the blog and comments on our August cruise in addition to all 4 of us filling out comment cards on the ship.

Now for my questions: the girls and I had such a wonderful family vacation that we have booked the New Year’s Eve cruise on the Carnival Fascination that departs 12/31/09. Can you please tell me what special events are planned for New Year’s Eve and what the dress is for the events? Also what night will be the “elegant night”. Thank you again for the entertaining blog I hope one day I can sail with you either with my 3 daughters or my USMC groups.

John Says:
Hello Betty

I truly enjoyed my time on the Carnival Legend and like you I really love that ship and indeed the Sprit class of ships. Congratulations on booking your New Year celebrations on the Carnival Fascination. I can promise you a huge party on deck (weather permitting) and there will be complimentary champagne, free party favors, live music and of course the big count down and following celebrations. The dress code will be suggested as Elegant as we feel that this brings a special feeling to the night. Have a great cruise and a very happy new year.
Best wishes

John Reply:

Hi John: this blog is amazing. I’ve never met you, but I hope to some day. Myself and 7 others ladies cruised on the Fantasy on 10/26. We thoroughly enjoyed the Halloween Party. OMG we want to book again for another Halloween! You have 6 new official “hooked” cruisers. Myself 9 cruises with Carnival and my mother-in-law 9 cruises with Carnival. This was our 1st “girls” cruise. This was only the best yet to come. We would love to send pictures to some of our Cabin Stewards and Dining Room Servers – do they really get the mail we send? How long does it take? One more thing, we ladies need more lights for our make-up – think you can pass this on? THANK YOU!!

John Says:
Hello Cindy

Do you know I have never seen the comments about the lights in the cabin but I am sure you are right. I am not sure if this is anything we can change but certainly it is something that I will address with upper management……Note: Has any of our blogging ladies had the same concern? I was so excited to learn that you and your friends had such a great time and are now hooked on cruising. Please do send the photos, mark the envelope to the attention of the Hotel Director and he or she will make sure that the staff you enjoyed so much get to see them.

I hope you are ready for another fun cruise on Carnival soon.
Best wishes to you all

Gary Chan Asked:
please reply

I am sure that I will have your stalkers up in arms when I say this but I am one of the many Cruise Critic readers who think all the people who write to you for dinner table reservations and free gifts are freeloaders. The fact that you do what they tell you makes it more difficult for those of us who have more class to beg to get table changes etc.
You should re think this immediately.

John Says:
Hello Gary

I was disappointed to read this comment as I thought the subject had gone away. I have had a few negative comments about this and I will just say what I have said before. I am sorry that this upsets you and your fellow Cruise Critic readers but the help I give is available for everyone so please let me know if there is anything I can do for you the next time you cruise. By the way, I respectfully disagree with your use of the word “stalkers.” This is the second time someone has used this term and I think it is disrespectful to the many thousands of people who read this blog every day.

That’s all for today. Tomorrow I will be traveling as I will explain in a moment so I won’t be answering any questions tomorrow but will post a double load of answers on Monday.

Before we talk about what’s happening on Friday and next week let’s get comfortable and watch a very special video. It’s been 6 years since a new uber-luxury cruise vessel was built but now of course all that has changed with the arrival of the Seabourn Odyssey. This magnificent ship arrived into Fort Lauderdale a few days ago and I thought you may like to see inside the ship and hear from the Captain and many others who agree with our Chairman Micky Arison when he described this ship as “the best of the best” ……ready to walk up the gangway into a world of 6 star luxury?………….come on then.

And now for some amazing views of your Carnival Dream from the camera of the brilliant Radu Ursu.

A lot of you have been asking about the football (that’s the not real football or soccer as you call it) but the one played with guys wearing Joan Collins Dynasty style shoulder pads and what games the fleet will be showing. So, as the final World Series super bowl thingy approaches here are the games you can expect to see across the fleet (pending cooperation from our shipboard satellites system of course)

• NFC and AFC Wild Card games
• NFC Divisional games
• NFC Championship game.
• Super Bowl

I have no idea what the above means but at least you know what’s happening and what you can expect to see onboard.

While I am talking about TV I want you to know that after a survey it was noted that Carnival has more network coverage than any other cruise line. Our contract with Turner Broadcasting includes ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, ESPN 2 and ESPN Latin America which includes ESPN’s NFL and basketball games etc and CNN and CNN Headline News. We also get the Cartoon Network and TNT. Considering the ship is in the middle of the ocean most of the time this is I think you will agree………an excellent choice.

I know that it’s strange having coverage through the Denver channels but this is where the package originates. It is confusing and somewhat comical though to wake up in Cozumel, turn the TV on and find that it’s snowing.

As I said I will be traveling tomorrow up to Port Canaveral. I have decided to drive rather than fly. I am doing this for two reasons. I am sick and tired of flying and unless someone gives me a private jet staffed by Latvian near naked supermodels, I would rather let Stevie Wonder do some “manscaping” around my thingy than fly.

The other reason is that I am hitching a ride with one of the metro CDs Ryan Fitzgerald and this means he can drive, while I put my seat back, fart gently and snooze away the journey. As Senior CD I think it’s my right to sit in the back and make Ryan wear a chauffeur’s hat. So, there will be no blog tomorrow but there will be a very special tribute page featuring some of the very special words written by my colleagues for the much lamented Mr. Zonis.

Then of course I will be writing daily blogs from a ship that I delivered a few years ago the Carnival Glory and I am looking forward to sharing my adventures with you.

Today we spoke a lot about the shows and activities and again I can tell you there are lots of things to look forward to. We also spoke about something that I need all your help with. We spoke about the Lido Deck and the music we play there. We have in the past few months received some feedback about the type and style of music we feature on Lido Deck by the main pool on all our class of ships. And so, after lots of discussion and much divided opinion it was left to me…………..to ask you……….what we should do. You see, before the blog thingy we have often done what we think is best. And while we have often gotten it right…………..we have at times………..gotten it wrong. So, here then are the four choices that we came up with and I would like as many of you as possible to tell me what you want. You don’t have to explain your reasoning if you don’t want to………but I need to get at least 100 answers back and from those answers we shall base the foundation of what you will hear on a Lido Deck near you soon. Here are the four choices

1. CALYPSO BAND OR DUO– This means the duos or bands we have now on most of our ships. They play a variety of island and popular music but using more modern music, etc

2. PAN PLAYERS – This is the true island music played only on steel drums and other ethnic instrumentation

3. POP DUO – This would be a high energy duo playing pop music, standards etc. Everything from Jimmy Buffet to Elvis and Queen to Madonna.

4. A FULL TIME LIDO DECK DISC JOCKEY – Instead of a duo we would feature a DJ who can play everything and everything including requests and dedications throughout the day.

Now, I know some of you may not see what you want up there but the four choices I mentioned were the most popular suggestions from the CD’s and we shall end up going with one of them………which one……..may depend on you …….so please……. vote away.

Anyway, back to my “metrosexual” colleagues. Another example came up today as we spoke about promoting the onboard spas. As we talked about this it turned out that many of my colleagues with Adam’s apples like a manicure every two weeks and said they used their experiences to promote this treatment to guests……………bloody hell ……… manicures.

My fellow Cruise Directors …..get manicures…………and not just Tori, Risa and Jen ……….but the Metro Men as well. There are reasons I won’t be doing this. First, I bite my nails, so it’s a bit like a bald man having a haircut. Second, I have an intense phobia of nail files and the sound they make. Nails on a blackboard is bad, deck chairs squeaking across Lido Deck is horrible, but nothing is worse than the sound of nail filing…….oh and the sound of the guest who sang “I Will Always Love You” at the talent show onboard the Carnival Triumph in 2003.

Yes, the role of the Cruise Director at Carnival is changing and it seems so is the way the CD is supposed to look. My colleagues have bathroom cabinets full of creams and moisturizing creams and hair products and nail files and conditioning and softening shampoos and body gel and bath shower aromatherapy stuff and body waxing strips for man gardening.

Me……….I have soap on a rope……….and hemorrhoid cream.

Metro sexual my arse.

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.