Will Power

November 23, 2009 -

John Heald

Here I am on the Carnival Glory writing to you not in my underpants. That’s because the ship is the last in the fleet to get the ship-wide WiFi service which along with her Seaside Theatre Big Screen, Circle C, cabin upgrades and other fixtures and fittings she will receive in January 2010 during her dry dock. So, I am sitting in the lobby where there is something called a Wi Fi hot spot. Anyway, I will be writing much more about the ship and her crew over the next few days but for now I will just say how great it is to be back on a ship that Heidi and I delivered from new and despite the fact that she does not have some of the features I mentioned will arrive during dry dock…………..she looks magnificent.

There is lots to do this morning, our first sea day after we were in Nassau yesterday. There are morning trivia games, a shopping ashore talk, name that tune, bean bag toss, pool games, travel and adventure talk, golf putting contest or of course just lying in the sun and the most popular activity of all……….eating. However, it seems one family is going to ignore all of this because they have joined me in the lobby………….to play Scrabble. There is Mum, Dad and two kids aged I would guess between 14 and 16 although these days it’s hard to tell. I have been watching them and despite everything that the ship has going on and despite paying lots of money to enjoy a fun for all cruise………….the first thing they have decided to do is to play Scrabble.

They look like a 1960’s perfect TV family…………….the sort of people who like long walks in the fresh air and maybe this is a sign that the world is reverting to traditional family values and that instead of going out at night with their pants at half mast and dancing like a demented monkey at a rave thingy, children are all at home in Little House On The Prairie clothes, sitting round the fire with Mum and Dad. Indeed, thinking about it I have seen more and more families on our ships playing board games and many will think that’s a great thing……… me………….. well I am not so sure. I want people at the activities and shows and I guess I just don’t understand why people would pay all that money to come on a cruise and then spend the entire time playing board games…………….the Ingles family have been here over an our now and seem to be having fun……………playing Scrabble…………I just don’t get it.

Take Monopoly as an example. To begin with it’s good fun but, like the banking and property system on which it is based, there is a flaw. It never ends. You go bankrupt so you borrow money from your Mum who has loads. Then you go bankrupt again. So you borrow more money from the bank. And then, when there is no more money left in the box, you write out an IOU and keep on borrowing by which time it is Thursday, everyone is bankrupt and you have realized that the banking thingy is a load of bollocks and doesn’t work whether it comes in a stock market or in a box. That’s if you’re lucky. If you’re not, there will be a “bad loser” around the table who will land on your hotel in Madison Avenue and in a hysterical rage will burst into tears and throw the board, his dog, your iron and all your Dad’s houses out the window.

The Ingles family though are laughing and joking and ………….I still do not get it.

I hate Scrabble nearly as much as I hate the fact that having lived out of a suitcase these past few weeks, my clothes are more creased than Judge Judy’s thighs. I always end up with seven vowels. So while my opponent is writing “Suspenders” across two triple word scores and claiming it’s a game of skill, I’m trying to make a word out of E A E I E I O which unless you are spelling the last part of the song Old McDonald Had A Farm leaves you totally buggered.

I do love Battleship though. I tried to play that a few years ago with Gary Brierly my then Social Host and now Cruise Director. We were in the shipyard preparing the Carnival Splendor and arranging games etc for the library. I saw the Battleship game and suggested a game. He said “no thanks.” So I suggested we play a game again this time adding the words “or you’re fired” at the end……….so we played.

However, he wasn’t in to it all and I remember sitting there thinking: “Oh, for God’s sake. How are you able to text a friend, talk to half the world on Facebook and watch American Idol on television, all at the same time, when you cannot remember that the piece you attacked 30 seconds ago with your puny little destroyer is still my aircraft carrier?”

Some of you will say that the Ingles family who are still as I write happily playing Scrabble are a nice change from families playing Playstaionxboxenitendo games full of gruesome, vicious, bloodthirsty Zombie killing games……….. But I am sure any minute now there will be a huge and almighty argument when Mr. Ingles tries to say that “epicugly” is a real word.

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

Sharon Pitto Asked:
Please reply.

John, I hope you can help with this situation or direct me to someone who can. I recently sailed the magnificent Carnival Dream. I loved it but have subsequently been left with a very bad feeling for Carnival.

My first problem was, getting dressed for aqua fitness, only to find out that both pools are inaccessible to the disabled. I have recently had 2 knee replacements and cannot go up and down ladders. I felt very excluded watching people doing these exercises. How is it that a brand new ship could have disabled laundry facilities, yet exclude the people who need water exercises the most? I would require stairs and a rail as was offered in the hot tubs.

Secondly, is that at guest services, on board, a sign went up that Carnival was offering the $100 certificates towards the next cruise being offered on other Carnival ships. Repeat queries led to an answer that “sorry” Carnival cannot issue these certificates until the ship reaches USA and to phone Carnival when we get home. I have repeatedly called Carnival who claims that this is impossible; the certificates can only be issued on board. I feel like I am getting the runaround. The sign was posted on the ship and I feel that I am entitled to buy the certificate; its origin is of no concern to me. This has left a very bad taste in my mouth and certainly if this certificate issue is not resolved, I will be looking at other cruise lines (not affiliated with Carnival) for my next vacation. This is very bad PR as far as I’m concerned; I don’t imagine there can be that many people asking for the certificate and to me, it would be a small price for Carnival to pay to ensure repeat customers. John, I hope that you can help me with both of these issues. Please let me know, thank you, Sharon

John Says:
Hello Sharon

I am glad that despite your problems you found your Carnival Dream “magnificent” and that’s great to hear. However, let me see if I can help you with your concerns. I know that Cunard has chair lifts into their pools but as far as I know most of the cruise lines do not and that is something that we should look into. I am so sorry that you felt excluded and I promise that this subject will be addressed at the highest level. I know that this does not help you for now but rest assured that your comments are being taken very seriously.

As for the “sign” you mentioned I will need to investigate this further. As far as I know the Cruise Loyalty program was not offered while the ship was sailing in Europe so I am uncertain as to where this sign came from. I have e-mailed the ship and am awaiting their response and I promise I will get back to you as soon as I know anything.

Meanwhile, I have also passed your comments up the line and you can expect to hear from someone on our team very soon. I will do all I can to take that “bad taste ” away and please therefore let me know what else I can do to help.

Best wishes
John

Andrew Clark Asked:
Please reply, Hey John.

I am just catching back up with all your posts and just read about the 9 and 12 year olds in the cabin alone.

I must be getting old, (I’m 30) but my first instinct was ‘wow, what’s up with the parents?’ But then I got to thinking about my first cruises when I was 11 and 12 on Premier Cruises’ Oceanic, when the ship held around 1500 people and the kid’s clubs were 10 or fewer kids. I fondly remember making new friends the old fashioned way (rather than through organized programs) and wandering the ship throughout the day exploring and playing and having a great time. For Pete’s sake, I had my first kiss in the movie theater of that ship. My sister and I had to meet up with my parents for dinner and at various times, including bed time, but we were given a little freedom to have fun, and we did.

I think this is one of the times when your general concerns about the sissification of society applies, and really it shouldn’t be a big deal that the kids were in the cabin alone, after all, they were in the cabin at 12 am, not roaming around so late at night. The part that bothered me the most was that the parents didn’t allow the kids to have any fun after dinner and just stuffed them in the cabin that is just sad.

Thanks for all you do,
Andrew Clark

John Says:
Hello Andrew

The fact that kids have a chance to take a cruise at that age is one thing but being lucky enough to do so and then being shoved in the cabin while Mum and Dad bugger off is in my humble opinion……..wrong. We have great kids’ facilities onboard which are fun, safe and most definitely a better option for the kids rather than being locked in a cabin and told not to leave. I just felt sorry for them I guess. Thanks for the posting and your kind words.
Best wishes
John

Terry and Danielle Asked:
JOHN (or one of the Stephanies) PLEASE REPLY.

Darling husband and I are booked on Carnival Dream, December 3 and registered on the bloggers’ cruise (we think). We read a comment from a fellow blogger some time ago about booking a bloggers shore excursion but have not seen any information on line. Have we somehow “missed the boat?” How will we received/or will we receive bloggers information before sailing? Thanks for your blog – a wonderful and regular read!
Your friends from Prince Edward Island, Canada
Terry and Danielle

John Says:
Hello Terry and Danielle

Please don’t worry; you have not missed the chance to join us on the tours that we have organized for the bloggers. I will be joining you on them and will be giving you more details onboard during our welcome cocktail party.

For now though, here is one of the 343 Stephanie’s to remind you which tours we are offering.

Shore Excursions:

Best of Antigua: Sunday Dec 06
• Departure time 12:30pm

Best of Tortola: Monday Dec 07
• Departure time 8:30am

I will see you both very soon.
Best wishes
John

SallyOwl Asked:
John, Please Reply

Firstly, John, congratulations to Carnival for supporting St Jude’s – we’ve even heard of their wonderful work here in Australia … my school friend’s son has just returned to Oz after working as a researcher there for more than two years!

My main reason for writing, though, is to enquire whether any more progress has been made in the quest to balance the LENGTH of Carnival cruises against the NUMBER of Carnival cruises, in amassing loyalty points. We have 49 days up so far, thanks to the wonderful Carnival Splendor journey around South America this year, but only 3 cruises – and next year we hope to add another 31 days, with another 3 cruises. As we have to travel 14 hours by plane each way to get to/from our nearest Carnival ship, we can’t just hop a 3-day or 4-day cruise any time we like – but we’re just as loyal!

Is there a chance that you could discuss this with other CDs at the conference… and maybe then discuss it again with Carnival management?

Thank you so much – You’re “bonza” mate!
(Translation – American – “You’re brilliant, friend”)
(Translation – British – “You really are super, sir”)!

John Says:
Hello SallyOwl

We are all very excited about having the chance to support the amazing work carried out by the nurses and doctors and St. Jude Children’s Hospital. I hope to get a chance to go and visit next year with the blog video team.

As you know I just returned from the Cruise Directors conference where amongst many other things we spoke with Jim Berra, our Chief Marketing Officer, about the loyalty programs that Carnival offers. Jim told us that there was lots of work going on within his department to improve our already brilliant scheme. I know that for people who live far away like you that the length of time you spend onboard is important as obviously you can’t take a 3 day cruise flying 24 hours to the ship from Australia.

However, as you said, you are very loyal and I for one think your loyalty should be rewarded. This is definitely something that was addressed and I will promise to continue being in your corner on this one. I don’t have any definite news just yet but……..I hope to have some very soon Until then thanks for the kind words and have a “ripper” day down under.
G’dday and best wishes to all
John

Mitch Asked:
John (please reply)

I had noticed, and there was a bit of a discussion on one of the cruise boards, that the square Carnival logo on the sides of the ships, was being painted over and removed from the ships
Just wondering why this was being done, could you please enlighten us as to the official reason

Thanks
Mitch

John Says:
Hello Mitch

The new official logo is now the funnel………..the most recognizable funnel in the industry. Most of the old Carnival “widgets” have been painted over and slowly you will see all of our branded goods, clothing, prizes and printing will also beat the smokestack. It’s an iconic feature of our ships and I for one love it. What do you and the bloggers think?

Best wishes
John

Matthew Upton Asked:
John – please reply

I read a comment recently from a passenger who said how upset she was at the lack of English spoken by the majority of the crew. I just returned from my first Carnival cruise on the Freedom and I have to agree as every crew person I spoke to did not have English as their first language. Our Stewart was from Indonesia and spoke English very badly. He did a good job cleaning our cabin but having a conversation with him was difficult to say the least. The same could be said for our waiter who was from Belarus and again her conversational skills were limited. She did a nice job and was friendly etc but her lack of English was disturbing. So my question is simple, why does carnival not hire crew who speak English like Royal Caribbean and other boats I have been on.

Thanks
Matthew and Linda Upton

John Says:
Hello Matthew and Linda

I hope you enjoyed your cruise on the Carnival Freedom. Your question is very simple to answer but let me respectfully start by saying that with the exception of one NCL ship that hired only American staff and crew every cruise lines hires the vast majority of their crew from the same countries. I doubt therefore that RCI and Celebrity have crew whose have English as their first language. Anyway, that aside I should point out that each and every crew member must pass an English examination before commencing work on any of our ships. This of course is needed in their role as sailors and their ability to understand how to save their life in an emergency and how to pass this on to our guests.

I think our crew does a wonderful job and while their first language may not be English, I think that they all are able to say and do what’s needed to give you the great service that you do say both sate room steward and waiter provided.

I would be interested to read other bloggers comments on this.
I truly hope you both had a wonderful time
Best wishes
John

Slickabrina Asked:
Please Reply….Hello John!

I have not had the chance to post sooner but Mom and I were on the 10/18 Carnival Legend sailing. Though we were on the February Blogger’s cruise, what a pleasure it was to sail with you in a CD capacity. The bedtime story was absolutely hysterical! Thank you a million times over for our cabin surprises. You are an asset to Carnival and we cannot thank you enough for your kindness and generosity.

With that being said, I do have a question tied in to that sailing. How is the decision made to cancel shore excursions? We were on the morning Discover Cayman tour and I think it was one that should have been canceled given the weather conditions (I would be curious as to whether the later one departed). Conditions out at the stingray site were pretty rough – choppy water, big waves pounding us, torrential downpour for half the boat ride out. The tour operator began our tour by asking us to initial our tickets as acceptance that we knew the weather was bad and due to weather conditions, we might not get to complete our entire tour. No mention was made of what conditions would be like out at the stingray site. In the interest of full disclosure, I feel this was an important piece of information that was conveniently omitted. I may have concluded incorrectly but based on what was said prior to initialing our tickets, it sounded like we could have elected to skip the tour and received a refund due to the weather. (Please note I am not here to ask for a refund)

A million thanks and can’t wait until Kye pictures are back!
Colleen

John Says:
Hello Colleen

I am so happy to read that you had such a great time on the Carnival Legend I really enjoyed my time there and I am glad that the bedtime story gave you a few chuckles; it is still one of my favorite things to do. With regards to the tours it is important to note that they are all run by independent operators all of whom have been closely vetted by Carnival’s Shore Excursion Department to make sure they offer the most exciting and safe excursions in all our port of calls. The final decision to cancel a tour is theirs. The staff onboard cannot see how sea conditions are or if inclement weather will affect the tour. And so we depend on them to decide if the tour goes ahead. We of course have to rely on the local operators who have expert knowledge on how such weather will impact the tour, I do agree with you though that full disclosure of such and an option to continue the tour would have been appropriate. With that said while we have to rely on the operators to make the right decisions as they are the professionals running the excursions, our guests by booking with us always have someone to fall back on for follow up on their behalf, the shore ex teams as you know will go above and beyond to make things right by our guests.

I think they do a great job with this and I hope you were still able to enjoy the thrill of swimming with the Stingrays despite the rain and not so smooth seas. Please let me know if you have a follow up on this or need me to do anything else for you.
Best wishes to you and Mom
John

Kathy M. Asked:
Hi John, Please Reply.

I was just reading on Cruise Critic that Carnival is not going to be giving out the “Ship’s on A Stick” anymore, please say that is not true. My brother has one from every ship except the Carnival Paradise and the Carnival Dream. He has been cruising with Carnival since they started and he will be devastated if they quit giving those out now.

Please give my love to Heidi and Little Kye.
From your #1 Bloggy Thingy Fan,
Kathy M

John Says:
Hello Kathy

Yes, this is indeed correct. The solid gold plastic ship on a stick has been replaced with a new prize which is a beautiful photo of me in a pair of Spandex Speedos standing on the bridge of your Carnival Dream having whipped cream sprayed over me by Megan Fox. OK ………… seriously……….I am afraid that this is Cruise Critic conspiracy theory with absolutely no truth to it at all………….the solid gold plastic trophy is here to stay. Please could you add this comment to the thread thingy and assure everyone that there is bugger all truth to this rumor.
Best wishes
John

That’s all for today and of course during the next few days I will try and answer as many as I can.

I want to say a huge thank you to the 167 of you posted a comment over the weekend about your thoughts on what music we should provide you on lido deck. It seems that calypso music was the clear winner followed by pan players. These comments have all been sent to Roberta and her team and we will act accordingly…………thanks again for your help and I hope this is another example of how your voice……………the voice of the true Carnival fans has been heard.

Oh, before I go on I need to tell you that after two hours of solid Scrabble playing the Ingles family have left. However, they have been replaced by a chap who is as I speak……….fast asleep ……….snoring so loudly it is drawing a crowd of on lookers and gigglers…………it’s 10:30 am …………..and hold on……………..let me see if I can sneak a craft photo of Mr. Van Winkle using my raspberry camera.

OK……………there you go.

Tomorrow I will be posting some great photos of the Carnival Glory and writing about my time so far here. However, before that I want to share some photos taken by Radu and Jaime of your Carnival Dream. They both took some stunning shots while in Nassau ……………Radu from the ship and ashore while Jaime took some from the ship she is covering for her future ex husband Kirk as CD…………the Carnival Pride. Anyway, have a look at these.

Fantastic images and thanks to both Radu and Jaime for sharing them.

Passion is a wonderful thing. I have passion for my new role as Dad and of course for Megan Fox’s bottom. Peter Shanks, Cunard’s President has the same passion for the world’s most famous ocean liner company. I say this because I am about to show you a very special photo. Peter sent this photo to me accompanied by the official press release which I was going to add here. But then I read again the short e mail that Peter sent me and realized that our man in the UK had summed up the feeling of excitement and passion in just a few words. So instead of the 200 word press release here are Peter’s passionate words and as promised a great photo.

John

Hope you are well. Very cool photo attached – thought you could share the moment with your bloggers. They say – ‘What’s in a name? – in this case – a whole lot’

I can’t wait !

Best Regards

Peter

Everyone here has been wonderful.

One of the things I have been enjoying here on the Carnival Glory is the Comedy Club which also features on your Carnival Dream. There are shows tonight at 7:30 pm and 8:30 pm and again at 9:45pm, 10:45pm and 11:45pm. The later three shows are the uncensored shows while the two earlier performances are PG family shows. There are two comedians who share these shows and they are repeated tomorrow night as well. Then, two different comedians will fly to the ship and perform from the middle to the end of the cruise. It is a great concept and guests can pick and choose which shows they see and when with a total of 20 comedy shows throughout the seven day cruise. This of course supplemented by the variety, magic and production shows featured in the Amber Palace the ship’s main theatre.

I know most of the comedians performing this week but I met one last night who I have never met before and whose teaser performance in Cruise Director’s Ryan’s welcome aboard show was quite extraordinary.

You see comedian Will Marfori is a stand-up comedian…………………who has cerebral palsy since early childhood, meaning that Will lost the ability to coordinate body movements. Cerebral palsy he said can cause his muscles to be weak and floppy and as he says straight away on stage ……. “ladies and gentlemen, please don’t be mad at me……….I am not drunk……….I have cerebral palsy.” He then starts to talk about his life and how the first time he managed to eat soup his mother threw a parade for him……………life he said is a series of comical challenges and celebrations.

He shared these experiences with the audience last night who at first, like me, were uncertain whether to laugh or not…………….but then Will tells the audience go ahead …………… laugh ………….. the only person who will be offended is me……………..and suddenly the audience new it was OK to laugh at Will’s life stories……………..and laugh they did…………….hysterically.

I chatted with Will last night and asked him how on earth he decided to become a stand-up comedian. The answer he says is simple. From a very young age he would make kids laugh at school as he tried to perform the tasks that for everyone else were normal but for Will were a huge challenge. He saw that laughter broke down barriers and decided to take his true life experiences that had made his class mates laugh onto the road of comedy.

Will came to Carnival via the Comedy Club Challenge and the winner of a nationwide search for the best comedian would get a contract to perform on our ships. It was the brainchild of Al Ernst and our entertainment department and Will won………..and has been sharing his totally unique brand of comedy with our guests ever since. In fact a few weeks ago he had a guest spot on the Craig Ferguson show and had both host and audience laughing out loud.

Life has its challenges and they don’t come much greater than the one that Will faces every day. He chose to overcome his challenges through comedy and laughter…………….and anyone who sees his show will never forget him………………he really is incomparable.

Here is a clip of him which I know you will enjoy

All the Cruise Director’s are back on their respective ships now following what was a highly successful and motivating CD conference. Here is a photo of us all along with the shore side management…………..can you spot your favorite CD’s?

It was a great time but there is a problem…………..all I can think about now is how according to Butch and the rest of my metro sexual colleagues I dress like an “old man”………how dare they………may the curse of a thousand lobsters infest their underpants.

Honestly………you should have seen it. They bullied me, teased me, lambasted me and suggested I burn all my clothes……… cut my hair ………….and have a Filipino woman do my nails.

I just don’t understand the whole fashion thing, because so far as I’m concerned clothes only have two functions:

1) To keep me warm, and
2) To stop people seeing my thingy.

No really. If my private parts are warm and cozy and hidden from view, I consider myself to be well dressed. If, on the other hand, they’re out in the cold and all shriveled up, I consider myself to be badly dressed. It’s that simple.

Besides, I genuinely worry about men who preen themselves for hours before going out. We have a name for men like this………………… Italians.

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.