Scattering On The Seas

November 25, 2009 -

John Heald

During the last few weeks I have arranged five burials at sea for families who have contacted me here on the blog thingy. One of those ceremonies took place ……….at sunset…….as the Carnival Glory left the port of St. Thomas.

Eric Gilson had spent most of his life at sea, serving in the US Navy for 29 years and then becoming a Platinum cruiser with us here at Carnival. And as the sun set here in the Virgin Islands his wife and family members said their final goodbye.

I had done all that was needed to arrange this including the environmental paper work etc ……… but it wasn’t easy…………..it seems that being dead is not like it used to be. I mean……..before they’d put you in a box, lower you gingerly into the ground and let you rest in peace. Or, if the ground in your town was full, they’d throw you on a fire and let you spend the rest of time in a vase on top of the underwear draw. To have your ashes scattered at sea used to be easy, no permission was needed from the tofu eating beardists. These days you need paper work, bio degradable urns and everyone has to wear a high visibility jacket and safety goggles in case some of your loved one blows back and gets in your eyes…………………how ridiculous is that.

In today’s world, in the same way that you can get married underwater or during a parachute jump, you can choose how you wish to be disposed of when you have done dying. Take the story of a former NAVY SEAL who was attached to the nose of a torpedo, which was then detonated on the sea bed off Norfolk.

Meanwhile, officials at the Homestead NASCAR thingy circuit announced that NASCAR fans can now be laid to rest at the track. Quite how this will work I don’t know. It’ll certainly be a bugger for Jimmy Petty next year if he skids in the final lap on the remains of Emmitt Lee Tuttweiler Jr from Valdosta, Georgia. Perhaps they mean that a dead person can be used as part of the tire wall. Or maybe to soak up oil spills.

Some may argue that if you are used as a crash barrier or detonated on the sea bed, some of death’s dignity is lost. I’m not sure this is so, because. Far better, surely, to use your liquefying body as a soft landing for NASCAR drivers. And being buried at sea means at least you get to see the Caribbean once in a while.

I’ve always said that when I die I want to be buried, because when I get to heaven, it’ll be hard to enjoy its bountiful magnificence if I’ve been cremated. I am not going to get an angel that looks like Megan Fox to have rumpy pumpy with me……….if I look like the contents of a vacuum bag.

However, now that it’s possible to make all sorts of odd requests, I’m reconsidering this. This needs serious thought because having watched loved ones scatter the remains of their loved ones here on the ships of Carnival Space is tempting ………………..and Uncle Google told me that there is a company that will blast your ashes into orbit for just $500.

A word of warning, though. While the company managed to get bits of Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, into orbit, it made a bit of a hash of things when it came to getting the Enterprise’s chief engineer up there.

The first time it tried, the rocket crashed and Scotty ended up not in the Romulan Galaxy but just outside Santa Fe, New Mexico. Happily he was found, he was launched again. But that went wrong too when the rocket exploded, sending the Canadian actor into the sea, where, one day, he will probably crash head-on into the NAVY SEAL I mentioned earlier. Almost certainly, this is not what either man would have wanted.

One thing is for sure. I think we need to offer more dignified services onboard for scattering of ashes at sea just as we do renewal of vows and weddings. There needs to be the same care that we provide for these occasions. We should supply the bio-degradable urns and have an area of the deck closed off and provide a reading and music, etc. While yesterday’s service was one the Gilson family appreciated……….I myself was a little embarrassed by the fact that there were other guests wandering past with drinks in hand and that we could hear quite clearly the happy music of the calypso band.

No, we can do better and I will start work on a package that offers a simple yet dignified service and if anyone needs my help with this I am at your service.

I have though been thinking of what I want when I go. And I have decided that I want my ashes to be mixed with paint and used to create a piece of art…….I want to spend the rest of time as Megan Fox’s bottom.

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

Brandon Wilson Asked:
Hi John, (Please reply)

Thank you for helping me out with recommendations for my upcoming cruise. One of the 343 Stephanie’s was very helpful in getting back to me, so thank you so much. Once again, I am going on the Carnival Splendor over New Year’s (12/27-1/3) and this time I was wondering if there will be any festivities on the ship to celebrate the New Year.

My wife and I are counting down the days until this cruise and are very excited to be travelling with Carnival again.

Thanks again for you time and I am now addicted to your blog!!! Keep up the great work and updates, it is greatly appreciated!!!!!

Have a Splendid day!!
Brandon Wilson

John Says:
Hello Brandon

I am glad that one of the 343 Stephanie’s were helpful, they are all so important to the blog thingy. There will be of course a huge party on all our ships this New Years Eve. The parties will include complimentary champagne, party favors and of course the big countdown. This usually takes place on the Lido Deck weather permitting and you can expect to see our live bands and entertainment staff providing a fantastic atmosphere in which you and your fellow guests will welcome in 2010. Thanks for the kind words and please let me know if you need anything else.
Best wishes
John

Ken & Barbie Sue Asked:
John, please reply

Good Morning John. My husband and I love reading your blog thingy. We have just returned from spending Halloween on the Ecstasy. It was a great cruise and a very relaxing one. We have been on 11 Carnival Cruises, and have never been disappointed with a ship’s crew or staff. Steve our CD was very good, lots of high energy. Our only disappointment is with VIP disembarkation – an area we would love to see improvement in. People make or break their own vacation, by their attitude – Life is a journey, it’s how we see a beautiful sunrise or sunset as a blessing, a gift. Before we left Galveston Bay, my husband and I saw dolphins swimming and jumping out of the water. In the past I had never experienced watching dolphins play, what a wonderful sight.

John, there will always be people who are CRONIC complainers – people who can NEVER have a positive out-look on life and can ALWAYS find something to complain about. This is what feeds their everyday life is “a pity party.” If they can make others feel as miserable as they are, they have a “good day.”

So people who are constantly complaining, please stay home and watch a vacation video where you would like to be and not ruin others vacation time.

It is not enjoyable to be seated with you at a dining table every night or on an excursion where you are constantly attacking; our joy is taken away from our cruise. We love meeting new people especially our dining times.

Barbie Sue

John Says:
Hello Barbie Sue

Thank you so much for taking the time to write such positive words. I am so glad that you had a great time on the Carnival Ecstasy. She is a ship I have many happy memories of and in fact I have not seen her since I was last there in 1993. I was disappointed to read that you felt we let you down with our disembarking VIP procedures and I wondered if you had a few minutes to write to me explaining what went wrong. This would be very helpful.

During my 22 years at sea I have learned that as hard as I may try I may never going to please everyone all the time and that despite the best efforts of everyone here at Carnival there are always going to be those who do not like what we do. It is up to us though not to give up trying and to keep improving as much as we can. I hope you both have everlasting memories of your recent cruise and I hope new ones will be created the next time you sail with us.
Best wishes to you both.
John

John Asked:
(please reply)

I need your help if you could. I have a group of people we cruise with and I am usually the one that gets everything rolling. We are looking at doing a European cruise probably in 2012, as we already have a 2010 and 2011 cruise booked for the Carnival Miracle (thanks for going back to Aruba).

I guess I have a two part question.

1. Do you see Carnival doing anymore European cruise around that time?

2. If not do you have a recommendation on a sister cruise line we should check out?

We are platinum with Carnival and will miss the nice perks but you know how it is when the wife wants to go.

Thanks for all the help you provide and your wonderful sense of humor.

John

John Says:
Hello John

Thanks for allowing me a chance to say…….there’s nothing to report on the Europe front. In a press conference last week our President and CEO Gerry Cahill told the gaggle ……… flock …….. herd………..dollop………….or whatever you call a big group of press …………..that Carnival was “seriously discussing” the possibilities of going back to Europe. Now, I have our Super Spy PA 007 on the case and he or she will let me know should something be confirmed. Our sister companies Princess, Costa, P & O, Holland America and Cunard all have constant operations in Europe and hopefully one day we’ll add a Carnival ship to the mix again. Thanks so much for your loyalty and kind words of support.
Best wishes
John

Tim and Diane Asked:
John, Please reply

Thank you for the thank you to the men and women who have served our countries. I am one of them.

Now on to a different subject. As you know we are cruise only travel agents and travel agents we do get invited to do site inspections of all cruise lines not only Carnival products. That said Diane will be on Carnival’s Dream when she docs in her home port for a special site inspection. We also as TA’s will be on the as you call her the Mall of the Seas at the end of November for a 2 day cruise. We will write in our blog our impressions of this ship.

Just last week we returned from a 7 day cruise on the beautiful Queen Mary 2 from New York to Canada and back to New York. The ports of call were great. The ship in our onion is over rated. Queen Mary 2 is a Princess cruise without the good food that Princess is known for.
We wish the Carnival Dream many happy and safe sailings.

John Says:
Hello Tim and Diane

During our recent Cruise Director conference it was discussed that all CD’s should take the time to mention those who have served and those who are still serving. It turned out that the vast majority were already doing so. This means that on 22 ships each and every week thousands of people are paying tribute to people such as yourself.

I will be very interested to read your thoughts on your Carnival ship and the big RCI bugger. She is certainly getting lots of press as she is a huge ship with some interesting attributes. Any and all positive press is only good for the industry. I have looked at the prices they are charging and they seem very high to me.

I was surprised to read about your Queen Mary 2 comments as I have always read such positive comments about her. I will be sailing on the Queen Victoria next year around the British Isles and I am very excited to see the wonderful Cunard project for myself.

Please send us your reports and thanks so much for your kind words and hope to see you both soon.
Best wishes
John

Matt T Asked:
Hi John (please reply),

I wish I could have made it to the event in NYC, as it seems like it was a fun and special day. I’m glad to see that everything is going well on the Dream, and that the ship is handling the seas well.

I have two questions before my Dream holiday cruise in December:

First, I remember reading a while back that Carnival was looking to enhance their programming for the 18-21 crowd. A lot of bloggers thought this was a great idea, as this is the one age group that is often left out. Readers suggested hosted gatherings, activities, and/or events for this age group. This way, they would have an easier way meeting friends and they can have some organized activities. I thought this was going to begin on the Dream, but I haven’t read about anything yet. My family and several families traveling with us are wondering if our 18-21 year old kids can expect or look forward to some sort of activities for their age group, as this was their only disappointment from our last cruise.

Can we look forward to seeing an actual reggae band on the Carnival Dream in December? This has been brought up every so often, and I sometimes read on cruise critic that the reggae bands are having their hours and size of the bands cut (we LOVE laying by the pool and listening to the actual 4 or 5 person band). I know Carnival is great with their live entertainment, and I was wondering if the Dream will have an actual reggae band with decent hours (I was hoping that the seaside TV wouldn’t take away from the band during the day).

Thanks so much, good luck at the naming ceremony and with your speech, and I look forward to the next blogs. You’re the best!

Matt and family

John Says:
Hello Matt and family

I am sure you are all very excited about your December cruise on your Carnival Dream. We have just finished discussing the 18 – 21 subject at the CD conference and I must admit that we were all a little uncertain as to what we can do to enhance the program. We had a test ship that had scheduled activities such as meet and greets, games, sports activities, etc throughout a 7-day cruise but attendance was minimal at best with most having nobody there at all despite there being 150 plus of that age group onboard.

We will have a meet and greet and singles activities on your cruise and of course you are able to attend all the ship events, shows and celebrations, etc. I would love for you to be our ambassador of this age group and tell us exactly what you would like to see us to do to help the young adults of your age group enjoy their cruise experience more. If you have ideas before you sail please send me your post here on the blog thingy and I will see if we can implement your ideas. Your Carnival Dream has a brilliant Calypso duo on the ship who will play (along with other bands and musicians) on the Lido Deck which I am sure you will enjoy.

So, there is much to look forward to and I hope you can give some consideration to what you would like to see for people your age on board that we are already not doing.
Best wishes to you and all the family
John

Marty Paul Asked:
*PLEASE REPLY, IF YOU HAVE TIME*

Hi John,
Very hilarious description about the hot sauce! I feel your pain…but not to that extent. What to do with it? Easy, float it away from Bermuda and let the Bermuda Triangle take care of it.

Just a quick note, my girlfriend & I were on the Oct 15th sailing on the Carnival Dream and also noticed a “smell” in the passageway, and we were up on Deck 12 (port side). For a little while, it was even noticeable in the stateroom, so we opened the balcony door to “air it out”. Just a minor inconvenience and in no way affected our fantastic Med cruise. I agree with the above poster, seems like a drainage/plumbing design issue. I’m sure Carnival will get it corrected soon. For awhile, I thought it may have been Fun ship Freddy passing gas…

Just an idea (pls pass to Terry) – why doesn’t Carnival compete more with NCL in Hawaii? I understand the Passenger Vessel Services Act (PVSA) and as such, why NCL has the U.S. flagged Pride of America, so the ship doesn’t have to leave Hawaiian waters. Here’s my idea- Carnival bases a Spirit-class ship out of Honolulu and buys into Fannin Island (or similar) and builds it up as a destination (e.g. HMC, Grand Turk). Then, the Carnival _____ could sail the Hawaiian Islands, with a sail to Fannin to stay in compliance with the PVSA. I think such a run would be VERY popular and would be highly competitive against the higher-cost-to-operate (U.S. crew/wages) Pride of America. This way, Carnival could do 7, 8, 9 day cruises, where many working Americans cannot get the leave to do the current 12-day cruise plus any additional stay pre or post cruise. Just an idea…

Lastly, I’ve included Jeanne & my blog address above. Pls feel free to take a gander…we created & posted it while on the Carnival Dream in the Med.

Ciao!
Marty & Jeanne

John Says:
Hello Marty and Jeanne

I don’t think I will ever be able to use hot sauce ever again after my Bermudian 357 magnum experience…………..even if I wanted to my arse would refuse……………it wasn’t a happy bottom for many days thereafter.

I know there was indeed a concern with a not very pleasant odor on part of the ship which turned out not in fact to be the results of the hot sauce and my bottom but a design fault with a particular area of the ship which has now been fully repaired. I apologize sincerely to you and any other guests who experienced this. Hawaii is very popular and I know that when we send the Carnival Spirit there her cruises are always a huge hit. I don’t know if there are reasons of availability that we don’t go there more often or if our marketing folks feel that we could not sell enough cabins to support a ship there full time but I will ask and post the answer back to everyone soon.

Like Alaska I have never been to Hawaii and it is certainly a place I want to visit before I hang up my CD hat.

Thanks for the kind words and I hope to see you on a Carnival ship soon………..maybe in Hawaii ………….or Europe, I hope.
Best wishes to you both
John

Ken and Jackie Asked:
Hello John (please reply if you like),

I’m glad Carnival chose to refurbish the Fantasy class ships, because you sure don’t do retirements very well. I just got home from “celebrating” the last holiday of the Holiday. I was incredibly disappointed in the way you and Carnival chose to send off the ship that has sailed under your flag longer than any other and helped build the Carnival we know today.

First we were told you’d be joining us, but that didn’t work out what with the big plans for Dream. Disappointing, but understandable. Then our cruise director, Tori, cut and run at Calica. I’m sure she had a good reason, but it felt a little like she was abandoning ship. My kids wondered what happened to the “Woo-Hoo” (they had sailed the Holiday with Tori before and always returned the Woo-Hoo). There were no past guest pins available – even for purchase. There wasn’t a single Holiday souvenir left – key chain, shot glass, spoon, snow globe, fridge magnet – nothing.

There were a few “Holiday’s Final Voyage” photos for sale, including a number of pictures and postcards of a FANTASY-class ship that they PHOTO-SHOPPED the “Holiday” moniker on! I know Carnival has to make a buck, but that’s just low! I’m not sure which upsets me more… That Carnival thinks so little of us that they intentionally sold us fakes, or that I actually bought a few of them…

Most disappointing is that there was no fanfare at all. There was no retirement party… No final send off from Cozumel or Calica (which I thought was tradition in the maritime world). The whole cruise was very somber… Lacking the usual exuberance and energy… Bordering on depressing.

I certainly wasn’t the only person who felt this way. I spoke with a lot of frequent cruisers who had similar observations. To the bean counters, maybe this was just another cruise, but to a lot of us, this was a cause for celebration and reflection. It’s a shame Carnival felt differently.

I’ve already got two more Carnival cruises booked. I’m sure they’ll be great, and I’ll give Carnival the benefit of the doubt that this just fell under the radar because of the fanfare over the Dream.

Best Regards,
Ken, Jackie, and kids

P.S. Want to buy a limited edition photo of the Carnival Fantaday? Holisy?

John Says:
Hello Ken and Jackie

I just wanted to say that I have to agree with you on everything you said. The Holiday was my first ever ship and it’s where I discovered that I was the worst bar waiter in the world and it’s where I discovered that I wanted to have that microphone thingy and do what the Cruise Directors were doing. It would have been nice to have sent her away with a bit of a bang but I guess it wasn’t to be. The gift shops had obviously sold out of merchandise during previous cruises and that’s a real shame. As for the photos……………well…………..this is news to me so I have passed this onto one of our VP’s for his comments. Please accept my apologies for not being there as I was as you said on your Carnival Dream although I have no idea what happened to Tory…………..I will check things out though.

Please again accept my apologies that the final cruise of the Holiday was not one full of pomp and circumstance, I guess we were all too busy concentrating on the future with your Carnival Dream.

Thanks again for taking the time to write and let me know if you make some money on EBay with your photos of Carnival Fantaday!

Best wishes to all
John

That’s all for today and thanks for all the great comments.

Well it looks like Ocean Village, our British friends, have just said goodbye to one of their ships just as we said goodbye to the Holiday. The ship is currently in currently in drydock in Singapore being converted into P&O Australia’s latest superliner, Pacific Jewel. They will welcome Pacific Jewel on December 12, 2009, with a spectacular naming ceremony planned and they have launched a new blog for Pacific Jewel as she starts her new life Down Under. I have heard that P & O Australia, like Carnival, has a pedigree of fun and great service and we will all get to experience a little of this through this great blog. It will be updated weekly and includes a series of fantastic videos and images of her transformation. So, let’s pop on over to Singapore and see this amazing transformation for ourselves.

Here is the link thingy: http://pacificjewel.pocruises.com.au/

Well, here we are in St. Maarten today complete with its new cruise ship pier. It’s an extra special destination for Carnival guests because you get two vacations for the price of one. St Maarten happens to be the smallest island on the planet that’s shared by two countries. Two-thirds is called Saint Martin and is in the French Caribbean — all sophistication, fine dining, fashion boutiques and strange smells and one-third is called Saint Maarten, in the Dutch Antilles — with faster food, noisier nightlife and swanky casinos.

Heidi once told me that at school in Holland they are taught that there were two men on the island arguing who owned what and so they decided to divide up the island with a walking race. A Frenchman and a Dutchman left from the same spot at the same time, one clockwise, the other counterclockwise …………..the border would be the straight line from where they started to where they met up on the other side.

But the Frenchman spiked the Dutchman’s drink, and the resulting handover by hangover saw France get the bigger share………le bastard. There seems to be no hard feelings though as there are no border guards or passport control so you can have a Dutch pancake for breakfast and a frog’s legs baguette for lunch. I really should make the effort to go ashore but here I sit …………..in the lobby……..in more than just my underpants………………writing to you. Talking of the lobby I am sorry to say that this cruise amongst the 900 kids we have sailing are a few who need their arses smacked with my Dad’s old slipper. You see, there have been three incidents when these little buggers have thrown things off one of the high decks of the grand atrium. This included ice, a plastic glass and an ice cream. I remember writing about this back in the summer while I was on the Carnival Freedom and I know that these are the sort of kids who will do the same sort of thing in their local shopping mall. We have increased security around these areas but I also scripted an announcement for Ryan the Carnival Glory‘s CD to make over the PA system. I did this on the Carnival Freedom and it immediately stopped as obviously we scared whoever was responsible. The announcement basically said that we had increased our security and surveillance of the area and anyone caught throwing anything over the lobby would immediately be disembarked. It was also explained how dangerous anything flung from 10 floors up could be. Since the announcement there have been no further incidents.

Apart from that the guests are having a great time in great weather on this her last cruise from Port Canaveral. By the way, did I tell you yesterday that I was going to be staying on the ship until it reaches Miami on Sunday? If I did I am sorry for repeating myself………but anyway I am.

The highlight last night was the incredible new magic show starring Justin Illusion. I first worked with Justin when I was CD of the Ecstasy back in 1993 and Justin was a dancer……….a great dancer at that. He then moved into the magic field and eventually got his own show here on the Carnival Glory which was a great show. However, earlier this year his show was rejuvenated when he went into partnership with Kevin and Curuso who produce and star in their own show on the Carnival Triumph as well as producing and designing the new magic show on the Carnival Conquest.

The result here is a sensational show which I have to say is the best magic show I have seen in many years. It features not only Justin and his grand illusions but also the cast of dancers and specifically one young lady called Karlynn who I have known for some time. This young lady from Las Vegas is one of the most talented dancers and performers I have ever seen and over the years we have become great friends. It was wonderful to see her in a starring role which gave her the perfect opportunity to show her amazing versatility and extraordinary abilities………she should have her own show.

I won’t spoil it for those who will be sailing here by talking about specific illusions but I will say this. If you are booked on the Carnival Glory the magic show is one you must not under any circumstance ……….miss.

Here are some photos from the show.

I asked our AV lads here on the ship to change the music in the guest elevators which was hardly what you would call fun…………unless you are Kenny G who would probably walk in one of our elevators and say “this place rocks.” It’s probably like this on all our ships and it shouldn’t be as we should have fun music playing in there all the time……….I will work on this.

Oh, yes……….. Opposite us is the beautiful Emerald Princess, a ship that Heidi and I sailed on and have many happy memories of a relaxing time. We went on there really stressed because we had been trying to get pregnant for a long time and had just gone through the stresses of talking about adoption, etc. The week we spent onboard took some of that stress away and we both fell in love with the Princess product. It was obvious after sailing on that ship why Carnival Corporation had such desire to have Princess as part of the family. It was a hard battle but eventually Micky Skywalker saved the Princess from the evil clutches of Daft Fainder.

There won’t be a blog tomorrow as it’s turkey day of course and I need to let the 343 Stephanie’s and 1 Vance spend the day with their families. There will be a full day of celebrations here on the Carnival Glory and the chef tells me that many turkeys have died so that the 3,400 guests will be able to enjoy a very special meal.

I will be back on Thursday and until then on behalf of Heidi and Kye I wish you and your families a very happy Thanksgiving day………….I give thanks for my job that allows me to write this blog and entertain and help thousands of people here and live on stage……….I give thanks for Megan Fox’s bottom……I give thanks for my beautiful daughter and my loving wife……………and of course mostly I give thanks ……….that I am not French.

Seen you on Friday.

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.