Merry Christmas…Already?

November 27, 2009 -

John Heald

Whilst getting dressed this morning I turned on the TV and as I was flicking through the channels in my underpants I came across ESPN2 which at 7 am had decided not to show basketball, football, handball or even the Latvian synchronized swimming championships but instead had chosen to show the sport of…………… whispering.

The whispering was being done by two “Rambo” type guys who apparently were hiding in a bush, all came up and wearing special forces camouflage and armed with huge pump action death rifles. At first I thought these were members of Delta Force and that ESPN were showing the sport of hunting Bin Laden………or the HBL as its known in the sports world…………….but I was wrong………..because this was a shooting a deer in the head show.

It seems to me that in North America everyone wants to be a part of the great outdoors. They like the idea of cutting down trees and shooting critters in the head. Even the Armani suit wearing lawyers of Washington are able and willing to slip out of their Gucci loafers at a moment’s notice and into a hairy shirt for a weekend under canvas in the woods whispering to other lawyers as they try to hit a deer with a rocket propelled grenade.

This got me thinking. While I think it is every animal’s divine right to end up on my dinner plate surrounded by roasted potatoes and sprouts I don’t think I could actually stalk one through the forest and shoot it. Take the turkey I had last night for Thanksgiving dinner. The Captain and I ate in the guest dining room and we all enjoyed our turkey………despite the fact that I think it’s a boring mostly tasteless meat…………..but could I have gone up to old Tom and snapped its neck………..nope……..I don’t think I could. Heidi though not only comes from a family of butchers and for her beheading a chicken is as normal as ordering a bucket of Colonel Sanders and she, like most Dutch students was taught how to cook, clean and gut poor old Colin the Cockerel.

In the UK we had these classes as well……I remember the scene with our teacher saying “Right, now gather round everyone………you put the chicken on its back and stand on its outstretched wings. Now pull the legs firmly…”…….and that’s how animals get from their natural habitat into your Mum’s casserole.

These days even kids are not taught this anymore and I wonder how many of the 900 kids we have onboard actually understand where the turkey they munched on last night comes from. I am sure if a live turkey would be brought into a school and shown how it becomes Thanksgiving dinner there class there would be hell to pay…….nope…….this way, the little munchkins will continue to believe that burgers grow on trees and that Coca-Cola comes from natural springs in Montana.

I remember an episode of Survivor a few years ago. The starving contestants were given some chickens but couldn’t bring themselves to kill and pluck them. They’re chickens, for God’s sake. And chickens are basically vegetables. We’re talking here about a bird which is so daft that it can operate normally with no head. Anyway, while they were deliberating about what should be done the birds were eaten by a couple of monitor lizards.

I am sure there are one or two people who read this and may be vegetablists who are a bit upset about the subject matter here and I apologize if that’s the case but I guess if ESPN are showing hunting as a sport then it’s worth talking about.

Out there in the real world away from the 21st-century supermarket/freezer/microwave chain of catering, there are insects which eat their partners after rumpy pumpy there are snakes that will vomit on you when threatened and there are leopard seals that play aquatic tennis, using penguins as the ball.

Anyway, last night’s dinner was very well received and I thought you might like to see the menu our guests were offered this Thanksgiving Day.

Happy Thanksgiving Menu
November 26, 2009

The Captain, His Officers and Crew Wish Each of You a Very Happy Thanksgiving.

Freshly Fried Tempura Shrimps
Served with Ponzu-Miso Dip
Duet of Cured Norwegian Salmon and Ahi Tuna
Citrus Compote, Watercress, Banana and Walnut Toast
Panko Crusted Mushrooms Stuffed with Ricotta Cheese
Baked Tomato and Polenta
Thanksgiving Salad
Romaine Lettuce with Cranberries, Tomatoes, Blue Cheese and Sweet Ginger
Served with Shallot Dressing
Chilled Tomato Soup with Wild Berry Salad
Double Cheese and Yukon Gold Potato Soup
Garnished Bacon Bits and Chives
Pumpkin Bisque
Enhanced with Turkey and Walnut Dumpling
Carnival Classics
Fresh Fruit Cocktail
Black Tiger Shrimp Cocktail
American Cocktail Sauce
California Spring Mix and Cherry Tomatoes
Choice of Blue Cheese, Thousand Island, Ranch, Balsamic Vinaigrette, or French Dressing

These Items are Lower in Calories, Sodium, Cholesterol and Fat. Salads are prepared with
Diet Dressing. Calorie Count and Fat Content can vary up to 10%.

Charred Broccoli and Cauliflower Tortellini Served in Slow Cooked Tomato Broth
[190 Calories, 4 grams of Fat, 0 grams of Trans-Fat]

California Spring Mix Tossed with Fat Free Italian Dressing
[25 Calories, 0 grams of Fat, 0 grams of Trans-Fat]
Grilled Red Snapper Fillet on Gazpacho Juice Served with Pumpkin and Scallion Hash, Green Beans
[240 Calories, 6 grams of Fat, 0 grams of Trans-Fat]

The Chef Recommends
Slow Cooked Fillet of Chilean Sea Bass
Green Peas Mash, Potato and Cured Tomato Croquette
Chardonnay, Chateau St. Jean, Sonoma 33
Grilled Black Tiger Jumbo Shrimps
Fava Bean Salad, Garlic and Herb Butter
Fume Blanc, Robert Mondavi, Napa Valley 36
Aged New York Strip Steak from American Choice Beef
Potato Croquettes, Roasted Beets, Mustard Sauce
Merlot, Columbia Crest, Grand Estate, Columbia Valley 33
Slowly Roasted Tom Turkey with our Thanksgiving Stuffing
Sweet Potato Gratin, Giblet Gravy, Cranberry Relish
Pinot Noir, Jekel, Monterey 36
Zucchini Fritters
Stuffed with Manchego Cheese and Eggplant
Carnival Classics
Broiled Fillet of Mahi Mahi
Served with Vegetables of the Day
Grilled Breast of Corn Fed Chicken
Served with Vegetables of the Day
Grilled Flat Iron Steak from American Choice Beef
Served with Vegetables of the Day and Red Bliss Potatoes
Baked Idaho Potatoes, French Fries or Steamed White Rice
Assorted Steamed Vegetables

Spiced Pumpkin and Chocolate Pâté
Figs Melt and Wild Berries
Warm Chocolate Melting Cake
Served with Vanilla Ice Cream
Vanilla – Chocolate – Strawberry – Butter Pecan
Orange – Pineapple – Lime
Port Salut – Brie – Gouda – Imported Swiss – Danish Bleu

The Chef told me that we used 96 (25-pound) turkeys last night although it surprised me when the Chef said that the New York steak was just as popular with the guests as turkey. Anyway, everyone had a great time and congratulations to the Chef and his kitchen crew for another successful Thanksgiving dinner.

By the way, just before I start today’s questions………..what is it about met makes grown men want to sit next to me and fall asleep. It’s 9:45am and there is another one snoring his morning away …………..time for a quick sneaky photo with the raspberry camera.

Good grief…………he sounds like someone has replaced his face with my arse……..time for today’s questions…………away we go…

Zannett Asked:

I was reading a few reviews of the Carnival Dream and had a question regarding the food served on European sailings compared to Caribbean sailings. We have sailed with CCL several times and have always enjoyed the food tremendously (especially the Steakhouse). There were more than a few negative comments regarding the food on the European sailings on the Dream and I was wondering if the food is different since it isn’t purchased in the US (USDA) or if it’s just the difference in culture and their expectations. I plan to sail in Europe within the next year or two and would like to know if there is truly that much of a discrepancy or just personal tastes????

I hope you are making the best of all the festivities and getting a little rest before our Bloggers Cruise. I truly can’t wait to sail with you in just 3 short weeks! Any chances of getting a beautiful surprise onboard (maybe Kye and Heidi)??? Sure do miss seeing her growing, although it’s completely understandable…try to join our CC meet and greet and bring pics!

John Says:
Hello Zannett

Thanks for taking the time to write and I must admit to not have seeing any negative comments about the food on your Carnival Dream. Obviously when our ships are in Europe we do stock the ship with more European items than ones from the United States. However, the menus are basically the same in the dining room on a European cruise as they are on a Caribbean cruise. Maybe if you were to tell me what the negative comments pertained to I may be able to comment further. However, you are right of course when you say this could be personal choice comments.

I wish Heidi and Kye would be with me next week for the Bloggers Cruise but they are patiently waiting for me to return home on the 12th. I will have photos with me and I look forward to sharing them with you all very soon.

Kathy M. Asked:
Hi John, Please answer.

I read on Cruise Critic that Carnival is not selling the Monkey Head Drink Cups/Banks anymore. Is there any truth to that, since there are so many of us that belong to the Carnival MonkeyHead Group. I will be devastated if I can’t get my MonkeyHead on my next cruise. I have one for each of my cruises and each one is a little different.
Send my love to Heidi and Kye.
From your #1 Bloggy Thingy Fan

John Says:
Hello Kathy

Nope, just like the cancellation of the iced tea, the past guest party, the solid gold plastic trophy and that I weigh 140 pounds….this Cruise Critic rumor is not correct. The monkey head cups are very popular and still be sold onboard our ships.

Thanks for allowing me the chance to correct this incorrect information.
Best wishes

Ernie Asked:
John: (Please either you or Stephanie reply)

I about laughed my bottom off at your description of your eye watering story of hot sauce.
I was wondering what is the name of the Captain of our Carnival Dream.
Best to you, Heidi and Kye. We will be sailing on the Carnival Dream December 3rd.

John Says:
Hello Ernie

I am glad you are enjoying the blogs and that hot sauce was pure evil. I hope your bottom has recovered from laughing so hard. The Captain for your Carnival Dream cruise will be Captain Carlo Queirolo who is a wonderful man and whom all the bloggers will have a chance to meet and greet.
See you soon
Best wishes

Allie H Asked:
John – please reply.

Hi John, Thanks for the updates on the fun in NYC for the Dream launch/welcome/thing.
The video showed “Dream Pennies” – you know the smashed pennies that cost 50 cents?
Are those available anywhere else (on the ship, via begging, etc.)? I collect them, and would love to add that one to my collection.
Many thanks!

John Says:
Hello Allie

I have to admit that at first I had no idea as to what you were talking about and had to ask one of the 343 Stephanies for help. They then explained what you meant. I have sent an e mail to the man with a beard who arranged this to see if he has one or two of these pennies left over and if he does I will send you one. I will be in touch as soon as I know.
Best wishes

Deby Asked:
John [please reply]

I loved the video from the plaza. It looks like a fun day. I am so glad you had Four2Five there. They are a great and very talented group of guys. I hope you can find a way to use them on a cruise or two. Cannot wait to hear all about the naming ceremony. Deby

John Says:
Hello Deby

We had so much fun in New York and the event was I think a huge success. The singing group you mentioned were brilliant and the fact they sing all their songs Acapulco ………. Sorry ………….acapella is truly extraordinary. We did indeed speak to them about working with us again and I hope that very soon they will feature onboard one of our ships.
Thanks for the kind words
Best wishes

Linda Asked:
John, Please reply:

Just returned from Carnival Triumph cruise from Charleston to Bahamas. As always a great trip, this time made even more special because our wait team (Georgi & Yanthi) and wine steward I Ketut were looking for me as Sandra and I had been with them on the Carnival Triumph out of NYC to New England and Canada earlier this year. What fun to be enthusiastically welcomed back (as you say, “Welcome home”)! And Jorge made my first time cruising friend Judy feels as special as if she were the new Carnival godmother. Dario had also been gracious enough to arrange a primo table for us so that she could see all the dining fun and Jogi kept us all entertained and well taken care of. Finally a special salute (and a heads up to you guys!) for entertainment team member Sophia. She reminds me of Jamie a few years back; great personality and totally guest centered.

Now, John, two questions. First, I’m delighted that Charleston is now becoming a homeport, but PLEASE tell me that the terminal is scheduled for renovations and expansion! It became such a bottleneck and backed up the entire boarding process because it is just too small. Secondly, Sandra and I are headed back out in February on the Carnival Victory but the cruise director schedule only goes through December, 2009. When will at least the first half of 2010 be posted?

(And as always, we hope to cruise with you in 2011 on the Carnival Magic to the Greek Isles!!) Linda

John Says:
Hello Linda

What a fabulous review of your cruise and the words of praise you shared about all the great staff and crew you met will be passed along to the them and their direct supervisors. It once again shows that the crew is the most important icon of the fun ship experience and I am proud to work alongside them.

We are very excited to be cruising out of Charleston and I know Charleston and the area are equally excited that they have been chosen to be the latest home port for one of the Carnival ships. We are all aware that the port facilities are in need of an upgrade at the moment and we know that we will have to make improvements along the way and we will. However, we didn’t want to wait any longer as we felt now was the right time to place a ship there. I will ask all the guests who are boarding the ship in Charleston to have a wee dollop of patience during the boarding process and hopefully the fact that they have been able to drive to the port rather than drive or fly to Florida will make up for the extra time it may take to board. We will improve as we go along and I am already certain that like Galveston and Mobile that Charleston will become a huge success as a home port.

The Cruise Director schedule is almost ready and before I head to the UK I will be posting it here on the blog thingy.

Best wishes and thanks again for the great comments.

Danny Stout Asked:
Dear John – Please Respond.

First, thank you for being a pioneer for exemplary customer service. Your kindness amazes me! And thanks to the 343 Stephanies for helping out along the way.

I wouldn’t have emailed this request before the recent exchange with the poo poo guy about your willingness to make special requests a reality. Now however, I’m giving it a shot. I’m also willing to give you a treat in return though.

I’m sailing on my second ever cruise, the Carnival Liberty, departing Miami on January 29th, 2010. The Carnival Legend hooked us on cruising and Carnival a couple of years ago. My request is this. I would really love to have a table for two close to a window. Our underpants are of the XXL and XXXL variety so a larger table would be amazing as well…but that’s pushing it, I know! Any assistance or advice you could give would be much appreciated. That cabin may be upgraded to a Suite in the next month though!

Your treat you ask? I’d be glad to force feed a Frenchman a fine English ripper and would joyfully, accidentally, push a Mr. or Mrs. Moaner off a tender or port of your choice. I’d still like the fruit basket for that though.

Thanks again for all the help you give us. While I’ve just been enjoying your blog for the past couple of months, it’s now a website I enjoy checking daily.

John Says:
Hello Danny

I have stopped worrying about what others think about me helping those who ask. I know that it’s just one or two people who seem disturbed by this and although I certainly don’t want to upset them I have decided therefore………………. to forget about it.

There is then no need to force-feed anyone called Pierre and I will send your request to the Maitre D onboard the Carnival Liberty and I am sure he will do all he can in order to accommodate you and your underpants.

If there is anything else I can do for you please let me know.
Best wishes

Tracy Albright Asked:
John, please reply

My partner and I are a lesbian couple and wondered if your cruise line has gay and lesbian events. We cruised on another line last year and found that there were organized events for lesbian and gay couples. We are considering a cruise in February on your ship Splendor and while researching this I discovered your blog. Please let us know if there are any events we can look forward to should we decide to book.
Tracy and Donna

John Says:
Hello Tracy and Donna

Thanks for considering the Carnival Splendor for your vacation and I promise you will love everything about this brilliant ship. Every Carnival vessel has daily get together for lesbian and gay passengers who want to meet new friends. These are listed in our onboard program which is called the Carnival Capers and in that daily program you will find a note saying “Friends of Dorothy BLT meet.” The ship has extraordinary entertainment, superb food options and fun ports of call and I hope therefore you book the cruise and enjoy your first of what I am sure will be many Carnival cruises. Please let me know if I can help further.
Best wishes to you both

Amy Gardener Asked:
John, reply please

Can you tell me why Carnival has stopped the gold trophy (ship on a stick) as the prize given to passengers? Many people on Cruise Critic are upset about this as we all try to get one from every ship we go on. What has replaced them and why did you stop

John Says:
Hello Amy

The trophies have indeed been replaced and the new prize to any guest who wins one of our events will be a photo of me doing a handstand in the shower………kidding.

I truly have no idea where and why these rumors start but I can promise you that we have no intention of stopping the trophies as prizes and each and every ship in the fleet will continue to award them. I answered a similar question a few days ago so I wondered if you or someone could slap this comment on the thread thingy where this started and let everyone know their solid gold plastic trophies are safe and sound.
Best wishes

That’s all for today and I will be answering more from your Carnival Dream on Monday.

Just a quick follow up regarding a question about your Carnival Dream. There was a comment about the ship having signs offering the book on board $100 certificate and that we actually were not offering this. And so I asked the Guest Services Manager and here is his reply.

They are referring to the plasma screens and the Loyalty Cruise Program that is still being advertised all over the ship and TV”s. This was a mistake as the program does not start until we arrive in Port Canaveral. Our sincere apologies.

So, there you go and I must say that this was a glaring mistake and something we should have caught as we certainly should not be advertising something that we didn’t offer. Anyway, please accept my apologies to anyone who wanted to buy this certificate and then discovered the program was not onboard.

Let’s have a look at what’s happening down under and a great video made by the Entertainment Manager of P&O Australia Brett Annable who takes us through the brilliant…….or “bonza” as they say in Australia…….entertainment that will thrill guests when the ship arrives in Australia following her refit in Singapore. One of the things Brett will show you is the new Ariel show that they will perform.

Here is the video thingy.

I mentioned the incident in the lobby the other day and how some very silly people were throwing items such as ice and plastic glasses from a high floor. I had suggested that an announcement be made and it was and since then there have been no further incidents. It seems that the threat of being disembarked and spanked with my Dad’s old slipper worked and that’s good news and I think we should adopt this action more. Letting the guests know that we are taking action and making sure that we keep everyone informed is so important …………. obviously the perfect scenario would be to catch the little buggers but that is easier said than done on the big ships of today.

Good news for the pin lovers because all the gift shops now have the pins available for purchase and the Platinum guests will get theirs complimentary. The pins themselves are of a slightly different design and a little larger so I would appreciate your comments when you see them.

I want to thank everyone here on the Carnival Glory for their wonderful hospitality this past week. Tomorrow the ship will say goodbye to Port Canaveral for the last time and I will sail with her to her new homeport of Miami. The ship will look forward to her dry dock and all the upgrades and rejuvenation that comes with it but it has been easy to see just why so many of you are such fans of the Carnival Glory. Her crew is some of the very best I have seen and the new name recognition program where guests are recognized and called by name by as many of the crew as possible is really being championed here.

It was great to see so many friends who I have not seen for a long time and a special thank you to Ryan the Cruise Director who despite being metro sexual………..liking boy band music …… wearing trousers that are two sizes too small…………..and putting product in his hair and moisturizer on his thingy…… a fantastic Cruise Director. He has started lots of new activities and events and has rejuvenated the somewhat tired Carnival Colours (spelt correctly) event. His energy is everlasting and oh yes………make sure you take part in his murder mystery event which is a massive favorite with the guests.

It was also great to see Karlynn and Kelly again. These two gorgeous young dancers were with Heidi and I when we delivered the Carnival Freedom and we became great friends. Their talent on stage and their care of the guests off stage is a true example to all……..and Heidi and I wish them both continuing happiness.

You see, that’s one of the negatives about working on the ships. The company is so big these days that you never know if and when you are going to see the friends you make ever again. Friendships on a ship happen quickly and are more intense than ones on land and it’s a shame to say that many are friendships that fade once you leave the ship life thingy. However, thanks to Facespace and Mybook the new generation of cruise ship crew has more chance of staying in touch.

Anyway, congratulations to the crew of the Carnival Glory………….for a job well done.

On Wednesday I wrote that the music we played in the elevators here on the Carnival Glory was the toe curling compositions of Kenny G. I had mentioned this to the people here and they listened because this morning Kenny G had buggered off and had been replaced by some Beach Boys who as I rode from deck 2 to deck 9 were telling me how they wish all girls were from California…….that’s more like it.

I guess many of us are not aware of the background music we encounter in our lives but for me it has always been something that gets on my nerves.

As you know, I hate massages and massage therapists hate me and my arse………..for new comers to the blog thingy I had a massage once and let out a huge ripper of a fart which was as you can imagine highly embarrassing for me, the therapist and the Hazmat team who had to go in afterwards and sanitize the treatment room. So, for that reason I have never been back but there are other reasons as well, one of them being the music they play. I mean why do they have to play such awful music in there. This is not a church……… it’s a treatment room. We are the only two people in the room.

Why is it that the average spa’s music system playlist is firmly stuck in the new age. Why do we always get massaged to the bleating bollocks of Enya and Enigma and those bloody awful, Peruvian sodding panpipes? Why don’t they see that it’s a man lying face down on the upholstered slab and give us some AC/DC, Clapton or Elton John?

I am talking about massages again because in a meeting I had onboard today with Ryan the CD and all the department heads the Spa Manager told me that male guests use the massage facilities as much as our female guests………sometimes more.

I know I am in a minority here but I just don’t get it. I don’t want to lie on a bed for an hour, with no trousers on, basted like a Thanksgiving turkey, bloody Enya simpering away in my ear, while some a girl called Chanel rhythmically tickles away at my flabby parts as if petting a hamster.

I don’t think women have this sort of trouble when they spa. They just change into the provided dressing gown before wafting through into the warm womb of planet pamper beyond.

I mean, our spas are fantastic and the treatments they offer are massively popular with our guests ………but I just can’t relax. If it’s a massage that I am in for, I am concentrating so intently on not farting or making sure my thingy doesn’t suddenly wake up …………that relaxed …………. is the last thing I am.

So tomorrow we will sail as I said to Miami where I will disembark the ship and fly to New York early on Monday morning. I will spend Sunday and Monday night in hotels in both Miami and the Big Apple before joining your Carnival Dream early Tuesday morning. Joining me there will be Stephanie Meads and Craig Johnston who will be helping me throughout the bloggers cruise. We will be preparing everything during the two day sail to Port Canaveral. Now, Monday is a travel day for me but I will find time to post a blog and there will also be a Dear John letter from Jaime, I really wanted her to join me for BC3 but she is needed on the Carnival Pride and we will miss her being there.

Well, Christmas has come to our ships and the trees are decorated and the holly and the ivy adorn the Promenade Deck. The fleets decorations were not though decorated by the crew but by “Professional Christmas Decorators” who have beards and sandals and……. who make a living by decorating other people’s Christmas trees.

Don’t you find that amazing? That someone has persuaded a bank that there is a demand for such a thing, let alone such a volume of demand that it would overcome the extremely seasonal nature of the business? I can only presume that they charge Carnival a huge amount of money and although the decorations look good ……… is surely something the crew of each ship could do themselves ………….and probably make it look good…………and having fun doing so.

I don’t want to sound all bar humbugish but these decorations went up on November 21 ………. is it me or is that too early? When I was a kid the decorations went up in our house the week before and of course Christmas shopping started in December ……….not July. And tomorrow the ship will start blending in the Christmas music through its Musak system and the elevators will be filled with the sound of Kenny G’s version of Silent Night…………..bugger!

One last thing as we are talking about music and that’s the subject of Susan Boyle. I watched the other day on the Today show and even though her hair looked like she had washed in beetroot soup and her thick Scottish accent remains hard for many to decipher, and she has a tendency to turn bright red, gurn madly and say odd things when she’s embarrassed and despite the fact that she looks like our Prime Minister Gordon Brown………she has a magnificent heaven sent voice and as that voice sang “ I Dreamed a Dream” on the Today show I couldn’t help but think that she would have been so absolutely perfect to sing at the naming ceremony of your Carnival Dream.

Oh and finally I understand that Megan Fox and her bottom were on Jay Leno last night ………. what a lucky sod the big chinned one is. While he was talking to the most beautiful buttocks in the world I was trying to sooth mine with the help of Preparation H………..double bugger.

See you in New York.

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.