A Stern View

December 7, 2009 -

John Heald

This afternoon myself and the some of the bloggers will be taking a tour of Antigua and while some of the excursion will involve time on a bus we will also be doing something called “walking.”

This word was also used when I was invited by some from the Cruise Critic group to join them on a morning “walk” around the track here on their Carnival Dream….walking……..I hate that word.

Walking is just plain silly. It is dirty, difficult, tiring and fraught with many dangers. You could have a heart attack, you could be struck by lightning, you could be knocked down by a car or if you are taking a stroll in Australia…….you could be eaten or poisoned by some of God’s more pissed off creatures. Why walk around the deck……..doing for a charitable cause is OK but just for “fun”……….that’s insane.

I understand, of course, that we need the ability to walk, so that we can get to the refrigerator to get a Diet Coke and a chicken drumstick. I know that Heidi will right now be dreaming of me coming home and Kye and I going “for a walk” in the winter’s fresh air.  But the idea of “going for a walk” seems completely ridiculous. Because one of two things will happen. You will either end up back at home again…………..and what’s the point of going out in the first place if that’s your goal?………….. or if you are Australian……… you will be killed.

I am sure that some of the tofu-loving readers of this blog will be saying “walking is good for you, you get to see nature and things and enjoy the fresh air” ……….or you could stay in ……….. order some Chinese food and while eating your Kung Poo chicken enjoy watching a pride of Lions eat a Bambi on your 50 inch plasma……………that’s seeing nature……..same thing then.

As I said, Heidi loves to walk. If she had her way we would walk everywhere. I remember last Christmas I awoke on Boxing Day morning (December 26) having eaten an entire Turkey the day before along with 29 Brussels Sprouts and loads of stuffing. Needless to say I felt terrible and my arse looked like a chewed orange. My wife said I would be cured with some fresh air. I tried explaining that the air in the living room near the plasma TV machine was just as fresh as the air in the garden but she was having none of it.

So arrangements were made to meet with our friends Danny and Nadia who had eaten twice as much as we had plus Danny had washed his Turkey down with a bottle of Johnny Walker Black Label…………. For a morning’s walk in the countryside.

Nadia and Heidi were walking while Danny and I were in my Polar Bear killing Range Rover, trying not to be sick. “This is walking, isn’t it?” I said, as we bumped through the uneven country paths. You see, Heidi doesn’t understand that you don’t need to walk if you have a car. It has so many uses. A commuter device, a means whereby women will think your rich and want to have rumpy pumpy with you, a portable stereo Eye Pod thingy, an air-conditioned respite from the sun and shelter in the rain. It is something you can love, cherish, abuse, polish and, if you are Miami Heat basketball player with a blinged-up Aston Martin……………….totally ruin.

But, I shall though spend this afternoon walking the streets of Antigua with my fellow bloggers ……………..I have no choice………………but if Heidi thinks I am going for a “Christmas Walk” …………well she has two hopes………Bob…………and bugger all.

And talking of Heidi I am feeling a little sad today. I am sitting here in my cabin……..in my underpants………alone……writing to you. Heidi meanwhile is at home in the UK and we really should be together because today we have been married six years and I feel very guilty that I am not home for our anniversary. Anyway……all I can say is “happy anniversary Heidi and I love you very much.”

Time for today’s questions which are a little different today. Usually one of the 343 Stephanies sends me the latest batch to answer but they are both out yesterday and so I have taken some from the last blog that were marked for my reply. So please don’t worry if you don’t see yours answered as will be going back to the oldest ones tomorrow……… anyway………… here we go.

sailingonthecarnivalpride Asked:
JOHN – PLEASE REPLY

The Mrs. & I have decided to take the December 13th sailing of the Carnival Pride out of Baltimore.

1. What can you tell us about the cruise director? I know that Jaime is on the ship, but don’t know the CD.

2. Any suggestions on excursions? The Mrs. wants to do Atlantis in Nassau, as well as Cable Beach. I am thinking about the Kennedy Space Center while in Port Canaveral.

The cruiser formerly known as MTSFP

John Says:
Hello John

Thanks for booking yet another Carnival cruise and its strange that you should write because one of the bloggers here was asking me last night if you were onboard………..they remember your funnel hat!

Jaime will be the Assistant Cruise Director and her partner Kirk Benning will be the CD. Kirk has been with us for a long time although he did take a leave of absence for a few years. He is very funny…………mostly because he has stolen all my jokes…………..kidding………….he is a great Cruise Director who is involved in everything around the ship. I have to tell you that along with Megan Fox’s Playboy centerfold photos ……………..the Kennedy Space Center is one of the most stunning and memorable things I have ever seen and I highly recommend it.

With respect to Nassau, Atlantis steals the show and is a must see. The Aquarium is the highlight but do book this tour early as it sells out very quickly. I know you will enjoy the cruise and please, if you have time, send my best to Jaime and Kirk and my best to the artist formally known as Mrs. MTSFP.

Best wishes to you both

John

Linda Hernacki Asked:
John, Please respond:

Yes, I agree John Susan Boyle should have been at the christening and sang “I dreamed a dream” – that would have made it all that much more special. A lot of us bloggers have written you for months saying she should’ve been the godmother. It is funny that you cannot understand her, when I as an American understand her so perfectly; she is a beautiful lady in her own rite. Who cares what her hair looks like, or how she dresses, it is what comes from the heart that matters most, and with a voice like hers how can you help but love her! She is magnificent in my eyes. WOW! The bloggers cruise will be here in 5 days, my friend Michele will be there with her mom. I told her today to make sure and get a picture with you John, (2 of my favorite people

in the world).

BTW: Did Heidi get the package I sent for you guys for Christmas? I mailed it extra early, and by now she should have it. Can’t wait to see you on Jan. 23rd. Only 4 weeks from today Mike and I will be on the DREAM! On facebook, the port Canaveral sail-a-bration website had a picture of Mike with his Carnival hat and all his pins. He can’t wait to get the new bigger Dream pin. He hopes that Carnival will also take his suggestion and have Fun ship Freddie pins for sale

in the gift shop. Any chance that might happen someday? We have 3 cruises to look forward to. The Dream in late Dec. and in late May and the Miracle to Aruba and Curacao in Dec. 2010! WOO! HOO! Sure wish you were gonna be on the Dream in May. When will the 2010 CD schedule be out? Take good care of my friend Michele Maragni, she is a great friend, and you will just adore her too. Tell her to show you her “ANGEL” tattoos on her legs, ankles, and hands. Her brother just died recently so she needs this cruise as a pick me up. Make her laugh with your humor (spelled correctly)! HA! HA! Your friends, Linda and Mike

John Says:
Hello Linda and Mike

I spent tea time yesterday talking with Michelle and her amazing Mum who showed me her tattoo………and she’s 82………..wow. They have given Heidi some wonderful gifts and of course Kye has been spoilt again and I sent them some things as well which I hope they liked. They are wonderful people.

The new pins are here and are very popular. The Platinum guests get the same design we have always given but the ones in the gift shop are slightly bigger and are already proving to be very popular indeed.

I have recently spoken to the people who run our onboard shops about the Fun Ship Freddy pins. I reminded them just how popular pins are at Disney and that we are really missing out by not having them here. They agreed and are working on this as we speak.

Heidi has the package and we will open this on Christmas Day but a huge thank you to you both once again for your kindness.

I will see you soon and I promise you will love your Carnival Dream and what a great year ahead you have with all those brilliant cruises to look forward to.

Best wishes to you both.

John

Kathy M. Asked:
Hi John,
Please reply,

I have noticed that you no longer put the cards of complaints or the letters from passengers on the cruise ship that you are on. I know I used to enjoy reading the complaint cards (like the one where the lady wanted Carnival to pay for the Doctor checking the Mosquito bite that she got onboard). Could you please start posting them again when you have more time?

Please send my love to Heidi and Little Kye,

From your #1 Bloggy Thingy Fan,

Kathy M.

John Says:
Hello Kathy M
I will return to posting the more unusual comments from guests when I return to being a Cruise Director next month back here on your Carnival Dream. The mosquito bite one is also one of my favourites

Best wishes

John

Juan & Maria Santana Asked:

John, please reply….
Hi, John! We just returned early this a.m. (Sun., 11/29) from the 8-day Freedom cruise visiting Cozumel, Limon & Colon. Magnificent cruise! We had a super wonderful time with Wee Jimmy (it was the 1st time we met him) and once again we were so lucky to have the talented Jamie Frasier performing onboard! We took pictures of Wee Jimmy (& also the 2 of us with him) and have to tell you that he is one of Carnival’s best cruise directors. You are the “God of the CD’s” and he is a close second.

Jamie Frasier has such a wonderful voice and style… plus he is a great comedian too. We know that he is on line to become a Cruise Director… It was also a pleasure to once again sail with Capt. D’Aita, who we consider one of the bests Carnival Captains….. Nov. 26, Thanksgiving Day, was also my Birthday (Maria) and Adrian Perez, our Carnival travel rep. sent me a delicious cake. It was so very nice of him! I didn’t need the extra calories, because, as always, I splurged every day on the magnificent cheese cakes that the Lido Buffet serves every day! We take this opportunity to once again tell you that we consider the Lido Buffet – in all the Carnival ships – excellent and in fact, we eat most our meals there.

God willing, on Dec. 11 we are driving from Mia. Bch. to Cocoa Beach, we’ll spend the night there and on Dec. 12 we’ll be onboard the Dream sailing for a wk. to Cozumel, Costa Maya, Roatan Island & Belize. We are hooked on cruises, are we not?

Regards to you and Heidi & big kisses to Princess Kye.

The Santanas of Miami Beach

John Says:

Hello Juan and Maria

That’s great to hear. Anytime anyone writes kind words of praise about Wee Jimmy I feel so very proud because I consider him my little brother. He has all the talent in the world and sometimes I don’t know if he realizes he does so I was thrilled to read your posting.

I will also mention that Jamie Frasier is one name to look for in the future of Cruise Directing. He has a personality that is perfectly suited for the job plus he has the added benefit of that extraordinary voice………….yep……….he will be a great CD one day soon.

I will make sure that my good friend Captain D’Aita, Wee James and Jamie get to see these great comments and I thank you so much for taking the time to write them and also for the kind words for Heidi and Kye.

Best wishes to you both.

John

Capt Fred Asked:
John Please Reply
With the new (Famous Smoke Stack) as the new logo. I thought t might be time for some Smoke Stack history. Can you find out which ship was the first one to have it .The old pictures of the first carnival ships don’t have this famous smoke stack .Also whose idea it was and was it

purpose to be so recognizable or was it just a way to get exhaust of the ship better .Thanks

John Says:
Hello Captain
The first ship to have the purpose built smoke stack was the Tropicale. From then on all the Carnival ships were built with this iconic feature. As to who came up with the idea…I have no idea so let me ask my super spy PA 007 to have a look into this and see if he or she can tell me more and I will back with more information very soon

Thanks for taking the time to write Captain.

Best wishes

John

Joe M Asked:
Hi John –
My wife and I are just 21 days away from another wonderful Carnival cruise. We are excited to be spending Christmas this year, aboard the Glory. Any tips and tricks as you recently spent some quality time on board? Maybe a good quiet spot recommendation or special entrée of

choice from the supper club? I also wanted to gather your thoughts on the book Cruise Confidential. It was a good read, but wanted your thoughts on if it was an accurate representation of ‘cruise ship life.’ Oh, and one more thing… next time you have lunch with Gerry, ask him to give George The Greek a raise will you? We have had the opportunity to dine with him twice now aboard the Inspiration and it’s a memorable experience every time…

Thanks for all that you and your team do to make our cruise vacations truly amazing.

– Joe

John Says:
Hello Joe
Congratulations on booking your cruise on the Carnival Glory and I know it will be the perfect place to celebrate Christmas. One of the highlights is the new magic show which I just reviewed following my week onboard……….this along with all the shows is not to be missed. I hope you will take the time to visit the Steak House and I do highly recommend the Porterhouse Steak, the wasabi mashed potatoes, the Caribbean crab cake and the desserts….well as a diabetic I can only dream and droll about the Caramel Apple Pie and the quartet of Chocolate Decadence.

I am a little embarrassed to say that I have never heard of the book you mentioned so I asked Uncle Google for help. I don’t know the chap that wrote it and not having read it I don’t think it will be fair of me to review it. However, if you door if anyone else has, please let me know. As for George the Greek……….he is priceless………….totally priceless.

Have a brilliant cruise

Best wishes

John

Melissa Asked:
John Please Reply
I know by the time you read this you should be home with your girls and I know you will be having a good time. I actually have two questions today, one being something I read on Cruise Critic.

1-      Someone reported from the Carnival Dream that when they went to take their child to camp carnival it was full and they were not accepting anymore. If this is indeed true it has me worried for our cruise this summer on the Carnival Dream as we are taking our will be 3 year old and while he won’t be spending the majority of his time there I was hoping that he would go some. So in other words can Camp Carnival “fill up” and turn kids away?

2-      My husband and I went on the Carnival Glory in December 2005. I remember Wee Jimmy as being the CD, but my husband insists that he was the assistant CD. I was wondering if you would be able to look up who was indeed the CD during that cruise.

Thank you for all you do!

Melissa

John Says:
Hello Melissa
I will be home a week from today and I am of course so very excited about that. I checked with the ladies in our Miami office who run the Camp Carnival experience and they assured me that even with the highest kid counts we never turn anyone away. Wee Jimmy was indeed Cruise Director on the Carnival Glory in 2005. It was his first ship as CD and on this occasion and I expect on every occasion…………you are right and your husband is wrong.

Please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you

Best wishes

John

Cameron Asked:
JOHN PLEASE REPLY
When can/will we see shipyard photos and/or rendering of the Carnival Magic? Is it possible to persuade the guys with beards to release them? Thanks we are Big Fans!!!!!!!!!!!!!

John Says:
Hello Cameron
I will be concentrating on Carnival Magic at the beginning of next year. There are no renderings at the moment but as soon as they become available I will be fan faring them as usual here on the blog thingy. I am very excited about her as she will have some surprises on board!

Thanks for the kind words and best wishes to all

John

Linda A. Asked:
Dear John,
PLEASE RESPOND! My husband, daughter, and I will be traveling on the Carnival Dream January 9th. We are very excited to see the new ship and have loved all the info you have been placing on your blog. We will be celebrating my daughters 21st birthday! Her actual birthday

is January 5th, but the cruise that week goes to the Eastern Carib. and we wanted to go West.

I want to make it special for her and have in the past on other cruises done the cake and room decor thing. My daughter is a very mature, loving and non-wild 20 year old and can be somewhat shy. I know you have a lot for the younger age groups, but what I need to know

Is if there is some way for her to meet other nice, non-wild individuals to hang out with and maybe go to the clubs or shows at night? Any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated, but I will understand if it is not possible.

Thanks for all you do to make everyone’s voyage a great one! We wish you bon voyage (pardon the French) when you are finally able to get back to your girls! We miss those lovely pics of Kye!(Love her name) Be safe and stay well!

Linda

John Says:
Hello Linda
I am here on your Carnival Dream at the moment and I know that you and the family will love this brilliant ship. Your daughter will for sure meet new friends and if you need help please leave a note marked to the attention of James- Assistant Cruise Director at the Guest Services Desk. I will let him know that you may be asking for his assistance and if you do he will make sure your daughter is involved with some of the fun activities onboard plus……ask him to send her a little birthday gift from me would you……he will be expecting your note. Thanks for your kindness and I hope you all have the best family vacation ever

Best wishes to all

John

Angela Guptill Asked:
Please reply: hi John: just was wondering about my post on “Scattering on the Seas” re: my hubby being in service on a Carnival ship re: funerals, grief counseling etc. He is an ordained pastor with the Wesleyan (Methodist) church and has performed wedding and funerals in

Many countries. He has been asked twice on other ships from other cruise companies. Thanks oodles Angela Guptill 🙂

John Says:
Hello Angela
We do have a somewhat limited program where we do try to have people willing to take religious and interdenominational services onboard. I must admit that we could do better here. I have taken the time to send your e mail address to the lady in charge of this program and I know she will be contacting you with information. Thanks for taking the time to write and the kind offer of help.

Best wishes to you both.

John

jordonsgrammy Asked:
Dear John:
I’m sailing on the Liberty Jan.2.2010 in a group of 18.My 6 family members have never cruised before and 2 of us are very nervous, but plan on having a great time vomit or not..lol. Our question to you so we have the upper hand on the rest of the pack is how do we go about

Getting the SHIP ON A STICK as the group of 18 are all party people and will try anything to have a great time… can you help us out a little…?

Just found your blogging thingy and cried my eye’s out laughing it was about the plane ride home. Can’t wait to read this everyday as it is a great way to start or END a day…Again thank-you for the laugh and any insight you have to offer to help us get the advantage over the other 16 family member’s.

John Says:
Hello Jordan’s Grammy
Please do not be nervous as once you are onboard you and your family will be enveloped in a cocoon of fun and brilliant service. I have copied the CD Butch on your posting and as you are bringing so many people onboard a solid gold plastic trophy is guaranteed. Please leave him a note at the Guest Services Desk and I will make sure he looks after you

I am glad you found the blog and I hope you continue to read it when time allows

Have a brilliant cruise and best wishes to all

John

That’s all for today………..more of course tomorrow.

It seems that cruise blogs are getting more popular all the time and not just here in North America but in Australia as well. The country may have multiple creatures who sole purpose in life is to eat you but they also have a huge cruising faithful who love our sister company P & O Australia. There blog about their new ship Pacific Jewel is getting loads of hits and the latest video has attracted 5,000 hits already……the ship is on her way to Australia and will arrive in 5 days and Australians haven’t been excited as this since they discovered Kangaroo tasted like chicken.

Seriously though……….why not take a trip down under and enjoy videos, quizzes and a truly ripper of a fun blog………..here are the link thingies

http://pacificjewel.pocruises.com.au/

http://pacificdawn.pocruises.com.au/

I really want to meet P & O Australia’s President Ann Sherry. She has breathed some serious fun into the brand and from all accounts she could be a brilliant Cruise Director as well as the head of Australia’s most popular cruise line……………..bonza!

We had a small technical problem today when a breaker tripped causing some of the ship’s systems to stop working. This included the elevators which obviously was a concern the older guests, those in wheelchairs and anyone who had eaten two chocolate melting cakes the night before. Seriously it was a concern for sure for those who were in the elevators when the power went out. Announcements were made and those people were able to get out of the elevators after 15 minutes or so. A huge apology to them.

The power outage was caused by a breaker that was tripped by a malfunction in the private elevator that leads from the Cloud Nine Spa to the Spa suites. It’s amazing how one thing can cascade into a major power outage as we experienced today. Anyway, within 1 hour and 20 minutes the systems were all online again and everything was working……………..thanks to Chief Engineer Stefano and his team.

I went to the bridge………climbing the stairs from deck 2 to deck 8……..and once I could breathe again I hope that I was some help to Todd and the HD in reminding them to have lots of staff around and to provide those guests in wheelchairs who could not go anywhere because the elevators were out…….with juice, water and in the case of 12 guests who had just left the aft dining room from lunch……..entertainment………as Amy one of the entertainment staff hosted a trivia quiz.

This really is a great ship and we are seeing her as she was intended to be ………..sailing in the Caribbean, in the sun ………with 3,800 guests all enjoying their Carnival Dream. There have been few complaints. I had a couple of comments that on the first night there was a 20-minute maximum wait for an Anytime Dining table. I checked though with Ken and that was only the case on the first night with 80% of the 490 guests who opted for this all coming between 7 pm and 7:30 pm. Now though, things have smoothed out and the anytime dining option is as popular as ever.

When you have 3,800 guests of which 3,000 are past guests you have a group of passengers who know what to do and where to go without being led as is often the case with first time cruisers. The traffic flow therefore has been excellent and I have only had one or two comments stating “the ship is too big.” I did have one lady tell me that she missed the smaller ships and I reminded her that the Spirit class has that “small ship feel” even though actually………those ships are 88,500 tons and carry 2,200 guests. But honestly, the public spaces on your Carnival Dream are open and wide and with plenty of seating and……..on chairs that don’t have your buttocks screaming for mercy.

Obviously the Lanai and Ocean Plaza are a huge hit and if there is one area that does get busy it is Lido Deck where there can be……..at peak times……….. some lines for food. That’s why again ……..I encourage everyone to use the dining room at lunchtime ……….oh and one more thing ……………… we have decided to bring in portable barbecue stations which starting soon will provide lunchtime burgers and chicken, etc…….on the Lanai…………….brilliant.

I read one or two comments on Cruise Critic and one or two here on the blog thingy that the food in the dining room was not up to the usual Carnival standards.  I have been hosting a table every night so far and I have not seen any sign of this at all. I will admit that on the first night service was a bit slower than normal but with so many guests finding their tables and the waiters introducing themselves etc ……….this is understandable. But since then the service has been excellent and as usual the waiters have been so much fun. Obviously, I am biased of course so I decided to ask the bloggers who ate dinner with me and I insisted that they were honest and every one of them said how great the food was.

Obviously when it comes to critiquing food it is a personal opinion but it never ceases to amaze me how our chefs provide this extraordinary food for 3,800 guests …………….all day………every day. And let’s not forget the most important thing……………..the cost of the cruise………and the extraordinary value for money that a Carnival cruise brings and the pinnacle of that value is shown when it comes to the brilliant variety of food available across the fleet.

The dining room we are eating in is the aft dining room which is called the Scarlet. It is run and managed by the incomparable Ken Byrne. Ken and I have been friends for many years and have delivered 11 new ships together. Did you know that he used to be a waiter on the Queen Elizabeth 2 from 1978 to 1980 before eventually joining Carnival? Many of you have asked me to make sure you are in his dining room and for those of you who wonder why…… here is the answer.

Ken is truly one of a kind………..he didn’t just kiss the Blarney Stone………he covered it in gravy and ate it with some potatoes and cabbage.

One of the most popular events so far with the bloggers has been the two tea times that I have hosted…….it was a chance for everyone to suddenly……….become very British. Recent figures show tea drinking is shrinking, especially among young people in my home country, yet Britain is still by far the largest consumer in the world per capita, with each person in the land drinking, on average, four cups a day. I quite like a mug at around 4 pm because this is “tea time” and also before I go to bed, but the figures suggest that many people are drinking it at “coffee time” as well. This is as mad as starting the day with a prawn cocktail.

And a word of advice………never ask me for a herbal tea because if you come round to my house and ask for peppermint tea I will insert my foot in your arse. Herbal tea is for Elton John and served only to people with beards along with a Tofu sandwich. At best, it is pointless. At worst, it is an affected piece of Hyacinth Bucket snobbery designed for the sort of people who spend half an hour deciding whether the wine they’ve been given is all right. And chai tea? Have you tried that? Well, don’t……… because you can achieve exactly the same effect, for a lot less, by drinking your own urine.

However, there is still time for tea……….it’s mid-afternoon………..accompanied by scones and cream and little cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off. In fact ………..everything stops for tea in the UK……you could be having rumpy pumpy with Megan Fox ………yet when the clock strikes four o clock you have to tell her to dismount………….because………….it’s tea time.

Here are some photos of the bloggers tea time yesterday

First of all, asking for tea in someone’s house is extremely antisocial because, if you take it with milk and sugar, this is a complicated, four-ingredient request. It’s exactly the same as being offered a biscuit and saying, “Ooh, thanks, but actually I’d prefer a Porterhouse steak with wasabi mashed potato.”

Over the past months I have featured lots of photos and videos of your Carnival Dream that are designed to show you the beauty of the vessel and hopefully to inspire you to pick up the phone or click on your mouse thingy……….and book your stateroom. I have featured the water works, the Ocean Plaza, the Lanai, the food, the entertainment, the iconic service and much more. But ………..I have to say…………that the following video is just as inspiring as any I have featured here. We took this morning and it truly shows both the power, beauty and soul that flows through this stunning vessel and it also shows the view you could have as you and someone you love stand on the aft of the ship and watch………………….this.

Imagine yourself, standing on the stern of your Carnival Dream …………..with the one you love ……………inhaling that astonishing view…………..have you booked yet?

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.

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