Captains Blog…Fundate 120809

December 8, 2009 -

John Heald

Sometimes, I do things that I know is going to get me in the doghouse……….it’s a human trait and one that sometimes I just cannot help. But why do we do this………I mean………you don’t see Flamingo’s smoking cigars or Panda Bears chowing down on a Porterhouse Steak with lashings of fries covered in ketchup. You don’t see pigeons in St. Marks Square ignoring non-organic seeds or a Hippo at Neiman Marcus buying something it knows it can’t afford. ……………yep the animal kingdom is smart……………I am not.

Let me explain…………..and I will build up to my point by sharing some of the wrong decisions I have made today. First of all I had a cigar last night even though I know I should stop smoking. Then this morning when the alarm went off at 7 am I hit the snooze button on my Raspberry even though I knew full well that I had to get up and blog this morning or I wouldn’t be finished until very late and that would mean Vance and the 343 Stephanies would be waiting to post the blog thingy and that would make them very, very mad…………Vance goes green and his clothes fall of when I do this.

Once I had dragged my arse out of bed and removed the shower curtain which for some reason always gets lodged up my arse I went to the Coffee Shop on Promenade Deck and had a cup of coffee, which I know will make my teeth all brown and then I skipped breakfast even though I know I should eat something to accompany my diabetic pill.

Once I had reached the conference room on deck 4 I should have started my blog immediately ………..but I didn’t…………because I logged on the internet and read the business reports and looked at what AIG had left of my investments……………..even though I already knew that this would make me very angry……………..the bastards.

Then I looked at my watch and realized I had to press on………………that would be the watch I bought even though I knew I couldn’t afford it yet.

Sometimes I think that if I had one more brain cell I would be an Ameba.

I knew then that I would be making similar mistakes to the ones above when I was planning the bloggers cruise………..yet even though a voice inside my underpants told me not to do this………I went ahead and did it anyway…………..I decided to host a table every night and invite bloggers to eat with me……………….and this morning I faced the consequences of my stupidity.

Let me break this down before I go any further. I have Stephanie Meads, Craig Johnson, Jordan and Peter from the office and myself at the table which leaves 4 spare places. And so since the first night and for every night of the 9 day cruise that allows me to invite 36 out of 183 bloggers to eat dinner with us.

Deciding who should have the privilege of watching me chomp my way through dinner was based on who I had known the longest………….milestone (25 cruises or more) guests…………and those that had done all three of the Bloggers Cruises. But as I sat with Stephanie and Craig deciding who would join us each night my underpants vibrated to the nagging sound of “don’t do it………..don’t do it.”…………but I did it………bugger.

This morning I met a person who I know will most likely read this so I will be careful with my words ………….but I have to say…………….she was as mad a sleeping lion that has just had a laughing Hyena give it a lobotomy. She wanted to know why she hadn’t been invited and what made those who had been at my table better than her?

I explained as kindly as I could the parameters I have just mentioned yet she was having none of it. I have to say that I had not met this person until this cruise………….I have never seen her post a comment……….and this is her third Carnival cruise…………but she……………and the wagging finger which was so close to my face it could have removed a booger or two from my nose …………….felt that she belonged at the table.

And even though the voice in my underpants told me I should say sorry and respectfully “no” …… I said “yes”……told Craig he was eating on Lido Deck tonight…………….and Miss X will be joining us for dinner. I have seen a lot of the bloggers as a group at the private activities and around the ship…….I have tried to divide myself up equally as I could……………but with the dinner thing……….I knew right from the start that it was a bad idea …………………. bugger.

Apart from that the cruise is going really well. I went on a tour with many of them in Antigua yesterday. The tour was called the Best of Antigua and we enjoyed the gorgeous scenery and had a chance to chat ……………….it was very nice.

I was going to send in some of my photos but compared to the ones that you will see today I am too embarrassed to do so………………..instead then I will start by showing you these amazing shots of your Carnival Dream in Antigua…………hope you enjoy it.

Another wonderful group of photos taken by a true professional. Comparing my photos to those of Radu is like comparing drinking a fine Chateau Marguex 1979 to drinking the water that my underpants have been soaking in for 79 days.

By the way, did you enjoy yesterday’s videos?

There will be more great shots in a moment.

So, as I was saying, apart from the dining thingy everything is going well. The bloggers have enjoyed the free gifts we have given them which have included a mouse pad………..a bag………..a lanyard and tonight…….they will be getting the John Heald bloggers pen. I will show you photos of these later this week. The weather has been fantastic and the mood ………….mostly brilliant. I know I keep saying this but………………….I truly do …………….wish you were here.

Time for today’s questions which as yesterday are more current as I took the ones that I could find. The Stephanie that collates them is back in the office tomorrow so normal service will be resumed. and I will go back and answer the older questions as quickly as I can ……… anyway………….away we go.

Carolyn Bartlett-Richman Asked:
PLEASE RESPOND

I was extremely upset when I read about What Royal Caribbean was doing. Every year we cruise at Christmas at least if not at another time. Unfortunately last year we had to go on Royal Caribbean due to port and sail date. AND WAS IT A MISTAKE. From the day we boarded they did not live up to the standard that we are used to that Carnival sets as a precedent. They left such a bad taste in our mouths we almost didn’t cruise this year. We have cruised Carnival in the past and will always go Carnival in the future. This year is an example we changed our port of choice to make sure we were on a Carnival ship. We are leaving 12/19 on the Dream and are so excited to be back on a Carnival ship especially for my daughter’s birthday on the 23RD.

John Says:
Hello Carolyn

Well, all I can say is that we are so very thankful that you will try and restore your faith in cruising by joining us on your Carnival Dream. I am here now and I can tell you that the ship looks great and the facilities, the staff and crew and everything this ship has to offer will I promise make this Christmas one you and your family will never forget. You can expect a little bit of Christmas cheer from me as well. Best wishes to all and………………welcome home.
John

Bill Russell Asked:
John, Please reply

We were booked on the 12/3 Dream cruise but had to cancel. Had hoped to follow you on the on board web cam. It doesn’t seem to be working. What’s up? Right now 12/6 at 5:35PM EST it shows you docked and nobody on the Lido Deck.

Have a blast on the bloggers cruise, miss you. Hi to Todd too.
Bill Russell

John Says:
Hello Bill

I just checked the web cam and it is working so hopefully you have been able to see that we are docked in Tortola today and the weather is fine and sunny. It seems that our web cam has been up and down more often than Paris Hilton’s underwear though and I have mentioned this to our Director of Audio Visual Operations and I hope that the situation improves. Please keep me informed.

I am so sorry you could not join us and I hope that sometime in the near future we do get to sail together.
Best wishes to you and the family
John

Eric Asked:
Hi John, Please Reply.

Looks like the bloggers cruise is great fun, I hope to join you for one sometime soon.
My question is in regards to tipping. I hear so many things so I figured I would ask you for the “correct version”. I understand a portion of the daily tip allowance goes to the dining room staff. On our upcoming cruise we will be doing Anytime Dining (which I LOVE – utilized this option on the Liberty in August). On this cruise I will be taking my 7 year old son for his first cruise. We most likely will not end up dining in the dining room each night. I can only assume that your tip goes to the server you have each night, which I know can vary when doing Anytime Dining. If we do not end up in the dining room every night where does the tip go?

Kye looks beautiful, so glad you will be home soon spending quality time with her! I look forward to this blog every day and enjoy sharing the “kid appropriate” portions with my son! He looks forward to the videos. He is bummed out that you will not be joining us on the pride in February.

Happy Holidays!

John Says:
Hello Eric

We are indeed having fun on the bloggers cruise and I hope that the next time we hold one that you will be able to join us. Anytime Dining continues to become more and more popular and thanks so much for asking about the tipping. The daily rate of $3.50 per day per person that you put on your Sail and Sign card is pooled amongst all the team head waiters that are assigned to anytime dining. This is because you are likely to have a variety of wait staff during the cruise. If you do not use the dining room the money will still be paid into the pool unless you tell us to cancel the daily rate that represents the number of days you do not eat dinner there. This is done via the Information Desk…….sorry…………Guest Services Desk………..still can’t get used to that name. I am glad you are enjoying the blog and thanks so much for the kind words for my family. I wish you all a wonderful cruise and my best wishes to the family.
John

Peter Calgaro Asked:
Dear John,

A friend of mine needs help. She is booked on a Carnival Cruise to go to the Cayman Islands for her daughter to get married there. There is just enough time to get back to the shop for departure so they were planning on the reception to be held on board. Somehow the bride got left off the list for the reception and they are trying and trying to get that corrected without success. Can you help her? Or give me the name of someone who can? Time is of the essence. Many thanks,

John Says
Hello Peter

Please do not worry although how we left the bride of the reception list is quite honestly ……..astonishing. I have rectified this by sending this onto the ship and the wedding department shore side in Miami.

All will be well and I my best wishes to the bride and groom for a wonderful and happy life together.

Thanks for being a great friend
John

Ashley Asked:
John (Please Reply),

I’ve been reading multiple reviews of the Carnival Dream on Cruise Critic (can’t wait to sail on her!) and I have a question about the pasta bar. Everyone keeps saying that it is only open for a couple hours in the afternoon. Are there plans to extend the hours as I’ve heard it’s very popular?
Thanks,
Ashley

John Says:
Hello Ashley

Just before I answer this question can I also direct you to www.carnival.com/dream where you will see my blog review on your Carnival Dream and 275 reviews from guests who have sailed here? Please take the time to read these comments as they paint a true and honest story of the ship.

Now, the Pasta Bar is very popular indeed and the hours of opening are noon – 3:00 pm each and every day of the cruise. There are no plans to open this at night at the moment but maybe it is something worth considering. I hope you get a chance to enjoy pasta made to order when you cruise your Carnival Dream.

Please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you.
Best wishes
John

Kevin Asked:
John, please reply whenever you can.

Really enjoy your blog; I think we’re going to miss you on our next cruise, the Dream on 3/27/10.

Question about the pasta bar. Looks yummy, but why is it only open for lunch? While we normally eat dinner in the main dining room, there will probably be at least one day of dinner elsewhere, and the pasta bar would be perfect….
Happy Holidays,
Kevin

John Says:
Hello Kevin

That’s two Pasta Bar questions in a row and that’s good because it shows how popular it is. There are no plans to open this as a night time venue at the moment as we already have an excellent choice of alternative dining on Lido deck from 6 pm – 9:30 pm. However, as I said to Ashley, maybe this is something we should consider and I will certainly pass it up the line.
Sorry I cannot be with you when you sail but I promise you will have a brilliant time.
Best wishes
John

Philip Levi Asked:
John- please comment

I have just seen on Cruise Critic that the cutting of an already thread bear Carnival product is continuing as you are now charging for ice tea at meals in the lido restaurants and in the dining room. This is another reason that people will for sure not put up with your nickel and diming policy and cruise on another line.

Philip

John Says:
Hello Philip

We do not charge for Ice Tea and anyone who says we do is talking bollocks.
Best wishes
John

Bill (Zydecocruiser) from ZydecoCruiser.com Asked:
John, Please Reply.

Hi John, Regarding Ramondo Nicita. Would it be possible for me to obtain a copy of the Seaview Magazine and/or the letter from the Senior VP and/or excerpts, and I will add to my webpage?

There are a number of people who have access to neither, yet knew Raimondo, and I’m sure they would appreciate it.
Regards,
bill

John Says:
Hello Bill

I will certainly ask and I see no reason why not. Let me check with Vance and I will be back to you soon. Thanks again for your continuing concern.
Best wishes to you and Elizabeth.
John

Cheryl Donofrio Asked:
Hello John, Please reply

I’m sorry to bother you with this, but I don’t know who to ask. We were on the Carnival Triumph October 10th sailing, and had a wonderful time. While on the cruise, we took the Behind the Fun Tour. They didn’t receive their shipment of baseball caps, and told us we would receive ours in the mail. I haven’t seen anything yet. Can you tell me what is a reasonable time to expect them? Should I call or email someone, and if so, who? Thanks for your help. Have fun on the Blogger’s Cruise. I wish I could be there.

Your Friend,
Cheryl D.

John Says:
Hello Cheryl

I am so glad you enjoyed our Behind the Fun tour and I am sorry to hear though that you have not received your promised baseball caps. I will look into this immediately for you and make sure they are delivered post haste. Thanks for letting me know and I will be back to you soon.
best wishes
John

Woodbutcher Asked:
Reply as you see fit.

John, just seen an advert for the “Big John Toilet Seat” and was wondering if you had a hand in the development?? Here’s their web link http://www.bigjohntoiletseat.com/seats.htm
I’m sure you can prevail upon Micky to outfit your stateroom with your own personal version, from which you could blog in grand fashion!!

John Says:
Hello Mr. Woodbutcher

All I can say is that I want one of these……………..at home………….and on the ship…………….it’s the perfect gift and I have already sent the link thingy to Heidi.
Best wishes and I will send you a photo of mine………..being used.
John

Cruisngrandma Asked:
Please reply John

Why has Carnival stopped awarding those cute plastic ships on a stick as prizes because everyone loved them? What are you handing winners instead?
Thanks
Sheila

John Says:
Hello Sheila
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

We are not…………….the trophies live on and the bloody idiot that keeps starting these rumors deserves having a cattle prod shoved up their arse.
Best wishes
John

That’s all for today and as always thanks so much for all the great comments and reviews. Please keep them coming.

Just a quick follow up to the question asked yesterday about who designed Carnival Cruise Lines now iconic smokestack. I had asked PA 007 who is not only our super spy but is also a Carnival history buff and he or she told me that it was in fact designed by Joe Farcus………..and what a brilliant design it is.

Thanks PA 007 for the help with that and hope all is well in the land of cubicles.

Many congratulations to Carnival Corporation who were the huge winners at the Cruise Passenger Travel Awards in Australia last night. The readers voted for their favourites……..and as you can see………….it was Carnival Corps night.

Best Luxury Ship 5 Star – Winner Queen Mary 2
Best Family Ship – Winner Pacific Dawn
Best Ship from Australia and New Zealand- Sun Princess
Best Large Ship – Diamond Princess
Best Mid Size ship- Pacific Princess

It was a big day this weekend as well in Mobile, Alabama …………as described here by our good mate Vance.

Have a click on the link thingy

Carnival Hosts Nearly 100 Travel Agents Aboard Carnival Fantasy to Commemorate Ship’s New Program from Mobile

Although the festivities were a little late because of Hurricane Ida, it was still a great way to celebrate this popular embarkation port. Congratulations to the people of Mobile and everyone who can now enjoy the Carnival Fantasy and her new home port.

Time for me to take a break and turn things over to a good friend of mine. You know, it is easy to forget that your Carnival cruise vacation with all the wonders and fun that go with it is taking place onboard a ship. A ship with hundreds if not over a thousand crew members and they along with all of you and the ship itself all fall under the responsibility of one man……..the Captain.

And so today I thought me and my underpants would take a rest and let you read the adventures of one of our Captains. This particular master of a vessel is one that many of you will know. He holds very popular Q and A sessions onboard and his cigars under the stars event is something that many guests enjoy. And so without further ado…………please join me in welcoming to the blog the Master of the Carnival Destiny…………….Captain Pier Paolo Scala.

I Love the Sea
Captain Pier Paolo Scala – Carnival Destiny

Before I introduce myself, I would like to thank John for giving me the opportunity to write for his very successful blog “thingy”. I am honored and feel privileged to be able to reach out to thousands of cruise bloggers from around the globe and share my stories of being a longtime sailor.

Hello bloggers, my name is Pier Paolo Scala, I am a cruise ship captain and I’ve been working for Carnival for the past 15 years. Today I am going to write about my career at sea and how it all started when I was just five years old.

I was born and grew up in a small fishing village on the South/East coast of Sicily just north of the island of Malta. Malta is only 50 miles away and is today my favorite sailing destination when on vacation! My father, a retired customs officer, owned the first book store in town. My mother had to give up her profession as a hairdresser in order to look after her third child, which happened to be me. Besides being the third child, I was also the naughtiest one who kept scaring the nearby flower shop lady because every time I passed by I kept snapping the stalks of her flowers on display. Lucky for me she didn’t have any kids and besides being a friend of my mother, she considered me as her adopted son!!

My sister, who’s 11 years older than me, was the one who did the hard work. Since I was born she looked after me 24/7 and helped my mother in trying to keep the little “monster” quiet. Finally, there’s my older brother, also my mentor and the person who contributed to make my career at sea a very successful and unique one – Mike. He went to nautical school in Siracusa, a nearby, much bigger town, and traveled almost daily by train. At that time this was the only available means of transportation unless you were wealthy and could afford a car. My parents kept telling me that my brother was going to work on ships and that he will one day become a “captain” and if I studied and work hard like he did, I could follow in his footsteps. Mike graduated and went to work at sea when I was only five years old. It was then, when the idea of pursuing a career at sea all started. My parents kept me updated on Mike’s whereabouts. My father showed me on the atlas the exact location of Mike’s ship and I was very fascinated and excited to be able to see my brother going to so many places all around the world.

Pursuing a career at sea is very fascinating and rewarding at the same time, but to reach the captain position it requires consistency, hard work and sacrifice. It takes about 20 years to become a captain of a cruise ship and not all are able to reach the top rank.

As a little boy I used to hang out by the sea (only 100 feet away from our house). My uncle owned a local shipyard where he built small wooden fishing boats. I used to spend hours with him, helping him carrying his tools and listening to stories from the local fishermen who spent most of their day at my uncle’s shipyard when the weather was unpleasant. It was my uncle, Salvatore, who built my first boat, a beautiful 11-foot wooden boat. It was like a dream come true. I still remember the first time we launched it into the water, I was only 14.

When I graduated from the nautical college at the age of 19, Mike had already become a captain on tankers. He worked (and still does) for Chevron. At that time my English was very poor, it was my brother who kept motivating me and trying to make me understand that the only way to have a fast and successful career, was to learn English. It was then that I started to read English books. This is exactly what I tell my son now who just started his career at sea as well!! After working for 10 years on tankers, in 1995 I decided to change and work for Carnival.

I have always enjoyed interacting with people and working on cruise ships has contributed to enhancing my social skills. I started as a Second Officer on the Carnival Ecstasy, then Staff Captain, in 1998, on the Jubilee. Then I was promoted to Captain, in 2001, on the Carnival Fantasy. I am presently on the Carnival Destiny and my next ship will be the Carnival Triumph, starting in March of 2010.

During my eight years as Captain, I have been in command of 11 ships, half of the entire Carnival fleet. I have been able to meet thousands of guests mainly from all over the U.S. and thousands of crew from all over the world. Although my number one priority as a cruise ship Captain is the safety of the ship and all guests and crew, I enjoy organizing additional social events where guests can get up close and personal with the Captain. John got to know me because of his blog and the many comments he received where my name was mentioned. I’ll share with you how I got to know John in more detail in the next blog.

And now I’m ready to answer any questions you may have.

What a great story and as you can see there will be two more features this week from The Captain. Now, he finished his blog by asking if any of you had any questions. This means that if you would like to know anything about the operation of a ship from the Captain’s view or a question about his career at sea you can ask him here on the blog thingy. So, please post your questions in the usual fashion and mark them “CAPTAIN SCALA, PLEASE REPLY.” Then one of the 343 Stephanies will send them to the Captain and he will reply as soon as he is able. Look out for another guest blog later and once again a big thank you to Captain Scala for taking the time to share his adventures with us.

You know, here on your Carnival Dream there is so much to do and so many ways in which to have fun. I could sit here and write about the slides, the mini golf course, the big screen, the pools, the whirlpools, laying in the sun………you know what……………shut up John……………….and let these photos tell the story ……………..its fun time!

Fantastic photos taken by the man responsible for carnival.com Jordan Tofu …………………. amazing stuff and he will be sharing more tomorrow with us all.

I must admit to being jealous of Todd the Cruise Director here and as much as I have enjoyed all this Brand Ambassador stuff I am so looking forward to being a Cruise Director for most of next year, I start back here on your Carnival Dream in late January and will have the chance to have fun on other ships in the fleet as well.

Until then my life is pretty much spent here on the laptop thingy. That’s because since the internet arrived my powers of concentration have buggered off. An e-mail here, a need a bigger penis spam there, a quick Facespace, an eBay flutter, a Viagra advert, check the headlines, check the e-mail again, log off, log on, blog, blog off, blog on again ………….. it may be brain activity but it’s definitely not of the higher order.

If you read too much, you become learned. If you spend too much time on the internet, you go blind or worse……….you become a Royal Champion. Honestly……..they are starting to get on my nerves now. Their aim it seems by posting these lies and rumors on Cruise Critic is to create an endless online thread of bollocks. Look, we know we make mistakes and we know we can always do things better but that’s what this blog is for …….to admit mistakes, to tell you what we are doing and to listen to your comments……….we don’t need some strange man wearing a T-shirt with a blue anchor on it…… sitting in their attic spell checking Solid Gold Plastic Trophy.

My advice to them is to unplug the computer and throw the keyboard out of the window. ………. leave us alone and know that I won’t answer anymore of your bollocks………….oh………and you don’t need to be online to buy Viagra……………because no doubt you live alone anyway.

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.