A Ratings Hit!

December 21, 2009 -

John Heald

So the world can continue cruising with Carnival, watching CSI Anatomy and eating buckets of Kentucky Fried Tacos, safe in the knowledge that the people with beards and their various Presidents and Prime Ministers have managed to agree on some thingies and sign some papers over there in Copenhagen.

I have been following this on the news and I know I am as thick as Rosie O’Donnell’s underwear ………..but honestly………..I haven’t got a clue what they were all talking about. I may be wrong but from the little I understand the beardies are saying that unless we all start driving electric cars and eat tofu for the rest of our lives, the world will boil, our children will be microwaved and all the polar bears will have to go and live in a refrigerator. And although I may not totally agree with everything that the scientists are saying at least it seems that there is hope that the world will stop polluting to the extent that it has been………………….and that’s good news.

It looks like President Obama and his mates may be too late though because I watched a movie last night called 2012……….and according to the Mayan Indians…………the end of the world is just two years away.

The movie started by saying that “the following was based on a prediction by the Mexican Indians that the world would soon be over.” Still, you have to take this with a huge grain of bollocks because there’s always someone somewhere telling us the world is about to end……..and it never does.

First of all there was God, who said that if we carried on having rumpy pumpy, a big seven-headed monster would gobble us up.

Well, it hasn’t even got round to eating Tiger Woods yet, and he’s just finished playing 18 holes…

Later, when I was growing up, we were all assured that the only possible outcome of the Cold War was a nuclear holocaust. Everyone agreed the world would end in a blinding flash of cancerous light. No one – not even the CIA – ever predicted that Russia would just give up and that a pack of East Germans would simply knock down the Berlin Wall using nothing but DIY tools they bought from Das Home Depot.

Starved of something to worry about, the human race came up with the Millennium Bug. All computers would shut down on New Year’s Eve, 1999, and in an instant we’d be plunged into the Dark Ages…………..or Arkansas as it is sometimes known.

Then it was SARS, and then it was Bird Flu and HRN1PIG and then it was global warming.

So I am going to ignore the Mayan Indians and tell myself it is a load of bollocks even though the movie nearly made me soil my only good pair of underpants………..and because it did ………. and they are now ruined…..that’s the last time I am ever promoting the bloody Tulum Tour in my Travel Talk.

It’s a little strange to be writing about global warming when here in the UK its -4 degrees and trains, planes and automobiles are going nowhere and of course……….for many of you ………….. its much worse. I have seen on the news that the big freeze has hit Washington, New Jersey, New York and other states as well……………..including of course Baltimore from where our good friend and Assistant Cruise Director of the Carnival Pride Jaime………….sends this report.

Hi John,
So the past few days have been fun traveling up the coast with a huge storm. Overall, guests were in very good spirits and very understanding.

Just thought I’d send you a few pictures from the pier and the Inner Harbor from today…

I had not seen snow for 2 years, since I left Michigan. For many of our Filipino crew members it was their very first time seeing it!

The guests coming on board now are sooo happy to be heading toward the blazing hot Bahamas!!

Here are some pictures:

The Carnival Pride docked at the Freezing cold Baltimore pier.

At the Inner Harbor in Baltimore… looks a bit different from the initial kick off party!!

Happy Holidays everyone

Thanks Jaime. It’s great that the people of Baltimore and the surrounding area can use their home port to journey to the sunshine. We will hear more from Jaime next week.

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

Mike M Asked:
John, (please reply)

Happy 6th anniversary. I know exactly how you feel today, being away from your family. I myself have spent many years away from my wife while in service to my country, Iceland, Vietnam/Thailand, Germany, Korea, Florida.

My question to you, I was looking at the mock-up of the Dream that you provided. The “Cove” balconies look very nice and very affordable. I am just not sure that the ride would be as comfortable as a higher balcony. Just how high off the seas is the second deck, my bride of 40 years, asked me to ask you that question.
We both enjoy and read your Blog daily

John Says:
Hello Mike

Thank you for the kind words. It is great to be home with my girls and I am trying to make up for being away from Heidi during our wedding anniversary. The hardship of being away from the ones you love is as you said extremely difficult however your sacrifice is one so far greater as you served your country and allowed others to enjoy the freedom to cruise.

I love the cove balconies and if you pop on over to www.carnival.com/dream you will see the blog I wrote reviewing the ship. Underneath that are well over 200 comments written by your fellow bloggers. Some contain fantastic reports of the cove balconies and I myself heard nothing but amazing reports on the views and the size of the balconies and the state rooms themselves. I can honestly tell you I did not hear one comment about the “ride” being uncomfortable. The water line is at deck 0……..then you have deck 1……….and then deck 2……….I have no idea what the measurement is from the water line to the cove balcony cabins but I can tell you that in normal and calm sea conditions…………….catching a nice Red Snapper for dinner is certainly possible.

Book it Mike………..I promise you will not regret it.
Best wishes to you both

Eric Thayer Asked:
Please reply.

John, I never got a response from my question and it’s been more than three weeks. I had previously asked if Carnival ever considered purchasing a “Carnival Chopper” from Orange County Choppers (American Choppers TV show) and you stated that you would look into it. I also said in my previous statement, that Carnival could perhaps rotate the bike on its ships and I’m certain that Carnival could quickly capture a return on its initial investment by charging a fair photo fee of passengers taking a picture beside the bike. Any news on this possibility?

John Says:
Hello Eric

I do want to apologize for the delay in answering your question. I did post a reply though some days ago which I hope you saw. In it I told you how I had mentioned your idea at the recent CD conference and that it was well received by the marketing men and women. Holland America and Costa have advertising on Smart cars so I think a Chopper would be brilliant.

Thanks again for this great idea and sorry again for the length of time it took to reply. I will follow up on this and let you know what happens.
Best wishes,

JC & Andy Plett Asked:
Hi John!

If you can reply, that would be awesome! My husband Andy and I performed on the Paradise Nov ‘99 to May ‘00, (our band name then was Country in the City) and we made many great friends during our time with Carnival. We are hoping to reconnect with Lenny Halliday and Tina Noble, as we lost touch once we hit dry land and hit the road again! Would it be possible for you to pass along our contact info to them? Thanks so much! I enjoyed reading your blog, and the little blast from the past! Best wishes for safe journeys and happy holidays!
🙂 JC

John Says:
Hello JC and Andy

I would be honoured (spelt correctly) to do this for you. Lenny is currently the CD on the Carnival Victory and I will let him know you are looking to connect and pass on your email.

Thanks for the kind words and I hope you continue to enjoy the blog thingy.
Best wishes,

John C Asked:
John (PLEASE reply as soon as you get a chance)

Hi John. My family and I will be cruising for the holidays aboard the Dream at the end of December. We planned this trip a year ago, spent a lot of money that we have been saving for a really long time, and have been looking forward to it so much ever since. It will be our first family trip in awhile, and we figured what better way to spend the holidays than aboard a brand new Carnival ship…

We are all really concerned… out of all my friends who have been on the Dream and out of all of the reviews on message boards on facebook and cruisecritic… I have not seen one completely positive review about the ship. From constant reviews of the ship being understaffed, to there being a Caribbean duo rather than an actual lido deck calypso band on the deck, to there being lines everywhere, to the power going out for over an hour and people being stuck in the elevators, to a lack of the quality of food, to some reviews on many unfriendly staff members… what is going on here?

I don’t get it… we have had so many great Carnival cruises in the past, and although it has been a few years. We thought by going on a brand new ship, we would not only have a great cruise and holiday week, but we would have an extra good cruise with it being a brand new ship. The kinks of a new ship should have been worked out already – it’s been three months. I’m not trying to cause commotion, but I’m trying to address my concerns and prevent everything before I cruise so I and everyone who will be on the Dream for the holidays and New Year will have a great time. I don’t get why there isn’t a regular Calypso band, why there are really long lines, why the staff (that I assume are many experienced staff) are not acclimated by now, and I don’t get why there are so many unhappy Dream cruisers.

Thank you for your commitment to us and the blog and for being there and looking out for all of us. I hope that in 4 weeks, I’ll be able to write back a very positive review about my family’s holiday and New Year’s cruise aboard the new Carnival Dream.
-John and family

John Says:
Hello John and Family

I can understand your concerns. I know if I was going to spend a lot of money on something and I read that it was not worth it I too would be worried. But let me simply say this………..have a read of this link here where you will see your fellow bloggers, many of whom are Cruise Critic members, have posted glowing and positive reviews of their Carnival Dream cruise.

Have a read of this.


Those are just a small example of the many I have received. Let me clear a few things up. The power did go out………..once…………for one hour……..because a breaker tripped………….it hasn’t happened again. The comment about there not being a calypso duo on Lido deck……….is simply not true……….there is….and they are excellent.

I will admit that in the beginning we did have some concerns on Lido Deck regarding food service and I will be talking about those in a moment but as for there being unfriendly staff …………well the review cards I am seeing that have been completed by guests are not telling us that………..in fact………….the opposite.

Are we perfect …………no. Is bringing out any new vessel a challenge……….yes. But I ask you to go on there with an open mind and having read all the positive reports in that link thingy you board your Carnival Dream ready for a wonderful time.

I will truly look forward to reading your review.
Best wishes to all

grizel robertson Asked:
John, please, please reply.

I have been trying since June 2009 to contribute to your blog, enlisting fellow Scot person Wee Jimmy’s assistance (my CD on BtoB sailings on C Victory May/June 2009).

As a Platinum guest & 17 times Carnival cruiser, I am a long term convert to the Fun Ship experiences & I am booked BtoB on C Victory in May 2010 immediately following a milestone birthday.

On 30 August I sent several pages of correspondence to Heidi, Kye & yourself by surface mail. Although I have no response, I appreciate how busy you have been with the C Dream launch etc. & keeping in touch with your two favourite girls.

My correspondence highlighted all the wonderful experiences that have contributed to my love of CCL, in particular the friendly & intelligent multinational crew from whom I have learned so much about diversity & tolerance of customs of other ethnic races.

John, living in Scotland, it has cost me dearly to reach my Carnival havens but it has been worth every penny. Along the way I have struck up friendships with many fellow guests of various nationalities.

However, I would love you to acknowledge Brits, like me, for our allegiance to CCL. You were my CD on C Destiny on my BtoB trips on C Destiny Aug/Sep 1998. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience & would love to meet up with you again. Unlike the majority of bloggers who live in the US, I am unable to finance the costs of CCL cruises on more than one occasion in a year.

I have been on several trips to the East, Southern & Western Caribbean which have opened up the doors for me to embrace the extraordinary world of the islands & their various cultures. My experiences have taught me the value of face to face contact with people as opposed to media reporting about situations that are remote/unconfirmed to most of us who wish to make friends across the globe.

Your British friend who wishes she could cruise more often with the best cruise line in the world.

John Says:
Hello Grizel

I did indeed receive your glorious letter to my Post Office box and I have it here on my desk to reply to. And even though I am replying now I shall also do so in a letter as having taken your time to write I will do the same. However, I will also write now and indeed acknowledge you and all the people who travel thousands of miles to cruise with Carnival. I met a wonderful family from Scotland who came all the way to be on the Bloggers cruise with me. They were, like you, ardent Carnival and indeed blog fans and it was so humbling that they chose to fly 9 hours across the Atlantic to be with me. So this blog is dedicated to them and to you and to everyone who does not have a Carnival ship just round the corner ……………..thank you all.

I hope, Grizel, that we do get to cruise with each other again and I will be posting my written reply to you after the Christmas rush.
Best wishes

Kathy M. Asked:
Hi John, Please reply.

I am writing to ask for a couple of things. I will be sailing of the Carnival Splendor January 10, 2010 and I would like to set up a Greet and Meet for our group called The Splendidos (we have 88 people so far in our group), so if we could possibly get a room with a bar that would be greatly appreciated.

Now my second request, I know this may get others mad, but could you please send me one of your pictures. I will be in Cabin 9202, my booking number is 20F1P8. You know how much of a fan that I am of yours and I just don’t know of any other way to get one of your pictures. The last time I was on the Carnival Pride and I asked they didn’t have any, so I just thought I would be bold and ask you outright.

Please send my love to Heidi and Kye,
From your #1 Bloggy Thingy Fan
Best Wishes for a Happy Holiday Season
Kathy M.

John Says:
Hello Kathy M

What a great name for a group…………the Splendidos. I will indeed set up something for you and please look out for a note in the today at a glance section of the Carnival Capers where Goose your CD will have made a note for Cruise Critic members to meet. This will be on the first sea day afternoon and we will have some cash bar service for you.

I would be honoured to send you a little something as you are such a great supporter of the blog and who cares what others think.
Have a wonderful cruise
Best wishes

Jennifer Asked:
Hi John!

I love your blog. I sailed on the absolutely beautiful Pride with Kirk this past June. What a great guy, and an even better CD. I also sailed on the Fantasy back in 1998. I am sailing January 16th, 2010 on the Liberty with my folks as a delayed Christmas present. Can you tell me who the CD will be? I know Butch is on the Liberty now, hope he’ll still be there, he is awesome too.

I am wondering if you can help. My dad has been looking forward to this trip for a while (we booked in March). However, his dear mother passed away in October after a brief illness. Since then, he has been lost and could care less about the cruise. I’m sad, because he loved his first cruise 10 years ago. Would it be possible to have a small “welcome aboard” gift or something in the cabin for him? Our booking number and cabin number are below. I’d like to make this trip extra special for him and my mom, as it’s been a rough couple months for all of us. Please respond if you can. If you can’t or can’t do anything, I completely understand. I hope to be able to cruise on a ship with you soon. Keep up the great work.
Happy Holidays!

John Says:
Hello Jennifer

Thank you for saying how much you enjoy the blog thingy and I will make sure that Kirk gets to see your words of praise. In fact I know he and his future wife ………. ummm …………… bugger …………..can’t remember her name……….anyway they both read the blog so I know he will be thrilled to read your words of praise.

Your CD for the January cruise on the Carnival Liberty will be the one and only Butch Begovitch who as you may have read in the blog thingy is, like Kirk, one of our most popular Cruise Directors.

I was so sorry to hear about the passing of your Dad’s mother and I can understand how difficult it will be for Dad to concentrate on having fun. Butch and his staff will do all they can though to try and take his mind of the sadness of her not being there ………..just for a few days at least. You did not send me your last name of state room number so what I would like you to do is write a letter mentioning this, address it to Butch, leave it at the Guest Services Desk during embarkation and I will make sure Butchy is expecting it.

Have a wonderful time.
Best wishes to all the family.

Michelle Asked:
John Please Reply!!

Hi John… I’ve been reading your blog now for a few months now and only just noticed your address on the side bar. My mother was born and raised in a little town called Pitsea which I think may be near where you live. I have only visited England once but had a great time (despite the rain) visiting my 93 year old grandmother.

We are sailing on the Carnival Glory on February 28th, which happens to be my son’s 14th birthday. My son is a huge hockey fan and I just realized today that the Olympic Men’s Gold Medal Hockey game is on February 28th. I’m wondering since the Glory is going into dry-dock and getting a new seaside theatre just before we sail, what do you think the chances are that they will show the Gold Medal game on the big screen? We are all huge hockey fans (Canadians!!) and huge Olympic fans. What a great sail away party!

John Says:
Hello Michelle

Goodness me, yes Pitsea is about 30 minutes drive from where I live and is a suburb of Basildon, Essex. I cannot believe it rained when you visited the UK…………..how unusual. There are indeed plans to show all the Olympic events on the ships, many on the Seaside Theatre Big Screen and as the Ice Hockey thingy is very popular I am sure it will be featured ……….I think the Jamaican team will win the gold medal. I hope you have a wonderful cruise and pop over for a cup of tea the next time you are in the UK.
Best wishes to all

Pat Asked:
Hello John, (please reply)

We just returned home Sunday from the Carnival Freedom 8 day cruise over Thanksgiving. Had a wonderful time as always!

Have one question though – Did Carnival ever decide anything about having non-smoking rooms/balcony’s? We had chain smokers in the cabin next to us and could not stand to be out there. The wind direction along with the sailing direction had our balcony smelling of smoke from 6am until late night. One night someone was smoking cigars on a nearby balcony. We love having the balcony and love to use the balcony. However, I won’t spend the extra money to have one that I cannot use.

We did the Behind the Fun Tour on this trip and it was BRILLIANT! We learned so much about the working of the ship and crew life onboard. Virginia did an awesome job with the tour. We had one issue with the tour. Our 12 year old son on his 22nd Carnival Cruise really wanted to go on the tour with us. We were told by the Shore Excursion desk that minimum age requirement was 16. The envelope the tickets were delivered in said the age minimum was 13. That was fine he was promised that he could do the tour next year. When we arrived to the Library to meet for the tour I noticed a child wearing a green wristband knowing he was under 12 I did not expect he would be on the tour. I was wrong! He was allowed to be on the tour and when we received our group photos my son of course noticed the 9 year old in the photo and was upset. My husband and I also expressed our problem with this. There were also several people wearing flip flops on the tour. The ticket envelope stated you must wear closed toe shoes as well as the shore service desk person telling us this also. I am sure these are both Safety rules and we just didn’t understand why they were not enforced. Neither thing stopped us from enjoying ourselves we do wish that Carnival would do a better job of enforcing the rules they put in place.

I really hate complaining I am loyal to Carnival and want it to continue being the best in the industry!

Hope the bloggers cruise is a great success! Wish we were there.

John Says:
Hello Pat

Welcome back from your Carnival Freedom cruise and I was thrilled to read that you had a great time. Well, what can I say about the smoking issue except yours is a common comment. The balconies are areas outside and under our current onboard regulations are places where smoking is permitted. However, I know for non smokers that this is something that can be unpleasant. Once again we come to this subject which I know causes lots of heated discussion and opinion.

Carnival is constantly reviewing its smoking policies and the balcony smoking privilege is one of those polices that will be looked at again this coming year. There are basically three choices here – continue to allow smoking on balconies; do not allow smoking on balconies; have certain sections of the ship designated as smoke free and some as smoking allowed.

I have to admit the last one is probably never going to happen. To know how many cabins to advertise as smoke free ….or not…….on a cruise-to-cruise basis on 22 ships is simply not feasible. This is why the majority of the industry has not done this. But what do you all think. Smokers, do you have an opinion and non smokers………..what do you think? As always it would be great to hear from you all.

On a happier note I am so glad you enjoyed the Behind the Fun tour. When I first advertised this there were some who wrote that the tour could never be worth the money. Well, I think you have read here on the blog thingy that indeed it is and I cannot remember seeing a single negative comment on the tour and what you see. Thanks for the note on the flip flops………it is well noted and will be passed along.

Thanks again for the great posting and lets see what everyone has to say about smoking on the balconies.
Best wishes

Travis Kelley Asked:

I sent you a question on November 22nd but you have not replied. I know you are behind but there is in my mind no point offering an interactive help line if you can not provide prompt customer service.

My cousin and I will be on your Valor boat on December 20th and we need a table with single ladies aged in their 40’s to 50’s. Please make sure you reply and let us know that this request has been passed to the boat.

John Says:
Hello Travis

I apologize that it has taken so long to answer your question. I do try and provide the best customer service I can but I am just one man and I receive hundreds of comments each week and reply to 50 plus every 5 days. I see you are sailing now and I have passed your request to the ship and the maitre d to see if he could accommodate you. My apologies again if I was late in doing so. Best wishes,

Marsha Breen Asked:
John – please reply

I hope all of the Bloggers attending this cruise have a great time! I know that a lot of us wish we were there with them. Great to hear that you are adding Michael Jackson to the Legends show. No matter what anyone thinks about his personal life, he made a remarkable contribution to the world of music and dance! I can’t wait until we are on the Carnival Dream in January and see the wait staff doing their thriller dance – what fun. We cruised with Ken as our maitre’d on the Carnival Glory in 2003 so I am hoping that we will be assigned to his dining room. Which dining room will he be in? Speaking of the Carnival Dream, I know that you don’t officially start as CD until January 30th, but are you going to participate in any events on the January 23rd sailing? I know that there were some bloggers like me who booked that cruise when you first announced you would be on the Carnival Dream beginning January 23rd, but didn’t realize you wouldn’t actually be the CD until the 30th. Any possibility of the bedtime story??? Will you be part of Todd’s morning show??? Inquiring minds want to know……….!!!!

John Says:
Hello Marsha

The bloggers cruise was so much fun and I wish you could have been there. I agree with you that MJ would be a great addition to our Legends show and hopefully I will have news on this early next year.

I will certainly ask Todd if he will allow me to be on the Morning Show with him next month and if it’s OK with him I would love to perform the bedtime story. Please make sure you leave me a note at the Guest Services Desk when you are onboard so I can call and say hello.
See you soon and best wishes to all.

That’s all for today. Again, sorry for the late replies, I truly am doing my best.

I wanted to comment on some of the thoughts you have posted about the pros and cons of booking shore excursions onboard or via the internet and an independent operator.

I thank you all for your thoughts and it seems that many of you do prefer to book through the cruise line. However, some prefer not to and while I totally respect your right to do so, I was a little flabbergasted by a very nasty comment I received from a chap called “Cruising Pete.” I won’t be posting the comment because it was written by someone who found it impossible to construct a sentence without swearing every other word and obviously it was written by a man who does not like me very much at all.

However, the premise of his comment was that I was trying to disguise the fact that Carnival wants to make money and me writing about the virtues of booking shore excursions on board was another way to do this and that there are many comments on the cruise boards saying that cruise lines excursions are not very good, etc.

Let me explain Pete if I may. I know that there are lots of ………actually let me go one step further here and say that I know that the majority of comments and opinion on the internet cruise boards are trustworthy and well rounded opinions that the cruising public should and must read. However, it has been proven recently that there are some “Chumpions” who like to post comments and reviews that have no truth in them at all.

Most importantly I will say this. I hope that when you are thinking about booking an excursion think about the extra few dollars you are spending by booking an excursion through the cruise line. Think about the comfort and knowledge those extra dollars will give you knowing that you are with a reputable company backed by the cruise lines.

And Pete………..do we make money off our shore excursion program?………. of course we do…. because we depend on shore excursion revenue and other onboard revenue streams to keep our prices low and provide you with an unforgettable value for money fun cruise experience.

My apologies CruisingPete for not posting your comments and I respectfully ask that if you have a follow up to this to please send in your posting again minus the kind invitation for me to have rumpy pumpy with myself.

Let’s change pace a little bit shall we and go back to talking about your Carnival Dream. Our Lido fare has become known as some of the best at sea and with its Burrito Bar, Pasta Bar, Tandoori, Grand Buffet, The Grill, The Deli, The Mongolian, The Taste of the Nations, The Dessert Bar and the 24 hour Pizzeria…………….your Carnival Dream has an amazing selection of lunch time treats.

It is no surprise therefore that it is very popular on Deck 9…………bugger…………..still can’t get used to that…………..Lido is on Deck 10 ……….and it would be wrong not to admit that at peak times from noon-1:30pm it does get very busy up there. And so last week we started two new lunch time additions that I wanted to share with you.

First, we started some lunch time options on the Lanai. For those unfamiliar with the ship these areas are on deck 5 and are part of the stunning new outside promenade deck area. Here, we are now serving a lunch time barbecue with a whole feast of delicious outdoor cooked treats. Perfect for those who want to eat inside………or out………………which of course is the beauty of the Lanai.

Now, to encourage more guests to enjoy lunch in the dining rooms we have upgraded our lunchtime menu to a lunchtime brunch…………..and I think when you see the items you can chose from you will see why this is such a great addition to your lunchtime food choices.


Sounds delicious doesn’t it?……………..and it comes with a glass of champagne as well.

The reports from onboard are that we are moving toward a perfect mix of where the guests are eating and I will keep you informed on this during the weeks ahead.

One last thing about your Carnival Dream………..hold on………let’s have a quick look at her one more time.

Pretty, isn’t she? And while so many journalists write about the food, the entertainment and the services we provide inside the ship………..very few these days speak of the beauty of the hull …. the ship herself.

Seeing a beautiful ship like your Carnival Dream should make you and I swivel round in our seats, and send a huge surge of excitement through crowds on the dockside. But I guess ships are not judged in this way these days……..but I have to write that I think your Carnival Dream has a prettiness that you don’t really notice until it’s pointed out to you. And then you can’t get her prettiness out of your head……..I know I certainly can’t.

And now………….here is a wonderful report from my good friend Tex, the Cruise Director of the Carnival Valor.

Hey John.

I wanted to introduce you to Devante. Devante is a very respectful and wonderful young man. He and his mother, Rhonda, are from Freeport, Grand Bahama. They’ve spent the last week on the Carnival Valor, where the team onboard has done everything possible to make this brave little boy’s wish come true. You see, Devante is very sick, and joined our family as a part of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. When asked what his wish was, without hesitation, he said he wanted a Caribbean cruise with his Mom. So, this wonderful Foundation, as well as the Carnival Valor Officers, Staff and Crew saw to it that he got his wish. Perhaps the best part of meeting Devante was seeing him as he met the dancers. We were told before Devante came onboard that he loved ice cream and hot dogs. Well, after this photo shoot, I can tell you that he loves beautiful women as well.

When all those lovely ladies came out and hugged Devante, he had smile so big and bright, that even the SeaSide Theatre couldn’t compete with its radiance. You might also notice that Devante is enjoying something that only a very few people in the world get to enjoy…that’s right…he’s wearing a beautiful 10x Black Stetson…while my head goes naked. Being away from home at the holidays is difficult for just about all of our crew here onboard, but when you meet people like Devante, you don’t think about things like that anymore. You think about what the holiday season is all about: sharing, caring, giving and every so often, making someone’s wish come true.


Sometimes further words are not necessary……….and such is the case here because Tex ………. your words were written with sincerity and we all thank you and the Carnival Valor team for making this brave young man’s wish…………………..come true.

As you know Cruise Directors live by what you all say about us on the comment cards, the Cruise Critic boards and here on the blog thingy. It is part of the job and we have to accept that there are going to be critics amongst the audience who do not like a joke, something we say or don’t say and that these critics will make their voices heard………………….such is the job.

There is a cruise director who for obvious reasons I won’t name……….that has been a bit down in the dumps recently. This is because his or her ratings ………….the formula on which the scores on our ridiculously worded comment cards are based …………have been lower than in any other point in his or her career. There have also been some written negative comments about this person on the cards and a few on the cruise boards as well…………..just a handful of comments mind you ………….but enough for this brilliant young CD to start second guessing him or herself as to whether they should keep on doing the job.

One of my roles as Senior Cruise Director is……..along with providing George Solano with new jokes each week………to mentor and help my colleagues as and when asked. I told this very down in the dumps CD to think about the 1,250 comment cards that shouted words of exceeded my expectation about their performance and not the one or two that said how dreadful a job they did.

I know from personal experience how easy though it is to let comments like this get to you.

When you get negative comments or when your guest survey ratings slip it is natural to think that you have to re-invent yourself……………to go from trying to be funny to being more “straight ahead.” But I always encourage Cruise Directors to look at the big picture………….take your time………….analyze one whole months worth of comments and ratings and then……..if needed …………adapt accordingly.

The other thing I suggested to my fellow Cruise Director was to bribe a guest with the promise of a fruit basket …………and get him to punch them hard……….right in the face. Let me explain.

The incomparable President of Italy Silvio Berlusconi has seen his approval ratings, which had slipped over the past six months because of rumpy pumpy scandals with 23-year-old women and corruption charges, bounce back amid a wave of sympathy for him after he was attacked in Milan a week ago.

Mr. Berlusconi who is 109 years old was struck in the face a week ago by Massimo Tartaglia, an engineer who hurled a heavy souvenir statuette of Milan cathedral at the Prime Minister at the end of a rally………………………breaking his nose and two teeth.

An opinion poll published today in the Italian newspapers shows that the attack has boosted Mr. Berlusconi’s popularity rating to 55.9 per cent from 39.6 per cent in mid-November.

So…….Cruise Directors……here is some advice. During the debarkation talk …….just before you talk about the comment cards………get a guest to walk onto the stage………and hit you hard in the face with a solid gold plastic trophy……..your ratings will, for sure, be the highest in the fleet.

Oh, one more thing. Mr Berlusconi spent four days in a hospital showing his wounds to the doctors and the Italian press……….and unrelated to the attack…………he also showed his thingy to a nurse.

Your friends
John, Heidi and Kye

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.