Skiing…….And Paradise

December 29, 2009 -

John Heald

For the last few months I have been trying to persuade some British friends of mine to try their first ever cruise and come and sail with me next year. Bobby and his wife are very good mates and Bobby is in the entertainment business and quite famous here in the UK. I thought that my powers of persuasion had finally gotten them to ready to explore the fun for all world of Carnival …………..but yesterday Bobby informed me that they are considering something else…………………..skiing.

Skiing ……………I couldn’t believe it…………why would they or anyone else who isn’t mad…..or Italian…..ever want to go skiing?

Faced with the two options, either having fun onboard a beautiful cruise ship surrounded by sun, entertainment, brilliant service and wonderful food choices or spending laughable amounts of money catching cold and knocking down trees with your face there is no bloody contest. I would have to be very, very drunk to agree to go skiing.

Drinking, as far as I can see, would be the only possible upside of skiing. Otherwise what are you left with? Smashed bones, stupid clothes, crusty red cheeks and a huge dollop of snot hanging permanently from your nose. You can achieve that effect by being the trolley collector in a Publix parking lot in Alaska…..in January. The only difference is that the Publix trolley collector doesn’t bore everyone senseless with stories of their black slope accomplishments at Aspen.

I went skiing one time and one time only. It was many years ago and all I remember is the pain and the agony and the cold and the laughter of others as the fat git tried to get up after falling over…………..again. I hated the snobbery and the ridiculously good looking ski instructors whom unless you had breasts the size of the Alps had bugger all interest in teaching you anything.

The reason I kept falling over though is not just because I have the balance and poise of Heather Mills…………………… It’s the ski boot!

The first thing you must understand is the ski boot is it is specifically designed to be as heavy as possible and to ensure that if you fall over………. and you will………….all the time ………..and your leg will break at its most painful point…………. just above the ankle.

Men……..The only way to prevent this happening is to look at photos of Megan Fox’s bottom before you ski so you can cushion the fall with your thingy…………….it’s like having a third ski pole.

As you can see I am a fervent anti-skier. This is partly because ski bores are the second worst of the vacation bore genre (just ahead of people who hate Carnival even though they have never cruised with us) and partly because I cannot think of a single redeeming feature about snow.

Heidi once asked “Do you think we will ever go skiing?” I look at her in bewilderment and replied: “I would rather have my thingy ripped from my body by a rabid squirrel ………….I think she took that as a no.

“Oh, but you’ve never tried skiing?” people say. “How can you possibly know you won’t like it?” Look, I’ve never tried having rumpy pumpy with Judge Judy either…………………. but sometimes you just know.

In any case skiing is not a vacation. A vacation is when you go somewhere warm and relax, eat good, have fun and see interesting places…………lots of places in fact if you take a cruise. A cruise vacation is where you enjoy that lovely feeling of just putting on shorts and a pair of flip-flops every day and changing into some casual wear at night as you head to the dining room, see a show and have a good old sing along at the piano bar. It is not mincing around $1,000 of ski gear, eating fondue and spending all day gazing at ambulances ferrying brand new paraplegics across a picture postcard landscape.

So, I called my friends back and I explained it like this to them.

For your next vacation, why don’t you take all your money and set it on fire? Then stand in a refrigerator for a week, beating yourself with a baseball bat until your arms and legs break. And then, after you’ve eaten some melted cheese, dislocate your shoulder. …………. it’s the same process as going skiing. Alternatively……………you can go on a cruise.

Bobby called me back ……….they booked a cruise on their Carnival Dream for February 2010 …………………………skiing………..my arse.

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

Bill Russell Asked:
John, Please reply

Re: San Juan. I’m glad now we had to cancel. The main port we wanted to see was San Juan. “The Ship Didn’t Fit.” Someone on Carnival has to be fired. Didn’t fit. Wow, what a snafu. Hope the rest of the trip goes well. The web cams are now working. I wondered why you were at sea, then did a little searching and found out why.

John Says:
Hello Bill

It certainly was very disappointing for everyone that the ship was unable to dock in San Juan. As you know I was onboard and I can tell you that the Captain tried everything to get us alongside. It was actually a good thing that he spotted those steel cables as they could have seriously damaged the life boats. As I wrote at the time it was our fault and I can assure you we are looking into this very carefully so that it doesn’t happen again. For now I can only apologize to everyone affected.

Hope you continue to enjoy the web cams.
Best wishes
John

Tom Asked:
John, please reply.

ANOTHER CARNIVAL TIGHT ATTACK. Just got back from the Glory 11/29 cruise.

The lobsters served on this ship were no bigger than 2 inches long but they did serve a couple shrimp to make up for the reduction in size of the lobster. Not a good sign for Carnival.
Also on Lido deck they used to serve little steaks for sandwiches at the hamburger station….gone.
What’s next?

John Says:
Hello Tom

The fact that we still serve complimentary lobster and unlike a certain other cruise line I could mention do not charge for steak in the dining room is in the current economic environment remarkable…………and at the price we charge for the cruise.

The steaks at the grill have been gone for some time and we replaced this with of course the massively popular Mongolian Wok.

I truly hope you had a wonderful cruise.
Best wishes
John

Katiel53 Asked:
John, (Please Reply)

I’m sorry you had to give in to the rude person who wanted to sit at your table. I know this world has many self impressed people who feel they are “entitled” and their sole purpose in life is to make others as miserable as they are. I’m sure in the long run, you did the right thing, but it’s a shame we have to reward boorish behaviour.

I also feel that there are some people who enjoy posting untruths on Cruise Critic. I know host Mach is trying his best to stop the lies, rumours or whatever you choose to call them, but there are those who enjoy starting trouble. I think the sad part of this is that people who are truly trying to get info are miss-informed and give up looking for the correct info.

The one thing I find amusing is that there are any number of posts where people state they tried to use the search function and can’t get it to work, so they ask a question that has been asked many times. On the other hand, the posters who perpetrate the wrong info, i.e. the tea, ship on a stick, seem to find the search function working just fine.

I think that, at times, the people who pose the question to you, as in today’s blog, Philip Levi already have a problem, real or imagined, with Carnival and are looking for ways to justify their feelings. I think you did a great job in answering him today, lol.

In another few days you will be home and enjoying the holidays with your family. I know it will be special time and it will be exciting for you to see Kye and her first Christmas will have you and Heidi smiling from ear to ear. Enjoy!
Frank & Gerri

John Says:
Hello Frank and Gerri

Thanks for those very kind words. I have nothing but respect for the majority of people who post on the boards but there are one or two who enjoy posting comments that are designed to antagonize others and those are the ones that get on my nerves. Host Mach is a great friend and I know he monitors what is said on the Carnival boards very carefully and we often write to each other to discuss courses of action should someone post something that is quite obviously untrue.

Thank you again for all those lovely words of support and hope to see you both soon.
Best wishes
John

Harmony Asked:
John,

I know it is probably too late, but I tried to send you a msg on FB before someone gave me your blog address for me to try. I’ll be cruising on the Pride with my 5 year old daughter (and congrats on the ‘thing’ its awesome you two are going to have a little one of your own!) Sunday, 13 Dec for a Hanukah cruise and it was suggested to me to contact you to get the CD’s email address so I can contact them before board to find out what, if any, Hanukah stuff is being offered or to make a request if nothing is being offered (which would be disappointing… people cruise on Christmas expecting Christmas stuff…). This is our first time travelling during the holidays and we are both looking forward to it. Thanks!!! Harmony

John Says:
Hello Harmony

Let me start by apologizing for not responding to you on Facebook. I rarely get a chance to open my thingy there. The 343 Stephanies tell me that I have close to 3,000 friends registered there and what with the blog and my work as CD I just don’t have the time to answer questions there. Anyway, as you can see I missed therefore your sailing on the Carnival Pride but I am sure you enjoyed the menorah lighting ceremony hosted by Jaime and had therefore a very special cruise.
Please let me know if all was well
Best wishes
John

Barb R Asked:
John, Please Reply

I hope the woman who was rude to you about seating arrangements is reading this blog as she owes you an apology. Parameters are set for a reason and some people always seem to think the rules do not apply to them. I am sorry she bullied you as you are much too nice to be subjected to this nonsense. People who behave this way ruin it for everyone. Keep up the good work.

John Says:
Hello Barb

Just a quick note to say a big thank you for your kind words of support. I always do my best to help people and sometimes it is a little annoying when people forget to use the words “please” and thank you.”
Such is life though.
Best wishes,
John

Waiting4acruise Asked:
John Please Reply

You mentioned in you blog today that Carnival still gives out the Ship on a Stick. That is not true in all cases. I was on the Carnival Conquest for a back to back cruise at the end of September. I participated in many trivia contests. They only gave us medallions for the trivia contests. I asked the moderator about this. They said Carnival only give out the Ship on a Stick for big contests now. I missed my Ship on a Stick.

John Says:
Hello Waiting4acruise

I was intrigued to read this and I sent an e-mail to Chris Jefferson the Cruise Director on the Carnival Conquest. He told me that there was a period of two weeks when a shipping order was delayed and very few trophies were onboard. However, I want to state that unless this situation happens there should never be a time when the trophies are not handed out at all contests and events. If anyone sees this happening please ask the staff member why and let me know as well.

There was some discussion at the last CD conference of possibly replacing the trophies with another prize but due to the many, many comments from guests stating that they love the good old solid gold plastic trophies that idea was quickly forgotten.
Thanks for letting me know
Best wishes
John

Todd Asked:
Hello John, (Please reply)

I have been reading your blog for about 6 months. I enjoy your comments and your constant humor in almost every blog.

My wife and I met you as we disembarked the Carnival Dream CTN on Nov. 18th. Although we only spoke briefly, you took the time to hear our concerns and praises of the ship on that voyage. We also informed you that we had booked a surprise trip for our children as we were going to return to the Dream on Nov. 23. You told us to inform Eli (who was with you at the time) and he would send some surprises as well when we returned on that voyage. You also stated that we would have a more enjoyable time on a longer voyage.

We saw Eli and spoke to him directly and also left him a note at Guest services when we arrived. Unfortunately we received no surprise on that voyage. What we did experience was the “fogging” training that Carnival must teach their front line at guest services.

I submitted my concerns to Oksana Shevchenko at guestcare.com. Our time aboard was enjoyed by our family. Our frustration lies within the guest services department’s inability to accommodate our situation. Due to the lengthy details of the situation, I chose not to post them on your blog. You are welcome to review the details from guestcare.com should you wish to do so.
Sincerely,
Todd

John Says:
Hello Todd

I was so sorry to read these comments and I am very disappointed that Eli did not receive the gift I had asked the Entertainment Staff to deliver. I promise that the next time you cruise that I will make up for this. I was even more disappointed to read your comments about the Guest Service Desk. Obviously I do not know the details but I have now taken the liberty of sending them to David in our Miami HQ. He is responsible for this department fleet wide and I know he takes comments very seriously indeed. I will also be copying our guest CARE Team as well and will make sure that you are contacted accordingly.

I will also read the details myself and make sure that everyone who needs to read this does so. This includes Hector our Guest Services Manager who is one of the very best I have worked with and I know he will take your comments very seriously indeed.

I appreciate you taking the time to write to me and I will hope to hear from you soon.
Best wishes to you all
John

Lance and Ilda Asked:
John,

First I would like to say that we wish we were with you and Ken and Big Ed’s Evil Crew on this Blogger’s Cruise! Now, you know from my past responses that I am extremely impressed with the fact that Carnival Corporation still allows you to blog about life aboard their many vessels, reporting the good, the bad and the ugly. You tell it like it is, right down to the nitty gritty, sometimes in your tidy whities! In this world of spin, corporate greed and deception, that still impresses me! Carnival controls far more vessels (and brands) than RC. When you own a larger share of the market (see Microsoft), you own a larger share of public attention and therefore are under closer scrutiny. If Apple owned a share of the market the size of Microsoft, folks would see that their operating system, web browser and associated programs have the same amount, if not more security holes, patches, crashes, freezes and other assorted issues that seem to plague (only) Microsoft. You just don’t hear about it as much and you’d have to be naive to think otherwise. It’s the same with Carnival and RC. The difference is, Carnival understands that shift happens and at times has to be dealt with. A good company knows this. You can install as many safeguards, rules and regulations to try and keep negative occurrences to a minimum but there is no factoring in a human error, a lapse in judgment or a failed piece of equipment. That’s just the way life is. If anyone tries to convince you otherwise, they’re either naive or they’re lying. These so-called RC Champions are bad for the business of cruising. Period. They belittle Carnival in hopes of what? To sway people to switch to their product? To show that they are superior? (Their products should speak for themselves). No. The small-minded individuals who fall for that propaganda most likely add up to nothing. Most folks are smarter than that. Pepsi is not going to win soft drink customers by trash talking Coke, any more than RC is going to woo cruisers of Carnival. RC fits a certain demographic. Evidently, with their new Mall of the Seas, they are aiming squarely for the Las Vegas crowd. Those individuals who feel right at home in a totally “artificial-made-to-feel-real-environment”. NASA should forget about trying to train astronauts and look to these individuals, for it is they who are perfectly suited for long-term deep space travel in an artificial environment. The RC Champions just seem like an awful lot of work for a minimal return. That’s not what I would call a great corporate model. John, you are the best marketing tool this company has. An honest, shoot from the hip perspective. One who has come up through the ranks and paid his dues. A true voice, not a hired one. Truth is, Carnival offers more ships, more lines and more choices, all at a far greater value (see bang for your buck) than RC could ever hope to compete with. Carnival will always have cruisers who enjoy their product and RC will have the same. There is plenty of business out there for everyone. The big difference is that while RC continues to build bigger ships, packed with more over-the-top, “how did they do that?” attractions, all the while trashing their main competitor, Carnival just keeps cruising along, all the while quietly racking up one industry award after another. Let the product speak for itself. What a concept. Now THAT’S a great corporate model!

Keep up the brilliant work.

Your friends,
Lance & Ilda.
PS… please say hello to Heidi and a kiss to Kye.
PPS… HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!!

John Says:
Hello Lance and Ilda

I am not sure how to answer this comment as thank you does not seem enough. I will say that one of the provisions I have with Carnival is that I will keep writing as long as I am permitted to write about the mistakes I make and in what areas Carnival can continue to improve to be able to continue to be the World’s Most Popular Cruise Line. Yes, we mistakes and there needs to be an avenue where that can be discussed and that avenue is here on the blog thingy. I am sure that some of the things I write make the people with beards at our Carnival HQ rush out to Wal-Mart to buy new underwear but on a serious note I know that I do have Gerry Cahill’s support as well as that as all the Carnival executives.

The launch Oasis of the Seas was met with great fanfare and that’s great for the industry. Have a look at what the Chairman of Carnival Corporation Micky Arison recently said when asked if the Oasis had had an impact on Carnival business………. “We’re not seeing any impact from Oasis. If there is any impact, and clearly we’re not seeing it, it’s in the additional exposure to the whole cruise industry. But the reality is that we have great mass-market brands and better prices. So the net effect is, if anything, positive.”

By the way, a full pod cast thingy of that interview can be heard on www.carnivalcorp.com …………………I suggest all of you have a listen.

Thanks to you both for that great post and I will continue to do my very best to keep this blog thingy honest and most of all fun.
Best wishes to you both
John

Melissa Asked:
John (please reply, kind of)

John, the pictures from the Carnival Dream that you have on today’s blog by Jordan are absolutely wonderful. My husband and 2 children (ages 3 and 7) are sailing on her with you Feb 13th, 2010 and I wonder if there is anyway Jordan could take some pictures of the Camp Carnival areas to show the kids? Bill (Zydecocruiser) did try to get some while he was on the transatlantic, but did not get a lot and it looked like they were mostly from the doorway area. My kids would love to see the area on the ship where they get to have all their fun too.
Thanks for the help and see you in about 67 days 🙂
Melissa

John Says:
Hello Melissa

I think we did post some of the Club O2, Camp Carnival and Circle C areas during the bloggers cruise but just in case I have asked Radu to send me some more and will post them here as soon as he does. I know you and the kids will have a brilliant time on the ship. Hope to see you soon.
Best wishes
John

That’s all for today. Those questions were submitted on the 10th of December and so once again I promise to try and catch up as quickly as possible. For any newcomers to the blog thingy who may wish to ask a question to please mark your postings “John, please reply” and eventually……………..I promise I will.

So I have been hearing a lot from the ships about their Christmas cruises and while everything went well there is one area where the Cruise Directors mentioned that we need to improve on and its an area that I agree we seriously lack in . You see, only a few of our ships had a priest or minister onboard to hold Christmas Mass and interdenominational services. Now, there are reasons why this is and one of them is that it appears difficult to find 22 priests to come and sail at Christmas.

However, I know Holland America does seem to be able to do this so I guess I have to ask ……..why can’t we? Well, I am not sure of the answer but we’ll certainly look into it. I was going to address this with the office today as I know a few Cruise Directors received negative comments from guests who felt that we should have had a service.

However…………before I do raise the flag I thought I would ask your opinion on this. Is it important? If you were sailing at Christmas would you attend a midnight mass and Christmas morning service? Does this have a place on a Carnival fun for all cruise?

Now, I know we are getting into the realms of religion here and I am certainly not looking for a discussion on religion but I would appreciate those who may have opinion on this to please share them with me and everyone here on the blog before I decide whether to take this further…………………….thanks as always.

By the way, I know that some of the Cruise Directors were very smart and made an appeal onboard for anyone who may have been willing to lead the service.

One would imagine that the Cruise Director may have the best job on board and obviously I agree. It was therefore very interesting to read an article sent to me by my great friend and may I say brilliant writer, Carolyn Spencer Brown who is of course the editor of Cruise Critic. She kindly sent me the results of the poll which I know all of you will have fun reading.

If I worked on a cruise ship, I’d want to be ____.
A chef.: 10.08%
A cruise director.: 35.69%
The captain!: 36.76%
A show performer.: 17.27%

Total Votes: 1,488

So, it’s the Captain that still has the popular vote. I wonder if it’s the uniform. You know, I have often wondered if CD’s should wear a uniform……then again ………….. nope ………. white makes me look fat.

I see that many of you enjoyed the photos in yesterday’s blog thingy. The slide show of Jordan’s Blog Diary was excellent wasn’t it and my thanks to him for putting that together. I see you also enjoyed the photos of the Carnival Ecstasy and I did indeed thank the Captain for sending them to me. By the way, I should have posted a photo of the Captain but I forgot and will do so in a moment.

Ask any long time serving Carnival crew member who one of the greatest characters we have serving on our ships is and many will answer Captain Domenico Cilento. Not only is he a great navigator but he this man from Naples has been blessed with a wicked sense of humor. He can also recite every single line from any movie that involves the mafia. Usually this is a subject that many Italians don’t enjoy discussing and one can understand why. Not Captain Cilento though. I have not worked with him for many years, in fact the last time I did he was the Staff Captain and every time I walked past his office he would shout a line from Goodfellas, The Godfather or his favorite all time movie……….Gotti.

He is a brilliant Captain and as you can imagine so much fun to work with……I said that so he doesn’t have me whacked!

Here he is

Well, its time to highlight another one of our ships that due to my deserved excitement about your Carnival Dream I may have forgotten about. So……….let’s remind ourselves just how beautiful the Carnival Paradise is.

I know that the Carnival Paradise is a favorite ship of many and there will be more photos of her tomorrow plus………we will be meeting the Captain and Senior Officers as well. Meanwhile, to find out more about her, where she sails and how you can enjoy a Carnival Paradise cruise why not pop on over to www.carnival.com/paradise.

You may remember a few weeks ago that I posted and replied to a comment from a blogger who stated that he was angry that during his Carnival Inspiration cruise the stateroom steward, the dining room staff and other staff members did not speak English. Well, I have had another comment from this gentleman which I will not be posting due to some of the wording contained therein. It did though make me very angry and last night I wrote and deleted my various replies one of which contained reference to me inserting my shoe in one of his orifices.

His comment, along with my diabetic leg cramps (bugger) kept me awake but by morning I had calmed down a bit and although I decided not to post his comment (which contained reference to the fact that he won’t cruise with Carnival again because the staff are “not English speaking.”)

You see that’s wrong in so many ways. Don’t cruise with us again because you didn’t like the food or the service or the fun or the value for money we provided…………..but to say you won’t cruise with us again because your waiter’s English wasn’t 100 percent perfect ………………. well honestly…………..in my opinion……………….that’s just ridiculous.

English is my first language however I forced myself to learn as much Dutch as I can so I can speak to Heidi’s family and friends, especially her Mum who is staying with us and does not speak English. I’m so out of practice though that it’s often a struggle to convey simple concepts as “coffee” and “are you OK.” When I speak Dutch to anyone, they have a tendency to slap their thighs, laugh out loud and make sound recordings my attempts for future entertainment of their friends and family. Dutch is a very hard language to learn. You need half a ton of phlegm in your mouth to pronounce most of the words. Don’t ever stand to close to a Dutch person and enter a conversation with him …………………..you will be washing spit out of your hair for months.

Speaking a second language is something most of us cannot say we can do yet Ketut from Indonesia and Martina from Croatia and Sergey from Belarus all speak a second language. They may not be able to discuss the political situation in Iran or converse with you about the chemical properties of table salt but we insist as a company that all our service staff pass a proficient English test before they are allowed to serve in guest areas ……………………oh and all our crew speak one other language………………the language of fun………………..and I think they speak that………………fluently.

Goodnight
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.

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