An Award-Winning Blog

December 30, 2009 -

John Heald

I have complained many times before here on the blog thingy about my conversations with people from our marketing department and the fact that when they talk to me I have no bloody clue what they are saying. But its not just those blue sky thinking, tofu eating beardies who speak a language that makes my hemorrhoids flair up………it’s………..well…………..loads of people. It seems to be common place for people to have a conversation with me and in it use weird meaninglessness jargon.

For example, today I was talking to one of our vice presidents about ways of improving our Carnival Capers (and look out for news on this early next year) and during our five-minute conversation she must have said “At the end of the day” at least half a dozen times. Whenever she said this, I wanted to respond: “At the end of the day, it’s night so do you want me to call you back at midnight?”

This got me thinking about other sayings that are teeth-grindingly irritating. During the cruise director’s conference one CD (who will remain nameless…for now) kept saying “To be honest with you…” Why do you feel the need to tell me you are being honest with me? Is it because everything else you say is a load of bollocks? Bugger off.

As for my most annoying marketing term…….well, that was difficult to choose. In third place was “swankify”……….I have no idea what it means but the next Carnival executive to say it to me may find out what its like to hold a meeting with their mouth duct-taped shut and their arse being used as a vase.

In second place is “I will give 110%”………I wrote about this a few months ago saying that 100% is no longer enough. Well, I promise the next person who tells me that I need to give 110% that I will actually give 147%…….in making sure they get the good news with a cattle prod.

However, it’s not a marketing phrase that comes into the charts at number one. Nope. This is a saying that I think started on the ships and has migrated to the Miami office where it has spread quicker than Paris Hilton after drinking a bottle of vodka. The entire entertainment department says it. The entire Hotel Ops department says it and it is………“Do you know what I mean?”

The problem is that today, while talking to Heidi…I said, “Do you know what I mean?”…I have caught the disease……..and I will give 110% to try and make sure I stop saying it but to be honest with you, if I can’t think of words to use instead to swankify my sentences, at the end of the day…………….I think I am buggered.

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

Charles Asked:
John, (Please Reply if you can)

First off I would like to wish you, Heidi and Kye a wonderful Holiday season and a Happy New Year. I also wanted to thank you for the entertainment that you provide through your daily blog. What a great way to start out the day. I love your humor.

I wanted to say thank you to Carnival for all of the great times I have had when cruising with you. I have been on 6 cruises previously and all have been with Carnival. It is fantastic. We will be sailing on the Carnival Spirit January 6, 2010 along with some family and friends. It started out with a group of 7 of us going (3 Cabins), and we ended up with a total of 16 Cabins booked and 34 people going. I have been working with Carnival’s Group Planning Department to set this all up, and believe me I have called them many, many, many times. Everyone one on that team needs to be commended, as every time I did call, regardless of the reason, they were very professional and were always able to help. It didn’t matter if it pertained to booking a new cabin, getting price reductions, or answering simple questions. I talked to so many people; I couldn’t possibly list them all here. I wanted to just say “Thank You” to them.

I would also like to thank a PVP that helped me in booking 4 of my previous cruises. Her name is Jacquie Vasquez. Jacquie was the first PVP I contacted several years ago and was fantastic in the performance of her job. She was very knowledgeable and took care of everything for me. I was really impressed with her. Jacquie would go above and beyond what she was required to do (I am sure), as she would call me from her home (after normal work hours) with answers to my questions due to the time zone differences between the East Coast and the West Coast. The first cruise she booked for me was with a wonderful lady I had met. The second cruise she booked for me was with the same wonderful lady, but also with 4 additional cabins for the wonderful ladies 5 sons, wives & fiancés, as I told Jacquie I was going to propose to this wonderful lady. Jacquie made sure everything was taken care of and I had no worries. The last two cruises Jacquie booked for me were back to back cruises aboard the Carnival Pride. The first week was with my fiancé and the second week was when we got married aboard the Carnival Pride and then sailed with Family and Friends. Jacquie took care of booking all 10 cabins. We never had to worry about anything during this wonderful cruise.

We will be celebrating our 2nd Anniversary the day we go aboard the Carnival Spirit on January 6th, 2010 and are so looking forward to another fantastic time aboard with Carnival.

The only time I have ever had an issue on a cruise, was when I had ordered some flowers for our room on one cruise (when we did the back to back cruises). I had requested the flowers for the first day of our cruise, but there was a mistake and they did not get delivered until the first day of the second week of cruising. I have again ordered some flowers to be in our room when we go on board (along with a couple of other items), and hate to ask, but could you be of any help in making sure these things are delivered when they are supposed to be? I hate to ask, but the flowers wouldn’t mean as much if they are not on board when we arrive, as it is our anniversary.

John, again I want to thank you for all you do, and also all of the other wonderful employees at Carnival. Each time we sail, we start talking about booking our next cruise. Of course it will be with Carnival.

Thank you for your time.

Best Regards,
Charles

John Says:
Hello Charles

What a great way to start today’s Q&A session and it is truly kind of you to take the time to write to me about your experiences and the incredible levels of service you have found during your Carnival voyages.

I was particularly glad to read your words of praise for the group department and your PVP Jacquie and I shall make sure that her supervisor gets to read them. My apologies about the flower delivery on your last cruise and I have sent your request to the ship to ask them to do as you requested and have the flowers delivered on the first day.

I wish you a fantastic cruise and please let us know all about your experiences when you get home.
Best wishes to all
John

Slickabrina Asked:
John, please reply….

Hello John!
By the time you read this, I hope you are making the most of your time with your 2 favorite ladies! While home, I am almost hoping you might not blog quite as much so you can spend as much quality time with them as you can.

With that being said, this may have been asked before but, has any consideration ever been given to creating a book with the photos you have shared with us on the blog through the years? They really are stunning. Maybe a limited amount of books and available only through the blog. And perhaps a portion of the proceeds going to charity?

(Don’t mind me thinking out loud here…!)
I hope you have a wonderful holiday with your girls!!
Colleen

John Says:
Hello Colleen

I love it when bloggers think aloud and express an idea and an opinion here on the blog thingy. Your idea is indeed an excellent one and I will be passing this up the line. As you know, we are working now with the St. Jude Children’s Hospital and you can expect a lot of ways for our guests to help if they wish to.

I have it in mind this year to work on a book and photos and tying it in with the charity is a wonderful one.

Thanks for sharing it and I will keep you informed on the progress.
Best wishes
John

Brian Selleck Asked:
Hi John, John please reply.

I email a letter to upper management and I’m trying to get something resolved. I didn’t want bother you but I sail in less then 3 weeks and its not resolved yet. There was a big mess with my group booking; I have a copy of the email I can send you. I would rather not post it on here as its error that carnival has caused me and I know that’s not a normal thing with carnival.
Thank you

John Says:
Hello Brian
I am glad you were able to contact me and I have sent this information to the Vice President of our Care Team. Please let me know if you need any further assistance
Best wishes
John

Michael Hester Asked:
Hey John,

This is one of your Tennessee guys from the Conquest and the Fantasy. I keep up with your blog every day and miss all the good times that we had back then. In today’s blog you told about the age difference in you and Heidi when you met. Let me tell you about my mother and father. They met when he was 23 and my mother was 15. It was love at first sight and they were married not much longer after that. They were married for almost 50 years when my mother passed away back in 2003. Everyone told them it would not last a week, everyone was wrong. So to the ladies that give you that dirty look. Guess who was wrong then and now, I hope that you, Heidi and Kye have as many happy years together as my mother and father.

Oh and I forgot would please reply to this as I and my brothers Larry and Thomas would love to hear from you.
Your Friends forever
Michael, Larry and Thomas Hester

John Says:
Hello Michael, Larry and Thomas

Thank you all for your wonderful support of the blog thingy and of Carnival Cruise Lines. I must say that say that despite being 44…..nearly 45……bugger…….that Kye has made me feel young again.

I thank you for your kind words and I hope that we will have a chance to all sail together again very soon and create wonderful and fun memories together.
Best wishes
John

flipflopcruisequeen Asked:
John, PLEASE RESPOND.

Have you started to pack for your trip home to see your girls? Remember, Heidi isn’t there to do it for you! I am sure you have had a blast with all the bloggers, and hopefully next year I will be able to join you. But, thanks for all the updates. Did you do the Bedtime Story for them??? That is my favourite part of the cruise with you. Well, let me be one of the first to wish you, Heidi and Kye a most wonderful Christmas and the happiest, healthiest New Years ever. We will miss your daily blogs, but totally understand. You need plenty of quality time with your girls! Have a safe trip across the pond, hopefully on anything but “Easy Jet”!
Sheryl

John Says:
Hello Sheryl

Thank you for the kind words and I am sorry that you could not join us for the Bloggers Cruise. It was a lot of fun and I hope you can join us on the next one.

I didn’t perform the bedtime story but I do promise to film it and put it on the blog as soon as I get back on board.

Thanks again and my best wishes to you and all the family.
John

Bearded Bill from Boulder Asked:
John – (The favour of a reply is requested)

I’m new to your blog and still can’t believe you actually respond to people… quite exceptional in an era of indifference to others. Good show.

We’ll be on Dream March 20 w/our 3 kids in tow. I just noticed on the photos above that it appears the toddler-sized splash area we saw in the computer renderings did not make the final design. Am I seeing correctly? It looks like a basketball court is there now. I’ve searched 100s of photos and scores of videos and have been unable to see it in real life. It had a few tube slides no more than a few metres in length… it was clearly a kiddie thing.

I would very much appreciate an answer – and could you perhaps advise what “splash park” type areas there might be which a 21 month old could enjoy? We were very excited to see that in the design, and are hopeful her mum and I can recline in a sun-lounger whilst nursing pina coladas as she frolics about.

I truly appreciate your dedication to your guests.
– Bearded Bill

P.S. – note the attempts to employ your native tongue despite my pure Yank ancestry. Please do humour my request for a reply.
God Save the Queen! ;o)

John Says:
Hello Bearded Bill (great blog name)

It is an honour (spelt correctly) to welcome you to our humble blog thingy and I hope it brings you minutes of fun and information. You are correct that we did take out the kiddies splash pool which is as you said a basketball court. It was decided that due to the number of guests who were actually taking their kids to the one on the Carnival Splendor that a basketball court would be utilized more by our guests. Your children can enjoy splashing around at the area at the bottom of the slides and of course the main pool if you wish. Personally, I would have liked to have seen a splash park because Kye is sailing next year and she loves the water. I will be your Cruise Director when you sail and I will do all I can to make sure that you and the family have the best cruise ever.

Thanks for the British tone to the blog and for the volley of “God Save The Queen” to which I say “God Bless America.”
Best wishes to all
John

Wanda Asked:
Hello John

Hope all is well, I wanted to let you know that my family and I will be sailing on the Pride this coming DEC 20 out of Baltimore to celebrate my daughter’s 18th birthday.

I will like to ask you if is possible to do something special for her while on the ship. I really don’t know who’s the CD on that ship that’s the reason I write you. Can you pass my info to them? My cabin number is 4130. I hope you get this letter on time and thank you so
Much for all the hard work.
Best wishes’
Wanda.

John Says:
Hello Wanda

I hope you had a brilliant cruise on the Carnival Pride. I did write to the ship asking them to do something for your daughter’s birthday. I hope they were able to do so.
Best wishes to you and the family
John

Kathy M. Asked:
Dear John, Please Reply.

I guess today, was not a good day for me to read your blog. I was under the impression (as was some others) that you were going to do your next bloggers cruise on the West Coast, but I see once again, we are as what some would call, we have been pushed to the back to the bottom of the list. You have done 3 bloggers cruises to date to the Caribbean, don’t you feel it is time for you to finally do, at least one bloggers cruise, on the WEST COAST before you are transferred back to Europe. John, you know I am one of your biggest fans, but I just can’t travel to the East Coast, so I beg you to please reconsider this and maybe try and do it when you are on the Carnival Spirit. I know that all of your West Coast fans will be eternally grateful and will fill that ship. Just in the town where I live I did a poll in our local forum of how many people would go on a John Heald’s bloggers cruise and I got 76 people that said they would go and only 4 that said that the would not, 10 said maybe, so I know that your West Coast fans would fill that ship and you would probably have to have a waiting list for people to book the cruise.

Please give my love to Heidi and Kye.
From your #1 Bloggy Thingy Fan
Kathy M.

John Says:
Hello Kathy M

I am not sure still where the next Bloggers Cruise will be and when and nothing has been finalized. I did think about a West Coast ship but it seems that the vast majority of bloggers did not think this was a good idea. I am still trying to decide what to do to try and appease everyone. Please don’t me upset and remember that I will be the CD of the Carnival Spirit sailing out of California late next year and I do hope that you will be able to join me.

Maybe, if you have 76 people who said they would cruise with me we could organize a mini bloggers cruise on the Carnival Splendor next year. Please allow some time to work on this.

Regardless I truly hope that we get to sail with each other very, very soon as I realize that I have neglected you and many others who live out West.
Best wishes
John

Lynda Ulrich Asked:
John (please reply).

Hi John, we just got off the Fantasy this morning and couldn’t wait to tell you how great the cruise was. I would like it if you could pass this on to the people who should know about it.

1) First time on your time dinning. It was wonderful. We never had to wait. The second night we got “Made,” yes that’s his name, as our head waiter and his team. We asked for him all the other nights. When he saw us he’d call us by name. He would stand next to the table and talk to us. And the food was great. Our last two cruises were on the Holiday in Sept. and Nov. and they didn’t offer your time dinning.

2) The social hosts, Dave, Lewis and Brandon, were some of the best we’ve ever had. We told them our names the first time we saw them and they called us by name at all activities. We will be back on The Fantasy in Jan. and are happy that Lewis and Brandon will still be there. But sad that Dave will be on vacation. We were happy to see that Brandon will be on our Panama Canal cruise on the Elation in May. I know it will be great.

So please John, make sure these wonderful people get the recognition they deserve.
Have a great time home with the family.
Lynda

John Says:
Hello Lynda

My goodness it sounds like you had a brilliant time on the Carnival Fantasy and thank you so much for telling us all about it. I was very glad to read about your anytime dining experiences and I know that the people in the office will be very glad to know that it’s working and being enjoyed by our guests.

The entertainment staff sound excellent and I will be letting their supervisor know all about their brilliant work.

I hope on your next Carnival Fantasy cruise you have even more fun and take the time to tell us all about your wonderful experiences.

Thanks again and best wishes
John

That’s all for today and my thanks to everyone who has taken the time to post a comment.

Let me just refer back to yesterdays blog thingy where I was asked to post some photos of the Camp Carnival, Circle C and Club O2 facilities on your Carnival Dream…………..here they are.

I hope you enjoyed the photos of the Carnival Paradise yesterday. You know, I have never served on that ship in any capacity, either in the bar or entertainment departments. But judging from yesterday’s photos and the ones I am going to share with you now, it looks like the Carnival Paradise should be on my list of ships that are a must visit.

I hope you enjoy these that the 343 Stephanies have once again placed into one of those brilliant slide show thingies.

Do you remember that last week I wrote about the record that Carnival Corporation set a record of the number of guests visiting the ports that we have developed? I am of course talking about Puerto Maya/Cozumel, Grand Turk, Mahogany Bay/Isla Roatan and Half Moon Cay.

Well, that record did not last long as you will see from the email I received today from our Super Spy PA 007.


Hello John and hello bloggers
I thought you might like to read about a new record that was just set. During the week ending December 27th, we had a record number of ships and passengers in our 4 corporate ports. If you added them altogether Carnival Corporation had over 86,000 passengers and 33 calls in those ports.

In Grand Turk we had two 3 ship days. In the case of Carnival ships, we served 48,800 guests in all 4 ports. Both Crown Princes and your Carnival Dream John are in for the first time in Mahogany Bay. This means between them we have 7,844 pax and 2,544 crew visiting this awesome new port of call.

Happy New Year
PA 007

Thanks PA and a very happy new year to you and I hope that you will have more breaking news for us this coming year.

Well, talking of the New Year its now time for me to announce the first ever Blog Thingy awards for 2009. So, as I sit here…………in my underpants…………let’s get started.

1. THE AWARD FOR PORT OF CALL OF THE YEAR.

Now, this was actually an easy one for me as there is one clear winner. It is of course ……………. MAHOGANY BAY, ISLA ROATAN.

Carnival Corporation has designed a stunning new pier and facilities including the superb ski lift to the beach. It is however not just the new facility that wins the award but the people, the scenery and the shore excursions that made this the hands down winner. During my month on the Carnival Legend I had so many, many people tell me that they wanted to spend more time there and that it was their new favourite port. So, congratulations to the people of Isla Roatan and congratulations to Giora Israel and his team at Carnival Corporation & plc for making this a must visit destination.

2. THE AWARD FOR SHIP OF THE YEAR
Now, you probably already know which ship I am going to give the award to don’t you? Well, before you see if you are correct let me give some honourable mentions. I want to start with the Holiday. Yes, I know she is part of our past but it would just not be right not to mention her. She gave you and I and hundreds of thousands of Carnival guests so many amazing memories and in many ways we will miss her.

However, there can be only one winner………and that of course…….is the Carnival Legend for hitting the ………..kidding……..the winner is…….your Carnival Dream. She is quite simply, jaw droppingly beautiful. She retains all of the Carnival features that have served us and you so well and of course with her new entertainment areas, new stateroom designs and guest spaces has enabled us to offer new and brilliantly exciting features to your cruise vacation. Plus…….. your Carnival Dream wins this award because due to her immediate success……..Carnival and you were awarded a new ship following on from the Carnival Magic…..the ummmmm……. Carnival Thingy. Let’s have a look at your Carnival Dream and appropriately she is photographed in our port of the year award winner…………Mahogany Bay.

3. THE CREW MEMBER OF THE YEAR AWARD
Well, this was a tough one. I am sure that you will all have a favourite waiter, stateroom steward or a crew member who made your cruise so very special. For me though I had to think of a crew member who went out of their way to do something extra or who has been a bright and shining star. I would like though to announce my winner and it is…………Radu Ursu. Now, you now Radu of course by the stunning photos he has provided this blog over the last two years. What you might not know is that he is one of the most genuine people you will ever wish to meet. He never stops smiling and will always take the time to sit with guests and talk to them about how to take better photos. He is a family man with a lovely wife and two beautiful children whom he adores. But it is his obvious talent as a photographer and the fact that on his precious time off he always went ashore or around the ship to take photos……just for you and me. So, the winner of this year’s Crew Member of the Year Award………is Radu Ursu.

Let’s remind ourselves just how talented he is.

Oh, I should also give an honourable mention to the various crew who man the ship’s laundries and therefore have had to wash my underpants. You are true heroes.

4. THE BEST CRUISE SHIP BLOG OF THE YEAR AWARD
Obviously I cannot choose our blog as the winner even though the fact that we have 5,700,000 hit thingies. Before I announce the winner I want to congratulate all the Carnival Corporation & plc blogs for a brilliant year. We have Holland America who can always be counted upon to provide people with a comprehensive look behind the scenes ……..not just on one ship……but on every single one of their vessels. And I must say that their new panoramic videos are excellent.

Congratulations also to James Cusick at P&O, Alistair Greener at Cunard and my friends at Costa, Seabourn and AIDA. But it’s time to announce the winner and it is……….P&O Australia.

They may only have two ships but their interactive blogs full of videos, contests and fun, sum up what the company is all about. The company is led by their CEO Anne Sherry whose dynamic and positive outlook on life has been the driving force behind their blog. The proof that this blog works is seen in the thousands of people who read it and that in turn shows that the Australian people love P&O as much as they love beer, shrimp, barbecues, cricket and roast kangaroo.

So congratulations to them and remember that all the corporation’s blogs can be found in one place at www.bestblogsatsea.com.

5. THE REAR OF THE YEAR AWARD
Megan Fox.

6. THE INTERNATIONAL MAN OF THE YEAR AWARD
Silvio Berlusconi wins this by the longest piece of spaghetti in the world. He is 73 and still having rumpy pumpy with 20 something models, still bending the rules and telling the courts to “rumpa rumpa orgatz”………Italian for…..ummm………go away. The fact that he is now courting a broken nose after being hit in the face with a model of the Milan cathedral makes him even more appealing. He has tailored himself to suit Italy and just as brilliantly he has tailored Italians to suit him.

He is 73 years old and instead of sitting in a chair watching the weather channel he is sitting on Latvian Hookers watching his approval ratings get higher and higher. His politics may not be your cup of cappuccino……..but there is no doubt compared to our Prime Minister Gordon Boyle………….he is absolutely brilliant.

I should also give an honourable mention to Micky Arison here as well. During the most difficult of economic times he, the board of directors and of course the presidents and executives of the individual cruise lines made $1.8 billion in profit during the year, making Carnival Corporation & plc the world’s most profitable leisure travel company in 2009 even though we kept our ticket prices at affordable levels. How about that then!

Well, those are my award winners and I wondered……..who are yours? Now I know the cruise sites and cruise magazines hold their awards each year but I thought I would give you all a chance to send us your votes. So, if you have the time…….why not fill in the blanks and let’s see who gets your vote. Here are the categories.

YOUR FAVOURITE CARNIVAL SHIP

YOUR FAVOURITE CARIBBEAN PORT OF CALL

YOUR NUMBER ONE NON-CARIBBEAN PORT OF CALL

THE PORT OF CALL YOU HAVE NEVER VISITED BY WANT TO

YOUR CREW MEMBER OF THE YEAR AWARD

YOUR FAVOURITE CRUISE MEMORY OF 2009

YOUR CRUISE WISH FOR 2010

So, there you go and we all look forward to reading who you voted for.

Well, for me it has of course been an unbelievable year. There have been massive high points of course including the birth of my reason for living…….my daughter Kye. I had the honour of visiting your Carnival Dream during construction as well as hosting the naming ceremony and the Bloggers Cruise aboard our beautiful new ship. I got to meet many of you in person and of course daily through this blog thingy of ours and it still humbles me that 50,000 of you read it each and every week.

The low point was losing my friend Robert Schneider. I spoke to him while he was in intensive care and we joked together about how we would be together for the next Bloggers Cruise. I promised him a fruit basket if he did. But sadly, a few hours later Robert had been promoted to glory and his smile is now being shared with others in heaven. He was a Milestone member and someone who had cruised with me 50 times. He leaves behind his wife Suzann who I know misses him so very much. Robert is who the people with beards at Carnival want to cruise with us. A normal man with a normal job who worked hard but was spirited and fun loving. I miss you Robert.

It’s been a great year for the blog and of course I must thank Stephanie Leavitt, Stephanie Herrera, Stephanie Corredera, Stephanie the Hair, Stephanie Gulliksen and all the other 338 Stephanies for their incomparable help. Without them there would be no blog.

I had a wonderful time as Cruise Director on the Carnival Valor, Carnival Freedom and Carnival Legend and next year I get to be a CD much more and I am really looking forward to that. And of course I shall be writing about my experiences along the way.

Well as most of the Stephanies are taking tomorrow off as they will be on New Years Day this is the last blog until Monday where I will resume with my five blogs a week. There will be more photos and videos and when I return a look at the New Years Eve party on the Carnival Glory.
So until then may I wish you and your families a very happy new year full of health, cruising …………………..and fun.

Happy New Year
Your friends
John, Heidi, Kye and everyone at Carnival Cruise Lines

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.