Name That Tune

January 5, 2010 -

John Heald

One of the good things about Christmas was that on the days leading up to Jesus’ birthday Postman Pat was very busy delivering Christmas cards to you and me. Lets face it though, this is the only time we go to the mailbox with a smile on our face because usually……..nothing good ever comes in the mail. It was so nice to receive cards and get a small reprieve from receiving bills, catalogs and junk?

I remember when the mail used to be fun…………. back before e-mail, when I would receive birthday cards and cheques. Or even better: a birthday card with a cheque. There was nothing better than opening that white square envelope knowing that inside there would be money. It was such a letdown when it was just a card.

Mail used to be exciting because every day was a new opportunity. You never knew what you were going to get. A handwritten letter, an invitation – maybe there would be a postcard from a friend on a Carnival cruise.

Now, the only postcards that arrive have ads on them. Do I want a pizza? A steam cleaning for my carpet? Yesterday I got a card offering me a bigger penis………..which has handwriting on it that looks very much like Heidi’s. Anyway, yesterday Heidi sat and wrote thank you cards to everyone who sent Kye gifts which I now have to sell on eBay to pay for the postage to America, Canada, Holland and Australia…………bugger.

A few weeks ago we were all talking about PA announcements weren’t we? If you remember we were discussing if the Cruise Directors made too many and if they were to long and if guests should be able to hear them in the cabins or not. We are currently working on a new fleetwide standard for the CD’s to make sure that they are informative, fun and not too long. I will of course let you know about this soon. One thing that seems to be pretty unanimous is that you don’t want to hear them in the cabins unless it is something of great importance which is of course our current policy. What we really need is a switch that can give guests an option to turn the announcements on or off in the cabin making sure that the switch was over ridden when and if an emergency announcement had to be made.

I was thinking about this yesterday as I sat on a train going to London once again, this time to renew my passport …………..and I will be talking about this horrific experience in a later blog.

I don’t use the train much and I don’t know if there has been a law issued somewhere by our Prime Minister Susan Boyle but the PA system was used constantly. Every time we pulled away from a station a bored, rather sad voice announced that we are on a train………going to London ……………that food and drink was available from the buffet car…………..he then went on to tell us that a cup of tea was £2………a coffee………£2…………..a cheese and ham sandwich …… £2 ……. in fact everything was £2………..except my ticket which was the price of a sodding three-day cruise.

Then….three times during the 45-minute journey we were warned to look out for bombs and if you find one, not to be a hero and try to defuse it yourself but to let the conductor know where he will halt the train and run away screaming.

Here are some of the others I made a note of.

“First-class areas are for first-class ticket holders only.” Duh.

“This station is monitored by 24-hour CCTV.” Well, you’ve given the game away there you idiot.

“I’m sorry for the late-running of your service. This is due to the late-running of the previous service.”……………I am going to use this one the next time we start embarkation late.

However…..the best announcement I heard recently was not on a cruise or on a train but at my local supermarket…..a place called Sainsbury’s and this I promise you was exactly what was said.

“Please can a cleaning crew go to aisle 4? There has been a human spillage.”

In other words……………..someone had crapped themselves by the soup and salad dressings.

Anyway, on your next cruise would you do me a favour and have a listen to the announcements themselves. Tell me if they are too long, too short and if you found them clear and if you found them fun and informative. This is a really major topic at the moment with those at the top of the Carnival tree which is why I am calling on your help and I look forward to reading your thoughts here on the blog thingy.

Let’s crack on with today’s comments that need answering……… we go.

Kathy M. Asked:
Hi John, Please reply.

As you know I am a solo cruiser and I book all of my excursions through Carnival for the only reason, I am scared to death that something will happen and I don’t get back to the ship on time. I saw it happen to some people when I was on the Carnival Pride last year. There was a group of about 20 people who booked their excursion on-line and the boat broke down, well they did not make it back to the ship on time and we left without them. My biggest fear is getting back to an empty pier and being in a strange country all by myself, and that is very scary to me, especially since the ship leaves at night, where would I go to get help at 10 PM. I look at the difference in price as insurance that I the ship will not leave without me. I watched a video on You-Tube of a couple that got back to the pier just as the ship was leaving, if they had gotten back maybe just 5 minutes before they would have been ok, but after watching this video, it did make me wonder if being left behind by any cruise line would you be covered by your travellers insurance.

John Says:
Hello Kathy M

It’s a good point you raise Kathy and it shows one of the major reasons why we encourage our guests to take an organized excursion booked through the cruise line. Yes, it is a revenue source and as I said we do our best to keep our ticket prices at levels which make them affordable for all. We are in constant communication with the operators we use. As for whether it’s covered in your own Travel Insurance, well, I don’t know the answer to that one as I don’t have a copy of the policy here but let me check this out and let you know. Thanks again for raising this very valid point.
Best wishes

Zannett Asked:

I trust you are enjoying being with your girls. I hope you will take that time off you mentioned and spend it with them during Christmas, they definitely deserve it!

I wanted to take the opportunity to thank you for everything you and your staff did to enhance our sailing on the “Bloggers Cruise” on the Carnival Dream.

We had an amazing time, the ship is beautiful (loved the spa) and the shows were great. If you remember meeting us (my husband says I spend more time with you than with him), well he now reads your blog daily and is very interested in what’s going on with CCL.

Although there were a couple of small bumps on our sailing, we would sail again tomorrow. My husband happened to be one of those stuck on an elevator and he was not even a little upset and yes, others were demanding compensation…for what??? “Ship happens” and with a new ship you have to expect a few growing pains.

Anyway, as promised, I have posted a review on Cruise Critic ( I hope to sail again with you soon; it was truly an honour and privilege. The Captain is a jewel; our parents joined the Behind the Fun tour and were EXTREMELY impressed.

One quick question, any idea who our CD will be on the Carnival Triumph on 2/13/2010?

John Says:
Hello Zannett

It has been wonderful being home with the girls and I am trying not to think about having to leave them at the end of the month. I am so happy to read you had a great time on the recent Bloggers Cruise and I will have to start seriously thinking about organizing BC4 for this year. I sincerely apologize to your husband and the other guests who were stuck in the aft elevators during the power outage. I am sure that it was a very long 20 minutes and his spirit and that the other guests involved was truly remarkable. It was a one-off situation and there have been no further concerns you will be glad to hear. I will pop on over to Cruise Critic and read your review and thank you so much for taking the time to write it. The CD schedule is now posted on the right hand side of the blog thingy so have a look and discover who the Cruise Director will be for your cruise on the Carnival Triumph. I hope we get to spend much more time together on a fun for all cruise and here on the blog thingy.
Best wishes to you both.

retirementman Asked:

Since it takes a while for you to reply I thought it might be better to write now. You might be bored or angry as I have repeated this many times (I’m sorry for repeating) and this will be the last time.

As my wife and I will be on the Carnival Dream January 23rd I asked you if it would be possible if we could have a table in the lower section during dinner so that I could enjoy Ken the Maitre’d. The last time I was on the Carnival Freedom our group was placed in the upper section in the back and I was unable to enjoy Ken even though later in my cruise I was able to get a photo with him. I hope that maybe if possible during the Dream’s cruise I might be able to get a photo of him, you and I together. Empress Bee and her husband Sarge will be on the same cruise. I hope that they and anyone else could join my wife and I for dinner. It’s always great meeting new people.

One last question. After I’m home after my cruise and about a month later I like to go to my travel advisor and arrange another cruise for the next year. People me tell me that I’m crazy arranging my cruise so early and that I should wait until towards the end because the cruise people want to fill the ship and thus will bring the price down a great deal. To me that’s not fair for a guy like me that is willing to plan another cruise because I love to cruise and thus not getting a break because I’m willing to continue cruising with the same company like Carnival. Why must I wait till the end because I enjoy planning and because of that I end up paying the higher price? Just wondering.

Merry Christmas to you, Heidi and your precious daughter Kye. You’ll probably get this note after the Christmas but that’s OK. See you on the Carnival Dream.
Paul F. Pietrangelo

John Says:
Hello Paul

It feels like a long time since I have written to you and I am always happy to see one of your posts. I am sure you will be very excited to be cruising on your Carnival Dream soon and I have indeed sent a table request to the Maitre D. The sad news is that Ken is now on vacation. He worked very hard delivering the new ship and is back home spending some valuable family time in Ireland. However, I will make sure that your table is where you requested. I will be honoured of course to have our photo taken together along with my great friends Empress Bee and Charlie.

Our new flag ship has amazingly strong bookings and therefore last minute discounts for your Carnival Dream are few and far between. Don’t forget that booking early guarantees you the state room you want and I promise that you have done the right thing. I will be there although not as CD until the 30th which is a real shame but I will promise to do all I can to make this a very special cruise and hopefully you will have time to have a cup of tea with me.
See you soon
Best wishes

Crow Asked:

It was a pleasure to sail with you again 12/3 on the DREAM, bloggers cruise. We will be checking to see what ships you will be CD on in the future and hope to sail on one with you.
I have two questions:

1. You asked that I blog regarding getting a copy of the “Bedtime story” you gave on your final voyage on the Glory in 1995. This was the last time we were able to spend with my mum, as she had a heart attack and passed away shortly after the cruise. We failed to purchase the video and she found it so hysterical, we would love to have a copy. You mentioned you might have a copy at home. If there is anyway we could get a copy, it would be greatly appreciated.

2. Our daughter (you’ll be amazed how, it will seem, one day Kye is 22 months and next she’s 22 yrs) will be getting married on the LEGEND on May 16. We are flying my husbands parents in (their 60th anniversary and first cruise) to attend the wedding and sail with all of us for the week. Do you have any suggestions for making this exceedingly memorable for all?
I really appreciate any help /advice.
Thanks so much!
K & C Crow

John Says:
Hello K and C Crow

The Bloggers Cruise was so much fun and I am very happy to hear that you had a great time. I am glad you reminded me about the bedtime story. I will go up into the loft and see if I can find that old VHS tape. I remember the bedtime story that cruise very well for the obvious reasons we spoke about and if I find it I will of course send you a copy. I will be writing more about this later in the blog thingy.

Time does indeed fly and I already see Kye growing bigger each and every day. I hope it is a long time before she reaches 22 though. How wonderful that your family will be together for this special cruise on the Carnival Legend and I think that you should remind me a few weeks before you sail so I can arrange table seating for you. I would also highly recommend a night at the Steakhouse all together and I will make sure I send a birthday gift to your daughter.
Don’t forget to remind me.
Best wishes to you all.

Peg Dunbar Asked:

What a great blog today John.

I am so glad that you are home safe and sound and that Kye does indeed remember you. There is not doubt that she would have forgotten you John that just would not happen to you.

I was hoping that you could help me with a gift to Steve Cassel. What would be something he would enjoy getting? We are going on the January 14th cruise to Cozumel Mexico. It is hard to believe it is less than a month away. It cannot come any sooner. It is 12 degrees below zero today, way to cold for me. We leave for Port Aransas Texas in less than two weeks, cannot wait to get to the warm weather for the next three months.

Keep smiling John, you truly are one of the good guys.
My best to Heidi and Kye.

John Says:
Hello Peg

How wonderfully kind that you are thinking of a gift for Steve Cassel, the incomparable cruise director of the Carnival Ecstasy. Well, I can tell you that Steve loves chocolate and cookies. He has a very sweet tooth and if you were to bring him a chocolate or two I know you would make him very, very happy. Don’t miss his terrific juggling show and he will also have another surprise on stage for you all as well. I will let him know to expect you. Have a great time. Best wishes and enjoy the sun.

Jason Asked:
Please Reply John

I will be sailing on the Carnival Dream on May 22nd 2010 and from reading some of your earlier blog entries that your last cruise as CD of the Carnival Dream will be in March. I was just wondering as to who will be the new CD after your departure, and please tell me they’re at least half as good, and funny as you are.

John Says:
Hello Jason

Unfortunately I will not be the Cruise Director during your Carnival Dream cruise but the good news is that your CD will in fact be the company’s best…….Todd Wittmer. He and his brilliant entertainment staff will make sure you have a wonderful time and don’t forget to check out the Comedy Club which will have you laughing all cruise long. If there is anything else I can do for you please let me know.
Best wishes.

Mike Hart (Virginia) Asked:

Hopefully by now you have re-bonded again with your girls. I still don’t know how in the world you can stay away from your beautiful Kye & Heidi. Well I do know you are providing for your family’s well being.

Recently spent a week in Canada for my job and got to interact with “your” FRENCH friends.
I have convinced another couple to try cruising for the 1st time and only aboard the BEST on the seas CARNIVAL. I am looking forward to at least 2 in 2010 just not sure of the dates yet and if possible squeeze in a 3rd to get to PLATINUM.

If you could possible do something special for them I would greatly appreciate it. I could only wish that you would be the CD for their cruise because I know they would be hooked. I told them how wonderful the food is on board and what a great ship they will be on since I have cruised on her before.

Enjoy your down time with the girls. Looking forward to another 7 fun filled days with you as CD soon!
Mike aka “Virginia”

John Says:
Hello Mike

Great to hear from you and thanks for all the kind words. I am however truly sorry that I did not get this post in time to do as you requested. I am sure though that under your guidance they had a great time and that they, like you, become true Carnival fans. Please let me know if all was well.

Until then I hope that we get to cruise together very soon and once again my apologies for the late reply.
Best wishes to all

Frank and Bridie Asked:
John Please reply,

I don’t know what I would do without your help. I know that Behind the Fun tour is done on sea days. Is that both sea days on the Dream or only one of them? Also do you know what time they usually start? Oh and where do you go to sign up for it once on board? The pursers (Sorry am stuck on that like you) guest service desk?
Thanks so much. See you very soon,
Big fans as Always,
Frank and Bridie

John Says:
Hello Frank and Birdie

As of now the excellent Behind the Fun tour is scheduled only on the last sea day. It does now seem that the word is out and many of the ships are reporting that it is sold out by the end of the first night. Therefore I do recommend that you book it as soon as you arrive onboard. This is done via the Shore Excursion Desk. Please let me know if you have any further questions
Best wishes.

Jennifer Fullmer Asked:
Hi John,

WOW Mahogany Bay will be my next cruise for sure!!

Question: Cruising will all my teenage sons for Spring Bread 03/21 on Splendor. I notice when I login and try to book my excursions most of the options aren’t listed. For example Sailing Banderas Bay in Puerto Vallerta. Do you know if that means its not going to be offered or I have to book on the ship when I get there? THANKS! I am a huge fan btw 🙂

John Says:
Hello Jennifer

I checked with the Shore Excursion department and they confirmed that this tour will indeed be offered. The website will be updated in the next few weeks and it seems that we need to do a better job keeping this up to date. It’s going to be a great cruise and if you or the family need anything at all please let me know.
Best wishes to all.

That’s all for today and I will be back with more tomorrow.

Well, did you see the new Carnival commercial yesterday? Obviously I didn’t get to see it here in the UK but from the version we posted yesterday it certainly ticked all the right bones with me. I would love to know if you saw it and what you thought. In case you missed it here is the industry version again which you can watch by clicking on this link thingy.

The music for our commercial is of course “Bang on the Drum” by Todd Rundgren. I really like this tune but was thinking………..what other music could we play on our future commercials? What tune best sums up the whole Carnival experience?

It doesn’t necessarily need to have the word “fun” in the title or the lyrics although that is of course what we are all about. Can’t wait to hear your suggestions. I think every time we sail away or dock next to an RCI ship we should play Britney Spears’ most famous song! ……………. now that would be funny.

Me personally……..I love a song called I Gotta Feeling by a group called the “Black Pees”………… or something like that. And apparently Princess Fergie has shunned her Royal duties by singing with the rest of the Pees……..extraordinary.

I thought you might like to read this comment about the Carnival Fantasy which was sent directly to the desk of our President and CEO Gerry Cahill.

Dear Mr. Cahill:

My family just returned from the December 24th sailing on the Fantasy. We had not been on a family vacation (with three young adult kids) in years so the Cruise was something my wife had dreamed of for a long time.

I know that people are quick to complain but rarely take the time to compliment. I wanted to let you know that we had a great time on the Fantasy and highlight a couple of areas that made our trip most enjoyable. It was very apparent that Carnival is extremely interested in feedback from their customers.

First…our cabins U6, U8 and U11 were immaculate. Although I do not know the name of our Steward, she could not have made our stay any more enjoyable.

Second…we all looked forward to meals in the Celebration Dining Room (Table 128…Late).

The food was excellent and our waiters were a joy. I know the Ritz Carlton is well known for their service however they could probably learn something from our waiters Juan (Ecuador) and Mario (Peru). Juan and Mario were extremely professional, personable, knowledgeable and extremely hard working. They were committed to making sure that our dining experience could not have been any better. (We also enjoyed learning about their countries and culture when we inquired). Please let these individuals know that their hard work and commitment to excellence made our trip on the Fantasy very enjoyable.

Jim McFerrin
Woodstock, GA

It is great that this guest took the time to write to Gerry who I am sure, as Mr. McGerrin highlighted, gets his fair share of not-so-happy comments. It is also to see that just like our newest ship, your Carnival Dream, our oldest ship; the Carnival Fantasy can still provide amazing cruise vacations.

Here are a few photos of the ship and her senior officers.

I am truly looking forward to being her CD in May………….anyone joining me?

I know that despite having performed this skit for the last 12 years the Bedtime Story is still something that seems to be very popular. In fact, when I don’t perform it many of the past guests seem to get very upset with me. Although the premise has remained the same it has morphed over the years and during my next session as cruise director I will be making more changes which I hope will enhance it even more. I will promise to have it filmed and will post it here on the blog thingy.

Meanwhile, it seems that someone posted an old bedtime story of mine from the Carnival Triumph in 2001 on the You Tube thingy.

I didn’t give anyone permission to do this by the way but that is of course who the world works these days……..the internet is all powerful. It is quite frightening when you think about it. I read in the news about kids being bullied mercilessly on Facebook and there is no Facebook Police you can call to have the bullying stopped.

The internet has allowed men……..should they wish…….to spend their evenings baring showing their Thingy to a Latvian girl while in another room of the house their wife has rekindled a childhood romance on Facespace or Rumpy Pumpy Reunited.

There is also unimaginable cruelty on message boards and blogs, where the rules of defamation seem not to apply. One comment I didn’t post just before Christmas called me a “Fat Company Pawn!”

Technology has moved at an incredible speed. Look at our ships now with interactive TV’s , giant screens, Wi Fi everywhere and of course it is now possible to use your cell phone everywhere on the ship. This is one technological advancement that is not so good. A few years ago we could go where we wanted, when we wanted and no one would bother us.

We could head on down to the local bar for a few drinks with your mates and nobody would ever know. Now we can be tracked down by our cell phones and raspberries……….everywhere………on land and at sea. Phones are evil. Just look at poor old Jack Bauer. If he didn’t have a cell phone he could chill out for a day…………by the way………..I was talking to someone from Carnival’s marketing department yesterday and they came up with yet another ridiculous marketing word. It was used in this sentence “we need to make sure that we get the point across that our guests can come onboard and do lots or just chillaxe.” Yep……..chillaxe……….which in marketing speak is a word combining “chill” and “relax.” Sometimes there just isn’t enough vomit in the world.

Anyway………..there is bugger all any of us can do about it and it is I guess rather hypocritical of me to do so considering the medium on which I am talking to you all now.

Anyway………………here is the bedtime story from 2001………..and if you want to have a watch …………… is the link thingy.

Let me know what you think.

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.