As Seen On TV

January 8, 2010 -

John Heald

It seems that the vast majority of you like our new commercial, as do I. It was fun, it got people talking and you know it’s message is received loud and clear when Heidi says that the “Dad” who stars in it and puts down his blackberry and stops checking his messages for seven days ………. should be me.

Obviously I haven’t seen the commercial on TV (only on the computer) and I am sure it comes over brilliantly as will the commercials we will feature during the Winter Olympic Games. The two negative comments I read were concerning the fact that the girl is blowing a bubble and we don’t sell bubble gum onboard ……. fair point……and the second comment was that blogger Andrea M said that Carnival should hire a famous spokesperson……….well on that one Andrea ……..respectfully……….I disagree.

Obviously we had many successful years with Kathie Lee Thingy and the shots of her skipping around lido deck singing about how we have the fun in both the morning and the evening while surrounded by preposterously good looking people were good for the times. But times have changed and today’s commercials need to be short, sharp, hip and cool and that is I think what we have brought you with the first of our new spots. If we were to hire a “famous” spokesperson who would it be and would having a famous person help sell cruises?

I think the answer to the second part of that question is no………..but I am sure if we ever wanted to find an “A” lister to sell Carnival on TV…………it wouldn’t be a problem because these days it seems anyone will endorse anything…………..if the price is right.

I like to think I still have principles………..let me explain. If Gerry Cahill our president personally asked me to host a charter of the National Association of Bed Wetters or the World’s Smelliest Feet Contest on one of our ships ……….I would say yes. Whereas, if he were to ask me to host a charter for AIG I would say no, sorry, find someone else. You see, they lost Heidi, Kye and I 70% of my retirement fund because they allowed some young wankers…… sorry……. bankers to spend my savings on lobster and lap dancers. Therefore I would say no to having anything to do with them.

But, I wonder……… there still one celebrity who, when offered a bucket load of cash, doesn’t ask just one question — Where do I park my wheelbarrow? Who doesn’t wonder “Should I do this awful commercial?” but “Will it buy me a vacation villa next to Elton John’s?”

I don’t know what it’s like in America and Canada but here in the UK the TV ads are full of millionaire celebrities pocketing thousands of dollars

In the US I know famous people get paid millions to appear in Super Bowl commercials. Actors, comedians, celebrities and sportsmen, sportswomen and who in previous decades might have shuddered and drawn the line at a cheesy commercial now seem to form an orderly line to fill their Gucci boots without a flicker of shame. How much money does one person actually need anyway? How much can you spend in a lifetime? Does $60 million make you quantifiably more happy than $59 million? At what point is enough, enough? It’s an interesting question.

Here we have Samuel L. Jackson, Ewan McGregor, Angelina Jolie, Hugh Laurie, Dame Judy Dench, Dame Helen Mirren and Dame David Beckham Stephen all of whom are people who have surprised me by lending themselves to the ad man or woman. I mean, Brad Pitt is selling Levis for God’s sake. Do people buy Levi’s because Brad wears them?……..the fact that he probably wears Versace or some other Italian designer jeans is probably missed on most people. Look at poor Cheetah Woods. He advertises Buick cars yet he was driving a Cadillac when his wife shoved a five iron up his arse. Here though is the one that is being shown in the UK that gets on my nerves …………….the most.

Have a look at this

Heidi and I bought one of these machines and the coffee tastes like it has been brewed in Dwyane Wade’s jockstrap. Oh……..and ……I should very much enjoy for George Clooney to drop by one day and explain why each spoonful of the Nespresso coffee he advertises so suavely needs to be wrapped in an individual container. I am no environmentalist, but he is, and I would love to hear his views on why such an enormous amount of packaging is a good idea.

So, no…..I don’t think a celebrity is needed to advertise Carnival Cruise Lines …… but ………..if we did ever go that way…….who would you like to see as the star of the commercials….it would be interesting to read who you think is right for the role……. hhmmmm…..Megan Fox’s bottom on Lido Deck………….now that would make be buy a cruise.

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

KITKAT0229 Asked:
Hi John – please respond.

We’ll finally be sailing on our New Years cruise next weekend – yippie! We’ll be on the Conquest sailing out of Galveston and I was wondering, will they be serving black eyed peas for us Texans on New Years for good luck? It’s always been a tradition in our family 🙂 We’re soooooo excited for our cruise and can’t wait to be done with work this week. Happy holidays to you and yours!
Thanks, Katrina

John Says:
Hello Katrina

This is one of those questions that due to my inability to catch up with the questions I am asked to reply to I am late in answering. I hope you got your Black Eyed Peas though and I truly hope you had a wonderful New Year’s cruise and please write and let us know all about it.
Best wishes

Shelley Kresak Asked:
(Please Reply)

Merry Christmas to you John & your wonderful family! I hope “Santa” brings all your wishes!

My husband and I are taking our very first cruise, well our very first “adult” vacation I should say. Is there any way you would be able to help us out with our dinner seating? Possibly a window seat? I’m trying to get him hooked on taking a cruise vacation and need all the help I can get!! lol
Thanks bunches

John Says:
Hello Shelley

Thanks for the kind wishes Shelley and if you could send me a posting marked for my reply with the ship and sailing date as well as your cabin number I will be honoured (spelt correctly).
Best wishes to you both

Vivienne Paige Asked:
Hello John, Please Reply.

Would you please convey my sincerest wishes to Captain Salvatore Rassello for a speedy recovery, and a speedier return to his place at the helm? Do you happen to know what ship he will be on, when he returns? Oh, and by the way…….Did you get the copy of the ‘Mardi Gras Capers’ from him?
Thank you,

John Says:
Hello Vivienne

How kind of you to think of my good mate Captain Rassello. He has fully recovered and is due to rejoin the Carnival Glory as captain at the end of February. I will send him your kind regards as you requested. I didn’t see the Mardi Gras Capers yet but I am sure he will be showing them to me soon and that I am sure will bring back many happy memories.

Thanks again and best wishes

Terri Asked:
John (please reply)

I haven’t yet gone back and read all the blogs I missed while on our cruise on the Carnival Spirit. Eventually I will catch up!

I did want to say we had a wonderful time, and just note a couple of things (will be writing a more detailed review later…before I get caught up reading your blogs, I have to get caught up at work!). We tried the “Your Time Dining” and found that it worked very well for us — and when you asked a while back on the blog, we voted for traditional assigned dining! *LOL* But we have previously found that early seating dining makes us feel a bit rushed to get back to the ship on port days (so we are rested, showered and dressed in time for dinner), but that late seating makes us miss the start of some of the evening activities we enjoy. “Your Time Dining” = problem solved! On the other side of the coin, we did not like the new version of the Captain’s Party at all. Quite a disappointment.

When we do write up a more detailed review, where would be the best place to send it? The Comment Card never seems to have enough room to list various things we want to take note of.

Love the photos of your snow. Here in southern California it has been sunny and warm since we returned from the Mexican Riviera (which was even sunnier and warmer!). I’m not complaining because I KNOW southern California would come to a complete halt if we got snow like that!

Love to Heidi and Kye!
Terri and Larry

John Says:
Hello Terri and Larry

I am so glad that you liked the Anytime Dining option. More and more people seem to be opting for this but I know that some still are not sure, especially those who have cruised many times and are used to the assigned seating. However, the flexibility of dining when you want is invaluable and thanks for confirming this is so. I know the new Captain’s celebration has gotten generally favourable reviews by our guests but we’re still reviewing the reports from the ships to see what the overall opinions are. It certainly is not set in stone so let’s see what the future brings.

Please send me your full review here on the blog thingy. Include the good and the areas you feel we could improve on. We certainly need to read those and most importantly I am glad you had a great time. Thanks for the kind words and my best wishes to you both.

Kevin J Asked:
John Please reply

What is it about Cruise Critic…that they can’t get any story that they do RIGHT…..Its sounds like to me they need to get with the program… We are still waiting patiently for our Feb. 20th voyage with you……..Kevin

John Says:
Hello Kevin J

It must seem that sometimes I write as though I am not a fan of Cruise Critic when actually I seriously am. The majority of what is posted there is written by people who have opinions that are factually based. However, there is a small minority of people who write stuff that is ridiculous to the extreme and do so to try and influence others not to cruise with a certain line. That’s what makes my hemorrhoids flare up. However, it is a great site and a great way for people to get info on different cruise lines and meet new friends on the ships. I will see you soon and I promise to do all I can to make sure you have the best cruise ever.
Best wishes

Brian Asked:

Thanks for the awesome time (and the fun gifts) on the Bloggers3 Cruise, it was a pleasure meeting and spending some time with you. I now understand why my wife spends so much time “with” you. My parents also enjoyed getting to know you and can’t wait to sail with you again.

We are sailing on the Carnival Triumph on February 13, scheduled to call on Roatan on February 17th. I’ve tried calling CCL several times and cannot seem to find anyone who knows if we will be docking at the new Mahogany Bay Port. Can you please check this for me?

John Says:
Hello Brian

I am sure you have been reading my postings about Mahogany Bay in recent blogs and will have seen what a gorgeous place it is as you will see for yourself when you dock there on the Carnival Triumph next month. I hope you will write and tell us all about it. I am glad you both had fun on the Bloggers Cruise. Best wishes and have fun on the Carnival Triumph.

Katiel53 Asked:
John, Please Reply.

I do feel that there are too many people who can find excuses to not tip the suggested amounts, especially to those in the dining room. On Cruise Critic, there are many posts where people ask if they “have to” tip their regular waiter when they are going to eat in the steak house or if they aren’t going to eat in the dining room every night. Another is that their kids aren’t going to eat in the dining room every night, or their kids don’t eat much or whatever excuse they can come up with.

My thought is that tipping should be made a non-removable service charge. This is done on another cruise line and I think it seems to work out well. If there is a problem with service, it needs to be brought to the attention of customer service and they are given the opportunity to see that the problem doesn’t re-occur. Should it, then that part of the service charge can be removed. I think it’s a great way to solve the tipping problem.

Service charges are common in hotels and resorts and it doesn’t seem that people try to get them taken off like they do on tips. JMO.

John Says:
Hello Katiel53

Ahhh yes…..tipping. This is a subject that everyone has an opinion on. I remember the days when I worked in the dining room as a wine steward, before the days of Sail & Sign and automatic 15% gratuity charges on guests’ bills. There was something magical about getting that envelope at the end of the cruise, running down to your cabin to open them and leap for joy when you would find a few $10 bills or to cry like a baby when one family who you had been serving wine all cruise long had given you $1………….Canadian!

Nowadays of course the tips are placed on your Sail & Sign card and all guests have the right to adjust them accordingly. There are arguments for and against this and of course there is the argument that service would improve if gratuities were not automatic. I for one do not agree with this. We need our crew to give the best possible service regardless of tips being automatic…….or not. And I think most would agree that the service you receive now from your dining room staff and from your stateroom steward is fun and of the highest standard despite the gratuity being automatically added.

Some guests remove them because they prefer to pay in cash and some……..lets face it ………. remove them because they don’t want to pay it. Those people can be found eating dinner on the last night of a cruise…………..on the Lido Deck. Harsh………..but true.

As I said though, this is only a tiny few and of course as you said, if service has not been of the standard you expect then yes…..remove them……….absolutely. By the way, while tipping is still the normal thing to do in North America in other parts of the world it is not. P &O Australia’s announcement this month that it would abandon the practice of adding gratuities to passengers’ bills may be something other “international” lines may adopt. Still… me…….tipping is simple. Did you get good service?………..then tip. The End.

I would be interested to read others thoughts on this.

Best wishes Katiel53 and thanks for taking the time to write

Bugs Asked:
Dear John, (please reply)

Having caught up on sleep and laundry from the Blogger’s Cruise thought it might be time to share some thoughts about the Carnival Dream and Carnival in general. The cruise was simply awesome. Many poor reviews had me a bit nervous about lines, bad service, too much smoke – not enough places to smoke, blah food – you’ve heard them all before.

The people who wrote those must have been on another ship in another dimension, or I was. This time Carnival really did do it right. The crew, except for the spa girl who was having a bad day, were unbelievably efficient, professional and friendly. One who truly rose above the rest was Demila who tended bar at Rendezvous, on Lido and Serenity. She always exuded warmth and made us feel special. She is a gem!

Embark and debark was very smooth and painless including ports.
Food – the choices were wonderful and usually good. Pasta, pizza, deli (my favorite) and tandoor. If one didn’t fit the bill, another or the buffet did. Tried the eat when you like dining and loved it. It freed up more time to do more on the ship.

Accommodations – h’cap spa inside (11207) bathroom is A+, closet space D-. Room would be adequate for one passenger. For two, a wheelchair
and some clothing it’s a ridiculously tight fit.

While on the subject of limited mobility a few situations might be pointed out. Many people are not able to use the pools because they cannot navigate the ladders. Lifts and hoists are not always necessary, a ramp or steps with a sturdy railing would make the pools more accessible.

A new ship comes with new problems. The spa elevator broke on the second or third day of the cruise. I was told it would not be fixed until after the cruise was over because a part was needed from Port Canaveral. This made the spa and Serenity much more difficult to access.

Public Spaces – The ship is so easy to get around. Upper and Lower Dream Streets allow quick passage fore and aft. The casino was not too smoky. I don’t smoke and used both the smoking and non-smoking areas and only noticed that the machines are tighter in the smoking area. Lido deck has a new design with large open spaces through the overhang that allow smoke and cooking odors to escape while keeping the rain and sun off those sitting there. Very nice modification. Now, if the volume could be adjusted it would be just about perfect. When the sound is so loud it hurts, we end up going elsewhere. Serenity is wonderful except for the chair hogs. The Promenade and Lanai open the ship up so nicely.

Entertainment – The bloggers discussed this quite a bit, but I think it deserves another mention. Getting into a show -any show- was a hot ticket. On a 9 day cruise we managed to see one show in the Comedy Club. That’s it, one show. Even showing up an hour early every seat in the theatre and the comedy club were taken.

Ports – Wonderful! The scenery in Antigua and Tortola was heavenly. Shopping in St. Thomas. Some chose to load the cannon with the attempted stop at San Juan, I enjoyed every minute of it all decorated with rainbows from the moment we entered the harbor till we left. Grand Turk, great beach, great pool, gorgeous weather – wow.

The Bloggers Cruise and the Carnival Dream teamed up for an unforgettable adventure. As always, John you took excellent care of your bloggers and provided hours of fun and new and exciting experiences for us all. I loved the Q&A’s and those little chicken legs at the Farewell Party deserve a fancy name and a spot on the menu. (Please don’t tell me they were frogs’ legs).

The team of Carnival delivering the best value in cruising today; John being the most dedicated, sensible, funny, honest, goofy and down to earth Ambassador; and crew like sweet and kind Demila add up to an experience that is hard to beat. We saw a few hiccups, but they are being addressed and we have every reason to believe that our upcoming cruises on the Carnival Dream with four dear OLD friends on January 2 (counting the days!!) and on February 20 with NEW friends Mary & Ed (counting the weeks!!) will be fantastic and sensational.

Wishing you the best in this season of hope, sharing and caring; to celebrate with your family and create new traditions and preserve old ones with Heidi and Kye and to carry the spirit of the season into the New Year.
Peace, bugs

John Says:
Hello Bugs

Thank you so much for this honest review of the Carnival Dream and to me the most important part of it was your mention of not paying attention to what others have written and making up your own mind.

We know there are still areas that we must improve on and you touched on those in your report. These are mostly to do with seating and service when we have the very high 4,000 plus counts during holiday cruises although obviously the comedy shows are very popular. We are looking now, as I write, at all the show schedules to see what we can do to make this better for all.

However, it seems that you had a great time and that is brilliant news. I will make sure that the ship is copied on this and they get to read all about your experiences. I hope it’s not too long before we cruise together again soon. Best wishes to you and the family.

Margaret Hall Asked:
Hi John, (please reply)

We will be on the Dream, January 23rd, stateroom 7430 My husband is my hero, he’s been taking care of a 4 year old 24/7 and has not cruised with me over the past 4 years as he has not wanted to leave her. He’s helping out while her Mother is finishing her education and working full time. My question is, can you arrange us to be on the main level in the dining room and at a large table where he can have adult conversation. Sitting home with a 4 year old watching cartoons is not stimulating. He’s 71. He was an airline pilot and now his mentality has been reduced to “SpongeBob Squarepants” He deserves a vacation away from responsibility and it would make my day if he could see Ken my favorite Maitre’D rather than just listen to him singing. It will make my cruise. I’ve been on many cruises with you in the past and I’m looking forward to seeing you January 23rd, even if you won’t be in the CD capacity. This is my 12th cruise on Carnival, it’s my cruise line of choice. Believe me I’ve been on ALL of the others, carnival has come a long way and has not forgotten who the customer is. Thank you for all you do. I said I’d never write and ask a favor, but, this is for a special man that has sacrificed so much.

We have that awful white stuff here in Virginia also, we’re expecting another foot or more.
Enjoy your time off, even though you seem to work just as hard from home. Say hi to Heidi for me and also Kye.

John Says:
Hello Margaret

Thanks for the touching tribute to your husband whom it sounds needs your Carnival Dream vacation to get here soon. Ken is unfortunately on vacation but I have sent your request to the ship and I am sure the Maitre D will do all he can to help you. I will be there as well so hopefully we will bump into each other. Best wishes to all and see you soon.

That’s all for today and thanks to everyone for your comments.

Time for the news and let’s start with a follow up to yesterday’s blog and my proud announcement that our humble blog thingy had won an award. Well, I was not the only winner as you will see now as Vance tells us about another winner……….Mahogany Bay.

New Mahogany Bay Cruise Center Earns Top Honors in Porthole Magazine’s 2010 Editor-in-Chief Awards

That’s great news and of course our new facility on Roatan is a worthy winner. Congratulations to Giora Israel and his corporate team and please make sure that you all mark this down on your must visit ports of call. I can’t wait to see it for myself on my Carnival Dream in a few weeks.

Now, there seems to have been a few problems opening the cruise director schedule which as a link thingy over there on the right hand side. It seems that it would only open if you had something called Fire Squirrel which is a computer ……….ummm………..thingy………….however, one of the 343 Stephanies has now done something that means that it will open for everyone.

And we need to add a new link thingy to the page as well because many, many of you requested the Piano Bar schedule. Our entertainers there have become iconic and I know for many it is your favourite place to be onboard. So, with that in mind and with thanks to Rob King for sending it to me……….here is……..the Piano Bar Entertainers schedule for the first part of 2010.

Carnival Paradise – Jordan Heppner 01/04/10
Carnival Liberty – Duane Lewis 01/09/10
Carnival Dream – Vince Strong 01/09/10
Carnival Ecstasy – Patrick Leng 01/18/10
Carnival Elation – Colin Kadey 01/24/10
Carnival Legend – Robert Crucilla 01/24/10
Carnival Inspiration – Conn Davis 01/25/10
Carnival Glory – Jason Davis 01/31/10
Carnival Triumph – Wally Boik 02/01/10
Carnival Miracle – Rick Atha 02/24/10
Carnival Spirit – Peter Brenner 03/11/10
Carnival Imagination – Robert Stiel 04/09/10
Carnival Valor – Larry Maconaghy 04/18/10
Carnival Fantasy – Richard Canter 05/15/10
Carnival Pride – Roger Concepcion 06/13/10
Carnival Sensation – Tom Riccio 06/20/10
Carnival Conquest – Jason Martin 07/18/10
Carnival Destiny – Bill Barclay TBA
Carnival Freedom – Greg Gallello TBA
Carnival Splendor – Steve Brisley TBA
Carnival Victory – Angela Johnson TBA

By the way, the Fascination is missing as she is heading to dry dock.

Talking of dry dock, the Carnival Glory will soon be heading there and I am going to be asking Captain Cutugno to send us a daily dry dock blog. The ship will be receiving:
• Serenity
• Seaside Theatre
• Circle “C”
• 18 Spa Deck Ocean View staterooms converted to balcony staterooms
• Your Time Dining” will be available on both levels of the forward dining room
• Addition of the Mongolian Wok on the Lido* (exact date of completion TBD)
• WiFi bow to stern

We look forward to reading all about it.

Time for today’s slide show which features some spectacular photos of the first ever ship I delivered from new as a Cruise Director………..The Carnival Sensation.

Have a look at all these brilliant shots.

By the way, are you enjoying these slide shows? I hope so and my thanks to Stephanie H for putting them together and my sincere thanks to the Hotel Director Nickos D. Batistatos for sending in the photos which are a clear and current reminder that our older ships still look stunning and provide thousands of our guests with a fun for all vacation.

As you know I always have my Raspberry (blackberry) with me and Heidi does not like this very much which is why she loved the comment on our new commercial. Recently our Super Spy PA 007 showed me how to use a device on it called Blackberry Messenger which is a bit like MSN thingies that allow instant messaging. And Heidi caught me doing this last night while she was talking to me about the moving Kye off booby milk onto solids and was not amused to discover that my friend Alan and I were sending vulgar messages to each other.

Today’s politicians all use Blackberries and I would imagine that this sort of thing happens at United Nations meetings. President Obama sending a message to Prime Minister Gordon Boyle saying “look at the jugs on that delegate from Latvia.”

Or Prime Minister Boyle sending one to President Obama asking, “What’s that smell?”…….and President Obama replying “It’s President Sarkozy.”

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.