January 25, 2010 -

John Heald

Flying on my birthday was about as much fun as rectal surgery but despite the fact that I was seated next to a man whose feet smelt like a piece of cheese that had been fermenting in Dwyane Wade’s jockstrap………….. Here I am on your Carnival Dream.

And before I talk about the ship and we catch up on all the news I need to let you know about my journey to Port Canaveral which was made by shuttle bus……………from Orlando Airport ……. which meant sharing the journey with Carnival Dream guests……and those sailing on the Disney thingy. Now, you might think that I am going to waffle on about screaming kids but you would be wrong. The kids were well behaved…………..oh know………….it was the adults. Let me explain.

I was seated next to a group of retired people, in their late 60’s all of whom were wearing Disneyesque clothing and two of the women had taken their fetish one step further and proudly wore Micky Mouse ears. It seemed that these old age pensioners were regressing so far back into childhood they could practically be wearing diapers and I must admit….. I found it rather weird. I hadn’t realized that there are grown-ups in this world who subject themselves to the ordeal of Disney ………………………. without children.

Suddenly and without warning the pensioners in the Micky Mouse ears began addressing their husbands in cutesy animal voices which sounded like chipmunks who had sucked down a pint of helium. Grey-headed men started camcording themselves and their wives who then started singing …………It’s a Small World………….loudly. They were lucky that their fake ears weren’t suddenly covered in my projectile vomit.

I am sure Disney Cruise Line has a wonderful product but I just couldn’t work out why this group of retired folks was going on a cruise made for kids……..with no kids………….and with no casino or any kind of adult-based entertainment. Children are wonderful and sometimes you must pay top dollar for vacations in which you eat smiley potatoes while being grinned at by a 6-foot rodent in a Captain’s uniform

I guess these people were different. They probably don’t drink or smoke………..but they would trample a six year old underfoot to beat them to get an autograph from Captain Micky…

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

John LoConte Asked:
Hi John!

My wife and I are cruising the Dream in February on the Super Bowl sailing… This will be only our 2nd cruise (both with Carnival) and we are so excited! Her family lives out of state so we do not get to see them often but the good news is that they are sailing with us! 🙂 We got married this past April and cruised Carnival for our honeymoon. The best part of our cruise was renting a cabana in Half Moon Cay! We saw that the new cruise dock in Roatan now has private cabana’s for rent but when I called Carnival they said they had no idea about them (even though it is listed on the website under excursions but has no information listed about the cabana) I called my PVP but she said due to their high call volume they could not help me which kind of bummed me out. If you could offer ANY help and/or advice that would be greatly appreciated! I’m really excited to be on board with you! Thanks so much…

John Says:
Hello John LoConte

I am sure you must be very excited to be cruising here on your Carnival Dream. We will of course be showing the game both on the Seaside Theatre Big Screen and in the main lounge as well. You also have some great ports to enjoy and one of those is of course Roatan and our new facilities at Mahogany Bay. The Cabanas you mentioned are indeed for rent and here is the link thingy for you to have a read all about them.


You can of course also reserve them onboard from the Shore Excursion desk on deck 3.
I will see you soon
Best wishes

Chase Asked:
Hi John,

My parents are huge fans of your blog, they cruised w/you on the Carnival Dream for BC3 (Brian and Zannett).

We will all be sailing on the Carnival Triumph on 2/13-2/20 and I was hoping that you would send a request to our CD to broadcast the NASCAR Daytona 500 on the Lido deck on 2/14. I am a huge NASCAR fan and would love to watch a race on the big screen. My parents loved watching the SEC Championship game during the BC3 sailing.
Thank you so much,

John Says:
Hello Chase.

I was so glad to hear that your family enjoy the blog thingy so much and please send Mum and Dad my best regards. I will be talking about the big screen later in today’s blog thingy but I will say that while it will be possible to show the race on the screen we will have to do so with no volume. As you will read in a moment this is a bit of a contentious subject but having the volume up stops us being able to have our live musicians perform and the entertainment staff host the fun for all activities.

The race will though be shown in the sports bar for you. I will speak to the CD on the Carnival Triumph and ask George to see what he can do to show the race (without sound) on the big screen.
Have a brilliant cruise
Best wishes

Jake Silverberg Asked:

Long time no talk. I’ve been just loving the Dream. I’ve read those of course daily and can just smile at the blog. I hope you and Heidi are well. I actually had an accident yesterday. As you probably know cruise ships, cycling and hockey and music are my main passions. I bike with Florida’s fastest group that once a month goes past port of Miami, and part of Port Everglades on 17th street, but what happened yesterday is I was hit hard by a car. As you know I’m 13, and am lucky to survive. I know you drove around Florida, and particularly South Florida drivers are crazy. I was struck to the left part of my body with only minor injuries thankfully, but was very shaken up. Eyes were dilated from impact, and I whipped out on the hood of the car over the windshield hard. My Specialized road bike that is top of the line with my pocket bar-mitzvah money had damage, and in this case it was completely the drivers fault with no question. A driver who completely was over the speed limit, and failed to stop at a stop sign hitting me hard as I rolled over the hood. I wanted to inform you that I am indeed okay and recovering. I spoke to Elaine yesterday, and wanted to say hello to everyone. My blog has been slow, but I can assure you a full inside exclusively for the carnival dream and here great progress, and I wanted to know if “you” yourself the great john was interested in being interview for the site as your an icon to millions of people. PLEAS REPLY WHEN YOU HAVE THE TIME,
From, Jake

John Says:
Hello Jake

I was so sorry to read about your accident. I am sure you must have been very scared and I am also sure you have been very brave. We all send you our very best wishes and if you would like to send one of the 343 Stephanies some questions I will be happy to answer them as soon as I can mate.
Best wishes

Angela Guptill Asked:
Please reply (John/Stephanie etc.)

Want to book our thalassotherapy pool at the spa on The Dream for the Feb. 13th cruise but unable to see it on the spa menu. Would like to know if we can do this.

Thanks so much for all your hard/dedicated/appreciated work.
Angela Guptill

John Says:
Hello Angela

I am here on your Carnival Dream and the luxurious Cloud 9 Spa awaits you. While you can book all the various treatments online you have to reserve the thalassotherapy pool once onboard. I know it is very popular and I am not sure as to why we don’t have this facility yet but I will investigate. For now though, please go to Spa Deck 12 forward when you board and treat yourself to a day pass and enjoy total relaxation. Apparently we also have something called a “gym”………………..but I have no idea what that is.
See you soon
Best wishes

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

Thanks very much for your response to my inquiry about the kiddie splash park. No worries, I’m sure we won’t think twice about it once onboard. After reviewing the photos you posted on today’s blog (30 Dec), I can scarcely contain my excitement – how blessed we are to be sailing on the Dream!

My sons, Ryker (8) and Truce (6), are equally thrilled. They both confessed they looked right past Christmas with anticipation of our cruise. Now that’s saying something! Here’s the part I’m requesting a reply to: I’ve read about the “behind the fun tour” a few times here on your thingy (your blog thingy, that is). My boys would very much like to take that tour. In addition to close-toed shoes I thought I saw a reference to an age requirement. Could you please clarify that for me? Any guidance you can provide to help me secure the tour for my family of 5 would be greatly appreciated. My beautiful wife and our little princess, Glelia (21 months in March when we sail), would also like to attend the tour… but it’s the boys whose hearts are set on it.

Thank you for the laughter and insights you offer so freely in this forum. I’m not the least bit surprised it is the smash hit that it is!

A new and obsessively committed reader of your blog,
Bearded Bill

John Says:
Hello Bearded Bill

I am sure by now you and all the family are so excited to your cruise here on your Carnival Dream. I will be writing more about the ship later in today’s blog thingy. Now, the Behind The Fun tour does indeed have an age restriction of 13. This is of course for various safety reasons …. also remembering that it is a four-hour excursion around the ship and involves accessing stairs etc. I am sorry they won’t be able to join you but I am sure they will love seeing all the photos Dad takes while he visits the bridge, engine control room and much, much more.

I am so glad you are enjoying the blog and I look forward to seeing you all soon.
Best wishes

Tucson Larry Asked:
Hello John, Please reply if you have time.

At last Jan.31st! The last day of a somewhat difficult year. There were few bright spots in this a year that has rocked my faith in my country. I will turn 72 in April and other than making it to that age which makes it a good year by default; I hope the people that are running the show will get their heads out of their arse… Since I cannot change what has happened or what will happen I am enclosing my list of the good things in 2008.

1. Susan and I are healthy.

2. My daughter has finally ended a long fight with her health and is feeling better then she has in 15 years. I pray to G-d that this is permanent.

3. We managed to pay all our bills and have had enough for a several vacations:

3a. Jan.2009 Bloggers cruise. We laughed more and had as much fun in 5 days then we did on our 30 day adventure with you in the Med. Freedom 2008. (You got off in Rome and although Todd was good the second 14 days on the transatlantic was not quite the same)

3b. I n October we came across a deal so good we could not refuse Half the price of a hotel without food or entertainment, so we celebrated Susan’s B day on the ghtakfigxyz???? Of the seas. (5 day Mexican Rivera). Nice ship – have no fear we have not sold out

3c. Bloggers cruise Dec 2009 Carnival Dream. We were able to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary with you, Ken and the rest of the superb crew on the Dream.

I have been reading a lot of dismal comments about that ship and that particular cruise. Bullocks! We are not in the top rank of cruises taken but we have over 100 days in 10 or so cruises (30, 3 day cruises) platinum my arse) I guess it all depends on your point of view. In our opinion The Dream is the best riding ship we have been on (including The Oosterdam through the Panama canal and the ever rough straights of Cuba) In addition the new venues, promenade on deck 5 (with hot tubs and chaises that remind us of ships of yesterday), The serenity deck, Ocean Plaza, pasta Bar and Mongolian wok. To mention a few were great, the complaint about missing Puerto Rico (stuff happens). We missed Livorno (this was one of the main reasons we took the cruise) on the Liberty 2007. We were fortunate to be able to return the following year on the Freedom and got to see it.

Life is too short to mess with the small stuff. There were things that we feel could have been better; all things considered we absolutely loved The Dream. If they would make flying easier (17 hours Orlando –Tucson) we would take The Dream again. I know that it might appear that we have a lot of money and can do as we wish. No so. When we are able to go on vacation it is ALWAYS a well thought out decision.

I would like to make a comment on the thorny Platinum question. A number of years ago I instituted (in my business) a system of evaluation that while simple was extremely effective. With a little modification I think that this might be a solution. Change Platinum qualification to a point system; IE: “x” amount of points per day at sea. This will allow a universal way to track trips; it may also encourage people to take longer trip making it commercially viable for Carnival as well. Personally I would like a 12-14 day trip in the Caribbean not returning to home port two times in the same trip. This will also better amortize the cost of plane fare.
Our best to you, Heidi, and Kai. May you have a happy and healthy New Year.
Warmest Regards
Susan & Larry Orenstein.

John Says:
Hello Susan and Larry

How wonderful that you decided to write a list of all the good things that happened to you during 2009. Maybe that is something we should all do and it certainly may help us to count our many blessings. I hope 2010 is a great year for you and that your daughter continues to say happy and healthy.

2010 will also be a great year for our Platinum guests and over the next few months I will be writing much more on this subject. Our itinerary planning department is also constantly looking for new and exciting destinations and voyages so please stay tuned to the blog thingy for much more information on both these subjects.

Please let me know if you need anything and my best wishes to you both.

Andrea Conner Asked:
John, Please respond.

I am new to your blog thingy and find it brilliant. Seems there should be other ways of obtaining this information or asking questions rather than absorbing your valuable time but it is certainly appreciated. I am bringing my in-laws into the world of cruising on Feb 1 on the Imagination. I am so looking forward to it but hoping they enjoy it as much as I do. Is there any way to request a table for our party of four? We do not get to spend much time together and would really appreciate to have our dinners in privacy if possible. We are very friendly and if we end up with tablemates will make the very best of it.
Best to your family,

John Says:
Hello Andrea

I welcome you to the blog thingy and hope that it gives you a great mixture of fun and information. I have sent your dining request to the Maitre D on the Carnival Imagination who will do his best to help you. I wish you a wonderful cruise vacation.
Best wishes to all.

Ken & Barbie Sue Asked:
John – Please Reply

First, let me wish you, Heidi and Kye a very Happy New Year. We love reading your Blog Thingy and are Platinum cruisers on Carnival – because we Love Fun!

My question to you is does Carnival and the other cruise lines have extra security that is continuing ongoing being taken. I don’t need to know how our safety is being protected. My sister will not take a cruise because she thinks terrorists will get on board with other passengers.

John Says:
Hello Ken and Barbie Sue

Wow……..Ken and Barbie! You are two people who were truly meant to be with each other.
Please tell your sister not to worry. Security both during the check in procedure and on board the ships is at the highest level and cruising remains a safe and fun way for you and your family to enjoy a brilliant vacation. Obviously I can’t go into details of our security operation but rest assured that we do everything we can to make sure that this continues.

If your sister has any other concerns please let me know and I will be honored to try and put her mind at ease.

Best wishes to you all.

Carold Asked:
John, (please respond)

Been off the blog thingy for awhile and it has taken me forever to catch up on all I have missed. First and foremost, Happy New Year to you and your beautiful family.

We are on the Carnival Conquest for its March 21st sailing, and I think I saw where you will not be our cruise director. Please tell me this is not true. There are 12 of us going and 10 are first time Carnival cruisers. I have done nothing but tell all of them what an honor they are going to have with you as CD. Son even went and bought Cigars so that he could enjoy them with you and his dad. If it is true, maybe I will have to put an 8×10 picture of you on our Cabin door, and at least we can pretend you are with us.

Oh and I am with you completely on the “to be honest with you” drives me nuts.
Enjoy your time with the family.

John Says:
Hello Carol D

I hope that you have managed to catch up on the blogs and welcome back. Thanks for all the kind words for my family which I return to you and yours. I will indeed be on the ship with you but alas…..I won’t be the Cruise Director. I will be on a week’s handover as I have never been to Galveston or in fact been onboard the Carnival Conquest. I am sure we will see each other though and I certainly look forward to that.

Please let me know if there is anything you need before you sail.
Best wishes to all

Charlene Scilatchi Asked:
I will ask for a reply even though I did not get one the last time.

I had written to your blog asking for a table for two for me and my husband on the New Years cruise on the Liberty but your reply never came and we never got our table and had to sit with other passengers. I suggest that you take a look at your customer service portion of your blog and concentrate on this more and spend less time trying to be funny.
Charlene and Anthony Scilatchi

John Says:
Hello Charlene and Anthony

I apologize that this happened. In fact I am sure I wrote a reply to you last week apologizing that I had not replied to your original posting asking for a table for two in time of your sailing. Please accept my apologies once again and I hope you had a great time on the Carnival Liberty.
Best wishes

Sunny Daze Asked:
Pls explain the copyright laws for my Carnival photos. Like many of the other individuals, I have multiple 8×10s which is nice, but would have preferred smaller sizes w/o having to purchase the 8X10.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my 5 Carnival cruises & 1 Golden Princess cruise. I still favor Carnival over Princess.

Is there any way for me to make smaller copies? The places that I have taken them say the copyright laws don’t allow for this.

What’s the bottom line on this?
Thanks for your time!
Sunny Daze

John Says:
Hello Sunny Daze
You ask a great question and honestly I don’t know the answer. So, I kindly ask that you allow me a few days to get the correct information from someone who will be able to explain our policies to me and I will then post them here on the blog thingy.

I hope you continue to enjoy your cruising experiences and that we see you soon.
Best wishes

That’s all for today. As you can see I have a blogger who is very upset at me for not getting to the answers quick enough and again I apologize to her. Please bear with me as I attempt to catch up on the questions I have been asked to reply to.

Ok, let’s do the news and we start with our man in London, our Brit blog reporter Peter Shanks who also as well as being our official British correspondent also has a second job….not as important of course as his blog responsibilities….but he is also the President and Managing Director of Cunard. Here is a quick note from our mate across the pond.

Hello young Mr. Heald – I hope you are well.

Thought your bloggers may be interested in the linked brief video taken from onboard Queen Elizabeth in the shipyard. Anticipation is building nicely – and rightly so.

Peter Shanks
Chief London Blog Correspondent….Oh ……..and President and Managing Director
Cunard Line

Thanks Peter. You are correct that anticipation of the Queen Elizabeth’s arrival is indeed growing day by day. Surely she will be the most important new ship arrival for any line since the Queen Mary 2 and everyone who loves the ocean is excited that the name “Elizabeth” will once more sail the seven seas. Thanks again Peter and we all look forward to your next report.

So, here I am on your Carnival Dream and I am already frustrated and can’t wait to take the microphone. I hate handovers and honestly don’t understand why I have to do one …………..but I do………..so here I sit at 9:45 am………in the conference room……………in my underpants …….. writing to you. The last time I was here I was of course hosting the bloggers cruise and being so busy I didn’t really get the chance to see the flow of the guests and what we need to improve on. And not being the Cruise Director this week at least gives me a chance to see the ship in total operation without too many distractions.

As you may know I have answered quite a few comments from people who have read the opinions of a few folks who were less than complimentary about our flag ship and this week I hope to answer those people who may still be concerned. Now there are those of you who may be reading this and thinking that I won’t be able to give an unbiased and honest opinion of what we do here and will be writing a “everything in the garden is rosy” report. My answer to that is ummmm……..”bollocks, will I.” I have always said right from the start of the blog thingy back in 2007 that I will always tell you the good, the bad and the ugly…..and that has not and will not change.

I have admitted here in writing that we did have some start up concerns such as lines on Lido deck, exhaust fan problems and one or two other traffic flow concerns. These are the areas that I will be paying close attention to these next 5 days. In fact, I have some comments from yesterday, our Sunday at sea. First though let me tell you who is onboard. We have 3,988 guests of which an amazing 2,012 are past Carnival guests. We have 237 children under 18 and most of the guests are from North America.

So baring this in mind, let’s talk lines on Lido. Well, at breakfast there really weren’t any when I checked yesterday and this morning although the Omelet Station was quite busy and I will be suggesting to the Food & Beverage Manager that we have extra help during the peak times. Then at lunch……..well yes there were some lines especially at the Mongolian Wok. At one point there was 18 people waiting to be served and it took nearly 20 minutes for the last person to be served ……………I know……I timed it.

Now you have to consider that it takes an average of 4 -5 minutes for a guest to choose what they want and for the chefs to cook it……..or wok it…… fresh and made to order. In an ideal world we would have more chefs preparing this very popular dish but space is of course at a premium. However, there really were no long lines to speak of outside of the Mongolian and the flow of the guests seemed to be very good indeed.

The barbecue on the Lanai has really helped and some 300 plus guests enjoyed the hot dogs, sliders and much more on the Lanai. Let’s have a look at this operation and some of the food that they enjoyed.

Those sliders look yummy don’t they? And certainly the barbecue was very popular. Not so popular was the brunch in the aft dining room where I had lunch. Less than 200 people joined me and that is certainly a shame and is something I intend to promote a lot. The menu (which I posted recently) features lots of egg dishes, fish and chips, salads, short ribs and much more, I had eggs Benedict and they were superb. I highly recommend this option to guests who will be sailing here in the future and as I said I will make sure that it is well promoted here on board.

I have met many of the bloggers here on the ship including Mr. Pietangelo and his wife and Empress Bee and Charlie. Both the Pietangelos (Retireman)and Bee and Charlie (Southern Dreams) have been bloggers since the beginning and I sat with them last night for an hour before dinner and asked them for their honest opinion on the ship………they all gave it two huge thumbs up. The only negative so far is that the gift shops have run out of the pins. Oh and the good news is that unlike their cruise on the Carnival Valor…..nobody has stolen Southern Dreams’ motorized scooter.

So, I am as I said going to be looking at all the aspects of the ship and during my time here make sure I do all I can to give the guests the times of their lives and report everything that happens back to you. I know that there have been a few negative comments on the cruise boards and to anyone who doubts my word that this ship is just absolutely brilliant I invite you to read this report which was sent to me by our friend Host Mach from Cruise Critic.

This was just published on Cruise Critic from a loyal Royal cruiser:

Just off the Dream!

Just got home from our vacation on the Dream. I’ll try to write a full review later, but just wanted to let everyone know it is FANTASTIC! We were really nervous after reading all the reviews, but to our relief everything was perfect. I should also mention, we have been loyal Royals for a few years, this was our first Carnival and I think our best cruise to date! So, don’t let the complainers get to you if you have this ship booked, you will love it!

I don’t think I need to say anything else do I? The only thing left for me to do is to show you two of Radu’s photos which remind us all just how beautiful your Carnival Dream truly is.

Sometimes when you are a Cruise Director you make a decision that you think is for the best for the guest experience and sometimes you have no idea that you couldn’t have been more wrong. Take yesterday for example. Todd decided that he would show the Super Bowl Playoff World Series Final Semi Final football games on the big screen. He decided though not to cancel the live music and pool games but to have the picture only, no sound. Well, while this was accepted by the vast majority of the guests some did not like it at all. In fact they became quite abusive and started chanting some quite offensive words. In the end, Todd had to make an announcement that the game was being shown with sound on the Promenade Deck at the casino bar and in the cabins but for the sake of other guests we had to keep the music and entertainment going. What a shame that just a small minority acted this way. So here is my question to you. What do you think should have been done? Cancel the live music and entertainment and have had the games with sound……..or did we do the right thing. I would be very interested in hearing your thoughts.

Obviously the night games are a different story but daytime sporting events …… well……I need your advice on this one please.

Haiti is still on everyone’s mind and as the death toll rises to biblical proportions the world it seems is digging deep into its pockets to help those who lives will undoubtedly never be the same again. At this point I say thank you to a man whom I have often made fun of here on the blog……..Sean “Pee Diddly” Combs who has realized that Miami has a large Haitian population and has gotten some of his mates together for a fund raising concert at the AmericanAirlines Arena which is of course home to my Miami Heat. Here is the press release about the concert and how if you wish………..you can help.

On a bit of a smaller scale but no less brilliant is the giving that has been going on onboard our ships. Of course Carnival Corporation and its cruise brands recently gave an astonishing $5 million dollars to the relief fund and last cruise the musicians of the Carnival Spirit put together a concert onboard and raised a superb $3,000. My thanks to all those who took part and to those who gave. I am sure we all were stunned when that two years old and tiny child was pulled out of the rubble three days after the earthquake, but one day his parents will be able to tell him how he brought hope and joy to an entire country. He is also the reason we must keeping giving.

Last night’s show was called Extreme Country and while I can’t say that I’m a fan of country music…………it seems that I am in a minority as both shows received a huge standing ovation. The comedy clubs were also standing room only and I think that this is a concept that if we can we should put across the fleet.

We are in Cozumel today and as I write to you here in the conference room on deck 4 it is quiet as most guests are ashore. Yesterday though was a different story and as I walked around the ship with the Hotel Director Stewart I learned a new word…………………let me explain.

A lady stopped us and asked us where her group was meeting. Stuart asked the name of her group and the lady replied “The Swofties.” While Stuart called the Groups Coordinator to find out which lounge they had been reserved I asked the lady what the Swofties were all about ……… and wow…….was I surprised at her answer. A Swoftie it seems is a word that describes a single woman over fifty.

Why do we need words like this and metrosexual and cougar? Was there really a need to create a specific classification for these women? Well, this lady saw the puzzlement in my eyes and went on to explain that Swofties are not just any women over the age of fifty. They are women who are not afraid to embrace activities normally associated with teenagers. Like using the Internet. And going on Facespace and Twitter and killing Zombies on their PlaystationXbox.

The guest was now on a roll and continued to tell me that Swofties are also open to other intrepid adventures like cruising and parasailing and snorkeling…..all of which she intended to do on this cruise.

She also told me that she had already been in the gym this morning and did so while staring at my belly…….why do people who use a gym always do that?……bastards. Back in the old days, once a woman hit fifty, all she would have to look forward to was a hip replacement. Times have changed.

Anyway, we have a group of 44 Swofties onboard and I am glad they are enjoying the cruise and enjoying life……..and not sitting on a bus wearing Micky Mouse ears and singing “It’s a sodding small world.”

Your friend

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.