Mama Bonnie

February 16, 2010 -

John Heald

Kye was in bed sleeping off her jet lag………..I had returned from taking the Extreme Country show off and returned to the cabin to find Heidi in the mood……. for …………….. a movie. Such was my deep joy at having my wife and daughter share my Carnival Dream with me I said “yes. Let’s watch a movie” without thinking it through……….and that was a dire mistake. Because my choices were a romantic chick flick thing called Holiday which I had been tortured with before…….or…….Mamma Mia……….which is like having a lockjaw and seasickness at the same time.

So, after silently cursing my stupidity and because Cameron Diaz doesn’t get her knockers out in the movie Holiday………I said Mamma Mia……….and as I did ………a tear gently ran down the inside of my thigh. I hate musicals on an Epic level. The Sound of Music could have been a good film but it was ruined by Julie Andrews running around on a hillside dressed as Batman. It was the only movie set in World War II where I wanted the Germans to win.

So we settled down to watch, all snuggled up on the sofa (I don’t have one of those in my regular cabin) ready to enter a world of singing hell. Good manners meant that as my wife had flown 3,000 miles to be with me that I shouldn’t fall asleep. Well, I did, just as did in when Heidi made me watch Miss Saigon, and just as I did when some French people surrendered in Les Miserable Le’ Bastards.

To my mind, the world would be a much better place if Messrs Gilbert and Sullivan had decided to make jockstraps instead of musicals. And if Andrew Lloyd Webber had been born with no ears.

And at the bottom of the musicals cesspit……is Mamma Mia! Now, I know I am going to upset Abba fans here, especially my mate Mr. Bentley who loves the Swedish 70’s band …………in fact he is a Bjorn Again Abbaristian.

And as we sat watching the movie Heidi told me that she had won two tickets to see the Mamma Mia musical live at some Baby Class raffle…….bloody hell. She plays the lottery every week and has won bugger all………when she does win something ……it’s to go to see mama Mia live on stage in London’s West End in June.

When Heidi told me I felt breathless and started to sweat. It was though I had been told that I had a rare tropical disease and the only cure was to take a pill made of crushed camel scrotum and that could only be found in Paris.

I tried changing Heidi’s mind. Why don’t we go on holiday to Spain? Why don’t we spend a month on the Queen Victoria. Would you like a car? How about a Rolex…..ten Rolexes? A dolphin …….you like dolphins Heidi. We could keep it in the bath? Please? Anything? Anything. Just not Mamma Mia! I sank to my knees. I pleaded. I whimpered. I begged. But it was all hopeless. She wanted to see people bursting into song for no reason and being unnaturally happy.

I don’t see the point of the story at all. A woman had had loads of rumpy pumpy with three men now her daughter was determined to find out which one was her was her father. Why doesn’t she go on Jerry sodding Springer and get a DNA test done and spare me the misery. But no, she invites them all to a party at her mum’s house and……..well I have no idea what happens next because I was asleep.

I do know that nobody gets shot with a plasma rifle and no helicopter gunships shoot the bad guys out of the sky. There are no car chases and no rumpy pumpy scenes even though the woman in this, then, is a production aimed exclusively at women, metro sexual men and Richard Simmons.

And, boy, does it work. There were thousands in there, cramped after the long coach trip from Wakefield and determined to get some circulation back into their bingo wings by bouncing up and down in time to the music.

The thought of having to watch this live makes me want to blow torch my nipples off to take my mind of it.

Halfway through the movie I was as I said fast asleep. Then Kye decided to wake up and five minutes later both were bouncing up and down to Voulez-Vous and I silently promised myself that I would do whatever it takes never to have to go to a musical as long as I live……unless Andrew Lloyd Webber produces a musical called Megan Fox‘s Bottom featuring the music of Deep Purple………now I would go and see that.

Time for today’s questions…lets crack on

Thomas M. Asked:
Hi John, Please Reply,

First, I would like to say that you do an amazing job and I can’t imagine your busy schedule. Your blog is a joy to read every day.

Second, I would like to ask for a favor. My wife and I will be sailing on the Carnival Fascination on February 20 of this year in stateroom E7. We have a baby boy who will be 6 months old when we sail, and he will be staying with grandma and grandpa. I know this will be hard on my wife to be away for 5 days, but what better place to be than on a Carnival Cruise! This cruise will also be taking place over my wife’s birthday and I could think of no better gift then if you could possibly send her a signed photo or some other personal message. Her and I both think the world of you, even though we have never had the chance to meet, and I know that this would make her cruise. Thank you!

John Says:
Hello Thomas M

I am so glad you enjoy the blog and hope you continue to do so. I know how your wife feels leaving the baby and although Heidi and Kye are with me now I am already dreading having to say goodbye. Have a wonderful cruise and I will ask my friend and CD Trevor to send her a little something.

Best wishes to you both

Stephanie no.100? Asked:

I love the blog-thing!! I read it every day!
How can I get a job as one of your Stephanies??? Or maybe a Stephanie to someone else?

John Says:
Hello Stephanie no.100

With a name like that you already have one foot in the door. Carnival Cruise Lines has two main policies when hiring people to work for the World’s Most Popular Cruise Line …..they must be honest and fun and be called Stephanie.

Seriously, if you are interested in working for us please have a look at and see if there is anything you think you would like to do. I always need more Stephanies.
Best wishes and good luck

Terry Alsop Asked:
John – please reply.

I am a travel agent and have just taken out group space on the new Carnival Magic for next September!! Woo Hoo!! Can you say – EXCITED!!

We loved our Mediterranean cruise, and are so looking forward to seeing Barcelona and spending more time in wonderful Venice!! Will you be the Cruise Director for all the Magic sailings??

Hope so, love your blog, and would love to meet you one day!!

Bye for now, Terry (a devoted Canadian fan!)

John Says:
Hello Terry Alsop

I doubt there were many more excited people than I when PA 007 our super spy broke the news here on the blog thingy that we would be returning to Europe with a full season on the Carnival Magic sailing the Mediterranean.

I will indeed be the Cruise Director for most of the time although I will have to take a few weeks of somewhere around July time so I am sure I will be with you in September.
If you or your clients have questions about the ports please let me know via the blog thingy as I am very familiar with them.

Thanks for your support and I hope I see you next year.
Best wishes

Nancy Sterner Asked:
John – Please reply if possible….

First of all, I see you rec’d tons of feedback on the game/sea view theatre topic and I agree w/Carnival’s decision – no sound is the way to go, especially since the game was offered elsewhere on ship.

We will be boarding the Dream on 3/6 in Port Canaveral and are so excited to meet you! We have loved your blog thingy! My question is: Does the Dream honor requests for a couple to be seated at a larger table? My husband and I love meeting new people and do not wish to be seated at a table alone….

John Says:
Hello Nancy

Yes, it seems that the best solution is that when we have major sporting finals to show them with full sound but other day time events to have them in the sports bars or if possible on the Seaside Theatre Big Screen with no sound. I know your cruise is just around the corner and I will send your request to the Maitre D and I will ask him to make sure you are seated at a large table that gives you a chance to meet new friends.
See you both soon
Best wishes

cruisingeagle Asked:
Please Reply

Hi John, how are you? By now it should about time for Heidi and Kye to join you on the Carnival Dream. I know you will enjoy having them with you.

I just wanted to take a few minutes and tell you about an experience I had with Carnival. My daughter and her husband sailed on the Carnival Triumph (February 1, 2010) for their honeymoon. This was our gift to them and we also booked a shore excursion for them in Cozumel. They wanted to do the Dolphin Swim and Ride with Lunch. I booked this excursion for them on line back in late October or early November at the cost of $169.95/person. I always book my shore excursions through Carnival and usually do it before we ever leave home. On January 15, 2010, my daughter received an email from Carnival that was a little confusing. It was about their shore excursion and it was hard to decide if the excursion had been canceled or if the price had just dropped and Carnival was refunding some money to my credit card.

I sent an email to our PVP, Carmen Legorburo, and asked her if she could help us figure out what was going on. Carmen is wonderful. We have been using her since 2005, she knows what we like, makes wonderful suggestions but never has us do anything we are not comfortable with. She returns phone calls and emails and goes above and beyond to help us in any way she can. Within an hour or so, I had a response from Carmen that the price of the excursion had dropped and I was receiving a refund. Lisa and Patrick did not need to worry. They were still booked on the excursion. Later in the weekend, Lisa received an email from the shore excursion department apologizing for the confusion with the first email and also reassuring her that they were still booked on the excursion.

I never thought that the price of a shore excursion would drop and that I would get a refund. I book my shore excursions through Carnival because I just like the assurance that the ship is going to be there when I get back, that the excursions have been approved by Carnival and that if anything goes wrong Carnival is there to assist. We have always had wonderful excursions. Now, I have another reason for booking my shore excursions ahead of time, if the price drops, I get a refund!! And I didn’t even have to keep looking at the excursions to see if there had been a price drop. Carnival did it on their own. The price could have dropped and I would not have known it. Thanks Carnival for being honest and refunding the money without a request to do so.

I am looking forward to my ninth Carnival cruise on June 5, 2010 on the Carnival Triumph. This is a 7 day cruise visiting Belize, Isla Roatan, and Cozumel. My husband, son and daughter in law will be sailing with me. Any suggestions for Belize and Roatan? We have never been to these 2 ports. We love to snorkel. It will soon be time to book our shore excursions for this cruise and I will definitely be booking them on line with Carnival.

Have a great time being back on the ships and being a cruise director. Thanks for the blog. It makes the time between cruises easier. Please consider at some point doing a blogger’s cruise during the summer so those of us in education can cruise with you. Hope to cruise with you one day.

John Says:
Hello Cruisn Eagle Cindy

There is a friend of mine called Mico who is our VP of Tour Operations who will be reading this and smiling. Often, he only gets to hear the negatives and the fact that you have taken the time to write such a positive posting of praise will be very refreshing indeed. You know, Mico has changed the way we run our excursions over the past few years and, because of his endeavors, some tour operators have dropped their prices on select tours allowing us to do the same. He and his staff are continuing to set the trend in the industry and there are some very exciting times ahead in the world of having affordable and reliable fun ashore on our excursions.

As for Roatan and Belize. Well, there are so many great options. In Roatan I feel you must visit Gumbalinda Park and experience the beauty of nature close up and that includes some up close and personal time with monkeys and parrots. If total relaxation is what you crave then spend the day on Tabiana Beach which is paradise.

In Belize, well cave tubing is the highlight and I thought you might like to see a few photos of this.

So, let me know what you think and if you have any further questions please let me know.

Best wishes and thanks again for taking the time to write

Gary Asked:
Please reply confidential if need be.

Hi John, we just got off the Dream on 1-23. It was a very unique cruising experience and I loved the ship. There was an incident I am curious about. On Thursday while on the elevator a man named John collapsed while him, his wife and myself were the only ones there. I am not a doctor but it appeared he was in serious trouble. We stopped on floor 9 and I had his wife hold the door open while a call was sent to 911 for help. He seemed like such a nice man and his wife was very shook up. I was wondering after I left them in the hands of the very capable medial team from Carnival if he is alright.

John Says:
Hello Gary

My goodness that must have been such a shock and thank you for being there for him and his family. I checked with the medical staff and although I cannot give any medical details I can tell you that after some time in hospital he made a full recovery. This is of course is another example of the often unheralded work that our medical centers’ doctors and nurses do each and every week. Thank you again and my best wishes to you and the family.

Big Ed Asked:

John, on the issue of daytime sports and the big screen. Once before I recommended this when someone mentioned not being able to hear in the main lounge. CARNIVAL could rebroadcast the sound of the show or big screen on a low power FM signal and people could then use one of those FM radio headsets or even a cheap FM radio with ear buds to hear the sound at whatever level they want it. CARNIVAL could even sell them in the shops.

PS, Looking for a job as a CARNIVAL problem solver, LOL.

John Says:
Hello Big Ed

Great idea. I actually think Princess Cruises tried this on one of their Grand class ships. They had wireless headphones for the movies under the stars. I am not sure if they still do……I will check. You always have great ideas…except the one that suggested you and I go parasailing together……….attached to the same shoot…………flying over your Carnival Dream……..after eating huge portions of Mexican food……….that wasn’t a good idea.

See you soon and best wishes to you and Pat.

Angela Asked:
Hello John, (Please Reply)

I recently sailed on the Carnival Dream and I had a great time! I loved every minute of it! The ship is beautiful and I can’t wait to sail on it again!

I really appreciate all of the hard work of the staff and crew and was wondering if you could post some pictures of what it’s like “behind the scenes” on the ship. It would be interesting to see what life is like for the crew and maybe post some pictures of the people in the different departments on board. It’s just a thought…I know you’re really busy 🙂

Thanks in advance and Best Wishes to you and your family! 🙂

John Says:
Hello Angela

Last year I remember I highlighted many of the crew here on the blog thing. We interviewed stateroom stewards, waiters, chefs and deck hands and learned more about their lives. I will certainly do this again soon and thanks for the reminder to do so.

Thanks so much for the kind words for my family which I return to you and yours
Best wishes

Max Faigen Asked:
John-Please Respond

I just want to let you know that I had a blast on the Carnival Dream during the New Years Eve cruise to the western Caribbean. I enjoyed all the ship had to offer including the waterslides. The ports of call were also very nice. I even went on the Behind the Fun Tour and had a great time. Highly recommend the tour! I just have one question regarding photography during the tour. I was told that we were not allowed to take pictures while on the tour to the different areas on the ship. In a previous comment it sounded like you could take pictures. Could you please clarify this?
Thank you and I enjoy the blog very much!

John Says:
Hello Max Faigen

I have often said that one of the most special times on a Carnival ship is New Years Eve. We really know how to throw a party and it seems that you enjoyed your experience on your Carnival Dream as you welcomed in 2010. I am also glad to hear that you enjoyed the Behind the Fun tour and because the tour takes place in sensitive areas like the bridge and engine room photography is indeed not allowed. I am glad you enjoy the blog and I hope you have many wonderful memories of your time on your Carnival Dream.
Best wishes

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

I know Princess Cruises don’t have a blog but everywhere else they are without doubt one of the most forward thinking cruise lines in the world. A couple of you had posted this article but in case some of you missed it, let me explain.

The “Bon Voyage Experience” will roll out to the Princess fleet starting on March 6th on the Sapphire Princess making its way to the other vessels by June 1st.

For just $39, guests can join passengers for the day. Their $39 gets them a lunch with wine, a ship tour and even a souvenir photo. And best of all – the $39 can be applied toward a future Princess cruise.

Now, I think that’s a great idea and it’s a sort of throwback to the days when family and friends would line the pier to wave goodbye as you began your voyage to distant shores. And knowing how superb Princess Cruises food is………..I think it’s an excellent value for money. What do you think? I wonder if you have to have family or friends sailing or if you can pay the $39 and have a nice lunch onboard…………mmmm……..I wonder.

So, have you been watching the Winter Olympics? It seems most of the world has and certainly the Canadians are putting on quite a show. I wondered also if any of you saw our new commercial during the breaks from the skiing and other snow stuff. If you haven’t see it ………well here it is.

This is the second of our new spots and my favorite so far. From driving a jeep along a beach to getting your first water wedgie……..these are things that you can actually do …….. no scrap that…………these are things that our guests DO do each and every day on our fun for all ships and I think they capture the pure essence of what we are all about ……………………pure and simple unadulterated fun! What do you all think? As always your opinion is of massive value to us and I know the people with beards will be anxious to know if you give it two thumbs up. So………do you?

Yesterday I posted a comment from a lady who had commented that on RCI the elevators were like the computer on the Starship Enterprise and will tell you what day it was, the time and make you a cappuccino before you reached your destination.

Anyway…… of that might be true but…………this comment sent to me by Chris Jefferson the brilliant CD of the Carnival Conquest is without doubt total and utter bollocks……….have a read of this.

Sent: Sunday, February 14, 2010 4:16 PM
Subject: Wow – this is for the blog I think

Amazing … you think you’ve heard it all and then this…..

Guest approached Guest Services Manager at Fun Farewell and asked why there were charges on her account for casino. GSM confirmed that guest had used the slots in the casino but guest felt that she should not have to pay as she usually sails with RCL and she did not have to pay then. GSM cannot speak for the policies on RCL and asked guest if anyone told her or where she found the information that she should not have to pay. Guest said that she will not pay as she had not paid on her cruises with RCL.


Thanks to Chris first of all for sending me this gem and I called him to ask what the outcome of all this was. Well, the bottom line is that she paid……….but only after a man called Vinnie knocked on her cabin door…… and made her an offer she couldn’t refuse.

Here on your Carnival Dream things are going well and even though we have a high guest count of over 4,000 guests, the traffic flow has been excellent. As I mentioned yesterday one of new concepts I have introduced is to open the Lanai Barbecue and have brunch served in the dining room while we dock in Nassau. I noticed on my first Eastern Caribbean cruise that we were not doing this even though it was a short port stay with guests being back onboard no later than 1:30 pm. And so I gave the Chef and Food and Beverage Manager a big cuddle and persuaded them to open both locations. I then made sure that I promoted both the barbecue and the brunch in the Capers and over the PA system.

Here is the result:

Sent: Monday, February 15, 2010 9:38 AM
Subject: BBQ – Nassau – 02/14/10

Hello Sir,

BBQ was served in Nassau for the first time yesterday from 12pm – 2.30pm. It helped a lot to reduce the lines on the Lido deck, which we would normally have it in Nassau to due to early sailing at 2pm.

• Dining Room Covers – 435
• BBQ Covers – 720

The food and beverage team were as you can see, very happy. Your Carnival Dream is no different to another ship that has short port stays. I checked the APASS which is our security system which tracks who is ashore and who is onboard and at 1 pm there were 1,712 guests still ashore, many on our excursions to the Atlantis Hotel. Enjoying the Aqua Park and the aquarium. Anyway, the point is of course to help the flow of traffic on Lido Deck but…………..the brunch and the barbecue are great products and worthy of promoting. I will let you know the sea day figures later this week.

Well it’s 7:15 am. Kye and Heidi are still asleep and thanks to the Hotel Director allowing me to use the “big cabin” I am able to sit in the lounge area and write my blog without the sound of the computer keys ……or my morning farts………disturbing them.

Later today I am going to do something miraculous…..get off the ship and take a walk with the girls and maybe have lunch somewhere nice. Heidi is thinking of a restaurant in the new waterside complex where the ships dock. She says the staff has told her there is a fabulous new Japanese restaurant there. Me………I’m thinking Hooters!

I realize I have not posted any photos of Kye and Heidi yet but I promise I will do so before the week’s end.

Let’s move away from your Carnival Dream for a moment and concentrate on the Carnival Glory. As you know she has just returned from her dry dock and here is our friend and long time Dolphins fan (sufferer) Vance to tell you all about it.

Carnival Glory Returns to Service Following Extensive Multi-Million-Dollar Refurbishment

Thanks Vance and the rejuvenation she has received sounds superb doesn’t it. I have always loved the Carnival Glory and I couldn’t wait until the next time I get to be onboard her to see these upgrades for myself. And so I wrote to my friend and Hotel Director Anuj…..who sent me these brilliant photos which one of the 343 Stephanie’s will put into one of those slide show thingies of the Serenity Deck, Seaside Theatre, Circle C, and The Dance Club.

My thanks to the lovely Zuzanna the photo manager on the new Carnival Glory for those great shots. I know how massively popular the ship was when she was based out of Port Canaveral and I know she will be even more so with all these new features as she sails now out of Miami.

So, last night CNN, The BBC, MSNOBAMA and Fox reported that there had been a serious outbreak of vomiting around the world. The Centers for Disease Control was exploring the options that maybe a new strain of ebola had infected the world’s population. It wasn’t. Nor was it caused by the mass advertising NCL are doing for the Norwegian Epic. Nope……it was caused by me…….or actually it was caused by a photo of me…………in my underpants………blogging to you.

Of course some of you spotted that there was a slight case of photo shopping going on there but it was a brilliant photo. And it was part of 12. Twelve hilarious photos of myself, Heidi and the incomparable Ken Byrne. The photos and calendar were made for me by two of our blog friends Wayne and Patti Rogers. They cruised here on their Carnival Dream last week and presented me with a calendar and…..I laughed my bottom off. My favourite is the…..well….have a guess. Here are the photos for January – December 2010.

Thanks again to Wayne and Patti. Heidi loved her Bond girl spot and as for me ………… Ken and I as sumo wrestlers…………was absolutely priceless.

Finally today I want to tell you about Bonnie. I met Bonnie yesterday at my Fun Ashore Fun Onboard Presentation which is a posh name for the old Travel Talk. Bonnie was sitting on the front row and as I started the 40 minute get-together about well…….. ummmm ………fun ashore and fun onboard I could see Bonnie falling asleep. Now at this point had Bonnie been anyone else I would have made fun of the situation in some way but I could tell that Bonnie was a bit older than most of the guests and so……..I let her sleep. However, about ten minutes later while in full flow about where the gangway would be in St. Thomas I began to hear a faint noise….…which grew louder and louder until it turned into a fully loaded snore that a 300-pound gorilla would have been proud of. Well, she was oblivious to the fact that she was now in REM sleep as her head went backwards and her mouth opened wide as the snoring got louder.

By now the snoring was so loud that many around her were laughing and I was sure that their laughter was going to wake this lady up. It didn’t. In fact the snoring reached a new level of decibels that shook the lounge as though the captain had the ship’s thrusters on full power.

And as much as I tried to resist……it was futile as the Borg would say. And that was me …… the stage……sitting next to her………holding the microphone in front of her as she snored……and 800 people fell about the place in hysterics. That hysterical laughter reached fever pitch when she stopped snoring for a moment….and then smacked her lips together as though she had just eaten a delicious meal….and then carried on snoring.

Now, at that point I hoped that she would wake up because if she didn’t I would have to wake her. There was no way either I or the audience could concentrate on which excursion in St. Thomas to buy with Grandma giving it large on the front row. And so I had no choice but to wake her and so I gently patter her on the shoulder. Nothing.

So I tried again


And it was just as I was contemplating holding a pair of my underpants under her nose like a smelling salt……that she woke. Most people would have jumped out of their skin to have woken from a coma to find me sitting next to them………holding a microphone under their nose.

Not this lady.

She looked, smiled and said in her best southern drawl “Hiiiiii.”

I was in love!………… she is.

Her name is Bonnie. She is 89 years old. Bonnie lost her husband Charlie 18 years ago and she told me that they had raised 5 children and has 19 grandchildren and 28 great grand children. She was here on her third Carnival cruise with her sister Janice.

I asked her if raising 5 kids and having all those grand and great grand children had tired her out which is why she had been asleep at my talk.

“Oh no,” she said. ………”I fell asleep because you talk too much.”

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.