Times For Fun

February 26, 2010 -

John Heald

I had written a piece for the beginning of today’s blog but considering the terrible, heartbreaking news regarding our friends and colleagues at Costa it didn’t seem appropriate.

And so with your kind permission I will in respect to their memories move on to today’s Q and A. Here we go:

Anita Dunham-Potter Asked:

Hi John, Lewis and Big Al on the same cruise!! Those are lucky guests on Carnival Dream!! I am sure there are lots of laughs going around.

Okay John, what the hey is that logo on the screen for the “Morning Show”? It looks like you are being felt-up by a giant ringworm or sea cucumber penis.LOL 😉

John Says:
Hello Anita

Is this the first time you have asked for a reply? I don’t remember you asking for one before. Anyway, for those who do not know Anita she is an esteemed cruise and travel journalist whose brilliant writing can be found at www.expertcruiser.com.

Lewis Nixon is one of Carnival’s longest standing entertainers and one of the funniest and nicest people you will ever meet. Al Ernst is Carnival’s 344th best comedian and can always be found at the buffet…….don’t tell him but I may promote him to Carnival’s number one comedian. Only you Anita would come up with the term “sea penis” although looking at it………..you are so right. I have to do something about that logo.

I hope you and your girls are well and hope to see you soon.
Best wishes to all

April Z Asked:
Dear John, (please reply)

I am excited to tell you that we just booked the Fantasy on May 3rd, and according to your schedule you will be the cruise director on that sailing! I am so excited to meet you! I know you have a lot of readers and get a lot of comments, but maybe you will remember that I was the reader who requested the trophy from the Holiday to give to my great-grandmother who had a trophy from the first year the Holiday ever sailed.

Anyway, don’t have any real questions or requests, just hoping that you will have some free time so that I can buy you a diet coke!

Oh, and what is Kye’s middle initial? I have a friend who makes pretty baby things and I would like to bring you something for her. 🙂
See you in May!
April Z.

John Says:
Hello April Z

Congratulations on booking the Carnival Fantasy and yes indeed I will be the Cruise Director when you sail. I am looking forward to being her CD again. The last time I held that position was in 1992. I am sure we will have chance to chat and of course if there is anything I can do for you please let me know.
Best wishes to all

Rachel the Librarian Asked:
Hi John: (please reply)

I must say, I like the new design of the Fun Times. But is the time to be back on board going to be printed on it when we are at port? With the emergency number to call just in case? Maybe I am just not seeing it. Thanks for answering…102 days until I sail on the Dream!

John Says:
Hello Rachel the Librarian

I will be talking about Fun Times in a moment but I promise you that yes, the emergency contact number and the arrival, back on board and departure times will be listed on all port day Capers. It will be interesting to see what you all think.

Best wishes and thanks for writing.

Angela Guptill Asked:
John please reply:

Oops! Sorry John, I forgot to tell you what ship/sailing we are on re: our first time cruising friend’s anniversary. We sail on Feb.13/10 on The Dream. You’re our CD I believe and I thank you ahead of time now. Our friends names are Scott and Shari Prime and we are Dennison and Angela Guptill. We have the 6pm seating and our request was for a table for four at a window if possible. If this cannot be, we certainly understand. Oh, and their anniversary is Feb. 16th.And thank-you also for forwarding our info to Mary re: my husband sending his CV in for the religious services. Thanks again for all you and your staff do. Awesome job!

John Says:
Hello Angela Guptill

I am sorry that you all had a good time and I know we spoke at the start of the cruise but then I never got to say goodbye. I hope you had fun and hope you have time to write a review.

Best wishes to you all.

New York Sam Asked:
John – reply requested

I posted a request for a table request and anniversary gift 10 days ago but have yet to see a reply. I need to know this has been taken care of

John Says:
Hello New York Sam

I did indeed reply a few days ago and hopefully you saw my response that I would do my very best to assist you and your wife. Have a great cruise.
Best wishes

Donna Rall Asked:

Celebrating 20th anniversary on Liberty 4/10 and my son wants to propose to his girlfriend also. Any ideas you romantic devil?

John Says:
Hello Donna

Wow…….he’s a brave man proposing to his girlfriend with his father onboard with him. OK, well, how about this. Elegant night. The CD introduces the Captain and Senior Officers and at the end introduces your son……he comes onto the dance floor…… and on the microphone…….and in front of the guests and on film……he proclaims his undying love for his lady and on bended knee he says:

You are the flower in my garden

The sunshine in my day

And without you

I cannot live

Will you marry me?

She says yes, the band plays Saving All My Love For you………..and everyone cheers.

If she says no……play the DVD backwards………..and it will have a happy ending.

If you want me to plan this for you please let me know and I will speak with the CD on the Carnival Liberty.

Best wishes to you all

Lidolounger AKA Donna Asked:
John Please respond!

Hello John and fellow bloggers!

We just returned from our Mexican Riviera cruise onboard the Spirit. Unfortunately, nobody contacted us to try and fix our dining times with our friends. (I previously asked you to try and fix this for us and you asked for me to tell you how it worked out). We did try to make the changes on our own. As this was my first cruise as Platinum I was able to change my dining time to Your Time, but one of our group was refused. It was a disappointment, especially when each night we observed numerous open tables that could have accommodated our entire group.

Some quick thoughts on our cruise:

Over all one of the best Carnival cruises we’ve experienced.

Rynato who worked in the Deli – is a real asset. He was always smiling, friendly and eager to talk. He also answered any random questions we had and appeared genuinely interested in our experiences onboard the ship.

Our cabin steward, Christian was the best we’ve ever had. Greeted us by name – quick to accommodate our requests for extra hangers etc. I looked forward to visiting with him daily.

Stu, our cruise director was very good. He gave a great mix of info geared to both the new cruiser, as well as those who’ve been there and done it!

He made my cruise when we were tendering in “Z”. As priority tendering is a perk for being Platinum, I was eager to see how this worked. The night before a letter was left in our cabin telling me that as a Platinum cruiser I would receive this perk – but more importantly it told me how. Now, not that I didn’t believe Carnival had good intentions but, I was a bit doubtful… as we were making our way to deck 2 Stu was there managing the traffic. He noticed my Platinum status and said “OMG! Your Platinum. Do you know what happens when we have a Platinum guest? Balloons fall from the sky, streamers pop out”… you get the idea – it was very nice and fun. As we continued down to deck 2 I noticed he walked ahead and when we got there another crew member was looking for us and put us directly on the tender. Well done Carnival!!!

There was wonderful communication nightly regarding Platinum benefits and how to use them. I don’t know if this is unique to the Spirit – if it is, I recommend doing this across the fleet.

Now for my 2 areas of opportunity for Carnival:

1. Drink service in the dining room…is a mess. We had Your Time dining. Nightly, we would ask anyone who approached our table for drinks, a combination of alcohol, pop and ice tea. Nobody for the entire 8 nights asked us for a drink order. Our waiters would say that’s “bar” and then proceed to take our dinner orders, never following up on our drinks. When I found a bar waiter named Brad from South Africa who was very good, (he did ask several times later in the night if we needed drinks) I asked him to explain why he sometimes stopped by and what the disconnect was. He proceeded to say that they were getting bad comments about bar service and that about a month ago the process was changed and that they were not to approach the tables. The waiter was to take the orders and give them to the bar waiters, but he knew they weren’t doing it and wanted to help. After hearing this I went to guest service and she told me that Brad was absolutely correct as she had worked in the bar service area for 6 years as was aware of the change…my question is why aren’t the waiters taking the drink orders? Some nights we drank only water because we couldn’t get anyone to bring us drinks,

2. Soda cards. When a friend of mine approached a bar and asked to purchase a soda card the girl said and I quote “why do you want that? Good luck getting anyone to bring you a drink with that.”

Now we laughed it off, but unfortunately this began to ring true during the cruise. Many times if a bar waiter knew we had a soda card and another guest came up they would serve that guest first. Other times, the smiling happy face that approached me would change to one of disinterest once I showed my sticker. The point I’m trying to make is – if you offer the soda card – ensure the crew supports it.

Neither of the above ruined our cruise, as stated earlier this was one of our most enjoyable. I do prefer Princess, but based on my experience with the Platinum benefits and specifically the great communication around the benefits and the execution of them…we will be booking our cruise for next January with Carnival. Even considering a back to back! Well done Carnival!

John Says:
Hello Lidolounger AKA Donna

I love reviews like this, the ones that go into detail and tell us what you enjoyed, and where you feel we can improve. I am really glad that you mentioned someone who surely never gets any praise in this forum, the man at the deli, Mr. Rynato. He is obviously a true asset and I will make sure his onboard and shore side supervisors see your comments of praise. The same applies to your stateroom steward and congratulations to him as well for making your cruise extra special. I am glad you enjoyed Stu Dunn the cruise director. I have watched him grow with us and from someone who used to be a gold miner in Australia to where he is now is quite amazing.

I was though astonished to read about the obvious problems we have in the dining room with the drink orders. I won’t comment anymore because I am not totally sure how the system is supposed to work. I will however tell you that this is unacceptable and I will make sure that our VP of food and beverage gets to know about this immediately and that this problem is addressed. He would want to thank you for telling us about this as would the hotel director of the ship and of course me, as well.

I was stunned to read the comment the staff member made about the soda card. Again, this is not acceptable and we will investigate further.

I am though very happy to read you enjoyed the experience and reviews like this are so helpful and will help us continue to be the world’s most popular cruise line.

I hope one day we can cruise together and I remain at your service here on the blog thingy.

Best wishes and thanks again for taking the time to write.

Tracy Asked:
Please reply

The cd schedule only goes to June will u be a cruise director in nov/dec? If yes what ship?

John Says:
Hello Tracy

The CD schedule does indeed only go to June but hopefully very soon I will be able to post the rest of the year as well. I will certainly be a CD for all of November and part of December. Now, I was due to go to the Carnival Spirit but it looks like there may be a small change to that which I hope to tell you all about next week. Thanks for asking, you are very kind to do so and I hope we will be able to cruise together soon.

Best wishes

Laura from UT Asked:
Dear John (please reply),

First of, since there are many Laura’s posting comments and questions, I decided to do something that would differentiate myself from them.

I really appreciated today’s blog especially the link to the thread on Cruise Critic where people were supporting and defending Carnival. This leads me to my question. A few days ago, I saw some rather rude comments from what I would construe is a Loyal Royal about Carnival and it’s policy regarding swim diapers in the pools and waterworks area. What this particular poster basically said was that Carnival was too cheap to install a filtration system (unlike the thinkstheirbetteroftheseas). Do you know why Carnival doesn’t have any of these systems in their pools? Just curious 🙂

John Says:
Hello Laura from UT

What a great comment and how timely as Heidi and Kye are here and Heidi is disappointed that she cannot swim in the main pool with Kye. It’s hard to accuse any company that has just spent billions of dollars on the Carnival Dream, Carnival Magic and Carnival Thingy (Dream 3) and on rejuvenating the Fantasy class fleet of being a little tight with the purse strings.

However, I guess we don’t have a system that allows ummmm…….poo……….to be filtered through a poo pipe and into a poo tank………why……..well just because we don’t I guess. I can tell you that anytime an accident happens in the pool we drain the water as per United States Public Health regulations……maybe other cruise lines don’t do that…..I don’t know. I do know that it would be nice if we had that system here and if there is one thing missing from my Carnival Dream…….it is a splash pool for little kids……… but space was of course as always at a premium.

I will investigate this further with our chief engineer and by the way…….Heidi has just brought up a good point that you can buy special swimming diapers that are poocatchers, I wonder if they are acceptable. I will let you know. I have also suggested to those at the top that if possible we consider this on future ships.

Best wishes to you and the family

Just to let you know I checked with someone who has recently cruised on another cruise line and she confirmed that their newer ships do have a filtration system. Sometimes you have to hold your hands up and say: “Good for them.” As a new father, I wish we did here. I will say though that our policy of allowing under 2’s in the playroom on port days from arrival till 12 and on sea days from 12 till 2 means that the youngsters have a fantastic time!

Paul Asked:
Hi John, (please reply)

I’ve been trying to find out, but haven’t had a solid answer for the Carnival Liberty.

My wife and I had a welcome addition to our family in July of 09, he will be 10 months old on our cruise on the Liberty on May 8. I was wondering if we will need to arrange for high chairs/pack n play pens for him to sleep in or will they just kind of magically be there?

Any help is greatly appreciated. We were engaged on the Valor, married on the Valor, had our honeymoon on the Valor so we figured we should try a new ship for our first family cruise.

Can’t wait to see the Liberty
Thanks again.

John Says:
Hello Paul

Strange isn’t it that the last few questions have been about children. While everything is probably arranged, why not let me confirm this for you. Please send me your stateroom number and your requirements one month before your sailing date and I will make sure the ship is prepared. I know you will love the Carnival Liberty; she has always been one of my favorite ships ever since we took her around Europe. Look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes,

Barry Asked:
John, please reply (privately if you’d like)

Wrote a couple weeks ago but must have fallen into the black hole…

Back in Nov. I told you about the diet I was starting and recommended a couple books. Today I weigh 205, down 29 lbs since starting. But the more important thing is my glucose numbers are now in the normal range instead of diabetic and my cholesterol and blood pressure have fallen significantly (over 35%). The low carb lifestyle is definitely effective, plus I get to eat MORE food than ever before. I feel better at age 53 than I did at 33.

I have three requests. First, I’ll be sailing on my Carnival Liberty on Feb 27th with my martial arts teacher (Dan Anderson) and his wife. Could you put in a word with the Maitre’d that we would like to be seated together? Prof. Anderson and his wife Marie will be cruising for the first time. Dan has been my teacher, mentor, and friend and I want this to be special for them.

Second item, I see that Kevin is filling in for Butch as CD. I would like to bring a small gift for Kevin, the Captain, and the Hotel Manager just to say thanks for the wonderful time I know we’ll have. Could you let me know if those folks have a favorite wine or chocolate or cigar that would be appropriate? I’d just like to give them a little indulgence at the end of their long days.

Finally, I have created a web site devoted to providing information to first time and novice cruisers. Places like Cruise Critic can be overwhelming (and sometimes harsh) to new folks so I wanted to provide a safe environment for them to find answers. One of the features of CruiseDork.com will be the Dork Chat. This will be a 30 minute podcast with folks who can provide important information and tips for new cruisers. I would be honored if you would accept my invitation to be the first cruise director interviewed. Who better than you to tell folks how to have a marvelous time and get them started right on their first cruise?

John Says:
Hello Barry / CruiseDork.com

Congratulations on your diet. I am still doing well and supplementing my low carb diet with B12 vitamin pills which seem to help. My cholesterol is very good and compared to how I felt in November on the Carnival Legend, I must say I am very happy. I wish you continued good luck with your diet and sugar levels.

I have sent your request to the Maitre ‘D who will do his best to give you and your friend the same dining assignment. You will love Kevin and how kind of you to think of him and the Captain. I always say a little memento from where you live is what they really enjoy. A keying, baseball cap etc. will be great.

Congratulations also on www.CruiseDork.com I shall pop on over after this blog is finished and have a read for myself. I wish you much success and I am sure many of the bloggers will join me.

Have a fantastic cruise and looking forward to reading your review.

Best wishes,

That’s all for today and I will be back on Monday with more of your questions answered.

This coming Saturday marks a big day across the fleet as we say goodbye to an old friend and hello to a much cooler and fresher one. I mean of course we will be saying farewell to the Carnival Capers, the onboard activity program that has been with us pretty much since the days of the Mardi Gras. Steve Cassel, Lenny Halliday and I are the only Cruise Directors left who remember the days of sitting in our cabins…….in our underpants ………. typing the day’s activities out and gluing them to an empty piece of legal white paper.

We then would hand them to the Purser Bellman who was always from Korea and always called Mr. Kim and he would print them up on a machine that made more noise than a 747 at full thrust. Then along came the computer and all of us CD’s were immersed in a world that would change our jobs forever and indeed would change the look of the Carnival Capers forever as well. And let’s face it. Over the years they have become cluttered and it was indeed time for a change.

And that time and change have come because over the next three days every ship (apart from the Carnival Elation which is in Vancouver on a charter) will start their cruise with the new and shiny Fun Times.

The Cruise Directors have been working on these for weeks and under the supervision of Chris Prideaux and Shahnaz Kashanipour they are ready….well mostly. In the days of the Carnival Capers the Cruise Directors had 100% say in what went in there which is why some Capers (mine included) looked about as clean as Turkish prison. Those days are gone as well. That’s because 90% of the content is pre written by Shahnaz, Chris and their teams and all the CD’s have to do is fill in a few areas specific to the ship. That means that you will see the same font, the same spacing, the same titles and the same …… well……..everything whether you are on your Carnival Dream or the Carnival Fantasy. And that of course is a good thing.

Now, I have, ever since I was a young, skinny, dark haired cruise director….hate doing the bloody Carnival Capers. There are many things I’d rather be doing than making the dam things, including waiting for Dwyane Wade to come off the court after scoring 50 points and then licking his back clean……..that’s how much I hate doing Capers. And hotel director who has worked with me will tell you that my spalling is awful as will the 343 Stephanies, Vance from PR and my Father.

So I was overjoyed that when this new Fun Times project came out because I remembered ………I have a bitch……..sorry……..I mean I have an assistant, the wonderful and sexy in his own mind……….Craig. He has worked hard on these Capers ……. bugger ……….. Fun Times …………and his hard work has allowed me more time to entertain the guests, produce the daily blog thingy and play with my daughter……but not with my wife.

Seriously, he has worked very hard and I thank him very much. So……….do you want to have a look at the first ever Fun Times on your Carnival Dream? Well for those who do ………………here it is.

So, what do you think? Please let me know and oh yes………if you see any spelling or grammatical errors please let me know. I told Craig for everyone my bloggers find I will twist his nipple one full revolution………….so please………….find one……….or more.

Well, it’s been a great cruise and up until tonight the weather has been great. Tonight though after leaving Costa Maya we have been bouncing around like a braless Pamela Andersen on a trampoline. Still, it doesn’t seem to be bothering the guests as the Get Ready Motown Show, The Comedy Club and all the lounges are busy as is the casino. This week has gone by all too quickly and that means that I now have only one week left with my girls as they will be leaving on March 6. I thought you might like to see one or two photos of Kye and Heidi………..here they are.

I have resisted the temptation of bringing Kye on stage. I really want to show her off to the guests. I want to do this because to me, Kye is the most beautiful baby in the world. To me she is the Megan Fox’s bottom of babies. I also want the guests to know that yes, this aging grey haired fat man can produce something as beautiful as Kye…….even if it did only take me 3 minutes. But I haven’t done this because I know that Heidi and Kye would get no peace or quiet and that’s what Heidi deserves.

Well as Friday is my busiest day it’s nearly time to bugger off. I have my Debarkation Talk next which lasts for 35 minutes. Most of the guests I hope enjoy its mix of information and humour while others will pay about as much attention to this as you all will during President Obama’s 9-hour telethon about health care. I am not knocking his polices by the way as I know bugger all about them……..but 9 hours? Does it come with one of those commercials for pills that say “watching 9 hours of President Obama on See – Span may induce drowsiness, muscle ache and explosive diarrhea?”

I have only flicked through See-Span a few times whilst being bored out of my mind during one of my many hotel stays. I often wonder who the camera operators are. They surely have the most boring job in the world outside of those climbing wall managers. How those See-Span cameramen must wish that something would happen, hoping that a fight will break out or that Nancy Pelosi will, in the middle of a bill reading, suddenly whip of her clothes and do her impression of a naked Latvian stripper……. using Senator John McCain as the pole.

See you on Monday

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.