A Souvenir From Nassau

March 1, 2010 -

John Heald

It wasn’t a good start to the cruise on Saturday. …….here is why:

Sent: Saturday, February 27, 2010 5:25 PM
To: Distlist Dream
Subject: CRT – SPMS – FSS- Unix Server
Importance: High

Good Afternoon Dream.

Due to sudden hardware failure we have lost connectivity with our Oracle Data Base on Unix server that means all systems using this DB were not available. We have moved over to secondary (standby) Unix server our Data Base and brought back all systems to their operational level.

Due to the hardware failure and complexity of the system part of DB (SPMS) got corrupted and our programmers are working on it to have this corrected. We do not have estimation when the system will be available, so please kindly standby and monitor your emails for further development. We are very sorry for any inconvenience to all users and partial lack of services to our Guests. Thank you.

Now for those of you without a beard and who would rather eat deep fried camel scrotum …… on a stick…….than tofu, let me translate what that means. Basically……the ship’s computers decided to wake up on Saturday morning thinking they were cauliflowers and other assorted vegetables. This meant that various guests services did not work, including:

  • We had no final count of who was onboard and who was in what cabin and who had not made the ship.
  • All guest purchases in bars, casinos and other areas of the ship where the sail and Sign card is used could not be charged to the cabins.  Hold on, don’t get excited, this didn’t mean free pina coladas and casino chips for everyone. What it meant was that we had to take a manual written check each time a purchase was made which of course we used to do on the Mardi Gras.
  • We had no idea what our shore excursion counts were.
  • The casino had to revert to using buckets of quarters at the slot machines
  • And the chief accountant drank 2 bottles of vodka and sat in a darkened room dribbling on himself.

Obviously this was the worst possible start and there is nothing I hate more than having to apologize to the guests within just a few minutes of them coming onboard. Actually that’s not true……I hate sitting on the toilet for 20 minutes of pure uninterrupted heaven only to discover there’s no toilet paper and having to use the shower curtain instead….yes……I hate that more. But apologizing to the guests before the fun has really begun …….well that’s never good.

However, surprisingly there were no complaints from guests and all 4,000 understood that the world of computers is an unpredictable one………..well…………nearly everyone

Mr.________ came to the GSD during embarkation and asked to purchase a shore excursion. GSA explained that the computer system was not working and that all we could do would be to make a note of the excursion the guest wanted and print the tickets later. Guest started shouting and threw his Platinum card at me saying he was a VIP and he wanted the tickets now. GSA called Supervisor to talk to the guest

Well, I can understand his frustration but as this was embarkation and only hours into the cruise I doubt this is the last we have heard of Mr. Platinum.

It goes to show you though how much we rely on computers these days both at work and at play and it is of course especially difficult here on the ships because these days we are cashless and your Sail & Sign card is your onboard credit card. And while the Platinum gusts we carry are very special I guess this chap thought that it gave him the right to shout and scream. And as the many, many Platinum card holders who read this blog thingy know……..it doesn’t.

Sometimes it’s people with posh credit cards that do have a bit of an ……… ummm ………. attitude. I am not a huge fan of credit cards but obviously you have to have one in today’s world because it’s the law. I remember when I got my first one when I was 19 years old. It arrived all bright and shiny in the mail and I spent the next few months pummeling it within an inch of its life. I remember I had a 2,000 pound sterling credit limit which back in 1984 seemed like 20 million And I bought everything. Clothes, a watch, a new 8 track stereo for my car, and holidays in Spain and Latvia. And then I had just enough credit left on my card to buy a new pair of brown pants when I discovered how much interest I had to pay.

And of course thanks to people like me and those bastard bankers at AIG and wankers ……..sorry………bankers………..the economy was hovering on the  brink of collapse and little old ladies were having to sell their cats for medical experiments.

But there’s an even  darker side to credit cards……..one that like who the hell designed the Norwegian Epic…….  is rarely talked about. I’m talking about the misery of not having the right one.

We’ve all been there. Dinner is over, the check (bloody hell I am an American…….I said check and not bill)  has arrived and everyone is chucking their credit cards onto the plate thingy that the leather bound wallet containing the bad news sits on. It’s a sea of platinum and gold……….just like the ship.

And then it’s your turn. And all you’ve got is your green Amex card. Suddenly you have the social standing of fart……………a post Taco Bell fart ………..in church.

A few years ago I met a Carnival Executive who showed me something called “Black Centurion” American Express card. He looked at me, winked and said it “gave him certain privileges.”

Obviously, I had to have one. So I called Amex, told them I was a senior cruise director, lied about my salary, handed over 750 sodding dollars, and there it was, in a leatherette box, presented like a fine Cartier piece of jewelry. My very own passport to the life of George Hamilton.

A few weeks later I was flying economy class back to England after a long contract on a ship……I forget which one and found myself sitting in one of those overpriced tasteless fast food Cuban places at Miami airport. As I was eating my Los BLT sandwich I remembered the black “master key” in my wallet and recalled a bit in the pamphlet that came with it that said it opened the door to airline lounges around the world.

So, I waddled over to the club class lounge with my cargo class boarding ticket and asked if I could use the facilities. “I’m afraid not,” said the woman cheerfully. “Aha,” I countered, “but I have a black American Express card,” producing the thing and holding it over my head like a fishing trophy

It didn’t……….and she told me to bugger off and that was me back at Jose’s Bar and Grill.

Sometime later I was checking in at the Excelsior Hotel in Rome on our Honeymoon when, again, I remembered the card and thought: “I wonder if this will get me a room upgrade.”

Bugger me, it did. All I had to do was check into one of the Caesar suites at $1 billion a night and I would be automatically upgraded to the Berlusconi suite, with the enlarged mini bar and lap dancers at no extra cost. So, off to the room with a view of…….ummmm ………..another room we went.

As the months went by, I kept producing the jet-set, jet black Amex and the result was pretty much always the same. “Non.” “Nein.” And when I was in Holland with Heidi someone actually said” What the f***’s that?”……in Dutch. That was the last straw. Having a black Amex is not like having a big yacht, house, car or penis. They are useful and others will find them impressive. This card exists, solely, to impress. It has no other function.

If I were the sort of person who had clients or needed to impress Megan Fox and her bottom, then maybe it would have be useful………. so I got rid of it. Because at the end of the day it was as pointless as Bath and Body Works opening a store in Paris.

By the way, later that night the I/S beardies fixed the problem and the cauliflower became a computer again……..Mr. Platinum got his tour tickets…………and all was well.

Time for today’s questions………..lets crack on.

John and Patty Asked:
Hi john please reply.

The post from David and Lucy has me baffled, we have been in the spa suite on both the splendor and the dream, we are not aware of the “key card for access” we had the wrist bands on both cruises and had no problems gaining access anywhere in the spa areas, this is the first time we are hearing this, are we misinformed? Ps we are booked on the magic for 12 day out of Barcelona Spain in the spa suite; please tell me you will be our cruise director! Thank for all you do for us personally john & patty

John Says:
Hello John and Patty

The Spa Suites do indeed have a key card here on your Carnival Dream. When guests go to Cloud Nine their state room key is swapped for a key card which gives you private access to a world of total relaxation. Congratulations on booking the Carnival Magic and if you have any questions about the ports please let me know and I thanks so much for your words of kindness.

Best wishes to you both

Roxianne & Lon Asked:
John (Please reply),

Ok, so now we have our passports and I have a couple of questions. I am sure you have answered these before but I have no idea which blog they are in. 1) I am a US citizen, will Carnival take my passport until the end of the cruise or will I keep it? and 2) Will we get the visa stamps at the various ports of call?

We love the blog!

John Says:
Hello Roxianne and Lon

Congratulations on getting your passport and the only time Carnival will take it from you is if you sail in Europe and then only at certain ports. For all other cruises you will keep your passports with you. Remember, we always recommend you carry a photo ID with you when going ashore. Unfortunately the days of the passport being stamped are long gone although some guests do I know take it to a local post office where they have a similar stamp that guests like to collect.

Thanks for the kind words.

Best wishes to you both

Jeanette Asked:
Please reply, if you so desire…

I did it, I booked my Platinum cruise!!!!!!!!!! Liberty Sept 18th back to Half Moon Cay (otherwise known as paradise found), St, Thomas, San Juan, and Grand Turk!!!!!!!! Embarkation day is on my 41st birthday, so that ought to be fun!!!! I can only hope that that Alex, that hot maitre’d is on the Liberty in September!!!!!! It’ll make my seven day 41st birthday bash even more fun….*BG* wink wink nudge nudge…..I’ll go for a different cabana number this time, something closer to the food….

Platinum perks–laundry service–I know Platinum gets free wash n fold laundry, but it is everyday or limited to a certain number of days only?

I am tickled to be getting a card of a different color!!!!!!! Bye bye gold, hello PLATINUM!!!!!!

John Says:
Hello Jeanette

Many congratulations on your Platinum card and joining a world of priority boarding and debarking, free stuff and a world where we wash your underwear for you. I look forward to receiving a reminder of your sailing in early August so I can act on your “nudge nudge, wink wink.”

Congratulations again and best wishes

Karen pee Asked:
Oh by the way– (John reply)

We leave on March 1 for our 13th cruise on the Carnival Triumph.


John Says:
Hello Karen

I know you are already onboard but wanted to wish you a very fun cruise and look forward to reading all about it.

Best wishes.

New York Sam Asked:

Posted a request for a dinner reservation 12 days ago and no response. Hope the service on the boat is better than on this forum


John Says:
Hello Sam

I did indeed post a reply to your request plus a reply to your reminder as well. I am working three weeks behind so my apologies for the delay. I assure you the service on board will be just what you expect and more.

Best wishes

Tom and Karen Asked:
John please reply– yes is your #1 blogger–(he he he)

You ask our opinion on time in dining rooms. I love the time in the dining area. Why hurry? People are serving me anything I want and then more of the same and you want to rush? Why do people not see it is the experience that is the fun part? Food is good don’t get me wrong, but it is the time with friends, new friends, new wait staff and all the others that can’t be bought.

That fellow needs to get a life and slow down and enjoy the moment.

I always let my staff know if we are in a time constraint. And with that information, the wait staff has always accommodated the issue.

John Says:
Hello Tom and Karen

I just wanted to say thank you for those words of wisdom. While I respect opinions I must say it still astonishes me that so many want fast service….the faster the better.

Thanks then for showing us the other side of the coin and taking the time to write.

Best wishes

Susan V Asked:

I am glad you are enjoying being the Cruise Director again and look forward to having Heidi & Kye join you on board!

I need your help! My daughter and her fiance are looking at getting married next year on the Dream. They are a little concerned since it doesn’t have a wedding chapel as to where they hold ceremonies. Could you check for us and let us know. I see they have conference rooms on the ship and wondered if that is where they are held. They want to have about 60 people with over 1/2 sailing. Would it be better to have our PVP Charlene Reisler take care of the bookings for the cruise or should we deal directly with the group department? My BIL got married on the Legend but that ship had a chapel and it was a beautiful ceremony. Our daughter wants it to be a very special day and with our love of cruising as a family, what a better place than aboard one of Carnivals beautiful ships!

I know you mentioned it before but are the prices for the spa passes? They are considering a spa cabin just for the use of the spa but we would really like to put them in a suite for their honeymoon.

Any help you can give us would be highly appreciated!

Thanks for all you do to make our lives better by having your wonderful blog to enjoy!

John Says:
Hello Susan

My goodness I am sure the excitement is building as you prepare for the big day and I am glad that you took the time to write to me. This past Saturday there were four weddings on your Carnival Dream held in our conference rooms and of our Burgundy Lounge. Both locations are transformed into beautiful settings to make your daughter’s special day one she will never forget. I am going to take the liberty of asking our Bon Voyage and Wedding Director contact you via e mail and let you and her discuss the big day. Then I would suggest that we talk to your PVP about your group options. But let’s start with the wedding itself and go from there.

As for the Spa passes that open the door to the Thesol…Falosotharp…Thaloosop……the pool with the fountains, the thermal suites and relaxation rooms are $249 per couple for the cruise. The Spa Suites are amazing and I will try and take some photos of one soon for you.

So, let me help where I can to make her wedding day so very special. And if your future son in law needs help with the honeymoon night……I am available for him as well.

Best wishes


We are scheduled to travel on the special Itin of the MIRCLE that starts in Oct of this year. I know it’s an older ship but can you give us a little run down of what the ship is like and what to expect on it???

Also! WHEN is Carnival going to start going to places the OTHER cruise lines go??? Like GREECE??? We had to book our trip on NCL because Carnival doesn’t go there. Those of us who have been to Italy, Spain, France, Croatia, Germany, Norway, Denmark, Russia, Estonia,Amsterdam and so Ion would like to see different areas????Your favorite ships RCCL goes there some but not too far. Please talk to the powers that be and tell them we need different Itins!!! You can only go to the Caribbean sooo much!

Judy S


John Says:
Hello Judy Sharum

I know what you mean about Greece as I spent a season on the Carnival Freedom going to Athens and Katakolon and they were certainly great ports. Our marketing department stroked their beards a lot when deciding what the itinerary of the Carnival Magic would be and it was decided that the popular vote was the Grand Med. This allows fun and sun for two perfect Carnival common denominators while still allowing to our guests to explore Venice, Monte Carlo, Tuscany, Florence, Croatia and more.

Now, on July 23 I am going to be sailing on the Queen Victoria and exploring England, Scotland and Ireland…….why not come with me? Then how about a Holland America voyage to Egypt or a Costa trip to Dubai. Our sister companies have a wonderful portfolio of destinations.

I am glad that you booked the Carnival Miracle though because for many the Spirit class is their favourite. The ship will carry around 2000 guests and the flow of the passengers is terrific thanks to the two-level promenade. There is only one dining room and the ship therefore has a wonderful sense of togetherness which is perfect for the longer cruise. The steakhouse on the Carnival Miracle is arguably our prettiest and I know you will love the ship.

Please let me know if you have any specific questions about her or any of our sister lines voyages and destinations as I would be happy to help you.

Best wishes

auntsaras Asked:
Hi John, A reply would be appreciated 🙂

This is my first time responding to your blog though I’ve been reading it for a couple of months. I like the new design of the old “Capers,” but like most everyone else, I am just not sure I like the name change. There’s a sense of continuity that’s lost – in my business, we say that if you make a big change, you have to keep something from the original so that people don’t lose that continuity. But no matter! It’s not gonna keep me from using it to plan my days! And like another blogger, I *really* hope it’s 11″ x 17″!

So, the real reason for writing you… My mom turns 60 in April and has never been out of the southern US – literally, never farther south than Georgia or farther north than DC! She just got her very first passport! Well, being the marvelous daughter that I am, I am taking her on the Legend’s April 18th sailing at no expense to her. It’s a week after her birthday but as close as our schedules could get. I’ve purchased room decorations for our extended-balcony stateroom from Bon Voyage but was wondering if you could arrange just a little something special for her? It’s just the two of us as my dad died when I was 14 and she’s been a single mom to me for the past 17 years.

Thanks for always keeping us up-to-date on the goings-on at Carnival. AND, thanks for the personal attention you seem so willing to bestow on all of us!


John Says:
Hello Sara

Thanks so much for taking the time to post a comment here on the blog thingy. It is always wonderful to welcome first time posters. It will certainly take some time to get used to the new name. I think I have said “Capers” three or four times already this cruise and considering I have been saying this for 22 and a half years…….it’s no surprise. How brilliant that your Mum has her first passport and is using it to come and cruise with us on the Carnival Legend. I would be honoured to send her something and can I ask that you send me a reminder on March 20th and I will make it so.

My best wishes to you all and thanks so much for the kind words.

That’s all for today and those questions were posted on the 4th of February ……… bugger.

I see that we have more and more new comers to the blog thingy each day and so I would like to kindly ask that if you have a question that needs answering to please mark it “John Please reply” unless your name is Sam and you are from New York in which case you don’t need to bother with the word “please.”

Last week I had the pleasure of Don and Carolyn sailing. They spent lots of money just to come and see Kye and Heidi and while they got to see lots of them, they saw little of me. Obviously being a cruise director is a little different to when I host the bloggers cruises and I want to apologize to them for not seeing as much as I should have done. Kye took to Carolyn immediately and that’s because she is a warm wonderful lady who along with Don I want to publicly thanks for their extreme kindness.

Today I had a visit from bloggers Linda and Mike, Frank and Bridie (Birdy) and Linda’s family and friends as well. They were all so kind to Kye both with words and by spoiling her rotten. I am so lucky to have friends like these and even was told that one of them had a “Man Crush” on me. I have never been so scared………..kidding………humbled. Frank and Birdy gave me a pillowcase ……………here it is.

I will be sleeping soundly tonight, resting my cheek on hers.

Thanks’ again everyone on behalf of Kye, Heidi, Megan and myself.

The 343 Stephanie’s bought me a new digital camera thingy which I received on Saturday.The idea is for me to have it with me at all times and take random photos of …… well………anything I see. OK, well I am not a Radu and most of my photos I warn you will be crap and very, very random. However, there is a bigger problem.

How the hell do you get them from your camera to the computer to the 343 Stephanie’s? You see, Heidi has always looked after this part of my blog which is why when she is not with me and when Radu is not onboard you don’t see any photos on the blog……..apart from the screen shots of my shows that the Audio Visual beardie sends. But now, I have this Fuji Fine thingy and am expected to pepper you with photos each and every blog. This morning I decided to transfer all the pictures I had taken since the Fuji thingy arrived on Saturday…onto my computer. This is easy enough if you have about four spare weeks, the temper of someone who’s actually dead and a master’s degree in engineering.

The problem is that when I try and save them my bastard Dell stores them in the electronic equivalent of a box, in the cellar, behind your collection of Star Trek on betamax. Finding them again is a bloody nightmare.

But find them you do and then what? Do you delete the ones that have no meaning or which are out of focus? No. You either leave them all where they are, in which case they will be lost for all of time when your hard drive crashes. Which, one day, I know it will. That, of course, is not as disastrous as losing a photograph album because you will also have put them on Facebook in the mistaken belief that the rest of the world will somehow be interested in what you did on vacation. Frankly, I’d rather look at someone’s Hemorrhoids than their holiday photos.

Or you carefully move them to a disc, which involves going to Wal-Mart, buying a packet of three, coming home, finding out you’ve bought the wrong ones, going back into town again and then finally getting everything transferred. It would be easier to set up an easel and paint you a bloody photo.

However, after a bollocking from Heidi about how “Kye could do this, so grow up” I have managed to sit here ……in my underpants……….and take a photo or two. Now I warned you they would be random and we start with four photos of the bridge of your Carnival Dream taken a few moments before I started Saturday’s safety briefing. Note the plasma TV’s which help the Captain during maneuvers.

OK, who’s sailing with us this week? Let’s find out.

GUESTS – 4,006

NON US OR CANADIAN – 217 (no specific large non US or Canadian Groups this week)


Under 2 Years 10
2-5 Years 48
6-8 Years 61
9-11 Years 75
12-14 Years 71
15-17 Years 81
18-20 Years 46

Platinum and Milestone Guests – 237 with Mr. and Mrs. Lunstrom having cruised the most with 45 Carnival voyages.

We have a ballroom dance group from Ocala, Florida who have private lessons all cruise long and a group of 53 retired Vietnam Veterans who all served together and are here on a reunion. I will certainly be writing more about them later this week.

Overall I think the average age went up a few years this cruise which is to be expected. I always remember from my days on the Carnival Triumph which also did an alternating Eastern Caribbean and Western Caribbean cruise that it was the Eastern that seemed to have a slightly older clientele. I always thought that this was because of the ports and certainly here the more adventurous ports of Roatan and Belize seem to attract a younger group of guests. Whereas the shopping Mecca of St. Thomas along with Nassau and St. Maarten seems to have, like this week, older guests sailing. Now I could be talking bollocks here so let me ask you……..is what I said true. Are ports of call age restricting………I would as always be interested in your thoughts.

On Sunday I decided to show the Canada vs. USA hockey gold medal game on the big screen. I canceled the live music and moved up the Mixology contest and the pool games. And it was well received by many. However, I had not planned for this in the Capers ……. bugger…………Fun Times……..and therefore I did have some guests who were unhappy that the game was shown and the music postponed. I guess it’s just one of those times that you just have to realize that you can’t please everyone all the time…..but you know how much I hate admitting that.

Here is a copy of our first Nassau Funtimes and let me know if you see any spalling or grammer, .! mistakes

Well one of the stars of this week’s welcome aboard show was our blogging friend Big Ed. Here he is proclaiming his love for Pat………who when asked if he was romantic replied “He’s as romantic as a wet noodle.”

We were in Nassau, Bahamas yesterday and just a few days ago the Carnival Pride was here as her young Cruise Director Jaime will describe in a Dear John letter in tomorrow’s blog …….and it’s a side of Jaime we haven’t met before. As for us here on the Carnival Dream those guests who left the snow and the cold to join us will be basking in the glorious sunshine and a high of ……….bugger……..68 degrees and in the morning when we arrived it was only 60 degrees. ………GWMA!

I often wonder what would happen to the tourist trade in Nassau and other Caribbean destinations should Senior Castro push off this mortal coil thus allowing the cruise industry to sail on mass into Havana.

For years, hair braiding in Nassau has been a tradition and I guess I need to let guests know that they need to be careful if they decide to have this done…………here is why.

Guest: Mr. ———Ref: 846009176A
Cabin: ____Booking#: ____Added-Changed: 02/28/10 – 02/2/810

C – 2384 – Disputes Medical Charge

Guest called the GSD to say that his daughter had her hair braided in Nassau and had returned to the ship to find she had tiny insects on her head. Guest went to the medical center for assistance and wants the charges removed from his sail and sign card as he thinks the Cruise Director should have warned guests that this was a possibility. GSA explained that we do not recommend hair braiding but guest is demanding refund of charges. Tasked to GSM and CD

Now I think the “tiny insects” the guest is referring to are what we in the UK call “Nits.” Not sure if you call them that in the UK. Obviously this poor kid (who is 15 by the way) has them and has been asked not to go to the Club O2 activities until she has been cleared by the ship’s medical department. As far I can recall I never had nits or lice or “tiny insects” as they are now known. I don’t remember anyone at my school having them either, or, if they did, it was kept very quiet and the tiny bastards were eradicated before they had time to mastermind their dastardly attack on the rest of us kids.

Obviously the problem with having your hair braided by Big Mama on the pier in Nassau is that although she is a lovely lady and a brilliant hair braiderist……she no doubt uses the same comb and hair braiding tools for multiple people and her cleaning regime is nonexistent ………..short of wiping the comb under her armpit. I asked Heidi about Nits (tiny insects) and she said that her grandmother had a great cure for them. She would spread mayonnaise over the child’s head and then put a shower cap on them overnight. It will smother the little buggers. Bloody Dutch………..they put mayonnaise on everything.

Anyway, I have talked about this numerous times before in the blog and on board the ship while it is ridiculous to blame me for not informing him that the particular hair braiderist he went to had things living on her……..I will add this to my “be careful” list of things to do which includes renting mopeds, not buying replica weapons and avoiding Easy Elsie’s House Of Pleasure in St. Maarten……..don’t go there………because if you do…….not even a big jar of mayonnaise is going to help you.

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.