Prince Of Tights

March 3, 2010 -

John Heald

So there we were, Heidi, Kye and I walking along deck 6 last night…..well……Heidi and I were walking…..Kye was being a lazy sod as usual and being chauffeured in her McLaren chariot. Anyway, we were walking from the aft to the forward section when a few cabins ahead of us we saw one of our room service ladies laden down with a tray full of tasty treats …….and if you are a climbing wall fan let me rub it in by saying “free tasty treats.”

She knocked on the door which was opened by a male guest who took the tray and without one word of thanks or one cent of a tip ……….closed the door in poor Angelica’s face. I looked at this 5 foot nothing crew member from the Philippines and felt instantly sad for her. As we approached her she knocked again on the door and I thought “Good, she is going to say where are your manners and where is my tip you rude sod.” But she didn’t, she said “Can you please sign this to say you received the food.” The male guest did and again without a word closed the door.

I asked her if this was normal and she seemed reluctant to tell me if it was or not and just kept saying “It’s OK, Mr. John”…..that’s what they call me these days Mr. John by the way. But it’s not OK. It really isn’t. I am sure this chap was in the minority and maybe he had just lost his kids’ college fund in the casino or discovered that his wife was having rumpy pumpy with Tiger Woods. But come on……..can’t you just say “thank you” ………. it’s not the Gettysburg address is it?

I am not going to get into the whole “should you tip the room service staff” or not ………. although you can guess what I think on the subject. Anyway, this played on my mind so Heidi and I sent an e-mail to the food and beverage manager and the hotel director complimenting Angelica and also gave her a nice new Carnival Dream T-shirt from the gift shop and her very own 14 carat gold plastic trophy.

This guest’s rudeness is unusual as the vast majority of our guests treasure the iconic and friendly crew on our ships but there are one or two each and every week on each and every ship who has the manners of a dung beetle. And it’s not just our guests.

There was a story in the news last week about the future King of England…….His Royal Highness Prince William. At a restaurant in Zermatt which is one of those posh skiing resorts in Switzerland, William and friends left £4.20 on a £420 bill for their waitress …… let’s put that in US dollars shall we. The bill or check as you say was at today’s rate of 1.5…..$631…………and the ginger Prince left a tip of……….$6.30

Now, I’ve thought about this and there’s just no way that this was an oversight as a Buckingham Palace spokesperson with a beard suggested. What a load of Royal bollocks ……..now I may have the brain capacity of a plank of wood but isn’t that exactly one per cent of the bill?

No, I reckon they thought £4.20 would do. And who cares when your Dad owns half of the UK and your grandmother has her face on the bloody money you paid with.

Still, it’s an excuse to raise the whole tortured business of tipping. And it confirms my belief that the higher up the social scale a person the stingier their gratuity while the lower down the scale the more likely they are to over-tip in the hope of hiding their a) unease b) the fact that are, like me, as poor as a church mouse.

Being from relative peasant stock I start worrying whether I have enough for a decent tip the moment my arse hits the restaurant or/taxi seat. If a hotel porter takes my bags to my room I’ve got the money ready in the lift.

These handsets that are brought to the table while we give our credit cards must present a new restaurant squirm fest. The waiter peers over your shoulder as you enter the gratuity. In a blind panic you cannot calculate what 12.5 per cent is so you chuck a $50 bill to him ……………… then you feel robbed all the way home.

Why do we tip? Is it to reward good service or to ensure the waiter doesn’t piss in our soup? And what about the guest I wrote about last year on the Carnival Splendor who removed all his pre-paid tips from his sail and sign card because his rib chop in the steakhouse was overcooked. Well, that’s not the server’s fault and it certainly wasn’t the stateroom stewards fault whose tips he also removed.

I suppose we cannot expect the Royals to understand since they are waited on from birth by household staff whom they tip bugger all. But if William ever plans to return to that restaurant in Switzerland and finds his steak taste likes sh*t………that’s probably because it is.

Time for today’s questions……let’s go.

Kathy M. Asked:
Hi John, Please reply.

I know that you stated today in your blog that you will be on the Carnival Pride in September, so that got me thinking, are you still going to be on the Carnival Spirit in Oct and Nov. I have booked a cruise for November 12th, but if you are not going to be the CD, I will cancel that cruise. If you could please possibly post what dates you will be on the Carnival Spirit, I would greatly appreciate it.

Please give my love to Heidi and Kye,

From your #1 Bloggy Thingy Fan,
Kathy M.

John Says:
Hello Kathy M

I am working with Chris Prideaux in the office on my schedule for the summer and winter of this year. I do promise you that I will at some point be on the west coast. I know that I have a lot of people who have been asking me to do this for a long time and yet I have never been a CD in your region. So, I will be either on the Carnival Spirit or Carnival Splendor and will confirm the schedule by the end of next week. I am honoured (spelt correctly) that you have chosen to book your cruise around me and if I do change schedules I will assist you in changing your booking.

Best wishes
John

Debbie Asked:
John, Please reply:

First, thank you and thanks to Liz on the Freedom for making our trip the week of 1/16 a special week for us. Liz really took care of my husband and I with several surprises. This was our 2nd trip on the Freedom and 7th with Carnival. We loved the new serenity area.

Now for some comments on Your Time Dining and the comment cards. This was our first opportunity to try Your time Dining. The Dining room staff was friendly and tried to please everyone. However, there were many unhappy guests and the staff seemed surprised with the problems. Now, let me explain some of the issues. The Chic dining room is in the middle of the ship with doors on both sides. While you cannot enter from the front side until staff opens the doors, you can enter from the back, walk through the dining room and exit on the front side. So is it any real surprise that every day more and more guests went through the back, walked through the dining room, out the front and found a place in line somewhere in between the front and back of the line. Rarely making it to the back of the line. Now, there really wasn’t a line, there was a mass of guests who were arguing over who to let through to stand in line with people they knew and who should not be let through. By the end of the week, it really was getting pretty ugly standing outside the dining room waiting to enter and the line was forming an hour before the doors opened. Also, there were guests who were just walking in when the doors opened and walking to tables and sitting down. Not waiting to be seated. This just confused the staff and took longer to seat people and also meant that guests waiting the longest were not getting tables. We talked to the Hostess who said that this was an unusual week and everyone wanted to eat early and by 8:00 the dining room was empty for the night. With the many problems this caused, I would think someone would have made the decision early on to offer incentives to guests to get them to dine at a later time and avoid more problems. Also, someone from Carnival should have been outside that dining room before the doors opened to help with the problems. And the back door should have been kept closed so guests could only line up from the back of the line. Now one of the things I noticed on this trip was an unusual demographic. I would be interested in the actual number. I would guess that the majority of guests were in the age range of 65-75 and we met guests that were in their 90’s. I’m wondering if the age of the guests had something to do with everyone wanting an early dining time??

Now one more comment is that I know from talking and listening to guests that there were a lot of very negative comments made on the comment cards. I hate to think that this ship and this staff received overall negative comments for this one bad experience. I do not plan to try Your time dining again because of this experience. But I did not make any other bad comments. I have just decided I prefer to be able to walk into the dining room without having to wait in line for a table or to get a pager if I don’t get to the dining room at a good time when a table is available. I heard people say that they wrote several pages of negative comments and this bothers me. The Freedom is the cleanest ship with the friendliest staff in Carnival’s fleet of all the ships we have been on. We had a wonderful time. I would get right back on the Freedom again in a minute if I could. I hope they read those comment cards, try to understand that they are the result of people frustrated with one problem on one part of a great vacation and then try to find a solution to that one thing and then tell the whole staff that they did a great job overall on this trip.

John Says:
Hello Debbie

Thanks for taking the time to write and include a thanks of your own for the little extras that Liz took care of. Anytime Dining is still only a few months old and there is no doubt that we are still fine tuning this option. Our fleetwide reservations show that more and more people are taking this option and so information like this is vital for its continuing success. And when you read the concerns that you and maybe others expressed about the way we seat guests and that the aft doors are a concern…….it seems a simple fix doesn’t it. That’s why I am so grateful to you and others that we are able to have this forum and through your eyes better our product for our loyal guests.

I have therefore sent this to our VP of F&B as well as the hotel director of the Carnival Freedom so they can take the appropriate action.

Thanks for also pointing out the cleanliness and the high levels of service as well.

My best wishes to you and the family
John

Deanna Williamson Asked:
Hi John,

Great blog, by the way! I just returned from enjoying an Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Destiny – and we truly had some five star service! However, we weren’t given any gratuity envelopes to tip at the end or comment cards to commend our fantastic staff. I have written to Carnival twice to see if I can forward a thank you note, but haven’t heard anything. Is there any way you can send a message to the Maitre’D and Asst. Maitre’D of the Carnival Destiny? Our entire wait staff were outstanding….and we have some fun photos we promised to share with them too. Thanks so much and keep up the great work!

Sincerely,
Deanna Williamson

John Says:
Hello Deanna Williamson

I am so glad that you had so much fun on the Carnival Destiny and thanks for mentioning the top class service. I am disappointed that you did not receive a comment card and that nobody from our HQ has returned your call. That’s not good enough.

So, I am thankful that you took the time to write to me here on the blog thingy and I have sent your words of praise to all mentioned and they will be thrilled I promise you to read your review.

I hope you continue to enjoy the blog thingy.

Best wishes to all
John

Jetskier Asked:

I wonder if the shoe was on the other foot and she was the one who left the lounge and came back and found a 20 something hunk, if her reaction would have been the same. Probably not. Don’t let it bug you. By now you should realize that you cannot please everybody. And that some don’t have a sense of humour even if it bites them on the arse.

Please respond on this question:

Did you ever get a response on if the Carnival Elation might get her final upgrades ahead of schedule?

Dave

John Says:
Hello Jetskier

It’s been a long time since I have written to you and thanks so much for the words of support. How’s your arm by the way. I will have to check on the Carnival Elation and what upgrades she is due and I will see if I can post a response to this tomorrow for you. I know many bloggers have booked the repositioning cruise through the Panama Canal on her so I will get back to you and everyone else on this ASAP.

Best wishes
John

Robert Dalphonse Asked:
John,

I am hoping you can help me… I was on the Dream the week of Jan 23, 2010. Karel Pancochar sold me an awesome photo package and upon returning home, we found the CD holding all the images cracked and not readable. Could you please pass my email along to Karel and ask him about possible replacing the damaged CD.

Thanks,
R. D

John Says:
Hello Robert Dalphonse

I will certainly help with this Robert and get a replacement to you as soon as possible. Please let me know if you need any further help.

Best wishes
John

Roger Mann Asked:
John

I am one of those who also vote for you’re to spend less time writing jokes and passing on stories of what happens onboard and spending more valuable time helping your customers. I am sure that there are others who agree but are too shy to say.

Thanks
Roger

John Says:
Hello Roger Mann

Thanks for the posting and all I can say to this is that I am sorry but the blog started out as a look at the life onboard a Carnival ship and if I take that away I might as well close the blog thingy down. I know it’s frustrating that it takes me so long to answer but hopefully you will understand that I am one chap with a job as CD to do as well as a blog thingy writer.

I am here should you need my help even though it may take me a little time to do so.

Best wishes
John

Stacy Just Asked:
John,

I am planning on going on a Carnival cruise but would like to go on one with Victor Zuniga, the juggler. How can I find out what his schedule of ships is?

Thank you!

John Says:
Hello Stacy

Victor Zuniga is a brilliant juggler and I am so glad you enjoy his shows so much. He moves from ship to ship each week so it’s hard for me to tell you what ship he will be on. If you write back to me with the month you are looking to sail I can tell you on which ships he will be performing. I hope this helps.

I look forward to hearing from you

Best wishes
John

Pinkbarbie Asked:
Dear John (please Reply)

I know that there has been some talk about various acts being stale or overdone, such as the hairy chest contest or the bedtime story or other things.

For one, I am very much looking forward to getting to see your bedtime story on the Conquest the Week of April 25th, when my husband and I will sail with you in celebration of our 25th Anniversary (so excited that you will be the CD). I have seen the YouTube videos and I know it will not be anything new, but I just can’t wait to see it in person. Because each cruise you have different people and it never turns out exactly the same way.

It is the same with the hairy chest contest. I have been on 4 cruises with Carnival and I love watching the Hairy chest contest every time. It is the guests and how they react that makes it so HILARIOUS.

To the people who dislike these events, they should find other things to do. It is a FUN SHIP after all and there are always plenty of things going on. This is how I respond to the same shows that have been on the Conquest for years. I just do something else during that time. While I would like for there to be new lounge shows, I know that there are many people who haven’t gotten to see them, so I find other things to do at that time, and it usually works out great.

Anyways, PLEASE DO YOUR REGULAR SHOWS I HAVE BEEN LOOKING FORWARD TO. I love reading the blog daily and can’t wait to hear you in person.

See ya in April.
Christy Richardson

John Says:
Hello Christy Richardson

I am looking forward to seeing you on the Carnival Conquest and I will promise to do the Bedtime Story. I have been doing this for many years and although the premise is the same the characters and situations they provide are different each week. I have never been onboard the Carnival Conquest and so I am looking forward to seeing her and I will do my best to make this cruise the best one you have ever had.

Thanks so much for the kind words of support and I will see you soon

Best wishes
John

Lisa Tatham Asked:
John – Please Respond

My husband and I have been reading your blog for the past few years. We so much love your humour and the things we learn from our nightly reading!

Our first cruise was last fall. I always wanted to cruise but my husband never was excited about it. And then he got stage 4 cancer. All of a sudden we started trying to do things that we had put off before. He wanted to visit Florida, I wanted to cruise, so we combined the two – and took our first Carnival cruise last September. Now we’re hooked. We hadn’t been home for more than a week when he started talking about the next one.

When we went on our first cruise you were very kind in offering a table for us in the dining room that would accommodate him. Because of the almost constant chemotherapy he has gotten weak and walks with a cane. The table you arranged for us was perfect. He didn’t have to navigate through the entire dining room and it was very close to the singing and dancing every night. Perfect!

Finally I had to give into him again and we booked our next cruise on 3/21 on the Glory. An entire week this time! We’re working with his doctors to allow him to take a break from chemotherapy to enjoy this cruise. Knowing that you have a fantastic medical staff on board certainly helps to ease my mind a bit.

We have wonderful family and friends who didn’t want me to travel alone in case of emergency, so we’re bringing my parents and another couple. They have been so helpful through all of this and I want to make this cruise very special for everyone. I’m thinking of booking the steakhouse for everyone as a thank you and as a celebration: of friendship, of my 25th anniversary (a few months after the cruise), and my parent’s 45th anniversary (a few weeks before the cruise).

I hate to ask, since you get so many requests, but I would appreciate it again if you could book us a table in the dining room (for 6) where my husband won’t have to navigate through all the tables. I want this trip to be enjoyable and stress-free as possible!

Thank you again for all you do to make Carnival enjoyable for so many people! I know it has provided me some very special memories of me and my husband that I will always have.

John Says:
Hello Lisa Tatham

I am so glad that you had a wonderful time on your first cruise and that I was able to help you with your dinner reservation. I have sent the Maitre D on the Carnival Glory your booking numbers and ask him to give you a table close to the entrance so that he is comfortable and seated with you and the rest of your family.

I wish you a wonderful time and I wish your husband continuing good health and happiness and I hope that this cruise rejuvenates him ready to face the treatments to come.

Best wishes to you all
John

That’s all for today and there will be more tomorrow. I need to apologize to anyone who has asked me for something before they sail that I have missed due to the backlog of questions. I know that Roger Mann and others feel that I should quit the stories and the fun stuff and concentrate on the customer service side but I can’t and unless the masses tell me to…….I won’t. But I can apologize to Seth and others for the late replies and hop that they forgive me and continue to enjoy the blog.

Please would you join me in thinking of a lady tonight? Her name is Claire and last night her husband of 53 years passed away here on the ship. I sat with her for last night before she and Lynn disembarked the ship in St. Thomas from where they will fly home to Florida tomorrow. The thoughts of 4,000 guests and all who read this blog are with the family today.

You often forget that with 4,000 guests onboard and 1,400 crew that your Carnival Dream is a small town and just as a small town on land, here also there is comedy and tragedy and good times and bad. And as I did my best to comfort Claire last night I was reminded of this fact. Just a few hours before I was meeting the Boheler family who had sent this letter into the Morning Show.


And what a wonderful family they are and how much fun they are having here on their Carnival Dream. As you read, Mysti and Ronnie’s two teenager sons have enormous challenges yet when I met them their smile illuminated the entire atrium and when I gave them their two solid gold 14-carat plastic trophies their reaction was as though I had given them a Ferrari. What a tremendous job their parents have done raising the boys and it is obvious that they have both devoted their lives to making their sons’ lives better.

It’s time for today’s photos. For those of you just joining us here on the blog thingy let me explain that the 343 Stephanies gave me a Fuji thingy to take photographs of the ship and the crew with. I am not a good photographer and also my photos are totally random and have about as much meaning as Tiger Wood’s wedding vows. But never the less……here is today’s assortment.

I think I mentioned a while ago how our older ships often get overlooked here on the blog thingy which is of course my fault. This will be reminded when I get to be the cruise director on the Carnival Fantasy in April and May. Carnival Ecstasy is a ship that I have wonderful and fun memories of and she like the rest of her Fantasy class sister ships has of course recently benefited from huge upgrades. And I thought you might therefore like to read this review from Host Mach who is one of the Cruise Critic board moderators and a great friend of the blog. Here is his review.

John,

I wanted to give you a quick overview of our very recent sailing on the Carnival Ecstasy.

Please pass along how pleased we were with embark. It was the smoothest; easiest I have ever been through. The shore side staff in Galveston was superb. They should be cloned and passed out to other ports that Carnival uses.

I’ve got to tell you that it was one of the best on board experiences I have had on ANY Carnival ship. The Ecstasy is lovely… clean, bright and immaculately kept she makes you feel like you’re on a new build. Every aspect of the ship is wonderful. She is spotless. The staff is constantly polishing, buffing and keeping after the vessel. The only thing I worry about is them wearing things out from cleaning!

The Evolutions of Fun upgrades are the best I’ve seen on any Fantasy Class ship. The newly revised grill area at the aft section of the Lido pool area is brilliant. The Mongolian Grill and the revised grill menu are very welcome, indeed.

The Taste of Nations, the deli and desert station are superb. I’ve got to tell you that some of the pasta dishes I had at Taste of Nations were every bit as good as the food at the Pasta Bar on our Carnival Dream!

While I’m on the topic of food… the Chef’s Table was the best dining experience I have EVER had on land or sea. I have to tell you that our Chef was AMAZING, the service was AMAZING, and the food was beyond AMAZING! What a tremendously talented galley staff and how tremendously friendly they all were! The majority of these folks never see passengers and rarely get the kudos they deserve. BRAVO!! Everyone at our table in the Explorer’s Library thought the evening was underpriced. I have to agree. I’d recommend that anyone sailing on a ship that has the Chef’s Table available take advantage of it. The event is not to be missed.

What can I say about Steve Cassel? When I met him I immediately felt like I had known him for years. He made our little group feel comfortable and at home. He is a fantastic gentleman, amazing talent and one of Carnival’s best. I loved the way he beamed as I praised his ship. He is appropriately proud of the Carnival Ecstasy.

Quality starts at the top and Steve is pure quality and that’s reflected in his staff. What an amazing group of folks.

We were assigned the WindSong dining room and we were universally thrilled. Not only was the food as good as or better than every other ship but the wait staff were fantastic! Ahmad, our waiter and Ni, his assistant, were unbelievable! I’ve had some great waiters but these kids were the best. Do whatever necessary to retain these two. They’re gems!

Speaking of gems… Mario, our Maitre d’, and Jamal the Maitre d’ in the WindStar blew us away. Both of them showed up at our Meet & Mingle, laughed and joked with us and generally set the tone for a phenomenal cruise.

Nothing, not even the bitterly cold wind and twenty foot seas on our way home from Cozumel could dampen the fun on this cruise.

PLEASE make sure that the folks in Miami get to read this. The Ecstasy is probably the best kept secret in the entire Carnival fleet. I know that she was just recently recognized with the Crystal Eagle award but there’s just not enough praise in the world for the job these folks do. Every fan of Carnival needs to experience the Ecstasy at least once.

At this moment we’re planning a Cruise Critic group cruise on the Ecstasy. She just too good to pass up and I really want to get the word out about her!

All the best.

Mach

Thanks mate for that insightful recap into a great ship with an obviously brilliant crew. I will make sure that they all get to read those superb words and thanks so much for highlighting one of our older ships which as you can see is now ……better than ever.

Here’s Stephanie ( one of the 343 ) to tell you about Funville.

Hi bloggers. Be sure to check out our newest Funville video. Here is a link.

http://www.carnival.com/Funville/media/p/510884.aspx?cid=So_John Heald Blog_2574

Enjoy
Stephanie H.

Do you remember the Police Academy movies? I know many will poo poo them as rubbish but to me they have an appealing innocence to them. They knew exactly what they were and didn’t try to be anything else. The first was the best when the mayor of LA opens up police training to all comers and Steve Guttenberg leads load of misfits through a hit-and-miss parade of slapstick gags about bodily functions……rather like this blog thingy.

One of the stars of the movie was a chap called Michael Winslow. The name may not mean anything but he is of course the character who could make all those wonderful noises from automatic gunfire to a helicopter. Well, turns out this actor and comedian is here this week on his Carnival Dream and is going to be playing James Brown in our Carnival Legends show. I will make sure I take photos of him and if he agrees I will introduce him to the audience at the Talent Show tonight. See……..you never know who is onboard.

Who would want be a captain? We arrived in St. Maarten today under clear blue skies but yet again the wind was a huge factor with 40 knots roaring across the bow. Can you imagine the stress a captain is under during these moments?…..Let’s set the scene so you can try and comprehend what was happening.

There are two main piers in St Maarten and every berth was full today. We were the last but one ship to arrive and as we approached the wind was a nominal 15 knots. Suddenly it started gusting to 40 knots and the captain probably said a silent “rumpa rumpa orgatz porka maseria testa da minka stropiard a stunard a pasta carbonara,” which roughly translated ………………means bugger.

On his port side somewhere was the AIDAvida which was totally eclipsed by the Monster of the I Can’t Sea The Sea of the Seas which was just a few meters away to our left. Then directly in front of us was the Brand X Solstice and Captain Marino has to dock a 130,000-ton ship in 40 knots of wind and stop her just 8 feet……let’s say that again …………..8 feet from our bow to the “X’s” stern. It is sometimes easy to forget that with all the features of the ships these days that it is still a ship. A mighty mass of steel that moves from one place to another and the responsibility of 130,000 tons and many hundreds of millions of dollars and the safety of the guests and crew all rest one man’s shoulders……….who would want be a captain?

OK, time to go. I have had a really sore throat these past three days which is a real bugger in my line of work. I have been sucking on sugar-free lozenges and tried all the normal remedies and none of them worked. Then my cabin steward Putu gave me some Indonesian powder which he told me to mix into hot milk. I asked him what it was made from and he smiled and said “is good, take.” So I took. God it was good. It was like having all my blood replaced with a cocktail of warm yak milk and valium while a naked Latvian woman poured hot gingery honey down my throat.

And then about 30 minutes later a miracle happened. My throat felt better…. And then it felt fantastic…..and then everyone became “my best friend” and then the phone rang and I found myself declaring my unending love to the Hotel Director Stewart Howard who is a 40 something man who looks like he has run a 100 yard sprint in a 90 yard gym. Damn, it was good stuff and today my throat feels brand new. Apart from making me love everyone and love everything…….there is one other side effect though, a terrible side effect that may have been the reason the captain found it difficult to dock the ship this morning…… because there was at least 40 knots of wind coming out of my bottom.

Goodnight
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.