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March 26, 2010 -

John Heald

As I write this blog in my underpants from the conference room which is devoid of cabbage players, beautiful rays of sunshine are streaming through the cotton ball clouds, and an eerie softness has descended on the Carnival Conquest. It is beautiful and peaceful at this time of the day……….it’s 7:40am………….and I feel like I am the only bugger on the ship.

Suddenly though a group of children skip past, their parents trying to keep up. Moments later a bewildered elderly asks me for directions to the gangway. I tell him the ship doesn’t arrive for another hour and a half and he looks at me as though I am from another world. I look at him because he is wearing his pants so high up he will have to open his fly to eat breakfast. I walk over and explain that our arrival into port is not yet happened and when he tells me “I ain’t been off this boat yet, I’ve been having problems with ma gout,” I wanted to hug him. He was cute and I for some reason was feeling all lovey dovey and warm and well disposed towards my fellow man. Apart from British Prime Minister Gordon Brown obviously…..and anyone French.

And it was a good job I woke up feeling like this because that’s why I didn’t insert a bagel up the bottom of the woman who this morning wagged her finger in the face of Predeep the omelet chef this morning telling him that he needed to learn how to speak English. She said this in an accent that would have made Sherriff Roscoe P Coltrane sound like Hugh Grant. But I said nothing for I was in love with all human kind………….with the exceptions already listed above.

It was much the same story with the guest who had her bare feet up on the table at breakfast this morning and even though the sight of her blisters, corns and toe cheese put me off my over easy eggs………I said nothing. And even the sight of one of my fellow crew members who in his role of middle management felt the need to chastise one of her subordinates I again………said nothing. It was Friday, I was not the CD yet and as I said……….love was all around…….. and I walked toward the conference room I found myself singing Oh What a Beautiful Morning.

However, this was not the case last night where love was certainly not all around and I was in a massive, incredible hulk-style rage.

You see, I have always had a passionate loathing for people who drop litter. And yesterday I watched a man roughly the same age as me dispose of an empty packet of cigarettes by throwing it on the floor of the corridor on deck 2 midship. He didn’t know I was behind him and so I picked it up and said “Sir, you dropped this.”……he turned and looked at me and then kept walking another few yards laughing……yep……….laughing……and entered his cabin. The fact that he dropped it on the floor is one thing but to laugh when he saw me pick it up is extraordinary.

I contemplated knocking on his cabin door, wait for him to answer it and throw the discarded cigi packet in saying: “I think you dropped something you littering bastard.” But I didn’t and as I went to my cabin I dropped it in my garbage bin………..and found myself not singing but kicking the side of the bed in disgust at me fellow man and for allowing myself to get so mad over this.

And so when I woke up this morning I decided to be in love with all mankind regardless of their feet being on the table, their lack of management skills or their insistence that a man from Bombay speak perfect English. Yep, there is nothing that is going to turn me into a grumpy old sod today ………………not even the litter-dropping ignoramus.

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

Violet Asked:
John Please Reply-

I am new to your blog and left a reply two days ago but was unaware of the need to post “John please reply,” so here it goes again.

My husband and I sailed on the beautiful Carnival Dream January 9th. It was our 6th Carnival cruise! We were wondering why Carnival no longer gives out its ships pin to past guest, the ones they sell in the gift shop are bigger pins and don’t look like the previous ones. Why do they charge to use the hot tub in the spa area now because on other ships they do not charge a fee? Also, one last comment about Dream… why in the world did you remove the hot tubs mid ship near the big screen TV? We truly did miss those hot tubs, but the ones that jet out from the side of the ship were pretty awesome! The hallway that leads past the mid ship dining hall to the back of the ship is so convenient too! I brag all the time about the “dancing in the streets” show too, you need a show like that on EVERY ship!

Also, I am happy to say we just booked for September 28th on Carnival Miracle to celebrate our anniversary!!

John Says:
Hello Violet

Welcome to the blog thingy and thanks for taking the time to re-send your question. I am glad you enjoyed your beautiful Carnival Dream and let me answer your questions. The pins are as you said available in the gift shops. This was one of just a very few cutbacks we made during the difficult times that the credit crunch brought us all. We still give them out to our Platinum guests for free and I hope one day soon you will enjoy this and all the other great benefits we bestow on our guests who have cruised with us 10 times or more.

The charge you refer to is not for the whirlpools which remain complimentary on the open decks but to the Thalasatherapy Pool which is part of the Cloud Nine Spa. This is a heated pool and I have heard many say that it truly does heal the tired muscles and stress of everyday life. I am so glad you enjoyed the Dancing in the Street show and we are indeed very proud of that. Congratulations on booking your anniversary cruise in September and if you have any questions before you sail please let me know.

Best wishes
John

Sharon Asked:
Hi John

It has been a while since the TA Dream. However Chris & I are now going to try the Splendor – May 16th. How do we find out who might be our Cruise Director on that cruise. I realize that you are on the Dream for a while and just curious where Todd might be sailing on.

I would love to surprise Chris with one of those behind the scene tours. I don’t see it listed on the shore excursions, how can I go about securing two spots. Could you help me out?

Can’t wait till our paths cross again, so I can bring you some good to earth “Timmie Goodies” again. Take care!

John Says:
Hello Sharon Sorile

Your cruise director will be my friend Goose who is an energetic young man with some great new ideas on activities and entertainment. Todd is on his Carnival Dream and I will be here on the Carnival Conquest followed by a month on the Carnival Fantasy. Unfortunately I can’t pre book any of the Behind the Fun tours. They are so limited to just 16 people that if I take bookings on the blog thingy it won’t be fair to the rest of the guests. I have no problem with helping with dinner reservations, etc but you will need to go to the shore excursion desk as soon as you arrive onboard and that way you will secure a spot for sure. It is a great event and I highly recommended it. I hope we see each other soon and please remind me mid April that you are sailing and include your cabin number please.

Best wishes to you both.
John

Emily Asked:
John,

I’m home now from the Feb. 20th cruise…its soo depressing being home 🙁 that was the best vacation of my life and you were such a great director, but my reason for writing was more than telling you how hilarious you were, lol..When I was on the dream I really enjoyed one of the musicians, but didn’t get his website, I was wondering if you could help me there…his name’s Kevin and he plays guitar and sings, has a cute little ponytail, indy rock kinda vibe..It would mean a lot to me if you could get back

xoxo,
Emily

John Says:
Hello Emily

I am very glad to hear that you had such a great time on the ship and thanks so much for the kind words and I am happy to hear my silly stuff made you laugh. Kevin’s last name is Watson. I don’t know if he has a website but I am sure he is on Facespace or Mybook etc.

Hope that helps and hope to see you again soon.

Best wishes
John

Slickabrina Asked:
Please Reply….

Hi John ~

Any idea if there will be a Blogger’s Cruise this year? Unfortunately, vacation schedules need to be submitted sooner rather than later and I know we would hate to miss out!

Thanks!
Colleen

John Says:
Hello Slickabrina

I again apologize to you and the many others waiting to hear about news on BC4. Unfortunately I am in the hands of the beards who have not yet confirmed any details on this. I will write to them again now and ask them to please let me know. Again, apologies for the delay.

Best wishes
John

Dustin Banks Asked:
Hi John – Please reply –

First, I truly enjoy your blog – at the end of a long day it is exactly what I need!

My wife and I are boarding our Carnival Valor October 31st and this is celebration of our 5 years together and 2nd time on the Valor! My question is that I have seen that a couple of other lines are now offering drink packages, other than a soda card ie.. Liquor, wine, beer packages – Is there any chance that your 007 can give us some great news that CCL will start to offer such packages???

My best to you, Heidi and Kye while aboard your Carnival Dream as I’m sure you all are having a superior time 🙂 Cheers.

John Says:
Hello Dustin Banks

Thanks for the kind words about the blog thingy and I hope you continue to enjoy it. Here are the packages we offer.

Unlimited sodas

Child Per person…$38.83 (7 days charge gratuity included)

Adult per person…$51.77 (7 days charge gratuity included)

Wine Packages

Basic Wine Package 5 Wines …  $109.25 (Gratuity Included)

Deluxe Wine Package 5 Wines  … $126.50 (Gratuity included)

Premium Wine Package 5 Wines 184.00 (Gratuity Included)

As for a beer package………well that actually may not be a bad idea and I will pass that along to the VP of food and beverage. I am very thankful for the kind words for Heidi and Kye and I loved having them with me and miss them both so very much.

Best wishes to you and your family.
John

Juan & Maria Santana Asked:
John, please reply…

Hi, John! We returned from a 2-wk. cruise on the Grand Princess on Fri., 2/26 and we have to tell you something that it’s going to make you go on strike or start a protest in front of Carnival’s Miami Headquarters…. Martyn Moss, the Grand Princess CD, has an army of helpers! In addition to Deputy CD Stuart Mac, he has 2 Asst. CD’s and 2 Junior Asst. CD’s! How do you like that! You are lucky to have an Asst., and he has 5! Sorry to be the messenger of the bad news…. we couldn’t resist to tell you!

Carl Strong, the black comedian who we liked so much during our December 1-wk. cruise on the Dream was on the Grand Princess… We were able to attend 3 out of his 4 shows. As always, he was great!

Do you know or have you heard of Kyle Esplin, the Scottish Piano Entertainer? He is a very talented young man that not only he is a wonder playing the piano, but also has a great voice and has a terrific personality. We attended 2 of his shows. Everybody loved him! Maybe you’ll be able to get Carnival to have him play on the Dream….

Warmest regards to you and Heidi & kisses to Kye,
The Santanas of Miami Beach

John Says:
Hello the Santanas of Miami Beach

It sounds like you had a great time on the Grand Princess. As you know I am a huge fan of both this class of ship and the cruise line itself and I am aware at the army of entertainment staff that the CD is lucky enough to have. I know Carl very well but have never come across Kyle who sounds like a fantastic entertainer. I have to find the time to sail again on Princess, maybe later this year I will be able to do so. And I hope it is not too long before we all get to sail again with each other.

Best wishes to you both
John

Wayne & Patti from Boston Asked:
Hi John, Please just a short reply.

I read one bloggers comments about bar service in the dining rooms. I experienced a similar situation in the Crimson on the Dream. We had trouble getting someone to the table and when we finally did, she appeared to be a rookie. She actually would not allow us to use our drink tickets. It happens once in a while and we will never let a single issue put us on a downer while we are cruising.

Now on the much brighter side. Could you please stop by the Atrium bar and personally thank Stella, Leila, and Carmelo. They represent Carnival staff that makes my wife and I look forward to our cruise each year. We sailed with you on the Dream February 6th and 1 week after our cruise we are booked on the Miracle for next year.

We dined at 6:00 in the Crimson dining room which was directly behind the Atrium bar. Our family meeting time was 5:45 at the Atrium bar. We had such a great time with all three, that by mid week we were meeting at 5:00.

We often hung out there in the afternoon as well, listening to the music. One day I asked Leila if I was allowed to buy the entertainment a drink of any kind during the break. Next thing I saw was Leila climbing the stairs and returning with the lead singer. We had a nice chat and I bought her an espresso.

It’s all about the memories for us and this year Stella, Leila, and Carmelo went out of their way to make sure we never forget the beautiful Dream. Please extend our most sincere gratitude to all of them.

I sent Ken his calendar and I haven’t heard from him. I hope September and December didn’t put him into shock. 🙂

One last thing John. We love hearing you tell us how beautiful and wonderful Kye is. You are a Britt and I am a Yank. Many differences but one constant for sure. The entire world agrees that it is only considered bragging when you can’t back it up. She is beautiful.

Keep smiling my friend
Wayne & Pat

John Says:
Hello Wayne & Patti from Boston

Thanks for taking the time to write. We have been trying a new form of bar service in the fleet’s dining rooms these past few weeks. The waiter and assistant waiter will now assist in taking drink orders and from what I understand it has been well received by the guests. I was sorry though to learn that you experienced some problems and I have sent your comments back to the ship along with your great words of praise for Stella, Leila and Carmelo.

The calendar has pride of place now at home in our kitchen. Heidi took it with her after she and Kye sailed and you should have seen her laugh………December was her favourite of course. Ken will be back to work in two weeks on the Carnival Legend and I will make sure he saw his copy.

Thank you for that gift and thanks for sharing your great sense of humour (spelt correctly) with me and all the bloggers.

Best wishes to you both
John

Vivienne Paige Asked:
Dear John Please reply

My sincerest apologies for not writing earlier, but I have been ill, since my return home, from the fabulous Feb: 13th cruise, on the Carnival Dream, due to the adverse weather here at home.

Thank you for the surprise Welcome Home gifts that you had delivered to my cabin. I appreciate them.

I would like to thank, and have the following recognised for their outstanding .service:

Saurabh…F&B Manager. He took care of my dietary needs and requests.

Adrian….my breakfast steward.

Olimpio (that’s how he spells it) my Dinner steward.

Klaudio…..my wonderful Maitre d’hotel.

Laurie, Stefan, David and Alwin…all of whom took great care of me in the Casino.

All the gang at the Purser’s desk, especially Kisun and Roxana.

The Mongolian Wok chefs were wonderful to me too. I did not get their names.

Must not forget my Cabin steward……Karma.

What a glorious week I had!!!!

Please John, could you tell me what ship Captain Rasello is on? I would like to book my next cruise for April, and would like to see him again.

Best regards,
Vivienne.

John Says:
Hello Vivienne Paige

Thanks so much for that great review and mentioning those that made your cruise special. I have sent this to the ship and Donato my friend and hotel director will make sure that everyone you wrote about gets to see this.

I hope you are feeling better now and Captain Rassello is currently on the Carnival Valor.

Best wishes and stay well
John

Linda Asked:
John or one of the Stephanie’s, can you answer this question please?

My husband & I are cruising 4/24 and are wondering how the table seating is determined?

Our TA has linked some (not sure which ones) of our group together. In our situation are we wrong to assume that our seating will be with only members from our group of 32?

Thanks Linda

John Says:
Hello Linda

Can you tell me what ship you are sailing on and your cabin number and what your request is and I will do my best to help you out. Tables are usually, but not always, assigned with age and other demographics in mind. It isn’t an exact science though with 2, 3 or 4 thousand guests to seat. Please let me know how I can help.

Best wishes
John

Roxianne & Lon Asked:
John (please reply),

2/27 – We just booked our 5th cruise (half way to platinum) with Carnival Cruise Lines, this time on the Carnival Victory (7 day Southern Caribbean). We will be leaving on May 9th. I have a question about the two cruise director’s the CD’s schedule says we are to have during this week. Karl Bird is schedule to leave the ship on May 16th and Brad Calabrese is to arrive on May 7th. Will they both be performing CD duties?

Thanks for answering my question.
Roxi

John Says:
Hello Roxianne and Lori

Congratulations on booking your 5th cruise and thanks so much for your loyalty. Brad will be doing what is known as a handover week where he watches Karl be the CD and learns from him the ship, the itinerary and other facts he will need to know. I am in a handover week with Mark here on the Carnival Conquest and I am as bored as you can imagine. I just spent the last hour seeing how far across the conference room I can flick a booger……..18 feet. Anyway, Karl will be the CD and I know you will have a great time.

Best wishes
John

And that’s all for today. I won’t bother telling you how far behind I am as those waiting for a reply already know. I will keep plugging away and hope you will have a dollop of patience and understanding as you pace the living room floor waiting for my thingy to pop up……if you know what I mean.

Last night the crew had a party on lido deck 9 aft. It was a jungle themed party and the decorations and drawings were made by a dining room waitress called Paula from Croatia…..I thought you might like to see her lion drawing and other random party photos.

So here we are in Cozumel and although it started out sunny a huge rain cloud appeared and is now throwing down liquid sunshine on the guests…….it will pass though. The ship was supposed to arrive at 10 am today but last night the captain had to do some tests on the ship’s thruster system which meant we arrived at 11 am. We have technician from Rolls Royce onboard ……. yep……we have Rolls Royce thrusters and he was carrying out the yearly checks and making sure that the thrusters were ummmm……..ummmmm……..thrusting like Tiger Woods on a Saturday night. Anyway, this meant turning the engines off and this meant we were late coming into port.

Mark, the acting CD, told the guests and sounded a little nervous doing so. I spoke to him afterwards and gave him some tips on his delivery. I also suggested that he ask the captain if we could stay one extra hour……..and he agreed and so the back onboard time of 5:30 pm has been changed to 6:30 pm. Now, the number of guests who will stay ashore for that extra hour will be minimal and experience tells me that if I was to check there will be maybe 100 – 200 at the most still ashore. It is though a subliminal thing and puts the guests at ease knowing that actually they have not lost any time. It does affect the main land tours of Tulum and the Caverns by Beach excursion which although running as planned will now come back later. I need to find out if doing these tests were vital last night and maybe we could have found a better time to do them. Anyway, one thing I have learned already is that the Galveston guests are truly wonderful and it looks like they are forgiving as well because we have had only three comments about our late arrival at the Guest Service Desk……..3……I am not so sure that this would have been the case from other home ports.

Back to the crew party last night and although I didn’t stay to watch the crew dance to tunes by Lady Gag Gag and Slap My Bitch Down I did chat to a few faces I have not seen for some time. One of those was Charles, one of our stateroom stewards…….from Haiti. He has been with Carnival for 17 years and I couldn’t remember the last time we worked together. He could and as we shook hands he told me we had been together on the Carnival Destiny in 1996. I asked him how his family was and his eyes seemed to glaze over and a wash of sadness seemed to overcome him.

I could see that this question had troubled him and put my hand on his shoulder. He then told me that he had lost his sister, her two children and while his wife and three sons were alive his house had been destroyed. “I have to work,” he said, “my family now has nothing.” He continued telling me that 45,000 people along with his family are living in a camp on what used to be Haiti’s premier golf course transforming it from a place used by Haiti’s elite into something which must be something approaching purgatory. Charles told me the rainy season was coming and how he had to keep working hard to try and rebuild his home and provide as he has always done for his family.

Although maybe it is not the first item of news that Wolf Blister and his mates talk about these days there are many organizations who are still there, doing all they can to rebuild the utter devastation and bring hope to those who see none.

I knew Carnival Corporation & plc was helping but I wasn’t sure exactly how. That’s because I know they don’t like to stand on a hill top and shout “look what we are doing.” And so I decided that having met Charles last night that I would do some research and I discovered that Carnival is at the forefront of bringing help and hope. Much of the money Carnival donates helps the work done by the doctors and nurses who as I write are still caring for the sick, the infirm, the young and the old. It is there help and professionalism and the medicine they bring with them that is without doubt…….saving lives. The TV cameras may have buggered off but these people remain.

They are working with a charity organization affiliated with the University of Miami called Project Medishare (http://www.projectmedishare.org) and along with stars from the world of sport and music, Carnival is proud to be part of this effort and although they will never tell you ……they are Project Medishare’s biggest donor, giving them $2 million. Two of my Carnival associates went to Haiti to see for themselves what is happening. Here are some photos taken by Princess Cupcake and the Swedish Fish Lady.

As you may have read on the website there are lots of stars taking part in the charity events including, strangely, a duke from a college. I didn’t know you had royalty in the States. Anyway, as I was reading the website and how Carnival was involved I came across a brilliant video ……… starring Lenny Kravitz.

Mr. Kravitz is of course a rock legend and I imagine with his voice and his smoldering good looks he can get all the Latvian women he wants. I bet even Megan Fox’s bottom is not out his reach.

It appears that Lenny and I have something in common. Unfortunately it is not the smoldering good looks or lashings of Latvians but cruising, for Mr. Kravitz has sailed on the Queen Mary 2 and on the Carnival Fascination last year on his way to meet his entourage to help celebrate New Year’s Eve in Nassau. Well, it seems that being blessed with rock god looks and an incomparable voice is not the only asset he has because he has donated money, time and his music to get the message that Haiti needs urgent and immediate help out there.

Lenny offers a heartfelt reminder that we must all help. And in case we need reminding again I urge you to watch this video where you will see the people who will never get to enjoy the fun for all experience of a Carnival cruise but who will be ever thankful for the help we gave.

Here is the video……please watch it.

And to Lenny, Princess Cupcake, the Swedish Fisher Lady, The Duke of University, The Miami Heat, the doctors from Project Medicare and Carnival Corporation and its cruise lines and to every one of you who have given and will give. That thank you is not from me……..but Carnival stateroom steward Charles Devoir and his family……….and the hundreds of thousands of people like them.

Thanks Lenny for that heartfelt reminder that we must all help. And in case we need reminding again I urge you to watch this video where you will see the people who will never get to enjoy the fun for all experience of a Carnival cruise but who will be ever thankful for the help we gave.

Here is the video……please watch it.

See you on Monday as I share the stories of my first time as Cruise Director here on the Carnival Conquest.

Goodnight
Your friend
John

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.

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