The other day I wrote a piece in my blog thingy about how Jamaica is one of my favourite islands in the Caribbean. Well, while many of you agreed some didn’t , which is fine. But then I received this posting:

Seth Lavery

John, I read your blog now and then and have not yet posted a comment but after the article on Jamaica today I felt I had to. There have been many discussions on Cruise Critic that have suggested that Jamaica is not a safe destination and that is why most cruise lines do not go there. It seems to me then that you painted an untrue picture and as a representative of Carnival I think that this is something that you should re-think. There are many stories of people having drugs planted on them and of being robbed. I suggest that you check your facts before writing such things.

Thank You
Seth Lavery

That’s a very interesting comment Seth and I thank you for posting it and allowing me a chance to follow up on this.

It seems that you and a few others have been misled and I wonder, have you ever been to Jamaica? You know, it’s not your fault though because there have been articles through the years that have suggested that Jamaica is indeed a dangerous place. As I mentioned in my blog last week, if you were to walk through the shanty towns of the capital Kingston with a bulging wallet in your pants or throw a Gucci bag on your shoulders then yes………..you would be in deep trouble. That is not the case in Montego Bay, Ocho Rios and other areas of this sparkling Caribbean island.

Maybe the government of Jamaica needs to do a better job in getting this message across. Most major tourist destinations have a catch line to get you to visit there. Think of St. Thomas and you think brilliant shopping; when you think of Cozumel, you think of beaches, margaritas and fun and when you think of Grand Cayman despite the fact that the cheap sods won’t build a pier………..you think of a luxurious British resort and John Grisham books.

Rome has its architecture. Sydney has its bridge. Venice has its love and bridges and yet say Jamaica and you think crime. Yep………… Jamaica is where you go if you want to be carjacked, shot, stabbed, killed and eaten.

You could tell your mother you were going on a package holiday to Afghanistan, with a stopover in Iraq and Darfur, and she wouldn’t bat an eyelid. But tell her you’re going to Jamaica and she’ll be absolutely convinced that you’ll come home with no wallet, no watch and no head.

I have no idea why this island more than Antigua, St. Croix , and other Caribbean destinations has a fearsome global reputation for being utterly terrifying, a lawless Wild West frontier town. But I’ve spent quite a bit of time there over the past twenty years and I can reveal that it’s all bollocks. Now, I’m sorry, but if it’s true that the streets are a war zone, and you run the risk of being shot every time you set foot off the gangway, then how come we have had zero………….zero reported incidents involving any of our guests here on the Carnival Conquest? I checked, and apart from a couple of twenty something’s who had tried to smuggle a little bit of marijuana onto the ship (idiots) Montego Bay is as problem free as anywhere else. And let’s be honest here……………if it wasn’t…………Carnival would not take its guests there. It’s that simple.

Jamaica is just like any other island without the McDonalds and other commercialism’s that you now find pretty much everywhere. You go out. You have a lovely jerked chicken. You drink some delicious Red Stripe of the local pineapple and grapefruit drink called Ting and you walk back to your ship, all warm and comfy. OK, the odd chap may ask you if you want to smoke a palm tree or sell you a wooden carving in the shape of a penis………….but that’s it……………wearing my underpants as a hat is a hundred more times dangerous.

So, respectfully, Mr. Lavery, I must stand behind what I wrote earlier. Jamaica is a brilliant destination. The prices in the shops and restaurants are still cheap, the food is superb, the weather’s lovely and places like Dunn’s River Falls, the Martha Brae and the working plantations are just gorgeous. So put Montego Bay or Ocho Rios on your list of places to visit while on a Carnival cruise.

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

Nina Asked:
Dear John(PLEASE REPLY),

We are going on the Magic in July 2011 for my high school graduation present. I read on here that you won’t be on the Magic for all of July 2011 and I was wondering if you will still be on there for July 3??

We started cruising 2 years ago this July and ever since then it has been my DREAM to have you as my cruise director so I really do hope you will still be on there!!

I love cruising so much that I am doing a speech about it at school!! Every year at my school we do speech week and this year mine is about the joy of cruising!!

Nina

John Says:
Hello Nina

What a wonderful way to start this Q and A session off and how kind of you to hope that we will be together on the Carnival Magic next year. I am only going to be taking one or two cruises off at the most and I don’t have the dates just yet. However, knowing that you will be there on July 3rd I will certainly do my very best.  I promise to be there with you. Later this year, I will start to write more about the ship and the ports and hope to maybe fly over to Italy and see the ship later this winter.

Thanks again for the kind words and best wishes to you and the family.
John

Krhpee Asked:
John please reply.

I usually don’t ask for anything but today I need to.

DH and I were to board March 1 on the Carnival Triumph (note both names)

On the way to NO on Friday he suffered a heart attack. I got him to the Police department in the small town that we were driving through. They got the EMT and then on to the hospital. That is where I am now waiting to hear what is next. He is stable but will need more procedures. It is a matter of getting him to our hospital where his doctors are. So we are waiting for the helicopters to take him back to St. Louis. I will drive there to meet him there.

We have successfully canceled our bookings but are awaiting news of refunds. This cruise was a result of a credit from the “swine flu” cancellation.  We were not allowed to buy insurance for it was a credit with Carnival. Here is my question– who is the correct person to talk with and what is correct procedure to follow? Any help would be appreciated. We have already decided on the booking we would want. So we don’t need a refund, just credit to be applied to different cruise.   Any help you or one of the many Stephs would be appreciated.

John Says:
Hello KRHpee

Let me say first of all how all of us here at the blog hope that your husband has made a full recovery. I am writing this 3 weeks after the event so please would you let me know how he is doing. I have sent your details onto our CARE team so please don’t worry as someone will be in touch with you soon.

I hope you will both be able to sail with us again soon.

Best wishes
John

Mike M Asked:
John(Please respond)

I was looking at the new Fun Times. I have a couple of questions and suggestions. My wife keeps telling me that I am blind in one eye and can’t see out of the other, and I am beginning to believe her, so I probably just didn’t see it.

Am I correct in reading that there is no smoking on the Lido Deck? I go up there every morning for coffee before my wife gets up and have coffee and a cigarette or 3. I didn’t see that in the smoking areas. If this is not true, you all might want to put it in there.

Secondly, a suggestion and only a suggestion. In the Capers, you listed the bar hours. I don’t see it on the Fun Times. Please publish those.

My wife and I do enjoy reading your Blog thingy and look forward to it every day.

What a beautiful baby you have;  wish we could have seen more pictures of her and your bride.

Best wishes to you and yours,
Mike

John Says:
Hello Mike:

I think your eye sight is fine so don’t worry. You are correct that on your Carnival Dream whose Capers you are………………..bugger……………..whose Fun Times you are referring to do indeed not have the Lido deck listed as a smoking area. On the Dream class of ship, this has been replaced by the smoking area on the Lanai which conveniently, as you enjoy a cigarette with your morning coffee, has the Coffee Shop located just by.

We do publish the opening hours of most of the lounges that provide beverage service and these are also listed in the section that shows what music will be featured. You can assume, therefore, that when the music starts and finishes so will the bar service start and finish. I hope that makes sense.

Thank you so much for the kind words about Heidi and Kye and as you and so many other people have asked for another photo of her, here she is:

Best wishes
John

Kathy M Asked:
Hi John, Please reply.

I loved the pictures of Kye, she has gotten so big, but I do have a question. How is she handling the rocking of the ship, does she have sea legs where the movement of the ship does not bother her or is she having a hard time getting used to it? My guess is that she adapted very well since cruising is in her blood.

You mentioned that there will be some changes to your planned cruise on the Carnival Spirit. I wrote to you and asked if you were going to be on her for the sailing of Oct.17th, and you said, “yes.”  Please do not tell me now that that date is going to change because if I cancel it, I will have to pay an extra $50.00 administrative fee or lose my whole deposit since I booked under early saver.

BTW, if Carnival starts allowing swimmer diapers for babies, you might suggest it to the gift shops to sell them on board because most parents would not want the hassle to bring some and probably prefer to buy them on board.

Please give my love to Heidi and Kye,

From your #1 Bloggy Thinggy Fan.
Kathy M.

John Says:
Hello Kathy M:

Kye had her sea legs from start to finish and was a true super baby. It really didn’t bother her and she took to the sea just like her Mum and Dad.

My schedule, I promise,  will be finalized by April 8th and if there are any changes I will make sure I look after you. Thanks for the continuing support.

Best wishes,
John

Rick H. Asked:
John (please reply):

Thanks for the profile of Josh! It answers one of the questions I recently posted. Please allow me to pose one more question: Is the new comedy program in place on the Miracle yet? We sail on March 28th and are wondering…

Thanks for all you do!
Rick H.

John Says:
Hello Rick H:

Well, this is one of those where I say I hope you are reading this on the ship and if not I hope you had a great cruise. The comedy club is not yet on the Carnival Miracle and for now can be found on the Carnival Glory and your Carnival Dream. I hope you are having or had fun and please send in your review when you get home.

Best wishes,
John

Mackenzie M. Bennett Asked:
Hello John. Please Reply As soon as possible

I wonder if you remember me? (Mackenzie “the wave” Bennett, from Calgary, Alberta)

I had a wonderful time on the Carnival Dream and so did Irene “hooked on cruising” Garner.

I had sent my resume to you and your team to try and get a job with Carnival as part of your Entertainment Staff. I would like to say that this would be a dream come true for me and my family. I was wondering if there were any updates as to the whereabouts of my resume or if there were supposed to be any qualifications that I should have put on there to help my cause and journey.

I hope all is well with Kye and Heidi and I really hope they are feeling well!

Have yourself a wonderful weekend and I do pass my condolences onto the families of the deceased staff members. Rest In Peace.

Good Luck with everything:)
Mackenzie “The Wave” Bennett

John Says:
Hello Mackenzie “ The Wave“ Bennett:

Your wave remained a feature of the cruise, mate, and I can picture you doing it right now. I am sorry but I have been so busy that I had not spoken to the office about you. Please let me do that right now and ask someone to look at your resume and be in touch accordingly.

You are a fun person with oodles of joy in your heart and I hope you are successful in your application.

Best wishes to you and to Irene and let me know what happens.
John

Tiffany Egbert Asked:

Hi John, a few people on the chat forums on Cruise Critic told me to get in touch with you. Uh you see, my husband is currently deployed in Afghanistan and will finally be home next month. To celebrate, we have a cruise booked on the Legend May 16th 2010, and I was wondering what I can do to make it special for him. Kinda like a “welcome home.” Maybe like, who do I talk to on the ship to see if they can do something cool for him? I dont know.  I just want to make him feel appreciated and honestly welcomed home. I hope this makes sense. Any help and advice would be really great. Thanks so much.

John Says:
Hello Tiffany Egbert:

I am glad my friends on Cruise Critic told you to contact me as it would be an honour (spelt correctly) to say “ welcome home “ to your husband in a special way. I wonder if you could send in another post ASAP including once again the ship and sailing date and his full name and cabin. I will then ask wee Jimmy, the Cruise Director, to help me do something special for him.

Thanks for writing and I look forward to helping thank your husband for his service.

Best wishes to you both,
John

Boondock Cruiser Asked:
John – Doubt you will reply

Do you not get sick of all the people who start off their comments telling you how great you and the blog and Carnival is blah, blah,blah and then ask for something? I know I do which is why I don’t read the comments anymore.

John Says:
Hello Boondock Cruiser:

I am sorry you feel this way. I read all the comments, some make me smile, some make me laugh out loud and one or two make me frustrated and one or two make me just shake my head in wonderment. But I never get sick of reading them or of helping people if I can.

I guess you won’t be reading this as you mentioned you won’t be reading the comments section anymore but if you are, I am sending best wishes to you and your family and am here if you need anything.

John

David Vigue Asked:
Hello John, (Please Reply)

Speaking of polls from Carnival, the bearded people sent me one via e mail about my last cruise, the one in January. I was all set to do another review via questions about the wonderful time on board, but all the poll wanted to know about is the Lido Cafe. Wait time, selection, and it ended with a question would I be willing to clean off my own table if there were trash cans by the doors. I know that CCL has made some cut backs, and won’t go into them here as most of them are expected in this ecconomy, but Lido Service, should not, and must not be cut back. If they go down the Lido cutback road, Rock Climbing of the Seas will change what they call my favorite cruise line from “Walmart of the Seas” to “McDonalds of the Seas.” Do the bearded people know that we take the cruise for the fun, SERVICE, as well as the brilliant entertainment? Some of us more experienced passengers enjoy talking to crew members, and I have found that Lido Cafe crew are very attentive, and willing to give a passenger a minute of their time. The poll did not allow for extra comment like the one on board. So, I come to you. Can you let the folks in Miami know that the current version of Lido works well, plenty of selection, choice, service, quality? Let’s not make cut backs with the wonderful service people, if they need to make cut backs, may I suggest they take a look at the people who think up polls like this one.

My best to you and your family. I am happy for you that you are able to get some time together on Carnival Dream.

Dave Vigue

PS: We have booked on Carnival Freedom this August, do you have CD schedule for that yet?

John Says:
Hello David Vigue:

This is the first I have heard about this and I can promise and assure you that I know of no plans to change anything we do on Lido. Your points are well made and I agree that service from our iconic crew has been and always should be a major factor of the cruise experience and is one of the reasons so many people return to Carnival time and time again. So, thanks for letting me know. I am sure this was one of many different questions sent out to loyal customers like you. I have said many times here on the blog thingy that the comment card we use on the ship is antiquated and the “exceed and met expectations” wording is confusing. The bearded ones have listened, though, and although right now I cannot be specific, I can tell you that the comment card system will be changing soon and very much for the better.

Thanks again and I know that whatever happens, the affordability, value and fun that is the Carnival experience will keep us at the top of the industry. And comments like this and polls like the one you were asked to take part in will assure that happens.

Thanks again and best wishes,
John

Eric Asked:
John, Please reply if you have chance.

As promised, I am sending my comments/review on my recent sailing on the Carnival Pride. My son (7) and I sailed 2/14. You may recall my son as the one who sent you the drawing (via Jaime) that you posted on the blog saying Jaime is funnier than you ! Hahaha ! He loved your comments about being sent $100 and a Playstation 3! He enjoys pieces of you blog quite a bit ! Obviously I can not just give him “open access” to it to read every bit, but he looks forward to me reading him bits and pieces once I filter out the “older content!”  I definitely see a future cruise addict in him, I have never seen him in such awe for a week straight. He had looked forward to meeting Jaime as I always read him the Dear John letters from her in the months prior to the cruise. He was a bit shy at first when he met her and later told me: “Dad, that is the most famous person I have ever met in my life!!” I think I spent half my week just watching his reactions to things. This cruise was a father-son bonding week as my wife stayed home with our two year old this time around. The bonding experience was absolutely priceless and created so many lifetime memories that I am so thankful for.

The entire week was superb. The staff on the Carnival Pride is absolutely top-notch. We were on the sailing that was delayed a few hours due to a late arrival with the bad weather. The situation was handled without flaw by Carnival. Carnival even had boxed lunches for all 2,600 of us waiting in the terminal, how impressive!

Once onboard, I think my son’s jaw just hung for the first few hours as we checked out our new home for the next week. Every single crew member gave a welcoming smile and hello.

If I sat here and highlighted every good thing that happened during the week I would need to put this review in chapter form so I will sum things up the best I can!

The Dining Room: WOW ! Great experience;  this was my second time with the Your Time Dining and absolutely love the freedom it gives you. No wait all week except one night witch I had a 5 minute wait – yes, only 5 minutes on ONE night! Roselle and her team were terrific, I requested her each night and the dining room team was very accommodating.

Our room steward was Abe, very welcoming and always greeting us by name and asking about our day. The stewards work so hard at all hours yet always greet you with a warm smile. Please send along my thanks.

Piano Bar player: Roger. TOP NOTCH. By far, the best piano bar experience ever. Every single song was done by request and I have never seen such a PACKED Piano Bar each night. It was a popular spot for crew, mainly the entertainment staff, to meet up as well, which really says something right there!

The Cruise Director: JAIME ! I was so excited to see she would be the cruise director at the time of our sailing. She was absolutely superb. By far, the most visible and engaging Cruise Director I have sailed with. I honestly have no idea when she sleeps as she was always out and about around the ship interacting with guests. I loved how she greeted everyone coming to the shows each night, what a great touch. I do not know what Jaime’s future holds, but she is certainly ready for a ship at any time! I loved the question and answer session her and William (the ACD—also wonderful) held one sea day about life on the ship. I have never seen this done.

Camp Carnival: WOW, A+++++ There were 1,100 kids under 18 on this cruise being February Break. The entire Camp Carnival staff worked SO hard all week. It had to have been an EXHAUSTING week for them, but they were just as friendly with a big warm smile on their faces on Day 7 as they were Day 1. It would be unfair to name anyone individually as they all worked so great together. I could not rate their service and higher.

If I could come up with one tiny piece of constructive criticism, it is with the slamming doors of the supply closets used by the room stewards. Our room was located right next to one of the supply closets. Each morning at 6:55 a.m. on the dot the doors would start slamming, and I mean slamming! I understand I could have said something, but I see how hard these individuals work and just did not have the heart to do so. I understand they need access to these closets but maybe if they could hold back the slamming just a bit at that early hour. Not all day, just maybe in the early a.m.? This certainly did not impact the fun we had in any way, just thought I would throw it out there!

This was my first sailing on a Spirit class ship. To be honest, I was hesitant about booking it at first as I mistakenly always thought “the bigger the better.” How incredibly wrong I was. The Spirit class has instantly become my FAVORITE. The open flow of decks two and three is awesome, I also love how the main paths wind along and are not just one straight shot. Also, I know I am not in the majority here, but I loved the fact that there was NO Sea Side Theatre screen on the Lido deck. I like going on vacation to get away from it all, including TV, and did not miss it one bit!

I am so Thankful to Carnival for the top notch service and value that was provided once again. I know you mention it frequently, but it is so true that Carnival gives you such a huge bang for your buck and I appreciate that so much.

5 months and 6 days till my next sailing, Carnival Legend this time !

Now if you’ve made it to the end of this, thanks so much for taking the time to read. I summed up the experience the best I could, believe me, I could go ON and ON!

Thank you for all that you do, I hope I do get the honour of sailing with you one of these days.

Warmest Regards;
Eric Tully

John Says:
Hello Eric Tully:

Oh, my goodness, what an absolutely brilliant first class tip top review. Where to start? Well it has to be the highlight which for me was how you mentioned the bonding between your son and you. It actually made me think of my daughter Kye and how I wish I could be with her right now. The fact that you were able to spend such precious time with him is pure joy to read. As for all the people you mentioned and the departments you took your valuable time to write about, well all I can say is a huge thank you on their behalf and I know that they will love reading your words of praise. I am, in particular, very proud of Jaime ………….even though she has stolen every joke of mine and on Thursdays wears a pair of my underwear.

I hope that you will have just a good a time on the Carnival Legend and if there is anything you need before you sail there, please let me know.

Best wishes to you all,
John

Rachel the Librarian Asked:
Hi John (Please reply)

Thanks for another reply to my other questions. And yes, I am the shushing type. In the afternoons I would say I work in a zoo more than a library. I am so looking forward to the cruise and some nice quiet time. Only 73 more days until I walk onto the deck of the Dream.

I actually have a few more questions which I hope you don’t mind answering…I checked the Carnival website but can’t find the answers. As someone who tends to keep to a budget, I was wondering if you can tell me how much the unlimited soda program and photos cost on the ship? Also, is there anything I can leave out of my suitcase (since we all now have to worry about how heavy they are when we fly)? I know about the hair dryers but anything else you can suggest?

Love the photos that show up in your blog everyday. And I still continue to laugh at your posts.

Until the next time….shush!

Rachel

P.S. Love the new poll….of course, I voted for the British Isles itinerary.

John Says:
Hello Rachel the Librarian:

I hope things are nice and quite in the library and thanks for writing.

On a 7-day sailing, the unlimited soda program is $36.23 for 17 years old and younger and $48.30 for guests 18 years or older. Remember, this is as it says “unlimited “ and if you are a soda drinker, it is by far the best way to go.

Now, you then asked for the cost of the photos, so here they are:

Cost of Photos?

  • 1 – 8 x 10:         $21.99
  • 1 – 5 x 7:           $9.99
  • 1 – 6 x 9            $11.99

You also asked “What can I leave out of my luggage? “ Well, you don’t need your George Forman Grill and there is no need for hemorrhoid cream as I have plenty for everyone. Apart from that, well, I have no idea how to best answer you. I do know we have an excellent laundry service on our ships as well as the self service laundries. This means you can wash clothes you have already worn. However, I think it’s best that I ask some of my experienced friends out there to help you answer this…………..bloggers………….any advice?

Thanks for the kind words and please let me know if I can help further.

Best wishes,
John

ReGina Quarles Asked:
Dear John, (Please respond)

I have enjoyed your blog immensely. I think you write with a British accent. I hear it clearly while I read.

In an earlier blog you hinted at a change in photo sales. Can you share the changes with us and maybe tell us when it will be happening.

I hate looking for photos and if DH did not go and look we would never buy any. I am sure we missed some we would have loved to buy.

We sail on the Fantasy April 1st. Our first cruise was on our honeymoon in 1998. I look forward to sailing on her again. I also hope in the future we will get to sail with you as our CD.

Cheers!
ReGina and Tod Quarles

John Says:
Hello ReGina and Tod Quarles:

I am glad my British accent comes across loud and clear in the blog thingy. I am well aware that my sense of humour (spelt correctly)  is at times a bit puzzling and a bit over the top ………but, hey…….that’s just me.

The world of photos and how we take them and sell them on board will indeed soon be going through some exciting changes. I can’t comment just yet as to what they are as we are experimenting this coming week on your Carnival Dream and I want to make sure it works as well as we hope before telling you about it here on the blog thingy.

I hope you have a wonderful time with Risa your CD and all the crew of the Carnival Fantasy.

Best wishes to you both,
John

John R Asked:
John Please Reply!!

A simple question, really…I’ve been sailing with Carnival for almost 12 years now and am well over Platinum. I love the product and have no plans of switching any time soon. One of the things I’ve come to love over the years is The Grill which I believe is the absolute best grill at sea. They used to serve Minute Steak Sandwiches as well as Grilled Chicken Sandwiches and Onion Rings. All additions that I absolutely adore…but lately they seem to be scarce. Some report seeing them on some ships, but others adamantly say they are not on their ships. Please tell me these things are not being phased out!! I love the burgers, the hot dogs, the nachos, the chicken tenders but there’s something absolutely so special about the steak sandwiches and the onion rings as well as the grilled chicken sandwich. Thanks a bunch, hope to sail with you soon =)

John Says:
Hello John R:

I love the grill too and, yes, I am sorry to say that the minute steak sandwiches have been replaced with other items, however,  the onion rings live on. You also have chili, mushrooms, fried onions, cheese sauce, hot dogs, cheese burgers and, of course, fries along with salads and coleslaw. You know what, I haven’t seen the chicken sandwich, though, so maybe that has been replaced as well. I am not sure so let me check and I will advise. It’s amazing how far we have come and as a Platinum member I am sure you have seen it too. In years gone by we only had burgers and hot dogs etc. Look where we are now. The Taste of the Nations, The Grand Buffet, The Fish and Chips, The Burrito Bar, the Pizzeria, the Deli, The Tandoor, The Burrito Bar and our new most popular lunch time treat found on most of our ships………The Mongolian Wok. So, yes, we miss the minute steak but at least we know we can go to the dining room every night and order a steak and not have to pay for it.

I hope we get to sail with each other very soon as well and until then I remain at your service.

Best wishes,
John

Wes Parkey Asked:
Hi John (please reply)

I really enjoy your blog. I am a long time reader, but this is my first time to post.

My family and I are sailing on the Carnival Glory on April 18th to celebrate my 40th birthday! I am hoping you will forward my request to the Maitre d’ for a table for 6 (or more, we don’t mind meeting new people if we need to) next to a window in the Platinum Dining Room during the early seating.

Thanks for your assistance. We can’t wait to be on the Carnival Glory, and we are waiting for the fall CD schedule to come out so that we can plan to be on our next cruise with you!

Thanks again.
Wes Parkey

John Says:
Hello Wes Parkey:

I am glad you enjoy the blog and would like to help you with your request for a table to help celebrate your 40th. I checked the booking numbers you gave me and while I can find yours, the other two show as invalid. Can you send me the names and cabin numbers please so I can help you. Please post these marked STEPHANIE – URGENT.

Many thanks and have a brilliant birthday cruise.

Best wishes,
John

Phil & Liz Asked:
JOHN PLEASE REPLY:

Hello John,

Re: “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.”

Many have mentioned to us that along with the Friends of Bill/Dorothy SIGs (special interest groups) it would be nice if Carnival would have a service members gathering at least once per cruise. Also, maybe make it clear that the gathering is open to all nationalities aboard.

Perhaps this is what you will address later in the week as you said.

Hope to hear about the Bloggers cruise before March 22nd!

Phil & Liz

John Says:
Hello Phil and Liz:

This is a simple “ yes “ to your request. I always have time when acting and retired service personnel can meet and talk and share stories. I will send this to Chris in the office and ask him to make this a standard practice.

Still no news on the Bloggers cruise #4 and I am getting a little frustrated myself about this. I will ask again today.

Best wishes to you both,
John

That’s all for today. I tried to answer a few more there and I apologize to everyone whose cruise came about before I could answer or help with a request.

Thank you also for taking the time to read the blog about Haiti on Friday. Did you see the videos? If not, please go back and watch them. I feel it is my duty to ask as many of you to look at what’s happening over there as possible. And to all of you who helped…….thanks so much.

Every now and then, I feature a guest blog from our man in London and Cunard Line’s President Mr. Peter Shanks. I think you will find today’s entry from him a truly inspired piece of writing as he shares his experiences of meeting someone very, very special indeed.

Hello John and hello to all the bloggers.

I thought I would share my experiences of South Africa this week where I joined Queen Mary 2 on her world voyage as she travelled from Durban to Cape Town for her maiden calls. We had Archbishop Desmond Tutu travelling with the ship between Mauritius and Cape Town – and it has been very special indeed for all of our guests.

It is the first time I have been in South Africa since living here as a child many years ago. A country of enormous change, huge challenges but when you are here you sense an overriding sense of hope – not least with the Football World Cup fast approaching.

I joined the ship on day 79 of her 103 world voyage – with New York, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Sydney behind her and Cape Town, Rio and Barbados still to come. I realized, even from my short visit, that in going on a world voyage, you really do get an insight into so many cultures and experiences right around the world.

Archbishop Tutu had agreed to do a lecture on board and a face to face interview with our entertainment director – as part of our Insight’s programme. We have had some famous and influential people sail with us in the past – but here we had something very special indeed. Over  two of his events in a packed Royal Court Theatre – you could have heard a pin drop. At the end of each session we witnessed a truly emotional standing ovation – he touched all of us just briefly but left his mark forever. It is not often we are lucky enough to be in the presence of a world statesman. He really does not hold back. It’s not my place to express any political views – but I wanted to share with you some of what he shared with us.

Archbishop voted for the first time when he was 63 – can you imagine how that must have felt after so many turbulent and difficult years? He told us of his visit to see Ronald Reagan in 1984 at the White House, he asked for sanctions – nothing happened. He told us of his visit to Margaret Thatcher in London in 1987. ‘We spoke for 50 minutes – me for 20 and she for 30. Nothing happened – The lady was not for turning.’ He then spoke of February 1990 when the South African government announced change – and the release of Nelson Mandela after 27 years in captivity. ‘Wonder of wonders – we kept pinching ourselves to make sure we were not dreaming – don’t wake me up I love this dream.’

He went on to speak of the 27th April 1994 as ‘a magical day – a day like no other when all races of South Africa voted in the first democratic election and for President Nelson Mandela – free at last.’ At that moment in the theatre – we went from silence to an instant round of applause – it was quite a moment.

He had shared with us some of the stories from the bad old days. One of the lighter moments was when he described an early visit to London with his wife. They were lost – they went up to ‘a London Bobby’ to ask for directions. ‘The policeman called me Sir and my wife Ma’am, so over the next few days, we kept asking for directions even when we knew where we were going.’

I am a big rugby fan – and there cannot be many people who don’t remember Nelson Mandela wearing the springbok jersey as they won the world cup.

Now things are so much better and it was very moving to hear him talk of the future. ‘Young people are amazing, they will make poverty history, they will care about the environment.’ And as for the rugby – well he proudly told us that South Africa had won the world cup twice, had a black coach and the recent best player in the world accolade went to a black South African player.

He finished the lecture by saying, ‘You know , things in South Africa could be a great deal better , BUT – things in South Africa could have been a lot worse.’ And then he stopped. Everybody in the theatre sat stunned in silence, in awe of what they had heard in the last hour, in awe of a great man and reflecting on the privilege of being in the presence of such a decent, warm and generous human being. And then – a standing ovation that took everybody by surprise.

Two days later – whilst at sea between Durban and Cape Town he entertained us all during an interview with our entertainment director. Some of the fun moments from that included:

As he was introduced wearing one of those modern headphone microphones he said, ‘I look like Madonna.’

Asked about whether South Africa would win the Football World Cup he said, ‘Patriotically Yes – Honestly No.’

He spoke of the importance of laughter. He is famous for his wonderful laugh – ‘laughing keeps your head the right size.’ He went on to tell how once he was in San Francisco and an excited couple rushed up to him and said – ‘Pleased to meet you Archbishop Mandela – that made me laugh – two for the price of one.’

Each year on our world voyage, we take our full cruisers ashore for a thank you dinner in a spectacular location. This year it was in Cape Town in a beautiful vineyard for over 700 of us. Archbishop and his wife joined us for dinner and the setting was perfect. Imagine the moment – a beautiful setting for dinner, surrounded by beautiful scenery and mountains, beautiful young local dancers – and Archbishop stood to give a moving grace. As he spoke, my eyes fell not upon our many loyal guests – but on the many young local waiters and waitresses – mostly school children and students. It was when I was looking at them, bursting with pride and listening intently that I realized that this country has a great future and that we really were in the presence of a great man………

I walked Archbishop and his wife out to their car towards the end of the evening to say our goodbyes and thanks. When I got back to the table – I discovered he had written in my menu card ‘God Bless You, Peter.’

There is no more to say.

Best Regards
Peter Shanks

2010 march 25 CPT NICK BATES – ARCHBISHOP DESMIOND TUTU – PETER SHANKS

QUEEN MARY 2012

What an extraordinary day for the ship, the captain and crew and Mr.Peter Shanks.

I have met a few famous people in my time, Coach Pat Riley, Shaquille O’Neal and one of the Osmonds…………but never anyone like Archbishop Tutu. I know Peter Shanks quite well and, therefore, know that he is in a total comfort zone when talking to heads of state, royalty and Micky Arison…………..but if I met Archie Tutu………….. What on earth would we talk about?

Since Mr. Mandela hasn’t been on a cruise, I feel fairly certain he was not going to ask me if I am still doing the bedtime story or if Dick Little was on board. And because I am not Bono (the rock star, not the CEO of Fincantieri), I am not in a position to talk about how he brought peace to much of Africa or his position on the political situation on the Ivory Coast. As a general rule, I’m quite good at small talk. But there’s a world of difference between a chat at the coffee shop with Billy Bob Tuttweiler Junior from Arkansas and an audience with perhaps the second most famous man of god in the world. “What do you do?” simply wouldn’t cut it. Nor would “PA 007 is hoping to be telling me what the homeport for the Carnival Magic is next month………..are you excited?”

And Peter Shanks got to meet Prince Charles on the Queen Victoria. What do you say to old Charlie? It would be like a wedding line-up. You want to say something to the bride’s father that all the other guests haven’t said before, but what hasn’t already been said to HRH Prince Charles?  “Hello, Your Majesty……..have you ever been to a Latvian lap dancing club?”……………..or………………What were you thinking? Do you need glasses?”

Anyway, Peter handles meeting such distinguished guests with such ease and, let’s face it, on Cunard ships, famous people are an everyday occurrence. Sailing on a Cunard world cruise must be such a unique experience compared to sailing on any other ship going around the world. Where else would hoards of people come out to greet you and treat you like royalty when you arrive? Where else can you sail with people like Archbishop Desmond Tutu……………answer……….nowhere else.

Thanks again, then, Peter for allowing us to be part of your journey with Cunard and we all look forward to the next installment from our man in London.

So back here on the Carnival Conquest I am back once again in my role as cruise director………..thank goodness, because I was getting bored. Saturday was the last day at sea and I had no blog to write, so boredom set in. Craig had organized all the schedules and met with those he needed to and so I was left to sit around doing nothing. By 10:00 a.m. I had had coffee, written some e mails and asked the cabin steward to rub some cream on my hemorrhoids and then realized I had bugger all else to do.

I went to listen to Mark’s debarkation talk and he did a great job. I think he has a bright future, you know. I also have to say……………“Do we need a debark talk ?” I brought this up a few months ago and listening to the information and taking away all of Mark’s jokes (most of which were mine even though he has never worked with me), I find myself asking that question again……………..and it is something I am seriously considering and will chat with you more about later in the week.

Anyway, let’s see who is sailing with me this week.

GUESTS – 3419

NON U.S. – 1298 –  543 FROM MEXICO, 108 FROM SWEDEN AND 83 FROM NORWAY

PAST GUESTS – 1985

Under 2 Years 12
2-5 Years 72
6-8 Years 121
9-11 Years 146
12-14 Years 205
15-18 Years 337
19-21 Years 89

Past Guests – 1078.

And here is a new feature I will be able to tell you about and one I think you will find very interesting.

From: CONQUEST GUEST SERVICES SUPERVISOR
Sent: Sunday, March 28, 2010 5:28 PM
Subject: Average age for this cruise

Good Evening,

Please be advised that the average age of our guests this cruise is 37.

Thank you and regards,
Francesca Catalano

Senior Guest Services Supervisor | Carnival Conquest

Well as you can see we have a very busy cruise with spring break in full force. This ship never has large groups of non-U.S. citizens, the Guest Services Manager Caroline told me. So, of course, on my first week………………..what do I have…………….543 Mexicans and nearly 200 Scandinavians…………..bugger.

And while I can say, “Good morning, there is no toilet paper so I had to use the shower curtain,” in Spanish, my Swedish is limited to IKEA and Volvo and my Norwegian is as good as my Mongolian. In other words,…………..none.

And so, as always, when you take over a ship, something will go wrong. It’s Murphy’s Law or as we say where I come from………..”Sod’s Law.”

The Carnival Conquest is supposed to sail at 4:00 p.m., we sailed at 5:30 p.m. Why, well it’s because of a fork lift. We have three fork lifts on board and we use them to move our stores from the pier into the holding area and our stores. This morning, one fork lift woke up and decided it was a Toyota and the brakes wouldn’t work. And so we were down to just two. No big deal? Yep, big deal and thus we sailed late but the guests enjoyed the sunshine and it won’t affect our arrival in Montego Bay.

Of course, the guests on the Carnival Sensation were also delayed. That’s the ones debarking and embarking. I know this even made the news wires and in case you didn’t hear, a young man with the brain capacity of something that floats on its back at the bottom of a swamp, made reference that he had planted a bomb on board. And because we live in the times we do, the ship had to conduct all the proper searches and inform the Coast Guard and the FBI. Obviously, nothing was found, yet this idiot caused delays to everyone and extra work for the crew and wasted the time of the agencies who came to help.

I spoke to Danny the Cruise Director who told me that the guests were very understanding and that the chap who had made the dumbest comment of his life was led away, hopefully, to a jail cell shared with a chap called Bubba.

Well, the Welcome Aboard Show is, as I have bored you with many times, the most important night of the cruise for me and, last night, I was a little anxious as half the sodding ship didn’t speak English!

In fact, the first person I got on stage was a cute little kid from the front row. His name………..was Miguel…………from Mexico. Here he is.

I asked his mother to come with him on stage as she said she spoke English. My first question was what is your name to which he replied “ Miguel”  I said,  “my name is John”……..he looked at me and shrugged his 5 year old shoulders. And so I translated it into Spanish. “ Myo nameo iso Johno .”………….nothing………he just smiled………..and then I said “ Mio nameo iso banyo “………….which, for those who are not fluent in Spanish like I am, means “ My name is toilet .”

The fact that Miguel laughed out loud shows that he understood this perfectly.

Actually, overall it was a hard show as many either spoke no English or were at Camp Carnival. This, they tell me, is not a normal Carnival Conquest cruise. But you know what?  I still had loads of fun. And I think the audience did to.

One last person to meet, his name is Bradley . Here he is.

Bradley was half asleep when I chose him. He also had no shoes on and he wore his pants so low I could see the crack of his bottom. I tried to pull them up and he then grabbed the mic and sang a song that sounded something like

Pants on the ground
Pants on the ground
Pants hit the ground

He then went on about having a hat on backwards and something else.  Then the audience started singing it as well ………..even the Mexicans. It was just me and the Swedish clog dancers who had no bloody clue what he was talking about.

And so I let him rap about his trousers being on the floor and then looked at him……… and said, “Word up, my dog.”

Everyone laughed……………except the Swedes………….who must have thought they had landed on another planet.

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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