Feeling The Strain

March 31, 2010 -

John Heald

Bugger! Thanks to the slack-jawed idiot of a British Prime Minister and those bastards at British Airways my best mate Alan and his family will not be joining me for their Easter holidays. And how I could have done with seeing them. They told me today that their flight is defiantly canceled and all the other airlines are booked……so that’s them camping ………and me being Billy No Mates again.

In case you didn’t know British Airways cabin crew are on strike. Obviously they want more money and while I am sure that they may deserve it, striking over the Easter vacation period is heartless. The problem is if the cabin crew wins, the airline will go under and everyone will be out of a job. So, if they lose, they lose, and if they win, they still lose…..if you see what I mean. I have often wondered why the airlines don’t employ cruise ship crew. Can you imagine American Airlines being staffed by Ketut and Petu and by Martina and Desi? I bet they wouldn’t growl at you like a rabid dog if you dared ask for a packet of peanuts and your refreshing face towel would be handed to you in the shape of an elephant.

I hope this gets sorted out and spare a thought for people like my friend Alan and his wife whose vacation has been totally buggered. You know though, I like Virgin. And I flew Continental to Houston recently, which was very good indeed. But there is nothing quite so joyous as leaving Miami after a long contract away from Heidi and Kye being greeted on the big British Airways 747 by a man called Quentin with a cold flannel and a refreshing glass of Diet Coke. But as sorry as I fell for the cruise staff of the skies …….. I am royally pissed off at them for making sure I don’t get to see my best mate Alan ……… and missing Heidi and Kye as much as I do………..that was really important to me.

Sorry about the early morning moan. It’s 8:40am and I begin today’s blog as we sit alongside the pier in Montego Bay. I think the guests were happy to see land although we have had calm seas and beautiful weather. I say that they are glad to see dry land because we have two days at sea at the start of the cruise and one or two got a little feisty……. as you will see now.

Oh no, it’s the offensive T Shirt thing again. I say again because I think it was last year that I wrote about a guest who was upset at an anti-George W Bush T-shirt worn by another passenger and this time it seems like we have it the other way round.

I was intrigued and for purely investigative blogging reasons I called the guest to see what the T Shirt said. The guest alleged that it had a photo of President Obama and Vice President…….ummm………bugger……….let me Google that as I forgot………..hold on ……. OK I’m back………….a photo of President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden with the headline above their portraits that read “Meet the Fockers” in reference I guess to the movie which I think starred Al Pacino ……..or was it Robert De Niro?

Regardless it had really upset this pro Mr. Obama guest and I explained that we could not be the fashion police and control what the other guests were wearing outside of our dress codes in the dining room. Well, she wasn’t happy with that and I would have listened to her longer and felt sorry for her and bestowed fruit baskets upon her if she had not said the sentence that makes my hemorrhoids flair up and the hairs on my bottom snap to attention………”I will never cruise Carnival again because of this.” Oh of course you will. Hold on, are you telling me that you will forget about the incredible value for money vacation and pay more and go on another cruise line where the chances are that you will find someone wearing something or saying something that will upset you just as you would walking through a shopping mall. Tell me your upset and I will sympathize but please don’t threaten never to cruise again because of a T-Shirt………that’s just nonsense.

I wish I could have said the above to her but I didn’t…………..I should have done…………..I am a silly Focker.

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

Sheri Stokes Asked:
John,

I was given your name by a friend that you maybe able to help us in our situation. We were on the 2/20/10 Cruise on the Carnival Dream. My husband got sick on Monday 2/22/10. We had to leave the ship to seek further medical treatment in Cozumel where we spent two days and flew home on 2/24/10. We did not purchase trip insurance. Lesson learned on that subject. Do you know who we could contact or could you help us to see if we can have any of our money credited or refunded to us? We are George and Sheri Stokes, cabin # 2363. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you…

John Says:
Hello Sheri Stokes

I am sorry to read of your husband’s illness and I hope he is fully recovered. It must have been a shock to have to leave the ship like that. I have sent your details to our CARE team and someone will be in touch with you shortly. Please let me know if you need anything else.

Best wishes to you both.
John

Lynda Ulrich Asked:
John, Please reply.

First, please don’t change the blog. I usually skip the please replies, unless something strange gets my eye.

We just got off the Carnival Fantasy this morning and had to read your blog as soon as we got home. We had a wonderful time. The entertainment staff, from ACD Hennie to Brandon (who should get promoted) to TJ, Lewis and Bonnie were just the best. We been on the Fantasy 3 times in the past 3 months and every one of them remembered our names and treated us like one of the family. It’s so hard to say goodbye when you think you might never see them again. But we got e-mail addresses.

Now my question— is there a way to attach pictures to this “Leave a Reply” thingy? While ADC Hennie was taking a couple of pictures of us with his staff he took some of himself that are really funny and we would love to share them with you and the fellow bloggers.

Thanks for making my day with your blog.
Lynda

John Says:
Hello Lynda Ulrich

Thanks for the kind words about the blog thingy and I am so glad you had a great time on the Carnival Fantasy. I am truly looking forward to being back on that ship in May. I will make sure that your congratulatory words are shown to Hennie and Brandon and to TJ, Lewis and Bonnie. I hope some of them are still there when I join the ship. As for your questions on photos, I think there is a way but will need to ask one of the 343 Stephanies to tell you how……..Stephanie?

Hello Lynda. I am afraid there isn’t a way to attach photos within a posted comment. You can email socialnetworking@carnival.com with the photos and I will forward them to John. Maybe he can feature them on the blog. Hope this helps. Feel free to write should you have any further questions.

Stephanie H.

Thanks for taking the time to write.

Best wishes
John

Jennifer Asked:
Hi John,

My husband and I recently travelled on our second cruise on the Carnival Miracle. Our first cruise was with you on the Carnival Freedom in February 2008. We are in our late twenties and absolutely love cruising!

My question for you is about the shows in the main theatre. Are we able to find out the shows in advanced when booking? We were a little disappointed that the main shows on the Miracle were exactly the same as on the Freedom: for example, The Beatles Ticket to Ride, Carnival Legends etc… Other than stopping at the ports, the main shows are what we look forward to.

We would love to book another cruise but we are a little hesitant because we want something different. We are interested in possibly going on out next cruise in February 2011. Would love to have you as our cruise director again!
Jennifer

John Says:
Hello Jennifer

I love the way you said how you absolutely love cruising, that’s music to my rather large and very pink ears. We do indeed repeat some shows on one or two ships. For example the Ticket To Ride show is one of our most popular and one of my all time favourites and it is as you said on both the Carnival Miracle and the Carnival Freedom. The Carnival Legends show which allows guests to be anyone from Madonna to Frank Sinatra is on all ships that have voyages of 5 days or more, again this is a very popular show and we will be soon changing the characters in it. You have given me a great idea and I think that just as I post the CD and Piano Bar entertainer schedule I should provide a list of what shows are on what ship and will work on that over the next 24 hours. I am not sure where I will be in February 2011 but one thing is certain, if you like shows and are looking for something different than book your Carnival Dream. She is a great ship and has by far the most unique and exciting show we have ever done which is called Dancin In The Street ……….you must see it.

I will know my 2011 winter schedule later this year and I hope that we will get to sail together one day soon.

Best wishes
John

Paula Asked:
Dear John, Please reply.

I don’t know how far behind you are now in answering e-mails, but in the beginning of Feb. I wrote to you to find out about the pins. We left the Carnival Dream on Jan. 30th, our 10th Carnival cruise and realized we had never gotten our pins. I spoke to my PVP who told me who to contact at Carnival. They responded by saying they are NOT giving out pins any more. I know on your Nov. 27th blog you wrote that Platinum cruisers (VIPs) would be getting the pins. We don’t understand what is going on. Is it possible for you to find out and get them to us? There is obviously some lack of communication within Carnival. We loved our cruise on the Carnival Dream, especially Todd, and seeing you too. This would not stop us from cruising Carnival again, or course, but it is disturbing. We also have not gotten Currents since our last three cruises with Carnival, in Sept. 08, March 09 and now Jan. 2010. Seems to me something is very wrong at headquarters. Besides which, the day before our cruise we got a call welcoming us to the Valor!!! The Dream in NOT the Valor. What is wrong there?

Sincerely,
Paula

John Says:
Hello Paula

I am sorry if you have been misled in anyway and please allow me to clear this up. We did indeed stop handing out pins to the many thousands of guests who attended our fleetwide past guest parties. This was done due mainly because we realized that many guests were leaving the pins in the cabin and not wearing them. So it was decided that the pins would only be given to those guests who have sailed with Carnival 10 times or more and have achieved Platinum Card status. Meanwhile, we had similar pins made available for purchase from our onboard shops. Currents magazine has stopped and has been replaced by an online news addition called Funville Times. Here is the link to the latest additions.

http://www.carnival.com/cms/Funville/times/FunvilleTimes_JAN2010_Email_LandingPage.aspx

It seems that we could (and I include myself) have done a better job in communicating the above to you and I apologize that this was not the case.

I appreciate your kind words despite the mistakes we have made and please stay in touch with me via the blog thingy and let me know if there is anything else I can do for you.

Best wishes
John

templed Asked:
Hi John, (Please Reply, if you like)

We’re taking our first Carnival Cruise on Carnival Dream, July 10, 2010. This will be our 5th cruise all together, our previous cruises were on “Other” lines… I’m excited to experience Carnival.

Now that you’ve been on Carnival Dream for a while, I wonder if you have any advice on what the best shore activities may be on the Western Caribbean itinerary for a family with younger children. My son will be 4 at the time of the cruise.

I’m truly excited to introduce him to the “wide world of cruising”… This coming Sunday, March 7, 2010 will be the 1 year anniversary of us bringing him home from Novosibirsk, Russia. It was a long, hard process… and what better way to celebrate than to take him on a Cruise?
I’ve seen Carnival Dream first hand, as I was invited along with my Travel Agent to tour her while she was docked in Manhattan. I’m really excited for my family and friends to sail on her. (I was introduced to you briefly while you were in one of the conference rooms … maybe blogging???… and I was glad to see that you were not in your underpants…)

I’m sad to say that in my own ignorance, I’ve not taken a Carnival Cruise yet, as I kind of bought into the whole “Discount cruise / Bad stigma” attitude that some people have. I thought about it for a bit and realized that I have no valid reason NOT to try Carnival… And if our treatment aboard Carnival Dream for the Travel Partner tour was any indication of the level of service and “fun”… I’m sure that you’ll make us a lifelong loyal customer.

I look forward to the cruise… and thanks for the laughs on your Blog thingy…
Dave T.

John Says:
Hello Templed

And we are excited that you have decided to cruise with us and on your Carnival Dream. There are some terrific excursions in the ports you are visiting and one that I know your family and especially your four year old son would enjoy would be the Pirates and Monkeys tour in beautiful Roatan. You will get to interact with the monkeys and parrots and he will love that for sure. You might also want to think about leaving him with the excellent Camp Carnival staff and then doing the cave tubing with your wife in Belize. He is too young for that but it’s something that you should experience. I can’t imagine what an amazing world you have introduced him to. From Russia…….with love…………to his Carnival Dream, what a terrific story and I am sure that his eyes will be wide open with excitement as he says all the wonders of the ship and the ports of call.

I promise that you will not regret your decision to sail on Carnival and I would ask that you remind me a month before you sail and include your cabin number as well please.

Best wishes to you all
John

TIM Asked:
John (Please Reply),

First thing is, is Putu, your cabin Steward from the Carnival Victory? If so, isn’t he fantastic?

Secondly, as our cruise in May approaches, we were wondering does the Carnival Miracle serve non-alcoholic beer. You may say who would want beer with no alcohol in it. But for health reasons I am now a non drinker. And unfortunately a non cigar smoker. We met briefly in NY back in November, when I gave you a Fire Department patch. We now know the reason I had to get off the ship. I have an irregular heartbeat which now is controlled with good medication. I am feeling fantastic now. Keep writing a great blog.

All the best to you, Heidi, and Kye.
Tim

John Says:
Hello Tim

I think that Putu is a different Putu as there are plenty of Putus’ around the fleet. Along with Ketut, Wayan and I Made, Putu is one of the most common boys name in Indonesia. We do indeed serve non alcoholic beer. It’s called Buckler Beer and I can’t actually say I have ever had it. I hope it’s OK and hits the spot. I know some like it and some people say non alcoholic beer tastes like camel urine……..but don’t let that put you off.

I hope you are OK. I remember the patch and I remember you saying that you were unwell and I never saw you again. Please let me know when you are sailing and send me your cabin number.

Thanks for the kind words and hope you are well.

Best wishes to all
John

John G Asked:
Hi John, (please reply)

I read on CC that one or more of the ships that have Serenity have done away with the adult only restriction to the aft pool. I can’t remember which one it was. This is what happens after 50 🙂 !

As much as I love screaming, running, splashing, jumping in the water kids (and I do) I also like to spend adult time without them and always enjoy the adult only pool.

I realize that Serenity offers whirlpools.

I had just thought that all the ships offered an adult only pool but apparently that is not true.
I am hesitant to book another cruise to later learn that an adult only swimming pool is no longer available.

Any help or advice is appreciated.

Also, as far as your blog thingy goes – I vote to keep it as it is. Without your tales and brilliant humour it wouldn’t be a blog thingy!

Keep us smiling!

Regards to you and your lovely wife and child.
John

John Says:
Hello John G

I checked with the Carnival Pride, Carnival Imagination and Carnival Splendor regarding your question. Now remember that the Serenity areas don’t have pools but do have whirlpools and those are strictly for adults only. Then there are ships like the Carnival Conquest that don’t have a Serenity area but do have aft swimming pools and they are open to all. However, again, on the Conquest class ships the aft whirlpools are for adults only. It sounds a little complicated but basically we don’t have adult only swimming pools but do have an adult area Serenity Deck and whirlpool or an adult only whirlpool on every ship. Does that make sense?

Please let me know if you have a follow up question and thanks so much for those very kind words for Heidi and Kye.

Best Wishes
John

Cruzin Man Asked:
John , Please reply.

As a platinum cruiser I never remove my tips, ever.

My wife and I only dine on formal night.

Nothing wrong with the service in the dining room.

I just so hate to see how some of cruisers treat the staff. Good hard working people, like myself.

More or less it puts a damper on our cruise to see this mistreatment, so we avoid it.
Just wanted to express that opinion and say thanks for your letting your fans express their opinions here in your blog. BTW if I had your cell number I would have just called you with this info. GRIN!

Johnny and Mary Jo Williams!

John Says:
Hello Johnny and Mary Jo Williams

I wanted to say thanks for sharing your opinion with us all. Thank you for the kind words of support for our service staff. The vast majority of our guests treat them with respect and acknowledge the hard work and fun they bring to each cruise but there are one or two who don’t. Most importantly thank you for your loyal support and I hope you are enjoying the Platinum card benefits. I remain at your service.

Best wishes to you both
John

Vivienne Paige Asked:
Dear John Please Reply.

On the 28th of February, I wrote about my cruise, and mentioned some of the staff that helped to make it so wonderful, hoping that their bosses would know of the terrific jobs they did. I had written….Dear John Please Reply…..and somehow my letter got posted in the comments’ section of the 26th.

I am still hoping that you can tell me what ship Captain Rassello is on, since I am trying to book a cruise for April, and time is running out.

Thank you once again for the surprise gifts awaiting, for me, in my cabin.

Best regards,
Vivienne.

John Says:
Hello Vivienne

I think I did reply to this and thanked your for your beautiful review. Just in case you missed it Captain Rassello is currently serving on the Carnival Valor. Let me know please if you have a follow up.

Best wishes
John

That’s all for today………..well actually it isn’t because I need to apologize to someone. I received this comment yesterday.

Melinda Asked:
John, please reply

I just read your “test” to find out if your wife or husband is the right person to take on a cruise yet you ignore same sex couples. It’s like we don’t exist until you want to bang on about our dancing / fashion sense or gym habits. We are human beings too and yes, even lesbians have a sense of fun. I know, imagine

John Says:
Hello Melinda

I apologize if the test thingy I posted upset you. It was written in jest and with fun in mind and I made no conscious decision to exclude same sex couples. I work and have worked with many gay couples on the ships and I hope you will understand I meant no offense.

Best wishes to you and your partner.
John

Ok, let’s move on.

As I mentioned before we are currently promoting the St. Jude activities across the fleet and specifically here on the Carnival Conquest where I am looking forward to hosting the big event on Saturday. Meanwhile the people with beards at Carnival have set up a special website to keep you informed about what we are already doing and what you can do to help the hospital keep the magic alive and bring care and comfort to many sick children.

Included is the auction for the base ball stick that was signed by Mr. A. Rod. The last bid was an incredible $1,500 and if you would like to bid you only have a few days left ……. it’s for a great cause and I guess if you collect sticks………..this one is the best stick money can buy. You can also donate directly by going to the site. Here is a link thingy:

www.carnival.com/stjude

Here is the article:

Carnival Cruise Lines Launches Fleetwide Fundraising Initiative Benefiting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital®

OK, time for a break. I am going to make a cup of tea while I leave you to read some of the letters from the morning show.

Now, ask and it shall be given…….well……….most of the time. So with thanks to the Production Team and one of the 343 Stephanies……….here is a link thingy which shows which shows are on which ship. Thanks again to Jennifer for the idea.

http://johnhealdsblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/show-assignment-supervisors.pdf

My Travel Weekly thing went well I think and Mary Pat, the host of the interview, was charming and funny and I hope she enjoyed it as much as I did. Anyway, they were nice enough to write an article about it and here is the link thingy.

http://travelweekly.com/article3_ektid212142.aspx

So here we are in a hot and sunny Montego Bay, Jamaica. We have close to 2,000 guests on tour and they are off to places like a working plantation, Dunn’s River Falls and Mystic Mountain. I see a lot of you agree that Jamaica is a brilliant and vibrant place to visit while some disagree and say that it is not one of your favorite ports of call. Thanks to you all for taking the time to write on this subject and as always your opinions are most useful to our future planning.

Anyway, as I said the weather is beautiful today but I had told the guests it wouldn’t be because that’s what the weather internet sites told me. The one we use on the bridge and the one that Uncle Google tells me to use both said that there would be heavy thunderstorms. But as I sit here at noon, in my underpants the sky is blue and the only sound of thunder is emanating from my bottom. How is it then that Al Gore claims to know what the weather will be like in a hundred years but the weather sites cannot tell what it will do tomorrow morning?

As you know we have an emergency 911 number onboard all our ships. It’s the same number as used on land when an emergency arises. I am sure that on land some people have a different view of what constitutes as an emergency and that applies here on the ships as well. Have a look at this one sent in to me by Kirk who has now returned to the Carnival Pride as her cruise director.

John
This is one reason not to call 911.
Kirk

Guest: Mrs. ——–Ref: 831725574A
Cabin: ___ Booking#: _____Added-Changed: 03/30/10 – 03/23010

CALLED THE EMERGENCY 911 NUMBER
Guest called the 911 number and stated she had picked a spot on her face and it would not stop bleeding and she required medical assistance. GSA advised nurse on duty and guest was requested to visit the medical center.

No it is not, you don’t pick a zit and call 911 because it bleeds a bit and it’s not the only case. I remember telling you about a lady back on the Carnival Freedom in 2008 who called 911 because she said she had found a hair on her room service sandwich order. While unpleasant and something we take great trouble in making sure never happens it is a bit extreme to call 911 don’t you think?

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. We have the guest who called 911 because her television remote control was not working. Then there was the chap who called our emergency number because cleaned his teeth with Ben Gay instead of toothpaste. We chose the 911 number (it used to be 8000) because we thought everyone would recognize it as an emergency line……..maybe we need to be more specific. Maybe we should advise guests only to call 911 if they can actually see bone poking out of their skin.

Well, I didn’t call the 911 number but I did need some medical attention last night. I had a sharp pain for a few hours and I thought as all men do that it would just go away. It didn’t and bloody hell it hurt. The problem was ……….it was ummmm………..well…….you know ………..down there…………..underneath the awning.

By 6 pm it hadn’t gone away and it was making me walk funny and so I decided to be brave and go and see the doctor. Luckily he is a friend of mine and if Doctor Jason had not been onboard I would never have gone to see the other doctor because he is a she and no way was I discussing this with a she………well……..maybe if she was a Latvian doctor ………..Doctor Nora Nipplesov.

And so I hobbled down to see Dr. Jason and after examining me he proclaimed that “I had a groin strain.”

“What?” I said.

“A groin strain,” the good doctor replied.

Now I use very few of my muscles and the chance of straining any is minuscule ………….. but that muscle…………..that hasn’t been used in weeks………..I am the anti Tiger Woods.

“How have I done that?” I asked embarrassingly.

“Have you done any unusual movements” the doc asked.

Well I had a curry for dinner last night and that gave me a strange movement but I was sure that he didn’t mean that. And then suddenly it struck me……..bugger me……..The Marriage Show. And so I told him what had happened and he has given me some ibuprofen for the pain and told me to apply ice for an hour three times a day. Ice …….. there………oh joy.
So the doc said it was only a mild strain and that it could have been much worse. Much worse …..bollocks………the only way I could have been in more pain down there is if a pack of hyena were nibbling on it………OK……..one hyena.

So, what caused this terrible injury?

Well, this afternoon at the Marriage show I had a couple who from Louisiana who have been married for just a few days. They met at a karate school and both are black belt karate teachers. Well obviously I had a lot of fun with them and as they turned to walk away I did a “kung fu kick” as if to say “I can take you.” I felt no pain after that at least I don’t think I did but now it seems my Chuck Norris impression has hurt my thingy.

Oh by the way……….here is screen shot taken from the show that shows my Chuck Norris special.

And so, here I sit……….in my underpants………with hemorrhoids round the back………. a plastic bag of ice shoved down the front………..and I ain’t happy.

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.