Ryan

April 6, 2010 -

John Heald

It’s amazing how different people take different situations ummmm………differently. OK, that wasn’t my best piece of writing but hopefully you have gotten the point. Let me give you an example as to what I mean. Take the whole Tiger Woods thing. Some have been offended and some unmoved, but most people, since his last name is Woods and he spends his working life surrounded by balls, holes, clubs and birdies….. have read the news reports and laughed out loud.

Then were the Brits who went ballistic when a few months ago Prince William had put his chopper in Kate Middleton’s garden……….OK, that didn’t sound right ………..I meant that he landed a Royal Air Force helicopter on his girlfriend’s front lawn. Again, some sniggered, some called for the young Prince to be more like his father…………and marry a horse.

Anyway, I say all of this because I have been fully kitted up to take on the onslaught of complaints and wagging fingers in the face brought on by the fog and subsequent late arrival and late embarking of the guests on Sunday. OK, there have been a few grumpy sods but only three…… that’s three out of 3,400 who bothered to make an official complaint. The rest just got on with having fun.

Here is what those who were not happy had to say. The first one is from the Embarkation Manager in the Port of Galveston.

Guest: Mr. _____ Ref: 830093762A
Cabin: ____ Booking#: ____ Added-Changed: 04/04/10 – 04/05/10

UNHAPPY WITH EMBARK PROCESS

Mr. _____  was extremely belligerent to my supervisor.  He used foul language and yelled at her for the fog, the pilots and advised that this was our fault.  Tia was very professional and attempted to explain that we wanted to provide an area to the side of our regular boarding area for the children with in his group so that they would not be directly impacted by the congestion in the terminal when boarding does commence.  He refused to listen, yelled over what Tia was stating and used the “F” word several times.

I am not going to comment on the substance of this man’s complaint because I can understand just how frustrating it was for everyone out there. However, this does give me a chance to say thanks to the great staff at embarkation who had a long day on Saturday with the Carnival Ecstasy being delayed and again on Sunday with the Carnival Conquest. They are patient and kind and worked under stressful conditions……..and as you can see sometimes one or two were not very pleasant. So well done to Amy and her staff………we were very proud of you all.

And one more.

Guest: Mr. and Mrs. ______ Ref: 8309515777A
Cabin: ____ Booking#: ______ Added-Changed: 04/04/10 – 04/05/10

UNHAPPY WITH LATE ARRIVAL
Gst came to the GSD and demanded to speak to the Captain. Guest said that he had been waiting for seven hours to board the ship and that he should be getting a full refund as this was not the cruise advertised. Guest feels that he should have been offered a full refund before he came on board. Guest then said he wants a meeting with the Captain.

Once again, no sarcastic comment from me this time as again I understand the frustration. But they are the only comments. And while that is a great thing, I am a little concerned as well because I was ready, poised like a cobra, ready to pounce and protect the good name of Carnival. But this is not that type of crowd, they are far too nice. Complaints are like hemorrhoids, they’re a fact of life, and sometimes you can’t avoid them. However, after what happened, I expected a lot more and so far……….they haven’t come.

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

Tania Borg Asked:
Hi John,

I love your blog. I have a question. We are cruising for the first time on the Fascination on April 17th. We have 2 connecting rooms, (R194 & R196). Will we automatically be seated at the same table for our dinner seating or will I have to check with someone when I board? We don’t care if we sit with others, just as long as we’re together (2 adults, 3 kids (8, 10, &12)). What do you think? Stay Well…

Tania

John Says:
Hello Tania Borg

I didn’t want to answer your question but as hard as I tried “resistance is futile” ………. sorry …….. had to do one Borg reference. It won’t be long until you are on the Carnival Fascination and I know how much fun you will have there. I am sure you have been seated together but have sent your request to the Maitre D just to make sure.

Have a great time and thanks for the kind words about the blog thingy.

Best wishes
John

Steve Savary Asked:
Hi John,

We sailed last summer on the Freedom, the last week in June with you as CD. This was our first Carnival cruise and we really enjoyed it. We are back this year and we are sailing on the Triumph on June 26th from New Orleans… With our 2 daughters, a party of four. Can you advise on the process by which we might request a table for four at our late dining.

Thanks in advance, Steve

John Says:
Hello Steve Savary

I am glad that you some nice memories of our time together on the Carnival Freedom and I know you will have many more in June on the Carnival Triumph. Please can you send me a reminder posting with your cabin number and what your require in mid May and I will do my best to arrange this for you.

Best wishes to all
John

Chris Asked:
(John pls respond)

Been following along with the good times John. Glad to see that you so enjoyed the time with the family.

Excitement building for upcoming cruise with my grandsons Brandon 15 and Matthew 12 aboard Glory on April 4. Recently accepted upsell to suite 7228 from standard balcony as the deal was just too good to pass up. This will be second cruise for Brandon and first for Matthew. Did the Valor in 2008 with Brandon (Matthew didn’t want to leave mommy at that time!)

Both of the boys are on traveling baseball teams and in training right now. Wondering if any of the islands we are stopping at have batting cages or perhaps formal teams of kids that I could have the boys meet. Do you have any contacts regarding this?

Also, if possible, could you perhaps send a personalized note to the boys to be delivered to the cabin….and maybe baseball shaped chocolates! LOL!

John Says:
Hello Chris

I am glad you got a call from the upgrade chap and are going to enjoy the suite life on the Carnival Glory. I honestly have no clue about the batting cage thing although I doubt that apart from St. Thomas and San Juan where Baseball is huge that any of them do. However, I will check with someone onboard who may know and ask them to relay the information to you onboard as you are sailing today.

Sending the boys a note and hope that you all have a great time.

Best wishes
John

Mary (Mrs. Shy) Asked:
Dear John (Please reply)

Hope you enjoyed your visit with Heidi and Kye and that it will somewhat hold you until you are home with them again this summer.

I am writing to thank you for asking Carlos from the Care team to look into our query and even though we did not get the result that we were looking for, I just wanted to thank you for your efforts and also to let those reading the blog, that your customer service goes beyond setting up table arrangements and sending gifts for people who ask for them.

As always, I enjoy your blog and look for another Carnival cruise later this year.
Mary

John Says:
Hello Mrs. Shy

I did indeed enjoy my time with Heidi and Kye and it feels so long ago since they were here. Thank you for taking the time to write and I hope it is not too long until we see you both again. I remain at your service.

Best wishes.
John

Shavine Asked:
Hi John

I have a family of six and I booked two 3 person ocean view rooms on the Dream leaving on July 31. I won’t know my room number until a week or so before we leave. This is my first cruise with my family and we have four young children and I would like to know what is the best way that I can go about getting the room close to each other?

Thank you so much.

John Says:
Hello Shavine

You will love your Carnival Dream and if you could send me another posting with the family name and sail date again I will pass on your request to have stateroom numbers close by.

My best wishes to all
John

Kathy M. Asked:
Hi John, Please Reply.

John, I am writing to you on behalf of a young man that I know that has always wanted to work on a cruise ship taking care of little ones. Mike is fantastic with kids, I have seen babies crying so loudly that their crying gets to your nerves, but the minute Mike picks them up, they seem to calm right down and start laughing. Currently he is working in a day care for kids from 6 months and up. So my question to you is how would he apply for a job working in Camp Carnival. I personally feel that he would be a great asset to Carnival Cruise lines. He is a very hard worker, and I know this from him helping me when I needed help, so if you could send me the information to pass it along to him, I would greatly appreciate it.

Please give my love to Heidi and Kye,

From your #1 Bloggy Thingy Fan,
Kathy M.

John Says:
Hello Kathy M

The Camp Carnival staff has been working hard these past few weeks across the fleet as it has been spring break. I have lots of admiration for their endeavors to give thousands of kids the best vacation of their lives. If your friend is interested in joining this great group of people the first step is for him to look at the job description on www.carnivalentertainment.com.

There he will also find how to apply. I wish him well. Thanks for trying to help him, you are a good friend.

Best wishes
John

Jan & Larry Ritchie Asked:
Hello again John;

I have researched the carnival website and have not found an answer to my wife’s question.

We were on the Dream, Dec 3 of last year and thoroughly enjoyed the “Spoil Me” space in the Cloud 9 spa onboard. (John if you have not spent an hour or two in this area – you owe it to yourself to experience it & with Heidi for you would even be better). My wife’s question is this – are there any of the “Spoil Me” components on the Miracle as she would like to pre-book Spoil Me facilities if they are. We do know that only the Dream & Splendor have the Cloud 9 Spa which includes “Spoil Me”. The mineral wave pool, aroma steam rooms and lounge with the heated seats would be lovely to experience once again.

Thank you
Jan & Larry

John Says:
Hello Jan & Larry

I never really got to enjoy the Cloud Nine Spa and when Heidi was onboard she had a foot thingy treatment…….you know, the one where they take the skin and pus off your feet and paint your toenails. I heard many, many times through guests just what a truly extraordinary place it is though and the “spoil me“ rooms are certainly much talked about.

The spa on the Carnival Miracle is a little smaller but there are certainly many ways to treat yourself to some indulgence. New there is the bamboo massage which again I have been told is a very special hour that will rejuvenate you completely. I am not sure if they have the heated seats but I will find out by asking the spa manager there and get back to you.

Best wishes to you both
John

Mike Kitchens Asked:
Hello John,

Been hearing rumors you may be the CD on the Spirit sometime in Sept. 2010. We’ll be sailing out of Honolulu to Ensenada on Sept. 26th. 2010 for the 12 day voyage. We will be celebrating our 25th.Milestone cruise on Carnival with this one. Would just about make it perfect if we were to find out that you are indeed scheduled to be the CD. Can you verify this for us? Thanks, and hoping to see and meet you in September.

Mike

John Says:
Hello Mike Kitchens

Oh I wish I was on that voyage but alas I won’t be. The CD will be Stuart Dunn who I know you will love and help you enjoy that brilliant itinerary to the full. I will be posting my schedule by the end of this week and hopefully one day we will get to sail together.

Best wishes
John

Marilyn Asked:
Hi John,

I had the pleasure of sailing with you again last week to the Eastern Caribbean on my Carnival Dream. I had first sailed with you in 2007 on the Freedom in Europe and as impressive a cruise on the Mediterranean was, my most memorable part of the cruise was you (-:

When I found out you would be the guest C.D. on the Dream, I immediately made a booking, and, (unlike some sequels), you did not disappoint!

So here is my dilemma…The only regret I had from the first cruise is that I did not purchase the Bedtime Story DVD, which was a mistake I was going to correct last week. Unfortunately, I left the ship on Saturday without it and even came back to the terminal that afternoon to see if there was any way to get the DVD while the Dream was still in port. In fact, one of the embarkation agents named John (great name, don’t you think?) said he had been outside chatting with you after you took Heidi and Kye to the airport right before I got there )-:

I was unsuccessful in my attempt to get the DVD, so is there any chance that you have one and could send a copy to me?? I could even come back to the terminal to pick it up when you’re back in port. (I do believe in miracles!)

I’ll keep my fingers crossed….

Thanks so much!
Marilyn

John Says:
Hello Marilyn

I am honoured by your wonderful words of praise. Having me twice as cruise director would turn lesser mortals to drink so I am really happy that “the sequel” managed to live up to the original that you experienced on the Carnival Freedom. There are a few things that I hate doing. Going to the gym, kissing my Aunty Mad Maggie at Christmas because she smells of lavender and watching myself on TV. I hate the way I look and sound and cringe at my attempts at humour. So therefore I don’t keep copies of anything I do on stage and that includes the bedtime story. Tell you what though, come and see me again on a ship and I will but you a copy of that weeks show. Deal?

Thanks then for the kind words and hope to see you soon.

Best wishes
John

Emily Asked:
(Please Reply)

Hi John!

Only three more months ’til my 2nd cruise (the first was over 12 years ago), both being on Carnival- a girl’s weekend celebrating 25 years of friendship with my best friend! The first cruise, I was on a specialty cruise and spent so much time on those activities, I never got the chance to really get the “cruise experience”. I’m so excited to take it all in this time- hence all the reading of your blog thingy (and every other piece of info I can get my hands on!).

I especially enjoyed going through the archives and reading your interview with Jeff Bronson (I may have left out some ‘ooo’s in the last name there), as he will be the CD on the Paradise when I sail (6/4!). I found it amusing that the Debarkation talk was among his favorite activities- I hope we won’t have to wait that long to meet him!

My question is this- when you’re packing all those Carnival Fun Times into only 3 days, instead of the 5-7 days I read so much about on this blog, do you think you can still get the full “cruise experience” and what are the “don’t miss” activities that make it a true Carnival vacation?

Thanks for the fun reading (and don’t change a thing- how much more dull my day would have been if I hadn’t had the chance to read about Willard Hammond!) and all the best to your family!

Emily

John Says:
Hello Emily

Welcome home. It’s been 12 years since you last cruised with us and we have missed you. You sound really excited about experiencing the things that you didn’t get a chance to last time. Three days will go by very quickly and we always make sure that we pack as much into those three days as we can. There will be shows, comedy shows, dining room parades and dances, activities from morning to night, live music, a deck party and more fun than 3 days has ever brought you before. You will enjoy Jeff immensely. He is quite the character and please let us know here on the blog just how much fun you had. I am glad you are reading the blog thingy.

Best wishes to you all
John

That’s all for today and as always thanks for the great comments and opinions.

Well, things here have settled down and we are back in the groove of sun and fun. It was a beautiful day yesterday and as I sit here in my underpants at 7:40am it looks like more of the same today as well. I have spoken to many, many guests and apart from just one or two small grumbles everyone is having a great time and doing what I asked them to do….enjoying this long awaited, much deserved cruise vacation to the absolute maximum. Sailing with us this cruise is a group of 100 firefighters from Houston and boy do these chaps like to have fun. They all looked resplendent in their dress blue uniforms last night and I had my photo taken with a chap everyone was calling “Chief.” I don’t know his last name but it didn’t matter because I now call him the Chief. Here we are with Mrs. Chief and Captain Sammartano.

I think the decision to do the Welcome Aboard show that the guests missed because of late embarkation was the right one. It was, if you don’t mind me saying, a brave one because it could have gone either way. But it broke the ice and made stars of a few of the guests and hopefully showed that laughter is a great medicine.

I am starting to meet lots of people here on the Carnival Conquest and previously on your Carnival Dream who have told me that they have booked the Carnival Magic and will be joining me in Europe. I haven’t spoken much about her but I guess over the coming months I need to and will try and take my trusty video camera to the shipyard late this summer. I see though that the 343 Stephanies have already put the Carnival Magic web page together and I will be contributing a lot to it as well in the weeks ahead. Here is the link thingy and it’s not too early to mention that sailing a Carnival ship around Europe is something that you will never, ever forget. It really is ………a kind of magic.

Here is the link thingy:

http://www.carnival.com/cms/fun/ships/carnival_magic/default.aspx

I am not the tidiest person in the world and yet I was surprised when one of the entertainment staff came to cabin yesterday to have me sign something and proclaimed that my cabin was “a pig sty.” OK, there might have been a few empty water bottles, Diet Coke cans and a few files scattered about the place but I argued “It isn’t a pig sty.”

But of course……she was right it was and that was without her seeing my bedroom with various shoes, clothing and half-opened suitcases……not to mention the pair of underwear on the bathroom floor which even the faithful Ketut had refused to touch. It is strange that when Heidi is with me on a ship, or at home our house or cabin is immaculate. I have no excuse at home but in the ship…..well………my cabin is just too small.

I know I moan a lot about flying and you all know how much I hate that and you should see my seating area after a trans-Atlantic flight……………..now that’s a pig sty.

I can hear a mate of mine who upon reading this will be saying “Oh stop moaning John.” Well, that’s easy for him to say as right now he will be reading this blog from 1st class on his way to Europe.  Yep……easy for him to say, spread eagled on a flat bed in Lufthansa First Class and nibbling caviar and peacock sandwiches while a Latvian trolley dolly pours his Johnny Walker Blue Label.

For us poor sods cooped up in the cheap seats, sleep in an airless space which Uncle Google tells me is 17in wide by 32in deep by 42in high which is about the same size as a refrigerator. Oh yes, easy for him to tell me to stop moaning as he decided whether to have another scotch or watch a movie on his personal 50-inch plasma. While me….back there in my aisle seat am being dealt glancing blows by runaway trolleys and frequently awoken by an incontinent neighbor. Choose a window seat and your own bladder will let you down. Choose a centre seat and you’re probably too stupid to be let out on your own.

And yet, amid the crowding and the chaos, there’s always that serene passenger who dines without dribbling ketchup down his shirt, arranges his personal space with the precision of a Zen master, and then, as the cabin darkens, lit only by the campfire flicker of 300 tiny seat back TVs, tips back his seat the 5 inches you get in coach, taps on heaven’s door and is granted immediate oblivion. I hate that man.

Me, well I am surrounded by empty potato chip bags, crumpled newspapers and have half a bottle of mayonnaise down my shirt.. When the flight finishes I stand up and my seating area looks like……..well……….my cabin does right now.

I realize that I am drinking too much Diet Coke, as well. I know this because I was in a meeting about the ship coming into port late and had drunk about three cans of the stuff. And as the meeting entered the second hour I found myself burping, farting and bursting for a piss and wishing there was a dog to blame. All at once.

So today, I cleaned my cabin and it looks better. The underwear continue to be stuck to the bathroom floor glued to the tile by some strange glue like substance but apart from that…….it looks a lot better. Heidi would be proud.

Let’s hand things over to Vance now as our mate from public relations tells us all about a fantastic project that once again highlights the supreme generosity of Carnival Cruise Lines and Carnival Corporation & plc.


Rachel Kram Named Carnival’s Employee Volunteer of the Year

Thanks Vance and thanks to Carnival once again. During the last week or so we have highlighted this and the stunning contributions made to help the doctors who are saving lives each and every day in Haiti and of course the ongoing work with our friends from the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. By the way, I held our first fund raiser for that last week and the combined sales of T-shirts and wrist bands and the Teddy Bear Workshop Bear, we raised $3,180 for St. Jude.  My thanks to all those who gave.

Talking of children, this cruise we have a group with us which consists of 37 autistic guests, mostly children. Obviously we have had to make sure that we have everything in order for them and help them as much as we can. We gave the group of 37 plus their guardians a private safety briefing and we have made sure that we are aware of their special needs. I met the group leader who told me that due to the nature of autism, they must avoid lines, crowds which on a ship with 3,400 guests will be somewhat of a challenge. We have three Camp Carnival staff who have received special training in this regard which is really helpful and we are all doing all we can to make sure they have the very best of times. Yesterday was a tough time for them as they waited for the ship to arrive into Galveston. I met some of them last night at the captain’s celebration and while some of the children were a little shy some were certainly not and we had lots of fun taking photos with the captain. I stood and talked to a wonderful lady called Doreen who has a 12-year-old autistic son called Ryan.

Now , I have to admit I know very little about autism and when you say that word to some of us, myself included, have images of a child unable to communicate, throwing tantrums and the like. Or the film Rain Man and the misunderstood geniuses who struggle alone in the world. It also spells one would think a lifetime of challenge for the parents. Doreen told me that Ryan has something called Asperger Syndrome (I hope I am writing this correctly, it was very noisy on Promenade when we were talking) which she said was diagnosed five years ago.

I wanted to learn more. But as a cruise director, did I have the right to ask? And with her being on a cruise vacation would it be something she would want to talk about? I really wanted to learn but there was no easy way into this and so I explained about Kye and how much I missed her and then, gently, I asked her if it would be OK to ask more about Ryan. Doreen seemed at ease telling me that he was a highly intelligent kid with an advanced imagination who would while away hours in his own world, but start to have breathing difficulties and “attacks” if he panicked or became overexcited.

Doreen then told me something which I found fascinating. “Autistic children,” she said “are very honest and don’t understand social lies.”

I asked her what she meant and she told me about the experience in the terminal in Galveston.

Yesterday, while we were all waiting for the ship to come to port Ryan asked another passenger how she was. She told Ryan she was fine yet Ryan said, “No you’re not, your sad.”

Ryan’s mum said that he could just tell people’s real feelings which she added, could be tricky because people got frightened and thought him weird. I asked if there was anything that Ryan liked to do that would make him happier while onboard and his Mum said that he was very happy and excited and having fun so all was well. Her only concern was with elevators. He won’t go in an elevator and they are on deck 1. I am trying to see if I can get them moved but the ship is full at the moment.

Talking to Doreen was the highlight of my Monday and meeting Ryan was terrific. I mentioned to Doreen that I hope she took some time for herself while onboard as it must be a quite tiring looking after Ryan……and she has two other children as well. She then told me that should not be that Ryan was a gift and that it was her job as his mother to find the skills to get him through this imperfect world.

I could have spoken to her for hours and I hope she likes the chocolate covered strawberries and champagne and I hope Ryan likes the Carnival Crew Baseball cap I sent him…..”He loves baseball caps,” his Mum said……and it is obvious the extraordinary love that she has for her son.

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.