Eustice And Cruise Critic

April 8, 2010 -

John Heald

I have fallen in love with the people who cruise here on the Carnival Conquest. I love their laid back, easygoing attitude and the way they laugh at everything I say…….even if it is about as funny as a case of herpes. And I have met some hilarious characters these past two weeks including one a chap called “Eustice.” Now, I am not sure if I am spelling that correctly but that was his name and let me tell you how I met him.

Last night I came out on stage to introduce our Motown show featuring top entertainer Ron Joseph. As I began to talk and welcome everyone a man started to walk down the aisle. He was dressed in blue overalls………I think you call them dungarees or something like that. Now, for one brief moment I thought it was my old mate and Carnival’s 354th best Comedian and blog contributor Al Ernst. He portrays a character called Emmitt Lee Tuttwiler and we do a little think on stage with him in the guise of this Georgian character.

But this wasn’t Al but rather a chap who looked totally lost so I asked if I could help him. He then told me that he had lost his wife. OK, that’s not actually what he said because he said “I have gone an’ lost ma wiiiiiifffffffeeeeee”……yep, a word with 4 letters had, in his language a total of 8 syllables.

This was too good an opportunity to miss. So I invited him on stage to get a good look at the audience to see if his “wiiiiiiffffffeeeeeee” was there. I asked him his wife’s name which was “Raylene” and he spoke so slowly and with such a heavy accent that it took him 23 minutes to say it.

Well, there was no sign of “Raylene” and so I thought that we should hang out a bit and so I asked him where he was from. He stood there in his blue dungarees and checked shirt and said he was from “Newcastle, Texas.” “Oh,” I said……..”We have a Newcastle where I live in England.”

His reply was ………….”Y’all have rednecks there too?”

“Are you a redneck?” I asked and his reply was, “Yep, sure am and proud of it.”

Now, my instant reaction was to have fun with him but I realized in a split second that he was looking at me very seriously indeed and something told me to be careful. You see what I think a “redneck” is would be the same that many British people think. To them, a redneck is a gun-toting, squirrel-eating, banjo-plucking, truck-driving, NASCAR-loving man married to his sister.

This opinion is based on movies like Deliverance, Southern Comfort and White Lightning. These movies usually featured a monster truck driven by a man who would yell “sumbitch” as he chased a customized Chevy, inside a dust cloud. The female interest always featured someone named Mary-Lou whose hot pants were extremely tight and would spread easier than butter.

Or there was a group of people, lost in backwoods, who were chased by people named Bubba and Billy Bob who had severe learning difficulties yet who had mastered the use of power tools.

And I was about to say something along those lines but he had a look in his eye that told me if I did….. I would find myself tied up to the smoke stack, being invited to squeal like a piggy.

Instead I shook his hand and told him I was honoured (spelt correctly) to meet my very first confirmed redneck and with that he left the lounge in search of the elusive Raylene.

I love the people on the Carnival Conquest.

Time for today’s questions….let’s crack on

missingthesmokefreeparadise Asked:

Seeing these pictures of Kye with the two of you makes me almost cry remembering our beautiful little girl (now 28).

Pass the tissue pleases.

PS – I hate to break the news, but she does look like you.

John Says:
Hello Just Jon

More and more people are starting to say that Kye looks like me which is wonderful news for me but I am not sure Kye is going to like it. On a serious note she is growing up so fast and each day I am not with her is a truly sad one indeed.

Best wishes to you and Mrs. MTSFP

Mary (Mrs. Shy) Asked:
Hi Stephanie,

Would you be able to pull a Dear John please reply that I sent yesterday Mar.11?

I had sent a thank you to John for a follow-up by the Care Team in which I did not get the result that I had hoped for. Anyways, today I got another email advising me that I will get the cruise credit added to our profiles. Once I have all the details, I will send John another Dear John on the blog to thank him but with good news.

I do not want the blog readers to see my first posting and then a couple of days later another one again about the same matter but with a different result. They might think some wishy washy is going on.

Thanks for all your help, Steph,

John Says:
Hello Mrs. Shy

I am sorry things did not work out as you wished them but I am glad that someone did contact you at my request to see what could be done. I also appreciate you taking the time to let me know the outcome. Let’s hope it is not too long before we see each other again.

Best wishes to all

Louise Matthews Asked:
HI, I am not sure if this is in the right place.

We are not sailing until 01/01/2011. We’re travelling from Australia for this cruise. I was wondering if you would kindly clarify something that I have read. Another cruiser has commented that if you take the late seating for dinner that you miss the shows. I am sure that is not right, but would like to know in time so we could change our dinner seating preferences.

We are also staying in a GS suite on Empress Deck – could you please point me in the direction of non rendered images of this room type.

Love the blog – it helps to build our excitement. Well done.

John Says:
Hello Louise Matthews

First of all let me say a huge thank you for booking a Carnival cruise despite the fact that you will be in the air for many, many hours flying from Australia……..we truly appreciate that. Now, regarding your question about the shows, I am afraid the person who passed you the information about you not being able to see them is incorrect. The shows will be at either 8:30 pm and 10:30 pm or 7 pm and 8:45 pm. This means that you will see the show after dinner at 10:30 pm or on the odd occasion you may see them at 7 pm, before dinner. If you can tell me what ship you are sailing on I will be able to give you a more detailed clue as to what time the shows are and see what we can do about the photos of the cabins you asked for. So please let me know what ship you will be experiencing a fun for all vacation on and I will be glad to help you further.

Best wishes and G’dday

Janet Sammons Asked:
Hi John,

Well, I am home from the Dream sailing on 2/20/10 with my cruise critic group “the dream catchers.” It has taken a while to recover from all the fun we had but I think I have managed now.

I wanted to contact you to thank you for reading my dear

John letter regarding my sister, Judie, on your morning show. We were actually at our meet and greet when it was aired, but many people told us that we had missed it and to watch it in our cabin later. We did just that. My sister was really touched by my letter, and the fact that it was aired on your morning show. Also, thank you for the gifts that were sent to our cabin.

I wanted to address one issue that my group came upon one evening that has bothered me since I was told about it. I really thought you should know about it as well.

I had many activities planned for the dream catchers to do throughout the week. One of them was a scavenger hunt. Part of this scavenger hunt list was that the group would have to sing a song during Kareoke (sorry, can’t spell it) I knew that a lot of the group had never tried kareoke and probably never would without a prize being involved, so I added it to the list of things to do. Trying to get folks to try something new! Great! We had 2 of the groups show up to sing on the same night. One group sang happy birthday to my sister, and the other group sang a beach boys song. The problem came with the hostess of the kareoke lounge. She got mad because they were doing it as part of the scavenger hunt, and told my group that “they (the group other than my group) are trying to do serious stuff here”. I mean come on, I thought Kareoke is suppose to be fun, not serious business! I watched video of how she behaved during both groups performance. What a shame!! She certainly put a huge damper on the fun my group was having. Not to mention that the entire reason for adding this to the scavenger hunt was to try and get people onto the kareoke stage! Maybe they would love it!! But with the hostess’s attitude, I think they were discouraged from trying it again. I know I would have been discouraged.

Anyway, my group left comment cards, and I am sure some mentioned the hostess’s attitude, but I wanted to personally contact you regarding the situation.

The dream is wonderful! I loved the big screen on the lido deck! It reminded me of going to the drive in when I was a little girl. I will be booking the dream again in the near future. What a fabulous ship!

Thanks, Janet

John Says:
Hello Janet

I am very glad you had such a great time and I am sorry that you did not appreciate the attitude of the karaoke host. I must admit how surprised I was to read this as Mouna is about as nice a person as you can ever meet and is one of our best, if not the best, karaoke host in the fleet. Maybe she was asked by other guests in the room to say something. I don’t know, I wasn’t there but I do know that she is a wonderful person and would be horrified to read this and would want to apologize in person. I will do that for her though and I am sorry that you felt that she was not acting in a fun way.

Regardless, it is great that you all had such a wonderful time and I remember the letter you are talking about perfectly. Please give your sister my kind regards and once the Dream Catchers have recovered I hope I will see them all again very soon. It was great having you all aboard your Carnival Dream.

Best wishes

JohnR Asked:
Hi John,

Please reply. Once again I must commend you on your blog thingy! Reading it is just so enjoyable and makes me want to cruise again soon! (I’m sure the beards like that!)

No matter what you write about I can always count on a good laugh or more.

Anyway, I have a thought about Fun Times – I am hoping that since they are in a new format that they are being created in some type of program that would easily allow the Fun Times to be posted somewhere on the internet as you have done a few times.

Having access to actual current Fun Times helps so much in planning and getting excited for an upcoming cruise.

Any chance daily Fun Times could be posted?

I have another question regarding the 6 million people reading your blog – Are there 6 million different people or is it 6 million hits on the web page?

Are there really just 6 people reading it a million times? LOL!

Thanks for your blog and your time!

John Says:
Hello John R

I am finally getting used to calling it the Fun Times and not the Carnival Capers. I think the reaction to them has overall been very positive and their clean image has certainly made them easier to read than the overly busy Capers of the past. I have indeed posted a few copies of the Fun Times and I see no reason why we can’t do this on our web site. It would be too much for me to manage here on the blog thingy but certainly it is something that maybe the 343 Stephanies can help me with and I will discuss this with the beardies as it is a great suggestion.

The 6 million hits refers to the number of times someone opens the web page which means as you said it is probably one person…….my Mum……opening the page thousands of times a day. Seriously, I have no idea what the ratio of hits to people is but I am amazed that we have had 6 million hits in three years especially considering most of what I write is absolute bollocks.

Thanks though for the very kind words and I will see what we can do about posting the Fun times

Best wishes to you and your family

Peggy Winge Asked:
Please Reply

Hi John. I have enjoyed reading your blog and I love cruising with Carnival, I only wished I could do it more often. I’m planning our next one for June 18, 2011 aboard the Dream. We’re taking our daughter on our very first cruise; she will be 7 at the time. She’ll be celebrating her birthday right before we leave and for her party I want to do a theme party. So my question to you, is it possible to purchase any party supplies from Carnival, balloons, etc, etc,

Thanks for your help.

Happy Sailing
15 months and 6 days until my next one…….

John Says:
Hello Peggy Winge

Thanks for the kind words about the blog and I am sure you are looking forward to next year and your cruise on your Carnival Dream. Unfortunately we don’t have pre cruise supplies for parties etc but we do have them for celebrations onboard through our Bon Voyage Department. What I would like you to do is remember to let me know via the blog thingy that it’s your daughter’s birthday and I will be honoured (spelt correctly) to send her a gift.

I hope you continue to enjoy the blog thingy

Best wishes

April M Asked:
Please reply Johnboy….

I just wanted to take a minute and let you know how much I enjoy your blog. I have been reading it for years and love to keep up with what is going on the ships while I am trapped in an office wishing I was on one of the ships. My husband and I are sail on the Sensation on 4/22 and are very excited to see the renovations, it has been about 4 years since we have sailed on this ship. He is even more excited because we have booked a balcony room which we have never been able to afford in the past. It will be our 6th time sailing with Carnival and it would be great if you could send a small gift to our room since we will be leaving the kid and home and relaxing on our own on the ship.

It will be the first time we have done the new dining option as well – and just for the record we LOVE elegant night – my husband loves dressing up like 007 and making his casino rounds.

John Says:
Hello April M

Thanks so much for reading the blog thingy for so long and it is always a joy when I read that people are continuing to enjoy it after three years. You will love the upgrades that the Carnival Sensation has been given. I would happily send you a gift and will need to know your cabin number and last name please so please send a post marked STEPHANIE – SAILING IN TWO WEEKS and one of the 343 Stephanies will send it to me.

My best wishes to you and to James Bond

Regina Asked:
John reply for table seating

We were told by another Cruise Critic member that your blog is the place to come for table allocations for dinner. I will be sailing on the Valor on Sunday May 8th and want a table for four in the center of the dining room. This will be our first Carnival boat and we want it to be special.

Please respond and confirm by e mail

John Says:
Hello Regina

Thanks for writing and I will be happy to help with your table request but I need a last name or cabin number. Also, I will not be able to respond via e mail but will confirm that I have asked the Maitre D to do his best to help you. I know this will be the first of many Carnival cruises.

Best wishes

SCarlow Asked:
John (please reply)

John, I am glad that you were able to spend a couple of weeks with Heidi and Kye. I have a question and I am wondering if you can explain something to me.

I always pre-purchase drink tickets. I purchase these over time to help reduce my sign and sail card balance at the end of the cruise. I always order the same drink (Kiss on the Lips) but during the last two cruises I was on, some locations on the ship, I had to pay additional monies to. It was not much more but I became somewhat confused. The drinks were the same size in these locations so I am unsure why the difference.

Thank you for your time.

John Says:
Hello S Carlow

This is a very good question and I have no idea what the answer is so hold on a moment while I check with the bar manager here.

OK, I am back. Right, A Kiss on the Lips is apparently a rum- and mango-based frozen drink which costs $7.25. The pre-purchased drink coupons purchased through our bon voyage department have the value of $5.25 the difference is charged to your Sail & Sign card. Now, the question is why is this drink more expensive than other frozen cocktails? Well, the bar manager couldn’t say as this is the price set by our head office. So, please let me check this out for you and I will let you know what the answer is.

By the way, try the new frozen drink next time you sail. It’s tequila and prune juice……’s called the Mexican Roadrunner.

Seriously, this is worth investigating so I will.

Best wishes

Damon S Asked:
John’s reply requested

Having recently returned from a cruise on the Elation I would like to know why you show CNN and not Fox News. Does this represent Carnival’s political views?


John Says:
Hello Damon

I hope you enjoyed your cruise on the Carnival Elation and had lots of fun. The comprehensive TV package we offer is the best in the industry with full network coverage and a Turner Broadcasting deal that includes TNT and CNN. It’s strange reading a question like this because in the UK broadcast news has to be unbiased and while the BBC certainly is I know that in North America there are certain stations that support either the Democratic or Republican parties. I can’t remember which one CNN it is but I assure you that us showing it has nothing to do with the political beliefs of anyone at Carnival.

Thanks for taking the time to write.

Best wishes

That’s all for today and I will return tomorrow with more Q & A.

It is a busy time in Italy at the moment with three ships from the ever growing fleet of Carnival Corporation’s fleet being built, redesigned or nearly ready to sail.

The “being built” refers to the wonderfully named Seabourn Sojourn. She will be the sister ship to the uber-luxurious Seabourn Odyssey ……..the ship that took luxury to a new level. The new Seabourn Sojourn is only two months away from delivery and I thought you might like to see some photos of another luxurious addition to this exquisite fleet of yachts. Here is the link thingy.

The ship that is almost ready is of course P&O’s Azura. I saw her in the shipyard when I went to visit your Carnival Dream and she looked fabulous. There is no doubt as to why P&O is the UK’s favourite cruise line and some of the highlights onboard will include:

  • Sindhu, fine Indian-style restaurant created by Atul Kochhar
  • The Glass House – with wines selected by Olly Smith
  • The Retreat – exclusive outdoor spa terrace
  • SeaScreen – alfresco cinema
  • The fleet’s first Single Staterooms
  • 3 deck atrium with dance floor
  • 12 places to drink
  • Planet Bar – with plasma screen showing the world’s most striking natural and man-made wonders
  • Two tier, 800 seat theatre
  • Oasis Spa & Thermal Suite with couples and balcony treatment rooms
  • Ocean view gym
  • 3 main pools

I have a mate that works for P&O and he sent me these great shots of the ship arriving into Southampton.

Finally there is a ship in redesign and that’s a ship that is an old friend to me and too many of you…….and that’s the Holiday……or to give the ship her new name…..the Grand Holiday. She will join the Holiday’s sister the Grand Celebration as part of the Iberocruceros fleet. I saw firsthand what changes were made to the Celebration including turning the old back lounge into a luxurious spa and I guess that’s what they are doing to the old Blue Lagoon Lounge on the Grand Holiday as well. I am sure it will be great and new life has been breathed into a ship we all loved…….and that’s great news indeed.

I love naming ceremonies and while I can’t get to the Azure’s and because I don’t have an expensive enough tuxedo to be invited to the Seabourn Sojourn’s I am hoping that my friends at Holland America will invite me to the Niew Amsterdam naming ceremony and of course if they do…….I will take you with me.

So here we are in Freeport, Bahamas. I am trying to remember the last time I was here but it has been a very, very long time. I do remember that there is little do next to the ship which is why most of our guests are all on excursions or taking a taxi ride to the main area which is called Port Lucaya. The taxi ride is admittedly a pain in the arse because it involves the double-edged sword of the Bahamian taxi driver who can be ummmm…a little pushy….and the ride itself is in a car so old there are stains on the back seat made by George Burns when he wet himself as a child.

Freeport is rarely in the news unlike its neighbor Nassau which has international direct flights and the Atlantis Resort. Most recently it was in the news though through tragic circumstances when John Travolta’s son died while vacationing on the island.

While there is bugger all to do next to the ship the 20 minute taxi ride will take you to Port Lucaya where once you have recovered from the seat in the taxi and have removed the spring from your bottom you will find a beautiful beach, lots of shopping a casino and multiple chances to get your hair braided. Freeport also has the first ever dolphin encounter in the Caribbean. I remember advertising this as a young cruise director on the then Fantasy back in 1992. So that’s Freeport Grand Bahama……but once again I am not ashore but here………in my underpants …………..talking to you. Please moan at me won’t you if in the next week or so I don’t get off the ship. I promised Heidi I would ………..I just hate the “table for one” thing.

Please have a read of these links which my friend Host Mach from Cruise Critic sent me today.

Well, I want to apologize to everyone who was disappointed that I am not hosting a bloggers cruise but I mostly want to say sorry for those who feel I am abandoning the west coast. I realize that the three ships I named as potential 2011 vessels to host BC4 all have Florida home ports and for those on the west coast it becomes more expensive to reach them. There are some factors which go into this choice that I want to tell you about. Obviously I need to look at where the majority of people who have sailed on the first three bloggers cruses are based. Secondly, I have to look at pricing and stateroom availability. Well actually it’s the people with beards who do this not me but you get my point.

However, I know this will not appease the folks in California and beyond which is why I wanted to take this time to apologize.

However, the good news is that I have asked the Miami office to change my schedule for the rest of this year and have asked to be the cruise director on the Carnival Splendor from August through to mid-December. Chris Prideaux the director of entertainment is seeing if that is feasible and I hope to have positive news on this very soon.

I was due to be the CD on the Carnival Pride and Carnival Spirit and one other ship but I would prefer to be on one ship the whole time and that would allow Heidi and Kye to sail with me more often as well. And so I choose the Carnival Splendor for this which I hope in some way will make up for the disappointment of the next bloggers cruise most likely being on an east coast ship. I also apologize to the Jolimont on Cruise Critic who wrote that she likes my jokes but finds them “warmed up.“

Jolimont….I have a new joke……..maybe more… come and sail on the Carnival Magic. I bet you dinner at the Steakhouse I can make you laugh out loud. And if I win the bet you have to tell everyone that I made you laugh. Deal?

Once I have confirmed what is happening I hope that maybe we could arrange a cruise on the Carnival Splendor where maybe the bloggers who live out there can do a mini unofficial bloggers cruise and all sail together so I can look after you…….there will be free photos of me in a thong…….which a Cruise Critic reader called Kurbanfan who wrote “I’ve never read his blog nor will I ever read his blog. What can he say to me that hasn’t been said here or been experienced by me?”  I promise you will never have experienced anything like that!  And I bet a 45 year old fat bloke with hemorrhoids has never said that to you before.

Your friend

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.