A Sign of the Times

April 23, 2010 -

John Heald

Yesterday, I spoke about the changes that I have seen over the years and another one is staring me right now in the face. It’s 12:35am and I sit here, in my underpants, unable to sleep with 88 emails sitting in my in box thingy. How can this be?

I used to think that computers and laptop thingies were labour-saving devices but that is bollocks ……………..because they have become work generating machines.

I remember when we first got e mail on the ships. I was on the Carnival Imagination and we had a bearded person give us all a one week course on e-mailing. We were all very excited and found it to be a great convenience. There would be need for piles of stationery in the cabin. No typing the passenger mood report to the office or the 20 page voyage report, checking, correcting with Whiteout and screaming sh*t every five minutes because the ribbon would get all crooked.

And if I wanted to send carbon copies, no need for carbon paper or a photocopier, or the hunt for addresses: just hit reply all, or key in the first few letters of the copy recipient’s name in the box marked CC. Yep, we were all very happy Carnival chappies ……..and now things have changed. If I had a time machine I would journey back in time and just as the chap that invented e-mail was about to have the idea, I would give him a good whack with a piece of 2 by 4 so that when he regained consciousness he would have forgotten what his revolutionary idea was.

Obviously if I didn’t have the internet I wouldn’t be writing the blog thingy to you and yes, e- mail does have its good points I guess. But before Mr. Dell arrived on my desk back in the pre internet days I was spending perhaps between 30 and 60 minutes a day at the cruise directors desk on paper work then e-mail came along and it didn’t really change much. I would receive maybe a dozen e-mails and they were so fast and easy to deal with.

But slowly they began to build over the years to where we are today and my average of 100 e- mails a day.

Sometimes these are simply e-correspondence to which I’ve been copied in (and increasingly I’ve slipped into the habit of copying others into my own e-mails, just in case) but woe betide the e-mailer who ignores mail for which he isn’t the primary recipient, for with e-mail silence can be taken as being rude and that means you have to reply………quickly. I don’t know how it is with you but at Carnival both on land at sea, each of us hits reply all for each of our replies, and from time to time it occurs to a few of us to add another name, usually someone with a beard, and this party will also press reply all, then the entire correspondence can begin to snowball out of control and like a Toyota Prius ………….it never stops.

Let me see if I can explain this disease that I have caught like many of my Carnival colleagues have as well.

Replies fly back and forth at supersonic speed and that’s things get out of sync, and we find ourselves confirming that we can do a proposed date for a conference call before we’ve realised that somebody else has e-mailed to say they can’t do that date; and by the time we’ve e-mailed again to say we will change the time of the call and proposed a new time, they’ve e-mailed back to say they’ve shifted another meeting and so can do the first after all. By then you are sitting in a dark room, dribbling on yourself making weird humming noises while banging your head against the wall.

The first thing I used to do in the morning when I woke up was have a poo……..not now. First thing every morning I quickly check my e-mails to see if there’s anything that has to be dealt with before I drop the kids off at the pool even if one of the kids is already peeking his head out of the door.

Was it really better in the old days? Would I really swap now for then? I cannot say. All I know is that I’m 45, and I’m spending up to half my waking hours in front of a screen…………and that’s not including my nightly visit to www.meganfoxsbottom.com
Time for today’s questions……………away we go.

Dave Asked:
Hi John,
Todd Wittmer is your best cruise director on the fleet and I cannot imagine meeting another cruise director who has the same dynamic for flair, the comedic timing, the love for his job and the ability to lift the mood of the whole ship like he can. And I’ve been on 8 cruises, so I have an inkling of what I’m talking about.

Then I hear about John Heald, and I love English blokes who are funny, and I’m wondering, can there someone be out there who can go toe to toe with Todd? I already love your blogs, so I know your ships are in good hands and I realize that you may be the best cruise director out there, but I can never seem to end up in the same ship as you.

Thanks for the cruise director schedule, now I have a shot of trying for you next time, and of course always want to see Todd again. Any idea who will man the Glory August 9 to 14, 2010?

In addition to being a screenwriter/director, I’m also a freelance writer who will be writing an article on cruise directors and would love to get all the info. and perspective that I can get.

Thanks,
Dave Broitman
Writer/Director

John Says:
Hello Dave Broitman
First of all I had a look at your website and was intrigued by the title of the film and I know it’s going to be a huge success. I wish you much luck and next time you sail maybe we can arrange a screening on the Seaside Theatre Big Screen.

Todd is a brilliant CD and I am glad to read that you have noticed his talents. I will be on the Carnival Splendor in August through to December and then on the Carnival Magic in Europe next year. Maybe we finally get to sail together there or maybe you would consider the bloggers cruise which I will be announcing soon. Although the CD schedule is not ready yet past June I can tell you that a very funny chap called George Solano will be the CD on the Carnival Glory in August and I know you will enjoy him immensely.

Please let me know if I can help you in any way with you research and once again the best of luck with the movie.
Best wishes
John

grizel robertson Asked:
John, please reply.
I started to send a message to you on Monday but I was so tired after my trip to London to the Cruise Show, losing sleep time with the clock change & a major restructure on return to work that I nearly dozed off at the keyboard.
Many thanks for the Bloggers t-shirt & mouse pad which has provided me with double vision when visiting your site – the pursed lip versus the slick mouse pad profile image.
John, I was delighted to touch base with several of the Carnival UK staff at Olympia & was impressed with the clever presentation of Carnival’s version of Loose Women. When I told my team at work (mainly guys) that Linda Lusardi was one of the LW panel they were spitting blood because they only ever travel to London for purely business purposes.
Following the presentation, I spoke to your UK MD Lynn & during our conversation she asked me if I was Grizel (you cannot hide the Scottish twang). She has given me her business card with mobile telephone number & e mail address & I shall be contacting her soon to express my delight that the UK website & access for Carnival has progressed by leaps & bounds recently. I also met the Marketing Director & one of her managers who performed an interesting presentation on C Dream. Like me, they wished that you had been present to chip in your humorous asides. You surely would have added an extra dimension to the proceedings.
Like you John, I love Jamaica. Ocho Rios is one of my favourite stops. On my first visit, some 17 years ago, I felt a wee bit intimidated by the culture etc. However, since then I have been there several times & enjoyed various trips to Dunn Rivers Falls, Cool Runnings, Jamaican Farewell etc. & I can wholly embrace the spirit of the native population & fantastic reggae & calypso music. Where would GB be in athletics if it were not for sports people like Linford Christie or the wider world with the Jamaican Bobsleigh team?
You suggested that I let you know in early April about my BtoB on Victory in May 2010. OK, I know that it is 31 March, but I want to avoid Huntigowk (April Fool’s Day). I shall be setting sail on C Victory on 16 May for my 14 day fun outing. My cabin number is 9210 & I shall be on my balcony every morning on entry to ports & on evenings when we depart to watch the efficiency of the Captain & his crew as they guide us out to open waters to head for our next exotic port of call.
I do hope that I can meet Heidi & Kye sometime as they are clearly a big influence in your life. I am sorry that you missed the opportunity to meet up with them recently. Keep that pursed lip curled to perfection.
With regards, Grizel Robertson

John Says:
Hello Grizel Robertson
I am so glad that you made it to London and once again my sincere apologies for not being at the Cruise Show as originally planned. It sounds like the wonderful team there took care of you and under the leadership of the brilliant Lynn Narraway I know that Carnival UK is in great hands. I hope you have a wonderful time on the Carnival Victory and thanks for letting me know your details. Thanks also for your insights on Jamaica and the Cool Running’s tour is excellent indeed. I am highly recommending the new Mystic Mountain excursion as well in Ocho Rios. It gives guests a chance to experience their own version of being in the Jamaican bobsleigh team.
Anyway, thanks for the kind words and have a great cruise.
Best wishes
John

Kaperino Asked:
Dearest John,

First please extend my best to KRHpee ( creepy???) and her husband. I am hoping by now he is well and would love to hear so from you? Please help KRHpee by follow -up with the care team? If anyone deserves a break it is this couple. They should be given the opportunity to again book on a ship within the next 6 months in return for their already full payment for a cruise that was not to their fault dissolved due to corporate’s (correct) decision to dissolve a cruise due to health risk. Their unfortunate medical emergency would have been covered by that original trip and since they were denied the ability to pay for cruise insurance I implore the bearded group to do the right thing! I will be watching and then “bragging about my brand loyalty” (I hope.)

Second. That kid is damn cute.

Third. Dunn’s river falls I fell in love with some blogger’s and now count them as my family in Jamaica. Plus have etched in my memory Big Ed bobbing with the dolphins…mmmm Also have a story of a silly young 20 something trying to smuggle ghangi onboard….Lawless? Not really… dangerous? Not is you go with the cruise line. One port I would recommend.

Stand by for a “please reply” I need you to do something for me note. It is coming. We cruise in a few weeks (May 15th) Have not gotten a reply to reservation request at the steakhouse. Important we have the “redo” of our anniversary dinner ( day before your?) as we had to cancel the cruise 4 days before we left due to my FIL passing……This time it will be for 4 instead of two….Otherwise, I will hear in the next few days and not have to beg for your Divine interference.

Love you as always,

Kap (Kathie)

John Says:
Hello Kathie Kaperino
I haven’t heard anything back from them and I am hoping that he continues to do well. I asked the CARE Team to help them and from what I understand they are working with them at the moment. I hope KRHpee is reading this and maybe he can tell us how he is doing.

We don’t send replies back with booking confirmation for the steakhouse reservations but if you tell me the ship and the confirmed date you want to eat there I will make sure your reservation is taken care of.

I was sorry to hear about the passing of your father in law. Please accept my deepest sympathies regardless. Thanks for the memories of the fun we had in Ocho Rios on BC2 and please let me know about your next cruise if you need my help.
Best wishes
John

Steve O Asked:
Dear John (please respond when you can)

I promised myself I would never do this BUT……dear Sis and I are sailing with you and “slightly handsome Craig” onboard Carnival Fantasy, May 8 from Mobile…..I’m calling it John’s UNOFFICIAL Mini-Blogger’s Thingy…..and there will be some other people you also know…..we’re excited about being with you and your personal assistant once again…..and wondering if you could help us….here comes the part I promised I wouldn’t do…..secure a table for 2? We are confirmed for 8:15pm and don’t care which dining room (big of us huh?). This will be our first time on a Fantasy class ship and the “word” is that there are very few tables for two.

I am usually able to secure a two top by speaking with the Maitre D’ onboard but this could speed things up. Thanks ever so much John for whatever you, the WORLD’S GREATEST CD”, can do for us 🙂

Linda CATLEDGE — Cabin — “GS” = El Grande
Steven OWEN —- Cabin — “1A” = El Cheapo
Our bookings are cross referenced of course.

Hey, we booked with Jorge Solano’s daughter Vanessa, she’s a peach! Isn’t Jorge the CD that has stolen most all of “your material”? …..haven’t they all?

I feel so sorry for Craig having to “do” your personal laundry each and every evening…. but that is part of being your assistant. Do you want us to bring you a case of nice, new underpants on May 8th? We’d be happy to do that for YOU…..and I’m pretty SURE Craig would be happy too!

Be seeing you guys on May 8th,
Your OLD friend (and now “asker-of-favors”)
Steve O

John Says:
Hello Steve O

I am glad that so many of my friends are sailing with me on the Carnival Fantasy on May 8. It will be my first cruise as CD on that ship since 1992 and I am very much looking forward to it. I know lots of bloggers have booked just to sail with me and I am so grateful for that so of course I will be happy to ask my friends the Maitre Ds there to assist you with your request.

George Solano is indeed wanted by the DEA……of for DEA…….Doing Everyone’s Act …….and Vanessa is indeed his daughter and the apple of Jorge’s eye. I would send your best to Ugly Craig but he is busy trying to wash a very stubborn stain out of my underpants at the moment.
See you soon
Best wishes to all
John

Sarah Asked:
John, please reply

I am sailing on the Carnival Legend this October. It will be my 4th cruise with Carnival. When will the details about Halloween celebrations be out? I already have my costume and I am looking forward to it! But since we are arriving back in Tampa on Halloween, I want to make sure that Carnival will be celebrating Halloween on the prior cruises, in addition to trying to determine what night it would celebrated. I know that you are going to publish the updated CD schedule soon and I’m anxious for that as well.

Also, I just want to congratulate all the staff that we’ve met on our Carnival cruises. From waiters to room stewards and photographers to entertainment staff, they have all been friendly, helpful, outgoing and truly concerned that we were having a good experience. I love the ships and the activities but the crew is what really keeps me coming back. Our favorite by far was our waiter on the Inspiration in Jan. ‘06. His name was Catalin but he went by Bobby and I believe he was from Romania. We ran into him again on the Legend in Oct. ‘07, but I have no idea if he is still with Carnival. He absolutely made my grandma’s cruise and she still talks about him to this day.

Btw, my brother and his girlfriend (their first cruise) sailed with you when you were on the Legend last October and they had a wonderful cruise. As you can see, we tell everyone that we know how much we enjoy our cruises!

John Says:
Hello Sarah
Halloween is a fun time but it is extra special when celebrated on a Carnival ship. We make a big deal about this and have a chap called Tim in the office who each year keeps improving this fun event. He will be sending me details of what is happening this year and as soon as he does I will post them here on the blog thingy. I will also be posting the updated CD schedule as soon as I have it.
Thanks so much for taking the time to write about our iconic crew and it is sometimes difficult to forget that with all the bells and whistles we have on our ships that they are still what makes Carnival so much fun.
I checked on your favourite waiter “Bobbi” and he is indeed still working for us and is currently serving guests on the Carnival Elation. I will pass on your kind words. Thanks for spreading the word about Carnival and I hope that we get to sail together soon.
My best wishes to you and all the family
John

Maribeth Kring Asked:
Dear John, PLEASE REPLY

Grrrr….I’m so mad! We had some new neighbors move into the area last summer. They’ve been wonderful and fun people but we just haven’t had the chance to spend much time together due to our schedules. Well, Mark, Pam, Laura and I got together last night for a little while.

The time I spent with you on Sunday came up in the conversation and we all decided that we are going to
Try to find a way to all go on a cruise together!

One problem……they prefer…..emmm…ahhh….that other line…you know, the one my daughter, Laura got in trouble for saying on Sunday. lol

They say they won’t go on Carnival because it’s “just a party boat with too many kids”!!! I asked them when the last time they went on Carnival was and they said…..(yep, you see this coming right?) …..NEVER! Will this bad rep EVER end???
I now have a mission in life….I WILL convert Mark & Pam. I am determined and, like the Borg, resistance is futile!

Any facts and figures you might have access to about the general demographics of Carnival’s ships, especially out of Galveston would be a huge help in my mission.

Thanks a bunch.
Maribeth Kring
BELC

John Says:
Hello Maribeth King
No facts and figures but send them this please.

Hello Mark, Pam and Laura
First of all thank you for being such a great neighbor to Maribeth and Laura. God neighbors are not easy to find these days so you should be very proud of the fact that they think of you in this way.

I understand that you are under the impression that Carnival Cruise Lines offers a “party atmosphere” on our ships and that you unsure if you would have a good time onboard. Well, if by party you mean people of all ages having fun, laughing, eating great food and enjoying brilliantly fun service and living life to the full then yes………….this is where the party is at. All I can tell you as the company’s Senior Cruise Director and Brand Ambassador is that you should look at our prices and our affordability and then compare that to other lines. And then come and see for yourself and let me show you why we are the most popular cruise line in the world.
I hope to see you soon
Best wishes
John

BarbaraKing Asked:
HI JOHN-PLEASE PLEASE REPLY!!!!

After Princess cancelled the Mexican Riviera cruise that we were supposed to have our wedding on, I have been anxiously waiting for months now for Carnival to release the dates for the Mexican Baja short cruises (4 & 5 days) for May 2011. Both my friend Nikole and I are planning cruise weddings in May 2011 aboard one of Carnival’s cruises. Initially we were each going to do the Carnival Elation 5 day cruise to Cabo and we were both so excited that our weddings were going to be awesome. I am sure you can imagine the complete disappointment that we both had when we heard the announcement that the Cabo itinerary was not going to continue into 2011 and that the Carnival Elation was moving out of the West coast port.

Right now we are both so stressed over whether there will be any cruises at all to pick from or should we forget the whole cruise idea and start to look for an alternative wedding venue? This is really not something that either of us wants to do…we kind of have our hearts set on the cruise wedding as well as all of our guests!

I know you can’t reveal top secret Carnival itineraries until the bearded ones give you the go ahead but could you at least tell me whether I have any hope or am I wasting my time hoping for something that is NOT going to happen. Will there be ANY 4 or 5 day cruises at all during May 2011 leaving out of Long Beach? Not really picky about where it goes or which Carnival ship ….would be ecstatic if Cabo is added back in but will just be happy to be on any cruise and getting married!

I have been reading your blog thingy every day to try and find some hints written between the lines but the waiting and anticipation is killing me! Can you let me know something?

More than eagerly anticipating your reply!
BarbaraKing

John Says:
Hello Barbara King
I can understand how important it is that you know the dates and itineraries as soon as possible. Planning a wedding is a very stressful at the best of times without not knowing when you can confirm the date. I will send this off to Terry our senior vice president who is a great friend of the blog thingy and I promise you that as soon as he is able to tell me……he will. Please keep reading the blog and I hope to have news for you soon.
Best wishes
John

Lisa Asked:
John, please reply if you wish

Just got off the Carnival Glory on 3/21-3/28. I know you appreciate comments and I thought I’d share a few – mostly good.

James the cruise director was a delight. Very personable. Nice sense of humor that wasn’t “over the top” but quite funny at the right times.

Fantastic meal at the steakhouse! The comedy club was great. Saw all 4 comediennes (enjoyed 3 out of the 4).

Our wait staff Rody and Lucie were extraordinary. Not only did we get great service but every night they gave us a rundown on the next day’s timing for all meals. They never failed to ask about our day and if someone from our table didn’t show up, they asked if everything was ok. They were wonderful!

All employees were pleasant and everyone spoke. You didn’t walk down a hall or get in an elevator without someone saying hello or good morning.

So much more good stuff. It was a fantastic cruise.

Only a few issues I’d like to comment on.

Our room was cleaned every day. However, we seldom saw the room steward. When we did see him he did say good morning. He never called us by name (which I had come to expect). And the most disappointing thing about our room was the towel animals we had come to expect. We went two days before we got an animal. And then we got them about every other day. Sometimes he’d just take the animal from the previous night and put it back on the bed. A silly complaint I know.

I thought the muster drill was chaotic. When we cruised last fall everyone had to take their life jacket to the lounge. I loved the idea of not having to drag my life jacket. However, this time we all lined up in the hall by the lifeboats, 4 people deep. You couldn’t see the person demonstrating. The FunTimes said the drill would be at 3:15. Wanted to make sure we were there and had time to take an elevator because of some mobility issues. The drill started late and wasn’t over til 4:15. People kept coming and as the drill was finishing people were still walking by.

And finally…..one thing I thought was odd. We had so much free food on the ship, free entertainment. But yet there’s a $1.50 charge for popcorn. Just thought that was odd.

Looking forward to another wonderful cruise sometime in the future!

Lisa

John Says:
Hello Lisa
Thanks for the review and the kind words about James Charlton who is one of our new stars and will one day become a firmly established cruise director. I was sorry though to read about your stateroom steward who did not it seems meet your expectations based on previous cruises. I found this very surprising as usually this crew member is one of the highlights of the cruise. Thank you though for telling me and my apologies for this.

I am sure the captain will be interested in your comments on the drill. Safety is our number one priority just ahead of “fun” and we have made some changes including guests not needing to wear their life jackets at the drill. I wonder if your Carnival Glory cruise was your first on this class of ship. I know on the Fantasy class that guests are mustered in lounges as they are on Dream class as well. Regardless, I will send your comments to the ship. I am glad overall you had fun and as for the popcorn………well I agree 100% that we should not charge for it …………… and I will continue my campaign to make it so.
Thanks again and best wishes
John

Fred Asked:
John (please reply),

I have just returned from a fantastic cruise aboard the Carnival Dream on 3/20. I was very upset when I learned that was the very day you were leaving the ship!

After having such a great time in the Caribbean, I decided to see if we could change our next cruise coming up on the Carnival Glory to Canada to another Caribbean cruise. After inquiring with a PVP, I was told that this was possible, as I am still months away from my final payment being due, but that I would have to pay an extra $50 per person administrative fee to change.

I did book the early saver rate, and understand that there are certain terms and conditions associated with the lower fare; however I fail to understand how Carnival would benefit from charging me to simply change a sailing date, especially before final payment. Plus the cruise I wanted to change to was even more expensive and longer than the original one!

I chose to keep my sailing on the Glory as a matter of principle and I am sure we will have a great time, as we have had on our six prior Carnival cruises. However, in the future I will definitely think twice before booking a cruise on Carnival when I can go to a competitor and have the ability to change the sailing before the final payment for no extra fee.

Hopefully you can pass this along to someone who can perhaps re-think what I think is a bad business decision for Carnival.

All the best,
Fred

John Says:
Hello Fred
I know that the early saver rate has some restrictions and I will not pretend to understand them all. That’s why I am glad you took the time to write to me so I can send your concerns to the people who do have all the answers.

We don’t want you to consider leaving us especially after all the fun you had on your Carnival Dream so please remember those great times while I pass on your posting to our CARE Team.
Best wishes
John

That’s all for today and I will be back on Monday with more. Thanks as always for the many comments this week and the 60,000 slaps on the blog. The current total hits are more than 6.3 million.

Just before we crack on I do want to post something from the incident report this week on the Carnival Conquest.

From: CONQUEST GROUPS COORDINATOR
Sent: Thursday, April 22, 2010 8:10 PM
To: CONQUEST CRUISE DIRECTOR; CONQUEST ASSISTANT CRUISE DIRECTOR
Cc: CONQUEST GUEST SERVICES MANAGER
Subject: Cruise Critics Meet

Good Evening,

Please see the bellow Crs.

NOT HAPPY WITH ARRANGMENTS
Ms. ———– came at the desk and complained that arrangements that were made for Cruise Critics Meet were not what she expected. She claimed that there were not refreshments provided for them as they received on Royal Caribbean Cruise line. And half of the group did not show up because were not aware of the meeting. GC apologized for inconvenience and explained that nothing was in the memo and her request was accommodated by announcing the meeting in the Fun Times.

Regards,

Svetlana
Groups Services Coordinator
Carnival Conquest

I have not posted the lady’s name as I don’t want to make this a big thing but I do want to say that while I am happy to arrange meetings and place that in the Capers I am sorry to …………… bugger……………in the Fun Times I am sorry that we will not be providing food or drink at these gatherings unless we have a cash bar with guests using their own Sail and Sign cards. If this is the case I will be happy to arrange the appropriate bar service.

Most Cruise Critic readers understand this but it seems that the last few days I have read that there are further expectations at these functions. I will always try and come myself but often they arranged at a time when I am on stage or busy elsewhere. So, I am here to help organize a Cruise Critic meet and greet and may I ask that where possible you ask one of the “hosts” to contact me. If Mach, Randy etc do this then there will be no confusion and it will be done. Thanks for your kind understanding and thanks to all the Cruise Critic readers, you are very important to the continuing success of the industry.

I want to say hello to those of my blogger friends who were on the Carnival Ecstasy during its emergency maneuver two days ago. I read some of your accounts and I can understand just how frightening it must have been for you. Please again accept my apologies and thank you for being so understanding If there is anything you would like to tell me or anything I can do for you please let me know here on the blog thingy.

Now it is time to meet Carnival’s 347th best comedian for another ta……….oh hold on ……….. OK, I was just told we hired an 88 year old man from Stinking Creek, Kentucky who can fart the national anthem……so here then is Carnival’s 348th best comedian…..Mr. Al Ernst and another ……………Alivers Travels.

Hello Bloggers
I know that it was overdue for an entry of ‘Alivers Travels’…I wanted to wait and give you my experiences from my trip to LA (and that is not lower Alabama). I got to be a part of a pilot for a network. After one of the coolest, but most boring amount of time I have spent in a number of years, I have decided to wait and write another day about that. My time last week on the Pride still is on my mind.

Due to the kindness, and willingness to serve the guests, the Cruise Director Kirk Benning allows me to deliver a “mini-seminar” to our guests, and then participate in what I call our “Comedy Fantasy Camp,” but goes by the name of “Pride Open Mike Night”…and really constitutes the Carnival Comedy Challenge.

While this is not a contest, the show gives an opportunity for the guests to actually get on stage and do standup comedy. Anyone who attends our seminar which is titled “Laugh Power – Think like a Comedian, Act with Confidence” gets the chance to actually see how it feels to spend a few minutes on stage with the lights, crowd, microphone, and most important…see if they are funny.

We have done about eight of these shows and seminars aboard the Carnival Pride, which makes its home base in Baltimore. As this has developed, I have probably had the greatest time since I made the decision to be an entertainer. We have had any number of great stories about the guests who now not only get entertained, but those who actually feel the thrill of the stage.

Let me give you one quick story…Our seminar normally takes place on the second sea day in the afternoon, so in order to attend, you do have to make an effort, especially with so many activities on the ship. It runs about 30 minutes, and briefly goes through the full three-hour seminar that I now do for groups. LaughPower! Is a way to go through life using many of the techniques that comedians use a live a more confident and happy life. One of our bits is “Know Your Material, But Be Ready to Improv.”

Meaning that just like life, comedians do come to the show with a plan and direction, but are always feel the audience, and know how to adjust and improv their show.
Once this time is over, we keep anyone who may want to do a 3-5 minute set on stage. We help them design their set, and give them some pointers, and ideas of what to expect.

Last week we had one gentleman, we will call him Dan (as I have not checked with him to see if he wanted me to write about him). Dan seemed very interested during the seminar, but I had not picked him in my mind as a guy who would want to “go up.” He stayed, filled out the forms, and because he seemed a little nervous, I guess I thought he would just “hang in there.”

When I arrived in the lounge, 45 minutes early, I was surprised to see that Dan was already there, notes in hand. We had 10 acts that night, so I placed him seventh.
The show started great, and we had a full house, even for a late night show with a port day coming. The “Comedy Craftsmen” all did well, with a good crowd and having a good time, and then I introduced Dan to the stage.

He glanced at his notes one last time, and began strong, as the beads of sweat started for him. He did a great job, and the crowd gave him a huge ovation. The show concluded with even some of the Prides cruise staff going on stage as well. All in all, one of our best “challenges” ever. It was after the show that touched my soul and made my week.

Dan and his wife came to me with tears in their eyes…telling me his story of overcoming many life physical challenges and those they were newly married. He then went on to explain how this was one of his “life’s dreams” and wasn’t sure he would ever get the chance, especially on a cruise. Not only had this made their cruise, but he had just done one of his major accomplishments on his “bucket list.” By this time, I had tears in my eyes, and told him that he did it himself. He had courage, and really decided to “live his life in full.” They were so very nice to me, and just thanked me again and again for doing this event. That I my story and LaughPower was the inspiration he needed to do this. They went on to say that he was going to frame his “Carnival Medal” when he got home.

To not sound cheesy, but I just understand why we do what we do. Yeah, I think I am going to frame that picture too…to know that you do not have to be a “star” as an entertainer. You just have to be you…and give what you got. It pays off when you least expect it. The true credit goes to Kirk, and the cruise staff who give their off time, and work extra to make this event happen. Without their time, work and support, this would never happen. Way to go PRIDE STAFF!

Maybe next blog I will brag about being on TV…ha…but right now I would rather brag about being a part of someone’s “bucket list.” It made my year. Till next adventure…may you choose to live “life in full.”

-Al E Man Ernst.

Thanks Al. You know, Al is unique in two special ways. He, more than any other fly on entertainer at Carnival is prepared to do the extra, you know, the stuff not on the schedule of shows he is required to do. The seminars as he described above along with his brilliant “Power of P” lecture and the one on one interaction he does with guests is what makes Al stand out from the entertainment crowd and that is why he is on every cruise director’s most wanted list to perform on the ship that they are on. The second thing that makes him unique….. is that he has three testicles.

Well, I went to bed late and I am up very early. Here is why.

At 9 pm the captain called me to say that we were having a technical problem with the port side engine and that we were running at reduced speed. If we were not able to repair whatever was broken we were looking at a very late arrival in Cozumel, well past our 10 am scheduled time.

Oh joy.

I was just on my way to the bridge when my phone rang and this time it was the entertainment technician to tell me that the Point and Click show had stopped because one of the set pieces called a “riser” had stuck and would not go down. So, now what. I have been called to the bridge by the captain yet the show had stopped and I needed to let the guests know what was happening.

And so I ran……OK…..I walked fast…back to the showroom and made an apology announcement to the audience. Then I waited. There is little I can do in a situation like this except let the technicians do their thing and make sure that the dancers, musicians and singers are all in place ready to start immediately the problem is resolved. And it was 8 minutes after the stoppage.

So, after I restarted the show by explaining to the audience how frustrating this was for the cast who are full of energy and then have to stop and therefore asked them to give them a big round of applause, which they did, I ran…………..OK I took the elevator to the bridge.

There I met the captain who was doing what I had been doing moments ago with the back stage technicians……he was waiting………waiting for the chief engineer and his team to do their thing.

Meanwhile, we did what we had to do. The captain informed the Miami office while I spoke with various department heads to keep them informed as to what was happening.

I always want to give as much information as I possibly can to the guests, as well. I know from experience how frustrating it is not to be told why something is happening.

However, in this case with so much uncertainty we weren’t really sure what to say. All the hotel functions such as air conditioning, lighting etc were normal so nobody was aware that we were doing 13 knots and not 21 as normal between Grand Cayman and Cozumel. It was also elegant night and people were finishing dinner or at the show and we had no details as to how this would affect our arrival.

Well, it turned out to be the right choice because our brilliant………..and I mean he really is brilliant…………Chief Engineer Walter Ambrogini repaired whatever was broken and we resumed full speed at around 10:30pm.

This does mean though that we will be a little late into Cozumel. It’s now 7:20am and at around 8:30am I will tell the guests that due to a technical problem in the night we have the following arrival and departure times.

OLD ARRIVAL TIME 10:00AM
NEW ARRIVAL TIME 10:45AM
OLD BACK ON BOARD TIME 5:30PM
NEW BACK ON BOARD TIME 6:30PM

So, I am sure that this will be accepted well by the guests and we can still run all our planned excursions including those to the mainland such as the Mayan Ruins Tulum tour.
Yep, it was an eventful night and thanks to great team work by the technicians and the engineers the show…………….and the cruise…………..goes on.

Well, it’s been a great week of weather for the guests and I have met many who have told me how fantastic this cruise has been. I have never had so many letters for the Morning Show in fact I had to schedule an extra afternoon show yesterday in Grand Cayman after our departure. I thought I would share these two letters with you.

As I have said, I met many wonderful guests this cruise but I think my favourites have to be Jim and Grace. Here they are

Jim and Grace have been married for 60 years and are on their first-ever cruise. In fact, they are on their first ever proper vacation. Let me explain why. The Acklands are from Midland, Texas. The cruise was paid for by their children………….all 53 of them. Yep, they have, over a period of 38 years been foster parents for 53 children and to celebrate their 60-year wedding anniversary their extended family got them a cruise. Grace is in a wheelchair now but she told me that this cruise was so special and that she was having the time of her life.

I am sure that they made a huge difference in the lives of those 53 children and how wonderful of them that they chose to say thank you by sending them here. I have been looking after them this week and how honoured we are to have them with us.

I was hoping to announce the details of Bloggers Cruise 4 today but I need a few more days to confirm everything and get the fare code thingy ready. So, on Monday I will post the information on where and when we are going.

Yesterday I was asked for my autograph in a very strange place. Before I tell you about that let me tell you about the two times I have asked for an autograph in my life.

The first time was on the Fantasy in 1991. The ship had been chartered by IBM Latin America and they had paid for the one and only Julio Iglesias to come and sing. I was a young CD and I was so excited to meet him. Not for me you understand. If any of my friends had discovered I listened to his music I would have been ridiculed and probably would have ended up having a close up look at the inside of a toilet.

No, the reason I wanted an autograph from Mr. Julio was for my Mum who for some reason loved his slightly girly music. So, I had a cassette……. remember cassettes…….of his album ready for him to sign. He arrived in Nassau for his one night only show and I met him along with the Chief Purser Francine at the gangway. I had decided that I would ask him once I had escorted him to the lounge where his band were waiting for his rehearsal and as we whisked him through the crew only areas to avoid the guests we came to the elevator and I seized my chance.

I asked him for an autograph saying it was for my “Mum” …… and he told me to “bugger off.” Well, actually he just shook his head and muttered something in Spanish which I am sure was el buggero offo. Now, I had two choices. 1) Kick the sparkly jacket wearing sod in the bollocks. 2) Stand there, hoping around from one foot to the other apologizing for daring to ask him to write his name on a cassette box.

You can guess which one I chose although in my defence the fact that I didn’t kick him in el bollockos was because of his minder whose neck was the size of me. But I was really upset and I guess I was not the only one because that night at the show, he started late, finished early and threw a stool at his drummer……….he was a total wanker!

Fast forward to 2007 and a story I have shared in the blog thingy before. While on the Carnival Freedom in Europe we were joined by Howie Mandel the host of Deal or no Deal. He was very elusive and did not which is fine, he is on vacation and that’s understandable. I had not seen him much during the cruise and one day I received a letter from a guest who told me that she was a huge fan of the show and that she had asked Mr. Mandel for an autograph and that he had refused.

The lady in question……and I will never forget this…….was 82 years old. I even remember her first name was Doris…..such is this event so vivid in my mind. So, I said I would see what I could do. Later that night Heidi and I saw Mr. Mandel on the Lido Deck at alternative dining and I walked over and introduced myself as the CD etc and he just gave me a blank stare. I asked him if he was having a good time and if there was anything I could do for him etc. He said very few words……..again……that’s fine, I respect that, it’s his vacation. I then asked him if I could possibly get him to sign an autograph for Doris, explaining that she was 82 and a huge fan. Again, my memory of this is so vivid and he told me “no”………nothing else…..he just said “no” ….shook his head and carried on eating his dinner.

I was so angry, I mean really angry. Why had he refused poor Doris? She had made him a celebrity by watching his programs so therefore it was his duty to drop everything, including the braised short ribs he was shoveling down his throat but he didn’t……..all I got was a “no” and Doris never got her autograph. What a total follicle challenged bastard.

Now, I am not comparing my life to the bald game show host but I do get asked to sign things all the time. I still remember the first time I was asked for an autograph. It was a middle aged lady guest after my debarkation talk on the Carnival and I sank to my knees in a mixture of shock, deep pleasure and eternal gratitude. I wanted to bask forever in the turbulence of her magnificence. “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you,” I said, clinging onto her ankles with one hand and writing how much I loved her with the other.

And I have never stopped appreciating how wonderful it is to be asked to sign ones name, even yesterday afternoon. I walked through the lobby after my morning show and suddenly got the urge to pee………badly. And so knowing I would not make it back to the cabin I walked into the guest bathroom in the lobby. I was standing at the urinals pointing Percy at the porcelain when a young lad came up, tapped me on the back and presenting me with his Camp Carnival autograph book said “Can you sign this for my scavenger hunt.” And I did and the wet patch that appeared on my pants was a small price to pay to make this kid happy.

So, although I don’t pretend to be famous I do know that when people ask me for a photo or an autograph it’s because they have enjoyed what I have done………it’s when they stop asking ………. that’s when I need to worry.

I will see you on Monday

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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