Well Done… On the Outside, At Least

June 18, 2010 -

John Heald

PA 007 our Super Spy sent me an email yesterday telling me that Carnival’s Facebook page thingy has a stunning 160,000 friends on it…………..that’s one hundred and sixty thousand!

This is quite extraordinary and the fact that PA 007 sent me this was made all the more poignant because I also read that the bible of words “The Oxford Dictionary” have made one of their top five new words of the year……..“unfriend.” Hearing this news I’m what you would call “unbothered.”

I know I share my life with you here on the blog thingy but I do so because…. well…….it’s what I love to do. But just because the “Facebook thingy generation” manages to stick a prefix on a noun and use it as a verb…..they get the word “unfriend” in the dictionary where as I have tried to have far more important words like “thingy” and “sodding” in there……..and failed. There are I suppose many millions of Facebook users. And I have to ask, is “unfriend” the best they can do?

For those of us who don’t follow internet speak, the word is supposed to describe removing someone as a “friend” on a social networking website. But surely it should be “defriend” or if you want to do it properly and really get rid of someone from your page why not just type “f**k off”?

And, anyway, they’re not technically “friends,” are they, since they don’t matter enough to see in person and are merely an audience for photos you post of what you had for dinner and cruise on your Carnival Dream.

I am no scholar of the English language but isn’t putting “un” in front of a word just wrong? What if we said something was ungood rather than bad, unpretty rather than ugly or unCarnival when describing a bad cruise on the “anything of the unseas?” Still, some “un” concepts would be nice. I’m sure we’d all like to unspend the money my wife wasted on that sodding coffee machine or unwatch the Sex and the City 2……and unrumpy unpumpy that Spanish girl with hairy armpits that I met on holiday in 1989.

Anyway, there is no doubt that Carnival’s Facebook page thingy is hugely popular and here is the link if you would like to have a read of what people are saying.

www.facebook.com/Carnival

Actually, maybe I should go and unwrite this blog……..but not before today’s questions…….. off we go.

Amy Asked:
Please reply (I sure hope that works)

Hello, my husband & I will be returning to cruising in November with my son who will be 2 & 2 days. 😮 ) We previously cruised with “the competition” & were less than satisfied so we are giving Carnival a go. Leaving from Baltimore is a definite PLUS as is the Beatles tribute. Now for the question(s):

Is the tribute done on all cruises? Is it family friendly (early enough & well clean enough)? You see at 18 months old, my son is already a big Beatles fan…

Also can you do anything to help my husband have a better time – Just wondering? We paid over time & are still saving for this trip – I don’t want him to be a miserable moper. 24N6N7

Thanks in advance for the answers & anything that you can do with my husband & son.

Well wishes to you & yours.
Amy

John Says:
Hello Amy

Yes indeed it worked and I am glad you are returning to the fun filled world of cruising. I was sorry to read that you didn’t have a good first impression with the cruise line you first tried and I am very happy that you and the family will be trying Carnival on the beautiful Carnival Pride.

I can picture your 2 year old in November twisting and shouting and singing along to Hey Jude.

Yes, the show which is called Ticket to Ride is performed every cruise and is very much a family friendly show. In fact, during the finale your son will get a little something to help us out…….I have feeling he is going to like that very much. Please can you post again here on the blog with the ship and stateroom number and sailing date? I suggest you do this one month before you sail so I can send you a little welcome to Carnival gift.

Until then I send best wishes to you all
John

Elizabeth Asked:
Please reply.

We just got off the Ecstasy. Or rolled off because the food was so very good!

I have a compliment and a question. First, my thanks to Marta in Guest Services. I had many, many questions and she very kindly and patiently answered them. I am now set for another cruise.

The question is why a band concert could not be publically announced. The Galveston Ball High School Band took their spring trip on the Ecstasy. This fantastically well behaved group gave an onboard concert. We only found out about it when one of the guys invited us. It seems that it should have been announced. This group was badly damaged by hurricane Ike. They lost most of their instruments and half their members but have made an excellent comeback. They should have been rewarded.

Elizabeth

John Says:
Hello Elizabeth

Welcome back from your cruise and I am sorry that we piled on a few pounds. We have many private music groups who sail with us each week across the fleet and while many are excellent and fit for all guests to see some are not which is why we ask them to contact our Miami office and a chap called Tim Cabral who will give permission for this to happen and work hard to meet any technical needs they may ask for.

If they do this then we can promote them accordingly, however if not then the ships are under strict notice not to advertise them. However, I am sure that the High School Band was fantastic and I am so glad that you got a chance to hear them. Thanks so much for your compliments to Marta at the Guests Services Desk and I will make sure she sees your words of praise.

Best wishes
John

S. B. Abbott Asked:
Dearest John,

Please Reply (when you can; but before 7/1)

I just love your blog thingy and glad you had some time in Galveston, albeit you didn’t get to spend time on the island. I’m glad you got to experience some Southern Hospitality.

My family and friends are sailing out of Galveston aboard The Ecstasy (Booking 37R1BG) on July 1st. I have two quick questions: Knowing that this ship is registered in Panama, and Carnival has international guest, will Carnival do anything for Independence Day, July 4th? This will be our last Fun Day at Sea and is usually the Fiesta Deck Party with Mexican food. I have thought of decorating our group’s doors with some fun facts about Independence Day, I’ve noticed on the Cruise Critic blogs that Carnival doesn’t frown upon decorations. (Thanks!)

Last question; how do I go about reserving a galley tour for my mother & myself? Years ago, she was fortunate enough to spend time aboard the Texas Clipper before she was transferred to TPWD Artificial Reef Program. She sailed with the Texas Maritime Academy as a guest and has been fascinated by sailing since. I know it would mean a lot to her if we could see behind the scenes on the Ecstasy.

Warmest Regards,
sba

John Says:
Hello S.B.Abbott

I did indeed enjoy so much my time in Texas and onboard the Carnival Conquest. Regardless of the where the ship is registered there will indeed be celebrations across the fleet on July 4. Unfortunately the usual main attraction of these events on land, the fireworks are of course forbidden onboard by the men and women with beards and high visibility jackets. However, Steve Cassel your CD and the dining room staff will help you celebrate and enjoy a brilliant 4th of July cruise.

We certainly have no problem with you decorating your stateroom door and I think that would be a nice touch indeed. The Behind the Fun tour is available on the ship and will include a comprehensive look in the galley. May I suggest you book this early by doing so as soon as you arrive onboard at the guest services desk. I wish I could reserve tickets for you here but unfortunately I am not able to do so. I do hope you have a great time and please write when you get home and tell us all about it.

Best wishes to all
John

Maurene (yes spelled that way) Asked:
Hello John. -please reply in 3-4 weeks 😉

We are back from our cruise on board the Carnival Liberty May 15-22 2010.

The 5 of us travelling had a blast! MY husband and I took our 23 month old daughter (you were right was a great place for her!), his brother and my friend with us.

We booked the Captains suite and an inside cabin with a crib.

I have to admit when we booked the inside cabin with a crib I figured they would remove one of the beds and install the crib instead. This did not happen, my brother in law had a king sized bed and the crib was smushed against the wall but the door. Not the best position as my little troublemaker could reach the light switch. I swear it took her less than 5 minutes on the first day to figure it out, as she loves pushing buttons. For the remainder of the cruise we would put her down for a nap and every single time go back 5 minutes later to tell her to lie back down and to turn the light back out! Perhaps there is a better position for cribs to go in the rooms? lol

Our entire cruise was fantastic, as I mentioned we booked the captains suite and it was gorgeous and roomy. Spent a lot of time out on the balcony or just staring out the front 5 windows. Had several laughs when turning on the channels that show what the front camera sees we would simply turn around to confirm it was accurate! 🙂

I have only a few comments, most of which I realize probably nothing can be done about.

Firstly… the refrigerators in the room… could they not be an inch deeper so that a room service plate will fit in and the door will actually shut?? We ordered a bon voyage cake but did not finish it all on the first night. It would not fit in the fridge (after we had the cabin steward remove the $300 worth of product filling it) so it sat out and the remainder did not get eaten because it looked… horrible after a few days of Caribbean heat. One would think that they might have taken into consideration people would want to put stuff in these fridges. Guess not.

Secondly… I realize it is a big ship and lots of people, but the wait for room service is horrendous. Might as well order a pizza from shore, it might get there quicker. Having our daughter on board we needed to have milk for her bedtime so we would order 6 cartons almost every day. These took generally 45 minutes to an hour to arrive. After the first couple times we did start ordering it before we needed it but still that is an awful long time to wait. My hubby ordered potato chips (no preparation needed) and they still took 45 minutes to show up. I realize when we order something that needs to be prepared it is going to take a bit of time, but dumping chips on a plate?

Thirdly… Butch was awesome! I left him a message like you suggested when I got on board, and caught up with him the next day. Unfortunately he had just got back from vacation so had no clue what I was talking about and said had not heard form you. But he went through his files and sent me some former scavenger hunts they had done and 2 pure gold plastic ships on a stick.

I just want to close with a thank you. Thank you for your advice and thank you for your help. We all tremendously enjoyed our cruise (though our flight home is another story.. for another time! Suffice it to say we eventually made it home, but our luggage took a few extra days vacation in Miami!)

Do not stop blogging! I was “jonesing” while on board ship because I could not get my John Heald fix! I left you a previous message about not letting one bad apple spoil the barrel. I want you to follow that advice! Lord love a duck, you have been in the customer service industry long enough to know you can’t please everyone and if you try you will go grey early… ermm.. You will stress yourself out! lol

Keep blogging and bringing a smile to millions… ok well thousands!! 🙂

We love ya John keep it up!

John Says:
Hello Maureen (yes spelled that way)

Welcome back from your suite cruise and it looks like you had a great time. I read your review very carefully and I know exactly what you mean about buttons and switches……Kye has just discovered them and my Raspberry is now her favourite toy.

I have not heard the comment about the fridge before but it makes sense that you would like to put larger items in there. The thing is I doubt we will be able to change as they are fitted into the cabin decor and are actually more mini bars than fridges. However, I will certainly pass your thoughts up the line for consideration on future vessels.

Room service is complimentary and as a frequent user of this myself when I am onboard I know that at peak times when many of the 3,600 guests are ordering it can be very busy. It’s a question of manning of course and we have 7 staff members committed to room service but as you can imagine when it is busy there is preparation time and then the walk from room service which on the Conquest class is on deck 7 aft to wherever the state room that ordered is. There is sometimes a wait. May I suggest to you and to anyone else with a child, if you ask your dining room staff at the end of dinner they will provide you with cartons of milk to take back to the cabin and these cartons will fit in the state room fridge. My apologies though for the wait.

Thank you so much for the kind words. I know travelling with a youngster can be a wee bit stressful so I hope you had the best of times. I am always here to help and I hope we will get to sail together with each other very soon

Best wishes to you and all the family
John

Groovecruiser Asked:

I just read a comment on Cruise Critic by a Mr Pete who comments that you are so big because you are so full of yourself and it upset me. I am a big person myself and found his remark hurtful and I know having cruised with you 5 times that you are not full of yourself. My question is how do you handle the hurtful things people say to you. I was bullied at school and still am teased all the time at work. Keep up the great work and see you on bloggers cruise on the Glory.

Sue

John Says:
Hello Groovecruiser

I am so very sorry that you had to endure bullying at school. I hope the people that did this to you when you were young have realised how disgusting it was that they did so. If there is one thing I hate its bullying and victimisation. If this is happening to you at work you really have to tell someone in authority. Life is too short to wake up in the morning and dread having to go to work for fear of the teasing you have to endure.

I put myself in the public eye and because of that people such as Mr Pete have the absolute right to have an opinion, good or bad about me. The reason I am so big by the way is pie……..lots of pie. Our situations are different Sue and I hope that you can be strong and take whatever steps you need to in order for the teasing to stop. I am thinking of you and send you my very best wishes.

See you on BC4
John

Jeani Asked:
Dear John, (Please reply)

Know you have posted this info before, but I just can seem to find it. Can you please post again the dates that Heidi and Kye will be sailing with you? I believe you said September, but, don’t remember. My mom and I would love to book for when your family would be aboard with you. Please repost the info. Thank you for your time.

Jeani

John Says:
Hello Jenni

Thank you for taking the time to write and yes, the girls will be sailing with me from August 8 to mid September. I don’t have the actual date they will be leaving yet but it will be around the 15th. It would be an honour (spelt correctly) if you could join us. Best wishes to you and your family.

John

Randy G Asked:
Dear John – reply please

Just a quick question. Can you tell me if you serve children in the Steakhouse on the Liberty? I have two teens age 12 and 14. Are they allowed?

John Says:
Hello Randy G

Yes indeed they are and I am sure they will enjoy the experience of eating there as a family. Please let me know if you have any other questions and enjoy your cruise

Best wishes to all
John

Frank and Pauline Campbell Asked:
John please reply to this

We are about to book 4 cabins on the Magic in July but wanted to make sure you will be the Cruise Director as that is a deal breaker. Can you please confirm ASAP.

Thanks
Frank

John Says:
Hello Frank and Pauline Campbell

I will indeed be the Cruise Director of your Carnival Magic and am so honoured that you want to sail with me. I am very excited about this ship which along with the usual Carnival brilliance will have some new features that I am so desperate to tell you all about……….but can’t…………just yet.

I look forward to seeing you in Europe.

Best wishes to you both
John

Donald of Louisiana Asked:
John,

Thank you for your reply to my questions (although the picture of Kevin Noonan did not show).

You requested that I send you my booking number(s) or cabin number(s) for our booking and you would request a table in the center of the dining room.

Here is the info:

We are sailing on the Triumph on July 5, 2010

My son and I are booked in cabin 7270 with booking #30R7G7. My wife and daughter are booked in cabin 7268 with booking #31R0G0.

Is the forward or aft dining room better?

My son will be celebrating his birthday (he becomes a teenager) while we are on the ship.

Again, thank you for all that you do for the passengers on all the ships, not just yours.

John Says:
Hello Donald of Louisiana

That’s really strange. I wonder what happened to the photo of Noonan. Anyway, I don’t have one on this laptop thingy I am working on at home but I have contacted the Maitre D to request he helps you with the table assignment. Both dining rooms are superb and I will leave it to my friends the Maitre D’s to place you where they can. Please let me know all about your cruise when you get home.

Have a wonderful time

Best wishes to all
John

David Pratt Asked:
John please reply –

I’m not sure if this is the right place to post a new question… forgive me, if I’ve blundered.

My wife and I met you on the Carnival Freedom last August (we enjoyed your show so much we bought the DVD, and we watch it once in a while to remember what a great time we had). I was so happy for you when I found this blog.

A little side-story before my question: The August cruise was our second cruise and the first without our two teenage daughters. It was our first getaway alone on a real vacation (we never had a honeymoon). We celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary on that cruise. During that trip the stress of everyday life was carried off by the flying fish we saw from our balcony, and we were able to take a relaxed look at the priorities in our life. I had talked for years about going back to school for a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing (a long way from the engineering degree I have and never wanted – longer story, won’t burden you). While sitting in the lobby of the Freedom, drinking a scotch, and looking out at Cuba, I talked with my wife about our dreams. I don’t know if it was the ambiance, the live jazz playing in front of us, the closeness formed by being alone together for so long, or her margarita, but she looked at me and said “I think you should just do it.” So here’s a shout-out to the Vermont College of Fine Arts, where I am entering my second semester of their MFA program. Someday my wife and I will take the Freedom down to Costa Rica again and sit in that same lobby, in that same state of mind, and smile as we watch other passengers read my novels.

Nothing happens unless first a dream (Carl Sandburg).

No Costa Rica cruise for us this year, but we got on the Carnival website and found a deal on the Carnival Triumph sailing out of New Orleans on August 21st for our 18th anniversary – no kids again! (We adore them, of course, but a break is nice…). We used our tax refund and paid for everything up front – cruise, insurance, gratuities, transfers, etc. – all we need to worry about now is onboard spending (drinks, gift shop, etc.). My question is this: Is there a way to put money toward our on-board sail and sign account? I would love to just put $50 here and there toward that (rather than have a jar in the kitchen that’s too easily raided). It would be nice to have a few hundred already there – saved up a bit at a time. The closest I found was buying gift certificates, but those have to be mailed and then later redeemed – a bit of a hassle. Is there any way to just call up once in a while and put a few bucks toward our on-board account?

Thanks,
David and Kathleen Pratt

John Says:
Hello David and Kathleen Pratt

What a beautifully written posting and may I send you my warmest congratulations on following your dreams. It is also super to know that as you sat there in the lobby of the Carnival Freedom a wave of inspiration washed over you…………………what a brilliant story.

And soon you will be on the Carnival Triumph and if I understand your question correctly you want to put money on your Sail & Sign account before you get to the ship. I think the answer to this is unfortunately no as I am not aware of a way that this can be done. However, I have sent this to the guest services team to see if there is a way that they know. Someone will be in touch if this is indeed possible.

Meanwhile, could you send me your stateroom number as I feel the urge to send you something for following that dream especially as it was a dream inspired during a Carnival cruise?

My best wishes to you both
John

Tim Asked:
John, (please reply)

We just sailed the Carnival Miracle and am planning to sail her again in April 2011. How often do they change the shows? Ticket to ride was fantastic, but 2 years in a row is a bit much. We saw it on the Miracle in 2009 also. Also would like to know, once you are on the Carnival Magic, does that mean you are not coming back to the United States? Will you be on any other ships in the future? We met you in NY very briefly and since I don’t see us going to Europe any time in the future, we hold out hope in sometime meeting you again.

Thanks,
Tim

John Says:
Hello Tim

There really is no set time in replacing the big production shows. To do is a huge big job and cant be done in operation due to scenery and casting concerns. There are no plans to change the Ticket to Ride Show in the near future as it continues to be one of our most popular. I will indeed be on your Carnival Magic but before that I will be on a ship for February and March as CD and there is a very good chance that I will stay on the Carnival Glory after the Bloggers Cruise until I have to go to the ship yard. I will work on those dates and let you know soon. It certainly would be great to see you. Thanks for making the effort to come to our New York event, I hope you had fun.

Best wishes to all
John

That’s all for today and I will be back with more on Monday, so my usual Friday thanks meantime to everyone for their comments. Indeed, thanks to everyone for reading the blog thingy this week. I realise that I am not on a ship and my blogs are a bit different, so thanks again to everyone for staying with me.

In the past few weeks we have received a few negative comments stating that we didn’t do too much for those in the 18 – 20-year-old range. So in recent weeks I have been working with Chris Prideaux at Miami HQ and a group of Cruise Directors to work on activities specifically for this age group. Well, these last few weeks they have been tested on 5 of our ships and these were some of the activities we implemented.

  • 1st night meet and greet.
  • 2nd night arcade free play
  • 4th night Disco time
  • 5th night Hot Tub Party
  • 6th night Disco time
  • 7th night lido aft Glow Stick and Toga party

The reports from all the CD’s are essentially the same. Apart from the specific time allotted to them in the dance club all the activities were very poorly attended and this remember is when we have our highest counts of guests aged 18 -20. It seems that most are happy to interact with our regular adult events and attend all the shows, yet it was the 18-year-olds who were the most vocal. It seems many of them asked to be allowed into Club O2. The current age for this is 15 – 17.

Personally, I don’t think we should have the 18 year olds in the club………I could be wrong here but 15 year olds and 18 year olds together…….I don’t think that it will work. We will keep trying of course and I have urged the CD’s to keep promoting these events. So, here is the question of the day to anyone who cruises with 18 – 20 year olds. What do you think of what we are trying to do and if there is anything else we can do to improve………………..please let me know?

I hope you have been enjoying the photos of the ships I have been posting along with showing you some of the people who will be looking after you. I will continue with this next week and feature the Carnival Destiny, Carnival Ecstasy and Carnival Miracle. I also hope you have been enjoying the videos and judging by the views you have been. I have a video to show you today and it is because of this comment.

Grace Asked:
John please reply

John, last year on the Valor you had my Mother Betty on stage at your welcome show. She and my Father Ken have been married for 62 years and will be coming again with us on the Pride in July. My Father is in a wheelchair now at the age of 90 and I would ask if I can have a table close to the entrance of the dining room. You may remember my Mum as you put a video of her on YouTube as everyone for the cruise was calling her Grandma. I thought you night like to see the video again. She talks about you all the time so if you can send her a note while she is onboard I know it will make her feel special again

Thanks to you and our love to your dear family
Grace

John Says:
Hello Grace

It was wonderful to look at this video again so many thanks for taking the time to write. It brought back many happy memories of my time on the Carnival Valor and of course “Grandma.”

Please can you send me the cabin number that Mum and Dad will be in and of course we can arrange a table for you as requested? I will also do all I can to make their cruise special.

I hope to hear from you soon.

Best wishes to all
John

Now, here is the video that Grace is talking about…………I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Heidi had to cover Kye’s ears this morning as her Daddy was turning the air blue. Honestly, I think the world has gone mad…..absolutely one flew over the cuckoo’s nest stark raving bonkers. It was reported on the BBC news that a huge photograph outside a tourist attraction in London called Britain at War that shows Winston Churchill making the victory sign. Yet there is something strange about the great man’s mouth because the cigar between his lips had been painted out of the historic photograph. This has been ordered so not to promote smoking. I am not sure if I can find the words to say how angry this makes me…….and how utterly stupid this is. It’s the same as showing the camp fire scene from Blazing Saddles yet taking the fart noises out so all you have a re a group of cowboys lifting their bottoms slightly off the ground….. what a load of bollocks.

So today is a big day as both the United States and England play their second match at the world cup. In fact, with the time difference the matches may be over by the time you read this so let me say “well done USA, great game.”………..or “Unlucky there USA, you didn’t deserve to lose.”

Anyway, I have invited some friends around for a barbecue at Casa Heald tonight to have some food and watch the game. In olden days it was lighting a camp fire that gave men such huge pleasure but these days…….the king of all things fire is the barbecue.  At first I used to view barbecues as I did camping. Why sleep on the floor and defecate in a hole if you have a house, with running water and a bed? So why eat covered in ash when you have a cooker……and a wife?

But then things changed when I saw my friend Roger Blum in charge of his barbecue. He looked at peace with the world. So I bought a barbecue and it was a rite of passage along the same lines as my first rumpy pumpy and the day Kye was born………..especially as she was delivered with a pair of burger tongs.

Now I consider myself a barbecue expert and for any novices here on the blog thingy let me pass on some words of wisdom. When loading up the charcoal remember P for Plenty as the rule. However much you think you need…………..multiple that by four. The instruction booklet is very, very useful…………….as a firelighter.

Now for the cremating……..bugger…….I mean cooking. Nobody is allowed within 5 feet of the barbecue unless they are bringing me a Diet Coke. Anyone who wanders over and says “that chicken drumstick doesn’t look cooked” will have a hot fiery piece of charcoal shoved down the front of their underpants. A barbecue is not a democracy……it is the home of Chef Heald. The end.

I think all men feel like this. I was with my mate Danny at a barbecue party last year. He was at the barbecue when he suddenly had to take a pee. When he returned he found another chap at his barbecue turning the burgers over. The look on Danny’s face was as if he had walked in to find this chap having rumpy pumpy with his wife wearing only a chef’s hat. The rule here is that “thou shalt not covert another man’s barbecue.”

When women are responsible for the barbecue, their technique is to light the thing then leave it alone until it’s ready to cook on. Men? We stand there prodding and poking and sifting and stirring and generally fanning,…………..probably wearing a “wife beater” and carrying a huge knife……………like an Australian Tony Soprano.

I admit that sometimes my barbecue meat can be a little ………..umm…..different. My chicken has been known to be burnt on the outside and a bit on the raw side in the middle……………still, people can always eat the outsides ……….no big deal.

Still, at the end of the day, even though I will have a burnt face from cooking and there will be no food left for me and despite the fact that half of my guests will be at the ER later that night with chronic food poisoning………..I will be happy. I bet you all wish you were coming over ………………..don’t you?

See you on Monday

Goodnight,
Your friends
John, Heidi and Kye

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.