Petting…Mrs America

June 21, 2010 -

John Heald

There are a few cruise directors have what are called “office hours” where if members of the entertainment department have something they wish to discuss they can do so. These hours are known to the entire staff and anyone calling or knocking on the CD’s door outside of these hours is likely to get bugger all answer.

Now me, I don’t do this and used to have pretty much have an open door policy. Now obviously if they pop over at 2 am or before the sun is up then their bottom is likely to have a very close relationship with my foot. However, things have changed and I will explain why shortly.

Heidi taught me years ago when we were together on ships that we should always have the kettle ready to offer our cabin guests a cup of tea and a box of cookies………”We do this on land,” she used to say adding, “and we will be hospitable at sea as well.” And so we were and thus when a staff member popped over to say they were happy or that I was crap manager with no more right to be a cruise director then Judge Judy has to be on the front cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition………..they can do so over tea and cookies.

Yep, we always had a huge Tupperware box of cookies in the cabin and over the years I came to realise that cookies are the Devil’s work. They are the secret agents of obesity and my love of them was one of the main reasons I am sure that I have diabetes.  I would sit down at the computer, nibble on a Walkers shortbread or a chocolate chip cookie and oooh, look ………… suddenly I have ingested 800 calories which are sprinting like Usain Bolt right to my stomach. I would barely notice eating them, until one day I peed 23 times, drunk as many bottles of water and had a horrible fungus growing on my todger (www.urbandictionary.com for that English word I think)……………all signs of diabetes.

Yep………..I blame cookies or biscuits as we call them. While drug mules secrete cocaine via their rectums, biscuits smuggle themselves into your body by appearing innocuous. “One won’t hurt,” I used to say while changing yet again the spa manager’s seminars in the Capers, then, in five minutes, I would have eaten 37 pieces of shortbread. If Heidi hadn’t insisted we should always have them in the cabin maybe I wouldn’t be swallowing Metamorphic pills 3 times a sodding day. Yep……..not offering cookies is the merciful thing to do.

These days of course it’s all different isn’t it?  On land and sea nobody just “pops ’round” unannounced to other people’s houses or cabins any more. They e-mail, text or tweet their intention to do everything – even going for a poo.

Personally, I’m glad about this. Heidi isn’t with me onboard and unexpected visitors to the cabin throw me into a shameful panic as I surreptitiously try to remove my other pair of underwear from the floor of the cabin and pick up the bits of toe nail that I had flung around the night before.  Sorry then to my staff……..there will be bugger all tea and cookies and I need at least three hours’ notice of your visit. It’s only polite.

Anyway, good morning, how are you? I hope you had a great weekend. Mine was made extra special because I received a Father’s Day card from Kye which told me I was the best Dad in the world ………….and goodness me………..her handwriting is superb for a one year old.

Well, it’s Monday morning and as I sit here in my underpants the birds are singing and England is crap at football……..they are the Tampa Bay Dolphins of the World Cup. Anyway, I won’t bore you with my country’s tale of woes especially as tomorrow there is an emergency budget that will try and get our deficit down. This was left to us by our old Prime Minister Gordon Brown who has since lost his job and is now working as a Susan Boyle look alike doing parties at care homes.

This budget is going to be severe and will probably mean that we will all be living in empty shoe boxes and eating our own hair for dinner. Anyway, I am taking precautions against this and have started looking at smaller cars than our Range Rover…………….something that should make Peter the Polar Bear stand on his melting iceberg and start singing “Oh what a beautiful morning.”

Anyway, last Saturday I went to look at some cars with Heidi and Kye and obviously as she will be driving it more than me, my wife gets to make the final choice but I still have to drive it a bit so I am allowed some input. So, there we were looking at one model in the showroom and I said something to the sales chap that made me suddenly realise………bloody hell………….I am so old.

There are all sorts of moments in my life when I can truly say I have become “old.” The moment Kye was born. The moment I bought my first pair of slippers. The moment I can’t tell how old kids are these days or understand the music they listen to. And I added another to that list on Saturday when I asked the salesmen “Does it come with an automatic gearbox?”

Now, I know that in the States and Canada most cars have automatic gearboxes and finding a car with stick shift is like finding someone who hasn’t looked at the Norwegian Epic and vomited.

I used to think people who drove automatic cars were old and pathetic and used to dream about sitting in my Aston Martin……………in my underpants……..changing down to second and whoosh …….off I would go. That’s all changed.

Last year you may remember that I drove a stick shift for the first time in a long time and while trying to do a hill start rolled back into the car behind. I was embarrassed beyond all measure and vowed never to drive a stick shift again. After that accident I tried to make myself feel better by thinking that I prefer an auto because I’m busy and having something change gear on my behalf allows me to do other things while driving. Speaking on the telephone, for instance, is almost impossible if you have to steer and shift cogs as well, especially now you need to keep at least one eye out for the police. But the main reason is that I simply can’t be bothered to do it myself. It would be like having a TV without a remote control.

Yet, as I stood there in the showroom asking if his shiny new car came in automatic I felt ashamed ………….especially as it was one of those family wagon people carrier things with electric opening doors, a DVD player and a diesel hybrid thingy engine. Heidi loved it, Kye loved it and I am holding them both at bay for now because if we do get rid of the Range Rover and buy this Chrysler Voyager thingies………….my life will officially be over and I will be just one step away from incontinence.

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

Susan Asked:
Hi John (please reply)

Susan from the West Midlands here and just wanted to tell you about my fantastic cruise on the Carnival Miracle. It was my 16th Carnival Cruise and a couple of years since I last sailed with Carnival and the cruise were excellent. The food was wonderful and Your Time Dining worked really well. We ate around 8.30 each night and had no problem being seated at a table for two each night. The service was much quicker but you still enjoyed the Carnival dining experience even getting to see the waiters sing. The shows were just as good as I remember and it was also nice to see Christopher Alan Graves’s show again. Have seen him a couple of times now and never get bored of his show. Really enjoyed coming home to Carnival and will definitely be booking the Magic for next year. The only down point and this is only a minor comment is the delivering of liquor to the cabins at the end of the cruise. I bought two bottles of Rum in Nassau and on previous cruises these have always been returned mid morning on the last day of the cruise but by 5.00 when I returned to the cabin to start my packing the rum had not arrived. I spoke to guest services and was told it would not be delivered until 8.00pm. I explained that I was travelling to the UK and needed to ensure it was packed securely in my main cases so was there any chance they could arrange an earlier delivery but there was nothing they could do – they even asked me if I could open my cases at the port and repack on the sidewalk after I reclaimed my luggage which I felt was quite insulting. I have no objection to giving up the liquor but it is an inconvenience if it not going to be returned until the late the last evening. We eventually received the rum at 8.00 just as we were going to dinner so we were unable to enjoy the rest of the last evening even missing the Legends Show as after dinner we had to complete the packing. I actually like to decant the liquor into plastic water bottles to cut down on weight and breakages so by the time this was finished it was too late to do anything else so making the last evening quite boring all because we were waiting on the liquor. I can only assume Carnival are delivering this late to stop guests drinking their own alcohol on the last night but please can you pass this on to whoever makes these decisions not to tar every one with the same brush as there are guests who are genuinely buying the liquor to take advantage of the excellent duty free prices and want to ensure it can be packed securely to make it back across the Atlantic.

I know I may be rambling on about this but I was really annoyed at the time especially when guest services did not want to help but overall we had an enjoyable holiday and are now looking forward to the next one.

Also just read your blog from yesterday on Half Moon Cay – that was our second port of call and it rained all day (well I think you could call it rain it was more like a Monsoon) so looking at you pictures definitely need to come back and see it in the sun

Take Care
Susan

John Says:
Hello Susan

I hope the weather in the West Midlands is as nice as it don here in Essex this Monday morning. Thanks for taking the time to write and I was so pleased to see that you had a great time on the Carnival Miracle. I know there are a few sceptics still about Your Time Dining but I have not seen a negative comment about it for a long time and you are one of many who have taken the time to sing it’s praises.

I do know that whatever dining option British and European cruisers take they are often astonished at how fast the food is served. The North American and European cultures are very different when it comes to dining. We expect that service will be slow because that allows us to talk to each other between courses…….that are just the way it is. However, try that on our ships and many guests will be upset. They want their food as quick as possible. I am not saying either way is right or wrong I just know that from experience I have had to explain this to some of our European passengers.

As for the liquor, well I am surprised to hear this because I have always known us to deliver the liquor from 5 pm on the last sea day. Thanks for letting me know and I will have to check on this and let you know.  I am so sorry that it rained during your stay at Half Moon Cay. That is such a shame because it is such a huge slice of paradise. I hope I will see you on your Carnival Magic next year and thanks again for the great report and welcome home to Carnival.

Best wishes
John

Ken Stevenson Asked:
John, (Please reply)

Just recently returned from our 15th cruise (14 with Carnival – anyone can goof once!) and again we’re amazed to find that we continue to enjoy each cruise more than the last. Even taking the same cruise we have a ball. We noticed on “Wheel of Fortune” one night that they had a prize of a week at a Caribbean resort for $7600, do people realize that that means FIVE (5) one week Caribbean cruises on a Carnival resort to us?!! It isn’t ‘why should we take a cruise’ but rather ‘why would we do anything else’.

We had one problem, though. One morning we elected to do the crossword that Carnival thoughtfully provides. Would you believe it? A couple of the clues were missing! Well, as blog readers we realized that this warranted demanding an interview with the captain, a full refund for a totally ruined cruise and a ship on a stick. We handled it differently though. After the initial horror wore off we worked around the missing clues, finished the puzzle and went to another great lunch. All those stations, all those choices. Now there’s a problem I like. Feel like just a salad? Good grief, there are 7 prepared salads that vary every day plus a Caesar at the pizza station plus a 15 foot long salad bar with all the fixings. My niece complains that I do tend to rhapsodize about the food after every cruise. Anyone who’s ever been on a Carnival cruise knows why. Almost everyone, that is. We chatted with one lady who complained that they had the same menu every night. First of all, we’re on the same cruise, right? We know full well that they do have favorites for those who like them but we also know that they have 6 or 7 starters and 6 or 7 entrees that are different every night. Where has she been eating, the sushi bar? We understood a little better when she said she would never sail Carnival again anyway because her cabin was too far from the dining room. Huh? Carnival really blew it there, didn’t they? That’s one for the CD’s repertoire along with old favorites like “What do they do with the ice sculptures after they melt?” and “Does the crew sleep on board?”, “Carnival put my cabin too far from the dining room.”.

Anyway, we just enjoyed the heck out of the cruise and can’t wait to go around again. That’ll be late August. By the way, we owe a special debt of gratitude to Wee Jimmy and the entertainment crew on Legend. Their extra surprises for a couple of Platinum guests were indeed a surprise and appreciated. Incidentally, who ever came up with “Wee Jimmy”? I mean short maybe but the first time I saw him in a kilt I thought he was still holding his bagpipe!

And if all that wasn’t enough my wife won a trivia contest and a solid gold ship on a stick!!

Thanks, John, for your assistance. Since we’re stumbling around on canes every little bit of assistance helps not only us but all those innocent cruisers we don’t crash into. Take care.

Ken and Lorrene
Platinum Cruisers.

John Says:
Hello Ken and Lorrene

That’s two glowing cruise reviews at the start of today’s Q and A……..brilliant. I have to say that your review was both superbly written and very funny and truly depicted your cruise just as you enjoyed it.

I was especially glad to read about the food. There are still those who think the ships with climbing walls or a big X on their funnels have much better food than we do and as more and more people are discovering……….that simply isn’t the case. As for the lady who said we served the same thing every night…………….well maybe she needs some new glasses or she had been mixing the Dramamine and Prozac together which is never a good idea.

I am glad wee Jimmy looked after you and yes his name is a bit of an oxymoron……..as would be calling me “Slim Heald.” When I first met Ralph Valente he was as social host and instantly a hit with both the guests and the crew. Yet, the name Ralph did not seem to suit him. Many years ago in the UK there was a famous double act called “The Krankies.” This consisted of a husband and wife who became children’s TV entertainers. The wife was 5 foot nothing, just like Ralph and she played a naughty schoolboy character………..just like Ralph. Her character’s name was “Wee Jimmy” and one day at a staff meeting I called Ralph “Wee Jimmy” and the name stuck and even today everyone calls him by that name and I think it has served him well. Here are photos of both “Wee Jimmys.”

Anyway. Ralph will always be a naughty and cheeky and his Wee Jimmy persona truly suits him. Thanks again for that brilliant review and your continuing loyalty to Carnival Cruise Lines.

Best wishes to you both
John

Tammy Ward Asked:
Hello John, (Please Reply if time permits)

I am new to your blog thingy having just found it a few months ago when I signed my boyfriend up for his first and my fourth Carnival Cruise. We are set to go on our Carnival Dream on October 2nd. We are in cabin 12215 (that’s right, I’m SO excited we are on the Spa Deck). Two cruises ago I bought into the Carnival Vacation Club and have been able to take my sister (for her 50th birthday) and now my boyfriend on a cruise. I LOVE to cruise, he is not so sure about the whole thing (more about that in a future post).

As so many others have said, YOU made my first cruise. I first sailed with you on our Carnival Triumph in November 2001 with a group of about 100 of us from Maryland and you made my cruise. My second cruise was with Wee Jimmy as the Asst. CD but the CD was ill most of the trip so he was really our acting CD. He was hilarious. My third cruise found us with Wee Jimmy yet again as the ‘real’ CD and he did a wonderful job.

When I met you in 2001 I mentioned that I wanted to learn more about becoming a member of the entertainment staff (social host/CD) and you graciously had information sent to my cabin. I never took that step and now, except for meeting my boyfriend, I wish I had.

Ok, this post is already too long and I won’t bore you (or more to the point your loyal blog readers much longer) but I wanted to say that I love your blog thingy and I wish you were going to be the CD on our Carnival Dream in October but will look forward to meeting Butch. I have a few questions in regard to a Belize excursion you mentioned and also the best night to reserve the Steakhouse (would that be a night before a sea day?) but since we have 127 more days I can and will write again.

As for those ‘few and far between’ naysayers, picture them walking the plank when you read their ‘not so nice comments’ – hopefully that will make you smile. I know it is hard not to take what they say personally but everyone has a right to their opinion, some just think everyone needs to know that opinion (NOT)… It is like anything else in life, those that fought for our country and still serve today (thank you, by the way, as we enter into this Memorial Day Weekend) gave them the right to voice their opinion but ALSO the option of turning the channel, turning off the radio, and clicking on another web site. The rest of us like what we read and hear and don’t want you to change a thing ……………. well, with the exception of your underpants daily. Thank You

SMILE: It makes people wonder what you’ve been up to.

Your Fan Forever (YFF)
Tammy.

John Says:
Hello Tammy

It is strange how things work out. I just wrote about Wee Jimmy and here, in the next posting his name is mentioned again. It’s a funny old world. I am so glad that you have continued to cruise since our time together on the Carnival Triumph and that you and your boyfriend are going on your Carnival Dream. You will love Butch, pure and simple and I am sure you will have read all the glowing reports about him on the blog and on the cruise boards. Please can you let me know at your leisure your thoughts about the Belize excursions and I will be happy to answer them for you. You mentioned the Steakhouse so let’s look at your itinerary and when the elegant nights are.

Saturday, Oct 02 PORT CANAVERAL (ORLANDO), FL 4:00pm

Sunday, Oct 03 FUN DAY AT SEA – ELEGANT NIGHT

Monday, Oct 04 COZUMEL, MEXICO 10:00am 6:00pm

Tuesday, Oct 05 ISLA ROATAN 10:00am 6:00pm – STEAKHOUSE

Wednesday, Oct 06 BELIZE 8:00am 6:00pm – STEAKHOUSE

Thursday, Oct 07 COSTA MAYA, MEXICO 7:00am 3:00pm – ELEGANT NIGHT

Friday, Oct 08 FUN DAY AT SEA

Saturday, Oct 09 PORT CANAVERAL (ORLANDO), FL 8:00am

I have listed my two favourite nights to eat at the Steakhouse and remember you can make those reservations online or let me know if you need help. Thanks again for writing and for writing those marvelous words of support. I hope one day we can sail with each other again…… maybe on your honeymoon.

Best wishes to you both
John

Doug Robertson Asked:
John (Please Reply)

Greetings from Texas. Glad to hear that you enjoyed your time sailing from Galveston. We have sailed twice on the Carnival Ecstasy and once on the Carnival Conquest. We love our Texas Ships and look forward to many more cruises from the Gulf Coast.

The kids and I are sailing from Miami on the Carnival Imagination on July 30th and as always, can’t wait! I will be joining you for BC4. Unfortunately, the kids will not be able to come along, as my daughter will be in her senior year of High School, and my son his junior year of College. But that’s alright, Dad is going anyway. It will be great seeing you again, and having the privilege of being able to sail with you.

In booking these two cruises I have once again had the pleasure of working with my PVP, Dianne Lamont. Dianne does a wonderful job and is to be commended. She is a true asset to Carnival. Whenever I call I feel like I am talking with an old friend that I have known for years. Then when our conversation is over I realize that she has once again done a great job of setting up our trip right down to the last detail. Not only do I feel like family onboard, but also when I pick up the phone.

I look forward to and enjoy the Blog each and every day. Thanks again John for all you do, and for just being yourself. Hope you get to feeling better real soon. Loved the story about Patricia and Herman. Glad everything worked out ok. Also enjoyed reading about Grand Turk. Was there back in the late 70′s when I was asked by some friends to fly them to Grand Turk. We flew from Ft. Worth in a six passenger twin engine plane and spent several days there. I remember it being a beautiful island and am glad we will be going there on BC4.

Take care my friend. Hello to Heidi and Kye, and we’ll see you in February.

John Says:
Doug

My goodness, Grand Turk has changed I am sure since you were there and now you can you go on a brilliant Carnival ship rather fly on a 6 seater plane belonging to ” Oh My God ” airlines.

I have sent your comments about Dianne to her and her supervisor both of whom I know will be thrilled to read your words of praise. Making sure they treat each customer as an individual is at the centre of the core values that our PVP’s are taught and it is very important that we get as much feedback as to what they do well and how they can improve. I hope you and the family have a fantastic time on the Carnival Imagination and I am very much looking forward to seeing you on BC4 on the Carnival Glory.

Best wishes to all
John

Steve Savary Asked:
Dear John, please reply….

Last summer we sailed on the Carnival Freedom on a 6 day cruise out of Ft. Lauderdale. You were our cruise director, (our first exposure to Carnival) and we had a great time. We especially enjoyed all of the quality entertainment (and I have to say that the food was pretty darn good too). This year both of our daughters (19 and 24) are sailing with us and we have reserved a couple of balcony cabins on the Carnival Triumph, sailing from New Orleans on June 26th. I was wondering if you could help us secure a table for 4. We have already requested a late dinning preference. Our cabin numbers are 8288 and 8292.

Thanks in advance.
The Savary’s

John Says:
Hello Steve Savary

I am glad that your first cruise was so enjoyable and that you and the family are off on a fun for all cruise on the Carnival Triumph. I have asked the Maitre D to help with your table assignment and I hope you all have a brilliant family cruise vacation.

Best wishes to all
John

wil-da-beast Asked:
Hi John (please reply)

What a great story at the end of your blog today. Hate to bother you when you are feeling so terrible, but hopefully by the time you get to this, you’ll be feeling much better. My question is this (since you’ve been so helpful with this same question, but another ship) we’ll be on the Conquest July 11, 2010 and would appreciate it if you gave the schedule of formal nights and your suggested night for the steakhouse dinner. Thanks ever so much and please feel better. A cold can really knock the snockers out of you. My best as always to the Heald family…Regards from da-beast

wil-da-beast

John Says:
Hello Wil – da – beast

Thanks for the words of sympathy and here as requested is your schedule.

Sunday, Jul 11 GALVESTON, TX 4:00pm

Monday, Jul 12 FUN DAY AT SEA – ELEGANT

Tuesday, Jul 13 FUN DAY AT SEA – STEAKHOUSE

Wednesday, Jul 14 NASSAU, BAHAMAS 8:00am 5:00pm

Thursday, Jul 15 FREEPORT, BAHAMAS 7:00am 4:00pm – STEAKHOUSE

Friday, Jul 16 KEY WEST, FL 7:00am 3:00pm – ELEGANT

Saturday, Jul 17 FUN DAY AT SEA

Sunday, Jul 18 GALVESTON, TX 8:00am

I have added my two favourite nights to eat at the Steakhouse with my first choice being Tuesday. Please let me know if you have any other questions. I know you are a loyal reader of the blog and I thank you so much for that.

Best wishes
John

Mary Smith Asked:
Dear John – Please Reply

Hello again John. I am glad to hear that Patricia and Herman are back together. The reason for my writing is due to a concern I have about the new luggage tags that are to be printed. I fear that my luggage will become separated from me just as Patricia became separated from Herman. I spoke to two Carnival representatives today and still remain uncertain about this new method of luggage tags. As a frequent cruiser I have always been sent the tags ahead and always put them on prior to boarding my flight to where my cruise will be leaving. It was always stressed to do this so that in the event your bag was lost by the airline it would be easily identified as to where it needed to be sent when found. With the new “printable paper” tags there is a strong possibility that they could rip off. The representative I spoke to suggested that I place packing tape on them for added security and did not understand my concern about lost luggage. She also didn’t understand why I would put them on prior my flight. When I explained she simply said, “I never thought of that.”

Please give me your thoughts on this. Take care and I hope to hear from you soon.

PS You will be happy to know that the weather here in NY is quite warm unlike when we were at the bloggers breakfast in Rockefeller Plaza.

John Says:
Hello Mary Smith

I know that this has been a concern with some of the bloggers and I remember some like Big Ed, Linda Mom of DJ and others posting ideas about who to make these tags better and more durable. If they or anyone have suggestions could I kindly ask that you post an answer?

I have though Mary not read of anyone becoming separated from their luggage through these tags falling off. I am not saying it hasn’t happened but certainly while I was onboard these past 4 months I did not hear of any cases…pardon the pun. Has anyone else had any problems with this ….if so please let me know and if it is a major concern I will address it with the bearded ones?

As for whether to put them on before the flight, well it doesn’t make sense to me to do this unless your luggage goes straight from the airport to the ship. If that is the case and you have an air/sea program that allows for this I understand why but if not and you claim your luggage at the airport you can surely put the tags on then. I maybe talking bollocks here so again I ask you all to tell me what we are doing right or wrong with these tags please. Mary, please don’t worry. I am sure all will be well. If you have continuing concerns please let me know

Best wishes
John

Mitch Asked:
Hi John (Please Reply)

I have been fortunate enough to sail on 20 cruises, the vast majority of them with Carnival; was lucky enough to have you twice as C.D. I know you hear it often, but you really are the best in the biz and a great ambassador for Carnival and cruising in general.

I have noticed that one of CCL’s competitors have announced that they soon will be pulling out of the West Coast completely; and I was hoping to get an update about Carnival’s commitment to the Baja and Mexican Riviera routes.

Thanks so much!

John Says:
Hello Mitch

Yes you are correct. RCI has told California goodbye and unlike the state’s governor……..I don’t think they will “be back.” Carnival still has the Carnival Paradise and Carnival Splendor serving the west coast as well as five- and nine-day cruises from there on the Carnival Spirit. I am personally looking forward to being the CD of the Carnival Splendor and maybe I will see you there. Best wishes and thanks for the very, very kind words.

John

Long Tall Sally Asked:
Hi John,

I have just discovered on Cruise Critic that we now are expected to pay for aspirin and sea sick pills which many of us are angry about. Why is Carnival doing this? I suggest you read what Cruise Critic members are saying

Sally

John Says:
Hello Sally

Yes you are correct. We do in fact now charge for aspirin, non-aspirin and Dramamine pills. These are available from the Guest Services Desk and the ship’s medical centre. Room service is still free though so why not order their complimentary cure for seasickness…….peanut butter and jelly sandwiches…….. which taste the same coming up………………….as they do going down.

Best wishes
John

John R Asked:
Hi John, (Please reply)

I think it is a great idea that you will not be posting any more second hand comments on the blog.

You are absolutely correct – you can’t be so bad that so many people keep reading and posting on your blog. Even though you have a few dissenters, your fans are overwhelming in numbers. Even the best political figures rarely have had approval ratings over 90%.

John Says:
Hello John R

I just wanted to say a big thank you for this and Ann Martin and others who have tried to cut and paste other people’s comments from the cruise boards have been banned from the blog. If someone has something to say about me or the company I work for then I will gladly except their opinion and post it.

Thanks mate and best wishes
John

That’s all for today and I will be back with more tomorrow. The current total blog views by the way stand at 6,678,987.

Thank you all.

OK, I will be posting some photos and commentary of the Carnival Destiny tomorrow as I did the Carnival Legend last week. I did though forget to post one particular photo from there and that was spotted by a few of you. Of course I am referring to the legend that is on the Carnival Legend…………Maitre D Ken Byrne……………..here he is.

Ken is very happy over there. We spoke a few days ago and he is relishing being on a smaller ship after many years on Destiny, Conquest, Splendor and Dream class ships. On the Spirit class there is only one dining room and that means that each and every guest will experience his Irish wit and charm and of course his Sinatraesque voice. I hope he will join me on your Carnival Magic next year. And just in case there are a few people who don’t know who he is and what he does…………..here’s a reminder:

On July 3, Heidi, Kye and I will fly on Easy Jet (oh double bugger) to Venice where at 7:30pm Holland America’s newest ship Nieuw Amsterdam will arrive out of the shipyard and get ready for her naming ceremony. I have been asked to attend and sail for 3 days by my friends at Carnival UK who also handle the bookings, reservations and marketing for Holland America in the UK and parts of Europe. I will be hosting a table of travel agents and some press and of course I will be blogging from there as well each of the three days. This will be my first Holland America experience and I am very much looking forward to this as well as being quite proud that I have been asked to attend. Heidi is also looking forward to this as well as it will be a little break for her and Kye.

Here are some of the most recent photos of the ship and I will be taking my flip thingy video camera along as well. I hope you will all come with me………..here is that link thingy:

http://www.hollandamericablog.com/nieuwamsterdam/

Things seem to be going well across the fleet with most of the CD’s telling me that everything is running normally……….touch wood. Obviously we are all waiting for news on your Carnival Magic and her home port. Well, let’s hope that PA 007 gets to sneak out of his/her cubicle and pass on the news of where her home port will be. I know I have been promising you this for days now but fingers crossed this information will be available soon.

I read with great interest all your comments about the debarkation talks and if you have missed them etc. It seems that for most of you the answer is no and that is very interesting indeed. I will make sure I send those answers to those at the top.

Just before I move on I want to write something into which there is no easy segue. You see a year ago on Sunday I lost a great friend and Carnival lost one of its most loyal supporters. His name was Robert Schneider. He would always sit in the third row, middle section on the end seat with his wife Suzann by his side.

Robert would always be the first to volunteer for my shows and had cruised with me over 40 times and with Carnival over 50. He and Suzann would always book their vacation based on what ship I was on and so we became great friends. Robert was fiercely loyal to Carnival and if anyone dared to say anything untoward about his beloved Carnival they would receive the full force of his New Jersey personality. I spoke to him on the phone the day he passed away and although he couldn’t really speak he managed to tell me he loved Carnival……..and me.

Two hours later this gregarious fun loving man who lived to sail with Carnival passed away. A few weeks ago Suzann his loving wife sailed for the first time since his passing and I cannot imagine how difficult it must have been for her to be amongst all the fun of the Carnival Splendor and without Robert by her side.

I can’t believe it has been a year all ready so, please excuse me if today I remember Robert as a friend, a blogger and a Carnival Milestone guest.  Here he is.

So yesterday was Sunday and after the joys of looking at Chrysler Voyager family mobiles Heidi wanted to take Kye out to a “theme park” called Legoland. This is surprisingly a place where you wonder around model everything’s made out of sodding Legos.

I should have been sitting in front of my huge plasma TV watching other countries show England how to play football……………but no……….I was at Legoland ……in hot sunshine ………..looking at Lego models of Buckingham Palace

To make matters worse everyone in the entire universe had chosen that day to bring their children to the park and everyone of them wanted to use me as a bouncy castle………..I was really grumpy and as kids bounced around me and off me I thought that this must be hell. We were standing in line for the petting zoo so Kye could catch foot and mouth disease by stroking a yak. Now, Disney does lines well……….the UK parks do not. God it was boring and there is no doubt that when you have been standing in line for 1 hour and the sweat is finding cracks you didn’t know you had, they could have offered me a chance to stroke Megan Fox’s bottom and I still would have been a grumpy old sod.

Anyway, there I am, sweat trickling down the crack of my arse, sweating like a seeing eye dog at a Korean BBQ, Kye wanting to come out of her stroller and be carried by Dadda when suddenly I hear ……….”John………John.”

No, they can’t mean me. I can feel Heidi nudging me and again I hear….. “John …….. John”….I turned around and there, coming out of the petting zoo is a lady…….her American accent obvious amongst a sea of Brits. Oh bugger thought I and I waved…….. A pathetic and slightly girly wave.

The conversation went like this:

Me – Hello

Mrs America – We were on a cruise with you last year on the Valor

Me – What a small world

Not knowing what to say I made a fatal mistake.

Me – Did you have a good time?

Mrs America – Mostly but let me tell you what happened on our excursion in Belize…

The next 10 minutes were spent while Mrs America (whom informed me was visiting her son who and his family he had married an English girl) about how dreadful her excursion was and how the bus broke down and there was no air and she wanted 100% refund but got only 75%.

During all this I could feel Heidi’s eyes digging into me and as the sweat now formed large puddles in my underpants. Mrs America then went on to tell me that she had booked a cruise on her Carnival Dream in September and wanted to know what the ship was like. And as the line moved slower than a turtle with three legs and a hangover, children were screaming, I was sweating like a vegetarian in a slaughter house and Mrs. America moved onto asking me about what to do in Roatan………..I realised that there is a hell……………. and I had found it.

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.