Your Destiny

June 22, 2010 -

John Heald

If you look at me you would say “Wow, he’s a large chap.” Or if you were an American/Canadian blogger you would say “Wow, he’s one hell of a big man.” Or if you were French you would probably say “Oh la la, regarde la grand bastard.”

Don’t worry, the idea of this part of today’s blog is not to talk about the light fluffy shell that my body has been encased in but rather to talk about the word “large.” You see I live in the UK and each and every day I see that we are becoming more and more Americanized. Now if this means that we are getting your standard of service in restaurants and shops and paying your price for fuel then that is a brilliant thing. However, when you talk to people and when you visit shops here in the UK now we do indeed seem more American………..without any of the good bits.

Example number one is yesterday, while watching a British TV program with British presenters, one of them said “schedule” instead of “schedule” and a host of other Americanisms. I guess she had been watching too many American soaps because right now a program called The Bold and the Bollocks or something has a massive daytime audience here in the UK. So I guess women will refer to their handbags as their “purse”………but hey, it’s a free country. Obviously if they start to refer to their arse as their fanny then that’s a whole other story as fanny in my country is a whole other story!

But there’s one US import I discovered yesterday which has suddenly changed from what it was and one that makes my hemorrhoids pulsate. You see, yesterday Heidi, Kye and I went to the supermarket which is called Waitrose. They have a wonderful coffee shop there and Heidi likes the carrot cake so we always pop in for a cappuccino before we wander the aisles. Yesterday though there was a dramatic change because this local and totally non Starbucks coffee shop had started using the word “regular” when they mean “small” or “medium.”

Look, the opposite of large is not sodding “regular,” even though some tampon manufacturers seem to think it is.

I mean, if Chris Jefferson one of our brilliant Cruise Directors who is not exactly ummmm …… tall ……….and is a bit vertically challenged……..if we were to form a double act we would be called Little and Large not bloody Regular and Large. “Regular” is a word which you use to inquire about someone’s menstrual cycle or bowel movements, as in, “Are you ‘going’ nice and regularly, Mrs. Dunham Potter?”

A bus service can be regular, as can meals and breathing. I have heard guests on the ships describe themselves and others as just a “regular guy”. This doesn’t mean that you are a medium or a small male; it means that you are a down-to-earth sort. But then why not just say that? As for Starbucks, which preposterously introduced sizes “venti” and “grande” for its products ……… well……….that’s just total bollocks

If anyone ever asks if me if I want a half-fat soy latte frapacrapachino, I fear I may raise one finger in the air and ask if they’d like that “to go.”

One quick footnote story about this and it involves our brilliant comedian and friend of the blog Mr. Lewis Nixon.

Lewis was staying in a hotel in London. It was his first time in the UK and he tells this great story about how one night he had been enjoy the company of Jack Daniels in the hotel bar. Now I should preface this with a bit of education regarding British conversation. You see, if someone wants a wakeup call, one of the ways of saying this is “Can you knock me up in the morning?” Now obviously in the States and Canada this has a whole other meaning.

Anyway, Lewis is weaving his way back to his room and is walking down the corridor to his room when he hears a quite beautiful lady who is going into her room say to a male friend, “Can you knock me up in the morning?”

Now, Lewis being Lewis and being a comedian and being sponsored by Jack Daniels looks at this beautiful lady and says “Hell lady…..I’ll knock you up right now. Why wait ‘til morning?”

And on that note it’s time to crack on with today’s Q and A……….off we go.

alfthecruiser Asked:
Please reply ASAP

Hi John, long time no hear. Very important question of you. Our very close friends, Sutana & his wife, head waiters in both dining rooms on the Sensation, left on vacation 1/10/2010 for home, returning 3/27/2010. Through our e-mails up to that date, no reference on going to another ship. E-mails this past week have not been answered by him or his family. My pvp tried to get info for me, can’t do, said to contact you to see. I just want to know if he is back with Carnival and which ship to get in contact and cruise with. And if not, oh well.

We chatted on the Sensation in May 1995 before you and Heidi were married, and what a time we had…We will be on the Sensation for our anniversary cruise 11/4/2010. Dream in Sept.

John Says:
Hello alfthecruiser

Thanks for the concern about these two crew members. I checked with our personal department and they have, at the time of writing not requested to come back to work for Carnival. I am sorry that I don’t have any other information at the moment. I am sure they are fine and if I hear anything I will let you know. I have wonderful memories of our time on the Carnival Sensation and please make sure you drop me a line here on the blog thingy before you cruise there again so I can send you an anniversary gift.

Best wishes to you both
John

Irene Garner Asked:
Dear John….Please reply

Do any of the Carnival ships have single cabins with the rate being half of what would be charged for two in a regular cabin? I ask because I love to cruise but can’t always find somebody to go with…such as this July when my grandson Mackenzie (the Wave) has to work but I have a week’s vacation, but don’t want to have to pay double for the cabin when there would only be me in it.

Thanks….Irene.

PS. Mackenzie never did hear back from anyone in the Miami office about employment with the Entertainment staff.

John Says:
Irene Garner

I am so, so disappointed that nobody has contacted Mackenzie. I apologize for this and will make sure that someone does very, very soon. Unfortunately we don’t have single cabins. I know that single guests have to pay more and I also know that this is a contentious subject. I do hope that you find someone to cruise with and please tell Mackenzie a big hello and I will follow up with his application today.

Best wishes to you both
John

Maribeth Kring Asked:
Dear John, Please Reply

I’ve spent a great deal of my life working in the customer service industry….pretty much everything from restaurants to hotels to casinos as well as having several friends that work for Carnival. I simply do not understand the cheap bastards that remove tips! Where else are you gonna get such excellent service for a mere $10 a day????

Yes, I’m sure there are times when someone has a bad day and their service isn’t what it usually is but removing all tips is just stingy and cheap.

I was on the Carnival Legend last summer and went through some very hard times financially right before the cruise. Since it was already booked, we went anyway with almost no spending money and had a fabulous time. Even with those financial problems (with 4 days left and a couple of ports to go, Laura and I were officially broke) we NEVER considered removing the tips! The employees that receive them deserve them and work very hard for them!

C’mon folks it’s not really that much, all things considered.

My request,

I know that who gets what from the automatic tips is private information but can you at least remind your readers how many of the crew share in one guest tips? I’m thinking it has to be at least 4, maybe more. If that’s the case, then on say a 7 day cruise, that’s only about $17.50 per employee for being at your beck and call all week!

Passengers should NEVER remove the tips unless there is a serious reason to. The crew are people with lives, family and expenses the same as the rest of us. They are not slaves!

Sincerely,
Maribeth Kring
BELC

John Says:
Hello Maribeth Kring

Thanks for that passionate posting and let me start by saying that the number of guests who remove the gratuities from their Sail and Sign card is very small. However, some people do remove them and that is an option we give all our guests and I think it’s an option we need to keep. The only thing that we onboard do find frustrating is when people do remove them and don’t tell us why. If service has been bad or not what you think it should have been then by all means, remove the gratuities but please tell us so that we correct and improve. As for the gratuities well the breakdown is simple. The money goes to the stateroom stewards and their assistants, the dining room team waiter and assistant team waiter and $1 of the daily amount goes to the staff who provide the service on the lido deck.

If you have chosen the Your Time Dining Option then the gratuity is pooled between all the dining room team assigned to YTD.

I hope this explains what happens and thanks again for paying tribute to our wonderful crew who do, for the most part, earn every penny they receive from our guests as a gratuity for hopefully making their cruise extra special.

Best wishes
John

Lynda Ulrich Asked:
Dear John (please reply)

As you know, you are on the Carnival Fantasy which we sailed 3 times in 3 months. We love Hennie. He is a great ACD. I’m sooooo glad he will get a chance to be CD and that you’re there to help. I still have pictures of him on my camera that he took of himself, that we didn’t know about until we got home. You once gave me a place to send them and I lost it. Could you give me that e-mail again so you and the rest of the kids can see what a truly funny person Hennie is?

Thanks for making everyday great with your blog.

See you in September,
Lynda

John Says:
Hello Lynda

Hennie is as I write, doing a brilliant job on the Carnival Fantasy as her Cruise Director. He will certainly be one to watch in the future. Here is one of the 344 Stephanies to tell you how to attach photos which I will be happy to send on to Hennie.

Best wishes and thanks for the kind words
John

Hello Lynda – You can send the photos to my attention at socialnetworking@carnival.com. Let me know if you have any questions.

Stephanie H.

Ally & Jim Quinn Asked:
Dear John, Vance Or one of the 343 Stephanies – PLEASE REPLY

“Crabs Pad Heats”???…… We’ve only cruised on Carnival 3 times, so maybe this is a phrase known to veteran cruisers? We also have a few British friends who’ve never heard this one and we searched the web for the meaning of this phrase…Sorry if we’re being obtuse….PLEASE ENLIGHTEN US 🙂

Ally & Jim Quinn

John Says:
Hello Ally and Jum Quinn

Ahhh………sorry …….I should have explained. Actually your thinking that “Crabs Pad Heats” is a cruise ship term is quite funny. It’s actually an anagram for “cheap bastards” which referred to a couple who removed their gratuities. It was probably a bit rude of me to write that but it was at the time……very frustrating. I didn’t want to write “cheap bastards” directly and I guess at this point I should probably ask how many other bloggers actually realised that it was an anagram? I hope this explains everything and if you ever have any other questions please let me know.

Best wishes to you both
John

Wes Asked:
John (reply if you want, or just take the time and fix the issues)

By the sound of your attitude about someone removing gratuities you seem to show an attitude of entitlement. I think that gratuities are exactly that. Earned gratitude expressed as a gift of currency. If gratuities were a requirement then they should be stated as crew wages and added up front to the ticket price.

Gratuities should not be added on as an additional charge under the disguise of payment for some service that should be provided as part of the original fare. They should be gifted by the guest willingly as an expression of satisfaction when a level of pleasure or contentment has been obtained. The level of gratuity should be in accordance with the level of the individual guest’s contentment. Again though it is a gratuity and subject to guest satisfaction. Lately I have noticed that there is a squeeze being put on guests. Push an extra drink here or there. Sell an extra photo. It appears that Carnival is losing touch with the fact that the customer is a guest and not just a meal ticket.

Just take a look at your Carnival Capers and it tells the whole story. Hurry Hurry step right up to this activity that will encourage you to buy this or that. Hurry Hurry get this or buy that. Hurry Hurry buy here buy there. Where is the fun in Carnival that is all carnie and no real fun games? Why go to a carnival when they are always showing the same old tattooed lady, pushing and peddling their overpriced made in Hong Kong wares?

Remember there should be a difference in a CCL employee and a Carnival employee. However the lines between the two is rapidly fading where they are both fitting into a box which reveals the CCL employee has become a Carny or Carnie which is a slang term for a carnival (funfair) employee,[1] as well as the language they employ.[2] A carny is anyone who runs a “joint” (booth), “grab joint” (food stand), game, or ride at a carnival. [1] Although I still chose to cruise on CCL it is not for the service that I receive. Too often your employees are disgruntled and are sometimes openly so and voice such discontent. Your management approach on many ships that I have been on shows through in your crew’s attitude.

Lucky for me I learn to ignore their frowns and find my own piece of serenity and paradise with my family and through enjoyment of the company of friends that we cruise with. Do not get me wrong in this. I do tip but will not hesitate to remove gratuities if I want to. I would never remove all gratuities as I feel it would not be fair to those behind the curtain working hard to make the stay comfortable. I always fill out the comment card and express satisfactions and disappointments when they occur.

You clearly show the original ticket on this issue where your GSA asked if there had been a problem with the service and guest said that he did not feel that it had been good. GSA asked for more information on this but guest said he did have time and to take off the gratuities immediately. My first instinct in this is not that your GSA is looking to improve service. It appears that your GSA is putting a guest’s integrity on the spot. Whether the guest is right or wrong in what he is doing.

I do not agree that your guest should have removed all gratuities, again this is something that I see as wrong and would not do; however trust me in this: if a GSA were to ever question me directly about why I reduced some of the gratuities then my immediate response would be to remove even more. My opinion is that your GSA should have let the guest know that CCL is striving for guest satisfaction and handed him a comment card requesting that the guest help CCL improve on customer service.

Now look at that John. If the customer is a cheapskate then it won’t matter anyway nothing that CCL does will change it. If the customer is really dissatisfied then it is a definite learning opportunity for CCL and shows the guest that CCL is working toward being the best possible.

The fact that you called the Maitre D to see if the guest had any complaint is at the least unsettling. Are you spying on your guests? Get a clue John, and I mean that in a positive way. A guest should not have to file a complaint with the Maitre D. Either on the spot or at a later time.

Again they are a guest not your spybot. As a guest I would hope that my waiter will automatically ask if I would like crushed black pepper or grated cheese or whatever is appropriate at that time. As a guest if I am not getting the service I will always ask politely for the service. I will even let the waiter know how that service encourages a positive environment, not just for me but even for future guests. I don’t have to do that John. That is what I do to try to improve the overall for all. I again am the guest not your in-house KGB agent.

On the majority of sailings I have had good service. On a few I have had great to spectacular service. I have seen some amazing employees and in the same token seen those that are disgruntled, overworked, tired or just absent of the understanding that the guest is there for a reason. To relax, have fun, and to leave the cares of land behind.

If CCL wants a spybot then they should have their executives book some rooms as first time guests, in all room categories and completely undercover. Have them take their families and see the ship from the guest’s perspective. That would be a good way to start.

John Says:
Hello Wes

Thank you for writing and before I continue I want to make sure that you understand clearly that when you say “I think that gratuities are exactly that. Earned gratitude expressed as a gift of currency” that I agree with you 100%. Gratuities must be earned and are not a divine right and I think for Carnival to add these gratuities into the ticket price would be a huge mistake. That’s my opinion of course and one I feel very strongly about. On reflection it is probably a subject that I should not have written about. However, I do totally disagree with you when you say “Too often your employees are disgruntled and are sometimes openly so and voice such discontent. Your management approach on many ships that I have been on shows through in your crew’s attitude.”

Obviously there is going to be a bad apple in every barrel but having worked alongside the crew for 23 years I think I am in a very strong position to say that their hospitality and friendliness is for the most part absolutely brilliant. That is certainly what I read time and time again here and on cruise reviews.

When the Guest Services Manager was asking why these guests had removed their gratuities she was doing so only because that is our company policy. We want to know what in particular the stateroom steward or waiter has or has not done that has warranted the removal of the gratuities. Only that way can we improve and only that way can we make sure that we never have anything but the very best service.

Obviously you are a very loyal and experienced cruiser and if you do find an employee who is disgruntled and therefore flippant or rude I do hope that you will inform a senior member of staff via the Guest Services Desk.

Tipping is simple to me. Get good service and tip. Get bad service and tip bugger all. Our crew are fantastic, the fun onboard has never been better and while we make no apologies for doing what we can to make revenue onboard which keeps the cost of the cruise down I still think that Carnival provides the most affordable and the most fun cruise vacation……in the world.

I thank you Wes for your comments and for giving me the chance to reply and please, if you have a follow up, post away and let’s keep this dialogue open.

Best wishes
John

Tim and Diane Asked:
John, Comment about GRATUITIES. Please respond

As long time cruisers and travel agents we are of the old fashioned thought that GRATUITIES are earned not expected. When the cruise lines went to gratuities added to ship board account we took the attitude that we remove gratuities when we get on board and hand them out personally at the end of the cruise for services given. I know the gratuities are split so that the lido deck staff also receives there share. We tip more than what is recommended. So my point is maybe the cruise lines should pay their staff more money and let the customer decide what to tip.

I know this will not sit well with you. But everyone has any opinion.

John Says:
Hello Tim and Diane

I think I opened a can of worms here that maybe I should have kept the lid on. But as I just explained to Wes I think I also may not have explained myself properly. I agree with you totally when you say “GRATUITIES are earned not expected.” My point was that the couple I wrote about removed all their gratuities and went to every meal and received excellent service from one of our very best waiters and yet removed all their gratuities. I know that many people like to tip in cash at the end of the cruise as you do and I think that is very kind.

I hope this clears up my point of view and I thank you as always for yours

Best wishes
John

Runningman Asked:
John Reply needed

I see that Carnival is charging for sea sick pills and paracetamol. What’s next then, ice tea and food? Things like this are why I don’t cruise with you guys.

John Says:
Hello Runningman

The food and iced tea is complimentary and if all it takes to get you to cruise with us is free Dramamine and aspirin I will gladly put a bunch in your stateroom for you. Tell you what — I will throw in some Valium and a blue pill as well. It will be a great cruise and one in which you can totally relax, sleep well, wake up with no headache, not suffering from sea sickness and your wife should be very happy as well.

Best wishes
John

Bearded Bill from Boulder Asked:
Hello John –

The favour of a reply is requested (skip to the “entertainment” section if you’re pressed for time).

I apologize if this is a duplicate – I posted this in April, and saw today you are about 3 weeks behind so I’m thinking it got eaten by the ether.

———

Just back from our 3/20 cruise on the Carnival Dream and as requested, here is my review. (Well, when I started this review I was “just back” – sorry about the delay in posting!)

All in all, our family had a wonderful time.

People:

It amazes me that the crew can be so friendly and attentive with guest after guest and never enough time off to recharge. As with so many companies, it is the people of Carnival that make it successful. I do hope they are treated well – by their employers and customers alike. They deserve it.

We met many friendly passengers, only a few sticks in the mud (I think those were explained by the Spring Break effect of kids everywhere not fitting with some folks’ idea of relaxation…understandable).

Accommodations and amenities:

The ship itself was every bit as fabulous as you and so many others described. The rooms were spacious and well kept – it all still feels very new. The décor is pleasant and exciting without being obnoxious (as in Vegas). The nets on the lights were a bummer (thought they’d have been gone by now?) – But I appreciate the decision to err on the side of safety. Elevators were fine. I did notice the mystery odor (the only mystery is where it comes from – not what it is!). It was almost overwhelming on the top of the stairs while queued up for the water slide. It occasionally found its way on to decks 2 and 9 (that I noticed) and once in an elevator I gave a bloke a rude look only to realize it was the ship and not him I was smelling ;o). I have to say it was so rare that I would probably not have noticed – and surely not commented – had it not been for all the internet chatter about it leading up to my trip.

The water slides were stupendous. Mini golf was great. I can do w/out TV on deck, but the Sunset pool afforded our family that option and was just fantastic. There is truly something for everyone on that ship! The lanai is brilliant – there seemed to always be room and chairs aplenty.

Food:

The dinners we made it to were very nice. Room service was a treat – and the part I miss the most! The deli and pizza were delicious – all the food was very good. I did not experience any of the long lines I’ve read about, though I was flexible about coming back later when I did see a line. It’s not like I ever experienced anything remotely close to “hunger” the entire trip! Breakfast was great in the Scarlet dining room – especially thanks to Cesar from Columbia. He was outstanding.

Entertainment:

The break dancers were great. My kids (8, 6 and 2) loved them. Dancing in the streets was very entertaining for the whole family. Unfortunately, it is here in this category I experienced my only low point (and quite low it was):

On the first couple of nights I noted with envy how vibrant and exciting the Piano Bar was. Each time I had my small children with me and of course couldn’t settle in to enjoy Barry’s act. I made plans to return (read: I took the kids and let the wife go shopping alone in port in trade for freedom!). As soon as they were tucked in I nearly ran downstairs to join in the fray … but alas! The life was gone! The heartbeat of that floor had been silenced by – get this – “Corporate sabotage!” The quote is not mine – it’s from Barry. Apparently he’d damaged a speaker whilst entertaining throngs of people, and as “punishment” someone from Corporate had ordered his monitors removed.

After speaking with 3 officers and 2 waiters, I finally was able to speak with Barry himself about what was happening. I’d watched the bar fill up twice with people anticipating more of what they’d experienced on previous nights (it filled at opening and again after the Comedy Club emptied) – and watched both times as the bar emptied because Barry was playing the same 4 or 5 mellow tunes over and over … and not interacting with the crowd at all.

I was really disappointed. It was my only chance to enjoy the show, and that happened to be the day someone made a decision in Miami that evidently could not be reversed – and yours truly (among many others) was the victim of a bureaucratic power struggle.

I shared all of this and the remaining details with Todd, per Barry’s request. I’m sharing it with you because I think it speaks of a bigger, serious problem with the culture of the Carnival Corporation. I’ll spare your readers the details, but let’s just say I learned more about what goes on “behind the fun” in the hours I spent trying to get this situation fixed than I dare say anyone on the Behind the Fun tour ever does!

It was a great vacation, John – don’t get me wrong. I understand you’re wearing thin and burning out… I hate to pile on to that. I spoke with a couple of crew members who are paying a very steep personal price to work on a Cruise Ship. Please make sure you take the time to examine your choices and be certain you are not making too great a sacrifice. Think of you and your wife as two vines. They will both grow – if they are together, they grow together. If apart, they grow apart. Neither scenario guarantees anything … but the challenges must be met intentionally and with great wisdom, or the outcomes may be regretful.

And one last thing – I know it’s a very tired cliché, but I know you are starting to see just how true it is: they grow up too fast! There’s nothing wrong with taking a break from your career and ambitions so you can be there for the very short window of time when she’s a perfect, innocent child who needs her father very much. You will always have work – you won’t always have a little girl (well, she won’t always be little; she’ll always be yours).

Peace and love,
Bearded Bill

John Says:
Hello Bearded Bill

Thanks so much for that great review which was a joy to read. I am so glad you had so much fun on your Carnival Dream and enjoyed the brilliant service of our crew.

I am amazed about the story of the Piano Bar. I will investigate this accordingly with both Todd and the shore side team as I can’t believe that anyone would punish Barry by removing his monitors knowing that this would affect his performance and that in turn would effect the enjoyment of the guests. However, it appears that something happened and I apologize sincerely for this and I will, as I said will look into.

Thanks mate for the kind words. Each day I am home with Kye I cherish more and more the time I am able to spend with her and when she opens her arms for a cuddle…….well…….this large 45 year old CD who has faced so many challenges in his career is reduced to a blubbering big girl’s blouse.

I will forward this review to all concerned and I hope you and the family will join us again for another fun for all cruise. I hope it will be with me as your CD………even if you do have a beard.

Best wishes to you all
John

That’s all for today and there will be more Q and A tomorrow. Thanks to everyone who wrote in about the gratuity issue and I apologize if I didn’t explain myself properly. Hopefully I have now.

Welcome back to Host Mach who wrote to me today asking about the blue lights at the front of the Conquest class ships. Apparently some of the Cruise Critic readers had been asking about the blue lights that decorate the ships from deck 3 to deck 11 forward. Apparently, some of the readers had been looking at the web cams or had been on the ships and noticed that these lights were not there and asking therefore if they had been removed.

I checked with both the Carnival Valor and Carnival Conquest and they both told me that the blue lights had not been removed but are now turned off at the forward part of the ship due to navigational issues. They are turned on as and if the ships are docked alongside the pier at night time. You know, there are those who don’t like these lights……..me……well I do and as I think they are distinctive and somewhat romantic.

Let’s take a break and here is the new issue of Funville for your reading enjoyment. I am off to the bathroom taking my Raspberry with me to e-mail our Super Spy PA 007 regarding your Carnival Magic. I may be a while……..I had an Indian vindaloo last night. Here’s some reading material for you.

http://www.carnival.com/cms/Funville/times/FunvilleTimes_June_LandingPage.aspx

OK, I am back. Sorry I was so long and all I can say is that Johnny Cash’s song Burning Ring Of Fire applies to my current situation.

In 1996 I delivered the then largest cruise ship in the world, the Carnival Destiny. She was the first ever cruise ship at 100,000 tons and there is no point hiding the fact that she was a challenge.

Did you know that for the crossing from the shipyard to New York we had a film crew from the UK onboard? Back then the fly on the wall documentary was still new and reality TV was just being born. The film crew were from Channel 4 and the idea of their documentary was to film the problems we encountered and how we met these challenges and how we resolved them. The film crew were everywhere and they were using those small digital cameras so at times you totally forget they were there. And they did film the problems. They caught on camera the flood in the cigar bar where furniture was actually floating as gallons and gallons of water poured down from main pipe that filled the swimming pool. They filmed the escalator leading from the dining room to the galley breaking down on the inaugural cruise as did the system that sent the dining room orders to the galley.

Service on that first night was therefore a bit slow……and they filmed every disgruntled guest. They filmed the guests at the then Pursers Office saying that their cabin was too hot and they filmed the problems we had with part of the show. They filmed me in a baseball cap with the word “bollocks” on it and they filmed me moaning to another staff member how busy I was yet my entire morning had been spent looking after an accordion player who happened to be a friend of one of our Senior Vice Presidents. I had no idea the camera was behind me and with what I said I am still surprised to this day that I wasn’t fired. You see, they filmed the problems but they forgot to film the resolutions. They never filmed the hard work of the crew to clean up the flood and fix the pipe or the air conditioning being repaired or the fact that the service problems we had in the dining rooms were fixed by day two of the cruise. Anyway, the documentary went out on Channel 4 UK and actually despite the terrible one sided editing, we received some excellent comments. However, one newspaper, the paper that my friend and cruise reporter Captain Greybeard works for – the Daily Mirror – wrote this about me in their TV critic section.

“Amongst all this mayhem was ex-city broker and Essex boy — Cruise Director John Heald. Although mildly amusing at times he dealt with some complaining Yanks with all the charm and grace of a nightclub bouncer.”

Now that was an actual quote from the newspaper. I know this because my Mum cut it out and kept it for me and it is pinned today on my office wall.

Anyway, the program was called All at Sea and it has never been shown in the States or Canada. I watched it once…….never again. I wonder if we will ever do such a thing again …….it would be interesting but honestly, I don’t see that we have anything to gain from it. What do you think? Would you like to see a reality based TV show set on one of our ships?

Anyway, back to the Carnival Destiny. Even though the ship had its problems in the beginning she quickly became a very special ship. I mean, that was in 1996 and even today with ships full of all the latest technology there are still problems all the time. I hear the Norwegian Epic had some propulsion problems and had to have some work done during her travel agent and press cruise …………..maybe they should have taken her in for some plastic surgery as well.

Anyway, let’s see where the Carnival Destiny goes.

EASTERN CARIBBEAN – 5 DAY

MIAMI, FL 4:00pm

FUN DAY AT SEA

GRAND TURK 7:00am 2:30pm

HALF MOON CAY, BAHAMAS 9:30am 6:00pm

NASSAU, BAHAMAS 7:00am 5:00pm

MIAMI, FL 8:00am

WESTERN – 5 DAY

MIAMI, FL 4:00pm

FUN DAY AT SEA

OCHO RIOS, JAMAICA 9:00am 5:00pm

GRAND CAYMAN, CAYMAN ISLANDS 8:00am 4:00pm

FUN DAY AT SEA

MIAMI, FL 8:00am

4 DAY WESTERN CARIBBEAN

MIAMI, FL 4:00pm

KEY WEST, FL 7:30am 2:00pm

COZUMEL, MEXICO 1:00pm 10:00pm

FUN DAY AT SEA

MIAMI, FL 8:00am

Those are great runs including a four day with a stay to Cozumel until 10:00pm and that fantastic 5 day including stops to the must see destinations of Half Moon Cay and Grand Turk.

Let’s see whose onboard her to serve and entertain you:

Captain – Ettore Bovo

Hotel Director – Kevin Thorogood

MAITRE D’s – Desmond Stephens & Ian Dsouza

Chef – Porvin Gama

CD -Brent Mitchell

People often ask me what my favourite ship is and often my answer is “The one I am on now.” But as I am not on any particular ship now and am sitting in my office at home, in my underpants, I have no worries about saying that the Carnival Destiny is right up there. Yes, it was stressful and yes it gave me grey hair and my first inaugural haemorrhoid……but sailing into New York for the first time on the world’s largest cruise ship will be a memory that will last forever. It is still a great ship and I hope that you all get to experience her one day soon.

Well, I posted a video of Ken and I yesterday and have been trawling through some old videos on my flip camera thingy and found this one. Now I show you this because it highlights the diversity of our guests. In this 3 minute clip shot at the welcome talk on the Carnival Splendor in 2008 you will meet a couple married for 55 years, honeymooners from Australia…….and a drug dealer.

Bloody hell I was huge then. I still am way overweight but I have lost some for sure. I look like I have eaten a baby yak in that video…………..what was I doing to myself?

OK, I have to go now because they are about to start the budget and I want to see how much the British Government is about to crap on me. There could be rioting in the streets and I may have to start selling my body so that I can put food on the table. Obviously this is all because those bastard bankers spent all our money on liquor and Latvians. I remember those dark days 2 years ago watching the whole financial world on the brink of collapse. I thought back to all the midnight oil I’d burnt doing Capers, all the crappy hotels I’d stayed in while traveling between ships and the time I had spent away from family. And how all my savings would be lost for reasons I simply didn’t understand.

Of course I tried to get my money out of AIG but it wasn’t possible. It had shut the fund in which I’d invested and it would remain closed for three months while it tried to sell the assets. “Try and stay calm“ said the man on the phone, calmly. Calm……..my arse. I don’t give a bugger about an orderly fashion; any more than NCL care what their new ship looks like. It’s my money. I gave it to you. The end.

I have tried to understand and ask those at Carnival who have beards but they just stared at me like a nun at a Chippendale show. I have come to the conclusion therefore that there isn’t a single bloody person in the entire world who has the first idea how the system works. So I have started to save again, this time using the system of saving my grandmother used by hiding my money under the mattress.

Carnival Corporation & plc understands how to make money and today they released earnings and its Chairman and CEO Micky Arison indicated that operating results for the second quarter 2010 exceeded the company’s March guidance as a result of better than expected net revenue yields and cost reductions. This means that all the brands are doing brilliantly and that means that people (you) are still out there spending money on what you love and what rejuvenates you and what relaxes you and what gives you and your family the vacation you all deserve ……………. cruising.

If you would like to listen to a repeat of the web cast thingy that had some very interesting information about the company and the future, have a listen at

http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=140690&p=irol-index

That’s about it for now……except, do me a favour (spelt correctly) and please pop back here to the blog at around 8 pm……as I think I may have some news for you regarding your Carnival Magic.

See you then
Cheers
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.