In Ecstasy

June 30, 2010 -

John Heald

Despite getting a relatively good appraisal for my medical I still received a major bollocking from Doctor Ramitin telling me he would be forced to shove an entire home entertainment system up my arse if I didn’t lose another 40 pounds.

He asked me how I had managed to become so big. I told him I had always been hung like a rhinoceros but he didn’t find that funny at all. I then realised that as well as having absurdly long fingers Doctor Ramitin had bugger all sense of humour so I had to be serious.

I guess the simple thing to say was that I just enjoy food and that when you work on a Carnival ship the stuff is everywhere and everywhere all the time. I used to skip dinner though and work on the computer and then do the shows and then come back to the cabin and call 8000 and Ketut would appear with my room service order of two BLT’s with cheese on white toast. I would munch these down while watching my West Wing box set and then go straight to bed……. oops.

And I would do stupid stuff like eat crisps for breakfast. Crisps are what Americans call chips and yes I am sure that some bloggers are giving that statement a disgusted response but, frankly, I can’t understand how anyone resists it.

It seems obvious to me that crisps are the ultimate breakfast food. You get an instant wake-up hit from all the salt and a savory taste on the palate that is far superior to toast and butter, lots of lovely carbohydrate and back then I would rather have eaten chips than a bowl of beardy food like the tasteless, dry muesli I am forced to eat now. I hate muesli and I hate the way that when I poo it comes out like a rope.

Plus, I am sure I read somewhere that there is more Vitamin C in a packet of chips than there is in an orange. It is probably bollocks but it sounds perfectly feasible to me.

Anyway, the days of chips for breakfast are long gone and I have stepped up my diet while here on holiday. Now, notice the word I used there because even though I am blogging most days I am still on holiday……….this is my vacation. A lot of my friends and my Carnival colleagues seem to find it strange that I don’t take the girls on what they call a “proper vacation” to a hotel, resort, villa or ummm……..oh yes……….a cruise.

The simple reason I don’t do this is that I hate going on vacation. Now…….I stress that the emphasis here is on the “going” rather than the “vacation.” The act of packing, locking up the house and flying are three of the most loathsome activities that I can think of. Obviously this is because Heidi and I have spent the last goodness knows how many packing, unpacking, flying and traveling that it’s nice just to be in one place for a few weeks.

Saying that though on Saturday morning me and the girls will fly to Venice, Italy where we will join the Nieuw Amsterdam, Holland America’s sparkling new flagship. I will be at the naming ceremony and as an extension of my brand ambassador role will host a press and travel agent table at dinner. It’s a three day cruise and we return to the UK on Wednesday.

So, in a way I am doing all the things I hate to have to get there. Checking 27 times that Heidi has turned off the iron, wondering whether the burglars will defecate over the walls after ransacking our house, fretting over whether there will be a full explosion or just a fire when the gas boiler ignites, turning the taxi driver round three times to go back for Kye’s passport which has been in the void that is Heidi’s purse the whole time.

Then we will arrive at Gatwick Airport where I will be patted down by a mall cop who will make sure my underpants are not ticking and that I haven’t got some semtex smuggled in Kye’s diaper. All of this would be worth it if there was a private plane full of Latvian flight attendants with loads of Diet Coke and firm bottoms………or even first class travel………but there won’t be.

There will be however a bright orange puke-coloured Easy Jet plane waiting for me full of terrible service and seats that are as comfortable as sitting on a pointed stick. It’s an early morning flight and they will no doubt expect me to pay $20 for two slices of bread with a slice of pink in-between them. Well they can bugger off and so can Doctor Ramitin because that morning ……………………I am having a family size bag of salt and vinegar chips for breakfast!

Time for today’s Q and A…………let’s get on with it.

Johnny Biles Asked:
Please reply.

Hello John, I was BC3 on the dream with my wife Lucy and my friends David and Glenda Kessell. I enjoyed the Blogger’s cruise and really enjoyed the cigar evening outside. I wanted to let you know that David, Glenda, Lucy, and I are flying to San Juan for the Southern Caribbean cruise on the Victory. We have late dining and would love to be in the main dining area. Often we are placed upstairs and miss most of the dining entertainment. Can you help to make this happen? Our cruise departs San Juan July 25. Lucy and I are in room 9278 and I think David and Glenda are in 9280. Thanks for whatever you can do for us! You really make cruising fun. Hope your family is well. I try to keep up by reading your blog thingy. Long ashes to you my friend.

Johnny Biles
North Carolina, USA

John Says:
Hello Johnny Biles

The Lanai is the perfect place to smoke a cigar and it allows stogie lovers to enjoy the art of smoking a great cigar without disturbing non smokers. The cigar night on the bloggers cruise on your Carnival Dream was super and I hope to do something similar on BC4. I will certainly send your request to the maitre d on the Carnival Victory and I wish you all a fantastic time. Let me know all about it when you get home.

Best wishes to you all
John

Micah Asked:
Dear John (Please reply),

I promise there is a question at the end of this long missive. Please bear with me, and I’ll get to it as soon as possible. But the set-up behind my question is important, and I think anyone reading your blog, especially your critics, need to understand why folks like me are dedicated John Heald fans.

I was on the Fantasy with you for the seven day cruise out of Charleston on May 23rd. Carnival did right to put a ship in this lovely southern city, and I hope to visit again soon. I drove down with my family from Massachusetts so we could spend a day in port before we went out on the ship, and could have spent a week there alone. This was my second Carnival cruise, and it was every bit as fabulous as my first and then some. Nassau is a beautiful city, I really did wish I never had to leave Half Moon Cay, and Grand Turk is by far one of the nicest places I’ve ever visited. Fantasy is a wonderful ship, and doesn’t look or feel as old as she is.

But I must say, you made the cruise for me. Not because of your shows, which were always fun and more than once made me fear I was going to split my sides laughing. You’ve already shared the story about “Mary” here on your blog thingy, but, to all of you people that only read about it here, you really missed out not seeing it live! And she wasn’t even the best part of that show! My friends look at me funny when I randomly say things to them like, “I’m gonna kill you with venom!” Truly, that one show epitomizes the phrase, “You had to be there!”

But what really made my week was something you did for me in the middle of the cruise. I had asked the Entertainment Staff (Henny, as I recall) if Carnival still showed Rocky Horror one night on week long cruises. My first cruise was on Glory in 2007, and I was pleasantly surprised near the end of the cruise to see a screening of it listed in the Capers/Fun Times/whatever you guys called it then. I’ve been an avid fan for years, and once was part of a shadow cast (meaning those crazy people that dress up and act out the film while it’s playing behind them), so being able to go to Rocky on my cruise was one of the highlights of the week. And since we went to Cozumel, Belize, Roatan and Freeport, that’s really saying something!

Anyway, I’d hoped that Carnival still screened the movie, but Henny informed me that they didn’t anymore. But on the suggestion of the Guest Relations staff, they said I could write to you about it. So I did, offering to help out in making it happen if possible. I honestly thought that nothing would come of it. And you proved me wrong. You sent me a 24k plastic ship on a stick, a Carnival medal, and a signed photo of Fantasy. Signed by you, that is. Not the ship. Which would have really been impressive, but I guess you do have some limits. My jaw hit the floor when I got back to my stateroom the evening we were at Half Moon and saw your thoughtful gifts. I was really impressed and touched that you’d go out of your way like that, and wanted to personally thank you for giving me a memory from this cruise that I won’t soon forget.

Now, for my question. When did Carnival stop showing Rocky Horror on their cruise ships? Are there any plans to bring it back? How many of the Stephanies/beards do we need to convince that it’s a good idea to bring it back? Thank you again for making my vacation a little extra special.

John Says:
Hello Micah

Thanks you so very much for those wonderful words. I had such a brilliant time on the Carnival Fantasy and of course the ship’s new home port of Charleston is a very special place. I am so glad that you enjoyed my shows and I hope the solid gold plastic trophy is something you will treasure until the day it melts.

We did indeed used to show the Rocky Horror movie in our theatres and on our Seaside Theatre big screens. The reason we stopped it was quite honestly that attendance was minimal at best. We discovered that this film along with the whole concept of dressing up as the characters and the audience participation dances seemed to appeal to only a few of our guests and so it was removed. Now, maybe it’s time to bring it back and if anyone else here on the blog would like to see this as part of our entertainment program, please let me know. Thanks again for the kind words and I am so happy to hear how much you enjoyed your Carnival Fantasy cruise.

Hope to see you again soon

Best wishes
John

Paul F. Pietrangelo Asked:
PLEASE REPLY JOHN

Good evening John, Heidi and Kye. I’m happy that you are relaxing and enjoying yourself with your wife and daughter. Keep it up. I would like to ask you a couple questions if I may.

In January Marylou and I will be going on an 8 day cruise on the Carnival Miracle. Could you please give me some ideas that we could go on some excursions in two places.

1 Aruba

2. Curacao

These are two new places for me so who to ask, but my friend John. Thanks again and please I hope that you will relax and enjoy your vacation.

Paul F. Pietrangelo

John Says:
Hello Paul F Pietrangelo

Always good to hear from you Paul and congratulations on booking the Carnival Miracle. You will have seen that I highlighted her in yesterday’s blog thingy and her cruises to the Southern Caribbean look like they are going to be brilliant and are therefore selling like hot out of the oven Krispy Kreme doughnuts. I love Aruba and Curacao, two Dutch colonies of course and Heidi and I have wonderful memories of our times there on the Carnival Fascination and those special cruises we did on the Carnival Triumph. Knowing you and your wife as I do I have chosen these two excursions for you to consider.

Let’s start with Aruba which is full of beautiful beaches and stunning snorkelling. However, I think this one would be good for you:

SEA AND SEE EXCURSION

Experience the full beauty of Aruba on a tour that takes you around the island and under the sea!

  • A short drive and a boat transfer will take you to the Seaworld Explorer where you’ll descend into the hull of the vessel and sit in air-conditioned comfort five feet below the surface of the water.
  • View amazing sea life through large, clear glass windows.
  • Marvel at the largest shipwreck in the Caribbean, the 440-foot German freighter Antilla, while the narrator tells you about its history.
  • Returning to shore, you’ll visit the California Lighthouse, the original collapsed Natural Bridge, and the Casibari rock formations where you may have the option to climb the 80 rugged steps at the rock gardens to the top of the highest boulder.

You really have to see the marine life and the beautiful water and you will manage easily the 10 steps down into the boat Paul. Then after seeing the marine life you get a full excursion around Aruba.

Now for Curacao there are different island tours with the Best of Curacao the one Heidi and I have done and it was very good indeed. There is a trolley ride around Willemstad the capital plus lots of beach tours as well. But I would take the Best of Curacao excursion. It lasts approx 3.5 hours which will leave you time for shopping and or resting onboard. I hope this helps and if you have any other questions please let me know.

Best wishes to you and the family
John

Judy Sharum Asked:
JOHN PLEASE REPLY!

In response to Karen–about the VIP check in. Each time we check in at Carnival in Ft Lauderdale-we are ushered in with the rest of the “cattle”. I thought past guest-platinum guests were supposed to get their own check in line??? We print out the Fun Pass and stand in line with EVERONE else??? No special treatment at all. So WHY be a platinum guest at all-means nothing!

We have cruised about 8-10 times with Carnival and have NEVER had a special check in! We’ve always gotten on in Miami or Ft Lauderdale too. Maybe the bearded ones need to check it out???? We should have a special area for checking in.

ALSO about the food. Some of the ships menus are kind of bland. I’m a picky eater and mainly stick with pork, chicken or beef but once in while it would be nice to have option of Spaghetti and meatballs or fried chicken!!! I miss that! We don’t eat all those “saucy” items at home-fattening-AND it would be nice to receive the food HOT!!!!! I always end up getting my food luke warm or cold! I have seen it “sit” on their tables while they wait on others and by time I get it-I send it back! COLD!

So yes-the food dept could use some changes. It’s also not nice to be parked in a corner with all the entertainment going on in the middle of room! Can’t see a thing-what fun is that???

John Says:
Hello Judy

While I would never suggest that what you have written is not true I must say that I have heard very few comments from our Platinum guests who they do not receive dedicated check in. I am sure if I was to ask the many hundreds of Platinum guests who read this blog that they would confirm this. Anyway, please let me know when you cruise again and with your Platinum status I will let you know exactly where to go to make sure you get the special status being a Platinum member assures you.

We do indeed have fried chicken served on our Lido deck each cruise during the “American” taste of the nations menu and I hope you have been enjoying or will enjoy the new menu items that are available in the dining room. Remember you can always ask for any steak, chicken or any meat that is on the menu without the sauces……..just ask your friendly waiter and they will be happy to help you. Please let me know when you cruise with us again so that I can help you accordingly.

Thanks so very much for your loyalty

Best wishes
John

Mary Ruppert Asked:
John (Please reply),

I have followed your Blog (with much abandon) from the beginning and have laughed, cried and wondered at the many aspects of being a Cruise Director. You must keep an extra bucket of patience in your cabin, because sometimes I feel like wringing necks for you.

I have been on 17 Carnival cruises and 1 Princess cruise through the Panama Canal. I have to say that even though there have been itinerary changes and port cancellations, engine problems on two ships, bad drinking water on another, NOTHING has kept us from enjoying the thrill of cruising. There isn’t a thing (honestly) that I would rather do than cruise.

However, my biggest disappointment is never winning a solid gold, plastic ship-on-a-stick. Try as I may, I just can’t bag the elusive treasure.

My Dad, one son and I are booked on the Carnival Fascination on July 24th out of Jacksonville to Half Moon Cay and Nassau. Great itinerary, done it once in January 2009 and absolutely loved it and vowed to return again, someday…well as luck would have it, we will be spending my birthday (the oh-so-big 6-0) on Half Moon Cay and what a thrill it would be for me to find a solid gold, plastic ship-on-a-stick waiting for me in the cabin on my birthday.

If you can make this happen — I will be eternally grateful. Booking #91TB99, Cabin U111.

Thanks for all you do,
Mary

John Says:
Hello Mary

Thanks so very much for cruising with us 17 times and your loyalty is truly fantastic. I cannot believe that in all those voyages you have never won one of our 14kt gold solid plastic trophies. Well……………you have now. Have a brilliant cruise and enjoy your birthday in Half Moon Cay.

Best wishes
John

LadyJag (Laura) Asked:
Dear John, (Please reply)

One week has passed since we left the beautiful Carnival Dream, and I’m still feeling the thrill of our Fun For All cruise. 🙂

Before I give you my impressions and a few suggestions (I’ll try to be concise), I wanted to thank you first and foremost for the gifts you sent to our cabin. I can’t tell you how ecstatic 4-year-old Alyssa was to receive her trophy and medal and very own autographed ship picture. She was so proud and honoured (spelled correctly), and couldn’t wait to show them off to everyone, including the stuffed animals she always brings along.

Thank you also for the champagne. What a wonderful surprise! We carried it with us to dinner the first night, and the us 4 adults in the group toasted you, our upcoming week of adventures, and of course, our family.

THE SHIP: Wow! What else can I say? We had 2 spa cabins, and although we didn’t take advantage of the spa facilities every day, we sure did love the location and the fact that the cabins were smoke-free! The public areas are gorgeous, I thought the layout was very easy to navigate, and the amenities were phenomenal. The favourites among our party of 5 were the cantilevered hot tubs on the lanai, the Seaside Theatre, the Serenity decks, and the Waterworks area.

ACTIVITIES/ENTERTAINMENT: John, I can’t tell you how disappointed I was that I couldn’t do everything in our one week on board! I tried very hard, but with deck parties, laser shows, Seaside theatre, live music, the casino (woo-hoo for it being mostly smoke-free, by the way), the comedy shows, and the shows in the Encore lounge, we were unable to give the mini-golf and laser tag a go. Bummer.

STAFF/SERVICE: Please, please, please, pass along our kudos to Katie, our entertainment host. She is a superstar with a fun, warm, and energetic personality. She really did contribute to the enjoyment of our cruise. (The rest of the ship’s staff were also friendly and attentive and it was a pleasure to sail with them as well!) As expected, our cabin steward, Antonius, and assistant steward, Yessy, were phenomenal! And I definitely have to give props to our wait team, Savio and Dindo, for their attention to detail and efficiency in service.

FOOD: Delish, as always, but here is where one of my suggestions come in. You see, I am allergic to shellfish, and had a very, very mild allergic reaction at the Mongolian Grill station due to cross-contamination. Honestly, when I say “mild,” I mean just that the back of my throat itched for a while, but nothing more. I didn’t stop breathing or anything, like when I actually eat shellfish. More than anything, I was disappointed that I couldn’t enjoy the yummy food because of my itchy throat. LOL!

To elaborate on the situation, the Mongolian Grill area was incredibly busy the last day of our cruise (about a 45 minute wait.) The chefs did their best to work quickly in moving the line along, but in their rush to get so many orders out, the ladle for preparing each guest’s order was used everywhere!

One passenger before me asked for shrimp and chicken, so the chef measured out soy sauce into the ladle, dropped it in the wok, used the same ladle to scoop some raw shrimp for the order, then ladled the raw chicken with the same utensil and dropped that into the wok to cook. He stirred with that same ladle, added the guest’s veggies, stirred some more, then asked which of the three sauces the guest wanted. He dunked that same ladle into the requested sauce and poured it into the wok.

For my order he had a newly scrubbed wok, but the soy sauce for my food was measured out into the ladle he had used for the shrimp dish a few minutes prior. Then there was the chicken and the sauce that had come into contact with the shrimp (albeit indirectly). Again, it was a minor oversight – I myself didn’t even think anything of it until I had my little reaction – but it could have had major consequences if I were more sensitive to shellfish than I already am!

So I’d like to suggest a few things to avoid cross-contamination: First, use only the tongs placed in eat meat’s tray to transfer the meat from tray to wok. Secondly, place a spoon or ladle in each of the 3 sauces add the sauce to the order. (Better still, how about using the plastic squirt bottles like they do at the burrito bar?) And finally, when the chef passes the used wok back to the sink area to scrub clean, why not pass the ladle as well? I know this might slow service down a little and require some more ladles, but preventing what could be a potentially deadly allergic reaction would certainly be worth the extra time and effort.

PORTS: We were in Cozumel, Roatan, Belize, and Costa Maya, and had an incredible time in each port! We would definitely sail that itinerary again, and I would like to offer two more suggestions.

First, I am addicted to taking photographs (I came home with over 850 photos from this cruise), and would love to have seen some sort of “photo safari” tour in any of the ports. I know I previously suggested that one of the ship’s photographers conduct a sort of Basics of Ship/Food/Port Photography session on board, but I would jump at the chance to go one step further and create a little slower paced onshore tour to set up to capture the best angle for the various points of interests or perfect scene with someone who works in the photography field. I know the photographers are probably really busy keeping to the quick turn around time of the photos they take, but maybe one or two could be spared for such a shore excursion?

My final suggestion concerns Mahogany Bay in Roatan. It was an absolutely spectacular port, and kudos to Carnival for building such a place. However, since we booked a private tour, we had to traipse up an incredibly steep hill to meet our tour guide due to the security checkpoint that would not allow independent tour operators to enter the area.

Now, if it were just me and hubby, I guess we would have been ok climbing in the 95-degree weather (albeit we’d still be hot and exhausted), but my 60-year-old mom accompanied us in her wheelchair, as did young Alyssa. John, we were quite a site, panting, sweating and groaning as my hubby pushed my mom in her wheelchair and I carried 40-pound Alyssa up this crazy incline! About ½ way up the hill, I had some serious doubt in our abilities to make it to the top. LOL! Is there any possible way to move the checkpoint to the bottom of the hill? Or at least allow the tour operators who have confirmed bookings to pick up passengers at the bottom?

Well so much for being concise! It looks like I’ve rambled on ad nauseum again, and I apologize for another long post.

Thank you again for the gifts and for allowing me to recap our trip. Enjoy your vacation with your beautiful girls and thank you for sharing Kye’s sweet bouncy smile with us. (You look great too, by the way, and I want to congratulate you on your weight loss!)

Appreciatively,
Laura

John Says:
Hello Lady Jag

That was a fantastic review of your Carnival Dream and it is one that I have passed to the ship and to the people with beards at Carnival HQ. Let me comment on a few of your points. The Mongolian Wok has become without doubt one of the most popular lunch time treats on many of our ships. The unfortunate thing is that as you know, everything is cooked to order and takes approx 5 minutes to do. Space is limited and even with two chefs working, lines are at peak times inevitable. However, your remarks about using the same utensils to mix sauce and serve seafood should be looked at as I know that some people have major allergies so we’ll check this out and let you know. Thanks so much for bringing this to my attention and I will send onwards and upwards.

Kate…….well she is a star and I am seriously considering making her part of my team on your Carnival Magic. I will make sure she sees your kind words. Roatan is a superb destination and our new Mahogany Bay docking facility is very popular. Unfortunately the authorities will not allow independent contractors to come inside the pier area and only allow the transportation used by the companies that work directly with the cruise industry to do so. I know this is not ideal for those who have booked private excursions. This won’t be changing though and we hope obviously that this will encourage guests on Carnival and Princess ships, etc. to book ship excursions. Please though let me say how sorry I am that you had to push a wheelchair up that hill. Maybe I could suggest that the port provide a golf cart type of vehicle for guests with walking difficulties. Let me see what I can do.

We have for many years wanted to have an excursion where our photographers could take you around the island instructing you on picture taking etc. The problem here is that they are then officially working and for that most of the ports of call require our crew to have visas which is very difficult to do. However, I will suggest to our shore excursion department in Miami that we look at doing excursions that include photo instruction conducted by people from that port of call.

So thanks so much for that great review and I hope we see you again very soon on one of our fun for all cruises.

Best wishes to you and all the family
John

Ashley Bryan Asked:
John (PLEASE REPLY),

My husband and I took our first cruise last October (for our Honeymoon) on the Fantasy … WE HAD A BLAST! I can’t begin to express what an impact cruising Carnival had on us, but I guess the best evidence of that is the 2 separate cruises we’ve booked for this year! The first of which is on the Sensation (09/12 – M4) for my hubby’s 39th bday and the second on the Fantasy (10/09 – R4) for our first anniversary!!!

We are so excited! However, while making some preliminary packing lists, I had a slight concern… We leave for the anniversary cruise the day before our actual anniversary, will we be able to take our cake top with us on the boat? My gran made the cake from scratch (her very last one after a long legacy of professional cake decorating) so it REALLY means alot to us! Also, we bought the etched honeymoon flutes from Bon Voyage last year, will we be allowed to bring them back on board with us? We kept all the packaging, so they should be safe! We kept an unopened bottle of champagne from our wedding just for this occasion! Heehee, I’m gettin all fluttery just thinkin about it!

Thank you so much for taking the time to address my concerns! I know a lot of people think it seems like a silly tradition, but what can I say… I’m a hopeless romantic! 🙂

From two of your newest Carnival enthusiasts,
Ronnie and Ashley

John Says:
Hello Ronnie and Ashley

Please do not worry as both the items you mentioned are fine to bring onboard. I do suggest that you place both items in your carryon luggage or pack them separately and carry them onboard so to avoid any damage to them. It was a joy to read how a Carnival cruise made such an impact in your lives and if you can post a reminder to me including your state room number one month before you sail I will send you a little anniversary gift.

Best wishes to you both
John

jas1178 Asked:
John – Please Reply!

I just finished a cross country flight where I had a similar experience. I truly hope that someone comes up with technology that makes continental and intercontinental travel faster and less painful!

While on this flight, my wife and I decided that we need a cruise REALLY BAD! We decided that it would be on MY CARNIVAL DREAM! It is amazing when you look at the price for the value, what a great buy a Carnival cruise is for the dollar.

Thought I would bring up (again) how nice it would be if Carnival would consider offering Teacher discounts. With the limits to when vacation can be taken to the most expensive weeks, it would be huge if it were ever implemented. (plus…just think of all of the loyal future guests!) Perhaps this would be worthy of presenting to the beards again, if an appropriate moment ever arises.

We are very much looking forward to our Carnival Dream, and wish you were joining us on this voyage. (Though I know you will be MUCH happier on vacation loving on dear Kye!)

One final thought…my wife’s Grandfather still talks about you and the time he had celebrating his 65th wedding anniversary aboard our Carnival Legend (Goth Cruise).

Being that our cruise is July 3rd – I’ll look forward to seeing your reply to my suggestion after I return.

John, THANK YOU for all that you do – for so many people every day – whether they are thankful or not. You bring smiles and joy and most of all MEMORIES!

John Says:
Hello JAS178

As the son of a school teacher who watched Dad come straight out of serving his country in the Army to dedicating 34 years of teaching you certainly have my support on this great idea. Every one of us has a teacher who made a difference in our lives and there should be as many rewards for them as possible. I will certainly bring this up to those with beards as I think it is a brilliant idea. I will let you know what they say.

I have so many great memories of that cruise on the Carnival Legend. Would you please pass my kind regards to grandfather and indeed all the family. This weekend you will be off to your Carnival Dream and I wish you a fantastic time there. Please let me know all about it when you get home and thanks again for the great idea.

Best wishes
John

Peter C. Asked:
John…Please Reply,

I’m back…been a while since I’ve been keeping up with the blog thingy, work has been keeping me real busy. Before I type anything else, I must say that that video of you and Kye is just so…so…sweet…and nice…and cute…and just makes me want to go on another Carnival cruise.

Of course (Ignoring of the cuteness factor of Kye), I’m way over do for a vacation, so now here I sit sipping a nice Stewart’s Diet Root Beer (Do they even have that over on your side of the pond?). But even more exciting than your pictures is the fact that I’ve booked 8/15/10 on the Carnival Legend. Anywho that leads to a couple questions, if you don’t mind – I apologize if some have been answered recently, as I say I haven’t been keeping up as of late:

1) I know Divetrash does a great job keeping up with the piano entertainer listing and that you recently posted an updated list. So why is the Carnival Legend’s piano entertainer schedule missing? Can you get PA007 to work on this please, inquiring minds want to know.

2) Looks like Big Easy is one of the shows being done on the Carnival Legend, any idea what else and who might be the comedian(s) on board for 8/15 sailing? I’m kind of hoping for Happy Cole, from some of the recent Capers…excuse me…”Fun Times”, folks have posted it seems as if he’s performing fairly regularly on board.

3) The Cruise Director schedule shows Jan Baxter for the 8/15 sailing, is that still the schedule? Seems like some posters over at CC don’t rate her all that highly, but I figure I’ll make up my own mind about that, and it will be nice to sail with a cruise director that I haven’t seen before.

4) Does the Carnival Legend have those awesome chairs (the leather with the high back) like they had in the Carnival Freedom’s Cigar Bar? I was fortunate enough last year to enjoy a several cigars on the Carnival Freedom without anyone any complaints, or issues, and…boy…did my “smoking self” enjoy it!…in fact, if I recall correctly you enjoyed the Ciglo III, (I know it wasn’t a VI) but it was still darn good.

Now, I know you’re on holiday having a wonderful time with your family so I feel a little guilty about sending in these dopey questions. Although I figure that by the time you get to it, you’ll be long back from holiday (and some of my questions may have been already been answered).

Thanks,
Peter C.

John Says:
Hello Peter C

It’s 28 degrees here today in Essex (not sure what that is Fahrenheit but it’s hot) and what I wouldn’t give for a cold Stewarts Diet Root Beer. Root beer does not really exist here and I really wish it did. Can you send me some? I will swap you for a solid gold plastic trophy.

Laura has been officially made our chair lady of Piano Bar Entertainers and she also reminded me that I had missed naming the Carnival Legend’s piano bar entertainer. I think though that I forgot to answer her and mention that at the time of me posting the latest schedule there was no piano bar player on the ship. The one who had been there left us for unforeseen circumstances and a replacement had not been hired. We don’t have an unlimited supply of great entertainers for our piano bars and we always need to make sure we hire the best and sometimes this takes a few weeks. During this gap the CD will schedule other musicians to perform there.

Anyway, I just e-mailed Rob in our office for the latest schedule which I will include in tomorrow’s blog thingy. You will indeed be getting Happy Cole who has a huge laugh per minute ration and is without doubt a must see. He is a regular on the ship and that week you will also have a brilliant juggler/comedian called Michael James….whatever you do…… don’t miss his show.

The CD will indeed be the brilliant Jen Baxter and yes please do make your own mind up. For every one negative comment about her I can show you dozens of positive ones highlighting her friendliness and energy. Please would you post your honest opinion of her, I would love to read what you think.

The cigar bar on the Carnival Legend is actually in the sports bar and although it doesn’t have the high backed leather chairs you are talking about it is a great place to enjoy a cigar. My current smoke of choice is the Monte Cristo Edmundo…….it’s truly superb. Have a fantastic time and I do hope I get to read all about it here on the blog thingy.

Best wishes
John

wil-da-beast Asked:
HI John…And please reply….

I know you must be filled with joy and happiness to be with your beautiful girls. I am so sorry to intrude on your vacation time with family, but as per your request, I am reminding you of our sail date. We will be on the Carnival Conquest July 11, 2010…my daughter’s cabin number 1351-Hale and our cabin is 1347-Sukman. Also my grandson is wondering if the Carnival Conquest has laser tag… Thanks ever so much for your time. Always appreciate your info and advice….My best as always to the Heald family…………..da-beast

John Says:
Hello Wil – da beast

Please don’t apologize, I am here, in my underpants. to help you and your fellow bloggers. The ship does have Laser Tag and it’s a must try event for all the family. Have a brilliant cruise and give my best to the ship’s fantastic CD. He is a great friend of mine so a big hello to ………. ummmm …………..bugger…………….forgotten his name.

Best wishes to all
John

Katty Asked:
REPLY PLEASE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Do you are Carnival monitor the Cruise Critic boards. If not they should. The people who write there are the people who can influence people to cruise on the Carnival ships or not and I would hope that someone does look each day at what we write.

Katty

John Says:
Hello Katty

Wow, that’s a lot of exclamation marks. I am sorry to say that I don’t read the boards much only because of time constraints and I am not sure if Carnival has a dedicated person in Miami who does. I am sure that now and then someone must have a look at what is said there because it is an important site. I rely on my friend Host Mach to let me know if there are any comments on CC that need my attention or help. I hope this answers your question!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Best wishes
John

That’s all for today and many thanks for the great comments and reviews you all post each and every day. I guess my joke about the Carnival Breeze home porting in Colon went down like a fart in church. I was referring to my colon after my colonthingy procedure and using the port of Colon as in Colon Panama as the reference. Even PA 007 wrote to me and said that he/she didn’t get it as did others. So, just to confirm that the homeport for the Carnival Breeze has not been announced and in case there is still any doubters I can promise and assure you that her home port will not be either Colon, Panama or Colon, my arse.

Time for a break and while play with Kye for ten minutes and give my fingers a break I will leave you with a video of what happened during a special block party at Miami’s HQ and how our President and CEO Gerry Cahill takes one for the team. Have a look at this:

http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid45063754001?bctid=90641032001

If you would like to see more great videos and have some Carnival fun why not pop on over to Funville……….here is the link thingy.

http://www.carnival.com/Funville/Watch/default.aspx

Today we are going to be talking about the Carnival Ecstasy. Back in 1992 I was sitting on the Carnival Fantasy, a young CD without a care in the world. By then I think I had started to prove the doubters wrong. Those doubters were the other cruise directors who thought an ex-bar waiter with the entertainment experience of a vacuum cleaner could never be a cruise director. Some of them were quite vicious in their attacks on me which came via other crew as e-mail and texting etc were distant dreams. Anyway, all was well as I said. I had met a girl who didn’t vomit every time she saw me naked and our new ship Carnival Ecstasy had just been delivered so all the bosses were there. Then one week after the Carnival Ecstasy’s inaugural cruise I got a phone call from the late great and much missed Mr. Zonis.

I would love to tell you what he said during that 20-minute conversation but that’s not easy. You see Mr Zonis spoke in parables and would always include a story in his explanations. Now if anyone else had told stories like this you would have screamed “Oh for God’s sake hurry up and get to the fu**ing point will you.” But you didn’t do that with Mr Zonis. Not just because he was the boss or because you would have been fired immediately but because he earned instant respect from everyone………and I mean everyone.

Anyway, he called me via what we used to call the high seas operator which meant that I went to the radio room and as soon as I heard Mr. Zonis voice on the other end I instantly ruined a really good pair of underwear.  Anyway, back to the conversation which I think had something to do with a horse and a cart and the horse remembering someone who had been cruel or kind to it in the past…….I just can’t remember which.

Twenty minutes after listening to the parable of the horse and cart I discovered that the cruise director of the Carnival Ecstasy David Fee had resigned and that I would be leaving the Carnival Fantasy and would be joining the brand new Carnival Ecstasy only one week in on her inaugural season. The radio room now smelt of bad eggs.

And so I joined the ship and took over with no handover and had the most fantastic time. The last time I was onboard her was 1994 and she left an everlasting impression on me for sure. Of course now she has had her rejuvenation with lots of upgrades and new additions. Let’s see where she is going.

4 day Western Caribbean Itinerary

GALVESTON, TX 4 pm

FUN DAY AT SEA

COZUMEL, MEXICO 9 am to 5 pm

FUN DAY AT SEA

GALVESTON, TX 8 am

5-day Western Caribbean Itinerary

GALVESTON, TX 4 pm

FUN DAY AT SEA

PROGRESO, YUCATAN, MEXICO 7 am to 3 pm

COZUMEL, MEXICO 8 am to 4 pm

FUN DAY AT SEA

GALVESTON, TX 8 am

At the end of the year the ship will say goodbye to her legion of fans in Texas and the surrounding area and sail to New Orleans where she will no doubt create many, many new ones. Here is her itinerary:

4 DAY WESTERN CARIBBEAN ITINERARY

NEW ORLEANS, LA 4 pm

FUN DAY AT SEA

COZUMEL, MEXICO 8 am to 5 pm

FUN DAY AT SEA

NEW ORLEANS, LA 8 am

5-DAY WESTERN CARIBBEAN ITINERARY

NEW ORLEANS                    4 pm

FUN DAY AT SEA

PROGRESO, YUCATAN, MEXICO  7 am to 4 pm

COZUMEL, MEXICO            9 am to 5 pm

FUN DAY AT SEA

NEW ORLEANS                    8 am

And let’s have a look at the ship and those who will look after you. They are Captain Giulio Basso, Hotel Director Dany Alex Petrenko, Cruise Director Steve Cassel, Maitre D, Doomasia Kaivan Perez and Chef De Cuisine Erwin Gomes.

I hope you are enjoying these snapshots of our fleet and there will be more soon.

I have, as I said so many happy memories from the Carnival Ecstasy and one involving Mr. Zonis that I want to share with you. I had completed my first contract on the Carnival Ecstasy and it was a long one……….10 months I think. It had been fun and even though girls started vomiting again when I stood before them naked I really loved my time there.

I had a week to handover the ship to the new CD who we shall call Bob because that was his name. He didn’t like me very much. He was one of the ring leaders who really didn’t think that I should be paid the same as he and the “proper” CD’s who had actual entertainment backgrounds and had an actual act. And I could understand and to a point I could agree with him. I was just doing what I was told though and I left him to get his knickers in a twist about all of this.

So, when I heard that he would be taking over from me I wasn’t too pleased and on the Saturday he joined the ship we were also blessed with a visit from Mr Zonis. Both Bob and I were called to the captain’s cabin and he was all handshakes, slaps on backs and full of stories and jokes as per usual. Now, I need to explain something before I continue. In those days the ship would dock in Miami and would always dock stern in meaning we would turn in the basin in front of where is now the American Airlines Arena, the home of the Miami Heat and hopefully the new home of Lebron James.

As we headed to the turning basin we would pass other ships which always included the Brittanis and the handsome SS Norway. I would encourage all the passengers (as you were called back then) to congregate on the port side. I would then say things like “look at the Brittanis, people are seeing what fun you are having and are actually jumping overboard to try and get on our ship.” Or….“Look at the Norway. They are having a great party over there aren’t they? There is a 97 year old man holding a balloon and his parents are making sure he doesn’t stand too close to the railing.”

I would then count to three and get our passengers to give a huge and mighty scream and cheer. It would always go over well and along with the “Anchors Aweigh” music would always get the cruise off to the best possible start. I was rather pleased with myself about this and thought it one of my better ideas. I heard that other CD’s had decided to copy this idea and do the same.

So bearing that in mind, let’s return to the captain’s cabin. The captain was there obviously. I won’t mention his name except to say he was a great captain. We called him Papa Smurf and although he was a brilliant master of the vessel he also was a fan of garlic and ate a clove a day. He was a great friend to me…………from a distance.

So there we were there. Bob, me, Captain Garlic and Mr. Zonis. After telling a few jokes he then calmly said “Whose idea was it to mention the other ships and get the guests to cheer at them?”

Now he said this in such a calm way and with a huge smile on his face that it was obvious he was about to hand out lashings of praise. And so I was about to tell him that it was my idea when to my left I saw Bob’s hand shoot in the air like a schoolboy asking teacher’s permission to pee. This was accompanied by Bob saying “Me, Mr Zonis, it was my idea, I started it on the Festivale some years ago.”

What a load of bollocks……..he knew and I knew that he had stolen it from me and just as I considered saying so I suddenly felt the cabin floor start to shake and this was followed by an eruption from Mr Zonis of far greater proportions than any Icelandic volcano.

“Why the hell are you advertising other ships and cruise lines?” he screamed. And for the next few minutes he totally berated Bob and told him that if he ever did this again he would be fired. The whole time I just sat there watching Bob squirm knowing that his dishonesty had cost him a massive full-blooded Mr. Zonis bollocking. Back then if you had given cruise directors a choice of a bollocking from Mr Zonis or to blow torch their nipples off……they would have all been reaching for the welding equipment.

But that is what made him a total individual and one we all miss very much today. He was absolutely incomparable.

Goodnight
Your friend
John

Hi, I’m John, and this is my blog. So please don’t mistake my opinions — or those of my dear friends, fans or commenters — for those of Carnival Cruise Line or Carnival Corporation. My apologies in advance for anything I may say that upsets you, but this disclaimer covers Carnival and puts the blame directly on me………….. bugger.