Parental Guideance

July 12, 2010 -

John Heald

It was a strange weekend. Holland got their arses kicked by the donkey throwing Spanish in the World Cup final and this meant that Heidi cried………….and my life as a monk continued.

It was also very, very hot in here in the UK and when it’s hot us Brits get very cranky because air conditioning hasn’t been invented. It’s not worth having it really because the British summers last about three days. In fact as I write to you now it is raining really hard. But as I said, this past weekend it was so hot I saw a squirrel holding its nuts with a pot holder.

I think it was the heat that made me cranky though and it was the heat that made me have absolutely bugger all patience…………with anyone. I huffed and tutted and pursed my lips because some woman took slightly too long to put their stuff back in her purse at an ATM machine. I found my self swearing out loud at a BMW because its driver did not pull away the nanosecond that the lights turned green.

Heidi had to kick me in the ankle really hard because I was getting all worked up when the shopper in front of us at the checkout has produced a thick wad of money off coupons which have to be scanned individually and it took every ounce of self discipline not to ram her with my shopping trolley.

And because it was lovely weekend Heidi decided that we should have…………….a picnic ………… oh for the love of God!

Picnics……..the great British tradition. Do you have them in North America? While it may look like a lovely day out on paper, picnics are in my opinion………hell.  Unless you have a snobby wicker hamper, cool boxes and picnic chairs that never collapse I don’t see the point.

Obviously we don’t have a wicker sodding hamper ……….nope…………..we had some plastic knives and forks……………and a Carnival carrier bag.

Some of you may be booing me now saying “picnics are fun”………..fun? Yes, well, I guess they are fun if you like wasps in your warm Diet Coke, soggy cheese and tomato sandwiches, children crying they’ve been stung and watching Kye chasing flapping paper napkins round a field and realizing that you have put your blanket over a three week old pile of dog turd …..then yes………I guess picnics are indeed fun.

What made this picnic even worse though was the fact that we went with another family. You know, I have never ever enjoyed going on vacation with other families and now I we have Kye I perish the thought that we would have to have a holiday with another family ………and their kids. I see many of our guests do this though on the ships and I often wonder how it all works so well.

Let me explain. Yes, we know how fond you are of your friends. And their children ……and on day one of the cruise you are happy to tell your friends during the sail away and while sipping on your first Fun ship Special that you love them almost as much as your own.

But, come on…………….admit it……….. By the time you reach the first port of call…………the entire family start getting on your nerves…………don’t they?

There won’t be anything terrible but you’d never really noticed how Diane is really boring without the help of Captain Morgan and some fruit juice.  And Tim — how much of a control freak is he about what time we all meet for lunch on Lido Deck? Good job you can both laugh about it as you lie in the cabin next to theirs……..bitching in a whisper ……..just in case they hear you.

But the kids — now that’s another matter. Is it your imagination or is their youngest a spoiled brat? And why can’t the parents see that the eldest is a trainee psychopath who is bullying your daughter?

I went through this at our picnic and let me give you some advice. Should the five year old boy you are picnicking with start to pull your 1 year old daughter’s hair……… deploy “The Stare” ……  a long, menacing look that is unseen by the little sod’s parents but leaves the Damien in no doubt that you’ve got his number. An “accidental” clout with the picnic bag is also useful. And don’t despair when he is being soaks you yet again with his water pistol…………..bide your time then accidentally stand on it …………………………..crushing it beyond repair.

Before I get reported for cruelty to children…………….let’s push on with today’s questions …………. off we go.

Nick Asked:
John (please reply),

I just learned that effective June 10th, Carnival has increased the price for single travellers booking a 1A category cabin. The single supplement has increased from 150% to 200%, so single cruisers will now be forced to pay double, even in cat 1A.

I know you don’t control Carnival’s pricing, but I was very disappointed to see this decision and would be interested in you opinion. I already have a 1A cabin booked for October on the Valor, and have traveled solo a couple of previous times in a 1A cabin (most recently in February on the Dream, where you were the CD. By the way, you were the best CD I have seen so far and I still laugh at the bedtime story).

Anyway, if Carnival doesn’t reverse this decision, my October cruise might be my last with Carnival. I’m not sure why Carnival has decided to alienate its single passengers with this decision. Considering there are only about 15 cabins per ship in cat 1A, I can’t imagine the extra revenue is worth the negative reaction this decision will produce. I know the cruise lines want to maximize revenue, but I spend more on excursions and activities (e.g. casino) because I travel solo, whereas I know many people who travel as couples who don’t spend a cent onboard the ship, so the savings offered to me with a smaller single supplement is more than made up elsewhere, even compared to many couples.

What do you think? I love cruising with Carnival, but I won’t do it if I have to pay double what other passengers are paying.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

John Says:
Hello Nick

I know this has decision has not been well received by some of our single cruisers and I can see from your posting how disappointed you are. Much of the industry already had this policy in place. I truly hope that your cruise on the Carnival Valor will not be your last but I do understand that the cost of enjoying a fun for all cruise vacation for the single traveler is now more expensive. All I can do is apologize and collate all these comments and send them to the people who made this decision so they can see its impact. If there is anything I can do for you before your cruise please let me know.

Best wishes
John

Jan “Peaches” Silvius Asked:
Hey there John (reply if you like)

I admire your ability to reason with people about the ‘gratuities’ problem.

After 20 cruises with CCL, I have to tell you that I must be the luckiest cruiser on earth. I have NEVER had any contact with a disgruntled or nasty or just plain indifferent CCL employee. As far as CCL ‘pushing’ us to buy things, I don’t look on it as ‘pushing’ as much as I do that this is keeping my price where I can afford to go cruising more often. Don’t people realize that a ‘No thank you’ or a ‘please’ is the magic way to good service? Engage any of the people in conversation and they remember you. Example: Was on the Ecstasy two years ago and a waiter looked very familiar. Ivan was our waiter a few cruises ago, and I told him that I didn’t expect him to remember me, but I remembered what great service he gave us. He took a good long look at me (not easy to do, when you think about it), and then his eyes lit up and said ‘Yes Ma’am I do, you gave me a telephone card as an extra tip so I could call home’ and I have never forgotten it.

OK, it’s bringing a lump to my throat as I speak, so I will shut up now. Except to tell those that have their tips removed that I will be cruising on the Conquest on Sept. 5th and the Ecstasy on Oct. 16th. If I had to worry about service and that small amount of money for tips, I would quit going.

Peaches in Rowlett Tx

John Says:
Hello Jan “Peaches” Silvius

Thanks for those words which I can tell were written straight from the heart. Tipping is a very personal thing and I know I made a few people mad when I suggested that the people who had enjoyed fantastic service and never missed a meal in the dining room but removed their tips were totally wrong for doing so. However, that is my opinion and it’s an opinion that I think most people who cruise would agree with.

The story about Ivan was brilliant and I am sure you made his day. There is no comparison to the impact that a great crew member can make to your cruise vacation and the resort and hotel industry cannot compare……again………just my opinion. But you made Ivan’s day and its stories like this that show once again just how iconic the Carnival crew truly are.

Thanks for your loyalty to Carnival.

Best wishes to all
John

Michele Maragni Asked:
Hi John, (please reply)

Remember me, Michele, and my Mom Eleanor! I wrote you several months ago, that I was going on the Carnival Liberty with an 86 yr. old friend, I care for from Australia, she was so excited it was to be her first cruise on April 24th, well unfortunately she was ill, and we had to cancel!, but on a happier note, I have recently booked the Carnival Sensation, for Sybil, myself and my Mom, for Sept. 5th, we are so excited it will be in a Suite!, Mom and I have birthdays, and Sybil’s will be a month before, Mom and I have cruised a lot, but with it being so new to Sybil I was wondering if you could send her a little gift, and maybe a little Happy Birthday greeting for my Mom, she will be 83, both would be so excited! Thank You So Much John, we both miss you, and are so thrilled you are home enjoying your beautiful family! All our Love to you, Heidi & Kye! Michele & Mom (Eleanor)

John Says:
Hello Michele Margani

I do indeed remember you and I am sure you are all looking forward to your September cruise and how fantastic that you will be in one of our fabulous suites. I would be honoured (spelt correctly) to send both ladies a little something and if I can ask that you send me a reminder during the first week of August I will make sure I make it so.

Please let me know if you need anything else.

Best wishes
John

Jr Greiner Asked:
John, Please reply.

My wife and I celebrated her birthday on Half Moon in January. We failed to buy t-shirts than had Half Moon on them. I would like to know how I can buy them now. Thanks for you help.

We are looking forward to cruising with you on the Splendor on Halloween. Could you check our seating assignment? We would like to sit at a large table. We enjoy meeting different people from different places.

Hope to see you on the sip maybe I can buy you a drink some time that week.

We are staying in room 1022 sailing on October 31st, 2010.

Jr

John Says:
Hello Jr Greiner

I am sorry to say that we don’t sell the Half Moon Cay shirts online but the good news is that I will be more than happy to help you with your seating assignment. Please can you send me your cabin or booking number and I will ask the Maitre D to assist with your request.

I hope you are ready for a great Halloween cruise.

best wishes to all
John

Judy and John Asked:
John Please Reply

We are going on the Glory April 10 next year. Will be my birthday cruise. I’ll be 64 April 14. Will you be cd then or I imagine it’s too early. Had a great time with Tod and James in June on the Dream. Can’t wait till next April. Say Hi and send our love to Heidi and Kye. Hugs Judy and John

John Says:
Hello Judy and John

Although we have not worked out the 2011 CD schedule I can tell you that unfortunately I will not be the cruise director when you sail on the beautiful Carnival Glory. I am sure whoever the CD is though he or she will give you the best of times and we will post the schedule here as soon as it is ready. I am so glad you enjoyed both Todd and James……….they both do a brilliant job.

If you have any other questions before your cruise please let me know

best wishes
John

Ellen Schonbach Asked:
John (Please reply),

We are so excited that we just book a cruise on the Carnival Pride from Baltimore on August 1st. We weren’t sure if we could swing it this year since Dave got notice at the end of the school year that he will be cut back from teaching 7 classes a day to 1 class a day with a VERY BIG pay cut. But we just celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary and we decided to go for it. The only that would make us more excited would be to have you on the cruise like last summer on the Carnival Freedom. But I guess I should be happy that we are getting to go at all. The reason I am writing is to ask you if you could pull your magic strings and get a table for two at the late sitting. We really love to be with others all day but cherish our time together at dinner. We will be in cabin 7217. Any help you can give us would so be appreciated. Thanks so much in advance and love to Heidi and Kye. Hope you are enjoying your time with them. I love to read your blog and sometimes it makes me laugh out loud which right now is a rare thing. Thanks again, Ellen

John Says:
Hello Ellen Schonbach

Congratulations on booking your cruise on the Carnival Pride and I can see that you are very excited. I was sorry to hear about Dave’s job misfortunes and I am sure things will only get better. Hopefully the cruise will rejuvenate you both. I will be happy to ask the Maitre D to assist you with your table request and thanks for the kind words. I will continue to work hard to try and bring you a laugh or two and once again my best wishes for the cruise and for a happy future.

John

Ted Asked:
Dear John (please reply John!)-

I just got off the Carnival Splendor and had a marvellous time. Other than the low temperatures on the sea days that Carnival can’t control (or can they?), the entire cruise was awesome. Before I get to my question, I would truly appreciate it if you could pass along my compliments to the entire Splendor staff, specifically to our amazing Jamaican waiter Carlos. We had children in tears because they loved his witty humour and kind love for the children of our group.

I am hoping that you can forward a thought to the Carnival big wigs concerning the photography on the ship. I have always wondered why Carnival does not give cruisers a chance after the cruise to purchase pictures. We had a chance to visit Disneyland prior to our Splendor cruise, and I am able to purchase any of the photo products or pictures up to a month afterwards. I would think that the photographers could scan your Sail and Sign card prior to the picture to “link” your photos to your account. After you leave the ship, you could purchase the pictures or other products with the pictures. I would be quite scared to see the large amounts of wasted photographs from Carnival cruises, but I understand this is how the pictures are sold on board. Why couldn’t people scan through their photos on their in-cabin television and order from there? Maybe the photos could be cheaper on the ship and once the cruise is done, the photo prices would go up a bit. I can think of at least 3-5 pictures that we would still consider purchasing if we would have had the chance.

So, for now, I am stuck giving my money to a mouse to purchase photo products after the fact. I would love in the future if we could flip through the wonderful photos taken onboard a fun ship.

Thank you, and Happy Father’s Day!
“I Miss the FunShip” Ted

John Says:
Hello Ted

I am reading every review I can about the Carnival Splendor because of course she will be my home from August until December and I have never cruised to these ports before. I see the temperatures on the first sea day and sometimes on the second are not the same as you would find cruising in the Caribbean. I think it’s important therefore that we pack these days with as much activities as possible so that despite the colder weather our guests have lots to do. And of course the retractable roof will be very useful.

Then, to photography. This is a great idea and I will certainly pass it up the line. I have been saying for the last few weeks that there are some big changes coming up within our photo department and I am waiting patiently to be able to tell you all about them. I do agree that we could make it easier for our guests to purchase them and being able to do so after the cruise as well makes sense. Thanks then for the idea and I will make sure that your comments of praise are read by Carlos your waiter………….mon!

I hope we will see you soon aboard another fun for all ship.

Best wishes to all
John

Troy Isadore Asked:
John please reply

Just booked your blog cruise, wondering if Carnival charges more for your blog cruises. My vacation planner said it was $100.00 more per person. If this is not true, how do I get this cleared up?

John Says:
Hello Troy

There is a fare code that people should book with unless they are using military discount. I will be holding a roll call nearer the time but please let me pass your question onto someone as honestly, I don’t know anything about the pricing system for BC4. I will though ask someone who does understand to contact you. I hope I will get to see you on the Carnival Glory and until then please let me know if there is anything else you need.

Best wishes
John

Tim Crowley Asked:
Dear John (Please Reply),

I am glad to hear you had a safe trip home and that you are taking some well deserved time off with your family! I am a very big fan of your “blog thingy” and look forward to your updates after your time off.

You will be pleased to know that you were my cruise director on my first cruise vacation ever, which was on the Carnival Triumph many years ago. I especially enjoyed your cowbell routine and I think you may have even caught me putting ice cream into the salad bowls up on Lido deck! Since that trip, it has been my dream to work for the cruise industry as one of the “beards” in marketing, helping to position the Carnival brand to both attract new guests and retain past ones who have experienced all the fun ships have to offer.

I studied Carnival’s position within the cruise industry for several projects in my MBA Program and feel that the Carnival Corporation is poised to capitalize on a huge market as they continue to expand their presence through new homeports and more innovative ships throughout the corporation’s fleets.

Would it be possible to discuss your career path within the industry so that I can obtain some advice as to how to become a part of the Carnival family?

Thank you for your time.

Regards,
Tim

John Says:
Hello Tim Crowley

Thanks for the kind words and I am glad that you enjoy the blog so much. I have documented many times here on the blog thingy that my time on the Carnival Triumph was some of my most favorite times as a cruise director, there was always something special about that ship …………. and there still is.

I think it’s superb that you are interested in becoming a marketing beard for Carnival and I will pass your information and e-mail address to someone who also has a beard and will let you know what’s available. Seriously though, I wish you all the best and truly hope that one day you will become a member of the Carnival family.

Best wishes
John

ZackAttack asked:
Dear John (please respond!)

Hey just got off a Royal Caribbean Cruise. I know you aren’t a fan, but hey I’ve got to change it up every once in a while, yes? I’m Zack, and besides being a first time poster here (whoo!), I’ve followed your blog in my high school third period Spanish class for the past year… LOVE IT!. That reminds me, I don’t know when I’m gonna find time to read your blog next year. I will have to find it, time seems to keep finding the best hiding places nowadays. Anyways, I would like to say I was ever disappointed with “Royals” service. They may be Royal, but they are hardly any fun when compared to my crazy phenomenal fun times on Carnival ships. *dreams of sailing on the Dream* I would like to say, however, that Carnival needs to get with the times and give some eye candy for teens like me like Ice Skating Rink at sea or the Flowrider, surfing at sea. Yes, I know Carnival has the redundant slides, and they can be a boatload of fun, but nothing tops the Flowrider’s ever changing experience where a skinny kid like me can show off some tricks or a cheerfully “plump” person can flop on their belly and fly to their watery grounding with laughs all around. OK OK don’t get me wrong, I only cruise Royal because the parents pay for it, and of course Carnival beats Royal any day, because the service and smiles on a Fun Ship are never-ending, unlike Royals boring crew and smelly bathrooms, but I think any fun shipper would LOVE to see some of the attractions offered on Royal on a Fun Ship, only making Carnival that much better!! I didn’t even think that was possible! Just wondering and Making suggestions from the peanut gallery of the teens sailing with ya, plus I never see youngins’ posting on here so whoohoo!

Keep the laughs coming, maybe someday I’ll be lucky enough to cruise with you, parents cruise choice permitting…

Thanks, Zack

John Says:
Hello Zack Attack

What a brilliant posting and whatever happens next year I hope you continue to read and add more great postings like this one.

It would be crazy of me to pretend that I don’t think that some of their hardware isn’t brilliant because it is and while many of their guests will walk straight past the flow rider and climbing walls and ignore them I do realize that some guests like yourself love these things. So, while I can’t tell you what exactly I can tell you that along with our brilliant fun for all water park your Carnival Magic will have something that I absolutely know you will think is “way cool.”

As soon as I can tell you more…………I will. I was so proud to read that you find the Carnival level of service superior and that the crew on Carnival are the most fun. So, I hope you continue to read this blog thingy and I hope you keep posting these great reviews and passing on your suggestions.

Best wishes to you and the family
John

That’s all for today. I have received 53 reservations for the Chef’s Table which I have passed to the ships and you should get the confirmation e-mails this week. I will send the next batch in on Friday. Please remember they will not be posted here and therefore please only write your ship and sailing date, cabin number and number of seats you require. This makes it easier for me to read and for the ships to reply to.

I also received more comments along with Troy Isadore’s about the $100 charge for the bloggers cruise from my good friend Linda Hernacki as well as Graham Dawson and Supercruiser 55. All were asking what the extra $100 was for so I asked one of the 344 Stephanies. She told me that what you were seeing is the basic price and that some of you see a price difference because they are using a fare code that provides them with discounts. I hope this makes sense to you as it means bugger all to me. Hopefully you will understand and if you have any other questions please let me know.

Let’s take a break and here are more absolutely jaw droppingly stunning photos from our Senior Photographer Radu. Here he is to tell you what these photos are all about.

Dear John and bloggers

Not so long a go, only one day before the first Tropical Storm Alex did arrive over Yucatan, I had 3 incredible trip days, from Progreso Merida, to Cancun, and I end it in Cozumel, in one completely stormy, dark, rainy and windy evening, but what a reward, to see what the Yucatan Peninsula and the South coast of the Gulf of Mexico has to share with the World. I went there to Celestun and Rio Lagartos to have a closer look at the biosphere and reserve Rio Lagartos, where most of the entire flamingo bird’s population of the world are here to feed, in the shallow salty water.

Before I reached this nature wonder, I spend a night in Merida, beautiful colonial city, very close to Uxmal and the other important Maya cities. I was lucky to watch the light and sound show at 8 pm, from one of the most beautiful Maya site, Uxmal. I just let the photos tell you the story.

The other day I went to Izamal, the yellow Mexican city, and pass by Chichen Itza, but weather was too bad for pictures, and I did drive north to Rio Lagartos and at the end after a stop in Ek Balam Maya ruins, I did drive back to Cancun and Playa del Carmen.  Just for an few minutes I missed Carnival Inspiration in Cozumel, the ship I was supposed to sign on, the storm stopped me in Playa del Carmen, but Carnival Destiny was there as well , so I came to Miami on Carnival Destiny, and finally I did fly from Miami to Tampa to join Carnival Inspiration.

I will share with soon some other images taken during these 2 days in Tampa, and Tampa Bay.

Have a great evening

Radu Ursu
Senior Photographer
CCL Photo Department

Thanks Radu for those outstanding photos and we all look forward to seeing more tomorrow.

Remember that Radu’s work is available on all the ships, just ask the photo department onboard to see a collection of the ship and ports of call photos.

I have a conference call this week with Chris Prideaux and some of the cruise directors and the subject of discussion is………….bingo.

So, what do you think of bingo? You know, it’s been around on cruise ships for many, many years. I remember when I first started in the entertainment department we sold big and heavy cards that had little windows on them so every time a number was pulled from the hamster cage, you had to slide the window across the number. You then called “bingo” and if you were lucky……..you would win our jackpot of $50.

Obviously things have changed. We now have modern bingo machines and disposable cards and big jackpot prizes. Back in the old days we used to make bingo fun……really fun and I am going to try and encourage this to return. The bingo games were like stand up comedy shows with the staff doing skits and really getting the audience involved.

The problem with this however is that as the years have gone by bingo seems to have gotten more serious and that if the staff try to have too much fun they get jeered because the guests want to hear the numbers…….they need to concentrate and not have to quack like a duck or hear “scooby doobie doo, she had three boobies where there should be two”…….every time the number 22 is called.

Anyway…….do you play bingo onboard, do you like what we do or does bingo not play an important part of your cruise? These are changing times and as I have said a few times recently, your feedback and suggestions are so very important……so shout BINGO and I look forward to seeing your comments.

I am aware that while I am home that my usual blogs of life at sea and tales of some of the interesting guests I meet have been replaced by blogs about what I had for dinner and how many poos I have each day……..2 so far by the way. And so I worry that I have that my blogs may have become boring even though the viewing figures remain very high.

If I am boring you must…………I repeat you must tell me. Start your postings with “John, You Are One Boring Bastard” and I will be sure to read it immediately.

There’s a man I know who will be on this conference call I have coming up this week and he is so very, very boring.  I can’t say who this person is in case he’s reading this but I will say that never, not once, in the few years or so he has been with the Carnival shoreside family has he been able to make a single conversation interesting.

Even if he’d just found Tiger Woods having rumpy pumpy with Paris Hilton in his back yard or that LeBron James had cooked him dinner while dressed as a German dominatrix ………he’d still fail to bring the tale alive. Whenever he is on one of these calls or addresses us CD’s I usually wish I was a horse…………..so I could sleep standing up.

Unfortunately this call won’t include a story about Tiger trying for a hole in one or a tale about LeBron Whiplash……….nope………….it will all be about spreadsheets and budgets and figures. Not the most fun subjects at the best of times but when told in a monotone voice with all the passion of a dead cat…………it is mind numbingly dull.

The other problem is that that there have some changes within Carnival’s senior management these past years that I don’t know everyone in important positions like I used to.  You see, some of these new folks don’t know me very well and that means they don’t understand some of my pathetic attempts at humour. This means I now have to be very careful what I say on these calls because there are new people there who may not appreciate my mostly sarcastic and mostly unfunny wit.

In the past management would laugh or just say “Oh, John” and move on. Now, with all the bearded new folks my humour is not understood and in some cases I think it isn’t appreciated during calls and meetings. Therefore I am learning to be more serious………..more corporate ……. and therefore………..more boring………..bugger. But the changes our new people are making are superb and exciting and I will be telling you much more about our bright new future………….your bright new future………..as the weeks go on.

I spoke earlier about the problems of cruising with other families and their children and of course this was written very much with tongue firmly in cheek. I will say though that I have seen from the comments on the blogs that many younger people in their twenties and thirties are going on a cruise…….with their parents. There are advantages of course………..it’s cheaper than going on your own…………. it means you’ll always have a babysitter …………….and above all, it’s fun.

I remember the days when my Mum and Dad cruised. I was so proud to have them see me as a CD and we spent the days laughing, watching Dad try every food item on the menu and laughing until we cried. This was the golden period where parents are still young enough to handle the stresses of flying and traveling………….and you are finally old enough to appreciate just what wonderful parents they are and how cruising with them was the best vacation you have ever had.

They can’t manage 9 hours of flying these days and even two hours to Barcelona next year may be too much. And that makes me so sad. So, let me say this………if you have never cruised with your parents……….I urge you to do so……..that golden period doesn’t last long…..why waste it on anyone else?

Goodnight
Your friend
John

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

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